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Biff America: Lucky underwear

“Does your long underwear have a fly?”

There was silence on the other end of the cell phone line.

“Who is this?” my mate asked, “do I have the wrong number?”



“It’s your husband, and I’m asking you if your long underwear has a fly?”

Ellen said she could not answer that question honestly because it was still early in the day. She added that she was calling from the top of a nearby peak and was wondering if I intended on meeting them, for a second lap, after I got off work.



I told her that I was, in fact, en route to our rendezvous spot, but was a little late because I spent 10 minutes looking for my North Face long underwear. I also told her that I could only assume that she mistakenly had taken my pair – with the fly – and left her fly-less pair behind.

Ellen does not argue fairly. Rather than admit she stole my underwear, she used misdirection to distract me.

“You probably have five pairs of long underwear. Why did you spend so much time looking for that one pair?”

It’s difficult for some women to understand that a man often has one pair of lucky underwear, which is his go-to garment on a big day in the backcountry. So rather than argue, and because I knew I had to pick up the pace, if I wanted to meet Ellie and our friends, I asked when they would reach our agreed-upon meeting spot.

She told me that they were standing on the summit – that the snow felt good and safe – and they were about to ski down to me. I told her to take her time but added one more snarky comment about next time making sure the clothing she was wearing was hers.

I headed up the trail – wearing my seconded luckiest pair of long underwear – to meet my mate and friends. I have to say I felt a little better after getting my frustrations off my chest.

I’m the type of person who, when something is missing, searches compulsively for it; even if the lost item is not really needed. I think that is called being “a crazy person.”

Ellen was correct: I do have countless long johns, but I wanted that particular pair so I wasted 10 minutes and some stress looking for them while blaming my mate.

I was halfway up the trail when the absurdity, and yes stupidity, hit me.

There was my mate – about to ski a backcountry pitch – not a dangerous pitch, but when you ski out of bounds anything can happen. So it was possible, if unlikely, that might have been the last conversation I had with her. And rather than say, “I love you, have fun, be careful” I scolded her for mistakenly using my underwear.

Now the good news is that Ellen did not die, and I have located my long underwear; she was wearing them. The bad news is once again I forgot that every day, moment, encounter and experience could be my last.

How stupid would I have felt if my last conversation with the women I love was accusing her of stealing my undies?

There is a chapter in one of Carlos Castaneda’s books where he contends there is always an angel of death hovering over your left shoulder. Castaneda suggests you consult that death angle when it comes time to make life choices. I took that to mean to live and behave like every day or moment could be your last. I have since come to question Castaneda’s veracity in some of his writings but that particular assertion still resonates with me. Though I can’t pretend I always live my life in compliance.

If today was our last day or the last day of those we love, would we be kinder and more loving? If we had 24 hours or 10 seconds left to live, would we waste any of them on anger, arguing or animosity?

My buddy Louie is fond of saying: “Someday we will all be deader than bacon.” Bearing that in mind perhaps we should all lighten-up, accept – or at least tolerate – each other and love our lovers like there is no tomorrow.

It was after considering all that when I met up with my mate and my friends. We took a couple of laps and I felt glad to be alive and in love and grateful that my second-to-luckiest pair of long-johns are still really lucky.

Jeffrey Bergeron, under the alias of Biff America, can be seen on TV-8 and read in several newspapers and magazines. He can be reached at biffbreck@yahoo.com.


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