Ski Vows

Only global warming can save this marriage.

read somewhere that money squabbles and infidelity are the leading causes of divorce, but if my wife ever kicks me to the curb, it’s not going to be because of a lack of cash flow or an abundance of harlots. I’ll go on record right now and say if my wife ever leaves me, it’ll be because of ski season. Other men may be tempted by young baristas with lower back tattoos, but I only stray for fresh powder. Unfortunately, the South saw so much snow last year, I turned into Wilt Chamberlain, spending more time on the slopes than at home.

When the first big snowstorm hit in December, dumping 16 inches of snow on our typically warm burg, I explained to my wife that this sort of powder was a “once in a lifetime opportunity.” I had an obligation to ski it. You know, as a journalist. The logic was irrefutable, and my lady put up little argument, kissing me on the cheek as I skied off the front porch, two nine-month-old babies screaming in the living room behind her.

A week later, another big storm hit. Then another. And another. And I “carpe-diemed” the hell out of that snow. Robin Williams would’ve been proud. I skipped lunch to run cross-country laps. I stashed a set of skis and boots in my trunk, just in case I happened to pass a ski resort. I snuck out after the kids were asleep to do night laps around the neighborhood. My powder addiction rivaled anything you’ll see in reruns of Miami Vice.

After two months of constant snowstorms that left the mountains surrounding our town blanketed with skiable snow, my wife’s patience had grown thin. It turns out, you can only use the “once in a lifetime” excuse once in a lifetime.

It’s not just that I abandoned my wife during the winter of 09/10, (to be known from here on as “The Winter of Discontent”). She’s used to me being a flake. Every household divvies up familial duties differently. In our house, I’m responsible for picking up beer and taping important football games. My wife takes care of everything else. Don’t judge, it works for us. My flakiness only becomes an issue during ski season because my wife loves skiing as much as I do. If I split for a run, bike ride, or climb, she’s cool. But if she sees me trying to sneak the powder skis into the truck, the pans start flying.

Ostensibly, it makes sense if a husband and wife share the same passion. The couple that skis together, stays together, right? But what if one of the skiing lovebirds can’t ski all of a sudden? What if there’s an injury, or a couple of babies to take care of? Then what? According to the literature we brought home from the hospital, we can’t leave the babies home alone. So it’s clear that one person has to stay with the kids at all times. There seems to be no wiggle room in that matter. But is the other skier/parent expected suddenly not to ski too? Just to show solidarity? Even if there’s fresh powder? I don’t remember anything like that in my wedding vows.

I only bring it up now because the Farmer’s Almanac is calling for this winter to be as cold as last winter, with big storms hitting in January, February and March. I’d like to say I’ve learned my lesson from last winter, that I’ve matured into a responsible father and loving husband who puts his wife’s needs in front of his own.

But let’s be honest, I spent the entire off-season secretly buying new ski gear. The tiny corner of our house that I’m supposed to be converting into a playroom for the kids is stuffed to the gills with an ever-growing quiver of skis.

Even before the temperature dropped this year my ski buddy suggested we take a month off of work and family to rent a condo in Park City. He was serious. And I seriously considered it. After all, God created the internet so we could telecommute, right? And with the amazing video-chat technologies today, I could have breakfast with the wife and kids every morning…in high def. It would be like I was right there at home…in high def! Really, what would I miss?

I know skiing excessively is bad for my marriage, but the addiction is strong, and I don’t have the will power to say no to the powder. For most addicts, avoidance is the best approach to sustaining sobriety. My only hope is that global warming rears its ugly head just in time to save my marriage. Otherwise, I may “carpe ski-em” myself out of wedlock. •

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