To all of the Cocktail Bar pettes: do any of you gorgeous creatures know where a girl can go in Elektraspace to order real stockings and real suspenders? Or, if one must venture into the frightening beyond, where in Cyberspace? For, I would very much like to have such things on my trip to Gotham to visit Rosie and Trudy. A girl can't be wearing Pit underthings when she passes through the mist, now can she! Much Love to all, MISS BARBARA
But about we blondes "traveling together," Miss Barbara, haven't you heard? Most Gotham brunettes have gone off to work in bomber factories at Willow Run, or are assembling tanks or artillery pieces in Dearborn. We are now the Arsenal of Democracy, or something like that, haven't you seen a newsreel lately? So Gotham has been pretty much left to we blondes. Rosie and I would sort of like to be riveters in the shipyards over in Jersey, but we are having such a high time on the town here in Gotham that we haven't made it over to Hoboken for the last several months to check out the real scoop on those swell-paying jobs. But we want to, that's what's important. Maybe we'll take the ferry over next month ... well, or maybe next year, now that you're coming. Us girls must be patriotic, but even patriotism has limits, you know.
You are ever so kind, Miss Barbara, because, to tell you the truth, (and please keep this a secret just between we three) Rosie and I have been living on peanuts (I hate to confess), and we are not really having such a high time every day. We go to the Horn & Hardart's Automat on West 47th. for lunch and for dinner, one nickel buys you a cup of good java, two buy a great small little pot of baked beans, for three nickels a girl can fill up on baked macaroni with cheese and paprika on top, and ten nickels gets her a Blue Plate Special. Soup to nuts for only six bits! And we've never really been to the Rainbow Room at One Rockefeller Plaza, but wouldn't mind going with you, I mean you being such a classy Brunette, after all. Will you really take us there? (Rosie will certainly cry if you don't and I might.) And as for Tiffany's, well, neither one of us has ever had the gumption to walk through the door, even when decked out in our finest paste diamonds and pearls.
Not to remember our blonde cards and checks? Holy Moley! What ever are you talking about, Miss Barbara? We are just cash-only blondes -- our credit's not, um, really sterling anywhere around town. Blondes can get this bum rap, you know. I have heard of some well-heeled pettes (even blondes) who have charge accounts at B. Altman's or at Saks or at John Wanamaker's, if that's what you are referring to, but they don't have cards. The salespettes all know them by sight (and by their predilection in, um, say, intimate garments), so all they need do is say "Charge it!" to have all their purchases sent home straightaway in a cab while they themselves go off to the Plaza for luncheon. And checkbooks? Dearie, checkbooks and blondes just don't get along as a general rule -- the two are rather incompatible concepts. So of course we won't think of remembering them, you sweet, silly brunette! Your are rather amusing! (But we'll each slide a five dollar bill into the top of our stockings, just in case we get separated from one another in a crowd -- it's a sensible precaution, you know, in a crowded city like Gotham). And don't forget to bring your dolly round pink suitcases, either, Miss Barbara. They are quite in vogue this season, you know. You know, the ones with a mirror on the inside of one lid. But don't mind my chatter, we'll be there tomorrow!
And don't count on the nylons, though, they are scarce as hens' teeth here in Gotham, World's Fair not withstanding -- I heard that a girl needs only two pairs for a whole year at a time, one pair to wear, the other always drying over the shower curtain rod, or on the back of a chair in front of the oven if she's in a hurry (actually, they dry out in a flash), and the rumor is that E. I. DuPont de Nemours has made them too good, so a girl should snap them up in a hurry before they are degraded by the DuPont technicians. There's a little sort-of-a black market place down on Canal street where you can always get anything if you've got the right change. Gotham is that kind of town, you know. So we'll show you around.
Bye 'till tomorrow at nine-thirty-two!
TRUDY FROM GOTHAM
Imagine my horror, then, when the wind whipped up, managing to raise the hemline and whisk off the hat at the same moment. A fast but feminine clutch with the gloved hands, and the hat was saved, but alas, the dignity sorely tried.
I am slightly shaken by even relating this to you, so I shall repair
for a quiet cup of tea before I continue.
Besides, Rosie and I have quite modest tastes in diamond bobbles, you know, five or six carats scattered here or there on a girl's visible anatomy are usually quite sufficient to quell her anxieties. A couple of diamond-tipped hatpins would be rather the thing (then we could walk our poodles ourselves when it's windy and still have a hand free to keep our skirts perfectly modest). As for luncheon, the Rainbow Room at Rockefeller Center is the only place for a girl to be seen in midtown Manhattan these days -- Duke Ellington and Noel Coward are making alternate appearances in the late afternoons and the lobster aspic is simply divine, but only if had with champagne.
You wouldn't happen to be free tomorrow, now, would you?
