Coffee perking, toaster toasting and three eggs in the skillet – only thing missing, KZNN, country music from Rolla, Missouri. I hit the on-button and selected number 3. My wife, a fan of classical music, usually has the radio set on number 1 for KBIA from Missouri University in Columbia.
Commercials were on: Don’s Toyota, Tucker’s Drug Store, Paul’s Furniture, Wacker Contracting, etc., etc.
Finally, DJ Austin Kresky came on. “And now we’re gonna take a break from our commercials and play a song. Here’s the Wildwood Valley Boys ….….” I didn’t hear the title because I had to let the dog out to pee. Back in the kitchen, I started paying attention to the lyrics.
We tasted true love for awhile
Oh how I remember the love in her eyes
And how I remember her smile
Did she turn out to be a good mother and wife
Did she find happiness with her man
Or did she fall victim to the honkytonk life
I wonder what happened to Ann
Yeah, I used to wonder what happened to Ann. Or better said, there was a time when I reminisced a whole lot about Ann and all the fun we had. For a time after we drifted apart, I went through hell. But all that was before I met my wife. Back then my yearly cycle was to work from spring to late fall and then move to Tahoe for the winter. As a union carpenter doing concrete forming on remote bridge jobs, I had a really decent hourly wage and there was regular overtime. I wasn’t getting rich but with 6 to 8 months work, I didn’t have to wait tables or wax skis to eat during the winter.
Times had changed and my life had changed with it. Married with two daughters, 2 and 4, I was the carpenter superintendent for Philip Kenner Contractors on a 34 mile long widening and renovation job on I44 in central Missouri. I didn’t like being in Missouri but the job offer from Kenner had been too good to turn down.
The winter when I met Ann, I had been sharing a house in Tahoe City with a couple ski bums and doing lots of skiing, or more specifically, lots of volunteer ski patrolling, which though unpaid, let me ski without buying a lift ticket and got me a free lunch. I could have gotten work as a professional paid patroller, but then I’d have had to work a regular schedule and not be free for the back country ski touring whenever conditions suited me.
There are some real first class ski areas in the Tahoe Region - Squaw Valley, Alpine Meadows, Heavenly Valley and of course Twin Peaks to name the biggest – and a number of second line areas that are far from shabby. Then within striking distance of Tahoe, there’s a couple other top line resorts, namely Kirkwood and Sugar Bowl.
Although I mostly worked at Twin Peaks and one of the second line ones, on the occasional Saturday, I’d go over to Soda Springs, which is up near Donner Summit on old Highway 40, mainly for the après ski action in the Soda Springs Lodge. My batting average there wasn’t a 100% by any means but it was better there than most of the bars around Tahoe. Independent of the chances of getting laid, I always liked the more authentic folks who hung around that lodge.
It was on one of those Saturday nights that I met Ann and her then-boyfriend Roger. Having common interests, ski touring and climbing, the three of us hit it off right away. It turned out that they were going to be on a Mt. McKinley expedition the coming summer and were intent on doing it without a guide. Ann was working at another lodge in the area while Roger worked in the Bay Area and came up on weekends. We pretty quickly agreed on doing some training trips together – namely combined ski tour-rock climbs in the High Sierra.
I can’t to this day remember much about what Roger looked like except that he was below average height and had a ruddy complexion. Ann made a stronger impression. Tomboy like mannerisms, around 5-6, brown hair cut in a shag like Jane Fonda in the 70’s and no makeup whatsoever. Her work jeans and bulky flannel shirt reinforced the tomboy impression and didn’t reveal much about her figure and I couldn’t have cared less. For me, she was Roger’s girl and that was that. And at that time, I was finding a willing snow bunny every couple weeks anyway. (An unofficial perk of working ski patrol.)
It turned out that the three of us hit it off so well that I didn’t get around to finding a willing snow bunny that night. Not wanting to drive back to Tahoe with a half dozen beers in my gut, I called in a favour with the Soda Springs patrol leader and got permission to sleep on a cot in the first aid room. I had gotten both Roger’s phone number and the number at the place where Ann worked and intended to give one or both a call the next time I wanted to go on a mountain trip. That chance never came up – at least not the way I’d anticipated.
A few weeks later on a Monday night, I was back at the house in Tahoe City. Ann telephoned. “You said you had some ideas for good training trips. Did you really mean that?” (Californians and California skiers in particular are famous for being bullshitters. For that reason, I often think of Bob Gibson’s song ‘Celebrated Skier.’)
I ski straight down the hill, you know, I never need traverse
I ski every style of skiin’ from the Arlberg to reverse
I’m one of the finest skiers in the whole darn universe
Especially when I’m standin’ in the bar
“When you wanna go? This coming weekend is good for me, or the next, or whenever.”
“Actually I meant next week, I could be at your place Tuesday afternoon.”
“That’s good for me. But how about Roger, is he gonna take vacation from work?”
“He don’t have enough vacation days and I can’t get away from here on weekends. So it’s gotta be during the week and just me. Look, don’t worry I can carry my share of the load.”
A combined ski tour-rock climb means heavy packs. In addition to the normal stuff – tent, winter sleeping bags, stove, fuel and food – there’s a 150 foot rope, climbing hardware for ice and rock, ice axe, crampons and a summit pack. And that’s not to mention boots and alpine skis with climbing skins and ski crampons. Fifty and sixty pound packs for an overnight trip is pretty much the norm.
Ann was used to guys figuring that she couldn’t cut the mustard. I decided to let her think that I trusted her 100%. (Over the years I’d met my share of big talkers, male and female, who couldn’t cut the mustard.) So I lied: “Look Ann, I know you’re up to it, what with all the skiing you’re getting in.” Then I went on: “Just bring your sleeping bag and mat and personal stuff. We’ll use my tent, stove and climbing gear and I’ll get the food and fuel. Be here next week Tuesday evening after dinner, say around 6 or 7.”
“Where we going?”
“Matterhorn Peak – down by Bridgeport. It’s about three hours from here - down on 395. We car camp just this side of Bridgeport.”
She hung up after saying bye in one of those sweet appreciative voices that disarm so many men.
Come the next Monday night, I packed and the next day patrolled all day at Alpine. Like we’d planned, she drove up around 7 on the Tuesday evening and we left her old Datsun at my place and took off in my somewhat newer Toyota pickup with camper shell. Some 15 miles north of Bridgeport, I pulled into one of those big graveled lots where road maintenance crews station keep equipment and gravel and stuff. A few minutes later, the sleeping mats were laid out in the bed of the pickup and we were fluffing out our down bags.
Ann seemed to have trouble getting comfy in her sleeping bag so I told how to make a pillow with her down jacket and stuff bag and roll some clothes to lay under her knees. She answered in a funny voice and then did what I said. It was January and at 7000 feet on the east side of the Sierra, the mercury can go down into single digits. Inside the camper shell, it was a little warmer but with single digit temperatures outside, sleeping doesn’t get comfortable until the down bag and mat warm up. At first Ann tossed around in her sleeping bag, like she was trying to get warm. I told her maybe she just ought to put on her long johns and a sweater. Like before, she agreed, though again in a funny tone of voice.
