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Meeting Aspen’s King, Queen

Alison Berkley

Guess what. I made the “Best of the Year” in the September issue of Skiing Magazine. I don’t know why they chose September to do a year-in-review feature since most people do that, say, around New Year’s, but whatever. It’s always nice to be called the best at something, even if it’s “Best Candidate for the Warden’s Job at Abu Ghraib.” In a short article entitled “Biting the Hand,” they quoted little bits of my now infamous Jan. 1 column, “The Comforting Weight of Youth,” in the same fashion as The Associated Press, honing in on the bad words and a literal interpretation of what I wrote, an occupational hazard of the ol’ two-dimensional black and white. They also quoted an “instructor who wishes to remain anonymous” who said, “It’s scary being her friend. At any moment your name could be in the paper, along with what you did the night before.” The short article went on to explain how I got fired from my job as a snowboard instructor but managed to keep my job at the newspaper. The last line reads, “Her editor thinks she’s ‘edgy.’ How about just plain mean?”Hey, no one said being the Princess would be easy. I mean, aside from all that pressure to maintain a perfect complexion and keep my big, plump, lips from getting chapped in the dry mountain air (a girl needs to maintain when her picture runs in the paper every single week), I have a moral obligation to protect the fragile little egos of every random person who passes through my life. Not!People are always going, “Don’t you dare write about me! But in case you do, my name is spelled …” Or else they’re like, “You’re not going to write about this … are you?” or “So-and-so wanted to e-mail you, but he was afraid you would write about it in the paper.” And I’m sitting there going, “Remind me exactly what it is about you that is so fascinating again?”Anyhoo, the weird thing about Skiing Magazine bashing me over the tiara is I used to work for them. One time they sent me on assignment to go heli-skiing in northwestern B.C. with a bunch of hot skier dudes. Even though the story never ran, I got to ride bottomless powder for a week, drink aged Irish whisky straight from the bottle, and smoke B.C. kind bud out of an apple. Needless to say, it was the time of my life. So in a way, they are partially responsible for who I am today, an indulged brat who has been there, done that. (See, I made a rhyme.) Granted, none of the dudes I know work there anymore, but still. It’s like, hello, don’t you know who I am? I guess part of being the Princess is being misunderstood.That’s the cool thing about Aspen. The majority of the people here totally get it. They don’t take themselves too seriously because they are cool and experienced and hip. Chances are nine out of 10 people you meet in Aspen have dropped acid or had a ménage a trois or smoked hash in Amsterdam. So not uptight.I like to think that’s why the world elite likes to hang out here, because they can just chill and escape from the places where they’re misunderstood. (I’m not putting myself in the same category as Kate Hudson or anything, I’m just saying.)Like the other night at the Pat Culley benefit, I met two of the coolest-ever people who literally run this town and still manage to be super popular. There I was with the mayor of Aspen herself, shooting the breeze over a glass of wine and a cigarette poolside at the Sky Hotel. I want to be just like her when I grow up, all cool and confident and totally in charge, cruising around town in my black sweat suit all comfy like I’m lounging in my own living room. She seems way too real and down to earth to be a politician. Like, why even bother tell a lie when you’re Mayor H. and everyone is pretty much going to love you no matter what? She made me feel pretty worthy for someone who can hardly afford a tank of gas in this town. All hail the Queen! Then I got to meet Sheriff Bob Braudis, who has been at the top of my Celebrities I’d Like To Meet in Aspen list for a long, long time. Even though he is like 10 feet tall and could probably squash me like a bug, his gap-toothed smile spreads across his face like the sun after a fast, heavy rainstorm, all big and colorful like a big, fat rainbow. This is the guy who recently wrote about his childhood in south Boston for Aspen Peak magazine and said, “We knew right from wrong and learned to justify either.” He is totally my hero.He said I could swing by his office and he would help me clear up that whole warrant-for-my-arrest thing I got for my failure to appear in court over a teeny-weeny speeding ticket. I wanted to jump up and hug him. He is the alpha and he’s got our backs.In a small pond like Aspen, you’re bound to swim into a few of the bigger fish sooner or later. So cool.My point is, don’t expect me to be that girl whose picture you see every week in the paper. There’s a whole person behind those words, and chances are she’s nothing like you think she is.Those folks at Skiing Magazine should know better. I mean, I would make a lousy prison guard. Forget about guarding a jail – it’s a miracle I’m not locked up in one. The Princess is going to clear up her driving record as soon as she gets a ride to Denver from someone who isn’t scared to be her friend. E-mail the Princess at alison@berkleymedia.com.


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