TRUDY AND ROSIE
At this point, dearest Reader, the Management are constrained to depart from their usual format, step back for a moment to play the omniscient observer, or narrator, if you will, to furnish you with some plausible explanation of motives and passions which would otherwise never come to the surface in the serial soliloquies such as have characterized the Cocktail Bar until now.
What, indeed, has happened to poor Ariadne, for one? Why have we not heard from her further? Is she well, has she gotten over the ravages of her false pregnancy, her love for Symone? Or has she become even more delusional while at St. Yvyanne's Neuraesthenia Clinic in Kent, has she descended further into her psychosis, and is she now being kept in deepest protective confinement?
The answer, dear pettes, which only the all-seeing Management can relate in its narrator's voice, is deceptively simple: Dr. Silverthorne has fallen in love with Ariadne, and so has a good part of the St. Yvyanne staff. This common passion for our quintessentially innocent, ineducable, ultrafeminine blondest of blondes presents certain insoluble problems, because when doctors and nurses become passionately involved with their patients, any such passion may not be revealed or even acknowledged, much less acted upon, as that would be professionally strictly taboo. It would be a form of professional incest, you must understand. So such passions cannot even exist. But life, being imperfect, cannot follow these rules, and women are passionate creatures, so such passions do indeed happen, but usually not on such a broad scale. The living object of these multiple passions smoldering within the breasts of so many professional brunettes -- to wit, Ariadne -- in her usual wide-eyed, innocent manner, remains blissfully unaware and carefree. She has no notion whatever of the emotions she has aroused in so many hearts. To her, all is perfectly proper and normal, she has in fact been cured of her illness and has been enjoying herself to the hilt, while most of the staff, but above all, the Doctor, now stand in need of a cure.
For among all the subjects of this community feminine passion, it is the mature, exquisitely professional Dr. Silverthorne who is the most tormented of all; she, whose intellectual understanding of such matters is surpassingly deep, can barely acknowledge to her innermost self her flaming love for this muddle-headed blonde. But in love she most certainly is, tortured by a passion which must remain secret not only from her beloved, but from every other living soul at St. Yvyanne's. And some of the sisters and St. Yvyanne schoolmistresses -- of elocution and music, deportment and penmanship -- have also conceived a similar passion for our Ariadne, which, like the doctor's, must be nursed, like a secret wound, completely in private, unshared and unspoken. In short, St. Yvyanne's has been electrified, polarized, animated -- and distraught -- by this literally unmentionable passion, a passion which may never licitly exist in a hospital setting.
So with this little explanatory note you may now understand why Ariadne has been kept from your company for so long, dear Reader, subtly confined, as it were, on one pretext or another, over the long months since her admission to St. Yvyanne's Neuraesthenia Clinic in Kent. It has been a matter of jealousy, really, each stricken woman, perhaps unconsciously, guarding Ariadne's treasured presence at St. Yvyanne's like a precious feminine commodity, each reluctant to acknowledge her obvious cure and to share her with anyone else.
But keeping poor Ariadne at the clinic much longer has now become simply untenable, as the community is seething and surely will burst at its smartly tailored, well-stockinged professional seams unless, contrary to the sum and aggregate weight and heartfelt desire of this multiple feminine passion, Ariadne leaves St. Yvyanne's in rather a hurry, so charged is the atmosphere there at this very moment.
And desolate Dr. Silverthorne, more riven than any other, perhaps, understands quite perfectly the essential insolubility of her dilemma, so the good, gentle doctor now spends a good part of each day alone in her consultation rooms silently weeping against the time when she must discharge her beloved Ariadne. So, dearest Reader, please keep these secrets in mind as you hear the voices of the various pettes in the next several days, whilst the Management now drop their narrative voice and retire once again behind a veil of disinterested anonymity.
So I chose a silk shantung dress in a broad, floral art-neo pattern -- polished, spherical ebony buttons running along the right shoulder, tight-fitting bodice, long, flared skirt with a slit at the back, pearl necklace and pearl cluster earrings, beige, diamond-patterned, fine English woolen stockings with clocks at the ankles, cordovan alligator pumps with high heels (a mistake, it turned out), and a dark brown wool coat with collar, trim and bouffant elbow-length cuffs in black skunk. And a jaunty, dolly little burgundy pill-box hat to set off my Kadorie hair-do. And, oh, I almost forgot, short, burgundy kislav gloves and black patent leather pocketbook with a semicircular tortoise-shell handle to complete the ensemble.
So Mummie drove me off in the long sleek black Packard with the 12 cylinder engine (and the DynaFlow automatic transmission and the most Up-to-date Fluid-o-Matic power steering) to the brand-new Main Street station at the end of the Flushing I.R.T. subway line, completed just last year for the New York World's Fair.
