What could have been (a column) | AspenTimes.com

What could have been (a column)

Barry Smith

Not long after I first started publishing “Irrelativity,” more than 10 years ago now, I decided, based on how absolutely brilliant I was convinced I was, that I should get more money. I approached the manager of the paper – a different paper than this one – and told him as much.He dragged his desk calculator front and center, hovered his index finger over the keypad, then asked: “So, how long does it take you to write a column.”I replied: “30 years.”He said, quite sincerely: “Huh?””Yeah, I’m 30 years old, and I draw from every bit of my life experience each time I sit down to write. So, 30 years.”He said: “No, seriously.”Me: “Oh, I’m deadly serious. I realize that my bold and eccentric ways don’t sit well with your 10-key mentality, but you can’t fit genius into a calculator. Would you ask Mick Jagger how long it took him to write ‘Sympathy For The Devil’ and then pay him accordingly?”I probably don’t need to point out that I didn’t get a raise, though I was offered a slight bonus if I helped out around the office, like with the filing. And maybe some dusting. Of course, I’m much more mature now, so I use “Thelonious Monk” and “Epistrophy” as my musician-song combo example when trying to get someone to give me money. And it still doesn’t work.I’ve had this little fragment of a tale sitting in a computer file named “Raise Story” for about four years now, and it’s time to admit to myself that I will never actually get around to finishing it. I have plenty of these files on my computer – seemingly great ideas that I make a few notes for, then forget about in the hopes that they’ll write themselves. They don’t, and every so often, like now, I like to do a bit of cyber-house cleaning. It’s an all-too-recurring feature that I like to call …Columns I’ll never writeFile Name: “Sci fi epic”Date created: 12/00Oh, I had big plans for this one, all those years ago, but when I open the file now I see that all I’ve written over the past five and a half years is: “eating of food that is all powdered, aerosol – ‘Pass the beef whiz, please.'”Beef Whiz. Funny? Oh, yeah. 700 words worth of funny? Probably not. Goodbye.File Name: Tape at MHSDate created: 4/00MHS was my high school. The “tape” refers to a cassette tape that my brother and I recorded, over the course of a few days, that consists solely of us breaking wind and giggling. At age 15 this is the funniest thing in the world. And, should I ever find that tape again, I suspect the same will be true at age 50.At MHS they played music over the PA, indicating you had two minutes to get to class. I thought it would be the greatest prank ever to swap out the tapes, so when it was time to go to class the whole school would hear the sonic results of taco night.There are two reasons I’m letting this column idea go. First, because I never actually managed to swap the tapes. Second, because after six years the “Tape at MHS” file only contains the following words: “playing fart tape at MHS.” Moving on …File Name: Glad Bush was electedDate created: 11/20/04The idea was to make a big long list of hilarious and sarcastic reasons why I was glad Bush was re-elected. I got this far: “use up all the oil – all his friends will be totally bankrupt – Beverly hillbillies in reverse.” Then I realized that making an actual list would be too hard. File Name: People in their placeDate created: 1/02This was to be a column about the imaginary conversations I have in my head, the ones where I put people in their place with my Cyrano de Bergerac-like insults and lightning-fast wit. In my head. However, I only got this far: “Dad: Your car sure is dirty. Me: Hey, you don’t have to f—in’ ride in it, then, do you?!”And then I thought – is this really something I want people to know about me?(Next time: Barry cleans out old grocery lists … and you are there!)

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