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"Courage is the art of being the only one who knows you're scared to death." -- Harold Wilson
|Episode 37: Austria and Tandem Snowboarding|
@ Where`s Cherie?
Aug 06 2002 - 04:41 PST
cherie writes: November 2000
Kristi and Cherie "tandem snowboarding" in Soelden, Austria. (Do not try this at home.)
Cherie and Kristi in a gondola getting ready for another day on the slopes in the Austrian Alps. (You have to smile at the matching jackets.)
A hog on a Hog. Here's Cherie on a Harely in Austria (where the Harley Clubs enjoy riding on glaciers!) Now that is Bad Ass!
I have finally found a sport where my big butt is an asset: snowboarding. Mark this day in history, the day when I wished for a fatter tush.
Johan (new friend) loaned in three grand worth of top of the line snowboarding gear in an effort to convince us to try the sport. It worked, but the only time Kristi and I looked good, was when we weren't snowboarding. When actually snowboarding, we were simply fools in expensive clothing.
Antek was our first snowboarding teacher who taught us the importance of tight boots.Cherie: "Antek, the laces are too tight! I can't even walk!"Antek: "Do you want to walk, or do you want to snowboard?"
The second lesson was in regards to looking cool.Antek: "Don't carry your board like that, it's not a cake!"
The first day we learned to attach the snowboard to our feet and gauge out chunks of the glacier while we tumbled down the mountain. Day two we accomplished getting up (necessary but difficult skill to master). By day three, we were so covered in bruises we looked like smurfs, complete with snow hats. My swollen knees looked like peaches that had been used in a tennis match.
Did I mention we learned to snowboard in the tiny town of Soelden, Austria? To memorize the phone number of one of the towns 2800 inhabitants you only need to remember four numbers. (Oh so cute!)
The splendor of the glacier lied in its ability to humble. The peak imposed a simultaneous sense of fear and awe--it was where the sun was the weakest and the wind was the strongest. It was also where Kristi looked down, shook her head "no way", and rode the chairlift back down to safety. I (always the dumb-ass) took a bite of cold air and screamed my way down the mountain terrorizing otherwise graceful skiers. Each painful crash I felt compelled to have another heart-to-heart chat with the mountain: "Okay Glacier, I won't eat anymore of your snow, if you let me down safely."
No deal. So we found an official snowboard teacher named Dominick. Dominick was young and cocky (a dangerous mixture) but he said two things to Kristi I will never forget.
1. "Your face is like an angel, but I think you are a big bitch."2. A few hours later he added "I like bitch."
Later we exchanged Dominick (good snowboarder, bad person) for a new snowboard instructor named Martin.
Martin taught us to tandem snowboard. That's right, a new recipe for disaster: four bindings, two people, and one board.
I was listening to the eerie hiss of the wind, locking my boots into the bindings when I was overcome with a queasy fear I can only describe as "shower spider anxiety". Simply defined "shower spider anxiety" occurs when you see a big ugly spider in the corner of the shower which disappears when you bend to get the soap. The question in the shower is "Where is the spider?" The question at the peak of the glacier is "Where is my brain?"
My unreasonable panic attack turned quite reasonable after a few minutes after I leaned one way and Martin leaned the other. Something snapped and we kart-wheeled down the mountain; a messy human avalanche with protruding appendages.
The snap was an irreparable binding tragedy. It was accompanied by the crooked smile that destruction brings, like the pure satisfaction of breaking a plate after a good meal. The smile was mine, not Martin's--it was his snowboard.
My inappropriate laughter (elated that the snap wasn't my leg) led us to turn his board into a toboggan. We must have looked like an out-of-control cartoon snowball sledding down the glacier using our feet as brakes.
The day ended like a typical snowboarding day--we were left with fat bruises and thin wallets. We relieved ourselves of the burden of snow clothes (especially the goggles, even a supermodel couldn't look good in them.) Then we snuck into some expensive hotel's spa area for a hot jacuzzi and a cold beer.
Then Kristi and I returned to our hotel where no one spoke English except the two 13 year-old boys who kept hitting on us. Tired of being crank-called with teenage silliness, we did the mature thing and headed to our cheese-ball hotel bar. Kristi ordered a Coke and poured a bag of peanuts in it and tried to pawn it off as a "Southern tradition." I wasn't nuts about the idea, but it bet flirting with 13 year-olds.
Kristi's "Southern tradition" reminded me of a "German tradition." A stranger grabbed Kristi's breast and when she yelped and flung his hand away he exclaimed: "I'm sorry, that's how we say 'hello' in Germany."
"That's funny, in the USA we say 'hello' by smacking people across the face."
In Austria they tried to fool us with the "Austrian tradition" of kissing three times when you greet someone. The last kiss, of course, lands unexpectedly on the lips. And you can't tell them to "kiss off" either. No matter how mean you sound, they just think it is cute.
Next stop: The Berlin Wall
Click on each picture to see it full size.
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