Writing Switch: Thinking happy thots

Benjamin Welch and Sean Beckwith
Writing Switch

Getting by can be difficult ¡iN tHeSe UnPrEcEdEnTeD tImEs! but so is attempting to offer illuminating commentary without saying something incriminating enough to get us institutionalized, whether judicially, psychiatrically or otherwise.

The world’s citizens have taken heart that the year is over. Nevermind that it’s going to be at least another 365 of martial law before we’re allowed to legally enjoy ourselves again, if ever (Ben’s prediction). We know that the passage of time is subjective and apathetic to the revolutions of our Julian calendar; however, in the spirit of others’ misguided consolation that we’re now dating our checks with a ’21 instead of a ’20, this week we’re turning that frown upside down and reflecting on the things in life that make us happy (other than the standard screaming groomers, Instagram models and every NBA League Pass upgrade that money can buy).

Ben writing about things he normally does not

SB: During one of our bi-weekly back-and-forths over “WHAT ARE WE GOING TO WRITE ABOUT?” I chastised Ben for only wanting to dwell on the negative. Ben replied, “All I have are negative thoughts.”

Disturbing anecdote aside, forcing Ben to denounce the Dark Side and fill the pages of the Aspen Times Weekly without this week’s dilemma is … unsettling. I know like five things that make Ben happy and four of them aren’t suitable for print.

The thing is, though, every time I think I have Ben cornered with a topic he can’t possibly exploit for his own gripe, he lashes out like something that doesn’t like to be cornered. (I don’t know what that is because I don’t routinely corner things. Finding out who or what doesn’t like to be cornered sounds like something a psycho would concern himself with.)

What will Ben write about? Will this new desire for happiness last longer than 200 words? Find out next on Writing Switch. (Seriously, I don’t know how this is going to go. It could just be a Lit Life with an intro by Ben.)

Being miserable

BW: I had nearly forgotten about “the talk” my mother often gave me in my youth, wherein she sat me on the couch and assured me the reason for my consternation is because I’m just n ot friendly and outgoing enough, and not that I was chained to a radiator for the first 18 years of my life. While I was back at my parents’ home for Christmas (Yeah, I lasted this long before talking about things that will get me arrested), I was threatened with “the talk” again as I moped and griped about my station in life, but immune to its familiar content as I’ve learned by now that my peers quickly tire of my sardonic, impish personality and more of it is no panacea. Familiarity breeds contempt.

I compare and contrast with most of my generation and the denizens of the internet in that it is almost impossible to actually offend me, yet I still enjoy competing most aggressively in the Martyrdom Olympics. My preferred tactic is to assume everything in life will go wrong, and then when the result occurs I will either be pleasantly surprised (almost never) or joyous in another correct prediction that the Almighty is trying to antagonize me (almost always).

In our G-rated society, where everyone implores you to “be kind” and conclude emails with an enthusiastic “thanks!” and all this wishy-washy nonsense, I capitalize on the dearth of rudeness to explode to the hoop with all my pent-up wrath. Maybe these people need to hear uncomfortable truths. Maybe you need to threaten to smite Beans Dad with a can opener and receive your first Twitter ban, which you proudly wish to embrace and raise as your own progeny.

Who among us can’t take solace in that there are people as miserable as you just barely 6 feet away? I know you quash these feelings out of a false air of moral superiority. Does it make me a reprobate that I have the ability to eke exultation from others’ distress? Maybe, but I argue individuals should be non-judged by the futilities we cling to that inspire us to persevere from our respective detentions. I typed this entire thing in The Joker voice.


SB: I’ve been on a Pixar kick lately, prompted in part by the latest release “Soul” and recommendations from my girlfriend but also because I’ve gleaned all the lessons “Die Hard” has to offer. (In short order, the ones I’ve recently watched for the first time, ranked: “Ratatouille,” “Inside Out,” “Soul.”)

Pixar’s main goal of entertaining children seems to be more of a 1A objective as 1B is clearly to make adults cry. (Have you seen the first 5 minutes of “Up”?) “Inside Out” was really good but it wasn’t No. 1 on that short list because it was too deep. Anyone who’s moved as a kid— especially someone who has moved a fair amount — can relate to those emotions but I don’t think children picked up on the mental illness themes.

