01 January, 2010

Of skiing Wildcat Mountain

19 November 2005

R. Linda:

Last week we had a major amount of snow in the mountains. I normally pay no attention, unless said snow is in me yard, to be more precise in me driveway. I got an email Thursday afternoon from Weasil. He told me of the impending snow coming in for the weekend and invited me to go snowboarding with him. Now I do not snowboard. Ski? Well a tad I do. I be no Brody Miller, but I can remain upright if the mountain slope isn't too steep.

Me wife was starting Christmas shopping that weekend and that's the last thing I wanted to be dragged along for. I would rather break me fool neck down a snowy mountain than battle the hordes as I trudge along like a beast of burden, carrying Tonya's Christmas cache. So I said yes, I'd go risk me neck and limbs on the slopes of New Hampshire.

The Weas wrote me back informing yours truly that there was a slight problem with the ski resort. It is the best one for skiing at the moment and none other will do, except there is this thing the ski resort runs once a year. It is called Gay Ski Day. Well, Mr. W is a young lad he is, a blonde type and not unattractive to both sexes. You see the problem? As for meself, who would care, male or female. I be tall, lanky and not that good looking especially when standing next to Weasil. Therefore, I be not disturbed in the least. Actually, I be of the mind it would be quite a trip to watch the Weasil trying to outrun his admirers down a mountain slope, much like the ski patrol but faster. Film at eleven and I do not jest.

The Weasil is not homophobic, just doesn't like being hit on by the same sex. Well, I told the lad it is no big deal to me and if the powder be all that grand than brilliant! Let's go do it. He wasn't so sure but caved because he is a snowboardaholic.

We got to the resort and there were all these colourful ski outfits about me, men quaffed and smelling of Eternity (not the men's, the women's). And, then there are the two of us looking a tad more macho than usual just in case. Yes indeed, we had on black so we looked like skiing gangsters, face masks and all. For all the good it did, we still cut a figure in our black outfits because we got looks not of watch out for those guys, but of admiration, for being 'different.' Not me so much as Mr. W. I knew before we even had our bindings on that Weas might be in a wee bit of a pickle. Oh the looks he got when he took off the ski mask, I tell you he was the poster boy for "Come and get me."

In the crush to get to the chair-lift, the chair-lift workers were letting people go two at a time. Problem with this was if you got in line as a couple you might not be a couple on the chair-lift. Whoever was ahead of you was your partner. Well, there were three together in front of us and so that meant both of us would be separated and riding up the mountain with a stranger. I shoved Mr. W in front of me and on he got with a man dressed in a lipstick red ski outfit, down to the boots and skis I might tell you.

I was on with a man dressed in lime green with black trim who had a goatee and looked quite insane. For a while there I was sure I made a mistake by pushing Weasil first. However, as it happened I had no worry. I must have been not the man's type to even chat with because he ignored me the entire way up.

One side note here: Let me describe for you the chair-lift. This chair-lift was open. When I say open I mean no rails to hold onto, no lap rail to snap you into the chair so you don't fall out. And, the lift would swing each time it stopped, which it did with an annoying frequency.

Since I was subject to silence (I did try a wee bit of conversation, I said something like, "My my we are rather high off the ground," to which I got a look), I stared straight ahead because I didn't have the stomach to look down. There in front of me sat Mr. W on the left and the lipstick red man on his right.

What was so unusual was that the man in red was gesticulating in wide arcs. I watched the lift chairs swing even more wildly in the air with each gesture. I was thinking to meself that Weasil started up with this guy and if he wasn't careful, he would be pushed off the lift to the rocky snowy ground a thousand feet below (well, it seemed like a thousand feet).

Come to find out later that Weasil's chair mate was a guy named Hollis ("Please call me Holly"), who had the unfortunate bad luck to be riding up the mountain with the less than accommodating Weasil.

Well, Weasil isn't normally afraid of heights, but when you have someone sitting next to you talking with flamboyant motions, rocking the chairs, and you with nothing to grab onto, well, then he isn't exactly not afraid of high places.

There he was, Holly on the right, Weasil on the left. Holly was explaining to Weasil how every year he looks forward to Gay Ski Day on the mountain, and this with wide arm gestures.

