March 11th, 2008


I went skiing with my younger son over the weekend. It was a lesson in perspective. Bear with me while I tell the story twice.

Version 1:

The trip did not get off to a rousing good start. We got as far as Sacramento, where we stopped for a drink and bathroom break. I realized that, after carefully putting the condo keys on my fish carabiner with the rest of my keys, I had managed to lose them anyway. I expect it happened while I was clipping the keys to my belt loop or something. Several embarrassing phone calls later, my dad told me that the management company would put an extra key under the mat for me, since it was nearly 5 on Friday at this point. We went merrily on our way, little knowing what else lay in store.

T.R. is a beginning skier. He has learned a lot over the last couple of times we’ve skied and this time we progressed off the beginner lifts. This had two unpleasant effects. The first one was that he wiped out a lot more, and the later in the day it got, the more frustrated he became. It is never fun to try to get a ski back on, but it is worse to be helping someone else who happens to be crying and dreading the rest of the slope and cursing the snowboarders who were sitting in the run (presumably recovering from their own falls) for causing the panic that created T.’s own fall. The second unpleasantness was that my legs can’t take as much wedge-skiing as they used to. I ski behind T.R. on purpose to help with what a friendly ski patrol member called a “yard sale:” T.R. and his things scattered all over the slope. This requires that I ski more slowly than gravity would prefer. Muscles versus gravity is a very unfair fight and my quadriceps and whatever the muscles on the outside edges of my thighs are called hate me.

I threw in the towel at about 2 on Saturday. This made T. upset, partly because he was tired and partly because he really wanted to ski the whole day. I pulled rank, helped by one last untriumphant fall (as Bill and Ted would say).

We planned to go to the movies that night. I almost never carry cash with me. I almost never need cash. However, the one-screen theater in town only accepts cash. I hopped over to the nearest ATM and discovered that I did not have the ATM card that went to my account with me. I did have the card for another account, but it is the one I don’t know the PIN for. This was, naturally, annoying. I made yet another “Honey, I made a dumb mistake” phone call to get the PIN and discovered that the machine itself hated the card. T.R. and I gave up and headed back to the condo.

Where we discovered that I had lost the spare key.

We were in outer darkness, where there is wailing and gnashing of teeth. Trying to make the best of the situation, we retraced our steps and found the key in the doorway of the 7-Eleven where we had tried to use the ATM. I suggested renting a movie. We went to the video store, only to discover that they only have DVD’s now and the condo does not. Curtain.

Version 2:

The weather was perfect. The sky was as blue as I have ever seen it. We did not need to trouble ourselves with stupid hats. We wore sunscreen.

I got new ski pants on sale, figuring that it’s okay to buy new ski things every twenty years or so.

T.R. improved his skiing by leaps and bounds. His right turns are progressing naturally toward parallel and he has cured himself of looking at the tips of his skis as he goes.

There were no lines at the lifts. The lift operators are friendly and play good music. T.R. and I made immature jokes about the lift gates and their implications. We laughed and sang silly songs.

Saturday we made dinner from T.R.’s new Redwall cookbook. Anyone who has read even one of the Redwall books knows that the food sounds absolutely incredible. The version of Shrimp ‘n’ Hotroot Soup we made was not fabulous, but it was definitely edible and we have plans for modifying it next time.

We saw a coyote in the snow just beyond the parking structure at the condo. He loped off into the night.

Since we didn’t rent a movie Saturday night, we spent the time reading Lord of the Rings. T.R. was tired enough to drop off to sleep in a cozy ball by my side on the couch.

Sunday morning, we played a game of Senet, which T.R. won. Winning, among other things, entitles the winner to some serious gloating. Fortunately for my self-esteem, we had to leave to hit the slopes again.

On both drives, we got to listen to The Castle of Llyr by Lloyd Alexander on tape. It has been a while since I read it; I think it was the summer Syd was nine. It was better than I remembered.

We got home and ate sushi.

I think version two wins.