Watching Vail's best biffs from the deck of Los Amigos.
By all rights, ski mountains and Mexican cantinas should go together like lederhosen and ponchos. But you don't see any dichotomy. Slouched on the sun-splashed deck of Los Amigos, cradling a goblet of tart-yet-sweet margarita, you even conclude that, aside from the snow-covered slopes, phenomenally wealthy Caucasians, and $12 enchiladas, Vail could be Mexico.
For the record, it is your fourth goblet of tart-yet-sweet margarita.
You've been tippling at Los Amigos since one o'clock, when the melt-freeze cycle that produces corn made the snowpack too wet, and you decided to check out the more interesting hydrodynamic properties of a sweating glass of icy tequila. Your Vail-as-Mexico theory seems to make more sense each time a little Cuervo seeps into your bloodstream, flushing logic to a place where brain synapses never go.
Think about it. As you roast like a chile pepper under a hot, Latin sun, a spectacle with all the prurient violence of a Mexican bullfight unfolds beyond your Oakleys: the slide-for-life of skiers and boarders down Pepi's Face, the steep final pitch of Vail's International run.
Thanks to the miracles of topography, Pepi's Face gets shadowed and slick while the nearby deck of Los Amigos bathes in sunlight. The result: rowdy margarita drinkers cheering the inevitable mishaps of tired sliders. It's the best après-ski entertainment in Vail.
Skiers crave high-speed yardsales for the same reasons our national symbol, Homer Simpson, enjoyed driver's-ed films of bloody accidents: "It's funny because it happened to someone else."
Sometimes Los Amigos patrons rank the wipeouts by holding up score cards. Unlike bikini slaloms and pond-skimming contests, this is a totally organic, unsanctioned event. It just happens-no more planned than refried-bean flatulence.
Suddenly, a corpulent skier bumbles over the lip of Pepi's and spracks. The mix of corn, crud, and ice offers no friction to the skier's nylon apparel, and he whizzes pell-mell down the slope. You and the rest of the crowd at Los Amigos yell and scream your approval, perhaps with a spirited "Olé!"
Sure, this bloodlust is kind of mean. On the other hand, the spill puts the victim that much closer to the deck of Los Amigos, where the twin narcotics of spring and alcohol can chase away his inhibitions. Namely, the inhibitions that prevent people from reveling in the misfortune of others. "Olé!"