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Saturday, June 12, 2010

Oh Canada!

I'm mad @ Canada! I know what you're thinking, how could anyone be mad @ the country that brought us Alex Trebek & Celine Dion? Before we get into that I want to go on record that I am not trying to cause an international incident with our neighbor to the north. But after you read this if you want to stop watching Canadian Parliament on CSPAN I’m not going to try & stop you. This is 14 years of pent up anger & frustration & just like Celine, “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now!”

I remember it like it was yesterday. Well if yesterday was the middle of December in one of the coldest places on earth. My roommate from college who just happened to be a French Canadian from Quebec City invited me up for a visit. I had never been to Canada & Patrick is awesome so it seemed like a recipe for success. So what if I was from the Deep South & didn’t speak a word of French. I mean how hard could it be vacationing in Canada? What is VERY hard Alex? There's only one kind of skiing where I'm from & it sure as hell doesn't include the word snow. But when in Rome, right? WRONG!

Patrick actually asked if I wanted him to teach me how to ski. That would be great I thought. The only problem with this simple plan is that Patrick has about as much business teaching someone how to ski as I do leading a prison riot! -Side note...See I wouldn't do well in prison for more reasons than you can possibly imagine. First & foremost I am just too damn pretty! Second? There is no second, I'm too damn pretty to go to prison.- So in Patrick's infinite wisdom he decides it would be best to teach me to ski @ night. At night!!! I didn't know it was even legal to ski @ night! Who the hell thought this was a good idea? 14 years ago I did. Oh yeah I forgot to mention that Patrick was a junior Canadian ski champion & I wasn't!

As we arrive @ the slopes (having now skied I feel I can use technical terms like slopes) I wasn't nervous. Patrick had eased all my fears with a simple comment, "Drew you're athletic so skiing should be easy for you." You know something? Patrick was right. I was (still am I think) athletic & like he said if I can play tennis & basketball why wouldn't I be able to strap two sticks to my feet & fly down a hill @ the speed of light? For some twisted reason this logic made sense to me. First we try the bunny slopes but there was a slight problem. I couldn't figure out the t-bar. It doesn't come with any instructions & maybe that's because the 6 year olds that were riding up the bunny slope could figure this out by themselves. I swear the Canadians sure know how to educate their kids because @ 19 & with an American education I couldn't begin to figure out this freakin' thing! So after several failed attempts on the easy stuff Patrick makes an executive decision. "I'll teach you @ the top of the mountain." Come again? There are so many things wrong with this plan that my natural response was, "Ok."

Sure the t-bar was tough but the ski lift made that seem like a day @ the park. Getting on wasn't an issue @ all. Getting off however presented a problem...or two. You kind of have to know how to stand up on skis in order to get off this ride from hell. Anyway, I fall off the ski lift right in front of where every person gets off the lift. After 8 skis to the ribs I manage to pull my self up so we can begin my awesome ski adventure. I didn't know that ski slopes were described by colors which indicates their level of difficulty. Apparently this one was a quadruple black diamond because it was the most terrifying experience of my life! I don't have a clue if a quadruple black diamond even exists but go with me on this. Patrick's brillant plan of teaching me to ski (@ night) on top of Mt Everst was flawed to say the very least. The top of the mountain was tiny & this did not look like a classroom I wanted any part of. Patrick said it would be easy. All I had to do was "zig zag" & I would be fine. Zig zag?? What the hell does that mean Bode Miller? Is that a technical term? I think zig zag is French "ski talk" for "American sucker."

So I zig but the zag doesn't go so well & down the hill I go. And just like Celine I am now "All By Myself." As I am racing to my death I remembered that I had these two random poles in my hand. To this day I have no idea what they are for but I had them so I was sure as hell going to use them for something. I chose to stick the poles straight out like I was trying to pick up illegal cable. This method did not even come close to doing anything good. It did however create a new problem. As I was loosing my balance I some how mananged to turn completely around. I am now going down a quadruple black diamond BACKWARDS! True story!! I am now staring up @ my "ski instructer" yelling every profanity I can think of. Of course he can't hear me because I just pierced the sound barrier. All he sees is his "athletic" American friend "showing off" on this Canadian beast. And even though he claims to not have been able to hear my cries for help I was able to hear him yell wonderful words of encourangement to me, "Stop showing off you stupid American!" Showing off!?!? Does being able to recite every four letter word in the English language constitute showing off? If so consider it showing off but if he was referring to my backwards skiing I need to learn a few French curse words! As I was thinking about how many people would come out for my funeral I remembered the only thing of value I was taught that night. If you need to stop quickly just fall over. And that's what I did. Fell. Hard. As I am laying in the middle of the mountain quickly learning how to pray a Hail Marry Patrick decides to come on down & do that fancy ski stop where they swish to the side & shoot all the snow up. You know the one? The one where those of us that can't ski want to shove one of the poles up the junior ski champion's ass! As I figured out a way to get up Patrick is kind enough to remind me again to zig zag. In case you forgot I am in the middle of the freaking mountain. I'm sure you can guess what happened next. You got it...I zigged but there was no room to zag. Back down the damn hill! Hill? That's a typo! It's a MOUNTAIN!!

Since I've now resumed my newest hobby I have some decisions to make. The decision I made ski. To ski like the athlete I am! To ski like my mentor the Canadian ski champion would want me to! So that's what I did. And God was it beautiful...for a moment. A very brief, beautiful moment. As I am sking I notice that I am officially breaking land speed records & this isn't a record I need in my life. Don't ask me why I decided to do what I did next but I promise it made sense @ the time. I thought the lower I got the safer I would be & the slower I would go. Even if you haven't skied I'm sure you know that getting lower only does one thing & it ain't slow ya down. If the speed weren't scary enough I look up & see the mother of all curves straight ahead of me. I now have another decision to make. Take the curve or die! Let's review what we've learned class. I can't ski straight so taking a curve @ warp speed isn't a strong option but I'm only 19 & the death option sucks! We have now entered the point of the night where legends are made. I took the curve @ warp speed like I had been sking all my life. I took the curve that would have made any junior ski champ proud. In fact I took the curve so well I became a little bit arrogant. Afterall not only did I conquer the curve, I had skied backwards. I am obviously a sking prodigy. As I am preparing how to handle the national anthem playing when I win a downhill gold medal for the good ole USA I decide to try one of those fancy stops. And that's when the dreams of Olympic gold died a very very painful death.

One leg understood how the fancy ski stop worked but the other apparently didn't get the memo. And that's when it poppped. And when I say pop I mean shred your knee, ride the rest of the way down the mountain on a stretcher, pop! As the ski patrol comes to my rescue I find the one person besides Patrick that can speak English in Quebec. The first thing this Canadian David Hasselhoff asks me isn't about my knee but instead, "Where are you from?" To which I reply, "Alabama." His response? "Oh ski country!" Up until that point I had no idea the Canadians were known for their humor. And by humor I mean this guy was a bastard!

I managed to survive 7 years before having reconstructive knee surgery (compliments of Canada) which included a 12 inch scar & two screws. Well three screws if you count Patrick's teaching!

Pat, you know I love you brother!