The Dangers of Waxing, or Lessons on finance and matrimony from the wax room

FasterSkierApril 10, 2003

I do much of the ski waxing in our house. I am not sure why this is. My wife has been racing competitively much longer than I have. However, she was racing at a level where there were coaches who tested and selected the wax of the day and just told her what to put on. This was also in the pre fluorocarbon/graphite/molybdenum era and waxing was much simpler then. The state of the art waxes were hydrocarbons or paraffin derivatives. Remember Swix Purple. I used it for about everything except when it was really cold and that called for Start Green. Now that was simplicity.

Today we still have the good old hydrocarbons but no self-respecting skier, even one skiing Back in the Pack, would use this wax for anything but training and cleaning their skis. No, today the waxing game has gotten much more complicated, subtle, and baffling. There are the hydrocarbons, the low fluorocarbons, the medium fluorocarbons, the high fluorocarbons, the pure fluorocarbons, and the graphite, and molybdenum additives. Now each one of these comes in various colors for application at different temperature, humidity and snow conditions.

Thus we come to the first hazard of waxing. This hazard imperils the safety of your wallet. I asked a mortgage broker for a home equity loan to buy ski wax. By the look he gave me I knew that this loan application was in trouble and I didn’t even have the opportunity to fill in my name. The bottom line is this fancy speed powder is expensive. If you purchase all the variants of these waxes there will be serious damage to your wallet and that will be before you invest in the necessary books, manuals and videos necessary to use all this stuff. I also forgot to mention the wax benches, irons, roto brushes, and structure tools. Now, any rational person would read this list and quickly deduce that you probably don’t need a lot of this stuff. But this same rational person quickly becomes a rabid consumer of all the latest wax elixirs after being passed on a gentle down hill by a rival on the racecourse. Irrationality takes over and the arms race of waxing has begun, no matter what the cost, for there is nothing worse than having slower skis during a race.

This brings me the to second major and perhaps the greatest hazard of waxing; waxing your wife’s skis. My wife has some pretty strong competitive instincts. If her skis are slower then anyone else’s she gets grumpy. This is perhaps a gross understatement of how she really feels. During a recent race she had slow skis. After the race she was angry, actually it was more than angry she was raging. It just so happens that I had waxed her skis. I crossed the finish line minutes after her and as I stood there in a dazed and somewhat hypoxic state she stormed up and let me know what she thought of her skis, the wax, the race, and the day. It wasn’t pretty. As I endured this barrage, I thought to myself that she just beat me by minutes so what was she complaining about? Her skis couldn’t have been that bad. As I came out from my hypoxic haze I also realized that I am not even on her competitive horizon. Kicking my butt was something taken for granted.

Although I often do a lot of the waxing it is a cooperative venture between my wife and I. As with any part of a marriage there are negotiations and compromises and blame. We discuss the possible weather and snow conditions for the race day and arrive at a wax combination. I then trundle off to the garage to get the skis ready. I think this is a male thing. It is well known that men look for any excuse to putter around in the garage and waxing skis is as good a reason as any.

If our skis are slow we both know that we jointly chose the wax. However, there is an undertone in her anger that seems to look for someone responsible. I think this is a female thing. As I take the brunt of her anger I can’t help but feel like the responsible party. In this state of mind I am easy prey and I think my wife knows it. For in one of the bolder gambits of the ski arms race, she announced that because of the poor performance of her skis in the last race she’s having her old skis stone ground and buying a new pair with complete stone grind and race prep as well. As I stood there with my mouth open, she delivered the coup de gras and said she was buying new poles too. She turned and looked me in the eye as if to say ” So what do you think about that?” I have learned a few things in marriage that have paid off and one of them is knowing when to say nothing. I said nothing but was thinking about my next trip to the mortgage broker. Perhaps it is time for a remodel of the wax room or maybe I’d better make that a bathroom if I was to have a chance at filling out the application.


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