It may be a stretch to call him a friend, I mean, I haven’t actually seen the guy in 20 years. But back in the day, we were tight. I taught skiing with Frank (do I have to tell you that’s not his real name?). We also lived in close quarters with ~40 of our closest friends in 3-high bunks at the school’s lodge all weekend for 13 weeks a year. So, we got to know one another. This is the story that sticks out in my mind, even after 20 years. Keep in mind, this story relates to Frank, there were others present who will have parts to play in later stories. Today is all about Frank.
Several of us were up early one Saturday morning, and since the morning meeting wasn’t until 10:00, we decided we had time to take a couple of runs, there was fresh snow out there calling to us. On with the gear, grab the skis, chug some horrible coffee, and we’re off. Runs 1 and 2 go smoothly, nice fresh snow, make some turns, hit the lift line, repeat. Then run 3 begins. Everything is fine until Frank utters the words I had come to fear when they come out of his mouth, “watch this.”
Not as bad, nor bone-chilling, nor, if I’m honest, funny – as when preceded with “hold my beer…” but still.
He proceeds to huck himself off the edge of the trail we’re on, landing somewhere ~30 feet into the woods below – which may as well have been somewhere over the rainbow given the ease with which you can find someone buried in snow deeper than they are tall. I skied over to the brink and yelled “Frank?!?! Dude?!?!” approximately 47 times before I heard a faint “ooooooover heeeeeeeere” and saw the very tip of a ski pole waving back and forth.
In I wade, muttering things like “…moron…what a dipshit…who does that…?!?!” as I shuffled. Arriving at the edge of a crater roughly 10’ across, I looked down to see partially buried goggles and a gloved hand waving said pole. He put the pole down long enough to wipe off his face, exposing an ear to ear grin.
“Little help here?” He says all nonchalant and stuff. “Sigh,” is my reply. I then commence beating on the snow around the edge of the crater. It’s sorta like a dowsing rod, except I’m looking for the rest of a dipshit, not water.
~79 swings later I make contact. With his shinbone. Just above the edge of his ski boot. Whoops. That ear-to-ear grin? Yeah, that left. Replacing it was a grimace spewing a string of expletives I’m glad his class of 10-year-olds wasn’t around to hear, combined with a handful of choice curses relating to my mother and all potential future generations of my family. Have I mentioned that Frank is a fundamentalist Christian? Because he is.
At this point we’re nearly late for lessons, never mind the meeting we missed by a good margin. I had sent the rest of the group ahead to let folks know what was going on, leading to one of the managers actually coming by us on the hill to see if we needed help/ski patrol/an exorcist (he arrived just about halfway through the expletive string, just in time to hear the curses). The two of us worked together to hoist Frank out of the snow and be sure nothing was broken.
Once we had verified that, Mr. Manager suggested that I might want to remove myself to my class meeting point. I started to say that my assistant could greet our class when he suggested that the issue wasn’t me greeting my class right now, rather he was concerned about Frank causing permanent bodily harm to my person, leading to me not being able to greet my class anymore that season.
I dug myself out post haste and hit the trail.
There is a happy ending to this introduction to the wonder of Frank – he was able to laugh about it over beers at the end of the day.
So there’s that.