UNLIKE MY GRANDKIDS, I’m not into winter sports. Skiing scares me, and snowboarding could kill me, I know. But last week, while lunching on a pie in the Happy Valley mountain café, I reassured my granddaughter that her grandfather wasn’t always a couch-potato.
There was a time, I told her, when I owned a flying toboggan!
I was 13 years old. The youth group I belonged to planned a weekend in the snow. And when the call went out to make toboggans, I responded. True, I’d never ridden a toboggan before (I’d never even touched snow). But hey, I figured: how hard could it be?
Well, one week later, with tools and timber stolen from my dad, I, John Cooney, had single-handedly built the bestest, most fastest, most beautiful toboggan in the world! Yes, it was solid – no way would this baby fall apart! It was also stylish – with steel runners, a cushioned seat, and (wait for this) braking levers cunningly attached to each side so it could be STEERED!
On the night of our departure, as my toboggan was heaved onto a trailer, my friends were so envious. (Some of them had just brought along sheets of old plastic … I mean, how embarrassing!) And, on the long drive down, they each made me promise I’d give them a go.
Well, we hit the mountain early next morning, and I proudly dragged my work-of-art up the nearest snowy slope. But when I sat down in that cushioned seat for the inaugural flight, my speed-machine sank. That’s right – SANK! And when I rocked back and forth to get it sliding, it just sank deeper.
My friends offered to push, and I reluctantly agreed – but as soon as they stopped, so did I!
We hauled it up a steeper slope. (Man, that thing was heavy!) But no amount of shoving could get me moving downhill – let alone plunging from peak to peak.
By late afternoon I felt crushed with defeat. My flying toboggan was a flop. And no way did I want to take the stupid thing home. We dragged the stupid thing around a corner, hid the stupid thing behind some rocks, covered the stupid thing with snow, and left it on the mountain.
As far as I know, it’s still there …