How to Avoid being Mistaken for a Aspen Local

Here’s an embarrassing confession.  After over six years here in Aspen, and nearly a lifetime in Colorado, I’m now an Aspen local.  Not only that, but I also have friends who are locals.

I know myself and I know my friends.  I recognize that no self-respecting visitor wants to be mistaken for one of us.  So as a public service, here’s a handy guide for how to behave in a way that no one will mistake you for a local:

  1. Ask where Jack Nicholson’s house is.
  2. Wear one of those “Go-Pro” camera gadgets atop your ski helmet so that you look like a coat hanger on skis. Film hours of your extreme adventures on the blue groomers to show your friends in Tulsa.
  3. Try to pick up a hungover liftie with a nose ring who pretends not to understand English.
  4. Carry your skis in your arms against your chest like a baby.
  5. Or carry them on your shoulder right into the gondola line. Do the Texas helicopter as you turn around in order to clear people out of your way. If that doesn’t work, just cut the line.
  6. Go real fast on those blue groomers so that you pass the locals. When they catch you on the moguls, stop and pull out your phone to pretend you’re talking with your broker. Scream, “Sell Greece!”
    7. As you ski three inches of new powder, make the “whoop-whoop” yell, so that everyone will assume you’re from Dallas and have never seen that much powder before.
  7. Or do the full-blown coyote howl, and they’ll swear you’re from Boca Raton.
  8. At the top of a slope that’s at the limit of your ability (I’m referring to that blue groomer again) smoke a joint.
  9. Yank the bar down onto everyone’s head before the chair even exits the lift station. Yes, it’ll hurt their heads, but it’s better than them falling to their deaths from four feet. They’ll thank you when they regain consciousness.
  10. Smoke a joint on the pedestrian mall.
  11. When we get a foot of powder overnight, complain that the slopes are “not properly groomed.”
  12. Wear a fur coat.
  13. Wear a fur hat.
  14. Wear fur pants.
  15. Smoke a joint in the gondola.
  16. Speak with a Brazilian accent.
  17. Own a Range Rover. Drive it from your condo on Top of Mill down to the gondola three blocks away. Then complain that there’s nowhere to park.
  18. While you’re skiing, talk on your phone.
  19. While you’re skiing, text on your phone.
  20. While you’re skiing, and talking and texting on your phone, run into a tree.
  21. At the Emergency Room, while you’re talking and texting on your phone, ask if the doctor knows who you are. Then tell him you’re Mr. Big and so you expect priority over those locals with the head bruises caused by descending lift bars.
  22. Ski with an instructor.
  23. Try to pick up the instructor.
  24. Try to lose the instructor you picked up.
  25. Try to lose the STD the instructor gave you.
  26. Go to the Emergency Room for STD treatment. Tell them that people often remark that you look like Mr. Big but you’re not.
  27. Give the STD to another instructor if you can find one that doesn’t already have it.
  28. Complain that snow often closes the airport. And upsets the slope grooming regimen.
  29. Assume naively that the locals pay their own rent (“How do they do that?”) oblivious to the fact that you’re paying it — for the upper-middle-class insiders anyway — through the subsidized “affordable housing” scam.
  30. Rent skis that are about a foot wide so that you’ll be prepared for powder that you’ll never see in-bounds and couldn’t ski if you did. That way, you can tell yourself that everyone thinks you and your wide-bodies just flew in from Alyeska, at least until they see you on those blue groomers.
  31. Have a seven-digit income, a three digit IQ and a double-digit BMI.
  32. Get a labradoodle and train him to poop everywhere on command, and not on command.
  33. Don’t stop for pedestrians in the crosswalks. You see, if you can make this place a little more like that hellhole you came from, then you can save lots of money by just staying there and not dealing with the Aspen airport or that pesky snow.
  34. Keep this handy field guide with you at all times.

OK, that’s my anthropological treatise on how not to be mistaken for an Aspenite.   Readers with additional suggestions can leave an on-line comment or send me an email.

The best suggestions win an autographed column of “The Aspen Beat.”  Second place wins two.

(Published January 15, 2015 in the Glenwood Springs Post at

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