The Dinner Party Chapter 9

Dinner Party Chapter 9 Stuber

Jeanne Larsen, red hair flaming, carried a typewriter under her arm on the way to a small gathering of budding linguists at the north end of Ganandauguay. Flying Owl walked next to her carrying a 5,000-sheet box of copy paper. It had 1,000 sheets in it, the rest were stored carefully in Jeanne’s ganohso. Jeanne bought copy paper in batches of 5,000 sheets in her 20th Century life. It was the cheapest way to get paper in her day. The thought of 5,000 sheets of paper raced through her head as she realized she had to be very particular about paper usage.
She had already tried to remember the pre-amble to the constitution, parts of Lincoln’s Gettysburg address and the Declaration of Independence without much luck. The natives, however, were not keeping score.
Flying Owl had taught her most of the symbols for the natural kingdom, but they were a lot more straightforward than words! Jeanne worried that the alphabet may take too long to teach. But the time the Haudenosaunee had learned to spell, they might be under attack and in need of diplomatic negotiating skills. One thing was certain about these natives: they didn’t argue, negotiate or even vote in a peaceful way.
Flying Owl was determined to be able to battle the newcomers in any game of wits. Language was the only way to do that.
Flying Owl: Let me try to say your letters.
Larsen: OK
Flying Owl: A-B-C-D-E-F-G-I, I don’t remember the rest.
Larsen: You did very well for someone who is just starting to learn. Here.
Jeanne stopped walking near a young Sycamore tree. She handed Flying Owl a page with the alphabet lettered in capitals and lower case.
Flying Owl: AA-B-C-D-E-F-G-H-I-J, I for got J last time,-K-L-M-N-O-P-Q-R-S-T-U-V-W-X-Y-Z.
She had only been trained a couple of hours. Jeanne Smiled.
Larsen: You’ll make an excellent teacher.
They still had three miles to go, but Flying Owl sat down. She nodded her head in a sharp angled backward motion, smiled, and Jeanne sat down with her.

Stuber 9.2

Flying Owl: If we sit here long enough, Bobbing Tail will break her spying and join us.
Larsen: Bobbing Tail didn’t follow us away from camp.
F.O.: Yes she did.
Larsen: When I got up, I saw Fawn out by the fire and she said Bobbing Tail was still asleep. I went down to her house to see, and she was asleep. The sun is hardly up now, I’m sure if she followed us she would have caught up to us by now.
F.O.: Fawn was sending you after the turtle.
Larsen: What do you mean.
F.O.: I’m sure Bobbing Tail sent Fawn to be next to you so you would be certain Bobbing Tail was asleep.
Larsen: But Fawn was baking cornbread before I got to the fire.
F.O.: Bobbing Tail must have recovered completely from her losses. Her strategy is pretty good on this day.
Larsen: You’re paranoid and weird. Why would she want to spy on us. Number one, you’re her friend, number two, you’d tell her anything we did, and I was trying to get her to come to this lesson anyway!
F.O.: Number one: why should she trust what I say when her eyes and ears can interpret life for her. Number two: she can be jealous and she knows I like to play with men and women.
Larsen: I’ll hear none of that!
F.O.: I’m glad you said that.
Larsen: Why? Did you think I would have sex with you?
F.O.: No. I’m glad you said it, so that Bobbing Tail could hear you say it.
(They were whispering by now.)
Larsen: Will you quit that. Now, why are we sitting around.
F.O.: We can leave if you like. It might take an hour or more for Bobbing Tail to “catch up to us.”
Larsen: I’m sure she’s not even awake yet.
F.O.: Well, at least you followed our tradition, and didn’t disturb her dreams. Our minds are wonderful, but if you interfere with the gods who talk to us while
we are sleeping, they wouldn’t be happy, and bad things would happen to Bobbing

Stuber 9.3

Tail. So, if she was asleep, at least you did the right thing in letting her stay asleep.
Larsen: She would have yelled after us if she were following us.
F.O.: Not if she were spying.
Larsen: Why don’t you trust her, and why would she want to spy on a friend, I still don’t get it.
F.O.: It’s not a matter of trust. We believe in things we see ourselves.
Larsen: I see.
F.O.: you don’t see much. You are not watchful of the things around you. Again, it was nature that told you we were being followed, but you didn’t see it. The birds behind us have been scattering on our whole walk. Twice I heard twigs being shuffled in the woods.
Larsen: Any animal can move leaves around!
F.O.: But only humans scare birds. Why would a bird be scared of a rabbit?
Larsen: OK she’s followed us, still, we must move on to get to our lesson on time.
F.O.: What do you mean, “on time,” we said we would be there today.
Larsen: I wanted to start before the sun got to high in the sky.
F.O.: Why are you so concerned about when things start? Life goes on at its own pace.
Larsen: Alright. Why do you want Bobbing Tail to stop spying on us. Can’t we accomplish more if we go about our business, knowing that she’s watching?
F.O.: Now you’re catching on. I like that idea. But since we sat down, she’ll already suspect that we’re on to her.
Larsen: How could she know that?
F.O.: This sitting game is often played in these situations. Either the spy walks up to you, or they get tired and go away.
Larsen: What can we do to make her think this isn’t a game. I don’t have time for games, I just want to meet up with her and get to the language lesson.
F.O.: She would never believe we knew she was watching if you leaned over and kissed me.
Now Flying Owl was really fighting back a smile after that line.
Larsen: Considering all we have been through, that would be a small

