Sunday, August 17, 2008

I Once Lived "The Dream" In Aspen... Part One

I've never told you about my first marriage before. In fact, I'm certain that I've never even mentioned it before. So, let's just call this yet another revealing of my soul to the whole wide world. This is supposed to be therapeutic, right?

When I was 19 and attending college outside Glenwood Springs, Colorado, I was on my own and still living in Aspen. I rented a tiny guest quarters from a couple I had once worked for and become friends with. It was just three rooms but it was all I required since I was seldom home unless it was to sleep, clean up, and change clothes or study. Since I didn't study much, I think you'd be safe with saying I was rarely ever there. The kitchen and living room were one in the same, with a small bedroom and an even smaller bathroom.

I decorated it in the oh-so-boring Pier One Imports look of the times. You know. The Colorful Cotton Bedspread from India, the chair from the second-hand store with a gypsy type shawl thrown over it to cover the holes, the fake Tiffany lamp, lots of fish netting, and an abundance of candles. For my sofa I found and purchased an old footed porcelain bathtub that someone had cut the 1/3 left side off of (the feet were still there), to which I'd added thick, plush velvet pillows that had soft, silky, twisted fringe all around them. Everyone that saw my funky sofa wanted it, but I loved it. I had a couple of framed Peter Max posters on the walls and I thought it was my own little slice of Heaven Pie. It was, for a time.

That was the summer I met my first husband, Michael. I met him while playing pool at Alice's Alley/The Slope, which was a legend in Aspen in the late 1960's and all of the 1970's. This particular year was 1972. Summer. Two guys from the Midwest, fresh out of college, opened a great bar in the basement of a building that had an eating area in the front, a long antique bar down the middle, and an area where billiards and darts were played in the very back. At the time, it was the hottest bar in Aspen and I was a regular, along with my dog Peggy Sue. Yes, I was underage, but I'd practically grown up there. Besides, Peggy Sue was one of the better known and most popular dogs in town. Yes, dogs had their own level of notoriety in Aspen. I suppose they still do.

Peggy Sue had been The Brown Recluse's dog before TBR dumped her because she was moving back to Texas in hot pursuit of some man who was either married or had no interest in her, as usual. It was either me or the poor thing got the needle. TBR was always so dramatic.

However, Peggy Sue and I adjusted quite well to living together. TBR always could train dogs. I never could be stern enough. So, PS was a great companion for me. Her only weakness was tap beer, which she liked to drink out of a clean Coors ashtray, up on the bar at Alice's. Which meant she had to pee a lot. I owned a beat up aging Toyota station wagon then and never drove it anywhere but to school and back. You were much more likely to see me on my ten-speed bike with Peggy Sue close behind me, no matter how fast I went. Hey, she loved it and it kept her nails and body trim (after all those ashtrays full of beer). Of course there were Leash Laws, even then, but locally they were a joke and everyone's dog roamed free. They were the true local *characters*.

I'm getting side-tracked though. Anyway, these two guys from the Midwest also opened another establishment called The Slope, which was nothing more than tiered levels of shag carpeting, a huge movie screen that showed all of the old and current Warren Miller ski movies with a state of the art sound system and served THE BEST drinks in Aspen. It was directly above Alice's Alley so the traffic flow between the two places was usually steady. Now, their secret was that they always kept the heat turned up on high (yes, even in Summer though not as much), which made people drink more (a little known fact to anyone, even then). They did the same in Alice's Alley and baby, the freaking money flowed like The Mighty Mississippi after heavy rains. In between Warren Miller films they would show film footage shot on the mountain (during the ski season) of whoever happened to be skiing on Ajax that day. The tourists loved it and flocked to The Slope in droves to see themselves on the big screen and catch the latest Warren Miller flick. He is a super-hero in the world of ski photography and film. By their third year in operation these guys opened another of the same pair of bars in Vail and the rest is financial history, documented by The Wall Street Journal as I recall.

The reason I know all this is because my brother, The Prince, was their on-the-mountain photographer for a time. He always did get the cushy jobs. He worked for them the next summer too, which is the one I'm relating to. The summer of 1972. He'd gotten a job bar tending at Alice's Alley, which was how I was always able to get in. Well, that and my Heinz 57 mutt, the ever-so-popular Miss Peggy Sue.

The first night I met Michael, I beat him at a couple of games of 8 ball pool and thought he was mildly interesting. The next time I went back he was there again and gave me a nod as I entered the bar. He thought my dog was hilarious and I thought he was handsome in a ruddy, Irish sort of way. He wasn't quite a strawberry blond, but not quite a blond either, having the complexion you'd expect to see on a redhead. He was big and strong and I soon learned he worked for The Aspen Ski Corp., as it was called in the days when Darcy Brown was still huge in the scheme of all things.

