Mount Blanc - A Fondue Romance

I was living in Paris. I was content. Paris offered me everything. It kept up with the urban pace I set for myself. But it's necessary to remember we live on a dynamic planet. No matter what the circumstances of life, you always, at some point, have to get out of the city. 

 I knew this professor who was leading a group of students on a skiing weekend. He asked me to go along. They were going to Mount Blanc, a beautiful mountain in the French Alps. 

 I had only skied a couple of times in my life. I was never any good, even on the small hills. What I remember is falling down a lot and being sore for a few days. But this was a chance to escape the smog and get some fresh mountain air. Being lost in nature is good for the soul.

 I thought there might be some pretty girls on the trip. Girls that skied seemed attractive. Plus they serve fondue in the winter mountains, my favorite food. 

 We met the bus at Montparnesse. I was the only one not connected with the group. Everyone was standing around with lots of luggage. People were awkwardly holding skis and poles. I showed up with just my backpack and a scarf. This guy looked at me weird. He was wearing a backwards baseball cap. 

 "Where are your skis, dude?" he asked me.

 "I don’t have any," I said.

 "Oh, you’re going to rent."



 "Well what are you going to do?"

 "I’m going to walk around and read."

 "Well what the hell."

 He didn’t talk to me after that. But it wasn’t so bad. I had brought two bottles of wine. There were a few cute girls. They were snotty Americans but as I drank the wine they didn’t seem so bad. 

 After the wine was gone I went to sleep. There was nothing else to do. We had those folding chairs that turned into beds. I was comfortable. This was a first class coach. Not a Greyhound bus. 

 In the middle of the night I was awoken by a hand down my pants. Maybe one of those American girls was getting a little frisky. I turned over on my side. It was the professor. He smiled at me. I tuned back over and he took his hand out. I didn’t sleep the rest of the night. 

 The next day I didn’t feel good. I was hung over and felt molested. I didn’t want to think about it. While everyone was making their ski arrangements, I sneaked out of the chalet and walked to a café. I ordered coffee and smoked cigarettes. They had these lounge chairs outside where you could lay in the sun. I reclined with the mountains around me. It was relaxing. Sometimes when I look at nature I can’t believe what I see. The peace it can bring and the beauty it inspires. Some people never get this solitude. 

 I ordered a beer to help with my hangover. A few sips was all that was needed. I took out my book. It was ‘A Prayer for Owen Meany’ by John Irving. I really got into it. From the beginning I couldn’t put it down. I realized I was reading an American classic. 

 I spent the afternoon reading and drinking beer. The cool crisp air and luminous landscape surrounded me. Last night started to seem like a bad dream. I told myself it was. 

 I went back to the chalet for dinner. They were serving fondue. I sat at a table with some of the pretty girls. It was just me, the girls and a Canadian guy named Zach. We were the envy of the other male skiers. Zach and I felt lucky without having to express it.

 We ate the melted cheese. It was fun watching the girls shove the stale bread into their mouths while the cheese dripped down their chins. The table drank lots of wine. 

 After dinner our table was the only one with energy left. Everyone else went to bed. We took more wine and went out to play in the snow. After an hour there was just four of us left. Zach, me and two of the prettier drunk girls. Zach started kissing the girl sitting next to him so I kissed the girl sitting next to me. Her name was Candi. She was from LA, but you couldn’t tell by her kissing. She was passionate not plastic. 

 The next day I woke up with a hangover again. The sun was shinning very bright. Candi had already left the bunk we shared to go skiing. The only one left was Zach. He also had a hangover. We admitted it was worth it. 

 Zach said he was going snowboarding and asked if I wanted to go along. I wanted to get back to my book but thought what the hell. He seemed like a friend. I find Canadians have a pleasant demeanor. Zach asked if I had ever snowboarded before. I told him I skateboarded for a few months when I was around fifteen. He said I should be fine.

