The Dinner Party Chapter 4

Dinner Party Chapter 4 Stuber 4.1

The meeting of the Onodowaga is coming together around a fire the next day. The tribe has four clans: Snipe, Turtle, Bear and Wolf. Running Bear is from the Turtle clan, but he is also the chief of The Onodowaga as a whole. 2 Their form of democracy was a demanding one. If anyone in the clans disagreed with a decision,
it was argued over and amended until a unanimous vote could be made. The problem of the visitors had caused too much panic to let sit until a normal meeting, so the corn festival became an impromptu meeting. First came a Thanksgiving prayer. Then:
R.B.: “This meeting of the Onodowaga is in order. The stress we are all feeling, and the nasty rumors and fear amongst our people has to come to an end. It is obvious that we are being visited by people from the future. This seems absurd, but these people are not gods. They also want to protect us from what must be a bad fate. But do we believe them? I am here to gain our position on this matter. Do we trust these people with magic, or do we banish them?”
Running Bear’s political prowess is in full force, as he has his tribesmen believing that there was still an option. Deep inside, he knew he would convince his clan, and the rest, that taking the advice of the outsiders is the best.
“We must remember that outside visitors can have a lasting positive influence on our tribe. Did not Ayonwatha take the advice of the Peacemaker, a Huron, of all things? Without that trust in an outsider, our alliance of nations would not exist.”
Running Bear was fully aware that the method of the Peacemaker was simple: Condolence.
When Ayonwatha had no friends, the peacemaker offered him comfort. From then on, they were an unstoppable team in the pursuit of peace. Sure the peace meant that the Hurons would no longer fear the wrath of Mohawks, there was far more to be gained by the Hurons at first.
But the peace that lasted for centuries amongst the Haudenosaunee ended up
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the greatest achievement any civilization could strive for. The dilemma for Running Bear was that the group of visitors was divided about how to handle the inevitable invasion of Europeans. He sided with Catherine.
Most of his tribe sided with the peaceful alternatives. It had been generations since a full scale war was planned. The clans had neither the experience nor gumption to defy the laws that had been in force so long.
Sooner or later, Running Bear knew it would become an issue of gender. He knew the kettle boiled under many men in the tribe. He also knew the women had long since dominated the economy with corn production, and that to threaten their crops with war could lead to his removal as chief.
Typical Onodowaga meetings had issues tossed around until a decision was made, or the issue put aside until more information was learned about the subject. (Remind anyone of the lengthy decision-making process we’ve got going in the 1990s?) This way no major changes were going to take place overnight, unless everyone agreed on them. The following quotes are ideas that flew “over the fire” at Running Bear’s meeting. Names are not attached to these ideas, genders are. (M=male, F= female.)
F: “We need to hear all that these white-skins are saying, no one knows everything, we just hear rumors.”
F: “I have heard that these people have strange powers and possess items that
Can not be explained.”
M: “We are talking about details, when the real issue here is one of war. Half the white-skins say we need to stay here and keep to our traditions, and show the invaders that peace is the way. The other half say that if we do that we will be destined to give up our land, and our way of life will be forgotten.”
M: “If so, I say war is not so bad an option.”
F: “I say you are fanning a flame that has been dead a long time in this region.
If you men start a war in which all the tribes fight, the women will revolt. You will have no more sleeping privileges until you stop this crazy talk. Isn’t that right women?”
Most women murmur in agreement.
M: “I say we learn more from the white skins. I say we invite them to a
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meeting!”
F: “Are you crazy? If they know our secrets, they will gain too much power over us.”
M: “You have made my point for me. They can gain power over us. First we need to control these visitors, then, if more of them arrive, we need to go to war before they own us.”
F: “I think if we listen to the whites who are here to warn us, we can agree that they are here to help. Even the ones who suggest war are probably doing so because they realize our way of life is worth saving. If they are from the future, maybe they know outcomes that we do not want to face.”
F: “Such talk from a woman, it sounds like you favor war.”
F: ” Absolutely not, I just think we should hear them out.”
M: “If we do hear them out, then we will still say our Thanksgiving prayer in private. We shall not divulge any of our secrets. These people seem to have very little knowledge or care for the natural world. It may be our strongest point, that we
worship natural gods, they should never hear our prayers. We will do it at a different meeting.”
