Lum: Looking into the mirror |

Lum: Looking into the mirror

Several times in this column I’ve mentioned that I picture myself as the Boo Radley of Cooper Avenue. You remember Boo, the reclusive man-child in the book “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

All the children in the neighborhood were terrified to walk past the scary house where Boo and his father lived. Rumors abounded about Boo, who was said to have stabbed his father with a pair of scissors years ago.

My vague perception of myself as Boo was unexpectedly validated when Doug, my shed-renter, burst into the house the other morning saying, “I’ve got to tell you this — you won’t believe it!”

I should explain that what I’m about to say is third-hand, so don’t take the quotation marks too seriously.

Doug had been out honky-tonking after working the evening shift at a local restaurant and found himself chatting with a couple he’d just met. In the course of conversation, they asked Doug where he lived and, when he gave the street address, one of them cried out, “Isn’t that where that crazy old lady lives? Do you really live with her?” (I’d put that “her” in caps, but my editor always takes away my capital letters.)

Doug said that technically he lived in the back (I would say “in the back yard” but my editor always changes it to “backyard,” which, I maintain, is wrong no matter what the damned stylebook says.)

“Oh my God,” the guy went on. “That old lady is nuts. I used to live next door to her. She has these two dash-hounds named Cinnamon and Teddy who barked all the time.” (The young man was probably one of the gaggle of partiers caterwauling nightly on the balcony of the condo next door.)

“They’re dachshunds,” Doug corrected, “and their names are Nicky and Freddie,” kindly adding, or so he said, “She’s not crazy; she’s very nice.”

Cinnamon and Teddy. I loved the specificity of the misnomers. Nicky says I’d better not start calling him Cinnamon. Freddie wouldn’t know the difference because “Teddy” and “Freddie” sound so similar. (Do my dash-hounds talk to me? Of course.)

“No she’s crazy, all right. Is she a hoarder?”

“No, she’s not a hoarder. What makes you think that?”

“Well, her front door is always open, and I saw this TV show about hoarders, and one lady had so much stuff she couldn’t shut her front door.”

If I had been there, I’d have said, “Son, half the people in Aspen have tried to fix my storm door and have failed. You’re welcome to take a shot at it.”

And I have to admit that I do hoard books, but they’re not piled on the floor or stuffing spare rooms. For everything else, I have a rule that if something comes in, something of equal heft must go out, but I don’t want to get defensive lest anyone think the crazy lady doth protest too much.

I’m old and stooped, can’t see or hear very well and am tethered to oxygen, so I know I look a little peculiar and my miner’s shack is badly out of character with the neighborhood of condominiums, but if you say hello, I won’t stab you with a pair of scissors, I promise. But Nicky (he’s the fat dash-hound) might bite you if you call him Cinnamon.

Su Lum is a longtime local who hasn’t had such a good laugh in a long time. Her column appears every Wednesday in The Aspen Times. Reach her at

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