The Cocktail Bar

NOTE: This conversation runs backwards! For the benefit of regular readers the newest comments are put at the top.

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The District Librarian

Dearies,

 It's me, your very own Miranda, and today, 'Nettie's not even with me. See, she said that I had been such a good little girl the few times she came to the Cocktail Bar with me that now I am big enough to come here all on my own. But, knowing my 'Nettie, I imagine she's got spies all over this place who will tattle on me if I am naughty. But I won't be, so I've nothing to fear!

 I was hoping you blondies would all come over here in the corner so I could tell you the most frightfully exciting thing. You will? Oh goody! Because I am just about to bust wanting to talk about it. But No Brunettes Allowed. No, because I just couldn't talk with a brunette listening. See, I want to talk about brunettes, not to them. Tee hee.

 Well, the most awffy exciting thing has happened in my district. But I've already said that part, haven't I? Ahem. Um, well, we have a new librarian. I know it doesn't sound like much, but it's been ages since anything exciting has happened in New Quirinelle. And, dearies, she is simply dreamy. I saw her yesterday, in her plaid skirt and blue sweater. She has dark black hair and brown eyes that stare right through a girl. You know the kind? She can raise her eyebrows just a touch and if you've been naughty about bringing a book back late or something and she gives you that look, you feel as if you could fall right to the floor! And that's before she even checks her desk drawer for something that might really bring the point home.

 But here's the best part. She is very interested in helping girls learn about the Classics, so she said she'll meet with me after the library is closed to help me learn about books I haven't read yet. She wasn't very keen on what I have been reading, the Sue Barton, Nurse books (you girls know those. Gosh, we've been passing them around for weeks). She called that sort of book "flippery." But if it means that I can look into her brown eyes and we'll be all alone each Tuesday after hours, golly, I'll give up my Sue Barton and read whatever she tells me to read. Wouldn't you?

 But, now here's a question. You don't think it's just because she likes books that she'd want to see me alone, do you? I mean, don't you think it might be because she likes me? Oh, I shouldn't even think such a thing, I know, but, maybe, it might be a teensy weensy bit about me too, mightn't it, and not just about the books?

 I'll keep you pettes in the know.

 Love,

 MIRANDA



Support for Karen

Dear Karen, please DO continue to write to the Cocktail Bar. I, for one, am fascinated by the ongoing conversation and conversion. It is, indeed, very difficult to change one's ways. I have a cozy Vintessian hestia, but I conduct all my business in the Pit, and for many years I was like you, dressing and talking and living in the masculine world. I wore jeans and hiking boots and t-shirts and never gave a thought to make-up, except to think that it certainly wasn't for me. My change came about gradually, because I became a teacher. And teaching is one of the few professions in the Pit where being a Lady is still valued and almost required (unless, of course, the teacher is a man, in which case he must and should be a Gentleman). So I had to learn to wear panty-hose (which I have recently discarded in favor of garter belts etc., which are simply more secure and comfortable--absolutely less vulnerable smile), make-up, heels, and skirts. What I found was that I liked these things. I felt smarter, more confident, and like a better woman for wearing these feminine articles of clothing. I gradually found that I was wanting to wear dresses to the grocery store, and to the movies, and even around the house (although I must confess that comfy flats and less make-up are the rule at home). I sincerely believe that you do have the strength and elegance to make these changes. You are obviously courting thoughts of change with some seriousness, and believe me, the alteration is not as hard to make as one may think, especially since it is, in fact, an external alteration, not an internal one. You are already a female; now all that is left is recognizing that you can be a feminine archetype. Most of us in the Bar are either converted or converting, so you know you can always come here for cheer, support, and tips on hat-wearing fashions in Kadoria!

 Love,

 DIANA


Racinated Dreams

Darlings,

 I was quite happy to hear about Mrs. Culver's up-to-date dreams. I am fortunate enough to have mainly up-to-date dreams and they are always a welcome relief if I've had to be in the pea-eye-tea. If you've never had a good 'ol racinated dream, you don't know what you're missing! But having such lovely dreams isn't just an accident; rather, it takes a lot of work purifying your psyche enough to allow such real images to live there. If you are being very good, refusing the Pit's poison and reading lots of real magazines and books, watching real films and television programs, and listening to real music, you might begin to dream real dreams too!

