Alison Berkley: The Princess’ Palate
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
I finally finished paying my car loan last month, and like two days later I start having problems with the car.
Whenever I drive over 50 miles an hour, the Jeep starts shaking violently. I can only imagine what it must look like to other drivers, this little white Jeep Wrangler with a little blonde girl at the wheel, shaking like an overstuffed washing machine on the spin cycle.
Yes, of course, I got the tires balanced, but it didn’t work. So I go back to Big O Tires and the guy goes, “Yeah, well it’s a Jeep thing, see.” He circles gingerly around the car, as if it is a wild tiger that might pounce at any moment and says, “We call it the death rattle.”
I say, “That’s certainly what it feels like.”
And he says, “Well, the unfortunate thing is we may or may not be able to fix it.”
I’m thinking this sounds a little too familiar. He’s starting to sound exactly like that fertility doctor we went and saw down in Denver last weekend.
When you are 40 and you start talking to doctors about wanting to have a baby, it’s kind of like telling people you want to be a Playboy bunny or a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader. They’re looking at you like, what doctor is gonna make that happen?
The next thing I know, I’m belly up at Aspen Valley Hospital, where a radiologist is taking an X-ray of my baby-making parts to see if I might need an oil change.
“Your tubes are clear,” he says. “But your uterus is slightly t-shaped. That may or may not affect things. You’ll have to talk to your doctor.”
So I make an appointment to go see the doctor and she goes, “This may or may not affect things. You’ll have to go see a specialist.”
I read a bunch of stuff on the Internet that says, “This may affect everything and probably can’t be fixed.”
So it’s down to Denver we go, to the place they send women who need a little extra help having a baby for whatever reason.
We pull up to this big fancy building in one of those business parks that’s so new there’s not a single tree or shrub, just lots of reflective glass and ample parking. Inside, there is a massive water feature that dominates the well-appointed lobby which has some very lucky interior designer’s name written all over it. It’s tasteful and professional enough to say medical office, but with the kind of high-end carpeting and tile work and wood finishes you see in the offices of plastic surgeons and lasik eye doctors and cosmetic dentists that say “elective medicine.”
We are shelling out 250 smackers for the privilege of a half-hour consultation for which I am expecting the Baby Doc to be able to tell me if my mechanics are fixable or not, if this vehicle is running well enough to take us to Baby Town. Whether it’s up to him or God is a question I have pondered, but I’m pretty sure God doesn’t have an office within driving distance of Aspen, at least not one where she’s willing to entertain these kinds of questions.
Dr. Knock U. Up is tall and nondescript and has his name embroidered into his lab coat with royal blue stitching. He smiles broadly at us and sits down at the other side of the desk.
At $10 a minute, I can hear more than just my biological clock ticking. I have a million questions racing through my head that remain unanswered like, “Is this alphabet womb of mine big enough to carry a kid or what?” and “Is it really a ‘T’ or is it more like a F or a U?”
He smiles at us broadly and keeps talking even though I have no idea what the hell he is talking about, like those speedy disclaimers at the end of a radio ad. It feels like we have walked into a Mercedes dealership to test-drive cars for fun and now the sales guy has us trapped in his office even though we all know we can’t afford the car.
“We’ll get to your uterus in a minute,” he says with that smile. “You think that’s why you’re here – but that’s not why you’re here.”
Instead of telling me something useful he says, “What’s your estrogen level?”
And I go, “I don’t know. Why don’t you look at my chart?”
He flips open a folder and says, “Oh. I don’t have your chart.”
I can feel the capillaries in my eyeballs bursting like kernels in hot oil but all I manage to say is, “I specifically asked my doctor to have them sent.”
He doesn’t seem concerned. What does he need my medical records for? All he needs to know is I’m over 40 and I’m from Aspen.
Ryan cuts to the chase. “If this machine ain’t runnin’ is there anything we can do to fix it?” he asks.
“No, she’ll just have to find another guy,” Dr. Stork says with a chuckle.
The next thing I know he’s standing, shaking our hands and looking about 3 feet taller than when he walked in. I feel like I’ve been blindfolded and spun around 10 times and he’s the one walking out with all the candy I just smashed out of the pinata.
We pay our bill with nerve pain shooting up our spines and walk out of the Baby Maker Factory into the blinding light of the late afternoon sun. The Jeep sits by itself in the now almost empty parking lot. I look at that little truck of mine, so cute with its boxy shape and round headlights, and have a moment of clarity.
I know from the bottom of my heart this guy is full of it. I mean, don’t be ridiculous. Of course the Jeep can be fixed.
“2023 predicted to be the Vintage of a Lifetime in Napa Valley,” proclaimed the headline this week in a press release sent out by the Napa Valley Vintners, the trade organization that represents the growers and producers in America’s most famed wine region. If there is anyone more optimistic than winemakers, it is the group that represents them.