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Immigrants to Aspen

Charles Agar

Everyone on the hill last Wednesday was buzzing with excitement over the deep, fresh snow. A few runs through thigh-high powder on Seibert’s had me more or less speaking in tongues; but the two guys I was paired up with on the Gent’s Ridge chairlift had a language all their own.It went something like this:A: “Shyaaaaa, brah.”B: “Shyaaah.”A: “Loving this freshy.”B: “Sick pow-pow.”A: “Shyaaah.”They exchanged a high five.B: “Gnar,”A: “I’m stoked, brah. Soooo stoked.”Another high five.I tried to place the language. The tone was deep and guttural, the pace languid. Perhaps an Eastern European tongue. I recognized a smattering of what sounded like English words, so I reckoned it a patois from a British colony or some pidgeonized form of my mother tongue. Enthralled, I listened closer.B: “Trollers better drop lines pronto.”A: “No doubt.”B: “I’m cravin’ first tracks on some fresh-fresh.”A: “Face shots, brah. Face shots.”B: “No doubt.”A: “Shyaaaah.”B: “Shyaaaah.”Another high five.They looked at me. One took notice of my new skis.A: “Snap, those are some dope fat boards.”I gave an empathetic “Welcome to America” smile and decided the best approach was to speak slowly. “Yes, those are skis,” I said. “We call them skis here. Do you like skis?”I used to teach English as a second language.He crinkled his brow – obviously didn’t understand a word. He nodded and turned to his friend.A: “Grandpa tweaked, yo.”B: “No doubt.”They both turned to look at me again, curious. How frustrating that we couldn’t communicate!?”How long have you been in America?” I asked. Both shook their heads in frustration and plugged their ears with iPod headphones.Maybe they are boning up on English-language tapes. I smiled and shrugged. I’ve traveled abroad quite a lot and know how hard it is trying to communicate with locals. I hope things turn out OK for them.The Aspen Times, Aspen, Colo.


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