Gentleman caller

“Uh, hi,” the boy said through the shaky cellular connection. “Just curious … Is your daughter home?”

And there they were – the words fathers have dreaded since the dawn of time. Those five syllables (the ones that have spawned such creations as the chastity belt, the nunnery and the peptic ulcer) had finally hit me at home. For this dad and his 8-year-old, they were arriving well ahead of schedule. I did my best to hold it together.

“Um, yes,” I replied, machismo rising angrily in my throat. “She is here. Who might I ask is calling?”

The young gent was either well-rehearsed or unimpressed. Instead of panicking and hanging up, he casually jumped into the conversation. “Cool,” he said. “I’m in Skyler’s class. We talked yesterday and decided we should get together and hang out.”

My rising manhood promptly shriveled on the vine. I nearly misspoke, wanting to say, “Actually, young man, my third-grader is not at home. She’ll call you back .. sometime in the next six to eight years.”

But I maintained, stowed my geriatric alter-ego and played the sensitive new-age Dad instead. Puffing a little testosterone back into my tank, I replied in buttery tones, “Just a minute. Allow me to get her for you.”

After calling her name and handing off the phone, I thought back. I knew that call would be coming, but I’d also elected to ignore the warnings. It seemed just days ago that I was watching as my tiny dancer performed her spring tap dance recital. She styled across the dance floor, batted her blue eyes, flashed a wide smile to a packed Community Concert Hall and eventually gave a flirtatious bow. Following a rush of applause, a good friend tapped me on the shoulder and offered up a dose of wisdom.

“Skyler was sensational,” the sage woman whispered. “But you, my friend, better get ready. I predict that your property will be crawling with boys in just a few short months. My recommendation? Go out and get a gun.”

Sure enough, just a few short months later, Skyler was hanging up the phone and approaching me with all the bravado of a 19-year-old. What came next wasn’t quite “my new boyfriend needs to borrow your truck,” but she did throw me for a good one.

“Here’s the deal, Dad,” she said. “We’ve decided we’re going skiing on Saturday, and I need you to drop me at Chapman Hill. You don’t need to stick around. We can take care of ourselves.”

So it was that Father-Knows-Best found himself parked at the base of Durango’s only north face, more than happy to “stick around” and keep an eye on my little bird and her fledging bee. Plus, I was beginning to bend a bit and even starting to like our . If there’s one thing I can respect it’s a ski date (summer singletrack outings also work, if any 8-year-old lads happen to be out there reading).

Skyler and I showed up a few minutes early so I could coach my little lady in the fine art of the rope tow and select a location where Mr. New-Age Sensitive could park his arse and provide a firm but supportive presence (think plainclothes police officer).

Skyler nailed the tow on her first go and quickly ticked off five half-Chapmans, sampling some of the best manmade this side of the greater San Juan Mountains. After a sixth trip up through the scrub, she carved down the pack, popped over the lower table-top and skied up to me with a desperate look in her eye.

“He’s not here, Dad,” she pleaded. “You’ve got to go and find him.”

Don Juan Jr. just happened to roll up at that most opportune moment. He gave Skyler a sly wave, slipped on his helmet and casually clicked into his skis. The little dude then skied right past us, hopped onto the tow and rode the rope to the heights of the hill – a feat none other had dared on that bluebird day. The Cassanova of Chapman released the rope, threw his teeny boards into a perfect jump-turn through Durango’s steepest pitch, effortlessly floated down the slope and caught a little air at the bottom for flourish. Following a perfect hockey stop, the mini-man looked me directly in the eye and shook my hand. “Hi, we talked on the phone,” he said through the goggles.

Skyler was sold (and Dad was actually glad he’d left the gun at home). The youngsters took off and ticked off the first of a dozen laps at America’s greatest muni ski area. And once the sun finally dropped behind Smelter Mountain and good old Chap had burned holes in Skyler’s mittens, it was all smiles.

“That was awesome,” Skyler’s new ‘friend’ told me. “Thanks for making it happen. Nobody else in our class ever wants to come out skiing.”

I quietly agreed – it was awesome, so awesome that I took home a pointer from Generation XYZ. Don’t tell my beloved, but I’m toying with the idea of swinging her out to Chappie for a little ropy romance on Valentine’s Day. I’ve already holed away $20 for our tickets and have two sets of work gloves with the words “rope tow” written all over them. However, there’s still one hitch. I made the phone call and I asked the question, but I’m still waiting on her Dad for permission.

– Will Sands



In this week's issue...

January 25, 2024
Bagging it

State plastic bag ban is in full effect, but enforcement varies

January 26, 2024
Paper chase

The Sneer is back – and no we’re not talking about Billy Idol’s comeback tour.

January 11, 2024
High and dry

New state climate report projects continued warming, declining streamflows