Iâ€™m broken. As I write this, I currently canâ€™t lift my arms above my shoulders. I canâ€™t really turn my head more than 90 degrees. My knees are so bruised my pants hurt. Crossing my legs makes my hips ache, and donâ€™t even get me started on my back and ankles.
Yesterday, I went snowboarding. I donâ€™t know why youâ€™re so surprised. Given my crippling fears of both heights and going very fast down a mountain, snowboarding seems like the perfect activity for me.
Admittedly, I was a little apprehensive at first. The idea of dangling from a thin steel cable hundreds of feet in the air above a snow-covered mountain, for Godâ€™s sake, only then to plummet down the mountain with a large piece of wood strapped to my feet â€“ well, you get the idea. I was apprehensive.
The thought of me snowboarding came as quite a shock to my father, whoâ€™s been trying to get me to go skiing with him since I was, I donâ€™t know, ambulatory. The aforementioned phobias led me to turn him down every time he invited me to join him and his partner for their semi-annual trips to Colorado or Utah or whatever square-ish western state he tends to go to. When he called from Park City (or wherever) and heard my plan, he literally dropped the phone. My dad has recently retired, and as a result has sort of lost touch with the way life works for the rest of us. â€œIf you like it,â€ he said, â€œyou should come out and join us if you can get a day off from work!â€ Sure, Dad, Iâ€™ll just have the Learjet fueled up and hop out to Breckenridge (or wherever) to join you for the day. He did try, in his own inimitable way, to encourage me about my fear of heights: â€œThe chairliftâ€™s pretty scary, I donâ€™t know how youâ€™re going to manage it.â€ Thanks, Dad.
The preparations changed my mind a little. After talking with the people I was going to go with, and making a list of everything Iâ€™d need to have, I started to think that snowboarding just might be an activity Iâ€™d really enjoyâ€¦buying the equipment for.
I have a weakness, I admit, for this sort of thing. Two years in a row I went on a multi-day canoe trip with my (now-) wifeâ€™s stepfather and a group of other guys. Now, Iâ€™m not a big fan of the outdoors, with all the bugs, and the paddling, and the sleeping in a tent, and the bugs. (As my mom used to say, my idea of â€œroughing itâ€ is a Holiday Inn where the elevatorâ€™s broken. I like to think of myself as an avid indoorsman.) But buying camping gear? That I can get behind. Waterproof bags, sleeping bags, backpacks, travel toiletry kitsâ€¦set me loose in an L.L.Bean and Iâ€™m a happy camper. (Camper! See what I did there?) Oh, and packing the gear is almost as much fun as buying it. Deciding what items should go in each compartment, tightly rolling t-shirts and socks to take up the minimum amount of volume, and sealing nearly everything in an individual Ziploc bag was just heaven. Itâ€™s always a little disappointing when the packing system collides with reality, though. After one night on the river, the socks got all uncoiled and I couldnâ€™t quite remember which pocket the lens cleaner was supposed to go in. Next time I should bring a schematic. Ooh, I could laminate it!
Anyway, faced with the prospect of a whole new gear-buying activity, it took a lot of willpower not to go all â€œSupermarket Sweepsâ€ at Ski Market, but I managed to restrict myself to a new pair of ($100) long underwear (or, as we snowboarders call them, â€œthermalsâ€), some glove liners, and some ($25) socks. Seriously, these socks have so many features I think my iPod was jealous.
Even before we actually hit the snow (is that what we say? Hit the snow? Iâ€™m not really sure), it was an adventure. The mountain didnâ€™t have a changing area, per se, so we had to change into our gear in the car in the parking lot. I definitely feel as though I got a little more intimately acquainted with the folks in my car, as well as the lovely young couple in the car next to us. (Iâ€™m familiar with the sheepish wave you give when youâ€™ve accidentally cut someone off while driving, but what hand gesture do you use to indicate â€œIâ€™m sorry I got a glimpse of your girlfriend in her underwear?â€)
We dressed, we rented, we waited for Andre to stuff his t-shirts down his pants (for protection, he insisted), and we ended up missing the first lesson, so we decided to just hit the easy slope and let June, whoâ€™d snowboarded before, show us the ropes. My companions are all a bit more athletically inclined than I am, but Iâ€™m proud to say I was definitely the best at clipping my boots into the bindings. After a little while, we decided we were ready to try from the top of the hill, which meant riding the chairlift.
To say that I was nervous would be an understatement. The chairlift is a ridiculous contraption, an obvious deathtrap, and I would have probably been immobilized with fear except that we rode up with a delightfully vulgar New Yorker, and I got to talk baseball. (Apparently, last year was just our fucking year, even if Schilling does have a fucking mouth on him, but this year the fucking Red Sox better watch out. Oh, to be sure, we fucking deserved to win, it was a great fucking series, but, he wanted me to know, he hates the fucking Red Sox.) This was entertaining and distracting enough that I got to the end of the ride without mewling in fear too audibly.
Then we boarded back down. I fell a lot. I guess somehow I thought that all of the time I had spent playing â€œSSX Trickyâ€ on the Xbox would have helped. If I can only figure out what muscle group maps to the left trigger, I will be awesome.
When we finally took our lesson, I was pleased to discover that I was, at least, better than the 12-year-olds in our group, although my self-esteem was taken down a peg or two by the 6-year-olds whizzing past us at Mach 2 and then cruising to a graceful stop. I think the lesson (and the fatigue) sapped my confidence a little, because our second run down the mountain went not quite so well as the first one. Going ten feet and then falling, then getting up and going ten feet and then falling gets pretty irritating, and after one spectacular fall on my ass (so hard my hat popped off), I decided to walk the rest of the way down.
But, look, I made it back in one (bruised) piece, and now I can say that Iâ€™ve gone snowboarding. I may even go back. One more lesson, and maybe Iâ€™ll figure out how to turn left. Then, watch out. No, seriously, watch out, because I canâ€™t stop either.