Friday, January 21

1/21/05 - KEYS TO ASPEN

It’s time for Jose Melendez’s KEYS TO ASPEN.

1. It’s been 17 days since Jose last posted. That’s right…count ‘em…17 days. That’s almost as long as Tony Castrati’s midseason disappearance. Speculation has been rampant about Jose’s whereabouts. Has he been secretly negotiating to bring Carlos Delgado to the Red Sox? Had he been kidnapped by a street gang and made to write KEYS for a member felled by a gunshot wound? Had Tony Castrati simply had enough and taken Jose on one of those dreaded “Boston Herald Cab Rides?” While all of those theories may be technically true, they are less technically true than the theory that Jose was on his first real vacation in 11 months, to Aspen, Colorado.

Now, Jose knows what a lot of you are thinking. “Wait a second Jose. Isn’t Aspen mostly a playground for the rich, how could you, a mere non-profit project manager and unpaid blogger, possibly afford to go there?”

Fantastic question!!! Next time you should ask it rather than just thinking it, and speak up more in class as well.

The answer, of course is that Jose sold so many copies of the KEYS book that he is now able to live in a style more suited to a man of his tastes and refinements. Jose used to eat crawfish, now he eats lobster; he used to drink Andre pink champagne, now he drinks Crystal(ino); he used to ski at Nashoba Valley, now he skis at Aspen Mountain. And his home? Well, you’ll see it on MTV Cribs soon enough, but suffice it to say, he has one room with wall to wall carpeting, and another with the finest linoleum. That’s right TWO ROOMS. Take that you studio apartment suckers.

“But, Jose,” you must be thinking now. “Why Aspen? A man of your wealth and refinement could easily take his vacations in the Netherlands Antilles with Ted DiBiase. Why go to the mountains rather than the beach?”

Outstanding question!!!

As you know, Jose never travels strictly for pleasure, he is far too important to simply put business on hold for two weeks. Jose did indeed go to Aspen for a reason, the only reason anyone goes to Aspen— to subvert the new Major League steroid testing regime. Jose has been honest about his use of the substances known as “the cream” and “the clear” during the previous season, secure in the knowledge that nothing he did was forbidden at the time. But now? Now, Major League Baseball has a (more) real steroid testing policy, a first offense could earn Jose a 10 game suspension (Note: Long enough to take another vacation…hmmmmm) and to be frank, Jose is not sure he can make it through a 162 game season without some performance enhancement. Do you think it’s easy to write on a Saturday morning with a hangover without enhancement? It is not.

So Jose went to Aspen for six days of skiing and seven nights of autologous blood donation. Jose is certain that when the Sox need that extra boost next season, those super oxygenated pints will fit nicely into Jose’s arteries. Also, each time he donated he got free juice and cookies, which is about all he could afford for a meal in Aspen.

2. Everyone in Aspen has a cause. Some of the beautiful people who frolic there want to save the rain forests, other want to free Tibet, and still others want to reunite the Smiths…worthy causes one and all. And it made Jose think…shouldn’t Jose adopt a cause as his own? Shouldn’t Jose lend the burning spotlight of his celebrity to some worthy cause, and in turn enjoy the gentle glow of decency that such activity imbues? And Aspen offered so many good ideas for causes: an increase in the Colorado luxury tax, a ban on fur trapping (Note: Or alternatively an increase in fur trapping, but allowing those wearing furs to be trapped as well…it’s not that Jose’s an animal rights nut, he just dislikes decadence.), or even increased funding for snow plowing. There are so many good ideas, and so many people need Jose’s help, but frankly all of them were a little bit too controversial for Jose. Instead, Jose has decided to take a firm and unequivocal position in opposition to foot binding. JOSE WILL NEVER AGAIN TOLERATE THE BARBARIC AND SENSELESS BINDING OF FEET!!!! And if Jose loses a reader or two in 19th century China due to his boldness, so be it.

You see, foot binding has affected Jose personally. On his first day in Aspen, Jose put on his brand new ski boots from REI and found they were a bit uncomfortable, but Jose is no pansy, he wasn’t going to complain, he was going to be a man and ski with them. Needless, to say, by the end of the day Jose was in excruciating pain, was whining constantly to the Melendezette and anyone else who would listen and had ensured that at least one toenail will be falling off soon. (Note: Actually, this is an annual tradition for Jose. He goes skiing and then six weeks later a toenail falls off, it’s like the Groundhog seeing his shadow.) It turns out that REI had given him the incorrect boots and that these were two sizes too small. REI Fed Exd the correct boots shortly thereafter, but not before Jose had learned an important lesson—small feet may be pretty, but foot binding is wrong…very, very wrong, and Jose urges you to join him in his courageous stand against it.

3. There was one genuinely unsettling aspect to the trip. (Note: Okay two, but Jose isn’t going to discuss the people selling bull semen at the National Western Stock Show in Denver.) The first night Jose was in Aspen, there was apparently some sort of violent crime in the condo immediately next door to the one he and his friends were staying in. Jose doesn’t know what it was except to say that a woman was screaming obscenities at 4 AM (Note: Though Jose has to take this information from others, he slept through the shouting, just as he does with car alarms, jack hammers, and light weapons fire.), the police came and arrested the residents of the condo and there was a box of latex gloves outside of the door the next day.

In possibly unrelated news, the next day the Aspen Free Press reported that O.J. Simpson was in Aspen. Really.

(Note: Jose knows that it is wrong to use a crime for blog fodder, but the O.J. joke was just too easy.)

I’m Jose Melendez, and those are my KEYS TO ASPEN.