The Pros and Cons of Cross Country Skiing
|For a Norwegian, I'm a pretty lousy skier. I'm not hopeless; I'm in my full right to laugh at the Danish and English tourists who for incomprehensible reasons come here to tumble in the snow, but I'm not a dedicated skier like most of my compatriots – the ones who, when spring is finally here and the daffodils are trying to break through the remaining layers of ice and snow in the lowlands, have to take a final trip to the mountains to see if they can squeeze out a hundred more miles of cross-country skiing before they succumb to the horrors of summer. Personally, I don't mind summer and sunshine at all.|
So I can count my skiing triumphs on one hand – or on one finger to be exact – but it's a triumph that changed my life more than an Olympic gold medal would have done.
I was in my mid-twenties then, and with a group of friends from university I had rented a timber lodge in the Norwegian mountains for Easter vacation. We were a mixed bag; some had just graduated, others were still students; some were in the sciences, some in the humanities, one was a law student, and one even a licensed doctor. But far more importantly: some of us were male and some were female; some were lovers, some had been, and some had even exchanged partners. We were friends, of course, but there was unquestionably a certain tension in the air, especially in the evenings after we had opened a second round of bottles. I should probably have counted myself lucky that I had never been involved with any of them, but that was far beyond my grasp of the situation at the time.
It wasn't love that was my Nemesis, but – what should I call it? Condescension and disdain, perhaps? Condescension and disdain as manifested by Karin, the youngest in our group and the most quick-witted and ruthless, a true master of scathing and unsettling repartees. She was as radical as I was conservative, and whenever we had a discussion, it would always end in one of her remarks making the others fall over in gusts of laughter, and leaving me alone to hold the fort, my cheeks as red and burning as if I had been skiing for twenty miles against the wind. She was quick, she was funny, and she had a perfect sense of timing, but what really bothered me was that she didn't seem that deep and clever – quite often I was certain I had the better argument, but what did my analyses and statistics help against her quick tongue and eloquent eyes? And the look she sent me afterwards ... No wonder I preferred to retreat to the rocking chair in the corner with my pipe (we were still smoking then), a glass of whiskey, and what I hoped was a sardonic look on my face. To be honest, I am sure she treated the others the same way, but I was too insecure and self-conscious to notice.
The first two days we went cross-country in two groups – the ambitious ones who were heading for lunch at a hotel 20 miles away, and the rest of us who were heading for the nearest mountain top where we would dig a seat in the snow, bask in the sunshine, enjoy the scenery, eat oranges, and drink hot chocolate. I was happy to see Karin disappear with the ambitious, including the doctor and the soon-to-be lawyer. I had always felt more comfortable with the humanists and the scientists. Skiing, I found, isn't all bad if you just take your time.
The third day, people decided it was time for Alpine skiing. Where I grew up, that was a big no-no – we ordinary people considered it a sport for the rich and effeminate; for people who couldn't be bothered by making it to the top on their own. I realized, of course, that times had changed, and excused myself by saying that I didn't have the equipment and would prefer to take a long cross-country trip on my own. I had to spend half an hour trying to find polite ways to turn down their offers to borrow spare boots, skis, and poles, but finally they gave up and got ready to leave. I was quite pleased to see them drive off and looked forward to spending a day in peace and quiet, but when I reentered the lodge, I heard a noise and saw a shadow moving.
"Hello!" I said.
"Hello," a voice replied, and then Karin's face appeared in the doorway.
"Didn't you go with the others?" I asked.
"Obviously not!" she answered, and then added: "I don't really care for downhill."
"Neither do I. But didn't they try to persuade you into going?"
"Would you try to persuade me into anything?"
"No," I said. "Point taken!"
There was an embarrassing silence. At least I thought it was embarrassing.
"Are you going skiing?" she asked.
"I was planning to."
"I'll go with you." Whatever happened to people's manners? In the old days one would at least say 'may I come with you?', but then I realized that it didn't matter – I wouldn't have found a way to turn her down anyway.
"Ok," I said, "but I'm skiing in my own tempo, with my pipe and an air of abstraction."
"As befits a mathematician," she smiled and somehow managed to look quite cute.
"I need to put on my gear," I said.
"So do I," she replied and disappeared up the stairs.
To my big surprise she was back down before me.
"I need to put more wax on my skies," she said. "I don't think there's much left after the trip yesterday."
