It will probably come as a surprise, shock even, to those of you who regularly read this column — thank you both — to discover I sometimes say things I perhaps don't exactly mean. That's not to say I don't believe what I say or say things just for effect, but sometimes I say things when really, I'm just thinking out loud.
As you might imagine, this can cause problems. Sometimes people think I'm crazy when one of those thoughts get spoken... and there's no one around I might actually be having a conversation with. At those times, people, not unjustifiably, have thought I'm talking to an invisible person. If I notice them noticing this I'll occasionally look back at them and say, "Well, are you going to answer me?" Other times, I fall into mock prayer. Either way, it's a tactic known as Sharing the Discomfort.
More frequently, the problem that comes up is when I speak what should be a silent thought and Wonder Wife is within earshot. Not infrequently, this means I'm about to have to do something I was really just thinking about doing someday... maybe... in my dreams.
And that's how I found myself signed up for a series of skate ski lessons last month.
I have no doubt — in fact, I think Pique publisher Bob Barnett might have overheard as well — that I spoke the thought out loud, "Maybe I should take some skate ski lessons." Left to my own devices, it would have been several more seasons before I ever got around to taking skate ski lessons, if ever. I meant it in much the same way as when I said, "Maybe we ought to rebuild the back patio at Smilin' Dog Manor," last summer, an undertaking of gargantuan proportions that is now on the schedule for this summer. To further illustrate what the words, "I think I ought to..." mean to me, I've been saying I ought to rebuild that patio since 2001.
It's not as though taking skate ski lessons was a bad idea. In fact, taking lessons was a very good idea. Lord knows I wasn't particularly making progress in the absence of lessons and having just discovered there were actually techniques to skate skiing other than flailing helplessly, falling, horking up a lung and walking uphill with my skis on my shoulders, I was kind of interested in finding out what they were.
But lessons, for me, are more often — okay, always — lessons in humiliation. And to be completely honest, I pretty much mastered humiliation before I ever got out of grade school.
To make matters worse, I do not have what you'd call a deep and abiding relationship with cross country skiing. I first tried it shortly after moving to Canada. My wife at the time thought I needed something athletic to do during the nine months of Canadian winter. I thought dashing to the neighbourhood pub was sufficiently athletic. I was, I think the technical term for it is, wrong, at least in her opinion.