Meredith Carroll: Meredith Pro Tem
I was afraid this would happen.Last year I upped the amount of my family’s charitable contributions by $65, and apparently the news of our generosity has already reached the development office of at least one nonprofit. That’s pretty much the only reason I can figure as to why Walter Isaacson sent me a letter in April asking for a donation of $25,000 to have a row of seats named in my honor when the Aspen Institute begins its $12 million renovation of the Paepcke Building on its West End campus this fall. It’s either that or the Institute’s development department confused my address with the South American multibillionaire media tycoon who lives next door to me. Because even $5,000 for a back row of seats (25K buys front row, natch) is out of the question. Actually, even a $10 ticket to sit in the back row of the Isis would be a stretch right now. Forget about the $5.75 bucket of popcorn, even if there’s no charge for extra butter. However, if the Institute is willing to accept donations with significantly fewer zeros, then we should talk. After all, I wholeheartedly support its mission and would be honored to pay tribute to the vision of Walter and Elizabeth Paepcke in some small way. Besides, I hear there are quietly still a few naming rights up for grabs at prices that are way more digestible for people who have an Aspen zip code but otherwise have zip. For instance, I have it on good authority that there’s some space on the second floor of the Doerr-Hosier Center that remains unclaimed. If that’s the case, then I’ll put it out there right now that if I were guaranteed a little plaque screwed into the wall that read, “The Meredith C. Carroll Electrical Closet,” a $50 check with the Institute’s name on it would very quickly become a reality. Recession be damned – I’ll find the money for the chance to be associated with a storage space full of wires. Electricity is sexy.Another possibility is toilet-paper holders. For a single donation the Institute would receive twice the benefit: The means to ensure the all-important roll of toilet tissue is always conveniently located next to the toilet (something Westerners tragically take for granted several times a day) and permanent bathroom reading material (because I would require a plaque for this donation, too). Waterworks’ Aero Retro Wall Mounted Swing Arm Paper Holder in antique brass is exquisite and would certainly be a lovely touch in the extra-special bathroom for the Institute’s visiting big wigs. At $450, it’s also a bit pricey, but I feel so strongly that the bottoms of such dignitaries as the Dalai Lama and Queen Noor deserve to be in close proximity to such a preeminent toilet paper holder that I’d work out some sort of multiyear installment plan to make it happen. Or, if the Institute wants to stretch my dollars a little further and get more bang for its butts, I could get it a few of the $29.99 Deluxe Pedestal Oil Rubbed Bronze Toilet Paper Holders at Bed, Bath & Beyond instead. I’d even drive to the store in Glenwood Springs and pick them up so we could save on shipping. Another donation option is paint. There have been whispers around town that the lines in the Institute’s parking lot are embarrassingly faded, thereby creating confusion as to how much space is needed when parking a BMW SUV next to a Volvo SUV. Car doors get dinged. Drama ensues. Well, Mr. Isaacson, say the word, and I’ll show up with all the half-empty paint cans in my house and get to work. I might not be the world’s greatest painter (or at least one who isn’t being appreciated in her lifetime) and Lusty Red, Down Pour Blue and Duckling Yellow may not fit into the Institute’s parking lot color scheme, but how lofty can you really get in a parking lot? I don’t even need a plaque in exchange for the paint, just my own spot (next to yours would be nice, Walter, but not necessary).But if paint doesn’t tickle the Institute’s fancy, I can offer a year’s supply of ice. It won’t be an easy undertaking, considering the icemaker in my freezer was never hooked up to a water source. Fortunately we do have two ice cube trays. The burden of the ice storage would have to be on the Institute though, because my freezer is already stuffed with my mom’s matzoh ball soup and, inexplicably, several boxes of chopped spinach. If it would sweeten the deal, I could also be talked into throwing in the $20.99 Michael Graves stainless steel ice bucket from Target. But then I’d require written assurance from the Institute that the plaque on the bucket would simply read, “Donated by Anonymous,” because if it got out that I sprung for the fancy bucket, at that point I wouldn’t want to nor could I afford to be inundated by the inevitable requests from other nonprofits. I’ve apparently already learned that lesson the hard wayE-mail questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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