As we ceremoniously poured over the dog-eared guestbook at the end of the season, a few things were immediately apparent. First, resort guests really know how to enjoy themselves, and two, they really love Paul Mitchell (no relation to the shampoo guy). In the book, Paul has almost as many mentions as do the general managers and the owner. The resorts' resident Sommelier/Maitre'D/Cruise Director is alternately described as charming, wily, capricious, droll, funny, mischievous, and flirtatious. The adorations, it seems, change with the menu and the spirit of the room. But, the underlying theme remains the same. Paul is wellloved and is doing exactly what he ought to be doing. He has, pardon the pun, found his opus behind and in front of the bar.
He is tall -- some six feet and four inches of positive energy. His smile stretches from one side of the room to the other, and his kindness follows suit. Paul has been with the resorts for three seasons, but for just those five months of each year when the resorts receive guests and the dining rooms and dining tents are full. For the rest of the year, Paul is, believe it or not, a gentleman's gentleman of sorts - this winter, for a family of five living in the ski resort village of Whistler, British Columbia. When I spoke to Paul to learn from whence and when he came (Nanaimo, 1974), I remarked how very much like the inveterate John Cleese I thought he was. And get this - for a four-month period, Paul and John Cleese were neighbours, occasionally rubbing shoulders and exchanging dry wit at a pub in North London's tony Highgate district.
It gets better. Paul passed through Highgate on his way to Georgian Bath, where he was "man about the bar" at the privately-owned, four-star Queensbury Hotel. It was there that Paul grew his intense love for interesting people and the English language. It made sense then to him (and only to him), to migrate back across the pond and enroll at the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics in Boulder, Colorado.
Three years later, Paul emerged as a graduate creative writer and environmental scientist. Now, does that not sound like the perfect apprenticeship for his career at the Outpost? And, it is a career. When I ask him about the future, he says he is right where he wants to be, "taking a bit of the world off people's shoulders, making people happy, and playing a role in the making of memories."
Those of you who know Paul and his propensity for telling very tall tales, might be as suspicious as I was about the authenticity of the bits about Cleese and Buddhist poetics, but I know it to be true. I made him swear on his mother's good health. So kudos to you Paul, and kudos to mom. It takes a special kind of person to support the dreams of a dreamer.
Paul will be back in the cookhouse when the Outpost opens for the season in May, 2006.