Cruising down the interstate at about 6 mph over the speed limit, I was busy watching for officer in unmarked cars who arrest speeders in every town between where I live in the mountains and the city that gets further away,each time I have to drive there.
It is the middle of May.
It is the mud season.
As I pass by nearly perfect Mount Perfect, the empty chairs on the closed-for-the-season ski lifts swing gently in the morning breeze. The 9 feet of snow that still covers all of the runs would be perfect skiing for anyone who would drive up from the city and climb the mountain. There are, unfortunately, three generations of skiers who have been educated to begin skiing in early November on 9 inches of snow that has blown in between the 11-inch high rocks and stumps. During the mud season when the snow is still perfect up on the mountain, at the beach the ocean is still very cold. It is also foggy and windy. Skiers, however, all head for that beach so they can get a head start on their tan. What if everyone just showed up on the beach the first of June and started off alabaster white at the same time?
Just ahead of me is a pickup truck that belongs to a fellow I know. He has four kids, a wife who drinks too much and they are living in a heavily mortgaged, double-wide trailer. He has all of the basics of mountain living in his pickup. A black Lab with a red scarf around his neck, a rack in the rear window with all the stuff in it that any mountain man might need: A carpenter’s level, a trout rod and a deer rifle with a scope. There is a broom sticking up out of the back of the truck and he has a long ponytail and a winter beard. There will be no exodus from Mount Perfect for him again this year.
I make my usual stop at the discount gas station halfway to town. That is, if you consider $4.87-per-gallon, self-serve gasoline a discount.
Pumping discount gasoline into a car headed in the other direction is a trust fund woman in a brand new four-wheel-drive Suburban. This woman obviously has it all together, but she doesn’t know where she is going or what she will do when she gets there. On the roof of her car is a kayak, a mountain bike and a snowboard. Everything is brand new without a single scratch and the mountain bike is painted to match her shiny new car.
The only thing she has to worry about is where to have her trust fund checks forwarded. She will spend a month or so looking around for that perfect summer job while she enjoys the comfort of her uncle’s four–bedroom, five-and-a-half bath, ski in, ski out condominium at Mount Perfect. She might even get a part-time job as a hostess in one of the four restaurants that her uncle owns and leases out. She will, however, have to spend a lot of nights trolling in every one of them when she first gets there.
While I was inside paying for my discount, serve-myself gasoline, I ran into my old friend and ski-lift loader, Obie. He is from Ober Untergurgle, Austria. He’s about 45 years old, six feet three, handsome, has a crew cut, a great skier and penniless. He introduced me to Jenny. I had met her a week or so before at a cocktail party and learned that she was the ex-wife of a Beverly Hills cosmetic surgeon. She was very lucky that her ex-husband did that tummy tuck, the eyelid lift, the liposuction, And a couple of other cosmetic things on her before their divorce. After sundown she can still pass for being under 40.
The only thing Jenny really has going for herself is a very large monthly alimony payment from her ex-husband. She will never get married again, because if she did, the alimony checks would quit coming. The manager of her condo has instructions of where to forward the alimony checks as long as she and Obie are a traveling together item.
I think they will be an item for a month or so or as long as they never travel to Austria. While Obie is penniless, he is smart enough to keep her away from Ober Untergurgle so they won’t run into Gretchen who is Obie’s wife and the mother of his three teenage children.
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