Alison Berkley Margo: The Princess’s Palate

Alison Berkley Margo
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado

We all know I’m no saint.

We know about my speeding tickets and my little drug phase and my sexual escapades. We know I’ve been fired a few times and been in trouble with the IRS and gotten like 1,001 parking tickets and spent more than I should on facials and shoes.

That said, it’s pretty scary that all of a sudden, I am starting to develop these little pet peeves about the way people behave: The lack of social grace! The lack of manners! Am I getting old? Is it because I got married? I know I’m probably not one to talk, but here it goes: A little Princessetiquette.

The day before a big party I was hosting, I get a call from my friend Betsy who called to tell me she couldn’t make it. “I was rear-ended in my car a month ago and the doctor said I might be suffering from whiplash and probably shouldn’t drink because of the medication I’ve been taking for pulmonary edema,” she said. “So I’m just going to stay home and ice my ankle.”

While she’s explaining all this I’m sitting there in my head going, “Where the hell did you get rear-ended, on Mount Everest?” But all I say is, “Why didn’t you tell me you got into a car accident?”

Honestly, if she would have called and said, “I’m not coming to your party tomorrow night because I just don’t feel like it,” I would have been much happier.

The problem with party invitations is twofold: People are so afraid to make a commitment they don’t want to respond, just in case something better comes along and they want to change their minds at the last minute.

Princessetiquette: Respond to the damn RSVP, even if you plan to decline, and do it sooner than later. If the host knows not to expect you in advance, chances are they won’t care as much as you think they do (Do you really think you’re that special?). Most people just want a head-count so they know how much booze to buy, and I got news for you – less is more. But if you say you’re going to come or don’t say anything at all, they’re going to be more annoyed in the end. If you don’t want to go, just say “No!” That brings me to …

I have this one friend who is the Queen of all Excuse Makers. It’s gotten to the point where I expect her to cancel whenever we make plans, and am pleasantly surprised when she doesn’t. I know EM has the best intentions. I know she wants to hang out with me, which is why she always says she will. But between her four jobs, seven cats and the dog next door she has to watch during the day, I know she’s not going to be able to swing it. But I play along, pretending that this plan we’ve made to hike/get coffee/do yoga/go see a move/shop/have drinks is actually going to happen.

So, rather than Just Say No, EM launches into these elaborate excuses. “You wouldn’t believe what happened last night. The next-door neighbor forgot to replace the batteries in their smoke detectors and the things were beeping all night, so my husband got up to go over there and see if they would shut it off, and they thought it was an intruder and they called the police and the police came and arrested him and I had to go down to the station and bail him out of jail and it was just a total nightmare, so I’m totally exhausted and won’t be able to make it.”

I’m sitting there on the other end of the line rolling my eyes so far back into my head that I’m dizzy, but I just respond to her text with two words – “No worries” – and go on with my day.

Princessetiquette: Don’t waste your breath and my time with your lame excuses. Try these two little letters. It’s a lot less offensive to Just Say No than leave me hanging, yo!

I have this friend Blu who loves to send me these texts that go on and on and on. I have explained to him numerous times that I hate thumb typing and prefer to have a real, two-way conversation, like, live. And still he insists on sending me these texts like, “What happens when you die?” or “Do you believe in God?” He just doesn’t get it. Then he’ll text me while I’m driving and instead of trying to negotiate the roundabout and hit the right button on my iPhone, I call him back instead. Of course he won’t answer even though he just texted me four seconds ago.

The worst are people who text other people while they’re supposed to be spending time with you. It’s one thing if they’re the CEO of a large company/a supermodel/an ER doctor who is on call and need to be available. But there’s nothing worse than trying to fit a conversation in between the “ding-ding!” chime that’s set to alert your date to a new text message response. I really miss the days before cell phones when you had to show up on time and spend time with the person you’re actually with. Can’t you put the phone away and just check it later? Or should I excuse myself to the bathroom, rip it out of your bare hands and throw it into the toilet before you can stop me?

Princessetiquette: Don’t text me just because you don’t actually want to talk to me. And for god’s sake, love the one you’re with.

Last but not least, use condoms, share your drugs, and don’t forget to put the seat down.