To help convince myself that I was an interesting and exciting woman, when walking out the door for coffee dates I would chant over and over to myself, "I am fun and intelligent." Of course my confidence would wane when I realized I was at the wrong Starbucks and had just wasted money and calories on a venti latte. In all, I did not feel like the woman I was trying to convince others, and myself, that I was. But, I also believed that if I faked it long enough, I would become such a woman. This is how I found myself taking snow skiing lessons at Bill Jackson's in St. Pete, Fla. Yes you read that right. Florida. Ski lessons.
A guy I had been out with a few times mentioned he loved skiing and had been doing it since he was a kid. He made it sound awesome: the clean air, the glimmering snow, total peace on the mountain. He entranced me so much with his heartfelt description, that when he asked, "Do you ski?" I instinctively said, "Oh, yeah." I quickly added, "Just a few times, but I really loved it."
I would describe this as a slight exaggeration. Others might call it a total fucking lie. Sure I had never worn skis, and maybe I hadn't seen snow in about six years, but in my mind I was a skier.
I didn't think much more about this "exaggeration" until a week or so later when the man invited me to Park City, Utah, for a long weekend where we would get "12,000 vertical feet" in every day before lunch. Never mind that I was lucky to conquer the handful of horizontal feet it took me to get coffee and do my Facebook stalking before lunch. I really liked this man and was not about to pass up going on a date-cation with him over something as trivial as the fact that I had never skied. I had two weeks. Surely that was enough time to prepare for the slopes, or at least enough time to procure a sexy and cushioning ski outfit.
I remembered seeing a sign for ski lessons in Bill Jackson's when I was at the store a few years back to buy long underwear for a trip to New York City. I called and booked four lessons in the next two weeks. Seriously, how hard could it be?
I showed up for my first lesson in tennis socks and running shoes. My "ski" instructor, Brian, coached me on which ski socks to buy. Just a heads up for ski newbies, if you already have large feet, ski socks will make your feet look very Bugs Bunnyish.
I then fit my cartoonish feet into ski boots. There are two words to describe this process — fucking painful. Once Brian found a pair that was somewhat bearable, he made me walk around the store in them. For those of you who have never worn ski boots and are curious what the experience is like, try this: squeeze your feet into Chinese vases and then try to walk. Clomping around the store with my feet set in what felt like two blocks of cement, I wandered into the hunting section. The conversation and tobacco chewing came to a halt. I was a bit concerned that these hunters mistakenly heard the sound of a wounded water buffalo stumbling in their direction instead of a middle age woman in Gap capri pants and ski boots.
Brian led me back to the ski area, which consisted of a ramp covered in blue carpet. This would be my mountain. Brian clicked my boots into skis, handed me two poles, and pointed me to the edge of the slope.
When I was situated at the top of the contraption, Brian turned the ramp on the slowest setting. I stepped on the moving slope and pointed my skis into a "V" (what's known to us ski bums as a wedge). I assumed I would easily be able to replicate the perfect V I had mastered on the floor. I was mistaken. I promptly fell flat on my ass, emitting a groan that must have sounded to everyone in the store like a water buffalo giving birth. This of course aroused the attention of the hunters, as well as everyone else at Bill Jackson's. Here I was paying for painful ski lessons and Bill Jackson's was using me to entertain its shoppers.
In a way the experience was a lot like diving into the world of online dating. I suffered through a few falls and embarrassing moments before I eventually found my footing. After two weeks of ski lessons, I was no master, but I could glide down Bill Jackson's mountain with reasonable proficiency.
After my final lesson, I thanked Brian for his patience and asked him for any final advice. His response: "As soon as you get there, sign up for lessons."
Brian's parting words did not do much for my confidence. Nor did the prospect of testing my carpet skiing skills on an icy mountain, in freezing temperatures, with hundreds of beautiful snow bunnies whizzing past me on all sides as I took on 12,000 vertical feet of mountain almost entirely on my ass. Good times. Good times.
I'm sure you are wondering how I made out in Park City. For that story you will have to read my next post. But, my ski lessons did teach me a few things. Like when a lie goes from being little and white to, if you'll excuse the pun, mountainous. When it comes to death defying sports, tell the truth. Your desire to appear fun and exciting may lead to a broken leg or a displaced hip, which is neither fun nor sexy. You are not boring just because you do not share all of a man's hobbies, like skiing. It might just mean you have a healthy aversion to pain.
You do not have to be a master of extreme sports to be fun, exciting and interesting. You simply have to be open to trying new things and having new experiences. Sure a guy may be looking for a partner who can keep up with him on the slopes. But, he may also be looking for a woman who is willing to trying something new, who allows this new man to be her first ... at least at skiing.