I had the most lovely thing happen today and I wanted to tell you all about it. I was at a little fleem, shopping for whatever the Fairies might have left me, when, oh my heavens, I scraped against a trunk and tore a tremendous hole in my stockings. I only had half an hour before I was supposed to lecture and my house was twenty minutes away. I had forgotten to bring a spare pair (Miss Barbara's tip for the day: always carry a spare pair!), so I was most certainly in a bind. I asked the lady at the counter if they sold any stockings. She didn't know, and the Owner Who Would Know wouldn't be in for some time. She suggested that I just go down to the local drugstore and buy some. "Oh, they wouldn't sell stockings," said I. "Oh yes they would," said she. "No," said I, "not real stockings. I am quite sure of it." Then, guess who walks into the store, saving us from continuing this pointless exchange? The Owner Who Would Know about the stockings. "No," said she, "we don't have any." "Would you please look for me," said I, "I am in a bit of a sticky situation."
So she looked all over the shop and had to inform me that she didn't have any at the moment. But when she saw me begin to cry about having to wear stockings with a hole, she said that she would try to see if anything was in the Back Room.
Well, thank Dea for Back Rooms, for when she returned, she came back with not one but fourteen pairs of stockings and she sold them all to me for three Pit-dollars! Well, I left that place the wealthiest girl in the world.
But I forgot to tell you pettes the best part. For as she was in the Back Room looking for the stockings, I happened upon the dolliest up-to-date girdle I have ever seen. It is pink, with six metal fasteners, and a lovely satin panel, and a sweet little zipper in the front, and it fits me to a T, and I almost cried for joy when I found it because it is the most gorgeous thing in the world, even prettier than Blanche's little blue number I found for her last summer at this very same little fleem! Then I started thinking that if a girl had a blue and a pink girdle, she could wear the one when she was feeling quite brunette and other on blonder days.
Well, that's all for now. Weren't the Fairies just the most delightful little darlings today? And though of course I would have bought the girdle for some future Angela even if it weren't my size, it sure was nice of those Fairies to send one that fit my little ... um ... well ... I mean a girdle that fit me so well .
Still purring inwardly, I tried walking back across the room to put on my stockings ... another unexpected complication! My accustomed free stride was involuntarily altered by the novel pressures and restraints of the garment - I found myself forced to adopt more of a glide than a walk, fluid but demure, sensual but dignified, forced as surely as if another woman's firm hands were upon my hips from behind, defining and guiding my movements so resolutely that resistance would be ill-advised. As I reached the other side of the room - only a few steps away -I recalled the first time I had ever swum the width of a swimming pool, when I was six: I thought I'd never reach the other side.
I sat on the edge of the bed and languidly put on my stockings, smoothing them upwards with the flats of my hands and fingers, fastening them to the four gleaming clips. I had no small difficulty with the clips at the back, which demanded a coordinated twist of hips, neck and shoulders and several tries before I got the welts fully engaged in the tabs and securely locked into place: as the manoeuvre was unfamiliar, I could not go by touch, and had to watch intently what my fingers were doing. Despite all the trouble I took, my seams were disappointingly wobbly, but I was more than rewarded by the thrill of feeling my legs so exquisitely sheathed in diaphanous nylon.
I now felt safely enclosed and protected from torso to toes, save for the tops of my thighs, taut and startlingly pale above the confining dark welts of the stockings. My exposed flesh, thus limned by baby-blue hem above and black stockings below, felt delightfully cool in a pleasing new pattern. The little wavelets of naughtiness continued to demand my attention, more insistently now than before. Could this be the yieldingness of which Miss Matthilde had written? Was this delicious tension between craving protection and longing to be soft and vulnerable the sort of feminine consciousness she was talking about?
But at that moment I seemed to lose interest in all philosophical speculation. Instead I had a sudden and intense desire to walk down the stairs to see what it felt like, then to walk right back up them (echoes of Matthilde again!) The desire was just as suddenly extinguished by the image of the tight little ball of sweater, jeans and socks stuffed under the pillow: I knew I was not going to leave wearing them, that I had shed them forever.
I did not descend the staircase, however, that would come later, after I was dressed. I merely sat on the edge of the bed and dawdled, jiggled one crossed leg over the other, glanced at my fingernails, first up close with fingers flexed, then, hands side-by-side and fingers extended, at arm's length to gain proper perspective. (They wanted a manicure badly.) I had a sharp craving for - of all things - a cigarette! Having none, I absently curled a ringlet of hair round my finger and played with it, looked about me with unaccustomed languor, stared blankly at a flaw in the paint on the ceiling that resembled a bug. I fetched a pretty red ribbon from a wooden peg rack on the wall and tied it round my hair in back. I picked up a hand mirror from the dresser and commenced a minute inspection of my rather impoverished make-up.
