Friday, February 15, 2013

I am an alcoholic bartender

Write what you know. Sell what you're into. Share your buzz. People look for an informed perspective when they shop for a product.

Bicycling got me into the bike business. Cross-country skiing got me into the ski business. Like many participants, I fell into the commerce side in search of some deals on gear. And here we are.

My current shop job financed and equipped my descent into full-on addiction. I sold the gear, I taught lessons. I went on trips, though nothing worthy of bragging. No one needs to hear about my private tree-dodging exploits on frumpy little mountains no one's heard of. No one cares about my daily training runs on classic or skating skis on groomed trails I had the opportunity to use frequently enough to count as a regular program. Every one of those doses fed my need.

I reached my high or low point, depending on your view, when I operated the retail concession at Jackson Ski Touring. It was one shot after another of the pure stuff. It surged through me, impaired my judgment, lured me into a variety of social blunders, but I didn't care, as long as I could get onto the trails and feed the beast within me.

My addiction definitely affected my job performance, but not entirely badly. Since our target demographic was addicts and the addictable, looking like a happy participant made me a better host. Like any partyer, I had some people who liked to party with me or at least felt neutral, and others who found me offensive.

I tried to conceal the extent of my addiction by downplaying the amount I was using, sometimes using secretly. I was absent or tardy because of it. It was the most important part of my day, for sure.

Here in Wolfe City I have no hope of skiing as much as I did in Jackson, or even as much as I used to in Wolfeboro before 2000. I have almost no chance to go at all. Forced to detox, I don't want to use again at all, lest I awaken the longing. I'll talk it up and change the subject if anyone asks how much I get out.

"Been skiing today?"


The word lies there, a cold brick. I say nothing more. The conversation moves on.

Two students have signed up for a group lesson on Saturday morning. Neither of our two casual part-time instructors are available. The last time this happened, only one staff member here had ski gear. He lives in town, on the other end of the trail system, so he skis to work and home again. We scraped the lesson off on him. I told The Management that was my plan again.

"What about you? Why don't you do it?" he asked.

I can't. I just can't. When a tiny bit is nowhere near enough, it's way too much.

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