There’s a wise older woman in my life who told me, “Don’t give advice, just tell your story.” So as we head toward winter and the plethora of outdoor recreational activities associated with cold smoke, I can’t help but give in to the urge to tell all women under 30: Do not learn skiing or snowboarding from your boyfriend.
I know you youngsters have good intentions. You may have a sense of adventure, a desire to learn new skills, or a trust fund that seems like it will last forever. Whatever your reason, it is probably more noble than the one that first put me on the ski lift at Bridger Bowl at age 28: I was insanely jealous of everybody. I was the sort of girlfriend who would throw away the department store ads that come in the newspaper because the women in bras were hotter than I was. I didn’t want my boyfriend to notice that there might be women in this world who have perkier, larger, and/or more airbrushed breasts than me.
According to my thinking, department store ads are easier to edit out of my man’s life than, say, some hot snowboarding chick at the top of Pierre’s Knob. Plus, I was, and still am, a feminist, and therefore opposed to pushing women down steep mountainsides. I imagined it would be especially frustrating to push a woman off a cliff and have her gracefully land on her feet a thousand yards down, leaving my boyfriend to shout, “That was HOT!” My boyfriend exclaiming anything positive at anyone but me would leave me glaring and pouting.
So when I started dating a pothead who spent nine months of the year getting high in the trees around the Alpine lift, I decided that I should learn to snowboard too. It was the only way to protect him from the one hot chick on the mountain who might be interested in a dirty hippie wearing a fartbag from the 1980s. In those days, I firmly believed that the only way to keep love alive was by maintaining constant supervision. If I had to learn a sport that occasionally kills people in order to do that, then I would.
Initially, my boyfriend was very excited about my enthusiasm. We both imagined that I would fall down a couple of times, and then we would ride through the trees together, giggling and sharing moments of connection that only two snowboarders in love could share.
I went out and purchased second-hand gear that almost fit. Then, when my boyfriend asked me to face away from him, I did. He pushed me forward and then called me “goofy” and I should have known, in that moment, that this situation was doomed. I told him that if he was going to call me names before we even got up to the hill, he could find himself somebody else to love. Then he explained that I was the equivalent of a lefty with my feet, which sounded like a good enough excuse for verbal fumbling. We kissed and made up.
At the top of the hill, I was told to “lean into the hill.” Then I fell down and was told to lean into the hill again. And I fell down again. I didn’t feel sexy.
It took us two days on the mountain to figure out that I wasn’t goofy after all. I couldn’t even get the foot test right. On the third day at Bridger, with my feet facing the right way, I managed to stand for a few seconds at a time and then fall and curse for hours on end. My boyfriend continued to tell me to lean into the mountain. Finally, I asked him if he had any other helpful sentences in his vapid brain that he could use to help me navigate Snowflake without killing myself or a small child. He pondered for a moment and asked, “Wanna get high?” I should have guessed that sentence was coming. There were only three sentences in his reality: "I want to go down the mountain," "I want to get laid," and, "I want weed." It was a simple existence, but not at all helpful when I was struggling to learn a new sport.
After those first three tries, I ditched the guy and got lessons from my friend Amy. Learning from Amy was unbelievably joyful and comforting. Like me, Amy had tried to learn snowboarding from her husband but ended up getting her knowledge from Lois. Lois had tried to take on the pow pow with her boyfriend, but she found her feet with Brenda, who eventually became her girlfriend. Brenda is the hot chick at the top of the mountain who makes pothead, snowboarding boyfriends seem like a silly phase in one’s life, similar to the even earlier days when posters of unicorns were cool.
So dear, young, insecure women, if you're getting the urge to learn a snow-sport from the man you currently possess, I advise you to ditch him and get on the mountain with a girlfriend.