Before I knew it, I was removing my plum brandy lipstick with a kleenex. I selected an unopened lipstick from the dresser: the round label on its end said "Fire Engine Red" ... Then I lost all track of time, I must have lapsed into some sort of self-absorbed reverie, because the next thing I knew three bongo girls about my age burst into the room, all nervous giggles and chatter until they saw me half-kneeling there on a chair, mirror in hand, touching up my new bright red lipstick with a fingertip. They stopped dead, their mouths slightly agape. Like members of two rival tribes at a water hole, we stared warily across the room at one another for an eternity, it seemed, though it could hardly have been more than a couple of moments, but at last Miss Barbara came up smiling behind them and edged herself into the room. Darting a hand into a closet, she extracted a long silk robe and wrapped it round my shoulders, unsuccessfully trying to stifle a laugh. Miss Barbara's gush of good-natured laughter broke the spell, we all laughed at once, we were all introduced, I eventually managed to straighten my seams (and showed the other girls how to do theirs when the time came).
We all had a wonderful time at the party downstairs, listened to Real music, danced some slow easy dances: I had found a lovely black crepe de chine Kadorian cocktail dress and a pair of black satin sling backs with two-inch "starter" heels, (yet another challenge to my equilibrium), which precluded even a fox trot. We played charades until late in the evening. I made several new friends, (including a stunning young brunette named Leslie), pecks on the cheek were exchanged. It was not until the party was over, we had said our thanks and farewells and I had driven off and had to stop with a lurch right away to remove my new shoes, (I discovered abruptly that driving in heels called for a knack I would have to acquire), that I finally remembered my discarded clothes concealed under the pillow. When I left her house, Miss Barbara hadn't said a thing about my walking off in them - not with words, not with her eyes - so I knew that she wanted the clothes to be mine and that, for her, having begun the rescue of four more girls was its own reward. I knew then I would do the same for others sometime, which is why I decided to write this all down. Like I said at the beginning, it was the best thing that ever happened to me. Now I'll go run that bath I've been planning to take for years, but just never had the time...
Here is a self-portrait Angela made the next day to recapture how she looked the very moment the three bongo girls burst in on her. It was not drawn from memory.
And now, here are the words to a song that does not fit the verse/bridge/verse format. But I love this poignant song so much I had to let you all read the lyrics. It is a stunningly beautiful soprano aria by an Italian-American named Gianinni. Read carefully, and you will no doubt feel the terrible longing the singer feels as she sings her pain in this heart-breaking song:
Tell me, oh blue blue sky,
Why did we part?
Tell me, oh whispering wind,
Breathe on my heart!
Breathe on my lonely heart,
That too has bled.
Tell what is left in life
Since love has fled--
Since love has fled!
Tell me - tell me
Tell me, oh blue blue sky
Tell me, oh blue blue sky!
Oh, my. It just bring tears to my eyes; if any of you pettes find a decent recording, please snap it up! I have never found a good recording, and my only experience with the song has been to sing it myself, as a music student. It is just--well--beyond words.
How nice to have a real music mistress tell us about bridges. "middle eight" does seem a bit - well - slangy in comparison, doesn't it?
While wise maids figure time and space
And get all wrinkled in the face
I'm loafing in some shady place...
It's foolish but it's fun!
If it should ever come to pass that I inherit wealth
I'll eat and drink and drink and eat until I wreck my health.
I love to ramble o'er the lea
And chase the busy bumble-bee
And though the bee may light on me...
It's foolish but it's fun!
When thunderstorms put folks to rout
And no one dares to venture out
That's when I love to slosh about...
It's foolish but it's fun!
I like to be on friendly terms
With pollywogs and angle-worms
And all the very deadly germs...
It's foolish but it's fun!
I love to sit beside a brook and wait for fish to bite
And though they never do, it's nice to think perhaps they might.
While others climb the mountains high
Beneath a tree I like to lie
And watch the snails go whizzing by...
It's foolish but it's fun!
I want to sing, I want to waltz
My heart is doing somersaults
I love this world with all its faults...
It's foolish but it's fun!
I want to walk a garden wall
Especially a wall that's tall
And if I fall ... I fall, that's all!
