Containing a birthday party, a kiss under the mistletoe, and a little romance.


It was only just after eight, and Amazon House was already getting full. Diana was a personality of capital "P" proportions; people seemed to gravitate to her energy, although it was more electric than magnetic, and not even her tendency to regularly stick a rather large foot in her mouth was enough to scare them off. The hour was early and the guests were still predominantly female, but the quantity of members of the male sex diluted the amazonian character of the place. If this was a house of amazons, then the twentieth century variety had a bit more tolerance for the male of the species than her classical predecessor. There atmosphere was like many a gathering of late twenties who refused to grow up--slightly dark, slightly loud and slightly youthful, music provided by Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple.

Diana was dressed for her occasion in a long silver satin blouse, a black and silver vest, black beads, and black leggings. Shiny painted balsa zebras dangled from her ears. Only Roxana, more colorful in shades of red and black, could compete with Diana's flashy appearance. "In our circle, no one dares to be exotic," Diana complained to Roxana. "It's a legacy of the seventies."

Sam, standing nearby with Rick and John (Reilly was noticeably absent), interrupted their mutual compliment session. "You forgot about me, Di."

Diana inspected Sam's jeans and T-shirt critically. "That hot pink is fine, but you certainly can't claim much originality for your costume."

"Yeah, but I'm still the exotic of the party. Did you invite me over as the token black, or what?"

Diana laughed. "The next thing you'll do is accuse me of being racist!"

"I was thinking about it," Sam said drily.

"Be nice, Sam," Diana complained. "It's my birthday."

The sick doorbell tinkled feebly again, and another carload of guests, all male this time, crowded through the doorway. Diana's face lit up as she saw Adrian with Robert and Guy.

"Well, you're no longer the token black," Rick said, nodding in Robert's direction as the trio approached Diana.

"Then I'm the token black female," Sam said.

"Happy birthday," Adrian said, handing Diana a single red rose he had been hiding behind his back. As she took it, he put his hands on her shoulders and kissed her almost chastely on the corner of her mouth. But nothing Adrian did ever seemed quite chaste.

"You won't catch me imitating that guy," Guy said. He threw his arms around Diana and kissed her full on the lips.

"Don't crush my rose!" Diana protested.

Guy let her go, smacking his lips with good-natured vulgarity. Diana laughed and Adrian looked on with a grin.

"May we still ask how old?" Robert asked.

"Yeah, but this is the last year you can," Diana replied. "After that you won't be able to trust me any more."

Guy whistled. "Robbing the cradle, huh?"

"I'm not that young," Adrian protested.

"Anyway, happy birthday, Di," Robert said, planting a platonic kiss on her cheek. He drew a package out of his pack and handed it to her. "From the band."

Diana tore off the wrapping of Sunday comics like a child. "A Shure!" she cried. "You guys are fantastic!" She opened the box and pulled out the silver microphone with a caressing gesture.

"Well, it's mostly from the long-haired one here," Robert admitted.

"The longer-haired one," Guy corrected. He shook his head back and forth to emphasize his little pony-tail.

Microphone in hand, Diana threw her arms around Adrian and gave him a kiss much less innocent than the one he had given her. "It's beautiful, Adrian," she said, running her hands admiringly over the phallic silver thing she held. "Thank you."

"Not just me."

"Got to give credit where credit is due," Guy said.

Diana put her new plaything back in its box lovingly. "You guys are here earlier than I expected," she said. "How long did it take you to drive down?"

"You don't want to know," Adrian said.

"Maybe two hours?" Robert guessed. Diana gasped.

"More than that," Adrian said.

"Not much," Guy said.

"Don't exaggerate," Adrian admonished.

Guy produced an imaginary guitar out of thin air and began strumming, "'He can't drive fifty-five,'" Guy sang. "At least not down I-5," he improvised and gave Diana a meaningful look.

Party on