A dream come true
I was talking with a friend the other day and he told me how lucky I am to have my own weekly column. He lamented that his opinions were relegated to inglorious airings at neighborhood dinner parties, around the water cooler at work or with other parents at the school bus stop. He envied me my forum. I could only agree with him. I love my position with the Times. It’s so much easier to speak freely when you can convince yourself that what you are writing is important or, alternatively, that nobody is paying attention to you, depending on what your ego needs. And you collect a weekly paycheck for your troubles. All in all, it’s a good gig.At any rate, that conversation got me to pondering about how I ended up working here. It didn’t just magically happen. Then again, maybe that’s just the guilt in me talking. I have joked before about how I just sit around with my feet on the desk thinking about what to write next. Breaks are spent slurping coffee and talking baseball with the people in the sports department. This process is repeated daily between 11 and 4 until Thursday afternoon when I finally slip a new ribbon into the Corona and start pecking away to meet my 5 o’clock deadline. I usually make it with an hour or two to spare and then I head over to the J-Bar to kill the rest of the day.That’s obviously an exaggeration. It’s not exactly like that. For instance, I haven’t propped my feet on the desk since the oak surface was refinished.Anyway, not that I have to justify my position or anything like that, but just for fun I went back and looked through my portfolio of 180 letters to the editor that paved my literary road, leaving the likes of Pete Luhn behind to eat my toner dust. I thought I would share a few memories with you so that you can judge for yourselves that my skills are no fluke.My first published letter in 1998 was about Gay Ski Week. It stressed tolerance and acceptance for all involved. I parodied this message around my dislike of mayonnaise on sandwiches. Trumpeting the free choice of condiments, I concluded with the statement: “I believe that whatever a person puts between their buns is their own business.” Go ahead, argue with that!Then there was the scoop about the 80 bags of dog poop they hauled off Wagner Park during one spring cleanup and the ensuing animal haters pooh-poohing of our furry friends. I felt that dogs were being discriminated against as there was no doo-doo process involved. In part I fabricated, “The Second Amendment of The Declaration of Independence guarantees that all men are equal. The Supreme Court later included women in this definition, thus we must assume that they also meant to include animals … Besides, I always thought that smell at the park was from McDonald’s.” It made good scents at the time.I asked the tough questions. too, like when I held the Historical Preservation Committee’s feet to the fire. “Can you perpetuate the phoniness in this town any more?” I wrote. “This place already looks about as real as Flintstones Village in South Dakota. The Matterhorn ride at Disneyland looks more like the original mountain than that thing (the Isis) looks like our old, beloved theater. If you insist on doing a half-ass job, I would rather you just let them tear down the whole damn town and start over completely. At least it would be original and real!” I offered solutions, too. During one of the annual debates about vicious dogs terrorizing the streets of Carbondale, I threw in my two cents. “Why would anyone own a dog like that?” I asked objectively. “Is it because short tails make certain parts of their masters’ anatomies look large by comparison? If so, why not just put bigger tires on your truck instead?” I didn’t shy away from the tough topics either. In August 1999 I wrote, “We have crime [in Aspen] too. Bookkeepers regularly make off with hundreds of thousands of dollars in embezzled cash, the theaters and grocery stores have been victims of armed robberies, and real estate agents can get a half a million bucks for selling a house!”Even high-level politics were not off-limits. After taxpayers bewailed that Pitkin County would have to bear the cost of security for President Clinton’s visit in 1999, an anonymous donor stepped forward to placate us by announcing that he gave an unspecified amount of cash to an unnamed charity as an offset. In response I fearlessly proclaimed, “This unknown do-gooder is either a shyster, an idiot, or a liar. At the very least, we know he is a Democrat.” Now, is that an exposé or what? Ah, yes, those were the good old days. I was reflecting on all of this the other night before bed. I soon fell into a deep, luxurious sleep known only to babes naïve to the ways of this world. Without warning or premonition, I was awakened by a startling revelation. The thought occurred to me for the first time that the Times hadn’t really hired me to write a weekly column for them after all … they actually hired me to stop writing letters to the editor!Oh, how I hate a bad dream. No matter how far-fetched, they always scare me.Roger Marolt misses the early days of his editorial commentary more than his editors do. Confess your past sins to email@example.com
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The COVID-19 pandemic has caused untold amounts of suffering and disruption, and we’ll probably tell those stories for the rest of our lives.