So it turns out my aunt bailed on a trip to Breckenridge, Colorado with my sister and her 3 kids, so the ticket went to me. Our family used to load up the Griswold station wagon with suitcases on the roof and drive here from Illinois just about every winter when I was a kid. It’s still as charming as I remember it. Last time I was here was in 1984.
After skiing here 3 days, I have decided that if I could do it over again, I would’ve moved here just after college and pursued the life of a ski bum. I can’t think of anything I would rather have done in my 20s: you work your little job as an instructor, or on patrol, or in a cafe, or somewhere else, and the rest of the time all you do is ski or snowboard or hang out in the ski lodge and drink beers. That’s the life for me! When I was in the lodge the other day getting lunch, the guy in the line before me said this to the guy serving the food:
“D’ju get out there this morning, dude?”
“Of course, wha?”
“Wouldn’t expect anything less of you, bro.”
Then it was my turn to order.
“Yeah, I’ll take the chili in a bread bowl,” I said.
“Sour cream and onions in that?”
After he asked the question, I got the feeling that I was expected to answer it immediately. Any delay would screw up the groove he was in and throw his whole orbit of wherewithal and supremacy out of joint. All his flea-driven brain power went into that orbit, which consisted of about 3 plates and their accoutrements. But for that he was lucky. When I was in my 20s, and running my own business, I had to worry about every single piece of equipment I rented, all their parts and operations and connections, all my customers, billing out, paying the bills, a thousand other little things, plus my employees who, because I was just barely getting by for so many years, were usually the worst collection of drunkards, muttonheads, and half-wits, and subnormals, and jackholes, and low-foreheads you’ve ever seen in your life. Now that I’m done with A Solemn and Strange Music, I’m thinking about writing about this period of my life, which I’ve hardly written anything about. I used to let one of my mechanics drink beer on the job. He’d drink warm cans of Budweiser all day, and then at the end of it, he’d come staggering to the front with all these big ideas for the business. “Mizzah Mike, I been tinking. What if ya hire someone goes out front uh da store in a chicken suit, see? We gotta get bringin’ customers in here, I says.” Another employee I hired I met in a bar during a time when he was sleeping in the sawgrass along the FEC railway. He called himself Captain Kirk, and he was a very friendly village idiot, but a crackhead too. He worked for me for three years, and during that time I got him outta the sawgrass and into a Winnebego, but eventually he burned himself out. I had to let him go after he chased me into traffic with a 7 foot metal pole, and a few weeks after that he took a generator that he couldn’t fix when he was working for me, and fixed it. Then he got a side job painting a house without electricity for a friend of mine. He set up the generator in the garage and dragged the cords through the house and into the bathroom so he could watch his little TV. The only thing was, he either forgot, or didn’t feel like opening the door of the garage, and the thick fatal fumes crept through the house. He was found dead the next morning, the generator still running, Regis and Kathy on the TV. I don’t think he ever repaired anything as good as that generator. But I digress.
I was saying I woulda preferrred having to worry about the orbit of sour cream and onions and snowboarding in my 20s, but fate being the way it is, I had to do what I did. After the hurricanes of ’04, and ’05, I finally started making some money, and then I hired my brother who cleaned the place up, and that’s why I was able to move to Germany. All I did between ’06 and ’11 was save for it.
Here’s a pic of of this wonderful town. Going out on the slopes now.