When Are You Too Old To Ski?

It might surprise you to know that we are skiing this week – an interesting choice of holiday for two middle-aged people with anxiety with the physical flexibility of two brick walls. I doubled my medication as a precaution.

 

To be honest, I don’t know what the fuck we think we’re doing, either – skiing at fifty-plus. I like to pretend it’s something to do with taking myself out of my comfort zone but the truth is, I agree to this holiday each year to accumulate brownie points with the old man. I am beginning to question, however, if a bit more leverage at the local shopping centre is truly worth risking life and limb for.

 

The only consolation is that the old man – a natural sportsman when it comes to ball sports – is a truly shite skier, and what makes that funnier is that he refuses to admit to it. Indeed, in spite of the billions spent on lessons, we’re both as useless as the day we began this ridiculous sport, decades ago, and the only saving grace is that I am slightly faster than him and can also ride a chairlift without falling off – a new skiing low for the old man yesterday.

 

We had to lie to Peter, our instructor this holiday, about how many lessons we’ve had before.

 

‘A few,’ we said in unison, right after Peter had yanked the old man’s body back from the precipice below and into the chairlift, like some three-year old child.

 

Peter is about sixty-five and not exactly the ski instructor I imagined when I booked this round of lessons, hopeful for some rewarding distraction for my week of sacrifice. He also gets quite tetchy when we don’t nail his drills in one go, snow plow instead of doing a parallel turn, giggle or answer him back. And frankly, we’re both getting a bit old in the tooth to be bullied for something we’ve paid for. That’s why I gave up yoga.

 

The only good thing about skiing is that because everything takes so long to do, the time passes quickly, and like childbirth, once you look into the eyes of that first Mulled Wine in the local lodge, the skier’s amnesia sets in to help you forget the horror until the next morning. Getting dressed each day takes up half your holiday and the layers of clothing to protect you from the frostbite make movement difficult. Then, when the sun comes out, you cook from the inside out, rather like being microwaved. And it takes at least thirty minutes to squeeze sore, reshaped feet into ill-fitting boots and then you have to trundle the whole caboodle up a mountain by a slow, primitive transport system that has a habit of losing people and equipment en route.

 

The impact on the sort of middle-aged body that counts walking as exercise is immense, as you can imagine. And no matter how much you prepare yourself for the muscle and joint pain, twinges appear in the most unlikely of places – something to do with getting down a mountain in the squatting position required for those hole-in-the-ground toilets at Dubai airport, I imagine.

 

The fact that I can now get down a slope without triggering an avalanche must mean that my technique has improved, but I have yet to enjoy the journey back to the restaurant – or as we call it, “base camp”. My aim is a simple one – to get down the mountain as quickly as possible, before I kill someone or someone kills me in this expensive game of survival, where small children and snowboarders are the obstacles to living for another day.

 

We’ve given NC the information for how to access what’s left of our wealth after this holiday because not even the promise of a mulled wine or hot chocolates frothing with cholesterol on the slopes is enough to disguise the reality that we will probably die here.

 

 

Marriage, Mariah, Skiing and Male Stupidity

Carey filming the music video for
Carey filming the music video for “I Still Believe, shortly after wrapping up her “Butterfly World Tour” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The old man is making a career change and during the interim period between jobs he will be cohabiting permanently at the block with myself and Kurt, who is also making a transition in life; unfortunately his is one that no longer involves school, education, or any parent-pleasing strategy at all, from what I can see.

*sob* *parent fail*

Meanwhile NC is fretting her way through the next set of exams, and so we all have to tiptoe around the apartment and communicate in hushed tones anywhere within a five metre radius of her room, because she is terrifying during exam period.

Suffice it to say, ‘home’ does not exactly feel ‘where the heart is’ at the moment. And due to heinous menopausal symptoms that continue to dog my sleep patterns and make me over-anxious even when I’m supposed to be relaxing, I’m not my usual happy-go-lucky self nor coping stoically with my raised stress levels. In fact the only way I find any joy at the moment is rather perverse, because it involves imagining my husband as a pin cushion and verbally abusing family for the sake of it, because they’re used to my shit and that’s part of my justification for creating them.

But the old man stirs the bitch-embers the most successfully.

Unfortunately, he chose to book us on a skiing holiday in a few weeks time; a holiday that I have little desire to go on. In my world, the words ‘Skiing holiday’ are an obvious oxymoron, for ‘skiing’ is not a ‘holiday’ if you take the word to suggest a good time. ‘Skiing’ is a sport that one partakes of in bitterly ‘cold’ weather, that doesn’t require sun cream and can’t possibly help you look fabulous, trussed up as you are in layers of unflattering winter thermals.

Which is another reason I’m cranky.

You’re supposed to look forward to a holiday, but the only part of this break I am looking forward to is watching the old man misjudge his leap from the drag lift, like he did last year when he took out five kids with him at the same time. Although, there are those magical après-ski moments when NB knocks up his Jaeger Bombs, justifying a gorging-session on comfort cheese and bikkies because I’m on holiday – and everyone knows that calories don’t count on holiday.

Anyway, I’ll be burning them all off with all that skiing I won’t be doing.

I should also mention that our ski resort must be a retirement village for old ski instructors because they are all middle-aged men; unlike in Europe where you’d follow those tight-assed, young moniteurs in their tight ski suits to the bottom of a glacier if you had to.

I’m also cranky because I’m in that pre-holiday phase at work where you have to work your bollocks off to get everything finished before those precious, paltry five days off, which means my body is so depleted of energy (and well, ‘life’ basically) that by the time I get away I know that the first flu germ to cross my path will knock me sideways.

