Joanne Palmer: I say ‘Right on!’ |

Joanne Palmer: I say ‘Right on!’

Last Saturday, an epic powder day, I skied with my favorite companion – a Snickers bar. I boarded the gondola with a group of guys who looked so young I calculated they had five chest hairs between them. The only woman, I felt old enough to be their mother. Maybe grandmother. The guys were staring at their boots, heads bobbing to the beat of the music coming through their headphones. We rode in silence until I couldn’t stand it anymore.

“Hi!” I said brightly.

No answer.

“Great snow,” I trilled.

One looked up. “Ummmmm. Ergh.” He might have said, “Yeah.”

I chattered on about the snow, how I planned to head straight for “Closet” and then I finally had to give in to temptation:

“Don’t you guys have girlfriends?”

“Ummmm. Ergh.”

I took that as an affirmative and pressed on. “Why aren’t they skiing with you?”

“Can’t hang.”

“Ah, what does that mean?”

“Can’t hang. Takes them too long to get ready. Hair and stuff. “

“Ohhhh.” By now we were at the top. “Well, have a great day.”

“Right on.”

Right on? I said that in high school. “Right on!” I knew what that meant. I think a raised right fist sometimes accompanied the phrase.

I’m afraid I’ve reached the age when I have to ask for the English language to be translated. At the start of the ski season, my son and I went to a local ski shop to pick up his season ski rentals. The technician, a nice looking young man, (maybe he had six chest hairs) seemed over caffeinated as he said:

“Here are your skis. If he lays the smack down, and needs something else, come back.”

It was my turn to be monosyllabic. Ummmm. Ergh. What does ‘”lay the smack down’ mean?”

“You know, if he’s skiing really well and needs a high performance ski, come back.”

“Gotcha. I mean, right on!” I tossed back over my shoulder as we left.

Fortunately, my son is fluent in ski speak and can help me. Last weekend we faced a sign outside the terrain park that read: “You want to huck like that?”

“Honey, what does huck mean?”

“You can take a lesson to learn how to do those cool, crazy tricks.”

“No thanks.”

I’ve learned the hard way that trying to keep up with children is not a good idea. A few years ago, a boy challenged me to race him on the Alpine Slide. Astonished, I accepted. I gave the sled full throttle and whizzed down, careening around curves, sailing over dips and drops until I could see the bottom. While trying to stop, the sled tipped slightly, scraping my right thigh along the cement trough. I won, but the road rash was not worth victory.

Still, on a perfect powder day, it’s hard not to feel frisky. Short, shaped skis and two feet of soft snow made me feel like an adolescent instead of a card-carrying AARP member. I spotted a small jump and decided to go big. I prepared to be a huck-ette, hanging with the best of them. My smack down skis gathered speed on the descent and I got ready to soar. Instead, the tips of my skis augured into the opposite snow bank. I released out of both bindings and landed flat on my face. Poof! As I lay there wiggling my extremities to see if anything broke, I remembered why I only ski with a Snickers bar. Snickers can’t laugh at you.

I also remembered the advantage of middle age.

I can afford a massage.

Right on!

Joanne Palmer can be reached at

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