Elle went to her first ski movie this week.
Our reasons for bringing her, all bundled up in a blankie to a movie that started right at her bedtime, were faulty to begin with. Generally speaking, parents who hope to remain on good terms with their neighbors do not bring 8-month-olds to movies. But, I had had one too many glasses of wine and so my normally good senses felt a bit fuzzy. And, in perfect character, we hadn’t thought ahead to book a babysitter.
But having been to Teton Gravity Research’s Telluride showings in the past, I told myself that even if Elle was screaming at points during the movie, those sitting around us would likely be screaming as well. I could only hope that she would scream at the right times; like, say, when some radical skier was floating across billowy pillows on an exceptionally gnarly Alaskan slope, and not when the camera shifted to the obligatory extreme skier interview.
Ultimately, we brought an underage Elle to Under the Influence for selfish purposes. Attending the annual early season ski flick is a ski town tradition we adore. It’s cold and dark outside, winter seems poised to throw down her downy blanket, and there’s nothing left to do but dream about the sick lines to come, just a few billion snowflakes away. These short, muted days leading up to the ski area’s opening are ripe with the promise of an epic season and all its snowy spoils.
In some sense, these are the best days of the ski season, when winter is a blank canvas just waiting to be tattooed with the sleek curlicues of my dancing skis. And I haven’t yet fully acknowledged the likelihood that we will actually be able to afford – or even locate – a babysitter on powder days.
We may have renounced many parts of our old selves when we became parents. We are no longer a couple that takes a 2 a.m. taxi home, or a couple that sets an alarm as a start to a long day in the backcountry, or a couple that lingers over after dinner drinks at a table set for two. But we are and forever will be skiers. Skiing is what brought us together in the first place, and is why we live where we live and work where we work – and is why Elle already had a ski pass one month after she was born last winter. And so bringing our infant daughter to the season’s first ski flick seemed, if not inherently wise, at least inherently nourishing to our ski-loving souls.
Thus, our desire to alleviate our burning pre-season skier’s itch with an hour spent under the influence of a good ski movie trumped our better judgment as parents. The kind of parents who put their kids to bed on time. Imagine our astonishment when we discovered that sometimes, when the stars are aligned just right and the fickle gods wielding control over babies’ moods are in good spirits, you can do something like take your baby to a ski flick and actually enjoy it. In fact, it may be the best ski flick you’ve ever seen, even if you spend only half of the time actually watching the movie (spending the rest of the time watching your amazingly, astoundingly, astonishingly well-behaved daughter watching the movie instead).
I try not to brag too obnoxiously about my child in this column. But here I must. As she confirmed at the Sheridan Opera House on Saturday night, my 8-month-old daughter likes ski movies. Loves ski movies, in fact. Is willing to sit in my lap, not fussing, not flailing, not fighting for the entire duration of a feature-length ski movie. Purchasing our tickets, we had thought that our only hope of making it through the entire film would be that she would fall asleep at its start and remain asleep throughout. Never did we imagine our overly busy, never tired, always moving-crawling-banging-screeching daughter would actually sit and watch the ski flick with us.
Wonders never cease.
“We didn’t do much to curb Telluride’s baby boom tonight,” Craig said as we drove home, our sweet baby angel fast asleep in her car seat.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“Well, now everybody’s going to think that you can just do stuff like that – like take a baby to a ski flick.”
I smiled, imagining rows of silent babies sitting on laps of their ski bum parents, their little eyes drinking in their first ski images. Inevitably, I then imagined all of them up on the slopes at Telluride, leaving their poor knee-damaged parents behind in a whirlwind of flying flakes and swishing skis.
I then saw Craig and myself, old and gray, sitting side-by-side in the Sheridan Opera House, cheering as Elodie Prohaska’s name is splashed across the screen of a ski flick of the future.
Like these early days of the ski season, this time of parenthood is full of hopeful optimism, and eager anticipation for what the future has in store for a ski-flick loving daughter.