(Not Quite) A Fairy Tale

For the next issue of the magazine, we gave athletes an assignment: Write a six-word memoir. What’s a six-word memoir, you ask? Well, the story goes like this … Someone once asked Hemingway to craft a novel in six words. His response—”For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” Deep stuff. Building on that idea, Mag writer Larry Smith had the idea to create a book. Ask celebs, politicians and regular folks to sum up their lives in six words. The result, Not Exactly What I Was Planning, is now a NY Times Bestseller. So, with Larry’s permission, we borrowed his idea and asked athletes to write their own mini-bios. Some of them were remarkably insightful. And all of us in the office had fun crafting our own.

After writing several drafts of my six-worder (“Life began on a horse farm” … “All I needed was a pen”, “Can’t hurt to try it once” … “Death is being still too long”), I settled on my most recent final draft:

“To make a short story long …”

This, anyone who knows me would agree, is Alyssa in a nutgraph. I talk too much for anyone’s own good, love to tell stories, and can’t go for a three-hour drive without arriving at my destination with an empty tank of gas and a full tank of stories. Perhaps you’ve noticed this if you follow the blogs. (Puerto Rico, anyone?)

Well, this past weekend, I drove to Plattsburgh, NY, with Lindsay and our friend and co-worker Neil/Sid to be a guest speaker at our friend Luke’s SUNY Plattsburgh sports journalism class. The next morning, we drove to Killington, VT, for the third and final stop of the U.S. Snowboard Grand Prix. The story was supposed to read like this: “Woke up early, three-hour drive, on the slopes by noon.”

That version never made it to print.

Click below for the story of how our day actually turned out. I’ll keep it brief. I swear.

**** **** **** **** **** **** **** ****

ONCE UPON A TIME, three friends awoke to find themselves in a mystical town called Plattsburgh.

“It’s cold here,” said Lindsay.

“I want to snowboard,” said Neil.

“Let’s get on the road,” said Alyssa. “After one game of air hockey at the game room.”

“Alright,” said Lindsay. “One game.”

A half hour later, the three friends, still dressed in their pajamas, loaded into Lindsay’s truck for the three-hour drive to Killington, Vermont.

“I’ll drive,” said Neil. “I love driving.”

“Good idea,” said Lindsay.


About a half hour into the drive, the three friends came upon the Grand Isle ferry, the only means of entry into the enchanted land of Vermont. After paying the one-way toll, Neil drove Lindsay’s truck onto the ferry and the friends settled in for the 12-minute ride across magical Lake Champlain.


“This is so much fun,” said Alyssa.

“We should get out of the car and take a picture,” said Lindsay.

“Great idea,” said Neil.

“Wait. Maybe not. I’m wearing polar bear pajama pants.”


As the friends floated along, Vermont began to come into view.

“I see it,” said Alyssa. “And you know what that means. Two hours until snowboarding.”

“Yay!” said Lindsay and Neil. “We’re almost there.”


As the friends drove deeper into Vermont, their minds began to drift to the day ahead. White snow swooshing beneath their snowboards, slushy Spring-like conditions, apres-ski beers at the lodge.

“This is such a pretty drive,” said Lindsay, 25 miles from Killington.

“It’s so peaceful in Vermont,” said Alyssa, 20 miles from Killington.

“What’s that in the road,” Neil thinks, 15 miles from Killington. “Cardboard? Newspaper? A freestyle ramp? I should drive over it.”

Kerplunk. Bang. Bang!

“Uh oh,” said Lindsay. “That was not cardboard. That was the lid of a corregated metal box that flew off the flatbed of the truck parked on the side of the road back there. We should pull off at the next exit and check the car for damage. I’m sure it’s fine, though.”


“Uh oh. That’s not good,” said Lindsay. “The gas only works if it’s in the tank.”

“That’s a lot of money draining onto the asphalt,” said Neil. “Have you seen what gas costs around here?”

“We should go for help,” said Alyssa. “But where the heck are we?”


With a gasoline faucet streaming from the tank, the friends made a few (very, very quick) stops and learned they were in a friendly village called Bethel, and that the wizards at Dean’s Auto Service could fix anything—even a dime-sized hole in a gas tank, circa 1998. But not right then. It was noon.

“The shop is about to close for lunch,” said Greg the mechanic. “We re-open at 1. Want a ride into town?”

“Sure,” said the friends. “How far is town?”

“About a half mile up the road,” said Greg. “You can eat lunch at one of our restaurants. We have two.”


Once in town, the friends cruised the local thrift store and settled on a game of Scrabble with only a few missing letters, a few 50-cent classics and a handful of gems from a shipment of Peruvian finger puppets that had just arrived.


Next, the friends stopped for lunch at the Cockadoodle Pizza Cafe. They played a friendly game of Scrabble, chatted with the locals, and met a friendly spirit named Merlyn. On the way out, they picked up a souvenir bumper sticker for Lindsay’s truck. “I Brake For Bethel,” it read. They inserted the word “down” in red marker.


When the friends arrived back at the garage, Greg was hopeful. He told them since the tank was drained and dry, he could attempt to apply an epoxy patch. That sounded magical to the friends.

“I hope it works,” said Neil.

“Me too,” said Lindsay.

“It will,” said Alyssa.


As the epoxy dried, the friends waited. And waited. And waited.

While passing time in the office, they learned Bob Dean was not simply the owner of Dean’s Auto Service. He was clearly the high ruler of this fine land. Bob Dean was the Bethel fire chief. And a Vermont horseshoe-tossing champion. And a pilot.

“We came to the right place,” the friends thought. “We are in quality hands.”

Just then, Greg came into the office.

“It’s dry,” he said. “And I think it’s going to hold.”

“Yay,” said Alyssa.

“Awesome,” said Neil.

“I will be the judge of that,” said Lindsay.


After a close inspection by qualified mechanics—and Lindsay—and a quick drive around the block, the patch job was deemed a success, and the friends were sent on their way.

But not before taking one final photo with their knights in shining work boots.

“Thank you,” said the friends. “You guys are the best. But we hope never to have to see you again.”

And, like that, they were gone.


Eight hours later, the friends arrived in Killington.

Sure, they didnt’ get to snowboard that day. But they had a great story to tell that night. And tomorrow was another day.

Not quite THE END.


  1. Francine Berra on March 19, 2008 at 9:43 pm

    One day I will read you my “Ode to Barbara” 2 families trip to Jamaica

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