The next morning we rolled out early, packed up and drove into Bridgeport for a big breakfast at the Sportsman’s Café. The only customers were a bunch of men – local ranchers, businessmen, construction worker types. They all turned to stare. I couldn’t figure out why. Ann - no makeup, loose fitting winter mountaineering clothes – unless these guys weren’t getting any at home, she just wasn’t spur on erotic thoughts. Then it occurred to me, these guys had probably never seen a pair of pants like Ann was wearing, much less a woman wearing what she wore. Her pants were a pair of old brown army woolen field pants that she modified by putting in a zip-through crotch. Only then did it occur to me that the zip-through crotch might be good for something else in addition to just peeing.
She had noticed the stares too and when we got back in my car after breakfast, she told me. “Those fucking macho goons. I bet none of them has ever stuck his bare ass out in a windy -40° mountainside.”
There was no snow up at Twin Lakes where we’d be jumping off, but the road was closed at the first lake so we had to hoof it carrying skis the first mile and a half. I watched Ann pretty closely for telltale signs of not being able to cut the mustard. She didn’t show any.
Carrying skis isn’t all that much fun and it’s a lot less fun when there are 50+ pound packs to carry too. Luckily, the snow started a hundred feet or so above the lakes and we made good time climbing the 3,000 plus feet up to the little lake where the terrain is pretty favourable for camping. After pitching the tent and securing our gear, we put on summit packs and skied up to recon the next day’s climb and generally tour around.
After a delicious and hearty dinner of some forgettable freeze-dry menu, it was time to hit the sack. Now we were over 10,000 feet elevation so keeping warm was a somewhat bigger issue than the night before. By the time I had the cook kit cleaned up and put away, Ann was already in her sleeping bag wearing – she told me – her long johns, sweater and socks. I was arranging gear on my side of the tent when I heard her shuffling around with the sleeping bags. When I looked around to see what she was doing, she nonchalantly told me that she was looking to see whether the zippers of our bags were compatible. Still not fully comprehending what was what, I went into a discourse on how emergency-back-country treatment for hypothermia is to put the victim in a sleeping bag with a fit person, preferably both persons wearing at the most underwear but preferably both nude – better to pass heat from one body to the other.
She said something to indicate her enthusiasm for that method of transferring body heat and she said it in a way that sent a signal that even I couldn’t miss.
Being an honest guy and not one to backstab a friend, and I considered Roger a friend, I asked the big question, “and Roger won’t mind?”
“We broke up right after we met you in Soda Springs.”
Unfortunately, as I had expected, the zippers were not compatible. However, that didn’t dampen her enthusiasm one bit and mine was waking up big time.
She was the one who offered a solution. “We could lay on yours and use mine as a cover.”
I knew there’d be air leaks on both sides but air leaks weren’t my concern at the moment. “Look, if this doesn’t work out right, promise you’ll give me a second chance in a real bed.”
“Of course. I just hope you’ll still want me afterwards.”
Then something practical occurred to me. “Ann, your long johns, they’ll need to come off and you’re gonna get cold without.”
“I’ll leave them on. They’re compatible with my zip-through-crotch knickers.”
Damn, but that girl thought of everything. I was rock hard by the time we got snuggled up together. Exploring up under her sweater, I came upon a treasure that had been camouflaged under bulky work shirts and sweaters. Nice firm handfuls that could content a man for a lot longer than either of us could wait at the moment. Reaching down, there was no doubt that foreplay would be a complete waste of time.
Had it been summer, there would have been a few tents nearby and she would have wanted to muffle her scream when she went over the top. But it was winter and there wasn’t another soul (or devil) within miles, so at the most, her scream went unheard by anyone except for some hibernating chipmunks.
We would have wanted to stay snuggled together after the second go-round, but as I’d thought, there was too much cold air seeping in along the sides. It was at that point that I resolved that if ever I were elected president, my first executive order would be to require that all sleeping bags have compatible zippers.
Back in my bag alone, I put an extra tee shirt over the big wet spot. I hate to have down filled items laundered because they never fluff up quite as well afterwards. In this case though, I figured the sticky in the wet would have glued so much down together that laundering would do more good than harm. My bag was definitely going to be paying a visit to the laundry.
The next morning was clear and I don’t know just how cold – just damned cold. Breakfast of crackers, cheese, sausage and rapidly cooling hot coffee. It was still dark as we made off on our skis and carrying summit packs.
The north face/ridge of Matterhorn Peak is no big technical challenge – in the summer it’s done free with no protection. But it was winter and we had heavy mountaineering boots and I didn’t want to take a chance on losing a treasure like Ann, so we roped up and put in chocks on every one of the pitches. Snow doesn’t lie on steep rock faces but it does lie on ledges and it lodges in cracks. Clearing off ledges and scraping out cracks took time. It was mid-afternoon before we’d descended the icy couloir and gotten back to our skis.
I told Ann the obvious. “It’s gonna be damn hard getting back to the car before dark. We might need to camp again tonight.”
“And have to do it in my long johns again? No way! Let’s go!”
Fortunately, we got down to the lake before complete darkness but it was pitch dark by the time we had done the on-foot slog to my car. When we got there, I told Ann we’d be having dinner at the J.T. Basque restaurant in Gardnerville, Nevada – my treat.
Instead of a thank you and gracious acceptance, she had a real feminist come back. “You don’t have to buy me dinner just because I let you fuck me.”
I fired back with the most macho line I could think of. “Your fucking me has nothing to do with it. I’m always hungry for Basque food and you bashed it out fast enough so we’ll make it to Gardnerville on time.”
Later that night we got back to Tahoe City. I sent her to the shower while I cleared out the car and put stuff away. By the time I got out of the shower, a happy Ann was already in bed, covers up to her neck. “Time for your second chance. Looking at the bump in your shorts, it looks like you still want me.”
Throwing back the covers, I was treated to the sight of a female body that, at the time, I could only think of as being more perfect than any I’d ever seen. She was flat on her back but her breasts were only slightly flattened – in other words, her titties were more muscle than fat. An hour-glass figure, rounded hips, proportions perfectly balanced. Between her legs was brown pubic hair in a perfect V, probably trimmed but looking completely natural.
I got that second chance and I don’t know how many more. We weren’t counting and we didn’t decide when to go to sleep, it just happened. I wondered if my two ski bum roommates got any sleep that night.
Up late the next morning, she made me a logger’s breakfast and then we drove down towards Emerald Bay and went off on a day ski tour up Rubicon Peak, 9,100 feet elevation and a 2’600 foot climb up from Highway 89. On the way home, we picked up a couple steaks and wine and went back to my place. Ann said she ought to shower first so she could start the meal sooner. I ruled that out. “No way, tonight we shower together.” That shower went on and on, I just couldn’t get enough of soaping up her beautiful body.
After dinner, we sat around sipping wine and she played her guitar and sang. She’d played and sung when we met at Soda Springs and she was very good. People in the lodge had stood around and applauded after every song. And here I was, getting entertained alone by a beautiful woman like Ann - I felt like the luckiest man in the world. At the time I even thought she might be a future Joan Baez. Afterwards we enjoyed an improved version of the previous night. By then I was really convinced I’d connected with the woman of my dreams. In other words, I had found Miss Right.
