Oh, my dearest Elizabeth... let me just stand here and hold you. Yes, I know we're in public, but darling, I think you owe me this. <sigh> Diana, my I borrow a hanky , please? Thank you, pette. <sniffle> Well, now! You certainly had us all worried there for a bit! My goodness, where have you been? No, no; I shouldn't ask. It's not polite and it's really none of my business. Oh darling, are those tears in your lovely green eyes? Please, no, don't try to explain; it was all just silly and my fault entirely. Let's not speak of it anymore, let's just enjoy a little time together.
Let's see... barpette? Two margaritas, frozen, one with salt and one without, for my beautiful friends here. And a Hurricane for me; I'm in a Mardi Gras mood. A toast, my beauties: To life, love, and the pursuit of... blondes! <giggle>
Now then, girls, what shall we talk about?
Yes, let's do slip into a somewhat more comfortable booth over there. But perhaps, before we do, a word. You have indulged me abundantly with your account of what has come to pass in my absence. Yet I still am somewhat puzzled, if not completely mystified, by the tale of your and Ramona's oncoming bliss and its abrupt abortion. My wonder at your singular situation remains unresolved. I shouldn't ask, but I couldn't help noticing your most emphatic distress at Miss Rebecca's and Miss Elizabeth's apparently classic romantic misunderstanding. Also I dare hardly believe my luck. But to the best of my knowledge you, a fully accomplished and utterly desirable Blonde, and Ramona, a sagacious and just as desirable Brunette, undoubtedly underneath her tantalising self-possession well-endowed with a burning capacity for abandon, were headed for a union made in Aristasia. I assume someone has got her wires crossed somewhere in Elektraspace. Not surprisingly what with these reconstructions going on and all. But darling Barbi, no matter how much I crave deepening our re-acquintance and exploring all its possible aspects I would not dream of intruding unwantedly by making a faux pass.
Hopefully these remarks do not infringe upon the titillating rapport you so single-handedly managed to establish between us, but Sweeti, I really think you still worry a bit too much about yourself and, well, things. By now, you are everything but a recovering Pit-maiden. In voicing all the insecurities, doubts and relapses all of us by nature pitiful girlies are bound to experience, you have I dare say, voiced the feelings of a generation, and as a siren at that. Your Werdegang sets an example for girls like my Marie-Louise, of whom I did not dispose in a picturesque boarding school in some mountainous region in the East, although the thought did cross my mind on more than occasion. One of the reasons for my return to the bosom of Aphrodite is its beneficial effect on both me and my sister. I thought a great deal of you and your stunning bloom into unmatched blondness whilst roaming the lands of my forebears and it dawned on me that only in Aristasia can a girl realise her true feminine potential.
For now I'm not willing to risk boring you to tears with tales
of the cities I traversed, well, not until you are comfortably settled
in the plush next to the palm and I've provided you with another drink.
Oh, dear, it's so good to be back in the Cocktail Bar again.
Miss Katherine P. c/o The Aphrodite Cocktail Bar
firstname.lastname@example.org (The Aristasian Embassy)
Dear Miss K.:
Your letter expressing concerns about modern women's magazines has been passed on to me for reply.
Several points in your letter were a bit unclear. For example, some of the magazines to which you refer are unknown to me, nor has anyone else on our staff ever heard of them. I am referring to Mademoiselle and Glamour. Your mentioning them immediately raised our perfectly penciled editorial eyebrow and led us to ask just what grocery store are you shopping in, darling? The other mystifying reference was to "m-e-n:" none of the girls in the editorial offices had any idea what you were talking about, and ascribed it to a typographical error.
Putting these puzzling matters aside, however, let me speak to the editorial policy of McCall's Magazine, which we call "The Magazine of Togetherness." And for good reason, it is very much a family magazine, broadly appealing to girls and women, from teenagers to grandmothers, all over Culveria. So you are quite correct in saying that modern women's magazines, (of which McCall's has the largest national circulation, by the way), "are all about women and their special concerns -- mothering, caring for home and hearth, and dressing in feminine fashion." You confused me a bit, however, when you wrote that modern women's magazines also are about "losing weight, arranging one's hair, competing with other women ... in the workplace, and, most of all, attracting, understanding and ultimately 'catching' women," (I corrected your typos, dear), as if this is something we should avoid.
