I've always believed that "minding ones P's and Q's" was all about saying "please" (pees) and "thank you" (kyews). For good or ill, Stephenson plays around a lot with word and phrase origins in his writing, and since I'm a fan, and I want to think he cares enough to be accurate, I wonder if anyone can elaborate on this reference to Ps and Qs as -- what? A scorecard of a person's accumulated consumption of Pints and Quaffs? Porters and teQweelas? The spending of Pence and Quids? The story takes place in the 1680's and the speaker is English, although the scene takes place in Paris -- or maybe Amsterdam . . . Hm, could be Vienna."You're the sort who keeps a tally, aren't you? Like a tavern-goer who prides himself on the Ps and Qs chalked up on the wall next his name -- save in your case it's wenches".
Hey there, mighty wizards!
The Absent One