The Cocktail Bar

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Music Playing: The Quirrie Quintet with Kiss Me Tender

Dateline: Wednesday, July 30th, 1952
Dateline: Sunday 27th July, 1952

Hello and Congratulations

Well, it is like old home week in here. I'm just going to drop by the blondes' table for a minute and pay my respects to youth and to fertility. Amy, my dear, congratulations; you look as lovely as you ought. Yes, I know you said it was for blondes only, but as my aunt Marilla used to say "love and a cough can't be hid", and I could add a few other things to that list. And Miranda, honey, I'm so glad about Miss Featherington. I was so hopeful that photograph wasn't what you feared; but I was afraid to say anything that might offer you false hope.

Mignonette (that is such a lovely name, by the way) you have taught me something. I always wondered where capers came from. And I love the photographs. I love the wild roses, too... they are the offical flower of a place in northern Culveria called Alberta (named, of course, after the consort of the young Queen Victoria), and they grow wild by every roadside. (Is that where you are, perchance?) Those urban pettes can keep their city streets paved with gold; I would so much rather have a roadside filled with wild roses. The laneways of my town are all filled with blackberry bushes. The flowers have finished now, and the little green beginnings of berries beginning to show. In a few weeks, they will be fat and black and juicy, and all the city folk will put on long sleeves (for the bushes have very aggressive thorns) and come out with buckets and pick the bushes clean of berries! Most gardeners patrol the blackberries very sternly in the spring, because they spread so quickly. I mentioned to a neighbour one day, wiping sweat from my brow, that I never knew how quickly the blackberry vines could creep and take over one's whole lawn, and she said "Creep? Darling, they don't creep, they LUNGE!" She was right, too.

Has anybody else been watching that pair from the East? I saw them on the dance floor a little while ago, and then I saw them sitting at a table alone together, and the blonde give the tall dark girl a package, but I don't see them at the moment.

Hermione, welcome. Experience has shown that one may be blonde and brunette as well, but usually not at the same time. But since you are looking blondely luscious at the moment, could I persuade you to the dance floor? ELIZABETH RUTH


Hello Pettes,

Well, yes, this little frock is a bit wrinkled and it's all because I just returned from a visit to a Novarian hospital to make sure everything is coming along just right with the little baby. The hospital in Novaria, if you've never been to one, is simply spectacular. The design of the building is strictly art-neo and the loveliest Trentish figurines and paintings adorn the interior of the hospital. Plus, the nurses and doctors are some of the most dignified, elegant, and confident brunettes you'll ever come across, in their crisp white uniforms and starched white hats. A blonde might feign an illness just to make her way into the place, it's that wonderful!

But what Novaria is really known for, of course, are the brainy brunettes who create so many amazingly magical devices. Well, we all know that, because where else but Novaria would we get our ordinators! Nettie and I visited the Novarian hospital so that we could make use of one such device, perhaps the most magical of all: a lovely instrument that takes magic movies of a little one inside. It was so amazing to see our little baby moving and scratching her head and flipping from one side to another; all of this and only six inches long! Of course the machine will not tell the mothers-to-be the sex of the baby, for everyone in Novaria knows how the magic of the great event would be drained away with such prior knowledge, but it can tell mommies that baby has two arms, two legs, and just the right number of fingers and toes.

A few short months ago, our baby was all spirit, in Dea's own arms, and now Dea Herself is knitting together the little form that spirit is to take when she joins us here in the world.

Darlings, I am so happy I can't tell you.

And my neighbor hasn't had her little one yet, but I will keep you informed.

All my Love, AMY


The Alabama Rose

Hallo, everyone, just stepping in for a moment. We have been minding a magical herb garden over the sea, and must go back again tomorrow.

Speaking of wild roses, I must tell a story. In my Grandmother's yard on the Western Prairie, there grew one little pale 5-petaled rose that no one had ever seen before. Grandmother called it "The Alabama Rose", because her grandmother had brought it from Alabama in a saddlebag.

When Dea called me to leave that place, I thought I would never see its like again. But when I'd travelled up a Colorado mountain in my gypsy wagon and woke up next morning in a strange woods, there were the same roses all around, growing wild.

They have followed me everywhere since, and once I camped in a lake surrounded by them. Shallow water around the caravan's wheels, pink roses and pink water in the sunset....

