December 18, 2014 - 8:11 AM
A friend who read my recent mumblings about the awfulness of winter suggested my attitude might improve if I found something enjoyable to do in this dreary season. He suggested skiing. Since I used to be rather good at that, I considered it a fine opportunity to impress some of today’s youth with some old-school skills.
The last time I attempted to slide down a mountain, one wore corduroy trousers and a woolly pullover, the skis were made of birch and the lift was a rope powered by a donkey attached to a wheel. Things have changed.
My friend lent me a “ski suit” which was a sort of puffy straight jacket. It was white. I looked like a gigantic marshmallow.
When we arrived he took me to a rental shop, where I was given skis and had my feet painfully clamped in contraptions which I can only assume were intended to trap wild animals. I tried to walk and promptly toppled over. Eventually I discovered that by imitating a chicken I could make jerky progress towards the door.
We headed for the lift. Apparently modern skis are more slippery than in my day, because I overshot the stopping line. My friend grabbed me just as he sat down so that I landed on his lap at the exact moment the startled attendant stopped the lift.
Having sorted out our seating arrangements, we set off. Half way up it occurred to me that I would have to disembark. Fortunately my friend was aware of my rising panic and offered to help. At precisely the right moment he lifted the bar, yelled “TIPS UP!” (which is rather how I’d expected things to go anyway) and pushed me off the lift.
Surprisingly, I stayed upright, What I didn’t do, couldn’t do, was stop. Fortunately the early part of the run I had inadvertently selected was fairly gentle so I settled in to some pleasant cruising, only to be startled by an army of fast-moving snow boarders who appeared to have mistaken me for a slalom pole.
This started me wobbling. Then the slope steepened and I began picking up speed. My friend caught up and yelled “turn!” I leaned over and managed to effect a very graceful 180 degree turn and come to a complete stop. I breathed a sigh of relief.
Half a second later I began accelerating rather quickly. Backwards. Lacking any other means of solving the problem, I decided to fall down before it got any worse.
When the dust, or rather, snow settled I assumed I was dead. I was lying face-down in the snow, and could hear angels, high above me. They were laughing. I rolled onto my back, opened my eyes, and discovered I had come to rest directly under the lift, with nothing seriously damaged but my dignity. A youth asked my if I was all right.
“Of course” I replied. “This is how it was done in my day.” He didn’t seem at all impressed.
— The Grumpy Old Git still has corduroy trousers and woolly sweater. Just not for skiing.
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