Stuber 9.4

divergence.
She leaned over and gave Flying Owl a peck on the cheek.
F.O.: Thank you. What does divergence mean, exactly.
Larsen: If you were on a path and decided to walk straight up the hill rather than stay on the path, that would be a divergence.
F.O.: And why is kissing a friend a divergence?
Larsen: I guess it’s not.
F.O.: Well, here’s how we kiss our friends.
Flying Owl, who was sitting on the right side of Jeanne, slipped her hand under Jeanne’s right breast and passionately kissed her for thirty eight seconds. First on the mouth, than on the neck, then between her lips again. Just as Larsen’s defenses started to fade, a loud shriek came out of the woods. Flying Owl kind of knew what was coming next.
Jeanne pulled back and secured as Bobbing Tail came howling out of the woods.
F.O.: You have been spying on us Bobbing Tail.
Bobbing Tail: And you have spoiled our friendship Flying Owl!
F.O.: How did I do that?
B.T.: You were making love with Jeanne. I saw you.
F.O.: No, we were just resting on our long walk to the north end of the lake. Aren’t friends allowed to kiss?
B.T.: If I hadn’t stopped you, you would have been naked by now.
Larsen: I hate being used this way. Flying Owl you knew she would be watching, and you knew she would be mad at you. This is a hard time for you, and a vital time for your clan. We don’t have time for this.
F.O.: How did I know she would be mad, I had no idea she was on the path behind us. You said she was still sleeping.
Larsen: Sure you did, that’s why you sat down!
F.O.: No, I sat down to play with you, Jeanne.
Larsen: That’s it, I’m leaving!
Jeanne took her typewriter and paper and headed north on the path that followed the lake down its east side. It was a wide, much-traveled path. She was

Stuber 9.5

heading to a clearing when Flying Owl ran up to her and asked her not go off. Larsen flipped her head back, which gave her thick, curly, red hair a toss, and adamantly refused to go back into the woods.
Flying Owl understood, but offered to carry half her load for her anyway. Jeanne was happy to have a walking partner again.
Larsen: Is Bobbing Tail going to join us?
F.O.: Oh, is she coming now?
Flying Owl spun around to see if Bobbing Tail was headed down the path, but didn’t see anything.
Larsen: I guess not, I was just hoping to get her there. If the grieving wife of Running Bear is willing to come to the lesson, it will inspire the rest of the crowd.
Flying Owl nervously scrunched her shoulders in a questioning gesture and started to walk south.
Flying Owl: I’ll catch up to you.
With that, Jeanne started north and Flying Owl disappeared back into the woods. Now it was time for Bobbing Tail and Flying Owl to play the sitting game. Bobbing Tail was about 20 yards west of the path on a grassy knoll9 near the water. She was sitting behind a Blue Spruce. Flying Owl searched a good ways south on the path. Then she went down to the water and doubled back by swimming.
It was obvious now that Bobbing Tail was either back at the camp, having run there at full gallop, or she was playing hide-and-seek, not the sitting game.
The Haudenosaunee had their own rules for hide and seek that make the modern version of the game seem queer. A person could play hide and seek by simply hiding. No announcement of the game was needed. If you were walking with a friend, in a lull in the conversation you could sneak off the path behind your buddy and hide.
The other major difference in the game was that once you had a hiding place, you couldn’t move. Americans in the 20th Century had a penchant for the game, but were always breaking the rule of no movement. Americans, of course, would always announce the game, invite as many people to play as possible, and make a

Stuber 9.6

way of winning or losing out of it. That was the worst digression from the original game. Why should anyone lose? Once you find your friend, why shouldn’t you be able to enjoy their company? Why must someone always win or lose? (It was
the reaction the natives had to the diplomacy and negotiating lessons that Tolkien, Marley and Nostradamus were trying to teach back at the camp the night before.)
Meanwhile, Flying Owl swam up to the shore where she could see Bobbing Tail behind the tree. Bobbing Tail was sitting there in a type of trance. Flying Owl was concerned. Could Bobbing Tail go the way of so many other wives? Would she slip into a life of sadness, fits of depression, or even suicide?
Flying Owl also knew that Bobbing Tail liked to meditate, liked to play pranks, and liked to sit out hide-and-seek games for days, if her friends were dumb enough not to find her. These games could cause clan strife when they got as out of control as Bobbing Tail’s stunts. Of course, most of these were in her adolescence, nevertheless, Flying Owl decided to approach the scene with care.
Bobbing Tail had hidden from the path, but was a bare naked lady to the lake. Her breasts were gleaming, her hair was untied, and her lips started to smile, ever so slightly but her eyes remained closed. Flying Owl slipped quietly out of the water and took her leathers, which had been tied to her waist for swimming, and hung them on a tree to dry. Her naked toes sunk into the beach of shale and fossils. The black shale was warm, in some places hot. The heat on her feet kept her moving. She easily made enough noise for Bobbing Tail to hear her. Still, Bobbing Tail did not move.
Flying Owl’s knee twitched and almost buckled as she started up an incline. Nerves and anticipation combined to send pulses through her. Motor control was fading fast. She got so excited she stopped at a small pine to pee on the way up the hill. It was a Scotch Pine in its first full summer. Small lime-green pinecones were forming on the trees around her, a large sienna brown pinecone was bouncing off his head. There was no large pine near her. This was not a cone from the gods, but obviously one thrown by Bobbing Tail. Flying Owl quit peeing and walked toward her friend. Bobbing Tail remained unmoved.
The soft grass invited Flying Owl to sit next to her friend. She sat gently, as if

