Thursday, November 8, 2007

Bumper Skiing Part I

There's a chill in the air this morning and the weather forecast calls for a spot of snow tomorrow night. Winter brings with it the excitement of the holidays, sleigh rides, clean crisp snow covered meadows, blankets by a warm fire, shouts of joy from sledding children, snowmen and, of course, bumper skiing.

To the uninitiated, bumper skiing is the art of slamming the trunk of a car over a chord or rope or some fabric and pulling willing participants, using only boots or sneakers as skis, over snow covered roads at sometimes breakneck speeds. Sometimes the whimsical driver decides to try to ditch a victim by doing a few doughnuts.

Years and years ago my two younger brothers and I were all-too-excited about a recent snowfall of perhaps two inches or so. Conseuqently, we got the bright idea to slam a pair of pants in the trunk of an '81 Chevette and "ski" tandem style, one per leg, around my parents condominium complex.

In direct accordance with brotherly law section 45(a)-2b we were obligated to "one-up" each other time and again. What began as a leisurely jaunt around the square parking lot near my parent's home turned into a 40 mile per hour wind tunnel test frought with speed bump jumping. Well, most of the time. In defense, the weight of two skiers can actually cause a fishtailing car to literally spin out as well. So we had that going for us.

We were briefed pretty well of the pitfalls to expect, except one. Apparently, manhole covers cover warmish air and therefore snowflakes tend to melt upon hitting them. Unfortunately, a thin layer of water is not quite enough to ski on. Plus, being 2 feet behind a speeding car allows the skier practically no forward visibility. Wherein one could expect the speed bumps based on the movement of the car's bumper, mere wet spots in the road combined with their 3 dimensional graphics, provide a particularly daunting challenge.

My youngest brother and I were not up to that challenge and suddenly found ourselves pitching forward as our feet stopped dead yet our grip held the pants for just a fraction. Luckily, we landed in a fresh, albeit thin and hard, layer of snow where we continued in an out of control slide only to be slowed by an impending speed bump before coming to rest against the curbing some 40 plus feet down the road.

We survived with barely a scratch but the wake-up call was enough to end our little "game" so we adjourned to the warmth of the condo to relive all the exciting moments. And not a moment too soon. From the balcony we could see a town officer driving around slowly with his searchlight apparently looking for hoodlums doing dangerous things involving cars, pants and snow.

Fortunately, he never found them.

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