Since the 1970s, I have lived in only two different houses – about six miles apart and both near Bear Brook State Park.
The first house had easy access to the park’s massive web of snowmobile trails…like ten feet from our backyard. Someone once told me the trails went all the way to Canada, but I have no idea if they actually do or not.
Every winter weekend, several of our neighbors would gather with their snowmobiles at the house next door, which also had direct access to the trails, and go zooming off for hours, often not returning until late at night.
And every time they left on these treks, my husband, kind of like a kid with his nose pressed against the glass, would stand in the window and look longingly at them as they sped away.
“Gee, I sure wish I could join them,” he’d say with a dramatic sigh. “I’d love to have a snowmobile and go speeding off through the woods. What a great way to unwind.”
“There’s no way we can afford to buy a snowmobile right now." I’d say, completely dashing his hopes. “The house takes priority. The bathroom skylight is leaking again and so is the water heater. The only thing holding it together is rust.”
Still, just out of curiosity, I asked my friend Nora, whose husband had bought each of them a snowmobile so they could go out riding every weekend, if she enjoyed the sport.
“Heck, no,” she said, shaking her head and frowning. “For one thing, my snowmobile jumpsuit zips all the way up the front. So when we’re out in the middle of nowhere and I have to pee in the woods, I have to unzip it and get completely out of it. Talk about cold! And even when I’m wearing it fully zipped up, I’m still freezing. If it’s 20 degrees out and you’re going 35 or 40 miles per hour, you’re getting hit with a wind-chill of below zero!”
She didn’t exactly make it sound like loads of fun.
Still, my husband persisted until one of the neighbors finally invited him to ride on the back of his snowmobile and go out with the group one Saturday. He leapt at the opportunity.
“But you don’t have one of those insulated snowmobile suits or even any warm boots,” I protested. “You’ll freeze to death out there.”
“I’ll wear long underwear and two pairs of socks,” he said.
Even though I tried, there was no way I was able to talk him out of going on that ride. So, off he went, on the back of the neighbor’s sleek, new snowmobile that afternoon. I didn’t see him again until nearly 11 PM. By then, I was really concerned because I was certain he was wrapped around the trunk of a tree and frozen to it, somewhere up near the Canadian border.
He returned cold, wet, hungry and exhausted.
I selfishly, thought, “Yes! Now he’ll finally stop talking about buying a snowmobile!”
But I was wrong, He raved about what a great time he’d had, how he’d felt as if he were flying through the trees like a free bird, and how beautiful the views had been on certain areas of the trails.
So his longing (a.k.a. whining) for a snowmobile continued…even worse than before.
All I can say is fate often works in mysterious (and sometimes cruel) ways. And as the old saying goes…be careful what you wish for.
Not long after that trail ride, we received news that my uncle had passed away…and left his snowmobile to my husband because he knew how much he wanted one.
Not only was my husband extremely touched, he also was more excited than a kid on Christmas Eve. The moment he heard the news about the snowmobile, he already was making plans to join the neighbors on their next trail ride. We knew nothing about the snowmobile – the make, model, year, etc. – but my aunt assured us it was in great condition and we could come pick it up whenever we wanted.
Of course, to my husband, that meant hanging up the phone and rushing over to the neighbor’s house to ask him, because he had a truck and a snowmobile trailer, if he could take him to pick up his new treasure.
I wasn’t about to miss out on the excitement and let them go to my aunt’s without me, so I squeezed into the truck with them.
I’ll never forget my husband’s expression when he first set eyes on his “gift” from my uncle. I honestly had to bite down on my bottom lip so I wouldn’t burst out laughing and offend my aunt. The snowmobile looked as if it might have been one of the first ones ever built. It was solid red and boxy shaped, with two huge skis sticking out on the front, and a really uncomfortable-looking black seat with no padding on it. Compared to our neighbors’ modern, shiny machines, it looked…well, pretty pathetic.
Still, my husband figured any snowmobile was better than none at all, so he and the neighbor loaded it into the trailer and brought it home.
The next weekend, my husband was ready to join the trail riders on what turned out to be one of the coldest days of the year. Luckily, my aunt also had given him my uncle’s gear, such as a snowmobile suit, gloves, boots and a helmet, so he was dressed and ready to go an hour before the group planned to leave.
The snowmobile suit was big, however, so my husband made sure to wear a lot of layers underneath it. He resembled the Pillsbury Dough Boy as he waddled outside.
I went out to watch the group take off, with my husband on his inaugural ride. One of the neighborhood kids, Richard, who was about 10 at the time, stood next to me.
My husband was last in line as the four machines ahead of him zoomed off and hit the trail, leaving him in a cloud of snow. He and his spiffy old relic crawled along, coming to a snow bank just before the trail began, which the others easily had soared right over. His machine, however, struggled to climb the banking, got halfway up and stopped dead. Then, in slow motion, with my husband still gripping the handles, the snowmobile began to topple over backwards and tilt sideways, landing on the ground.
So there was my husband, lying on his side in the snow, his hands still gripping the snowmobile.
Richard and I rushed over to help him. He assured us he was fine and the only thing he’d injured was his pride. Then he said he didn’t think he could get up because he was wearing too many clothes. Richard and I couldn’t help it, we cracked up laughing. Even my husband realized how silly he must have looked, and also started to laugh.
He still did end up going on the trail ride that night, though, but he never told me how it went. Judging from the expression on his face when he returned home however, I was pretty sure it hadn’t been the exciting party-type adventure he’d imagined. I also was pretty sure the group had given up waiting for him to chug along behind them all night and catch up, so he’d probably spent most of his night alone on the trails.
And shortly after that, he sold the snowmobile to an antique dealer.
He never mentioned wanting one again…even when we bought our current eight-acre property and discovered it had trails all over it.
No, he decided he’d rather have a motorcycle instead.
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Sally Breslin is an award-winning syndicated humor columnist who has written regularly for newspapers and magazines all of her adult life. She is the author of several novels in a variety of genres, from humor and romance to science-fiction. Contact her at: email@example.com