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Ever increasing price of aging

OK, so I finally admit that I’m getting older.

The undeniable signs have been there for years, but I have discreetly chosen to ignore them time and time again.

It was inevitable, I suppose, as all unavoidable milestones of longevity seem to be. Yet I still somehow held onto a hope, a longing if you will, that it would never come to pass in my lifetime.

Alas, ignorance is indeed bliss, as they say.

World-famous psychologists Freud, Jung, Reich, Skinner, etc., explained the phenomenon as a simple part of life’s never-ending cycles, one we can all run from yet never completely hide.

All of those guys are dead now, I might add.

World-famous economic masterminds Keynes, Galbraith, Greenspan, etc., claim it is a necessary evil in order for any economy to work in a capitalistic society. Progress simply cannot exist without it.

Most of those guys are dead now, too (Greenspan might be up for debate, though), and those who are not wish they were once every quarter or so when budget predictions are compared to actualities.

Anyhoo, when I was just a wee lad of 18, with my virgin senses struggling to understand and comprehend the realities of a totally unpredictable future, my pickup-riding buddies would join me on the 45-minute stretch of central Texas highway (just north of Crawford, Dubya’s hometown, by the way) to reach our adolescent nirvana – the county line beer store.

(Stay with me here, there is a point, I think. Somewhere.)

Upon arrival, and after pooling funds found behind seatbacks and nestled quietly at the bottom of toolboxes, we would all hop out, spit a few loogies of Skoal on crawly things in the parking lot, and enter the establishment.

Going straight to the same cooler door each time, one of us would emerge with an ice cold case of Old Milwaukee (note: if for some odd reason the beer was not available cold, then packing it tight in two bags of ice for exactly seven minutes was sufficient for thirst-quenching consumption).

Price paid: $5 for 24 cans.

With a 5 percent tax, we did have to tack on one full quarter, but you get the idea.

Speaking of quarters, that’s how many years (25 for those having trouble following segues) have passed between one of those glorious beer-drinkin’ spring afternoons in Texas and last Saturday night in Vail.

It was at that moment deep in the bowels of the new Marriott when the inflationary epiphany occurred. Bellying up to the bar for the umpteenth annual Casino Night, I ordered a beer. Not an Old M, mind you, nothing fancy like that, but one of those regular kinds in a bottle.

“That’ll be 5 bucks,” said the nice man in black and white.

“Excuse me?” questioned the astonished 44-year-old man, also in black and white but with a tinge of blue around the collar.

“Five dollars, sir.”

“But I only want one.”

“And that’s what one costs.”

I looked around for a Channel 8 camera, hoping maybe they were developing a locals “Candid Camera,” and I was elected their first sucker.

“Well then, how big is it?”

He set the open 12-ounce bottle on the countertop with a polite thud.

“Same size as the rest of ”em.”

I do believe the man was mocking me.

“Baby needs new shoes?” I asked, turned and walked away.

I could faintly hear the whines about who worked where, who makes the rules, etc., but was no longer thirsty and I really didn’t care about whether or not the guy could pay his rent.

You have your problems, buddy. I have mine.

Slapping my forehead while walking away, reality had dawned on me like a CEO on the first day of trial: Inflation happens, and the passage of time just makes it seem even worse.

Five bucks for a single bottle of beer. My, my, my. A six-pack would cost what I’m being paid to write this column (minus taxes, of course). Adam Aaron would have to work an entire 33 seconds (in bonus money) to buy a full case.

We did spend a few hundred bucks on stuff we didn’t really need, so the “but it’s for charity” angle didn’t fly. Besides, beer profits do not trickle down to preschool kids.

So I am left with proof that the world as we knew it has finally come to an end. Either that or I just need to pay more attention to the inevitabilities of a successful economy.

I suppose I could just stop drinking beer, but that would mean a lifestyle change. I think I’m better off keeping my mouth shut about the whole thing and just enjoying my newfound knowledge. It could be worse. At least the Arabs haven’t cornered the beer market like they have the oil.

If that happened, we could be in for some real trouble.

Richard Carnes of Edwards can be reached at poor@vail.net


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