Welcome to Skiing

Welcome to Skiing

If you’ve never tried downhill skiing, what are you waiting for? There’s no better way to experience the great outdoors of winter, draw in crisp alpine air and be carried off in a stretcher with multiple fractures.

If you’ve never tried downhill skiing, what are you waiting for? There’s no better way to experience the great outdoors of winter, draw in crisp alpine air and be carried off in a stretcher with multiple fractures.

So, you’ve finally decided to take up the adrenaline-pumping sport of downhill skiing. Congratulations! I’m confident that, in no time, with a little advanced planning, you’ll be swishing between moguls, mastering hot dog aerials and being carried away on a stretcher by the ski patrol.

Folks are surprised when I mention I’m a former Olympic downhill champion – perhaps because they’ve seen me ski.  Okay, maybe I’m not a former medalist, but that’s only because I was snubbed by the US. Olympic Ski Team. As I wrote in that previous column, when I tried out, the head coach said I was better suited for lawn bowling. Hogwash. Whatever I may have lacked in speed, endurance, strength, flexibility, agility, sense of timing, self-discipline, work ethic, raw talent and peripheral vision, I more than made up for in tidiness. But I digress.

I may not be a world class downhiller anymore, but I am equipped to share some important tips to ensure that your maiden voyage into – and inevitable swift exit from – the world of alpine skiing is a little easier.

Let’s start with the minimum required equipment. You’ll need skis (ideally two of them), poles, boots, bindings, helmet, goggles, down-filled parka, waterproof pants, two layers of under-garments, neck warmer, hand warmers, gloves, glove liners, insulated socks, backpack, lip balm, over-priced wireless ear buds, and a $250,000 whole life insurance policy – just in case things take a nasty turn. Lift tickets can be pricey, so I suggest saving money by purchasing a season’s pass – a wise investment, so long as you plan to ski at least 75 times this season, and you don’t mind telling your youngest child you can no longer pay for their college education.

Now that you’ve got your ski ensemble (making sure to avoid last year’s color scheme – pink is so 2019), you’ll want to show it off. No worries – you’ll have a good 45 minutes to sashay from your car parked in Overflow Lot N to the ticket booth. Add another hour in line to purchase your lift ticket.

By now you’re sweating like a pig – but a fashionable pig – and you have to “go.” Allow another 90 minutes to find the restroom, disrobe, freshen up, re-robe, and figure out which pair of skis piled up outside the restroom are yours. Add another 30 minutes to head back to Lot N because you left your gloves in the car. Did I forget to mention – if you hope for more than 2 exhilarating runs, arrive the night before.

You’re all set to hit the mountain. Just one teensy weensy problem. So is everybody else. I suggest you return to the lodge and find a cozy spot near the fire pit. Try again around 2pm – next May.

You’re all set to hit the mountain. Just one teensy weensy problem. So is everybody else. I suggest you return to the lodge and find a cozy spot near the fire pit. Try again around 2pm – next May.

In the blink of an eye (in geologic terms), you’ll be queuing up at the chairlift – along with 900 of your newest friends whom you met in the restroom. Don’t be alarmed. In less time than it takes to watch Gone With the Wind – the extended version – you’ll be soaring in style on your maiden voyage up the mountain, enjoying the view of majestic snow-covered peaks – until you enter a fog bank and can’t see the chair in front of you.

A couple words about dismounting at the top: Good luck.

A lot of people are intimidated the first time they disembark. Fear not. Just inch forward, ensure your skis are pointed straight, with tips up, lean outward and glide off the chair. Uh oh. I see you ignored my counsel about “tips up.” Kudos! You just performed a perfect five-point yard sale / face plant. Take your time retrieving your skis and poles. The 752 people on the chairlift behind you are all more than happy to swing in the wind while you look for your missing ear buds.

Once you’re finally at the top of the mountain – which according to my watch should be around 2:45 pm – might I suggest stopping for a quick bite at the alpine restaurant? You’ll need energy to hoist yourself up after tripping over your skis while snowplowing down the slopes. And you look hangry. Find a convenient place to stow your skis, then wait 30 minutes to order your food, and notice that there are no available seats. Enjoy your $35 hot dog and soda which you scarf down standing outside the locker-room. As you exit the summit chalet, it’s the moment you’ve been waiting for: your very first run down the mountain.

