Alison Berkley: The Princess’s Palate |

Alison Berkley: The Princess’s Palate

I think Im going to wear this to Burning Man next year, Sunny squealed. Come in here and see.We were at Wet Seal in Denver last weekend, taking advantage of those cheap stores that make clothes for teenagers. I love those stores.I peered in her dressing room to find her clad in a hot pink one piece made from some material thats somewhere between satin and latex, all shiny and taut. The neckline went past her navel, exposing her large bosom, barely covering her nipples. The leg was also high cut, her rear end spilling out the back like toothpaste from a punctured tube.Ill do fishnets and platform boots with it. Itll be awesome.I thought about saying something like, You could also wear it to your next porn movie audition. But I just rolled my eyes instead.Shed only just been at Burning Man a couple weeks before, and Id already been inundated with photos and stories of the rave that attracted some 50,000 people this year to Black Rock Desert. All the photos are the same, clusters of people arm-in-arm dressed in lingerie and goggles with demented looks on their faces, dust and wind blowing in the background like something out of a Mad Max movie. There are photos of the art exhibits, stuff like a contorted tower of semi trucks several stories high and gaggles of girls posing on their clunky cruiser bikes and quasi-structures that are erected to function as temples and dance clubs but somehow look two-dimensional, like props from a stage set.She talks about things like cuddle puddles and drinking ecstasy thats been diluted in water bottles so you can monitor how much of it you take at once. She tells me the key is to take catnaps throughout the day so you can watch the sunrise and still stay caught up on sleep. She says its best to stick to drugs but avoid alcohol for slower burnout, and of course the sophistication of the themed campsite is key. She tells me about all the new friends she made, the stripper from Reno and the clan of swingers from Des Moines she met on Facebook. She tells me about the letters she wrote and burned at the temple and how she loves herself and is comfortable in her own skin and feels like she has been enlightened.I also lost a ton of weight from dancing all night and doing so many drugs that I didnt want to eat! she squeals.Then there are the other less glamorous stories that sort of slip out. Like how she watched this girl have sex with several guys at once out in the open and how her friend Rick jumped right in the middle of it. She didnt like that, especially when he came running back to camp and said, I totally exploited her! It was awesome! She said hed eaten three hits of acid that day and was totally out of hand.I thought the whole idea was to be able to do whatever, I said.Yes, but that was totally inappropriate, she replied. I decided this would be a good time to keep my mouth shut.She told me about the shirtcockers, guys who wandered around with nothing but shirts on, their privates hanging out. She also said she and Rick got in a huge screaming fight on the last day because she was too afraid to leave during the fierce dust storm but that he had insisted on it. I could totally picture them all strung out and exhausted, melting down like two cranky children who missed their mid-afternoon nap.She had a bad cough, too. Her lungs seemed to rattle with the dust shed inhaled like someone whod just smoked 10 packs of cigarettes.Sunnys not my only friend thats fired up, so to speak, on Burning Man. It seems like a lot of my peers love it, this opportunity to go out into the desert and fly their freak flags for a week. Its not like I have anything against it, its just that I dont get it.If you want to be progressive and spontaneous, why cant you just do that in your own life when the inspiration strikes you? I asked my friends husband. Isnt that less contrived? And by being contrived, isnt the whole thing sort of the opposite of spontaneous in a sense?He shook his head no. He said the same thing everyone else says. You have to go there and experience it to understand.Sunnys friend Rick said, The fact that youre scared means you need it even more. Then he hugged me really tight for a really long time, squatting down low enough to press his whole chest and belly against mine and breathing really deep and slow like we do in yoga. Part of me enjoyed and it and part of me wanted him to let go.On the website ( they say something about how trying to describe the event is like trying to explain a color to someone who is blind.I still dont get it.Therere a lot of things about the world I dont get right now, like how anyone in their right mind would consider voting for Palin. Or how two trains could be on the same track and collide head-on without someone knowing how to stop it. Or how gas prices could get any higher or the economy could get any worse or how the most important relationship in my life went up in flames, so to speak, there one minute and utterly and totally destroyed the next.I mean, my mom always told me, play with fire and youre going to get burned. Clearly I dont need to go all the way to the desert dressed in my undies to do that.Check out the Princesss blog at or send your loving e-mail to

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