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Sunday, February 22, 2009

LOVE BLOG II: THE TALENT DOES NOT WANT TO GO DOWN THE MOUNTAIN

I was, as I reported, recently in Denver, visiting my agent and her human companions with my friends J. Krimble and Pixie Potpie. During this time, I was informed that I would “enjoy” a little trip up to the mountains.

When I suffer duress in the presence of my agent, I will sometimes refer to myself in the third person as “the talent.” This is not a commentary on my abilities, but a common term in many entertainment-based industries, used to refer to the actor/performer/writer/artist of whatever ilk. I feel when I refer to myself as a moneymaking property, my agent will take care better care to preserve my life. I am worth more alive than dead (I THINK).

I used the term at the Jersey beach, for example, when Daphne and Rexroth wanted me to “enjoy a little walk into the ocean.” The Talent did not want to do into the water. The water is where the jellyfish and the sea monsters live. Rexroth did not understand the extent to which the talent did not want to get into the water, until he was more or less carrying me. The talent did not want to be carried. The talent wanted to be put down so she could run away. The talent may have started flailing.

Let’s get back to the Rockies. So, my agent has taken me to the top of a FRIGGIN MOUNTAIN, and I was put into a line. I was asked to produce seventeen dollars, which I was happy to do. In return, I was given a large inflatable tube. I said thank you. Everyone likes a nice inflatable tube. I took it outside and happily sat in it and started eating peanut M&Ms.

“Come on,” Daphne said, catching hold of the cord on my tube and dragging me.

“Where are we going?” I asked, pleasantly.

“Here.”

She stopped me on the edge of a HUGE FRIGGIN MOUNTAIN. I dug my heels in.

“We go down,” she said.

“What?”

“In the tube.”

“What?”

She started pulling me again, and I jumped out of the tube and pulled it away from her, clutching my M&Ms to my chest.

“Betrayal!” I said. “You have brought me here to kill me!”

“No, I brought you here to go tubing.”

We were soon joined by the others, who all seemed aware of this “going down the mountain in a tube” thing. Included in the party was Trixie Implausible, who is three and a half years old. Even she, in her fuzzy pink coat of LIES, was in on it.

Which is when I snapped into self-preservation, talent mode.

“The talent does not want to go down the mountain,” I mumbled.

Rexroth thought it would be best just to get a handle on me and place me in the tube and give me a push. Rexroth thought because he was bigger than me, that this would be possible. Rexroth does not know the power of my donwanna-fu.

“THE TALENT DOES NOT WANT TO GET IN THE TUBE!” Claw, claw, claw. “GET OFF THE TALENT!”

“It’s fine!” Daphne said. “You’ll like it!”

“TALENT CANNOT WRITE BOOK IF TALENT IS DEAD AND BROKEN!”

Little Trixie sailed down the mountain on her tube with a wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.

“Did you see that?” Daphne asked.

“The talent is smarter than the child,” I said calmly. “I have a college degree. I have TWO college degrees! The child can’t even read! Who are you going to listen to, me, or the one who just scribbled some lines on a piece of paper and referred to the result as ‘a picture of Dr. Freaky and his Refrigerator’? I liked the picture, but my point is . . .”

“She’s braver than you.”

“But I am rich!” I said. “She has no money! Look! I have purchased these M&Ms for myself. The child could not afford such fine things, fine things which I am going to eat while you go down and I watch.”

It took them a half hour to convince me, but I did eventually go down. Trixie (age 3 ½) told me I did a good job.

Later, I heard Daphne on the phone with a friend of ours, and she was saying, “Yeah, so, she was really brave, and she went down a few times. We’re just finishing up now and we’re all going to lunch . . . no, she’s fine. She seemed to like it. It got a little cold, but . . .”

Please, I thought, please be talking about Trixie (age 3 ½). Please be talking about Trixie and not about me. Please be talking about Trixie and not me.

She was talking about me.

