Saturday, January 10, 2009

My Obsession with the Naked Man From The Ski Lift

OK, so I am obsessed. I admit it. I have issues that I just can’t seem to stop thinking about. “Naked man hanging off of ski lift while traumatized child watches” has consumed a lot of my time this week. In fact, often right in the middle of meeting with my boss, or listening to my child talk about his report card or while flossing my teeth, my mind will suddenly jump to yet another thought I have surrounding this drama.

Sure, there was the obvious horror and humiliation this man suffered from having millions world wide, look at his hoo haw. And of course, there was the secret voyeuristic pride I took in looking at the photos and being glad it was not me. And yes, there was the chuckle I shared at this poor man’s expense and then the forwarded email link I sent to my friends to make sure they too, got to yuck it up at someone else’s expense. Most normal people would have stopped there; but then when have I ever been considered “normal?”

Mainly I have been obsessed with several burning questions. The first thought which has kept me up at nights is HOW this man’s pants could have fallen down. I can easily see the explanation for how he slipped through the seat, catching his ski, which in turn did not release the emergency boot strap thingy that then left him dangling from the chair lift. That is patently obvious and makes perfect sense to me.

I mean that lift is coming at you at what feels like about 100 mph and you are nervously looking behind you, knees slightly bent, butt stuck out, ready to sit in that chair as soon as it smashes into you. (Note to self, yet another reason why skiing is not my best sport. My butt never looks good slightly sticking out.) OK, so the chair seat is defective and instead of being down into the seated position as it hits your knees, it somehow stays vertical and when it hits you, your body kind of folds in half and you start to slip through. Then, just as you think you are going to fall to your death through that crack, your ski, which, thankfully, happens to be plenty long, turns somehow and wedges itself between the seat and lift, trapping you dangling upside down on the lift.

I get that. Makes perfect sense in a messed up kind of way. The guy fell through the lift and his ski got caught leaving him dangling. But how, in God’s name, did his pants get pulled down...or is that up? That just does not seem logical. Why would his pants come down when he was flipped over? The thing that got caught was his ski, not his pants. The laws of gravity should apply in this case which would mean that since his feet and legs were in the air his pants would stay up. There should have been nothing that caused them to fall down.

I have been so obsessed by this that I even made my youngest son simulate dangling upside down to make sure that my thinking was not faulty and, sure enough, my experiment proved that gravity would not cause those pants to fall down. When a person is hanging upside down their pants should stay right side up. That’s all there is to it. It is just a scientific fact. I know because I did an experiment about it.

And another thing I keep thinking about his pants, is what’s up with his appalling lack of undergarments and layers? While I don’t have a lot of ski experience, the few times I have been up on the mountain, I have been well protected by multiple layers of sturdy and difficult to handle clothing. (Yet another reason I don’t ski – any activity that requires clothing that adds pounds to your look is not for me.) This means that it takes me about 20 minutes of fumbling and snapping and peeling back through layers and layers just to be able to go to the bathroom.

So, again I must ask. If by some strange fluke of nature that defied the laws of gravity and his pants got pulled down, where were all the other layers of clothing that should have protected his dignity. From what I can see, he only had on one measly pair of long underwear underneath his ski pants. What self respecting ski bum leaves home so woefully under attired?

Another thing I have been wondering about. Why did just the man fall through? Wouldn't logic dictate that the child should have been the one to slip through the faulty seat? Children are smaller than adults and therefore more likely to slip through cracks and stuff. Looking at the seat it appears that it is a bench seat because there is one long back. If it were two seats the back would have some sort of separation. So if this is the case, why did the Dad who is heavier, bulkier and supposedly smarter and more coordinated fall though and not the child? This just defies logic.

However, the most horrific thought that I just can not seem to quit obsessing over is the child. That horror-struck child. Not only is this unfortunate child left all alone on the lift, petrified that their father will fall to his death, but also worried that it might happen to them any moment. Vacillating between being genuinely afraid for their life and the life of their father and the utter humiliation of seeing Dad in such an unbecoming situation makes for a lot of years of future therapy.

First of all, when you are between the ages of nine and nineteen pretty much anything your Dad does is embarrassing. No child at that age wants to stand out for anything that might become a source of ridicule. I know people to this day who are still in therapy discussing embarrassing incidents involving one of their parents that happened more than 40 years ago and nothing in their stories involved anything close to having your naked Dad dangling from ski lift aired on every major news station and Internet site in the world!

I still have a horrific memory from 1972 seared into my brain. It started out innocently enough. My Dad for some reason had agreed to drive our carpool. That was embarrassing enough on it’s own. Dads did NOT drive carpool back then. Only Moms. Added to that was the fact that we were late - we were always late but I will save that for another time – and then there was the matter of the horn. Yes, the car horn. We drove up to Suzanne Gray’s house and my Dad honked the horn. He always thought he was funny and would honk like two or three times quickly in a row. Only this time the honk went on and on and on and on… on so long that by the time the Grays came to the door they were not too happy. I am sure they wondered how we had the gall to honk like that when we were the ones who were late. My Dad sheepishly tried to explain that the horn was stuck as neighbors all over the street peered peevishly out of their doors.

