Wednesday, December 29, 2010

I'll take a Valium with that chair ...

Skiers recount 'scary' plunge from chair lift

This was headline news yesterday.

Not good news for a girl who has ski lift chair anxiety.  That would be me.  Huge huge HUGE anxiety!

The first time I skied, I was around 28 or so, freshly divorced and ready for adventures.  My boyfriend (bf) at the time had taken a job out in Boise, Idaho, and invited me out for a weekend of skiing.  I had never skied before, so I was up for it.  How hard could it be?

Boy, was I dopey.

It was Idaho, for god’s sake.  Mountains, big steep, freezing cold, snow covered mountains.  People can die on mountains, ski into trees, thank you Sonny Bono for that image.  Take a spill and have a brain bleed like Liam Neeson’s wife, Natasha Richardson.

But I was in lust ... anything and everything was possible in the world.

So I borrowed my girlfriends ski jacket (her size 6 ski pants were not meant for my size 12 bottom), hopped a plane and headed out west for my big adventure.

Now there were probably several signs that would have been alarming to me had I not been so gooey eyed over my bf.

Like arriving to the resort and being the only one in blue jeans.

Like spending only 30 minutes on the bunny slope, and 20 of those minutes trying to figure out how the heck you pull or pole yourself up once in a horizontal position.  (Oh, how you scoff, but it’s a whole other matter getting up from a horizontal position with 6 foot fiberglass planks on your feet.)

Like strangers giving me pointers on the bunny slope while my bf went off to do a couple of runs before we take the lift up TOGETHER.

Like not knowing the meaning of the Green circle, Blue square, and Black diamond symbols and totally trusting your bf when he says you are ready.

Did you know that there are reasons ski trails have names like Lazy Mary or Widow Maker.

Did you know that it is much easier to get ON a ski lift than it is to get OFF a ski lift.

And that one should wear special ski pants which are WATER proof so you don't freeze your ass off since you are going to be spending most of your time on it anyway.

See, didn’t I warn you earlier that I was dopey.

As I sat on the lift with the bf who had boosted my confidence that I was certainly ready to glide down the mountain with him, I started to feel this pinch of anxiety grow in my stomach about how one gets OFF the lift.  Oh, he gladly gave me instructions and I eagerly listened to each and every thing I should do as we approached.  But all I could see were the puffy coated people ahead of me easily gliding off the chair down the incline which looked MUCH larger than the bunny slope which I had just vacated.

I was gripped with fear!

What the hell was I doing here?

Tilt skis up, push off chair, bend knees slightly, keep poles close to body and glide down incline.


Immediately fall to avoid incline only to be knocked in the head by the chair lift while taking out your bf.  (Oh, ye who had so much faith in me.)

Did you know they stop chair lifts when people fall?  Yep, they sure do!  Gave me time to pick up my wet bottomed ass and get out of the way.  That is, actually CRAWL out of the way.

Could I just pleeeeaaaase ride back down the mountain.  And then could you just pleeeeeeease stop when it’s my turn to get off.  Pleeeeeeease??

Nope, not going to happen.  Cause my bf was confident that I could ski down that mountain.  Down that Blue square symbol, intermediate mountain slope.

“Ready to go?”

I looked at him with less gooey eyes.

“I think you need to go on ahead.  It’s going to take me a little while to get down to the bottom.”

He paused before speaking.  The gooey eyes had turned into loathing ice crystals.

“Okay, if that’s what you want.  Meet you at the bottom.”

“I might be a while, so I’ll see you when I see you.”

And with that he slid over the edge and gracefully swished back and forth so easily in the packed powder.  At that point, if I had a javelin, I would have pitched it at him.

So there I was, alone, standing at the precipice of my demise, wet jeans and all.  Oh, I gave it my best.  I angled my skis to horizontally cross the trail only to have them plow into five foot snow banks from which I would have to pry them back out and do the same thing again in the opposite direction.  At this rate, I was covering about 10 feet of vertical slope every 10 minutes.

Off came the skis and I began walking down the mountain.  Have you ever walked down a mountain in ski boots?  Not fun.  Half way down was a lodge with a big roaring fireplace where I could again start feeling my half frozen legs.  A few hot rum drinks helped with that progress.

When I finally reached the bottom, I had also reached the end with that bf.  It was a long cold weekend before my Monday flight home.  And I’m not just talking about the weather.

Years later, when I met The Professor who was a big ski buff, I tried again.  Only this time, I had size 12 ski pants and a good coach.

I’ve been skiing now for 12 years, but my ski lift anxiety has never gone away and news stories like the one yesterday...

Well, let’s just say,

I’ll take a Valium with that lift ticket, thank you very much.

Yours truly,
missing the mom gene