Alison Berkley: Parties lead to a change of heart |

Alison Berkley: Parties lead to a change of heart

I have never been the charitable type. Even as a kid, I was always too preoccupied with my own agenda (like chasing cute boys) to participate in local fund-raisers like neighborhood car washes or selling magazine subscriptions door to door or ringing a little bell outside the local grocery store.

It’s not like I don’t care ? I just figured it best to leave volunteer work to the Girl Scouts or church groups or old people who have time to deal with it. I know it sounds insensitive, but I have never been the do-gooder. If anything, I was always preoccupied with quite the opposite.

I’ve had a real change of heart now that I live in Aspen. This town is all about throwing benefit events and parties and donating money and doing the volunteer thing. It’s brought out the best in me to see indulgent people who know how to give.

I’m more than happy to do my part for charity if it means I can get into a fancy party for free. There were two in the past week: one to help cover medical expenses for our beloved snowboarding guru Eric Smith; and the other for the 24 Hours of Aspen, a high-end gala ? literally ? held on top of Aspen Mountain.

I have to admit I was up to my old tricks with the whole Eric Smith gig. I worked for him as a snowboard instructor last year at Snowmass. My locker was right next to his office, which gave me ample time to notice (with all due respect to his new wife) how hot this guy is.

He surfs. He grew up in So Cal. He’s a ripping snowboarder. He’s the boss. He’s a tough coach, and I learned more training with him for 10 days last season than I did in 12 years of snowboarding.

He didn’t flatter me ? he yelled at me (I love tough love). I pushed myself harder for him than I have since soccer camp in eighth grade. That camp was run by the UCONN men’s team, and as I remember it, they were very motivating.

When a good-looking guy in short shorts screams, “Head the ball!” you no longer care about the possibility of getting clocked in the face and breaking your nose again. Your hormones take over and you do exactly what he tells you to do. It was kind of like that with Eric, too.

You would think someone with looks, talent and good fortune (like getting married to Sarah in Maui on June 7) would be immune to cancer, as if something that ugly can’t happen to beautiful people.

It definitely struck a chord with the hundreds of other beautiful people who came out on Eric’s behalf on Dec. 11 and raised thousands of dollars at the benefit party. I wouldn’t call myself a spiritual person, but I do hope that all that collective energy lit a fire under God’s butt and maybe he’ll consider doing something to help our friend. It’s not always about money, right?

I so enjoyed that goose bumps/teary eyes feeling that I didn’t hesitate to volunteer for the 24 Hours of Aspen. My job was to stand at the bottom of the gondola for all of two hours and hold a sign with an arrow on it.

As human billboard, I directed all these affluent party-goers to the proper place to pick up their expensive party tickets. I watched the women with their full-length fur coats, pointy-toed boots and ridiculous hats ascend the gondola steps on the arms of men who toted them around like the ultimate accessory.

Money can’t buy you love, but apparently it can buy a good-looking woman. Hey rich guys: Doesn’t cute or intelligent count for anything?

I can honestly say that in all of my indulgent little life, I have never felt quite so deprived. I’m sure I deserve all those luxuries as much as they do, even if it means having to go to the gym more often. OK, I’ll even try to cut back on the carbs, but I am NOT getting a boob job ? and that’s final!

Like everything in Aspen, the magic of place took over where materialism left off. Our hard work done, we floated up the gondola suspended in the watery darkness, the mountain lit up like a stadium for all those wild skiers to fly through the night like the demented freaks of nature they really are.

Nighttime in the gondola permitted even more illegal activities than usual, so I was still able to stick with my bad-girl agenda, even though I was technically doing something good by volunteering my time so all the extra money could go to charity. (So what that I only worked two hours and got into a party for free that cost $150 a person?)

Once at the top, all those stupid insecurities about the pretty rich ladies quickly dissolved (that probably had something to do with the free drinks), and I felt like my Princess self again.

And just for the record, there is nothing sexier than skier boys with beefy hamstrings and thick, plump butts. Women may not prefer porn, but they do love the power of their own imagination ? and nothing stimulates that more than one of those skin-tight speed suits.

Anyway, we got so caught up in it all we didn’t come off the mountain until 4 a.m. Like kids at a slumber party, we reveled in the idea of staying up all night and the delicious delirium that comes with it.

Stumbling home in the wee hours of the morning with frozen feet, I thought of those women and their poor little designer dogs in hand-knit sweaters who also probably don’t ever have to walk anywhere. I realized I may not have the money to live the way some do in Aspen, but that doesn’t mean I can’t afford it.

[The Princess is happy to volunteer for any events that involve male skiers, snowboarders and surfers. Send your event info to No calls, please.]

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