Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Golden Hour (and The Golden Thong)

“You always stay at a party ten minutes too long,” my buddy Shaun says.

            So true. With the trifecta of the Outdoor Retailer (OR) show, Snowdown and the Superbowl occurring over the last two weeks I’ve done my share of partying, and now I’m ready to get back in my normal, mellow routine. But first, I’ve got to dive back into that untrustworthy narrator that is memory and recall exactly what happened. 

            The journey up to the bi-annual OR show in Salt Lake City always involves a stop through Moab. My friend, Buddy Bear Benson, as I call him, lovable as a teddy bear, lets me crash at his place when I’m in Moab climbing, or just passing through. OR always involves a lot of networking and partying, and afterwards I always feel burnt out. So this year I committed to getting some exercise in before and after the show.
            So Buddy Bear and I meet up around four o’clock, and as a Moab local he’s got the perfect climb picked out for us. A two-pitch moderate crack route, five minutes from town that is still basking in the last rays of the setting sun. The Golden Hour. I always get stressed out preparing for the OR show (I’m not a natural salesmen) and getting on the rock reminds me to breathe and focus on the task at hand. “Enjoy the moment,” Buddy Bear says before I take off from the belay ledge.

            Climb completed in two hours before the sun leaves us, I take stock of the surroundings: massive chunks of ice floating down the Colorado River, the sexy, alluring, yet dangerous maroon sandstone walls, a velvety pink sunset, and a good friend. “What lives we lead,” Buddy Bear waxes poetically. “We live in the richest nation in the world, and after work we get to climb on these beautiful sandstone walls.”

            Buddy Bear and I crack a beer, and he gives me a local’s bonus, showing me some petroglyphs just up on the hillside. The next morning I’m off to Salt Lake. Off Highway 70 at a gas station in Crescent Junction I meet my buddy Shaun, a natural salesmen, who is committed to helping me achieve my dream to become a full time writer and publisher. Our friendship has been molded by the loss of two great friends in the last two years, both who lived in Salt Lake, and when you lose friends you appreciate the dear ones in your life who are still living.

            We drive up to Salt Lake and make fun of each other like we always do, while finding common ground on the iPod. (Jay Z and the Grateful Dead.) Arriving into Salt Lake the noticeable thick layer of toxic smog hovers over the city, and we barely arrive in time for our first meeting.

            In a three day period at OR I can network more than one year of sending out emails and queries. Nearly every single outdoor company is represented there, as well as renowned outdoor writers, editors, photographers, and professional athletes. We lock down a few new sponsors for my publication, The Climbing Zine, and I get to meet my literary hero John Long, who promises to write an endorsement of my next book.  

            We attend after parties, and after-after parties, and after that have to flag down the ever-elusive cab in the quiet late night of Salt Lake. We stay at many parties ten minutes too long and at the end of the show, and after breathing the polluted air for three days I’m ready to head back in the direction of home.

            Time to head back to Moab for another day of climbing, to set the soul right, and breathe fresh air. We revel in the off-season of the red rock desert, climb with no one around, and bask in the sun.

            Back home in Durango I catch up on my sleep just before Snowdown hits. Other than entering a karaoke contest I didn’t have any plans for Snowdown, but I do own a catsuit and some leopard print clothing, so it was too easy to head downtown and partake in the festivities.

            After the parade my roommate and I wander downtown, and notice that Durango Dance is hosting a “Booty Shaking Contest”. We rally some more friends and check it out. All I can say is: Best Snowdown Event. Ever.

            A rowdy crowd inside, with a hundred people outside looking in made for an infectious spirit as both men and women shaked their booties for audience applause. Women are more naturally inclined to the art of booty shaking, while some of the guys resorted to other trickery, like breakdancing to get applause. But one fellow stood out from the rest.

            From the moment he entered he was a crowd favorite. He had a good 40 years on any of the other entrants, and when he entered the floor he owned it. It wasn’t his dancing, it was his swagger. As each round progressed he gained more and more applause and his opponents less and less. Soon he had the crowd chanting, “Old Guy, Old Guy, Old Guy….” And the contest built to a feverish pitch. Destroying the field, and the dance floor, he was a hero, and awarded the prize: The Golden Thong, an item he promptly put on over his pants for display. When he left the studio, a crowd of admirers waited, erupting in applause for this Grandpa that had captured their hearts.

             It all went downhill from there. I did have a blast at the karaoke performing my old standby, “U Can’t Touch This” complete with a well practiced Hammer Dance, but it was a travesty when my friend dressed as a monkey failed to make the top three. His “Welcome to the Jungle” rendition was nearly identical to Axl’s delivery, and garnered more applause than anyone that entire night. Best costume and best delivery, and the judges didn’t even give him the top three. I mean a screaming monkey belting, “Shaaanana, Naana, Neez, Neez….” with an otherwise quiet crowd erupting in applause. If these judges are on the Snowdown payroll I think an investigation is necessary, but I digress.

            After that we witnessed drunkards getting arrested and kicked out of bars, taking the spirit of celebration way too far. We all know what happened on Sunday too, and I won’t bother commenting on that. And, I’m ready to get back into that early to bed, early to rise routine, to follow the rhythm of winter for a few more weeks, and leave parties at just the right time.

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