Oh for goodness’ sake, where is he?

I look up the mountain and Luciano is nowhere in sight. The other skiers come racing past me. Why can’t one of these guys stop and tell me if he saw a skier down above, but no, not one person on this over-rated jet-set mountain has the courtesy to stop and ask me what’s wrong. Let’s be honest here, this mountain faces the wrong way; the light is always flat, it is almost always icy and why would anyone enjoy skiing in the gully where you can almost feel the avalanche upon you. Not to mention that the psychic energy on this hill is enough to make anyone insecure.

You can just feel everyone skiing selfishly, with their perfect form, and what was that I felt zipping past me at 100 mph? Arrogance! I contemplate sticking my pole out to catch someone’s attention so that I can find out if there is someone who is imperfect enough to have fallen in the snow above. But killing a skier for that information is not a great idea.

Instead, I stand there like an idiot, waiting. I do notice that everyone has on a really nice ski suit; most look like this season’s ski wear: all the right colors, the not-on-sale yet colors of brown and orange, which I do love and even envy because I am in a five seasons’ past neon green and white suit. It’s an astronaut-meets-Culture Club look. And my ski boots don’t match my skis and my helmet is bright blue and my goggles are red. I am sure I look like a nightmare.

It dawns on me that if anything happens to me I am a goner. In my double-discounted Renys ski jacket, I’m invisible. Who am I kidding? It’s Aspen! I get to thinking Luciano could be dead up there and with what he’s wearing, which is worse than me, cause I shudder to admit this, but he’s in L.L. Bean, and I should have known better. Yeah, it’s a fashion show on this hill; fashion week Aspen. I’m dead.

Wait a minute.Thank goodness, there he is. I smile, but his body language is tight and I can tell he’s not happy. I panic. Perhaps he knows about the Bean clothes I’ve given him? As he skids to a stop, really ungracefully, he says to me, “Never stop on the mountain like you did before!” I really haven’t a clue what he’s talking about, but I don’t argue and say OK, whatever. Because now I am thinking that there is really something wrong about where we are. This hill is not a moderate blue run, and I can’t find the names of these runs on my map. Names of runs. How do runs get named? Like Gentleman’s Gesture, Hokey Pokey, Squirrel’s Squiggle. How about Human Folly? What am I doing on two sticks with a helmet at 13,000 feet? Did I say that I love skiing?

Luciano has been on skis for exactly four days, and I am responsible for his safety, and promised that I would not bring him down the lower half of this mountain and here we are, lost. So I unfold the map to reveal even more of the ski runs and there it is — we are smack in the middle of the all black diamond runs like Testosterone Turbine, Nuclear Knuckle; it is wildly irresponsible to bring a new skier near a run aptly named You’re Dead If You Take This Run after four days of skiing.

So I look up at Luciano and say, “We’re not where we were supposed to be and I can’t figure out how this happened,” my big eyes blinking innocently. My life, I figure, is at stake. He bends down to put some snow in his mouth because he’s thirsty and dehydrated from the altitude, and I can’t hold myself back; I try but I can’t. I say, “I would not be eating snow now, because if we have to ski down the rest of this mountain you’re going to be eating a lot of snow.”

Suddenly, I break out laughing and he turns around. I think oh, he’s going to kill me, but he faces me and smiles and says, “OK, let’s do it.” I agree and turn to begin our adventure, and there, like some crazy magic mirage, is an obscure old two-seat ski lift to take us back to the top of the mountain again. I almost cry with relief. We ski to it, jump on, high five each other in our fluffy black mittens, and exhale. It is a perfect day. Then I lose my helmet on the gondola. Ah, well, turnabout is fair play — or so they say.

When Christina Sidoti is not in the kitchen at Paolina’s Way, she is exploring her writing talents with her mentor and teacher Kathrin Seitz.