NOTE: This conversation runs backwards! For the benefit of regular readers the newest comments are put at the top.
Music Playing: The Quirinelles singing "White Christmas"
So this book was practically falling apart, so I asked Theda could I take out some of the picture pages and make them into a scrapbook as a girl needs something to do every day and I was all finished with writing down my jewellery in my little red alligator notebook. So Theda said yes but not to take any pages with writing, only with pictures. Theda is very kind, you know.
So I had all these pages scattered about when I got Jewel's note the other evening, so when I wrote my note back to Jewel, I probably folded it up with this important page, the one with writing that is missing, that Theda says is about a Blushing Maiden Butterfly, and put it into the envelope with the note. So perhaps the page fell out when she opened the note, so if you or Jewel or any of the other girls sees it please let me know and Theda says she will pop right by and collect it. Theda drives around town rather often, you know.
But Yrsula darling I am quite careful about what's in the lipgloss and other cosmetic products and I even know what it is. It's butterfly wings! That's why Theda's so fond of butterflies and has all these butterfly books. The lipgloss and other cosmetic products, you see, are made from the powder, not very much because its quite dear, from the wings of the Blushing Maiden butterfly! So the lipgloss, etcetra etcetra has in them what Theda calls "trace amounts" of this extremely valuable powder, but evidently that's all a girl needs for the lipgloss, etcetra etcetra to work.
So the missing butterfly book page had some writing that Theda and Brydgitte (that's the maid) wanted to use for a little broshure (that's a book with less than six pages, more is a novel) to put into the boxes of lipgloss, etcetra etcetra.
So Yngrid, (she's the pilot) knows where there's a special butterfly ranch, she called it, near Java and there used to be rubber but now only coffee and oil, except for butterflies, which are all on this ranch. (I made a butterfly joke about do the ones at the ranch have small little saddles? But nobody laughed although I thought it quite droll.) They are the Blushing Maiden brand of butterflies, so Yngrid has friends who are running the ranch and know how to grow them and get the dust off their wings without spoiling the rest of the butterfly so they can do it again. Without using up the butterflies, I mean.
So its quite a large secret but I know you won't tell. Theda, Yngrid and Brydgitte are selling the lipgloss, etcetra etcetra as fast as they can wrap them up so they may not require a responsible blonde to make deliveries after all, which makes me sad because I won't get to drive everywhere in London in a mauve Bentley, but Theda said she would give me the small darling briefcase just the same. Theda is very kind.
But that is only for now because later, they said, after they get back the page with the writing and make the broshure they asked would I mind if they put my photo in it! Imagine, a photo of me, Ariadne, on a broshure, so I said yes, it would be absolutely delightful, so I gave them a photo from school, but they said they not that kind of photo. So Theda has a friend Alexis, who photographs models ("models" are quite frequently actual girls) and she is to ask Alexis next week if she might "set up a session."
And as for your other piece of advice about taking the vitamin pills every day, I shall just drink two quarts of milk as I can't swallow pills. Milk is quite good for a girl, you know.
So thank you Yrsula, don't worry about me, I'll be quite all
right. And please tell dear Jewel that I hope she's enjoying all the Rum
Punches. I still have that head cold and sneezing a lot so I still need
to send her a note and not go outside. Next time I shall tell her about
when I tried out the lipgloss, etcetra etcetra.
I am so looking forward to furthering my acquaintance with Madame de Bellevoir as I understand that she is an old school friend of Ariadne's beloved Symone. Which reminds me, perhaps someone should ask Theda about the torn page. I can't be sure, but I think I saw something flutter from her uniform breast pocket as she passed me Ariadne's note earlier.
Miss Divina, alas my note was not for you, but I shall leave you my
card. Perhaps you would care to call in the New Year?
Theda has brought me your little sweet note about the other cosmetics, but if you read what I just wrote to Yrsula you shall learn that I was going to tell her just how it all works for a girl, the lipgloss and other cosmetics, I mean. But thanks ever so for the note just the same, so I sent back an answer with Theda. Theda is out quite often, you know, in the Bentley.
But before I tell Yrsula I shall tell you, sweet Ellen, that when you said the "'other cosmetics' could cover a lot of things; but there are some things it might not cover as well," you were perfectly right! The "other cosmetics" is a lotion a girl uses to cover, perhaps covers not right but it serves, to cover her face and her neck and her arms and her legs and just about everything else a girl wants to cover. But some things the lotion really won't cover as well as it covers the things that she wants, so a girl should probably not try to cover those things, if you know what I mean. She could get a rash.
