It’s a good thing Julia and Daisy cordoned off a table for themselves early
because as soon as the first note was struck, the music hall began filling with
people. By the time the first band was in full swing so were a lot of dancer,
while even more people crowded the periphery. Daisy and Julia sat at their
table as the music hall filled. The room was getting warmer and warmer and
Daisy felt herself starting to perspire. Behind her a series of windows had
been opened allowing the night’s cool breeze to enter the music hall.
Across the room, among a crowd of men, Dan too was sweating. He started
sweating almost immediately after he put on his suit jacket and tied his tie.
He hadn’t planned on doing anything this New Year’s Eve after a hectic
holiday rush down at the distillery. But one of his neighbors, a fellow
whiskeydaddler who was meeting some friends at the Women’s Club dance,
convinced him to come along. After all, he said, there will be a bunch of
bands – and a lot of women. Those, thought Dan, were two very valid points.
So, he agreed. And here he was, standing with a group of guys he barely
knew, sweating heavily in a stifling music hall full of loud music and even
louder revelers. The cacophonous nature of the music hall, combined with
the music, the stomping of the dancers and the chattering of whiskeydrinking
crowd, created an almost unbearable din and Dan found himself excusing himself
from the group (that wasn’t paying him the least bit of attention – perhaps
there was some jealousy from the other, lesser ‘daddlers) and making his way
downstairs and outside into the fresh air.
Daisy too was seeking relief from the stagnant air – which was made worse
by the haze of tobacco which hung just above her head and would get
steadily worse unless a serious breeze came through. Both her and Julia
abhorred tobacco smoke.
“Julia, I don’t know how much more I can take of this smoke,”
“I know, my eyes are starting to water,”
“And I can barely see anything anyway.”
It was true. Even though they had their own table to themselves right in front
of the dance floor – with an ideal view of both the dancers and stage – the
large crowd closed in around and in front of them at the edge of the
dancefloor. They could see nothing but people’s backs.
“This is ridiculous. I can’t see. I can’t breathe,”
said Julia, frustrated.
“And the last thing I want to do is dance right now,”
“Not that I want anyone to ask me.”
“Let’s take our drinks and go sit on the window ledge,”
“It looks like there’s a nice breeze.”
“Yes, anything is better than this,”
So, the two of them grabbed their drinks and purses and left table which was
quickly taken over by the crowd. They forced their way through the
suffocating masses to the windows which had broad, wide ledges and
whose billowing curtains promised a cooling breeze. They sat down on the
ledge and both looked over the city of Peoria – the brightly lit streets and the
thinning crowds hurrying to their midnight destinations. They heard the clock
on city hall chime. Now, it was telling Daisy, Julia and the city that it was 11
“Well, this is a lot better,”
“A bit of relief from the madness.”
“I really don’t know why I was looking forward to this,”
said Daisy forlornly.
“I never like these types of things and they always make me nervous and selfconscious. All day long, I just sat on my aunt’s bed staring at her clothes and
jewelry and was completely petrified and almost ill at the same time.”
“Oh, you’re being dramatic,”
said Julia, who was now sitting with her back against the wide window frame.
“This isn’t as fun as I thought, but there’s no reason get sick over it.”
“Oh, I’m fine now, now that I’m here,”
“But it was everything leading up to it that was excruciating. And then to have it turn out like this.”
She waved her hand in disgust at the drunken partygoers and ricocheting
“Where are all the nice men?”