It's foolish but it's fun!
I want to climb a steeple and I want to ring a bell
So I can tell the people that I like them all so well!
The grass is green, the sky is blue
The cows go moo, the cuckoos coo
I want to be a cuckoo, too!
It's cuckoo, but it's fun!
It is a lovely picture of Miss Durbin, but it doesn't make it clear quite how young she is (only about sixteen). It would be a wonderful thing to see one of her charming films soon. Perhaps Mad About Music, which is our favourite of the ones she has made so far.
A.P. DE GROOT
It is not with any sense of pride or self-aggrandisement that we say a simple and categorical "no". We sincerely wish we could say otherwise. But the "net" is part of the Pit, and there is nothing in the whole length and breadth of the Pit that bears the slightest resemblance to elegance. To say "we are the best there is" may sound boastful. We only wish is were simply that. We should love to live in a world where there were other charming places to go and delightful things to see. But Ex Imperiam Nihil Est - Outside the Empire there is Nothing. Beyond the confines of Aristasia, you will not find innocence or charm or Elegance anywhere in the whole of the Pit. You will find it in up-to-date films and magazines, in up-to-date songs, and wherever Aristasians are gathered together. But in the Pit you will find nothing, and if you don't believe us, try "skating the net" or whatever the expression is. The "net" as you know, is not centrally controlled. Any one is free to put up a site. It is a fair representation of the whole of Pit-culture. If there was anything decent in the Pit, surely it would be mirrored on the "net". Well, just spend a few days (if you can stand it) going from place to place in it, and see if anywhere you find charm or elegance, femininity or civilisation.
Believe us; we are not crowing over our superiority. We find the whole situation very, very distressing. And we are working, in our small way, to bring the world back into being again.
I think that the idea of buying all the Real clothes one comes across, whether they fit the buyer or not, is a very good one. One never knows when they might be needed. How nice to be able to give the poor girls something Real to wear!
I should like to see Miranda reading the Vicar of Wakefield, wouldn't you, girls? The new librarian has caused quite a stir. If we should see any other little blondie requesting the classics from the library, we will know that Miranda has started a new fashion!
Tactfully deposited upstairs by Miss Barbara, yet clearly deposited all the same, I at once felt terribly out-of-place, standing alone in such a quintessentially feminine room while clad in such unfeminine clothing. I was overtaken by an irresistible urge to ... to strip off the masculinized garb I had on and start all over from scratch. So obeying the impulse, I quickly disrobed, balling up sweater, jeans and socks as tightly as I could and burying them under a pillow. I instantly felt the most delicious anticipatory sensation wash over me like a warm wave as I stood there barefooted, wearing only panties and bra, in rapt contemplation of what I would choose from the riches before me.
I began with the stockings, selecting a brand-new package on which was printed: "Dixiana - America's Most Beautiful Nylons - Mini-Welt for Shorter Skirts - Size 9 - Black - 49 cents a Pair - There is a Dixiana for Every Occasion." On the wrapper was a stylized drawing of a pretty girl in a shortish 1950's flared dress held out by petticoats. I opened the wrapper and unfolded the stockings from their round-cornered white card. Each stocking was the size and shape of a girl's leg, not shrivelled and shrunken like the skin of a prune. They were as sheer as gossamer, exquisitely silky and smooth, with no stretch to them at all. Like a light fabric of woven quicksilver, they cascaded over my hands as I felt them. I put a hand inside one and ran it up over my arm, thrilled by the cool and slightly electric sensation. They had dark welts at the top; one welt had a smooth-edged little hole in it, like a button-hole, except through only one layer of the welt, not all the way. They were sensuous not only to touch, but to look at: with their dark narrow seams and dusky heels they practically begged me put them on that very instant, without the slightest delay.
Breathlessly, urgently, I bunched one up into a pliant ring, poised it before my arched and extended foot, toes curled downwards, and suddenly froze: I was wearing nothing to hold them up! I chuckled to myself: such a situation had never arisen before, as this was the first time I had encountered Real stockings in my twenty-two years: I could not even remember my mother wearing them, and I knew nothing, of course, of my grandmothers' hosiery tastes. So I began to look about for the requisite garment. I did not have to look very far - stacked in several soft, pastel piles on the radiator cover under the window on the other side of the room were garter belts and girdles in various styles, fabrics and colors, all of them deliciously warmed.
