DEAR HARRIETTE: I am trying to recapture my days as a ski bum. I purchased skis from a friend, and I am working on getting boots and new winter gear. Over the summer, one of my friends told me she has a condo in Vermont that she stays at when she skis. This sounds like reliving my past! I want to score an invite to my friend's ski condo without making it seem like that is the only reason we are friends. How can I speak to her so she doesn't think I am a freeloader? -- Ski Bum, Boston
DEAR SKI BUM: Be straight with your friend. Tell her that you really want to go skiing soon. Tell her that you used to ski when you were young, and you really want to relive those days. With the natural excitement that you are exuding in writing this note to me, tell your friend that you have been working to secure all of the needed gear for skiing in anticipation of being able to go. Ask her if she would be willing to host you at any time this winter. Be honest. Tell her you know that this might be an imposition on her, but your longing to ski again is urging you at least to ask. Be sure to add that if she is not so inclined or if her winter is already booked up, you will totally understand.
Beyond that, contact ski lodges to learn what the cost is for a weekend. You can also ask to speak to the management and plead your case with them. Ask if they can offer you a special deal, and lay out your reasons for making the ask. Sometimes a great human-interest story is worth free publicity. If your story is compelling enough, they may agree to host you in exchange for telling your story to the local media.