Princess storms the Big Apple |

Princess storms the Big Apple

Alison Berkley

“Control your passenger!” screamed one cab driver to the other after they nearly collided when I opened my door on the street side.How was I supposed to know which side to get out on? Whatever. It’s not like they hand out instruction manuals for Little Clueless Girls From Aspen on how to climb out of a New York City taxicab properly. I was sitting on the left side so I opened the left door. So sue me. I mean, excuse me.I was in the Big Apple for two whole weeks doing all the things that Princesses do when they go to big cities, like shopping and waxing and tinting and manicures and letting those girls do your makeup at Saks and meeting with publishing agents and hanging out with friends from high school who are now high-powered attorneys and trying to act all cool and savvy and sophisticated and wordy, er, make that worldly. I’m really good at all that stuff. It’s the getting-around-the-city-without-a-limo-Paris-Hilton-style that I had a problem with.For starters, I never have any cash. I’m used to living in a mountain town where drooling boys pay for everything and everyone takes personal checks. Duh, I may not know which side of the street to get out on, but I do know that NYC cab drivers don’t take out-of-town checks! So I ask the fat little bald dude in the currency exchange cage at Grand Central Station where the nearest ATM machine is.”Where ISN’T there an ATM??!?!” he bellowed, as if I had called him in the middle of the night to ask him if I could borrow some sugar. “There’s one under the stairs and one at the top of that ramp and one around that corner and pretty much any other which way you turn!”When you’re only 5 feet tall and standing in Grand Central looking for an ATM machine, the world is a sea of necks and shoulders and nostrils and you only get the occasional glimpse of what lies ahead, like flat water between sets of big waves. I decided against sharing that thought with Short Fat Irritable Bald Man and set out on the hunt for one of these very conspicuous machines that I had somehow managed to overlook.Withdrawal options start at $100 at most ATM machines in New York. You know you’re in trouble when you start hitting that thing three, four and five times a day to pay for things like expensive cocktails (three figures for a decent buzz) and terrifying cab rides spent with your head hanging out the window trying not to throw up from the rocking motion of accelerate/brake/accelerate in midtown traffic.If riding in one of those canary-yellow death traps on wheels is hard, getting one of them to pick you up in the first place is even harder. You have to beg and plead only to surrender power over your own life and discover that you really do believe in God after all.I tried doing what I’ve seen in the movies, standing in the middle of the road with my arm stretched toward the sky like The Statue of Liberty, like I really mean it, like, “Please God, don’t let one of these yellow cars run me over,” (there I am talking to God again) but nothing worked. They kept driving past me like I didn’t exist. Everyone knows there’s nothing spoiled little blond Jewish girls from Aspen hate more than being ignored.After 10 minutes of waving my arms wildly about in the rain on a Saturday afternoon in SOHO, a cab finally pulled up, or maybe he was just making a right turn, but it was close enough, so whatever. I was desperate as a crazy person, soaked to the bone and dizzy from spending so much money.I’m pulling on the door handle but it’s locked and I’m wondering if there’s some trick that I don’t know about, like some password or some automatic door opener thingamajig or some signal for “let me in.” So instead, I start screaming, “Let me in! Let me in!” at the top of my lungs and the cabbie glares over his shoulder at me like I’m a member of the KKK wearing a white hood with two little holes cut out where the eyes go and screams, “DON’T YOU SEE MY LIGHTS? I’M OFF DUTY!” in some accent I can’t quite identify. I make a mental note to ask my city friends which lights mean what.I see a bus that says, “East Village” and that’s where I’m going, so I get on.”How much is it?” I ask the bus driver. He flaps his hand at me and rolls his eyes and tells me to “just get on.” I sit down and check my reflection in my compact to make sure I don’t have C-O-L-O-R-A-D-O splayed across my forehead in big, black letters. I end up nowhere near where I’m going but manage to find a cab to take me right back to where I started, which I consider a major triumph.So I maxed out my credit cards and emptied my checking account and bought lots of beautiful clothes that will sit in my closet all winter while I wear snowboard pants every day, but whatever. I got my Brazilian bikini wax (one word: ouch) and my $16 pedicure and had like seven pairs of pants hemmed and ate an amazing meal at 3 a.m. and kicked it with family and friends who reminded me why I’m so obnoxious and neurotic and argumentative and high maintenance in the first place.It only took two weeks in New York to realize that it doesn’t really matter how I get there or which side of the street I get out on, as long as I know where I’m going – straight back to my beloved Aspen.The Princess is foaming at the mouth with excitement for the upcoming snowboarding season. E-mail your snowy thoughts to