Tag Archives: Relationships

Weekly High-Five Report: Older Gentlemen that Respect their Wives

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Last week at the Mayo Clinic, while John was getting his yearly post-transplant check-up, I walked around the campus drinking coffee, sat in waiting rooms flipping through dog-eared copies of Home Magazine and played Scrabble on my Kindle.

I also observed the people.

It’s no surprise that Rochester, Minnesota is full of older people. Some are there for annual check-ups, others are having that lump looked at, still others are dealing with much bigger issues. One afternoon, while I stood near the entrance of the Kahler Hotel across from the Clinic, sipping my Starbucks and warming my face in a sliver of sunlight sneaking between the tall buildings, an older couple arrived in a cab.

Clarence Hull, John Kircher, Kim Kircher

My Grandfather, the world's greatest gentleman

At first glance I could tell these two had been together a long time. After the driver deposited their single bag on the curb and left, the man looked at his wife and smiled. They were there for a visit to the Clinic. But they didn’t rush in to the hotel lobby right away. Instead, she looked up at the glassy Mayo Building and sighed. He followed her gaze, perhaps thinking about the early blood test in the morning that either she or he would endure. Maybe they were both wondering what the doctors would find. This might be the eve of a pivotal moment in their lives.

“You okay Ma?” He took his hand from the luggage handle and reached out for hers.

“Oh sure,” she nodded. But she didn’t smile.

“You sure gal?”

Now she smiled. A lifetime of understanding passed between the two.

I searched the ground for a private piece of curbside to look at, suddenly feeling like an intruder. I backed a little to the left, still keeping my face in the sun and sipped my coffee, trying to look anonymous. I was enthralled.

The couple could have been my grandparents, who celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary a few years ago before they both passed away. 75 years together. Can you imagine that? They’d been through a lifetime together.

The woman took his hand. “I’ll be okay,” she said. “As long as I’ve got you.”

I looked away. The couple stepped forward and the automatic doors of the hotel swooshed open and swallowed them.

I wanted to follow them and give them a high five. Way to stick it out. Way to stand together against the worst that life has thrown you. Way to make it this far.

I hope their check-ups went well, that the doctors didn’t find anything too alarming in their blood work. I hope they’ve now returned to their lives.

Perhaps I admire older couples because I hope that John and I will be an older couple someday. I hope that we both live that long. Someday if I have to face a scary appointment, John will be there to hold my hand and give me a high-five when we get through the worst of it together.

The Skiing Gender Gap: Another Perspective

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After such a great response from last week’s post offering a little advice to would-be women ski bums, I’m offering here another side of the coin: the politics of relationships on the slopes.

Fellow ski journalists John Naye and Claudia Carbone put together a “He said/She said” on the sport of skiing and I’m reprinting it here with permission. I’d be thrilled to hear your reactions to this one. Here it goes: (kk)

Ski slopes can be fertile hunting grounds for the sexes, but that Mars/Venus thing can also turn those slopes into a battlefield. Ski hills are the perfect place to test compatibility, but they can also test our patience. Can you survive taking a run together, riding the chair together, and agreeing on lunch together?

Not too long ago I was discussing this subject with a female friend of mine, who happens to currently be the President of the North American Snowsports Journalists Association, a position I also held a few years ago. Claudia lives in the Colorado ski resort town of Breckenridge, and because she works as a skiing ambassador for the resort, she sees her share of skiers and riders trying to work out their gender based differences. For fun, I asked her to write some comments about skiing with men to which I could write a counter point about skiing with women. Here’s a part of that.

She says:

Just try to keep up with Christina, photo by Andrew Longstreth

I love to ski with a man. I’ll take a date on the slopes over après-ski every time. But if you want to ski with this downhill diva, then pay attention. For starters, where does it say that guys have to be the leaders? You think you own the mountain. You get off the lift and zoom, you disappear. Okay, I may not always know where I am, but getting lost together could be romantic, could it not?

Guys love to talk the talk, especially in the bar the night before. Usually the ones who brag the most ski with the grace of Chewbacca. Of course, everything has got to be an unannounced contest: who can ski the fastest, the longest, the most runs, the steepest terrain. It seems that no matter how exhausted or frightened you might be, you’ll never ever admit it..

A bite of chocolate and a squirt of Gatorade isn’t lunch. I want a full sit-down meal. Besides marking the end of morning and the beginning of afternoon, lunch is an opportunity for a make-up check. You men do understand that, don’t you?

Mountain scenery takes my breath away. If you want to do the same, stop occasionally and savor the view. And speaking of scenery, don’t dress like a dork. Zip up your jacket, cut off that collection of old lift tickets, and don’t even think about wearing jeans as ski pants.

Another thing: I get so tired of hearing “Come on, you can handle this.” I’ll make that decision myself, thank you. If you lead me astray on the mountain, I’ll cut you off after dinner!

Now, let’s go rip it up.

He says:

Ah, get over it Claudia. If men didn’t lead the snow parade, there wouldn’t be enough ski patrollers in all of recorded history to find all the tender-gender types lost out there on the mountain. When’s the last time you actually saw a woman read and understand a trail map?

This guy can ski, photo by Kim Kircher

I love to ski with women too…but it’s not unconditional love. Since when did whining become an Olympic sport? It’s too cold, too hot, too steep, too foggy, too early, too late, just about too anything.

And how can there actually be “too much powder?” Why do women always want to have a leisurely breakfast on a powder day? Why am I the jerk if I want first tracks? You could happily meet me later, couldn’t you? I know you’d find that trail map handy then!

One of the biggest things that bugs me about skiing with chicks is when I ask them 500 times if they want to try something a bit more “aggressive” and they keep saying yes. Then I take them to a… BLUE run and…. HOLYMOTHEROFGOD… it all hits the fan, and I instantly go from Mr. Charm to Mr. Mean.

What happened to that women’s lib thing, you know, all that equal treatment under the law. Does the simple fact that I invited you to go skiing mean I get to pay for everything…. your lift tickets, ski rental, meals, spa bills, everything? Then, if I do, the first thing I hear is “that was an exhausting first run – I’m going to the lodge. See you at four.” Not much value for that $60 lift ticket, is it?

I don’t think you women realize your real ability. You may be the most technically sound skiers in the world – but will you push your speed a little….no way. I mean, where is the sense of adventure? Then you decide to stop and chat half-way down a run, then pout about being left behind. Save the chatter for the chairlifts, that’s what they’re for.

And one more thing. Don’t ask me – don’t ever ask me – if you look fat in stretch pants!

Thanks John and Claudia for offering your perspectives. I, too, often witness this push and pull on the slopes. Now dear readers, it’s your turn. How far has the sport tested your relationships? Hit the comment button and tell us your thoughts.