Well, not necessarily about the Flat Tops but they play a role. And if I've told this one before please excuse the failing memory of an old fart. And sorry for all the dialogue but I can't figure out a better way to tell the story.
In the mid 70s my wife (then still my GF) & I were invited to a holiday party hosted by the parents of one of her high school friends. They had a big, old brownstone in Hyde Park.
I was sitting in their living room, a fire blazing in the fireplace. Across from me was an old man (probably a decade younger than I am now) and we got to talking. After a while he asked, "Well son, what do you like to do?"
"I like anything that gets me in the outdoors" I replied.
"Have you ever been to the Flat Tops in Colorado?"
"No - but it's a place I'd like to go to someday."
"Do you fish?"
"I fish pretty often".
"Do you fly fish?"
"Well, I won't say I'm a fly fisherman but I do it from time-to-time when I'm in the right place".
"Have you ever read A River Runs Though It?"
"I've read it a few times".
"Do you know the author's name?"
"Sure - Norman MacLean". This was when MacLean was still teaching at U Of C.
"He's one of my best friends".
"Hmm - that's interesting".
"So have you ever read, The Anatomy of a Murder?"
"Yes I have."
"Do you know who wrote it?"
"Well, he writes under the name Robert Traver but his real name is John Voelker. He's on the Michigan Supreme Court".
"He's my other best friend".
"Wow". This probably sounded pretty dumb to him but I'm pretty sure that's what I said.
He continued. "Voelker has a cabin up on the UP. Every year the three of us meet there and spend two weeks fly fishing the creeks. At night we sit around drinking good whiskey and smoking pipes and cigars."
"That sounds like heaven".
"That's what it is."
At that point we got distracted by some other things going on around us. He ended the conversation by saying, "We should get together again and talk more about rustic things".
Unfortunately it never happened. But years later I went to the Flat Tops twice in the same year. The first time I spent a long weekend fly fishing. Caught a few - no big ones - and thought about that conversation with every one.
A couple years ago I was watching American Masters - the episode on Mike Nichols the late, great film director. The interviewer asked him if there was a seminal experience he could think of that set him on his course in life.
He said, "I came from New York to attend the University of Chicago. Early on I had a meeting with one of my professors. He sat me down and said, 'You're a smart guy and so far you've gotten by on your intellect and being a smart-ass. I think that's bunch of BLEEP. If you think I'm going to put up with your crap in my class and if you think you'll get a decent grade without working your ass off you are greatly mistaken."
Nichols said that dressing down and what he learned in the class was the reason why he was successful. His professor's name was Ned Rosenheim - the same guy I had that conversation with all those years ago. Made me even sorrier I never got the chance to continue the conversation.