"Call me a bitch, but I don't talk to any men unless they are wearing designer ski outfits. Girlfriend, you just know that if he can't afford good quality stuff, he isn't going to buy you designer presents."

Oh my. When later I was told this, I was thinking it was lucky for Holly that he wasn't upended off the lift by an accidental wave of Weasil adjusting his gloves. Calling Weasil "girlfriend," uh dangerous.

"Girlfriend, I can be such a 'bee och' sometimes, that you do not want to mess with meee. No way honey, I make sure the men I date are dressed in designer dreams, not some China knockoff. I even have this way of getting my arms around a neck and gently, oh so gently girlfriend, flipping up the shirt label to make sure it's designer wear. You know what I mean? It is either rainbow depot or no."

I be sure Weasil didn't know that and I be equally sure Weasil was feeling a tad queasy. I did notice his hand covering the back of his ski togs where the label would be hiding.

Suddenly the lift stopped and the gesticulating Holly had his legs going as well. Red skis glistened in the sunlight as they flopped around in unison with the gesturing arms. I hadn't a clue what was being said, but I did see that Weasil's shoulders were hunched up and he was tense as the chair swung back and forth in the breeze, his snowboard hugged against him. I had me heart in me throat for a minute there, thinking Weasil was about to be flung from the chair to the sharp rocks below, and begorrah me, I did not want to see me friend killed in such a fashion. It would be different if Weasil was speeding down the hill and hit a tree, then I'd say, "Well, Weasil was going a high rate of speed, risking life and limb he was, and he set a record just before his face hit that huge pine tree."

You see there would be glory in his death, but not from some strange man gesturing in a chair-lift causing Weasil to fall to his untimely and rocky death.

I found meself leaning forward trying to get a closer look to see if he was about to fall, when I realised it was me that was about to take the fatal plunge. I sat back holding me breath as the full impact of what I almost did hit me. Me chair mate was looking at me like he too thought I was about to meet me Maker, but he said nothing. A disdainful scowl took over his face after that and set as if in cement the rest of the way up.

But back to Weasil. Once we reached the summit, Weasil was away fast and furious . . . with Holly close behind him. As I came off the lift, me chair mate went in another direction and I skied a few paces out of the way of the other skiers watching where Weasil had gone off to. I realised someone was standing next to me with the same expression on his face, as I had on mine . . . wonder. Yes R. Linda, wonder where his and my ski mate had gone off to.

The man looked at me and asked, "Are you a friend of that man in black?" Well, yes I am I said. He asked me if I was also a friend of Holly's to which I must have looked clueless because he explained that Holly was the man in lipstick red. Oh, I thought to meself as I figured it out. Holly had taken a fancy to Weasil and this person next to me was Holly's significant other perhaps? Why yes, it turned out it was one Mathieu, yes spelled just that way you see it, not Matthew. He spelled it for me to be sure I got it the first time, I did.

Anyway, he was not happy. I don't know what I was, because I was too cold to think about anything but skiing down the mountain for a hot up of something, not hot cocoa either, thank you very much. I didn't much care if it was that raisin mead they were brewing in the ski lodge, or cider, or coffee. I knew me toes were curling with cold and I wanted down off that slope. BUT, I needed to tell me companion where I be going and well, he was up a ways curving his board into the snow somehow making it up hill as fast as he could away from Holly who was hot on his heels ski wedging in with his insteps sideways trying to catch up. I could almost hear, "GIRLFRIEND, WAIT UP," but I can't be sure I wasn't hearing things, what with the wind whipping around me red ears. I put me ski mask down to keep me nose from falling off.

Suddenly with lightning speed Weasil spun on his snowboard and started carving (this means making tight turns while the edges of his snowboard cut into the snow) trying to turn around so he could get a fast take of the powder. Meanwhile, Holly had got the gist that Weasil was about to go down the hill without a word, and Holly wanted a word if not a look at the label of Weas's snow-wear, so Holly was going too. It was going to be a race of snowboard vs. skis.

I had no clue if this Holly could even ski, but so far he had managed to stay upright, more than I can say for meself (most of the time). Mathieu muttered under his breath and then called out, "Holly, that isn't the bunny slope!" Well, that answered me question because Weasil was headed straight for the fall line which is straightest and STEEPEST slope on the mountain. No moguls this time (snow bumps), it was all get away on Weasil's part.

