Welcome back, everyone! In honor of the prolonged hangover we all might have, I have for you here a series of short, funny vignettes collected over a 48-hour period from my ski weekend in the French Alps.
I’m currently swaddled in my comforter trying to minimize movement as I sit here watching Bridget Jones’ Diary while writing. My whole body is sore from the numbing ski boots, accidentally tobogganing 20 feet down a slope, and from being so stressed about falling off a mountain.
In which all our ski clothes drove off
A few weeks ago, Anna approached me excitedly. “Let’s have a ski weekend!”
And, like many fools before me, I said, “Yes!”
We arrived in Les Deux Alpes, a ski town 1.5 hours from Grenoble, needing very much to go to the bathroom; however, for some reason, we headed towards the organization heads to ask for our tickets for free hot chocolate/green chaud at the end of the day. Priorities. It was there where we were introduced to Patrick and another guy whose name I don’t remember; they laughed at us for asking if there were ski-clothes rentals around, looking down at our jean-clad legs.
Well, fine. We headed to the nearest rental shop to ask and to see if there was a bathroom there—we must never forget about the bathroom, after all. The employees there also laughed us out for wanting to rent ski clothes.
“When someone wears ski pants… and then you wear it after… this is no good!” Yes, we know. It’s the definition of renting, but why are pants any different than boots?
Giving up, we decided to have some coffee to give us a bit of a kick before hitting the slopes. Here in France, coffee is also code for “use bathroom as much as you want!” As we sat there, enjoying our coffee and planning the rest of our day, we saw a couple buses drive away. Having yet to change at all, this worried us a bit although we made no attempt to move.
“Do you think we should’ve gotten all our things off the bus?”
“Well, I’m sure they’ll be around at another parking lot somewhere.”
Quotes not attributed to anyone because a) we don’t want to blame anyone here b) I do forget who said what but it was general consensus at that point. Once we realized, however, that all the buses had completely deserted us, we sought out the organization heads again to scope out the situation.
“Wait…” Patrick said, one eye narrowed. “You’re the girls that were here before! What have you been doing??”
“We had to use the toilets just for a bit and the buses just LEFT!”
“You were gone for an HOUR. I know because I was the one that gave you guys the hot chocolate tickets.”
This was a tricky situation; either admit that we were indeed in the toilet for an hour or that we were somewhat careless in taking an hour’s break to drink coffee and watch our buses drive off. Thankfully, we were saved from doing neither when he offered Anna, who at this time was wearing jeans and a sweater, his coat and gloves. Gloves that she passed onto me in exchange for my fashionable wool ones because I was going to fall more often than she, given that I was a “beginner.” Psh, me? A beginner? I’d like for you to know that before we stopped 5 years ago, we went skiing at least twice every winter. Beginner my ass.
And then we took the lift up to the peak of the closest mountain.
In which I discover I’m a beginner
“Wait, we’re not skiing at the base? We’re taking a lift so we can get to other lifts at the top?” I asked, gripping the sides of the round bubble. We were already going higher than I have ever gone in the States.
After adjusting to the sun in the snow, I strapped on my skis—with a little help from Anna (“No, Michelle, kick your toe into the grip and then slam your heel down.”)—and we were off! One of us, anyways. I stayed behind as I realized where we were headed.
“Anna! We’re going to FALL OFF THE MOUNTAIN!”
She stopped skiing and turned in the way professionals do—simultaneously. The wave of snow that she kicked up sprayed in the other direction.
“What?” She looked behind her. 1000 feet away was a drop off the face of the mountain. “Michelle, we’re not even CLOSE to the edge right now!”
Ironically, that was also the same conversation we’d have before posing for this photo.
Embarrassingly enough, I didn’t even know we were headed towards a lift, following Anna down this terrifying path that I thought was a slope-trail. I was constantly overtaken by people whizzing beside me; couldn’t they see that I was trying to practice my turns? It took us 30 minutes to reach the end of the trail. Once there, I realized that it led to a lift. To me, that was crazy talk. We were already on the mountain; why would we travel further up to ski down? There was already a down towards which to ski!
“Anna, are you putting me on a blue?!” I asked, panicking as the bar came down. I don’t know why it mattered because we were already being shuffled up towards another station.
“No, no, Michelle,” she replied, “I wouldn’t do that to you.”
As we neared the other station, I could finally make out the words scribbled on the side: Le Diable. The Devil.
