Editor: This article, by David Susong, Cross-Country master skier, husband of Olympic skier Kelly Milligan, and President of The Utah Nordic Alliance (TUNA) in Salt Lake City, Utah, was first published in The TUNA News (see www.utahnordic.com)
This month’s article is a continuation of last month’s theme of road trips in middle life. However, this month focuses on a recent trip to West Yellowstone with my wife, our daughter and a friend rather then in the juvenile behavior of three-middle aged men. The friend a woman, I will call AM in an attempt to protect myself from charges libel and slander. Everything was different about this trip. The juvenile camaraderie and feeling of escape was gone. I took on the role of chauffer and baggage handler for the trip.
The baggage was distinctly different. The pink Barbie case stuffed full of manikins in various states of attire stood out. I can’t imagine Cullen showing up with one. But then again if he did, it would present an interesting picture. My daughter realizing that she might have to play with some boys on this trip also threw in two sets of bow and arrows and a couple of swords that made noise whenever they moved. These also caught my attention because every time I picked up the bag a ka chink bleeped out and I almost dropped it. AM showed up with a duffle bag full pots, pans and a hot plate. Mike had a lot of good stuff, tools, shovels and the like, in the back of his SUV but I can’t remember a complete cook setup.
Once we headed north in our truck my daughter stuck on her headphones and listened to a book while My wife and AM struck up a conversation at such a torrid pace that I couldn’t get a word out of my mouth before the topic had moved on to something else. I soon gave up and just drove tuning in only when my name was mentioned usually in the context of something not getting done or fixed. The conversation ranged widely from conditions of the bowels of a dog, a current veterinary case, to the idiosyncrasies of husbands. Again I tuned in a little late. I did tune in for the wax talk. AM has an almost insatiable interest in all things related to wax. I could actually participate in this conversation. It was as good as talking with the guys.
As we headed across the Utah state line the thought occurred to me that here I was traveling with two attractive women and a child and we are from Utah. I will probably be accused of practicing polygamy. I shared this thought with my wife and AM and was immediately derided. Their response was quick and cutting and generally went along the lines of, â€œIn your dreamsâ€ or â€œYou couldn’t possibly keep up with usâ€ and so on. Brutal. One of the unwritten rules of male camaraderie is that you always boost and encourage other male egos. We need this to help us survive the scathing attacks of everyday life.
After arriving in West Yellowstone we all settled into our hotel room and made preparations for the next day’s race. We all went to bed. I got into bed with my wife with my usual cold feet and she, in light of the polygamy comment, suggested that perhaps I should take my cold feet over to AM who promptly shouted, â€œNo wayâ€.
The next morning, I awoke to a rustling in the dark and the ding and clink of pans. There was a flash light over in the corner of the room. Pretty soon there were the sounds of water starting to boil. My daughter groaned and called out from under her covers, â€œStop the racketâ€. AM was up early working on her coffee and her eggs de jour. This is the first time I have witnessed such a ritual. First the aroma of coffee permeated the room and then as I peered out from under my covers there was AM, in long underwear and a headlamp, with pots clinking making breakfast. The eggs were underway, two eggs scrambled without yokes on toast. Now, the last time I went on a road trip with men, the breakfast of choice was donuts, double chocolate donuts.
After the race I came back to the room and collapsed. All I wanted to do was relax and read a book if I could keep my eyes open. The girls went shopping. They ravaged the retail establishment of West Yellowstone. Later that afternoon I was lounging in the room when they returned. My wife dug into her bags and showed off her purchases. She pulled out a pair of underwear briefs. AM admired them and exclaimed, â€œI should get some briefsâ€ insinuating that she wore something other then briefs. This piqued my interest and I asked, â€œWhat did she wear? Boxersâ€ A wave of color moved across her face as she turned red. Either I had discovered the truth or AM just didn’t like discussing her underwear preference with friends. It is amazing what you learn when traveling with women. I had no idea some women prefer boxers.