When she got her period, I found out how special sex with her really was. Naked on my back, she was masturbating me slowly, trying to make it last as long as humanly possible. Every so often, she’d stop and just look at it in an admiringly sort of way. “You know, I really like looking at a man’s penis. They’re so interesting. All I got is a slit.” Psychologists would say she was afflicted with ‘penis envy.’ To me she wasn’t afflicted, just erotic as hell.
Over the next months we got together regularly - for ski tours and just plain skiing. It was paradise on earth, I had found a woman with nothing but advantages – she was beautiful, sexy, could sing, play the guitar, cook, climb, ski and didn’t put a bunch of cosmetic shit all over her face. I couldn’t believe my good fortune to have a girl like Ann – a real keeper.
Thing was though, I never really communicated to her that for me, she was Miss Right. Maybe that was the reason that when I left Tahoe in April to work on a bridge job in Shasta County, we sort of drifted apart. Only much later did I start to accept that the reason we drifted apart could have been that she didn’t see me as Mister Right.
At first I had convinced myself that Ann was just a passing fancy as were the ski bimbos that I’d seduced or been seduced by. Then on into the summer, I started realising how special she was and that didn’t work anymore. That’s when I really regretted not treating her like Miss Right and telling her so. The big crash came when I got the wedding announcement. Ann had somehow gotten my address and sent the announcement of her and Devin Somebody’s marriage. I was devastated. My whiskey consumption went up exponentially. Luckily, Arnold, the foreman and a good friend, was alert and understanding. Really fortunate though was that Arnold had once taken a course in labor relations – Clinical Psychology 1.04 (Dealing With Substance Abuse in the Workplace). Finally one day, he sent me home early and said it was time for me to get my shit together. “Come back sober and without a hangover or don’t come back.”
(Later on I asked Arnold where he’d taken the psychology course. He gave me a thoughtful look before answering. “Where else? UHK-CCS.” Then he smiled and walked away. For weeks I pondered over what university UHK was. One day I asked one of the state bridge engineers. Laughing, he replied that UHK-CCS stood for University of Hard Knocks – College of Common Sense.)
After Arnold sent me home, I went back to the trailer I was renting for the season and poured all the booze down the drain, made some coffee and sat outside on the doorstep, sort of fixated on trees and rocks and blue sky. I’d been fixated on Ann but now it was clear, that had to end. Somehow I convinced myself that maybe Ann wasn’t the only woman in the world. What I couldn’t convince myself of was that there really was a Ms. Right out there for me so I resolved that I wasn’t going to fall for any more too-good-to-be-true girls. Of course that didn’t rule out the occasional bimbo in the sack and I would follow the old 4-F philosophy of male/female relations – find ‘em, feel ‘em, fuck ‘em and forget ‘em. In other words, I had turned myself into a real male chauvinist with misogynist tendencies. It turned out that my misogynist tendencies were, according to a psychologist I talked to on a ski lift, a mild form of Focused Misogyny Syndrome, or FMS for short. In my case, I would take it out on females who I might otherwise consider as potential mates. To clarify, since I had been rejected by or otherwise lost out on females that I had wanted, my subconscious mind decided that I would be nasty to them right from the beginning and thereby avoid being rejected. It is really weird how the mind can work – or better said, not work.
We got the bridge done before the winter set in seriously and I headed back to Tahoe wondering how I’d handle it if I met up with Ann and Devin. Fortunately or unfortunately, for some reason, they never showed up there and I never had to deal with that.
It was a Monday morning in mid-January, a couple feet of snow had fallen overnight and I had been at Twin Peaks several hours before the lifts opened so I could go with the pros on avalanche control. After we got back, I got a cup of coffee and sat down in the patrol room to wait for the time when the lifts opened. Rolly, the mountain manager, walked into the patrol room with a grim apologetic face. “Clyde, a trainee patroller just come in and needs a regular to ski with. You mind?”
I did mind. My vision for the day had been 15 or 20 runs in fresh untracked powder. With a trainee to play mother hen to, I’d be lucky to get in 5. Thing was though, Rolly and I were on really good terms and as a volunteer, you don’t even dream of crossing a mountain manager. “No problem, Rolly. Always a pleasure to help bring new blood along.”
I wondered about his funny look but only until he brought the trainee in. “Hey Clyde, this is Marcia. She’s from San Francisco Patrol. Has to take the patroller test couple weeks from now. Could use some seasoning from an old hand like you.”
Looking up, my first thought was that I’d never seen a woman I’d so much like to season – but not the seasoning Rolly had in mind. Black hair with loose curls escaping from under a blue and grey knit cap, oval face, a hint of freckles, breasts that her snug sweater and parka were trying to hide. Aside from being a real beauty, she had the look and carriage of money and societal status – a status that meant she came from a world that I, as a carpenter and ski patroller, would never be welcome in. In other words, Marcia was a Miss Right that I could never have. I knew that in the interest of the ski patrol, I had to do my best to rein in my FMS. I made up my mind to be fair and platonic with her – no less, no more.
Coming back to earth, I said what was expected, “Nice to meet you Marcia.” I’d been looking forward to nothing but making the powder fly. Then trying to hide my sarcasm, “Looks like a fine day ahead of us.”
We went up on Summit Chair just as the lift opened and pulled the rescue sleds out of the basement of the top station. Then my first words to her. “Marcia, how well you know this area? Ever skied here before?”
“Yeah, sure. My parents took me here already when I was in second grade.”
The way she said it hinted that they had also bought a home or condo somewhere nearby. I didn’t give her the satisfaction of me asking where she was staying. “Okay, can you point out Sanders Peak?”
She pointed 90° to her right. “That high point over there.”
Her knowing the answer surprised me and made a good first impression. “Good. I asked you because when you patrol a ski area, you need to know all the place names and the best way to get to them from wherever you happen to be. Sanders Peak is 8,927 feet elevation and the highest point in this ski area. My guess is that over 90% of the skiers who come here couldn’t identify it. Sad thing is that half the volunteer patrollers who come here can’t either.”
“Uhhh, okay then.”
The first order of business was to see how well she skied and second was to see if she really knew the area. It didn’t take long to see that she was a fairly competent skier – at least on the prepared runs. I stepped up the pace and we pretty much covered the whole area, at least in a rough sort of way. From the lift and whenever we stopped, I pointed out places and runs and quizzed her on the names. From the beginning it was pretty clear that she already knew how to find most of the places with names. What she didn’t know I pointed out and had the impression that she successfully stored that info under those pretty black curls.
In the afternoon I thought it was time that she show me how she skied in unprepared runs – in other words free-riding. In the cirque below Twin Peaks there are a bunch of slots in the trees, actually they are avalanche slide paths – or were until the ski area was developed and the ski patrol started doing control blasting. Now the only avalanches were small ones induced by the control blasting. To facilitate identification, the slots were named the C slots and numbered C-1, C-2 and so forth all the way up to C-6.