Now, this is going to make you believe that I am afraid of winter sports! I am not! I just don’t like to be pushed off mountains by my agent. Have I mentioned how I learned how to ski? HAVE I? (It’s possible that I have, so feel free to SKIP TO THE END. Or, read on, in case I TELL IT DIFFERENTLY.)

See, my English friend Oscar Gingersnort comes from a very fancy and lovely family. (He has two SIRS in his family! Two SIRS! He is not excited by this, but I am. I had no idea that “Uncle Bob” who once gave me lovely bath salts for Christmas is in fact SIR BOB. These are the kinds of things the English keep from you.)

Anyway, one of Oscar’s cousins lives in Geneva, and they invited me to come along for a Gingersnort Family New Years, in which all of the cousins would go to Switzerland and hang out on or around Alps for a week. I said yes, and off I went to Switzland. I was well informed that the intention was to ski, so I went out and got some pants and a jacket and showed up all ready to go gently down a bunny slope with children.

But see . . . the Gingersnorts? They all ski. Well. And they don’t go to bunny slopes. They go to the tops of mountains and use terms like “off piste” and “black diamond.”



A picture I took of the town where we were skiing. Pretty. Also, HIGH UP.


It was decided that after a day of trying to teach me, I really belonged in the hands of a professional. A call was made. I had a little trouble following the rapid-fire French, catching only words like “American,” “beginner,” and “not very good.” I was informed that it was all set! An English-speaking teacher would meet me at the top of the mountain the next morning, and I would spend the next few days with him. His name was Jean-Claude.

And so, I did. Jean-Claude was there, a tall man, maybe around 60.

“Do you teach a lot of beginners?” I asked, to make conversation.

“No,” he said. “I teach mostly rrrrracerz.”

He paused for a moment, then added, almost as an afterthought: “I used to coach the French downhill rrrrrrracing team.”

“Oh,” I said. “Oh . . . that’s good.”

“You will learn to ski,” he told me, matter-of-factly. “Everyone I teach learns to ski. Now, allez, you will come with me, like this.”

No, Jean-Claude didn’t spend a lot of time with beginners. This much became clear at once. “Allez” was the word I heard most often over those two days. “You fall down, Maureen. Get up. Allez. Now you do just like this.” Nothing stopped Jean-Claude, and he felt that nothing should stop me. I would go down the hill. And now I would learn the turn, yes? I would do the turn? I would do the turn.

At the end of the last day, Jean-Claude decided that I needed to go Higher Up The Mountain. See, this town and all the Alps around it were criss-crossed with a network of cable cars. You started down on the street, and ran like a train with several stops. You could get off on this point, or a higher one, or a higher one, or a higher one . . . whatever you wanted. I had started two stops up the mountain.

“We go up,” said Jean-Claude. “Allez.”

It also happened to be snowing that day, which is pretty common in the Alps in the dead of winter. But we went up directly into a whiteout, which I had never experienced before.

“Okay,” he said, smiling at the almost-deserted slope. “Good. Now, you grab the bar, and up we go. Allez.”

It was snowing so hard and the cloud cover was so low that I couldn’t even see the next pole on the t-bar. It was White. Everything was white. And when we got to the end (I didn’t even know we had arrived, except that I could see Jean-Claude’s red jacket. When I got right up to him, I could see his face, and he was content. I looked around. I had no idea where the slope was. I had no idea where the ground was. I had no idea where the sky was, or what left was or what right was. It was like one of those scenes in a sci-fi movie that takes place on a different planet, or in some representation of heaven or hell or the inner world of the brain.

“Okay!” he said cheerfully. “I go. You follow! Allez!”

And then, he went. He just . . . went. Off into the whatever. I had two choices: stay in marshmallow nowhereland and die, or follow. So I followed. Apparently, when you think you are going to die, and you have no idea how steep the slope is, or how fast you are going, you can ski. Because I skied. And my only thought was never to lose sight of that red jacket. I skied and skied and skied. And eventually, we were back, all the way at the bottom, and there was Oscar, waiting. He took off his goggles and shook his head.