Our magazine often deals with matters of proper diet and takes the position that plumpness in girls and women is a perfectly attractive and desirable Archetype, but that gross obesity is something a girl should do everything to avoid. We also run frequent articles on hair styling, a critical skill every girl should posses, and which is often imperfectly taught these days. Much of our fiction (and some of our advertisements) concerns girls who lose a loved pette to another because of a remediable flaw in their characters that needs attending to, so the matter of competition among girls arises in a romantic context, but of course we never deal with girls competing with one another in the workplace. What unusual ideas you have, Miss P.! Who would even dream of such a thing? One wonders exactly what your mother taught you about career girls! You ought to read our forthcoming October issue, which has a special feature on the considerable difficulties facing girls who desire a career. Competing with other girls is not among them.
Now, about catching a mate, (you are speaking of young blondes, of course), you seem to feel that such a subject is not proper for an up-to-date women's magazine. It is perfectly normal for every blonde to want to be a bride, so normal, in fact, that we devote our June issue each year to new brides and brides-to-be. Our June issue this year, for example, has a young bride on the cover, with a banner below saying, Special in This Issue -- 33 Pages On .....What it's Like to be a Bride Today. Inside, one of our three short stories is called, Only Once a Bride. Most of the articles are about brides and weddings: Wedding Etiquette (by Amy Vanderbilt), The Luckiest Girls in the World, and four separate articles called The Bride Cooks. The main article, I, Susan, Take Thee..., is a photo feature which follows the wedding plans -- and the wedding itself -- of one Miss Susan B. of Madison, Wisconsin.
We also devote quite a number of column inches every month to our many readers who are teenagers and grandmothers -- we do not aim at only marriageable girls and young mothers, by any means. The same June issue has a short story called Little Misfit, about a 13-year old blonde named Judy who is careless about her appearance and is not very dainty -- and who discovers to her chagrin that brunettes take no interest in her until she becomes a Proper Miss. There is also an article written by a mother about her grown and married daughter, entitled, "She Doesn't Keep House the Way I Did."
At any rate, Miss P., we here at McCall's strive to publish a magazine for all women. And, as a way of thanking you for your interest in our magazine, I have arranged with our circulation department for a complimentary one year subscription to McCall's, to begin with the October issue I mentioned.
Yours very truly,
Miss Elizabeth Davenport, Executive Editor
I know just what Miss Katherine means, for there is nothing quite
like a real magazine to confirm a girl's true essence, to line her up with
all of those other girls in the real
world, to make her feel really good about being a (really good) girl.
This month's McCall's (1953) has a wonderful article for pickling,
so guess what I am doing all afternoon? Putting up pickles for the long
winter months ahead. The pickles will sit right next to the tomatoes canned
last week. I'm so excited about making pickled cauliflower and mustard
pickles, because making them makes me feel very close to other American
and Culverian women who for centuries have spent September canning and
pickling and freezing food to last through the winter. It's an exercise
in racination, just as listening to Annette Hanshaw is, and watching Miss
Monroe sizzle on the screen is. The more a girl can feel connected
to the pettes who lived before the Eclipse,
the less the Pit will have her in its grasp.
And today, my grandmothers and great grandmothers are all in my kitchen
with me, their sweet spirits lifting the jars from the boiling water, their
kind, maternal eyes looking on as I stir vinegar and sugar together; and
today, no Octopus tentacle is in sight, for I am armored by their presence
and their kind and loving help.
La! I know that I put it somewhere where I was sure to remember it...and now, silly me, I've forgotten where that is! Why...my mesmerizing Manuela...my brunette beauty...what are you doing?...you're touching my leg so delicately and sensually...I won't be able to remember anything if you don't stop...you're raising the hem of my dress...Oh! You gorgeous pette...you knew all along! In my stocking top! My goodness...and I do mean goodness...how could I have forgotten? Or, maybe I should say, surrounded by so many deliciously distracting darlings here at Aphrodite, how could I be expected to remember? But, first things first: promises must be kept!
