Maxed out 

The backbone’s connection to the jawbone


I don’t generally consider myself a particularly superstitious person. I don’t believe rituals, talismanic objects, charms or prayers will keep misfortune at bay. In fact, to the extent I am superstitious, I have latent concerns such things will speed bad luck and dark consequences to my doorstep.

I managed to navigate team sports without falling under the spell of “winning” sox, T-shirts, cleats, saints’ medals or obsessive-compulsive pre-game routines which, if not followed, worn or rubbed in exactly the same way they were when we won our last game, would mean sure defeat if not outright humiliation.

But I am beginning to get a little concerned and, maybe, even watchful about what I say for fear I’ll jinx whatever I’m talking about. Fortunately, this nascent superstition hasn’t bled over into writing. If it does, I’ll have to quit doing this and find an honest way to make, well, if not a living at least whatever part of a living writing a column cobbled out of thin air constitutes.

I don’t know when exactly I began to notice a strong link between saying I’d sure like something to happen and dooming it to never occurring and the reverse, saying I’d like something not to happen and watching in numb shock as it began to unfold before my very eyes. It might have been when I pooh-poohed the outrageous notion of Whistler and Blackcomb merging operations, or, more accurately, Intrawest gobbling up Whistler Mountain.

“That old chestnut?” I replied when the rumour surfaced. Word of the mountains merging had, at the time, become something apocryphal, like peace in the Middle East. The rumour bloomed about as frequently as skunk cabbage, only to skulk off and be replaced by equally outrageous fabrications… like the Olympics coming to town.

But, as they say, excrement happens.

A couple of seasons ago, after hiking to the peak on a stormy, early December day when the Peak Chair was taking a day off, I brailled my way down to Million Dollar Ridge and, slogging through hip-deep snow, fell into an airy, unconsolidated pocket of bush. Swimming to pull myself out, I muttered, in desperation, “Too much snow.”

Almost before the words left my lips I tried to suck them back in. Too late. Idiot. It didn’t snow again until February. Okay, maybe it did; but it seemed, in my self-made purgatory, like it was February before I’d done sufficient penance to see fresh snow again.

That was it. I was on guard. Superstition had moved into my neighbourhood and I’ve never, ever muttered those words or words like them again. Even last December, when the snow in my yard was eye level — my eye level — when the roads in Alpine were reduced to one-lane tunnels with 23-foot walls of snow, when I started making Zippy the Dog wear a Pieps when he journeyed out to heed the call of nature, even then I could be heard to say, “Sure wish it’d snow some more.”


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