Here’s a handy tip: Most mountains have color coded runs:

Green: Easiest way down the mountain. For novices. Typical names include Easy Street, Bunny Hop, Daisy Meadow, and Momma’s Boy.

Blue: Intermediate terrain for people of moderate ability. Look for names like Cruiser, Paradise, or Broadway.

One of the great joys of skiing is outdoor dining at the summit restaurant, with stunning panoramas. Oh, make no mistake, you’ll NEVER get this table. You’ll be lucky to find a stool in the kitchen. These restaurants are always packed.

One of the great joys of skiing is outdoor dining at the summit restaurant, with stunning panoramas. Oh, make no mistake, you’ll NEVER get this table. You’ll be lucky to find a stool in the kitchen. These restaurants are always packed.

Black Diamond: Advanced, high degree of difficulty. For Experts Only – and novice skiers who missed the turn-off for the Green run or idiots hoping to become a Darwin Award winner. You can tell an expert run by its ominous moniker like Widow Maker, Devil’s Crotch, Last Rites, Mine Shaft, Our Father, Organ Grinder, or my own personal favorite, Adios, Mother F***** (an actual trail at Snowmass).

Given the fact that you’re wearing your goggles upside down, how about we stick to the Green runs for a while.

Assuming you make it down the mountain in one piece – which based on your chairlift dismount is at best a 50-50 proposition – you might want to think about taking lessons. Or better yet, sell all your equipment on eBay and use the proceeds to buy a Play Station 4. They have this awesome downhill racing game called Steep, with incredible 3-D graphics. You’ll never freeze your fingers or toes, and the worst injury you might sustain is a sprained thumb. Plus, there’s no wait at the restrooms.

Ski safely, my friend.

That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.

PS: If you enjoyed this week’s post, let me know by posting a comment, giving it a Like or sharing this post on Facebook.

Check out my latest humor book: YOU’RE GROUNDED FOR LIFE: Misguided Parenting Strategies That Sounded Good at the Time

© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2020

WARNING: IMPROPER USE OF THIS PRODUCT COULD INDICATE YOU’RE AN IDIOT

WARNING: IMPROPER USE OF THIS PRODUCT COULD INDICATE YOU’RE AN IDIOT

American idiots - hangerAmerica is the greatest melting pot on earth, welcoming people of all backgrounds and beliefs. It does not matter if you’re black or white, Christian or Jew, tall or short, young or old, wealthy or poor. And all of these groups have something in common: None of them has any shortage of idiots.

Based on my extensive research on the explosive growth of knuckleheads in our country, I’ve concluded that our great nation leads the world in idiots per capita. If you don’t believe we live in a nation of nitwits, how else can you explain some of the warning labels our manufacturers feel compelled to put on their products?

For example, there is actually a warning label on an iPod shuffle that reads, and I quote: “Do not eat iPod Shuffle.” (Honest to God.)  I, for one, am so glad they added that warning because, I was just about to spread jam on mine and eat it with scrambled eggs and toast for breakfast.

In fairness, companies are only adding these product warning labels because they don’t want to get sued for millions in bogus liability lawsuits, as might happen if, say, a large gathering of people came together for an iPod Shuffle pot luck dinner party and failed to heed this important safety warning. God knows how many panicked trips to the emergency room this warning has helped to avoid over the last decade. I’m guessing zero (but I am just rounding).

The more research I’ve done on warning labels, the more I’ve become convinced that half the people in this country probably should not be allowed to use electrical appliances of any kind – or vote – or date my daughters. Here is a tiny sampling of actual warning labels for the American consumer (I swear I am not making any of this up):

On an iron: Caution: Do not iron while wearing article of clothing. I will remind my wife the next time she irons my dress shirt that she needs to do it in the nude – because I worry about her safety.  (Why is my wife doing my ironing?  That’s a blog for another day). Continue reading “WARNING: IMPROPER USE OF THIS PRODUCT COULD INDICATE YOU’RE AN IDIOT” »

The Time I Saved Ten Lives

The Time I Saved Ten Lives

[The following is a true story.]

Above: Ten very fortunate Survivors. Behind them lay icy cold waters that, had they not been lucky, could have caused their painful deaths.

Above: Ten very fortunate Survivors. Behind them lay icy cold waters that, had they not been lucky, could have caused their painful deaths.