 We got our equipment at a rental store. A northern Italian girl was working there. Her name was Gabriella. She had blue eyes and olive skin. The American girls paled next to her. She also spoke five languages and didn’t tease her hair or wear stupid make up. I fell in love. I no longer wanted to go up the mountain. After Gabriella got me fitted and equipped there wasn’t a choice. No turning back now. 

 We went up a gondola. It swayed back and forth in the wintry wind. I could feel nature’s force. The serenity the mountains offered yesterday vanished. The gale was blowing snow off the glaciated peaks. I discovered I was afraid of heights. Scared shitless was more like it. 

 Going down the mountain proved more scary than going up it. I started off slow. I would go a bit and then realize I was going too fast and then stop. The way I stopped was to turn the board sharp and fall over. We went down a few runs. I wasn’t learning as fast as I should. Zach was starting to get annoyed. I felt like I was ruining his day out. We got to another run and Zach got ahead of me. I tried to keep up. Then I found myself on a narrow strip that was a sharp decline. I started going at incredible speed. The only thing keeping me up was terrified stiff inertia. I saw Zach had stopped. He was waving his arms and yelling for me to slow down. I didn’t know it but in front of me was a run that snowboarders weren’t allowed on. I looked around. There was nothing on either side of me except a drop off and trees.

 I tried to stop. I turned to my right and my board went out from under me. My momentum took me off the trail and into the woods. I flew upside down and smacked into a tree. There was a branch between my legs. I got hooked and hung upside down for a few moments. I didn’t stay suspended long. It felt like forever but was only a couple of seconds. My boot came undone from the board and I tumbled down. I heard some French ladies skiing by. 

 They declared, "Ohh, la la." 

 Then I blacked out.

 When I came to, Zach was standing over me. With him was a rugged ski patrol man and the French women. The patroller was not amused. He said I was a stupid son of a whore in three languages. I understood him in two. The French ladies were surprised I hadn’t died. I kind of wish I had. They helped me down the mountain. I had to return my equipment. I explained to Gabriella what happened. She asked if I was all right. I told her I had a concussion. 

 She said, "Oh you poor baby."

 With her thick Italian accent it was the sweetest words I ever heard. The romance language of lust. I looked into her eyes and she looked into mine. 

 Gabriella and I went out that night. We went to a café and drank port wine. We enjoyed each others company. Loneliness settles into a mundane existence until you meet someone who snaps you out of it. I could have listened to her forever. It wasn’t just her voice but the things she said. I realized how starved for conversation I was. 

 The kid with the backwards baseball came up to us. Gabriella went for more wine. 

 "That is some hot chick, dude." He said as he watched her walk up to the bar. 


 "I wanna ride those peaks and valleys, her tits are like ski jumps, dude."

 "Listen, " I said. "I don’t want to be rude but we’re talking here."

 "Well what the hell," he said. "Yeah, yeah man, I gotcha." He slapped me on the back and left. 

 When Gabriella came back we finished the wine and went to her place. She had a small cabin a little outside of town with an outdoor hot tub. 

 She took her clothes off unashamed. She had no reason to be. Her body was athletically tight. The female form is truly nature’s greatest invention. Her breasts were something to be admired. Full and round with nipples pointing to the open night sky. She was a woman to be loved, not gawked at. I went to her. I took my hand and lightly ran my fingers over her cherry red nipples. She took my clothes off. We kissed smothering our escaping breath blowing upward. When it got too cold we submerged ourselves in the bubbling water. 

 We ate chocolate covered strawberries and sipped champagne. Gabriella smeared strawberries over my face and licked off the juice. I poured champagne over her breasts. She kissed me and sucked on my neck. I put my fingers between her legs. She was even hotter than the water. She straddled me and I went inside of her. She worked herself up and down. The movements built up, our heated flesh smoldering in synchronous motion. After I came I hugged her tight. In a better world I would never have let go. 

 In the morning I didn’t have a hangover. I left and never saw Gabriella again. But I always think of her. 

 I went back to the chalet but everyone was out on the slops. I returned to the café to read my book. That night it was time to go back to Paris. On the bus I slept next to Zach and Candi.