Conversation on the lift #3055. Participating: yours truly and a lovely lady in her prime. It starts after we've already exchanged the views on trails, weather and disappointing snow conditions.
So, where are you from? she asks.
Where do you think I am from? I do get this question a lot and I have a list of rotating answers. She gets to play name this country game - mostly because I am a bit bored. And a bit evil.
Oh, I am not good with accents. Apparently, neither am I or we would not have
Why don't you ask me a few questions, you'll figure it out soon enough. I smile saying that and now she can't refuse. Natives are so predictable.
Europe? I can tell it's going to be good.
Germany? Which, as everybody knows, is the Europe's default country.
Am I getting close?
Yes, you are. Very close. The country I am from actually borders Germany. Am I giving up too much? We'll see.
Austria? We are skiing after all. So staying in the Alps seems understandable.
OK, I give up. I don't really know any other European countries. Those who now start to suspect that Americans are ignorant should know that this is below average. Most people here are perfectly capable of naming more than 4 European countries. Great Britain, Spain and Italy have a good chance to end up on the short list.
Yugoslavia? That's new.
_It does not exist any more. You know that, right?_ Should I add that when it did exist, Germany was not among its neighbors?
Oh, I am old. Are you Scandinavian? I am assuming here she knows Scandinavia is actually not a country either.
No. But I can give you some clues. I am from Gdansk.
You know - the Solidarity. 1989. The fall of communism. If I was in more charitable mood I would have mentioned Lech Wałęsa. That usually does the trick. Chopin and Marie Curie are way more sinister clues.
There are almost 40 million people in my country
Really? Now she is surprised. I don't think she realized until now there are that many people in the entire Europe.
_It's an EU member. The 6th biggest EU member to be exact_.
EU? I start to wonder if we even live on the same planet.
_And until recently one of the best allies of the United States. We went to both Iraq and Afghanistan._ Although why I haven't got a slightest idea.
Oh - I should know that. My husband is a Marine. She seems genuinely distressed now. For some reason women who pull out their husbands out of ski helmets bring the worst in me.
Great. Ask him.
Oh, come on - tell me.
I am not telling. Look it up. Am I making a leap of faith here? They do have Internet in California, right? Or libraries?
OK then. Just tell me where you live in the States.
Boston, mostly. No more games for today. I don't want to push my luck.
Boston! I went to high school there.
Really, that's surprising?
I always thought they had decent high schools in Boston. And I time this perfectly to be able to slide off the chair and just ski away avoiding an offended look.
I choose a steep slope full of icy moguls to punish myself properly. Life is good.