Photo by John Shafer
I was talking with my friend, who asked to remain nameless because he knows he is a total hack (we’ll call him Birdman), who really only tele’s for the chicks, the other day. This time, he was lamenting the difficulty of growing the requisite Tele-man beard this year.
"I can't do it. It itches. I'm shavin'."
"Sack up, Birdie. A little itch is no price for a truly tremendous winter growth. Shave it now and you'll be nothing but scruffy at the beginning of the season. All your fellow knee-dropping duct tape wearing free heelers will look at you with disdain."
"Yeah. And they'll get all the chicks. What is that!?" Suddenly, Birdman is angry, bristling as it were. "Why do chicks dig dirty hippies? What is that all about?"
I thought for a second. He had something here.
"You aren't a dirty hippie Birdie."
"No, but I play one in the winter, dammit!"
This man, getting some sort of advanced degree in statistics, and very well respected in the marketing world, known to indulge in the occasional massage and trip to the steam room, was trying to grow a beard to get chicks.
I thought for a moment about the allure of the knuckle dragging, beard wearing, duct tape using, shovel-for-a-backpack, full bearded man of the wild, heels free, bombing through the pow... I must have gotten a dreamy, far off look in my eyes, because The Bird caught it immediately.
"Yes, Kate. THAT. What the f@$k is that??"
"I think, Birdman, my love, that it must appeal to a women's love of a competent man. You can't be a total dip-s@$t and get this done. The real "mountain man" the McGyver of the ridge, the man who can fix a binding with duct tape and some cordolette he has tied on his avy pack, this same man with the luscious long beard frozen together from face shots, this is the man that will not let you go hungry or freeze to death. It appeals to our inner need for survival."
He eyeballed me skeptically. "Chicks dig dirty hippies because they keep you warm? But they smell bad."
I pondered this. Was it smell? Or musk? "Oh, I don't know..."
He rolled his eyes. Here it comes.
"Yeah, they are on the musky side, but the competence, the power, the surety, the confidence... the bucking of the trend, ditching alpine skiing for living free in spite of it all... Tele skiers are that wonderful rare breed, like Aid or Trad climbers, they are a do-it-yourself, like... I don't know... no one has to hold their hands, they get out there and Figure S%$t Out. The man that comes into the Griz (our local watering hole for dirty hippies here in Bozeman, MT) with his face sealed shut with ice, he spent a hard day taming the mountains..."
"Oh, please, he did not. He rode the chair-lift and probably went straight; dropping his knee all the way to the freakin' ground." The Bird shot back.
"Yes, that's just what he did. But in the Griz, we don't know that. We look at him and think, O' wild man, lead me into the mountains and let me be your squaw..."
Birdman stopped. "You don't really think that, do you?"
I smiled. "No, not really. And the beard juice that drips off y'alls face as you are thawing is pretty disgusting. But that's not the point, Birdie. For the day, just for this day, you be a dirt bag knee dropper, sporting requisite full beard, and let some chick fantasize that you could fell a moose with your bare hands and never get lost hiking through miles of back country, and you'll probably have a pretty good winter!"
"Just the winter?"
"It depends. You gotta shave if you are going to hang out with her on the river in the summer. Different kind of dirty hippie there."
Birdman pulled out a notebook and started writing. "Okay, lets go through this again..."
Kate Howe is the author of the Blog Skiing in the Shower, and a PSIA Level 3 Certified instructor at Aspen Mountain, where she thinks longingly of the dirtbag tele skier she left behind in Whitefish, MT.