And it’s winter, it’s cold and it’s so exhausting having to dress in layers and think about the cost of throat lozenges.

So with that much resentment in the air, it seems almost inevitable that the old man and I have reached a stage of ‘passing ships in the night’ in our relationship. He attends alcohol-fuelled ‘leaving dos’ at work every evening, while I work my tits off to bring home the bacon, aided by Kurt at home, who persists in bounding around like a huge fucking puppy celebrating his recent and questionable departure from the incarceration of school.

The old man and I have reached, what I can only describe as, a point of incommunicado in our marriage, (that I hope isn’t temporary), where we can’t actually bear to even look at one another any more.

I nag and he says nothing; I nag again, and he raises his eyes to the ceiling and still says nothing – it’s what you call ‘marriage under pressure’, and neither of us have ever been very good at that.

Which is why I was a little surprised when he dared speak to me the other day.

It happened when we were en route to a lunch that both of us were secretly looking forward to for the intrinsic benefits of drinking our troubles away. Smooth FM was undulating comfortingly in the background, helping to justify the fact in our minds that no conversation was not really THAT awkward, and then Mariah Carey suddenly came on. And we all have OUR songs, right? Those special songs that mean something to us and we know that we nail karaoke-style. And it just so happens that one of my best is ‘I’ll be there,’ which, luckily, Smooth FM play at least ten times a day, and so I’ve had a lot of practice.

But not enough, according to the old man.

For there I was, mouth wide-open in full glass-shattering, mid-howl, steadily climbing the verge to the warbly climax, when he looked over at me disdainfully and said, ‘I hate it when you sing in the car.’

Well, obviously I had to kill him and donate his body parts to Sydney University for research into male stupidity.

Mean Boys And The Art Of Social Discrimination

You always find a diverse mix of personalities and allegiances in any social group. There are leaders and followers, but the majority of people slot nicely somewhere in-between the two extremes.

 

Or not so nicely.

 

Remember high school and the playground index of popularity? Most of us couldn’t wait to reach Year 12 to finally shed the high school shackles of social discrimination, only to realise that they are everywhere – from the workplace to mothers groups.

 

The piste has become our high school yard this holiday and has demonstrated the fickle loyalties of my family and NB.

 

And one amongst us in particular has shown his true colors to become the backstabbing, ‘mean girl’ of the slopes. No-one likes disloyalty and the old man has proven this holiday what we have feared for a long time – that he believes that his needs are above the rest of ours.

 

When we set out on our holiday to Thredbo, our group had already split organically and happily into two smaller groups of skiers – ‘Da Boyz’, as they like to be known, who believe themselves to be superior skiers/snowboarders with their mission statement of ‘better’ is ‘faster’ – who have obviously forgotten the story of the tortoise and the hare – and the girls, better known as ‘The Snowplough Chicks’, who put style above speed.

 

On day 1, NC and I, (aka the ‘Snowplough chicks’), headed off happily to our ‘slow but steady’ green group while ‘Da Boyz’, (Kurt, the old man and NB) fought over who would be the fastest in the Adrenaline Junkie group.

 

Sadly, towards the end of that first lesson, the old man was forced to retire by the younger and leaner crazy puppies and left to find his own way home from the bottom of a highly demoralizing black run.

 

It was a sad and frail old man who returned to the apartment that day, tail between his legs, who then begged us ‘Snowplough Chicks’ to allow him into our group.

 

Being ‘nice’ and not ‘mean’ girls, we welcomed him into our fold with open arms (plus a few promised shopping trips upon our return to Sydney) and never once mentioned his earlier gloats of being of a professional skiing standard.

 

On day 2, the three Snowplough Chicks (including our newly adopted snowplougher) tore up those green runs with a wondrously acrobatic display of perfect snowplough turns, while the two testosterone-fuelled Y-Gen males did their worst to carve up the blues and blacks, brandishing themselves with ice tattoos of renewed manliness.

And slowly the old man’s confidence healed and his manliness recovered, safe in the bosom of empathetic women and we watched tearfully as he began to hold his head up high again.

 

But before the Snowplough Chicks could get down the mountain to the Gluvein on day 3, the old man had skied back into the arms of Da Boyz like a testosterone magnet, dumping those very same snow angels who had rescued him in his hour of need in true ‘mean boy spirit’, and without so much as a backwards glance.

 

Mean boys.

 

 

Sucker For Punishment Or Martyr To Marriage

Image58.jpg
Image58.jpg (Photo credit: jhull)

So it wasn’t enough for this crazy bitch to move house and work like a dog over the past two weeks; she now has to prove her absolute stupidity by heading off to the slopes for a skiing holiday.

Thredbo is no Hayman Island.

I could lie and pretend that I am excited at the prospect. But I know you wouldn’t believe me.

To be honest I was rather counting on the snow being a no-show this early in the season and then global-warming got in the way of my scheming and dumped some mass of 50cms of coldness which made it virtually impossible for me to find an excuse NOT to ski.

I am looking forward to this little sojourn in the fucking freezing cold about as much as plucking nipple hairs without the anaesthetic of a good wine.

I blame the old man.

This skiing malarkey is all part of his sad-ass mid-life male crisis. Frankly, I wish he’d just bought a penis-extension of a car instead.

I’d be quite happy to nest for the next week in my new apartment with its sauna heating and shiny new-ness, surrounded by my new Ikea creations.

What I don’t want to be doing is risking life, limb and dignity on snow, challenging snowboarders as target practise and forced to wear fugly, extended layers that add volume to my already voluminous physique.

I realise that I give the old man a hard time in this blog but this is serious pay back for him.

I am either a sucker or a martyr to marriage.