November 29, 2006
One is the loneliest number. My life has been full of moments that evoke a sense of isolation. Moments like standing on the pitcher’s mound moments after serving up a hanging curve that was deposited in a neighboring lot a short car ride from the left field bleachers. Or, when I’m sitting down for a few drinks at a local establishment and someone approaches me and asks if they can borrow the rest of the chairs at my table – and don’t bother inquiring whether I’m expecting anyone. Do I have loser written on my forehead or something?These experiences were trumped, however, Tuesday morning. I spent the longest 20 minutes of my life near 3rd Street waiting for the free Ajax skier shuttle. I must have showed up seconds after the previous bus passed. Just my luck.I bet at least an inch of snow fell during the time I spent idling on the sidewalk. I was certain all the skiers were chewing up my coveted lines.I tried to keep myself occupied, engaging in a routine of tightening my boots, fixing my gloves and stretching my quads. Undoubtedly, however, I looked pathetic as rows of cars slid by.I could see their eyes staring at me through panes of ice encrusted glass, as if I was taking part in an impromptu staring contest. Maybe I had something on my face (bagel remnants, or the “loser” stenciled on my head with black marker).I spotted a pair of large headlights down near the roundabout and hastily picked up my skis and poles that were resting against a nearby fence. As the bus drove closer, however, big letters scrolled across the front became visible. “Not in Service.” I swear the driver was laughing on the inside when he watched my shoulders sag as he sped past. Cue the ‘Charlie Brown’ music.I considered walking. But I figured the odds were better that I would have slipped, fallen in a snow bank and be buried by a passing plow than make it to the Gondola Plaza unscathed. I did the math. (Coincidentally, this very scenario is the reason I habitually wear black.)I was spared minutes later when my ride arrived. Maybe I exaggerated, for the wait was predominantly painless. Maybe I’ll go have a drink by myself after work.The Aspen Times, Aspen, Colo.