Last Friday was my annual “ski day” at Devil’s Glen, organized by my second-line manager, Dave. I only ski once a year, though I’d like to increase that to at least a couple of times — maybe I’ll bring the boys out with me, since (a) Gail doesn’t care for downhill skiing, and (b) Nicholas is still free until he’s six. Devil’s Glen has an annual “Men’s Day”, which is when we went last year, but Men’s Day can be pretty busy, so this year Dave decided to have it on the Friday after Men’s Day. There was no free beer or gifts and no prize draws, but it was a little cheaper, the lift lines were almost non-existent and we had less trouble getting tables near each other for the 28 of us, so that was good. It snowed like crazy all day, which made for some treacherous driving on the way home, but the skiing conditions were great.
I used to ski all the time in high school, and now it’s once a year, at most. As a result, whenever I ski nowadays, memories of skiing back in high school come flooding back…
(Everything goes all wavy as we go back in time…)
It’s a Wednesday night in early 1986. I’m sixteen and in grade twelve at Dunbarton High School in Pickering, Ontario. After school ended at 3:30, I put my school stuff in my Adidas bag and head down to the tech wing where my skis and stuff have been stored all day. I find my stuff among the piles of other people’s stuff and head towards the ski club bus. 45 minutes later, we’re at Dagmar Ski Resort in Whitby [This is where I would normally put a link to the Dagmar website, http://www.skidagmar.com, but it’s incredibly lame (no pictures, no map, nothing) so I refuse to even link it]. We get changed, grab our lift ticket, and hit the slopes.
They’re playing CHUM-FM through speakers at the top and bottom of each lift. [This was back when CHUM-FM was a pop-rock station, not the “easy listening” “adult contemporary” “really boring” stuff they play now]. All evening, we hear songs like “These Dreams” by Heart, “Rock Me Amadeus” by Falco, and “Kyrie” by Mr. Mister. I’m skiing with my friends Glen Fujino and Kevin Day (and others, sorry guys but I don’t remember other names). Glen is a better skier than the rest of us, and likes to do goofy things like spin around and ski backwards in a tuck position. The guys I usually hang around with at school (Faisal, Doug, Paul, Glen) aren’t here because they don’t ski. My fourteen-year-old sister is out here somewhere with her friends as well, and every now and again I see her, but she usually ignores me. The big hill right in front of the chalet is called the Big Daddy, and we spend most of our time on that hill. There’s a little mini-mogul run down the right-hand side, underneath the chair lift. From the top of the lift, you can go left to hit the couple of black diamond runs, but they’re not really all that hard. One’s called the Dive Bomber because about halfway down there’s a drop-off; if you hit that with some speed, you can get some airtime. The other direction from the diamond runs, on the other side of the Big Daddy, are some other narrow intermediate runs, and beyond that are some easy ones, including one called Lover’s Lane. Inexplicably, very few jokes are ever made about this name, which is surprising considering the number of teenage boys here. A guy can yell “Hey, let’s go over to Lover’s Lane!” to a bunch of other guys, and nobody will make any “no way, man, I ain’t gay!” jokes you might expect from guys of our age group and maturity level.
At some point during the evening, we hit the chalet for dinner. This is almost invariably a burger and fries, scarfed down as fast as possible so we can get back out skiing again. At the end of the night, we return to the chalet before boarding the bus for a hot chocolate. After that, we pack up our stuff, put it in the holding area under the bus and get ready for the ride home. Glen, who is teaching himself some really weird computer language called “C”, tells silly jokes the entire way home.
(Everything goes all wavy again as we return to the present…)
Things I worry about now when skiing, but didn’t back then: Can I do the more difficult runs without killing myself or someone else? Will the pain in my legs stop at some point today, or just keep getting worse? How badly are they going to hurt tomorrow? Why haven’t I been doing squats for the last month, like I promised myself last year that I’d do this year?
Things I worried about then but not now: how cool do I look? Where are the cute girls skiing?