Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Captain's Log, Day 135: Domestic Warfare

          Editor's note: We at the Committee for Excellence in Writing are auditing this post for accuracy and content. The events taking place here may or may not be strictly accurate. Honestly, we saw this taking place and we're still not sure if we're hallucinating.  

          I geared myself up. First, of course, was the protective lab coat, then the thick pants, then came the goggles and glasses. Taking a deep breath, I walked into the combat zone and gingerly picked up the first item.
          I was just about to use it when my phone buzzed. I was pretty wound up--I yelped and jumped. The egg exploded all over the kitchen.
          "Aww, come on!" I yelled in frustration. "I haven't even been in here five freaking seconds!"
          I took off my now egg-stained glasses and chucked them into the sink, peeling off my gloves. Sure enough, it was Shorty, with her amazing sense of timing. I told her (not without a slight pang of regret) that no, I could not play Halo 4 right now because reasons (battling foodstuffs in the kitchen did not seem to be an adequate--or even sane--response, and I didn't feel like lying) and put my phone on silent. I snapped the stovetop on, turned to grab a pot out from under the counter, and caused a pot avalanche.
          "I gotta stop playing Jenga with my cookware," I muttered, digging myself out from the pile and selecting a nice saucepan...and performing a few swordfighting moves with it while yelling, "I have GOT to get me one of these!!"
          Editor's note: Radar will take any opportunity to quote any movie. Including, it would seem, Tangled

          I started hunting around for my gloves again. I couldn't find them anywhere. I was checking under the couch cushions in the living room (you know, in case I'd thrown them and they'd bounced off of two walls and ricocheted off the floor to bury themselves in the depths of my command chair) when my smoke alarm helpfully informed me that I'd left them on the stove, and they were rapidly being converted back into their separate component atoms.
          After swapping out the saucepan for what was left of the gloves, I threw the butter on the stove, yanked the smoke alarm out of the roof, and retired to my bedroom for a change of undergarments, sprinting back out to the kitchen posthaste when I realized it would probably be better to put the butter in the pan.

          Editor's note: In case it's not immediately obvious, he spent way too much time today in lab. His brain is obviously fried.

          I turned back to the counter and had a small debate with the second egg about where, exactly, I wanted it to go; obviously, holding it DIRECTLY OVER THE BOWL wasn't quite enough direction, as it tried to hurl its contents after its fallen brother. I managed to catch the majority of it, though, and decided to unwrap the butter, figuring that paper in the pan would probably not sauté well. And might, y'know, set something on fire. Again. 

          Editor's note: We lied. It's Sunday and he's spent his day building random Lego machines and wearing a cape. It's entirely possible he just lost it. 

          I decided music might help me focus. I settled on "Highway to Hell" as being the most appropriate for the fiasco I was now embarking on and decided to move the racks around in the oven before I turned it on.
          Apparently, the oven had already been on for a while. My retreat to the sink for first aid purposes was swift and dignified, and was certainly not littered with alternating cuss words and screaming.

          Editor's note: It totally was. Sounded like a little girl sailor. It was hilarious. And how does one forget that he turned on the oven?

          I pulled out the flour, carefully and precisely measuring out exactly one cup before accidentally inhaling some and sneezing violently, applying the cup of flour carefully and precisely to my entire apartment. I decided to roll with it. "THE ENEMY IS TRYING TO SMOKE US OUT! WE MUST HOLD OUR POSITION!!!" I yelled and belly-flopped to the ground, landing face-first on the pots I'd completely forgotten about.
          The ensuing crash sounded like two knights in full armor crashing their horses together. (The snorting noises were supplied by me trying to get the flour out of my nose.) I picked myself up, kicked half of the pots across the kitchen, and held my breath while measuring out the next two cups of flour. I checked the recipe, discovered that I needed shortening, and tripped over the pots going to get it, managing a beautiful swan dive right into the trash can.

          Editor's note: This guy works in a lab. How he's survived so far is anyone's guess. 