Running Bear: “I think that is the best policy. We shall have another meeting of the clans tomorrow. I am sorry for the inconvenience, but I invite my fellow clans to send runners back to their villages. We shall have a day of fun here at the lake, and continue this meeting, with the whites in attendance tomorrow. That means we need to have as many people here as possible. The more people who witness their powers and hear their beliefs, the better the vote will be. Until then I suggest that we have sports on the fields, canoes on the lake, demonstrations of water skills, and, of course, love making.”
This last comment gets a scowl from Flying Owl, a woman who then suggested no sleeping privileges, which got laugh from the men. With the meeting
about to change back into a corn festival, the Thanksgiving prayer was repeated.
In the prayer, thanks is given to: human beings, earth, water and plants. As well as the three sisters (corn, beans, squash) animals, trees, winds, birds, thunder, the moon, the sun, the stars, the “Four Beings” (sky dwellers who guide the natives) and the creator. The tribes put their faith in these things, and many others.
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After each section of the prayer, they feel at one with the item being honored, and as a mind of one among themselves. The key to their beliefs is that all things yearn to be accepted for what they contribute to life. From the ant all the way to the creator, this desire to fit in must be fulfilled by others who show reverence and offer condolence.
If we are all tuned in, the author might be able to whip up an entire Thanksgiving prayer.3 But it would only be an estimate, it would come from the wrong perspective, and would not have the guidance that years of oral history have offered the Onodowaga.
Running Bear took a quick scan across the fields and saw that the games had begun. The visitors, seeing the breakup of the meeting, had gathered in a field to show the natives how their magic worked. Here’s what the visitors had come with:
Corcoran (having been yanked from her dorm room at Hollins College) had on sandals, cutoff dungaree shorts, a red, yellow, green and blue tie-dye shirt, a pair of John Lennon spectacles and a backpack. In the backpack were a lighter, cigarettes, a notebook, two textbooks, two tampons and a rubber-band style hair tie. The textbooks were on biology and logic.
Garcia (having disappeared just after that Galax jam session) had on jeans, Jack Purcell sneakers, a T-shirt commemorating some blues festival in San Francisco, wire-rim glasses, and was amazingly clean shaven. He carried an acoustic guitar in a case that also included extra strings, a few picks and a bag of pot. He had a zippo lighter in his front left pocket.
Marley was in shorts a red and yellow shirt with Johnny Nash’s picture on it and sandals. He disappeared from a 1974 tour of America, and had with him a suitcase full of clothes, trinkets and a Kodak Signet camera from the 1950s.
Katherine B. was in her Steeles Tavern, Virginia garden in 1991 when she disappeared. She was wearing keds sneakers, a pair of faded jeans, a white T-Shirt with a blurb for Joe Jackson’s Love & Lust tour on it. She also toted a bag of pot, and had a hand shovel and a plastic watering jug, as she had been tending her flower garden when dispatched to the dinner party.
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Rodgers and Jack were in bars on different sides of North America when they got yanked. Both are in normal 1987 garb. Rodgers showed up with a beer in his hand (long gone) and Jack had a bottle of Jack Daniels, half gone.
Tolkien was in his library, and arrived with “Falconer ” a novel by John Cheever.
Martin was having sex with her roommate and a sophomore from Washington and Lee University when she “flew” out of her room. She arrived naked and had been wearing borrowed native clothes ever since.
Woolf had been painting a seascape, so she arrived with brushes, an easel, a canvas, a bottle of gin and a pet Westie. She was wearing a skirt, blue blouse, a hat. Her yapping little dog was a pest, but her lively conversation already had the Onodowaga women crowding around her at times.
Nostradamus was in monk’s clothing, including a goofy little hat that looked a lot like the thing the guy from the Spin Doctors wears, only made of a grungy brown wool with raw wool earmuffs and leather thongs for a strap. He carried his carefully protected journals.
Catherine the Great had on an informal dress with tight bodice. She too came from a drinking party and was loaded with a bottle of Vodka.
Kandinsky wore drab clothes, leather work boots that were almost a size too small. He had a pocket watch in his front right vest pocket, two canvasses and six bright colors of paint.