From the top of Summit Chair, we went over to C-4, a roughly 30 foot wide slot. After traversing over, I stopped and gave the slot a good lookover. “Marcia, when you’re on patrol, you never just shoot right into any run. First you take a good look. If there’s an accident down there, especially close to the trees at the sides, you might go right by and have to hike back up. Or worse, miss it completely and really generate some mistrust in the ski patrol. To say nothing about the poor bloke who has to lay in the snow a lot longer.”
“That makes sense. You want me to go first and show you how bad I am in deep snow?”
So Miss Fancy Pants did have some humility and I wanted to capitalize on it. “Look Marcia, this is not about skiing style. This is about whether you can get down without crashing and in a reasonable time.”
She did both, but as I’d expected, she was definitely not an Alta pro – that is, her style wasn’t anything to put on a video. When we got down, I told her she’d benefit from lots of practice.
“Well Clyde, then maybe we should get started.”
We got in some more runs in the other C’s and I could see that more and more of her turns were pure parallel instead of stemming. So she was gaining more and more confidence. Then around a half hour before closing time, we went to the top of C-2 and I thought it was time to get in some more patrol training. “Okay Marcia, I’m going down first and simulate an accident. Now when you approach an accident scene, you need to pick a line of descent so if you did fall, you wouldn’t slide right into the accident victim. Understand what I mean?”
“Not really. How come you want to simulate an accident? There’s already somebody down there with a funny looking leg. Look! Little over halfway down and on the right side.”
I was standing right next to her and hadn’t seen it and I hadn’t looked either. I felt like I’d just eaten a dirty sock sandwich. Not wanting to lose face, I unsuccessfully tried to act like I’d seen it and was testing her. “Good job Marcia. Okay, let me go first.”
It was a 20-some year old lad with a very obvious fracture of the left fibula or tibia or both. He said his girlfriend had already gone for help so I expected somebody would show up with a sled before long. I checked him for back/spine injury but it was pretty clear that his only problem was the left lower leg. Until somebody came with a sled, all we could do was get him comfortable and keep him warm as well as we could and make him believe a sled would be there soon.
Fortunately it was soon. A quarter hour or so went by and a pro by the name of Hardy came down with a Sun Valley toboggan.
“What we got here Clyde?”
I told him what I thought.
“Oh for fuck’s sake, if I’d known, I’d have come with an akja. Way the girlfriend talked, I thought the dude was gonna be a quadriplegic.” He used his two-way to cancel the 3 or 4 helpers we’d have needed to get the suspected spinal on a back board and in the sled.
I had wondered why he’d brought a Sun Valley instead of one of the much lighter akjas. Disadvantage of an akja is that they’re sort of banana shaped and not suitable if you need to immobilise a spine. By contrast, the Sun Valley is a big long wooden toboggan with a full size litter basket and is ideal for suspected spinal injuries. The downside of the Sun Valley is its weight – it is a lot heavier than an akja. On normal ski runs that’s no disadvantage, you just have to keep your speed under control. But the C slots aren’t normal ski runs. Dense timber on the sides means you have to descend all the way down to a little alpine lake and then slog out several hundred yards over mostly level and some slightly rising terrain. That’s no big deal if you are just skiing and you are halfway fit – some side stepping, skating and poling. It is a big deal if you have to evacuate a person on a heavy Sun Valley toboggan. I was sure glad Hardy would be there to help.
We had just gotten the leg splinted when Hardy’s two-way came alive. The message wasn’t to my liking. He had to rush down to take care of some problem on Roundtable chair. It would be Miss Smarty Pants and I doing the slog out alone. And on that day it would be more than a slog.
Getting down to the little lake was easy, the snow was so deep that I didn’t even engage the chain brake.
At the lake, the hell began. The snow was too deep to take our skis off and go afoot so we had to sidestep and pull with skis on and we had not just a heavy Sun Valley, we now had a 170 pound passenger too. I took the handles and showed Marcia how to help using the tail line. By the time we got to the prepared piste, there were sweat stains all over the outside of my parka. Marcia’s face was glistening and I could see stains on the outside of her parka as well. Crude bastard that I am, at that moment, I visualised rivulets of sweat running down into her undies.
Then it occurred to me that the rules prohibited trainees from operating sleds carrying real victims and at the same time prohibited me from operating a sled without a qualified person on the tail rope. What to do now? From the time of day, I knew that the sweep had already gone by. We could wait, we’d be missed and Hardy would remember our situation. Trouble with that, it could be a half hour or more before somebody came. Broken Leg had been lying in the snow for some time before we got to him and shock can’t ever be ruled out, even under optimum conditions.
“Marcia, they teach you how to handle a tail rope?”
“We had that on orientation day.”
To myself, “Oh shit.” Aloud to Marcia, “Okay just keep the line slack and whatever happens, just don’t run into the goddamn sled.”
A couple hundred yards from the first aid room, the terrain flattens out and it’s good to have some reserve kinetic energy. I stopped before we started running out of hill and told Marcia I would be pulling up the brake chain to gain speed.
“Okay, no problem. But please, just don’t curse anymore.”
I really wanted to tell her to go fuck herself but managed to catch myself just in time.
We turned Broken Leg over to the nurses in the first aid room and then I got another chance to dump on Marcia. “Okay Marcia, this is as good a chance as any for you to get experience in filling out accident reports. When you get it filled out, I’ll check it. I’m the one who has to sign it as the responsible patroller.”
Afterwards we went outside to repack and replenish the Sun Valley and then pulled it over to the Summit Chair base so it’d be ready to go up in the morning. No words were spoken. I thought she might still be pissed over my saying ‘goddamn’ and reproach me again but she didn’t. I looked at her and saw a certain look in her face – the look that a totally exhausted person has when they’ve just done something they are happy and proud to have done. Her pretty face was really glowing.
She was a keeper, not for me, but for the ski patrol.
“Marcia, you coming back tomorrow?”
“If I can – if they take me, if you’ll take me.”
“I’ll ask Rolly if we can do some sled work. See you tomorrow.”
She showed up the next morning well ahead of the sign-in deadline and we went out to Summit. She went up on a chair alone and I followed a couple behind with the Sun Valley from the day before. That way she’d be at the top to help me get the Sun Valley off the chair and positioned. I was determined to take every opportunity to make Miss Smarty Pants work. No way was I going to let her get the idea that ski patrolling was all about free skiing and a free lunch.
After a couple runs I said it was time to go to work. And work it was. I let her do one run with the Sun Valley unloaded and then I filled a couple garbage bags with snow to simulate the weight of a victim. That was real convenient because we could dump the snow at the bottom and refill at the top. We did three runs with a loaded Sun Valley, mostly with Marcia on the handles. Then on the fourth run, I made her go through the exchanging positions procedure, handle to tail line and back again. The idea is that if the one on the handles (the toughest job) gets pooped, the one on the tail line should be the relief. There’s a specified procedure and they test for that.
By lunch time I could see by the distressed look on her face and that she’d never in her sheltered rich girl life had to work that hard for that long. My FMS was getting satisfied and goaded me on. For the afternoon, I had some more punishment in mind for her. One exercise on the ski patroller test is snowplowing straight down a slope and then having to come to a full stop within some specified distance. Depending on snow conditions and angle of the slope, this can be really challenging. Now snowplowing, although really useful for lots of jobs done on skis, is the basic beginning skiing technique and is frowned upon by more advanced skiers. Marcia had probably been trying to forget how to snowplow for the last decade. I made her remember how and got lots of satisfaction doing it.
