Helen DeWitt

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I had already tasted and approved the wine; if it had been unacceptable a replacement could have been ordered without loss of time to the businesswoman. I hoped she would understand that the glass of wine at my place was not a mark of bad manners but of thoughtfulness.

"Butó" Bethany had dropped a bulging handbag to the floor and was staring at the glass.

"Yeah, butó Thanks, Marguerite, but, um, you're seventeen. It's not legal for you to drink alcohol until you're twenty-one. I mean, it's not legal for them to serve you. I don't understand, how did you get them to let you get away with that?"

"I asked for the wine list. I placed an order. If you tell me this is illegal, well, we are in the realm of speculation. Maybe they respect someone who respects good wine. Maybe they're tired of people who come and order the cheapest thing on the list, or order whatever they happen to sell by the glass. Maybe they think the law is stupid if it criminalizes a seventeen-year-old who understands wine. Or maybe the waiter wants a big tip from the only customers to walk in at lunchtime. Or maybe they just had a raid and don't expect another. Or maybe they have a deal with the police. Or maybe they think the table can't be seen from the street. Surely this is not what you wanted to discuss."

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