What’s a Mother to Do?
by Ann Edwards Cannon

Chapter 35
High-Tech Boots

 [p.108]Boy, things sure have changed since I first learned to ski sometime around the dawning of the Mesozoic Era. Back then I had wooden skis, coiled Miller bindings, and boots with shoelaces. Seriously. I wasn’t alone, however. The only people with buckle boots, as we called them, were (a) hotshots, (b) rich kids, or (c) hotshot rich kids, and since hardly anyone from Provo BNS (Before Nu-Skin) fit into one of the above categories, most of us stood around in lift lines, making small talk and watching our shoelaces freeze.

Actually, I never really took to the skiing thing as a kid. For starters you had to wear all those layers of uncomfortable clothing, including Wonder Bread bags on your feet because someone told your mother that plastic bags provide good insulation at a great price. The worst of it was that all those clothes didn’t even keep you warm—they just stopped you from losing assorted body parts to frost bite once you stepped off the ski school bus.

Of course, that was a big part of the problem—the ski school bus was so stifling hot you made little puddles of sweat in the bread bags around your feet. Also you had to sit on the back seat and inhale exhaust fumes with your best friend Gigi as the bus fishtailed slowly up the canyon. This misery was often compounded by the presence of boys in the seat in front of you who delighted in suggesting in loud voices that you had cooties and so forth.

Then there’s the fact that skiing is such an equipment-intensive sport. You have to deal with things like poles and boots and skis and gloves and other things that come in pairs which is a pure nightmare for certain people like myself who are always losing the mates to their socks. Also you have to wear goggles—goggles, for petessakes—over your glasses, thus making you look like one of those alien babies you’re always reading about in the tabloids at the grocery store.

Anyway, the long and short of it is that I pretty much stopped skiing until a few years ago at which point I had to outfit myself all over again. That’s when I noticed the small revolution that’s taken place [p.109]in the ski equipment industry. That’s when I noticed how high-tech everything has become.

I suppose I shouldn’t have been so surprised since most things are very high-tech these days. On our last trip, for instance, Ken and I rented a car that actually talked to us, saying snappy car things like “your door is ajar” or “please fasten your seat belts.”

“Just what I need,” I complained to Ken. “An automobile that nags me.”

“I don’t think it means to nag you,” said Ken, who has an advanced degree in Car Psychology. “I think it just has poorly developed social skills.”

As I see it, this broad-based boom in the field of high technology can be attributed directly to the proliferation of computers. Computers are everywhere—in our homes, schools, offices, cars, libraries, grocery stores. It seems like everyone has access to a computer these days, which is why my kids laugh when I tell them what computers were like when I was growing up.

Basically there were two kinds of computers in those days: (a) Big Computers and (b)  Robot Computers. Big Computers were very impersonal and large—about the size of a Winnebago—and they were used primarily to launch John Glenn into orbit.

Robot Computers, on the other hand, were much smaller and more personal, which made them ideally suited for television family life. Some of the television families who owned their own robots were the Jetsons, as well as that family on Lost in Space who had June Lockhart for a mother. I used to love the way their robot followed the nefarious Dr. Smith around, shouting, “Warning! Warning!” and flapping its arms made out of vacuum attachments.

So as I was saying, I went shopping for new ski equipment and, boy, was I ever amazed! Talk about high-tech. When Ken dragged a pair of boots over for me to try on, I gaped. These boots not only had buckles, but dials and gears and cables and everything else. Truly. You had to be an engineer just to figure out how to put them on your feet, unlike those Wonder bread bags my mother made me wear, which at least had the virtue of being uncomplicated.

“I’m supposed to wear these?” I whined. “I’ll look exactly like Robo Cop.”

[p.110]“What are you saying?” Ken asked. “Do you really want to wear lace-up boots again?”

Of course, I shook my head no, then proceeded to ooze myself into the new boots, and by the time I got them on I resembled nobody less than Arnold S. as the Terminator. I felt just like the Terminator, too, utterly invincible, ready to level slopes in a single run. I loved it!

So when the snow flies next year—dare I say something so predictable, so trite … “I’ll be back!” .