Once upon a time, in a land far far away… I went on a ski trip with a group of military officers. And 2 female civilians. And then, of course, me. I think there were 11 of us. The men were a mix of navy and army guys, and one little U.S. Marine. The former Fort Ord Light Infantry base in Monterey offered their soldiers free ski equipment, plus the use of a ski chalet, situated in the breath-taking mountainous region of Lake Tahoe.
A rented travel van fit 7 of us along with all of the luggage and ski equipment, while the rest decided to drive up there in their little sports car. Which was a bad idea, since the Sierra Nevada mountains were under siege by gale force winds and snow. Before you enter the mountains, there was an official Snow Chain stop, where a pack of Sasquatch in orange jumpsuits laid down in the freezing ice and snow, and for $20 fitted your cars wheels with snow chains. This was some serious snow, more than I’d ever seen before in my life.
It was well after midnight when we slowly cruised into Tahoe. The streets were a claustrophobic maze of white, snow-packed walls, 10 to 12 feet high, with only the very tops of street signs visible. It was dark as hell; everything was blackened by a power outage. I don’t know how these men navigated those roads, because you couldn’t even see houses or trees. Just black roads unrolling into the darkness of night between walls of snow…
But these were military men, and they came prepared with an innate sense of direction.
When we pulled up to our chalet, it looked exactly like this one:
And the power was out.
And there were just 5 pieces of fire wood.
5 little pieces of wood to burn all night in hopes of keeping 11 people warm.
Resourceful men that they were, silence fell over the darkened room as luggage and duffel bags were unzipped. Busy hands deftly located bundles of candles, matches were struck and light began to ooze like honey all over the living room. A fire was started. In this soft glow we settled in for a cold night, and one Navy man from Oregon began his batch of Hot Buttered Rums. Other men strode boldly out into the freeze and snow and soon bashing and cracking thuds were heard. They had elected, in the spirit of survivalism, to crush a few vestiges of civilization. Future lodgers would now be deprived of deck furniture. Oh, well. We had to stay warm. right?
That furniture was cooked to perfection.
I made dinner by candle light as I was the resident ‘chef’ who fed these guys dinners on a weekly basis anyway. My room-mate was to be a very spoiled Russian girl, whom I’ll call Natasha. An over-educated, only child of Cold War Russian defectors, Natasha had a computer science degree and was working on both her law degree and her international business law Masters degree simultaneously. All the men were working on their masters degrees, whether in aeronautical engineering, space systems, government contracts or computer sciences. Me? I made sushi and sold advertising. duh.
But one should never underestimate the power of good home cooked food to draw in high quality, eligible bachelors. My life was just crawling with ‘em. But to no avail; they all suffered from “I’m a Stud” disease. Which must be contagious, because they all had it; it made them allergic to relationships.
The only known cure for “I’m a Stud” disease is having lots of meaningless sex, and strictly avoiding follow-up phone calls.
The next morning, the shower situation was strategized. Calculations were cross-referenced. There was still hot water in the water heater, so it was agreed by all that we would engage in quick, 2-minute military showers, something the navy men practiced on ships and subs. The army guys, for all I know, can manage a bath in a mud puddle.
The first two men up showered within the allotted time. Natasha was third in line for the bathroom. I was fourth. We were eager to hit the slopes, so 11 people and one bathroom, with maybe 100 gallons of hot water to share between them also dictated a get-it-done-quick policy.
Natasha? She would have none of that. She heard the house rules being barked out by a marine safe-guarding the only bathroom door that morning, gathered up her towels and toiletries, and nobody saw or heard from her again for the next half hour. She took a 20 minute shower. She stayed in there drying her hair, shaving her legs, applying make up, possibly redecorating, too. Bangs on the wall, loud knocking on the door along with bellowing complaints were all useless. When the door did finally open, and Natasha emerged from a mist of swirling steam, not a wrinkle of regret or shame infringed upon her regal countenance. She deserved a 20 minute shower and a half hour of bathroom time, made no apology, and from what I could tell bore no shame or guilt about the matter.
My turn. I get in the shower in a freezing cold bathroom, turn it on, and – thank you Jesus – the water ran hot. I reached for the shampoo, and just as the lather on my head frothed up into a really sweet foam – Razor-Sharp freezer cuts of icicles stabbing every point in my body rained down upon me like a cruel punishment.
No. More. Hot Water.
I came out of the bathroom, met face-to-face with Mr. Gorgeous, whom I shall call Brad – one of the handsomest guys I ever knew. We had hooked up a few times and we were embarrassedly avoiding direct contact in these close quarters. He knew I liked him and for some mysterious reason – I am stymied as to why? – he didn’t like me back. Clearly my physical imperfection graded against his flawless beauty had been the ruler against which I was measured. And fell short. So it was with barely hidden pleasure that I looked him navy-square in the eye and announced – “NO! MORE! HOT! WATER!”
He huffed. And he puffed. And he tried to blow me down with his indignant accusations that I’d used all of the hot water up…but with my sticky, sudsy hair plastered across my face, I just barely lost a grip on my bath towel when pointing down the hallway at our bedroom – “NATASHA!!! Natasha used up all of the hot water! Go blame her!” I squished and I squashed angrily away.
Everyone in the house began screaming and shouting what a selfish, spoiled brat Natasha was. Faces were made, scowls of disapproval, towels thrown down from the upper loft aimed at her head as she cleanly entered the common room, sat down, pulled on her new snow boots and batted her black eye lashes at no one in particular. Her light shrug of indifference as she coated her mouth with fresh lip stick suggested she hadn’t done a thing wrong. That 8 of us were headed out to the mountains to ski in our own filth mattered not to her at all. She was clean and beautiful.
At the beginning of our journey when the van had first pulled up to her parents home where the 27-year-old Natasha still lived, 3 men had wrestled with each other, literally tumbling out of the car, all rushing in a panic to be the first to greet her and carry her luggage.
By the time we dumped the little Russian Princess back at her home, the same men rushed, tumbling out of the van, to get her the f**k out of there. They literally threw her bags onto her parents front lawn, dove frantically back into the van, and we all pealed out of there with sighs of “good riddance!” and proclamations of “never again!”
Do you now, or have you ever known your own little Natasha?