To explain. Although a basic technique, snowplowing is strenuous and really punishes the upper thighs – especially towards the insides. For a guy with FMS, this was the ideal punishment to dish out to a very pretty girl. All the same, I’m not a complete beast so once I saw on her face that she was really hurting and about ready to cry, my human side took over and I told we should just ski. After I said that, she looked like she was about to kiss me.
At the end of the day, same conversation about the next day. I could see on her face that she wanted to say or ask something. “Anything else, Marcia?”
“How come you hate me so much?”
“You wanna pass the goddamned test or not?” I didn’t give her a chance to answer. I just turned around and left. I wondered if she’d show up the next morning. Strangely enough, I worried that she might not.
On the way home I stopped at the Fireside Inn whose pleasant après ski bar was one of my favourite hunting grounds. Once inside, I made a quick visual recon and saw the perfect situation: Two women sitting at the bar, a couple empty stools next to them. Not wanting to be too forward too soon, I left an empty between them and the stool I took and ordered a draft. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see the closest one look out the corner of her eye in my direction. Around 35 – 40, blondish hair, bulging tits, a tad thick around the middle, ruddy face – she wasn’t a traffic stopper but I had been without too long and was a strong believer in the old sailor’s saying: ‘Any port in a storm.’ It wasn’t hard to strike up a conversation with Linda and her friend Marge. Both were really impressed with my ski patrol status, or at least they let on like they were. A few beers and we ordered burgers to eat at the bar. Afterwards, when Marge drifted away and the conversation with Linda got more intense and more personal.
“I really have to admire you, Clyde. Skiing every day, dragging sleds around, rescuing people. You must be really strong.”
I tried my best to be modest and at the same time brag. “Strength comes in handy, endurance is even handier.”
She replied in a syrupy voice and winked. “Oh, I like a man with endurance.”
“Pays to know how to handle the equipment too.”
“Care to give me a demonstration? I got a room here in the hotel.”
The hotel room door was no sooner closed and we were all over each other. Once some clothes was off, it was pretty clear where things were headed. I told her I needed to pee first. In the bathroom, I didn’t just pee, I stripped thinking that would be a real turn on for her. When I came out of the bathroom, she was already under the covers. As I started to lift one side of the blanket to get in bed, she asked me to stop. “Hold it right there. I just want to look at you. You know I think you got the nicest male body I’ve ever seen.” Then she snapped a photo with the little camera that my state of arousal had blinded me from seeing.
When I got under the covers, I found a naked and eager Linda who couldn’t wait to squirm against me. It didn’t take much foreplay and we were rocking away at it. Afterwards she insisted I play with her titties of which she was extremely proud. I had thought that they were unusually firm and especially so considering she was approaching middle age. Without a word from me, she volunteered that about half the volume was silicone. I told her they were really pretty and a real turn-on. The truth was though that in my hand, they felt somewhat like oranges, but, of course, I didn’t let on.
While we were snuggled together hoping for my recovery, she told me some stuff that she hadn’t told me in the bar. Her husband, Willard was a big shot in the SF office of a big Swiss reinsurer and only came up on weekends and not all weekends – he was that busy - trying to make all the money in the world. “He’s a big guy, about your height but lots wider and thicker. Sex with him, well it’s kind of like getting fucked by a walrus. You wouldn’t believe it but it’s not so easy for him to do it. Belly gets in the way of lining up on me. Saving grace is though, he’s got a really long one. Makes it easier for him to get it in.”
Well now I knew why she liked my body so much, in spite of my not having anywhere near the physique of a porn star.
We had a another go and some mutual oral to boot so it was well after midnight before we got to sleep - okay for Linda, but hell for me - I needed to sign on patrol by the latest 8.
Marcia was waiting in the patrol room when I walked in and from what she said, I must have looked pretty bad. “Get to bed late last night?”
I wanted to tell her that what I looked like was none of her goddamn business but thought better of it. “Okay, first we’ll loosen up with some skiing this morning. Rolly says that right after lunch, unless there’s accident action, we can do a couple sled runs. Today we’ll work with the akja. It’s lighter and easier for that, but you gotta ski in the handles. We’ll be switching off between back and front just like with the Sun Valley.”
I was suffering from lack of sleep and exhaustion but the runs we did helped. Around 11 we skied to the bottom of Summit Chair and were about to get on when I heard a familiar voice. “Oh there you are Clyde. How about making a few runs with Marge and I? We need a big strong ski patrolman just in case. ”
There wasn’t a good reason for me to be embarrassed by Linda’s popping up like that, but I somehow was. It must have been the soft and cooing tone of her voice that just as good as announced that the two of us knew each other in a carnal sort of way. Any woman would have picked up on that. Marcia was smarter than most women so she saw right away that there was more between Linda and I than a casual acquaintance.
There was no point in turning down Linda so I suggested we ride up together, Linda and I and Marge and Marcia. I knew what I was going to hear from Linda once the chair started and so it was. “Well you’ve certainly got a cute little trainee with you.” Then in a more suggestive voice, “Are you training her in everything?”
And so it went. By the time we got to the top, I hoped I’d convinced her that all was on the up and up between Marcia and I. Linda wasn’t a real head turner but the prospects of getting something going between Marcia and I were about zero so having another go with Linda was my number 1 priority.
The four of us made a couple runs together and then I begged off from Linda and Marge saying Marcia and I had to have a quick lunch so we’d get some sled runs in. Linda seemed to be okay with that and that was a relief to me because now I could look forward to another strenuous night at the Fireside. It turned out to not be so strenuous because Linda and I now knew what to expect of each other and the whole affair went off in a more relaxed manner.
I’d intended to give Marcia some more sled work the next day. She got it, but not the way I’d intended. Several bus loads of high school kids from Stockton were there for a one day ski excursion. School groups always mean accidents and sled action. With high schoolers, the boys are showing off for the girls and don’t know the meaning of fear – or common sense.
That day was no exception. We got the first one by mid-morning. Marcia and I had the kid splinted and packed in the akja by the time a pro named Karl came on the scene. When I asked him if he wanted to work front or rear on the akja, he just looked at me, said he had other things to do and skied off. So Marcia got to do another real life sled evacuation. And before the day was out, we had hauled in two more kids. I made her do the report on all three accidents, each time getting myself a coffee and strolling around in the first aid room like a big shot. The second time though, it dawned on me that she was enjoying, no even taking pride in writing the damned reports. As if that wasn’t enough, one of the nurses complimented her on how concise and readable they were and by looking at me, just as good as said that reports I filled out were not good.
Friday was to be our last day together and I thought by now I’d punished her enough so we just skied and in between on the lift, I gave her tips about taking the test. In the afternoon we handled an accident and, rules be damned, I let her be on the front of the akja. Once the victim was in the first aid room, Marcia went for the accident report forms without me saying a word. As usual, I went for a cup of coffee and again strolled around like a big shot. One of the nurses took me aside and half whispered in my ear, “You overbearing asshole! Dumping on a nice girl like that! How can you look at yourself in the mirror when you get home at night?” At first I thought she was joking. The look on her face told me she wasn’t.
