by Leslie Anthony
In the slaughterhouse squeeze of a Euro lift-line I merge with an old, hunched man who gestures rudely at me. Then I realize he’s asking if I’m single; I nod and we load on the old double chair. He says something in German and nicht sprichst Deutsch I tell him. Ruski, he asks? Nyet. Hmmm… Parlez-vous Français, I wonder? Mais non. Do I speak Italian? That’s a stretch. I counter with Spanish. Nein.
We’re at a total impasse and yet somehow over the next 10 minutes, with mots from each language, he finds out I’m a Canadian from Whistler traveling the alpine intersection of Switzerland, Lichtenstein and Austria. He thinks it’s loco that a Canadian would come over here when everyone wants to go to Canada, ja? He thinks my grossen skis are better-suited to Canadian poudre because Austrian pulver schnee is maybe not so bellissimo. He is 6 and 5 fingers old. He has been to Philadelphia. He has a nouveau titanium (knocks on knee) that works bueno (the old one was kaput) and he’s pretty happy with his wenden. At the top, we wish each other a nice day in a Tower of Babel mash-up, then ski off toward different countries.
This is how Europe works.