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Monday, February 21, 2011

Don't Forget the Rice Cooker

I'm going to ask you to do something now that might seem untoward, or at the very least, strange for a blogger to ask of a reader.

Close your eyes.

Shh, don't speak. Just... just close your eyes. Lightly, yeah-- just like that. Let those lovely lashes flutter for a nanosecond before they come together. That's right, you've got it. Now, in your mind's eye, picture, if you will, the typical North American skiier.

What comes to mind?

Blond hair. Eyes of ice blue-- scanning the vast whiteness of the terrain for those double black diamonds-- the perfect challenge for the ruddy-cheeked, wind-burned Adonis as he pummels the powder astride his freshly tuned Rossis, clad only in a North Face fleece, a pair of Nantucket Red Dockers, black plastic Ray Bans from Tom Cruise's '80s wardrobe closet, and the breath of snow angels at his back.

He is brave. He is statuesque. He is intoxicated on ski lodge lager. He is faster than a Bugatti Veyron. He is not to be challenged, dared, or bedded without extensive Chlamydia testing.

He is.... a ski bum.

Yesterday, though, at least, in the Pocono Mountains, this creature was elusive-- if not outright invisible. The traditional, WASP-y, chiseled powerhouse was nowhere to be seen. Every stereotype of the ski bum, with his giggling little chippy on his arm with her sweatpants waistband rolled over three times for maximum belly-to-camel-toe ratio, was shattered for me and my wife as we took to the slopes for the first time this season.

It was a veritable United Nations of ski afficianados, and, while that is a wonderful thing-- it was also a little confusing.

I mean, there were Asians popping up like little snow squirrels. They were positively EVERYWHERE! And I know it will sound thoroughly racist to say this-- but you can tell they're Asian, especially the children, even when they have their little helmets and goggles on.

And, I know it's going to sound really, um, awful when I say this, but you can sure tell they're Asian when you sit down to eat lunch with them at the lodge.

First, though, you have to deal with the poor Australian lady with the two little boys whose seat you're trying to snag but can't until she fully dresses her two little boys but, oh! she can't do that because, every time she puts the mittens on one boy, the other one pulls his off, because THAT'S funny!

Once you do sit down, at a cafeteria-style table occupied by you, your wife, and an entire family of Asians, you know it.

How? Because there is an unbelievable smorgasboard of Asian yumminess on the table. As you plow greedily through your ham-and-cheese sandwich (on challah bread-- take THAT, God!) and your wife puts oaty-crumblies into her yogurt, the family occupying every other seat at the table is enjoying Christ only knows what out of THREE RICE COOKERS that are simmering on the table. Vanilla Creme sandwich crackers, chips and dip, nuts, a gigantic bowl filled with hundreds of grapes, hot drinks, cold drinks, weird Asian drinks. One of the pert Asian mothers was flitting around with a Bodum filled with boiling water for tea. Dumplings and sauces and dips. And... smells. After a little while, my nosehairs singed with the uncommon odor of what could only be described as the bottom of a neglected pet-store aquarium mixed with soy sauce. I turned to glance and the girl sitting next to my wife was most certainly consuming a bowl filled to the top with piping hot brown rice and and piping hot black eel.

At... the ski lodge.

Seated at the table behind us were two Orthodox Jewish girls with their marginally-awkward-looking significant others. The girls were wearing snowpants and, to comply with a fashion-conscious Exalted One, skirts as the top-most layer.

Skiing in skirts. Hell-- why not? I ski in a necktie. Because, eight years ago, my wife told me I couldn't.

There were Indians and African Americans and other Middle Eastern looking people, and even Charles Manson showed up to give his trembling, twelve-year-old son a ski lesson!

As I waited about forty feet down the slope from its beginning so my wife could adjust her snowboard, I got a front-row seat to some stellar parenting techniques as this father literally shoved his son, who clearly would rather have been roasting on a spit rather than be anywhere near this ski slope, down the hill saying, "You are NOT going to ruin this for me, now get your ass down that hill!"

Now I ask you: is that how a traditional, square-jawed, Chapstick-loving, Chablis-swilling ski-bum would speak to his kith and kin?

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