"You want me to do it for you?" I asked automatically, cursing myself immediately as she probably knew much more about ski waxing than I did.
"Hadn't you better go stuff your pipe?" she retorted.
One of my weaknesses is that I'm not as devoid of competitive drive as I like to pretend. When we finally got our skis on, the air of abstraction was gone, and I had left my pipe on the kitchen table. Out of a mistaken sense of chivalry, I let her go first – and off she went! It was not the speed I would have chosen for myself, but for the first mile or so I could use the advantage of long legs and strong arms to keep up with her. Then the hill got steeper and her pace faster as she ran up the incline like a weasel. This is when I should have come to my senses and continued at my own speed, but as I have never liked losing to somebody half my size, I pulled myself together and followed her as well as I could. My legs felt wobbly, and my lungs seemed filled with lead, but somehow I managed to keep up with her, and the moment everything turned pink and I was sure I couldn't make it anymore, we reached the plateau on the top of the mountain, and she stopped to take a look at the view. Half blind I almost bumped into her.
"Quite an air of abstraction," she said bemused. "But where's your pipe?"
"Forgot it at the lodge," I panted.
She continued at a more reasonable speed, gliding effortlessly over the undulating moorland, shifting from diagonal strides to double poling and back again. I couldn't help admiring the way the muscles in her bottom contracted and relaxed as she first stretched one leg forward and then the other. It was a beautiful day, and I was slowly regaining my breath and starting to enjoy myself. The sun seemed to be shining from all angles as it was reflected from the snowy slopes and hillsides, and the few clouds on the horizon were almost as white as the snow itself. A mountain ridge was rising up in front of us, and to my own surprise I didn't mind that the tracks seemed to take us straight to the crest. She looked back at me and asked:
"How are you doing?"
"Fine," I said, and I wasn't even lying.
Halfway up the hill we had to shift to herringbone, but even that I didn't mind. She stopped to wipe her brow, and we turned to take a look at the view. Far below us was the track we had followed, glittering like a snake in the midday sun. Then she turned her skies upwards again and increased the speed. Stubbornly I followed – I've always been determined to finish what I have started, no matter how stupid it is.
The last fifty meters I had to let her go, and when I caught up with her at the signpost on the top, she grinned at me.
"Nice trip," she said. I just nodded. She took a drinking bottle from her belt and drank vigorously. "Want some?" she asked, handing the bottle in my direction.
"Got my own," I replied and tried to get to the bottle somewhere behind my back. She swung the rucksack off her shoulder, put in on the ground, and bent over to open it. Her bottom was making an almost irresistible target, and if I hadn't had my skies on, I might have kicked her off the mountain. She brought out a chocolate bar and looked at me.
"Want some?" she said. I had finally located the bottle behind my back and was trying to figure out what gymnastic moves were needed to get it out of its holder.
"Got my own," I replied as I finally got hold of the bottle and pulled up the cap with my teeth.
"God bless the child that's got his own," she quoted.
"Billie Holiday," I said. She looked me up and down:
"You look like one who would prefer the 'Blood, Sweat, and Tears'-version."
I stretched out my arm to accept the chocolate.
I had worried about the downhill slopes at the back of the mountain, but they were much smoother than I expected, and I made it safely down, although not quite in her assured and almost arrogant way.
"We have a choice here," she said. "We could take the scenic route back or the boring one. We took one yesterday and the other the day before."
It sounded like a trap.
"Why would anyone choose the boring route?" I asked.
"Because the other one is ... spectacular."
"And you don't think I would go for the spectacular?"
"Haven't seen any signs of it yet."
"One time has to be the first."
"So we take the scenic route?"
"Definitely!" She smiled at me:
"Wait till you see the scenery." She took the track to the left and I followed as closely as I could. Again the landscape was gentle and undulating, and there were even a few mountain pines growing here, sheltered by the ridge from the Northern winds. Then the tracks took a turn to the right and dived steep downwards.
"Look out," she cried, pushing with her poles a couple of times for extra speed. I followed, much more cautiously.
The tracks were firm and steady, and after a while I started to relax although the cold wind was whistling in my ears and bringing tears to my eyes. I could just make her out far ahead, squatting down with her poles stuck under her arms, trying to make herself as small as possible to reduce the air resistance. I, on the other hand, was beginning to consider air resistance my best friend – if I made myself big, I wouldn't have to plough, and I didn't want to plough as long as she was just whisking down the hill. We were below the tree line now, and small groves of dwarfed pines and birches were appearing and disappearing in the corner of my eye. As the slope started to flatten out, the first real tree appeared, and somehow it made me feel safe.