It was time to rein in my FMS. Back on the lift, I surprised Marcia with compliments on how well she was doing – with everything. That threw her a little off base so I went on, “Look Marcia, this weekend I’m doing a couple one-day ski tours over at Carson Pass with some people from Sacramento so I won’t be here.”
She answered in a neutral tone, just barely hiding some emotion or other. “Oh, that’s nice for you.”
“But, I made some arrangements. There’s a woman patroller, name’s Kitty, she’s coming up this weekend. Kitty’s a strong skier. Forgot more about first aid than most of us ever knew. Best thing though is she’s gonna be one of your judges at Bear Valley. Impress her tomorrow. Get on her good side. In the unlikely possibility that you make a mistake at Bear Valley, she might tend to convince the other judges to overlook it.”
I couldn’t miss the irritation in her voice when she replied. “Oh, thank you very much for making plans for me.”
“That’s something you may as well get used to sooner rather than later. Anyway, they don’t come more competent than Kitty. And by the way, Helmut, her husband, will be along too. He’s a heart surgeon and professor down at UCSF Hospital. Nice guy.” Of course I didn’t tell Marcia everything about all that Kitty was good at – or how I knew she was good at it. And anyway, since even before she’d met Helmut, I hadn’t gotten to appreciate that part of her anymore.
From the way she said, “I see,” that seemed to satisfy Marcia.
Then I hit her with my surprise. “Marcia, as a nice closure to the week, I’d like to invite you to have dinner with me tonight. I was thinking of the Lamb and Steer in Tahoe City if that’d be fine with you.”
And she hit right back even harder with her surprise. “The Lamb and Steer. That’s one of my favourites. Thing is though, I was about to invite you. And if you don’t accept my invitation, I won’t accept yours.”
So she had me and I went down to defeat with as much grace as I could muster. “So we agree on restaurant choice. Sounds like fun. Maybe I can even pass on some more tips for the test.”
Over dinner, she finally squeezed out of me what I did for a living. Turned out she’d never heard of a ‘bridge carpenter’ and she had never really thought about who did all the concrete forming work for bridges and buildings. From her, I found out that she had a degree in accounting and worked for the furniture retail chain that her father had founded. Here I was, a construction stiff and ski bum with a fortune consisting mainly of my tools, a Toyota pickup with camper shell and a bunch of ski and mountaineering gear, having dinner with a little rich girl. At least our relative stations in life were now out in the open.
Another thing came out in the open – religion. Her Italian last name made me think that she would be from a Catholic family. She was and had been raised and baptised Catholic. But she was no longer Catholic, she had renounced and then joined a small fundamentalist-like Protestant church that I’d never heard of. She told me enough about it and her beliefs that I understood her objections to cursing. She also let me know that she did not think very highly of sex outside of marriage.
The Saturday of the patroller test at Bear Valley was bright and sunny, ideal test conditions except for the fact that it hadn’t snowed in two weeks and the ski slopes were getting pretty hard, not icy, but very hard packed. That would make some of the tested techniques more critical and subject to failures. I had considered going to observe or at least be there when the results were announced – maybe just to give Marcia some moral support. Thing was though, we weren’t really friends and my presence might just make her nervous. On the other hand, I’d put a lot of time in getting her prepared and it would be nice to see it all pan out. When it came close to that Saturday, I copped out, but only sort of. I decided to make a ski tour over the Mt. Reba Ridge into the Underwood Valley. The roadhead is a wide spot on California Highway 207 a shade more than a half mile east of the Bear Valley Ski Resort. From there the 1,000 foot climb to the ridge through Round Valley is slightly over a mile. Descending a couple miles into the Underwood Valley, the drop is 1,600 feet. The terrain is moderate and not a real impressing ski tour but I needed a reason to be in Bear Valley and an excuse to not be there watching the tests. I figured I’d get down in time to be around when the results were announced and I could always decide against going. Nothing like putting off a decision you don’t want to make.
Sure enough, I got back to my Toyota around 3 that Saturday afternoon. My skis and poles were in the back and I still couldn’t decide. I sat in the cab and pondered. Finally, I thought, “What the hell can I lose, Marcia has either passed or failed. I can either congratulate her or console her. If she don’t want either, I’ll just have a beer with old friends and head back to Tahoe.”
My timing wasn’t bad. As I entered the lodge, I could hear the racket in the cafeteria where the seating was all big long picnic tables. Beer drinking, hamburgers and fries, laughing, bragging – all the boisterous après ski/after event racket. As I walked in, Burt W., one of the judges, grabbed me by the arm with joviality somewhat inflated by beer. “Clyde, you wouldn’t believe it! There’s this girl from San Francisco Patrol – got a perfect score! We couldn’t find anything to dock her for, not one little slip did that girl make.”
I had feeling it was Marcia but I didn’t want to show too much curiosity. “Oh yeah? Man that’s really something.”
Somebody else came up talking and he turned away to reply. I went in and Kitty came over and collared me. “Clyde, you should’ve been here to see it. That cute Marcia, the one you worked the ass off of up at Twin Peaks – didn’t lose a point.”
I still didn’t want to show much interest or enthusiasm so I lied a little. “I just got back from a ski tour over in Underwood Valley. Marcia? Yeah, have to admit, she did show a lot of promise. She still here? I guess I ought to go congratulate her.”
Kitty could at times be very direct – even shockingly direct. “You fucking liar. You got the hots for her the day Rolly brought her in the patrol room.” Then pointing, she went on, “Not get your worthless ski-bum ass over there and try to be nice.”
Marcia was gabbing with a couple of the judges and another successful candidate and, since she was facing away from me, didn’t know I was there. There was still time to turn around and leave. I hesitated. But Kitty was behind me. “Act like a man and get your ass over there!”
I walked over and approached Marcia from the back. Noticing my presence and recognising that I wanted to say something to Marcia, the judges and the other new patroller stopped talking. Marcia turned and her mouth momentarily popped open with surprise.
“I didn’t think you’d come.”
“Was on a ski tour over into Underwood Valley. Friends I was with had to get home right after. Thought I’d stop by and congratulate you.”
She ignored the slight and got up. Turning to face me, she swallowed and squirmed her lips. “And that’s it. You just happened by and thought you might congratulate me?”
I didn’t know what to do until she turned her head, clearly expecting a kiss on her left cheek. Taking her lead, I bent in to plant the expected kiss on her cheek but by the time my head got there, she’d turned back forward and our lips collided. I couldn’t help responding and she responded to my response. One thing led to another. She broke off when I pushed my tongue between her lips. Only then did we notice the applause and cheering. Our first kiss had an audience of around 70 people. I happened to see Kitty giving me the thumbs up.
We became a pair. I wondered how long it would be before we’d be intimate.
She came up to Twin Peaks the next weekend and we skied together and on Saturday night she cooked dinner for me at her parents house. Afterwards we listened to music in the living room and made out. But that’s all further it went, without actually saying so, she made it clear that a whole lot of her body was off limits to me. And so it went for some weeks. We got along really well but making out was all further it went. I gave some thought to stopping by the Fireside because there was always the chance that Linda would be there and I could work off my sexual frustration. But somehow, I didn’t want that either so I stayed away and stayed celibate - for the time being anyway.