Must run now, my dears! Hugs to all!

EMILY ROSE


The Perilous Step

Hello the house! A cool drink, if you will, pretty maid. Thank you.

Has young Cyrlinge been back yet? Ah, there she is! But what is that she is wearing? Not the white tunic of a Nikomekl virgin... still white though. That's good. The way it fits her through the body, the way it swirls around her calves - oh, very fine. Very fine. But everyone can see how beautiful she is now, in every part. Everyone here will want her now. Look ho! She is in someone's arms now! Is she lost to me, then?

Ah, a dance, a pastime. Perilous pastime, it seems to me, if I lose... but she was never mine, I must recall. Still, if you ladies will excuse me, I think I will join her. I expect I can learn that dance. I see it has three beats, and one goes around and around... Well, I can but try. Ha, I am nervous. I have led my cohort into battle and hunted mountain lions, and never feared, but I tremble now. It was only my body at stake then, I suppose, and now it is my heart, which I have never risked before. So I tarry here, shifting from foot to foot like a little girl who has forgot her lesson.

Ah, look, they finish. She sees me; she comes. Ladies, wish me luck.

SADE


Dateline:Thursday July 24th, 1952

A Nativity Event

Hi Pettes!

It's me, Amy, do you remember me? I wanted to tell you something I was too shy to say the other day. But I am just bursting to tell you sweeties, so please gather around this table, but Blondes only because I don't have that much courage.

Well, um, see, I've been knitting booties. Really! And come Nativity this year, there will be something very special under the tree. Of course, I am just thrilled, and so is my sweet brunette wife. Oh she is so sweet, girls, she really is. I see that most of you are still single. Well, when you set your eyes on a brunette, think to yourself, "Will she care for me through the ups and downs of that special time? Will she bring me flowers when I feel unexpectantly blue? Will she call me from the office, just to check up on me and make sure I am all right? Will she pamper me and dote on me?" Sure, brunettes are all sweet talk and flowers at the beginning, when they are pitching woo with their best girl, but if you can hook one who will be just as eager to please you ten years after your wedding, when you are expecting baby #2, well, then you'll have gotten yourself a fine one indeed.

Also, I'm really so fortunate to live in New Kadoria, because just on the other side of my picket fence is another girl who is expecting (her first!), so we chat about all sorts of things, like how to economize on the money our brunettes bring home (it's their job to make the money and ours to make the money stretch until next paycheck!), and how to decorate a nursery so that the new baby is surrounded by sweet-making and racinated images. Sometimes we chat about the silliest things too. She likes the sounds of those big bands and I prefer the sound of a crooner's voice, so we've argued about which a baby would rather fall asleep to, though neither of us has adopted the other's opinion, at least not yet.

Well, that's all for now, dear pettes. Oh, thank you for the well wishes and for the kind thoughts. Yes, I will let all of you know how I am and how the baby is doing. It should be a very blessed Nativity this year for me and my family, don't you agree?

All my love,

AMY


Return After A Long Absence

Dear Friends in the Cocktail Bar. Or I think you are all my friends still. Are you after so long? Do you remember little me? Do you remember how sad I was the last time I wrote, so long ago, when I went for my weekly after-hours session with Miss Featherington, the librarian, and then saw that picture of the lovely blonde on her desk? Well, guess what, pettes? It was all a tempest in a teabag, as Ariadne might say, and now everything is much better. Do you want to hear the story about it? Oh goody! Because I want to tell it.

I was simply destroyed by the thought that she really loved another blonde and was just letting me come to the library after hours because she only cared about books and not about me. So the next Tuesday night came around and I didn't show up. I tried to go, I even walked up to the library doors, but I just couldn't make myself go in. So I hid across the street and waited until she came out of the library, so that I could at least see her, perhaps for the last time ever. Well, half an hour later she did come out, looking rather cross. Then, much to my horror, she began walking straight toward me. In fact, my little hiding place, behind the marble pillars of the bank across the street, didn't keep me hidden very well, and then she saw me. I immediately looked at the sidewalk and hoped she would go away when I heard her authoratative voice cry out, "Why, Miranda Blonde!" I had to look up at her, and, my oh my, what a feeling of absolute smallness I felt just then.

"What in the world are you doing? And why weren't you at the libray when you were supposed to be? Have you any excuses for yourself young lady?"

