The Cocktail Bar

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

girls in Pit-london who love Aristasia and would like to visit Aristasian soil may discuss a Visit to the Aristasian Embassy, which is five minutes from an Underground station. Pop us a note if you are interested.

Music Playing: Dorita's Big Band with: Skyliner

Dateline: 19 February 1952

Cotton is Queen!

This is Mrs. Marcelene again, pettes, with a sure-fire homemaking "high fashion" recipe for summer fantasy frocks in times or shortages and rationing. I promised to show you two scrumptious dresses in plain, old cotton, Queen Cotton, the one fabric Aunt Samantha has not seen fit to ration or even control under good, old Regulation L-85, which tells how long skirts can be and how wide, among other things. Remember, girls, if you make these dresses yourselves, L-85 does not apply at all. But it would be a thumb in the eyes of all your friends and neighbors were you to make such lovely patterns in silk shantung or silk chambray, even if you have a few pre-war yards stashed away in the bottom of your hope chests. (Dea forfend! They may think you have gotten it on the black market!) So I caution you to make these dream dresses of cotton, a completely non-controversial and un-rationed fabric, whose only fault is that ironing is de rigeur, unlike modern miracle fabrics like Rayon...

 Cotton is just dripping with fashion this summer, darlings ... chambray, gingham, percale, seersucker ... to be treated with the same deference as the finest silks or even the best pre-war (and now unattainable) rayons. The high compliment of beautiful hats and real jewels, once reserved for silks, satins and chiffons, is now bestowed upon cotton this summer. Cotton is first in the hearts of Culverian women who adore its freshness ... find personal delight in its rise from kitchen and garden to the dizzy heights of feminine fashion. Cotton is the essence of youth - yet it is no longer limited to the young - why, even matrons clamor for it these days! Still ... the young look is half its charm, and this magic it confers on every woman who wears it.

 But before I present today's patterns, I must ask ... have any of you girls - Realies or Newies - seen Show Boat? If you have, you will remember that fairest of fair, melting blondes, Miss Magnolia Hawks, who marries the Mississippi brunette river boat gambler Gaye Ravenal. Now, their first meeting takes place in New Arcadian times, on the dock in Natchez, Mississippi, with bales and bales of cotton on the wharf, right where the show boat, named The Cotton Blossom, is tied up. Magnolia, or Nolie, is only sixteen, decked out in her very first long dress, and she breaks every heart in the house when she sings the famous duet, Only Make Believe, with that most dashing of brunettes, Gaye. I challenge you to watch this duet without a handkerchief! Anyway, dearest pettes, you must each imagine yourself a modern-day Kadorie Nolie Hawks, falling in love with a velvet-voiced Gaye Ravenal... you are wearing your very first perfect melting-blonde Kadorie cotton dress...(it's a Kadorie production, O.K.?), Gaye sings to you, and you melt.... you are in love, there is nothing you can do except sing back to her... "Only make believe I love you ... only make believe that you love me..."

But let me assist your imaginations even a bit further, (especially you Newies, who may have been entirely unfamiliar with dresses, so I hear, until very recently): imagine yourself not just in any perfect Kadorie cotton dress, but in this perfect Kadorie cotton dress, with a charming Dresden shepherdess neckline, of red-and-white striped, frosty-cool cotton seersucker, with short pink cotton gloves. This little number goes to town on a hot day (in Natchez, Chicago, Gotham, 'Frisco or Boston) with a John Frederics straw sailorpette hat, or it stays at home for dinner with your own brunette, should she choose not to share you with others (you will be hard to resist, after all, you might even cause a brunette riot!) It's the very essence of this summer's fashion, rich and feminine and innocent in the midst of wartime shortages, and all perfectly legal and beyond the slightest reproach of any envious neighbors or less fortunate relatives. (Ladies' Home Journal Pattern DCD 1231, forty-five cents.)