Tad carried a boom box that had batteries that were fading fast. The box had a compact disc of “Breakfast in America” by Supertramp loaded in it. He was wearing blue shorts, a Buffalo Sabres replica sweater with the name Mogilny on the back, and the number 89 all over it. He wore wire-rim glasses. He carried with him an oxygen supply that was hooked up, via Heimlich Micro-Trachea directly to his lungs when he first arrived. But a lucky combination of his oxygen supply running out, and his no longer needing it hit at the same time. The natives were still mighty interested in his machine.
Stephanie and Jessica were backstage at an R.E.M. concert being held in a gym at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia in 1988 when they were whisked away. Stephanie had on tight pants and a skimpy shirt. She had a tattoo of a rose and a tiger-lily on the inside of her right ankle. Jessica had on jeans and a tied
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button down shirt, kind of like a young Patsy Cline might wear back in Winchester, Virginia when she was be-bopping around. They both had a ton of make-up on, and in purses.
Larsen had on a brown shirt, a vest and wire-rim glasses to go with the manual typewriter, full box of typing paper and twelve pages of prose bundled under her arm. She was in the field to demonstrate the contraption. Now that everyone was speaking the same language, it was her intention to teach people how to read and write it.
Finally, Duane Allman had been picked off while riding a Harley Davidson, full blast down a highway in Georgia. The motorcycle was the talk of the town, and Duane had plenty of gas in his tank, so a demonstration was still in the cards. He had arrived with the hollow body Gibson strapped over his back `a la Johnny Cash.
Kandinsky started by explaining that it seemed a group of artists, musicians and writers had been gathered to protect the natives from the coming onslaught of Europeans.
Woolf: I don’t know how long we have before the French show up here, but a united front in dealing with them should be our goal.
Tolkien: I agree with Jeanne, we have to find a way to teach them the language, translate their words into written form and preserve their culture.
Larsen: It’s a long project. Maybe we should just have a field day with our friends for now.
Nostradamus: I couldn’t agree more.
Two young women walked up to him, looking inquiringly at his hat. The threesome snuck off together.
Allman, bored by the whole thing, fired up his bike.
Running Bear: Could you explain this thing?
Allman: It’s a motorcycle. You want a ride?
Running Bear didn’t have to think long about that one. His bravery was being tested, so he agreed. Allman put him on the back, and they went for a slow cruise around the field. As they were riding, Running Bear had an inquiry.
R.B.: What makes this thing move?
“ Gasoline and this engine,” Allman said as they made a corner, narrowly
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missed a tree and stopped at the top of a rise. The crowd watched attentively as Allman quickly put his hand on the muffler and took it off.
Allman: The exhaust makes the pipes hot see?
R.B.: I feel the hotness, but I still don’t understand how it works.
Allman: Well, maybe it is beyond my teaching, but it is pretty good proof that we are from the future isn’t it?
R.B.: Maybe you are from a star? Maybe you are from the Underworld. I don’t know, but we have to make my people comfortable with your presence, or they will vote to banish you.
Allman: I don’t care about the vote. It’s good to be alive.
R.B.: You would not survive if we banished you, but I am on your side.
The two returned to the crowd where Corcoran was trying to explain her lighter. She lit up a cigarette, and two young Onondowagans come to her with a pipe in their hands.
Corcoran: Here, let me light that for you.
She lights up a huge bowl of hemp, and the boys take a drag and pass the pipe around.
The crowd is amazed at a simple Bic disposable.
R.B.: There is nothing strange in what these people bring. They are from the future. They claim to be from Earth, and I say we believe them.
Bobbing Tail: You believe them because you were making love with one of them last night.
R.B.: What do you mean crazy lady?
B.T.: You were playing games with that one. (She points to Catherine the Great.)
R.B.: That is crazy, where did you hear that nonsense.
B.T.: Everyone but you seems to be spreading it around. You were missing at the same time she was missing.
R.B.: I was preparing the boys for the lacrosse match against the Cayugas
next week. We had to go over terrain, and the quick routes through the woods to their village. Isn’t that right?
Two or three young men chirp up to lie for him.
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Catherine the Great: Even if we were love-making, what difference does it make to you?
B.T.: I am his wife, this is his daughter. If you don’t confess to it right now, I will seek refuge in my cousin’s house.