I don't really know what happened next. Perhaps I let down my guard a little too early, perhaps it was inevitable. To make things short: Behind the tree the tracks took a sharp turn to the right – and I did not. I had a feeling of flying through the air with arms and legs, poles and skies rotating in opposite directions. It seemed to last an eternity, but it was an eternity that came to an abrupt halt – suddenly I was lying in the snow trying to figure out which limbs were still connected to my body. Then I heard a voice say:
"How are you doing? Have you hurt yourself?"
You can say a lot about snow, but at least it's soft. Another thing you can say about snow, is that it's cold. I felt relatively unharmed, but I had snow everywhere: inside my sleeves, down my neck, under my shirt, all over my pants, between my shoes and my socks – even my ears seemed to be filled with snow.
"You unharmed?" she asked again as I was trying to get my skis in a position where it might be possible to get back on my feet.
"Sure," I said, but I wasn't sure at all. She reached forward to grab my poles and help pull me out of the snow.
"Nothing broken?" she asked as I got back up.
"Don't think so," I said, and then she started to laugh.
"It was definitely the most spectacular fall so far!"
"What do you mean?" I asked, turning my gloves inside out to get rid of the snow.
"We came down here yesterday," she replied, "and there's no way you can handle that turn if you don't know about it. We all ended up like you – although not quite so spectacularly. You looked like a flying windmill!"
"I felt like a flying windmill!" Then it dawned on me. "You mean you knew about the bend and you didn't tell me?"
She smiled her sweetest smile: "I didn't want you to miss out on all the fun! And I told you the route was spectacular."
I swear I didn't mean to say it, but after years of irritation, it just burst out of me: "Somebody ought to whip your butt!"
She turned quickly away, as if to take a look at the scenery, but not so fast that I didn't see the blush spreading in her cheeks. It was the first time ever I had seen her blush.
"I'm sorry," she said with her back to me. "It was just for fun! I didn't want to harm you."
"That's what they all say!"
If I had said A, I might as well say B: "The ones who are going to get their butt whipped!"
She didn't turn back, just continued looking out over the landscape. It really was spectacular; row after row of mountain ridges with the highest peaks in the background, ghostly-looking in the faint mist. At the bottom of the nearest valley, we could just trace the contour of the frozen lake between the pine trees.
"You mean you really want to spank me?"
I smiled, trying to turn it into a joke: "Oh, I have wanted to for years!"
"You know, you can be pretty irritating."
She finally turned back to look at me, the blush all gone by now: "I know. It's just me." There was a wistful note in her voice that I hadn't heard before, and I suddenly thought that one day I might like her.
"We better get moving on," I said. "I get cold with all this snow down my spine."
Again she took the lead, but at a reasonable pace this time. I couldn't help admire the ease and elegance of her stride, and under the anorak, her bottom seemed to be winking to me.
We made it back without any further accidents, and I even managed to make a reasonably professional stop turn at the end of the last steep slope down to the lodge. The others weren't back yet, and we found the key in its hiding place and went inside. She disappeared into one of the bathrooms, and I took another look at yesterday's newspapers which lay spread all over the kitchen table. Suddenly the telephone rang (a mountain lodge with a telephone line was a big luxury in those days), and I picked up the receiver and got Arne, the soon-to-be lawyer, on the line. He told me that the rest of the bunch had decided to eat down in the valley, and asked if we wanted to join them. I headed for the bathroom to ask Karin, but the same moment she came out the door, wrapped in a towel and with another towel around her head like a turban. She looked at me:
"I don't fancy an extra drive down those roads. Couldn't we just stay here, you and me? I'm sure we could find something to cook, and there's plenty of wine." She stopped for a second, perhaps sensing my doubts. "I can be nice, you know!" I didn't, but somehow I was willing to give her a chance. And I couldn't help hoping that the towel would drop off as she walked up the stairs.
I looked in the refrigerator and found two steaks and some vegetables. "Will that do?" I asked as she came back down fully dressed.
"Looks fine to me," she replied, "but it's a bit early yet. Why don't you go shower and stop smelling like a real man?"
"Didn't you promise to be nice?"
"May need to have my butt whipped first, it seems."
