Alison Berkley: The Princess’ Palate
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
So the other night Cathy and I decide to skin up Ajax to the top of the World Cup course with her baby.
Yes, that’s right. I said “at night” and “with her baby.” You didn’t misunderstand me.
It’s just that Cathy isn’t exactly your conventional mom. She’s not the least bit worried about heading up the mountain at 4:30 p.m. just as the sun is starting to set with her 2-month-old strapped to her chest in one of those reverse-backpack things, her oversized jacket zipped over her like a kangaroo pouch.
“I feel safer on skis than I do walking down the street,” Cathy says with a shrug.
Meanwhile, the kid sleeps through the entire thing and I have this minor meltdown when I can’t get my AT binding to click back into ski mode.
“Goddamnit!” I wail, trying to use my iPhone as a light in the impending darkness. “It won’t go.”
I mean, who’s the real baby in this scenario?
I’m thinking about all of this on Tuesday as Cathy and I hike the Bowl at Highlands for another Powder Posse day. (No, the baby is not with us this time). There I am, wheezing and panting audibly, my lungs like two raisins in my chest all puckered and deflated and small. I try to stop the negative thoughts that swirl through my head, like, “How is Mama Bitch two pitches ahead of me when she’s spent the last eight weeks milking her kid and I’ve been busting my ass in various daily workouts?”
She’d wait for me at the top of the steeper sections with this annoying smile on her face, like she’s all happy. “Remember, each step just gets you closer to the top,” she says, her teeth all glinting and gleaming in the cold, late-morning sun. It’s hard to tell if she is happy or maybe just amused.
I tell myself this is a hard-core sampling of the local populace, that just being out here means something.
That’s when Cathy says, “Seems like there are a lot of kooks out here today. I’ve heard people have been driving up from Summit County just for this.”
I realize I put myself in these situations. I choose to surround myself with people who challenge me on some level, who are stronger or prettier or smarter or more successful or richer. I guess you could say I’m competitive in that way, even if I do perpetually set myself up against opponents who guarantee I am the loser 90 percent of the time. I like to think this makes me a better person on some level, even if I am constantly tormented by it.
I look at Cathy, ripping down B3 only two months post-partum and think about modern women and how they somehow manage to balance it all, with work and love and family, as if having babies and continuing on with their ambitious and successful lives was some kind of fortunate accident.
I mean, look at Angelina Jolie. She was on the cover of the December issue of Vogue with this profile that was written by a journalist who thought she was the greatest thing ever. Like, oh she’s a mom and she’s a philanthropist and she’s a wife and she’s so funny and so beautiful. She adopts kids and has three of her own little perfect DNA experiments.
It’s an amazing feat considering she was, at one time, a bi-sexual/heroin addict/husband stealer/danger slut. Meanwhile, I’m reading this Oriental medicine book that says if your pinkie finger is slightly crooked and your hair is dry on the ends it means your uterus is cold and you’ll have trouble getting pregnant. I guess at the end of the day, shooting up and kissing girls is the key to fertility. Why didn’t I think of that?
Then last night we were watching “Kendra” on the Entertainment Network. I’m sitting there on the couch getting all choked up by an ex-Playboy bunny who is spouting off these sophomoric, adolescent pearls of wisdom between shots of tequila and stuffing her face with barbecue ribs. She’s another ex-drug addict/stripper/porn star who is now rich and famous and has her own TV show and a hot husband and gorgeous baby.
So I’m like, why did my poor parents spend all that money on my education when really, all I needed was double-D breast implants? If I would’ve gotten them when I was young enough, I could’ve flown out to L.A. and maybe Hugh Hefner would’ve picked me to be one of his girlfriends. Then all I would’ve had to do is sleep with an 85-year-old for a few years before I married an NFL football player so I could’ve had a baby and become rich before I turned 25. Damnit, why didn’t I think of that?
Then there’s Martha Stewart, who somehow managed to survive prison and came out looking like one of her arts-and-crafts projects or glazed meat dishes, all shiny and new and perfect, as if nothing ever happened. The woman is obviously invincible. See, I shouldn’t worry about my taxes so much. If you are a successful, modern woman like Martha Stewart, the Big House won’t even faze you. It’ll only thicken your rock-hard exterior and harden your cemented smile and make your stock go up.
So what am I getting at? Good question.
The point is, I can’t keep up. I can try, but after a few minutes at that pace my heart is pounding in my temples and my lungs sting and I have to pull off the trail and let everyone pass me by.
I guess I’ll have to settle for being inspired by those women who can do it all, and grateful for friends like Cathy who are nice enough to stop once in a while and wait for me.
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