Alison Berkley: The Princess’s Palate |

Alison Berkley: The Princess’s Palate

Alison Berkley
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

The other day I was in a store trying on flimsy summer dresses when I overheard two women talking.

“I just want to find a man in this town who will like, take me on a date,” one said.

“I know! I’m afraid I’m going to become one of those women, you know, who are like all old and still hanging out at the bar trying to meet guys.”

Of course I can’t help myself, so I butt in. “Oh my god, I totally used to think that too! And then I met this great guy, and it was just like everyone said it would be. I literally walked around the corner, and there he was!”

I told them the whole story of how we met, on New Year’s Eve, the most dreaded of all holidays for the Still Single Gal. I told them where we met, at a bar, the Least Likely Spot to meet a decent guy. I told them the old adage “you just know” is totally true and love at first sight is not a myth and it is possible there are men in this town they haven’t yet met.

“Oh my god! She’s giving us so much hope,” the brunette said to the blonde.

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“Yeah, I mean, I’ve held out this long, I’m sure as hell not going to settle now,” the blonde said.

“You got that right, sister,” I said, wanting to do the snap-snap-snap thing that girls do on VH1.

“I just want to go out on a date,” the brunette said again. “You know, just a good old fashioned date where a nice guy comes to your house, picks you up, and takes you out to dinner.”

“Yeah, well. I never really dated …” I bit my tongue before I said something incriminating like, “I always thought it was better just to get it over with and find out if the person is good in bed or not. So if you want to call slamming tequila shots just before last call a date …”

Instead I tried to say something positive: “I mean, I’m 39 and I never thought it would happen for me, so …”

And the blonde puts her hands on her hips and is like, “I’m 52!”

And the brunette goes, “Yeah, and I’m 47.”

And I’m like, “I am so …” out of here! “Late! Shoot, what time is it?” I asked, looking at my empty wrist for a watch.

Anyhoo, the point is, I never thought it would happen for me in this town. I know what they’re talking about when they say they don’t want to become “one of those women” because I’ve met them many times.

They always manage to corner you at the party when your drink is full and your friends are out of eyeshot so you can’t escape.

“Look, honey,” they say, sort of staggering and slurring even if they haven’t had anything to drink. “If you want to meet a good man, it’s not gonna happen in Aspen.”

Before I met Ryan, I was so totally ready to settle. I was prepared to fight one losing battle after the next no matter how beat up and bloody I’d become.

I could rationalize anything. He didn’t want to call me his girlfriend? A mere technicality! He didn’t want to sleep in the same bed as me? A simple little quirk I could learn to find endearing!

My Dad was right there with me. It got to the point where, every time I’d mention a guy he’d say, “Well, does he have a criminal record? As long as there’s no federal offense, those little misdemeanors can be overlooked.”

I had one friend who suggested we drive down to Rifle and look for prisoners who might have escaped from the state penitentiary hitching a ride on an off-ramp on I-70. “That might be an improvement,” he said.

So it’s not a big surprise that a few people were a little bit skeptical about my whole “love at first sight” thing when it first happened. I mean, don’t get me wrong, people were happy for me, but they had this little look in their eye that said something like, “Don’t expect me to be there for you when the other shoe drops, fool.”

I myself had a hard time believing it. I would often count the days, just waiting until enough time had passed to prove our relationship legitimate. I knew the sensible thing to do (given my track record of living in a dream world), would be to play it safe, maybe take my time getting to know the guy a little better. Take it slow. Go on that date the brunette lady at the store was talking about. Wait a little while before becoming intimate. Make sure his intentions were clear.

Instead, when I suggested we wait to have sex, Ryan’s response was, “Until when? Tomorrow?”

Needless to say, that was all the clarity I needed.

Well, guess what? Time has passed. Six months, to be exact, on July 1. In fact, our relationship is so legitimate now that most of my friends have stopped calling me entirely. I am actually considering reducing the number of minutes in my cell phone plan because of it.

The truth ladies is this: There is such a thing as love at first sight and you should never, ever settle for less than you deserve. Dates are nice, I suppose, but it’s just a formality, really, because you do “just know” when something is right.

Sure, it was a little startling when I woke up the morning after we met and saw this dude with wild dark hair and big tattoos lying in bed next to me, but let’s put it this way: It didn’t take long to get used to it.