On the morning of the first heavy snow, I turned to my wife and said, “I need…”
She abruptly cut me off. “No, you don’t.”
“You didn’t let me finish.”
“I didn’t have to,” she said, “I recognized the tone.”
“The one you use whenever you say you need something,” she said, “but just want something silly.”
“It is not silly.”
“What is it then?”
“I need cross-country skis.”
I thought skis more or less explained themselves, yet if I had to explain them, I would. “To ski,” I told her.
“Like you needed a kayak to kayak?”
“Precisely,” I said.
“Except you haven’t touched your kayak all year.”
She had me there. The kayak has spent all summer in dry-dock but I still need it, just not as much as I did when I bought it.
The reason I need cross country skis is because I will be utterly miserable until I have them. I am not sure how it happened but I caught the cross-country skiing bug without ever having cross-country skied – but once I catch a bug, there is no stopping it. I now have full blown cross-country skiing fever.
Things hit me like that.
Without the slightest warning, a passion will arc out of the blue and take total possession of me. It is as if Cupid stalks my woods with a quiver full of catalogs and takes pot-shots at me.
The kayak was like that.
I really wanted it bad. So bad that I couldn’t think of anything else. Every time I saw a car speeding down the highway with a kayak bouncing on its roof, I had to ask myself why it was not me behind the wheel.
It wasn’t just a boat that I wanted. What I yearned for was the contentment of meandering down the Cedar River or the peace that can only be found by plying the backwaters of the Mississippi.
Finally, I couldn’t handle it anymore, so I went out and bought one. It was everything I imagined it to be. I paddled the lazy currents of the Cedar River and worked my way among the sun dappled backwaters of the Mississippi until one day, while driving to the river, I spotted a group of mountain bikers flying along a trail.
WHAM! It hit me again.
I asked myself, what was I doing with this stupid kayak bouncing on the roof of my car when I could be out there pedaling madly along a bike trail?
I still needed the kayak – but not so much. What I really needed was the exhilaration of a mountain bike, so I bought one of those too. However riding a mountain bike in deep, deep snow is not exhilarating: a better word for it would be frustrating – which brings me back to cross-country skis.
It’s why I told my wife I needed them.
“Why don’t you rent skis instead?” she asked. This was a perfectly sensible approach but one that did nothing to quench the fever of my desires.
“Let’s go to town” she suggested, “you can drop me off at the quilt store and then go looking for a place to rent skis.”
“The quilt store?” I asked.
“Yes, I need…”
I abruptly cut her off and said, “No, you don’t.”
“You are right,” she admitted, “I merely want a few things – it is you who needs to drop me off.”