But if you want to know just what is in it, the lotion I mean, Theda copied the butterfly page on the dolly little copier behind the bar that they use for copying blonde bombshell recipes for pettes when they want to learn how to make them at home, so the butterfly page is still there, in the Aphrodite Cocktail Bar because Theda took only the copy so you can still read about it in colour (there's a little sketch at the top, of the Blushing Maiden, in colour).
So I don't think that the lipgloss, etcetra etcetra is anything *bad*,
no, *oh contrare*, it sounds like everything *good* a girl might desire.
And because I know Theda and Ingrid (the pilot) and Bridgitte the maid
that all own the business together I may be able to get it for cost.
Music Playing: The Quirinelles singing "Winter Wonderland"
A number of us here in the Cocktail Bar have been quite concerned about you, I hope you know. Ever since you first showed up here in September, it's been like The Perils of Pauline all over again. Do you know the expression accident prone, Ariadne? Some girls just attract, well, shall we say, more than their share of difficult situations.
I hope you are able accept a bit of well-meant, sisterly brunette advice, Ari (may I call you that?). First of all, I'd be very careful if I were you about what's in that lip gloss and "other cosmetic products," as you are so fond of calling them.
Secondly, you would be very well advised to take your little pink (and sometimes green) "vitamin pills" every day, if I understand your situation at all. A blonde like you needs more vitamins a day than a quart of milk can give her.
How do I know about the lip gloss and the vitamin pills? Why, Ari dear, when you sent your note to Jewel you neglected to write her name on the envelope. You simply wrote "Aphrodite Cocktail Bar," so the management innocently popped it up, not realising it was a private communication.
At any rate, I am glad you have regained some of the weight you lost. Do keep warm and get over your head cold so we can all see you back here!
With a sisterly peck on the cheek,
Well, what I mean is, I am not at all sure about this trading sideline young Ariadne has gotten herself involved with. Not to put too fine a point on it: is it really what it seems to be. I mean. I'd be the last to cry down the value of lip gloss and other cosmetics, and being caught in public without a spare lip gloss when you need one is as bad as being caught with runs in both stockings. Well, alright, I am exaggerating a bit. But there are times when any girl would happily pay ten shillings for a lip gloss, if she happened to have ten shillings on her, and I can see that any one clever enough to catch girls at just that psychological moment might make a small fortune in dastardly exploitation of feminine weakness.
All the same . . .
Are you sure it is really lip-gloss these pettes are peddling?
Of course "other cosmetics" could cover a lot of things; but there are
some things it might not cover as well. Before you get in any deeper, dear
Ariadne, please make sure everything is as it should be. All your
friends (and though I have never talked to you before, I would like to
think I am your friend too) would hate to see you involved in something
that could harm you.
Music Playing: The Yvanne Brunette Choir singing "Silent Night"
There is more than one Embassy Cocktail Party, and which one(s) you go to depends on how deeply you are involved in Aristasia. There is the Visitors' Party, which is for girls who live in the Pit, but like to visit Aristasia sometimes, and then there is the Residents' Party which does not mean you have to live in the Embassy to go, but it does mean that you must be a full Aristasian subject who has taken an oath of Allegiance. There is also a very-visitors' party for girls who are not really much involved at all but are interested, and also some girls who do business with the Embassy.
Anyway, last night was the visitors' party. The Embassy is the sweetest place, with oak-panelled walls in the hall, and there is a Christmas tree with real, up-to-date fairy lights (glass and sort of pear-shaped with a soft coloured glow) and the most delightful up-to-date fairy on the top. There are lots of magazines in the hall: Woman's Own and Woman's Realm from the 1950s, Picturegoer (a film magazine) from the 1930s and such-like, all in their December issues with lovely up-to-date Christmassy pictures on them.
When you arrive, the maid, who is dressed in a nice black uniform dress with a white lacy apron, helps you off with your up-to-date coat (you have to wear an up-to-date coat to come to the Visitors' Party) so that every one can see your pretty up-to-date dress when she escorts you into the drawing room.