Now, pettes, imagine you are still Nolie Hawks, but a bit older and more sophisticated, a married blonde with a baby, on her own (you can never count on those river boat gambler brunettes!) You must make your own way in the world, raise a daughter, too, and you must dress for it, even in the hottest and most wilting of summer days. So behold this stunning sunback dress with crisp bolero jacket in baby-blue cotton chambray, skirt trimmed with five rows of white zig-zag rick-rack, jaunty white cotton gloves with scalloped cuffs ... this is one of the biggest little fashions of the summer, from Long Island to Los Angeles - or even in Natchez! Are you still waiting for Gaye to return? Do you think she will? See the film! (Ladies' Home Journal Pattern SBD 811, sixty-nine cents.)

 Believe me, darlings, cotton is Queen this summer, it's the patriotic, all-Culverian fabric!


Real things for real homes again

I would just like to add my comment to the clothesline. Nothing brings the fragrance of springs passion than a fresh line of hand washed, shall we say, ladies personal garments? I know I relish the stiffness and perfume of nature's drying. I can think of no fabric softener so intoxicating as the lovely aroma of outdoor air. I feel fresh as a flower slipping into my, oh so up to date garb. I hope other new girls should chance quite a venture. It's very rewarding and really fun to do.


War and the Pit

Thank you for the wonderful piece on the Invasion of the Pit. It answered some questions I kept asking myself. Why this talk about war in parts of Aristasia. Surely Aristasians do not fight each other?

 Now I understand. The War is not against ourselves but against the ugliness of the Pit. How wonderful to think of all the ugly things being turned into real things, and all the people being turned back into real people.

 Thank Dea for those brave girls in Kadoria, and may V.T. Day come quickly to save us all from the Pit.


Sweets for St. Valentine's Day

Having read Charmaine's really adorable description of her first date, I have a date of my own that I would like to tell you all about. Yes, it was St. Valentine's Day. And here is how it came about.

 After telling you all (in admittedly vague terms) about my heart-breaking experiences with the fickleness of a blonde, I did some very serious thinking. And it occurred to me that since my disappointment, although I had certainly felt a healthy amount of attraction to blondes, I had not been out on a single date. It had been months!

 Well, there is a blonde at the school where I work, another teacher, who I have been observing for quite some time. She is a petite creature of Hispanic descent, with very long, dark hair (much like mine, but with a darker, blue-black sheen, whereas mine, as you can see, has hints of auburn in it) and the most absolutely gorgeous big brown eyes a brunette could dream of! She is not a giggly, chattery blonde; in fact, she is the quiet type, a gentle pette who has a way with children that makes her a wonderful teacher. She also has a streak of mischief in her that it took me some time to discover. You see, like any proper blonde who lives alone, she is wary of brunettes, and takes care to be certain that her friendships are proper. (She lives without her mothers because, tragically, she is an orphan. She was raised very properly in an orphanage in Arcadia, and only moved to Vintesse, where we both teach, a few months ago.) Her name, by the way, is Gratiana.

 After working up my courage for several days, I finally asked Gratiana if she might consent to accompanying me to dinner on St. Valentine's Day. (For all you blondes who think that brunettes are born assured, and have no more uncertainty about asking a blonde to dinner than we do in selecting a bunch of celery at the grocer's, let me tell you, any time you are properly asked out by a brunette, she will have gone through many agonizing moments of indecision before she oh-so-calmly requests the pleasure of your company!)

 Gratiana looked at me from those melting dark eyes and said, in her sweet voice, that she would be pleased to accept my invitation.

 Well, as you can imagine, I was thrilled beyond words. I gave her a time and a place to approve, and when she had, I arranged to pick her up in my cousin's brand new Pierce-Arrow (my cousin is a very successful businesspette--another brunette, of course).

