Allies and Allergies (October of 2016)

Kara was certainly proving to be… interesting. Don’t get me wrong, I did like hanging out with her. She had that Libra sense of humour and could usually reduce me to cackling in mere minutes. That, and she could provide a useful buffer to the tension that seemed to come and go in Kieran’s and my friendship.

Hell, we even had quite a luxurious time in a rooftop pool that Kieran’s expired hotel key helped us onto.

Myself, with three mile long roots, Kara, and Kieran.

But she wouldn’t be included in this blog if she didn’t have her own issues. For example, she seemed to also be a liar, but would lie about the most implausible, inconsequential things. I’d made a ginger joke aimed at Kieran and she’d pipe up with, “Oh, I’m a ginger too!”

I was never much on labels, but somehow I didn’t think the definition of ‘ginger’ was broad enough to include ‘pasty and brunette.’ Both Kieran and I gave her a funny look. “No, really!” She insisted, even though we would’ve let her off with trying to claim it was a joke. “I dyed my hair red for five years and then it started growing in red!”

That’s not how– okay. Okay.

The two of them started arguing whether Kara’s hair constituted as red. And like most brunettes, she did have red highlights, but– “Xanthe, settle this once and for all! What colour is my hair?”

“You can’t ask Xanthe about colour!” Kieran cut in. “Do you really think Xanthe knows colour?” Listen, mate, I didn’t need a $250,000 degree in art to tell you she wasn’t a ginger.

“Come on, Xanthe, be the tie-breaker!” Kara persisted.

I looked back and forth between the two of them. I’d known about the catastrophic foundation debate from years before my time and I wasn’t looking to repeat it by agreeing with Kieran aloud. “I’m busy that day,” I said dryly.

Kara also seemed to have an odd view on trans people? It could be the number of years she spent reading J.K. Rowling. Granted, she wasn’t to that standard, but still not ideal.

The three of us were shopping along downtown and River Street. Kieran and I were both enjoying showing Kara around. There was something about being an impromptu tour guide that made one feel new to Savannah all over again. Kieran and I were both talking to Kara about Kaspar’s visit a couple of months back; (which, Kieran, of course, corroborated in detail) how we had to talk Kaspar out of anything with a fur collar to bring to Georgia in summer, which cafes it liked, its complicated feelings on southern cuisine. I’d mentioned in passing that Kaspar had several fake passports so it could be legal to drink, regardless of which country it was in.

“Oh, so they’re younger than you?” Kara asked conversationally as we browsed through the jewelry selection in Cassandra’s jewelry boutique.

“Yeah, by a few years,” I’d confirmed, hovering by the moonstone selection.

“You’re such a cad!” she cried jovially. “[Kieran], haven’t you noticed that Xanthe only dates younger women?”

(Before my detractors decide to call me a creep, I’ve dated no more than five years in either direction, which is my personal limit. I date both older and younger, this was pure circumstance.)

Kieran and I both paused to look at her. “Actually, both of my partners are non-binary,” I reminded her. Hell, even Kieran knew that.

“Yeah, but still!”

No. I mean, yes, I’m still a cad, but the gender and lack thereof of my partners wasn’t to be dismissed with a ‘but still’ by a self-proclaimed cis ally.

But she was also one of those cis allies. “I don’t think I could ever live with a cis, straight man. They fucking suck,” she expressed, I believe on this same outing.

Kieran looked at her quizzically. “What about Chris, our roommate?” He’d asked pointedly.

“No straight man puts product in his hair!” Kara declared. “That man is bisexual!”

Actual picture of Kara Slabaugh.

He uh… wasn’t. If I had been aware of Xhaxhollari at this time, I’m pretty sure I would have felt him seething at the stereotypes. Meanwhile, the uneasy alliance between Kieran and I seemed to be growing at every glance we threw at each other in response to this nonsense.

I was pleased, however, of Kara’s impression of Buchanan. They’d apparently met at the apartment she now shared with Kieran. As we strolled through Forsyth Park, she confided in me. “He is a grade-A cunt. I fucking hate him.”

Given the rumours that kept receding and returning like a tide, I was in fervent agreement. “Yeah, he and I have a history.” I was slouching down a bit as we walked. She stood at 4″11, so we had a height difference of about eight inches and I was beginning to figure out that I couldn’t stand at my full height if I wanted to hear her properly. Somehow, a full high school history of Mum chiding Neb for not standing up straight made sense.

“I knew he was a fashion student and I told him I was interested in fashion and he just talked down to me about it.” Kara fumed. “I showed him some of my projects and he just fucking mansplained all over it. Like I said, grade-A cunt,” Kara fumed.

I laughed and agreed, telling her how Buchanan had once told Avery, “Oh, I make clothes too. Only my clothes don’t look handmade.”

I let her continue to rant, practically languishing in the verbal berating of my long-time antagonist. About a week later, I brought him up as some sort of jab at him. I don’t remember exactly what I’d said or touched on. Buchanan’s pretentiousness? His hypocrisy? Him sewing fabric ‘dysphoria’ tumours on a dress and declaring himself this generation’s Alexander McQueen? The possibilities are broad.

