Alison Berkley: The Princess’s Palate
The last time my column deadline fell on New Years Eve, it got me into all kinds of trouble.As much as I love Ernest Hemingway since he is so totally my type of guy (drunk/womanizer/manic), I dont typically drink and write. I know a lot of writers do, like Stephen King, who doesnt even remember writing Cujo. But I dont. At least I dont do it often.But in 2003, I had a few beers. So sue me. That was back in the day when my beloved Mike Hagan was still at the helm, and my old boyfriend was the sports editor and all the boys (including Scoop the cat) would hang out late night and The Aspen Times was still a cool place to be.Ill never forget the first time I walked into those offices and saw the clutter, and the low ceilings that look like theyre about to cave in and the uneven floors and the various pets that wander around like they own the place. It felt like home, reminded me of my boarding school dormitory crossed with a frat house, or maybe an East Coast style pizza place, with memorabilia all over the walls and a distinct smell that isnt good or bad but always there. I used to hang out there a lot, with Chad and Stewie and the boys downstairs, Paul Conrad and Mark Voon-da-bah and Kernos and Jen Houston, before she became a Benvenuto. I can see her sitting there with her little velvet headband and her Juicy sweat suit and her yellow lab before I found out shed be quite possibly one of the coolest chicks I have ever met.It was an eccentric, eclectic bunch housed in a funky old building that, at least to me, captures the essence of Aspens liberal past. I swear I will never get over the fact that they dumped the old masthead, that bubbly, western-style font represented that vibe exactly. And now its gone and so are the good old days. But I digress.So back on Dec. 31, 2003, I have to write my column before I go out for the nights festivities when Aspen was still new to me and I was still excited about that kind of thing.That was back when the boys gave me a lot of leniency when it came to my deadline, so I used to file as late as 6 or 7 in the evening. I figured, what the hell, I might as well have a beer, what, with it being New Years Eve and all.The first beer goes down easy and Im off to a great start. I decide to write about bunny hill fodder. I was working as a snowboarding instructor at Snowmass and saw so much hilarious stuff go down on a daily basis that it was easy to come up with good material. I was a second-year instructor, still low on the totem pole, which meant I spent a lot of days with beginner kids on Assay Hill. Come on, even the name lends itself to jokes.It just occurred to me that I am a snowboard whore, I wrote.Its not very often that I laugh at my own writing, but this was an exception. Blame it on that perfect two-beer buzz, but I was hysterical, doubled over with tears coming out of my eyes and cramps in my stomach. I thought it was simply the funniest thing I had ever written, the funniest thing I had ever read.I imagined Id go into work the following morning, greeted with high-fives and slaps on the back and laughter and comments like, you totally nailed it!Instead I got fired.You guys all know what happened after that. It was my first and only media maelstrom, my 15 minutes of fame, or better yet, the day I became infamous. To this day, if you Google me, that article, The Comforting Weight of Youth, published on Jan. 1, 2004, comes up at the top of the list.It was a terrifying and exciting time as letters about me were published in both papers. The Aspen Daily News did me the favor of running a front-page article with the headline, Ski company bids good riddance to Princess in big, bold font across the top with a photo of me they found god-knows-where. That article was picked up by the Associated Press and ran in newspapers nationwide and was eventually posted on the front page of the Drudge Report with a link to the column that was disseminated all over the world.I am here to tell you the old saying, Theres no such thing as bad press, is true. I would not be where I am today were it not for that column. It was one of those weird serendipitous things that might illicit a clich like, the universe works in mysterious ways.Whatever.Well, Im not drinking today, here, on my second New Years Eve deadline, an occasion of sorts, I suppose. Ive been at this gig now for about six and a half years, so thats something. And in all that time, Ive only been referred to as a sex columnist once, and that was in the January issue of Travel & Leisure magazine in an article about Aspen that mentioned me and my dog (though not by name), among a selection of many of my favorite people in Aspen.No beers for me today. Just a 9 a.m. Bikram yoga class, a little skiing on Ajax (after losing my snowboarding partner, I have switched teams), and more likely than not, a few Xanax to help me fall asleep early so I can put this year behind me.Drama or no drama, at least I know Ill always be happy as long as there is something to write about.
The Princess wants to wish everyone a very happy new year. Send your love to Alison@berkleymedia.com.
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