I felt I could only answer honestly this last question, so I quietly said, "No, Miss."

"Then would you please march yourself right across the street and back into the library and we will have to make up for lost time?"

The thought of seeing that blonde again made me freeze. "oh, no, please Miss, must I?" "Yes you must unless you want what is waiting for you to be doubled."

"Yes, Miss," I said, in a voice barely louder than a breath.

When we were in the library, it took all of my effort not to look at the silver frame on her desk. She demanded that I tell her why I was hiding from her and why I didn't want to meet her as usual. I tried not to tell her, but she kept on insisting until finally I blurted it all out, how upset I had been that she obviously had a blonde sweetheart all along and how little I must mean to her. I wasn't even sure if she could understand me, talking as I was through a stream of sobs and tears, but after I had finished, she said, very seriously,

"Miranda, for missing our appointment, you are to write out one hundred lines from this book of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's poems. You may begin immediately. I have plenty of arrears to attend to while you write." "Thank you, Miss."

And then she did something and said something that made the heavens open up and the Sun to shine through the storm clouds in my life. She reached over to the picture, picked it up, turned it to me, and said, "And oh, Miranda? This is a picture of my blonde mother on her wedding day." Reaching to the other side of the desk, she showed me another picture, one I hadn't noticed before, and said, "And this is my brunette mother on the same day. Don't they make a lovely couple?" "Oh yes, Miss, a very lovely couple."

So that was my story. But really, it gets much better because Miss Featherington has taken me out to a cafe after our sessions ever since then, and once, when it was raining, she made me take her arm as she held an umbrella over us and we walked in the rain. I looked down at the ground and felt such an elation overcome me as I saw our skirts flowing together above the puddles and below the rain clouds.

Ta ta for now, girls, All my love always and forever, even after a long time of being away, MIRANDA


Dateline: Wednesday July 23rd, 1952

Wild Roses

Oh, yes, Elizabeth Ruth, we have peppery nasturium leaves with our salads as soon as the plants start blossoming and trailing. That is when their leaves can be spared without any damage. Nasturtium buds, when pickled, become capers, but we have never tried to make any.

Can we grow roses here, you ask? Well, if one has a hothouse one certainly can, but few gardeners attempt to grow them out-of-doors, because unless the cut-back plants are banked with plenty of bark chips after the season, and if there is not a deep enough snow cover to blanket them, they will not survive our winter.

But with no effort whatever on our parts we ejoy Dea's own wild roses every June for two or three glorious weeks. They grow under trees and along pathways and on the mossy banks of little snow-fed creeks. Unlike the cultivated grandes dames roses - the grandifloras, floribundas, cabbage and tea roses and rambling beauties - the wild rose is a modest country maiden indeed, a simple five-petalled single, not much broader across than an Aristasian Half Crown. On a warm day when no breeeze is stirring, if one walks quietly though a birch woods filled with wild roses growing amidst the cow-parnsips and unspiralling ferns, one can detect the most delicate aroma, the true archetype of the more robust and complex perfumes favored by the pampered grandes dames., all the richer for its delicate simplicty.

The shy wild rose looks best, I think, wrapped in her bud, petals still furled; she is then a much deeper rose color than her blossom itself, which is really a very light pink. Her bud lasts for a week, then opens, and she loses her dainty petals in just a couple of days. Here is a picture of a mountain wild rose still cloaked in her bud.

She may lose her petals quickly, but she still has more to give, for just after the first frost - in early September, that is - wild rose hips are ready to pick. One can tell that apples are in the rose family, because the ripe rose hips are like tiny, elongated apples - a dull, dusky red. We make them into jellies, jams and teas, but one must be careful to strain out all the sharp seeds first.

MIGNONETTE


Dateline: Monday 21st July 1952

Cyrlinge Ventures Out

May I have some cool water, please? I have been in the markets all day, and I am thirsty. My feet are tired, too; your streets of stone are so hard to walk upon. But oh, what amazing things one may purchase in this heavenly city!

I was surprised that there are places where things are only sold, and they are made somewhere else. Where I come from, a girl wishing to purchase a gown goes to the seamstress, and they talk about it, and she is measured and... well, appreciated, one might say, by the seamstress, who can then make the dress to truly fit the girl. Sometimes a maker will make something without knowing who will buy it, of course, and there are usually some of those in a shop, but one is more likely to find them at the market-fair, on the great Festival and Gathering Days. I have never before seen streets lined with places where one can buy things made elsewhere.

