Alison Berkley: The Princess Palate
September 10, 2008
I was at the Action Sports Retailer trade show in San Diego last weekend for the first time in 10 years, catching up with people from my old life when I ran into this guy Todd.
“So, do you have any kids?” he asks, giving me the once-over with those beady blue eyes, just barely visible under the long, shaggy bangs. He’s clad in the same exact outfit he wore the last time I saw him, jeans and T-shirt and inflated-looking skate sneakers that make his feet look too big for his body.
“No,” I replied, trying not to sound defensive.
“Don’t you think you should get on that?” Todd said, pushing his hair out of his eyes for the two seconds before it fell back down again, like a veil that covered his true identity.
“Don’t you think that’s a little personal?” I said, starting to feel like we were two kids pushing each other on the playground, about to start a fight.
“Well, you’re a journalist so I guess I feel like I can say anything to you,” he said.
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It was as if I had imagined it, like my worst fears had come flying out of his mouth like bullets that pelted me in the chest.
“Whatever,” I said, and walked away, happy to get away from the exchange.
There’s nothing like being in Southern California to remind yourself how screwed you really are being female, especially if your definition of female involves having a brain that’s bigger than your cup size.
I’m with my friend Shanti in the San Diego Convention Center, standing between the Nixon watches booth and the Nike booth where we’d just designed our own custom sneakers. The place is packed to the brim with what’s cool, with girls dressed in bikinis and platform boots wandering around handing out stickers, DJ booths with oversized speakers vibrating with heavy base, buckets of beers on ice and even Jell-O shots. Our bags are already stuffed with enough free shwag to rival Santa’s pouch, including a cherry pair of ultra-glam oversized Von Zipper sunglasses and a new wallet from Da Kine. This is one thing about the action sports industry that I actually miss.
I’ve known Shanti since ’95, when we were both hired at Transworld Snowboarding magazine. They’d thrown us together like freshman college roommates because we were both new hires, the first women they’d ever had on staff. Shanti had jumped in my lap from go, wanting to be roommates and calling me her best friend in front of people who didn’t know we’d only just met. She had the uncontainable energy of a small yippy dog that has no sense of its size.
Not much has changed in that regard. While I attempted to venture off into writing about subjects beyond those sports that require standing sideways on a board, Shanti has capitalized on it, wheeling and dealing and circling dogs more than twice her size, acquiring a laundry list of clients that could outfit you from head to toe from the mountains to the beach.
So I’ve sort of been out of the loop for at least 10 years, moving to Aspen and only coming out to play during the X Games. I can count the number of people I’ve kept in touch with from those days on one hand, mostly because the truth is no one liked me that much. They didn’t like Shanti either, and sometimes it seemed they couldn’t tell us apart. All they knew is we talked too much and did too little to enhance their frail, undereducated egos. They preferred their women where they belonged, on the beach in their barely-there bikinis, god forbid they do any activity that might increase their appetite enough to actually eat.
“I should have told Todd we froze our eggs and were just trying to decide which one of us would be inseminated first,” I told Shanti after we did a Jell-O shot.
I was still bitter from the night before. We’d met with a client in Venice, and spent a few days there doing the L.A. thing, hanging out with men who have gray hair and are practicing how to date because it only just occurred to them like last week that they might actually want to be in a committed relationship.
“The problem is I prefer women in their 20s, but they just don’t have the life experience,” one 40-something screenwriter lamented over beers at the Other Room, a popular bar on Abbott Kinney. “And girls your age ” forget it ” you’re in too big of a hurry to have kids and get married.”
I thought about telling him I’d rather shag the 21-year-old bus boy at Social than date him, but bit my tongue.
The problem is I don’t know what to tell these people. I don’t know why these milestones have escaped me or why my last boyfriend dumped me without giving it much thought, only to shag someone else two days after we broke up. I don’t know how it’s possible that I could let someone like that take my heart away, let me mourn while he’s off ” well, getting off ” without a care in the world.
What I do know is the only love I have in my life right now is yoga. Some days I feel like all I do is wait for the next yoga class to start. I realize I’m addicted to it but figure there are a lot worse things I could be addicted to (bad men, for starters) so it’s probably OK. I’m in the hot room three hours a day sometimes, and there’s just something about all that sweat. It’s like my whole body is crying. I keep thinking if I go to yoga enough, and I sweat enough, all this bad stuff will be gone and I can start anew again, clean, pure, and yes ” 10 years older.