Alison Berkley: The Princess’s Palate
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
My karma is finally catching up with me.
This is what I’m thinking as I lie in bed with one eye open and one eye closed, trying to ignore the sounds from the perpetual hip-hop dance party that’s going on in the apartment above ours. I don’t know much about stereo equipment, but I do know these kids are rocking some serious bass. Sometimes it’s so loud that the walls shake, especially when the kids are wrestling or drunk and goofing around. I can hear their voices, the squealing and the laughing.
I don’t have to imagine what’s going on because I know. God knows, I know.
Usually Ryan deals with them, but tonight he’s not home so I send him a text that says: The kids upstairs are at it again. How long do I have to wait to call the police?
But Ryan doesn’t respond because he’s out partying and can’t hear his phone.
I lie there and stew about it for a while. I even try yelling at the ceiling, “SHUUUUUT UUUUUP!” but it only makes my throat hurt and it scares the dog. I think about calling the police, but then I’m thinking I don’t want to take the police away from protecting people who really need protecting, like Charlie Sheen’s ex-wife. God knows I would not want those beautiful twin boys of his to be without a mother just because the kids are partying upstairs.
“Oh, for god’s sake,” I say to George, our 100-pound German Shepherd. I sound exactly like my mother. “This is ridiculous.”
George twitches his eyebrows back and forth like, “I would help you, but I don’t even have thumbs,” and just lies there.
I put on my shoes and my jacket like I mean business and tromp up the stairs.
I bang on the door. I can see inside, but the living room is empty. I mean, like, crack-house empty. There’s no furniture I can see, and no people. I bang on the door again. No answer. Screw it. I decide to open it a crack.
“Hello? HELLO! IS ANYBODY HOME?” I yell.
A girl walks down the stairs. She’s not a bimbo dressed in slutty clothes with mascara running down her face or a half naked girl in a towel or anything like that. She looks like a regular old 20-something, a girl next door, a ski bum chick, dressed in comfortable clothes and no makeup.
She opens the door and the smell of booze explodes from inside, nearly knocking me down the metal grate stairs. The girl’s eyes are beat red and so glassy I can practically see my reflection in them. She’s smiling, trying to make eye contact with me, trying to look all innocent like I’m her mother and she’s late coming home for curfew.
“Hi,” I say, smiling in what I know is a sinister way, a fake way, a patronizing way. “Can you turn that down because it’s really [expletive] loud.”
“Oh! Sure! Yes! Of course!” she says, still smiling at me like an idiot.
I don’t say thank you. I just roll my eyes and spin around and clomp down the stairs like I am not messing around. I want to show her I mean business.
Two nights later, the music goes up except it’s much, much later this time. I’m too lazy to get dressed and march up there again, so instead I lie in bed and think about why this is happening to me.
It goes all the way back to 2007 when I was all of 37 years old.
“Why do you like hanging out with 20-year-olds?” my ex-boyfriend would ask. He clearly did not approve of the crowd I was running with.
Chalking it up to jealousy, I said, “Oh, please. There’s only one girl who’s like 21, but she’s super mature for her age.”
He was right. It was a bad crowd.
We got into a routine of Sunday night dinners at a condo not far from where I’m living now. It, too, was an upstairs unit with some poor soul who lived underneath, and a neighbor on each side. It was always the same crew: a handful of guys, a handful of girls.
At some point in the evening, one of the guys would get so wasted his friends thought it was a fun game to slap his belly. His belly was big and round, well padded not only by the layers of fat, but by all the beer that was in it. The guys thought it was hilarious when their hands left a big red mark. They’d take pictures of it. He didn’t seem to mind. He just sort of sat there looking cockeyed and drooled on himself. Soon the girls got involved. One of the guys decided to smack one of the girls in the butt, causing the requisite squeal. Soon everyone was slapping everyone and before we knew it, our weekly Sunday night debauchery was dubbed, “Spanksgiving.”
I vaguely remember the cops coming to the door, but it didn’t do anything because we always had Spanksgiving in that same condo, week after week. The music was loud. We were loud. I’m pretty sure I did gymnastics in that living room a couple of times, whether it was by myself or with a partner.
I know that girl upstairs because I was just like her once. Isn’t that why so many of us come here, at least at first, to ski and to party and escape the real world?
All of a sudden a decade goes by and then maybe two. Now instead of being that girl, you’re the old bitch from downstairs who’s not having any fun.
That’s when I realized I should take a Xanax and go to sleep. Let them have their party. They may be just kids, but the kids are all right.
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