Roger Marolt: Roger this | AspenTimes.com

Roger Marolt: Roger this

Roger Marolt
Aspen CO, Colorado

Is it my imagination, or were board games more popular 15 years ago? I ask because it has been a long time since I played one. One of the last things I remember about the last time I played is flicking my finger at a spinner, moving a plastic marker around colored cardboard, and then being penalized for answering a stupid question in a way I thought was clever. The end came shortly thereafter.

I remember clearly the night I was banned from the foldout table. We were playing Trivial Pursuit. Or, was it Pictionary? Maybe it was Scategories … whatever; in my mind these packages of fun that come in flat, rectangular boxes with flimsy lids and instructions more worn in the folds than Lewis or Clark’s maps are off limits now.

A question printed on a game card haphazardly selected from the middle of a stack was asked on my turn. The timer was started and I thought, and thought, and thought … until the one-minute buzzer startled me stiff with its unnecessarily irritating amplified alarm. I blurted an answer which gave rise to technicalities never contemplated by the rule makers back at Milton-Bradley headquarters. For instance: Are you required to answer the question before the timer is out, or within a reasonable time afterwards? And, if you use a homonym in an answer that sounds correct when spoken but means something else when written out, do you score points?

It turns out that adults are ill-equipped to deal with such monumental questions on Saturday evenings sitting amongst friends and wine glasses with nothing but purple residue seeking respite in their low spots. And, on second thought, perhaps our good friends such as the Parker Brothers, creators of wholesome family fun, know this, too.

What ensued was a melee of dreaded consequence. I’m not talking about fist fights and smashed furniture. There was no yelling, and cursing was left for lip reading at which the group was mixed in proficiency. In truth, any customary rugby-type brawling would have been welcome relief to the tension created by civilized dinner guests pretending to hold their tempers by keeping voices down and chuckling condescendingly from taut vocal cords within necks revealing pulsing veins that could be traced all the way to flushed foreheads.

It was an awful evening with hours of earlier enjoyment ruined by a few minutes of arguing over interpretation of rules that would leave only one winner. Hard feelings were harbored by all. No matter which road you took, the high or the low, each circled back to the same ugly place and nobody could get out of that party quickly enough.

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I have recalled that night many times and convinced myself that had people lost money instead of pride, they would have gone home happier. It is this thought that makes me lately want to invite Pat Smith and Jim Crown to dinner.

For those who don’t know, Jim Crown and his Aspen Skiing Company were the original developers of the gargantuan one-million-square-foot amalgamation of green-washed hotels, timeshares and retail spaces currently under construction in Snowmass Village.

What they did with this Base Village is nothing short of spectacular; that is if you happen to be looking at their balance sheet instead of what used to be a view of Mt. Daly. The thing they did, that may go down as the single biggest real estate play within our area code, is sell the project in March of 2007.

Now, March 2007 is not totally significant except the deal that closed then was inked in December 2006. Now do you see what I’m getting at? That’s right! It was the biggest deal in the highest of times. December 2006 was just about at the tip top of the billowing mushroom cloud emanating from the real estate boom. Accordingly, the Base Village vision went for a capital peak price; rumored to be $175 million for 80 acres of land use code-exempted mud.

The buyer was Pat Smith and we now know that the potential for Base Village amidst this crumbling real estate pyramid is about the same as it is when you load yourself into a car on the Mister Twister rollercoaster for the first time. I imagine Pat Smith will spend a lot of time screaming, sweating, and vomiting into his hands over the next few years praying for this damned ride to end.

There is no turning back when you are halfway through a 10-year build-out of the biggest development in upper Roaring Fork Valley history. Click, click, click, click … then, pre-sales of timeshares dry up, construction costs run 25 percent higher than budgeted, and town council’s cojones finally drop, as they usually do in an election year. Aaahhhhhhhhhh! Sorry, no refunds.

If this game was only about squandered cash, things wouldn’t be so interesting. Money is no more significant here than a tin thimble or miniature wheelbarrow marking positions on the board.

People who endeavor to build out-of-scale faux-Bavarian villages in America obviously aren’t worried about money. Our government is there to bail them out should things turn out badly financially. What they do invest heavily into these monuments, though, is ego. If you lose face in a deal of this size, it has a way of turning red every time someone finds it in a crowd. Good luck in getting the taxpayers to cover that.

If Jim Crown doesn’t think of his incredible timing in this deal and chuckle, he ought to just give the money back. If Pat Smith doesn’t grind his teeth when he thinks about it, he ought to take them out of the glass on the nightstand and put them back in his mouth. He’s not sleeping anyways.

At any rate, I doubt these two gentlemen will take me up on my invitation for an evening filled with fun and games, and uncomfortable periods of silence. It’s a shame because a couple of wins in Parcheesi might go a long way in settling the score.

Roger Marolt would also like to invite to his game night the people who sold Pat Smith the Snowmass Town Center and mall properties. R.S.V.P. to roger@martoltllp.com.

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