Visiting Chicagoans face bald deception

Our family had not seen our dear Chicago friends for 12 years, so it was great news that they were returning to Durango for their spring vacation.

We spent the first several days catching up on news and how our lives had changed in many ways. Kids are now grown up and busy building their own families and careers. We talked about our parents being gone, worldly travels and pre-retirement planning. Our guest couple looked just as we remembered them. Then it happened.

On the last evening before their departure, we were sitting on the deck, chatting and enjoying our cocktails. Glancing over to where our family dog was laying nearby, someone noticed she was happily chewing up something brown and hairy. Knowing that we don’t own anything brown and hairy, I knew this was going to get interesting. That’s when our guest couple cried out, “OMG it’s Mike’s hairpiece!”

Fast Forward. The hairpiece has been repaired, and our dog is now out of the doghouse. As ridiculous as it may seem, there are some important life lessons in all of this.

First, thou shalt not leave thy hairpiece on the guestroom nightstand. Second, always have a backup hairpiece. And third, anyone can be fooled by appearances. How did I not notice that after 12 years my friend had lost his hair and was wearing a hairpiece? This raises a serious question, what embarrassing truths are Durangoans covering up?

Perhaps it’s this: We do a better job promoting Durango lifestyle to others than living that lifestyle ourselves. Our visitors see Durango as friendly, relaxed, playful, comfortable – a real change from their serious and hectic lives back home.

They think all we do here is play in our great outdoors and party with our friends. Of course, there are a few Durangoans who have perfected that exact lifestyle, but most of the people I know are working their butts off and not enjoying the Durango that we so passionately promote. This is shameful. We’ve got to stop covering up the fact that we work as hard, and worry as much, as everyone else and start doing a better job of being the relaxed and playful community people think we are.

Start by making plans to enjoy more of what hundreds of thousands of people come here every year to experience. This summer, try a new outdoor activity, go fishing or camping. Grab some friends and attend popular downtown events such as Gallery Walk this Friday and Taste of Durango on May 19 or visit with friends every Saturday at the Farmers Market starting May 11.

Looking ahead, plan a “staycation” here in the Four Corners, and invite friends and family to come our way. Don’t just put your relatives on the train for the day and go back to work, go with them and enjoy where you live.

For me, I’m going to be a lot more attentive to what parts of my friends may not be what they appear to be. Bob Kunkel is the downtown business development manager for the city of Durango.

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