How dreamy, how simply divine. I am floating on air just hearing all about it. Have you picked out your wedding dress, darling? Which of those Norma has shown us would look best on your girly figure, do you think? It's never too soon for a blonde to hear wedding bells, you know. Never too soon. You should see my school notebook. I've written in my nicest hand 'Miranda Featherington' over and over again! Well, that last bit was something of a secret, so don't tell a soul, promise?
And now I feel quite ashamed, for the other day at the soda fountain, you let me go on and on about my little Valentine's song and sweet little you never did mention a peep about your big date. That's just the sort of sweet blondie you are, I 'spose, all doe-eyed and kind. I think you're the swellest thing around, pette, and I do hope you'll let us all know about your next date with that charming brunette.
Well, Darlings, in Eastern Kadoria, where war shortages are rather common, brunette maids like Jennifer, who are a great luxury if one has long hair, are in rather short supply, as many have gone into war service in factories and war offices and some even have gone off to the front or are flying planes! And those of us not working full-time in an "official" war capacity all do our best to contribute to the war effort. So in wartime Eastern Kadoria long, hard-to-care-for tresses (that take gallons of precious, fuel-consuming hot water to shampoo) are out. They have been sheared off and short hair is in; it does not connote a whiff of disgrace even among the most conservative girls - short hair is solid, it's patriotic, short hair's the thing!
So here they are, girls, the latest short and sleek hair styles from Eastern Kadoria. Clipped, crisp and curly, particularly becoming for young and dashing brunettes in the Air Corps. These styles are swept up off the neck, if you must conform to uniform regulations or wear a service cap. Brushed up tidily over the ears for a general look of wartime efficiency. Even for evening, styles are only a third of yesterday's dragging length, but dress them up with fresh buds or perky ribbons! Faces emerge looking brighter and younger for having discarded heavy tresses.
Let's start with a brunette style, the Cadet Curl, especially popular among flygirls because it fits so easily under a tight-fitting leather flight helmet. Side part, center part or no part at all! It really doesn't matter, so long as you have a fresh "halo" of curls: just make sure you smooth them down properly as you pull on your flight helmet. After duty, (or even in the debriefing room if your officer is the kind who looks the other way in such important matters), fluff up with your fingertips. Back in the barracks, tease with coarse comb and pin on a bright bow for evening wear at the canteen or USO club.
But you blondies can still have softness and radiance in a short style, no need to look severe or too efficient or even slightly brunettish. Here's one particularly suited to pale, ultra-feminine blondes, called the Loose Roll. Between two side partings, hair is set in a high, loose roll, slightly off center. Short curls at temples modify the austerity of line. Remaining hair is brushed back over the ears into soft back curls, about five inches long. This style is not good with a service cap, but it is perfect for office wear and can be protected under a scarf if you are a factory blonde. After work, pin on a rayon voile camellia (or a real one, if you can find any!) and you're all set for dinner out!
Here another adorable efficient style for blondies, called the Persistent Pompadour, but with a double wave. If preferred, front hair can be divided in halves, one part curling forward, the other back. High sides for a youthful look. Soft back, clearing shoulders neatly - tucks into a snood without any trouble. Shake out after work, pin on a spray of ribbons and tiny glass beads and forget all about the war for an evening of dining and dancing.
Remember pettes, buy War Bonds and keep your hair short for the duration! (And you blondies, remember, if an officer comes in when you are curling your hair, make sure to put down that curling iron before you jump up and salute!) This is your fashionpette Norma signing off!
Golly, I must say, girls that Jennifer was unusually talkative when she returned home from the Cocktail Bar. Frequently she says nothing, although I am quite aware that she thinks much, especially in the unusual situation of a sartorial difference of opinion. When she was brushing my hair that night, though, she cleared her throat, a little habit that many a lady's maid uses to denote that she has something that she would like to expatiate upon if permitted. When I broached the subject, the floodgates opened. She was full of chatter on the subject of the clothes, the hair, the scent, the flowers and the different styles of all the pettes. "Never seen such profusion since we went to Ladyton!" was the general thrust of the conversation. Indeed, she became so animated that she even dropped an 'h', which she immediately picked up and popped into her pocket to use in case of a shortage later. Such Kadorian habits!
