DOWN AND OUT 
IN ASPEN

 

Some friends of ours, who have more money than God, bought a vacation house in Aspen, Colorado a few years ago. And naturally, they started inviting their friends to come and visit.
     My wife and I were having a little trouble making the cut. As yet another mutual friend related their story of a wonderful visit to Pete and Shelley’s Aspen home, I decided it was time to force the issue.
     "Hey," I said to Pete one day. "How come everybody except us gets invited to your house in Aspen?"
     "You’re on the list," replied Pete. "Unfortunately for you, there are people we haven’t met yet who are ahead of you on the list."
      Ha, ha, ha. He must have been kidding, because after only a few more months and a few more prods, we got the official invite. We were going to Aspen, home of the fabulously wealthy, and we had a free place to stay.
       The only disappointment was that it was winter, which means two things. One, the chances of actually getting to Aspen are slim due to the changing weather conditions, and two, you’re expected to ski.
       Undaunted, we packed our ski gear, of which we had none, and boarded United for the flight to Denver, where we would catch a puddle jumper for the short ride into the Rockies to Aspen. Amazingly, the weather cleared and we arrived in Aspen on time. Now the only question was whether we’d get out before spring.
       Whatever chic is, Aspen is it. Pete met us at the airport looking far more stylish than he ever did at home. Shelley was wearing a winter ensemble that she wouldn’t be caught dead wearing in Northern California. Beautiful people were swirling all around us at the airport. A celebrity was sighted, known to all, except me.
      I was a fish out of water.
      We had dinner at a swanky restaurant where the food was good and the price was ridiculous. And then we retired to their mansion in the hills, where we would rest up for our big day of skiing the next morning.
      I used to love skiing when I was a kid. But something happened. I got off a chairlift one day for another run down the mountain, looked at the hill in front of me, and thought, "I just did that."
      Then I got older and my affection for the sport dwindled further. I avoided the harder runs because I got worse each time I went down. I no longer had the recklessness of youth. Those stretchers were calling my name. So I stayed on the easy runs and became bored enough to quit.
       But this was Aspen, and I must ski again. So my wife and I rented skis and met Pete and Shelly at the bottom of the hill. Pete was wearing a lovely one piece powder blue jumpsuit and Shelley had chosen a bright yellow parka and white overalls.
       I was wearing jeans and a blue jacket with a Monterey Aquarium insignia.
       This caused considerable laughter from the "in" crowd, which included my wife, who had seen me get dressed and had said nothing. She didn’t exactly look like Paris Hilton, but she apparently knew enough not to wear jeans.
       "Nobody wears jeans on the slopes anymore," said Shelley. "You’re going to look ridiculous."
       It was a beautiful day. The sun was shining, the snow was perfect, and I had skied enough years to know there was no way I was falling down on the slopes I was going to find. Jeans were comfortable, and I was certain they would stay dry.
       I looked around at the hordes of skiers and snowboarders heading for the hill. No one, and I mean no one, was wearing jeans. Except me.
      "When I skied in the ‘70’s, I wore jeans," I announced. "In the ‘80’s, jeans. In the ‘90’s, jeans. It’s a new century, but I’m still wearing jeans. I am me, hear me roar."
       I proudly walked over to the ticket booth and purchased my $70 all-day lift ticket, fairly certain that it would be the last lift ticket I would ever buy.
      Yes, I was going out, but I wasn’t going out in style.
       I wasn’t one of them.

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