 One thing I like to do just before bedtime is look at pictures or watch some television from before the Eclipse. Then, as I wait for sleep to take over, I imagine all of my own little town becoming real. I don't imagine how it was before the Eclipse because it is important for me to think in terms of the world becoming whole again in the future. All of the houses in my neighborhood were built before the Eclipse, so the actual buildings are sound enough. I imagine those houses sheltering real people who drive real cars and raise real children. Then, when sleep comes and I begin to dream, I almost always find myself in a real world, where even the people who wear the wrong kind of clothes during the day, are quite nicely dressed in my dreams. And even if these same people drive bongo monstrosities in the day, they drive elegant, dignified automobiles in my dreams. Isn't that wonderful?

 I think all of you newies are being quite good making all of your changes. The most important thing to remember is that the more you grow into Aristasia, the more you will know that the Pit has no right whatsoever to exist, and this knowledge will help you care less and less what the Pit thinks of you. It's ever so much more important what you think of the Pit. And, for all of us, that is not much.

 Love Always, MISS BARBARA


Music Playing: the Quirinelles singing The Great Pretender


Dateline: 8 January 1952

Two Vulnerable Blondes And Two Audacious Brunettes: A Double Date

[Two lovely dark-haired blonde roommates, Madge and Amanda, are preparing for a double date with Veronica and Harriet, two brunettes of their acquaintance. Madge and Amanda are already fifty minutes late. Their brunette belles await them downstairs.]

MADGE: (The blonde with the red ribbon in her hair) Did you hear? That Annalinde is at it again, telling the entire Aphrodite Cocktail Bar that there were some rough brunettes slinking about last night in Bottle Alley, accosting blondes with pinches and imperious kisses after the show at the Maryhill Odeon! D'you think Veronica and Harriet plan to walk us through Bottle Alley tonight? I'll be ever so frightened if they do!

AMANDA: (The blonde pulling on her stockings). Don't get your hopes up, Pigeon. Annalinde only said that Connie Boswell was like those brunettes in Bottle Alley. But if anyone was passing out pinches and imperious kisses in Bottle Alley last night, it probably was Veronica and Harriet, up to their old tricks. Weren't the Boswell sisters at the Palladium last night? Veronica and Harriet go to the Palladium a lot, don't they?. That's prob'ly where they get half their ideas. That Connie Boswell is some brunette! I shouldn't like to meet her in any dark alley. Prob'ly was 'Ronnie and Harriet, don't you think?

 MADGE: Annalinde wasn't dropping names, she only said they were some rather rough brunettes, but two weeks ago Veronica did pinch me and then tried to kiss me! The nerve! (Hey, you don't have a spare hold-bob, do you?}

 AMANDA: What! You don't say! Um, well, did you like it? (Oh, the hold-bobs are in my little black lacquered box, on the shelf under the mirror)

 MADGE: (Ta.) Well, she managed to kiss me twice.

 AMANDA: Twice. Oh. I see. That says it all, I guess.

 MADGE: Well, a kiss is just a kiss, a pinch is just a pinch, Sweetipops, it doesn't really mean anything, does it?

 AMANDA: Well, it should, don't you think? A girl has her reputation to consider, not to mention her future to think of, doesn't she? Can't be too careful.

 MADGE: Oh, Amanda, don't be so stuffy all the time! Let yourself go once in a while. A girl's reputation won't rust from a few kisses and pinches! A late walk down Bottle Alley can do a blonde a whole world of good! It can be so deliciously frightening, too.

 AMANDA: But Madge, Darling, with all this femmey chit-chat of vulnerability going around the Cocktail Bar these days, one has to watch one's p's and q's ever so closely! A girl should never be considered too vulnerable, though, Dea knows, it's hard not to feel vulnerable with underpinnings like these!

 MADGE: You always go on so about your undies, Mandy - For goodness' sake, stop smoothing out your stockings and hitch them up, will you? You've been going on chatting and smoothing them for five minutes! At this rate we're going to be unfashionably late.

 AMANDA: But Madge, a girl needs her stockings perfectly smooth! Let them wait a bit longer.


Deracinated language and my apologies

Thank you for your comments on my post. You are right. I'm sorry to you and all of the girls here for my usage of the words "strength and power". They are male terms that have quite negative connotations. Yes, "elegance" is much better, along with the others that you mentioned. "Superior" is something that's been thought about many times from a Pit-feminist perspective, but never in the light that you are holding up to me. I've really got to stop thinking in those everyday terms that I encounter in the world, things that have devalued me as a person. Sensitivity is a quality that I've always felt was a positive part of my inner self but also one of those that I've been afraid to express for fear of appearing weak. You seem to imply that it's the weak that dare not be vulnerable; a very good point and one that I seem to have overlooked in my struggle to succeed in this male world.

