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Worldwide Ace » Damsels in Distress

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Damsels in Distress

15 January, 2011 (01:30) | Women

“Hey, Ben.”

Under normal circumstances, the room would be a din. Today, though, his voice carries easily across the emptiness. Rather than the typical throngs of people, heavy boots tromping across the thinly carpeted floor, there are maybe two dozen people, employees included, dotting the mass of empty tables and chairs.

“Are you doing anything right now?”

I slip a receipt in between the pages of my book and close it, turning toward him. “Nope,” I reply.

“You’re not working?”

“Do I look clean shaven?” Snide sarcasm drips from my voice as I run my hands over the three days of non-grooming policy on my cheek. It’s as decadent as I get these days. I came up to Eldora to ski for the day, but the mountain is on wind hold and only the beginner areas are open.

“Listen, man, I’ve got these two hot Russian babes downstairs who wanted to get into a private lesson, but I guess there weren’t enough instructors out there.”

“Ok?”

“One of them skis a little and she’s trying to teach the other one. They’re really struggling. Do you think you could talk to them? Maybe give them a few pointers?”

I slowly stand up and slip my jacket on. “Sure, I can do that. I can’t count the number of times I’ve stepped aside on the hill to offer a pointer or two.”

“You’re the man, Ben,” he tells me. “It doesn’t hurt that they’re babes.”

I roll my eyes as I follow him downstairs. “Nope,” I remark.

“Oh, and if anyone asks, you didn’t get this from me.”

“Of course,” I assure him.

I can feel my mouth begin to go dry as they approach.

“This is my friend Ben,” he announces as we arrive. “He’s a ski instructor here. He’s going to help you ladies out.” He turns to me and winks as I offer my hand. “Good luck, man.”

He’s no liar. The pair are gorgeous to say the least. The first is blond with crystalline blue eyes and a beaming smile. The second has a reddish tint to her auburn hair, an almost severe European class etched sternly on her face. In another portion of my brain, fantasies are spinning violently into a whirlwind, laying waste to every logical thought in there. Luckily, the instructor portion of my brain is functioning fine, and before I know it, I’m launching into another rendition of Ben’s Patented World-Famous Learn-to-Ski-in-30-Minutes-Or-Your-Money-Back Class.

I have no illusions. This is my job. This is what I do and I’m good at it. I don’t meet women as a ski instructor. I don’t make great money nor do I get phone numbers from my students. It certainly doesn’t help that I mainly teach kids 12 and under. I do not get to sweep women off their feet, nor go running around the mountain having fun with them. I, like many of my coworkers, cultivate crushes. We learn how to use that desire to make our students better skiers; to get them to try things they might think crazy. We exude confidence on the snow, moving with ease, and we abuse that confidence to better our jobs. Once my job is done, however, I’m back to being that self-same bumbling fool, and all reality must return.

In 15 minutes, I give the pair a complete rundown of the basic mechanics of skiing. I get the blonde into her equipment in the lobby and twist her skis into every basic alignment as I explain. The visual, auditory, verbal and kinesthetic aspects of the sport all shown. I take her hands and walk backwards as she leans farther and farther forward, making her see how sturdy the skis are and how much better they work when she’s leaning forward. I have her fill in the demos, as I’m not even in ski boots, my day already done and my desire to be outside at an extreme low.

“And that,” I conclude, attempting to swallow the bitter dryness of my mouth, “should be everything you need to get started. I recommend you head back over to the bunny slope and give it a shot. If you see me later, let me know how it goes.”

“Thank you,” they call, as I retreat back upstairs.

After a glass of water, I finish the chapter I was on, moderately disgusted with the book. The author is one of my favorites, but the book is bothersome at best. I’m beginning to worry he’ll never top his previous works, only relive them in a variety of reconstructed combination.

I collect my things and wander down to find my ride and see if we’re ready to hit the road.

“So, did you get their numbers?” my ski pimp asks as I walk by.

“Are you kidding me? I’ve got other targets in mind.”

“C’mon, man. I practically gift-wrapped them for you.”

“I’m not that type of guy,” I say, continuing on my way.

My ride is at the bench adjusting his board with one of our supervisors. He looks to be almost done.

“You’re going to want to playtest it when you’re done, aren’t you?” He jumps a little at the question, not having seen me approach.

“Of course.”

“Fine. I’ll go get my gear on.”

On the one hand, I’m ready to be done for the day. On the other, I’m curious to see if Ben’s Patented World-Famous Learn-to-Ski-in-30-Minutes-Or-Your-Money-Back Class paid dividends or not.

After a free run with my friend, I duck across the hill toward the Little Hawk lift and the bunny slope.

From the top of the hill, I see hide nor hair of the lovely ladies. I begin to worry that my explanation was ineffective. In reality, I’m excellent teacher and it’s just the opposite. The pair found such success that they ran off to the more difficult runs to try it out.

As I ride up the Poma lift next to the race course, I notice one of them struggling with a ski off in the deep, unskied powder. Like many newbies, she didn’t quite make it to the top.