So I went down into the station, put my nickel in the turnstile and boarded the train -- a spanking new one with lovely light-yellow, wicker-covered upholstered seats, rows of soft incandescent light bulbs, real leather straps and white-enameled poles to hold onto in case of a lurch. And the same lovely adverts as yesterday, for real products for pettes and chaps, no need to repeat them. Although the train was packed with commuters, everyone was reading a morning newspaper -- most had the Daily Mirror or the Daily News (those were the tabloid readers), both blaring headlines in 200-point type ("Firpo by K. O. in 9th." and "Peaches Noonan Hits Altar with No. 11.") Some of the more staid and affluent riders had expertly folded their Herald Tribunes or New York Timeses into the subway rider's standard quarto configuration. Yet others were avidly reading the Journal American, The Morning Telegraph (the horse-racing paper, reporting Sunday's racing results at Hialeah and Pimlico), The Daily Forward (in Yiddish) and some of the more literately-inclined proletarians were diligently scanning The Daily Worker for horror stories of capitalistic excesses and social injustices -- while smugly basking in the glory of Soviet industrial and agrarian achievements featured on the front page.
The first stop was Willets Point-Flushing Meadows, the site of the World's Fair, now in full swing, but as we were going against the fair traffic, the opposite platform was crowded with elegant people -- a sea of fedoras and feathered ladies' hats -- just left off by their train from Manhattan, and all on the way to the fair despite the unseasonably cold weather. As we pulled out of the station we all had a magnificent view of the Trylon and Perisphere, as well as of the DuPont pavilion, where nylon stockings were first introduced to the world just last April! If a girl can get there early enough on a Monday, I heard, she might be able to purchase a pair of these marvelous stockings! Pettes, you should see them, sheerer than silk and woven more finely and really durable. That's probably why it was so crowded already -- it's a Monday, of course. And did you know, pettes, that last April 30th, when the fair opened its gates, the public was first introduced (as consumers) to other fantastic modern inventions such as television, lucite and color film? The Life-Savers Parachute Tower dwarfed all the other pavilions, towering over the Westinghouse building next door, which features a Robot!
Well, the train clickety-clacked along its elevated route (it comes out of the tunnel right after Main Street), passing the Corona, Junction Boulevard, Elmhurst Avenue, Fisk Avenue, Woodside, Lincoln Avenue, Sunnyside, Bliss Street, Lowery Street and Rawson Street stations (we were on the express) .... and then we found ourselves passing through Long Island City.
Now Long Island City is Gotham's industrial heart, extending from Astoria in the north to Hunter's Point to the south, more or less, all in Queens, of course, and Gotham pettes who are au courant know that it is Long Island City, not any part of Manhattan, that inspired the Art-Neo industrial sets for Batman's adventures, and sure enough, here were all of those notable buildings, crisp and shining in the March morning sunshine -- the real ones, I mean, not the comic book ones. So right away I picked out the Bulova Watch Company building, with a huge leather-banded wrist watch clasped about the water tower, showing the correct time to the second. The Brooks Costume Company had a giant rubber mask of King Kong pulled over its water-tower, Maxwell Coffee a gargantuan cup of steaming black java, Breyer's Ice Cream a 200-foot high ice-cream cone with an 8000-gallon scoop of fresh strawberry ice cream, replaced twice a day but more often in summer, of course, when the run-off is pumped into soda fountains all over Gotham by a special underground network of pipes).
The Daisy Air Rifle Company had Red Ryder and Little Beaver, each five stories tall, crouched on the roof behind its water tower, pointing their Daisy B-B guns straight at the eight-story, ten million watt bulb perched on top of the Eagle Electric Mfg's Plant No. 4. (I think they actually shot out the bulb a couple of times.) A bit further along a giant, working stapler that has real staples made out of railroad rails graced the top of the Swingline Stapler Company's plant, (but it was jammed today, as happens to staplers at times). And just before the train plunged back into the tunnel at Hunter's Point station was the huge Bestform Brassiere and Girdle Mfg. Co. plant, but all I could see was a little part of the building, just the sign, really -- we disappeared into the tunnel just before I got a look at what it had on its roof, but a girl can imagine!
Well, we went under the East River and I got off at the Fifth Avenue station, went up to the street and emerged just under the watchful eyes of the twin stone lions guarding the 42nd Street Library. Fifth Avenue was packed with black and brown cars (with a rare tan one perhaps), bright yellow taxis and green double-decker buses, all traffic controlled by those special bronze traffic signals -- found only on Fifth Avenue, with a dolly little statue of Mercury on the top of each one -- each little Mercury appearing rather disgruntled, it seemed, since traffic was not exactly being borne along on winged wheels. White-gloved policemen with whistles waded into the worst of the traffic, gesticulating madly at incorrigible cabbies who merely chomped their cigar butts and leaned on their horns.
