Vagneur: Hijacking the beer run | AspenTimes.com

Vagneur: Hijacking the beer run

Tony Vagneur
Saddle Sore

There is a mostly nonmusical song that pops up on my Sirius XM radio from time to time, something about beer runs. “B-double-E-double-R-U-N — beer run.” Just say it about as fast as you can, over and over, and you’ll do it as well as whoever does it on the radio. You might even get thirsty and make a beer run, remembering that such escapades take many shapes and seldom leave one unscathed.

Back in my ski-patrol days, a late wreck was a gift but didn’t always come your way. By “wreck,” I mean anyone needing patrol assistance, up to and including a ride down the mountain in a toboggan. Some years ago, word came down the pipeline that we should no longer call them “wrecks,” simply because the term could be disturbing to some and management had received several complaints about such insensitivity. This was the same ’70s era in which the Hanging Tree noose was taken down.

Back to the main point, now that I’ve made my political statement. A late wreck was a gift because it meant you’d hit the bottom after the lifts closed, enabling you to get off work an hour or so early with pay. Robin Perry, a forward-thinking boss who knew his charges well, would sometimes detain those of us heading out the door on a late call just long enough to give us a purchase-order number for Magnifico Liquors. “Get a couple of cases when you’re done, and bring ’em back to the locker room.” OK, no argument about that.

If you haven’t heard of Magnifico Liquors, that means you’re relatively new in town, and if you don’t know where the name “Magnifico” came from, I suggest a visit to the Aspen Historical Society archives. It started out in a small, cinder-block enclosure just across the alley from Sabbatini Sports, a space no larger than the kitchen in a moderately sized house. As sometimes happens, there was no explaining its popularity other than that various owners and employees provided abstracts of amusing personalities and it seemed like there was always a line out the door. The last owner, Terry Cagnoni, in the new, much larger building (same location), had a deep, booming voice that would call out as you walked down the street, “Hey, Vagneur, get in here — I got a joke for you.” For many of us, Magnifico’s was the go-to beer-run store, and I think every serious party animal in town had a charge account there.

In a celebratory metropolis such as Aspen, those making the beer run are susceptible to robbery, intimidation and other cajoling, just so those without can get a share of the booty before it’s delivered to its rightful owners.

Buck Deane, Wayne Vagneur and I were putting in a “happy hour” shift at the Vagneur Ranch Co. out in Woody Creek, draining the last dregs from the bar and deciding maybe it was time to call it a day since we were out of booze. Just then, a friend who shall remain nameless, but whose initials are B.H., came riding through the yard on a leopard-spotted Appaloosa, carrying a half-gallon of Ancient Age and a case of beer, bounty intended for a group of hunters he was guiding that season. B.H. is a big boy, and easily managed all that in front of him on the saddle, and why he didn’t employ the use of a pack horse is beyond reasoning, but whatever — it was his bad luck to come across the three of us that day.

While B.H. sat on his horse, undoubtedly thinking (hoping?) he would be leaving at any moment, he joined the three of us in downing the Ancient Age and about half the case of beer, laughing, telling stories and cracking jokes all the way. It was a great visit, and as the sun coldly dropped behind the horizon, B.H. headed up the lonely trail to his camp, 7 miles distant, with the remaining two six-packs of beer. His group of hunters was asleep at his arrival (luckily), and I still feel bad about that day — sort of.

It’s happened to all of us — someone is sent on a beer run and they never come back, not for a day or two, anyway. They might have met the “love of their life” along the way, at least for a one-night stand, or they stopped off at a favorite watering hole for “just a quick one.” Oops. Or in a case similar to B.H.’s, they got hijacked before they had a chance to follow through.

As the song says, “beer run.” Do yourself and your friends a favor — don’t even try to sing the song. It’ll label you as less than astute. Just smile and enjoy the party.

Tony Vagneur writes here on Saturdays and welcomes your comments at ajv@sopris.net.


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