Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Mars & Venus: the two edged sword

This year two events happened to coincide about an hour apart in northern Wisconsin. The Intensive Training weekend for the guys and the Wild Women Gathering for the women. Planning for the two events was very different and most definitely had a gender bias. I happened to see one of the VOR's emails on menu planning, a communication full of 'I'll bring this and you bring that, and we'll have this for supper #2' type of thing. The communication on our event was, well, nonexistent. We all show up with some stuff and there you go. The GurneyGranny stated it perfectly when she commented that, "You guys all show up with the same sack of potatos, a big hunk of meat, and a case of beer and call it good". Not exactly but close. You can imagine my bemusement on Saturday when I heard four women in the warming cabin at the North End Loops and Birkie trailhead planning their ski day in the same detailed fashion.

The four women in their mid 40's, two sking on classical and two on skate skis. They were poring over trail maps and discussing distances, routes, and the expected endurance of their group like a person chews a piece of toast when they have a throbbing hangover. They kept chewing and chewing but the actual swallowing, the decision, kept getting put off. Anyhow, it was finally determined that Chris would go 2k with Patty and that Denise and Jen would take the 3k loop and meet them at intersection 63, where Denise and Jen would then take the 6k, leaving Chris get the drift. They finally left for the trail and we all kind of smiled. Our communication consisted of grunting 'I'm heading this way' and then winging it. The FamousCrimminalDefenseAttorney, attending the Intensive Training event all the way from Austin, TX, had done his 5 or 6k and planned to enjoy a cigar and a beer while we knocked off a few more K. Two vehicles were available and we all took off with the loose plan of meeting back at the cabin 'at some point'. I left my pack containing water, snacks, and my cash with the FCDA. RonO and the ManFromSnowyLegs had a bit more ambition than I did at this point. The cigar and beer supply back at the cabin had piqued my interest and I told the boys I was going to peel off and head back and hang with the FCDA. Somewhere out on the trail our fifth skier, the WoodFondlingBarrister, was also chewing up kilometers in his obsessed, compulsive, and extremely focused manner. Long story short, I missed a cutoff and was off on an additional 6 or 7 kilometer tour. When I got back to the cabin I looked around and saw no sign of any of the guys or my pack. So I walked down to the parking lot to put my skis in one of the vehicles and there were no vehicles. The bastards had left me there and headed to the Evergreen Bar. Not only had they ditched me, but they had absconded with my water, food, and money. I had the forty dollar deposit that had been forfeited by a guy who was ill and could not attend the event, and the plan was to spend it on 'healthful supplements', eg. carbo loading on Leinies. My fear was that I would not get picked up until the forty bucks was gone, not an unfounded fear given this crew, and that I was in for a long wait due to the reasonable price of pitchers in the north woods.

As I sat in the warming cabin our four ladies returned. Actually only three because one of them was missing on the trail. Apparently the well conceived plan had gone a bit awry and they were very concerned and discussing whether they should head back out to find her, when we spotted her skiing down the hill toward the warming cabin. The three were profusely apologetic as was she for losing track of them. They all had a figurative group hug and pulled out their energy drinks and pita and hummus snacks. The reception was not quite the same touchy/feeley lovefest when the boys finally showed up to see what happened to me. "Where the f@*k were you a#*holes, I've been stuck in this shack for a half hour!?" "Kiss my a** Olson, you said you were heading back and when you didn't show we figured you left with the other two guys to drink up that forty bucks before we got there!". Apparently the WFB and FCDA had left first with my pack. They found Podman and KingIronwood holding down bar stools at the Evergreen and left my pack with them. We couldn't even agree to ski on the same trail system and they had finished a couple beer earlier than the rest of us. To RonO and the MFSL's credit, I believe they only had one beer before heading back to Cable to retrieve me. The four ladies had offered me a ride, as well as some hummus, but I passed on both.

So which is better, obsessive planning or zero planning? And how should one react to an incident of that type, with gracious aplomb or a brain explosion? I'm sure the ladies had a great time and headed off to Cable for wine, light appetizers, and a spirited and positive discussion of the days ski and little mixup. Meanwhile we knocked off several beers, a couple Bloody Mary's,
one Brandy Old Fashioned and traded insults like tennis players trade volleys. We also had the deep fried grease platter, an appetizer plate consisting of chicken, curds, rib eye, mushrooms, and assorted veggies, all battered and seared in the same deep fat. I don't think any conclusive statements can be made on either the Intensive Training or the Wild Women weekend or the planning question, but we all had fun at both events in our own unique ways. The two images in the post are from the two events. I'll bet the reader can guess which image goes with which event. I think the bottom line is that a couple of gender specific events over the course of the year makes for healthy fun and underscores the belief that the Mars/Venus analogy is indeed an appropriate one.

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