R.B.: There is nothing to confess. This lady from the future is trying to stir things up.
C. the G.: He’s right, there is nothing to confess. I was swimming last night. There was a rustling in the bushes as I swam, but I think it was a deer.
B.T.: I’ll bet it was my husband watching you. Were you naked?
C. the G.: Of course.
B.T.: You will have to come to my house and undergo a test to see if I believe you.
As Running Bear, Bobbing Tail and Catherine the Great headed for the village, Fawn was left with Garcia, who was explaining his guitar.
Garcia: This is an instrument played by many people in my century. We even have ways of making the noise very loud so thousands of people can listen to us at the same time. People come to our concerts and tape the songs so they can listen to them over and over again.
Tad: Here’s an example of recorded music from our century.
He cranks on the Supertramp, and the less frightened natives come up to listen to it.
A few yards away, Stephanie and Jessica are explaining cosmetics.
Others have liquor bottles to look at, and clothing to go through.
Meanwhile, the troika has arrived at Bobbing Tail’s ganohsot.
Bobbing Tail: You will sit facing each other please, as I question you both.
Running Bear is not pleased with the idea. He grunts, but sits down about eight feet away from Catherine, not quite facing her directly.
There are two masks hanging from the inside wall of the ganohsot. They are scary looking to Catherine, but are the masks of joy and rain to the Onondowagas. They are made of wood and stained with red and black, with rocks for eyes and ears. There are other trinkets in the room, including two wampum belts, a condolence

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cane4 and a piece of smoothed wood that reminds Catherine of a phallus she once knew.
Bobbing Tail: So, your name is Catherine. Were you making love with my husband last night?
C. the G.: No.
B.T.: Running Bear, were you disgracing your position as husband and tribal leader by making love with this woman without my consent?
R.B.: No.
Catherine really gets to thinking now. What the hell did Bobbing tail mean by “without my consent.” Did she mean that with her consent it would have been all right? Was this something the whole tribe agreed on, or was it between them?
B.T.: Take your clothes off.
R.B.: I know what you are up to Bobbing Tail. In know the test you women put us through in these situations, and I strongly disapprove.
B.T.: You will submit to the test, or lose your wife, daughter and power as chief.
R.B.: Fine.
Running Bear takes his leather off and reveals a flaccid penis. He then sits down with his legs crossed, pretty much hiding his penis from view.
B.T.: Now you do the same Catherine.
C. the G.: You are out of your mind. I will not submit myself to this kind of ridicule.
B.T.: You will do it, or I will make sure you are banished. No one will listen to your ideas, you will be expelled, and by January, you will die I am sure.
C. the G.: Boy oh boy this is tough stuff.
She’s thinking this may go beyond any crazy night she’s ever had, when Bobbing Tail instructs her to remain standing.
B.T.: You will walk back in forth in front of my husband. I will watch your eyes and his. If anything happens to arouse his penis, I will suspect you both.
C. the G.: You know, as a woman that is unfair. No man can stand to be teased by a naked women without getting hard.
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B.T.: That may be true where you come form, but our men better learn how
to keep a soft penis at a young age. They also know how to keep a hard penis, but I’m sure you’ve already found that out!
C. the G.: I’m being exploited here, and I don’t like it.
R.B.: Do as she says or all of your friends will end up as dead as you.
C. the G.: They aren’t my friends.
B.T.: Shut up and start walking.
Catherine prances around on tip toes. Her breasts jiggle up and down, and she starts to get hard nipples. This does not please Bobbing Tail in the slightest.
B.T.: This is a test to see if my husband responds to your sex, but if you start to get horny on me, I will assume that you are after him!
C. the G.: The cool breeze has made me this way. The only test of horniness is whether my lips get wet, and you know it.
B.T.: We’ll see about that.
Bobbing tail walks over to Catherine and sticks a finger in her vagina. She smells it.
C. the G.: Why you gross heathen.
B.T.: This is the only way to test. So far you have passed. Now keep walking. Only tease him more. Get nearer to him, hang your tits in his face, move your ass around.
C. the G.: Again, I must protest. Do you think I am one of those prostitutes!
R.B.: Just do as she says. This will be over soon, and then we can make our case for war to save our people.
