This is the story I heard from the back seat of a van on the way to the airport after Christmas.
Our friends had a place at Attatash Mountain in the Mt. Washington Valley of New Hampshire. They kept bugging us to come up to visit and take a ski lesson, with a few brews and laughs thrown in. They went on and on about the unbelievable views for twenty miles across white peaks. I figured if I wanted to see that much white I could book a trip to Antarctica. The brews I could get at home.
But my wife persisted that we never went anywhere or tried anything different. Her friend Gloria kept calling from New Hampshire and finally both women wore me down.
The trip up wasn't so bad...just three hours in the car and the weather held without any black ice. Their house was on the side of the mountain, so it's a good thing we didn't get hit by a storm or we'd never have gotten out of there. I was ready to go after day one.
Marilyn, my wife, signed us up for a lesson on the bunny slope. First we had to rent the gear. I couldn't walk more than two steps in the boots, but the guy in the shop said I'd get used to them. At least the skis were short and wide. I could put them together and ride them down on my belly in a pinch.
At 10:00 we went from the rental shop to meet the class on the mountain. I had my skis and poles on my shoulder but Marilyn had to show me up and put the contraptions on.
After he introduced himself, our 125-pound instructor Adolf (my name for him - his was Jake) began sidestepping up to a large rock platform. "Follow me!" he said. The rock was in front of a glass window where I could see some hungover dudes enjoying their meal inside.
What the hell am I doing here? I thought. I could be in there enjoying myself! But I kept walking up to the rock with my skis and poles on my shoulder. Needless to say, my boots sank into the snow the lightweight Mr. A (no longer "A" for Adolf, but "A" for Ass****) had NOT packed for us. I lost sight of my feet till he came and pulled me out. I would never have guessed he had that kind of strength in those chicken legs.
"OK, folks, now I want everyone on their skis. You're going to practice sidestepping down to where we met."
Was he serious? My thighs were already burning. I stood in the middle of the rock and put the things on. I didn't care how much wax got scraped off the bottoms. I felt like Sylvester Stallone from "Rocky" up there on the side of the bunny slope in front of that window. I gave the guys inside a wave.
"Now take a few steps sideways off the rock," Mr. A said. "Dig in those edges and you'll keep from falling."
Enough, already! But I didn't want to disappoint Marilyn. She was already down at the meeting place. I placed my first ski sideways below the rock. Unfortunately, it didn't stay there. I could feel it sliding down toward Marilyn and it started to get away from me. Since my other leg was still on the rock, I thought my privates were each going in a separate direction. I did the only thing a wimp could do... I collapsed like a deck of cards. The guys in the window were giving me the thumbs-up.
Mr. A pulled me upright. "Try it again," he said. "Lean IN toward the mountain. Make the mountain your friend."
Did this guy hear himself? My friend, Attatash? He was Mr. A, all right! I tried again and got the same result. He had to tow me down to the rest of the class.
"Next I want you in a circle," he said to us. "I'm going to demonstrate the snow plow turn."
At that moment we heard a woman screaming above us on the bunny slope. "Help! I can't stop! Help!"
The red pompom on her ski hat bobbed with each thrust of her head while her poles plunged through the air toward the skiers in her path. Some of them took off right into the woods. Her straight run created more speed as she got closer and closer.
"Fall down!" Mr. A yelled. "Fall, fall!" all of us began yelling.
It was too late. Her path headed right for our circle, which parted like the Red Sea. She whizzed past toward the parking lot. We unlocked our boots (the first thing I'd learned!) and ran after her.
"My God, don't hit a car!" Mr. A yelled.
She didn't. Instead, she went across the snow-packed lot right for the mammoth pile the plows had made. That's where she ended up, with all of us running after her.
When we arrived, her legs stuck straight up in the air but we couldn't see her arms. She must have used them to stop her fall. They were somewhere under the snowbank. Mr. A dislodged her head and neck and the ski patrol was right behind us with a toboggan. "That's it for me," I said to Marilyn. "I'll see you inside for lunch."
She found me at the bar. By then I'd made real good friends with a bottle of Scotch.
- Delray Beach, FL, Westport, MA, United States
- Undergraduate degree, Colby College; MA in teaching, Columbia Teacher's College; former high school English teacher in three states; former owner of interior design co. with advanced degree from R.I. School of Design. Published first book in 2009 titled, MINOR LEAGUE MOM: A MOTHER'S JOURNEY THROUGH THE RED SOX FARM TEAMS. Her humorous manuscript titled ELDERLY PARENTS WITH ALL THEIR MARBLES: A SURVIVAL GUIDE FOR THE KIDS was published in June, 2014. In 2015 A SURVIVAL GUIDE won a gold medal in the self-help category at the Florida Authors & Publishers Association conference. See website By CLICKING HERE.