How many times have we found ourselves in a situation when afterwards we say to ourselves “If only I had said…” and replay the situation in our heads repeatedly until we get ‘what we wished we had said,’ just right. But of course, that’s little more than mental gymnastics because when we miss our chance, well, we miss our chance no matter how many times we replay the polished retort in our head.
In today’s blog I was going to feature incidents of woke ideology with a focus on non-binary gender in today’s blog, when it occurred to me, I had the perfect opportunity to retort to a situation I found myself in but was unable to seize the moment. So let’s rewind to a cold, blustery Saturday on Vail Mountain in early December 1987. I had planned to ski alone that day, but in those days when skiing on Vail Mountain, I always ran into people I knew, but with the temperature hovering near 10* under overcast skies and with no new snow in more than a week, the less-than-ideal conditions meant a very sparse crowd, even on a weekend.
Nonetheless, I was going to ski come hell or high water. Serendipitously, I did run into a friend friend of mine, Farley Lozowick, walking thru Vail Village on my way to Chair 16 at the base of the mountain, so we rode up the chair together. The forecast indicated the sky would clear by the late morning but at the moment, the visibility varied from poor to negligible, so Farley and I stayed on “groomed” easy runs. I use the term groomed because that’s what they were in theory, but the reality of the situation is when it hasn’t snowed in ten days and its well below freezing and a howling Rocky Mountain wind scrapes the terrain…well, let’s just say it doesn’t make for fun and easy skiing.
That said, Farley and I were actually having a good time – but then, I always had a good time whenever I strapped on skis regardless of conditions – to me, skiing is a lot like sex because even when it’s bad, it’s good. In any event we had been skiing nonstop since 8:30 when the lifts opened, and practically had the mountain to ourselves – and this on a weekend! We were riding up one chair or another, skiing down and then riding right back up and we did this for two hours straight.
We pretty much stayed on easier runs because the combination of the poor snow conditions and reduced visibility. Then around 10:30 Farley said, “Hey, I’m cold, let’s go in at Mid-Vail and warm up” (at the time, the ‘Look Ma’ level at Mid-Vail was only sit-down restaurant with tablecloths on Vail Mountain.) My fingers were cold, so I eagerly agreed.
After placing our skis & poles in the racks out front, we entered the Mid-Vail building and if I recall, there were more staff than customers, so we took two seats overlooking the runs on the east side of the mountain. As the waitress approached, I assumed we’d each get a cup of hot chocolate or hot cider or something to warm us, but Farley didn’t hesitate and said to the waitress, “Two Chardonnays please.” To say I was surprised is an understatement, I mean, first, it was just past 10:30 in the morning, secondly, we were engaged in an activity that requires a high degree of awareness and third, I had never had a drop of alcohol while skiing on that mountain in my entire life – that is, until that day. As an aside, that Saturday morning in December 1987 remains the first and only time I’ve ever imbibed on Vail Mountain.
To this very day I ask myself, what the hell happened, how did a mountain teetotaler suddenly “liquor up” before noon? But truth be known, I could not believe how good that glass of wine tasted. And this coming from someone who’s drinking days are 50 years in the rear view mirror. Hell, I’m lucky if I have one drink of any kind per month, unless I’m eating sushi, in which case, I always have an Asahi beer.
But I digress – at that moment, that glass of wine was perhaps the best glass of wine I had ever tasted, and as I started drinking it, I almost melted into my chair. Allow me to ask rhetorically, have you ever finished doing something strenuous or challenging in some fashion then taken in a big breath, exhaled, and just let yourself go? Well, that’s exactly what happened to me – my body and mind were in a complete state of reduction; in fact, I’ve never been in a yoga class that even came close.
After we finished our wine, Farley said, “Let’s have another.” Whoa Nellie, two glasses of wine an hour or so before noon? But damn, the first tasted so good I said to myself, “why not?” We finished our second glass of Chardonnay, and I was feeling no pain. Unfortunately for me however, I didn’t fully grasp how much pain I wasn’t feeling as I got up and walked to the restroom.
Mid-Vail was still quiet with only a few skiers walking into the restaurant or the cafeteria downstairs, but the skies were clearing, and I knew the traffic both inside Mid-Vail and on the mountain would soon pick up. So, as I walked by newspaper stand with the day’s edition of the Vail Daily, I grabbed one up figuring I’d catch up on what was going on in town while sitting in the stall. Keep in mind I was still ‘floating’ from two very large pours of Chardonnay, and lost track of time while I read the Daily. Soon I heard the door to the restroom open along with the unmistakable sound of ski boots on tile; then a few voices and random comments about the clearing weather along with the opening and closing of the stall doors.
By now the random voices became a buzz that’s not uncommon when confined in a small space with a lot of people, and thought to myself, well, it’s time to zip up and get outta here, Farley is waiting. And as zipped my ski suit (I wore a one-piece in those days) it was apparent the restroom was getting more and more crowded because the other stall doors were continually opening and closing, and patrons were brushing against the sides of stalls. But as I gathered myself it occurred to me that something was amiss, but I couldn’t put my finger on it (remember, I had recently consumed two very large glasses of wine.) Then it hit me, I was in the ladies’ restroom! When I first walked into the restroom, Mid Vail was practically deserted, but now as the sun came out, skiers were arriving in droves.
I sat a minute pondering my predicament and decided “I’ll wait ‘em out” figuring sooner or later they all have to leave right? NOT! It was lunchtime on a Saturday and the ladies’ restroom was packed like a Denver singles bar on Friday night. What do I do? I mean I thought to myself, I can’t sit here and wait until 2:30 or whenever the restroom clears out, so I had no choice, besides, Farley was waiting for me.
As we all know, stall doors do not extend all the way to the floor in public restrooms, so from the outside, a ski boot is a ski boot, and a ski suit is a ski suit regardless of the gender of the person wearing them, so there was no way for the women in the restroom to know there was an alien being sitting in one of their stalls. So, I quietly stood up, made sure I was completely buttoned & buckled and in the most masculine way possible cleared my throat.
The instant before the noise level in restroom was what one might expect, and while not a cacophony per se, the interaction and conversations were reminiscent of the aforementioned single’s bar but with elevator music. But the second I cleared my throat you could have heard a pin drop. I slowly opened the stall door and as sheepishly as I could manage, presented an embarrassed smile, and began apologizing as I worked my way to the exit – “Excuse me…I’m sorry…I didn’t realize…” etc., etc.
The restroom was so crowded I was negotiating my way thru the crowd of women shoulder-to-shoulder, elbow-to-elbow, and in some cases, almost nose-to-nose, all while repeating “Sorry…sorry…didn’t meant to…didn’t realize, etc.” A few of the women were staring at me in abject disbelief and a few mouths were actually agape. Fortunately, by the time I reached the door the shock of seeing a man in the ladies’ room had morphed into chuckles and then outright laughter. The rest of the story isn’t all that interesting but suffice it say after leaving Mid-Vail I skied as far away from the Mid-Vail area as I could.
I don’t know why I thought of this story, frankly I hadn’t thought of it in years, but I saw something in the news about woke gender ideology and it triggered the memory. However, if this situation had occurred today, I would have had no need to be embarrassed (and believe me I was back then) I could simply have said, “Hey, I’m non-binary!” and been on my merry way.
Quote of the day: “Sometimes I wonder if men and women really suit each other. Perhaps they should just live next door and just visit now and then.” – Katherine Hepburn