Today we had a snowstorm. It wasn’t much of a snowstorm, but that’s only because it warmed up in the late afternoon and melted a lot of the snow off. The nasty mess did last long enough to keep me from driving down to Springfield for office hours…and my understanding is that it did not warm up on the ski hill. And really, the only important thing is what happens on the hill.
We need more snow. We had a lot of it, and really primo Rockies-style powder it was. We never get that in New England. New England skiers are known the nation over for being Technically Superior. That’s because we’re usually skiing on ice. I do know that I’m much happier when my skis – and the skis and boards of those around me – are making shuuusshing noise as they move down the hill. The alternative is scraping sounds. Or, on really bad days, banging and clattering sounds. We had plenty of nice soft sounds the last three weeks or so…right up until our Epic January Thaw, when we started to see the dirt that had been hidden by the snow since Christmas. The rest of the mountain got all melty, like it does when you’re skiing at Easter – but unlike when you’re actually skiing at Easter, this melty stuff was destined to freeze up, hard as a rock, in the next day or two.
Just in time for MLK weekend, the busiest weekend in the entire Ski Season.
There’s nothing like rocketing down the side of a mountain on a big textured sheet of ice.
And there’s really nothing like doing that in a huge crowd comprised of daredevil tweens, entitled investment bankers, snow bunnies, hungover sales reps trying to do business on their cell phones from the chair lifts, and never-ever noobs who didn’t think it necessary to take a few hours to learn to ski before launching themselves up a mountain.
While you don’t have to wait for MLK weekend to have this privilege, it is guaranteed at that time. We certainly got a taste of it last weekend too. Mountain was covered with Hero Snow. That’s snow that is so soft and forgiving and easy to ski, you can wind up skiing at a level you ordinarily wouldn’t be able to touch. Stuff went to the head of a couple of Studly Middle-Aged Jackasses too. One of them was bombing down – and doing in such a way that I could tell he did know how to ski, which meant he wasn’t a beginner, he was just an asshole – bombing down a crowded intermediate run and treating all of the other skiers like they were poles in some kind of slalom race. Idiot damn near ran over my sticks, he cut that close behind me. I’d have tracked him down and socked him a good one, too, if he had. I mean, putting me in danger is one thing, but gouging up my topsheets? Now Them’s Fighting Words.
I watched him come within a whisker of clipping four other people on his way straight into the base area, too. And – for once – I was wearing my helmet cam. It had been an amazing day on the hill – picture perfect and with spectacular views. Epic, as we say in the ski bar. And I was looking forward not just to processing my videos and making some Entry Level Art, but I was really looking forward to incorporating footage of that jerk. I was going to stick in a caption over the back of his head that just said “TOTAL ASSHOLE” and make it blink a few times, and then stick it up on to YouTube.
Imagine my dismay when I discovered at home that the memory chip had come loose and even though the cam had been powered up and making all of the proper responses, it hadn’t recorded a damn thing. I was so devastated I had to go lie down.
Back to MLK weekend on the hill. Getting some fresh licks of white from the sky will go a long way to avoiding the Skied-Off Sheet O’ Ice experience, and that’s a good thing, because I have – for once – a Ski Buddy coming in for a ski trip with me. This is rad. I always wind up skiing alone unless I’m taking a lesson. I’m not even sure how to ski in company! But one thing I know: I wanted it to be a nice experience, not an ice experience. So I was pretty thrilled about the snowstorm.
It put me in such a good mood I had to hit my corner sushi joint for dinner. This place is tremendous. It’s like “Cheers” with chopsticks and a gong. The owner and his wife know all the regulars by name, and if you’re enough of a regular, they grant you a pair of chopsticks of your own to keep in the restaurant. I remember the night I got mine like it was yesterday. It’s always a good sign when you see someone at the bar who has their own pair. It’s not quite like being at a ski bar, where everyone there is a friend you haven’t met yet, but close. They don’t cater to jerks there.
Tonight it was a small crew, partly because the city put on the Snow Emergency beacon which means no street parking after dark. They’ll tow your butt if you do, too. It’s necessary to do this so that the work crews can plow the roads out – otherwise, the streets (which are already on the narrow New Englandy side) just get narrower, and narrower, and narrower, until they all turn into one-way streets. Not formally, of course. People still try to use them in both directions. But it’s like when the road is under construction and it’s down to one lane and a flagger decide when direction 1 stops and waits and direction 2 goes, and so on…only without the flagger, and all of it getting negotiated from behind the steering wheel on the fly.
It’s a study in Chaos Theory, I am told.
So the only other customers in the place all had their own chopsticks, and I settled in with a dish of wakame and waited for my fish to show up. The proprietor has interesting taste in music. We’re just now coming off a three-year Reggae Jag. Nothing like powering down a Dragon Roll to the licks of Peter Tosh and Max Romeo. Now we’re into the Seventies.
And as I sat there making my way meditatively through the seaweed salad, on rolls a song I – and every other member of the Civilized World – recognizes immediately. And it wasn’t very long before I found myself singing along. “Ain’t no doubt about it – we were doubly blessed! We were barely seventeen, and we were barely dressed!”. The couple down the bar from be burst out laughing and one of them said “Yep, another one shows their age” and then took the sting out by rolling out in a lovely baritone “Though it’s cold and lonely in the deep dark night…” and the next second, everyone in the restaurant, including the waiters, was singing along.
It would have been creepy if it weren’t so much fun.
The only experience I have to touch this is being at the Magic Kingdom during their late hours, waiting with a horde of college students for the new Buzz Lightyear shoot-em-up ride, and finding myself in the middle of a spontaneous eruption of “Bohemian Rhapsody” with 45 total strangers. We did the whole thing, too, before the maintenance guy got the ride going again.
In the midst of this experience, I had the uncanny sensation that I knew the guy who had started singing with me. His hair and eyes looked familiar, but that was it.
I was baffled…
…until later, his wife started talking Orthodontia with the owner’s wife about their kids. Then the penny dropped.
That guy was my dentist. That’s why I only recognized his hair and eyes. And voice, but I never heard him sing in the office, that’s for damn sure. Every other time I’ve seen him he’s had one of those masks on.
Like I said, it’s the weird little things in life…