My Charade

When I was in high school, in western Pennsylvania, the Ski Club was a big deal.  Everyone who was anyone belonged to the Ski Club.  During the winter they would take trips to the local ski resorts.  Since these trips always happened over a weekend, it was the custom for everyone, who went on the trip, to wear their lift ticket on their jacket to school on Monday.


What is a lift ticket, you ask?  It’s actually a dated ticket that you had to wear when you went skiing.  It proved that you had paid.  It was called a “lift ticket” because it allowed you to ride the ski lift to the top of the mountain.  Without the lift ticket, no skiing.


Well, I was never a member of the Ski Club.  I couldn’t ski.  My lack of coordination, combined with my two left feet and a real fear of getting hurt, made buckling into skis and sliding down any hill a non-starter.  This fact, at first, wasn’t a big deal. 


That is until I realized how many people in my high school joined the Ski Club.  I mean there were bus loads heading out every weekend the Ski Club had a trip.  It didn’t take long for me to realize that wearing a lift ticket on your jacket to school, on the Monday after a Ski Club trip, placed someone in very prestigious company.


And I wanted to be a part of that very prestigious company.  One problem: I knew that I couldn’t ski.  And I knew that I was unwilling to even try to learn how to ski.  Thus, I had a quandary.  I wanted to be a part of the Ski Club, but I didn’t ski.


Enter a very good friend of mine named Elliott.  He lived down the street and he was a member of the Ski Club.  I shared my quandary with him and he made a very bold suggestion.  No, it wasn’t to actually learn how to ski.  We had already been over my many reasons why me and skiing wouldn’t work out well. 


His suggestion was that he would give me his lift ticket after every Ski Club trip.  I would then attach the ticket to the zipper of my jacket and wear it to school with everyone else.  I then could be seen as a member of the Ski Club.  Without actually having to kill myself on a ski slope. 


I had two concerns about this bold and audacious plan.  First, if I was wearing Elliott’s lift ticket, then he would not have one to wear.  Thus, it would seem as if he didn’t belong to the Ski Club or go on the latest trip. Yet, so many people would have seen him on the trip.  How would he explain that? 


The answer was very simple.  Elliott, unlike me, didn’t need any recognition.  He didn’t have the longing to belong and be accepted, like I did in high school.  He was way cooler than me.  He simply loved to ski and that was enough for him.  He never usually wore his lift ticket, after he left the ski resort, anyway.  Problem solved. 


My second concern, with this bold and audacious plan.  Nobody would see me on the Ski Club trip, since I wasn’t there.  But, I would show up on Monday, wearing a lift ticket.  How would I explain that? 


This answer again was very simple.  Yet, slightly more devious and deceptive.  Since the ski trips always happened on a Saturday, I would meet up with Elliott on Sunday.  He would give me his lift ticket and he would then tell me about everything I needed to know from the trip.  He would tell me about the different runs down the mountain. He would tell me stories about what happened to other people.  In essence, he would give me enough ammunition that if someone did question me, I could supply enough empirical evidence to convince them that they simply didn’t remember seeing me. Afterall, each trip had busloads of students attending.  It’s not out of the question that someone wouldn’t have seen everyone on a trip.  Problem solved.


All that was left was to give it a try and to see if it worked.  Well, a few weeks later was the next Ski Club trip.  I met up with Elliott on Sunday.  He gave me his lift ticket, which I attached to the zipper on my jacket.  He then gave me all the scoop from the trip and off I went. 


On Monday I walked into school with Elliott’s lift ticket proudly displayed on my jacket, for everyone to see.  I had several conversations about the trip.  Some of which started with “Miller, I didn’t know you went this weekend?”  To which I was able to respond with enough actual information that proved that I was, in fact, there. 


The rest of that year, I was a proud member of the Peters Township High School Ski Club.  Despite the fact that I never once went on any of the Ski Club trips.  My charade was so convincing that I even had my picture taken with the Ski Club for the yearbook.  There I was, sitting next to Elliott, smiling and giving the “Rock-On” hand sign.  I had arrived, without actually doing anything!         


What about you?  Have you ever pretended to belong to a club in order to fit in?  Have you ever played a part, so that people would like you?  Have you ever wanted to belong so bad that you were willing to deceptively plan and scheme in order to fit in?  Have you ever wanted to be a part of something, but you weren’t willing to actually risk what it took to be a part of something?


I didn’t want to actually pay for my own lift ticket or risk personal injury learning how to ski, in order to be a part of the Ski Club.  I just wanted to look like I was a part of the Ski Club.  I wanted to pretend and play a part, in order to fit in.  I wanted all of the outward benefits, without any of the inward risk and work.  Does that sound familiar to you?  Just asking for a friend.