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March 02, 2009

Ski Update

We returned from our ski trip (Everest, VERY challenging) all in one piece. The kids really took to skiing. Alarmingly so. And, might I add, disappointingly so. I wanted them to enjoy it, but in the same way that they enjoyed the carousel at the mall: as a one-time event that need not be repeated. Sadly, my son loved skiing and now wants to go every day. This is bad news for several reasons.

First of all, skiing is really expensive. Everybody knows this already, but it is worth reiterating if only because I just shelled out more money than I thought humanly possible for the privilege of hurtling myself down a mountain at speeds I wouldn’t drive my car at. There was a time when I thought of this activity as “fun.” That time is now past. I’ve now gotten to an age where the thought of breaking a hip is omnipresent. At all times, in all endeavors, I am aware of the possibility that I might sustain an injury from which I may never fully recover. As a younger man, I never entertained those thoughts. Now those thoughts constitute what passes for my entertainment.

The kids, meanwhile, were getting lessons from competent and tan young people with mysterious accents who made skiing cute by giving the various ski motions names from the children’s menu at Applebee’s. Turning your skis inward was a “pizza wedge.” Pointing them straight was “French fries.” A little jump? “Popcorn.” Why they were encouraging my children to jump up and down while on skis I do not know.

I am of the opinion that ski instructors should give more honest names to the skiing maneuvers. Turning your ski inwards should be called, “I do not know how to stop so I am trying this.” Pointing them straight should be called, “I am out of control.” And jumping up and down should be called, “I am about to have a spinal fracture.” I wanted to offer these suggestions to the instructors but I was too intimidated by their radiant health and blindingly white smiles.


My wife, wisely, chose not to ski at all. Why she wanted to drive four hours through the rain in a car whose interior was last cleaned when Soundgarden was popular I do not know. Maybe she had visions of Nordic gentlemen cooing at her in front of a roaring fireplace while her husband tumbled down a sheer vertical incline. Maybe she just wanted to not cook dinner for two days, and the eight hours in the car were worth it for that reason alone. Regardless of her reasons, she ended up perching herself on the second floor of the lodge so she could watch the kids practicing their pizza wedges and popcorn.

The lodge food, like everything else on the stupid mountain, was exorbitantly priced. A slice of pizza and a cup of water? Three hundred dollars. I may be exaggerating a little, but not much. The food was expensive, the skiing was expensive, renting the equipment was expensive, the hotel was expensive. The only thing that I found reasonably priced was the in-room entertainment, which was free. Somebody left an old Sony PlayStation in our room. There were two games. One of them was hockey ’99. The other one didn’t work. We didn’t use the PlayStation very much.

So now my kids want to go skiing all the time. Which would be fine if there was somebody who lived with me that wanted to take them. That person doesn’t live in my house. It is understood between my wife and myself that this person is supposed to be me. Which makes me suspect that the entire “family vacation” was just a convoluted ploy she designed to make the kids fall in love with a winter sport that requires us to get up really early and drive for hours, leaving her alone in the house for days at a time doing God knows what. Because, ultimately, when you have kids, the game becomes attempting to be alone in the house. For me, being alone in the house is like winning a scratch-off lottery ticket for a thousand dollars. The money isn’t life-changing, but God it feels good to win.

The other problem with skiing is that it is a cold weather sport. Children do not experience cold the same adults experience it. For children, cold is an obstacle no more or less challenging than getting across the monkey bars. Difficult at times, but navigable. As an adult, have you ever tried the monkey bars? They are fucking impossible. That is exactly how I feel about the cold. The cold is an impossibility. No amount of swaddling myself in chinchilla keeps me warm. Some part of my body is always cold in winter. My feet, my head, my hands, my nose, the inside of my nose, my appendix. Some part of my body is willing the weather to cease entirely.

Riding the ski lift over the weekend was a miserable exercise in extreme conditions survival. There came a time very early in my ski lift experience where I could not feel my face, and yet it still managed to hurt. How is that possible? The cold seemed to numb my face and then punch it. Which doesn’t seem fair. Coming down wasn’t nearly as cold, but as I indicated earlier, it was very scary. The scariest part wasn’t so much the fear of falling or hitting an ice patch or tumbling off the mountain, as my wife once did. Instead the scariest part for me was hearing the skiers behind me, like speeding cars on the Autobahn. At any moment, I felt like I was going to be rear-ended by some hotshot kid on a snowboard wearing one of those dumb court jester hats. How ironic and fitting an end that would be for a comedian, I thought.

