Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Fountain of Mirth

I went skiing today and extended an amazing streak that I think may last for the rest of my life.

This streak began when I was a kid and has marched forth, unbroken, through every single day of skiing I have ever had the good fortune to enjoy. No matter where I am skiing, no matter who I am with, no matter what the weather or the conditions of the snow, at some point during the day, I will chuckle aloud while riding the chairlift. I always try to stifle this outward expression so as not to give the impression that I am a crazy old guy riding the chair alone and laughing at his own thoughts but I never succeed and the streak persists.

Here is why I laugh.

Riding the chair lift always conjures a childhood memory of riding the ski lift with my brother Rick and at least one or two other relatives (I think it was brother Tom and Cousin Jeff). Rick was a meticulous youngster and couldn't seem to resist the opportunity, afforded by a long ride up the mountain, to polish the lenses on his aviator sunglasses.

On the particular day when my streak commenced, Rick began the chair ride by securely stowing his poles under one leg. This allowed him to free up his hands for other tasks without dropping a pole from the chair. He also removed and safely clipped his gloves to his ski parka ensuring maximal dexterity for the polishing task. He carefully procured a neatly folded cloth from a zippered pocket, gently removed his shiny, wire-rimmed sunglasses and set about examining them from many angles, looking for smudges and streaks to remove. So far, not very funny.

About a minute or so into the operation I recall hearing a soft but sharp "pling" sound and I caught the sight of one green tinted aviator lens flipping through the air below us and disappearing beneath a pock mark in the snow. That's not funny either. Poor guy loved his sunglasses, probably spent a fair chunk of his net worth on them, and now they were worthless.

The funny part was Rick's reaction. Or, to be more specific, his non-reaction. With the detached look of a bored man performing a repetitive task, he calmly pressed the frame of the sunglasses against the steel bar of the chair lift and twisted them many times around the bar (with the second lens "plinging" away in the process). While his face was void of all emotion, his hands worked with the strength of a man whose rage was barely contained. While we all died laughing, Rick never even acknowledged that anything had happened. He may be in denial to this day.

Now, whenever I ride a chairlift, I remember that day and it always make me laugh. Just like it did today.


  1. That happened to me once, only instead of it being a sunglass lens, it was my ski boot, with ski attached. I peak the last rise in the chair lift, en route to the unloading ramp, with one ski and one wool sock half hanging off. To this date, I get nervous if the chair lift is not equipped with those foot rests.

  2. Anonymous12/30/2009

    You had me in tears. I'll crack up next time I'm on a chairlift.... I can see this perfectly. JD

  3. Boo Hoo12/31/2009

    I am sure he is in denial - he is still denying that he was in traction with a cast up to his hip from a broken toe (all from jumping into a pool)

  4. I remember it well. I never think of it when I'm on a chairlift, but I'm sure I will now. He was also calm when he "chucked" his Billy Squier cassette out the window just off the Biddeford exit on our way to Earle's. Though I do believe he showed a little more emotion in that case.

  5. Rick's spokesman1/04/2010

    My client does not vividly recall this incident, although he admits it sounds consistent with the behavior of his youth. The "neatly folded cloth" is a dubious claim, it was probably a crumpled napkin from the lodge. And the sunglasses? Couldn't pick them out of a line up today.