Stuber 9.7

no pine cone had been hurled. She sat in hopes that Bobbing Tail was in the midst of another playful prank.
A small wind blew for almost half an hour before Bobbing Tail slowly reached out her hand for Flying Owl. As soon as Flying Owl took it, the two tumbled downhill in a wrestling match the was no-holds-barred. First it was Bobbing Tail dominating. She had the element of surprise going for her. Then they rolled on top of each other, back and forth, scratching at each other, pulling hair, and even punching on the grass.
Bobbing Tail, now on her ass, skidded toward a tree. The grass stained her butt a yellowish hue, and she was about to tumble straight down the hill when her shoulder hit the tree and stopped her slide. She grabbed her shoulder and faked an injury which startled Flying Owl. Bobbing Tail took advantage of her concern by launching another attack. Flying Owl pulled away from the grabbing hands of Bobbing Tail, but not quickly enough. Bobbing Tail had grabbed her left breast, and as Flying Owl pulled away, she hurt herself, as Bobbing Tail used the force of Flying Owl’s retreat to, at one time, pull on the breast in her hand, and push Flying Owl’s pelvis with her feet.
The result was one elongated breast, pulled and pinched. {The equivalent of a kick in the balls, for you male readers out there.} Flying Owl was amused. Bobbing Tail picked up a four pound rock and split open her skin with a perfect shot to Flying Owl’s left temple. The two charged each other and rolled into the water. It was a soothing elixir for bleeding heads and painful nipples. Both laughed.
Flying Owl: That was a pretty good shot uphill.
Bobbing Tail: The next time you give me a breast pull, I’m going to come after you with a corn cob!
Flying Owl: Oh don’t act as old as you are!
Bobbing Tail: I know you’re poking fun at me, but my brain landed me a good life. You stayed on the course of the heart too long. When will you grow up.
Flying Owl: I don’t know what you’re talking about.
Bobbing Tail: When I confronted Catherine she started talking about us natives needing to grow up. I thought she was foolish since the Haudenosaunee are much taller than her kind!

Stuber 9.8

Flying Owl nodded, attentive to her friend.
Bobbing Tail: Then she said that she didn’t mean grow taller, but she meant to change our habits. She said I had good habits because I saw a good man in Running Bear, and mated with him. But she also said that our people play too much, and that we needed to work harder to make things better.
Flying Owl: If things were so good where she came from why is she here?
Bobbing Tail: Good point. Anyway, I told her that we had created a peace with five of the strongest tribes ever known, and because of that peace we have had many summers of harvesting and fun, with none of her ugly wars to think about.
Flying Owl: You said that to her!? She might have struck you dead right there. You got a lot nerve.
Bobbing Tail: Well, you’ve got the power and the heart to win most battles. Running Bear taught me to be a verbal battler.
Bobbing Tail, without whimpering or moving her body in hysterics, shed a tear.
Flying Owl: You’ll be alright.
Bobbing Tail: Just hug me.
Flying Owl and Bobbing Tail hugged. They separated and looked toward the lake. Bobbing Tail quickly forgot her troubles.
B.T.: I am wondering about Larsen’s walk north. Do you think she will be greeted by happy faces?
F.O.: I would think so.
B.T.: Our men don’t like to be told what to do about anything. Now this lady comes to us from what seems to be another time, and expects our men to listen to her about how to negotiate?
F.O.: I see what you mean, she could be in for it.
B.T.: She’s going to try to teach them her whole language. I still can’t figure out her symbols. And why so many symbols for each word?
F.O.: Maybe we should go and help her get through to people, but not until she has had a few hours with them.
B.T.: You’re smarter than you let on. Sorry about that crack about following

Stuber 9.9

your heart.
F.O.: That’s all right.
B.T.: No it’s not. Now I’m going against our traditions too.
F.O.: I can think of a few you won’t go back on.
B.T.: How’s your head?
Bobbing Tail leaned over to see if the blood was still oozing between the black hairs on Flying Owl’s temple. As Bobbing Tail searched her head, Flying Owl bent her neck and started to suckle Bobbing Tail’s right breast.
B.T.: Thank you for the idea, but I can’t fool around, I’m not in the mood. It will be months before I am over Running Bear.

 

 

 

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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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