          I brushed off a stray banana peel and confiscated the shortening from the cupboard, reflecting on how my diving talents were wasted in the hostile and inhospitable combat zone I now found myself in. I put one of the bigger pots on my head, hoping it would protect me from any more blunt-force trauma; then I decided to test it with a spoon. My head was fine, but the ringing in my ears reminded me that there were worse things in life than concussions, so my enviably fashionable headgear was discarded.
          I managed to finish the dough without any incidents worse than a water faucet sneezing (no idea how that happened, but I'm not ruling out poltergeists). I was rolling it out when I remembered that I'd forgot to add the butter, which had completed the solid-to-liquid conversion and was now partway through the liquid-to-gas conversion and spitting greasy death at all comers. I put my helmet back on, snatched up a pot lid shield, and grabbed my sword--which promptly drooped dejectedly, reminding me why no one used dough as an offensive weapon. I swapped it out for a spatula and charged.

          Editor's note: The description of the following battle was deemed inappropriate for all audiences and was censored due to excessive violence and gore. Honestly, how Radar turns a simple recipe into an R-rated story is beyond me.

          ...so anyway, I got the butter wrangled into the dough and rolled it out again. It was time. I reached for my rolling pin, only to realize that it wasn't in the right drawer. After turning the kitchen rightside-up (it was already upside-down--pay attention), I remembered that I'd never, in fact, bought a rolling pin; I'd only considered buying one, which was not the same thing, unfortunately. Fortunately, I had a nice tin can that would work. Sort of.
          I forced the dough to roll nicely into my pan, which took only about an hour and a half and didn't end up looking like the Mountains of Moria. Satisfied, I screamed, "FINE, DON'T LIE FLAT THEN!!" and hurled the can into the trash, where it ricocheted off of three walls, two chairs, a bow, my couch, my command chair, the counter edge and bonked me in the forehead. Fortunately, I was still wearing my enviably fashionable headgear.
          I took a moment to remind myself that there were worse things than concussions (the ungodly ringing in my ears from that stupid pot being but one example) and discarded the metal hat. I sliced up the apples and threw them over the mountainous terrain before plopping the rest of the dough over the top and throwing it in the oven as anti-climatically as possible.

          Editor's note: Anti-climatic??? The pan ricocheted off two walls, the ceiling, the bookshelf, a ceiling fan, a stray cat (where did THAT come from??), the kitchen table, a closet, a bicycle, two elves (we're not even surprised anymore), and Radar's forehead before making it into the oven. Oh, yeah, and he burned himself again.
          Cleanup didn't take too long--

          Editor's note: The government stepped in and declared the site hazardous on a Chernobyl scale. They're sending helicoptors in to seal everything in concrete as we speak.

          --and fortunately, I'd remembered to set a timer for the apple slices.

          Editor's note: NO HE DIDN'T. 

          Success was achieved! Despite all odds, I'd won the battle to cook apple slices!! Don't ask me how...I don't actually know.

          Editor's note: HOW...WHAT....that's NOT possible!!!! *makes vow to never audit Radar's posts again*

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Captain's Log, Day 134: Translations Across the Pond

