Skiing is an activity that I scrupulously avoided while growing up. Nothing appealed to me in regard to an activity so cold and costly.  Schoolmates and siblings extolled the virtues of the activity and its attendant excitement, camaraderie and joy.  I pictured frozen toes and a runny nose.

I’m not really as wimpy as the foregoing would indicate.  I have excelled at many sports and even enjoy ice skating.  It’s just the thought of pushing off at the top of a mountain towards an uncertain descent that turned me off.  Oh, and did I mention that ski-lifts are terrifying?  I had the dubious opportunity to ride up a mountain on a Colorado ski-lift during a summer-time visit once and felt an inexorable temptation to just let go and slide under the bar to an end that would have made CNN.  Hmmmmm. Perhaps I need professional help on that one.

In any event, I was around 37 and well on the way to a ski-less lifetime when I was informed that it would be a wonderful thing to learn ALONG WITH my then 5 and 3-year-old children.  After all, blithely intoned my tormentors, skiing is one of those life skills/activities that every child should have.  And, just incidentally, the kids’ couldn’t go up ALONE, and the 450 foot ski facility near our New Jersey home would be really BORING for an adult who knows how to ski, etc.  But, for a beginner….

The logic seemed unassailable.  The hill was only minutes away.  The expense was relatively negligible — a lot worse than tennis but somewhat better than golf.  However, I still was not comfortable.  It struck me as akin to teaching my children to drive —  a mandatory rite of parenting passage — but in this instance, I did not know how to drive myself.  Seeing no alternative, I agreed in principle and then had a chance to experience a two-week build-up to the scheduled event.  This period provided much anticipatory hilarity on the part of friends and relatives near and far.  A ski jacket was purchased despite my personal aversion to wearing bright red and yellow at the same time.  Skis were borrowed and fitted.  Boots were installed on my feet that were less comfortable, I imagine, though quite similar, to wearing concrete.  Gloves were purchased that did not allow me to open a door handle.  An instructional manual for walking with crutches was left ostentatiously on my bureau.  As the day approached I was asked to make sure my insurance card was up-to-date.

Finally, it was the eve of the big day.  I lay awake with modest anxiety but confidence that it could not possibly be as bad an experience as I expected.  The childrens’ cute little outfits were outside their doors.  My garish ensemble filled the closet.  At some point, I drifted off to sleep.  When I awoke, something was wrong.  I felt as though I had been shot in the back.  I lowered myself out of bed and crawled to the bathroom.  My wife was alarmed that I appeared ashen.  I asked what childbirth had been like and she told me I appeared to be much worse off than that.  I had never, ever experienced pain so acute.

Every story needs a denouement and here is mine — while my conscious self had agreed to ski, some combination of my sub-conscious and my body apparently decided it was appropriate to have a herniated disk instead.  The two activities are about as mutually exclusive as possible.  Thus, after the ensuing two months of agony, a surgery, and nine months of rehabilitation, when the next opportunity to learn to ski was presented, I unhesitatingly said “NO” and that is how it is.  I will live my life ski-lessly.

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