I was a kid when we lived in Vienna, Austria. It was during the Frau Olga years when the food was spectacular and the wine flowed freely. For some reason, I was allowed a glass of red wine with dinner every night unless I requested Fanta.
At the time, my father was dating a stewardess (that's what they were called back then), named Suzi who had a very rich father. One particular weekend, he invited Suzi, my father, my brother, Frau Olga, and me to his chalet in the Austrian Alps for a weekend of eating and skiing. I knew how to eat. I didn't know how to ski.
At the top of a very big mountain, everyone took turns teaching me how to ski. How to turn. How to stop. How to ride the lift. Even now, I have a short attention span. Back then I had NO attention span. So, thinking I had mastered the art and sport of skiing, they placed a schilling in my mitten, for the lift, and told me to go down a few yards, then turn and stop. A quick shove to my back to get me started, and off I went.
I didn't know how to turn, much less how to stop. Down the mountain I flew screaming at the top of my lungs. I was avoiding trees and bumps and most everything until I slammed into some people taking a "ski break" toward the bottom of the mountain. Down we all went. No one was hurt. I was too horrified to even be embarrassed. Unfortunately, I lost my schilling in the snow and had no way to get back to the top where all my people were. I saw people side-stepping their way back up, but my skis were teeny weeny and it would have taken an entire day, so I sat in the snow and waited.
Eventually my people, my caretakers, my ski-instructors came down from the mountain top to find me. They were laughing and joking about what I good job I had done "skiing" down the grown-up mountain.
I wanted to hide. I wanted my schilling back.
Thankfully, that was our day of skiing. Time to stop, get changed and go for lunch. That I could do.
The place they chose for lunch wasn't a restaurant, really. It was more of a butcher shop with tables. Food is food when you're cold and tired. There was beer for them and hot chocolate for me. We sat at a table with a big glass window overlooking another room. A white room. Inside the room was a gigantic skinned and be-headed cow, tied and quartered from wall to wall, suspended in mid air. I was fascinated, at first.
A big man dressed in white walked into the room, took a very large knife, and split the cow from top to bottom, letting all of the inside stuff spill onto the concrete floor. A big pile of bloody stuff. It was quickly hosed down into a drain The cow was taken down and removed Everything went back to normal.
I didn't say a word. I didn't eat. I sipped on my hot chocolate, staring into the white room.
That was the day I learned to ski. I haven't tried it since.
Not even with the enticement of great food as a reward.