The sound of Weasil schussing (skiing straight downhill, in a full tuck. Not usually recommended) passed me almost knocked me off me feet. The sound of the board skimming the top of the snow was something I won't forget anytime soon. Then before I could turn around, a bright red blur went passed in the same direction and speed.

'HOLY SHIT," Mathieu screamed, and without further adieu or a by your leave to me, he turned his skis and was gone behind the other two speed demons. I was glad it wasn't a terrain park full of jumps and halfpipes, rails and other obstacles like you find in the snowboard lanes, but I was not THAT grateful that the path I was to follow was straight down. I gulped. I turned around and found an easier slope. I thought to meself I'll just take the intermediate slope and get down safely.

I never meant to go down the trail the other three whizzed on down, no I did not. I looked at it and the three of them barrelling down at speeds I think had to be G-force. But something happened as I turned to get a better view of the intermediate slope, I started sliding. YES, SLIDING DOWN THE OTHER FREAKING BREAKNECK HILL BACKWARDS! I somehow slid in an arch and was picking up speed now that I was facing the right direction. I pulled down me goggles to keep the flying ice from hitting me eyes, but then the face mask was hot wool from being against me skin and the goggles steamed up so I couldn't FREAKING SEE! I tried to dig me poles into the snow but halfway there I realised I'd take a header and probably kill meself. So I crouched, knees together, poles behind me, desperately trying to see, when I realised the position made me go FASTER!

I didn't dare stand up straight or I think I would have fallen, so as I picked up speed, I gingerly pulled one part of me face mask from me right eye and begorrah I was able to see a wee bit, not much but just enough to see Mathieu try to wedge his skis to slow down. I saw the reason he was trying because not more than twenty yards in front of him was Holly having a yard sale (a wipe out fall in which skis, poles, hat, goggles, sunglasses, mittens, and anything else you may have on your person ends up strewn along the mountain side). Poor Holly. Mathieu couldn't stop he went right on passed his fallen comrade's stuff as I started to enter the yard sale. I saw the upended red poles one on me left and another ten yards to me right. I saw the red hat with the bright pink fluff ball on top right in me way, but managed to avoid it somehow. Then I saw a bright red ski or part of one and then the other half. A few yards later was a red glove, then another and finally the other ski bizarrely stuck straight into a tree trunk. OUCH. Where was Holly? Buried alive?

I was gaining speed and after passing the debris of what was once a man in red and not seeing the body anywhere, I was praying to me Maker like I never prayed before to save me from the same fate. And he heard me, but he didn't have in mind what I had in mind.

I was somehow skiing in the tracks that Mathieu left. Suddenly I found meself veering off the slope into an off trail (places that you should not be, such as closed, ungroomed, and unpatrolled slopes). I was not liking that because as I came over a hill I found meself flying in the air like I had just come off a ski jump. Yes, I screamed like a girl.

Somehow I landed on me feet, but Mathieu wasn't so lucky. I caught a quick glimpse of him pulling himself out of a snow bank which he had entered head first. Next to me was this rather large expanse of flattened snow, too big for a snowboard and I momentarily wondered what made it. I didn't have to wonder too long because right in front of me was Holly on his back, legs and arms in the air screaming (yes, he too like a girl), caught in the wake of Weasil's snowboard.

No matter what he did, he wasn't going to stop unless Weasil stopped, the speed of the snowboard was too pulling for him to be able to stop himself. There 100 yards in front of me and the screaming Holly, was Weasil totally enjoying the milk run doing a goofy (right foot action on the board) headed straight for glade skiing (special trails for skis through the trees where I knew it would all end for me and probably Holly.

R. Linda, I prayed to every deity I could think of, except the one that sent me over the faux ski jump. I was coming up fast on Holly and I knew I'd be running him over and probably killing him. But I COULD NOT STOP. Fast I came through those scary trees, all too close together for me not to feel like Sonny Bono on his last holiday. I did the only thing I could, I shouted at Weasil to stop. Somehow he heard me, when he looked around I be sure under that ski mask was a surprised expression, not of the chaos behind him, but that Holly was still hot on his trail, never mind he wasn't doing it on purpose, but he was still coming at Weasil and closing in.

