Alison Berkley Margo: The Princess’s Palate |

Alison Berkley Margo: The Princess’s Palate

Alison Berkley Margo
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado

So I’m in our booth at the Jazz Aspen Snowmass Labor Day Festival when this woman walks up and says, “Oh! You have a baby on board?”

I have a pooch belly, so people think I am pregnant a lot, and some of them are idiotic enough to say something about it. You would think that by now I would have come up with a good comeback.

“No,” I said, sounding more defeated than I’d hoped. “I guess I’m just wearing an unflattering outfit.”

It’s true I was wearing an empire-waist dress. I thought it was such a score when I found it at Susie’s, a cute little Nanette Lapore number that had never been worn and still had the original $375 price tag. Apparently it looked better on the hanger.

“Oh, my God!” the woman said, clasping her hands over her mouth so her heavy gold bracelets clanked together. “You must want to punch me in the face right now.”

“It’s OK,” I said, smiling feebly as images of my dress being shoved into the garbage played in my head.

“You are beautiful. I’m so sorry. You look great, really,” she babbled on, still alive even though I tried to light her on fire with my eyes. “I don’t know what I was thinking. Oh, my God.”

“She’s just bummed because she wants to be pregnant,” my friend Lisa said, putting her arm around me in what she thought was a supportive gesture.

Since I moved downvalley, it appears that two things have grown: my waistline and my bank account.

A few weeks ago, my friend Beth came to town with her 5-week-old daughter. I looked at her, dressed in short denim cut-offs and fitted T-shirt, and realized she’d already lost her baby weight, and somehow I’d gained baby weight without even being pregnant. I knew I had to do something.

So I emailed my friend Jill to get the lowdown on the best workout in the midvalley. She suggested I hike Arbaney-Kittle and try Roaring Fork CrossFit. Apparently my regimen of doing some kind of cardio and my beloved Bikram yoga five days a week wasn’t enough. Now I need boot camp.

She wrote, “I’m so tired of having to be in shape all the time. I’d like to move to Summit County and wear Birkenstocks and throw in the towel, feeling too much pressure here to be in shape these days.”

I had to laugh, considering Jill is tall and thin as a rail with long legs and narrow hips, an enviable figure, to be sure. If she feels the pressure, where does that leave me?

It’s true that all you see in Aspen are these ageless-looking, fit, thin women in their little Lululemon skorts and brand-new pink Nikes with super-cute athletic tops that show off their fake boobs. They all have sculpted calves and flat bellies and tan shoulders, long blond ponytails swinging to and fro perched above their visor straps. They’re probably going straight from hiking up Smuggler or the Ute Trail to a fitness or yoga class, with no time to eat or change in between, as looking good has become a full-time job.

When did fitness become so serious for people other than professional athletes? And why do we do it? Has how we look become so important that we’re willing to devote our entire lives to it? Has everyone gotten so thin and ripped that you put on 5 pounds and suddenly everyone assumes you’re carrying twins?

So I started CrossFit and doing stuff like chin-ups and swinging sledgehammers at tractor tires and box jumping and running backward and doing handstand pushups and sit-ups and feeling sore all the time and thinking about Demi Moore in “G.I. Jane” and wondering if my biceps might get too big.

The woman who thought I was pregnant returned 10 minutes later with a couple of drinks.

“Here,” she said, handing us the two vodka-cranberries she’d fetched from the open bar in the VIP tent. “Just so you know, I’m not a bad person.”

I looked at her, dressed in revealing white skinny jeans and matching white camisole top, her forced smile clownish on her Botox-frozen face. I noticed the guy she was with was much older, bald with no chin and thin lips. He bought her whatever she wanted, though something tells me there was a price to pay.

Needless to say the only kid in my life last weekend was Kid Rock, whom I so totally loved. I loved that he was in your face with the swearing and the drinking and the low-slung jeans and the long hair and cowboy hat and shades. I loved that he was on the edge of what Aspen can handle. I watched as half the women in the place scrambled to cover their children’s ears (a shock that few were prepared for after the nauseatingly feel-good wholesome family fun of Spearhead). And the other half were grinding against anything they could find, biting their lips and shaking their fists and thinking maybe tonight they’d actually be in the mood to have sex with their husbands or, quite possibly, someone else’s.

I watched as one woman bounced an infant up and down on her knee, the baby’s ears covered with duct tape, trying not to look alarmed as Kid Rock belted out tunes about screwing strippers in Detroit. I was more alarmed by the duct tape, thinking it’s more damaging to the kid’s ears than the actual music is.

I stood between my gorgeous husband and my adorable brother-in-law, laughing and dancing and throwing back another drink, feeling pretty damned happy that the only thing my belly had in it was one too many beers.

My stomach might be a little too big, but my heart is full, and my marriage is strong. There’s no workout for that.

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