Many years ago, I saved ten innocent lives from almost certain death – well maybe it was eight innocent lives, one borderline and one utterly without any redeeming qualities. But I digress.

I really don’t like to talk about it. Even my kids have no idea about my Herculean actions. I certainly don’t consider myself a hero – any more than Gandhi or Malala – or that guy who leapt onto a NYC subway track and rescued a man from an oncoming train. Like him, I was just in the right place at the right time. I did what I had to do. If you were as incredibly selfless as me, you might have done the same thing.

It’s hard for me to discuss the events of that traumatic day some 18 years ago. I can still see their seemingly lifeless bodies floating in the icy cold waters, unable to escape to safety. Death was knocking – no, POUNDING – at their door. To be honest, in some ways I blame myself for this near tragedy. They never would have gotten into their perilous predicament had it not been for my own carelessness. Even worse, there was no way to blame my wife for this disaster, as she was out of town at the time.

Let me take you back to the beginning. It all started when our then seven-year-old daughter Emily brought home a plastic bag filled with ten teensy guppies. Her teacher had entrusted her the school of fish on the condition that she take good care of them. Being a first grader, my daughter had not yet acquired the requisite level of maturity necessary to handle this immense responsibility. In the weeks that followed, she would grossly overfeed them and then neglect to feed them for days on end. She never bothered to clean their tank, so their habitat soon became discolored and grimy from, well, poop. Not a pleasant sight.

Not ready to broach the topic of where guppies go after they die (let alone Is there a Santa Claus) with my young impressionable daughter, I came to the rescue, as all competent helicopter parents do. I took over the care of these tiny, fragile, inch-long sea creatures.

After implementing a strict feeding regimen, I donned a Hazmat suit and faced the onerous task of scouring their tank. Using a net, I scooped these little critters one by one out of the murky waters and deposited them into a salad bowl we would plan to use later that evening for dinner, now filled with clean H2O. I scrubbed their glass dwelling thoroughly and refilled it with cold tap water.

I then dumped them all back into their sparkling clean home. They swam with fresh abandon. But did any of them give me so much as a nod of appreciation? Nope. Not so much as a flick of a fin. In case you’re contemplating adding guppies to your family, you should know they are incredibly self-absorbed and will never offer even the slightest acknowledgement of gratitude for anything you do for them. Not unlike your kids.

I started to clean up the bathroom. Then out of the corner of my eye, I noticed some of the guppies were no longer darting back and forth the way they usually did in relentless search of an escape from their glass prison. Before long, very few of them were moving at all. And some were starting to flip over on their backs. Something fishy was happening. In minutes, all ten of them were totally motionless. Uh oh. Somehow – I really did not know how – I had killed them. All of them. I was a terrible guppy dad.

What was I going to tell Emily? I tried to conjure up some elaborate fish story about the “ten that got away.” I had not fully formulated my lie, but I concluded our cat Boodles would figure into it. Since he lacked the ability to formulate words and gestures in his defense, he was the obvious patsy.

The first step was to hide the evidence by extracting the corpses from their watery graves and feeding them to Boodles (thus appeasing and framing our cat in one move). I put my hand into the tank… Whoa! The water was incredibly cold! Had I frozen the poor devils to death? What kind of monster was I?

As I stood over the tank, pondering how easy it would be to hide my crime, my mind leapt to cryonics – body freezing for future revival. “I wonder…” Maybe all was not lost. If they could be frozen, perhaps they could be unfrozen. I quickly poured out half of the cold water and replaced it with hot, making the overall mixture approximately room temperature. I held my breath….  Two agonizing minutes later, I spied a flicker. Then another. One by one, the once dead guppies were wiggling back to life. THEY’RE ALIVE! IT’S A MIRACLE! THEY’RE ALIVE!  The murderer had become the savior. Before long, all ten were happily zigging and zagging all around the tank – and of course, without a word of thanks to me for saving their lives.

I sometimes reflect back on that day and cringe about the near calamity I had caused. I had practically killed  these ten innocent young lives. Blood was almost on my hands. But in the end, I was able to save them all from an icy cold death. So, in a way, I actually was a hero. Now before you start posting congratulatory comments about how great I am for saving all those lives, just know that my heroism doesn’t make me a better person than you. (Okay, well, maybe just a little. Barely worth pointing out, if you ask me.)

