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  1. #1
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    On Beauty and Aging and Death



    When I was very little, after my family unit had catastrophically failed, my mom had taken me to a music festival. Late at night, I was laying in the front seat of our little Mazda, not asleep, but still and quiet. My mom was flirting and cavorting with a guy she'd met. For me, it had been years of being afraid of my dad whenever he was around. I had no model to feel safe with anyone being with my mom. At some point she got scared and protested, and my brain broke, and I ran off into the night festival to find safety or help or whatever your little animal mind does when it's little and scared to death.

    My first attempt at trying to approach a girl was in 6th grade, when a group of girls would watch our basketball practices after school, and one of them asked if I'd walk her home. So I did, and it was nice. The next day at school she told everyone she could tell about how she had won a bet to walk home with the weird kid. It was devastating, and that was mostly it for me for about `10 years. It was on to skiing, and then Crested Butte at age 18 where I was completely a child among adults in a 7 to 1 male female ratio. Then fire crews where it was more like 20 to `1. I had absolutely no idea what to do with women, and no way to learn, and yet all the natural feelings toward the few of them that were always around.

  2. #2
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    After my first 3 fire seasons I was completely done. It had never been a career direction, just a way to make some quick dirty money to get through to the next ski season. My 2 summers of Grayback in John Day Oregon were truly wild and uncomfortable....meth heads, reckless, shit money, fistfights. But I still had my boots, and I wore them a lot of the time.
    It was early summer of 1999, and I had worked out a deal with the manager of a 5 bedroom, 3 story A-Frame I had shared with 3 other ski bums during the previous season. The place was normally vacant for the summer, and I offered to pay $200/month to stay in it for the summer. I had lots of buddies around during mud season, between jobs, between housing, knocking around. Whenever anybody needed an address and a phone number for job applications or whatever, they used mine...and I kept a big white board on the picnic table in the big open main room of this big house, where I'd leave messages from the answering machine for my wayward pals...and they'd check in to see their messages and take my dog for a hike. It was a good arrangement.

    One of these guys had worked many summers for a sole-proprietor fire contractor with a single type 6 engine. One day he noticed my boots, and we had a talk about wildland fire. He had an agreement to find a replacement before he left his spot on the engine, and that turned out to be me.

    So I started driving over the mountains to Angel Fire to work with this guy on small fires and projects.

  3. #3
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    So there we were, it was a hot, smoky early fire season. Angel Fire was down to the year round locals at the 2 bars...one on the highway, another at the base of the lifts. I was still just a pup. If it had been a long day on a fire, instead of driving over the mountains and back, I'd sleep in the back of my truck or in a tent at my boss's house. Larry and his wife were great people, and I was learning to love them, but they were also old and boring and my employers, so I would head into town and drink beers and stare at the bar skanks with, again, no plan beyond staring and tying my mind into a tangle.

    One night, some kind of doin's were afoot in town, and the whole town was at the highway bar. Whatever it was, I got wind of it, and I stopped in to see what it looked like when all 150 off season folks came out of their holes and went drinking in one place at one time.

    I was squeezing through the crowd, sensing a wild-westiness of vibe and trying not to get into any "fight the new guy in town" bullshit, when time stopped and my feet melted to the floor. I've seen many beautiful women....it wasn't just beauty. This was something else, she wasn't just beautiful, but the exact beautiful for me, tall and somehow both thin and very curvy. It wasn't just the exact beautiful for me...I watched a wave of human joy form as she moved though the room. I watched this, with my feet melted to the floor, with time stopped, just stunned like a stone statue of myself. I'd never in my life seen such a woman. Each of these townspeople just popping with delight to see her, her gracefully greeting them all, maintaining a steady pace through, with a shock wave of happy people in her trail. I was straight fucking shattered at the sight of it all.
    Last edited by ill-advised strategy; 06-08-2022 at 09:28 AM.

  4. #4
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    Apr 2005
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    if ya writes the book
    ya wouldnt need placeholders
    id buy it
    heart ya brother
    "When the child was a child it waited patiently for the first snow and it still does"- Van "The Man" Morrison
    "I find I have already had my reward, in the doing of the thing" - Buzz Holmstrom
    "THIS IS WHAT WE DO"-AML -ski on in eternal peace
    "I have posted in here but haven't read it carefully with my trusty PoliAsshat antenna on."-DipshitDanno

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by skifishbum View Post
    if ya writes the book
    ya wouldnt need placeholders
    id buy it
    heart ya brother
    This.
    Improve your AT boots with the StrapOff. It’s Maggot Approved.

