by art holscher
There is an eerie stillness before the onslaught. Supplies are stockpiled.
Cracked hands are bandaged. Glassy-eyed youths ignorantly dawdle. Veterans
work quickly, hoping for the best, preparing for the worst.
All of the training, haphazard as it may have been, prepares us for the
first fifteen minutes. When the engagement begins, the formidable size of
the antagonist is obvious. Despite any degree of readiness, only brute determination
will hold back the tidal wave.
"Two cosmopolitans, Macalan rocks, an apple martini, and four Pelligrinos."
"$36.50," reports back through the smoke. Bottle caps fly, and the shaker's
rattle is a moment away.
Human forms jostle behind the smoke that eddies around the face in front
of me. Bang, bang, ching, a nod of the head, and the volley of orders begins.
Counterattacking with cocktails, there is no lull.
Hundreds of glasses begin to pile up everywhere. Ash treys overflow while
waitresses fly gracefully, their beauty escalating the barrage. Support teams
bring more glasses and ice; sweat beads and the rhythm begins.
Machine gunning volume like New Year's 1999, time races against the continuous
demand. The collective becomes louder and more numb. Metered shots turn back
their advances, one ounce or two at a time.
The temperature steadily rises and the air is wet. A skirmish breaks out
and a few bodies are removed. Thank God for reinforcements. The crowded room
breathes as one entity and like a jellyfish engulfs the bar.
The band barrels out last call as wobbling knees carry swaying torsos back
for one more. Repelled with more than they can handle, figures stagger toward
one last proposition. Unconsciousness looms while desperation fades into submission.
Like the moment of a lightening strike, brightness jolts the room. People
scatter like roaches. The frenzy is over.
The night lies still over the mostly empty street. I drink the cold, clean
air like a man lost for months at sea.
Why Skiing Isn't Like Sex
from the "nuts" archive
Obviously, skiing is best when you're vertical... and alone. You smoke beforehand;
then you put your clothes on.
Next you head outside. At this point, if you play with your equipment, it
honestly won't help your performance.
Your bindings are to keep everything together, but they're by no means for
Now things get tricky. Of course, there is a certain amount of phallic symbolism
to a ski, but remember also that skis are meant to bend. (And, you put wax
on a ski to slide, but only in one direction.)
Once on the chairlift, you climb higher and higher, but the best part is
The snow is a thing of soft and sensual pleasure, but it's also very, very
In skiing, the faster the better.
You try to go all day and sleep all night.
If you happen to catch air, you don't need to say excuse me. But most importantly,
all out of bounds chutes will be marked.
And why skiing is...
You begin carefully and slowly, as if to warm up and heed caution from injuries.
As you ever so gradually pick up speed, cognition fades away.
You drop out, turn on and tune in. You can see what's going on and feel the
terrain, but thinking turns to Zen. Endless repetition of direction change
is a slow-motion exhilaration that is in no way monotonous.
Hot and cold; pleasure and pain; vigor and exhaustion all become one as the
blood is rushing and cheeks are flushing. The physical tension of wreathing
and breathing stir into the mix and add to the wish that the run would never
Whew! I can't wait to get back up there.
But honestly, outerwear is key, and knowing how to handle ice is the total
difference between a novice and an expert.