I prefer my animated content to be fairly straightforward, which is why I loved the “Anyone can cook” storyline. I actually wrote about the overt Christian arcs in “Wall-E” and how they hindered the viewing experience for adults for a paper in my college film study class. (It’s a testament to Pixar that their movies were already being shown in film classes as early as 12 years ago, if not before.)

Also, to round this out and make it seem like I haven’t just been watching Pixar movies and definitely not crying, I’m currently on season 5 of the animated “Clone Wars” series, which was done by Dave Filoni, of recent “Mandalorian” fame. It’s a pretty good substitute for that Baby Yoda-sized void in your life, and also features a lot of characters we’re going to see in the 3,284 upcoming live-action “Star Wars” series coming out on Disney+.


BW: While I am recognized for my ability to weave a rambling and oft-deranged sentence that is still yet grammatically correct and comprehendable, I also delight in — without stuttering from excitement — delivering a well-timed zinger, finishing someone else’s sentence with a gross sexual connotation, or making a play on words that, to be honest, usually end up as another gross sexual connotation (see above paragraph regarding friends finding my tactics distasteful and moving to ostracize me).

In that spirit, Sean has encouraged me to use this opportunity to blow my wad on all the one-liners I have written down on my notepad app that finds me cackling to myself in the middle of the night:

  • “I’ve heard that Aspen is ‘intense’ and ‘sceney,’ any advice?” “Yeah, f–k off.”
  • Do you ever think dogs are laying there on the couch and getting petted and sweet-talked and loved on and all they can think is “god damn this chick’s breath stinks”?
  • Why do we have to let steaks rest before dinner like they’re the ones who’ve had a long day at work?
  • Are banana peppers called that because it’s what they look like or what they taste like?
  • I’m in the top 1 percentile of people who know how to correctly use apostrophe’s.
  • Scented trash bags are the kitchenware equivalent of flavored condoms.
  • Why do we wave to cars when they stop for us in crosswalks? Like “oh, thank you so much for not striking me dead in the street like a squirrel.”
  • I’m considering being a porch pirate but I’m not sure how nondescript it would be sneaking around town carrying an entire porch.
  • Zero calories per 16-ounce serving, yeah, but what if I want to consume 144 ounces?
  • It’s nice all these companies will mail me a new vacuum-sealed mattress but what am I supposed to do with the old one, just stack it?
  • Do bees ever eat the honey or are they just driven by a frenetic capitalist desire to create and sell it?
  • What’s the point of return addresses on envelopes? JUST OPEN IT!
  • Why do nurses always have to brag about being “registered”?
  • The best part of coronavirus is nobody will ever tell me to turn my head and cough again.
  • Stephen King is just R.L. Stine for grown-ups.
  • As some of you may or may not know, I’ve been struggling with an addiction and part of that healing process is being open with others, and so I’d like to announce I’m 80 days clean from Chapstick.
  • I’ve been ethically opposed to cooking with canola oil ever since I learned it was made from rapeseed.

Fat cats

SB: Even dog people like fat cats. If a fat cat doesn’t make you smile when she plops down on her side for a nap in the sun, you’re probably a sociopath. When said fat cat literally follows the one sunny spot on the rug from like 9 a.m. to noon, it’s one of the best things of all time.

Or how about when you move the ottoman that she loved to run and jump on to watch the birds from the window to your room and she runs and goes to jump on it but realizes midair that it’s been moved and goes face first into the wall?

Or how about when you need some free weights and she’s not only happy to help but lets you bench her? (She wasn’t “bulk up” fat but she could provide a nice tone.)

There’s not much better than a fat, semi-irritable cat who loves lettuce and road trips and her catnip bananas.

Aspen lost one of its true heavyweight champs this week and, although it’s a bittersweet happiness, the cheer she provided far outsized her ample figure. Rest in peace, Ocelot aka Fats aka Big Baby Fats aka the Large Hambino aka Large Ham aka Large Whambino aka Large Wham.

If there’s a litter box in heaven, she’s shitting right next to it until you get there, Dangerous.