The music playing is very like that in the Cocktail Bar, only because this is Aristasia-in-Telluria, there are occasionally gentlemen singing, like Mr. Bing Crosby or Mr. Rudy Vallee. There aren't any gentlemen at the party, though, only blondes and brunettes, and the brunettes wear a dark carnation to show that they are brunettes, and the blondes wear a rose to show they are blondes. This is very important in Aristasia-in-Telluria, because you can't tell by hair-colour at all.
Every one says that as soon as you step into the Embassy you are outside London and outside the Pit, and it is very true. The atmosphere is just completely Aristasian. And there are delightful little pieces of toast in the shapes of stars and moons, with anchovy or pheasant or a hot concoction with cream cheese and chillies, and Fountain of Youth cocktails in iced Art-Deco glasses. Actually these Fountain of Youths were called Peachy Fountains, because they had a Secret Ingredient of peach schnapps, not instead of gin, but as well as gin, so they were quite a merry-making concoction.
All in all, we had the dolliest time and I met the most charming brunette who did everything for me - found all the right things to eat and made sure I had drinks and treated me entirely as if I was made of china and could not do anything for myself, which is only half-true, because I am not made of china.
Anyway, if any of you pettes are in London, you simply must come to
the Embassy. It is utterly it.
Anatoly once let me in on the secret that he was really a famous Soviet fighter pilot during much of the war (ie, he flew planes) but then his boss told him he would make a much better ambassador than a pilot of planes so they ordered him to be one and sent him to Washington dc, where he held parties and laughed a lot whenever he told that story to blondes, which was probably most of the time so he wouldn't have to fly planes anymore.
So one evening we went to an embassy party there because there were some very important Soviet government people visiting there from Moscow and they desired us to meet them.
Well the Soviet Embassy in Washington dc was on K Street just down from the White House, but it used to belong to Mr. George Pullman that invented the special cars on the railroads that only the Negroes can work in, but when you went inside and walked up the grand staircase instead of a portrait of Mr. George Pullman there was a portrait of Lenin that invented the U.S.S.R. but forgot his first name, which would probably make Mr. Pullman very upset, but because he was dead he couldn't, but so was Mr. Lenin.
Lenin appeared to have had something wrong with his neck because in all of his pictures, of which there were lots in the Embassy, even on napkins and glasses, it showed him looking off in the exact same direction, up and to the right, with a look on his face like he had just had an important meeting with God so now he knows all of the answers, I mean God does, not Lenin, since Lenin appeared to know them already.
But Anatoly's party was the first time I was ever on television, 24 of them to be exact, because they had a little room off the grand Foi-Yay that used to be the cloak room (a cloak is a coat with no sleeves that nobody wears any more but all the rooms are still there) but now it was filled with 24 little televisions, but nothing was on them besides all of the Embassy's windows and doors and the stairways and you could even see cars whizzing back and forth on K Street outside.
So we went up the grand stairway and admired the rather large portrait of Lenin, and some rather thick gentlemen took our coats and looked us over quite closely. At the top of the stairs there was quite a large ballroom with a parkay floor where Mr. Pullman probably held some very grand balls, but since the Soviet Union at that point in time didn't believe in grand balls they just held embassy parties in it so Anatoly could tell his very interesting stories about when he was a pilot of planes.
So there was a very long table on one side of the room covered with quite a selection of Soviet hore derves but right in the middle was an ice sculpture of Lenin with the same neck disorder but surrounded by red and gray caviar (which is fish eggs from surgeons) and bottles of vodka (that's pale white wine made from potatoes) and glasses to pour it into.
So there were also some rather thick ladies dressed up in waitress costumes, who somebody warned us were the wives of the rather thick gentlemen that already has taken our coats and we should not talk to them because they were all K. G. B. but that they were specially trained to serve vodka and caviar so that we wouldn't suspect them.
So in case we said anything we were warned to say it in code, such as, "Gladys has a headache to-night but it is still quite foggy outside," so they would have to spend hours figuring out just what we meant, which meant they couldn't send anything else secret to Moscow while they were still figuring out just what it was we had said. So we could still be quite patriotic and eat all that Soviet caviar. So we all developed headaches.
So by now everyone else had arrived including some quite famous senators and congressmen and even some cabinet secretaries and judges, so Anatoly could start telling his exciting pilot stories again, so he did, so everyone laughed again and drank vodka although most of the famous senators and congressmen seemed to have had some vodka or something else earlier.
