Sean Beckwith: You can’t spell ESPN The Ocho without Aspen
There are certain things that Aspenites just don’t do. Fast food is on that list and not just because people in town are fitness freaks. When Aspen had a McDonald’s, it — like Domino’s still is — was frequented quite often. I would posit that if Aspen had a dart league, it also would be popular with year-round residents.
However, I’m not here to lobby for more basketball courts or dart leagues or sand volleyball beer leagues. I’ve already done that and — albeit with zero effort from myself — nothing has come to fruition.
My ideas, taken from my time living in places where bar games doubled as exercise, clearly aren’t hitting. So I’ve taken these everyday, mundane activities and added an injection of Aspen.
Here are a few suggestions for ESPN The Ocho-esque alternatives.
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Snowball fight league
I played paintball once and walked away looking like I flew into some trees off Valhalla. Physical punishment isn’t my idea of fun as is probably the case with most people, Tough Mudder psychos notwithstanding.
That said, snowballs don’t really hurt unless you’re the kind of person who puts rocks in them. I don’t think residents are taking enough advantage of the abundance of snow. Sure, skiing powder is fun but where are the snow forts? Where are the Calvin and Hobbes-type displays of snowman art?
If there was a way to score a snowball fight, which would be hard without staining everyone’s snow gear with food coloring, I think people would 100% commit to a snowball fight league. This isn’t a fully developed idea but I am intrigued by the concept of a walk-off snowball.
Lastly, the main reason for any recreational gathering — postgame drinks — is built in to the league. I wouldn’t mind a face full of spiked hot chocolate after getting a face full of snow for an hour.
The thing about floating North Star is people don’t get wet — and incidental splashing from paddling doesn’t count. I’m not a good paddleboarder because I don’t see the point of learning. Who wants to float using the most difficult medium to drink beers? It makes no sense.
If you gave me some incentive — more or less personal pride — I would dedicate myself to becoming to SUPing what Pele is to futbol (or at the very least Landon Donovan). Put SUPers head-to-head on North Star and the first person to the takeout wins. It would be full contact; think American Gladiators jousting but on paddleboards while traversing a river.
It would finally give those guys you see paddling upriver a measurable reason to go. Plus, you have natural obstacles on and in the river. You ever played chicken with a moose? It also checks the recreational drinking box.
Cooking on grass class
I’m sure in some little hipster corner of Lodo or Brooklyn, there’s some trust funder who managed to make it through culinary school only to find out that working in a kitchen was hard and transitioned to teaching people the intricacies of cooking with cannabis. This would not be that.
I want “students” to fast all day. Then, right before they walk into City Market, hit them with a couple brain-melting dabs. Don’t give them a list, just a 15-minute time limit. Then once they arrive at the classroom, more weed.
Have you ever seen a stoner try to flip a random pantry of food into a meal like he’s on “Chopped”?
An old roommate of mine, who actually gets paid to cook, made an open-face sandwich one time with rice and burrata. The instructor wouldn’t be so much of a teacher as an enabler.
“Here take another trip to bing town and maybe you’ll find a use for the maple syrup and Funions.”
I’m pretty sure it’s the exact process used to come up with the Doritos Locos taco by the minds at Taco Bell.
It would be like an ugly dog contest, where you can’t look away. How big of a monstrosity could it really be, you ask? Have you ever had peanut and jelly fried rice with a Flaming Hot Cheeto crusted halibut? No? Well I haven’t either but I’m willing to laugh at you while you eat it with the same gusto as a 5-year-old picking at steamed broccoli.
While this activity could involve recreational drinks, maybe save drunk cooking for its own night.
Those are just three of a litany of possible recreational happenings rattling around up here. It would be nice to provide Aspen with a different dose of competition and creativity, because if someone suggests another cardio-oriented option, I’m going to jog into oncoming traffic.
Sean Beckwith is a copy editor at The Aspen Times. Email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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