The Pow

I did not grow up poor.

Oh, don’t get the wrong idea, my father was a self-made man.  He had to go to night school, not being able to attend college during the day after his father died and left his estate to his first family.  My father had to support his mother.  He didn’t bitch, but it changed him, he took nothing for granted.

Morris Lefsetz got a degree in engineering.  But being laid off from his first gig not long into his tenure he soured on the company life, he decided he would go into real estate, commercial real estate.  How does a poor man get into the real estate biz?  Not easily.  He decided to open a liquor store to pay the bills.  There was a first one, which I don’t remember.  But the second, the Bay Package, right off I-95, in Bridgeport, I went there on a regular basis.  My father would let me dust the bottles.  I remember him being so thrilled when he bought a walk-in refrigerator, he was so PROUD!

In the middle sixties, Maurice Magilnick, a childhood friend who’d become an attorney, told my dad that there was going to be a lot of redevelopment in Southern Connecticut, and if my father became a licensed real estate appraiser, he’d use him on all his cases, since no one knew as much about local real estate as my father.

And that was how my father made it.  Usually, a real estate appraiser is a schlepper, but my dad, he was the best in the state of Connecticut, by the late sixties, he was making the income of a doctor or lawyer, our lifestyle went WAY UP!

We lacked for nothing, nothing important anyway.  Oh, we knew not to ask for anything frivolous, but if we really wanted it, and needed it, my father would provide it.

And I lived this lifestyle until after I graduated from college.  You see I just couldn’t make it in the real world, I just didn’t fit in.  My father would give me a cash infusion now and again, but my mother felt it was belittling my character, it was hobbling me, so eventually the money stopped, and I fell off the edge.

Took a few years.  In the early nineties.  My wife moved out.  And then I was TAPPED!  I remember waking up with less than twenty bucks in my pocket, not knowing when the next check would come in, but knowing that the rent, that would always come due.

Eventually it was too much.  After the earthquake I just collapsed.  And I’ve been battling back ever since.

Live on absolutely nothing and you can’t have anything.  I got to the point where I couldn’t buy anything, I felt that I might need that money tomorrow, or the next day.  I learned to live without.  I’m trying to learn to live with, again.

Oh, I can fake it.  My elite college degree and my membership in the California Bar make it so I can hobnob with the best of them, I just don’t have any cash to OPERATE!  But finally it’s getting a bit better.  And I’m trying to take the brakes off, get rid of the governor, but it’s oh so hard to do.

I love to ski.  Don’t ask me to explain it.  It just happened in Bobby Hickey’s backyard.  Where he let me try the wooden skis with bear trap bindings his dad bought him at the hardware store.  There was a vertical drop of maybe fifteen feet, but the THRILL!

I got my parents to buy me my own skis, with bamboo poles, it was a package, and every afternoon I’d trudge down to Bobby Hickey’s backyard and ski.  Getting completely soaked.  Even going at night, under the lights.  It was my life, my raison d’etre, and when our sixth grade teacher Mr. Conley showed a movie about Mt. Snow in class and I convinced my whole family to go, and there began the adventure.

I could have gone to an Ivy League college.  But I didn’t.  I had to go to school in Vermont, so I could ski every day.

And I can ski on anything.  But the last year at Middlebury was SO bad, with  the Bowl even CLOSED, that I took the next two winters off to ski every day in Utah, needing to get my fill.

My father wasn’t into it.  When I finally agreed to go to law school, he wiped those two years from the map with one sentence, something about wasting my life with losers.

He expected law school to take, but it didn’t.

I skied occasionally, on that old Utah equipment, for the next twenty years.  Until Jim Lewi laughed so hard I had to get new stuff.

The boots I bought were atrocious, so tight I wanted to give up skiing.  Not having enough money for a different pair, I just stewed in my juices, upset.  Irving Azoff gave me a pair of Rossis, the rep owed him so much in ticket charges Irving would NEVER get ahead.  But then the technology changed.  Shaped skis came in.

I eventually got a new pair, below wholesale, from another Rossi connection.  And last year I finally bought a new pair of boots, and I could SKI AGAIN!

In the one piece Helly Hansen outfit Jim Lewi gave me, a regifting from Warren Miller’s closet.

But two weeks ago, I popped for new clothing.  I was living in the twenty first century.  Or so I thought until yesterday.  Whilst skiing Blue Ox, one of the steepest slopes at Vail.  You see it was rock hard, and my old shaped skis, barely purchased in this century, just wouldn’t hold.

I wanted to give up again.

So I went into Vail Sports at the end of the day.  And ponied up for a tune.  And over my shoulder, saw all the new skis, which you could demo, for $52 a day.

Felice said she’d buy me a pair of skis for my birthday.  But what kind?  I might get it wrong, I’ll be so depressed.  But how many days can I demo?

Suddenly, all my psychotherapy kicked in.  I WAS somebody, I DESERVED to move forward.  I asked the clerk what the absolute best skis for hard snow were, and without even cogitating, I said I’d pop for the Volkl AC3’s he recommended.

And woke up to a snowstorm.  Did I need hard snow skis TODAY?  I could use my old Bandits TODAY!  I could save FIFTY BUCKS TODAY!

I felt like a loser.  I regretted my decision.  I didn’t need new skis TODAY!

But I couldn’t get my money back.

I’m here to tell you, today I discovered a whole new sport.  There’s this steep pitch, at the bottom of Lion’s Head, a black diamond, that I’d been too freaked to ski.  Today?  It was SIMPLE!  It was like I was twenty years old again, living in Utah.  I FINALLY had all the right stuff, I was BACK IN THE GROOVE! 

And it’s coming down SO heavily.  I’m LOOKING for the pow, the crud, because these skis, they’ll FLOAT RIGHT THROUGH IT!  All that shit I avoided, or was trepidatious about for years, it was not only easy, but ENTICING!

The more cut up, the more difficult, it was my game.

All those pitches and faced I’d been avoiding, I went STRAIGHT FOR THEM!

And just before three, after Felice went in, I pushed off the back ridge of Vail Mountain, from the top of Avanti down to Game Creek Bowl, on Faro.

It was COMPLETELY UNTRACKED!

This Colorado powder.  It’s so LIGHT!

And when I hit the powder bumps, I just WENT FOR IT!

I swear to god, I screamed halfway down, exulting in joy.

I made a couple more runs.  One in the sun in Game Creek and another down Pickeroon.  I felt powerful, but mostly I felt joyous.

I remembered Christmases at Bromley, in Vermont, skiing Thruway at the end of the day.

Not only did I feel like I was back where I belonged, I felt that I was where I SHOULD BE!

Trepidatiously, I exchanged the AC3’s for these K2 Outlaws, that the clerk was raving about.  I wanted the AC4’s, but they were unavailable.  I’m worried the Outlaws are too wide for tomorrow.  Maybe they won’t hold as well as the Volkls.  Am I gonna blow ANOTHER FIFTY BUCKS?

I’m trying to just spend it.  Knowing that if you continue to put one foot in front of the other, if you don’t live in the past but venture into the future, taking advantage of all the newfangled technologies, your life can be SO MUCH BETTER!

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