Friday, January 18, 2008

On Why You Can Find Me in the Lodge

Me at Sundance, going my preferred way down the hill.

It was announced to our family yesterday--via my brother Andrew--that we are having a family ski day. Kids are going to get picked up from school, adults are ditching work early, mothers are getting sitters for their babies, even family members from out-of-town are flying in to all meet up at Sundance for the twilight skiing hours.

We are a family of generational skiers, Utahan's who do what Utahan's do best. My grandfather skied until he was well into his eighties. My father was captain of the prestigious Provo High Ski Club which is where he met my mother (the Snowflake Princess). We merely had to be three years old for Dad to bundle us up in Norwegian sweaters, strap skis to our feet, and send us snowplowing down the bunny hill. Even my own best friend, Wendy, has made a profession of the sport.

Here is what I hate: skiing.

Oh I've tried to like it. Christmas always came with new ski equipment--purple bindings, pink boots, a shiny turquoise coat--and a season pass to Sundance. My mother graciously maneuvered our red-and-white suburban up and down the windy, ear-popping road every Saturday and always wrote checks for the school ski programs. I was given every chance to embrace my heritage, and yet just thinking about skiing the next day made for nervous nights previous.

It's that feeling of loss of control (and subsequently bladder) that I feared so much. My ski partners would get tired of my repeated desire to run the straight-but-not-steep Bear Claw right off the chair lift. By lunchtime they insisted that we try a black diamond run, mogul-y death traps with names like, The Cadaver. With a prayer in my heart I'd stare down into an endless gully, take the first turn and fall like a wild slinky--head over feet--until my property littered the mountainside. What part about all that sounds fun?

Wendy was my constant ski companion, though she was about seven times better than me from the beginning. We had a pact that when we skied we were allowed to swear like a rebellious Bishop's daughter. On any run (other than the Bear Claw) I used a plethora of swear words as I sped out of capacity to my immediate death. Yes Mother, I even used that one. (I was after all, a daughter of a Bishop in my youth.)

Here is what I tried: snowboarding, in my twenties.

Here is another thing I hate: snowboarding.

It didn't help that my teacher was my impatient ex-husband-to-be. I cried the whole day, black-and-blue-and-purplish from my attempts. The week after I was too swollen to go to my classes and my head didn't stop hurting until Babylon (whatever that means). Indeed, a dark chapter in the life of this writer.

And so this is where I thank The Chief.
Were not for the fact that merely picking up a fallen crumb in my kitchen makes me up-chuck, there would be no-end to the familial pressure to ski next week. No, instead I'll be chillin' in the lodge with a watermelon sucker and a cup of Hot ("the devil's temperature") in a eco-friendly-Sundance-approved-Styrofoam cup looking out for celebrities (Robert himself doesn't count, who hasn't seen him around from season-to-season?) watching for Chup on his snowboard. It's really better this way. Otherwise I'd be seen on the slopes being passed by our second generation--agile nieces and nephews-- dispelling any respect they ever had for their dear, fragile aunt.

Because if there is one thing that we are better at than skiing in my family, it's teasing.