Posted on February 23, 2018
In preparation of setting the World Speed Skiing record in Portillo Chile in 1963, seventeen year old Dick Dorworth leaps over his 54 Chevy at Sky Tavern on the Mt. Rose Highway outside Reno (Mt. Rose in the background) in May 1956.
There are events in every person’s life that remain in the mind (and, therefore, the heart and spirit) like sign posts on the (so far) endless road to which one can return when necessary for guidance ahead or to see how far one has traveled. Some, like the birth of a child, are filled with mystery, wonder and the joy of life; others are reminders of the inscrutable danger, misery and vile creatures, people and circumstances that each of us inescapably experiences and really hopes to avoid in the future.
In the latter category, two events from my life often come to mind: I was in a starless hotel in a country of poverty when I contracted a serious case of food poisoning. For 24 hours I alternately and at times all at the same time (truly) vomited, shat, shivered and sweated and, after cleaning myself up, returned to bed feeling as sick and exhausted as I have ever felt. When an another expulsion event seemed to be arriving I went to the bathroom with the hole in the concrete floor toilet and took my best aim from whichever orifice was cocked and loaded, cleaned up and went back to bed. One time I was kneeling on the floor vomiting into the hole in the concrete floor and I passed out. I don’t know how long I was out (it couldn’t have been more than a few minutes) but when I woke I was looking into the opening (about 3 by 3 inches wide) from which flowed the water that drained into and cleaned out the shit and vomit in the hole in the floor toilet. My understandably wretched feelings and thoughts were overlaid by the monstrous and bizarre when a small albino toad appeared out of the hole which provided the small stream of water carrying shit and vomit to someplace I hope never to see. The albino toad and I contemplated each other for an indeterminate time before it (I lacked the knowledge to determine its gender) turned and vanished back into the hole in the wall. I assume the repugnance I felt towards the albino toad was mutual, and its presence symbolized my feelings, thoughts and physical state at that moment. How could it not?
The second event took place a few years later about as far removed from the first as, say, poverty and a shit hole albino toad are from the White House, at least so I used to think. At Christmas 1989 I was Director of the Aspen Mountain Ski School in Aspen, Colorado, a great job at what I considered to be the best ski school in America. Christmas in Aspen, as in most ski resorts, is busy. For obvious reasons, the Aspen Mountain Ski School has a higher percentage of the famous, wealthy, privileged and powerful among its clientele than most American areas. The majority of these ‘high end’ customers were and are happy and grateful to be skiing, gracious, friendly, accommodating and relatively easy to interact with for ski school personnel who make their livings off tips and repeat clients. After all, going skiing, even at a Christmas maximum busy resort, is for most people not like a visit to the dentist or proctologist, but, as is the case with every demographic and every walk of life, there are those few whose personal mental/spiritual/psychic/physical suffering is so deep and unaddressed from within that their response is to project their inner root canal/rectal nightmares on the people and larger world before them. The ski school desk, like every restaurant, coffee shop, ski shop, bar, grocery store, taxi service, massage parlor and other business in town, was jamming. I don’t recall if I was called out of my office to the front desk or if I just went there to check and see how things were going, but I arrived to find the normal lines of people waiting to arrange ski lessons, including a man who stood out from the crowd for several reasons and who I will, unfortunately, never forget.
This large man was topped with an impressive pile of blondish hair that looked like a wig requiring a great deal of time and effort to put and maintain in place. He was haranguing the desk staff in a loud voice that left no decibels for others about a ski lesson he wanted and had the money to pay for and was tired of waiting in endless lines to get. The most polite words I can use to describe my first impression of Donald Trump are ‘he was really offensive.’ I had no idea who he was and, as it turned out over the years, the more I learned the less I cared for him, a dangerous, insidious dynamic. Dealing with a few difficult, distasteful people is part of any job in the service industry, and the ski school desk staff quickly connected Trump with a suitable instructor and got them out of the office and off to the hill, much to the relief of staff and the other customers waiting patiently to arrange ski lessons and get on with their day.