[Footnote: In case you were curious about the photo at the top of this piece, it’s of some of the cast from Season 3 of the TV show, Survivor. I just always liked that show.]

That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.

PS: If you enjoyed this week’s post, let me know by posting a comment, giving it a Like or sharing this post on Facebook.

Check out my latest humor book: YOU’RE GROUNDED FOR LIFE: Misguided Parenting Strategies That Sounded Good at the Time

© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2020

Mission Impossible: My brave escape from an Escape Room

Mission Impossible: My brave escape from an Escape Room

Escape Room - locked doorLast weekend I did something new and different. I tried a new adventure called an Escape Room. For the uninitiated, escape rooms are the latest fad activity in which they lock 8 to 14 people in a room. The group is given clues and puzzles to solve in order to make their escape. I’m a puzzle person.  Sounded like a fun outing.

I invited thirteen of my closest, soon-to-be-ex-friends to join me. The theme of our escape room was Jules Verne’s classic novel, 20,000 Leagues under the Sea. Our mission: Find the key to escape before our submarine, the Nautilus, ran out of air.

Being a natural-born leader, I assumed the part of legendary Captain Nemo and immediately took charge of this mission. I’m not sure precisely when the mutiny began. It might have been when I ordered my crew to report every five minutes with any new clues they had unearthed. Or maybe it was when I ordered them to swab the decks. Group morale is such a touchy thing.

Turns out escaping from an escape room is an extremely difficult challenge. We had to solve a myriad of puzzles to unlock boxes, only to find inside even more enigmatic puzzles. As the Captain, I quickly came to two important realizations: 1) getting out of this escape room was going to require enormous brain power and concentration, and 2) I did not bring nearly enough money to bribe the staff to tell me what the clues meant.

Continue reading “Mission Impossible: My brave escape from an Escape Room” »

Your Majesty, Are You Looking for a Replacement for Prince Harry?

Your Majesty, Are You Looking for a Replacement for Prince Harry?

Dear Mrs. Queen, Your Royal Highness, Exultant Majesty, and Fellow Corgi Lover,

I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but things are looking quite promising that I shall take Harry’s place as a member of the Royal Family. Be honest: Does the crown make me look fat?

I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but things are looking quite promising that I shall take Harry’s place as a member of the Royal Family. Be honest: Does the crown make me look fat?

Hi. I’m Tim Jones, your biggest fan. You probably know me from my world-famous humor blog, View from the Bleachers. Not ringing a bell? No worries. My wife’s never heard of it either.

Hey, I read on Twitter that Prince Harry and his American wife, Meghan Markle, have decided to bail on the whole Royal Family thing. That royally sucks! Is it okay to say “suck,” Your Holiness? (No, wait, that’s the Pope. My bad, Your Majestiness.) Apparently, Harry will forgo the titles of His Royal Highness, The Duke of Sussex, Earl of Dumbarton and Baron Kilkeel. That’s a lot of titles to forgo.

I understand Harry was sixth in line to the throne, after Prince Charles and a few other princes, dukes and a possible viscount. I imagine you’re in quite a tizzy about what to do in the event – God forbid – Prince Charles and the lot of them are wiped out in a horrible cricket mishap, now that Harry has gone AWOL.

I understand your anxiety over this regal scandal. I suffer my own disgrace every time I admit to being a common humor writer. But not to worry. I’ve come up with a win-win solution to both our problems. Just spit balling here, girlfriend, but how about you appoint me to replace Harry. Prince Tim. It has a nice ring to it, don’t you think? I hear ye – Not another American in the Royal Family! But I would be far less annoying than Meghan (let’s face it – she IS a bit of a “princess,” if you know what I mean). And my clothing allowance alone would save the British people millions.

Personally, I believe I’m extremely well qualified to step into Harry’s riding boots. With a little stuffing, they would fit me grandly. And I have often thought of myself as being 6’1”, just like Harry is.

I should mention that my last name is Jones – of common Welsh origin. From what I hear, the English have always gotten along famously with the Welsh – almost as cordially as they’ve  co-existed with the Scots, not to mention the Irish. One big happy family. Also, my wife is Canadian, so I’m pretty sure she qualifies for partial credit as a British subject. She told me that as a child growing up in Toronto, she was required to sing the British national anthem, God Save the Queen in school. She still remembers most of the first verse.

