YOU WOULD THINK that after 50-plus years with my lovely wife that I would know enough to not try and pull any fast ones on her.

Then again, if you thought that, you would be sadly mistaken. From our earliest days of dating, I have contrived to fool her with half-truths and outright lies. The trend has continued into our marriage, especially when it involves the purchase of new guns, fishing rods and other assorted outdoor necessities.

For instance, I once fancied myself as being quite good at making up a story as to how a new 20-gauge side-by-side suddenly was discovered in our closet tucked in between two pairs of dress trousers seldom worn and a sport coat that almost never saw the light of day.

Her question was “When did you buy this gun?” I had an instant response ready. “Oh, that old relic? Didn’t I tell you Uncle Hector gave it to me a month or so ago when I went over to rake his lawn, haul in a load of firewood and massage his bunions?”

Well, my explanation didn’t hold water when my wife said “Old my foot! Looks pretty new to me. So does this sales receipt from Joe’s Outdoors saying that you bought it last week and used my credit card to pay for it.”

I then got down on my knees and with a real hangdog look on my face explained “Honey, I didn’t mean to try and trick you, but the gun is a surprise birthday present for you. I know how much you want to be my hunting partner so I bought the shotgun for you to start out with.”

Like it was yesterday, I remember the day she discovered that gun and I remember the explanation that I thought was perfectly believable, although I’d like to forget the fact that she pointed out her birthday was 10 months away.

Anyway, she let me keep the shotgun and for 50-plus years she has pretended to accept my continued explanations of new hunting and fishing gear showing up in our house. I do the same when I accept her explanations of why she needs six new blouses, three new dresses, five pairs of new shoes and four new pairs of jeans to add to the 10,000 or so items of clothing with which she has already filled four closets, three rooms and a dozen or so large plastic totes.

What I started to say when I began this missive, before I started rattling around about trying to fool my wife, was that last week, all my misconceptions about knowing everything there is to know about her were blown out of the water.

Before I could even begin to butter her up and present a list of unarguable reasons and other lies as to why I desperately needed a new pair of cross-country race skis, she stunned me when, rather than expertly argue the point, she said I should indeed go buy that pair of skis.

Off I went Friday on a 123-mile picturesque drive to Hayward where I visited my friends at the New Moon Ski Shop. Once there it didn’t take long for me to be fitted with a pair of Fischer Twin Skin race skis. 

To my credit, I did not buy the “top of the line” model which went for $850, but neither did I go for the lower end of the scale with a pedestrian pair that went for $249. I settled for something in the middle, along with the latest Rottefella Move System bindings to boot.

And of course, you can’t have new skin skis without a wax and maintenance package to take care of them. They were quickly added to the total which, when all was said and done, didn’t require a loan from the nearest bank, but did make a large dent in my bank account.

The bottom line is that I was very happy to have new skis. New Moon was very happy, I’m sure, to add to their cash register total and my lovely wife was very happy to know there are still times after all these years that she can still throw something at me that will leave me befuddled and amazed. It does pay to have an understanding wife; a wife who also is very tolerant of a husband who still believes he can get away with fooling her now and then.

All in all, it adds up to me being very confident that my new skin skis will carry me through a strong 29K Kortelopet race at the American Birkebeiner in February.

When I finished my 20th 55K Birkebeiner two years ago, it was only after a long, hard day on the trail; a very miserable day for my aging body.

It was that day, with a temperature approaching 50 in the afternoon, that I discovered there was such a thing as skin skis. Getting a kick from inlaid strips of synthetic “fur,” people on skin skis that afternoon were the only skiers with any kick on slushy, sometimes glazed snow.

The rest, including me, struggled along mightily with only our arms providing any forward movement. I vowed then that I would own skin skis of my own and now, I do.

I may be temporarily bankrupt, but I am secure in the knowledge that I now have skis to handle any snow or temperature condition. And yes, this time I owe it all to my lovely understanding wife.