I Get Knocked Down, But I Get Up Again

It’s been a while since the last update, and okes have been busy. So busy that I’ve barely had time to fuck up. Not completely, but barely. I also usually write best with a hangover, but I’ve simply had no time to hang, so here’s my best shot.

My cousin, being an avid outdoorsman, his brother, being an avid man, and his wife, being avid, decided that it was time to go snowboarding. There is finally a positive to the shitty weather, and thus this is quite the popular pastime in the UK. In Africa, however, it is not.

As an African and probably more specifically a South African, we don’t get a lot of snow. There’s some on the Drakensburg but you can’t bring that up with out some fuckwit bringing up the boys choir, and there’s some near Cape Town, but they don’t really count as South Africa. Sort of a South Africa lite. Microbrewed of course. But largely we get sun. A fuck-ton of sun. Just ultra violets looking for some ultra violence with the occasional flooding occurring just in time to not help the drought. In Pretoria, we’ve had sleet like once in the last 50 years and it almost broke BBM, although it was difficult to tell when a BlackBerry was actually working. In Witbank, if white powder falls from the sky you need to get the fuck out because the party’s about to get either narcotic or carcinogenic. Both if you’re lucky.

But, being known for my positivity, I was pretty keen to try it out. I had a brief phase as a skateboarder which I traded in to be a school boarder. I probably would have carried on, but in my youth I was just unable to master the Ollie. To put that in perspective, that’s like wanting to be a world-class pole-dancer, but having no legs. Sure, you can have all sorts of fun gyrating around the floor, but people are only really interested with what goes on in the air.

So we arrive after a 2.5 hour drive out of town. My cousin and his wife had taken their own car, so it was just us three bachelors on the open road. The “banter was savage” as those with a limited lexicon may say. But we covered a range of topics, from the comic geniuses of the past following the death of Ronnie Corbett, to the hotel industry and its relation to bureaucratic health and safety, and then about 2 hours of laughing at the various way of saying “these cunts”.

So we arrive at Aviemore, an outdoor utopia with any and all activities from snowboarding and skiing, to mountain biking and mountain hiking, to fishing and fucking. The hills, lakes, and vegetation make this an appropriate wonderland, while its relative anonymity and an abundance of stag and hen dos make it nice and easy to throw away your name. My kind of place. But more about that in a later post.

Early morning wake-up. Not my forte. We drove up to the base of the mountain. Building up nerves. The surrounding area was beautiful, with clear weather, but I couldn’t help but notice the severe lack of snow. I was no expert on the subject, but I could tell when it was not there. We finally kitted up and I was reminded that your feet are actually strapped the fuck onto the board. There was no escape. Board falls, you fall. You are then fit with an unflattering helmet and a pretty rad snowboard. You are then given a ticket that you are not allowed to lose. This was too much pressure for me already. You are then taken up a snow lift, with crying children and French people. I stood there playing a nervous but challenging game of spot the difference. The banter was absent or rare. Okes were scared.

The tram had stopped and we were ordered out. I half-expected an arch with the words “abandon all hope” sprawled across it, but this was not that kind of party. We stepped out into a winter wonderland. The snow was awesome. This was my first real time in actual snow and I found a rare moment of actually liking something. I did what any snow-virgin would do: bundled up a ball and threw it at my cousin. Dead accurate. I am a snow god. But with a limited time on the slope and no access to carrots, I had to hou op om rond te fok (stop to round fuck) and get to business.

I got the crash course: keep the board perpendicular. As you go down, glide down from side to side like a falling leaf in the wind. But with a cliff. And you’re the leaf. And more attitude. If you’re going too fast, try pull off to the side and get the board exactly perpendicular again. Do not tip the board forward. If in doubt: fall. But not on a rock… A combination of my fear and poor concentration meant that I missed out on a bit of this. I gathered if in doubt, fall and this would do me well.

It was go time. Strapped in, perpendicular, with people whizzing past me either side. I stand up. I fall down. I stand up, I move a little, I fall down. I stand up, move, and fall forward this time, just to mix it up. This is difficult. Rather than gliding through the snow like that rat from Ice Age, I can rather be likened to a sweary baby giraffe. Lie down. Try stand. Fall. Fuck.

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This carries on for some time until I get a bit of a move on. Now I have a new issue: moving. The more you moved, the quicker you got. I tried to offer resistance in the way of friction, but I was no good at this. I was trying to remember one of those physics lessons where we did similar shit, but all I remember was my matric teacher saying that creationism was bull shit since if there was a God he wouldn’t make kids as stupid as we were. So that brought up some stuff.

