Chairlift Charlie

A case for conversation.

Nothing so needs reforming as other people's habits. —Mark Twain

Know what makes me feel like a crazy person even more than people telling me that I’m a crazy person? When I start a friendly conversation with a stranger on the chairlift and am met with suspenseful, nescient… silence.

“Hello! How are you? Beautiful day, isn’t it?”


See what I did there? The line above was left blank intentionally, because that’s what it feels like when someone sitting an inch away—on a chair suspended 25 feet in the air, with no one else in earshot, and no other apparent distractions—is completely ignoring you. It’s a little confusing, a little frustrating, and really, really quiet. Even the metaphorical crickets are silent, because it’s winter and colder than a metaphorical well-digger’s ass.

I am not one to give up so easily, however, so I try again—but louder, and with more vigor. Maybe my inconversant chairmate simply requires a more commanding greeting.


Still nothing.

My foe (because when I’m ignored like a white crayon, it makes me angry, and we are now foes) continues his unwavering, thousand-yard stare. What a dick. I vow to break him—he will wish me good day.

In the absence of conversation and with nowhere to go, my mind begins exploring plausible scenarios that would explain this assault on common decency. Traumatic brain injury? Sedation? Tragic cunnilingus accident? Perhaps a language barrier?


Nada. And I’m beginning to feel self-conscious, yelling in Spanish to an unresponsive hood and goggles. Skiers on the ground are stopping to stare. My stomach churns with anger and confusion and that day-old breakfast burrito I shouldn’t have eaten off the floor of my truck.

Finally, I decide to take decisive action: I’m going to engage the enemy physically. Slowly, I raise my arm and place it behind him on the back of the chair. We are now on a romantic chairlift date. Except that Charlie Chaplin over there doesn’t move a muscle. He is good.

I am contemplating the legal ramifications of pushing him off the chairlift, when suddenly he flips his hood down and removes an earbud, which blares tinny dubstep at a baffling volume into the silence. I startle and yank my arm back to a less embracing, more socially acceptable position.

“Hey man, you know if they’re opening Schlashman’s today?” he asks, with the slow intonation of someone on a heroine binge.

I nod. “Yep, I think so. Should be pretty soon.”

“Ok… cool… thanks,” he says. “Have a solid day.” And then, before I can tell him how close I was to tossing him from the lift, he screws the armor-piercing electronic screams back into his head and disappears once more into his hood.

There you have it. Who’s the crazy one again? All of this was just a roundabout way of saying that chairlift conversation is a fun tradition, it’s rude to ignore your neighbors, and throwing people off the lift is always an option. Happy winter.