The thrill is (not quite) gone

hiram-walker-peppermint-schnapps-usa-10094612tI thought my daredevil days were over last week when I looked up at the beautiful snow-covered mountain and didn’t think about skiing or snowboarding down it, but rather looked longingly at the bar and thought, “What a gorgeous spot for me to hang out and have a hot toddy.”

Not that I’ve ever been the queen of all things daring and dangerous, but this year skiing just looked more painful than fun. It was finally time for risky business and I to part ways. We’d had a good run, but now it was time to slow down and enjoy the cocktails. Sure I’d miss that feeling when my heart starts racing faster at the top of a hill, and my hands get a little sweaty and my cheeks a little flushed, but I could live without it. And I’d feel really stupid if I broke my leg skiing.

Goofing around by a warm fireplace looked a lot more fun than goofy-footing it down the side of a mountain. If that means I’m getting old, I can deal with that. Truth be told, I’ve never been a fan of heights or cold, both of which seem important for skiing. I’m kind of glad I don’t have to pretend to enjoy myself through the terror just to earn my spiked hot chocolate anymore. I can skip the chair lift and go straight to the bar, and I’m OK with that.

Not everyone I know is willing to age so gracefully. At his 40th birthday party, a friend announced he had taken up surfing, even though he can barely swim. Another 40ish pal spent the week at a dude ranch, finally getting back on the horse after a few disastrous childhood attempts.

Getting in touch with your inner daredevil isn’t just an aging male phenomenon, either. One of my girlfriends recently went hang gliding for the first time–with her 8 and 10-year-old sons. Talk about taking your life in your hands. What do you do when they start fighting over the songs the birds are singing, or insist that you draw a line down the middle of the sky to keep them equidistantly apart?

Despite the warning signs, and the threat of public mockery in my column, on Thanksgiving my husband decided to take up snowboarding.

Keep in mind that this is the man who has to pop Aleve and Zantac to survive a round of golf. And now he thinks taking up a sport where the only way to stop free-styling down a hill is to free-fall in the snow is a good idea? My brother-in-law, who’s got to be almost 50 by now, also joined Zak on the slopes that day. You’d think he’d be old enough to know better.

Suffice to say that when we counted our Thanksgiving blessings, all night drug stores, extra strength painkillers, and Jacuzzi’s were high on the list. Zak and Brian checked off the “snowboarding” box on their life experiences list, and cursed the idiots who wrote the list.

I still get the need for new challenges, but I don’t really understand the desire to seek out new aches and pains. They seem to find me all by themselves without any invitation at all. But I hated to think that my aching back had completely won out over my daredevil ways. Surely there must be something I could do to prove to myself that I still had it.

A few days later we were off to watch UCSB take on Northwestern in the NCAA soccer playoffs. My father will probably ground me for writing this, but I’ll risk it. Rather than face the Wildcats unarmed in the cold November air, my sister and I snuck a bottle of Peppermint Schnapps in my purse to help fight them off. Sorry Dad, but it was really cold!

My heart started racing faster when the campus security guard asked if he could check my purse on the way in. My hands got a little sweaty and my cheeks a little flushed. So I did what any self-respecting, outlaw mom would do. I pretended I couldn’t hear him and kept on walking.

Maybe the thrill isn’t gone after all.

Originally published in theĀ Santa Barbara Daily Sound.

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