Most Dads would have probably gotten out and unhooked some wire thingy or done something under the hood to stop the honking, but my Dad was not mechanically inclined and this was way beyond his talents or skills. The best he could do was beat on the steering wheel and mutter a bunch of cuss words under his breath. Embarrassing!

The horn then proceeded to honk the entire way to the next stop where we picked up the Thornhill kids and then it honked incessantly all the rest of the way to Casis Elementary. Imagine the horror six children ranging in ages 7-12 had to suffer as drivers pulled over, made rude gestures, honked back all the way up to the school. By the time we pulled into the circular drive for drop off, each child had sunk as low as possible into the seats hoping to just disappear. But no such luck. My Dad cheerfully drove us right up to the drop off where it seemed every child in the entire school was arriving at the same time and just laughed as he told the Principal, who grumpily had rushed over to see what child was causing the ruckus, that he was going to go straight to the Texaco to get the thing disconnected before he had to drive downtown. I was pretty sure I was going to die that day, and my Dad was not even pant less!

So back to my obsession with this poor child. Most reports have assumed that this was a man and his son. And one can only hope that this case, because the sheer horror of having your Dad dangling from a ski lift for a full fifteen minutes is embarrassing enough. Add to that the fact that not only did your Dad look like a big doofus for falling through the chair lift, I mean a real man probably would not have had that happen, but his entire “area” was totally exposed for all the world to see. Any son would be sufficiently mortified for pretty much the rest of their life. They would probably feel the need to change their name, change schools and probably even move out of State. But consider the trauma inflicted on that same child if it was the daughter sitting in the ski lift instead of a son.

Well after some pretty obsessive viewing of the photos, I need to tell you that I am fairly sure that the child was a girl. First, is the color of the ski jacket. If you blow up the pictures (and yes, I am that obsessed) you will see that the arm of the jacket appears to have pink and turquoise markings on it. Not many self respecting little boys would wear a jacket sporting that much pink. Turquoise maybe, but not pink. Second, and far more important, if you look closely at all photos the child is never actually looking at the father. The most natural position for the child to be in would be to look down straight down at the body that was dangling underneath them. But if you look at those photos that poor kids is stiff as board, which could be from terror, but I am more inclined to think it is from humiliation, and looking purposefully off to the side. I am thinking this just may be because the poor kid is not only scared to death, not only embarrassed by the fact that her father is in this humiliating position, not only revolted that, to add insult to injury, his pants have fallen off, not only dismayed to realize that everyone on the entire mountain is looking at them, but is also a GIRL!

Now here’s the deal. Kids see their parent of the opposite sex naked by accident all the time without irrevocable harm. Yes it is horrifying. Yes it is upsetting – usually to the parent as much as to the child. But mostly it is just embarrassing and probably makes them want to throw up a little in their mouth. But its just a fact of life. Things happen, Yet we all know that children do not want to think of their parents as sexual beings. They would rather never really fully acknowledge that the parent of the same sex comes equipped with the anatomically correct parts, much less the one of the opposite sex.

Most people I know have at least one embarrassing story about walking in on a parent and if they are lucky all they did was catch a glimpse of something they would rather not see. And, most people I know just as quickly turned and ran out, or better yet pretended it never happened. Yet even with those quick, fleeting accidents the images usually remain seared on the brain like a brand on a steer.

I will never quite erase the image of just seeing my dad in his underwear bending over to pull up his pants and that didn’t include anything but a small glimpse of a buttocks crack! It just was so undignified and horrifying – especially because I rarely saw my Dad in anything but his work clothes. He was either fully dressed or asleep or not in our house.

So I just keep thinking of that poor child stuck on the chair lift for what reports say was anywhere from seven to 15 minutes, screaming “My eyes. My eyes!” and wishing she was anywhere but there. Only to then to be forced to watch the rescue team come and take over the situation as they help her father to safety. The photos also show that part to also seem pretty awful. I mean take a look at the one where no less than six people, several of them women with their faces in a fairly intimate area, are having to grab his person to guide him to safety. While I am sure she was relieved to find that he would not fall to his death, I am also fairly certain that she was praying for her own!

I kind of feel guilty for even writing about this. I know I should refrain from laughing at this unlucky man and his unfortunate child. Yet somehow I find it impossible not to giggle a bit inside as I think of the ensuing conversations that must have been forced to occur for this family. “Well, I don’t know exactly what happened, one minute I was sitting down and the next thing I knew I was upside down, dangling hundreds of feet in the air, with my pants around my ankles and freezing my privates off.” “What? Well it was very cold…” “Um. Mom, do you think you could home school me for the rest of this year?”

And while I do feel guilty, I just can’t seem to help it. I mean, seriously, even Jesus would have probably laughed at this. ..And yet another reason I don’t ski. I really do not want Jesus laughing at me.


  1. Hahahaaa. I posted a video about it on my blog a few days ago and have been getting tons of hits.

  2. reenie-
    i am concerned. you need a hobby.