Saturday, March 3, 2012

Have I ever mentioned that I water ski?

My childhood was not perfect. When I was 7, my parents got a divorce (don't worry, that's not the story). My dad quickly remarried, and I suddenly had a stepmom on my hands. Fortunately, she elected not to go down the "evil stepmother that hates the children from the first marriage and schemes to get rid of them" road and instead chose the "freaking awesome stepmother who does lots of cool stuff and lets us go places and do cool things too" route.

When I was almost ten, my dad and stepmom (henceforth known as Teresa) came down from Indiana with a boat in tow. I had never been on a boat at this point in time, and was actually a bit scared (car rides were enough to turn me green, so water would probably just make everything worse), but my excitement for getting to learn how to water ski more than made up for whatever misgivings I had.

We dropped the boat into the water, and made our way towards a place that wasn't very populated (Jackson Lake is rather large, and it's quite popular for people to take their boats out there on the weekend to fish, ski, tube, etc.). All three of us (my older sister, Ashley, my younger sister, Barbie, and I) sat in the very front of the boat so we could see what was going on. I was immediately a little disappointed, because we were going very slow and it was boring. Suddenly, we passed these buoys that were sticking up out of the water in a line. Dad told us to hold on, and suddenly we were thrust to the sky as the boat took off. The wind was slapping my in the face, my hair was going everywhere, and I felt invincible as the rush of adrenaline coursed through me as we raced across the water.

We finally found a cove that no one else was in, and my parents decided that this was as good a place as any to teach us how to ski. My older sister had gone up to visit dad the previous summer, so she already kinda knew what she was doing, so naturally she got to go first (the fact that dad and Teresa decided oldest to youngest had nothing to do with it). My younger sister and I watched in awe as she popped up out of the water with seemingly no effort. She weaved in and out of the wake (the waves caused by the boat propeller), which is honestly the only trick you can really do on two skis. After she got bored with that, dad suggested that she try and drop a ski (this is the best way to learn how to slalom ski). She tried this 3 or 4 times, and once even succeeded staying up once she dropped the ski (the other times she pretty much just plopped over). After she fell for so many tries, dad declared she was tired and her turn was up (What a wimp! I thought. I'll be able to ski forever).

Suddenly, as the middle child, it was my turn to shine. Teresa adjusted the skis to my feet, then I jumped in the water and she sent the skis after me. Putting on skis in the water feels like putting on the biggest, most awkward clown shoes that have gained sentience and want to fight you to the death. Eventually, as with most inanimate objects, I won the battle and suddenly had two pieces of fiberglass attached to my feet.

They tossed me the rope, and told me to hold on like I had my arms wrapped around a beach ball, and to make sure that the rope was between my two skis. They then pulled the boat so that the rope became taut, and continued with a gentle tug. My skis quickly decided that they wanted to go in opposite directions. After wrestling with them (and the boat) for what felt like forever, I was finally ready to say the words that they taught me to say when I wanted to defy physics: "Hit it".

I'd like to say that I made it up on the first try, and that I quickly surpassed my sisters, and that I'm the best skier that ever lived. Unfortunately, this is not one of my fictional posts, so I'm afraid I'll have to tell you that my skis drifted apart from each other and I ended up landing on my face after doing a split. Then I learned the next neat trick about water skiing: how to get the rope back in your hands after you fall. A good driver will drive around in a circle and bring the rope to the skier so they can grab it and thread it till they get to the handle. Well, dad is a good driver, but I'm not a good skier. I didn't see the rope until it was far too late to grab onto. So dad had to circle around again. And again. Finally, I figured it out and grabbed the handle. This time I managed to stay up for two seconds until I fell. My most successful attempt was the third. I was up for a good 30 seconds until a rogue wave came and I fell over. After that, I just kept falling and falling. Dad declared that I was tired and I got in the boat. I heartily disagreed with him until I tried to get in the boat, only to discover that my arms had turned into noodles and I couldn't lift myself at all. It took every bit of effort I had to finally roll myself back into the boat. I guess I was tired after all.

Barbie had her turn, but was no more successful than I was. Then Teresa had her turn.

Back when I was younger, I had this nasty habit that if I wasn't good at something right away, I'd get bored with it and quit. My failure as a water skier had gotten me pretty down (although I was better than my little sister, so there was something to feel good about. I was not a good older sister), and I was growing bored of it. Teresa's turn consisted of a type of skiing known as "swivel skiing". A swivel ski consists of just one ski that is wider than a traditional combo ski (what most people learn how to ski on), and the binding, instead of being attached to the board itself, is instead on, well, a swivel. This allows the skier to turn around backwards while still moving forward. It's often used in ski shows as a kind of water ballet. Needless to say, it looked pretty freaking cool. Teresa was still a newb herself at this particular kind of skiing, but she was still years ahead of where I was. I vowed that I would learn how to ski like that, no matter how long it took.

The rest of the weekend went by pretty much the same way. Barbie and I finally mastered how to get up (and stay up) on skis, and were even beginning to venture in and out of the wake. Ashley pretty much got dropping a ski down (though returning to pick up the ski was quickly becoming a pain in the butt). It ended up being pretty much the best weekend ever.

Later that summer, we went up to visit dad, and continued our water skiing education (he lived on a lake, so we could pretty much ski whenever). We then continued to visit him every summer (I even live nearby now that I'm out of college, but that's a story for a different day), and skiing became just an every day thing, something we could do when we wanted to relax.

I have a ton of water skiing stories, but I won't tell them all here (I'd run out of room). Instead, I'll spread some out here and there so you don't get overloaded with water skiing stories. But I do promise to talk about skiing in ski shows, competing in ski tournaments, skiing on vacation, etc.

See you next time!

No comments:

Post a Comment