Yesterday I read about the ski resort chairlift in Maine going all wonky and about six people plummeting to earth and having to be rushed to the hospital. As I read it I thought to myself “Goddamn, I’m glad I wasn’t on one of those lifts” and then I remembered that there was no way in Hell I would have been because of a promise I had made. You see several years ago I had a group of friends who were avid skiers. They would go on their ski trips and come back and tell tales all about whooshing on the slopes all day and then partying all night in the lodges. I was quite envious because I had never been skiing and I thought the outfits were cool and the people were cool and I wanted to be a member of the cool skiing hipster club so bad. Then one day I was invited. I ran to the store and bought a ski suit that I thought was stunning and my friends arranged for me to rent all of the other equipment. They even set me up with beginner’s lessons! On our drive up there (and for the life of me I can’t remember what resort it was-all I know is it was in Tennessee) I fell asleep and dreamt about hitting the slopes and looking like a chick out of a Chap Stick commercial and then I was drinking hot rum toddies around a fire in the lodge with about a half dozen of the hottest looking men in the universe and they were all enthralled in some story of mine and they all wanted me. Shut up. It could happen. Anyway, we got up there, got settled and I got geared out and went to my lesson while they hit the slopes. I figured in a few hours I’d join them.
The class consisted of me and about four other FIVE YEAR OLDS. No shit. So our instructor was showing us all the basics and about our gear and all I could think was, “Yeah, yeah, let’s start skiing.” I felt really stupid in the class so most of the time I acted like I was just an innocent bystander. I would hum and look around like I was looking for someone as people went by. I’m pretty certain even the instructor thought I wasn’t in the class. “Oh no, I’m not in this class, I’m waiting for someone.” You know where this is going, right? Yeah, before I knew it I and the kiddies were turned loose on a “Bunny Slope.” Only I wasn’t on the “Bunny Slope.” I went one over because from where I stood they both looked about the same except this one was longer and I wanted away from the kindergarten crowd. I remember pushing off like I had seen Olympic skiers do and off I went.
Mother of God. I reached speeds I never in my life attained prior or since. I had frozen tears in the corners of my eyes and I screamed so loud and on such a high octave from the fear that human ears could no longer hear me. And it was one long continuous scream too, and to be honest, I think a little pee came out. I “whooshed” past a bunch of people and I wanted to scream “SOMEBODY HELP ME!” but I was stuck in that continuous non-human ear scream mode.
“AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!” the dogs in the area heard.
The only thing I could think was “HOW THE FUCK DO I STOP? I want to stop NOW!” I knew if I just bailed at the speed I was going that I would die from the tumble and this fear was the only thing that forced me to try to maneuver while travelling faster than the speed of sound down that mountain. I tried to lower myself and that only made me go faster. FUCK! Instantly I saw where the trail got thinner and a tree line started. “NO! I don’t want to die like Sonny! Dear God let me live! I promise I won’t do this again IF YOU JUST LET ME LIVE!” I thought. Then I spotted a pile of snow and I knew I had one chance.
I hit that fucking snow bank like a brick. It was like being shot into a giant pile of mashed potatoes by a giant human bullet gun except these mashed potatoes were made by my crazy-ass meemaw and she used to forget to boil them first. I laid there gasping for air. The wind had been completely knocked out of me. People stopped, gathered in a ritual circle of humiliation, and asked me if I was okay. I tried to smile and wave them on. “Move along folks, nothing to see here.”
After I caught my breath, I still just laid there almost completely lodged in the snow bank. Sideways. Fresh tears of humiliation started melting some of the snow and I also think more pee came out when I hit the bank, so that helped too. But I was alive. I checked to see if I broke anything. I had no idea. I felt like a sausage encased in a snowsuit and lodged in an iced over freezer. I finally freed myself from the snow and fell over attempting to stand. The skis were still on my feet and the poles were still strapped to my wrists. I took them all off and half walked and half fell back up the trail, wiping fresh tears from my frozen face. Tears of relief this time because I looked into the eyes of Death that day and I survived. I was alive. I never skiied again after that and I never will. You don’t fall back on your promises to God. Fact.45 Comments