When you’ve forgotten how to ski, they start you off with the wee ones.
Sometimes, I’m a bad Montanan and forget to go skiing for 15 years. Which is mostly my loss, because it’s one of the few ways to actually enjoy the five-month-long mini Ice Age known as “winter” here.
So, for the first time since an eighth-grade field trip, I decided to unforget how to downhill ski one weekend and took a beginners’ lesson up at the local mountain. I assumed the other people in my lesson would be first-timers — kiddos, mainly — and I planned to totally school these pint-size fools on how to pizza and french-fry.
Skiing basics, courtesy of this site. Which probably got it somewhere else.
I got to my lesson though, and it was just some punk-kid instructor, “Landon,” and Zoe, a 7-year-old girl who had apparently been abandoned by the rest of her family so she could learn how to ski while they gallivanted across the mountain.
Now, I’d like to say I schooled Zoe in our lesson. But after “Landon” had trouble hiding his frustration and impatience with her as she struggled to master the basics after our first run, which prompted her to start crying because she missed her mommy … well, that would just seem kind of mean.
Things started out all right. I was pizza-ing and french fry-ing like a pro in no time. Zoe did fine on the bunny hill, and we went up on the lift after just two practice runs.
This is when Zoe fell apart. Her french fries led to speed she just couldn’t handle. Speed she just couldn’t handle led to falling. Falling led her to point her skis down the mountain instead of across it. Pointing her skis down the mountain instead of across it led to her to slide down it instead of pushing herself up. Sliding down the mountain instead of pushing herself up led to her scarf falling off and her coat coming unzipped, which I helped her reassemble after it became clear “Landon” wasn’t going to do a damn thing about it.
(I use quotes not because that wasn’t his real name — it was — but to help convey the appropriate amount of disdain you should feel for him. It’s not that he was mean to her on purpose, per say; more that his tone was better suited for one of his brahs than a first-timer tyke.)
We got to the end of the run, and it was clear “Landon” was not particularly impressed with either of us, and was downright fed up with Zoe and her pizza-french fry issues. So we decided to take a break in the lodge to warm up. We sat down, and I tried to make conversation with Zoe to help her feel more comfortable. (“Hey, want to see a picture of MY BUNNY?!” — my go-to conversation starter with every child I encounter).
This is the point when she burst into tears (which I hope doesn’t reflect poorly on me or Pancake). I ran over to her side of the table, asking what was wrong. She missed her mom, who was God-knows-where on the mountain. Luckily, shortly after she started to cry, an adult she knew (I think) came by and consoled her. “Landon” took this as a cue to head back up on the lift, and that was the last we saw of Zoe on the slopes.
(Moments later, it occurred to me that I may have just let Zoe get kidnapped by a sexual predator. Don’t worry though! I saw her with her family as we were leaving the mountain, and she looked happy as a clam and had apparently moved on from any lingering abandonment issues.)
(It just now occurred to me that the man from earlier could have been some sort of weirdo cult leader who led Zoe away to join him and his cult brethren in the woods, and she’s probably performing some bizarre marmot-sacrifice ritual as I type. Zoe’s family, if you’re reading this: I’m really sorry about the cult thing. I should have seen that coming.)
So, yeah … considering she started crying for her mom and may or may not be sacrificing a marmot in the woods right now, it seems a bit harsh to say I “schooled” Zoe at beginners’ skiing. But I since I didn’t start crying for my mommy, I think it’s fair to say I had the better time.
Sadly, Zoe could have used this info, “Landon.”