Alison Berkley: The Princess’s Palate |

Alison Berkley: The Princess’s Palate

Alison Berkley
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

I’ve never been a big grudge holder. That is, unless you’ve done something to really piss me off.

“God forbid someone should be mad at you,” my Mom says in that tone. “You and your father.”

It’s true my Dad and I are more passive for the most part, but that might have something to do with the fact that my Mom never holds back if she is displeased. She’s one of those women who will never hold back a complaint and will always get exactly what she asks for.

“It’s inedible. Take it back,” she’d say when her meal at a restaurant was too this or too that. The waiter would always take it off the bill and give us free drinks or dessert and be all apologetic, doing double back-flips to salvage his tip. I think it always made my Dad and me a little uncomfortable so we’d be hiding under the table until the whole thing was over, eating every last crumb on our plates even if our meal sucked.

One time Mom moved rooms three times at a hotel in Del Mar until finally they put her in an oceanfront suite just to shut her up. It’s true that the first room was facing the street and had a lot of traffic noise, and the second room faced a terrace where a wedding was being held (the bride and groom within spitting distance of their balcony) but still. I’m sure the rate on the oceanfront room was more than double than the one she’d reserved. And when all that was said and done, they took 50 percent off her bill.

So you gotta hand it to the lady for getting what she wants.

My little brother seems to have inherited that same gene and has been making various demands and getting his way since he was a little boy. I remember once at McDonald’s, he had the audacity to return his Happy Meal when his Chicken McNuggets were undercooked. Despite my efforts as Big Sister to explain to him that this is a fast-food chain that doesn’t care what kids think, he went marching up to the counter with his complaint and came back to the table with a new Happy Meal and two extra prizes.

Me, I’m not really like that. Not so much.

I’m more like Ferris Bueller’s sister, or at least I was then, with my braces and my awkward looks and bitter attitude that didn’t win over customer service people while my brother was riding on the biggest float in the parade.

So what I’m getting at is I’m pretty passive when it comes to conflict and confrontation. I’d rather apologize and make amends even if someone has treated me badly. I prefer that to the discomfort of a dispute any day of the week.

That has not served me well in my romantic life, as I constantly forgave and forgot all kinds of misgivings that stop me dead in my tracks with horror when I think about it now. Looking back I think there were some men in my life who must have made a little game out of it, just to see what they could get away with. They probably made bets with their friends about how badly they could treat me and still have me coming back for more.

There have only been a few times in my life when someone has made me angry enough where I wrote them off for good.

I seem to be at one of those crossroads again, with someone who hurt my feelings deeply and violated my trust on so many levels that, at least right now, I feel like I never want to see them again. I’d go so far as to say I hate them.

There’s only one problem with hate – it’s an emotional attachment and it’s consuming as hell. A friend of mine once said, “The opposite of love isn’t hate, it’s apathy.”

It’s mind-boggling to me how now that I’ve found a healthy, happy relationship with Ryan, I still manage to find ways to get my heart broken.

So by avoiding this person I’ve cut myself off from people and places in this town I used to hang out at all the time. I just didn’t want to see them, so it seemed like something I had to do.

They went out of the country recently on a long trip so I finally feel free to return to some of these places and see all the people we both associate with.

Of course it was great to be back the minute I walked in the door. I was so happy to see everyone, and they seemed happy to see me, too. Despite my embarrassment over what happened, no one really knew much about it. They’d assumed I’d been out of town or changed my schedule. Going back made me realize how lonely I’d been without this community of friends. And I wasn’t going because, why, to punish them? I was only punishing myself.

Bikram has this saying, “Don’t let anyone steal your peace or happiness away from you. If you let anyone steal your peace away, you are the loser.” I think he got it from Jesus or something, but whatever.

The point is, my Mom was right. Nobody is going to pay attention to the bratty girl pouting in the corner. Nobody puts Baby in a corner. (Not related but I couldn’t resist.)

I still have a few weeks before she comes back to gather my thoughts and my strength and figure out how I can stand up to them. But at least now I know what I’m standing up for: What these girls and these friends and this community have taught me goes so far beyond yoga.

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