Alison Berkley: The Princess’s Palate |

Alison Berkley: The Princess’s Palate

Alison Berkley
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

The other day I had one of life’s little wake-up calls.

I was sick with the evil green phlegm disease that’s been going around and let my mom talk me into going to the doctor. I really hate going to the doctor because I am like the opposite of a hypochondriac. I’m afraid they’re going to tell me there’s nothing wrong with me because there almost never is. Then I come off looking like a high-maintenance loser because I went to the doctor for no reason.

“But what if you have swine flu? Might I remind you, you haven’t been immunized,” my mom said. She loves starting sentences with “Might I remind you.” It’s one of those patronizing mom phrases and she has a whole arsenal of them.

She said she had friends who had the flu and didn’t get checked out and ended up with permanent pulmonary problems or something. But she also has friends who are constantly hurting themselves and in and out of the hospital for all kinds of reasons, so I don’t know why I let that faze me.

So I go to the doctor’s office, which, the last time I checked was in that cute little blue house on Main Street. But when I got there, the door was locked and the parking lot empty. I call from my cell phone, annoyed that no one bothered to mention they’d moved.

“We’re in the Obermeyer building,” someone named Dorothy said. “We’ve been here for a year.”

“Well, only someone who gets sick more than once a year would know that,” I said. “It’s going to take me at least 10 minutes to get there, so I’ll be late.”

In my congested little head, I decided the Obermeyer building she was referring to is the one in the ABC where they make Obermeyer ski clothes. Granted, it struck me as more than a little odd that a ski apparel manufacturer would decide to share space with a medical office. I decided it must be because of the economy. I thought it was a resourceful and wise choice.

When I arrive at Obermeyer I have to circle the building twice and still don’t see where the entrance to the doctor’s office is. Of course there’s no one behind the reception desk, so I start wandering around the office until I find someone.

“Excuse me,” I say to a woman in her cubicle. “Can you tell me where the doctor’s office is?”

“Ummm, what?” the woman says, looking at me quizzically.

“Doctor’s office. Here. They told me …”

“Oh, they must have meant Obermeyer Place,” she said.

“Right,” I said. I spun a 180 and exited before she recognized me.

I’m feeling all snotty, like literally, so I call the office back.

“Hello, Aspen Medical Care, this is Judy,” the woman says.

“Tell Dorothy it’s Obermeyer PLACE, not the Obermeyer building,” I say, explaining I’m now going to be 20 minutes later than I was before.

“Ummm hummm,” she says in that way anyone who sits behind a desk does when they have no desire to help you.

When I finally get to the doctor’s office I’m hurting and just want to put my head down and take a nap. The waiting room is filled with toddlers who have horrible, rattling coughs. There’s a box of face masks on the end table with a sign that says, IF YOU HAVE A COUGH, PLEASE WEAR A MASK AS A COURTESY TO OUR HEALTHY PATIENTS.

I thought about wearing one, but didn’t. It made me think of my poor beloved Psycho Paws and all the animal experts who told me to muzzle him, but I could never bring myself to do it. May the little biter rest in peace.

I could hear someone in the hallway say to the doctor, “She’s the one who was late.”

When he came out to get me, the first thing I say is, “Dorothy needs to tell people it’s Obermeyer PLACE,” but I was grumbling and congested so he just smiled.

The first thing the doc does is put me on the scale. I’m wearing my coat and I’m pretty sure I have at least 5 pounds of change in one of my pockets. I close my eyes but I can hear him sliding the metal thing to the right one, two, three, times.

I open my eyes and that’s when I get my little wake-up call.

I’ve had a few of those in life, like the time I was fired from an unpaid internship at an art gallery. Or that time I gave my favorite necklace to a stripper in Miami and when I came to my senses and asked her if I could have it back she said, “It got caught in my hair when I was dancing and it broke.”

There’ve been little mini-wake-up calls, like the time I came out of yoga and they were towing my car because of all the unpaid parking tickets and it cost over 500 dollars to get it back. Or the time I had to go to the jail to get fingerprinted just because I forgot to pay some old speeding ticket.

While I was secretly pleased that I did indeed have a fever and the lung thing I blew into indicated bronchitis, all I can think about is that number I saw on the scale when I opened one eye at the last minute.

Don’t get me wrong, wake-up calls are good. Since that moment I’ve been eating right and exercising and hiking the Bowl and doing lots and lots of yoga for the first time in a long time. I feel great and don’t have to hold my breath just to button my jeans.

Speaking of buttons, next time that proverbial alarm clock goes off, I won’t be hitting snooze so many times.

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