 Please realize that I'm very seriously taking your words into consideration. There is so much for me to learn, not only about femininity, but of the Pit language and terminology that has been integrated in our everyday lives. If I am upsetting anyone here by my writing please let me know and I will stop until my writing is more apropos to the Bar. The last thing I want to do is to tarnish this beautiful place.

 I will try to think more about the meaning of words in the future.

 Thank you for your response. It, along with many other wonderful things said here will be reread many times. Hopefully they will eventually take hold and grow within me. The world will be a better place for it.

 KAREN



Sweetie, you aren't tarnishing anything. Please don't feel (and that, of course goes for all you darling pettes) that if we sometimes feel constrained to comment on something you have said that may have some residual Pittishness about it that this constitutes a personal condemnation of you. Of course it doesn't. In fact, the old saying "we learn by our mistakes" may be a truism, but like most truisms it is true. We were in fact grateful to you for raising this question as we, having the good fortune to live in a world where such language is not commonplace, had never really had occasion to consider the implications of this "strength and power" jargon properly before. So we all learnt something. For which we thank you.

I Only Have Eyes for You

A little while ago, before we started talking about the Pit so much, we were having a most delightful time singing songs to each other, and seeing, under the influence of the aristocratic Miss Alisilene, who we all thought was a Trentish matriot until she revealed herself as a cosmopolitan Ladytonian, how truly lyrical are the Lyrics of the great Trentish repertoire; how, indeed, they are the real poetry of the Far West.

 Well I for one am convinced and converted, and should like to present for your consideration one of the loveliest lyrics I know. As always, it is a great pity if you don't know the gorgeous, glamorous, dreamy tune (but I bet you do!). So here, for your delectation is:
 
 

I Only Have Eyes for You

Are the stars out tonight?
I don't know if it's cloudy or bright,
For I only have eyes for you.

 The moon may be high,
But I can't see a thing in the sky,
For I only have eyes for you.

 I don't know if we're in a garden
Or on a crowded avenue,

 You are here, so am I,
Maybe millions of people go by
But they all disappear from view,

 And I only have eyes for you.

 What sweeter, more wonderful compliment could a brunette ever pay to a blonde? And how beautifully this conventional phrase is turned into the most elegant and delightful weaving of words and music.

 And Alisilene, do please tell us more about the Imperial City and your love affair therewith. We in the backwoods of Quirinelle hang on your every word. Is it really paved with gold? Do not resist the plea of a blonde to entrance her with tales of your beloved city.

 ALICE


The Story Of Susan M. - Part III

The shoppers seem encased by invisible bubbles: they wander along, intent or semi-distracted. There are no conversations in progress nor any laughter. The only voice Susan hears booms at times from many loudspeakers at once, hectoring shoppers to buy this or that product or offering fulsome general praise for the store. When the voice is silent, insipid music is played or store clerks check prices, addressing one another by their Christian names only. "Thank you, Chad," "Thank you, Kimberly," boom through the store.

 [At this point, let us give Susan's eyes respite, and consider what such bizarre clothing and behavior can possibly mean. Writing in the mid-twentieth century, the Essentialist philosopher, Rene Guenon, compared civilization to a triangle with unity, essence and quality at its apex and uniformity, substance and quantity at its base. As civilizations decline according to pre-ordained historical cycles, they move from the triangle's apex towards its base. In an essay entitled The Reign of Quantity, M. Guenon described modern Western civilization as already well-removed from the apex and predicted an accelerated decline towards the base. Susan now stands on a much lower level of the triangle than where she stood only a few moments earlier in her neighborhood grocer's. M. Guenon describes just such a level in The Reign of Quantity:

 "Quantity will predominate over quality in individuals to the extent that they approach a condition in which they are, so to speak, mere individuals and nothing more, and to the extent that they are thereby more separate from one another; and it must be emphasized that this does not mean that they are more differentiated, for there is also a qualitative differentiation in which the separation in question consists. This separation turns individuals into so many "units", and turns their collectivity into quantitative multiplicity; at the limit, these individuals would be no more than something comparable to the imagined "atoms" of the physicists, deprived of every qualitative determination; and, though this limit can never be reached, it lies in the direction which the world of to-day is following."