 That day I went out and purchased a brand new outfit, Vintessian to the extreme (although I didn't go so far as to cut off my long hair--I love long hair--although I admire those matriotic girls in Kadoria). My new outfit consists of a sheathe dress, falling straight from spaghetti-strap shoulders to mid-calf, a soft cloche of matching azure velvet with just the smallest amount of black net veiling, black pumps with a strap across the ankle, and elbow-length black gloves, fancier than any I ever owned! I borrowed my cousin Celeste's black velvet wrap-around coat (the same cousin as the Pierce-Arrow, of course), and by the time St. Valentine's Day arrived, I was so ready I felt as though I had gotten no sleep for at least two days! I had seen Gratiana at work, of course, and she was ever so discreet, acting in just the same old friendly but distant way to me--but I think I caught a glimpse of blonde glee when I told her we would be going to The Banshee Club on our date. (Banshees are spirits, you see, and since spirits are "officially" banned in Vintesse, we girls have to go to speakeasies, many of which are named after various friendly relics.)

 And I will tell you all what happened on our St. Valentine's Day rendevouz...


 Suspensefully yours,


Music Playing: Dorita's Big Band with: Culverian Patrol

Dateline: 18 February 1952

Growing Up in Quirinelle

Miranda, you're so sweet. I didn't say anything about Marinetta when we were talking before St Valentine's Day, because I was thinking about how brave you were to practice your song and sing it to Miss Featherington. Why, I could never have done that in a million years! I am so glad that she liked it. I'm sure that she cares for you a great deal, otherwise I don't see why she keeps you behind. There are lots of other blondes who go to the library, aren't there? And she doesn't ask any one else to stay behind and discuss literature with her, does she?

 I do hope that the teacher doesn't look in your exercise book and see that you have written in it. You would be in such a lot of trouble. I am quite frightened when I think about it. Do promise me that you'll try to rub it out. I cannot imagine that Culverian school-mistresses are any less strict than Quirinelle school-mistresses or governesses. Don't worry, darling, I promise to tell you all about my next date with Marinetta.

 Gosh, she's so lovely, blondies. She telephoned me, as she had said that she would, to ask how I felt after such a late night. It was so heavenly to talk to her again, girls. I thanked her for the photographs and said that they were put away safely in my new album, and we talked about the dinner club for a while. I felt rather shy with her, really. You know, after that kiss. And then guess what? I had put the receiver down and gone upstairs to think about something--well, yes, Miranda, it was to think about the telephone call, and what she said to me, and how her voice sounded, and what I said to her--the doorbell rang, and when I came downstairs I saw a florist's box on the hall table! Inside was a beautiful posy. Yes, she'd sent it. I have tucked the card carefully away in my drawer. Well, yes, I do keep taking it out to look at it every time that I go into my bedroom. It reads 'To dear Charmaine, with many thanks for a delightful evening. Marinetta.' Oh, it is such a beautiful posy, girls. I've never been sent flowers before. I felt so--I don't know--peculiar, is probably the right word! I felt so grown-up and cool-as-a-cucumber in one way, opening the box properly, the way blonde mummy does, and in another way it felt so strange to receive such particular attention. I felt so aware of myself and self-conscious. Is this what growing up is like, do you think, Miranda? It seems almost like a door opening onto another world. I'm so glad that I can talk about it with you. I don't quite feel that I'd like to talk about it with blonde mummy, though I know from the way that she's been looking at me today that she knows how I feel. We had tea and crumpets together, She's such a darling. And I know that 'nette mummy really likes Marinetta, because she's been so scrupulous in saying that if I don't wish to see her again, that I must say so at once, and that she will take care of it for me. She made me come and sit in the sitting room while she said this to me. She was very much in earnest. I sat and blushed, and felt all hot, looking at the floor while she was talking to me. Oh, Miranda! Can you imagine me not wanting to see Marinetta again?


Necessitas Rationem Inventrix, Or: Learn to Sew!