Did you all eat lots of candy and tell fortunes and spoon by the light of the silvery moon on St. Valentine's Day? How lovely to have a holiday for romance, don't you think? Of course, in Aristasia, all of life is romantic and full of that St. Valentine's Day feeling, even if one doesn't have a sweetheart.
Dear Miss Cat, I know just how you feel about your blonde lifting you out of the mire and helping you see the Light. My own mistress did this very same thing when I was at my lowest point. I didn't even know why I was so mizzy because I had everything to make life wonderful: family and friends, plenty to eat and safe shelter from the elements. So why was I in such a state? Because I was still living in the Pit. When my own teacher helped me see the Pit for what it is and then taught me to rise above it, well, I felt such love and gratitude for her and for our world, so sane and lovely. It was as if I had the blinders removed from my eyes and was allowed to see all of the subtle lovely things life could offer. No longer was life cheap and slick, commercial and vulgar. No, my life, the world I live in, my home and my thoughts are about honor, sweetness, beauty, dignity, and nobility. And all this because one beautiful woman opened the door for me into the Real World, the world I was born to live in. My world. Our world. And, dear Miss C. Cat, your world.
And for Candida, may I be so brave as to offer you a drink? After your delightful story of the Serenade of the Bells, I would offer you the moon if I didn't think it too bold of me, so I will begin slowly and offer you a Perfect Cocktail of your choice. I can't express how utterly delighted and honored I am to have you here with us in this Cocktail Bar.
Love to you all,
I'm still walking on air, girls. The magic of it >sigh< I don't think I can tell you really. No, don't be upset, darling, I'll try.
Yes, of course I've been out with brunettes before, but brunette mummy would only let me go out if at least five blondes and five brunettes were together, and she knew the girls concerned. Remember how she would never even let me go to the Odeon? Believe me, this is very different. Yes, that's right, it was Marinetta. How clever of you to guess. Yes, that's right, she's a lot older than me. Well, as I'm only sixteen that wouldn't be difficult, but she's nearly thirty. Of course my blonde mother approves, you old silly, or I wouldn't have been out to dinner with her, would I? Anyway, don't you recall that that's how I met her, because my mothers gave a dinner party and invited her--she'd been out of the province for such a long time that I didn't remember her. War work, I think.
Well, every time that she looked at me at the dinner party I blushed. I simply couldn't help it. And she seemed so interested in what I said and everything. She's a very serious brunette--she didn't make fun or laugh at me at all, she took everything that I said seriously and answered it in the same fashion. Well, of course I didn't chatter on like you. Yes, I know that a lot of brunettes like it, but I can't help being quiet. A girl can't help her nature, you know.
Anyway, girls, there I was at home on Wednesday, and the telephone rang. It was Marinetta. I said that I would fetch my mother but she said, no, that it was me that she wanted to talk to. It was a good thing that she couldn't see me, I was pink from the top of my head to my toes, I should think. I couldn't imagine what she wanted to say to me--and then she asked me if I would go out to dinner with her on St Valentine's Day. My heart beat so fast I could hardly speak for a moment. I knew that she was serious--she's not the type of brunette who would ask a girl out if she didn't mean it. I said that I would have to ask my mother and then she said, "No, my dear. I have already arranged things with your mother. You must decide. It is entirely your choice." and then she said in the tenderest manner possible that if I didn't care to go I must say, and that she'd quite understand. Well, I said "Yes, please." in the tiniest, most breathless voice, which was all I could manage, and then put the telephone down and simply dashed upstairs to my room to recover. When I came down later, my blonde mother just said, "Did Marinetta telephone?" and I nodded dumbly, looking at the floor. She didn't say anything else until a little while later, and then she said, "Would you like to borrow my white dress, darling?" and I flew over to her and gave her a big hug. That white dress, girls, I'd loved it for years. Mummy always said that I could wear it one day when I was older. It has a big full skirt, I'm not sure what it is made of, but it is so lovely. It has a separate sash around the middle, so that you can change the colour of the sash.