“Bloody hell,” he said, “that was . . . amazing. That was really well done. You didn’t look like someone who’s been on skis for three days. You looked like someone who’s been skiing for . . . years, actually. That was incredible!”

“AHhhHHHhHHhhhhhhhhhHHhhhhhhhhHHHHHHhhh,” I explained.

“And that was an excellent turn at the end. You did it perfectly.”

“AHHhHHhhhhhHHhhhhhhHhhh,” I continued.

“Either he’s an amazing teacher or you’re a natural. Or both.”



ACTUAL FOOTAGE FROM THAT DAY


Oscar was too busy talking to Jean-Claude* about my progress to notice that I was slip-stumbling toward the restaurant at the base of the slope, arms outstretched. When I got inside, I had an attack of special disorientation—the white out had so confused my brain about the reality of up, down, left, and right, that it was having a hard time making sense of nice, flat, cozy indoors. I was so dizzy that I almost missed the chair and had to stare at one spot on the wall for about five minutes before everything started to get normal again.

“There you go,” Oscar said, plunking down a hot chocolate. I pulled it toward me. I wasn’t ready to drink it yet, as I hadn’t quite mapped out the route from my hand to my mouth. “Now, isn’t skiing fun?”

So! Love questions! Um . . . . I’ve sort of talked about winter sports more than love, haven’t I? I will remember this for next time. But let me answer one question, very quickly.


Stephanie W asks:
Have you ever been out with a guy who TRIES to act all suave and sophisticated, but every time he TRIES to act that way, he messes it up somehow?


Perhaps I can refer you to this story about my first boyfriend?

What other LOVE QUESTIONS can I answer for YOU?





* Jean-Claude really was this good, and that was his real first name. He never offered his last name. So remarkable was Jean-Claude that we became a little obsessed trying to figure out who he was, and it is a minor urban legend around these parts that he might have been . . . might have been . . . Jean-Claude Killy. Now, Jean-Claude Killy is one of the most famous skiers in the world—a six-time Olympic gold medalist, co-president of the 1992 Winter Olympics, subject of the Hunter S. Thompson essay “The Temptations of Jean-Claude Killy,” among many other accomplishments. The age and background are right, as is (I’m told) the general location. He was known to live in the area. It is possible, in some bizarro world, that Jean-Claude Killy (who retired from skiing in 1968 at the age of 24 after winning basically everything there was to win) actually works as a ski instructor in this particular town in the Alps. It makes a kind of sense that he might not want to sit around the house all day. It is possible that I was instructed by one of the greatest skiers in the world. It is the story we choose to believe, and therefore, anyone who accuses me of snow cowardice can just suck it, because Jean-Claude Killy taught me how to ski, and I lived.

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38 Comments:

Anonymous Rosi said...

Maureen, keep it quiet, but as an English person, I can reveal that I am not merely Rosianna, but Princess Rosianna. I have been secretly betrothed to Prince William since birth, but I've negotiated these terms, seeing as he doesn't float my boat. Again, please keep it on the low down.

Love question: Do guys *really* prefer mysterious girls or is that just nonsense spouted to encourage us to cross our legs more?

Have a nice evening! Don't fall down any mountains (your sense > Trixie's. She has no M&Ms. All her M&MBase are belong to MJ).

3:01 AM  
Blogger Chelsea said...

This blog has inspired me to make you come ice skating with me. At least there will be no trees or hills.

That video must have been taken a long time ago, because you really don't look like yourself.

Love questions. Haha. Ha. Hahaha. Hahahaha. Ha. So not going to go there. But your responses to other people's are hilarious.

3:21 AM  
Anonymous kira902k said...

Hah. Oh my.

Love Questions:

Girls always spend so much time and effort picking out their outfits each day, but do guys ever even notice what we're wearing? or do we just do it for the other girls?

:P

3:37 AM  
Blogger Violet Vixen said...

I would like to request equal representation love questions. What great gay loves do we not know about? What are the best and worst gay and lesbian romantic pairings in film and literature out there?

