A skiing time bomb.
My mother was good at many things. Smoking cigarettes, the now infamouse death stare, a strange but wonderful sense of humor, swimming, and last but not least, snow skiing. I pretty much inherited all of these traits except I’m not so great at the snow skiing one. And I quit smoking except for the occasional puff, puff. Don’t get me wrong: I can stand up, go down the mountain and pretty much get through the entire day without falling. But I really have to work at it.
Snow skiing for me wasn’t like swimming. When I was two years old my mother told me she had enrolled me in swim class. She was sitting with the other parents and the instructor had all of us kids lined up on the side of the pool. My mother said I just sat at the edge of the pool with a funny look in my eyes and wouldn’t stop starting at the water. At first she thought my stare was one of fear, like I was somehow trying to understand the water, but it took her about two seconds before she realized it wasn’t fear but curiosity that propelled me. That’s when I didn’t fall into the water but actually lunged into it. It scared the crap out of her. Of course the instructor saved me before I drowned or I wouldn’t be writing this. But my obsession for water after that just grew and grew.
Skiing, on the other hand, didn’t have the same effect. I seemed to be sort of a skiing time bomb just waiting to go off. I was about four when she took me skiing for the first time. We drove from where we lived in La Habra to a home my Grandfather owned in Big Bear. At the time, it was a small resort town. It’s grown quite a bit since then. My mother took me for my first lesson at the Goldmine Ski Resort located in Moonridge which has since changed its name to Bear Mountain. I was so excited! She had bought me brand-new ski pants and ski jackets with fake black and white fur. I was so styling for a four year old!
With me all decked out in my new clothes, my mother took me to the rental building and fitted me for ski boots. This is where I started to immediately not like the idea of skiing so much. They were just clunky. How was someone supposed to walk in these things? I felt like Frankenstein.
“And here are your skis,” the perky smiling rental lady said as she now handed me two large sticks that I was supposed to attach on my feet. “And your poles,” she told me as she handed me even more stuff, but now she was handing me weapons with straps on them. I just looked at my mom as if to say, “Are you kidding me with this?” I didn’t want all this stuff. Just 15 minutes ago I was a fashionable four year old. Now I was a fashionable four year old who was loaded down with more than I could carry. This wasn’t fun. This was work.
My mom helped me take all my newly acquired “crap” out to the bunny hill to meet my new ski instructor.
“Stacy, now make sure you listen to everything he says, and that way you’ll learn faster,” she said to me with beaming pride in her eyes. How could I let her down by telling her I didn’t want to do it anymore? I couldn’t so all I could say was, ”Okay mom.”
As we got out to where the class was meeting up I started to loosen up a bit when I saw all the other kids that were going to be in the class with me. Friends. The thought that I might actually meet some new friends made me so happy. My mom dropped me off with the new instructor and the first thing he had us all do was line up side-by-side and put our ski’s on. Wha…? We have to put these things on our feet? He’s crazier than my mom! But he was serious. He made us lock ourselves into these sticks that I was pretty confident were going to kill us all. Then he taught us how to put our hands through the straps on the poles and hold our poles. And then he kept talking, and talking, and blah, blah, blah, I eventually just wasn’t listening to him because I was too busy giggling with the kids around me. Then it all went terribly, terribly, wrong.
Someone pushed someone in line, and we all went down like dominos. The little boy to my right got pushed into me and I fell into the little girl on my left, and as we both came crashing to the ground I heard a horrific scream. We all scrambled back up to see what had happened, and I looked around for my pole. There it was…pinning the girl’s lower lip to the side of the mountain. I remember it vividly because I had never seen that much blood before that day. She was screaming out in pain, I was screaming out in terror mixed with guilt, and our instructor was screaming for a medic. My ski lesson was over before it had officially started.
After they pried my new ex-friend off the bunny hill, they took her to the first aid building with her parents crying about how I had scarred their daughter for life. My mother just hugged me and tried to comfort me.
“Stacy, it’s not your fault. It was an accident.” But I was inconsolable. I just kept looking at my pole and at the evidence of the crime I had committed, and I just didn’t want to ski anymore. I was done.
