Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Super Bowl Sunday Miracle

Mt. Spokane on a Special Sunday in February 2012
On Super Bowl Sunday, we performed a financial miracle: we all went downhill skiing.  

Was it just a year ago that friends launched from our home to a ski trip, leaving Coyote bawling with envy in the doorway? I think they thought we were coming with them, but the slightest perusal of our balance sheet would have screamed otherwise. Let's tally: $40 per person day ski lift, $50 per person ski rentals = $320 dropped for several hours of "fun" on the bunny hill.  Even if I had an extra $320 + gas, I wouldn't be spending it skiing, a hobby I picked up at the age of 30, when I was old enough to know better than to go that fast and scared enough of falling - not falling, so much as not being able to get up again.  Thirty is not old, but it's old to pick up skiing. Skiing is, for me, an exercise is contained panic.  It's too fast, too out of control, too unnatural for me to love. I burned up most of my fast living fuel long before skis entered my life.  

We hoped that perhaps Huck (who was basically born with a pair of skis on, which I'm sure his mother did not appreciate) could take one kid up this year and another up next year.  But along comes "5th Graders Ski Free!"  A regional program to get kids in to this expensive hobby while they're young enough to learn it and stupid enough to love it and in-cognizant enough to risk injuries with their attendant expense, wasted time in waiting rooms and recovery, and lasting aches. 

Thus inspired by one free season ticket, Huck began asking around for old ski equipment.  And soon we were all geared up for nearly free. Coyote's boots were $4 at the thriftstore - and they look like large ankle casts from the '60's. And just like that, impossibility got $250 knocked off it. With Huck's gym discount, he's been up a few times with the kids already this year.  

And here comes bright, beautiful Super Bowl Sunday!  I figured I could tackle the bunny run on such an empty day.  

The bunny hill is actually a dumb idea.  I do like that it's short, but it's somewhat completely insane to fill one single hill with so very many people who can't ski. It was probably thought up by the same people who invented middle schools.  Not only am I scared I'm going to forget everything Huck just told me and wizz off into a tree, I'm also worried I'm going to get zoomed in to by some out of control lady who is screaming her way down, yelling at everyone to get out of the way, as if I know how to do that, as if I can move AT ALL because the snow plow IS my best friend.  I mean, what kind of nut doesn't figure out how to stop before she gets started?  And I am stuck on a hill with this empty-headed homicidal newbie.  So, Super Bowl Sunday seemed like the perfect time to ski the bunny hill, sans dipshits, who would all be home opening beer for their dipshittier dipshit husbands.
So, for the first time, we were all going to ski together.  Yeah Us! 

I bought my ski pants in August, 9 years ago, at a garage sale.  I came home and "people" were all: ski pants?!  Ski pants?!  In August?! Are you nuts?!  To which I responded: "Are YOU nuts?  Seasons change, people.  Get used to it."  So those are the ones I wore, although things have shifted over the years and pregnancies and zippers were... um...now inconveniently located.  Also, my ankles had a small panic attack in my ski boots and they started crying while Huck locked them away.  They were pretty sure they were never going to get out again.

We parked next to the lodge in a nearly empty lot.  "Run Run!  Run off the mountain you lemmings! Run to your TV's! Run to watch millionaires play with balls! Run! Run!"  Ah! All to ourselves! Hours and hours (I was "hoping" to stay in the lodge for most of the time.  I say "hoping" because ski lodges, no matter how "fancy" ALL stink like feet and pee.  They all have nasty carpet.  They all serve nasty food. They are all sweaty and putrid and I'd rather have my eyes poked out by ski poles than sit in one of those.  But still, I was thinking it might beat the stress of controlling a grace-less fall at terminal velocity off a mountain slope for hours upon butt-cramping hours.  I brought a book and figured a few beers would take the edge of the piquant nosegay of athletes' foot.)

