As I sit and write this post, for once, I am not in the Ballroom. Indeed, the sun is on my face, the wind is in my hair, and *gasp* my ankles are most certainly showing.
Tessa: “Who wants another go on Space Mountain?”
Lauren and Sabrina both raise their hands. I however, turn slightly green. I prefer to gentler glide of the Dumbo ride.
Sarah: “Who wants another margarita?”
To that, we all raise our hands. While we are running around meeting with people, enjoying the opportunity to spend time with readers, doing signings and panels galore, and, yes, enjoying the castles of Lord Disney, the best thing about the Romance Writers of America conference in Anaheim is that we authoresses get to enjoy a short respite from our otherwise beloved Lady B.
Tessa (raising her glass): “To California!”
Me: “To no ratafia in the bar!”
We lift our glasses for that. The fruit sweetened cordial that is ratafia is, to say the least, an acquired taste. A margarita is a refreshing palate cleanser… as are most things about California. Oh don’t get me wrong, I adore Lady B, and being an authoress in Lady B’s ballroom. But it is a great deal of fuss, dressing in Regency garb, remembering the steps to the quadrille, and trying to convey a secret message based entirely on how one holds one’s fan. Yes, sometimes, a short jaunt to the 21st century, complete with margaritas, is exactly what is needed.
It is just as I am reaching this conclusion, that Miranda comes running up to us, terribly frazzled and out of breath.
Miranda: ”Ladies look! Somehow this was tucked into my bags!”
We do look. She is holding in her hand a sealed letter – the crest in the wax is unmistakable. Also unmistakable is the parrot feather that is affixed to the paper with the wax.
We all stare at the letter. Like a bomb about to go off on the table.
Tessa, the mother of small Darelings, is the most efficient about it.
Tessa: “Just rip off the band aid, Miranda. It must be done.”
With a grim nod, Miranda rips open the wax seal. She begins to read.
My dear Authoresses – it begins, and as if the feather and the seal were not enough, it is now entirely apparent who has sneaked a missive in with Miranda’s socks –
I have been informed by Miss Ashe and Miss Foley that there are Events Afoot while you are on your sojourn to this land you call California.
We all take a moment to wonder just what Katharine and Gaelen are enduring at the hands of Lady B without us the rest of us there to divide her focus. It is entirely possible that they are being put to work, wrangling Lady B’s errant nephew. Which must be akin to trying to hug a wet seal.
I am told that you are planning to host your own Ball, an adjunct, nay, an extension, nay, a REPLACEMENT Ball. Without me to guide you.
Me: “What on earth is she talking about?”
Sarah: “I think she’s referring to the Ballroom meet-up we are having tonight.”
That’s right. We have put out the call to our readers that on Thursday, (tonight) we would be hosting a Ballroom meetup in the bar of the conference hotel at 9:30pm. But it’s not a ball, by any stretch of the imagination. The bar doesn’t even serve ratafia. I made sure of it.
But I digress, as Miranda continues her recitation.
I am gratified that after a year under my tutelage, you feel confident enough in your hosting abilities to spread your wings and attempt to fly the nest. But allow this poor mother bird –
Tessa: “I can hear Albert squawking in the background already…”
– to give you a few last pieces of advice, before you inevitably crash to the ground, and have to limp and hop your way back up the tree to home.
Sabrina: ”An overworked metaphor if there ever was one.”
Miranda: ”Shh! I haven’t even gotten to the worst of it yet.”
She turns the paper out and let us all see. On it, enumerated in very bold hand, was a list. A terrifying list.
1. A hostess shall send her invitations out at least a month ahead of time. A household messenger should be the appropriate means of delivering such wondrous delights, but for guests who are at some distance, the post will do.
I turn to Sarah. Me: “Did we invite everyone a month ahead of time?”
Sarah: “I think we may have managed to tell people 2 weeks ago?”
Miranda: “And the only messenger we employed was 140 characters long.”
2. A hostess shall always makes certain there is comfortable seating to be had for all, preferably of the sofa or chaise lounge variety.
Tessa: “I think the bar has padded bar stools. Surely that will suffice?”
3. A hostess shall serve only tea or ratafia to the gentler sex, and spirits to the gentlemen only in the card room.
We all look down at our margaritas in stony silence.
4. A hostess shall, under no circumstances, imbibe more than a single cup of ratafia over the course of the evening. She must have her wits about her.
Lauren: “If you cross out “ratafia” and replace it with “margarita” that bit of advice actually applies.”
5. A hostess shall provide a number of amusements for her guests.
Miranda: “There are six of us here. I suppose that means we are supplying six amusements?”
6. Lastly, a good hostess is gracious in all manners, knowledgeable on all subjects and eager to engage with everyone. Even those not listed in DeBrett’s Peerage.
Sabrina: “Well, thankfully, that one we can accomplish – since none of us are in Debrett’s Peerage either.”
I must suppose that you will fail monstrously in your endeavors without me to lead you, but I have hope — such hope! — that you will instead heed what I have told you… oh, one last little bit I forgot. And this is the most important…
Me: ”Oh no…” I groan. We all glance at one another. What final tortures could Lady B have devised?
… Remember, my girls: Have Fun!
And to that, we all raise our margaritas.
Come one, come all — if you happen to be in Anaheim – to the Ballroom Blog meetup in the Marriott Bar at 9:30 pm on Thursday, July 26th (tonight!) We can decry our lack of ratafia and practice how to coquettishly hold our fans. We promise to try and amuse, and look forward to seeing everyone!