By Mike Greenberg
Special to Page 2

Greetings from paradise.

I am writing this week from Aspen, Colo., which -- if you've never been here -- is just like heaven, only more expensive. It is my favorite place on earth, mostly because everything is different here. It must be the altitude. I suggest that because they blame everything on the altitude in Aspen. If you get a headache, a toothache, a sore throat, someone will invariably tell you it must be the altitude. My 3-year-old hasn't been sleeping well; must be the altitude.

I saw a car cut off another on the road that leads out to Snowmass, and the guy in the back couldn't stop in time, so he swerved off the road right into a snow bank, where the wheels on his truck grinded and spun angrily, but ultimately got him nowhere. A guy in a blue cap wandered by and took it in for a moment, then turned to me and said, "Must have been the altitude."

WHY MY WIFE THINKS I'M AN IDIOT
Mike Greenberg's new book, "Why My Wife Thinks I'm An Idiot: The Life and Times of a Sportscaster Dad" (Villard Books) is available March 7. The book is a wry and revealing look at one man's good-hearted but mistake-prone attempt to grow up before his children do. Marriage, fatherhood, manhood, fame, athletes, crazed aunts with gambling problems, the true significance of sports, the worst possible thing to say in a room full of pregnant women -- no topic is out of reach.

So the altitude gets blamed for everything around here. But I'll tell you what else the altitude does that's more significant than drying out your sinuses: It changes your perspective. That's right; everything seems different when you view it from up here. It's as though the snow that falls softly every morning and harder every night covers the whole world in a blanket of white. Nothing seems so bad, or so important, when that snow is falling. Nothing seems so big when you look down upon it from a chair lift 11,000 feet above sea level.

Take, for example, this whole rigmarole with Shani Davis and Chad Hedrick, who proved to be the least compatible Olympic teammates this country has produced since Tonya and Nancy. The sense I get is all of you down there thought this was a pretty big deal. Bob Costas certainly seemed to think so; I thought he was going to fall out of his chair when he tossed to the race in which the two went head-to-head.

Well, I'll tell you this: Up here, folks didn't seem too concerned about those guys. In fact, one lady who recognized me in a supermarket first asked my opinion of them and then offered her own.

"A week ago, I didn't know who either of those guys was. And I have a feeling a week from now, I'm not going to be able to remember either of their names. So I'm just not going to worry about it too much."

"Well," I asked, "don't you think it sends a bad message to America's youth about teamwork?"

"They aren't teammates," the lady said. "They're countrymen."

"Well," I tried again, "what are you going to tell your kids about it?"

"My kids couldn't care less," she said. "They were watching 'American Idol' last night."

Pretty hard to argue. And frankly, I was in no mood to argue with her; when I asked where I might find the Gatorade, she actually walked me to the proper aisle. They don't provide that service in supermarkets where I come from.

Must be the altitude.

Maybe if I was thousands of feet down with the rest of you, I would have gotten all worked up over what Bryant Gumbel said about the Olympics. But up here, my attitude is different. Yes, I think it was among the five silliest things I have ever heard a smart man say. But, so what? The guy's got a right to his opinion, no matter how silly I may think it is.

(I would also say that there is inarguably a paucity of African-Americans here in this haven of winter sports, but that doesn't mean it looks like a Republican convention. In fact, I don't think they allow Republicans into this town. If they do, they probably have to use separate chair lifts.)

It has been a refreshing change not to be worked up over every little thing this week. But here's the bad news: I'm coming back. All good things come to an end, and my ski vacation is one of them. And I'm sure once I'm back at sea level, this idyllic mind-set will fade away with the smell of the fresh, clean air in my lungs, and I'll be left with only occasional recollections of what it is like to feel this way. Like the snapshots of my kids making goofy faces in their snowsuits, my live-and-let-live mentality will be just another memory of a wonderful week above the clouds. I'm sure pretty soon I'll be back on the radio, ranting and raving about something that doesn't really matter.

I can't help but wonder why I do that, sometimes.

It must be the altitude.

Mike Greenberg is the co-host of "Mike & Mike in the Morning" on ESPN Radio.




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MUST BE THE ALTITUDE