WARNING: The following column may not be suitable for all audiences. The discussion of lost limbs may offend some readers. Those who choose to proceed should understand that if they write the editor to complain, they will not have a leg to stand on.
Snowtubing for the first time, my daughter and I, dressed in bulky layers, trudged like the Michelin man to the lift line, dragging our apparatuses. From there, we watched the course.
I felt exhilarated by the promise of an adrenalin rush, until a man screeched past, belly down, yelling at people to disperse, as he skidded through spectators, over an incline meant to halt out-of-control tubers, and into the parking lot, where he wedged under an SUV.
The tedious extraction of the fellow continued as we approached the start of the queue. The man in front of my daughter, whom I noted had no left arm, tossed the lift operator the rope attached to his tube, plopped onto it, and suddenly jerked away, up an icy, well-worn path.
Comforted somewhat by the one-armed man bravely anticipating swift descent on a piece of inflated rubber, but still nervous, I sat my 5 year-old on her air-filled inner-tube and handed the rope to the operator. He hooked it to a metal bar attached to a cable. The rope tightened and my daughter's body lurched backwards and lunged forward.
Quickly I jumped into place and braced myself.
When he reached the top, the man ahead of my daughter disappeared over a white berm. Next, my daughter vanished.
Then, I slid over the hump in time to see my youngster veer out of sight, and the lift operator, detaching my tube from the bar, hold up a metal object with a shoe on it and yell, "Hey dude! I got your leg!"
My daughter hollered, "I ran over it! Sorry!"
I flew out of the chute into a collection area, where I bumped into my child who jostled the armless and, now, legless man.
While a woman skated carefully upstream to retrieve the limb waved conspicuously in the air, I sat motionless, wondering what to do. I couldn't exactly help the guy to his feet.
Furthermore, I had my own predicament. My caring daughter excitedly announced, "Hey, you dropped one of your arms, too!" Before I could snatch her and her tube out of the steady build-up of bodies exiting the lift and bumping into the vulnerable victim, she began examining the man's right side to determine exactly how many fingers, toes, arms, and legs he lost there.
Falling apart myself, I clutched my daughter's hand and both tubes and made a spectacle of us, trying to scramble away. No matter how firmly I planted my feet in the snowbank, my chattering offspring and I kept sliding down and colliding with the man's tube, jiggling him repeatedly as he helplessly waited for someone to reattach his leg.
When I finally hauled my burden to the launch pad, fear replaced mortification. The steep sheet of ice threatened to eat me alive, starting with my face.
As I hesitated, struggling between either lamely retreating in the direction of the immobile man or plunging to certain death, my daughter shoved off. With no choice but to follow, I thought, Heck, if a man with one leg and one arm can do this, so can I.
About that time, someone hobbled from behind, threw down a tube, and flopped on it, racing away at breakneck velocity.
Guess who? And the wind from his wake whirled me over the edge behind him.
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