Full disclosure, I do share part ownership of an ancient castle in Scotland, being of the Clan Hannah (on my father’s side). I promise, I will not fortify the ramparts, nor will I use this strategic locale to rally the Scottish opposition. I remain a loyal subject in service to my Queen. However, if you don’t see fit to bestowing upon yours truly the title of HRH (that’s short for His Royal Highness, in case you weren’t familiar with that term, Liz – or do you prefer Beth?), I can’t be responsible for any plans on the part of my fellow clansmen to storm Buckingham Palace with catapults and battering rams.

I don’t want to make a big fuss about my castle. All I need is a modest 20,000 sq. ft. hangout with a drawbridge and turrets. This one isn’t bad, but the movie room is cramped and the Wi-Fi is rather unreliable.

I don’t want to make a big fuss about my castle. All I need is a modest 20,000 sq. ft. hangout with a drawbridge and turrets. This one isn’t bad, but the movie room is cramped and the Wi-Fi is rather unreliable.

I know you Brits love your pomp and circumstance. So, do I. In fact, I attended an all-boys’ private military prep school. I still have my uniform with lots of medals I earned (or borrowed), a sash and even a sword – consider all the pounds and pence you’ll save on my costume for parades. (I could use the name of a good tailor, as it might need to be taken out a tad.)

The more I ponder it, the more it’s crystal clear I’m your perfect replacement for Harry. At age 65, I’m almost the same level of maturity. I know how to drink tea, and I’m pretty sure I know the difference between a scone and a crumpet. I’ve visited London once and I am almost fluent in your foreign language. And, not to brag, but I can do a pretty spot-on drunk Harry Potter impersonation.

I am a little fuzzy on what my duties will be. Can you flesh this out for me? From what I read in People Magazine, it sounds like Harry’s role required him to represent the Royal Family at ceremonial occasions, like hospital grand openings, ribbon cuttings, charity fundraisers, chasing foxes on horseback and dressing inappropriately at late night costume parties. I can do all of these. I also read that Harry has often been a bit of an embarrassment to his family. Me, too!  Just ask my wife and kids.

Speaking of my wife, her name is Michele. What title would you recommend for her? I was thinking something like Princess of Cambridge, Duchess of Gandalf, Baroness of Hogwarts. But I’m totally open to your suggestions.

I also have a question as to my official residence. Is Downton Abby available? If not, I am humbly open to your recommendations. However, if you can swing it, I wouldn’t mind a castle with a moat and a drawbridge – to keep the Irish riffraff out. Nothing fancy. I’m a man of simple tastes.

By the way, can you explain what you call your country? Is it England or Great Britain or the United Kingdom or Camelot? Why can’t you all just pick one name and stick with it? It’s horribly confusing to your humble servants on this side of the pond. Also, I kinda’ need to know the name of my future kingdom, for when the time comes that I take your place.

Which reminds me: When I become Prince, will there be a coronation for me? That would be awesome. All I ask is that at the reception, you not sit me next to the Earl of Norfolk or his wife, Lady Astor. They can be such intolerable bores, always talking about their prize-winning primroses.

I’m still unclear how many of these soldiers will be assigned to my personal protection. I shan’t need more than 100, to be sure. I’ll definitely swap those stuffy tops for Seahawks jerseys.

I’m still unclear how many of these soldiers will be assigned to my personal protection. I shan’t need more than 100, to be sure. I’ll definitely swap those stuffy tops for Seahawks jerseys.

I look forward to hearing from you regarding next steps. Please call my cell. I’m never at my landline. I know we will get along famously – and besides, you won’t have to put up with that annoying Princess Meghan anymore.

On a related topic, do you have any problem with my riding around in the royal carriage when my poker buddies from the states come to visit? I’ll make sure they don’t puke on the upholstery.

Let me know if you have any questions, Your Majesty. Did I mention I have a friend who owns a corgi? I love corgis.

God Save the Queen, and with any luck, God Save Prince Tim, as well. Toodaloo.

That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.

PS: If you enjoyed this week’s post, let me know by posting a comment, giving it a Like or sharing this post on Facebook.

Check out my latest humor book: YOU’RE GROUNDED FOR LIFE: Misguided Parenting Strategies That Sounded Good at the Time

© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2020