I dismissed out-of-hand the idea of a garter belt for the simple reason that I had no idea whether to put it on over or under my panties and I did not wish to embarrass myself should another girl (or Miss Barbara!) walk in on me while I was dressing. So I riffled through the stack of girdles as if it were an expensive coffee-table book depicting Renaissance damsels arrayed in rich silks and brocades, until a girdle in soft baby-blue caught my eye - it was the only one that half-matched the blue of my panties and bra. It was unusually long, with a soft, satiny panel in front embroidered with a graceful tulip, whose stem ran straight down the panel's midline all the way to a hem bound in satin, and whose four splayed leaves contained neatly concealed stays - very thin and narrow but remarkably rigid. Two similar stays ran vertically up each side of the back of this elongated, alien garment, parallel to the spine. Four brightly-plated metal clips dangled from the hem, each overlapped by a diminutive baby-blue satin pennant. I had no idea whether it was too small or too large for me, but a little tab on the inseam said, in tiny letters, "International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union" on one side and "28" on the other, in red numerals. I have a 30-inch waist, so I thought, O.K., I'm game, let's give it the old school try.
More easily said than done! How I swivelled my hips and derriere, sucked in my tummy, wiggled and slithered, wriggled and squirmed, yanked up and pulled down, pinching my fingertips under the hem in the process! At one point I almost panicked: like a spent swimmer midway between two shores of a lake, I feared I could neither get it on nor off, and would be obliged to cry out to Miss Barbara for "advice," but the fear of such embarrassment pricked my resolve and at last I knew it was on, its long curves engaging mine smoothly, just as a puzzle's final piece falls into place. It elegantly confined me, realigned me, yet conformed well enough to my own curves and hollows. I felt enclosed, protected, but provocative and curiously vulnerable at the same time. I was tantalized by fleeting twinges of ... of ... what was this unfamiliar sensation? ... Of a delicious naughtiness which welled up and subsided in almost imperceptible waves, like faint strains of faraway music rising and falling on nocturnal breezes in summer. From the depths of my soul, I began to purr.
TO BE CONCLUDED ...
But I have wandered, haven't I? I was going to talk about the land itself, beneath all the rigamarole that we people put atop it. Austin, Texas, combines many perfect scenes. It is sunny here, as I said, and hot most of the time. The land is a wonderful combination of steep hills, starting in the middle of town and stretching west to the Hill Country (outside town), and rolling plains, which reach east all the way to the Atlantic Ocean, about 200 miles away (that's an estimate, by the way). I love the Hill Country, myself, which is a stunning mixture of emerald green streams, barren limestone waste, and prickly mesquite and cedar trees. The roads wander and swoop over and around the hills, fencing one in for a while, among limestone cliffs of dazzling whiteness; and then, suddenly, the eye is released, or unleashed, upon endless vistas of sparkling blue lake or forest-green hill or cloudless cerulean sky--or, often, all three at once, so that the mind of a pette is simply swamped by the beauty of it all.
I may leave Austin for a time, to pursue higher education (it's a slippery devil, isn't it, since we're always chasing after it?), but I know that it is here that my heart will always dwell, and I will come back no matter where my feet wander.
Way down upon the Swanee River
Far, far away
There's where my heart am wand'ring ever
There's where the old folks stay.
All the world am sad and dreary,
Everywhere I roam,
Oh, darkies how my heart grows weary,
Far from the old folks at home
You see, the middle eight has a different tune, just as in the hottest and latest dance-band numbers. Rather jolly, what?
And since we are playing "Angel songs" at the mome, here is another
delightful one, and since I gave you one from Trent yesterday, but do not
want to get caught up in any Trent-Kadoria wars (being a Neutral from Quirinelle),
this one is from Kadoria:
For building a new dream
Just when my old dream
Crumbled so helplessly
In that vine-covered chapel on the hill
Your face seemed a hymn that lingers still.
So bless you,
My darling, my Angel,
Life is Divine
And Heaven is mine with you.
I must tell you a slightly naughty story about this song. I used to go to the very first Aristasian school: St. Bride's, on the wild West coast of Pit-ireland, a great big Arcadian house. We had a wind-up gramophone, and this record was one of the girls' favourites. Well, whenever a girl sneezed (or even one of the less fearsome mistresses), some one, of course, said "bless you", and then all the others would sing "For being an Angel". And if you weren't careful you'd get a not-very-close-harmony rendition of the entire song.
Which is naughty, really, because it is a very charming song about a brunette's adoration for her blonde.
Bless you all,
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.
And here are LOTS of delightful girly places to go
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