Nancy Roman

I’m A Fast Learner

I hate the expression, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”

Learning has nothing to do with age.  Why just this year, I have figured out how to write and manage a blog, how to install and use a scanner, how to work my new iPhone –  I’ve even downloaded two (count ’em: 2!) apps.

I drove my husband’s truck with the plow attached. (I am not claiming to have parked it.)

And I learned how to make pretzels.

(I may need a bit more practice on the shape.)

But even though I believe you can learn anything at any age, I will admit that there are some things that are better learned when you’re young.

Like skiing.

I learned to cross-country ski at age 32, and I did pretty well. Of course, cross-country skiing is sort of like how you skated across the kitchen floor in your stocking feet when you were eight. And there’s nothing to be afraid of. If I come across a steep descent, I just snap my boots out of my skis and walk around it.

But at age 37, I met a man who ‘ski’ skied. Like downhill. Downhill skiing isn’t really downhill, it’s downmountain.

But I was game. (Actually I was in love, and therefore insane.)

So I went to a medium-sized local mountain with this man and his son. I persuaded Boyfriend not to watch me, and so he happily went to the black diamond hill with his eleven-year-old. I rented boots, skis, and poles, and inched my way to the instruction slope.

‘Slope’ was an exaggeration. The grade was about the same as the floor of my shower, so that the water runs into the drain. But I was cool gliding down the gentle path with the rest of my class. The rest of my class were toddlers.

“Don’t feel bad,” said the teacher. “Toddlers have a very low center of gravity. You are much more tippy, so it’s harder for you.”

I was pleased by this, since I thought by ‘tippy’, he might mean ‘stacked’, and that made me like my new ski jacket quite a bit.

After about half of hour of easy practice, I graduated. I went to the bunny hill. I had to get on the little ski-lift and take a short ride. Getting off was very brave. and then I made slow, wide (almost horizontal) zig-zags down the hill.

My boyfriend showed up and I did it again with him. I was very pleased with myself. And I had that little tag on my jacket that told the world I was a skier. It was exhilarating.

We broke up the next week.

The following year I met the man who became my husband.

And unbelievably, he was another skier!  But okay, I could tell him that I skied ‘a little’.

More unbelievably, he seemed to be in love with me. He planned a ski vacation, and when I told him I would rent equipment, his smitten little self took me to the local ski shop and bought me skis, boots, poles, goggles, and an even cuter ski jacket with matching pants, mittens and headband. I was a doll.

So we go to a REAL mountain in Vermont. I donned my new ensemble and we headed for a very big ski lift and a very tall mountain. Only it was called The Bunny Hill. “This can’t be the bunny hill,” I told my sweetheart.

And I got to the top and fell off the ski lift. “I’m okay,” I said cheerfully.

And we started down. DOWN.

My boots hurt, I couldn’t control my direction, and I was unable to make those big sideways swaths I had learned the previous year.  I went straight downhill like a racer, only with my poles flailing like cockeyed windmills.

For about thirty feet. I managed to stop by using my face as a brake.

After I got my head out of the snow, I sat down and cried a little bit. My sweetie tried to coax me back on my feet, and I cried harder.

“Can’t I take my skis off and walk down?” I asked.

Eventually we took it little by little, and he guided me slowly down the mountain. I skied all the way down in snowplow position. Which is exhausting.

And I didn’t ski again. And he married me anyway.

But I learned to ski as an adult. So don’t be telling me you can’t teach an old dog new tricks!

P.S. – I’m no coward. Why just this morning I brushed my teeth with that lethal weapon called the Spinbrush.


  1. visitingmissouri

    That’s amazing. I went skiing only once, always being passed by toddlers. At the end of the week, I did a mountain. My pace. But then again, I wasn’t blinded by a crush to my side. In those cases, I tend to take a little more risk. What’s next on your list to learn?


  2. I learned to ski at 6, my brother was 4; we learned in the Alps. You had to be able to walk up the slops with your skis on before you were allowed to ski down. By the time we were teens we were both daredevil skiers. I skied far into my twenties until I had blown both my knees out one to many times. I miss it though…

    I agree, we can learn anything at any age. Kudos on embracing that. As always love the art.


    • See… it’s much easier when you’re little.


  3. I am terrified to ski, so you are certainly much braver than I!


  4. I learned how to ski at college. My children find this hilarious – as in ‘You got college credits for learning how to ski??!’. Well, yes, I did. It was one of the hardest thing I learned, and the only thing that I still know to the exact same degree as then. Never got any better. Never got any worse. How odd is that? And, I agree, the little ski pass on your jacket makes you feel so smug and athletic and happy. It’s wonderful.


