I was slightly nervous to try skiing for the first time on Wednesday morning, mainly because of all the extra appendages it seems to require. If there was a way to glide down the mountain on human-shaped feet, I would be way more on board and less fearful. All things considered in the time of Covid, it felt like a safe activity to participate in, and our companions had already been infected and recovered in recent months, so it felt like safer socializing. Our party was made up of one who was an expert snowboarder but trying skiing for the first time in ten years, one who had snowboarded once before and decided to stick to it, and two teenage girls reputed to be expert loungers but rolled out of bed to try skiing for a day. While we were in line to get our rental equipment, an older man engaged the teenagers in conversation asking about procedures and explaining that he hadn’t done this in a long time. His younger companion had long wavy hair and belted snow pants with a sweatshirt tucked into the high waist. I’m at the age now where I’m not quite sure what is fashionable anymore, but the aesthetic of the younger man seemed to trigger a certain annoyance in me. Meanwhile, the older man was telling the girls that they should be having lessons since they never skied before and he wasn’t going to give them any tips because they should be getting a lesson. He also told us that you don’t get a helmet with your rentals. Funny how his initial vulnerability at not having done this in a long time quickly changed into cockiness once he learned that he was dealing with novices.
The way the rental situation is arranged, it’s intended to flow like stations. The building is shaped in a kind of L and you check in, get and try on a single boot, hobble away from the boot station and line up to get your skis or snowboard, and then you pop out into the sunshine to figure out what to do with the shoes you were already wearing. There are no lockers available during Covid because, as you know, lockers are the number one spreading zone for viruses. While we were getting our rental gear, I suddenly wasn’t sure about whether or not I should get a helmet. I was already wearing a red beanie on my head, which would have to be removed and then become another article of clothing which I would not be able to put in a locker once removed. I declined the helmet during the equipment distribution process and proceeded outside carrying all of these sporting items that I had never dealt with before. I sat on a bench and took off the right shoe that I was still wearing and replaced it with the right ski boot that I had been carrying during this whole process. Once my boots were secure and tight, I took my first steps to go stand by a trash can and wait for the rest of my party to exit the building and join me in figuring out the most graceful way to get our shoes back to the car. I noticed the other skiers and snowboarders wearing their varying levels of gear and about a dozen or so (even ones who looked mature and experienced) were in helmets. After three minutes, Lolo came out with a helmet on. This is when I really started to panic, so I asked her if I should get a helmet and she made that psh yeah noise that means I made a big blunder in not getting the helmet in the first place.
I knew I had made a huge mistake at this point because it is especially important during Covid, that you never enter exit doors or exit entry doors. There was even a time in the beginning when you could not go down the baking aisle in Vons from the front to the back of the store. You had to do a zig and then a zag to get the sugar so that you may never have to face another human nose to nose. I looked at the line to enter the L of the rental process where I would have had to go all the way through the building, passing all the people who were following rules and working their way through the line as is expected. I then looked to the exit door where I could just pop in and hopefully quickly remedy my blunder. As I made my way to the doorway preparing to be chided for breaking Covid and line etiquette, I failed to notice the raised threshold. My eyes were looking forward at the young girl who had just handed me my skis a few minutes before. My boot stubbornly caught on the threshold as my body continued to propel forward, and I spilled onto the floor. Being that my feet had an unfamiliar weight and were locked into boots that that put them in a state of over-flexion, I could not figure out how to pick myself up from the unfortunate position I was in. Two men hurried over to lift me back onto my feet while the other people in the room glanced or perhaps stared my way and then continued to retrieve their gear. At any other age, I might have been humiliated, but as a forty-year-old woman learning to ski for the first time, I didn’t have an abundance of pride to lose. I hobbled over to the counter, and told the young girl who had no doubt just witnessed me spill into the room that I had changed my mind about the helmet. She wasted no time in giving it to me and didn’t even mention that I shouldn’t have come in the out door.