3:44 AM  
Blogger lauren said...

In response to Violet Vixen, I would like to point her in the direction of The Bermudez Triangle.

I'm a terrible skier. I had an experience like yours, except instead of coming safely down the mountain, I did several somersaults in the air and then broke both my skis and lost one of my poles.

On another note, love question!

What is the POINT of conversation hearts? Not for conversation, surely? I mean, I'm pretty sure you can come up with a simple phrase like "I love you" without a lump of artificial sugar.

3:52 AM  
Blogger Khy said...

Skiing, ick. I had a bad childhood experience with skiing. I was taking a skiing class in the tundra environment of Utah, along with many other children. But as we were all skiing down a hill, I fell, and I couldn't get up. And then my boot came off, and I still couldn't get up. And all the other children laughed at me (not loudly, but still) and I haven't skied since. (Actually, I have skiied since, numerous times, but it sounds better if I say I haven't.)

Sadly I have no LOVE questions for you, but I will take this time to say I GET TO COME SEE YOU AT THE NYC AUTHOR FESTIVAL OF AWESOME. I am vair vair excited about this.

4:00 AM  
Blogger ROSIE!!!!!!!!! said...

Why are all good guys dead, gay or taken? Take George Harrison for example, he was the guitarist for the Beatles. And basically the equivelant to Edward Cullen, except with a zitar, which just makes him more awesome. The only bad thing is he's dead. HOW COULD THIS HAPPEN?

4:48 AM  
Blogger slowtrain said...

I believe my skiing experiences, which can be characterized by me thinking I was okay, my instructor thinking I sucked, me falling down... a lot, would have been greatly enhanced if I had had a Jean-Claude to instruct me in the mystical ways of descending a snow covered mountain by way of strips of metal attached to my feet.

As it was, I merely became a skiier of moderate ability to not fall down sometimes on the easy slopes, and this is alright with me for now.

Love Question: What should one do upon the discovery that all one has been instructed to by the songs and the books and the movies and has thusly come to hold dear is in fact a pack of lies and falseness? How does one seeking a fairy tale prince deal in the real world where all the princes are taken?

Lucinda

5:21 AM  
Anonymous carly said...

my Love questions:






1) if JK really loves Alan Rickman will she set him free in honor of his 63rd birthday today?





2) can any love story ever be as good as one from a book or a movie?

5:42 AM  
Blogger Katie said...

Toboggans are nice. You only go down as far as you can climb up.

Q. Is it ethical for a bride and groom to try to starve out their guests because of the lack of adequate seating? Survival of the fittest, shall we say?

6:43 AM  
Blogger Nadia Murti said...

You are a very international person. And I couldn't ski to save my life. I'm a wimp.

Love Question:
Why do people have weddings in other countries? Wouldn't it make so much more sense to just have it in your hometown so that everyone you know can come?

Question of Love:
Does love eat away at your brain?

7:34 AM  
Anonymous Stephanie W. said...

You used my question! Thank you, that made my day. :]

8:34 AM  
Blogger K. said...

I quite like this Jean-Claude guy. Not sure why.
In reference to the footage--your "Let it Snow" dedication makes more sense now! But who's Hamish?
Love question that has probably been asked: Everyone's advice is "be yourself and be patient"-- is this a load of *&%# or the gospel truth?

8:47 AM  
Blogger Hollishillis said...

Haha interesting stories as always, The Talent.

10:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

tubing! all right! do you recall by chance that my sophomore-year actual face-smashing incident (not the record store thing, but the one where i actually slammed my face into the planet, breaking several parts of said face and necessitating, among other things, a root canal) - was a direct result of this very same innocuous sounding "tubing," except with the wrinkle that i was pushed, in a way, by my date to the freshman dance? he of the camaro? xoxoxooxx

betty vox

ps - and yes indeed, who is this new character, hamish i believe you call him????

11:17 AM  
Blogger betty said...

