Now back in the day before kids, Rick and I used to travel quite a bit. If we'd bought crystal for each trip it would have put us in the poor house so we decided that some trips didn't wouldn't warrant it.
The tale I'm going to tell you now to tell you is about one of those crystal-free trips.
It was 1993 and we had just moved to Germany. Rick was especially pumped. "We're so close to the Alps!" he would say. "I can't wait to go skiing!" Um...yeah.
You see, I wasn't a skier. Not even a little. Sure, I had skied a couple of times, but both had been on small Wisconsin hills. And even then I'd sucked. We're talking black-and-blue-butt sucked. Still, Rick loved skiing. I knew my destiny was doomed.
The first Thanksgiving we were out there, Rick made arrangements for us to go skiing with friends at Steinplatte Ski Resort in Austria. Man, was I nervous. Before we went, I told Rick I wanted lessons from a ski school instructor. Rick balked, "Lessons? You don't need no stinkin' lessons," he replied with Blazing Saddles flourish. Rick was an expert skier. He could easily teach me. Why throw good money away?
When we arrived at the ski lodge, I brought up the subject again. I may have even begged.. "Rick, you have no idea how bad I am. I really think I need lessons."
Rick still brushed it aside. "Well, you have no idea how good of a skier I am. Trust me, you'll be fine."
The next morning, after I composed my last will and testament, we suited up and hit the hills. As we rode up the chair lift, I swore the mountain grew before our eyes. It got bigger and bigger. Taller and taller. There was no way I'd make it back down. Just getting off the chair lift proved too great. As soon as I skied off the bench, I landed on my butt.
"Don't worry," Rick said with the gusto of a cheerleader trying to will their losing team to win. "Chair lifts aren't easy the first few times. You'll be fine on the hill. Just follow me."
We started going down the mountain and I did follow him for about ten seconds or so. Problem was, I didn't know how to stop or slow down. Before I knew it I was way ahead of him. And I was going fast -- too fast -- and a big turn was coming up. I screamed back to Rick, "How do I stop?" Rick bolted forward, doing his best to catch up with me. I forgot what he told me to do.
What I do remember is the mountain. You know those banked turns that keep you from skiing off a cliff? Well, this ski run didn't have one. As for those fences that catch you if you do run off a cliff? Nope. Didn't have those either. As I careened toward the turn I couldn't make, I realized what would happen if I didn't stop. I'd Wile E. Coyote off the cliff and then plummet to my death.
HOLY HAND GRENADES!
Rick realized it, too. "Just crash!" he yelled. Now that's something I could do well. Just shy of the cliff I tumbled backward -- a sea of arms, legs, skis and poles.
It wasn't pretty. When Rick caught up to me, a slew of creative and crude expletives burst from my mouth. He just stood there, stunned. Then he smiled at me rather sheepishly. "How would you feel about getting some lessons?"
Needless to say, I got a HUGE crystal figurine for that trip.