B.T.: You two are already in cahoots! I can not accept your philosophical convergence, even if there is no proof of sex between you. I am going to stay with my cousins until the tribe decides which way it is voting on the subject of war. If you and this white god have a new marriage, and the war wins out, you are out of my life as a lover, do you understand that Running Bear?
R.B.: What I understand is that the women of the tribe have blackmailed you into making the war subject also the last subject of conflict between us personally. I

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am determined to make the best decision for everyone, if that means we are never together again, then so be it. If we decide on peace and hiding from the white onslaught, I assume we have passed your test and that you and I will remain together.
B.T.: I am too upset to think about all of this. I still suspect you two because you were both gone for so long. If this white skinned lady is truly only a human from the future, then why would she risk being off alone in unknown territory? We may stay together if the tribe decides on peace, we will have to see. Go out and play husband.
C. the G.: You don’t mind if I get dressed do you?
B.T.: I hate your tone. I was going to sit and talk with you. If you can be at peace I still will, so get dressed and we will talk.
Running Bear leaves the tent and heads toward a pick-up game of Lacrosse. Catherine, stepping into silk panties, a thick cotton skirt, a long sleeved shirt and boots, decides to stick around to hear this native out.
BT: The last time my husband was fooling around, he never admitted it, but the tramp he was around with ran off and became the scapegoat of another tribe just so she could be warm in the winter.
C. the G.: I am nobody’s scapegoat. You may not think I am up to scouting a region on my own, but that is exactly what I was doing the other night. I ruled the mightiest nation on earth, walking around these lakes is a walk in the park for me, at night or during the day.
BT.: Why are you so enamored with war?
C. the G.: I am not enamored by it. I know how to win battles, I know how to fight because our country often has struggles. But I would much rather enjoy the conveniences of peace than the horror of war. If a war is necessary to save your people, why would you oppose it?
BT: You white-skins are split about whether war is needed. If you are from the future and cannot agree on what is the best direction, how are we supposed to trust decisions made with your advice?

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C. the G.: Make the decisions yourselves. We know that Europeans will come here and take over your land. The other people, who come from times much farther into the future than myself have seen what this country will become once land is owned and people become greedy profiteers. If your way of life is worth a war to save, I say fight.
BT: But some say even if we fight we will lose!
C. the G.: Then I say find a way to negotiate on the white man’s terms. But you have to realize that the white ways are my ways, and I know they will come to dominate this area no matter what you do.
BT: So why fight?
C. the G.: Because you don’t want to give up your way of life like cowards do you?
BT: Cowards we are not. I can see that this argument will be difficult to resolve.
(Before that spirit hits, the backbiting, tongue-lashing female war games begin.)
C. the G.: I understand you have loose rules about letting your husbands make love with other women.
BT: Whoever told you that was full of malicious lies. If we have lovers they are pre-approved. We talk about the merits of wife-swapping with all the parties involved. The secret agreements made, and nightly wanderings may be numerous, but they are not done in the rude way you subscribe to. Running Bear has never been unfaithful to his dreams, but he has never ran after a dream without consulting his family. You have managed to cause great problems for my family, my tribe, and you might lead five peaceful nations to a war against people we don’t even know.
C. the G.: Well, and what have you done to further the causes you believe in?
BT: I’ve made sure my husband didn’t make a fool of himself with the tribe.
With a strong leader we’ve been able to resolve differences with our neighbors, keep strong a system that involves everyone in the fate of the tribe and make a fun life for our children. One free of war!
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C. the G.: Well, I’m leaving. Your husband may follow my lead, or make up his own mind, but your envy of our friendship will not help the situation any.
BT: No one need know about your wanton love of my husband. I do not approve of it, but if you continue to display these attacks on my family for all to see, you will pay.
C. the G.: Good-bye Running Bear. Good luck dealing with your wife.
Catherine bent over and showed an ample buttocks as she lifted the leather away from their door.
BT: You have a terrible eye for beauty. If you are attracted to that, you must think me quite ugly!
RB: You know I did nothing to disgrace you or our tribe. The whole chaos created by the white gods arrival has caused wild dreams for everyone.
BT: Don’t fall back on that old prop. If you went off with her, or if you didn’t, it is obvious she is in love with you. She desperately wants to lead you off into war.