Back to reality (having no loss of gravity)and I’m sliding down a fucking hill toward the end of a cliff. I have moments of looking ok, and moments of being on the floor. I feel I’m getting the hang of it, and then I see them: rocks. Who fucking put these here? I’m on the wrong side to fallen leaf myself and in the wrong body position to fall back so I fall forward with more momentum than I had anticipated. And I take a knock. A pretty hard one. Like sneaking around the scrum and getting taken out by the flank hard. I felt a minor click in my spine, but I still had feeling in my legs. My cold dead legs. I crawl to the bottom of the ski lift, pretty defeated.

The ski lift is the next trick up the sleeve. Like most things I encounter, it has been not been designed to work very well. It’s called a T-bar since there is a T-shaped bar attached to like a mechanical pulley that pulls you up the hill you just fell down. If you ski, this is easy: you and someone else sit ready, and the bar sends you up. As a snowboarder, fuck you. You have to remove one leg from the safety of the boot and rest it atop the slippery board. You must then try wedge the item betwixt your legs and clench in sort of a mid-orgasmic spasm. I would not recommend an actual orgasm at the time, but the snow is white so you may get away with it. To counter the weight of your big, stupid, body you have but a single arm. Your other arm is extended in the opposite direction to give you hope that it’s going to help in some way. You are then gradually dragged up the hill, parallel board, on some kind of off-road track. When you fall well, you get to the side to avoid becoming a speed bump. When you fall poorly, you slide down backwards and take out more Frenchies than a Russian winter. You are also, of course, expected to learn all of this on the fly.

I crawl to the base, letting most people in front of me and meet the guide. he’s Australian, for a change.

Me: Howsit. How do I use this thing?
Oz instructor: Your first time boarding, mate?
Me: Until half an hour ago, I’d never been in snow.
Oz instructor: Yea. Ok. Just put this between your legs and hold on.
Me: And if I fall?
Oztructor: Don’t fall mate.
Me: Thanks. Doos.

I last longer than anticipated, but ate shit half way up the hill, subjecting me to the walk of shame up the hill. I repeat all of the above, having slightly longer rides and harder falls. My company decided the lift may be easier if someone else was on the other side of the T-bar. This just means you have all the same problems, but with the added bonus of some gentleman’s cock near your asshole. Brilliant. We hit turbulence and I crouch down almost siting on the board, trying to stablise. This balances me out, so I’m happy to stay like this for a while. Unfortunately, this meant the bar then went upward between the other guy’s legs, which he was not too stoked about. He shouted for me to stand up. I disagreed, saying the status quo was both of us ascending up the mountain. More turbulence. I eat snow, more or less in the same place as last time. The other dude tries to correct, but eventually follows suit. Ha.

We were ready for half-time oranges, and snuck into the highest pub in Scotland, both by altitude and patrons. My cousin liked to say that I was either going to be hooked to snowboarding, or cross it off my lift as something I at least tried. I was leaning toward the latter. But after some Mac and Cheese, we were back on the slopes, this time to a higher, longer, gentler ride. I was getting cocky, but cautious of loose forwards lurking about. To get to the top I was subjected to another lift, but held firmly in place by my cousin. Can’t argue with results.

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It’s here that it actually started to have a bit fun. Falling down had become quite annoying and I was getting pretty fucking over lifting myself back to my feet. But the rides became longer, at a higher speed, with some accidental tricks. Obviously, the wipe-outs were more fantastic too, but it was getting worth it. I was still getting over-taken by children and stoners alike, but in my own world, I was Snowny Hawk (the best I could come up with at the time). Sure, I shat myself to the point where some of the brown marks on the snow were completely my fault, but those skid marks meant one thing: I had skid, which means I was going fast. I had even managed to figure out how to fall on my ass in such a way that the snow from beneath my board fell on the poor fuckers in front of me while still looking like an accident.

By the last stretch, we’ve bypassed the peasant (beginner) slopes and headed straight to the grootpeel blue slopes. We rub shoulders with the rich and… just rich; fly past old people walking dogs, and wave arms hysterically in an attempt not to fly into a fence. And for a short while, it feels fanfuckingtastic. Soaring through the air, gliding from side to side, mountain rushing past you, wind rushing through you, with the slightest of scraping noises, rising from beneath your feet like the sexiest bit of percussion you’ve ever encountered. Then a sharp break in the wind and mountain, an angle change in the view, and a sharp crescendo in the scraping noise before the drums turn into a crash followed by a in a cold, wet, crack. Beautiful.

I may just have the fever, one that requires no cowbell whatsoever. Of course we finish the evening in the town, but that’ll come.

Rabbit out (of comfort zone).

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