I met a couple of military pilots yesterday. Both flew combat missions over Iraq. The Navy guy flew F-14s and the Air Force guy was in A-10 Warthogs. I didn’t get too much more info out of them, though. For some reason, they kept peppering me with questions and even argued over who was going to ask the next one.
We met up again about twenty minutes later. Kim was with me this time, and after joking that they seemed to be stalking me, we learned they had to drive here because they were staying at their friend’s cabin the woods south of town and were not close enough to any of the bus routes.
I don’t know if it’s the excitement that comes with skiing, the rush of adrenaline from flying down a steep slope, or the simple joy of being out in nature and enjoying the snow. A shared enthusiasm leads to this sense of camaraderie among complete strangers that I don’t find anywhere else.
In the same day, I met a schoolteacher from Ohio who loves cross country skiing — don’t get her wrong, she still likes downhill (“…or I wouldn’t be out here, right?”), but alpine makes her legs tireder faster. A travelling nurse who took an assignment in Denver for a few months ‘cause he and his wife wanted to spend this winter skiing, and a house cleaner who said, “When you leave your condo, don’t throw out the non-perishables — we live on that stuff.”
Ski lift culture is a unique society which leads to flash friendships that last only ten or fifteen minutes. There’s a fleeting aspect to a conversation with a chair partner. You don’t have to worry about how to end it, there’s a definite termination point, and they almost never ask your name.