Alison Berkley: The Princess’s Palate
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
“Show me the most beautiful girl in the world and I’ll show you a guy who is sick of screwing her,” David says.
David is sitting next to me at a dinner party. He’s married with three kids and has decided to bestow me with his wisdom. It’s what he calls the “Elizabeth Hurley Factor.”
“You know who Elizabeth Hurley is, right?” he asks.
Yes, of course, I say. I tell him I am very well versed in the world of tabloid journalism and I am secretly happy we’ve stumbled upon the subject.
“So why is it that Hugh Grant needs to go out and get a blow job from a $20 hooker on Sunset Boulevard?”
I shrug. I’m not sure I like where this is going, especially considering I’m as starving for optimism as Elizabeth Hurley is for carbs.
David says most men want the woman they don’t have more than the woman they do have no matter what they look like. He says when I find a man who isn’t like that, that’s when I know I’ve found someone worthwhile. Or at least I think that’s what he meant. His wife is sitting on the other side of him and he’s holding her hand, so I assume he knows what he’s talking about.
Still, I don’t get it.
When I lived in Southern California, this sort of shallow, two-dimensional mentality was to be expected. After all, they don’t call it “Sandy Ego” for nothing. I remember wondering why cute didn’t count for anything and thought the state could issue some kind of warning, like they should post a sign at the border that said, “you have to be this tall to ride this ride.”
I never expected this in Aspen.
My father always told me it’s people’s imperfections that make them unique, and therefore beautiful.
When my mom suggested we fix the scar on my chin from where I’d had eight stitches from falling off my bike as a kid, my Dad wasn’t having it. “What are you nuts? Things like that make her unique. Scars are part of her life story.”
Ditto that sentiment when I broke my nose in half during a lacrosse game in high school. “It gives her character,” he said of my new slightly crooked nose.
I beheld that value like the Bible. I began to fall in love not only with people’s imperfections, but imperfect people. I was so in love with the fact that my last boyfriend only had four toes (lost one in a lawnmower accident) that I wanted to do a large-scale drawing of it in charcoal. The idea was to do the foot in black and white and then do colorful wildflowers behind it so it looked like some amazing mountain peak. When I asked him if I could have a photo of the foot to bring to my friend’s art studio, he shook his head violently like he’d just come out of the water and was trying to get the hair out his eyes. It was one of many things about me he never understood.
Seriously, though: I do think women are different than men in that way. Perhaps it’s because your genitalia isn’t as pretty to look at as ours is. (No, I’m not switching teams, I’m just speaking from an aesthetic standpoint.) We’re forced to be more creative, to use our imaginations from early on, in order to really appreciate our men and insure a healthy attraction no matter how gorgeous your face is. (The opposite of the butter-face dilemma?)
I don’t know about you girls, but when the sex gets boring for me in a relationship, or at least routine, I use my imagination. I cue up all kinds of fantasies to keep things interesting. I realize that the person I’m with is probably worth more than a $20 hooker (as if women have that option, we don’t) or sabotaging my whole relationship so I can cheat or leave just because they’re not new anymore, returning them like a DVD rental.
What’s really insane about this dilemma is the guys are never happy in the end.
They’re never satisfied if they’re only eating icing all the time. Their teeth start to rot and they get cranky on account of sugar overload. They don’t realize that what they really need is a well-balanced meal, one with substance.
I was thinking about all of this when I was riding up the Bells the other day. I took my time, taking in the scenery like a long, slow pull off a bottle of aged Jamison whiskey, letting it slowly absorb into my system and feeling the buzz take effect. There’s that one turn near the top when the Bells appear for the first time, presenting themselves like a king and queen in full regalia, covered in golden jewels. They’re omnipotent, owning everything above and below as if the whole universe revolved around them in that moment, the yellow leaves spread across the valley like a blanket beneath their feet.
I watched the leaves fall gracefully from the trees, dancing in the sky before softly landing on the ground. This is what beauty is, I thought. How something like this can exist in nature is something I will spend the rest of my life trying to understand ” and I’ll enjoy every minute of it.
Have we come so far from nature that we can no longer see the beauty in each other, and more importantly in ourselves? Who decided silicone body parts and low body fat are more desirable than say, knowing the exact shape of the earlobe of the person you love, or that spot on the inside of their forearm where the skin is totally hairless, smooth, and soft?
And then I thought, Elizabeth Hurley has probably never pedaled her skinny ass up a mountain valley in her entire life. And that, my dear boys, is the point.
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