“Need some help?” I ask, sliding off the post and sliding alongside her.

“Thanks,” she says. “Wait, you’re my ski instructor!”

“Indeed.”

I spin the ski the right direction and take her hand as she gets clipped in. I have her follow me out of the lift area and onto the blue run while she explains that her friend is at the top waiting for her.

“Can’t I just get back on?”

“Nope. You have to ski back to the bottom. But don’t worry. I’ll be there the whole way.”

“I don’t think I can do this,” she says. I’m used to this. I don’t take no for an answer. I try to chat with her while we work our way out onto the slope.

The bunny hill is a green run if you take the lift to the top and slightly less from the top of the magic carpet down. She explains that she got her turns down so well after I explained things, her friend and she decided to head to more difficult terrain. By jumping up to the Poma lift, they’ve skipped the greens completely and jumped right onto a difficult windswept blue. It’s not the worst situation, but it’s certainly not the best.

After unsuccessfully trying to coax her into turning–her fear caused her to lean backwards and lose control on each turn, falling down–I decide to try a drastic tactic

“What’s your name?”

“Maria.”

“I’m Ben. You speak Russian?” It’s a tactic. I want her to feel safe, relaxed, distracted. It’s for her own good.

“I do.”

“I only know how to swear in Russian.”

“Really? What can you say?” I murmur the three Russian swears I know, eliciting laughter and a big smile.”Where did you learn those?”

“My best friend in middle school was from the Ukraine.”

“That’s where I’m from, actually. Stick with the first one. The other two are really rude.”

I take her hands and arrange my skis outside of hers.

“Do you trust me?” I ask. She nods, though she’s clearly uncomfortable. “I’m going to ski down backwards. I want you to keep your skis in between mine and follow me down. Lean on my hands the whole way.”

“Is this safe?”

“Yes. I ski backwards all the time.” It’s a half truth. This isn’t a good idea, but it’s the simplest and quickest solution.

We begin to descend in reverse just fast enough to keep her leaning forward while she’s reaching out for me.

I’m nervous. I’ve never tried this before. I’ve skied with kids on my shoulders. I’ve chased down out of control skiers and yanked them to the ground before they hurt themselves or others. I’ve even skied in front of out of control skiers and taken the hit to stop them.

I keep my eyes on hers and call out before each turn. It works. Our speed is solid. I’m constantly in control. Within a minute, we’re at the base. I let go as I come to a stop. She slides close, laughter and adrenaline casting a glow over her. I let her slide into me, our embrace signifying completion.

“My friend’s still at the top,” she remarks as we separate.

“Then let’s go back up,” I say. It’s not the best idea, but at least from the top we can access some easier terrain; slopes she can ski on her own with coaxing. Plus, if I can deliver her to her friend,  “Keep you skis straight, stand up straight and lean your feet to the right to stay out of the deep snow. Do you want me to go first or do you want to go first?”

“You go first,” Maria says, trepidation in her voice.

Midway up, she’s fallen off again. The end of the day is nearing, last lift will run in minutes. I quickly ski down and manually pop her other ski on. I grab her around the waist, and carry her back into line. Even though I know it’s against regulation, I snag one of the posts on the Poma lift and place it firmly between her legs, sending her up the hill once more. The lifty at the base sees this and hits the stop just as I get on myself. I wave to indicate it can start again.

Every time her skis begin to twist in an unsavory manner, I offer advice and she quickly corrects. “We’re almost there,” I call to her on the last rise.

As I reach the crest, I only see two other people: Maria and the liftie.

“He says he thinks she skied down.”

“Which way?” I ask, pointing down the race course and then over the flats towards the greens.

“I think that way,” he replies, pointing off to the easy terrain.

“Then that way we go.”

I hold the rope as she skates underneath. Her skating needs work.

“Have you ever ice skated or rollerskated?”

“No.”

“Ok, well, waddle like a penguin,” I tell her, offering the same advice I do to the kids. “You push with one foot and slide on the other.”

She starts to build a little momentum, but not nearly enough to please me. I let her waddle past, gain a little distance, and then I start skating hard. “Put your skis straight,” I say as my skis slide around hers, my hands gently gripping her hips as I skate forward. She lurches forward after first contact. “Stand up straight and let me push you. Don’t lean back,” I instruct.

Her body feels pleasantly solid and meaty to me. If I felt so inclined, I could lift her like a ballerina from here, carrying her as I went. Instead, I keep applying gentle pressure and continue to thrust us forward across the flats. Once or twice, I relax my arms too much and my ski lands on the back of hers, causing us both to lose balance momentarily. I quickly correct as I dismiss her apologies. It’s my fault after all.

As we crest onto the greens, I can see the lifts have stopped running.

“We have a choice. We can go there and take the easy route down,” I explain, pointing across the top of the run, “or we can go straight down this way, which is a little steeper, but more direct.”

“Let’s go that way,” she decides, pointing to the fast route.

