Alison Berkley Margo: The Princess’s Palate
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado
So I went to Glenwood yesterday to get my new driver’s license with my married name on it.
It was practically a pilgrimage.
I got ready as if it were a special occasion. I blow-dried and flat-ironed my hair, put on mascara and more jewelry, just in case they would want to take another photo (they did). I brought my computer and snacks and magazines just in case there was a long wait (there was).
I pulled into the parking lot at “Mall from the Crypt” at around 1 p.m., hoping to miss the lunch crowd. The lady at the Pitkin County Clerk and Recorder’s Office gave me a printout with instructions for how to change my name, and it specifically said you should go to Leadville. Glenwood is that busy that it takes less time to drive two hours each way, they say.
But I never listen, so why start now? I figured everyone probably goes at the crack-o to try to beat the crowds, only to discover they weren’t the only ones with that bright idea. I don’t moo. I don’t follow the herd. I do things my own way. After lunch – that’s the ticket.
I park front-row at JCPenney, which I take as a good sign. I walk through the store, having mixed feelings about the wrinkled clothes on the rack. The snob in me reacts one way, the consumer another.
“That plaid shirt with the ruffles is pretty cute,” Shopper says. “And so cheap!”
“You get what you pay for,” Snob says. “It’s practically disposable. You’ll use it a few times and then you’ll have to throw it out. Go spend the same amount of money at Starbucks.”
I walk into the DMV office, which has that crazy sign above the door that says “DRIVERS LISENCE” on it with a Colorado flag, and take a number from the exact same kind of number dispenser they have at the deli. I pull No. 79 and see that the number on the digital display says 13.
I figure I have time to walk the mall so the Shopper and the Snob can continue their argument. I start at Famous Footwear and go to the size-6 aisle.
“Oh, these plaid Airwalk sneakers are cute,” Shopper says.
“Garbage,” Snob says. “Good thing I don’t have a sensitive gag reflex.”
“I can’t wear them anyway because they’re flats, so it’s not even worth discussing,” Shopper says.
I walk out of there and pass Zumiez and the weird gumball and candy dispenser island and that Thai store, which is too bizarre for words. I give up on shopping and decide to get more snacks and magazines instead. Obviously this is going to take a while. I feel like I’m at an airport and my flight just got delayed another two hours, only this isn’t DIA. If it were DIA, I could go get a massage and have a nice meal at Pour la France or the Denver ChopHouse. Here, my only option is Kmart, where I buy the latest issue of People, a Diet Coke and a bag of pumpkin seeds.
“That stuff will corrode your insides,” Snob says. “Why don’t you just buy some lighter fluid and drink that instead?”
“Zero calories trumps chemical intake,” Shopper replies. “Plus, I happen to enjoy it.”
I go back to the DMV, and in the 20 minutes I’ve been gone, the number on the digital display is 14.
“Screw this, we’re going to Target,” Shopper says.
“Oh, for God’s sake. I’d rather stick needles in my eyes,” Snob says.
“Oh, come on. They actually have decent stuff now.” Shopper says.
“I’d rather eat lint.”
At Target, I stay focused. I have a list, and I stick to it. I do buy two athletic tops for yoga because they’re loose around the bodice and that seems like a good idea – until I actually wear one of them to yoga, and it looks like a tent, or like I am pregnant, or both. I buy new dishrags (“I’ll admit those are halfway decent,” Snob says), a wastepaper basket and toilet brush for the bathroom and some storage bins that are on sale.
I go to Vitamin Cottage and am super excited because they have the brand of spelt pretzels I like that are no longer available at Clark’s. (“Spelt-smelt. It’s still empty calories,” Shopper snaps at Snob. “You might as well buy Rold Gold and call it a day. Both will make you equally as fat.”)
When I finally make it back to the DMV they’re on number 31, so I settle in at the nail salon across the street for a manicure. When that’s over, I agree to a five-minute massage and am glad I didn’t let her talk me into 15 minutes, because she’s not that great at it.
“Fifty-seven. Fifty-eight. Fifty-nine. Sixty. Sixty-one,” I hear the DMV lady say. Obviously everyone got fed up and left. As soon as I realize what a great time I’m having, it’s my turn.
The DMV lady who waits on me is super nice. She congratulates me and makes me feel like it’s as big of a deal to change my name as I think it is. While I’m waiting for my photo to be taken I chat it up with a kid who looks way too young to drive. He’s so dang cute it makes me miss my writing camp and think about teaching skiing again. He has a mouth full of braces and will probably be twice as tall and weigh twice as much by the time he gets his license. He’s just here for his learner’s permit.
“Put on lip gloss, honey. You’re Mrs. Margo now,” Snob says.
“Good idea. You’re going to have to live with this photo for the next 10 years,” Shopper says.
Just when I thought they could finally agree, she goes, “But you’re Mrs. Margo forever.”
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COVID-19, along with other stressors, has led to an increase in domestic violence, and area nonprofits want anyone who needs help to know they are available.