Writing Switch: What we love about tourists | AspenTimes.com

Writing Switch: What we love about tourists

Benjamin Welch and Sean Beckwith

As any Aspen local will tell you, we owe everything to the visitors of our quaint little hamlet. Sean and Ben are full-throated supporters of this sentiment, and are more than happy to play Google Maps for tourists who walk up to us at the bus stop and yell “CLARK’S?!” Uh oh, I just sent you in the opposite direction; bet you didn’t know there were two.

How good looking they are

SB: I take issue with the concept of looking like a local. Aspenites dress in functional, affordable and warm clothes. If year-round residents had the same account balance as second-home owners, then perhaps we’d explore more fur-oriented avenues. Would I like a pair of Eskimo-esque baby seal gloves that are naturally water resistant? Of course. Do I want to pay an exorbitant price and infiltrate with the dark web? F— no.

Durant Avenue turning into a catwalk circa 2016 France fashion week is what I love about tourists. If you thought Moon Boots died in 2015, come to Aspen and observe a casually dressed clown ruin his outfit. I love walking by a visitor whose outfit emits the sounds of leather stretching and relaxing.

Another entertaining look is the gimmick skier, aka the skier with an outfit that needs to be charged every night. It’s the same person with a drop-down visor on their helmet as opposed to a pair of goggles. You know who I’m talking about. You get on the gondola and they’re complaining about some piece of clothing that seemed smart but is an expensive piece of malfunctioning junk.

I had a gentleman come to the front desk the other day and ask for needle-nose pliers. I obliged and watched him fish a sewn-in belt out of a crevice in his new ski pants.

Lastly, perhaps read the room (or town). You don’t need to be the least dressed person on the bus because 7908’s nightlife doesn’t require a cocktail dress or loafers. Throw on a puffy, flannel, jeans and boots — maybe a cowboy hat but preferably a beanie — and stop trying to impress people. Or don’t; I enjoy unintentional comedy.

Their acute spatial awareness

BW: The trick to walking anywhere in Aspen with any kind of haste is glancing up every street and alley to determine which route is least clogged with people, specifically more than one of them.

After using my legs as a primary mode of daily transportation around town for the past five-plus years, I’ve invented and gotten very good at a little game I like to call “Is This Person Going To Stumble Into Me at the Last Second?” I’ll give you three scenarios — write down your answers and check the guide at the end.

Round One: A group of neon coat-wearing people are casually strolling in front of you, five abreast, gazing longingly at an outdoor patio complete with heat lamps. You’re trying to get to your favorite pot shop before it closes and you’re forced to buy ditchweed. Do any of them stumble into you at the last second?

Round Two: You enter the grocery store after a long day of work, and all you want is to grab some mixer for your Svedka and a couple damn Lean Cuisines to nosh while watching “Curb Your Enthusiasm” until you wake up on the couch and it’s 3:45 a.m. Yet lo and behold, a couple of lovely ladies with fur cowgirl hats have found the narrow lane outside of the cart corral the perfect location to reminisce on the last time they bumped into each other — winter 1963. One of them shifts her weight long enough to create a maybe-passable gap for you to sneak through. Does she stumble into you at the last second?

Round Three: You’re enjoying the empty sidewalk and moving with purpose to get in line at the post office before it becomes absolute bedlam. It’s a pleasant, bluebird day and you are content having no desire to go snowboarding at all. Almost lost in your own thoughts, you suddenly notice movement in the front window of a boutique shop. Is someone going to stumble into you at the last second?*

Their lovely, unobnoxious families

SB: People who suck are often the childless, “I drive a G-Wagon and I’m not even 30” crowd. More enamored with the status that comes with an Aspen vacation, they miss out on the pure joy that is a ski vacation. Some of my favorite people who visit are the Griswald-type families.

You have the bumbling dad in ski boots looking like a puppy on a wood floor. I’m not sure why he feels the need to wear his goggles in the lobby but I just watched him transport 600 pounds of luggage solo, so do you, Clark.

And the mom is so happy to have all the family together that it doubles as a sedative. There’s just a permanent smile on her face while her children sip their 20th cup of hot chocolate on the day and threaten to pummel each other over the iPad.

Occasionally, the kids will hit that sugar-withdrawing phase and you’ll see the mom briefly snap out of the happy haze long enough to threaten the little psychos and get them to clam down for approximately 30 seconds. The children, though, have no idea how elitist Aspen is. They just want to have fun.

I had a small child wander behind the front desk recently and demand a cookie — at 9 a.m. There is a certain sect of people who do the same thing with booze but the difference is they know better.

Their unintentional hilarity

BW: Ahh, a weeklong trip of excess and debauchery in the mountains is always a bastion of coolheadedness and reason.

My bewilderment over people who thrive on confrontation and arguments has been maybe not well documented in these pages but at least mentioned. That’s not to say I’m a pushover; if some guy at the pool hall starts harassing me at 1:30 a.m. over “looking at (his) girlfriend,” I’m going to give him both barrels, to use a popular poker term. Yes, watching people fight in public can be awkward if you allow it, but I generally find it hilarious when others lose their GD minds over the minutia of day-to-day life.

Witness a man stumbling out of Public House, trying to untangle himself from that perplexing curtain, blindly running straight into me at the last second while being chased by a woman who is berating him over tomorrow’s flight time.

Next we have a dad storming away from wailing brats who are throwing themselves prostrate upon the pedestrian mall. “WE’RE DONE!” mom shouts, yanking them by the shoulder socket like Jack Nicholson abusing Danny Torrance.

Enjoy an expletive-filled tirade by an intoxicated goober directed right at his girlfriend about how moronical she is for wanting to pay a friend’s tab. Be perplexed as she absolutely LOVES it and eggs him on. Try your hand at making a few of your own snide remarks at the couple and see if they notice. What’s the worst that can happen?

Last on our stop, notice these two roommates shooting daggers at each other from across the bar, all over whose turn it is to wash the dishes and patch the holes in the drywall.

Maybe the blood just flows to people’s brains slower at 8,000 feet.

*The answer to all three scenarios is “yes.” sbeckwith@aspentimes.com bwelch@aspentimes.com


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