Skiing

I don’t ski. It doesn’t come up so much these days: there aren’t many snow-covered mountains in Louisiana. But when I did live in the mountains, with skiing roommates and skiing friends and my sister saying she’d visit but only if I’d take her skiing, the invitations were pretty frequent.

I don’t ski.

No one ever put real pressure on me. There was the occasional “why not? It’s fun! You could at least try it once.” sort of comment. I would explain my violent, unmitigated hatred of cold, general clumsiness, dislike of high speeds and low control, and again the violent hatred of cold.

They’d shake their heads and say “suit yourself” and leave me alone to enjoy a book and a pile of blankets.

Here’s the thing: I’ve never said “I don’t ski” and had anyone get offended or defensive. No one’s assumed that I think my non-skiing lifestyle makes me superior, or that one of us is duty bound to convert the other.

It confuses and annoys me how often these principles fall apart when a monogamous person and a nonmonogamous person talk about relationships. Conversation becomes very defensive very quickly. It’s not even because one party is on the offense (or if it is, I’m too socially clueless to realize). Folks just assume that if one person chose to have this kind of relationship, and the other chose differently, that choice has to reflect a perception of inherent, objective superiority.

Why?

I don’t ski. I don’t want to. It scares me. I’ve seen people ski badly, and laughed or sighed about it. I’ve seen people ski extremely well, been impressed, and had long, exciting conversations about this sport I will never ever try. Likewise, I don’t enter into monogamous relationships. I don’t want to, and yes, the idea scares me. Any commentary on a dysfunctional monogamous relationship is a commentary on the dysfunction, whatever its source, not on the paradigm in which it is placed. Likewise any congratulatory squeeing over weddings and relationship conversations with happy monogamous couples is completely sincere. Talking about relationships is a significant part of what social groups do. It would be nice if we could just talk about them, instead of pitting them against each other.

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