“Don’t you make fun of him!” Kara had chided with a mother-hen tone.

I, at first, thought she was joking. “Oh yeah?” I smiled, eager for the parody of defending the little twat.

Kara’s face, however, was serious. “I know you don’t like him, but he’s a precious bean! I was wrong about him. He actually knows a lot about fashion and he’s really cool!”

What the fuck? I dropped the subject because. Really, what the fuck?

I’m sure a lot of my trans masculine readers also had a creeping sense of dread when Buchanan was called a ‘precious bean.’

“Hey, I don’t suppose either yourself or [Buchanan] mentioned him being trans in front of Kara, did you?” I texted Kieran later in the day.

“Um. Yeah. Why?” was his reply.

Suddenly, it was painfully clear why Kara, someone who arguably bordered on misandry, had changed her opinion so quickly on Buchanan. I explained the entire thing to Kieran and he’d replied, “Yeah, the other night, she was bemoaning the fact that she didn’t know any men with long hair. In front of me.”

Oof.

And hell, my life is so full of drama, even Mother Nature wanted to have a turn.

See that little ‘Sav’ hiding near the graphics? Can you have a little guess of how my October was going to go?

And poor Kara– her birthday was October 6th. Welcome to Savannah, try not to die on your birthday!

This was to be the first hurricane I’d ever experienced. Savannah, as it was explained to me, was positioned somewhat oddly on the map, so hurricanes had a tendency to blow right over our heads and hit Charleston square in the face.

The entire affair was anxiety-inducing– mainly because all of my favourite restaurants and cafes would be closed for at least a week and I wasn’t yet mentally stable enough to be recommended to stay alone with my thoughts. I didn’t have a worry of dying. The inn was built in 1854 and suffered little to no damage on the rare occasions when a hurricane did hit the Hostess City. Nevertheless, there were plenty of doomsayers proclaiming this to be the next Katrina, that we were to be wiped from the map, et cetera, et cetera.

I, of course, stayed. Asher did offer for me to join themself and their roommate to hide out in their parents house in North Carolina, but I declined. There was something so much a part of me in that city that I was afraid of who I might be without it.

“You would literally risk death just to stay in a city that better matched your aesthetic?” they asked me.

“Yes.” God, it’s like they don’t even know me!

And plus, those few days before the hurricane were lovely. The temperature had dropped pleasantly, the air was eerily still, and there were no tourists to ask me what I was dressed up as. I went to Kieran’s and Kara’s house the day before the hurricane hit, watching them boarding up their windows.

I forget what we even talked about, truthfully. I did know I wasn’t there long before Kara pulled me aside. “You should probably go soon. [Buchanan] is coming by soon and, since he’s leaving for the evacuation, we should give he and [Buchanan] the chance to say goodbye.” The phrasing was dripping with the gooiest of sentiment. I came to the not-so-ideal conclusion that Kieran and Buchanan might have started dating.

I later found that they hadn’t. At least not during that time.

You ever just Fujoshi so hard that your OTPs include matchmaking real life people?

The hurricane came and went. Working at the inn put me at a beautiful advantage. Not only did our power stay on, but most of the employees were given shelter there, including the chef. There were only employees and one or two rooms of tourists that had gotten stranded when their flight was cancelled. The owner even opened up her wine cellar to calm our nerves.

“Grab me three bottles of Pinot Noir from the cellar,” she’d told me. “And there better still be three by the time you get up the stairs.”

The result: Me, buzzed, filled with delicious and hot Creole meals, hanging out with coworkers I then considered family, watching Netflix, and occasionally picking up the phone and saying, “Yep, still closed.” And getting paid for it.

I have long accepted that there will be no time in my career that will bring me as much joy as those three days.

That being said, Kara and Kieran didn’t have nearly as fun of a time. I especially felt sorry for Kara, who’d had to spend her birthday ‘hunkered down.’ So, I decided to combine hers and Oscar Wilde’s birthday celebrations on the 16th.

I have noticed that some of the most interesting drama in my life happens on Oscar Wilde’s birthday. I feel like Wilde’s ghost must be pleased.

Always did have a flair for the theatrics.

All Kara wanted was something low-key– pizza and drinks and watching telly at my place. That, I could definitely do. All I wanted to do on Oscar Wilde’s birthday was get a quote of his tattooed on my neck, which I did. “I should get more of my quotes tattooed on me!” I said. Then paused. “Um. More of his quotes, I meant.”

Oh, yeah, that would be the first year that neat little fictive would make himself known.

I was somehow able to mimic Oscar Wilde’s handwriting exactly, when a helpful voice in my head telling me that OW was left-handed.

