Cognoscenti in the early '90s openly referred to my air-hockey talent as "burgeoning," but a thug from Chicago abruptly snuffed out this promising career.
Before that fateful moment, my friends and I would head to the Cherry Creek mall and idle away the time. There were many diversions: the movie theater, those amazing toilets that flushed automatically, and Cinnabon. Yet our favorite activity was to boldly stride into Brookstone and stake our claim at the air-hockey tables. We would play for hours, tournament style, until one of us was crowned champion. The staff didn't seem to mind; they were as bored as we were, happy to have the distraction. Then one day, a new manager appeared. No doubt emboldened by his recent elevation from Chicago assistant manager to Denver big dog, he walked over to us and calmly said, "Buy something or get out."
My air-hockey future collapsed. Sure, I played at the occasional arcade, but it just wasn't the same. There was magic on those Brookstone tables. Eventually, I hung it up.
However, were I to ever return to the game, it would be at the Colorado State Air Hockey Tournament, beginning today and running through Sunday at Splitz Bowling Center, 10685 Westminster Boulevard in Westminster. There, for a $20 entrance fee and a quarter per game, I would battle with the state's best for over $2,000 in cash and prizes. If I played doubles, I would appear at 3 p.m. today, with singles at 10 a.m. tomorrow. I would even get a free T-shirt for entering. Alas, now isn't my time. But air-hockey enthusiasts, take note: It could be yours. For information, call 720-933-3843. -- Adam Cayton-Holland
Coming Up Roses
Buds blossom at the Denver Botanic Gardens.
Roses have intrigued dreamers and poets since the dawn of time. And even as their varieties have evolved -- there are more than 28,000 kinds now -- their appeal has remained undeniable.
"There is just something that is so mystic about the rose," says Joan Franson, who has been growing them for almost half a century.
Yet there's also something down-to-earth about this bloom. Franson, who's been cultivating roses for the Denver Botanic Gardens since the early '60s, knows them well. And she'll help showcase some 150 types of the beauties today at the Denver Rose Society's Old Garden Rose Show and Sale. There may be even more variations on display, because guests are encouraged to bring in roses they've grown in their own gardens. Plants should arrive by 8:30 a.m. so they can be ready for the 9 a.m. opening.
Franson promises that the Botanic Gardens, 1005 York Street, will smell -- and look -- delicious. Admission is $8.50 for adults, $5 for students. Call 720-865-3500 or log on to www.denverbotanicgardens.org for information. -- Jerri Theil