Immediately upon arriving in Park City, I signed up for lessons at 9 a.m. the next day. I told my date I just needed a refresher course before I started hitting the black diamonds with him that afternoon. I figured a few hours was all I needed. After all, had I not spent a great deal of time mastering an indoor ski ramp in Florida? How much more difficult could a real mountain and real snow be? My date and I would meet up in the lodge for lunch, then spend the rest of the day skiing together. Meanwhile, that night, we shared a lovely dinner in a cozy restaurant on Main Street and polished off a bottle of my favorite pinot noir. Suddenly I loved ski vacations!
The sun rose at about 6:30, as did my guy. There was a lot of pot clanging going on in the kitchen. As I lumbered downstairs, my mouth watered in anticipation of a big carb laden breakfast. A bowl of goopy oatmeal awaited me, as did my date, who was already dressed for the slopes.
"This will really stick to your ribs!" he said with an excitement no one should ever use to describe oatmeal. "We should really get moving if we want to pack in 12,000 vertical feet before lunch!"
Trudging back upstairs I began to second guess the little white lie — you know, the one about me skiing — that I told him weeks before. It became clear with each passing moment that he actually intended to ski on this vacation as opposed to just drink pinot noir and lounge in the hot tub. Aside from being my first experience skiing, this was my first time away with a man since my divorce. Not only was I navigating snow laden mountains, I was navigating my way through bathroom sharing and morning breath with a man who had not seen me give birth four times, and who was probably under the impression that I looked pretty good most of the time. How I was going to keep up this facade, and the lie about knowing how to ski — all under 40 pounds of ski gear — was beyond me.
After 45 minutes of layering, I worked up a nice sweat. We made our way down to the garage where my date handed me skis, poles and a helmet. Dude. Seriously? Is there something about skiing that prohibits a man from being a gentleman? Carry my shit! I guess when you hit a certain altitude it is every man for himself.
We began to trudge through the snow to a gondola that would take us up the mountain. After three steps in the winter wonderland, I had snot frozen to my face. I think it was a good look for me.
At the top of the mountain I met the rest of my "class," which consisted of a 12-year-old boy named Quinn. My instructor, Doug, was an adorable, young man with glowing skin and cute hair. He took my arm as we got in line for the chair lift, much like I used to do with my blind grandmother when I took her out to eat. We rode up, up, up into oblivion.
Doug and Quinn were really hitting it off, sharing snowboarding stories while I tried not to look down. Suddenly it dawned on me. I would somehow have to get off this lift with fucking skis on my feet. As the end of the lift approached, Doug gave quick instructions on how to exit the lift while he raised the safety bar. He told me to stand up, lean forward, and glide down the approaching slope. I stood up, leaned forward, and fell flat on my ass. Suddenly I regretted not wearing the oversized ski pants that would have helped cushion my fall. The attendant hit the button, causing the chair lift to come to a creaky stop while the ski patrol cleared the wreck, me, out of the way. The chair lift guy extended a pole to me. I clutched it like a life line as he dragged me out of the way. It then took two men to get me to a standing position. Doug and Quinn looked the other way, pretending not to notice, or to acknowledge that I was in their beginners' class.
I will spare you the rest of the black and blue details of that morning. Let's just say that exact scene played out four more times, and says nothing of all the spills that took place while I attempted to ski the actual mountain. Even though I knew I would have to soon deal with my lie, I was more than relieved when Doug deposited me at the lodge in time for me to meet my guy for some chili. In my awkward ski boots, I hobbled to the restroom where I removed my helmet. I was too beat up and cold to even care that I looked like Moe from The Three Stooges. I realized then that I would have to come clean to my date before I spent the rest of the afternoon performing a one-woman comedy show on the slope.
This confession turned out not to be nearly as painful as I had expected. We laughed over my ineptitude in skiing while warming up over excellent turkey chili. He told me he would gladly ski the greens with me. For someone who had repeatedly insisted on skiing 12,000 vertical feet, he was amazingly patient on the slopes. I even started to enjoy skiing, helmet hair and all.
In the end I survived my first skiing adventure, albeit with a few bruises and some minor thigh chafing. More importantly, I made it through my first weekend away, with a man who came to love me just for my willingness to try something new. Perhaps if he could forgive me for going with him on a ski vacation under the pretense that I could ski, then I could forgive him for not carrying my gear.