“Good. Come this way.” I traverse across the hill, drop into a wedge and make a single large turn until I stop. She follows and stops before the turn. “Alright. Now you just have to pretend I’m right in front of you while you make this turn.” Her laugh seems a combination of worried and flirtatious, but I’m not a good judge given the adrenaline coursing through me. “I know you can do it.”

She makes the effort. I’m cheering her the whole way. It’s so beautiful and perfect at first. As before, she nearly completes the turn before sitting down. It’s the classic mistake, the fear taking over and making her lean back. “You were so close! You almost had it!”

“I don’t know if I can do this.” I hate those words. They’re better than, I can’t do it, but only by a little bit.

“You don’t have to know. I know you can,” I tell her as I lift her back to her feet. “Try it again.”

I give her some space and watch her repeat the same movement. Once again, I lift her to her feet.

The moment is frozen, and I know the decision is basically mine alone now. I could continue to work with her and, in a half hour, arrive at the bottom tired, aggravated, and, likely, successful, or I can get her down the mountain in five minutes repeating the same trick as before.

I know before I ask which option she’ll choose.

“Are you ok with that?” she asks me.

“Of course. I ski here a lot.”

There’s a sense of accomplishment to the entire thing. We go faster still this time, my skis and hands staying barely within reach as we coast down the hill. She won’t be able to understand, but she’s doing it on her own. I’m merely a puppet master, a conductor, a choreographer. I lead her movements, yet I could not make them for her if I wanted to.

It’s a dance, a tango, and only the briefest glances over my shoulder give me the ability to adjust my berth and avoid the trees, posts, and divots in our way. At the bottom, I notice her glancing up and over my shoulder. I assume she see’s her friend and I release her hands and turn in the opposite direction from her. She hesitates for a moment and I worry she’ll fall, but then we’re apart, gliding to our separate stops.

I look behind me to find a snowboarder, my skis nearly on top of his board.

“Sorry,” I remark.

“No worries, dude,” he replies.

Her friend isn’t here.

“She probably headed in already,” I assure her. She nods and snickers.

“Probably. I’m more worried we missed the bus.”

It seems too perfect an opening. On the mountain, I’m a ski instructor; my actions are restricted within those duties and the liberties I allow myself are few and far between. On the road and outside the resort, however, I’m free to make my play.

The thought hangs there for a minute, my mind cunning, the fantasies of earlier now intertwined, when an image appears in my head. A vision of my target, as I so ineloquently referred to her earlier, in all her glory materializes, sending my devious desires back to their repressed corners.

My emotions are an odd mixture of disappointment and elation as I pose a solution. “I’ve got to get down to Boulder anyway. Worse come to Worst, I’m sure we can make room for two more.”

“Are you sure?”

“Absolutely,” I say, taking Maria’s hand and beginning the trek back toward the lodge.

“Where the hell have you been?” he calls as we round the bend to the lodge. “What happened to you?”

“She did,” I call back.

“He rescued me off the mountain,” she tells him.

“Oh, being a good samaritan, huh?” he remarks snidely.

“Head into the lodge and return your gear. I’ll catch up in a minute,” I say to her before turning back to my comrade in arms. “Sorry about the delay. You know, shit happens.”

“Whatever dude. It’s all good. I get damsels in distress. Did you ever find those girls you were helping?”

“Who do you think I rescued,” I say with a wink.

“Oh.” His eyes widen and a smile begins to break for the first time since we were reunited. “Oh!”

I feel light on my feet. It’s not an adrenaline rush, simply that good tired after a hard day skiing. Perhaps I didn’t do twenty runs or any hard ones, but going backwards with another person at stake takes it out of you.

My flower is tucked over my shoulder, my eyes tired and ears cold as I enter the lodge. Coming around the corner, the girls are hardly recognizable without their gear on.

“How’s it going?” I ask as I approach.

“Hey! Thanks again for getting me down the mountain.”

“You got yourself down the mountain. I just helped a little.”

“Sure,” says her friend.

“Where’s my friend?”

“Oh, he’s pulling the car around, but I think we’re just going to catch the next bus.” I feel a little disappointed and a little relieved at the news. On the one hand, it’s an opportunity lost; on the other, I no longer have any pressure.

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah,” says her friend. I get the sense it’s less Maria and more her friend who made the call.

“As you wish. I hope you guys had fun. You ladies have a wonderful night.” I rise from my seat and give them a little salute as I disappear around the corner. I can’t help but smile.

He’s cleaning out the back seat as I approach the car.

“Don’t worry about it, man. They’re grabbing the bus.”

“Oh?” he replies, suddenly relaxing.

“Yeah.”

“Ok, whatever.” The doors click shut and the engine purrs to life as we begin to get underway.

“So, did you at least get her number?”

“What?” I say incredulously.

“I’ll take that as a no,” he snickers. “Damsels, huh.”

“I guess,” I reply, but I’m already not listening.

I got to play the hero today. It’s a good change.

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  • Mike

    Very well written.

  • Anne43nl

    I’d love to know who made this picture – I love it