It keeps coming to my attention over and over again that I am "Old School." I don't feel "Old School," and I hope I don't look "Old School," but there is a corroborating set of evidence that is growing to that effect.
Exhibit "A" would be my typewriter collection.
This is one of my seven old typewriters. This is a L.C. Smith.
Exhibit "B" would be the book.
I read books. Real books. Books that have covers and pages that you turn inside.
I guess Exhibit "C" could be my studio in Seattle.
It looks "Old School." More like "Old Schoolhouse."
There are many more "Exhibits," but I'd be embarrassed to show you my television set with rabbit ears. I watch it in the sense that I watch it collect dust. I prefer those "old books" to the TV any day. There is nothing flat about my television set, in fact it's quite 3D- but that doesn't mean what it does now. It just means that it takes up too darn much space in the room for an object that is hardly used.
There is an "Exhibit" that I'd like to show you, however:
These are my skis.
They are Olin Sierra V's, 180cm, to be exact. I think I bought them new in 1998.
I started skiing when I was eight years old.
This is a photo of me from my high school newspaper. I was a ski instructor in high school. Mostly I taught little kids how to ski. I worked at a small ski area in Tuxedo, New York called Sterling Forest. It seems to have a new name now: Tuxedo Ridge. But it is the very same place and to my "Old School" amazement, the trails are still the same names. You can see that on the map. (wow... this brings back memories... I could write a book. On paper. With a pen.)
But what I want to say is that I have been skiing for (yikes) forty-one years now. When I learned how to ski they made you lift your arm straight over your head and they gave you wooden skis that went to the tip of your middle finger. That's about two feet taller than you are in ski boots. (And by the way, the boots were hard leather and they had laces. Not buckles. Laces. Never mind about the bindings. They looked like bear traps, and that's what we called them. "Bear Trap bindings.")
I will admit there have been many fabulous advances in skiing equipment since then. In that photo above, I'm skiing on a pair of Rossignol Freestyles. Before that I had K2 Killy Riders. I couldn't find images for them on Google. But I did find a photo of my next pair of skis: Rossignol 4S Kevlars.
I still have these in the basement. They are 195cm long. That's over my head. Which brings up the topic of length. Skis have gotten shorter and shorter over the years. In my lifetime they have gone from almost as long as pole vaulter's pole to practically the length of the average skateboard. Okay, I'm exaggerating, but not by much.
This past week I went skiing at Whistler/Blackcomb in British Columbia, Canada.
This part of the mountain is called 7th Heaven, and it is. Especially when it is sunny and there is a ton of fresh snow.
I went skiing by myself, which had its advantages: one of which was that I went in the "singles" line and got on the lift much faster than the groups waiting for the high speed quads, or the gondola. I also got to talk with many strangers. Strangers from all over the world. It was enlightening and fascinating. And the one topic that came up the most was:
One gentleman (and he was older than me) called them "Vintage."
I replied, "I guess that makes me "Vintage," too."
Vintage? What is vintage? Here is the online free dictionary definition:
1. Of or relating to a vintage.
2. Characterized by excellence, maturity, and enduring appeal; classic.
3. Old or outmoded.
a. Of the best: played songs that were vintage Cole Porter.
b. Of the most distinctive:
I'm not really sure what he was saying. Could be #2 or #4 a or b... but I actually think it was #3.
My skis are thirteen years old. No, they are not the latest shape, size, or technology, but they work fine. I would go so far as to say that they work excellently. People on the lift rides kept telling me that the new, shorter, more shaped skis "turned for you." That made me laugh. I know how to turn. I have spent years learning and perfecting the sport of skiing. If I'm "Old School" for using these skis, then fine. I'll live with that. Even if I was a little hurt that one man called them "olive skewers." (Skis don't have pointy tips anymore.) Also, it was pointed out that Olin- the company that made them- doesn't exist anymore. (That is also true of my car: a hybrid Saab-Subaru which was only made in 2005 and a few in '06.)
So what does this all mean? Personally, I think it means that "if it works, don't fix it." "If the shoe fits, wear it." "If it's "Old School" be proud of it."
I will keep skiing on my old, vintage Olins... but I will confess that several men on the lift- older men- shamed me for not wearing a ski helmet. I've never owned a ski helmet. I wear fleece or knit caps. That's very "Old School" now.
Okay. I caved. I bought a helmet. Call me "Old School," but I'm not a dummy. I know it's smart to protect your head.
What do you do that's "Old School?"