Marcelene here, Darling Real Girls and Newies. My dear friend and fellow editrix Norma just mentioned the patriotic duty of each girl in Culverian Eastern Kadoria is to keep her hair efficiently and economically short, whether or not she is in uniform. Now, Norma would be the last to complain, but do you pettes know that it is not simply butter and bacon and gasoline and coal and hot water for shampooing that are rationed in Eastern Kadoria? What I mean is, rationing and shortages apply beyond merely the Hestia - they affect just about everything, starting, of course, with the great scarcity of labor, but including all sorts of fabrics and even leather, too.

Just after the outbreak of war, the Government took over all remaining stocks of raw silk, for example, so everyone switched to rayon. But soon rayon, too, was requisitioned for the war effort. And even those goods that are still available cannot be used with abandon: regulation L-85, issued by the War Production Board, lays down strict fashion guidelines for how much wool and dyestuffs, for example, can be used in the manufacture of garments, going so far as to say that skirts cannot be longer than 25 inches, nor more than 50 inches around the hemline!

 So, as the title of this little homily says, "Necessity is the Mother of Invention": those trim Eastern Kadorian fashions, with their smart narrow jackets and skirts, kick-pleats for Pettes on the Go, smaller hats, narrower collars and lapels, single-breasted jackets .... all are a direct result of L-85. Shoulders are broadened for stylish effect because here is a way to give a "new look" with only nominal extra fabric. Gone almost overnight are the long draped and flowing dresses and suits so common in Trent. Good-bye to 120 inch, five-gore skirts, good-bye to long sleeves! Hello to the "severe, efficient" Eastern Kadorian look! So you see, this is not some shallow fashion fad that has come along by chance or by whim, but a change brought about by necessity.

Perhaps it is the terrible shortage of nylons that is the most painful and is the mother of the most unusual invention of all: Leg Make-up. The poor pettes of Eastern Kadoria, or at least those not fortunate enough to have same-color nylons (boiled or otherwise), have taken to wearing leg make-up (in Tulle Mist, Ivory Satin, Heirloom Lace, Nude, Peach Bloom, Sun Tan ...) in place of stockings, which gives a surprisingly smooth sheen, an almost-real stocking-like, sheer-silk finish to their legs (the ads refer to the make-up, only half-jokingly, as "run-proof" and "wrinkle-free", making necessity not merely a Mother, but a Virtue as well!)

 You have perhaps been wondering why I, a home-making editrix, might be telling you about fashions. Can you guess? It's because those girls who know how to sew, and particularly those girls who have a decent collection of fabrics, are in luck! You see, L-85 applies only to manufacturers and wholesalers: it specifically exempts fabrics bought for "home use." So whatever fabrics you have or can find in fabric shops can be made into opulent dresses with 120-inch skirts, if you like. In fact, the Singer Sewing Machine Company, as part of the war effort, has set up special Sewing Centers all over Culveria, staffed with professional seamstresses to help pettes who might not be too handy with a needle.

Here, look at this lovely red-and-white striped ball gown in percale with bodice of rayon satin and matching red gloves. The Eastern Kadorian girl in the dress had never sewn a seam in her life until she dropped by a Singer Sewing Center, where all the help is free! Her mother had bought the percale before the war, for curtains, but the old curtains will last the duration, while her daughter now has a brilliant new gown for next month's War Benefit Ball!

Or take these cunning "look-alikes" for mother and daughter made from "unmatching" remnants, bought up for a song at a fabric store close-out sale. The white printed gingham bolt-end would never have served in itself for two dresses, but together with the green chambray remnant, Voila! You can see the charming result for yourself.

 Finally, if you are doing volunteer service and need uniforms, the Singer teacher will help you make some smart ones, at no expense except for materials.

Here is a Volunteer (blonde) Auxiliary Nurse at the last fitting of her snappy, home-made uniform. Why, Norma would be delighted, I'm sure, to feature such a fashion in her pages (wouldn't you, Dear?)

 So all you pettes who don't have an up-to-date sewing machine, now is the time to think of buying one. In fact, if you buy a used one, and it is not in tip-top shape, your Singer Sewing Center technician pette will tune it up for $3.95, including replacement of the most commonly worn parts! It's all for the war effort, you see.