Ferris Wheel: I'm crying on the inside
However, it turns out the ski area was closing at 4 O'clock that day.  And we had 1.5 hours to ski; THANK GOD for small miracles.  That's all I ever wanted.  And for some reason, perhaps because our friend works in the ski lodge, or perhaps they saw my son's boots and pitied us, or perhaps it was just the general human good will generated by such sacred holidays as Super Bowl Sunday, they let us all ski free.
My skis on, I fell towards the lift. This is my second, but possibly biggest, complaint about skiing.  This has got to be the most dangerous way of getting people up a mountain, other than cannons.  There are no straps.  There are no magnets.  There is NOTHING holding you in.  It's as terrifying as the Ferris Wheel, only you have dangerous snaggable sticks fastened on to your claustrophobic feet.  And I am supposed to put my CHILDREN on these things.  These beings were made, from scratch, in my uterus and I pushed them out of my vagina, at home, without any anesthesia, tylenol or vodka. That's how valuable they are to me.  And now, I am obligated to put them on chair lifts, like an irresponsible drug-addict mom.   This isn't something we do at home, so why is it okay here?  It's lemmings disease, is what it is.

And so Blue and I hop on a chair together.  She turns to watch Coyote and Huck board the one behind us, and I scream, because she is 1) moving in this chair 2) turning around and 3) moving the chair itself 4) while I am in it.

2009*like a ski lift, but safer
And then we come to the end of the line.  They don't put trampolines OR EMT workers at the end. I'm just supposed to hop off and ski away, like it's nothing. But I haven't skied in 6 years, and that's after only skiing twice.  And just as I'm hopping off, the chairs stop and all my momentum vanishes in to the breaking mechanism and I almost fall.  But Blue's right next to me, handy dandy Blue, my daughter, who now knows just how to do this, so I GRAB her.  And I hold on to her.  And she is surprisingly sturdy on her skis, and embarrassed.  And I feel like a terrible mother again, like the apes in those experiments where they electrocute the floor and the ape stands on her baby to get away from the pain and the experimenters, not sensing any hypocrisy, criticize this animal for sacrificing her children for her own instinctual need for safety.  I get hooted at from the chair behind us.  And the goateed lift operator.  "Goatees are from the '90's!" I want to yell, "Or didn't you read your Sunset Magazine yet?!"  But that's just cuz I'm embarrassed.  He's actually kinda cute and I think I'll grab him next time.  

But next time, I fall.  All.  Over. The place.  Falling isn't hard, it's getting up that's the problem. I'm 5'8" and can feel kind of gangly and far from the ground, for a woman. And since Huck doesn't believe in poles (he's a pole athiest, or maybe that's an apolist? And since he's taught us all, in his absurdly patient way, to ski, and since he procured all the equipment and did not procure poles, this family skis pole-less, together.  Poles, from my extensive, if slow, cross country skiing experience, are helpful in getting up with large, eminently entanglable attachments on your feet on slippery slopes.  But my husband did not get me poles. That's just the kind of family we are.  We might as well be home watching the Mother of All Football Games while I pop open his beers.)

Anyway, we did it.  I did it.  I survived watching my kids good off on a chair lift in front of me.  I survived 6 runs down the bunny hill, with my kids zooming around me.  And it was free and did not last longer than I wanted it to and I did not have to go in to the lodge for more than a minute.  It was a touching Super Bowl Sunday miracle on Mt. Spokane.  I even wrote a poem about it!
 
Skiing Mt. Irony                                                                                            
I know more
than the pizza plow.
My ankles are aware of
This spaceman boot.
I don't do this often, believe me,
And I only started as a grown woman.
The lift frightens,
As do the edges,
Fast as anything.
He says the only way
To go
Is to trust
In improbability.
For an uplifting descent:
Push in the wrong foot
Lean forward to slow
Step up to go down.

Trust in the irony
Of this world, he says
And trust that you know
How to use it.

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