In the summer Michael was a surveyor for all the mountains (new ski runs were being cut every year) and in the winter he was a Ski Patrolman in Snowmass, and not The National Ski Patrol or the patrol they have now that is run by the unions.

We saw each other nightly at Alice's for a couple of weeks before I agreed to go out with him. He was 19 years my senior, although he didn't look it at all. His body was a finely tuned machine, as was his mind. By the time the Fall off-season was upon us, he was teaching me to fish all the surrounding rivers, where trout was always plentiful. The Roaring Fork River. The Frying Pan River. Reudi Dam. Maroon Bells Lake. Snowmass Lake. It was his passion and it soon became mine, as he was a gentle teacher. He had his big waders and I had my small waders. He with his fly rod and self tied flies and I with my spinning rod and No. 1 Mepps Spinners. All the patience in the world could not have taught me fly fishing, so he compromised and taught me to spin fish, which I loved with all my heart. He taught me how to sneak up on holes where the fish would be, cast my line and ever so slightly begin to reel it in and I was getting to be quite good. Well, except for the time I got too deep and nearly drowned when my waders filled up with water.

I at last made what I thought was a Big Girl Decision. I decided to not enroll for college in the Fall. Instead, I planned to buy new ski equipment, which I needed very badly. The moment TBR found out she called me screaming and yelling the same old rigamarole I'd heard before. The next thing I knew, she was at my front door with a U-Haul truck, telling me I was going to go to school in Midland at the local junior college. I never actually heard a question, as it was undoubtedly a command and I had not located the steel in my spine at that point. So with a heavy heart, I did as I was told, leaving my beautiful mountains and the man I knew I was falling in love with, behind. I don't know why, but I didn't question the fact that she wasn't even paying for my college. I had to work to do that myself. And yet, I was still under her mind control crap so I simply allowed myself to be led away like a sheep to slaughter.

By Thanksgiving Break, I had packed up my meager belongings and headed back to the Rocky Mountains home of my heart. Aspen. It would be several years before I returned to Midland or spoke to The Brown Recluse again.

To Be Continued...


Flea said...

So ... so ... what then? Did you marry Michael right away? Good for you, leaving TBR. What happens next?!

Keeper Of All Things said...

Really?!!! Your just gonna leave me hanging?!!
Awww!! Who has to read the whole book in one sitting
watches the whole stupid movie
Ok OK I'll try!!

Treasia said...

Darn it I want more. More I say! Looking forward to hearing the rest of the story.

Daryl said...

Sitting poised waiting on the next installment


QueenofPlanetHotflash said...

sitting here thinking to myself oh man this is going to be a cliff hanger..waiting patiently for The Rest of the Story..

Philly said...

How long do we have to wait?

sista #2 said...

Seriously woman!!!!!!!
Dont make me wait!!!!

dammit all


TSannie said...

Tomorrow? The next installment IS tomorrow, right?

imbeingheldhostage said...

wha... just like that? But I want to know what happened next. You really ought to be in TV, I feel like I watched the cliff hanger.
I love when you bare your soul....

Anonymous said...

You have a real knack for telling a great story! Thanks for sharing part one!

noble pig said...

Hanging here! You are such an amazing story teller, all we need is a campfire!

elizasmom said...

Argh! What happens next? WHAT HAPPENS NEXT!?

Pleasing Procrasinator said...

Just like a season finale. How long do we have to wait? I love your stories and cutting me off just makes me want part II even more!! Looking forward to it.

P.S. did you have to carry PS home after she was done lapping up the beer? haha.

Snooty Primadona said...

Patience Grasshoppers... it's a long story, lol.

snooty daughter said...

I'm glad you're telling this story :)
Miss you and looooove you and glad you eventually made it back to Midland! For my sake haha

Mental P Mama said...

I. Need. More.

Snooty Primadona said...

Hey everybody! Mr. Snooty and I drove (I mean I drove... he slept) to Austin to see our son before he starts school next week. He's so excited and is so focused. My heart is soaring as if it had real wings. Things have almost come full circle for him now and he has worked so hard to get here. What a triumph! So, we're here to take him out to eat a lot and take him to play golf, since he probably won't have time or money for such frivolities until the next time we come, lol. Tomorrow we're going with him to see the new Batman movie at the Austin Draft House, which will be so cool. OK, I Lied. I might go shopping and let them have some much needed father-son bonding time.

Daughter: You always crack me up, lol. Yes, I'm glad I came back too but let's not get ahead of ourselves. he he he


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