So my eyes were always attempting to see through the back of my head, the better to ascertain the danger lurking from behind. Skiing is a quiet sport. When skiing, the most prominent sounds are the skis cutting through the snow and your thighs telling you they hate you. So it’s difficult to hear skiers behind until they are right up on you. Constantly they schussing around me, young kids, old people, blind people. Everybody was passing me, which I didn’t understand because I thought I was going as fast as humanly possible. The only possible explanation for so many people passing me while skiing is that time itself had slowed down as we approached the speed of light, and their manifestations were simply traveling along a different space-time continuum. Because the other explanation is too embarrassing to contemplate, which is that I am not only a terrible skier, but a terrible, slow skier. Somehow, my slowness felt like a larger indictment than my terribleness.

At least a fast terrible skier has a certain joie de vivre. A slow terrible skier just seems like a ninny. I wasn’t even trying to be slow. There were times during the flat stretches of the green circle trails to which I confined myself exclusively, that I was actually attempting to gain speed, to feel the exhilaration that only tremendous speed can generate. I tucked my knees, folded my poles into my armpits and was passed by a skier with one leg. 

My enthusiasm lasted into my first run. That was it. After the first run, I was thinking, “When can I stop?” Rather than succumb to ennui, though, I trudged back up the mountain and headed back down. I did this over and over, in a vain attempt to make myself feel as if I’d gotten my money’s worth. I figured if I subjected my thighs to enough pain, eventually I would at least gain some muscle mass. Three days later, I can tell you definitively I did not.

After about two hours, I decided to “check on the kids.” I had no real concern for them or their safety. I really just didn’t want to ski any more. That’s when I learned about the cutesy food names they were learning. They seemed to be having a great time out there on the bunny hill, which caused my heart to sink. I was hoping at least one of them would get a bloody nose or chin. Nothing serious enough to require stitches, but scary enough that it would put them off skiing, and with luck, all outside activities. As I said, though, no such luck.

The end of the day brought weariness and an over-priced meal at the Inn. I had nine hundred dollar lamb chops. Afterwards I was still hungry, but could not afford dessert. The kids wanted ice cream. I told them in the softest voice I could muster to shut up.

I knew I would sleep well that night. Not because I was tired from the exertion, though I was, but because I took an Ambien as a special après ski treat. Passing out is always a highlight of my day. That night I dreamed of the president. He congratulated me on being such an outstanding parent to my children. I told him that I appreciated the sentiment, but I was not going to vote for him again.

The drive home was not as bad as the drive up because it was daylight and the torrential rain had abated. Plus we stopped at Chili’s, which is so much fun. The kids ate pizza wedges and French fries, of course. I ate something off their “guilt-free menu,” which had the opposite effect I intended. Rather than making me feel virtuous, it reminded me of slowly pecking my way down a mountain I never should have been on while younger, fitter, happier people passed me by.

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Stephanie

I thought you voted for McCain?

lia

hi i'm lia from Indonesia..
i like ski, but can't play in here.
so if u dont mind can u teach me??

Aaron C

Michael- not in a creepy way or anything like that, but if you were willing to pay my lift ticket, I'd be happy to take your kids skiing at no charge

Reen

Oh Michael this was absolutely hilarious!!!!!! (There's just not enough of those "!"'s)

I started to copy my favorite lines here but then my comment would be even longer than usual.

That one hurt my cheeks but I have to read this again before I hit the hay because the visuals are just so vivid! I'm wiping my eyes here. Thank you for this. What a gift you are.

Susanna

BRILLIANT!!! Such a great story. I can just picture you zipping down a steep vertical incline fearing for your life.

You know what you should try some time? Mixing Flexeril (muscle relaxer) with Ambien. Believe me - you'll be back out there on that hill skiing in no time. Sure, it might be 2 AM, and you might forget to put on clothes, but you'll feel fabulous. ;-)

Bailey

You have the best times.

Joanne

Oh man, I have just laugh-cried my way through this whole blog!!!!! Well done, you!!!

Dawn Gibson

1st day on Twitter, and I find you and then your personal page. Well, I will be back for more on your thoughts in the future. Thank you for the description of your family ski trip! Seriously f***ing hysterical! (Am I allowed to swear?) I fear the same fate will soon befall me as well. You see, in a few short weeks, my husband and I are taking our girls to the snow for the very first time. I am the least excited at the prospect mainly due to my body's inability to keep itself warm on days when the average warm-blooded person is comfortable, let alone below freezing temps. You are reading my thoughts exactly, "I want my kids to enjoy themselves, but as a one time event that need not be repeated." Sadly, I know this will not be the outcome. However, I no longer need to feel shame for thinking these thoughts. Thanks!

Brady

Oh man, great post! That was hilarious. Whether it was intended or not, I actually feel better about myself too.

Of course, it also makes me wish I could stay 23 forever.