Kieran got a tattoo the same day on his thigh. We were both given a sort of salve to promote the healing of tattoos, then off we were to buy Kara and ourselves some drinks! Only issue was that it was a Sunday evening, in the south. Kroger’s, our grocery store, was usually open regardless so Kieran picked out a red Zinfandel and I snagged a bottle of sparkling rosé. I told Kara to pick out whatever she wanted– it was her birthday celebration and I was going to treat her, goddammit.

She looked at the wine and beer aisle, frowning. “Do they have any Kahlua?”

“They typically don’t have liqueurs in a grocery store,” I answered. The American south is usually pretty lax on where they sell booze, but not that lax. “It’s a Sunday. That may be difficult. There’s plenty of wines I think you’d like.” She was a Moscato person; I could feel it in my bones.

“No, I hate wine,” she said emphatically. “Like I will literally throw up.”

The wine won’t hesitate tell you that the feeling is quite mutual. Jesus, I imagined Oscar Wilde’s reaction so vividly that I actually heard that in his voice. I had the strangest notion that if I slipped into ‘the other plane,’ I might even see his ghost.

Well, we tried. And credit where it’s due, Kieran was quite the trooper. We first tried Johnny Ganem’s Liquor Store and found it to be closed. Then we tried Parker’s, only to find that they too only had beer and wine. Then we finally had Kieran drive his mini cooper on the treacherous cobblestones of River St. to find River St. Liquor, which was open!

Finally, the crucial Kahlua! It was expensive, but, again, it was her birthday.

The three of us went back to my flat where we ordered a pizza and indulged Kara in whatever YouTube videos she wanted to show us. Kieran and I both applied our salve to our respective tattoos. Kara cracked open her long sought-after Kahlua and poured herself a drink.

She sipped. Paused.

And then frowned. “Huh. It… doesn’t taste as good as I remember, actually.” And then, I swear to gods, she looks over at my glass to see my faintly pink wine fizzing after a fresh pour. “Can I have a sip of that?”

Vaguely curious as to if my life was really this much like a sitcom, I acquiesced. She sipped the rosé, made a noise of approval, and eagerly poured herself a glass of my wine.

Kaspar would have fainted just now if they were still here.

Oh, but the night was not over, friends! It took another two hours for Kieran to break into a coughing fit after whatever he was drinking appeared to go down the wrong pipe. I presume you’ve all had that happen to you– just a glimpse into why exactly humanity was not built to last. You sound like you’re dying for a few minutes and most would try to croak out the fact that they were fine. Not Kieran, though!

He carried on for a while in front of Kara and I, gasping and wheezing. And the thing is– I bought it. At least at first. “Are you okay?”

“I– I don’t know–” Kieran choked. “That–… salve… Does– it happen to have coconut in it?”

Frowning, I fished out the tin. And then I saw it. “Oh, shit. Coconut oil. Is that related to–?” I was hesitant to reference it, as Kara was right there, but what I was thinking of was that the Methusilla vampires of ‘the other plane’ were allergic to chocolate. Nope, not garlic. Chocolate. Don’t ask, I don’t know why either.

And Kieran, like his late sister, was a Methusilla vampire.

Kieran picked up on my question with a pained, jerky nod. “Yeah– coconut– it’s in the same family as cocoa– so–” he gasped again, audibly gulping for breath. Kara sprang to action, fetching him a damp cloth, a glass of water, proclaiming herself for having been trained as a nurse. (Which, I never did find out if that little factoid was true or not, but knowing my life…)

I was vaguely aware of Asher texting me. Don’t get me wrong, I knew the conversation was happening and was aware of the conclusion, but looking back on the conversation, it is hilariously clear that this was Xhaxhollari talking to them.

If you ever wonder how warm and cuddly Xhaxhollari is with someone he’s in love with, look no further!

I’m pretty sure myself and Xhaxhollari were both seething in our chair that night as Kara, the ‘trained nurse’, fretted over him. God damn it, he’d had us both fooled. It was as if Xhaxhollari and I were having a moment of solidarity even though I wasn’t aware of him.

That apple really didn’t fall far from the tree, did it?

I have to admit, I did feel betrayed. I’d gotten closer with Kieran while commiserating with all that Kara had yet to learn about the queer community, and gods, it seemed like every connection I made led to this staged melodrama. The only companions I had that didn’t lead to this were far and few between.

But. Hell. What I went through with April fucking broke me and my reputation. Did I really have much to look forward to other than being constantly distracted? Then to posthumously enjoy the boon my cult classic novels will receive at the dubious circumstances of my death?

Is this really my fucking reality?

Just then, Kara decided that she was tired and, I kid you not, crawled unceremoniously into my bed and decided to start sleeping as if she were entitled to it.

Kieran, having discovered from his near death experience, looked towards Kara’s sleeping form and visibly cringed. “Imagine if Kaspar was here,” he whispered hoarsely. “They would have a connip-fit.”

“I know, right?” I laughed helplessly. I suppose this was my life. I was free from April, but the same bullshit continued to plague me.

But hell. What else to do other than to just sit back and try to enjoy it?

And thus, I poured myself another drink.