Marolt: Hey, Don, let’s you and me take a hike
I wish Donald Trump would stay longer. It’d be an opportunity to test how magical Aspen really is or isn’t, and maybe more importantly, if it is as enchanting as we think, how long do you have to be here, and what do you have to partake in before it has an effect?
It appears he’s coming for the money and that’s all he’ll take from here. It’s not the first time that’s happened. We see it constantly with developers, all of whom pledge their love and loyalty when they present their beauteous drawings to the City Council depicting throngs of smiling locals milling in and about their visions for yet another lot-line-to-lot-line addition to their Aspenized version of Utopia, as if this nearly perfect place could actually realize purity through concrete and large panes of polarized glass framed in brushed aluminum. In the end, the visionaries leave as millionaires, and we get long, cold shadows over what used to be good places to view God’s green Earth.
May I call you “Don,” Mr. Trump? It’s not a sign of disrespect. In Spanish, it’s a sign of deference. In Aspen, it’s a way of making you feel special. You know, like you’re one of us. Just so you know, when someone calls you “mister” around here, they don’t think too much of you. It’s kind of an insult, actually. It’s an address usually reserved for that guy who wakes up at The Little Nell his first morning here, throws on his pressed trousers and starched shirt and struts into Peach’s like he owns the place, which he actually could if he wanted to, only to discover that nobody cares. The guy who shows up a few days later in a T-shirt and two-day stubble is the one who has figured out enough to want to come back and learn more.
I’m not here to give you any more hell. I figure you have more of that than money lately. Obviously it hasn’t done you any good, the money or the hell. I don’t know why the human race, me included, resorts to dishing it out when we encounter others disagreeable to us. Only proud men say the outrageous things like you do, and I’m pretty certain that consternation has never turned the heart of a proud man.
Here’s the thing: I honestly can’t believe that you believe half the stuff you say. You get up there in front of a crowd of frenzied people who probably don’t believe it in their hearts, either, but you egg each other on, and the result is a bunch of ridiculous stuff said in the heat of the moment and lots of cheering for it. Afterward, you know you are the reason the crowd got all worked up, so you can’t backtrack, and they know they were the ones encouraging you to keep going, so they can’t back down, and you end up at a point like where you are today. This isn’t going to be something your grandkids are proud of — you know it, and I know it.
This is why I wish you would stick around a little longer. I’d like to show you around. We Aspenites have an ideal. We think it’s about making ourselves better people by enriching our minds, bodies and souls. I like to bend this toward the religious, but lots of folks tend to keep it secular. Everybody believes it will make them kinder and more understanding. It leads us all to the same place, which is striving for goodness.
I’ve got a deal for you. I know you like deals. Let’s get high. We don’t have to get really high, just a little higher than your tallest tower. Wait, that’s not what I’m talking about. The last thing you need is an inhaling controversy. I mean the let’s-get-up-on-the-side-of-a-mountain kind of high.
You don’t look like a fitness nut, but I think you have it in you to make the short walk up Smuggler Mountain. A little physical exertion will enhance the effect. We’ll go up to the observation deck and look around, right at dusk. You will see one of the world’s most renowned resorts, filled with important people and billions of dollars in jets and real estate and stuff below, all appearing rather insignificant against the mountains surrounding it. Then the stars will slowly appear in the east and chase the sunset away. Then you will see how insignificant the mountains are. I’ve never seen this not have an effect on anyone who has experienced it. Could you be the exception? Let’s find out. Give me a shout.
Roger Marolt wonders if a short hike in the mountains can qualify a person to be president of the United States. Email email@example.com.
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Columnist Roger Marolt is learning to hold his breath longer during these hot, dry summers, he writes.