          I'm not really sure who started this. I'd like to claim credit, but I'm pretty sure Nemesis and Quill were the ones who instigated this whole thing...mostly because Dad threatened to throw me in the last time he caught me drilling holes in the pond. (Translation: we used it for ice skating, and he kept tripping over my excavation sites.)
          Anyway, it was getting to be summer, and the pond had not yet melted. Actually, since the weather went from 20 to 70 degrees in about 24 hours, this wasn't terribly surprising. Spring? What's spring?
          I'm pretty sure Nemesis and Quill either realized that the skating season was over, or they just didn't hear Dad threaten to freeze my skinny kiester off. They went to town in the center of the pond, managing to open up a pretty big hole and breaking clean through the ice to the water below before they called me out to take a look. Despite my annoyance that they hadn't invited me, I trotted out to gaze into the fathomless (read: five foot) depths of the Arctic Sea (read: pond).
          "Hey, that's pretty cool," I nodded, tracing the edge of the ice/water boundary with my hand and promptly freezing my digits clean off (read: I was a wuss). "That's...what, a foot thick? Foot and a half?"
          "Yeah," Quill nodded eagerly. "Isn't it cool?"
          My mind was already spinning furiously (translation: trying to figure out an excuse to push Nemesis in). "Agreed," I confirmed, standing up and taking a few steps back casually. My siblings mirrored my moves; long years spent with me had taught them to always move the direction I was. It made it harder for me to flank them. We all froze, though, as a crack was heard.
          "Please tell me that was your stomach," I muttered; despite the danger, I was always happy to pull an Ice Age quote.
          "I think the ice pulled away from the side of the pond a bit," Nemesis pointed.
          "That was already like that," Quill pointed out. "The stones there helped it melt."
          "So we're standing...on a free piece of ice...with a hole in the middle," I thought out loud, scanning the surface of the pond. Now that I knew what I was looking for, it was the work of a few moments to spot it. "It cracked! Right across the hole!"
          "We're not going to fall in, right?" Quill asked nervously.
          "Please," I scoffed. "This is a foot and a half thick. I think we just weakened it enough to--MAKE AN ICE FLOE!!!"
          I started running closer to, and then backing away from, the hole. The stress eventually caused the pond to literally split in the middle. We had an ice floe!
          Quill had, by this point, retreated to the shore. No amount of entreating could get her back out the ice, so Nemesis and I tried running back and forth across one of the halves in an attempt to break it up. After an eternity (translation: five minutes), we gave up.
          "Let's get the ax and score the ice," I suggested, thinking back to how Dad made our sidewalk. "It should crack along the...uh, stress lines." I was quite proud of myself for remembering a phrase like "stress lines."
          Nemesis agreed almost instantly, figuring that I had hatched a plot to dominate an ice floe and wanting one of his own. We got the ax and a few hoes and went to town on the ice. About thirty minutes later, our patience was rewarded as the ice cracked. I immediately and predictably claimed the biggest floe, Nemesis the second biggest, and Quill took the last one. We pushed them around with the hoes for a while, but given that we couldn't actually shuffle them due to their size, it got boring after a while and we ran off to the woods.
          The nest day, we decided to revisit the ice. This time, when I stepped out on the ice, it cracked almost instantly, giving me two floes instead of one. I yelped.
          "What?" Nemesis demanded, before seeing what I'd done. "Hey, cool. Wonder if I can get mine into two?"
          "Try it, lardbutt," I suggested (translation: we'd just found out that he outweighed me by twenty pounds and I was still a little sore about it).
          Nemesis stuck out his tongue at me and skipped out on the ice, jumping on a few choice spots and breaking Quill's floe into three pieces and his into four. I threw a hoe at him. "Oh, come on!"
          He caught it deftly. "Want me to do yours?"
          "Shut it," I growled, managing to break my floe into five pieces a few minutes later.
          "I'm not trying that," Quill told me, stepping gingerly onto the ice. I gave her a hoe, too (maybe a bit less violently than I had given Nemesis his) and we started shoving ice around. After a few minutes of ice-boating around, we decided to quit laying claim to the ice chunks (translation: we kept forgetting who owned what, there was so many floes floating around).
