Tuesday, September 05, 2006
The name, Toppatwo, was given to me by Claudine Longet when I worked as a lift operator on Aspen Mountain between 1972 and 1976. I was the guy sitting in the lift shack at the top of number two lift. It’s not there anymore. Replaced by a gondola, last I heard. Anyway, that was back in the day when Claudine and Spider Sabich were quite the item. Claudine would wave at me when she’d get off the lift and when I’d see her in town she’d say, “Toppa Two, how are you?” and laugh.
Claudine was the first person I ever saw that had a walkman and that’s using the term loosely. This contraption was about the size of a hard back novel strapped across her chest. I thought it was pretty cool so I stopped the lift when she got to the top, one day, and asked to see it. She showed it to me and I just had to have one! Can’t remember what they cost, but they were pretty expensive. I asked if she were listening to Andy Williams, being the ass that I was. “No,” she replied, “I’m listening to myself.”
Room With a Few came from another grand adventure of mine in Ecuador. I had just arrived in Quito and was staying at the Residencia Marcela. It was three or four stories tall and had a flat roof. On one corner of the roof was a small room with a commanding view of the city. People from all over the world stayed there and gathered on the roof top in the evening. At first I was a little put off because of the noise right outside my private digs. I didn’t have much time to work myself into too much of a huff when a couple of Israeli guys knocked on my door and asked if I’d like some coffee. They were brewing some up on a camp stove. A young Swiss guy was there and was attending the same Spanish language school that I was going to. There was an obnoxious German guy that was way too serious and an American lad. I was telling the Swiss guy that I was anxious to see the Southern Cross constellation. “Vy are you anxious?” asked the German in a condescending tone. I tried to explain that I really wasn’t having actual anxieties about the stars when the Swiss guy asked, “How do you like your room with a few?” The American kid looked puzzled and asked, “A few what?”
I’ve been pretty lucky to have had many rooms with incredible views. The view from my room at the bunkhouse on top of Aspen Mountain was spectacular. In fact, I had a perfect view of Comet Kahoutek from my bedroom window in the winter of 1973. It may have not looked like much from other places on the globe, but in the crystalline air at 10,200 feet on Aspen Mountain, it took my breath away. I had never seen a comet before and I understood why primitive man and not so primitive man had such a fear of them. You see one in the night sky and you think, that ain’t right!