Once everybody was untangled from the pile-up I created, I struggled to get back up on my feet – I mean skis, but not without the help of a brawny ski patroller, who was stoic on the outside, but I knew was probably laughing on the inside.
He patiently helped me down the small slope leading away from the conveyor belt, much like he did with countless children on a daily basis. My arms flailed about like a schoolgirl … or a maniac.
“First time?,” he asked, knowingly.
“First time,” I said, dejected, before thanking him for perhaps saving my life.
“Try not to flail your arms,” he said. “It only makes your balance worse.” He then turned custody over to my friends, who led me to the cusp of the hill. I arrived there without incident – a small miracle in itself. Suddenly, I was overcome with an unexpected wave of confidence.
They prepared me for my first solo run, reviewing everything they taught me one last time.
“Remember, knees bent, toes pointed inward,” Melody said.
“Got it,” I said.
“We’ll go first. Watch what we do and then copy us,” Adriana said. Five feet away, proud, but nervous parents prepared their four-year-old in the same manner.
I watched the girls effortlessly go down. Looked easy enough. I got in position, counted to three and was on my way. It was a disaster from the moment I took off.
“Bend your knees more!,” Melody shouted from the bottom of the hill. I did, crossing my skis in the process and wiping out. A child no older than five or six swooshed past me, giving me a snow job to the face.
After I got over the shock of my tumble, I attempted to get up, but realized I wasn’t prepared for this. I could hear Adriana and Melody laughing at my expense from the bottom of the hill. After several attempts, I finally managed to get back on my feet – both literally and figuratively, After that small victory, I managed to make it safely the rest of the way … until I had to stop that is. Unable to exert any control over my skis, I proceeded to plow into the same kid that narrowly avoided hitting me on the hill.
The kid burst into tears, clearly in pain. And I felt like the world’s largest asshole. Meanwhile, his parents rushed to his aid. His mother tended to him, while his father stared me down.
“Watch where you’re going, eh?,” the boy’s father said, clearly Canadian.
I’m so sorry. I don’t know how to stop.”
“Then maybe you should stay off the slopes.”
He was absolutely right. Fortunately, his son was already back on his feet and eagerly heading back up for another run. I, on the other hand, was not.
Adriana and Melody greeted me.
“Not too bad for your first run,” Melody said. “When I was four, I broke my leg on my first run. So it could always be worse.” This did nothing to boost my confidence.
“Ready for another run?” Adriana asked.
“I think I’ve had enough,” I declared.
“You did fine,” Melody said.
“I almost killed a small child!”
“He’s fine,” Adriana said. “And so are you. You just have to learn how to stop.”
“I don’t know …,” I said.
“I believe in you,” Melody added.
“Melody believes in you,” Adriana said.
They were right. The second time did go much better. No pile-ups, no falls, no injuries to myself or others and I even managed to come to a decent stop. The girls decided I was readu to be left to my own devices, so they could actually do some real skiing.
“Remember,” Adriana began as they walked off. “Keep your knees bent. And don’t cross your skis.”
“And don’t take out any small children. Or woodland creatures,” Melody added.
“You’ll do fine. Just don’t do anything you don’t feel ready for.”
“I don’t see that happening.” And with that, I was all by myself.