“They don’t give blue ribbons to losers,” Danny Boy shouts through a camel light cloud. Danny is my co-worker. We bump chairs on Powderhorn ski lift at Solitude Mountain Resort. Today is Saturday, so we’re tailgating the red snake, our term for the traffic-clogged GPS graphic that materializes down the canyon. I heft the PBR’s up onto Danny’s trunk. His jeep has a pirate flag on the roof. I tear open the box. The red white and blue cylinders stack like depth charges, waiting. After a work day or ski day (in my case both), nothing compares to a Pabst Blue Ribbon.
We distribute the beers. “They’re communal,” I say. Everyone cheers. It’s true, PBR brings people together. Even a Ski Patroller, in a clique often separate from Liftees, drifts towards our parking lot circle. We give him a beer. A pair of rich teenage girls skirt past on their way to the village. We offer them beer. They laugh and decline. Other mountain management arrive. At this point I’m mildly buzzed. A post-ski PBR turns your legs slack in the best possible way. Like Gumby. Management greets us but passes on the beer. They’ve got kids and spouses. We, for the most part, do not.
My fingers sting from the cold, made colder by the can in my hand. Others feel the same. The red snake has long since uncoiled, but we don’t want to pack up just yet. There’s a fire pit in the village.
Above gas-powered flames, we rip dab pens and discuss soaking, a Mormon work-around for pre-marital sex. Cold air presses in from outside. With each sip of PBR, a mask slips off, then back on, and I realize this is my first time seeing most of these faces. It’s a beautiful thing. We crush our cans and howl at the moon.
Enjoy cold or warm
from a can or a mug or a keg
best after a hard day’s work
Bridger Royce is an undergrad at St. Lawrence University. He lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, where he is weathering the pandemic as a ski bum. When not working, he enjoys trail running, backcountry skiing, and mojitos.
image: MM Kaufman