Alison Berkley: Decadent life comes at a price
August 13, 2002
When it comes right down to it, we’re all just a bunch of whores.
What do you mean, what do I mean? Think about it for a second. Indulgences beckon from every oversized storefront window, perfectly landscaped courtyard and scenic terrace, taunting you to buy, eat, drink and definitely don’t think. Temptation lingers in the thin Aspen air like the sinful aroma that drifts from Paradise Bakery, titillating the nostrils of every girl who’s on a protein diet. You can smoke it or swallow it in a little pill or dip it in chocolate. It struts down the street in provocative clothing and lures you into the bar to get you drunk and seduce you.
Let’s face it: There’s just too much sweet, sugary cake in this town to resist wanting to get a piece, even if it means compromising your values just a little. If you want to live in paradise, you have to pay the price. Of course you can’t afford it, silly! You’re just going to have to sell your soul, so let us count the ways.
#1) Accept an outrageous tip: From ski instructors to bartenders, anyone in uniform is a suspect recipient for the high-dollar handout, but don’t think for one second you’re not getting bought. If you don’t mind doing a few back flips for cash, it’s really no big deal. But there are those times when one might stop to question what exactly it is these people expect from you in return. One man suggested that my friend Jim, a snowboarding instructor, take his Range Rover – and his daughter – out for the evening. Another friend was working in the bar at Campo the other night when one of her patrons offered to fly her to Santa Barbara on his G4 in lieu of a tip. She declined, but confessed to me later, “I probably should have gotten his card.”
#2) Shop in a high-end boutique: You can’t throw a rock in Aspen without hitting one these obscenely overpriced label whorehouses. Don’t even try to resist because sooner or later you’re going to end up opening that gilded door even though you know you absolutely can’t afford to. I promised myself I would not set foot into one of those places until I found a real job and lost 10 pounds. Four hundred dollars and two gym sessions later (don’t even ask about the job), I walked out of Christian Dior with a pair of trendy sunglasses that look ridiculous on me and do absolutely nothing to shade my eyes from the sun. Oh yeah, and a tank top. Yes, that’s right. I bought a tank top for $190 even though I never wear it because it has plastic stripes and I’m too lazy to have it dry cleaned. I don’t know what it is about these places that make you completely lose your mind. Maybe it has something to do with those sales girls/alien femme-bots in black suits with slick hair and thick lipstick. They’ll go on and on about what a “timeless classic piece” that is and how “it will never go out of style.” (Yeah, and neither will that sales pitch!) They instantly know what you like and pull things off the rack that you didn’t ask for until you’re dizzy and cannot remember why it is you are there in the first place. You typically won’t snap out of this trance until you’re signing the sales slip and it’s too late to realize that you’ve already been sized up.
#3) Eat ridiculously overpriced food: Traumatized about spending money you don’t have, you need a drink and have to go out with your friends if for no other reason than to flaunt your most recent purchase. Your choice is one of the innumerous restaurants in this town that take the appropriate price for a plate of food and double it, or court you with a “fixed fare” so you can go and spend twice that amount on alcohol. I’m sorry, but on my salary I should not be eating salmon ahi tartar or pumpkin ravioli with gorgonzola walnut filling. Ah, what the hell. I’m in Aspen. I might as well eat it up!
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#4) Sleep with a client: I know a personal trainer who basically takes rich people on hikes for a living. Coincidentally, these rich people are rich women who are lonely and desperate, with egos the size of a pea. He works out 24 hours a day, eats six eggs for breakfast every morning, has long dark hair (think: Mountain Fabio) and rarely wears a shirt. Get real, beefcake – do you expect me to believe these women are paying you to teach them how to hike? I mean, how hard is it to put one foot in front of the other? They don’t need help going up. Obviously what they’re interested in is going down. Yeah, I know, the tits – I mean the tips – are great.
#5) Sleep with someone you know you shouldn’t: Ouch, this one hurts, doesn’t it? But like the forbidden fruit, you simply can’t help but take a big, juicy bite even though you know you’re going straight to hell afterwards. All the reasons you shouldn’t sleep with (choose one: your best friend’s ex or ex’s best friend) are the same reason you will end up doing just that. They’re going to be at all the same bars and parties you are, drinking enough to throw better judgment to the wind. Even after you come to your senses (or should I say sober up), you’ll still have to see them constantly in the same situations that got you into trouble in the first place. Of course (choose one: your ex-best friend or your ex) will be there, too. Talk about living with your mistakes!
I’m sure that one of these days I’ll run out of empty desires and start saving to get my soul back. No, wait! Maybe I should think about selling my conscience instead – now there’s something I definitely don’t need.
[If you would like to buy the Princess’s soul back for her, it’s in a little black leather purse she likes at Gucci; ask for Cara. Or you can send her a lousy e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.]
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