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So what is a newyorksubalien...

I’m a New York subalien. Don’t get me wrong, I’m perfectly legal – it’s just my loving other half, official alien that he is, comes with a so-called “supermodel” visa that apparently denotes him as one possessing extraordinary abilities (falling asleep within 5 minutes of sitting down in front of the TV, remembering only 2 of the 3 items on a mental shopping list and not knowing where the dishwasher tablets live after 2 years in our apartment are just some of his many talents).

The same visa leaves me extraordinarily unable to possess that most American of entities - a “social” i.e. a Social Security Number. Calling it a “social” makes it sound like the password to some party-filled, fun-packed lifestyle. That’s not far wrong as without these all-important 9 numbers, you pretty much can’t have a lifestyle at all - no bank account, no credit card, not even a driver’s license.

So what does a subalien do? Well, like over sub life forms waiting for evolution to give them a leg up on the ladder of existence, I have plenty of time to observe and these, dear reader, are my observations…..

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Subaliens take on the Big One, where man meets moose and skis are fat

We’re back with a spring in our step and thankfully no breaks after a new planetary experience - skiing the wilds of Wyoming.

In true galactic exploring tradition, I’ve made it a family goal we visit as many states as possible in Planet America, in order to see its inhabitants in as many states as possible, so to speak. Therefore this ski holiday rather than return to the slopes of our much-loved Colorado, we decided to head a little higher geographically and try out Jackson Hole, referred to apparently as “The Big One” in the skiing community.

Things did not augur too well before our departure – Mini-Mum picked up immediately it was a little more out of the way than she is used to when I repeated the agent’s assurances the resort did not get busy at the weekend. Quote “There’s no big town around for anyone to drive from!” Plus she also quickly ascertained there wasn’t even a branch of that well-known coffee shop that has previously acted as one of our “basic criteria for holiday destinations”, the others being dishwashers in self-catering units (me), lots of shops for impulse buying (Superalien) and free Wi-Fi (Male Mini-me).

Then I committed the rookie mistake of looking at videos online of daring-do skiers, daring to do what I do not - jumping off crevasses and throwing themselves into razor-thin mountain corridors. I did however learn some essential vocabulary as many of these videos involved the (fortunately unhurt) skiers losing their skis and poles in all different directions, resulting in delighted shouts from observers of “Yard Sale!”  At first I admit I understood “yard sail” and assumed this was alluding to the billowing cloud of snow the poor skiers usually created as they fell. It took Superalien and Male Mini-me to point out the more obvious “belongings spread all over the ground as if on display for purchase”.

Needing someone to explain “yard sale” to me led to my second mistake. I was already slightly wary because of the reactions of many here in Big Apple when hearing of our destination (“steep and deep”, “a real skier’s mountain”, “how’s your medical coverage”). By showing Superalien and Male Mini-me said videos, I was then constantly plagued by Male Mini-me in particular maintaining how such and such didn’t look that bad and telling me the age of the youngest person to ski it (never mind their poor mother who aged 10 years the moment they did).

So it is probably fair to say that there were mixed feelings in the Subalien family as we touched down last week, divided between testosterone-filled males and cappuccino-lacking and knee-quaking females. I needn’t have worried. Jackson Hole is no hole in any respect, sitting in a 50 mile-long sun-drenched valley and full of cappuccino-making coffee shops (both in town and on mountain) and enough ski, moose, and cowboy-themed shops to make any impulse buyer happy. And we had a dishwasher and free Wi-Fi.

As for the skiing, I’d like to think the Ballygowan division of the Irish ski team as we call ourselves held its own on the mountain - not too many yard sales and no, I did not allow Mini-me to age me 10 years by trying to jump into afore-mentioned corridor.  All the locals had time for a chat - even the coolest of dudes (yes, they did call each other that) would break off their phone calls in the gondola checking their mates weren’t picked up by the local sheriff the previous night to ask where we were from and tell us where to head next on the mountain (and they did not suggest crevasses or couloirs).  

Over the space of a week we had everything from 10 inches of powder to spring snow. Superalien discovered “fat skis” which are not apparently designed for the portlier figure but are supposed to help you ski better in powder – either way, they worked.  We saw our first wolf, our first elk, our first moose (why isn’t the plural of moose meese?) and decided that while facial hair is big out here, trucks are even bigger.

We sadly left Jackson on April 1, an important day in our household where previous japes have involved peanut butter smeared on bathroom doors and ketchup sachets hidden between the toilet seat and the bowl (guess, who got that one). This year, Male Mini-me thought he had caught out Superalien shaking his bed at 7am in the morning – it took us quite a while to convince him it actually was a 4.1 earthquake, centred elsewhere in western Wyoming.

On our way out at the airport, I picked up the town’s freebie newspaper and found out that it too took April Fool's Day seriously. Amongst a host of great bogus stories was my personal favourite, tucked away in its Community Calendar - “French Ladies Society hosts workshop on how to drink responsibly with your children”.  In the big country, guess that also applies to the local sense of humour. 
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