Barry Smith: Irrelativity
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
There are lots of end-of-the-decade lists to be found these days. Plenty of “Best of …” and “Worst of …” and “Most …” and “Least …” and even the occasional “Squishiest … .” But they’re all full of celebrities and movies and politicians and otherwise well-known people and events. What about an end-of-the-decade list for the rest of us? Or, better still, how about one just for me? OK, then …
MOST UNINTENTIONALLY INFLUENTIAL PEOPLE OF THE LAST DECADE
• GUY WHO TOTALLY FREAKED ME OUT ABOUT Y2K, CAUSING ME TO BUY LOTS OF TUNA, BEANS, WEAPONS AND WATER FILTERS.
Remember Y2K? Yeah, I fell for it. Nothing I’m proud of. I really want to blame this guy from Vancouver, as he was the one who finally pushed me over the edge with his well-spun tales of impending doom. Ultimately, though, I know that he just played off of my paranoia. I realize that Y2K technically took place just before the last decade started, so you could argue that it has no place on this list, but I was eating bulk garbanzo beans daily well into mid-2002. Good source of fiber. Thanks.
• GUY WHO ALWAYS PUTS HIS CRAP ON THE BENCH INSTEAD OF IN THE LOCKER.
The little club where I like to work out has limited locker-room space, yet this one guy seems to think that the bench is the perfect place to arrange and store all of his workout and post-workout accoutrements: hair brush, shampoo, shoes, coat, swim fins, rubber duckie, etc. … you know, the stuff that one would generally put, oh, I don’t know … IN A LOCKER.
This used to really bug me, but as the years tick away I’ve actually come to enjoy his unorthodox views on storage. I even look forward to scooting his pile of crap out of the way so I can sit down. Hey, plenty of room for everybody, right? His consistency has allowed me to measure the increase in my maturity over the years; he’s been like a barometer of personal growth. Granted, it’s a rectal barometer, but still – progress is progress.
• WHOEVER DROPPED OFF THOSE AWESOME NOISE-CANCELLING HEADPHONES AT THE THRIFT SHOP, THE ONES THAT LOOKED BRAND NEW BUT DIDN’T ACTUALLY WORK.
Good thing they were broken, or else I’d probably have gone deaf from them by now. Which means I wouldn’t have been able to enjoy…
• MY NEIGHBOR’S DOG.
You know those cathedrals that are so acoustically advanced you can stand at one end and whisper to your friend way at the other end and they can hear you perfectly? Well, the alley behind my bedroom has that same acoustic enhancement quality. So when my neighbor’s dog starts yapping at 6:00 a.m., it sounds like he’s standing over my bed and barking into a megaphone.
Left alone and in silence, I probably wouldn’t get up at 6:00. But I should, right? I mean, other people have to, why not me? So when the dog barks at dawn I get a nice, early start on my day. And there’s something very invigorating about yelling “SHUT UP!” out the bedroom window at full volume immediately after awakening. Almost as good as coffee.
• PEOPLE IN HUGE CARS WHO ARE TOO BUSY TALKING ON THEIR PHONES TO NOTICE THINGS LIKE BICYCLES.
Oh, how I used to curse these rolling cliches, but now I realize how much my quality of life has improved since this trend started. I ride my bike a lot, and it’s easy to get complacent while tooling around in a quaint little town. But the threat of being plowed by an SUV has a way of keeping you on your toes. And isn’t that how I want to live? On the edge? Treating each moment as if it were the last? You know it. When it’s Hummer season, a simple trip to the post office can seem like a survival mission. Like a vision quest. Like playing slip-n-slide in a mine field. (Pick your favorite.) Thanks, chatty drivers, for making me feel like a Jedi in training.
• THE THEATRE CRITIC WHO FELL ASLEEP DURING MY PERFORMANCE IN SASKATOON.
I’ve gotten so much mileage out of that story over the past two years. It’s actually difficult to imagine a life devoid of the constant telling and retelling of the moment I looked up to see that woman dozing in the front row. I mean, without that experience, who would I be? What would I talk about? Where’d everybody go?
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People are a little hot and bothered out there. Relax, it’s Aspen.