Marolt: From the muddy clay rose an honest-to-goodness neighborhood | AspenTimes.com

Marolt: From the muddy clay rose an honest-to-goodness neighborhood

Roger Marolt
Cluster Phobic
Roger Marolt

I would rather live in a town where I will run into people I know at the grocery store. It doesn’t matter much whether I like all, some or any of the people I see there, just as long as we are acquainted. I’ll take a close encounter with a familiar person I dislike over a stranger any time. As with a good friend, it’s easy to get past the small talk and pleasantries with a sworn enemy.

I lived in Denver a long time ago. I was young and ambitious and putting a lot of hours in at the big accounting firm for not much salary, but they made us wear dark suits, ties and long-sleeve shirts every day, even on Fridays, so I felt like a big shot. It was a perk money can’t buy, or so they told us.

During those glorious years of thinking inside the cubicle to gain experience to use in later years to supposedly manage other people thinking inside their cubicles, we didn’t have a lot of spare time for meeting too many interesting people of the opposite sex. The effects of this were magnified because we were all single people, made exponentially worse by the other fact that we were young, too.

I remember clearly, I think, that the prevailing urban yuppie myth was that the grocery store was a great place to “meet people” — a veritable meat market, so to speak. The logic was solid: Everybody has to eat. It was also true that young people didn’t, and likely still don’t, have the foresight, patience or pantry space to stock up on food, so they go to the grocery store often. It was equally true that most every one of the early yuppies believed, for a time, that the grocery store was a great place to meet people, even though there was absolutely no evidence that anyone ever did, so it made sense that we’d all be there after work.

In the end, the meeting-people-at-the-grocery-store legend turned out to be a myth generating more false hope than the one about meeting people at the gym. Just as the men at the health clubs congregated around the bench-press area to compare max lifts while the women kicked to disco tunes in the aerobics room, the men at the grocery store weighed the pros and cons of bratwurst versus steaks for ponderous spans even the most dawdling peruser of foods would consider unreasonable, while the women preferred to gather items to make the best chef’s salad ever at the opposite side of the store.

Anyway, the mature version of me now considers supermarkets and health clubs to be places to frequent only out of necessity and not as entertainment venues, while nightclubs are neither places of necessity nor entertainment, so I’ve pretty much forgotten what they exist for. I suppose it’s still all about brawling in the parking lot at closing time, even though I thought organized amateur cage-fighting events would have put an end to that.

I am so far off the track now that somebody ought to just slip on the hazmat suit and start cleaning up the toxic mess of wasted words seeping into the gutters along the lane of run-on sentences coursing their way to polluting the sea of literary excellence. Believe it or not, this piece began, in my mind at least, as recognition of how great neighbors are. It all begins in the grocery store, where we meet to keep in touch. It was one of those great, heartfelt ideas that I was sure was going to make people cry, especially my neighbors, but you have seen how my good intentions have digressed. Never write under deadline with Sunday evening’s cocktail sweating in front of you.

What I had really intended to get to is that by all meaningful measures, whether it be a graduation party, a Fourth of July bash, an impromptu cul-de-sac meeting called to order by retrieving Saturday papers at the end of driveways, or even an annual meeting of the homeowners’ association, my neighborhood, The Crossings at Horse Ranch, is a smashing success that rose from a treeless, lawnless, muddy mess in an obscure part of the village 20 years ago. Yes, we squabble, but it’s over mild irritations that add texture to the mix of Snowmass Village-lovers who have raised kids, hell and the bar for planned urban developments here. Happy anniversary (roughly)!

Roger Marolt believes that for a colossal flop like Baseless Village, there ought to be a dozen gems like The Crossings built as developer penance. Email roger@maroltllp.com.


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