Semple

It was one of those classic old-Aspen Winterskol Saturday nights you always remember. Lest I ever forget, there’s a two-inch scar on my thumb that looks like it was made intentionally by an X-Acto knife. Truth is, it’s from a bottle of wine I stole from my parents.   

The night started off as innocently as a heist can. When no one was looking I grabbed a bottle of vino from my parents’ copious wine rack. I took it down to my room, put it in the inside pocket of my parka, walked up Eighth Street to Main and caught the Snowbunny bus into town for the fireworks.

We — our gang of hoodlums — were sneaking through the dark, rutted icy alley behind the Paragon when the bottle slipped from my parka and landed on the ground with a clink. I grabbed it by the neck and the damn thing sliced my thumb open. A deep cut right along the tendon that badly needed stitches, stitches I never got.

We went to a party above the Paragon at a kid’s apartment that was most easily accessed from the fire escape in the back. I’m not sure where exactly the parents were, or if they even had any for that matter. It was an era when parents seemed nonexistent. For all we knew or cared, the kids were test-tube babies. Regardless, there was a throw-down going on in their apartment, as it was Winterskol Saturday night.

The stealing of booze was just getting started. From the third story apartment someone heard the rumbling of a delivery truck below and watched as it parked, left its flashers on, and the driver skulked into the Paragon. It was a liquor truck, ripe for the picking. Some of the more resourceful high schoolers went down and checked the lock on the back — it was open.

What proceeded then was an epic mob-esque fire-line heist of beer and liquor. A group of over-achieving Aspen high schoolers gutted the thing and cleaned it like a fish. There were literally cases of beer and liquor stacked floor to ceiling in the apartment above the Paragon. The driver came out and realized what had just happened and threw a code-red conniption fit. We could hear him down there, absolutely livid, yelling and screaming, cursing, pounding his fists on the side of the truck, threatening to kill someone.

Just when we thought the coast was clear, it wasn’t. There was a violent pounding on the door of the apartment. All the kids went white as ghosts. There was nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, no window to jump out-of. The door swung open, pot smoke billowed out Cheech and Chong style, and two Aspen police officers were standing there wearing blue jeans, along with one very pissed-off, ruddy-faced deliver driver. I was frozen there, a beer in my hand with my thumb wrapped in bloody paper towels and tape, like a shoddy teenage wasteland Franken-bandage.

Seeing the police miraculously sobered us right up. The cops made us all reload the truck with the stolen goods, less the product we had already hastily guzzled. It was then I learned perhaps the most valuable lesson of my life; not that stealing was bad, rather if you’re going to get into serious trouble, make sure you’re with the sheriff’s sons. The cops took us down to the station, and the individual interrogations began. The tears flowed like wine. Then the police called my parents to come pick me up.

The phone rang 16 times before anyone picked up. When my dad finally answered, I could hear the cacophony of a wild disco-party going on at our house that made our little underage robbery shindig seem like a Tupperware party — and it was all perfectly legal. “Whuhooo isss sthiss?!” demanded my staggeringly drunk dad. The officer curtly replied, “This is the Aspen police, we have your son Lo here at the sta-” Click. My dad hung up on the cops, and left me out to dry.

I’ll never forget the infectious pulsating sounds of Alicia Bridges’ “I Love the Nightlife” blaring through the earpiece of the police telephone. That song has since become a favorite on my childhood PTSD playlist. We spent the night at the sheriff’s house in the basement that night. The next day my mom asked about my thumb. I told her I cut it skitching.

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