Alison Berkley Margo: The Princess’s Palate

Alison Berkley MargoThe Aspen TimesAspen, CO, Colorado

“Where should I put this leftover chili?” Ryan asked last night.”I don’t know. Put it in one of those glass Tupperware thingies,” I said, only half-listening as I lay on the couch.So this morning I go to grab milk for my coffee, and I see he has put the entire pot into the refrigerator. At that I have to laugh. “Nice storage container, Ryan,” I say out loud, even though there is no one to listen but George, our 105-pound German shepherd. Living with Ryan isn’t any less interesting now that we’re married. This is a man who is not boring. His wattage is so high he’s like, radioactive. Like, last night he comes home from work and presents me with a giant red box that says Stetson on the side.”What is that? Is that a present?” I ask. It’s true that the wedding gift parade has slowed to a screeching halt, but I’m still hanging on to the whole “you have a year” thing.He opens the box and presents a straw cowboy hat. “It’s a Stetson! I found it in the Dumpster.”After almost three years together, the Dumpster thing doesn’t faze me like it used to. I sort of snicker to myself and hope for the best.”Who would throw a perfectly good Stetson hat away?” I ask, imagining there’s probably some new reality TV show with hidden cameras called “Dumpster Divers” or something like that. I begin to prepare mentally for the potential humiliation it might bring on our family.Ryan puts the hat on. “Does it look good on me?” he asks. This is not a guy who has issues with self-esteem. Whenever I give him a compliment like, “You’re so cute,” or “I can’t believe I married someone so handsome,” he’ll just say, “I know.”He’s checking himself out in the full-length mirror in the front hallway closet, dancing and making faces, another one of his favorite pastimes. He can entertain himself for hours this way. “Do you think it fits?” he asks, taking it off to look for a size. “Oh, shoot. It’s not a Stetson. It says Sheplers inside.”I glance up for the first time in a few minutes to see he has removed all his clothes and is buck-naked with nothing but his new Sheplers straw cowboy hat. Ryan loves being naked. He has no inhibitions whatsoever and is quite proud of himself. I’m the exact opposite. I won’t even change my clothes in front of other girls or take a shower in a locker room if there aren’t curtains. Even my own mother has never seen me naked.”Oh, for god’s sake, I gave birth to you,” she said the last time I asked her to please leave the dressing room at Neiman Marcus. When he goes into the kitchen to begin making his world famous elk chili, I realize he’s not doing it to be funny. He is actually going to cook our dinner in the buff. I watch him chop vegetables and open cans of beans with his big, old tattoos, broad chest and relatively hairless body, and can’t help but think he’d be awfully popular at a gay bar.It’s true he’s been going to Jean Robert’s Gym every night after work and plans to get buff for ski season. The really annoying part is while I have been sweating it out at yoga every day for the past seven years, he has been to the gym three times and it’s true, I do see more muscle tone already. I don’t know how that’s possible, when, after dinner he finds every snack that’s not nailed down (three-week-old nut mix in the crystal bowl we got for a wedding gift; raw pecans I bought for a recipe; Ryvita crackers with almond butter) and disposes of it with the speed and ease of a vacuum cleaner.”What are you eating now?” I’ll ask.This is a guy who will polish off a pint of Ben & Jerry’s without even thinking about it twice, or bothering to read the nutrition information on the back, or doing the math (87 grams of fat! 2,873 calories! 453 grams of sugar!). Then he does a few bicep curls and – just like that – he’s back in shape.Meanwhile, I’m eating grapes for dessert (yes, I know they have a high sugar content, but I gotta do something, here) and pouring my marinara sauce over raw spinach so I can minimize the amount of pasta I eat (even though it is brown rice pasta and it is organic), and I’m still gaining weight (must be the grapes).Bedtime at our house is also never dull. Rather than relax and slowly drift off to sleep, Ryan has one last burst of hyperactivity that usually involves biting my head or cheek or shoulder and growling like a demented black bear or lying on top of me and letting all the air out of his lungs so I suffocate, which he thinks is so funny. He also thinks this is the ideal time to tickle me or grab various body parts that aren’t the likely ones, but areas that make me jump and claw the ceiling (hip flexor/just above the knee/under the arm pit).”Ryan! Stop it! Dooooon’t!” I yell, in not an entirely different tone than one might scold their dog.Before I am through explaining to him that this is my Quiet Time and I don’t fall asleep as easily as he does and need to decompress first, he is snoring away loudly and peacefully, having dreams or nightmares he won’t remember the next day because apparently, his conscience is that clear.After catching some grief for some recent columns I wrote, I was feeling discouraged until Ryan said, “Babe, you got a lifetime of material sitting right here. Me.”

The Princess is enjoying being Mrs. Margo. Email your love to


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