In the last part of the last pre-epilogue chapter of V., Fausto Maijstral walks into Profane’s lodging-house in Malta, looking for Stencil. He’s gone though, and Maijstral can’t even find a drink. Profane’s drank everything in the house, and now lies “snoring and drooling and apparently enjoying himself,” (p. 452). Maijstral wakes him up and lends him five pounds.
Profane’s a resilient fellow. That evening he’s back out looking for amusement and finding it with Brenda Wigglesworth, an American WASP from Beaver College with 72 pairs of Bermuda shorts. She’s on a Grand Tour, having made it across the Atlantic “high as the boat deck and mostly on sloe gin fizzes,” (p. 452). She’s at the tail end of her time on the continent now though, not to mention her money. They have a nice melancholy date:
So over sloe gin fizzes for her which took tiny sweet bites out of Maijstral’s five-pound note, and beer for Benny, they talked of how it was they had come this far and where they would go after Valletta, and it seemed there were Beaver and the Street for them separately to return to; and both agreed this was nowhere, but some of us do go nowhere and can con ourselves into believing it to be somewhere: it is a kind of talent, and objections to it are rare, but even at that captious.
“Don’t be sad.”
“Brenda, we’re all sad.”
“Benny, we are.” She laughed, raucous, having a low tolerance for sloe gin.V., p. 453.
(How she’s managed to maintain that low tolerance despite her sloe-high Atlantic crossing I’ve no idea.)
On the topic of conning ourselves into believing something to be somewhere, let’s all imagine that is a five Maltese pound note in these photos and not British. It features after all the same monarch that would have adorned Maijstral’s note, at least if it were relatively freshly printed. One of my gin fizz drinking guests had a five pound note on her and it was too good to pass up!
Gin is often considered a melancholic beverage, but I am finding the sloe gin fizz altogether cheerful. It’s one shot sloe gin (macerated on sloe berries), half a shot lemon juice, and a quarter shot simple syrup, shaken, over ice, topped with soda water. It’s bright and summery and refreshing. More Bermuda shorts than nowhere-as-somewhere.
On another unmelancholy note, this post marks nine years since things kicked off around here with the Chivas Regal! (What after all could be more cheerful than the unnerving passage of time.) Thanks for reading everyone. Here’s to some good weird Pynchonian concoctions in the tenth year of this ever-more-sensible endeavour!