Friday, June 06, 2014

Things to Do in Denver When You're Red

I’m an idiot when it comes to sunblock. That doesn’t imply that I’m exactly a genius in other facets of my life, but I particularly fall short in this area. Once in a blue moon, I remember to apply said lotion to my pale body. In the blazing sun, it’s another matter. This is how I earned the charming nickname “Redman” on my New York vacation three years back. A trip to Coney Island sans protective topical cream cooked me like one of Nathan’s Famous red hots from its flagship Brooklyn location.

My recent sojourn to Denver almost resurrected this beloved character thanks to that uber-intensified Southwestern sun that preys on palefaces such as moi, especially those not ready, willing or able to take care of one’s self like lil’ ol’ knothead me. Fortunately, I emerged not so much deep-fried this time around as merely lightly the light of the Coloradan fireball.
(Yeah. Wah wah wah. Go back to Oregon and cool off in your e-coli laden raindrops.)
But being the hail fellow, well met I be, I braved the elements once again because I had an all-important social function to attend-the third birthday party of my sweet angel baby granddaughter Aefa. For that. I would have stood toe-to-toe with one of those tornadoes that hit Denver only days before we arrived. (Of course, I monitored the weather each day before departure in hopes this wouldn’t reoccur during our trip.)
The party was a rousing success thanks to an early start of 11AM, perfect for toddlers and parents alike, especially those plied with Proseco Bellinis and Mimosas. (no, not the kids. Don’t call Child Protective Services, you ninnies) One of the highlights was the balloon animal artist who made some very impressive inflatable items for the kiddies. He informed us that he was a proud member of the “balloon animal community”. Everybody’s a big shot. Naturally, the birthday girl was the star of the show, even impressing the adults with her wardrobe change at mid-point into a gypsy-like sun dress purchased by her grandmother.  She made quite the sweet haul of presents too. At 1PM, the last guest departed and that is how you play a little kid’s birthday party.
Most of the week was devoted to the care and entertainment of this little one since she had the week off of school. This meant a couple of visits to the playground, including once at Denver’s City Park, a goose’s paradise complete with endless minefields of droppings wherever we stepped. Some little snot tried to bully my granddaughter by trapping her on a play structure, telling her “You’re locked in my dungeon and you have to stay forever!” Not on my watch, kid. I climbed up and freed Aefa while the jail of this homunculus who said that it was now  my turn in the dungeon.  “Buzz off, you little creep,” I told her as we stepped away. This is why Aefa brought me along. Necessary muscle. The creep’s mother gave me the hairy eyeball, but since she couldn’t manage to pry her prominent behind off the bench to scold her Satanic spawn, I certainly didn’t give a shit. I left that to the geese.

Less successful was a trip to the Denver Art Museum, a miscalculation on our part. Exposing Aefa to culture at that age was pure folly. She was more interested in pushing her own stroller about or closing any door she could. I did manage to squeeze in a quick walk-through of REBRANDED: Polish Film Posters of the American Western. These were one sheets for iconic westerns reinterpreted by Polish artists, films like SHANE, THE MISFITS, HIGH NOON and EL DORADO.
Returning to our senses, we schlepped Aefa off to something more appropriate for her, an ice cream parlor called SWEET ACTION with a rotating menu of handmade flavors made fresh daily. The girls ate Salted Butterscotch and Chocolate Hazelnut that they enjoyed trading spoonfuls while I concentrated on my Stranhan’s Whiskey Brickle. One scoop only. I had to drive.

We managed one Aefa-less excursion when we ventured off for some Happy Hour eats and drinks at the Denver eatery Linger's. This establishment, formerly a mortuary called Olingers, lost the O and changed the mortuaries sign to read: eatuaries. Cute. The grub was damn tasty, particularly the BBQ short rib tacos along with the Wagyu sliders and duck buns. Missing the mark however was the one item that popped off the menu to me-the Achiote Shrimp and Grits. Two smallish shrimps on a skewer over a drizzle of grits and individual chunks of charred pineapple, onion and zucchini. I've gotten bigger samples at Costco. Who drizzles grits? A spoonful at the very least would have justified the dish.

In all, this trip to Colorady was a somewhat subdued affair, but made all the worth-while due to the birthday girl herself and her parents. They make up the sweetest little family unit, complete with silly little Millie, their mooch of a pooch. I am so fortunate to have them in my life along with the rest of this clan in which I have become embedded. To quote Old Lodgeskins from LITTLE BIG MAN. "My heart soars like an eagle." It sounds better in the original Chief Dan George cadence.

So the sun baking was totally justified. Better red than dead. 
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