Then around the middle of March and midweek, she phoned and asked if I might want to come down to the San Francisco for the weekend and meet her parents. “They are so much looking forward to meeting you.”
Maybe the relationship would go somewhere after all. And I wasn’t just thinking in terms of sexual gratification either.
Marcia’s dad, a self-made man, was the founder, current owner and CEO of a chain of a half dozen furniture stores in the Bay Area. Neither he nor Marcia’s mother were skiers, the Tahoe house where Marcia stayed when skiing, had been purchased as a summer weekend getaway place.
It was clear right off that they looked upon Marcia’s ski patrolling as a temporary distraction. And it was also pretty clear that in their estimation, my all-winter skiing didn’t rate anywhere nearly that high. And my summer occupation as a carpenter and true source of income didn’t rate very high with them either. In a way I could sympathise with them. Beautiful daughter, college degree and good job, tied up with a bridge carpenter and ski bum, hardly uplifting for parents.
I’m sure they had given lots of thought as to how they could get me out of Marcia’s life – for good - and I pretty quickly sensed that they were hatching out a plan B (and maybe C and D too) in case that politely showing disdain didn’t work. All that became clear from the condescending questions they asked me about my professions and the way they forced themselves to listen when I made a brief explanation on how bridges are built.
Plan B came to light when he caught me alone and started talking about all the great jobs in his furniture chain. I did my best at showing interest but somehow selling sofas seemed about as exciting as watching paint dry and that was without saying anything about the money. As a bridge carpenter, I probably made more in 6 or 7 months than his top sofa pusher made in a year. In other words Plan B was that if they couldn’t get Marcia to dump me, then they’d find a spot for me in the furniture business. I did my best to show interest but deep down, wearing a suit to work and flogging sofas and coffee tables just wasn’t me.
I left early on Sunday with the lie that I needed to get back for some training early Monday morning. What I actually did was pay a visit to my friend Arty, a late-30’s high school teacher in South San Francisco and also a member of the San Francisco Ski Patrol. Arty and I, although he was over 15 years older, saw eye to eye on lots of things and were able to talk about anything, personal or otherwise. He was working on his motor home when I arrived. When I told him I’d come down to the City to meet Marcia’s parents, his response wasn’t uplifting. “Oh, you poor fucker!”
“No, they didn’t think too much of me.”
“Clyde, that’s beside the point and not what I meant. Remember what I once told you about my ex-wife - a virgin bride, wouldn’t let me get near anything critical, even after we got engaged. Trouble was, after we got married, she couldn’t get out of that defence-of-virginity mode. Makes me sick when I think of how many nights I had to go to the bathroom and jack off. A goddamn wonder we ever had a kid.”
“How’d you know I’m not getting any?”
“I know her from being at patrol meetings. I know the type. Religious as hell, shining holy look on the face. The type that winces if somebody says ‘damn.’ My ex-father-in-law, strongest cuss word he ever said was ‘goldarn.’ Imagine that, guy needs to say ‘goddamn’ but ‘goldarn’ is all he lets himself say.”
I had to admit that the problem of girls defending their virginity at all costs was real. “Yeah, your story kinda reminds me of what this older guy, state inspector on a job, told me. Married this Portuguese girl, 20-some years younger. She’d been raised strict Catholic. Come the wedding night, he’s looking forward to getting into her unblemished kingdom of heaven. Two weeks go by and he finally makes a penetration. Said he didn’t make many afterwards either. When I met him, he was horsing around with young Mexican girls.”
“Well Clyde, you gotta know what you want. I just hope this Marcia don’t get you back on the juice.”
“Not gonna happen. Learned that after that Ann thing. Got any ideas what to do? Now after getting shit on by her parents, might be a good time. Hate to break off with Marcia though.”
“Do what I shoulda done with my ex before we tied the knot. Have a real open talk with her – now, not afterwards. Come right out and tell her you’re a man with needs. Tell her how this virginity cult stuff worries you. That’s what I’d do.”
And that is exactly what I did the next weekend that Marcia came up skiing. After dinner, we went back to her parents vacation house and made out some before I started the discussion that turned out to not be a discussion. Maybe it was my communication skills, or lack thereof. Maybe the timing was wrong. I hadn’t expected an easy discussion but what came from her was more like an active volcano.
Her face got red, her lower lip stuck out. Then, “You want to sample me, see if I’m suitable, if I satisfy you. See if my breasts are big and firm enough, see if my vagina is snug enough for you. Or if it gets wet enough so you can rut around in me. Boohoohoohoo, boohoohoohoo.”
I tried to inject that I just wanted us to reach some kind of understanding but she was anything but receptive.
“Oh I hate you Clyde, I hate you. I should have known what you were that morning after you’d been rutting around all night in that Linda. Was she tight enough for you? Wet enough? She had big breasts, were they fun for you? I’m so disappointed in you. My parents were right, you really are no good.”
It went on like that until I got pissed and got up and went to the entry for my coat. She stayed on the couch sobbing and was still sobbing when I came back in to say goodbye. “Marcia, I just wanna wish you good luck in saving your virginity for the sofa salesman of your dreams. Or is it gonna be some wimp in bedrooms and wardrobes?” Her reply was a book she threw in my direction.
A couple weeks later I lined up a job north of Weaverville in Trinity County. The change in location worked magic. I rented a cabin in Coffee Creek and went on the wagon completely – no whiskey, not even beer. My landlord, a Forest Service retiree and reborn Christian with a Catholic wife, after checking my trash for evidence of alcohol consumption, decided I wasn’t the typical construction boomer and introduced me to his niece, Sonya. We dated that summer but she was, I far as I could tell anyway, still a virgin when in September, she went back to college – a Catholic girls school in Oakland.
My libido hadn’t been satisfied since Linda back in mid-winter. No sooner was Sonya gone and I started looking at the local backwoods Barbie’s. For those readers who don’t know what a Backwoods Barbie is, google Dolly Parton.
I grew up poor and ragged, just a simple country girl.
I wanted to be pretty more than anything in the world,
like Barbie or the models in the Fredricks' catalog.
From rags to wishes in my dreams I could have it all.
I'm just a backwoods Barbie, too much makeup, too much hair.
Don't be fooled by thinkin' that the goods are not all there.
When fall rolled around, I just couldn’t face going down to Tahoe to do the annual refresher training with my own Twin Peaks Patrol. The memories of Marcia were weighing me down too much. I called Vivian, the patrol leader, and begged off with the excuse that I was working too many hours to make the five-hour drive to and from Tahoe. I did the refresher with the Mt. Shasta Patrol so I’d be cleared to patrol another winter. The problem was, where? If I went back to Twin Peaks, seeing Marcia would be a sure thing and I wasn’t ready for that. Seeing her with a happy sofa salesman would have put me back on the whiskey. Some other ski resort in the Tahoe area? Still a chance of seeing her. I just couldn’t face the possibility of seeing her, with or without a sofa salesman.
