The tale of a mild-mannered colon’s first Aspen Halloween |

The tale of a mild-mannered colon’s first Aspen Halloween

As a rule, I don’t like November days. It’s a depressing month, cloaked under a sky the color of wet sugar. A last few leaves cling pathetically to branches, and the ground bubbles with discontent, not quite ready, like most of us, for the winter freeze.

There’s one thing November days are good for, however, and that’s hangovers. You can lie in bed through the three hours of daylight given us this time of year and feel absolutely no guilt about keeping your heart rate hovering somewhere around 35 until, thankfully, it’s an appropriate time to go back to sleep.

When I woke this Nov. 1, it was a perfect hangover day. Too cold for rain, but not chilly enough for snow, the sky was dropping little turd pellets of slush (in November, it can actually rain slush). It was a mean, ugly, bully of a day, and being a pacifist, I excused myself the task of fighting through it.

You see, the night before, my alter ego, Colon Man, had been out on the town, and like the big green Hulk after a night of extreme gamma-rage, I had been ravaged by the experience.

My costume consisted of two white dots, one taped to my chest, the other to my stomach. The gag was supposed to be that I was a body part: a colon.

It was a geeky English-major costume, but I figured that once I explained the premise to those parties interested, in my mind a throng of nubile college freshmen all dressed as Elizabeth Shue from “Adventures in Baby-Sitting” (it’s a weird fetish, I know), they would come to see the genius of a mild-mannered reporter such as myself transforming into, ahem, Colon Man!

On my walk into town, however, I realized that I had made a fatal misjudgment. Two white dots jimmy-taped to T-shirt just wasn’t going to cut it, not around here.

Using drunken frat-house Halloween parties as my only reference ” where, by 1 a.m., everyone turns out to be wearing the same “half-conscious idiot drenched in beer and vomit” costume ” I was simply unprepared for the care and intricacy Aspenites put into their fancy dress. It borders on the obsessive.

I simply cannot believe that these costumes are the product of solitary individuals. My reporter hunch (it’s a super power) cries out “conspiracy!” and next summer I intend to investigate the physics institute in town, fully expecting to find a team of rocket scientists popping handfuls of Vivarin in order to make next year’s Oct. 31 deadline.

I’m not sure why my super-hero costume didn’t fly, but I put a lot of the blame on my sidekick, “Morning-Wood-Boy.” His costume consisted of a robe with a rather strategically placed pole protruding from underneath.

Maybe it was the strain of maintaining a constant state of tumescence, or maybe wearing pajamas and a robe put him in the mood, or maybe it’s just that tequila equals Morning-Wood-Boy’s kryptonite, but by 9:30 he had rather sheepishly crawled off to bed, leaving me all alone.

Spending most of the night hiding in a corner so as not to be ridiculed, I got a good look at some good-looking costumes.

The ones that stick out in my mind (probably because I saw them early in the evening while my super powers were still sharp) are a man with a painted black eye wearing a T-shirt with a “P” on it (a member of the group “Black-Eyed Peas,”), a man with a white tiger mauling his neck (Roy from Siegfried and Roy), and, my favorite, a “one-night stand” ” a man lugging around a concession stand of contraceptives, alcohol and sex toys.

As for nubile college freshmen, well, I didn’t find any. But I did run into a group of recent graduates from New Hampshire dressed as a swarm of bees, and although only one resembled Elizabeth Shue, they were all very nice and very beautiful. So I sort of hovered around them most of the night doing my best to get some honey, or at least get stung trying.

Blasphemous as it may sound, I’ve never really enjoyed Aspen’s nightlife. I find the bar scene here stiff and repetitive. Most of the time I spend my evenings trying to stave off what I have come to term “langriness,” a lethal combination of alcohol-induced anger and loneliness, when out of frustration you decide to pass out in a corner of a bar, or pick a fight with someone much bigger than you, or, what’s worse, drunk-dial an ex-girlfriend to restate a passion undying and forlorn.

Halloween represents the potential of Aspen’s nightlife. Social psychologists have shown how differently people behave when they put on masks. For Aspenites, disguise provides just the right dose of indiscretion and misrule.

I had been warned that there might be a lot of people on drugs, but surrounded by witches and goblins and bloody-syringe toting nurses, I can’t imagine many people choosing to partake in any conscious-altering substance.

No, Halloween night was exciting, at times frightening, but never creepy. It was simply a healthy night of celebration. On Halloween, locals reclaim their town and, for one blessed night, revel and party in the great cauldron of the Roaring Fork Valley.

As for Colon Man, by the end of the evening one of his dots had fallen off. I didn’t mind ” having to constantly justify half a clause can be exhausting, and going home a “period” instead of a colon brought a needed sense of closure and finality to the night.

Halloween is a harvest festival, a time of thankfulness and bounty. And as these sad, final days of fall march to conclusion, before a fresh sheet of snow spreads itself over the brown earth, heralding an entirely new sense of possibility and adventure, we are given a final chance to wave goodbye to summer. God, November, hurry up and bring on the winter.

Eben Harrell’s e-mail address is

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