Opinion » Maxed Out

Surviving Opening Day 2018



So little time; so much procrastination.

If you are a terminal procrastinator, latent or blatant, the only thing worse than a project with a deadline so far in the future it's barely visible is a project with no deadline at all. Procrastinators need looming deadlines, perhaps even those that have past in order to kick start their sense of panic.

And that's pretty much what we're facing in this year's Dead Zone, that interminable time between late October and opening day of ski season.

Today, if you've picked up Pique or read it online on publication day, is that day. Opening Day. Yippee! Sort of.

Skis and boards are waxed. Psyche is psyched. Legs are ... well, let's not go into that. Everything is ready and rarin' to go. Now all we need is snow.

The Dead Zone—and, it appears, this year's opening—is a time for which coping mechanisms were created. Now if I could remember what they were, I might be able to cope with our AWOL snow pack. But coping this year is about as easy as finding a city that wants to host the Olympics™.

Part of the angst of waiting around for snow is remembering the kickass start to last season. You may remember last season ... then again, you may have just rolled into town and only heard of last season. Whatever you may have heard, or think you may remember, we were not skiing waist-deep powder on Remembrance Day. It was the next day, you substance-addled optimist. OK, several days later.

Coping is also harder than usual this year because this is allegedly an El Niño year, whatever that means. For those of you not entirely fluent in the language enjoyed south of south of the border, El Niño roughly translates into "the Niño". You're welcome. El Niño is the tarted-up kid brother to La Niña, who enjoyed some popularity on the Mexican women's pro wrestling circuit several years ago as a grotesque, masked villain, the kind of gal who favours sneaking up behind the golden-locked Good Girl and smacking her over the head with an ever-handy folding chair. But, in the best spirit of Dead Zone procrastination, I digress.

El Niño generally bodes well for Whistler's snowsliders, except in years when it doesn't. During one recent appearance, the kind-hearted, XY incarnation of El Niño brought so much snow with him that many features on Whistler and Blackcomb were distorted beyond recognition. Formerly steep slopes were transformed into advanced bunny hills because so much snow had built up at their bases.

Of course, that was just before global warming, a condition generally unrecognized south of the border, was invented. That's not entirely accurate. Technically, global warming had been invented by then ... but the origins of it were still unclear. One group, the scientists—at least those not on the payroll of oil or coal companies—believed man's never-ending quest for bigger SUVs and self-storage units was, if not the culprit, certainly more than a bit player. In the other camp, we had those who believed rotting trees and dinosaur farts were largely responsible; they now run the U.S.

But again, I digress. The problem with El Niño, global warming notwithstanding, is his playful fickleness. Sometimes he shows up early, sometimes late, sometimes you don't know whether he's here or not. Sometimes he roars in on a motorcycle with straight pipes, sometimes a Prius. Such a joker.

All this aside, the point here, assuming there is one, is this: You need distractions to get from now to then, then being the first time you get off a chairlift and start sliding downhill on enough snow to keep your bases off most of the rocks.

In the unselfish spirit of providing a public service, I'd like to offer a few kernels of wisdom on how to get through the next few days/weeks without completely losing it and rashly deciding to study for your real-estate license. If you're an old Whistler hand, you already know this stuff. If you're new to town, you just may avoid becoming one of us if you heed this advice.

First and foremost, alcohol is not a coping mechanism. It is fun, and recent medical breakthroughs have proven that a certain amount of it, taken orally and daily, is actually good for you. But a "certain amount" is an amount smaller than most of us spill during a reasonably sober night on the town.

Second, first things first. Over the years, experts on survival have pored over reports of people suddenly finding themselves in strange, hostile surroundings—Vancouver, for example. They have distilled their findings into a priority list of things you need to make sure you live to tell the tale of your strange journey. That list is equally applicable to each and every one of you who are, right about now, asking yourself just how long you need to be in this town before you can, without blushing, call yourself a local.

Here's the list: Shelter, water, food, alcohol, sex, drugs, rock 'n' roll.

If you haven't wrestled the shelter thing to the ground already, don't worry about it. That's not to say shelter isn't important. It's just to say you shouldn't worry about it. You shouldn't worry about it for two very important reasons. First, worrying won't help you find a place to live. Second, neither will anything else. You might as well pack your bag, call your folks and tell them to send you the money to get back to Ontario.

If that sounds harsh, it's not meant to be. It's meant to get your folks to send you enough money to stick around long enough to find a place to live. Jeesh, do I have to paint you a picture here? These are SURVIVAL skills.

Next, a job. You may already have a job. So what? Get another one. Haven't you heard about local businesses complaining about not being able to find enough staff? Of course, if this lovely spring weather sticks around, they'll be complaining about not being able to find enough customers. Some folks are never satisfied.

Finally, well almost finally, it's important to remember English is a funny language. Funny strange, not funny ha-ha, although sometimes it's that too. Until there's enough snow to open more runs than you have fingers, there are two words spelled and pronounced exactly alike but meaning very different things. You should bear these words in mind. Patient and patient. If you are not patient, in an adjectival way, you may be a patient ... as in at the local clinic. Choose wisely, Grasshopper.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, don't believe everything you read.