Lindsay

Next time you should take the kids snowboarding. There are no "pizza wedges" or "french fries" to save them, just straight up "gross eel." They'll never want to winter sporterize ever again. If you want them to get out of of the house get them into gymnastics or ice skating, those Eastern Euro coaches watch their every move leaving you and your wife plenty of alone "bamchickabambam" time.

Camille

I'm getting this carved on a plaque to display in the foyer:
"For me, being alone in the house is like winning a scratch-off lottery ticket for a thousand dollars. The money isn’t life-changing, but God it feels good to win. "

I'm sorry your misery is so entertaining to me,but this was perfection.

Reptar

Whoa...Chili's has pizza? All this time, I've been going there for the southwestern egg rolls. Are they really egg rolls? I don't know, but they taste like victory, and victory - as we all know - has 360 calories per bite.

Congrats on upping your audience with Twitter. I think stroking a comedian's ego is akin to throwing a tiger shark in the childrens' pool at the community swimming pool, but we can all agree that the ultimate result of either case is a great deal of hilarity.

Meister Jazz

schendefreude man.

still fun to read

George

I used to ski when I was younger, and have been thinking that I wanted to go again. Thank you for getting rid of that bug. I had a feeling that I may feel trapped on the mountain at this age, and you just verified that.

"At any moment, I felt like I was going to be rear-ended by some hotshot kid on a snowboard wearing one of those dumb court jester hats. How ironic and fitting an end that would be for a comedian, I thought."

Best line ever.

Jaime

"Because, ultimately, when you have kids, the game becomes attempting to be alone in the house."

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! I just stopped right there my friend, because that hit my "it's-so-hilariously-gut-busting-because-it's-so fucking-true" bone, really really hard. It's now shattered. Like your hip. Thank you.

A fan

What a perfect post and all so true. My advice is to always ski with someone who is worse than you. Somehow, it just makes the whole day go better; you get to rest while having to wait for them to get up after falling, again and again, and you get to stand there looking cool while they fret and flail about trying to catch up to you. This doesn't apply to children. They will always be better than you because they don't have the fear of not having an income because they broke their leg. On a green!

Anonymous

Perhaps this will make you feel better, MIB.

http://www.beautifulcervix.com/photos-of-cervix/

Jaime

Haha Reptar! Hilarious. You are so prolific these days :)

Belgian Whore

My host sister (I feel snobby when I say that..... which is my normal feeling) tore something in her knee whilst she was away skiing in Switzerland the other day. Perhaps you saw her (because you obviously drove to Switzerland in that eight hour car ride).

Anyway, you have a right to look behind you at the devious "swooshing" sounds.
Those snowboarders WILL run you over!
It happened to me TWICE before I became so paranoid at skiing (what with the constantly looking over my shoulder ordeal) that I stopped after five years.
Scary things, snowboarders... they also like to sit down right in front of you so you tumble over them.
The jerks.

The pizza wedge thing happened to me when i started to learn... but not the french fries or the popcorn...
We weren't that lame.

And I really this Lia's comment.
I want to adopt her and ca-noodle her or something.

Chris

Michael, just think someday you will be too old to ski. You'll be sitting there in the year 2055 at your desk writing the 5th installment of "My Custom Van..." (or maybe even discussing a possible release date for The State DVD with MTV) and then all of the sudden...you will mess your pants (which happens in elderly men). It is in this very moment that you will have every right to ask one of your children for some assistance in the matter. After all, you were the great dad that took them skiing and bought them $300 pizza and water and now they owe you. Or maybe one day you will need a kidney transplant or even an ass transplant. I bet your kids would be a perfect donor match. And remember, they owe you. My point is, think of these trips as a sort of insurance policy for events like these later on in life. Sort of like your own personal Allstate.

Jessica

You are too fucking funny.
You should have your own salad dressing line.

Nickie

I haven't commented in awhile, but this entry was too hilarious to pass up commenting. And of course, it made me want to eat pizza and French fries. But not popcorn.

This was a great read, and enough to make me avoid skiing. Sorry that the kiddos didn't end up hating it. We expect yearly skiing adventure blogs -- with your hatred for said winter sport increasing each time until your entire entry consists of "Divorced the wife. Now it's up to her to take the kids skiing. I hope she falls off another mountain."

Too cruel? I joke. But somehow, I think you laughed.

Jenny

I enjoyed this entry so much I shared it via email with my comedy nerd friends. The whole recap was hilarious!

Obviously your entries are all great, but I find when you write about your family and/or family outings they are particularly strong. I hope me saying that doesn't depress you. I just think you would do really well (more so than now, of course) if you wrote a book featuring some of these stories. Because they're funny, most people can relate to family mishaps and most importantly they aren't necessarily sappy or filled with "awww."

Just my two cents. :)

pikta

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