Wow, I wish that I could visit the snow, but I only get rain. :( I don't know how to ski but I would be scared to learn how you did.

When you talk about Jean-Claude, all I can think about is the Vampire in the Anita Blake series. I haven't actually read the books, but my sister talks so much about them that it feels like I have.

2:30 PM  
Blogger Alyssa said...

i have a love question for you:
What do you do when the guy that you love lives 3,000 miles away?

help! =/

7:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay I have a very ordinary love question for you. How do you tell your best friend you're in love with him?

7:56 PM  
Anonymous JK said...

I love skiing. I haven't been in a while, but hopefully I'll visit Colorado sometimes soon.
And I am very much excited for the teen Author Festival in NYC. So many amazing authors!

8:44 PM  
Anonymous Jen said...

Omigosh. Better Off Dead is one of my favorite movies of all time! Sorry, I had to say it.

I just wish I had a Love Question for you. :( Sorry!

10:31 PM  
Blogger angela said...

The break dancing boyfriend story is one of my favorites.

Love questions, eh?
Ok.
What is the best love song?
What is the worst love song?



Also. Very Werewolves.

Also.Again. Most of my love questions are on Facebook under the name Angela Sullivan, well whaddya know. =]

2:25 AM  
OpenID Malcolm said...

In your Twitter stream you mentioned there was video of this tubing experience. And yet, you seem to have omitted showing us that. I'm assuming that was merely an omission that will be corrected at a later date? After all, you were apparently very brave, and that could be an inspiration to the younger generation (and fun for the rest of us).

2:43 AM  
Anonymous SarahE said...

I have never been skiing before, and I had always wanted to...until now. Hmmmmmmmmm. On the other hand, I want to go snow-tubing RIGHT NOW.

A love question: What is the best example of TRUE LOVE in all of literature/film? I need to know this.

9:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hahahahahahahah! I read your post on My Boyfriend Can Totally Dance and I can't stop laughing on your werewolf-insisting-phone. My stomach hurts! :))

4:07 AM  
Blogger Hollishillis said...

do you think celebrities who have love realtiy shows (flavor of love, rock of love bus, double shot of love) actualy find love? Do you think that any of these are actually succesfull, and if not (obviously not) why do you think they even MAKE this awful shows???

4:08 AM  
Blogger Hollishillis said...

do you think celebrities who have love realtiy shows (flavor of love, rock of love bus, double shot of love) actualy find love? Do you think that any of these are actually succesfull, and if not (obviously not) why do you think they even MAKE this awful shows???

4:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What do you do when your long-time crush is....*gulp* suicidal?

2:44 AM  
Anonymous Julia said...

"The talent" is too funny! (I remember Jean Claude back in the day!)

4:57 PM  
Blogger Nadia Murti said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

2:57 AM  
Blogger Camilla said...

Not-love-related-question-time: Will you be joining the fast growing awesomeness that is dailybooth?

1:25 AM  
Anonymous Brittney said...

Love question....

Why does your boyfriend and/or his friends think it's hilariously funny when he or they fart or something else equivalent to such barbarous behavior?

4:32 AM  
Blogger Amy said...

gee that's alot of snnow! :)great post.
-amy

5:32 AM  
Anonymous kate said...

I'm really really sad. And I don't know what to do. Can you PLEASE (pretty pretty pretty please) help me cheer up. :o(

5:13 AM  
Blogger Nadia Murti said...

Have fun in Ireland! Tell us all about your usual crazy adventures when you can!!!

--Nadia

The word verification says "istorkfu." Are you kidding me?!

3:27 AM  
Blogger Nicole said...

It's posts like this that remind me why I love your books.
You are a riot.
Are you working on anything new lately?

--Nicole

6:12 AM  
Anonymous presleybeast said...

Do you not like tubing in high elevation? We do it here all the time. Haha :)

5:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

MJ!
Under which rock are you hiding?

I'm getting worried!! You haven't posted in...almost a month *gasp*

Did Deadline take you hostage again?

12:43 AM  
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10:12 AM  

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