Alison Berkley Margo: The Princess’s Palate
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO Colorado
We’re at the Eagles Club the other night when some guy gets on the drum set and starts pounding on them like a toddler who has gotten into the pots and pans.
“I guess this is our cue to leave,” I say to my friend Holly. “Who is that? Jesus Christ – he is terrible.”
We all know my vision isn’t the greatest, but after squinting and trying to focus through the haze that settles into most everything I see, I realize the man behind the drums is none other than my husband.
Before I have the chance to tell him percussion might not be his calling, his buddy Peter, who is visiting from out of town, starts pounding on the bongos. Then Peter’s brother Luke joins in on another set of bongos, and soon Brian has plugged in the amp and started playing guitar. Now Ryan is actually singing into the mic, and with the other noise that’s being made, he actually sounds pretty good.
He’s making up his own lyrics, his voice deep and raspy like Jim Morrison’s. I find myself wondering again why Ryan wasn’t discovered by a Hollywood talent scout 30 years ago.
I decide to leave anyway – not because they sound bad but because I want him to have time alone with his friends. These are the guys he grew up with in the suburbs of St. Paul, Minn. From what I can tell, not much has changed, even though weddings have occurred and babies have been born and smile lines around the eyes have formed deeper creases that could almost be qualified as wrinkles.
I can totally picture them doing the same thing when they were in junior high school, when a garage band was just a garage band and not some software that came installed on your Mac.
These guys have known on another since third grade, and it’s my belief that friendships remain frozen in time, backdated to the time they began, so the tendency is to regress to that maturity level in terms of behavior.
Watching a video of their little jam session the following day on Peter’s iPhone in the Ajax gondola, I know that to be true. I am told Ryan composed songs by the name of “Labia” and “Backdoor Bitch” and “Aspen Junkie.” Then I am handed another phone with video of the dance-off that took place at the Regal. I know I did the right thing by going home early not only because I needed the sleep but because they needed to take advantage of what little time they had together to not sleep without me pouting on the sidelines, begging them it’s time to leave.
Still, the late night out did not stop the boys from rallying on Sunday for the first official powder day of the season, which was all the more sweet from the snow deprivation we’ve all been suffering from that has ravaged our little town like some kind of horrible disease.
As we piled into the car at 8:30 a.m. and headed into town, whatever doubts I had about battling the crowds or thinking the conditions might be overrated were squelched by the snow-covered scene, sparkling like a million diamonds under the morning sun. Everything looked sugarcoated and pristine as if all the dirt and grime had been washed away overnight and we were all entitled to a fresh start. Aspen was once again an idyllic winter wonderland, a paradise for people who love to ski and are willing to sacrifice the normalcy of a steady income and a decent-size home for the privilege.
My joy for snowboarding was temporarily put on hold last season after a run-in with a tree on Jackpot on a board that was too long for me, as Travis warned me it would be. But this year, I’d listened and purchased a 144 – 10 centimeters shorter than my last board but with the new reverse camber technology that everyone insisted meant you could go down in size.
They were so right.
This little board seems to levitate, hovering above the snow in such a way that losing my balance or checking my speed never seems to be an issue. And because it’s so small, turning with the slightest warning is easy. I’m able to keep up with Ryan’s posse of skiers on a skier’s mountain, and I’m pretty happy about it. I’m also happy that there is snow under my feet, like water that is glassy and still after a violent storm.
Like the message board at Chair 3 put it, “All is right with the world again.”
I’m also happy with this crew of big brothers I’ve inherited through my marriage, all strong, good-looking men with huge hearts and a passion for life they share in their bonds with Ryan. These are men who are not afraid to say, “Love you, bro,” or to hug or share their feelings. They’ve had a lifetime of fun, of memories and shared experiences, of ups and downs.
At first they all regarded me with a careful, cautious eye, protective of their friend, who tends to dive headfirst into life before checking to see if there’s water in the pool. For a while, I had to live in the shadow of his mistakes and the fact that I looked a lot like his ex-wife (but hey, we all have a type).
But that’s all over now. Like the pure, white snow that covers the dirt beneath it, whatever doubts they had have been forgotten, buried in the sparkling optimism of a blanket of diamonds.
I love men for that quality – they are such here-and-now beings. Rather than hold onto the dirt or the muddiness of the past, they seize the day – especially if it happens to be a powder one.
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