Alison Berkley Margo: The Princess’s Palate
November 23, 2011
When my younger brother used to yell at me about how responsible I am, my argument always was: “Look. I’ve never been arrested, gotten pregnant, or had to ask you for money. So what the hell is it you’re so worried about?”
I am seven years older than he is, so I literally watched him grow up. It was like he was my baby too and the last thing I need is to hear these patronizing lectures from him because I saw him make plenty of mistakes. He knows the Top Ten “big mistake” stories we love to tell about his childhood, like the time he pooped in the basement and drove his Tonka trucks through it, or the time he threw an enormous rock at my dad and hit him in the shin.
We all make mistakes. I’m just thankful none of mine had any long-term consequences. The problem with that is I’m not sure I ever really learned anything. I was just damned lucky.
I realize Thanksgiving has its roots in some rewritten version of American history so I’d prefer to come up with my own interpretation. Obviously there is more to it than gorging ourselves (seeing as we are in a horrible recession, after all, and 99 percent of us are very upset about that). It’s about family of course, but also about giving thanks.
So let’s start with those basics.
I’m thankful I never got knocked up.
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My friend Sarah told The New York Times that I’d dated “the biggest scoundrels on the planet” before I met Ryan. We laughed about that when we saw it in print.
“Who even says ‘scoundrels’ anymore?” Sarah said. “It sounds so old-fashioned.”
The point is, we both know The New York Times (or this newspaper for that matter) would not be allowed to print the expletives that would best describe these men. Let’s just say they weren’t good choices. God forbid I would have been knocked up by one of them; my whole life would have been different.
In each of these disastrous relationships, I was totally and utterly convinced that there was something worthwhile there. I saw rose bushes where there where hornet’s nests. My creative mind would go into overdrive and project whatever pretty little picture I felt like looking at. I am thankful reality never set in. The irony, of course, is that now that I want to get pregnant, I can’t. Just because Eve took a bite of the apple, we all have to suffer through worry that we are pregnant when we don’t want to be, and thinking that we are when we’re not? What’s up with that? Life can be so cruel.
I’m thankful I’ve never been arrested.
God knows I’ve come close. Like that time I blew off my traffic court date in Denver and when I finally showed up six months later, the judge totally freaked out and threatened to throw me in jail.
“What, you think you can just walk into my courtroom whenever you feel like it? Is that what you think?” he bellowed.
And I go, “Well, I live in Aspen, so, it was really hard for me to get a ride all the way down here.”
That sent him off the deep end. His eyeballs popped out of his head and steam came out of his hears and his head started spinning on his shoulders really, really fast. Lesson: Don’t ever start an excuse with the words, “I live in Aspen …”
All I could imagine was my mom, sitting in her Lexus SUV outside in the parking lot waiting for me with those lattes from Starbucks as I was being carted away in one of those jail transport vans, banging on the back windows and screaming, but not being heard.
“Oh forget it. My bailiff is way too busy to be dealing with the likes of you today. I’ll give you a continuance, but you better show up. This is your last chance.”
I did, and not only was I never summoned to see the judge, they reduced the points on my ticket and lowered the fine, so I only had to pay 45 dollars in the end. I’m not sure what the lesson is there, either.
I’m thankful the IRS isn’t mad at me anymore.
Whoever said the only things you can’t avoid are death and taxes never met my family. It turns out I come from a lineage of tax-evaders. When my Grandmother died, we found out she hadn’t paid her taxes in over ten years. “It’s a good thing she’s dead,” the lawyer handling her estate said. “Because if she wasn’t, it would only have been a matter of time before she ended up in jail.”
I seemed to have inherited Grandma B’s anti-establishment perspective on things, but for me it was also a simple matter of not being so organized when it came to withholding my own taxes, seeing as I can’t work for anyone else without getting fired. I just kind of got behind, you know? And then one year turned into six, and if it weren’t for my accountant, Super Steve, I probably would have ended up in jail (or dead) too. I’m thankful to you, Super Steve, and to Virginia, too.
I’m thankful I’m married.
Go ahead and say it: Thank god! Even though I know my columns aren’t as juicy as they used to be, aren’t you glad you don’t have to hear my sob stories anymore? And if you want to know how married life is, it’s flipping great. I love my husband more than ever and I love saying the word “husband” and I love my new name and our rings and the little stamp I had made with our name and address on it.
This Thanksgiving, remember: “A happy wife is a happy life.” Amen.