 M. Guenon subsequently refers to the "atomic multiplicity" of such quantitative individuation. For brevity's sake, let us henceforth refer to this non-qualitative form of individuation as "atomization" and to qualitatively differentiated individuals as "real individuals." Atomization, then, is a sign, as well as a symptom, of a civilization in a state of near-terminal decline on its great historical cycle, very close to the theoretically unattainable limit at the base of M. Guenon's triangle. The shoppers Susan sees are in an advanced state of atomization in dress and behavior, a sign that their culture lies close to the cycle's nadir. Individuals have been reft of their "proper qualities," rendering them "equivalent units" which, paradoxically, bear a counterfeit resemblance to real individuals. Despite their wildly varying dress and demeanor, the other shoppers are remarkably uniform, unlike the healthy diversity of real individuals in a unified Normal culture.

 Archetypes are determinants of quality that create the real individuals required to sustain such a culture. Near the base of Guenon's triangle, archetypes do not apply or apply only weakly: the shoppers Susan sees are no longer qualitatively differentiated from their fellows by virtue of the unique blend of archetypes each should embody, but are merely quantitatively differentiated as "free-floating" individuals who "define" their own "realities" in dress and behavior without reference to any archetype at all. The attenuation of archetypes near the triangle's base rends the collective fabric of a Real culture at the same time the "cult of the individual" becomes triumphant and Quantity reigns.

 The cosmic irony of a descent on the triangle towards pure quantity is the stultifying and monotonous sameness of this new cult's acolytes: uniformity in place of a unified collectivity of Real individuals. Each thinks she is imaginatively unique, no slave to fad or fashion, rebelling against conformity, yet, without archetypes to differentiate real individuals, each is uniform in ugliness, in unwitting caricature of the normal.

 Another lesson to be drawn is that atomization proceeds hand-in-hand with the suppression of real differences among people -- real differences in strength, beauty, ability, talent, intelligence -- which make a whole and healthy civilization. Essential differences are replaced by an enforced egalitarianism and democratization, even an elevation of the sub-normal to a status higher than the normal. It is no accident that the store clerks address one another by first names only: they address everyone thus, even their manager. It is a universal phenomenon of our future, only forty-five years from now.]

 WE SHALL RETURN TO SUSAN M. IN PART IV - THE CONCLUSION


Music Playing: the Quirinelles singing The Single Blonde


Dateline: 7 January 1952

Rough Brunettes

Darlings! Our Sagette said no one could be more brunette than Miss Connee Boswell. How right she was. With her husky voice, contrasted with the voices of her two sisters, singing in close harmony, she can almost be a Rough Brunette of the sort that accost blondes in Bottle Alley after the Maryhill Odeon closes, so that we are never quite safe from pinches and imperious kisses. Have you heard her (Miss Connee Boswell, I mean. Do concentrate on what I am saying and not go off into a reverie about pinches in Bottle Alley) have you heard her singing When I take My Sugar to Tea?

 When I take my sugar to tea,
The brunettes are jealous of me
'Cause I never take her where the gang goes
When I take my sugar to tea.

 She's a high-hat baby, that's she,
I'm a rowdy-dowdy, that's me,
So I never take her where the gang goes
When I take my sugar to tea.

 Do get a record of the Boswell Sisters which contains this song. You'll just adore it. Isn't she simply the sort of brunette that naughty Susan in Children of the Void will grow up to be if she isn't taken in hand?

 And talking of Bottle Alley, did you hear of the blonde (whom I shall not name) who arrived at the Honeyset Park Soda Fountain alone.

 "Did you go down Bottle Alley," they asked. "Were you accosted?" "No, I wasn't," she replied. "I am thinking of having another try."

 Of course, she was only joking; but don't you think she should have been smacked just for saying it?

 ANNALINDE


Accepting Vulnerability

Elizabeth Ruth, your comments and the reply concerning vulnerability touch on a very important issue. Real clothing such as stockings or high heels do tend to make a girl feel quite vulnerable. Feeling vulnerable, sensual, and other gifts of femininity are terrifying things to experience in the Pit, and difficult things to aspire to. Because of the power they instill in us however, they could eventually be rewarding. You also seem to be searching for your true feminine self, otherwise you, as I, would not be returning to this lovely Bar. Girls like us are fortunate to have found this safe place where we can explore and learn about that special something that women have recently been manipulated for all too long into banishing from our lives. I think that as time goes on, we will find that special province, or provinces, where we are most comfortable. For myself, I hope that some day I feel comfortable enough with my femininity to experience that vulnerability and to accept it's strength and power. It's difficult.

