When women get together on the chairlift, often as not, you can smell the coconuts. Most of us carry sunscreen: SPF 50, paba-free with UVA, B, C and D protection.
"Here you go," I'll say, offering my two-gallon pump jug to the lady from Topeka who forgot hers. Then there's a long period of silence while we both genuinely enjoy the view.
We might share our thoughts on gear, but we'll quickly move on to more interesting subjects: the precociousness of our children, whom Tom Cruise is dating or, say, our husband's sexual shortcomings. If one's chairlift mate is an old friend, the conversation might even get personal.
We ladies do discuss clothing insofar as how it fails us. Our derrières are often icy, despite being wrapped in the Kevlar long-johns that our husbands swear by. The only surefire cure for the cold, we wise women know, is double-espresso macadamia-nut brownies.
Back on the lift, we might marvel at the pain tolerance of some middle-aged man with a sunburned bald spot on Death Hole Gully. This hero, having put all of his faith into his latest pair of Super Pricey Sucker Boards, is about to make his orthopedist a richer man. He'll no doubt turn to his poor wife for glucosamine and sympathy later that evening.
Bottom line: A ski day is not just about skiing itself. Sure, it's about finding the fall line, making some gorgeous, sexy turns or having a breakthrough in the bumps. But it's also about the way the soft, perfect snow sparkles under the sun (have some more Coppertone, girlfriend), catching up with gal pals, quality time with family (even the hubby), bonding with the lady from Topeka and the macadamia-nut brownies.
The chicks on sticks I ski with don't ski punishingly hard and dangerously fast or waste time competing with men who do. And we wear hats, coifs be damned.
Piña Colada? Bartender, I'll take my scotch neat, my knees intact and my turns smooth and wide. Oh, and some Advil for my sunburned, achy friend here.
Hal Clifford and Lou Bendrick live in Telluride, Colo., with their daughter.