Mount Reba was crisp, clear, and cold, *perfect* it was gonna be delicious day of skiing at Bear Valley. I was dating Jake’s sister Ella (they were transplants from Minnesota) and I was honored to be Jake’s guide on his first excursion into the Sierras.
After clicking onto our skis and securing our sunglasses, we spontaneously high-fived each other in excited anticipation. What could go wrong on a day like today?
The snow was squeaky fast on the slight down-hill to Bear Chair, and maybe we were coming in a bit hot, but certainly not out of control. And that’s when it happened.
Jake accidentally skied across this dude’s skis. No big deal right? I mean, skis get scratched, it’s pretty much inevitable. Jake quickly apologized to the gentleman, but he would have none of it? “You fucking asshole!” he exclaimed “You just fucked up my skis!” “ I outta kick your ass!”
Needless to say, Jake and I were in shock. Neither of us had ever encountered such vitriol on the slopes. And as fate would have it, we boarded the chair right behind him and his enormous buddy – what luck.
The irritated dude looked like he had just been released from San Quenton. He had the scar, the mullet, and the foo-manchu, just like in the movies. And on the way up, he would intermittently look back at us and mutter obscenities.
Now Jake was a rugger from the mid-west at a burly six foot two, and I’m a brute as well; but if it came to a dust up, it was Lurch who had me worried. The Ax Murderer’s sidekick had to be six seven and 250 pounds, and he was one of those quiet guys. He never said anything, just nodded as the Ax Murderer emptied his spleen.
Jake was furious, and wanted to kick the Ax Murderer’s ass at the top of the lift. But who would that leave me to fight?.. gulp .. Lurch! So, I did what I had to do. I transformed into a Buddhist Priest and began the process of un-ruffling feathers.
You folks would have been proud of ole Mota Bota. I was sayin’ stuff like ‘Violence is not the answer to conflict’ ‘It’s such a beautiful day, just let it go’ and ‘It’s not worth it, let’s just move on and ski away’.
What I didn’t know, is that I was absorbing all of Jake’s rage, and the Ax Murderer’s as well – ‘Transference’. As soon as my Olin Mark IV Comps touched the snow, the Ax Murderer was fixed in my cross-hairs, and he was going to pay for his insolence.
I flew after him like a falcon to the kill. He was an intermediate skier, slightly hunched, and speeding down the approach to Satisfaction. What I remember most is the startled look on his face when I pulled up shoulder to shoulder. I was the Roadrunner and he was the Coyote on the crumbling precipice – Beep! Beep! I simply slid my right ski into his left and *click* a tumbling he went. It was a spectacular three cartwheel yard sale featuring – skis, poles, hat, and sunglasses.
Instantly, the rage I harbored vanished? Now I felt compelled to help gather his belongings, so I skied uphill, picking up a ski here and a pole there. He greeted me with clenched fists, but I was done, and offered a clumsy apology while I handed him his things. He was done too, there was no real fight in him, and the matter was settled. As with most guys, when a fight is over, it’s over. We didn’t grab a beer or nothin’, just went our separate ways in peace. Jake was cool too – hell, I had both calmed and avenged him, now that’s a guide!
Yet this whole time, Lurch never said a word or made a gesture, just watched with mild disinterest.