Marolt: My personal local’s test
It’s a smell that brings the memory into high-def. I’ll see the dead skunk in the road, but it’s not until that stinging smell makes its way through the vents that the vivid picture of my hands reaching ahead into the deep, dark trash can to rescue the trapped kitten come alive.
Yes, they told me it was a kitten — my older sister and her friend Debbie. They were old enough to be mischievous. I was young enough to be in kindergarten, my mind fully preoccupied with learning the melodious sequence of the alphabet and not on what smelly fluids certain animals secrete when frightened.
I got to thinking about that the other day while passing striped roadkill by Rifle, not sure whether to roll the windows down to air out the car or gut it out and let what odor was already in mellow to tolerance. My thought was, “That’s kind of a local thing,” getting sprayed in the face by a skunk, that is.
You’re doubtful. Let’s put it this way — it was test enough for old-timer status that, in those pre-Internet days, plenty of Aspenites knew that two or three tomato-juice baths were the sure-fire remedy to remove the stench.
Thus inspired, I came up with my own test for local status. It’s not the same old quiz about remembering this or that. Those aren’t fair. Memory can’t be the master key. Mine is based more on experience than time served. Quite arbitrarily, if you’ve experienced 73.6 percent of the following things, I’ll concede that you are indeed a local:
• Eaten rhubarb pie.
• Ridden your bicycle all the way to Basalt — on Highway 82.
• Cut down the trees, sawed them to length, split the logs into a cord of firewood that you measured accurately by eyeballing, hauled it to your house in your own truck and stacked it next to the house in the same place you did the previous year.
• Mowed your own lawn trying to mimic the cross-hatched pattern the groundskeepers achieve in the outfield at Coors Field.
• Agreed to be on the board of a local organization due to peer pressure, not because you wanted to, and letting everyone know this fact at every meeting, hoping to use your bad attitude as leverage on issues you want to go your way.
• Avoided certain restaurants because someone you know has worked there and told you what goes on in the kitchen and then made up a nickname for the place that captures that essence.
• Have worked a job and been paid in cash under the table and then voted Republican in the next election just to be ironic.
• Been on a tour of the sewer, the dump and the water plant either as a student in the local schools or as a parent chaperone. You get double points if you’ve done it as both, quadruple if you did it on your own out of curiosity.
• Been sad about a new house going up, not because it is huge, environmentally unfriendly, and empty most of the year but because you actually played on the vacant lot it now occupies and are reminded that you never will again. It’s an aging thing.
• Are on a first-name basis with a police officer, a firefighter and a member of the clergy.
• Hiked up Red Butte, all the way back to Maroon Creek.
• Carried a driver, a few tees and a handful of golf balls to the top of a fourteener and hit them so far that you lost sight.
• Know what skitching is. One bonus point if you consider skitching to be a valid form of ride sharing. One more if you’ve done it for fun and another if you actually did it to get somewhere you needed to be.
• There is someone in town whom you address as Mr., Mrs. or Coach and will for the rest of your life.
• There is a specific pew you like to sit in at church, and you get a little miffed if someone else beats you to it.
• You adjust your own ski bindings without consulting any sort of reference.
• You’ve forgotten why you began working out.
• You took up biking because you wore your knees out running and then almost went back to running anyway when expanded cable television made Le Tour de France popular and Lycra a fashion statement.
• You finally have come to the realization that Aspen is not what makes you happy and that it is actually you that are part of what makes this place great.
Mountains and skiing and hiking and biking are cool amenities, but you realize that they haven’t gone away, yet we still seem to lose the feeling of community a little more every day, and that makes you try harder to be better instead of feeling helpless.
Roger Marolt has failed his local’s quiz more times than he’s passed it. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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