I know you'll think that funny, but I be sure Weasil didn't and I be pretty sure at that point in time, Holly didn't want to slam into Weasil, he just wanted to stop, as did I. Well, we all did rather suddenly because with Weasil looking over his shoulder he lost track of the trail and . . . it is hard to describe it all because it happened so fast, but well . . . Weasil turned just in time to see the tree, but I be sorry to say the board met the tree and is, alas, no more but a bunch of matchstick-like fibreglass splinters. I'd like to say Holly was as lucky as Weasil, but he was still in the same wake as the snowboard and well . . . he didn't impact the tree full on, but he did get smacked on the back of the legs by the descending pieces of snowboard which whirled his forward motion to a spinning end into a deep culvert full of icy water, pulling Weasil in with him as he grabbed for something to hold onto. As for yours truly, I fell backwards and let the forward slide take me. I ended up in the icy culvert as well and talk about being chilled before, nothing could compare to lying in icy running water.

I was fecking grateful to not move though me teeth were moving on their own, chattering away. I was ever so happy to be at zero speed. I didn't realise there was an intense discussion by me other water logged icy mates going on. I lay there listening to this between the chattering of me teeth.

"That is the last time I ever show any interest in someone wearing a Giro Fuse audio helmet with high intensity Wisdom goggles, and sporting a Spyder ski outfit. I mean, my God like totally I never, ever will again as long as I live. You designer bitches are just too crazy for me. I mean, like what was with that take off?"

"Shut it before I bash ya in da mouf." Was the simple reply from Weasil.

That was all Holly got out when the ski patrol arrived. They checked us out then cursed us out and took our lift tickets away. That was just dandy with me. I think Weasil and Holly are banned from Wildcat Mountain forever, but I could come back with a false name. They don't know what I look like. My goggles were adhered to the wool of me ice encrusted face mask, and there was no removing it out in the cold.

With clacking teeth I somehow managed to get on the back of a ski patrol Arctic Cat. Holly sat on another complaining about his ruined Versace snowsuit that was special ordered, and the loss of his designer goggles, and his Rossignol skis. I'll spare you the sorry details of all four of us getting back to the ski lodge. It took a painful amount of time or at least when one is as cold as I was, it seemed like a long time, and to say I was frozen is understating it. That we weren't all hospitalised for hypothermia is a miracle.

Later, after I spent an hour in the men's room gently dabbing warm water over me ski mask to get it off me frozen face, something that curious patrons of the men's room found simply fascinating, I think I sat in the lodge drinking raisin mead for four hours straight trying to undo the chill that had hold of me bod, not to mention me choppers. I was joined by Holly dressed in a big furry rabbit jacket with matching boots. You know the Klondike kind that makes one look like big foot? At least everyone there was gay, so his outfit wasn't that outrageous, and to be straight about it (no pun intended) I was so cold that damn outfit looked like just the thing. I had to sit there and listen to him jabber on about the loss of his designer duds.

Finally Weasil showed up somehow looking for all the world like he stepped out of a ski magazine, except for the crutches. Seems Weasil had taken a good whack to both legs when his board hit the tree. Right away the two of them (Weas and Holly) got into it about the afternoon's carnage in the snow or as the other referred to it, the fiasco on the mountain. Take your choice either is accurate. I couldn't stand the bickering so I tugged on Weasil until I got him off the bar stool and pulled him out to the car, him shaking his crutch at the snippy Holly. We left Holly commiserating to anyone who would listen that "straight men just are not worth the trouble, honey. Take it from me, they just don't know."

We were two who didn't want to know and so we left. Since then I have been sneezing me fool head off and listening to Tonya's told ya so. Never will I go to the slope with the Weasil ever again. Oh, and Mathieu asked me out. Yeah, asked ME when we were all saddled up on the back of the ski mobiles. That was like spilled pudding on the table, the last straw. He did it for Holly's benefit to make him jealous and to pay him back. I hit Weasil upside the head as we left and berated him to the car over it.

I have since heard from the Weasil. He is milking his "accident" for all it is worth. he told his new bride he did this spectacular backside rodeo (coming off a jump and turning your back down the hill, flipping 540 degrees and landing fakie or rotating a total of 720 degrees and landing regular), which he has done, God bless him, but he lied about it this time. But then it must be a blow to his masculinity to say, "Well honey, this gay guy was chasing me down the mountain and . . ."

What can I say?

Gabe
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