Originally published on State of Liberation
Sure, she didn’t get to study any of the subjects most deem important. Her family was too poor to let her study law. She was too weak to advance in physical areas. Not quite clever enough for technological work. Too high in status to dirty her hands in the farmlands.
In the oversized room, golden with the light of a thousand candles, an exciting atmosphere breathes comfortably, like a tamed animal. At the center of an unwound cornucopia of luxury, she is the mistress of the event. She watches the calculated sparks of laughter rise across the musical landscape. Guests have been fed and befuddled with drink enough to dance attractively on the shining marble floor.
A long and tedious learning process has made her the administrator of an evening such as this one. The privileges earned were well worth the time, even if her role is underrated. Dressed in fine emerald green silks, decorated with metals, stones, feathers and lace, she is as though elevated on a puffy cloud, reaching with ease those typically unapproachable in regular society. The powerful and the rich tend her a trusting ear, or bow down in respect at her passage.
Suddenly, a commotion in the south end of the hall breaks the festivities. The room has gasped into silence, alerted by the sound of breaking wine glasses and sudden raised voices. Two men seem to stand a few feet from one another, weapons drawn.
She glides across the room, the smile on her face unaltered. She steps between them, her presence peculiarly compelling despite the tension.
Not a bad education at all. The kind that gets somewhat unnoticed, that makes difficult things look easy and that require unexpected levels of discipline. The kind that saves men from one another.
“Gentlemen,” she says with a perfectly conjured chuckle.
Her imperative tone, though polite and inviting, lets the rest of the guests know that the situation is being controlled; timid comfort spreads among the witnesses of the scene. As she turns around, she nods at waiters and guards in a subtle manor and each finds the strength to shake up and carry on. Some conversation is resumed, food and drink being once again consumed, musicians start playing again, two maids flutter by quietly and clean up the broken glass. The evening is impeccably salvaged, as though nothing has happened at all.
The two violent men seem embarrassed; they casually lower, and put away their armaments. The schooling she has received is often overlooked. Yet, she has learned to be the one with power, among armed men. Each is charmed by her strong presence, her control over the airs around them. Soon they are individually introduced to skillful hostesses, who guide both in separate directions with refinement, towards interesting conversations, flavours, and pleasures.
Entertainers appear just in time and quickly gather a crowd, eager for a distraction. She moves aside, admiring their fire juggling and acrobatics, enjoying the expressions of the watchers. Their ‘ooh’s and ‘aaah’s of fascination revive the room to its former glorious state. The delight of her guests has wholly resumed. She is indeed, the mistress, tonight.
People have sometimes laughed when she mentioned her education. “Just a party school”, they would call it.