Celling on on the mountain
“Cell phone in the lift line!” I remember someone trumpeting dolorously four years ago.I’d then spotted the talker, whom we scorned as a tool, or at least an obnoxious “player,” for bringing a phone skiing.I’d searched for a possible reasonable explanation. “Well, maybe his mother’s in the hospital,” I tried.”Then he should be with her!”Somewhere, things changed. It all began with a good reason. Some friends’ daughter, during ski school, fell off while loading onto a lift. Her parents were skiing the same mountain, but not reachable. The girl said her back hurt, and patrol was obliged to take her to the emergency room, and the parents returned to a large bill. (The child was, fortunately, fine).I resisted cell phones for a long time, and then bought one but only turned it on to call out. Now it is often on … especially when I ski.In the gondola on Ajax recently, four of us seated within, my husband, Mike’s, cell phone rang. His brother was calling.The woman beside him phoned out. “Where are you?” she said in a loud, clear voice. “Oh. Dude, just do another lap. I have to pee anyway.”Mine dinged. Since we were trying to meet a friend, I picked up … and got my sister. My voice was quiet, robotic.”Can’t you talk?” she asked accusingly.I mumbled, hunched, “I don’t feel like having a conversation in front of people I don’t know.”But she had an issue.I said, “Yes … No … I’ll check … Yes … I’ll call you tonight … I’ll check … OK, stop talking now, man. Yes … I’ll check.” Finally: “Stop talking!”I hung up. The whole gondola burst out laughing – and, instantly, bells pealed from the pocketed phone of the Australian guy next to me.My older son, 12, claims he alone in his ski program lacks a cell phone. One day, two girls called each other from separate chairs on the lift.Today I skied at Aspen Highlands in a group of six, and gradually realized that every person carried a phone.At one point I headed into the lift line with two people, then realized the others hadn’t seen us. I skated back, beckoning, and returned to find Peter and Dave gone. The rest of us arrived up top at the moment a patroller flipped the sign for Highlands Bowl to “open.” Though eager, we made one effort to inform the other two.Michelle called Peter, leaving a message. She tried Dave, using a stored number, and reached the wrong Dave, on the wrong mountain. She hadn’t talked to Dave2 in months, and he chatted, Michelle too good-natured to be terse, us grimacing at her.”I miss you, too,” Michelle said frantically, hanging up. Then her phone rang, but that was a whole different friend.Late in the day I hiked the Bowl again, alone, answering one call on the way. My friend Lori asked, “Where are you?””Hiking the Bowl. Where are you?””Hiking the Bowl … Right after the false summit,” she said.”Oh, I’m way behind. I just started up.””Oh, then you can’t get my kids from ski school!” She was running late.I reached the summit, where prayer flags flapped, fairly empty now. Toes hurting, I sat in its single chairlift seat a moment, gazing at the single best view available of the Elk Range.I phoned home. Oh, I had a good reason. Mike had driven our younger son home with a stomachache, and I’d been checking.Three buddies arrived, one razzing another for phone use: “He called his brother from outside the restaurant to say, ‘What’s taking so long?'”My phone rang, from the friend now giving me a lift home.I looked around. Four of us were on top, three on phones. I’m sure we all had reasons. Sure we did.Alison Osius lives in Carbondale and can be reached at email@example.com.
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