Four-Letter Words, or Why Being A New England Skier Is Like Being A Knicks Fan


We’ll start with the long words and move to the short ones.

Start with two words, in particular:




Roy is a die-hard Knicks fan.  Or, rather, he is unless you start looking at really die-hard Knicks fans like his friend Helen.  You can tell these people because they look like kicked puppy dogs.  Only, in some creepy way, they also look like the sort of people who do the kicking.

You know…masochists.

Every year Roy faces the new NBA season – well, when there’s not a lockout, anyway – with the sort of chirpy good humor and resillient optimism that one associates with True Innocence.  Every year, he knows it, deep in his heart of hearts:  This Year Will Be Different.  This year, the Knicks are going to win more than they lose.  This year, the Knicks are going to make the playoffs.  THIS YEAR, the Knicks could be Contenders.

Now, as far as I can tell – not being a Knicks fan, myself – the Jury Is Out on why, exactly, the Knicks suck so much, and suck so consistently.   Some people blame the salary caps, and say that the Knicks don’t have any problems that can’t be solved by throwing money at them.  Others disagree, and say that the Knicks are incapable of recognizing Potential if it stepped up and popped them a good one in the chops, and that giving management more money to toss around just means more money going up in little flaming piles of paper.  Plenty of people just blame Carmello Anthony, but in my opinion, this is at best a second-order effect.  Others simply believe that no north-eastern city can field a respectable basketball team, because all the best players came up in the south and won’t move north.  This does not, however, explain the Bulls or the Celtics. It does, however, explain the Nets.  Or whatever they’re called now that they moved from Jersey to Brooklyn. Yet others just believe that New York basketball is evidence that God Hates Yankees.  Whatever the cause, the fact remains: the Knicks completely suck, and they have sucked for as long as I’ve been paying any attention to them at all, which is exactly as long as I’ve been with Roy.

Thing is, any city can field a sporting team that sucks.  Including, and possibly especially, Dallas.  May their sports teams be cursed into perpetuity.

But the Knicks deliver a special kind of torture to their fans.  It’s the kind where they recognize those nascent, ever-blooming beads of optimism embedded in the human soul, and they nurture those beads until they begin to evolve into shining rays of hope, burning out into the night with a nearly religious fervor.

And then…they reach out and CRUSH it.  The bigger and prettier those shining rays of hope become, the bigger the pounding fury of death that the Knicks unleash upon them.

It would be different if people just started out with no real hope at all.  That’s the kicked puppy that just cowers in the back of its pen.  Savagely cruel, but less so than the villain who coaxes the puppy out, showers it with just enough affection that the puppy starts to fawn, and THEN kicks it as hard as can be.

That’s the Knicks for you.

So how is that like being a New England skier?

Our season started out with a dashing cold snap that let the hills make plenty of snow before Thanksgiving ever emerged on the horizon.  Then it delivered plentiful flurries, and two snowstorms in the space of four days that left the mountains with spectacularly soft snow, and plenty of it.  Ski areas were beginning to approach the magic 100% open finish line.  Skiers everywhere had sharpened their edges, waxed their boards, and were rarin’ to go.  I, myself, have been out ten times already this season, and was happily looking forward to a mountain of fluffy white for the winter holidays.

Just as the Knicks appeared to have had some signing triumphs, and came roaring out of the gate, pulled together, working hard, and winning.

It’s not like I shouldn’t have known.  Our regional UberLords at Ski The East actually created a film called “Born from Ice” because that’s how we roll around here.

I couldn’t help it, though.  The hell with sugarplums dancing, the vision that was dancing in my head was one of soft, friendly, carvable snow, with more falling from the sky every three days just to keep things fresh, and vast expanses of white streamers pouring down through a forest of green trees.

And, sadly, just as every Knicks fan on the planet does, I bought into it. My little seeds of optimism started to bloom into shining rays of hope. This year was going to be different.  This year, I wasn’t going to be skiing on ice all winter.  THIS year, I was going to be skiing on snow.

And just when those rays got ready to fly out into the universe, it happened.  Mother Nature, that bitch, crushed them under her wicked hard heel, giving them an extra grind just to be sure.

On Thursday, Life Was Good.

On Friday, even, Life Was Still Good.

And then the thaw arrived.  There’s your first four-letter word.  THAW.  I want to cringe, curl up, and hiss when I say that.

The next four-letter word for you is rain.  Hiiiiiisssssss.

And thaw + rain = the next, and most devastating four-letter word: melt.

Two days ago we were all lined up for a White Christmas worthy of Bing Himself.  Today, all is gone to mud and water.  It took just two days to destroy our local snowpack.   I can’t even bear to think what’s happened to the ski hill.  Last time I looked the Live Cam showed brown spots where two days ago was a foot and more of snow.

This isn’t your usual thaw, it’s a wicked evil stinking bad thaw.  It’s close to 60 degrees outside right now, after 9pm, in Massachusetts.  Hiiiiiiissssss.

Now, there’s a cold front supposed to move in tomorrow night, and the ski hill expects to bring the snowmaking system back on line tomorrow night.  But the next day is Christmas Eve, and Christmas begins a week of intense use of the ski hill.  And what I know from the past, in the same way that Roy knows the Knicks are circling the drain again is that when you get a thaw and rain followed by the cold front, is that the mountain melts and then freezes, turning into a veritable iceberg.  And it’s going to do this just in time for a period of hard use, and abuse.  Which means that it’s going to be impossible to ski on Tuesday (when I’d planned to), and ugly on Wednesday, and insanely awful on Thursday.  After that, my pass is blacked out until New Years.  And, depending on what happens then, it could be that conditions will suck (your next four-letter word) for weeks.  Hiiiiiiiisssssss.

I know this because – just like the Knicks folding and going down the tubes – it happens every. single. year.

I keep thinking of this song I heard on the radio, “we need a little christmas” – but what we really need is a lot of snow.  Soon.  Sprinkle some snowy crystals on my crushed and withered skier’s soul before it dies.

Please.  I don’t want to understand what it’s like to be a Knicks fan.  Let it snow.


About Lori Holder-Webb

I'm a Southern Woman by birth and a Texan Woman by upbringing...and yet I find myself living in New England and married to a New York City boy. Up here we use the same currency as we do at home, and I don't need to travel with a passport, but the commonalities pretty much end there. The language is different, the jokes are different, the people are different, and the weather and terrain sure are different too. I moved away from Texas in 2002, and ever since then, I've been the stranger in the strange land... I've had some questions about the name of the blog - if you were not alive, or living abroad or under a rock, or in grad school during the late 1980s, Oldsmobile attempted to shuck its stodgy image with a series of commercials intended to bring brand appeal to the younger generation: this car, they said, is not your father's Oldsmobile. If you have a morbid curiosity, hit YouTube for William Shatner will take you right there.

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