Now the Soviets and also their friends the Russians are quite fond of vodka, but they don't think it works unless the glasses are bigger than beer steins, and many toasts were proposed, so by the time we were drinking to the outer republics quite a number of guests had to sit down. Even if there wasn't a chair.
So at last we ate up all of the caviar and the ice statue of Lenin was almost all melted so his neck looked quite a bit better. So the rather thick gentlemen fetched us our coats and we all went on television again as we walked outside onto K Street and caught us a cab. ARIADNE
A group of young brunettes is abroad in the street, throwing snowballs and laughing, and it is pleasant to see that they stop as three blondes pass between them, in case their high spirits should be a cause for alarm among the fair sex. Fur collars and high-buttoned coats are the order of the day, and shiny, slender black boots with heels not too high as the going can be treacherous.
The single shopping street of Claireborough has coloured electrical lights strung high across the way, and glittering silver stars suspended in the air, and in the centre of it all, high above the thoroughfare, a representation of the Star-Fairy in her silver chariot (the Aristasian equivalent of Santa Claus). I am despatching this report from the dear little brown bakelite keyboard with its tiny glass screen framed with geometric silver wings like an Art-Deco photograph frame, which is set into the oak writing desk for the benefit of customers (one has to put a threepenny piece into the brass slot to despatch a communication).
As my threepence is now running out, I shall proceed down, in a moment, to the warm, gaily-decorated bar to admire the tinsel-covered Nativity-Fir and the equally charmingly decorated bar-blonde. Hot rum punch is 3d here, so have one for me at the Cocktail Bar!
SURIQUE DI QUIRINELLE
From the Swan and Golden Locket, Claireborough, Trent
NOTICE: The following page torn from Ladysmith's Lepidoptera, (M. A. B. Ladysmith, Ph.D., Milchford University Press, 1950), was found last night after closing time by the cleaning staff. We are posting it so that it may be claimed by its owner. -- The ManagementVANESSA SEMPERJUVENA -- BLUSHING MAIDEN BUTTERFLY, FAMILY NYMPHALIDAE, ORDER LEPIDOPTERA: a medium-to-large, polychromatic, iridescent, neotropical, fritillary butterfly found principally in the Perbarisan Mountains of Java but also occurring to a lesser extent in other highland regions of the Malay peninsula, Sumatra, Bali, Borneo, New Guinea and occasionally ranging as far north as Mindanao.
Vanessa Semperjuvena is distinguished by chromophores capable of producing pearlescent and iridescent pigments which alternate rapidly during flight from red across the visible spectrum to violet and back again with periods of fixed coloration at rest, hue depending upon temperature, time of day, phases of the mating cycle and other, poorly understood factors.
The grace and extraordinary beauty of the adult female semperjuvena has earned it the common name "Blushing Maiden."
Chromophores of this species elaborate a plant-like alkaloid absorbable through skin and mucous membranes. The Priestesses of early Javanese and Balinese cultures learned to harvest these chromophores by meticulously dusting off the wings of semperjuvena using brushes fashioned of maiden's tresses. The brushes were so delicate that sacrifice of the butterflies was unnecessary.
According to surviving folkloric legend, they compounded the colorless dust thus obtained with fine white clay from deposits found near the headwaters of the Cimandri River, producing a paste with which they anointed their lips and faces during purification rituals, while the priestess-queen alone anointed her whole body. For the most sacred ceremonies, the queen and high priestesses would place small amounts of the paste on their tongues, inducing a more rapid absorption of the alkaloid.
The priestesses' skin attained a goddess-like, translucent radiance from application of this paste, and their lips a dazzling red brilliance. The effects on the queen are unknown as neither maidens nor priestesses were permitted to behold her during ritual ceremonies.
The alkaloid, absorbed through skin, but especially through the lips and the tip of the tongue, enhanced inner balance and harmony, heightened awareness of inward and outward beauty and projected an aura of serene feminine harmony with the universe. Legend holds that these priestesses and their queens lived for more than two hundred years yet always appeared to be young maidens.
To date, Vanessa semperjuvena is the only member of the order Lepidoptera whose choromophores possess known medicinal or pharmacological properties.
Since the last century, sightings of Vanessa semperjuvena have steadily declined, probably as a result of several species of European thrushes introduced by Dutch settlers in the late 18th. century.
