We in these high, bitter cold mountains were under invasion. From near and very far, an onslaught of people toting rented skis and boards and brand new winter coats descended upon us. Cars choked the roads like grisly steak caught in a windpipe. The grocery store resembled a dead yak carcass swarming with flies. From outer space, our town looked like an overly decorated sugar cookie, with humans like sprinkles almost entirely eclipsing the white surface.
The shoulder season boredom had somehow faded into a poorly lit, dreary cave of endless consecutive shifts, breadless shelves and starving tourists.Yes, our wallets grew fat. But our nerves also frayed, our patience became as thin as our snowpack and our gas and groceries dwindled like Mitt Romney’s hopes in the last election. We wanted to freak the flip out, like Butters:
Large parties of six or more crowded inside the creaking wooden doors of the restaurant, their faces pinched by wind and family time. Siblings half-heartedly jostled each other while tired parents looked on. Their rapacious eyes doggedly followed each server as we orbited their sad planets on our way to and from the kitchen and dining room. Finally seated, many would relax and remember words like “please” and “thank you.” Others, conversely, would resort to caveman grunts and in their wake, a table would look more like a twice cannon-balled, wrecked and rotted ship.
Now that all the heavy hitter holidays are behind us, the torrent of tourists once again is crystallizing into a steady ooze. Weekends still see our roads and aisles clogged with visitors like hairballs in a drain. But in between, the locals have a chance to buy eggs and bread, breath deeply…and become evermore crusty.
After work yesterday, I gave into the sun calling me through the child-smudged windows at work. I packed up my skis and gear and skinned for a couple of hours. I wasn’t the only local charmed by a lovely afternoon. I saw at least a dozen other folks tramping about, most of them with unruly dogs off leashes (but that’s another topic entirely).
I would like to focus on the fact that not one of these people said hello first, several ignored me entirely and only two returned my greeting. Do I have fangs gaping from a mouth bloody from decapitating the heads of baby bunnies? No! I’m just trying to be nice (nice?). Regretfully, the holidays have transformed an already crispy breed of locals into a pile of king crabs.
Let me explain what I mean. Pre-invasion, Summit locals resembled a pot pie — crusty on the outside, but there is some hearty goodness beneath that flaky crust. Yesterday’s flock of locals was more like cooled lava. Unless there’s a potpie buried inside that lava, I’d be willing to bet there isn’t much redeeming filling inside that volcanic crust.
Just what we needed, guys: more surliness. I thought birds of a feather flocked together… apparently not unless they’re dead, plucked and stewed in a potpie. As if it wasn’t enough being smothered by a thick sauce of invaders who can’t drive in snow, buy 18 loaves of bread at once just in case, saturate the movie theater with screaming children and call the phone at work every six seconds with the same question (no, we do not take reservations). Do we now have to turn on each other like a real life cast of Gossip Girls?
Now — once the sauce is scooped into a plane to New Jersey or Germany — the locals really put on their crabby pants. Who said it was your time to whine? Who switched the “s” for a “w?” It’s your time to shine, dingbats. Time to re-commandeer the ski slopes, gas pumps and produce sections. Now that the aliens have retreated, we should all feel like this:
It is true that I get through this part of the year by forcibly removing all previous experiences of it from my psyche; but I can’t lie, I saw it coming. We all did. It’s a ski town, a worldwide destination, a holiday scene. Instead of burrowing deep under your crusty exteriors like rabid hibernating bears, find another way to wade through the annual invasion. Learn to knit, practice an instrument, learn how to say “hello” in another language… or even your own. Do I really have to re-visit this issue? Remember this summer when I wrote about your type in visiting form in “Food for Thought?”
NO: I walk up to your table and introduce myself, perhaps ask if I can get you a beverage. You continue to file your nails, peer intently into your Smartphone or argue with your boyfriend. Really, people, I am simply dumbfounded that I have to include this in my list. No, actually I’m inflamed — like a ball of kerosene-doused pine sap inside a gasoline can in a pool of oil.
YES: Just say hi back.
It’s elementary, dear Crustacean. You act as if there is a long-term competition in effect for the King and Queen of Camp Crusty. Guess what, folks? Camp Crusty isn’t even real — it only existed in The Simpsons, spelled Krusty with a “K,” and it sucked. The cabins fell apart, the lake was too sketchy for a dip and the little campers ate disgusting gruel the whole time. Sounds amazing.
Anyway, if you are dead set on bouncing along in the Crusty Wagon all the way to Oregon, be my guest. Or you could try to be positive… although, you might have more success leaping naked and angry into the broiling magma inside Mordor to find the Ring. Speaking of:
Holy crap! I finally get it…better rally the hot elves and tell them to bust out their ski gear. Because Froto failed — Summit County has the ring.