          "Ice duel!" I yelled and jumped from floe to floe to challenged Nemesis with my quarterstaff (read: rake). We fought back and forth across the ice until Nemesis managed to jump on a floe and shove off, getting far enough away that I couldn't get to him. I was not terribly upset (translation: Quill sneaked up behind me and challenged me almost instantly).
          It took us longer than usual to get bored with dueling. Once done, we sailed around for a while, trying to come up with a new game.
          "I got it!" I finally yelled.
          "Got what?" Nemesis asked, poling his way over to me.
          "You! Tag! You're it!" I snickered, smacking him on the shoulder and punting his floe far enough away that he couldn't tag me back (and so fast that he almost fell in the water).
          "Hey guys, what's up?" Squirrel asked.
          "TAG!" Nemesis yelled as he got Quill.
          "Nope," Squirrel announced cheerfully as she picked up a garden implement and chose a little floe for herself on the far side of the pond.
          Quill shot after me; I switched floes and shoved my previous floe out of jumping distance as Quill landed on it. Quill hooked mine and started pulling me back. I jumped from mine to a new, wayyy too small floe and used it as a springboard to get to a bigger one.
          "I can't believe that worked," Quill informed me as the small piece of ice bobbed to the surface a few moments later.
          "I'm good," I informed her.
          That was pretty much our day right there. We raced back and forth across the pond, the only minor incident occuring when Nemesis missed a jump to the side of the pond and landing in the shallows. We almost fell over laughing as Nemesis hopped around, shrieking like a banshee (read: he got ice water in his boot). We finally gave it up and went inside, mostly because it was time for supper.
          The next day, we eagerly raced out to the pond. I won the race, which was a really good thing for the others, since I got to be the one to find out the floes were unstable (translation: the first three cracked underneath me, forcing me to keep jumping until I found a solid one).
          "Why did those break?" Quill asked.
          "I think it's because they're melting from the top down," I explained, starting to grin. "They're getting thinner. We're basically going to be playing Russian Roulette out here today!"
          Quill, Nemesis, and Squirrel shrugged and followed me out onto the ice and we started playing tag again. Everyone fell in at one point--Nemesis went first, splashing down in the shallows; Quill followed his example, and Squirrel technically fell in over by the bank, but she was so close to the edge that she barely got her boots wet.
          Unfortunately, I had the most epic plunge.
          I was getting chased by Nemesis and launched myself at a nice, big, promising floe, which immediately betrayed me (translation: it split right down the middle, where I landed, and dumped me in the drink). Because I'm so lucky (read: not lucky at all), I was right above (translation: in) the deepest part of the pond, which was about five and a half feet deep. At sixteen, I was six feet tall. You'll note two things: one, that is an incredibly embarrassing age to be jumping around on ice floes like a complete moron (translation: I am an unrepentant ice jumper and will keep on doing it!) and two, that only leaves six inches of me that was not submerged. Also, the nearest way to get out was the ice...and what is ice known for?
          Yeah, being really freaking slippery.
          Actually, to be perfectly honest here, I didn't mind, for the first two seconds. Apparently, my body took a few moments to process the reaction, which gave my mind time to think, Oh, hey, this wasn't as bad as I thouaaaaaaeeeeeeeeeeeEEEEEEEEIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII--
          Okay, that last thought may have escaped through my vocal cords (translation: it definitely escaped through my vocal cords). I started scrabbling around for ice floes, trying desperately to heave my freezing kiester back onto something that would not feel like it was quickly removing various body parts. (Yes, I realize the irony of using ice to prevent myself from freezing. Now, anyway. At the time, it was not so much ironic as it was necessary, so hush up.)
          It took me an embarrassingly long period of time to realize wading towards the bank would be faster than chasing ice floes around, but when that thought finally percolated through my ice-covered neural pathways, you better believe I acted on it. I found myself on the bank moments later, throat and siblings inexplicably sore (translation: I'd been screeching continuously the entire time and my siblings pulled stomach muscles, they were laughing so hard). Fortunately, it was 75 degrees out, so I plopped down on the ground to warm up and dry off a bit...before getting right back on the ice.
          However, we did eventually learn common sense.
          (Translation: we totally do this every spring.)

