How I Disgraced My Family’s Name At 7,000 Feet Above Sea Level


Your family’s opinion of you is important, probably, which is why you tell them just enough about your life to keep them happy, but not so much that they start to prematurely age. My family is cool enough that they basically expect me to be a hedonist, but not so cool that they want to know about it, which is why I follow the general rule they’ve provided: “Just don’t let us catch you.” But, rules are made to be broken, and this New Year’s Eve, I smashed that one to smithereens.

We were taking our annual trip to Aspen over winter break with my aunt and her family, and my grandmother. I love to ski, but my real passion is the art of apres ski. It’s when you wake up at 12pm, get all dressed to go skiing, and then sit in the mountain top bar for a few hours before passing out and doing it all over again the next day. Being with my family, I was out of drinking shape, though, and it all led to one main event.

On New Year’s Eve, it’s tradition for my aunt and her family to attend a brunch on the top of the mountain, after which they ski back down to get home. I assumed this would be a classy event, full of mini sandwiches, and maybe mimosas for the most daring participants. Much to my delight, I was sorely mistaken, as this was the biggest display of debauchery I had ever seen to date, complete with children spraying Dom Perignon from their parents’ shoulders, grown men and women vomiting in the bathrooms, and the not-so sober star of Elf twerking on a table with my cousin. I was in heaven.

For those of you who have never gotten plastered while on top of a mountain on New Year’s Eve, let me give you some advice. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. It’s important to pace yourself, especially when surrounded by your parents and their friends. My second piece of advice — and I wish someone would have warned me about this, though I doubt it would have made much of a difference — mind the altitude. Being so high above sea level, coupled with the lack of oxygen in the air will pretty much cut your tolerance in half. My particular experience added an exclusively liquid brunch into the mix. Unless you count the slice of orange in my mimosa, I don’t recall ever seeing any food.

So there I was, on top of a mountain, hammered out of my mind, feeling pretty fearless. Until I met my mother’s eyes. She gave me one look, and it said “Pull your shit together before I murder you right here in front of your loved ones.” Coincidentally that’s the last thing I remember from that night. The rest of this story is from what I pieced together by gathering the memories of my family.

As I attempted to leave brunch, I fell trying to put my skis on, and thought I could play it off like I was trying to make a snow angel. I laid in the cold, motionless, until someone called me out on it. I made it 20 feet down the mountain, before falling, and getting a scolding from my mother, publicly. I had flashbacks to when I was 10 years old, being told I had better get my ass back and put on a helmet if I wanted to make it out of here alive.

I proceeded to ski the 10-minute run down the mountain. I vaguely remember trying not to kill anyone, and praying to whatever god would listen to help me make it through. It’s the closest I’ve ever been to drunk driving, and it’s not an experience I plan to duplicate. Somehow I made it home, but my struggle was not over yet. After ripping my ski boots off (which you know, if you ski, is no easy feat), I ran to the bathroom and proceeded to empty my liquid brunch into the toilet, while my mom held my hair back for me, and I told her I loved her. It was a magical bonding moment for us.

The next day was hell. I could feel the judgement from my entire family, grandmother included. Better still, I had apparently left my skis at the bar at the base of the mountain and had to go search for them, and I had to get on an airplane while feeling so hungover that I felt like I could vomit any second. After apologizing profusely to my extended family, I approached my mom. Her only thoughts on the matter? “You ski better drunk than I do sober.”

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I enjoy long walks on the beach with large bottles of wine.

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