RB: Please leave me alone to deal with this.
BT: OK, but you know the talk is already around the Turtle clan, the Heron clan has plenty of connections to ours, and more than one set of ears. That means everything you have done the last two days is now known by all Haudenosaunee that matter. Ponder that before you fire-up the youngsters for war!
With that Bobbing Tail leaves the ganohsot and spots a gathering of women around a fire about 50 yards form the lake. Actually, the women are gathered around talking to peacenik whites about things other than war.
Woolf: They tell me you are an artist.
Kandinsky: Yes I painted, but went a lifetime barely noticed in my own country.
Woolf: Shall we show these folks how you painted? You could paint over the canvass I was working on.
Kandinsky: No, I think a much bigger project than art is teaching about the times we came from. I have no idea what is was like for you in England. Why don’t you let us in on it.
Woolf: I was a spoiled brat really. Daddy used to bring by a lot of famous writers, who mostly encouraged me to become one of them. I’m not sure I
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succeeded, but having Tennyson around certainly made a fun summer of it.
Two women start to snicker and yawn. The party looks like it’s about to break up when Bobbing Tail comes over to the fire to a murmur of some magnitude.
BT: What are you going on about this time Virginia?
Woolf: I was talking to Wassily about art and negotiations.
BT: Well, I just had a negotiation, and it looks like I’ll be staying with my cousins in the Heron clan for a while.
Woolf: What the heck is going on.
A general agreement amongst the women hanging around encourages Bobbing Tail to spill the beans.
BT: I tested Catherine the “great” to see if she was lusting after my husband.
A howl of laughter rises up from the group.
Woolf: Why are they laughing.
BT: Probably because they know that the test is not really a test, but a way of humiliating the two adulterers. I stuck my finger into Catherine while Running Bear watched. He knew what was going to happen. It could have been worse, but I did not dissuade Catherine from continuing her adamant war ranting.
Kandinsky: I don’t understand, was there some type political maneuvering involved in this love-making?
Woolf: Apparently!
BT: If she has her way, the Haudenosaunee will be stuck in a war against the white people who have landed east of here.
Now the crowd is more interested.
Kandinsky: We will need your help to attract people to peace. I will talk to the other artists that are here. Perhaps we can come with a celebration that will take their minds away from war.
BT: Make sure you get Nostradamus involved. My clan is particularly swayed by his oration.
Woolf: I don’t think a diversion is as important as the decision at hand.
Kandinsky: But we will draw a bigger crowd if we offer some music.
BT: maybe so, but I insist we have arguments about his.
Woolf: Arguments are for the day. Maybe Kandinsky is right, maybe tonight
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we should just party.
Jessica: I agree.
Stephanie: Hey Wassily, are we up for some more art lessons?
Kandinsky: I presume so.
BT: You are no different than us. I can see it by the way you spend your free time. I will never understand how you goofy white humans from the future can sway the best men of our tribe. If you’re willing to help us tomorrow, then tonight we party.
She leads Woolf, Kandinsky, Jessica and Stephanie away from the fire.
BT: Are we set for the night?
Jessica: I don’t understand what do you mean.
BT: I left my husband to brood at our ganohsot, it is a wonderful night. Are we set as a group to find a place to have our party?
Woolf: Sure, but I’m with Jessica, I don’t quite understand what you mean.
BT: Well, Kandinsky here seems to have an eye for Stephanie, that leaves the three of us to roll around with each other, unless you want me to introduce you to some single men in the clan.
Woolf: We’re fine as a threesome by me.
Jessica: I’m not so sure about any of this.
BT: Let me take us to a patch of early hemp. We will sit around looking at the stars, smoking the mystic herb and see what happens.
Jessica: You’re a compelling hostess.
The five headed away from a semi-rambunctious crowd of women, some men and sparks being thermalled into the night air.

 

 

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  • Before You Speak

    Before you speak, let your words pass through three gates. At the first gate, ask yourself, ‘Is it true?’ At the second ask, ‘Is it necessary?’ At the third gate ask ‘Is it kind? Rumi  Translated by Coleman Barks

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“The Dinner Party,” a novella in 11 chapters plus endnotes, copyright, Doug Stuber, 1992.  Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given, and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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