Sean Beckwith: Give me darts, beer and tacos
Living in Aspen after a mostly landlocked life with cabin fever-ridden winters in Nebraska, Missouri and elsewhere was weird at first. As opposed to hustling from warm shelter to warm shelter, I bundle up like a thugged-out marshmallow and throw myself down a mountain for enjoyment. When you’ve spent most of your life looking at the cold and snow as an inconvenience, it’s strange actively embracing it. I would never move back to a place without readily available, year-round outdoor options, but there are aspects of living in a city that I miss.
The first is access to delicious and diverse food whenever the urge hits me. Sometimes I really want a gyro. And I’m not talking about a stale pita with previously frozen “lamb” meat. I want to watch a guy shave slices off a spinning tower of Greek goodness. Or I want to sweat profusely while eating aggressively spicy Indian food. Or I want to peruse a 200-item Asian menu of which everything is good, an exquisite anomaly in the food industry.
Phenomenal Mexican food does exist in the valley; you just have to go downvalley for it. A couple bros serving Big Lebowski-themed tacos doesn’t interest me, regardless of how good the Walter Slobchicken tacos are. (That place doesn’t actually exist — yet. I couldn’t help but seize the opportunity to write “Walter Slobchicken taco.”) I prefer authenticity and a condiment bar.
That said, Aspen has a massive opportunity for food pop-ups. I don’t have a magic fairy pouch full of bottomless funds — even if I sometimes spend money like it — and a shoulder-season pre fixe is typically more than I can swing. That’s why offseason, when restaurants are going to be vacant anyway, would be an ideal time to allow some alternative eateries to showcase their food and maybe prompt a new restaurant other than an expensive French, Italian or American bistro.
The second thing I miss is an abundance of leagues and activity nights. Aspen has some, but that’s like saying “Nebraska has skiing,” then citing Nebra-ski as your example. (Nebra-ski, sadly, is no longer, but you can always take a trip to Mount Crescent located on Iowa’s bluffs and spin 15-minute lift rides for 20-second laps of shredding.)
Whenever I go back home, there’s always a pick-up game going on at a gym, flag football leagues on Sunday mornings or a dart night or pool league on a weekday. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good apres and, if you’ve read any of my previous pieces, a drink or five, but there’s no prize for most cocktails consumed or sloppiest bus ride home. Which is fine, but there’s so much more room for activities.
When I walk into a slightly jammed bar on a weeknight and its entire dining room is empty, I see opportunity. Something as simple as dart or bags boards (Cornhole for you people who refuse to call it by its real name) could be set up in 10 minutes after diners clear out. I used to frequent a beer-pong night in which the winners received a $50 bar tab. You know what people did during the two hours of pong before the tournament was settled? Drank pitchers of beer and spent money at said bar. Running a pool league during busy weeks while tourists make dick jokes with pool cues wouldn’t work, but the nightlife isn’t exactly popping off every Tuesday or Wednesday.
Parlor games are easy winter fodder because they’re indoors. Rec leagues are more difficult. Hockey leagues are ideal if you play hockey, have skates, know how to skate, have pads, a stick and whatever else goes into those mammoth bags.
Flag football in the snow is a real possibility though. I know you workout freaks would flip over a chance to live out your dream of being in a real-life Michelob Ultra commercial. Just think, chuck the pigskin around the yard for a game and then go ski a couple laps; maybe even skin up and end with the smooth taste of pretentiousness.
Also, I don’t know if there is a weekly, free open gym for basketball, but that needs to happen. And in no way am I volunteering to be in charge of any of these leagues; I’m strictly an ideas man. Have you ever been a fantasy football commissioner? It is exhausting. I can’t imagine running a real league.
I don’t know — maybe I’m a little homesick or maybe I’m just yearning to throw some darts, drink beer and eat tacos. You know what, it’s probably the latter.
Sean Beckwith is a copy editor at The Aspen Times. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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