Alison Berkley Margo: The Princess’s Palate
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado
Guess what! I’m leaving tomorrow for Cabo. We’re going on vacation with Ryan’s parents.
When it comes to in-laws, to say I’ve got it good is an understatement. For starters, my mother-in-law, aka “Mimi,” and I have the same-size foot. Already I have collected a few pairs of shoes, including platform plaid sneakers that I so totally love and some chunky leather-and-suede Michael Kors platform sandals that will probably be seeing a lot of cobblestone in Aspen this summer.
Mimi and I are also both very short. We are similar in stature, we seem to have the same taste in clothes, and we both love to shop. “Love” might not be the right word. When we are set loose in a store, it’s like our heads get chopped right off our bodies, and we start flapping around sort of hysterically, pecking at whatever is there for the taking.
“Do they have that in my size?” she’ll often say when I pull something off the rack. “If it doesn’t fit you, let me try it on.”
I still think about this one Free People multicolored cardigan she found first at Nordstrom during one of our first outings at the Mall of America. She snagged it before I had the chance to sink my claws into it and dragged it into the dressing room with her like a coyote with its prey. She wore it that very day right out of the store. She found it first, fair and square, but I wish it had been me.
The whole reason we went to the Mall of America that day was because she accidentally walked out of the house with two different shoes on. To be fair, they were both Fit Flops, but one was black and the other gold. She was so embarrassed, she walked straight into Macy’s and found an adorable pair of flip-flops with leather bows on them so she could walk around in public without feeling like a crazy person.
I told her, “Mimi, you’re not crazy. I mean, there’s no law that says you have to wear matching shoes or even matching socks, for that matter. I wear mismatched socks all the time.”
But I think she just wanted a new pair of shoes. The point is that we are very similar in many ways, and not paying attention to the little details in life – like what’s on our feet when we walk out of the house – is one of them.
This one time we took Ryan’s niece to buy her a flower-girl dress for our wedding. I was so looking forward to this, to bonding with her and making her feel like a princess and finding a beautiful dress that she would cherish.
The way Ryan tells the story, Mimi and I went blasting into Saks like our clothes were on fire and started foraging through all the racks on the sale floor. I remember because I have not-buyer’s remorse for not buying this adorable little short-sleeve fuchsia velour hoodie by Juicy Couture that was, like, 70 percent off. Stupid! I would have worn it all the time – hello.
Anyway, our niece told us she was hungry, and apparently we totally ignored her and continued shopping – for ourselves. Ryan took her to Caribou Coffee and got her a smoothie, but apparently when you are a skinny little 7-year-old, that’s not gonna cut it.
Two hours later when we finally got around to making it up to the kid’s special occasion floor, she was over it.
“I hate this dress – I hate it!” she screamed, and locked herself into the dressing room.
“Oh, no, this is not acceptable,” Mimi said. “With my boys, my word was law.”
I was definitely taking it personally, too, even though I knew better.
While Mimi and I paced outside the women’s dressing room, Ryan sat quietly reading a newspaper.
“She’s hungry,” he said without looking up. “She needs to eat.”
Sure enough, as soon as she sank her teeth into that McDonald’s hamburger, it was like the sun came out from behind the clouds and she became her sweet, adorable little self once again.
Ryan’s dad is also the coolest. He drives a Harley and wears a leather jacket when he does, his baseball cap flipped around backward. He calls Ryan “dude” or “bro” and still has a full head of hair. He loves to cook and makes a mean martini, which he likes to call a “martoon,” or a “‘toonie” for short.
They’ve lived in the same house for, like, 40 years. They’re still friends with all their neighbors who still live there, too, and who come by for one of Ron’s ‘toonies when their kids and grandkids are in town to catch up. Everyone hangs out in the garage and smokes cigs and gossips, often telling stories about Ryan’s adolescence I don’t really need to hear, but I get it. It’s kind of funny they caught Ryan having sex with some girl in the laundry closet that one time when he was, like, 15. Hilarious.
Obviously Ryan’s parents are still married, and mine are, too. We consider ourselves lucky to have close families that are still together and still love one another, even if there is a lot of eyeball-rolling that goes on.
It might seem strange to some people that I’m going on vacation with my in-laws, just the four of us. They are taking us to their time share in Cabo as a belated wedding gift, which makes it extra sweet, being able to continue to celebrate our recent marriage and the joining of our two amazing (albeit talkative) families.
(For those of you who didn’t get us a gift yet, you still have until September.)
I really am a very lucky girl. I had no idea when I married Ryan, my beloved maintenance man, how rich I’d become.
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The high cost of living in the Roaring Fork Valley is one of the factors that makes our population perpetually restless and transient.