By Dom Cioffi
My wife and I traveled to Aspen, Colo., this past week for a few days of skiing and snowboarding. We were lucky enough to be the guests of one of my wife’s business clients who treated us to wonderful hospitality and luxurious accommodations. The added bonus was some amazing snow conditions.
We stayed at the base of the main mountain in a beautiful hotel where the staff doted on us with constant attention and genuine concern. This level of attention makes you feel special, but it’s also a bit unnerving because my regular life is particularly devoid of people willing to heed my every whim.
I’m an average American who works hard to earn the life I have. But this week, I felt on par with movie stars, high profile politicians, and professional athletes. And I’ll be honest – I could get used to the lifestyle!
When we entered our room, it was packed with unique accoutrements meant to make our stay special. We had bath salts and interesting soaps, a refrigerator and bar filled with tasty local snacks and drinks, a gas fireplace, a bed with a view overlooking the mountains, and a small deck with a hot tub.
On one of the days, my wife and I decided to visit the spa for a little pampering. I opted for a foot massage, which I’ve never had before. Since ending my chemotherapy treatments for cancer, my feet have been uncomfortably numb (a normal byproduct of chemo), so I thought it might be a relaxing experience.
Luckily for me, a trained masseuse with a background in reflexology was assigned to my treatment. After I explained my unique situation to her, she went to work.
All I can tell you is that I was having a hard time staying awake. The only reason I didn’t let myself fall asleep was because I didn’t want to miss out on all the pleasure. Afterwards we were served warm tea and handed lemon-infused towels, apparently to help us wake up from the epic high of sustained ecstasy.
For the few nights we were there, we were also treated to some exquisite gourmet food. I indulged in filet mignon, northwestern salmon, and the largest shrimp I have ever seen. The wines paired with each meal with perfect accompaniments. And the desserts? To die for!
On our final day, we traveled back to Denver to catch our flight home. My brother lives in Denver so we made a plan to hook up for a meal. He picked an eclectic spot near the city center and coordinated a time.
While we were headed into the city, we drove by a large park where we noticed dozens of homeless people, some huddled together under blankets, others wandering about aimlessly. I was struck by their plight as I sat at a stoplight, staring.
The temperatures were in the 20s, which made the scene even harder to watch. Knowing that these individuals were likely in that park all night (where temps dropped close to zero), made me feel horrible, especially given what I had just experienced over the prior few days.
The juxtaposition of their world placed against the world I was just vacationing in held my attention for the entire flight home. I wondered if the majority of the people in the park were just like me except they took a wrong turn at some point in their life; or maybe they had a run of bad luck that rendered them incapable of facing reality.
I’ve often heard that a huge percentage of homeless people are mentally ill. In some cases, I’m sure it’s the result of genetics, but I’m certain many others were simply handed an insurmountable event that left them mentally broken.
I don’t know what the answer is, but I know that enjoying the finer things in life would be much better if everyone had the chance to indulge.
This week’s film, “Black Panther,” also treads into the land of the haves and the have-nots, pointing out the discrepancies in the world and offering a unique solution.
Starring Chadwick Boseman, Daniel Kaluuya, and Michael B. Jordan, “The Black Panther” is the long-awaited release of the Afro-centric, Marvel superhero story.
I was unversed in the backstory of the Black Panther so the whole film was a big reveal to me. I must admit that I found the concepts intriguing. The acting was genuine, especially with the main character who was beautifully flawed. I was also impressed that the director refrained from taking the plot into a gratuitous love story direction.
Check this one out if you’re a fan of the superhero genre or if you want to engage in the hoopla concerning the validity of this picture. In my mind, it’s one of Marvel’s better offerings and a positive jolt to the overall African American community.
A stealthy “B+” for “Black Panther.”
Got a question or comment for Dom? You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.