Good evening, Gentle Reader. I have had to start this post thrice; I had to go and fetch wine halfway through the second time because dang.
This story involves a fair bit of naughtiness, and not all of it’s on my part, for once. You’ll recall that I used to frequent an underground society, before the Absinthe Bans were lifted, and attend their functions. I should stress here that it is an educational society, and while I’m not nearly as knowledgeable as some of the members, I do know a fair bit more about absinthe than anyone who thinks it makes you trip ballz™. I’ve written about a few of these events from time to time, but the one brought up tonight – while working on my etiquette book, I might add – stands out in my memory particularly.
You see, while thinking of absinthe as a hallucinogen is utterly silly, it does have a different character than other drinks – much as tequila results in a different type of drunk experience than, say, wine. That said, it doesn’t account for the punchline of this story.
It was a fairly typical New Year’s cocktail party, honestly. Someone passed me a cigarette on the balcony (I’m a rabid smoker) and it turned out to not be a cigarette, and that’s how I first tried marijuana. My Aunty T. and Miss W. were poking one another in their decolletage with plastic forks, interesting guests mingled and bantered, and everyone was at least moderately swiffy. Well.
The ages of the guests were widely varied; we all had a common enthusiasm for absinthe, or were married or dating someone who was. The absinthistes were both distillers and connoisseurs, ranging from 21 to mid-70’s. People were enjoying themselves quite a bit, and then. Um.
I’m just going to spit this out there, because well – I was a 21-year-old-gay-boy who noticed that a woman in her sixties was sitting on a footstool, spread-eagled, masturbating at a cocktail party. The question I’m addressing in the etiquette book is not “Is it appropriate to masturbate at parties?” because, no, it isn’t. The question I’m trying to address is “What ought I to do if an older woman begins to masturbate at my cocktail party?” * and I’m not entirely certain how to answer.
My host took photographs † and gently shook her on the shoulder, before escorting her to a further room, where she laid down for a while‡. As guests, we carried on as though nothing had happened, which I think is the correct response. “It’s an embarrassing situation for everybody, and if we all pretend hard enough, perhaps it won’t have happened,” is the thinking on the matter, at least as far as I’m concerned, and is quite venerably acceptable under that ancient spectre that once was known as the “Polite Fiction.” As a host, barring the photography, I can’t think of a more polite reaction. I’m open to suggestions, though.
*The questions of “What should I do if a younger woman starts to masturbate at my cocktail party?” and “What should I do if a man of any age starts to masturbate at my cocktail party?” are addressed separately. The answers depend upon the type of party.
†I’m 95% certain that the photos were not for black-mail purposes. I think that they were intended as proof, to convince the lady in the morning that perhaps seven glasses of absinthe in two hours were not for her.
‡I’m going to assert that she just laid down, and left business unfinished, because – well, assuming otherwise is why I went and got the wine.