Perhaps, it was the Wok question...a most difficult conundrum for recovering Pit-maidens, my delicate darlings, especially if, like myself, she is a vegetarian. I mean, what are stir-fried vegetables if they aren't stir-fried in a wok? Well, they're just sautéed vegetables, that's what! And, mark my words, my effervescent pettes, there is a difference, and a tradition to be honored here, as well. I wonder...were there vegetarians on the other side of the Iron Curtain?
Oh, la! My head is positively swimming with so many deep thoughts, but...first things first! Promises must be kept, brunette or blonde, but the obligation falls especially heavily on a blonde, since we seem to have a reputation for scheming and some people think that blonde intelligence is an oxymoron. My entrancing Miss Elizabeth...don't move your pretty, perfectly poised person from that bar stool, darling...I'll be back before you can cross your luscious legs and adjust your skirt. Perhaps, when I return, if Rebecca is home, or should chance to drop in, we can finally hear about that elusive reunion...it was a promise, after all...
Dutifully, I remain,
A dedicated Sweetipops,
I would be interested in hearing anyone else's opinion on these modern
"women's" magazines, and how they stand up next to the up-to-date items.
My favorite part of the story was hearing how your little girls liked dressing up in the mink and hats and gloves and dresses. I remember playing dress up when I was a girl, rummaging through my Grandmother's attic, looking for furs and high heels. Those were some of the finest moments of my little girlhood, when I was pretending to be already the lady I would eventually become.
Just the other day, a very feminine two-year-old girl (unfortunately dressed that day in boy's clothes) asked if she could wear my hat and touch my gloves. In that moment, I felt such sadness for little girls in the Pit. See, this baby's mother was standing there, herself dressed in men's clothes, and I asked her if little Anna had a "dress up" trunk of her own. Of course the little girl didn't. Her mother looked at me puzzled beyond belief, and then I thought, "even if this little girl, so clearly longing to wear pretty things, did have nice pretendy clothes, who would she be pretending to be?" Who would be for her the model, the standard, the embodiment of the divine feminine image she wishes to become herself one day? Not the person in front of me, dressed in rags. Not the masses walking the streets each day, so removed from the essence of true femininity that it is ridiculous. Not little Anna's nursery school teachers, not anyone, except perhaps one lady she barely knows, who bends down beside her, and with a tear in her eye, says, "Yes, little Anna, you may wear my hat and touch my gloves."
Love to all of you, and Bartendress, please send a hot toddy over
to Blanche from me; she looks a mite cold. The blue underneath certainly
supports her better than it warms her, I suppose. Anyhow, it is
almost that time of the year. Will the establishment be offering discounts
on warm drinks again this year, I wonder.
Warm drinks? Yes, we suppose that time is coming around again, isn't it. I am sure something will be arranged in time, though the hot rum punch we had last year (and will have again if you pettes vote for it) is very much a Winter drink. Any suggestions for Autumnal beverages?
And speaking of a touch of exoticism, where oh where is our darling Rebecca? I miss her sparkling wit, her gleaming eyes, her oh-so-sweet laugh. (I really must tell you of the time we sat together for the first time over drinks, and realized our instant empathy for giggling. We entertained all the blondes and brunettes around us, and had quite a good time ourselves!)
And I am still shivering with anticipation, waiting to hear the tale of Rebecca and Elizabeth's last tete-a-tete. Please, dearest Rebecca, dear Elizabeth, break your silences!
Leave it to a blonde like me to make a seemingly clever little plan to captivate the attentions and affections of such a devastatingly beautiful brunette, only to have it go completely awry!
And, pettes, I know I promised.... My poor little head has been so full of troubles lately, I haven't had time to tell everyone about my second reunion with Rebecca -- and here we are, coming up on our third! Assuming, of course, Miss Rebecca can see fit to excuse my silly behaviour.
Some of you lovely brunettes, can you help me? How can I ensure that she'll see me again? Would a sweet little present for Rebecca be an appropriate apology? Perhaps some chocolates, or a book of poetry?
