Madeleine Goes To Aspen Where She Meets Ötzi The Iceman

Aspen is surreal. I grew up here but I have never become inured to the whole Famous People thing.

Like waiting in line at Carl's Pharmacy for a prescription to be filled with Stephen Hawking,

or being asked by Tom Cruise and Emilio Estevez where the cool parties are on New Year's Eve the year after Repo Man came out. For example.

I see Famous People daily in London, but it is a roomy city. Perhaps, in Aspen, because it's such a small village there is an uncomfortable intimacy when The Illuminati and The Glitterati rock-up in their Lear jets and then start doing things we normal people do.

So, I'm here in Aspen for a 3-week visit and the climate is very dry. Aspen is, in fact classified as an alpine desert, and I have forgotten to pack my face creams. It's the middle of day 1 and I already need to get my hands on some Weleda products, namely Iris Day Cream and the über emollient Skin Food to lock in the moisturizing benefits of the IDC.

Rents are very high in Aspen and a lot of businesses don't make it. So year-in and year-out there is a constant turnover. Not a big problem if you live here full-time or visit frequently. But nothing is where it used to be since I moved to The Big Smoke 12 years ago, except for Carl's Pharmacy, which had already been here for 14 years when we arrived in '73. And Carl's has EVERYTHING, don't let the name fool you. And because its Aspen they even have caviar in their little grocery section. But they are sold out of my Weleda products, and nothing else will do. I know what I am talking about. So I am thinking I need a health food store, right? So I'm schlepping all over Aspen looking for places that do not exist. Prada is now in what used to be Andre's where we went for Sunday Brunch if we weren't going to Arthur's, the original one, before the Chinese people bought it. Dior, Gucci & Vuitton are where Poppycock's use to be before it moved to The Aspen Square where Scandinavian Design was after it moved from the place next door to The Epicure, but after the Epicure closed and the first Pour La France opened before moving next door and later became Farfalle, but now seems to be some sort of Asian-fusion place. The Cantina is STILL in the old Epicure spot from 12 years ago acting as North Star for my Ullysian Face Cream Adventure, thank God.

But back to my face. My skin is starting to feel tight. I can't see my face, so all I have to go on are the sensations emanating from behind the mask [hahahaha]. And I think: "This must be what Ötzi the Iceman, [the early man-dude some trekkers stumbled across in 1991 on a glacier somewhere between Italy and Austria] would have felt had he lived to see his discovery.

But then.

I see this lady! She has Purpose! She looks like She Knows Where She Is Going! And she even Looks Familiar! Aha! A longtime local, me thinks! My tightened hide relaxes in a Pavlovian anticipatory placebo response. So I make a bee-line for her. She clocks my moves, quickens her pace and ups her Purpose. But I friggin’ need to exfoliate, re-hydrate and lock in the goddamn moisture. I am hemorrhaging bodily liquids via my cutaneous and subcutaneous layers at an alarming rate. And whether she knows it or not she has been sent to me as a Guide from The Archangel of Youthful Dewy Skin, and I am not prepared to wait on the side of this [alpine] desert road for another opportunity like this to pass by:

Me: Excuse me, excuse you...[woman ignores me, so I speak up and add a tone of Authority] Pardon me, would you happen to know where the health food store is...?

Woman: I'm sorry...?

Me: A health food store or, like, an organic spa that sells Weleda or Dr. Hauschka products...I need to get some moisturizer...its so dry here, an Alpine Desert I'm told. [Beat, then] I feel reptilian...

Woman: [Tersely] I can't help you, I'm visiting myself.

Me: [I pause and consider woman] Are you Madeleine Albright?

Woman: Yes.

Me: Oh. [Beat, then] Does your skin feel dry?