Alison Berkley: The Princess’s Palate
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
“Would you like some more white wine, ma’am?” the waiter asked us at lunch this afternoon.
We were the only ones in the entire restaurant, yet it had been at least an hour and still our meals hadn’t come. That meant we were drinking on empty stomachs, and either those wine glasses were exceptionally large, or we are both becoming cheap dates in our old age. It was a win-win either way.
We both shook our heads vehemently. “No, no, no, that’s OK, I’m good,” my friend Amy said.
“I could give it to you complimentary,” he said.
Amy slid to the far side of her seat as if to try to create more distance between herself and this evil man who was clearly trying to corrupt us. “That’s so not the issue. I can’t. I have a business meeting later,” she said, stifling the sort of giggle that comes after a big, fat glass of wine on an empty stomach.
I sort of nodded my head in agreement, even though I knew it wouldn’t take much arm-twisting to carry our innocent little lunch date into post-work cocktail hour. But I did the right thing and resisted. After all, I had a column to write.
Despite our hectic schedules, we managed to squeeze in the mandatory stop-by at Suzy’s Consignment, where shoes by Christian Dior and Versace miraculously appeared in Amy’s size as if they were magnets and she were a refrigerator.
“Okay, that’s just weird,” I said. It’s true Amy has a gift. She was already modeling the Fendi canvas coat she’d acquired just yesterday at the Aspen Thrift Shop. The woman has a wardrobe that’s worth a fortune even if she paid chump change for it.
“What can I say? I am blessed,” she said, modeling a fine pair of gold Versace platform mules with big flowers on them.
“Those are hot,” I said. “And they’ll go with everything. Good neutral color.” It is the job of a friend to provide plenty of rationalizations for money spending and shoe purchasing.
I also ran into another acquaintance who also just happened to be shopping during her lunch hour. “Do you guys like this?” she asked, modeling a lovely dress by Prada. It was enough to quell any guilt I had about spending my day in this manner. Clearly, this is what the working class of Aspen do.
“Love, love, love,” Amy said to her. And then to me, “Let’s go.”
I don’t know if it was the long awaited sunshine, or the wine, or that precious time during offseason when you have the town all to yourself and it’s just so beautiful and so private, but we were both feeling pretty good.
“I so wanted that Prada dress,” Amy said after we left.
On our walk back to her office, we got on the subject of the recent cocaine bust.
“How crazy is it that all the drug dealers in Aspen are like, over 60?” I said.
“I know,” she said. “It’s pretty horrible.”
I told her I think it’s awesome. I said I love how Aspen still has its grit around the edges. I don’t see it as a disturbing story about a federally run drug bust that took place in our innocent, white bread, richy-rich little town. I see it as a testament to this eccentric, law-bending community of wild party people who are so obviously oblivious to the aging process.
Amy shot me a look of disapproval and I said, “Hey, I’d take senior citizen coke dealers over wealthy, straight-edge Republicans any day of the week.”
“Did you just make that up?” she asked. “That’s good!”
I mean, seriously. That’s some retirement plan. I always thought my parents and their little Over the Hill Gang in Steamboat were nuts, snowboarding and cycling and having parties and carrying on like a bunch of ski bum kids. I guess I should be glad the only drugs they’re doing are the ones my Dad writes prescriptions for, stuff like Viagra and Prozac and Xanax and maybe a few high-powered anti-inflammatory meds on the side. (I’m almost 100 percent positive that’s all legal, and if it’s not, sorry Dad!) I guess I should be glad he’s not blowing my inheritance on blow.
Speaking of blowing my inheritance, Amy and I got to talking about my wedding, which is so far but yet so near, a mere few months away.
“Do you have any idea how much it costs for a wedding cake?” I asked her, pausing for dramatic effect. “I got a quote for nine-hundred dollars, and that’s just for a basic cake with no decorations or anything. And two hundred dollars for delivery! I was like, what are they going to do, buy a one-way plane ticket for the cake?”
People keep asking me where I’m at with the planning, and I’m like, “I’m good, I’m all good!”
Meanwhile, I’m having night sweats and these crazy dreams, like that my florist is getting married the day before me. I went so far as to email her to say, “There is no way I would ever expect you to work the day after your wedding! That’s crazy!”
It took me all of two days to realize her wedding was a month before mine, not a day before. I knew that, I really did. But when you are three months out from the biggest day of your life after waiting for it approximately 10 to 15 years longer than most of your friends, your mind gets a little jumbled sometimes.
Speaking of a jumbled mind, after writing this column and then reading it (or maybe I should say “skimming through it”), I realize I probably should have gotten that second glass of wine.
Oh well. Like my mom always said: “You get what you pay for.”
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While Kobey Park may not live up to a child’s understanding of a park, its haunting beauty is best experienced in quiet serenity.