"Cruising on Marolt Control" is no more (not that you noticed it ever was). It had to be one of the dumbest bylines in the history of newspaper columns. I'm not sure how it came about, but it happened years ago when I first took the job out here at The Sun. It was so long ago that I think they called it "The Moon" back then. Who can remember?
Anyway, I took the job and they needed a column the very next day. The last thing I had time to spend on was a title to this column. I threw the "Marolt Control" garbage at it to use for one week until I could come up with something better, and I forgot about it. Lo and behold, nearly a decade has passed. It's a bit like some people coming out here for a winter after college and the next thing they know they are checking out the dinner specials at the senior center.
Just as most of those people never again look at their resumes after their first ski season, I never read my column after it's published. I might read it a dozen times before it's sent off to the press, but once it's in print I never look again.
I did when I first started at The Aspen Times, back in the era when short skis sucked, but I quickly realized that the only thing proofreading a column already published caused was agony - like a ski instructor thinking about how much money she cold have made as a hedge fund manager had she returned to the East Coast 20 years ago.
I can always find a better way to say something, construct an argument, or misuse words than I did. It drives me nuts that I didn't. So, over the years I have perfected ignoring my own work to the point where I actually forget what I wrote about roughly three-quarters of an hour after I submit it.
If you have ever sent me an e-mail commenting on a column, you now understand why it takes me up to several days to respond, if at all. I don't know what you are talking about, because I can't remember what I was talking about. I've lost my point of reference. Oh yeah, how did I manage not to change the temporary name of this column all these years? I forgot.
Now, in the tradition of resort town reality distortion, I am reinventing myself. Well, at least it's the illusion of re-creating who I am. I'm changing the name of my column. From now on I am "Cluster Phobic."
Do you think I would ever have the chance to re-name my column if I worked for The New York Times? Do you even think I could ever be a columnist for The New York Times? Heck no! But, here in good ol' Snowmass Village, not only can I have a column, I can't give the job of writing it away! That's the ultimate job security.
I had been saving "Cluster Phobic" to use for the name of my rock band, had I been able to put one together. Since I can't sing or play a musical instrument, and am not taking any steps toward learning to do either, I figured I better find another use for this name I like so well. Whether or not it says anything about me is irrelevant. I can conform to it, if not as an accountant, at least as a newspaper column writer.
The thing I love about "Cluster Phobic" is that the words together can mean so many different things to so many people. I mean, the phobic part is easy. They say that 70 percent of all people admit to having at least one phobia. The other 30 percent are liars.
The cluster part is what gives us latitude. Cluster could be anything from the fallen Horse Ranch neighborhood monument to Skico green-wash to the new and improved plans for re-Renaissancing Base Village to the minimum length of the grass necessary to obscure the dog crap in Town Park.
Yet, cluster is what makes this place great and we definitely don't want to get rid of it. So, adopting this name, I am charged with ridiculing and criticizing everything we hold dear to us here in our insulated, homogenized, ego-centric piece of paradise in the heart of the magnificent Colorado Rockies. I'm still up for the job! I came "Cruising on Remote Control", but I'm staying for "Cluster Phobic."
Roger Marolt also considered "Base-less Paranoia" as the new name for his column, but it had already been copy righted. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.