Love and kisses,
Where was I! Oh, I remember, I had just sent a brunettishly honest
letter to cousin M., relating how Alicia was devastated by that sad little
peasant dress, and M. replied, bewildered, as if she could not understand
any little girl could have resisted the dress she had sent.
So I began seriously to wonder about M.'s vaunted taste and judgment. But
this letter arrived:
"Darling Cousin, All became clear just minutes ago, as if the clouds themselves were parting and I had found the Key to all Mythologies ... Is the dress she didn't like the little silly peasant-like dress? Well, of course she didn't like that one, and I never would have sent it as the dress, which must not have arrived yet, though it was in the post days earlier... The dress is a blue velvet darling little dress, which I just now had the thought that you haven't received yet. The peasant one I thought I'd send because it is only a dollar and light as a feather, and I thought maybe the girls might be able to use it in a play, for it does seem more costumey than dressy."Ah! So that was it! The dress was held up in the mail, and some play-dress, sent later, had arrived first! Oh, what an adorable and heart-wrenching feminine mix-up, classic Ramona-and-Juliet bad timing, a Case of Mistaken Identity Involving a Dress! The cost was some tears, to be sure, but the reward was Alicia's exquisitely heightened desire for the now-magical dress, the fulfillment of which would now be so much the greater. I told Alicia what had happened. She pursed her lips in a skeptical pout, but hope gleamed, renewed, in her eyes.
We were not to be disappointed this time. The very next day's
mail brought the long-awaited package. All girls were on hand for the ceremonial
unveiling -- me, Nancy, Alicia, of course, and even Flora, my oldest, a
willowy type-1 bongo who now lives on her own. All the fleeming loot from
M.'s earlier forays was brought out and displayed, even the poor Raggedy
Ann dress. But rather than tell you all over again just what transpired
in our femininely-charged Hestia after the package was opened, permit me
to quote from my letter to M., composed after our common fever had somewhat
"Dearest Coz, The bedroom is at this very mome a colorful shambles of dresses, slips, panties, shoes, stockings and garter belts, blouses, costume jewelry, hats and scarves and mink stole -- a beehive of unabashedly self-absorbed feminine industry. Frantic searches for just the right shade of bright-red lipstick, the right size and color of earrings, the right length of faux pearls, breathless zip-me-up-please requests, jostling for good mirror space, chins up, faces to the light, examining details and fancied subtleties of expression and maquillage. What shall I tell you of first? Of Alicia's fabulous dark-blue velvet dress with ivory lace collar and cuffs? Alicia was enraptured, starry-eyed. She took one look at the dress as it lay on the bed where I had spread it for her minute and sober inspection, then, silently, almost reverently, she undressed (no intimation of modesty here), shedding her tomboyish play-clothes, which fell to the floor unheeded like autumn leaves. Alicia held up her new dress, slowly turning it to regard first the front, then the back, dreamingly stroking the velvet, intently fingering and fondling the lace at collar and cuffs, then slipping it on and hurrying decorously, almost daintily, to the full-length mirror in the bathroom, pirouetting and spinning before it, placing chin on one shoulder, then on the other, regarding her reflection with a batting of eyelashes under brows coquettishly lowered. But all this was done in great earnest, not in play, not like little-girl dress-up of the previous week at all, but the real article this time, her own feminine self on both sides of the mirror, not a mere figment or projection -- another step in her initiation into the eternal feminine mysteries.Oh, pettes, I blush to tell you any more of that letter, you will think me too, too riskay and at odds with the wonted delicacy and restraint of the Aphrodite Cocktail Bar. I shall need to screw up my courage before I can go any further. Sweet barpette, a double blonde bombshell. No, better make that two!
"But, La, Coz! The other garment in your fleeming package, the one you selected for me, Brenda, professional brunette, you know it shall be my undoing, the very inflammation of the smoldering blondeness within me which you kindled with the very first fleeming package you sent. I refer, of course, to the six-gartered baby-blue girdle with the delicate lace fringing which follows the elegant upward-scooped curve at the midline, the curve that so gently defers to a girl's innermost mysteries...."
TO BE CONCLUDED
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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