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How to tell when you're becoming a ski bum

"I think my husband might be losing the plot," a female friend recently confided. The couple moved to the mountains two years ago, able to maintain their professional jobs via telecommuting, and were loving every minute of it. Maybe her husband was loving it too much…

In an odd twist, the normally frugal man arrived home one fall day with three pairs of new skis. "And," my friend fretted, "he continues to look at others on the Internet!" His schedule – ever diminished, it seems – is entirely dependent on snow conditions. The final straw came a few weeks ago when a winter storm descended, depositing a half-metre of fluffy powder. You already know what her husband did: He called in sick ("He never calls in sick") and went skiing.

Things could be worse, I assured my nervous friend. Much worse. Delicately, I explained the signs – which, for the record, are witnessed routinely in small ski towns – which might mean that you or a loved one are at risk of becoming a ski bum.

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Top 10 early indicators:

  1. The only tan line on your entire body comes from goggles.
  2. There are more skis on the sofa than art hanging on the wall; you wax and scrape these skis on the living-room floor.
  3. There's another pile of skis between the front seats of the car. They never come out, because tomorrow is always a ski day.
  4. Those skis are worth more than the car.
  5. Your résumé has several unexplained gaps.
  6. You choose your job solely based on its proximity to ski hills.
  7. You check the snow forecast more often than your e-mail.
  8. There are fences, gates and benches built from old skis outside your house.
  9. You expedite marriage plans expressly to sneak under the deadline for a family pass.
  10. You wrap Christmas presents with maps of the ski area.

Top 5 signs you are definitely over the edge:

  • Seven strangers share your apartment from November till April.
  • To save money for lift tickets, you stop buying lunch at the ski hill. Instead, you surreptitiously help yourself to free hot water, ketchup and crackers in the cafeteria and make tomato soup. When this grows old, you pretend to bus tables, snarfing down leftover fries and half-eaten burgers.
  • On road trips, you sleep in the car to save on lodging costs. When the weather gets cold, you move into a snow cave, dug in the distant reaches of the resort parking lot.
  • You yank broken skis from a dumpster and think: “With a touch of epoxy, these could last an entire season.”
  • You wear ski pants to a wedding. They are the only black trousers you own.

I didn't tell my friend that all these could be in her husband's future. (I know. I have eaten a few discarded burgers myself.) Of course, he'd still be a loving partner. And a very, very happy one at that.

Special to The Globe and Mail

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About the Author

Bruce Kirkby has spent more than two decades exploring the most remote corners of the planet. His journeys have taken him through the heart of Arabia by camel, down the Blue Nile on raft and across Iceland by foot. The author of two bestselling books, Mr. Kirkby is the recipient of three National Magazine Awards. More

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