 Tomorrow I will really pre-empt darling Norma, and show you two perfectly adorable home made frocks in cotton, the one fabric that is still in ample supply in Eastern Kadoria. Norma will be sorry she did not snap up these fashions first!


The Invasion of the Pit

I suppose it must be all this talk about the War, but last might, I had the most gloriously vivid dream.

 Do you remember the part in Miss Snow's novel Children of the Void when Lehnya is bicycling through the Pit and she imagines herself an enchantress on a fiery horse, wit bolts of light striking the ugly things and people of the Pit and turning them into real things?

 Well, my dream was just like that, only this time it was a full-scale invasion of the Pit by the forces of goodness. The air was filled with sleek, shining-silver Art-Neo fighter planes from Novaria, each of them bombarding the dark, ugly world with its light-canon. As the bright rays fell on the misshapen forms and people, they were transfigured. Horrible packs of foul-mouthed Pit-schoolgirls with their blouses hanging out of their skirts and unlaced canvas shoes on their feet disintegrated in a blinding flash of light, and in their place stood the girls they would have been if the Octopus had not twisted them out of shape: Smart, pretty, innocent girls in immaculate uniforms, making the world bright with their innocent laughter. Bongo telephone boxes melted to slag and were replaced by darling red real ones. Filthy, slick advertising posters burned in the purifying flame and were replaced by lovely Quirrie advertisements with smiling, beautifully dressed ladies, and clean, kindly lettering. Ghastly, disgraceful old grannies-in-tracksuits were replaced by sweet, gentle old ladies. Tattooed morons with weasel-faces and rat-vowels were replaced by fresh, wide-skirted teenage girls with wide eyes and rustling petticoats.

 A dashing brunette leaned from her cockpit and gave a gay salute as she dodged anti-aircraft fire sent up by half-human creatures in torn jeans with rings through their noses. A moment later she had swooped in so close she could have shaken their hands (if she had been wearing rubber gloves) and the anti-aircraft battery went up in smoke.

 Behind the Royal Novarian Air Force came tanks from Kadoria and New Kadoria, raining light-shells on the hideous bongo-buildings, and where the buildings were real, firing shells that saturated them with a beautiful, silvery, star-twinkling vapour that turned the occupants back into lovely human beings.

 Behind the tanks came the Amazon charioteers, pennants flying, white horses prancing, filling the air with their uncannily accurate arrows of light.

 Within an hour the entire bongo-town had been turned back into a place of human habitation, and it was on to the next one.

 So remember girls, V.T. Day (Victory in Telluria) may be a long way off, but your sacrifices are not in vain.


Coming to Quirinelle

Goodness, Norma, I feel quite spoiled! In the part of Kadoria where I live, we have never had any shortages of fuel for hot water. If we had, I would most certainly take your advice and cut my hair short, if that was the matriotic thing to do. ''Matriotism is not enough" may be true, but I think it is certainly a good place to begin. To love one's country with a passion is to love the virtues that she stands for and incarnates. How could I enumerate the virtues of Kadoria? If I could write a song or a sonnet to my beloved Kadoria, I would.

 However, I am about to sample the delights of another province, as I am moving to Quirinelle for a time. Quirinelle, the peaceful and fair. I look forward to becoming as passionate a lover of Quirinelle as I am of Kadoria. Only perhaps not quite as passionate; for surely one must always retain a special affection for the province of one's birth? The soil thereof, the trees, the hills and valleys are all part of one's being--or perhaps it is the other way round.


Real things for our Real Homes!

