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Friday, September 17, 1999
Houston, Texas
Volume 65, Issue 19

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Your choice -- a 90-degree drop or the bunny slopes

Wendy Miller 

 I noticed an ad in The Daily Cougar last week for a Colorado ski trip. Several years ago, I decided to claim a last-minute spot on a similar trip. At that point in my life, I was "very" single and, as you know, single people can make rash decisions.

So, I met the buses to begin the trek out west for 10 days with 65 other college winter-breakers. There was skiing planned for Steamboat Springs and Vail. It sounded perfect except for one problem: I had never been skiing.

As the others told of past ski trips, I realized that I was the only non-skier. I vowed quietly that I would teach myself to ski, even if it killed me.

The first morning on the slopes, the others hurried to the lifts that would carry them to the top of the mountain. I waited until I was alone to make my way clumsily to the bunny slopes.

Before you get glamorous ideas of Playboy bunnies gracefully skiing, let me define the bunny slope. It is a field of snow with a tiny slope. There isn't a ski lift to ride. There is a circling rope to grab that pulls you the small distance to the top.

Basically, it is where the kids hang out, while parents glide down the mountains. I was a college student in a sea of munchkins. I felt like Dorothy in the Emerald City.

I could have learned from a pro. Instead of spending $10 per hour on lessons, I ambitiously taught myself. The swooshing (side-to-side) motion wasn't too difficult, but stopping was. I wanted to stop dramatically -- producing a spray of snow powder. The best I could muster was a wide V-position with my feet.

After a morning with beginners, I was tired of Munchkin Land and wanted to go on a ski lift and take on an intermediate-level slope. After a scary moment battling to get off the lift, I was now at the top and ready to conquer this mountain.

I should interrupt my story to mention the importance of reading the signs that are posted before you get on a lift. The sign has a map that shows the route the chosen slope will take down the mountain.

If I had read that map, I would have known ahead of time what I was going to face. There was a break near the top of my intermediate path. It was a Black Diamond.

What is a Black Diamond? It is a 90-degree slope. It is, in layperson terms, straight down. I like to refer to it as the mountain's chance to laugh at the inexperienced skier. 

I was cursing my inability to stop as I stood at the top of my Black Diamond. I had two options. I could either remove my skis and climb down, or ski down. Due to my pride, I chose the latter (which also included a lot of praying). 

I side-stepped to the middle, positioned straight ahead, and crouched with poles under my arms. I shut my eyes as I started to move. Before I knew it, I was speeding at the halfway mark. At that moment, I remember thinking that I was going to make it. Then the mountain chuckled.

I suddenly went head-over-heels. I avoided a broken leg only because my skis popped off at the beginning of my roll. Like a cartoon snowball, I plowed into a snowdrift. I was on my back, but more important, I was at the bottom.

I sat up and did an inspection for broken bones or missing parts. By the grace of God, I was intact. I had survived one of those crowning moments of life -- I had skied a Black Diamond. Well, not really, but I can proudly say that I made it down a black diamond.

The economics required to take a trip might present a problem. During my vacation, my checkbook balance was red. However, let's face facts. Unless your name is Dell or Gates, you are going to spend most of life in debt. 

My decision to travel does start with a weigh-in of pros and cons. The money issue doesn't stand a chance against arguments like "life is short" and "only young once."

In case you're wondering, I have no connection and will receive zero kickback from a travel agent. I simply like to stop and smell the roses. My life's motto is: What doesn't kill me, only makes me stronger.

However, the second-in-command for Wendy's words of wisdom is: Work for tomorrow, but remember that life is being lived today. Of course, running a close third is: Take the darn ski lesson -- it's worth the money.

In the near future, you will be committed to family, job, a mortgage or to (quite possibly) an institution. So give a treat to your adventurous side and carpe diem.
 

Miller, a junior philosophy major,
can be reached at laurana@ev1.ne.
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