Alison Berkley: The dog days of off-season
The last leaves are about to fall like your panties on prom night and soon you won’t know what to do with yourself.
The farmer’s market is over, so you can no longer buy a bag of lettuce for $12 or get a massage on the street for $2 a minute or get sick from big bags of that popcorn with sugar on it or those brownies that have caramel in them.
You thought winter was right around the corner during that cold snap last week, so you ran out and bought fuzzy warm hats and scarves and sweaters and now it’s like 90 degrees out. You do the “I’m OK with being here during off-season” thing and pretend to get excited about those easy-to-find parking spots and two for one specials, but how many fajitas can a person eat, for god’s sake?
Honey, no one wants to hear you complain. Like staring male genitalia in the face, you gotta take this thing for what it is. It might not be as pretty as you would like, but Aspen when it’s naked is a beautiful thing.
Now that the foliage has gone bye-bye (looks good = doesn’t stick around), it’s so much easier to appreciate Aspen’s true essence. Dummy, it’s the people who make this place way cooler than everyone thinks. It has nothing to do with designer boutiques!
The locals, yo. The home dogs. The homies-you-know-me. The people you see every day who are normally on the periphery of your life but suddenly become bloated with meaning when (at least until Thanksgiving) you no longer really have a life.
Like the Coffee Guy. He treats me better than any man I have ever known, making a big fuss over me as soon as I walk in the door and having my latte ready before I even ask for it so I never have to wait in line. He has this amazing British accent and calls me by these cute little pet names, like “darling,” and “baby” and, of course, “princess.” I will go to the coffee shop just to hear him say the word “brilliant” and believe it.
It’s funny how within those few precious morning minutes, we share more about ourselves over the ruckus of the blender and the milk frother thing than we do with our mums. (Well, not really. It’s just chit-chat, but the word “mum” sounded so good I couldn’t resist).
Then there’re The Boys at the salon. I stumbled in for a hair appointment one morning so hung over that I thought I just might throw up right there in that swirly chair. My eyes were all puffy from crying because it was the morning after Psycho Dog tore my new French doors to shreds. I left him home alone, and he is only 90 pounds with jaws like Jaws, and so naturally he is terrified of being left by himself without me there to protect him.
But it is a big deal! We were both very upset. I suppose we deserve each other, especially now that we are on the same medication (although it was a great excuse to get the lifetime supply of Xanax from my dad).
Anyhoo, The Boys gently played with my hair and makeup, transformed me from horrifying to fabulous and said all the right things. I can honestly say I haven’t enjoyed conversation that much since that slumber party I had in fifth grade.
Boy 2 told me I was too young to worry about wearing makeup and pretended to be surprised when I told him I am 33. I would have paid $200 just for that, forget about the color and cut.
If it weren’t for the stellar attitude and support of both The Dog Whisperer at Aspen Animal Hospital and The Dog Catcher at the Aspen Police Department, me and Looney Paws would need a lot more than a mild tranquilizer to get us through this week’s fiasco.
As if chowing on my door wasn’t enough, Cujo decided to get a taste of some lady’s ass. He was not in a good way on account of the antidepressants we started him on last week for his little anxiety problem, and so he decided to bite her as she casually walked by.
I’m not sure exactly what happened, but let’s just say that Cuckoo Canine got a piece of her, and I’m not talking about action. The Dog Whisperer spent an inordinate amount of time with us after the incident. Bless his soul, he only charged us $30, which is bargain basement for the kind of psychotherapy we both received from his gentle kindness, reassurance and expertise.
Thanks to the super-cool, way-nice Dog Catcher lady, my little four-legged Mike Tyson got off on probie without having to go to the slammer. Good lord. Karmic dog, indeed! It’s like, I’m sorry about all those bad things I did when I was a teenager! Jesus Christ! I mean, Jesus Christ, please help us. Thank you.
I should also mention that “The Twig” from Goldie’s who thought I was pregnant sent me the nicest note and a gift certificate for, um, food, but how many people are big enough (or in this case, skinny enough) to apologize and actually mean it? Honey, you are too sweet and you just know that Aspen loves you and your window display is as hard to resist as chocolate cake, so I’m sure I’ll be seeing you real soon.
So forget about mind-blowing, feel-like-you’re-tripping-on-acid scenery, the endless days of summer or even the sweet powder days yet to come. All you need is love – and maybe a few prescription drugs – to get you through off-season.
[The Princess and her dog are spending a little quiet time at home and trying desperately to stay out of trouble. E-mail your neighborly sentiments to email@example.com]
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Teachers are underpaid. They can’t find housing. Turnover is unacceptably high. If you are a teacher in Aspen today, you face losing your entire current work group five years hence.