Roger Marolt: Whining at any cost
I have been nominated for “best whiner” in The Aspen Times’ annual “Best of Aspen & Snowmass” contest. The 10 finalists have been whittled down in a primary election of malcontents that theoretically included everyone in town. If 40,000 votes were cast, as claimed for last year’s contest, it’s like I’ve beaten 4,000-to-1 odds to get here. I don’t know if that is resume-worthy, but it is an achievement. I can’t decide if I would be proud to win. Why not? They aren’t exactly handing out trophies to everyone my age just for showing up.
I don’t actually know what they mean by “best whiner.” Are they looking for quantity or quality, force of delivery or creativity? I may be good at this, but it’s not through extensive practice. I’ve never even had a Facebook account.
If I come to my senses and figure out that this might be a booby prize, I won’t immediately protest the nomination by arguing mistaken identity. It would be prudent to first explore what the prize is. If it is only bragging rights, the decision will be tough. If, on the the other hand, there is a gift card, then I might put some effort into campaigning. Even if the card comes with all kinds of restrictions or is for an insultingly low amount, at least I will have something else to moan about.
I don’t want to get my hopes up, because I think I am at a disadvantage. I am a writer. This could sound like whining, because it well might be, but how would you know? And that is my point. A whine is a “long, high-pitched cry usually expressive of distress or pain.” You can’t hear a writer, so how do you know if I’m whining or just going through the motions? It’s the silencing of the lambaster. I’m not saying that I am not sitting here yowling like a teething baby in a wet diaper, but there is no way for you to know this except, perhaps, if you live in my cul de sac.
When I first started this job, I figured out quickly that direct routes to monetary success are nonexistent. With accumulation of wealth out of the question, I decided to shoot for longevity. The obvious reward in this being that, when you die, people temporarily overwhelmed with their own graveside sense of mortality might say nice things to your next of kin like, “I read his column every week. I am really going to miss them.” Even though these would be lies, what is said in a cemetery stays in the cemetery, at least temporarily. My thinking is that, filled with guilt after fibbing like this, they might go buy one of my books on Amazon before remembering what I was really like.
With stamina in mind, I knew the avenues to success could be accessed by several literary on-ramps. A columnist can give advice, gossip, talk about history, be funny, cover sports, dissect politics, analyze business, whine, or thoroughly research complex topics of great importance in order to enlighten and inform a broad readership with hopes of making the world a better place.
I chose whining. OK, yeah, I occasionally touch on baseball, but my go-to is stuffing the complaint box. I wouldn’t say that I gravitated to this because it is easy. It’s not. Try pissing and moaning on a beautiful spring day ripe for a mountain bike ride. I have come to accept that I am gifted.
Think about it: I whine about new hotels, base villages, traffic jams, trail grooming, weather forecasts, the housing shortage, health insurance, lousy local airline service, Vail, the length of City Council meetings, the eviction of Paradise Bakery, RFTA’s dinosaur mascot, farts, Trump, dog poop, golf, a twice-canceled drone show as a proxy for fireworks, Snowmass, Lo Semple’s hair, the price of gas, April (the month), RVs on Independence Pass, “Uncrowded by Design,” the exaggeration of X Games crowds, 5K fun runs, potholes, skiing backwards, Highlands’ measuring stick, relaxing because it’s Aspen, smoked goat cheese, USPS letter mutilation, the way tourists carry their skis and even shirtless hot yoga (for men). I could go on.
In closing, I want your endorsement. A vote for me is a vote for unfiltered griping. As long as there is coffee, I will be complaining. I will be your bitcher. I’m not afraid to get my hands dirty, because that’s what mud-slinging is all about. I hope the other finalists for this award realize their bellyaching is mild gas by comparison and direct their supporters my way. I intend to whine at all costs.
If Roger Marolt wins this contest, he will donate $1,000 to Aspen Education Foundation (AEF) to be used for bullying awareness, because bullies oftentimes don’t realize they are bullies. He encourages you to vote, make a donation to AEF for this cause, or both. He hopes no child is ever nominated for “best whiner” in a school popularity contest. We adults can set better examples. Email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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