Call me a prude, but there are some things men and women were not meant to do together.
And cross-country skiing is at least 10 of them.
I'm not saying I hate cross-country skiing ... no, wait, that's exactly what I'm saying.
I realize millions of rosy-cheeked, nature-loving, Nordic-sweater-wearing people will disagree with me, but that's OK.
We live in a free and democratic society, where those people are entitled to their opinion, and their opinion is wrong.
My main objection to cross-country skiing is that, for the most part, it is conducted in the outdoor environment. From my point of view, the outdoors is just fine if you are a squirrel or a rabbit or a moose, but if you are a human being it makes more sense to enjoy winter activities on the couch in your den, where you have access to medical supplies and nacho chips.
I am raising this concern today because the other morning my wife, She Who Must Not Be Named, rolled over in bed and looked directly at me.
For the benefit of younger persons of my gender, I will point out it is never a good sign if your wife looks directly at you.
"I'm going cross-country skiing this morning with Cathy and Paul," is what my wife chirped.
I pulled my head from under the pillow and scowled, which was when she dropped the bombshell.
"I think you should come with us," she declared. "It will be great exercise."
It will be great exercise! That's what they always say, isn't it? I'm willing to bet the guys in charge of the Spanish Inquisition said pretty much the same thing.
"Oh, you should let us stretch you on the rack," they would tell their hapless victims, "It really helps loosen you up."
I tried to use logic to tell my wife why it wasn't a good idea for me to join her and our friends.
"Cross-country skiing is great for people like you," I explained in the sort of gentle tone you would use if you were talking to a house plant, "but it's not a good sport for a lot of other people."
My wife frowned and said: "Like who?"
I rolled my eyes. "It's not very good for normal people," I replied. "Cross-country skiing was invented for people who think regular skiing doesn't cause enough joint pain."
So they went without me. But I should point out here that I am speaking from experience. Several years ago, my wife and some friends persuaded me to spend New Year's Eve at a cottage on a remote lake.
On New Year's Day, after a breakfast of coffee and Tylenol, they strapped cross-country skis on my feet and attempted to make me enjoy myself by shoving my lifeless corpse onto the snow-covered lake.
You know how sometimes, when you are really opposed to doing something new, but when you finally get the courage to try this daunting activity, to your everlasting surprise, you discover that it's really a lot of fun after all.
Well, that's not what happened here.
My wife was in her element. There is nothing she enjoys more than strapping waxed planks on her feet and schussing or schlossing along snowy trails in full view of bemused wilderness creatures.
In contrast, I was The Little Engine That Couldn't.
"HERE I GO!" I would warn everyone in the immediate area, then I would push off with my ski poles and, without any professional training at all -- PLOP! -- I would fall over into the snow, where, due to the fact I had (bad word) waxed boards lashed to my feet, I'd flail around like an angry beetle on its back.
I am not saying it was a total waste of time. I'm just saying that, in future, when it comes to a healthy workout, I think I'll stick with the Spanish Inquisition.