  6. #6
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    Nov 2004
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    So I yanked my melted puddle of self forward before I seeped into the crawlspace of Jedidiah's in Angel fire and got inhaled by raccoons. I seriously remember having to focus on not falling over, I was so bucked by this whole deal. But I made it to the last bar stool on the very end, and I got a Corona and watched her work. More waves of joy around the room, greeting people, hugging folks. She made her way back behind the bar to the kitchen and yelled something in spanish to the cooks, and they moved with respect, then she softened it with some kind of joke and they laughed.

    I asked the guy next to me who this woman was, and he kind of filled me in. Then an extraordinary thing happened, like a guardian angel sent from God, this older guy first introduced me to her, then spent a good hour coaching me on her, and how to talk to her, and assuring me that he knew her well and she would be happy to meet me. It was an unlikely and extraordinary thing that night.

    So I hung around until everyone had left and she finally sat down next to me and the first thing we talked about was her trying to sell me her 78 Chevy Dumptruck because she was about done with building her own log cabin. Man, 23 years later the remnants of that feeling still blow me up. And soon, after a few more talks and her gracefully guiding me through all of the awkward early stuff, I met her 3 little girls and fell deeply in love with all of them together.

    She had been raised by an outlaw country musician dad and a model mom in Laurel Canyon, around the Byrds and the Hells Angels and Willie Nelson. When the parents split up, she ended up in Salt Lake City, running with the 80s punk scene. She never finished school, she started making money promoting punk shows in Salt Lake and modeling. Her tools in life were being both tough and feminine, incredibly off-the-charts charming as a host, and able to manage a kind of white light aura around her where everyone could not be help but to be spellbound. She had her choice of men, and after having men diving at her since she was 14, somehow meeting me, with my incredible shyness, was just what she wanted.

  7. #7
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    She rebuilt me into a fully functional man....and we had a very nice life together for many years. Ultimately, there's a giant hole in my core where she's supposed to fit, and it's only closed a little bit over all this time.

    I don't tell that story very often, because it breaks me. I actually avoid thinking of her, and thinking of those times, because it's excruciating. It's a reminder of all I've lost, and it's a hard thing. But I have a new friend at work, and I'm slowly explaining my strange life, and that's a story that's pretty central to who I am, so I told it the other day.

    Yesterday I found out that the day I told that story to my buddy was the day that she found out her little brother, who she always had a special protective love towards, who she always worried about, her little brother she loved the most, had killed himself.

    https://www.tributearchive.com/obitu...ross-etheridge

    I really liked him, he was a sweetheart of a guy. Probably too sweet for this rotten world.
    So I'm here, a million miles away, estranged from them all, with my input both impractical from this distance and probably kind of intrusive....sending little messages "please check on her if you can"....."I'm so sorry, I don't know what to say".

    She's got a masters degree in psychology now, and a nice stable life with a great husband, and I know she has all the tools to deal with this, but God Damn is this life cruel sometimes.


    That's all the writing I have for you for now.

  8. #8
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    Nov 2002
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    EWA
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    Life is not kind but once in a while we get lucky if only for a moment. Hold fast to those moments.
    When you see something that is not right, not just, not fair, you have a moral obligation to say something. To do something." Rep. John Lewis


    Kindness is a bridge between all people

    Dunkin’ Donuts Worker Dances With Customer Who Has Autism

  9. #9
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    Jun 2020
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    Quote Originally Posted by skifishbum View Post
    if ya writes the book
    ya wouldnt need placeholders
    id buy it
    heart ya brother
    Me too but how's he gonna get the videos in there?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
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    Park City
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    4,508

    On Beauty and Aging and Death

    I got very close w a guy at work once…similar pasts, similar interests, both a similar hole on the inside.

    When he told me his story, his vulnerability he ended with “if you ever make fun of me for this I’ll never talk w you again”. It kind of blew me away …the level of distrust and angst…yet I have the same inside me.

    It’s very brave to be that open. I truly enjoyed the read


    Sent from my iPhone using TGR Forums
    I rip the groomed on tele gear

  11. #11
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    Apr 2005
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    Quote Originally Posted by ötzi View Post
    Me too but how's he gonna get the videos in there?
    like a fishy ski bums gonna know that
    an nft book or whatever the bitcoin dorks spend it on these days
    if the book sells enuffs
    go spoken word video tour
    youre the one with literary skills
    and his writings deserve more than a padded room thread
    "When the child was a child it waited patiently for the first snow and it still does"- Van "The Man" Morrison
    "I find I have already had my reward, in the doing of the thing" - Buzz Holmstrom
    "THIS IS WHAT WE DO"-AML -ski on in eternal peace
    "I have posted in here but haven't read it carefully with my trusty PoliAsshat antenna on."-DipshitDanno

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
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    a poop plant
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    You've always written your feelings well and seem like a good soul. Hang in there, man.