"I'll take care of that when I'm back."
The shower felt good and brought my stiff muscles back to life. I put on the loosest and most comfortable clothes I had and skirted downstairs. She was standing in the middle of the living room with her hands on her hips.
"When are you going to do it?" she asked.
"Spank me!" The blush on her cheeks made a strange contrast to her aggressive stance. I didn't know what to say. "You said I deserved it – that I have deserved it for years!" she continued.
"It was just a joke!"
"Oh no, you know it's true! I know it's true. And you have been wanting it for so long!"
"Stop kidding," I said trying to find a way to hide the erection that was growing in my pants.
"I have been hassling you for years and this afternoon I almost got you killed. How much does it take for you to spank a woman?"
"Do you want to get spanked?"
"I don't want to get spanked. I need to get spanked! For your sake – and for mine."
I had no clue what she meant, but I couldn't really deny that the idea was tempting, at least not as long as something was trying to burst out of my pants.
"But that would mean a real spanking," I said, "not just some love taps on your bottom."
"Did you ever think me one for love taps?"
"Never even considered the idea," I said and grabbed her wrist. "If a spanking is what you need, a spanking is what you're going to get." I dragged her over to the sofa and sat down. "Get those pants down!" She stared at me. "You know what a spanking is. Get those pants down!" I repeated. Slowly she lowered her sweatpants to the top of her thighs. I pulled her arm, and she struggled to keep her balance, but when I pulled a little harder, she had to give in and landed clumsily across my lap. It seemed to me that I had already burnt all bridges, so I grabbed the waistband of her panties and pulled them down.
"You can't!" she screamed.
"I just did," I replied.
Then I looked down at her bottom. I had been staring at it all day, running up the hills, stretching out over the moors, bending on the downhill slopes, and it had seemed so strong and muscular then, almost frightening, and now – now it looked just soft and vulnerable, almost as white and pristine as the untouched snow on the mountain slopes. I couldn't help stroking it ever so gently.
"Is that what you call a real spanking?" she asked.
"No, but this is," I said and slapped her bottom much harder than I had planned.
"Ouch!" she said, and then and I slapped her bottom again. "Hey, you're really good at this!" she screamed.
"I'm good at anything I put my heart to," I said as I lifted my hand for the third stroke.
"And I didn't even know you had a heart! Ouch!"
"Well, you're about to find out!" I said as I changed my tactics and let a rally of slaps land on her bottom.
"You're a beast!" she screamed, panting heavily.
"Seems you just unleashed one," I retorted and stroked her bottom gently. It was getting nicely pink and hot.
"Perhaps that's enough?" she suggested.
"For almost killing me?" I asked. "And for five years of constant harassment?"
"Only four," she protested.
"Haven't I known you for five!"
"Yes, but I've only harassed you for the last four."
"How extremely generous of you! What went wrong the first year?"
"It was the second year something went wrong."
"What went wrong?"
"I'll tell you if you let me up."
"Not in a long time yet!" I stopped stroking her and lifted my arm. She must have sensed what was coming and clinched her bottom. I waited till she relaxed again, and then I resumed spanking her with a steady rhythm, alternating between her bottom cheeks. I could hear her breathe heavily between the strokes, and after I while she started letting out small yelps for every whack she got.
"That's enough," she said after a while. "Please..."
"That's for me to decide," I answered, continuing in the same rhythm. "I'll give you ten hard ones, and that will be enough for almost killing me today. And then, of course, we have the harassment to take care of."
"You're ..." she started, but then she got other things to care about. When I stopped, she was breathing heavily, and I thought I heard a sniffling sound. I let her rest for a while, and for once she didn't seem to have anything to say.
"Now, I think we need a little more for the harassment part," I said. "Five years is a long time."
"It's only four!" she interrupted.
"Let's see," I continued. "Would you mind taking a look in the kitchen drawer and see if there is a solid wooden spoon out there?" She shook her head, but when I gave her two hard slaps on her bottom, she crawled up and stumbled across the floor with her pants around her knees. I heard her rustle in the kitchen drawers, and then she returned with a wooden spoon as sturdy as the timber lodge itself.
"That will do," I smiled as she shuffled back across the room, shielding her mound with her hands. She handed me the spoon, and crawled back over my lap. I lifted the sweatshirt further up her back.
"Four years of constant harassment," I said. "I think that needs some explanation. But perhaps we'd better get you in the mood first."