I called Rolly and told him my problem. Good friend and great guy, he was instantly sympathetic. “Well Clyde, I’ll miss you here, but not if you gotta deal with a big problem like that. Sorry it didn’t work out with Marcia. I sure was rooting for you.”
Then it hit me. “Is that why you let a patrol trainee just walk in and sign on? I didn’t know you were a cupid.”
“Guilty as charged - on both counts. Clyde, I really thought she’d be the one for you. Boy was I ever pissed when you were so nasty to her. Okay, back to your problem of needing to get away. I know lots of people in the ski and avalanche control business. Lemme make a few phone calls.”
A few weeks later, it was late November, the job in in Trinity County was shut down for the winter and I was in my Toyota pickup heading east across the Nevada desert. After sleeping in the back of the pickup near Elko, I was up early and went through Salt Lake City before noon. At the east end of the city, I switched to I215 and then exited onto Utah State Highway 210, which goes right up Little Cottonwood Canyon past Snowbird and on to Alta. Rolly was true to his word. The mountain manager welcomed me and said to come back the next day. He would have a pro show me around. I felt like a freed man – especially when a local storm came up and dropped a foot of new snow before the next morning. And those overnight drops seemed to keep coming. There were days when I didn’t even think of Marcia – with or without a sofa salesman.
It was suddenly mid-January. It had been another dream day at Alta. A foot and a half of new snow during the night, clearing at daybreak, then clear blue sky all day. Couldn’t get in enough runs. By now I was enough of a regular volunteer patroller that they let me leave my skis, boots and poles in the patrol storage. It was after five by the time I walked outside and got the surprise of my life.
There she was. A few curls of that black hair poking out from under that grey and white knit cap, parka partly open to expose a matching sweater, hands clasped in front. Words failed me. Her too. She tried a smile, lips clutching together, then bottom lip out and upper teeth on it. Marcia was trying to find the right words.
“I uh, …. I know it’s …., How’ve you been?”
I just nodded my head and looked at her.
She worked her lips some more. A few tears appeared. She swallowed. I thought, “Okay little lady, say what you got to say.” I didn’t say anything out loud though.
“You weren’t at the fall refresher.”
“Did it with the Shasta Patrol. What? You went to Twin Peaks for the refresher?”
“I thought you’d be there, Clyde. Why weren't you there?”
I lied, “Working lots of hours. Couldn’t afford the time.”
She ignored what she knew was my lie. “I talked to Kitty. And Arty too.”
I didn’t know what to say so I just said, “oh.”
Then she said the last thing I thought she’d ever say. “I been on the pill since September.”
Again, I just nodded my head and looked at her.
“And I got a room at the Rustler Lodge.”
Still, I didn’t – couldn’t – say a word.
Finally, I started recovering. “You’d go that far to get us back together?”
“No. I’d go that far cause I want ………, Oh Clyde, I want to become a woman, I want you to make me a woman.”
We moved together, lips clashing, open, exchanging tongues and when we finally parted, I noticed a couple of my patrol colleagues staring, faces glowing with great big knowing grins. It surprised me that they hadn’t applauded.
In her room at the Rustler, our bodies slammed together again. I made the move to part. “I need to use the bathroom first.”
In the bathroom, I undressed, pissed, wiped my armpits, crotch and face with a wet washcloth and wondered how I ought to reappear in the bedroom – in my birthday suit, underwear or more. Finally I settled on leaving on only my undershorts. When I came out, Marcia was already in bed, she wasn’t nude, the top of a light blue sleep shirt was showing out the head end of the covers. Her reaction to my partial nudity took me by surprise. “You may as well take off your shorts, they don’t even begin to hide your erection.”
When I did, her first sight of my naked crotch was accompanied by a gasp-like sharp breath. By no means do I have the build of a porn star but of course, Marcia had never before seen an erect penis and she certainly had never watched porn.
I sat down on the side of the bed gazing at her beautiful face, full lips, dark eyelashes and black loose curls. I was about to slide under the covers and cuddle when something else occurred to me. At the foot of the bed, I raised the covers so her bare feet were exposed – women have prettier feet than men and hers were extraordinarily pretty. I kissed the tops of her feet and then took one of her big toes in my mouth. After showering her feet with kisses, I rose and looked at her beautiful face again. “Marcia, you are beautiful from your head to your toes.”
Instead of a soft thank you, she came back with something unexpected in a suggestive and syrupy tone of voice. “How do you know? You haven’t yet seen anything in between.”
“Than maybe I need to look some more.”
“I think I’d like it if you did.”
No more encouragement was needed. I worked my way up her legs – legs that parted more and more as I went higher and higher. When I got to her knees, she started raising them and that’s when I saw that there were no panties under her sleep shirt. She began a soft cooing as I kissed the soft insides of her thighs. The further up that I moved, the more she spread her legs. Her knees were up so much her feet were off the bed. I pushed up her sleep shirt and soon parted her lips and trolled with my tongue. Her coos were now intermingled with gasps. Hardly was my tongue grazing that special little button and her upper body was twisting and hips began thrusting. It wasn’t easy to hold her still enough that I could lick that special place where my penis was soon to go. Her body tensed and conscious of the thin walls of the Rustler Hotel, she muffled a scream. I pushed her sleep shirt up past her breasts and showed my affections there. Kissing them all over brought coos and moans, squeezing a nipple between my lips brought on louder coos and moans and gasps. “Clyde, it’s in the way. My shirt, it’s in the way.”
Her shirt off, I gazed at her whole body and smothered her whole body with kisses. “Marcia, you are beautiful – from head to toe.”
“No doubt, there too.”
“But you won’t know until you get there.”
“My tongue wasn’t stiff enough.”
“Then use something stiffer.”
When I tried to use my finger, she resisted. “Not that.”
“Be easier for you. Hurt less.”
“I want to feel it when you make me a woman.”
And feel it she did. As the resistance gave way, she cried out. Maybe I should have held back and gone slower, but I was out of control and based on what came afterwards, I doubt if she would have wanted me to hold back. When I finally collapsed on her, we were both sweaty and she was crying – happy crying. I had found Miss Right and I sure as hell was going to let her know that she was Miss Right.
This story was part of the final examination in an advanced level ESL (English as a Second Language) course in Seattle. Below are a few of the questions the course participants had to answer. I will publish the correct answers as soon as 10 readers have responded with all questions correctly answered.
Multiple Choice (Only one correct answer to each question.)
1. Who wrote the story?
E) None of the above
2. What is the name of Clyde’s wife?
D) Cannot be absolutely known from the text
E) None of the above
3. How does Clyde earn a living?
A) He sells furniture.
B) He is a ski instructor.
C) He is a ski patrolman.
D) He works on construction.
E) None of the above.
4. Who did Kitty marry?
D) Cannot be absolutely known from the text
E) None of the above
True or False? (Circle the answer you think is correct)
5. Ann married Roger. True or False
6. This story took place entirely within the state of California. True or False
P.S. Police training academies in various parts of the country have used this text in training recruits to analyse evidence. Some have discontinued using it because so many recruits had reading deficiencies. These and others have discontinued using it because they think skin colour and social status are better indications of guilt or innocence than hard evidence.