I was preparing myself for two hours before Marinetta came to collect me, I was so nervous. Blonde mummy helped me to dress, and did my hair for me, and when I came down to show myself to brunette mummy my heart was in my mouth. Would she like it? If she did not, I knew that Marinetta wouldn't. I slipped shyly into the sititng-room, and mummy looked up, and then rose from her chair and came over to squeeze my hand and kiss my cheek. "You look like an angel, darling. Now do sit down and try not to panic." So I did.
Blonde mummy came into the room then, and brunette mummy slipped her arm around her and squeezed her waist when she thought that I wasn't looking. Blonde mummy had a little tear in her eye, and brunette mummy wiped it away and smiled at her. "She's not the first bud to be plucked so young from the stem, is she, dearest?" Blonde mummy smiled lovingly at her. Brunette mummy is a lot older than blonde mummy, you see, and she approves of blondes becoming attached when they are quite young. She thinks that a blonde should never have any independence--that she should go straight from her brunette mummy's protection to the protection of another brunette. She thinks that is the best way for a blonde to preserve her delicacy. She also thinks that an age difference is a good thing, that a brunette should make her way in the world before she marries. Oh, yes, she did spend quite a lot of time in Arcadia when she was young. I was brought up in a rather Arcadian manner in some ways, even though we live in Quirinelle. I think that was why she approved of Marinetta. She has lived in Arcadia. Oh, no, of course it wouldn't suit everyone. But then, if we were all the same, there would be no need for different provinces, would there?
When Marinetta arrived, and we were settled in the car, I felt so self-conscious that I didn't know what to do. Part of me felt that I'd like to run away and hide, and another part of me was thrilled to be going out to dinner with her. I felt so confused and mixed up. I think that she guessed how I felt, because she talked very charmingly of everyday things until I had recovered my equilibrium. By the time we had reached our table at the dinner club I was more in control of myself, and able to talk again.
When the Maitresse d'hote came to our table with the wine list, I tried to show how grown-up I was, which was a bit silly, really. When the Maitresse had left, Marinetta reached forward, put her hand on mine, held my gaze, and said softly and firmly, "Do not pretend to a knowledge of the world that you do not possess, Charmaine. Freshness and innocence are charming things, and I should grieve to see a blonde fear to display them before me." I didn't know where to look, girls. To think that I should deserve such a rebuke! Tears welled in my eyes, and Marinetta quietly handed me her handkerchief, patted my hand, and moved so that no-one else could see me as I dabbed them away. She was the soul of tact. As soon as she saw that her words had been received, she talked quietly of the provinces that she had visited and left me to recover. What she said was so interesting that it soon took me out of myself again, and we were talking about everything under the sun. I hardly noticed the time or the dinner go by, and then the orchestra started playing again, so it was time to dance. Oh, girls, I was so glad that my mummies had made me learn to dance! I hadn't wanted to learn when I was young, but I was given no choice. I had to learn properly, I wasn't allowed to just 'pick it up' as many girls do, my brunette mother stood no nonsense about that. And it was a real pleasure to be able to dance so well. Marinetta was pleasantly surprised, I think. A photographette was taking pictures in the club, and took quite a few of us. Marinetta went and spoke to her, and told when she came back that the photographs would be sent to me as a Valentine's Day gift. She said that every girl should have a souvenir of her first venture out into the world. Wasn't that kind and thoughtful of her?