Hello everyone, remember me? It's Elizabeth O. of course. I have been away for a short time, and have just missed everyone something terrible. Candida, your story about the ringing of the bells was beautiful! I do hope you'll share with us other stories that you know. And Miss Barbara, your Valentine poem was also lovely. I hope everyone had a lovely holiday, with lots of candy and flowers! My house is positively swimming in flowers, for one of my daughters decided to get a job at a flower stand over the holidays, and all the leftover flowers from Valentines day, she brought home. I didn't realize how many flowers were sold for this special day, but it must be an awful awful lot based on how many were left over, for the lady who owns the flower cart told my daughter that she had sold over 200 times the amount that was left behind, and what was left was enormous. She let my daughter have them, as my daughter told her that her mother just adored flowers, and made her own bath oils and sachets out of the petals. This lady was so sweet, for she sent the whole lot over.

 It was quite funny, for we ran out of vases to put the flowers in, so we started placing them in pitchers. We ran out of these also, and now most of our iced tea glasses are serving as make do flower vases. This works out just fine, unless someone comes to visit and happens to be thirsty, for we have no choice but to serve them iced tea out of either cocktail, orange juice or wine glasses. I of course preferred serving it from wine glasses, because I'm always looking for an excuse to use them!

 Elizabeth Ruth, I too am confused about the different provinces, as well as their history! I'm not sure yet about which one I fit in with, but learning about them all is quite fun. I must say I am confused about the ongoing war and what provinces it is affecting too! Sometimes it seems as if it is all to much for my blonde head! I do know that I wish we didn't have shortages, and could always find real clothes, especially hose to wear. The fairies seem to be smiling on my family as of late, for we have found some remarkable real items of clothing at fleems. Our greatest find was a poodle skirt in almost new condition. My oldest daughter adores poodle skirts, and she of course was almost doing flips in the yard at her find. This amused the lady holding the sale so much, that she decided to raid her attic, and lo and behold she turned up 2 other skirts! And she insisted on giving these to my daughter as a gift, free of charge. My daughter couldn't just take these without doing something for this lovely lady, so she came home and baked her some cookies and made her a lovely wreath for her front door. When she took these to the lady, the lady decided to raid her attic some more, and turned up with some real blouses and a plaid skirt with the price tag still attached!!! (2.99) Because of these happenings, my daughter has positively become a fleem fanatic. I bet she dreams of fleems in her sleep even!

 Which brings me to this little tale. Last Saturday, the local pit-paper was advertising a huge fleem, 5 families, many new and classic items. My daughter of course was awake and ready to go at 6:30 that morning, so we could get there before all the real things were taken. The sale was a bit of a disappointment, for most of the wares were just bongo junk but we did get a little laugh out of one thing. The proprietors of this sale had these poles with many lines running on it, in a somewhat squarish/circular fashion. I can't describe very well what it looked like, other than a tv antennae with string everywhere. As my daughter and I were rummaging about trying to find something of interest, we overheard them trying to sell this item to another person. I heard the lady remark that it was called a solar clothes dryer, that it used no energy other than the rays of the sun. To which the customer replied, "Wow I didn't realize that you could get solar dryers also". Tee hee. My daughter and I just looked at one another and kind of half smiled, both suppressing giggles at this person. This person ended up buying this "new fangled" solar clothes dryer, probably at an inflated cost also.

 But, the solar clothes dryer joke aside, I wanted to say that for those who have never used a clothesline, please do try it, especially for your bed sheets and tableclothes. You literally do trap the fresh air and sunshine into the fibers, and of course your house smells so nice when you change the linens. My family can tell that the sheets have been changed on the beds when they walk in the front door, long before they enter the bedchambers just by the smell in the house. Laundry detergents and fabric softeners don't even come close to this lovely smell of freshness and cleanliness. And with spring right around the corner in certain parts, we are sure to be having some sunny days to hang things out.

 Sincerely, ELIZABETH O.

 P.S. to Norma - Your spread on wedding dresses was lovely! It reminded me of when I was a little girl looking in my mothers fashion magazines, thinking of my own special day so far off into the future. I couldn't settle on a wedding dress, and so decided that I would have many weddings without the marrying part so that I could wear all my favorites. Of course, I learned that you actually have to get married when you have a wedding as I got older, but when I was very young, I estimated that I would have to have at the least 6 different weddings!

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