On the Hill: Raising a white flag
December 23, 2008
ASPEN ” Your girlfriend excused herself tactfully after lunch Monday at Aspen Highlands.
“I’m going to let you boys have some time by yourself for some brotherly bonding,” she said, before running off to catch the bus home.
She could have just as easily announced: “I’m going to leave now so you two idiots don’t have to wait up for me anymore. That way you can resume your unspoken sibling rivalry of trying to ski one another into the ground, without any breaks.”
You could certainly tell that’s what she was thinking.
A funny thing happened, though, in the middle of a stinging whiteout on the chairlift ride up to Loge Peak. After just two post-lunch runs, your older brother ” the alpha wolf, the interminable first born, your older brother! ” begged out of skiing until the lifts closed. On a powder day, no less.
“My legs are shaking,” he mumbled into his coat while protecting his face from the wind. “I’m just not in skiing shape.”
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You didn’t make a big deal of his admission of defeat. Best not to rub it in, you thought, with Christmas just days away.
Still, you couldn’t help but crack a half smile, thinking just how rare such moments have been in your 28 years of playing second brother.
You can remember only a handful of times growing up when you beat your older brother at anything ” Monopoly, driveway hoops, backyard tether ball, video games, thumb wrestling on road trips, you name it.
Your brother is the last one to admit defeat, the one who always jumps first and waits for you to follow. The one who, if he is going to pay $96 for a lift ticket, is going to make damn sure he squeezes every last nickel out of that mountain.
But not anymore, it seems.
Your brother appears to be mellowing at 30. It’s got to be the desk job which has left him a little soft around the middle. Or the new baby that’s on the way. Or possibly it’s just that he has discovered that being so competitive all the time is not worth it ” that five more runs wouldn’t have changed a thing about a day on the mountain that was already great.
Either way, you like this new, milder older brother. When the whipping wind showed up, you didn’t feel like snow boarding anymore anyway. Your left quad was burning, too.
Not that you’d ever admit such things to your older brother. As far as he knows, you could have rode all day.