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Mountain Man


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Jonah Goldberg

MOUNTAIN MANSo, you may be wondering where everybody at National Review Online is. I can’t speak for everybody. But I do know that the webmaster got slipped some rufi at a Libertarian webmaster’s convention and now he’s curled up in the fetal position in the NR coffee room and all he can say is “The horror, the horror. there is no role for government. the horror the horror.” Meanwhile I am in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. I’m here for a couple reasons.

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The little lady — for want of an appellation that won’t result in me receiving excessive blunt force trauma — was fired up to meet with her Alaskan posse for some end of the millennium skiing. Me, I am here partly out of that aforementioned fear of contusions, and partly out of a desire to let the Y2K Helter-Skelter stuff work itself out while I am away. I will let the cats fight it out with the dogs; the Crips with the Bloods; the Right with the Left; the NCC-1701-A’s with NCC-1701-Ds; Twilight Zoners with the Outer Limiters; Maggies with Unibrows; Straussians with the Popperians; the French-haters and the ignorant; Ugly Georgers with the Robyn Byrders; Chained Heaters with Caged Heaters; the Hobbits and the Orks; the cosmic ray superheroes and the gamma ray superheroes; and of course, the iggy-the-bongos with the iggy-the-piggy-wiggies. Then, when I return to find the Statue of Liberty poking out of Jones Beach, I will be prepared to start society all over again — I will not let Dr. Zeus make a monkey out of me.

Now, if you understood all of that silly filler than you really should get a day job. If you didn’t understand any of that silly filler than you should quit your day job and watch a lot more TV. And if you don’t have anything nice to say about anyone you should come and sit right by me.

Which brings me back to Jackson Hole. Part of the whole charm of the on-the-road Goldberg Files are my continual efforts to find people who confirm my general bias against leaving the couch. Okay, such misanthropy may not actually be charming, but it gets me out of bed in the morning.

The problem is that I can’t find anybody really worth ridiculing around here. Vancouver and Seattle had their skeeves, New Orleans had the Goths, the world has its French, but in Jackson, at least so far, there haven’t been any people deserving of the Flounder Treatment (the process by which someone’s character would be markedly improved if he/she were smacked about the head with a semi-frozen flounder. A mackerel or halibut of sufficient size will do if no flounder is available).

Being a novice skier but a well-versed student of ski-school movies, I figured I knew all I needed to. First, I’d meet some wacky, fun-loving guys who just want to meet girls and have a good time. They’d have beer in their corn flakes and would constantly be making the owner of the lodge’s life difficult while hitting on her reserved, but secretly fun-loving daughter.

Meanwhile there would be these vaguely German ski-pros who practice night and day and take things way too seriously. If they didn’t turn out to be vaguely German they’d be embarrassingly WASPish. Either way, even though they had more money, were better looking, and practiced everyday, they could never be as good skiers or babe-magnets as the unwashed, poor, and wacky guys.

As my stay progressed, I would get into a huge fight with my girlfriend because she “caught” me in a hot tub with a surgically enhanced super model, naked (actually, the hot tub harlots rarely qualify as supermodels so much as calendar girls for a tool and die company). Of course, nothing was really going on between us and somehow I would actually convince my girlfriend of this — movie magic isn’t only about flying spaceships and the like. But just when everything seemed good between us, she would see the supermodel kiss me, uninvited, in the middle of the apres ski bar. Not waiting to see me rebuff the vixen, my lady would run out of the bar.

Meanwhile, the big race for King of the Mountain or Captain of the Ski School or We’ve Got to Win the Prize Money to save the Lodge or Loser Leaves the Mountain Never to Return (unless there is a sequel) would be fast approaching. At first content to simply write about the race, I would let the wacky guys convince me to compete because one of their own teammates would have broken his leg in an “accident” set up by the vaguely German guys. Outraged, I agree to put down my laptop and save the day.

There’s just one problem: I can’t ski. Quickly, in the course of one 1980′s semi-disco, semi-Steve Perry song, I am taught how to ski. Or, rather, my latent skills and long repressed memories of my hot dog days on East Coast, artificial snow covered hills is restored. There are more semi-naked women and much more hi-jinx but it all ends with the judges holding up a fourth “ten” after I cross the finish line — an unprecedented event. All the wacky dudes high five, the Germans throw their hats and goggles to the ground in rage, and my woman realizes how wrong she was to ever doubt me — because as we all know really good skiers are incredibly faithful.

Unfortunately, this has not happened.

But the food’s been pretty good and I’ve kept my pride as the eight-year-old kids on snowboards yell, “Watch me knock over the fat guy!”

HELP ME OUT HERENote to readers: if you haven’t figured it out yet NROnline is taking it slow this week — though new stuff is always available — as we prepare for the Y2K transition. We will be fully locked and loaded next week. That is of course if the mutant robot monkeys haven’t eaten all of our brains. Meanwhile, if anybody out there has a suggestion for where I should go for New Year’s festivities out here — while Ragnarok transpires back there — please drop me a line.


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