An isolated colony of semperjuvena was discovered near Purwakarta in 1934 by a team of entomologists from the University of Milchford; they were able to extract almost two grains of chromophore alkaloid. The scientists confirmed that trace quantities of the alkaloid as little as one-millionth part of a scruple, when placed on a maiden's tongue, had essentially the same effects described in legend, without clouding of the sensorium, slowing of reflexes or intellectual impairment of any sort.
The researchers had too small a sample to permit ......
HERE ENDS THE TORN PAGE
Music Playing: Marychild's Dance Orchestra playing "La Cucuracha"
Theda (that's our driver) brought me your note earlier and she promised to bring this reply back to you before the night is over. Theda is out driving around quite a lot anyway, so she assures me it's not a bother at all, so I have my own private postal service with deliveries twice a day and in the evenings as well!
I'm afraid I'm rather indisposed by a head cold so I can't go out right now, so I will tell by writing this note that I'm having the grandest time of my entire life and will have the Gibson later! Symone is so very sweet and kind and generous. But she is almost never home because her eight gyrocompass plants always need a lot of supervision, so now she is in Bangkok buying chips or circus boards or some such for them and will be gone a fortnight.
Those earrings? Yes, Symone bought them for me that day Katalina saw us in Long Acre. They're real rubies but they gave me rather a stiff neck so I don't wear them too often. Symone has bought me ever so much jewellery that I have to keep a list in a small little red alligator notebook just to keep track of it all. Symone said I should try to write more, so I began with the jewellery.
Also I don't have to keep my visits to the Aphrodite Cocktail Bar a secret anymore from Theda the driver and Brydgitte the maid, that's why Theda has brought this note. They are really quite jolly girls once a girl gets to know them, but Theda always seems to have a cold so she keeps a handkerchief up her sleeve. Theda and Brydgitte and Yngrid (that's one of Symone's pilots who fly the Ladystar jet for her) all have a darling little business together selling expensive lipgloss and other famous cosmetic products to all the other Bentley drivers in London.
Yngrid brings back the lipgloss and other cosmetic products with her from her trips (she can get them at extremely attractive prices in the Orient Brydgitte says) and they spread them all out on the kitchen table at night and Theda weighs them on a dinky-dolly little scales to make sure they are quite correct, she says, and then Brydgitte gift wraps each one so that all the other Bentley drivers in London can pick them up whenever they wish. Sometimes a driver must be too busy during the day to come by because once or twice a Bentley came in the middle of the night because the driver needed her new lipgloss in a hurry.
So anyway they told me it was ticketty-boo for me to go out to visit the Aphrodite Cocktail Bar whenever I liked whenever Symone is out of town which is most of the time and they said they don't have to tell her about it, except tonight I have a head cold so I can't. But they all agreed they'd rather I didn't tell Symone about the lipgloss and cosmetics business, so I shan't.
So Theda told me yesterday they were thinking of expanding the business and start delivering lipgloss and other cosmetic products all over London because not all the drivers always have time to come and collect it, so they require a responsible pette like me to deliver the lipgloss and other cosmetic products and bring back the receipts (that's what Theda calls money) from the other Bentley drivers. So if I wish I can have the job, and a darling little briefcase to carry my samples in, Theda said, then I'll be the one being driven all over the place in a mauve Bentley! And they said they would count the receipts so I won't have to because I can't.
Jewel, I'm not completely certain I know what a "double moral" is but I think it's the lesson a girl's supposed to learn from listening to two adverbs, but I know just what you mean anyway, to wit I should have a good time and not listen to those who can't so they tell all the other girls they oughtn't. So I am doing my very best to have a good time.
But I really haven't thrown caution to the winds, Jewel, I am taking very good care of myself. I am eating well and have put back a few pounds in the right places so all my spanking new clothing fits me like a dream.
Symone wants me to stay well too, so she has Brydgitte bring me a teensy little pink vitamin pill every morning with my breakfast, but for the last three days it's been light green, but then in a few more days it shall be pink again. But I don't take them anyway, I wash them down the drain because Mummie always says that a girl gets all the vitamins she needs if she drinks a quart of milk a day, so I do. But, la! I can't swallow pills, anyway.
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Some one has described Aristasia as "one long conversation". Well, Aphrodite is rather like that. If you want to catch up on the conversation so far, the Archive is the place to do it.
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