The sidewalks were packed with midmorning crowds, hurrying, jostling in that don't-take-it-too-personally New York manner, a sea of mostly dark-gray, blue, black and brown coats, fedoras to match, with ladies' hats here and there in bright colors, bearing poufs of stiff colored lace or broad ribbons or feathers, like pert little birds' tails weaving in and out among the bobbing, sedate fedoras.
"So I strolled uptown several blocks, (well, almost a mile, really), longingly gazing in shop windows at B. Altman's, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Sterns, then I paused to inspect brand-new Rockefeller Center -- the first cluster of buildings completed only last year. It has a sunken ice-skating rink dominated by a massive, gilded Apollo floating in air, hovering above and behind pettes in delightful abbreviated costumes gliding gracefully round and round on the rink, some (but not all) with their chaps.
Then I crossed over to the east side of the street, peeked in at twin-spired St. Patrick's Cathedral with its cool, shockingly quiet (and ever so slightly musty) interior, then onwards uptown past Tiffany's, Cartier's, (back over to the west side of the street again), Harry Winston's, Bergdorf-Goodman's, Peck and Peck (I am certain I spied Miss Greta Garbo quietly leaving the shop in plain coat with upturned collar, wearing a pair of enormous sunglasses)-- all the way to the Plaza, but I didn't go in, instead I crossed kitty-corner at 59th. Street and took mid-morning tea in the Imperial Russian Room at the Sherry-Netherland, where they have dolly little samovars on each table and the waiters all dress like Cossacks.
After watching the crowds on the sidewalk a while through the windows, I walked back down the Avenue, turning west on 47th Street to number 41, the Gotham Book Mart, "the most celebrated bookshop in Gotham" (its motto is "Wise pettes fish here"), where I succeeded in getting a first edition of S. J. Perelman stories. The Gotham is crammed floor-to-ceiling with books, two deep to a shelf. Under the stairs in a narrow black wooden cabinet was their collection of erotica, but there was nothing to light the lamp of this pette's spine, so to speak, that is, nothing dealing with girly-girls at all. That sort of book is a very personal thing, you know.
Then I caught the F Train down to 23rd, Street, to get to Barnes and Noble (Gotham's largest bookstore, it has a five-story bookshelf on the roof with dozens of real, printed books, some of them signed first editions), but when I emerged on sidewalk I was a bit turned around, and asked a chap on the corner, in my very best out-of-town, little-lost-girl voice, please, could he tell me, which way was 23rd. Street (I was standing right under the sign, unaware). So he replied, in his best Noo Yawk accent, (and pointing his finger upwards at the street sign), "Wassamatta, lady, cantcha read?" and the light changed and he crossed the street with no further comment. New Yorkers can be so polite and helpful, you know.
So Barnes and Noble has acres and acres of books, and I succeeded in finding The Transfiguration of Man (Schuon), Myths of Hindus and Buddhists (Coomaraswamy), Propaganda (Ellul), and The Oxford English Dictionary of English Etymology (C. T. Onions). So I took all but Propaganda (the smallest and lightest) to the shipping department, where a slightly sallow salespette in long, dark wool skirt and rather unfashionable (but no doubt very warm) woolen cardigan sweater wrapped my other volumes in brown paper, sealed all the foldings with library paste, then double-tied the package with stout hempen cord and charged me two dollars to have it all shipped by Railway Express all the way to the coast. She added up the purchases on a lovely dark-green Burroughs manual adding machine with ivory keys and a double-curved handle with a worn, black wooden grip: seven dollars and forty-five cents ... and no sales tax, of course.
Then I searched in several additional used bookstores on 18th Street, where the rather unhelpful young saleschaps, in true Noo Yawk fashion, disdained to twitch a facial muscle, flick an eyebrow (much less smile, or otherwise acknowledge the presence of the living girl standing before them just two feet away) when hearing out one's request, except for an occasional, slow, lizard-like blink of the eyes. They do not like waiting on girls, that is clear. Gotham girls should not read, is the message, I guess.
But I have already told you I came up empty-handed, so I practically limped back my cousin's office at 920 Broadway (next time in Gotham I'll wear sensible shoes, not heels!). So when I warmed up for a while, powdered my nose, pulled up and straightened my stockings (to perfection, of course), and set out back to the subway (the Lexington Avenue line in this instance), then home to the suburbs.
And I never had to open one door for myself the whole day (until I got home): a gentleman was always there just ahead to open it for me. What a fine pleasure to be made to feel so feminine at every door one encounters! So, except for the languid young saleschaps at the bookstores and the guy standing on the 23rd Street corner, I was treated like a lady wherever I went.
I just adore Kadoria, Pettes! The World's Fair will stay open until this coming October. I hear you Pettes in England can still book a passage with Cunard's from Southampton and be back in London by June. So come on over with bells on!
So with a World's Fair Futurama kiss to you all, I remain your
Kadorian correspondent from Gotham,
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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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