It was 7 years later before she got me back on skis again. At this point my Grandfather had passed away and had left us the house in Big Bear. Now that I was officially living in a resort town it was almost a prerequisite for citizenship that you know how to ski. All the other kids did. So my mother entered me into the Big Bear ski program where you risk your life a couple of time a week to earn different colored B’s for your efforts. I hated those fucking B’s. She would drag my ass to Snow Summit which was another more hip ski resort in Big Bear a couple of nights a week. There I had the pleasure of freezing my ass off while riding moguls down hills I didn’t want to go down, just so I could walk away with one of the coveted felt B’s that I could have cut out and sewn on my damn jacket myself. When she would come back and pick me up at night I would just grumble to myself all the while plotting her demise.
“I’ll make you a deal, once you graduate 8th grade you can quit if you want to,” she told me one night thinking by that time I would be so in love with skiing that there would be no way I would want to quit. I’m going to remember this conversation, woman. I counted down my time and continued to freeze my ass off a couple of nights a week just waiting for the final grain of sand to run out on my mothers time piece.
During this time my dad was in a relationship with a woman I couldn’t stand. But that was pretty much true of all his relationships except for two: one was his girlfriend Linda and the other is my stepmother, thank God. Anyhow, my dad and I went skiing with his tra…I mean girlfriend Nicole in Mammoth. And along with her came Tish, Nicole’s demon spawn of a daughter who was a couple years older than me. Tish got away with murder because anytime she did anything wrong she would just point the finger my way and her mother always believed her because, “My daughter would NEVER lie to me.” Well guess what lady; she’s lying to you. Taking the fall for someone you like is one thing. But taking the fall for someone who you don’t like is like making out with a really gross person when you’re drunk. The next morning you wake up feeling nauseated and dirty and just walk around all day saying to yourself, “Why? Why?”
So the four of us were up skiing and I’ll admit I was having a pretty good time but I was getting tired so the three of them left me behind in the lodge while they took one last run. There was nothing bad or sinister about this. I was fine with it actually, until the next skiing time bomb went off. I was trying to find a good view on the deck so I could watch them come down the mountain, when my Frankenstein boots slipped on a metal grate and my face smacked into the handrail. By the time my dad got back he was all in a panic because he couldn’t find me anywhere. That was probably because I was bleeding and being tended to by ski patrol. I hate skiing.
“She got lucky,” the ski patrol guy told my father. “An inch lower and she might have cut her eye open.” Awesome. But I did get some pity points out of my dad and the shrew so that was a bonus.
Time had been ticking along though, and I had been waiting patiently. It was the day of my 8th grade graduation and my mother was so proud. As we drove to the field over at the high school where the graduation was being held she told me, “I am just so proud of you.”
“I want to quit ski school.”
“What?’ She asked confused. She had either forgotten our deal or was playing dumb. Either way, I didn’t care.
“You told me when I graduated 8th grade I could quit. Well today I’m graduating, so I quit.”
“But you’ve come so far.”
“Okay.” And that was it. We had a perfectly nice graduation and never talked about it again. Finally I was done and I was so happy about it.
I did go back up in the mountain but I did it at my pace, on my time, and only when I wanted to. Just how I like to do things. That’s one thing about me people can’t quite seem to grasp. If you force me to do something, I’ll either refuse or resent the hell out of you. But if you forbid me to do something, or tell me I can’t do it, you can bet your ass I will try and prove you wrong. Once my husband figured this out, he became a much happier man.
I still feel really bad about the girl I impaled. And I know if I remember her this well than every time she looks in a mirror she defiantly remembers me. That was probably one of the single most traumatic experiences of my young life and I’m not even the one with the hole in my bottom lip. I don’t know who you are but if you’re out there reading this, I really am sorry. If it makes you feel better I still have a huge dent in my right thigh muscle from where a guy hit me with his surfboard 8 years ago. I was surfing in Pacific beach and was thigh deep in the ocean walking my board out, when…WHAM! Tip of a surfboard slammed into my leg at light speed. But when I think of that careless surfer, I think of him with love in my heart. And bullshit on my lips.
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