SOME corporate spouses get to go to luxury resorts in the winter, for meetings in Florida, Hawaii and the Caribbean.
But I got to go to Canada . . . in January.
At least it was Quèbec. I speak a little French. My husband doesn’t. This made for high humor. He could only smile nervously as I told people, in French, what color underwear he had on, and what pattern or cartoon character was on the fabric.
Everyone looked at him and roared with laughter. He was totally clueless. He could only smile wanly. Next time, there’d better be palm trees, Bud. Live and learn.
Well, I shouldn’t be so ungrateful. We actually had a blast. On the last day, we had a recreational choice:
- Aromatherapy and a relaxing massage at the hotel (sounded great to me, but his body language was screaming that that was “wussified” and “no way”);
Or . . .
- Strap on ice cleats and portage a canoe over the frozen St. Lawrence Seaway (he beamed, but I scowled – what do I look like, Sacajawea?!?);
Or . . .
- Go snowmobiling in the scenic Laurentian Mountains.
Excuse the pun, but . . . COOL! We both beamed. We signed up.
It started off badly. I slipped on the ice in the parking lot, threw up my arms to try to balance myself, and delivered a powerful uppercut to the chin of a Quèbeçois woman. The surprising blow knocked her to the icy pavement.
“CRA-ZEE A-MER-I-CAINS!!!!” she muttered as we helped her up, apologizing profusely.
“I can’t take you anywhere,” my husband hissed, attempting to charm our way out of an international incident.
It got worse. We had to put on these enormous black snowsuits and clumpy boots, with helmets and goggles. We looked like East German border guards.
They were putting people on the snowmobiles two by two. But my Beloved wanted his own unit, so that he could go fast with no backseat driving “advice.” That meant I had to have my own, too. I was the only female driver in a group of about 20.
“Gas, à gauche,” the helper shouted over the engine. My foggy brain reverted to high-school French. OK, gas on the left. “Brake, à droit. Vite, vite!”
Wait a minute . . . wait a minute! Droit means on the right. Right? So you stop it with the one on the right. N’est-ce pas? Anybody? I knew vite, vite meant “go fast.” But I didn’t LIKE knowing that, because I didn’t WANT to go fast.
So much for driver’s ed. Everybody roared off, vite, vite. So I vited off behind them as best I could.
We went up the mountain in the pristine forest, although everybody went ‘way too fast for the goofy dame from the Nebraska Flatlands. At the top, there was a picturesque chalet, which in the Nebraska Flatlands we call a “bar.” We socked down the schnapps. That part, I liked very much.
But then came word:
A whiteout had arisen from the frozen St. Lawrence Seaway.
Ahhhhhhh! muttered the Quèbeçois. Sacre bleu! We had to get back. Vite, vite.
Everybody hopped back on their snowmobiles and roared off, again too fast. I sputtered along at the end. My Beloved motioned me to speed up. Vite, vite!
I tried. But they kept zooming around those hairpin curves in the worsening fog. I was afraid I’d plunge over a cliff or bash into someone. I locked my eyes on the taillight of the snowmobile in front of me, and tried to follow. It wavered in and out of sight. And then disappeared.
I stopped and idled. Hey! You guys?
The fog got thicker. I waited. And waited.
And panicked. I was alone! They were gone! They wouldn’t realize I was left behind ‘til they got to the bottom! Then, with the whiteout, how could they ever get back up here and find me?
I was lost! I was going to die! I was going to freeze to death! I would be a stiff! Literally!
No, I wouldn’t. I tried to encourage myself. I couldn’t freeze in that enormous snowsuit. They’d find me in the morning, and I’d be fine. Probably.
Please, God! Help me! But there was only silence and whiteness.
I thought of my husband and children. I got a lump in my throat. Tears fogged my goggles and froze on my cheeks. I wasn’t crying because I was going to die in my big, black snowsuit.
I was crying because I was going to die and I LOOKED SO FAT!
Just then, a snowmobile appeared. Its driver motioned me to follow. My eyes jutted out of their sockets, cartoon-style, focusing on that taillight. It led me all the way back down the mountain to the crowded dressing room. I stomped in planning to bonk my husband for abandoning me to save his own hide.
But first, I wanted to thank my hero. Everyone was still in their identical black snowsuits. I went around asking, “Who came back for me? Who led me down the mountain? Who saved my life?”
Nobody would take credit. They just smiled and shrugged. Not me! Not me, either, you cra-zee A-mer-i-cain.
It must have been an angel on a snowmobile sent to save me, vite, vite. †
Behold, I send an Angel before thee,
to keep thee in the way,
and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared.
— Exodus 23:20
By Susan Darst Williams www.DailySusan.com Radiant Beams Vol. I © 2016