    I read the obit. Very sad. I googled. She is beautiful.

    What went wrong, well you know
    I don't understand
    But it's done and you know
    I've done all I can
    So I'll say goodbye
    To these tears I've cried
    I will carry on, get along
    I won't ask why
    So I'll say goodbye
    To these tears I've cried
    I will carry on, get along
    I won't ask why



  13. #13
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    Jan 2011
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    Alta
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    Absolutely excellent writing and a great story. Wish I knew a publisher to recommend you to. There’s no doubt you could write an excellent book

  14. #14
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    Dec 2007
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    Hell Track
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    Great writing. This is the kind of stuff that makes these forums great.

  15. #15
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    Mar 2015
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    the Dog Patch
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    ill-advised I really admire your writing style and vulnerability. I remember seeing all of your posts in the other thread on here about places to live and I was truly impressed. you have many unique experiences to draw from and you're an excellent story teller, thank you for sharing.
    my head is perpetually in the clouds

  16. #16
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    Apr 2006
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    SF & the Ho
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    Totally agree w IAS’ writing chops. I hope you keep it up

  17. #17
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    Mar 2005
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    Dystopia
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    I hate it when people check out. Fucking stick around and suffer with the rest of us miserable bastards.

    Vibes yeti. Be strong. Remember her positive love and the life dance you had with her.

  18. #18
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    Sep 2018
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    4,920
    You can make a case that it's not the breadth of the positive experiences we get. It's the height.

    It's probably both, but I believe height matters.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
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    Movin' On
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    3,241
    J, you are an extremely talented, gifted writer. You've experienced a version of American life that is silently pervasive and also underrepresented in media.

    There are a lot of people who would benefit from what you have to say.

    If you're open to it, I believe that there are a lot of people here interested in helping make the dream of a Yetiman short stories book happen.

    What form could that take? How about some kind of crowd sourced funding so that you could work less hours and write for a while? I'd gladly support it.

  20. #20
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    Nov 2002
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    What a random gift to read that. Thank you. I have a hard shell, like a turtle, but your words got right through. Let me remember feelings, with a wry smile.
    Live each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each.
    Henry David Thoreau

  21. #21
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    Did you reach out to her to offer condolences about her brother or at least leave some of that writing gift you have in the guest book thread? Sometimes things like this happen for multiple reasons, reconnecting with people from our past sometimes can help heal old wounds when done carefully.
    Go that way really REALLY fast. If something gets in your way, TURN!

  22. #22
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    Sep 2009
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    1,633
    Quote Originally Posted by SumJongGuy View Post
    Did you reach out to her to offer condolences about her brother or at least leave some of that writing gift you have in the guest book thread? Sometimes things like this happen for multiple reasons, reconnecting with people from our past sometimes can help heal old wounds when done carefully.
    Did we just agree? wow.

    Yeti, Your writing shows us your world and experiences, and is worded in a way that also gives us a glimpse into your big heart.

    Not sure how or if you have ever pursued a writing career, or thought about writing a book on your experiences, but after reading your cadence and grammar, id sit down and read whatever you were writing at the time.

    This is the stuff that brings us back to this forum. Sending good vibes to you, yeti.

  23. #23
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    Mar 2012
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    If Yet's stories/biographical snippets were song lyrics it would remind me of Everclear or Linkin Park.
    Go that way really REALLY fast. If something gets in your way, TURN!

  24. #24
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    Sep 2005
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    Wasatch Back: 7000'
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    Thank you for opening yourself up and eloquently telling your story. Uplifting and sad at the same time.

    Quote Originally Posted by SumJongGuy View Post
    If Yet's stories/biographical snippets were song lyrics it would remind me of Everclear or Linkin Park.
    I was reminded of Arlo Guthrie
    “How does it feel to be the greatest guitarist in the world? I don’t know, go ask Rory Gallagher”. — Jimi Hendrix

  25. #25
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    Mar 2005
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    Quote Originally Posted by schindlerpiste View Post
    Thank you for opening yourself up and eloquently telling your story. Uplifting and sad at the same time.


    I was reminded of Arlo Guthrie
    Sittin on the bench with the father rapers?

    Or ridin his motor sickle?

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