I first got up on skis at 16, when some friends and I took a day trip to Hunter Mountain. Most of them had started skiing before they could read, and as I lumbered to my first lift ride they very kindly offered their seasoned advice: When you're on skis for the first time, the best thing to do is ride up to the top of the mountain, pick a slope at random, launch yourself headlong with a barbaric yawp, and work out the kinks on the way down. Needless to say, I took a lot of that mountain home with me in my rented ski pants.
It is somehow comforting that, 25 years later, the world hasn't changed all that much.
The venue was Beaver Creek, where a bunch of us gathered (in a five-story condo that could easily hold 20 people, 40 close friends, or about 100 orgiasts) to celebrate my friend Dave's 40th birthday. I'm absolutely ecstatic to report that the sonofabitch hasn't aged at all since I knew him in college, half his life ago. (I would say I look more like his dad, except his dad is a hale-and-hearty 70-something who spent much of the day literally skiing rings around me.)
After I got geared up, I spent the first hour or so regaining my ski legs, coasting along on the greens, and I felt pretty good. After a clean run down a blue, I was bemused by the simplicity of this sport. Was it time to hit one of those black diamonds? Should I try Ripsaw? Micronizer? Pelvis-B-Gone?
I was cruising along pretty well with the pack until the leaders zagged over past a sign that said “Harrier.” Now we’re talking, I thought … until the earth fell away sharply, and my aspirations (and ass) fell to earth. The comedy was high-flying and relentless as I flailed and careened and slid to the next plateau. This was a necessary preparation, I was told, because the only way to get to our lunch venue was to ski down a similar slope (and be sure not to miss that incredibly abrupt right turn – if you can read the sign, you’ve missed it). Faced with a compelling ski-or-starve imperative, I set forth. And after about half an hour of twisting my body into balloon animals, that hot cider tasted awfully goddamn good.
I now understand why people head out to Colorado for a little fun and end up staying forever. The state has so much to offer: impossible beauty, delicious elk stew, and drug stores that very smartly keep the pain relievers right up front by the registers, for easiest access. (Investors' note: any Wyeth shareholders might want to prepare for a little spike in the stock price, as I intend to be sucking down Advils for the next several weeks.) We had a blast, and there's talk of returning over Presidents' Weekend -- which is just about when my quads should stop burning.
And now that I'm back in Manhattan, I have two things to report:
- While I was gone, TwoBert learned from his brother how to jam your palm against the bathtub spigot and spray water on every possible surface, horizontal or otherwise. During tonight's bath, I could have stayed drier if I'd gotten in with them.
- On Tuesday night, I'll be here attending this. If you're within reach of the Upper East Side, please come by and say hello. I'll be the one popping Liqui-Gels and gimping around like Fred Sanford.