  5. bigsheepcommunications

    Skiing is one thing, but you’ve got to stop using that spinbrush!


  6. Hysterical! I had similar experiences without the boyfriends. I’m all about the the cute outfits (I had to buy my own) but the slopes, yikes! I once went on a ski weekend trip with a real ski club (my friend was a member) and never put on skiis. Everyone kept asking me why they didn’t see me and I just told them I must have been on lift while they were coming down. Never again. I like flat terrain…with temperatures around 80 degrees!


    • I’ve said in another post that you can only stand a temperature higher than your age….
      umm… uh,oh for you!


      • My age has not yet caught up with my preferred temperature range! I do understand why old folks move to Florida. I’m getting to like the heat more every year.


  7. I have never learned to ski. Trees are very hard and unforgiving.


  8. What a funny (and dare I say cute?) story! I’m hoping my boyfriend will take me to his cabin soon and teach me how to snowboard. I will report back with details 🙂


  9. Great story. And I give you props for trying. Me? I’d never get past the skilift! By the way, I love the pictures. Are you drawing these? They’re good!


    • Thanks. Yes, the drawings are mine. When I first started to add my drawings it was a little difficult…but now that I’ve gotten in the groove, it’s as fun as the writing.


  10. Funny Post! I really enjoyed reading your adventures on learning how to ski. I use to cross country ski and telemark ski. Face plants are a part of learning or at least that’s what I thought after surviving a few. I still have my ski’s I haven’t been in a couple years. I like your idea about learning new things good attitude probably = Happy Life. Just a thought.


  11. I was 40 when we moved to Switzerland. That year I tried to learn to ski and to speak French. I ran into a snow-covered stonewall the third time out and did manage to curse rather spectacularly in French. So I learned a little of both.


  12. “I managed to stop by using my face as a brake”. PRICELESS. Your drawings have always been good but seem to be getting so much better.

    I never took to skiing. Don’t like the cold but I was asked to go skiing for a weekend once. I begged off because I had a feeling there would be no skiing. I wasn’t ready for mountain climbing. I hardly knew the guy.


    • I never thought of mountain climbing as a euphemism for ummm…something else. I like it.


      • And thanks for the compliment on the drawings. I’m getting the knack for illustrations, and it’s fun.


  13. I love your drawing…and I want some of those pretzels. Yummy!

    I haven’t gone downhill skiing in 30 years, and then I had a similar experience to yours. I’d love to go again, but I’m afeared I’d break every bone in my old body now. I did cross-country last year and thought I was going to have a heart attack.


  14. Great story about love, determination and …well love (again). After all. Love trumps all.


  15. “his smitten little self took me to the local ski shop” – love it! And he married you anyway – he WAS smitten!


  16. A friend tried to teach me to ski as a young teen. I just didn’t understand why you would keep going back and forth, rather than taking the more direct route straight down the mountain. She seemed to lose interest in teaching me rather quickly. This was a fun post to read!


  17. I remember side stepping down a gigantic hill and some guy yelling from the ski lift: “Looks like you’re having trouble” yeah, no kidding Sherlock Holmes, how did you deduce that one?

    I like the bunny hill…real bunny hills that bunnies build out of daisies.


    • In more than 20 years since that day, I’ve never said, “Let’s go skiing.” I’m with you on the bunnies.


  18. I’ve never went skiing. It looks so scary! But you know what doesn’t look scary? Those pretzels. Recipe please. Better yet, just send me some. Shape means nothing to me.


  19. I love, love that picture! And I had a similar skiing experience. I actually tried to walk down the mountain because I was so tired of falling. But that took me even longer, and the people on the ski lift above me were making fun of me. It was the most frustrating day of my entire life.
    But I still want to try it again.


  20. As a famously tippy person, I stay away from the slopes. I am best described as post-stacked, which should improve my center of gravity. However, yesterday, while trying to demonstrate my leaping skills in honor of leap day, I got a whole two inches off the ground and fell to the pavement on my head. Uh, I’ve been head-injured a lot. Uh, I’ve been head-injured a lot.


  21. Very funny and very sweet story. I agree with you about still being able to learn at our age. Sometimes I think I’m even more determined to learn some things because I love the feeling of accomplishment at this stage of my life. Great story!


  22. I didn’t learn to ski until I was an adult. And I fall almost everytime I get off the lift.


  23. Dor

    Yes, you are surely a fast learner. I love it that you braved the spin toothbrush and your escapades learning to ski had me laughing out loud.


  24. pharphelonus

    Now I want a pretzel!


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