Crud attack! I sleep in fear
For the past week, I’ve gone to bed fearful and slept uneasily, as if I’m sharing the bed with a ticking time bomb. It’s not that I’m afraid of being murdered in my sleep – I’m afraid of being infected.My wife’s got the crud.And, as the guy at the ski shop said when I called to tell them that she was sick and wouldn’t be picking up the pair of demo skis she’d reserved, “Good luck. It’s a bad one this year.”The Aspen crud. It’s a part of living here – something they don’t mention in the tourist brochures.Quick detour: If you check out stories about Aspen history and Aspen life, you’ll find lots of references to “Aspen Crud,” as the name of a “legendary” drink served at the “historic” Jerome bar. It’s a milkshake with a shot of bourbon and, depending on which story you read, it was either invented by 10th Mountain Division soldiers visiting Aspen while training for World War II or it was developed during Prohibition, when the Jerome bar was converted to a soda fountain. Those stories also claim it’s still a wildly popular Aspen drink, beloved by visitors and locals alike. I wouldn’t know. I’ve never had an Aspen Crud.But never mind that, because I have had the Aspen crud.Which gets us back to my poor sick wife, who’s been coughing and sneezing all through the night.When I first moved to Aspen, friends who had lived here a while were bizarrely gleeful in their descriptions of the yearly attack of the Aspen crud.The nasty infection that seems to sweep through town every ski season was considered almost a badge of honor. It was yet another indicator of Aspen’s ever-soaring popularity.As one friend explained it, “People bring their diseases here from all over the country, from all around the world. They cough and wheeze and slobber all over each other – and all those germs get mixed up into one powerfully evil disease that they leave here for us locals to catch.”Now, I’m not sure about the scientific accuracy of his theory. I’m not certain that germs do get mixed up into some kind of hellish witch’s brew. But one thing for certain: We do all seem to get sick every winter.And so I lie in bed, listening to my wife sneeze and picturing a vast army of germs heading across the bed in my direction.I build a barrier of pillows between us, but I can almost see a 10th Mountain Division of germs fighting their way over those peaks and attacking. (Do they stop at the Jerome for an Aspen Crud? Never mind.)Our wedding was not a traditional one; our vows did not include that line about “in sickness as in health.” But I don’t think that means I’m allowed to (as Paul Simon put it) “slip out the back, Jack” and send my wife a note pointing out the legal defects in our marriage contract and promising to come on home as soon as she’s healthy.That might result in an overwhelming temptation for her to exercise the “death do us part” escape clause.Nope. We share the bed; we share the crud. Those are the rules. Indeed, she’s quick to point out that last winter I was the one who got sick first – and she stayed faithfully by my side and got a whole lot sicker than I ever did.Today, she’s feeling much better. She’s back at work. And I’m sitting here, waiting patiently for the crud to strike, swallowing every few seconds to see if perhaps there’s a tingle, a tiny itch at the back of my throat. The first sign of the crud.Yes. I think there is.I wonder if a shot of bourbon would help. And never mind the damn milkshake.Andy Stone is former editor of The Aspen Times. His e-mail address is email@example.com.