Alison Alexandra had asked her partner, with far more innocence than the result entailed, when people were going to pair off and head for the bedrooms. It was such a lackluster gathering she figured it would take quite a jolt to generate any interest.
And, she had asked her partner. It wasn’t as if she was angling for a tryst.
But, out of the blue – and out of other people’s boredom? – within twenty minutes or so, she had a woman sidle up to her. Drink in hand. Held at a professional tilt, though there was no raised pinky finger. Voice low, though not as low as the woman thought.
“Are you the one who asked if we are going to start to go to bed?”
Alison Alexandra, used to fine drink since her university days away, knew the lady’s finely-tilted glass was but a prop and barely touched. The scent of whiskey came solely from the glass. As for the lady herself, butter would freeze in her mouth.
“Is it making the rounds?”
“Do you want to make the rounds?”
“That was not my intent – no.”
“Then I don’t know if you are successful or not.” The glass touches teeth. “Your question is making the rounds with alacrity.”
Alison Alexandra likes the word “alacrity”. It sounds like its own action.
“Have there been any answers?”
“Not to me.” There is a fleeting melt of the ice that is not in her glass. “Not that I’ve asked.”
“Have you made a head count?”
“I have not pointed and gone ‘eeny meeny miny moe’ – no.” The woman leans closer to Alison Alexandra, her lips now a conspiratorial distance from an ear. “But I do keep a select few in my vision.”
“Has there been movement?”
“There has been – if not corralling – some sidling up beside, with a ‘nicker’ into an attentive ear.”
“Anything for a pair of knickers, perhaps?”
The woman straightens with enough speed to lose a few drops of her conversational whiskey. She looks at Alison Alexandra in surprise and appreciation. A translucent mask is peeled from her face. She is animated. Her eyes are expectant.
“You are new here.”
“You’re the observer.” Alison Alexandra smiles.
“But I never say what I really see.” The woman finally takes a real drink. “None of us do.”
“But you come up to me – with your observations.”
“In truth -”
The woman stops. She realizes how rarely she tells the truth. She is startled that she is about to do so. She is apprehensive.
“In truth, it is on a dare.”
“Someone has dared you to ask me?”
“Actually, a number of people have put money in a pot to see if this will happen.”
“To approach me?”
“How much am I worth?”
The woman raises her glass and laughs. “A bottle of Scotch.”
“Not really.” The woman is apologetic, yet she laughs. “It’s not that caliber of party.”
Alison Alexandra can see a friendship in the offing. So much more important than a partner for the night.
She takes the glass from the unprotesting woman and has a drink.
“Better than this?”
“Not even as good as.”
“Then no one is going to get me out of my knickers.” This does not stop Alison Alexandra from taking another drink. She hands the glass back to the woman. “There. I’ve had my limit.”
“That surely won’t get you into bed.”
“I’ve been looking around.” Alison Alexandra looks slowly around again. “Not even a bottle will accomplish that.”
The woman looks at her glass. It is still nearly full. She takes a deep drink.
“I am not so pure.”
“Oh – purity has nothing to do with it.” Alison Alexandra does take a bit of care with her next sentence. “But I am very picky.”