See what I found? This dress, so fine and soft. The lady said the material was silk, and the cut was Trentish. I have never worn anything so fine. The lady in the shop showed me a light blue dress, too, but in my village we wear white until we... you know, until we meet another in the Mysteries. (Oh, can I tell you? I bought the blue one, too. I couldn't resist. It is improper even to think of such things, but it seemed to me that Sade would like it. May I have another glass of water, please?)

The lady in the shop said I had to have some other things that I'm wearing underneath; they are made of silk, too, but they don't swish around the same way; they fit very close. And silk hose, too, as light as cobwebs. The way the hose and the other things fit so close, and they way the dress slides against my skin makes me feel - well, I can't quite describe it. Grown up, certainly, and sort of well, excited, I guess, in a way I've never felt before. Sort of like swimming in a warm lake under a full August moon, all magical, and the water slipping by with its smooth touch against your skin, but also, well, it sounds silly, but a little like how I feel when Sade rides by at the head of her Guard, with her cloak, flowing back behind her, especially when she turns and looks at me with her brown eyes, and she smiles.

I do not wear the skins of animals, but I found this belt - see, it is the Moon in all her phases, each made of silver, and linked together by these two little chains. I hope Sade does not think I have been wasteful.

I bought something for Sade, too. Have you ever seen such a brilliant crimson? The shoplady said silk takes a dye like nothing else, and you can see it is so. It is very short (the lady said something about "Infra..." but I do not remember the rest) Sade usually wears short tunics for freedom of movement, and her legs are so sleek and strong... Oh, you saw her? She has been here? Oh, I am so glad. She will be back?

Oh, I am nervous, now; it is a great liberty to buy these gifts for her, and I was very bold, because I bought this one, too: look, it goes all the way to the floor, and I've never seen the colour before. Cobalt blue? Ah, well then, cobalt blue, and a high collar of velvet in the same colour, sewn all over with little gold stars. It is a robe for a hero. I do not know if I will ever be brave enough to show it to her; because then she will know how I feel about her.

Oh. I hope she will be back soon. I wish there was something I could do to speed the time. Waltz? No, I have never heard of it, but I expect if you show me, I can learn.

CYRLINGE


An Arcadian Summer

Hello, hello. I've been whiling away the summer in Arcadia, playing croquet and sipping lemonade. But the moon is full tonight, and I can't sleep, so I slipped away to the ordinator to visit with you all.

Mignonette, I'm so delighted that we have a gardener here! Nasturtiums are some of my favourites, too, because they are so cheerful, as you say, and because they are so forgiving. If you go away for a hot weekend the other flowers all droop, but nasturtiums seems to grow brighter and stronger! Tell me, have you ever added their leaves to a salad? But roses are still my favourite. Can you grow roses, in your climate?

Candida, how do you ever find such marvelous things? A fur cape! I love the way it swings. As far as my latest ventures, I have been ever studying, ever so seriously, the formal art of pattern making, and I am making up a very precise set of pattern blocks (now that I know what they are) for my very own personal body. This takes time and is, I admit, somewhat boring. I did make a couple of white confections for afternoon wear, one of white linen, unadorned, very Dior in cut. It takes about an hour to iron, and looks heavenly for two, and then it goes all to wrinkles, unless one only wears it to wander about on cool green lawns, and never ever sits down or exerts oneself. The other is a peasant blouse, trimmed with lace and with long full sleeves; and a skirt, both made with white muslin. The skirt is made of three layers of muslin, but the blouse only of one, so modesty depends on satisfactory underclothes. I have fantasies about wearing it without anything underneath, but I never shall as long as there is a remote possibility of someone else being around. Alas, dreams are more fragile than muslin.

Petal, your dress sounds, well, celestial. Shall we ever see a picture of it?

You know, I feel a definite urge to go moonbathing tonight. Later!

ELIZABETH RUTH


Another New Face

How very charmed I am to wander accidentally into this place of refreshment and find refreshment for the senses as well as the body! Ladies, allow me to introduce myself; a girl of currently indeterminate sex, I am afraid. Can one be blonde and brunette as well?

HERMIONE


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