Another day on the Italian slopes. There isn’t any snow but the artificial snow makers have been pumping it out faster than that Italian chick who’s decided to give blow jobs to something like a dozen Italian cities. Actually she’ll be in Verona when we’re passing through. Just saying …
Anyhoo, the snow quality is surprisingly good. We’ve been having a fine time between bouts of malingering in the hotel spa and stuffing our faces with glorious Italian haute cusine and all of it washed down with simply gallons of Italian red wine. No silly ‘no alcohol January’ crap for us. What moron thought up that piece of brilliance anyway? There’s nothing more depressing than another January; another reminder that another year has whizzed by and pretty soon people will be calling me sir and standing up to give me their seat on the train. That’s what alcohol is for, people. Dulling and washing away the pain and agony of our miserable and futile existence on this wretched planet.
Where was I? Oh, skiing. Well, skiing for the good lady wife but snowboarding for me. Fifteen years ago when I saw snow for the first time and freaked the fuck out I had two choices – learn how to snowboard or learn how to ski. I chose snowboarding for the obvious reason that it looked cool and I wanted to sleep with all the hawt snowboarding chicks. Fifteen years later and I’m wondering if I made the right move. With snowboarding you can go down a hill fast while performing lots of cool tricks and stuff. But that’s it. Skiers don’t just go down the hill. They can literally go up the hill as well. And they can go on the flat parts too. And they can go cross-country. And they can also do nifty tricks.
But I’m fucked if I’m going to go back to being a neophyte again so snowboarding it is.
This morning we got into the telecabina and it whisked us up the hill. There were a couple of Italian guys in there as well. We did our best to ignore each other and everything was going well until one of the Italians pulled out his phone. He pressed a few buttons and then suddenly we were all being regaled with the delightful tones of some Italian football coach pontificating at length on how much his team sucked and how it just wasn’t acceptable any more. It was a video he was watching and he had jacked the sound up to its maximum volume which filled the little cabin with a screeching sound that seemed ready to cause the phone to explode at any moment.
I glanced at the good wife and I shook my head. She knew what was coming.
“Are you seriously going to listen to that all the way to the top of the mountain?” I said to my tormentor in his native tongue.
He smiled nervously and then laughed in a contrite manner and I thought everything was settled but then he kept watching the video. I regarded him with some surprise and then I gave him another serve.
“Why don’t I just pull out my phone and start watching a video too? I can get the wife over here to do the same. She likes this awful Dutch television show where these losers all go and marry awful foreigners in third world shitholes and then watch as their lives fall apart. How do you like the sound of that? This place would be a fucking pure corner of heaven with all that racket going on.”
“Are you serious?” he said.
“You’re quick to catch on,” I replied. “No hiding anything from you.”
There was a five second pause and then he grinned and turned off his phone. He then told me that I was right and the four of us spent the next five minutes in a joyful critical observation of how much people suck with their stupid mobile phones.
“I work here in a hotel,” my new best Italian buddy said, “and the thing that drives me crazy the most is the people that sit down to dinner and they don’t talk. They just sit there on their phones! How the fuck can you be doing that even at the dinner table? The other night there was a power blackout for half an hour. No wi-fi, no internet, we had to light candles. And what happened? Suddenly the dining room was loud. People were talking because they had no other choice. It was like a miracle. It even sounded alien to me.”
“What happened when the lights came back on?” I said.
He shrugged. “They immediately went back to their phones and the room fell into silence once again. It doesn’t really matter what we stick in front of these imbeciles to eat. They’d shovel any old shit into their mouths as long as they can still surf the internet.”
I reached into my pocket. “You know that threat that I made earlier about me watching a video too? That was an idle threat. I wouldn’t have been able to follow through with it.” I showed him my little Nokia phone that lets me send texts, make calls, and nothing else.
His eyes shone with pleasure. “Now that is a real fucking phone! Everyone should have a phone like that. We could go back to being sociable again.”
We reached the top and we bade them farewell. I strapped on my board and off I went. The snow was excellent. The sun was shining. There weren’t too many people around. And at that moment I looked around and I realised that my wife wasn’t behind me and we hadn’t arranged a meeting spot if we happened to lose one another. With a sinking feeling I remembered that she had left her phone back at the hotel on its charger. My threat had been even more idle than I had imagined. Where was a phone when you needed one?