I didn't use much force, but the wooden spoon obviously got through to her in a way my hand hadn't been able to. After ten or twelve strokes she was sobbing audibly, and when she turned her head, I could see traces of tears on her cheeks.
"Perhaps you can tell me why you have been harassing me all this time?" I asked.
"Because you're stupid! Because you don't understand anything!"
"That's hardly a reason!" I said and gave her two solid whacks with the spoon. She gasped and yelped.
"But if you hadn't been so utterly clueless, it wouldn't have happened"
"What wouldn't have happened?" I gave her two more whacks. She was definitely sniveling now, and her voice was beginning to break.
"All the harassment, of course!" This was so stupid that I gave her four new strokes. She howled.
"You can't harass people just because they're stupid!" I said.
"But you're not stupid, you're just dumb!"
I rested the spoon on her bottom: "Would you care to explain the difference?"
"Well, you can talk all day about economics and politics and mathematics and whatever, but you don't have a clue to what a girl is thinking and feeling."
"You mean somebody like you!"
"So you haven't even noticed I'm a girl!" I gave her two swats for obnoxiousness. She screamed.
"It has actually struck me that you're a girl".
"So that's not a gun I'm feeling in your pants?" It was my turn to blush, and I gave her four strokes to divert her attention. "Come on," she cried, "that's not fair!"
"Let's sum up." I said. "You've been harassing me for four years because I'm dumb but not stupid?"
"You're finally getting it," she sighed.
"And I'm dumb because I don't understand women's feelings?"
"What kind of feelings?" I suddenly realized I had forgotten to spank her for a while and gave her two quick swats.
"For instance, that they might be in love with you!" I stared down at her bottom. It was starting to bruise, and I told myself I better be a little more careful in the future.
"That's just an example, isn't it?" I gave her two gentle swats.
"Didn't you tell me that real life examples are the best?"
"In most cases," I said, "but they also tend to be quite complicated, and then it may be better to use a more stylized example to get the main idea across. Actually, ..."
"Oh, fuck you, fuck you, fuck you!" she screamed. "Don't you hear what I'm saying? I love you, I love you, I love you!" I gave her three more swats for offensive language. She turned her head back and looked up at me. Tears were running down her face, ruining the make-up I hadn't noticed she'd put on. "I have loved you all these years. Why the hell do you think I have given you such a hard time? Because I have been head-over-heels in love with you, you stupid bastard!"
"Has it ever struck you that you might be a little hard to understand?" I asked.
"It's just normal," she said. "Haven't you read 'The Taming of the Shrew' and 'Romeo and Juliet'? It's just normal that people pretend to hate each other!"
"That's hardly the theme of 'Romeo and Juliet'," I objected.
"Well, 'Tristan and Iseult' then, or whatever it was!" I considered giving her two more strokes for misrepresenting the Western literary canon, but the red circles around her sit spots were beginning to turn purple, and I decided to stroke her gently instead.
She put her face down on the sofa and started to cry softly. What could I do? I just sat there, stroking her, stroking her. After a while she turned her head and looked up:
"Do you mind making love to me? Just once, so that I know how it is?"
When the others came back long after sunset, we were sitting in separate chairs, she reading a book, I still pursuing yesterday's newspapers. It was a quiet evening as everybody seemed tired; a party of four were playing cards over in a corner, a few were discussing plans for next day's trip, and the rest of us were chatting lazily. A couple of times, Karin would pick on something I said, but I had found my tongue now and had no problems coming up with a quick retort. She just smiled at me, but the others noticed, and Arne even said:
"Whatever has happened to Finn? He seems to be the first person in the Universe to hold his own against Karin!"
When I had gone to bed and was on the brink of sleeping, I heard my doorknob squeak and saw a shadow rush stealthily across the floor. It slipped quickly under my blanket.
"It's cold in here," she shuddered.
"Not for long," I replied, and then her lips found mine in the dark, and we made love for the second time, trying to be so quiet that the others wouldn't hear.
And since then, it has been the two of us – in good days and in bad, as they say – for more than thirty years. Despite her promises, she has never stopped harassing me, but it seems we have found a way of dealing with it.
A winter romance in the Norwegian winters
Tillagd 23 jan 21:12 #Man som top #Erotik #Kvinna som bottom #Fritid/hobby #Vänner #Relationer/kärlek #Sex #Natur #Smisk
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