Last week I bought my kids snowboard rigs at Wave Rave – snowboarding mecca – in Mammoth, CA. My twentysomething sales guy, Jeff, who like everyone who works there lives for the ride, helped me with the math: 20% off the boards and boots, 10% off the bindings, $9 stomp pads. Decent snowboard rentals (which hardly exist for little riders like Tess) are $25 a day, maybe $20 if you strike a deal, so between the two kids, buying gear will save money in less than a season. On that day, April 20th, we were still looking at seven more days this year on the hill –Mammoth is open till the Fourth of July. Wave Rave had the right boards (long enough to grow into), boots that were a size too big (I packed them with inserts to get them to fit for over a year), even pink bindings for Tess. I just couldn’t say “No.”
“So we’re doing it?” Jeff asked, as he pulled the bindings out of the boxes.
“Yeah, okay,” I said, slipping down onto the carpeted bench. I was in a shopping stupor, feeling like I’d overindulged. “I feel like a bad parent.”
“Why, dude?” Jeff said. We’d been together for an hour (after I’d driven 5 hours up from LA.) He’d seen me dial Joe’s cell, pace up and down the stairs, fondle the boards – struggle.
“Because it’s too much,” I said, “Brand new gear for kids – it feels wrong.”
“I get what you’re saying,” he said, and I could tell from the way he bobbed his ratty head of hair that he really did.
“It’s not as special if your mom just buys it for you.”
“Yeah man, I was so psyched when I bought my first new ride,” another sales-shredder piped in. He had a severe google burn and had told Ronan, who he wasn’t even helping, which length board to get. “Dude, go with the 136. You’ll be bumming if you get the 130.”
Jeff had the boards in his hands. We stared at each other and pondered. It was probably the first parenting pondering poor Jeff had ever endured and he took it like a champ. We agreed on board technology and riding style and the blissful merits of our great California hill.
“The thing is,” he spoke up, “Having your own gear is just so much better. It’s the same everyday. They’ll get so good. They’ll be stoked. You’ll be stoked.”
“You’re right. You’re totally right.”
He was. I skied for years, but I don’t mind renting skis now. Yet I can’t imagine renting a snowboard. My rig is just so personal. It’s like a pair of sneakers or a guitar, scratches and all. Plus, if we own the gear, I never have to deal with kids’ rentals again. Sure, the WASP in me had a hard time with the excessiveness of it all, even though it was a pound-wise choice. But the snowboarder in me prevailed.
I was expecting Joe to read me the riot act and began my email with a long list of pros, right down to the fact that I can easily sell the gear when they grow out of it since I bought it new. But instead he replied: “That’s so fr’kn cool. How could you not?”