 Shirley, you have truly warmed me with your song, and your insightful advice. Last weekend I finally decided to stretch my wings a bit and try something new and exciting (although to many of the girls here this will seem truly a bore). It was nice to dress up after so many years of being an ultra plain Jane. Although I did wear wool flannel slacks, which I apologize for, I managed low heeled pumps, a silky blouse, and carefully applied makeup. I purchased some lovely Mauve polish and as soon I arrived home, relaxed by painting my toes. It felt delightful, but am unsure about doing my fingernails in a color. Maybe it's best doing them clear for "professional" reasons? Your words about other's reactions was right on target. A saleslady in a store that I frequent commented on "how pretty you look today". I felt the urgent need to make up an excuse and felt very foolish afterwards for doing so. Why do we have these feelings? What is wrong with dressing up just to dress up? This is going to be something else to learn to overcome. Accepting femininity is going to require a strength of mind and discipline that honestly, I don't know if it's within me.

 Thanks to all for your support. This Bar is becoming one of my favorite places to visit (along with its sister Wildfire Club). It is certainly the most comfortable.

 KAREN



There is a certain strength in vulnerability - after all, it is essentially the weak who dare not be vulnerable; but isn't it also necessary for us to stop thinking in terms of "strength and power" all the time, as if these were the only things of value in the world? Isn't that all part of the old masculine perspective of Pit-feminism and something we have to re-think? Charm and sensitivity and delicate, evanescent sensibilities; grace, and elegance all these things are valuable in themselves without our having to tell ourselves and the world that they are "strong" and "powerful", as if otherwise they would be despicable. Interestingly, that last word "elegance" does imply something the opposite of weakness, but it is not quite "strength", it is Superiority - a word that can hardly be mentioned in the Pit. Elegance is a feminine attribute; one that maintains its superiority by something within its own being, not by pushing about the world demonstrating its "strength" in masculine mode.

 It's worth considering.


Comments regarding what others think

Dear Karen,
I understand your reservations about changing your style of dress 100%!! At first I worried about what others would have to say about my wearing really nice clothes all the time. The first day I went out properly dressed someone remarked "WOW!! You look nice" and as someone else said, "What's the occasion". I replied, "No occasion, I just felt like starting a new trend". And I smiled broadly at them. Now (whispering here) I don't always wear a hat and gloves, at least not to things such as shopping trips and also when I work. I do a tremendous amount of typing on the ordinator and just can't move my fingers fast enough when they are gloved. I do love wearing gloves though, but some hats just aren't me. When I go out to say, a restaurant I go in full dressy dress and so far all I get is admiring looks (which we blondes thrive on anyway!).

 If you're really afraid of going from dressing in things such as slacks to dressing in a dress, hat, gloves, stockings etc, maybe it will help if you change little by little. Start out by wearing a nice, rather conservative dress or suit. This is especially effective if you work in business circles where the majority of your co-workers are em-ee-en. Then gradually start adding the other components, such as the gloves and the hat. This slow method of change may make you feel more secure, for when you see that the response won't be overwhelming you'll feel less vulnerable when your manner of dress becomes more and more feminine. Also, it might help eliminate some of the comments and questions you might otherwise hear from the pit-dwellers, as people are less likely to remark on gradual changes then a major shift. Again, I wish you much happiness Karen. And you will be happier when you let the "real" Karen out for the world to see!!

 I heard someone else talking about how they feel like a marionette when wearing garters, and wondered if you have tried the self-gartered style of hose yet? I realize they aren't anywhere near as elegant as real hose and a garter belt, but I love them. One of the reasons that I used to hate wearing dresses, was that I absolutely detested wearing p-hose or tights with them. To me they looked ugly, and I always felt as if they were about to roll down at the waist. Also, they seemed too confining, for the legs never seemed to reach where they are supposed to in certain areas. I always felt as if I had to be careful how I moved, otherwise the dreaded things would roll down to my ankles!! I, like you am not sure yet about the femininity issues of hose versus p-hose, other than in my eyes at least hose are much prettier and nicer to look at. Not that I go around flashing my stocking tops mind you!

 I, like someone else has mentioned, am not sure which province I am best suited for. There are elements to each that I find alluring. Also, I understand so so little about the differences between the provinces. Sometimes when I visit the lounge, and hear talk of Arcadia and Quirrie and such, I feel as if I am an alien from another world trying to figure out what certain words mean. I've studied the glossary many times, and that did help a little. I think the differences are something that I will learn as I go along and don't worry too much about it. One of the things that I do love so much about visiting this cocktail lounge is how courteous, nice and loving everyone is to one another.

 I must leave now, but I hope that everyone has a wonderful day today!

 Sincerely,

 ELIZABETH O.


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