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Captain's Log, Day 133: Footloose, My Kiester!

          I thought it was going to be a night like any other. Get home from college, eat dinner, plop down with a good book in front of the fireplace and--
          "Everyone in the car!" Mom announced five minutes later.
          "Come on," I grumbled. Eyes never leaving the book (I was a vociferous reader at sixteen--still am, actually), I wandered into the mudroom, fumbled around for my shoes, wandered back to the stairs, put on my shoes, and walked right into the closet trying to get into the garage.
          ...dang, I thought I was better than that.
          The nearest town was about a ten-minute drive; Dad drove us the other direction to a slightly further (and substantially bigger) city. I was grateful for the extra ten minutes, though. This really was a good book. Mom kept attempting to ask me questions about how my day went, to which I mumbled answers which may or may not have even been remotely related to what she was asking.
          "How was school?" "Fine."
          "What did you eat for lunch?" "Good."
          "Did you talk to your lab partner?" "Sandwich."
          "Anything interesting happen in lab?" "Reading."
          "You read in lab?" "I'M READING NOW. BOOK FIRST, TALK LATER."
          Needless to say, my priorities were in order.
          We arrived at our destination, wherever that was--I refused to pull my head out of the book as I climbed out of the van. "Alright, let's go--Radar, put the book down," Mom ordered in exasperation as I fumbled around for the handle to close the door.
          Reluctantly, I complied, flipping the book facedown on the chair and scanning the parking lot. "Oh, hey, this is Quill's dance place, isn't it? Are we going to watch her practice?"
          "Guess so," Nemesis muttered, sounding like he'd rather get a root canal.
          "Nope!" Mom announced cheerfully, as if she was giving us great news. "You're going to learn to dance. I signed us all up for dance lessons!"
          "Awesome!" Quill and Squirrel raced for the doors. Dad gave Mom a look of patient suffering and followed the girls at a more sedate pace. Nemesis and I climbed back in the car.
          "Not a chance," I shot back as soon as I was safely buckled.
          "Radar," Mom started, a note of warning in her voice.
          Being the rather stubborn kid that I was, I refused to allow the warning to faze me. "You can't just sign me up for something without...without my knowledge or consent!" I was rather proud of the legalistic phrasing and took a moment to mentally pat myself on the back.
          "I'm your mother," Mom pointed out.
          I thought about saying something sarcastic, like no way!, but decided that wouldn't help my position. "I'm in college, Mom. I'm supposed to be getting ready to make my own decisions. I'm not doing anything that I wasn't told about first!" I protested. When she started glaring at me, I threw her a concession. "You can probably still do that to Nemesis though."
          He hit me.
          "Dancing is a valuable skill though," Mom pointed out. "It will help you meet girls--"
          "Like I care." I snorted. "Why would I want to meet girls? I already have one as a lab partner." I didn't feel the need to mention that it was halfway through the semester and I still hadn't talked to her.
          "You will one day," Mom informed me, mouth twitching a little.
          I scoffed, my 16 years of experience outweighing her decades on the planet. "Never going to happen."
          "Uh huh," Mom agreed, trying hard not to smile and not entirely succeeding. "Well, I'll tell you what--if you do these dance lessons, I'll never sign you up for anything else without telling you first."
          "Telling or getting my consent!" I demanded, still proud of my phrasing.
          "Fine," Mom acquiesced, probably thinking she'd be able to talk me into future endeavors. (News flash--she wasn't.)
          "And I only dance with my sisters," I pressed my advantage while I had it.
          "Well, I don't know--"
          I crossed my arms, not realizing what a horrible decision I had just made. Mom probably realized that she couldn't force me to dance if I didn't want to, so she capitulated. "Fine. Sisters only. BUT--" she raised a finger for emphasis, "you have to try to dance."
