Barry Smith: Irrelativity |

Barry Smith: Irrelativity

Barry Smith
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Jordan Curet The Aspen Times
ALL | The Aspen Times

“I usually wake up at three each morning, but I don’t get out of bed until about five,” my grandmother once told me.

“What do you do for those two hours?” I asked her.

I was thinking that she must read, or knit, or do crosswords.

She replied, quite seriously: “Worry.”


I come from a family of proud worriers, which is nothing to be proud of. Personally, I’m doing all I can to phase it out of my life. I’ve got a particularly nagging list of things I’ve been worrying about for a long time, and as I look it over I see that there are a couple that I can safely move on from.


Y2K. I’m a bit ashamed to admit that I was one of those fruitcakes who though society was going to come to a screeching halt at midnight on Dec. 31, 1999. But when it comes to long-lasting, non-perishable survival food, you really can’t beat fruitcake.

And speaking of survival food, well, I just recently finished off the last of my Y2K dried garbanzo beans. Good to know that had the apocalypse actually happened I would have been eating hummus up until last week. I like hummus.

Since a decade has now passed, I think I can finally breathe a sigh of relief and stop worrying about the year 2000. Which is good, as I should probably start focusing on stocking up for 2012.


I’m 10 years old in 1976, and “Match Game ’76” is my favorite TV game show. One episode has stayed with me for almost 35 years.

It’s the final round, where the leading contestant gets to pick the celebrity that they’ve had the most psychic connection with throughout the game. The adorable old man on the show that particular day picks (pre-Family Feud) Richard Dawson, and host Gene Rayburn reads out the clue to be completed by each of them.

“Halley’s … BLANK,” Gene says. “Halley’s……..BLANK,”

I breathe a sigh of relief. This is an easy one. “Comet.” Halley’s Comet. Who wouldn’t know that? He’s a sure winner!

The old man is clearly thinking the same thing, because he scribbles his answer on his card quickly while the timer counts down, then answers with a confident chuckle, “Well, Gene, sink or swim, it’s got to be Halley’s Navy.” He flips over his card with “Navy” written on it.

What? Oh no! He’s confused “Halley’s Comet” with “McHale’s Navy!”

Richard Dawson holds up the card he’s written “Comet” on, and the old man’s sudden crestfallen face has haunted me ever since. I was so worried that he’d have to go home and, for the rest of his life, feel embarrassed in front of his friends and family. This was way before viral videos existed, of course, but he may as well have fallen out of a tub while stomping grapes. Ugh.

Recently, I thought about that old man, and realized that he’s almost certainly entered the “Pearly (BLANK)” by now, so I can stop worrying about him. Ahhh …


About five years ago I went on a real cleaning spree. One of the things I threw out during this colonic-like purge was my collection of mid-’80s punk rock flyers.

Then, a few weeks ago, for no real reason, I started to miss them. What had I done? What if they’re actually worth something some day? Had I just blown my retirement fund? And what about the sentimental value of those photocopied masterpieces documenting all the shows I’d seen? Hadn’t I, in a way, tossed aside my youth? And I never throw anything away. What was I thinking?

On a whim, I Googled “Punk rock flyers.” A few clicks later, and I’m on a site offering the “California Punk Rock Flyer Jumbo Assortment” package, which probably contains most all of the flyers I tossed, and then some. It’s for sale for only $13.

There it was, the slice of my youth that I was worried had been lost forever, all neatly shrink-wrapped and reasonably priced for my convenient post-punk consumption. So, no need to worry – my youth is just a few dollars away.

And for an extra four bucks I can even have it overnighted. Hardcore.


Did I leave the iron on?

Well, since I’ve never actually used an iron, probably not.


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