Beckwith: Stories with morals
My recent offseason project started after I found an article ranking the top 100 “Simpsons” episodes of all time. Instead of rifling through the rankings and arbitrarily posting my grievances on social media like you people who think we care about the nine concerts you’ve seen, I decided to watch the top 100 episodes.
Well, No. 81 on the list is “22 Short Films about Springfield.” The writers of the show drew characters out of a hat and had to concoct a quick story about said character. The episode, which came out shortly after “Pulp Fiction,” plays out in a nonlinear fashion like “Pulp Fiction.” You have Principal Skinner cooking “steamed hams” for Superintendent Chalmers, Homer getting Maggie stuck in a newspaper dispenser, Nelson Muntz getting his comeuppance for laughing at other people’s misfortunes, etc. It’s a really enjoyable episode.
What does this have to do with Aspen or my column? Well, I have a few local stories that I’m not sure when they happened, so I guess they can qualify as nonlinear. And here they are:
The Bad Samaritan
After a day throwing boxes on The Little Nell’s loading dock, I headed over to the Grog Shop for a frosty six-pack. Upon opening my car door, I found an iPhone partially submerged in a slushy snow puddle. With beer being my main objective, I picked up the phone and tossed it in my car. On my way home to Snowmass I dialed the last number that called the iPhone and got no answer.
About 15 minutes later and five minutes away from cracking a cold one on my Club Commons couch, the mystery phone rang. It was the phone owner’s vacation partner who was very gracious and understanding. Then she handed her phone to the owner.
“Oh, thank you so much for finding my phone. I don’t know where I lost it. Where are you?”
“I’m in Snowmass,” I said, thinking she would be thankful I’m not some shady drug addict ready to pawn her phone.
“Why are you in Snowmass?” she said in an angry tone that took me by surprise. “Why didn’t you turn it in to City Market? I’m staying at the Nell and I don’t have a car to come there.”
This is where I should’ve said, “Oh, that’s too bad, cut your stay a day short and buy two new phones with the refund because I’m about to use your phone as a skipping rock.” But instead I said, “Oh, I work at the Nell. I can bring it in tomorrow morning when I get to work.”
Little did I know this was like telling a 2-year-old child she’d have to wait until tomorrow to see Santa. No, she wanted her phone and she wanted it now.
More than mildly annoyed and now realizing I just told the lovechild of Satan and Mariah Carey that I work where she was staying, I took a deep breath and told her I’d meet her at the Rodeo Lot.
I arrived at the Rodeo Lot to see her standing outside a Little Nell SUV, in which I can only assume was a driver who spent the past 20 minutes mindlessly agreeing with her about how terrible of a person I am for returning her phone. So I got out of my car and handed her the phone. Then she handed me $20 and said, “Next time don’t even pick it up.”
Yes, she gave me $20 to justify telling me to shove it. Moral of the story: Don’t give out personal information when you have leverage over someone; let them perilously dangle until you decide their fate.
The phantom hot dog burner
During a hot afternoon on Lake Powell, I decided to make lunch. I disregarded the fact that I was 20 years old, on a houseboat trip with my sister and a dozen other line cooks from Montagna, and turned on the grill.
I remember thinking somebody made chili and assumed we were having chili dogs for lunch. The night before, our beer-can, sand-coated chicken was obviously inedible, so I cheffed it up. Within 30 seconds of loading the grill up with as many hotdogs as possible, I opted out of grilling and into bocce ball.
Burning a couple dozen hot dogs wouldn’t normally phase me. However, since the Nell had closed, the kitchen crew made off like the Hamburglar (or the Hotdoglar?) These were jumbo gourmet franks reserved for spoiled brats laying by the pool. Cherished hot dogs that I wasn’t — as the youngest person there — going to fess up to charring.
I did the only logical thing and kept my mouth shut. People got blamed, hot dogs were placed in compromising positions, photos were taken. People suspected, but no one knew I was the culprit.
Then five years later at my sister’s wedding with the entire houseboat crew inebriated, I revealed my shameful secret to a huge ovation. The moral of the story: If you have an embarrassing secret, wait until your friends are drunk to tell them.
While pregaming for a Blackstar concert at Belly Up Aspen, I came up with the idea that if I got too drunk to find my way home on the bus, I would get off at the spot where the majority of the other riders did. The thought process being everybody lives at Club Commons and there wasn’t another stop between Aspen and Snowmass where a bunch of seasonal workers lived.
The concert was awesome. Mos Def and Talib Kwali had incredible energy. They used the old-school mics like the ones that dropped down in the middle of a boxing ring. I had a great night.
I hopped on the Snowmass bus and followed my plan to a T. Everyone exited the bus and walked underneath Highway 82 via a tunnel. This was about the time I realized that I never took a tunnel to Club Commons. I turned around to go back to the bus stop but got lost. After stumbling around for 30 minutes, I found a lobby where I dialed a cab and begged them to find a place called Burlingame. Moral of the story: Always make sure your phone is charged before you leave the house.
Sean Beckwith is a copy editor at The Aspen Times. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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“If I was moving through the herd, the others would begin walking away, some of them at a jog, taking their calves with them, but the big brown ungulate would face me sideways, reluctant to move, not wanting to give any ground,” writes Tony Vagneur.