          "Great," I grumbled, unstrapping myself and climbing out of the car. Nemesis stayed put. Mom sighed. "You too, Nemesis."
          Nemesis gave me the my brother, my brother, why would you abandon me? look and followed me out of the car, all but volubly wishing for a lightning strike. Like prisoners on their way to the chair (but not as lucky--we knew our ordeal would stretch out over several weeks), we marched inside the gulag--er, dance studio. To our surprise, we found some of our friends--another family had joined ours, and the boys in their family had the same reaction we did. The two boys that Nemesis and I were most familiar with, Goose and Berg, were making gagging motions in the corner, but brightened up when Nemesis and I walked in, apparently anticipating shenanigans.
          Shenanigans there were, but not as many as anticipated--Quill and Squirrel were serious about learning how to swing-dance. I danced with Quill; it only took about thirty seconds for me to realize what a horrible decision my "sisters only" policy was. She stomped on my foot--hard--every time I made a mistake or looked like I was going to do something goofy.
          "You're too loose!" Wham. "You're too tense!" Wham. "You're still too tense!"
          I dodged. "Why do you think that is??" I demanded.
          "Oh, you're just a wuss," she dismissed me.
          I fell over my feet every other second, partially due to clumsiness and partly due to my refusal to learn anything. Finally, Mom came over. "Still having problems?"
          "He's pathetic," Quill complained.
          "I don't get the step!" I snapped back, tripping over my own feet again to underscore my point.
          "The nice thing about East Coast Swing is that it's all Taekwondo," Mom reassured me.
          I stared at her. "What?"
          "Minor-horseback riding stance to short front stance. That's all you're doing with your feet," Mom explained.
          Crap. I thought getting her to join me in Taekwondo would have been a good thing.
          "Just spin Quill around a lot. Every time she faces you, step back," Dad put in his two cents.
          "That's not how it works!" Mom protested.
          "Sure it is! See?" Dad snickered, demonstrating. Sure enough, every time Mom spun back to face him, he stepped back. "Easy!"
          Well, now I couldn't pretend to not know how to do it. I settled for spinning Quill around until she threatened to throw up on me. While she got her balance back, I looked around for Nemesis and Squirrel. They'd gotten further ahead than any of us, mastering a move called the "Tabletop" and were spinning around together in the corner so fast I got dizzy just watching them.
          "That's impressive," Dad applauded them. "Uh, guys, you can stop now...guys....guys?"
          Apparently they didn't know how to stop. The instructor showed them how to get out of it, then demonstrated a new spin move for all of us. It was one he really liked, because, as he put it, "You can put a flourish at the end of it! See?" He waved his arm gracefully in the air. Goose, Berg, Nemesis and I exchanged looks.
          "Not a chance," I muttered. Quill eyed me severely.
          "I can do this!" Goose whispered eagerly. He spun his partner into the move, but instead of the flourish, he made an "L" with his fingers and put it to his forehead. We all doubled over laughing, except for his partner, who had missed the whole thing.
          "Awesome!" I clapped, immediately dubbing the move the "Loser." It was a great hit with the boys--no amount of sisterly foot-stomping prevented us from using it at every conceivable opportunity.
          An opportunity quickly arose, for the instructor put on "Footloose" and told us all to practice. The music was way too fast for us beginners, who were doubly outraged by the instructor telling us to "do what the music says and just flow with it! Be footloose!"
          "Yeah right," I muttered under my breath, "accidentally" kicking Quill in the shins after she stomped on my foot again.
          The next few weeks went by rather painfully but, by the end, we'd learned enough East Coast through osmosis (we certainly weren't trying) to qualify as dancers. I promptly shelved the ability and didn't pull it out until...
          ...I was 18, had moved to college, and yeah, was trying to impress a girl.
          DANG IT, MOM.        