“ANNA THIS RUN IS CALLED THE DEVIL. ARE THERE EVEN GREENS UP HERE.”
She laughed the kind of laugh where her eyes were panicked and lifted the bar. “Just get ready.” We slid down the small bump and towards the congregation of other skiers. There were no green markers in sight. All I saw were black and blue—what the colors of my skin would be when they find me dead.
Eventually, though, we found a green nestled between the two lifts and slowly made our way down. I’m pretty sure it was the fact that each path was shouldered by mountain and a 1650 meter fall that made me so shaky. In the states, I would just barrel down these greens with no care in the world. But at that time, my bones hadn’t finished growing yet so there was no need to worry.
Countless times Anna told me that I skiied pretty well—as well as a beginner can on a green—until seeing my face, which was stuck permanently in a horrified grimace. I swear I was having fun though.
In which we hold up a bus full of people
As we drink our Green Chaud, a concoction of hot chocolate and chartreuse—really would have been really good if I had been in more of a drinking mood—, we realize we have no idea how to get to our cabin. Because we’re rebels, we booked outside of the package our organization offered us in order to save 5€ each. For everyone else, things were rather easy: just allow yourself to be herded like sheep to the apartments where you would be staying.
For us, that meant a whole fiasco. After finally retrieving our runaway clothes from the buses, we lug them to a bench where we purposefully missed the first free bus to the apartments. Anna was at the Maison du Tourisme to check where we were actually supposed to be. I was quickly losing feeling in all my appendages.
We had already been outside for 20 minutes when she returned, saying that we had to ride three stops past where everyone else was going. We wait another 15 minutes before Anna and I decide that we couldn’t wait anymore—we had to use the bathroom.
“Ok, if the bus comes, try to hold it for us!” we instructed our third tagalong. “It won’t take long for us to pee!” And we scurried off to a bathroom inside a bar we didn’t order anything in.
As we exit the bathroom, we see the bus already at the curb and already loaded with 50 other people. “Oh my god!” We broke out into a run and, as we leave the bar, we make eye contact with Patrick on the bus. Words cannot describe his face as he realized that it was us once again.
“Les filles… ENCORE!” he groaned as we clambered onto the bus. He was deprived of the joy of talking to both of us because the front was overfilling with people, so Anna stood in the back of the bus as I stood in the front.
“Bus driver, this is Michelle. She and her friend have been causing trouble the entire day! What were you guys even doing in the bar??”
“We had to use the bathroom!”
Well, this is embarrassing. To them, we probably have bladder problems—that’s twice we held everything up because we were in the bathroom. As we finally reached our stop, the bus driver called out, “Au revoir, Michelle!”
In which I accidentally toboggan down a slope
“Hey, let’s take the other lift up from the base! I think we can get halfway up the mountain!”
“Are you sure there are greens up there? I only saw blues and reds on the map!”
“I’m sure! I read the map.”
“Promise? I told you I’d go on a blue but NOT as my first run—only after practicing on some greens!”
I stared down the slope of a formidable blue, so steep that I could only see the top and the bottom.
“Anna. I can’t do this.” I started inching sideways down the hill, praying for enough residual leg strength to get through.
“No, Michelle. It will be fine. Let’s just try ONE turn. Just one, okay?” She slid down the mountain and executed a perfect sharp turn, looking expectantly up at me.
I straightened my skis and pointed them down the hill. That would be the last time I was in control of my skis. The next thing I know, one ski flies off my boot along with two other poles. I land face-first and stomach down, thinking it was the end of my tumble. But no, I start TOBOGGANING down the hill, sliding maybe halfway down the slope before realizing that if I wanted to stop, I’d have to be proactive.
When I finally stopped and rolled over, I saw Anna scurrying 50 feet behind me, picking up all of the oblong things that I had dropped. I looked up just in time to catch a mass of people passing by slowly on the lift. They probably saw the entirety of my fall.
A swish of snow gently sprinkled my face; Anna. “Are you ready to try again?”
- Anna forgetting her phone and 20€ in Patrick’s borrowed coat and having to further continue our unfortunate acquaintance with him to retrieve it
- Being joined by a 65-year-old man during our jacuzzi girl session whose first words were “This is the first time I’ve been jaccuzzi-ing with a bathing suit on.” One of us wore only a bra and underwear.
- Having dinner with the Italian and Spanish owners of our chalet
- Accidentally walking into the wrong chalet room in my bikini, interrupting the nice couple that was in bed
- Taking shots with the owners