Gearing up

Posted: Sunday, November 07, 2010

My name is Will, and I'm a gear hound.

There, I've admitted it. I like stuff. Lots of stuff, and the stuff that goes with that stuff.

Knowing I have a problem, it was not surprising to me when earlier this week, my wife rolled her eyes at me when I told her I needed a new pair of shoes. Some folks were getting together to kick a soccer ball around, and, having not played in ages, I no longer had appropriate footwear.

"Can't you just wear your running shoes?" she said, while giving me the I'm-having-trouble-believing-you-really-need-this look. (I'm familiar with this look.)

"No, not enough lateral support. I'd roll an ankle."

There it is, the technical explanation -- the "I don't have a problem, I can stop any time I want" rationalization for those of us with closets, garages, sheds and totes filled with stuff. Indeed, I've even invested in more stuff -- hoist systems, racks, shelving, hooks of various shapes and sizes -- just so I can store my stuff.

My wife is just the opposite. She'll make do with inadequate equipment indefinitely. When she took up running, it took a year of arm-twisting before she invested in good running shoes. And she was content to wear cotton sweats all winter, until some of her running friends finally staged an intervention and sat her down at a computer to order some good moisture-wicking gear.

I can trace my gear cravings back to college. Prior to that, I didn't have a lot of gear. With three siblings, my parents made sure we had the bare necessities for sports participation, but not much beyond that. I was still playing soccer in tennis shoes when all the other kids were getting cleats.

But in college, I started experimenting with gear. It started innocently enough -- a new pair of shoes for playing on my school's artificial turf field. Then a new pair of shoes with screw-in studs for those away games we might play in the rain. And an extra pair of shoes for when the ground froze up late in the season, all to go with my very nice, everyday soccer shoes.

I also ran track, but I was able to limit my footwear needs to three pairs -- spikes, flats and trainers. Of course, I needed two or so pairs of trainers each season

After college, while working part-time reporter jobs, I got a job at an outdoor sporting good store. Let's just say that most of that paycheck never made it to the bank.

My gear addiction includes tools. I've collected quite a few, at this point. Early in our marriage, my wife accompanied me on a trip to a home improvement store. I apparently was taking too long in the tool aisle, and she finally blurted out, "If I just buy you that router, can we go home?!"

She didn't need to ask me twice.

I've still got a massive to-do list for around the house, but I'm no longer adding to it -- not because there aren't more projects that need doing, but because there aren't any tools I want that need a project to justify buying (admitting that is going to get me in big trouble).

Then there's triathlon gear, which is a whole gear universe unto itself. I decided to give triathlons a try after dropping some weight, and I'm still in the doghouse after dropping some cash at REI last spring -- and there's still so much more gear to buy!

So, it came as a surprise when my wife called from work gave me the go-ahead to buy some new soccer shoes. It turns out she talked to someone else who gave her the same explanation -- you can't play soccer in running shoes; you'll turn an ankle (we gear junkies stick together).

"Just don't go spending $90 on a pair of shoes," she told me.

Hmmmm I wonder what I can get for $89

Will Morrow is managing editor at the Peninsula Clarion. His doghouse is in Kenai.

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