Monday, October 6, 2014

Captain's Log, Day 132: Learning Curve!

          I've always been a quick learner.
          Unfortunately, sometimes (read: almost always) made me overconfident. Hence, when my 16-year self decided to learn how to snowboard, he decided to SKIP all forms of training.
          Might not have been the best idea...
          "...are you nuts?" Dad asked as I checked the box for "Snowboard" as my family began getting their equipment.
          "Yeah, I want to try something new," I told him, trying to figure out what goofy-footed meant. I figured I was pretty goofy, so I checked that box too.
          "Whatever. It's your head," Dad muttered as he went to go collect his skis. An unfortunate prediction, as it turned out.
          We were all fairly good skiers, having been taught by a Polish foreign exchange student a few years back; I'd learned the quickest, but was slowly losing my bragging rights as the rest of the family caught up to my level of expertise. Hence the snowboard. Also, I was curious about it--my lab partner in college was an avid snowboarder, and I'd heard enough about it to want to try it. It couldn't be that hard, right?
          I had my gear and was out the door before the rest of my family had their act together. "Where are you going?" Mom called after me.
          "Meet you on the slopes!" I yelled back, making a beeline for the nearest ski lift before she could order me back.
          I definitely preferred being on my own for first attempts at...well, anything. My family was great, but they would tease me mercilessly if they saw me wipe out. By the time they came out, I was at the top of the hill and deciding which side to ski down. I settled on a blue hill--not as easy as the green beginner hills, but I figured the black hills would be a bit too hard for a beginning snowboarder. I pushed off.
          The first twenty feet were great. I even managed a gentle turn, before trying to cut back the other direction. I cut and...
          ...woke up a few minutes later, flat on my back with my head ringing. Really glad Mom didn't see that.
          I checked my watch, verifying that I'd only knocked myself out for a few minutes instead of, say, an hour. Apparently, the back edge of my board had caught the snow, slamming me on my back so fast I never even realized I needed to catch myself. Fortunately, the ice had kept the massive lump on the back of my skull down to manageable conditions, so I dizzily pushed myself to my feet and set off again, wiping out about every 30 feet.
          Finally, I made it to the bottom and wobbled my way over to the ski lift. The ride back to the top cleared my head somewhat, so the next hill (a green--I used my head for something other than blunt-force trauma for once) went easier...easier here meaning I fell every fifty feet instead of every thirty. Not being a quitter, I headed back up to the top, deciding that I'd definitely been concussed on the way up when I almost fell off the chair.
          Oh well, what can ya do.
          I started down the next hill, and was on my best stretch yet (100 feet!) when I heard yelling and hollering. From...above? I looked up and went board over head into the nearest snowbank. I rolled over and looked up.
          "RADAR! RADAR! RADAR!"
          Ahh, Dad and Squirrel on the ski lift. I should have guessed. "What?" I snapped back angrily.
          They both smiled angelically. "Don't wipe out," Dad suggested before they both dissolved into laughter.
          Unfortunately, the snow was too powdery for decent snowballs, but that didn't mean I didn't try. Trolls. I picked myself back up and gave it another try. And another. And another. For about an hour.
          Finally, I threw in the towel. My head hurt wayy too much for another shot at this. I figured (and subsequent days proved) that I'd figured out how to do it, but my dizziness and headache was preventing me from actually pulling it off. Plus, I was pretty sure I'd sprained my wrist about a half an hour ago. I returned to the ski lodge front desk.
          "Hey, can I swap this out for some skis?" I requested.
          "Sure thing! Can't figure this out?" the man asked, not unkindly.
          "Pshh, I'm doing fine," I lied unconvincingly. "I'd just like to...um...practice both today."
          The man pretended to believe me and accepted my gear back, giving me a set of skis. I got them on my feet with a minimum of attention and walked outside to switch the boots around--apparently, I'd put them on the wrong feet. Oh well.
          I got back in line at the ski lift and headed back up to the top. Given my impressive record on skis and my past ability to ski black hills easily, I went to the black hill right at the front--the one facing the ski lodges below. I kicked off confidently.
          ...and suddenly remembered: a) I was massively concussed, b) I was dizzy (and thus couldn't turn), and c) this hill was considerably more vertical than I remembered, although that might have just been the concussion talking. Unfortunately, I was going warp factor 5 by the time those thoughts finished crossing my mind.
          I was told later that Nemesis and Dad were headed up the ski lift immediately adjacent to the hill I was on. Nemesis caught sight of me--moving far faster than anyone else--and whipped his head around to follow me, so fast Dad thought he gave himself whiplash. Then he turned to Dad and asked, "Was that Radar?"
          "Nah," Dad replied. "I just saw a streak, but he's not that stupid."
          I taught them a valuable lesson in underestimating me. I was going so fast that snowplowing was about as effective for breaking as flapping my arms was to flying. In other words, I couldn't stop, I couldn't turn, and I couldn't fall down (again, going too fast). To my horror, I saw that I was headed...straight for the ski lodge. Lord, save your people! Specifically, this idiot!!
          I may have been screeching. Fortunately, I was not on target for the wide-open door to the ski rental area--who knows when I would have stopped. Unfortunately, I was directly in line for the imposing (and very solid-looking) front log cabin wall of the lodge.
          I had just registered that when my skis hit the six-foot-wide asphalt strip right in front of the lodge. They stopped abruptly. The rest of me, unfortunately, did not. And by did not, I mean my boots were ripped right out of the skis and I sailed, completely vertical, straight into the wall.
          I probably knocked the lodge backwards a few feet. I definitely rebounded so hard I was thrown back to my skis, landing spread-eagled between them, half on and half off the asphalt. I decided to just lay there a bit and let the snow cool the bump on the back of my head. Interestingly enough, my face didn't hurt as much as I thought it was going to. Maybe it will later--
          My musings were interrupted by an elderly gentleman walking up to me. He offered me his hand, tears streaming down his face. "Do you--hahahahahaha--need a hand up-*snort*hahahahaha--young man--hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha--I'm so sorry, but...oh, hahahahahaha I can't help it!!"
          I couldn't help snickering a little myself. "No problem, sir, that probably was pretty funny." I turned my head to look around. Most of the other kids nearby were literally rolling in the snow laughing. The adults weren't much better off--most of them looked halfway ready to join their kids on the ground. I laughed, promptly regretting it as it went straight to my head. "I think I'll just rest here for a moment, sir. What do you think, I should avoid that hill today?"
          That did it. He staggered off, laughing so hard he started coughing. I sighed, looking up at the sky. "Thank goodness my family didn't see that," I muttered. "Although...I'm never going to hear the end of this one."
          Finally, I sat up. Most of the laughter had died down by this point, and I waved off the few others who offered assistance. I picked up my skis...
          ...and got back in line for the ski lift. I was nothing if not resilient. Besides, if I remembered correctly, there was a hill that had jumps on it down the back side.
          Maybe I'd have better luck there?