The evening was so wonderful that I wanted it never to end. I was in the clouds. After Marinetta had wrapped me up in my furs (borrowed, like the dress), we ventured out into the cold wind and all too soon the car was brought to a halt on the drive outside the house. Marinetta saw me to the door, and I asked her if she would like to come in to say goodnight to my mothers. She shook her head, and then looked at me and said, "Charmaine, may I kiss you goodnight?" My heart started hammering and tripping, and I felt myself growing pink again. I was too choked up to speak--oh yes, oh, yes please!--I wanted to say, but I said nothing. I wasn't sure whether I should or not. I knew there would be no harm in it, or Marinetta would never have asked, but I didn't know whether my brunette mother would like it. My blonde mother would have understood, I knew. So I just stood there, shaking like a leaf in the wind. Marinetta drew closer to me, bent her head and looked into my face, and then gently--oh, so gently!--drew my face up with her hands and kissed me so lightly and delicately that it was like a butterfly landing on my skin. Then she squeezed my hand and I floated into the house, up the stairs and into my room. Oh, girls, you cannot imagine--you simply cannot imagine--well, yes, I should think that you could see the stars in my eyes when I talk about it. I simply float every time that I think about it.
Anyway, eventually I came downstairs, and my blonde mother was looking a little worried and whispered quietly to my brunette mother, "She went straight upstairs, dear. I do hope that there is nothing wrong." And I heard my brunette mother laugh very, very quietly and say, "She looks to me rather like a blonde who just been kissed for the first time. Dearest, she is the very image of you at seventeen. " Which made my blonde mother blush all pink, and tell my brunette mother that she was a silly thing, in the tone of voice which says that she doesn't mean it. But I didn't take any notice, as I was absent. I can't tell you where I was, but I certainly wasn't here.
Oh darlings, I've told you all about it now. I had better collect up my things and go home. Marinetta is telephoning later to speak to me. Oh, silly me, I nearly forgot to say. The photographs from the dance arrived yesterday, and as I was putting them into a special new album, which was delivered with them, my blonde mother took a photograph of me for her album. No, I won't show you the special photographs of that evening, they're too private, but you can see this one. There I am, putting the photographs in the album. They are big, expensive photographs, as you can see, the type that that takes up a whole plate each. They're lovely. Now I really must go. I'll see you girls again soon.
When we read all about St. Valentine's Day, we were reminded that it falls at the same time as Chinese New Year, for which we just had our very special seasonal show at the Forbidden City. By misfortune, I do not have a picture of the show itself, but to show you pettes that blonde dressing rooms are the same everywhere, down to the clothes hangers on the sprinkler pipes and the ostrich plumes hanging from the mirrors, here is a picture of ours taken just before the big New Year's Eve show a few nights ago.
That is Nancy Teng to the right, applying her eye make-up, and that is me, to the left, waiting for mirror space and knitting yellow booties, as I have recently discovered that they shall be put to use before the next season, which I shall have to sit out (it's my first!) Several of us showgirls are married blondes and have children already, who are looked after at show times by sisters and aunts. The blonde sitting on the dressing table is Delores Chi (she is reading the latest McCall's style section, by Norma!) The blonde in the strapless white bra is Victoria Wu, she is a tap dancer, the youngest of the famous Five Dancing Wu Sisters who made several musical films in Peking in Trentish times.
We sew all our own costumes, which you can see do not match like the ones in Western nightclubs - every Forbidden City costume is bright and unique so that each girl stands out - the brunettes in the audience seem to like to that way. Even the Five Dancing Wu Sisters had different outfits on stage. Speaking of differences, all us girls often giggle over so much silly consternation at the Aphrodite Cocktail Bar about hair color and who is blonde and who is brunette! We Chinese pettes are all of one hair color, of course, and not a one of us has the slightest difficulty distinguishing one sex from the other, except blonde and brunette babies may sometimes be easily confused up through about the fourteenth month.
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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