slaws

While there is so much bad food at races, like the year we saw fried butter (a pat of butter, breaded and deep fried, then topped with powdered sugar and served with raspberry jelly for dipping; they were giving out free samples, and it was like the most disgusting piece of Chewlies gum you’ve ever had), I actually really enjoy this and get it almost every year from the same stand: the BBQ sundae.

Baked beans, cole slaw and (some very good) pulled pork. I top it with extra regular and then spicy barbecue sauce. It’s so good, and also super convenient to eat at an event like a race.

Jackfruit Pulled Pork 

1 (20 oz) can jackfruit in brine
1 tsp chili powder
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
½ tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
pinch of garlic powder
1 tsp coconut oil
½ c BBQ sauce
½ c water

Drain and rinse jackfruit and remove any tough pieces (if you miss a few, it’s not a big deal). Pat dry and toss with all of the dry spices. In a large skillet, heat coconut oil over medium high heat and add jackfruit pieces to the hot pan to brown on each side. This takes about 2-5 minutes, just to get some coloring on each side. Next, mix the BBQ sauce with water to thin it out into a sauce and add to the pan of jackfruit. Lightly toss each piece to coat it in the sauce mixture and cover with a lid. Simmer over low heat for 20-30 minutes. After cooking, transfer the jackfruit and remaining sauce left in the pan to a bowl and shred with a fork. At this point, the jackfruit should look like pulled pork. Try to restrain yourself from eating all of it with a fork. Add more BBQ sauce to your liking and put on top of a lightly toasted sandwich roll. Top with coleslaw, jalapeños, or whatever toppings you’d like. Makes enough for 2 sandwiches.

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We climb down the stairs to your gym, a basement of grey gun-metal machines lined up in rows, each array of equipment designed to augment a specific segment of the body, the deltoids, the pectorals. It looks like the inside of a factory, a body factory. You say you work out early in the morning because then you can take your time. No men waiting in line for their turn while you wrestle with yourself to sweat on the weights as long as you need to. The bulletin board has a magazine picture up, a row of women with defined and staring muscles. You point to the woman who is most sculpted, whose muscles are most precise, and say she lost the body-building competition because she had gone too far toward masculinity. The judges preferred more blur in a woman’s body. You say you want me to come with you one day as you work out, to spot you, my hand out to break and balance a slip as you lift. I say that I’ll murmur, “You can do one more, baby, one more for me,” while I kiss the back of your sweaty neck. But you demur: No kissing here.


It’s a gay gym, but a few heterosexual couples insist they can do it anywhere they please, the man and woman who rolled writhing on the mats, while the infrequent men caught at it with each other in the bathroom are always kicked out. Though we are two women, here we’d be seen as heterosexual, and resented. No, no kissing here.


In the Tastee Diner we’ve had our french fries and cole slaw and a shared chocolate milkshake. Full of comfort, I put down the tip, you go pay the check. When you come back to the red plastic booth, some old 60s song is playing. You take me in your arms and begin to dance with me in the aisle between the booths and the coat racks. At the next table two women are scandalized, their eyebrows in O’s of astonishment. Later you joke that they wanted to hold you responsible, to say, “Young man, this is not a dance hall.” But I was moving with you far beyond boyfriend and girlfriend, beyond a lingering kiss taken over lunch. I was giving myself to you in the way I have perfected over the years since the summer night I stood by another butch lover, drinking beer outside the hidden back door of a small town gay bar. Since the moment a drunk white man staggered out past us, and began to taunt me with his invitation, “What are you doing with her? Come with me. I can give it to you.” Bewildered, I turned my back on him, moved closer to her, put my hand on her bare muscled forearm. Whoever she was, she was not a man, and I was not the woman he thought I was. But in daylight, in public, in a parked car near her job, she wouldn’t let me kiss her.


I have waited years for you who wants to flaunt me on her arm, my face radiant with desire, as if I’d put my face deep into a lily, heavy with pollen, and raised it to you, smeared and smelly with butter yellow, sated but not yet satisfied, our meal not yet finished as I cling to you in the aisle of the dilapidated diner.

—  Minne Bruce Pratt, “Kisses.” For Leslie from S/HE.
Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day was a bitch. At least it was for the Lynch Brothers and, by extension, Adam Parrish. Crammed into their usual pew, Declan, Matthew, and Ronan sat with bent heads as the priest delivered the special homily recognizing and honoring all the mothers, and especially the Holy Virgin Mary for bringing our Lord and Savior into the world to save us all. Ronan dug his fingernails into his wrist and focused on that instead of crying. Matthew was sniffling. Declan had a hard, removed look in his eyes. Aurora Lynch had passed less than a month ago.

Adam sat on the steps outside of the St. Agnes apartment, listening to the drone of the pipe organ and waiting for Ronan to emerge. He had not seen or spoken with his mother in months.

Blue Sargent was currently deep into the 300 Fox Way Mother’s Day Madness. It was a day when all the childbearing women of the household were given free reign to order about their offspring. Typically this meant asking for extravagant breakfasts, massages, and calling out a never-ending chorus of “fix me another drink, will you?” Blue and Orla were grimly making mojitos in the kitchen, the fresh mint giving Blue all sorts of flashbacks to time spent with Gansey. Orla was quickly getting frustrated with her lack of attention.

Gansey had declined to visit DC for the usual champagne brunch at his family’s home. His mother was, of course, deep into her political campaign and she had been most disappointed when Gansey couldn’t come, especially because it would mean he that was missing her fundraising gala. Helen had called numerous times to berate him but Gansey had only replied that he could not leave Ronan alone.

Ronan was not alone, even if Gansey had left, he wouldn’t have been alone. He had Adam now, as well as Declan and Matthew. It was shocking and wonderful to spend time with Declan and enjoy it. But the reunion with Declan reminded Ronan of one awful truth: Declan had never been reunited with their mother. All those trips to Cabeswater—bringing Matthew along but excluding Declan—Ronan didn’t think he would ever forgive himself.

Henry Cheng was spending the day with his mother and he rather wished that he was not. His mother was…complicated. What did one do when the person who birthed them and raised them went through a radical transformation and became a Power? Henry spent the morning at his mother’s side, entertaining himself with RoboBee while she did the things that she did. Lots of phone calls were involved and meeting with intense looking men in suits, including former hitman, Mr. Gray.

After the morning service at St. Agnes was over Ronan fetched Adam and the two of them went back to the Barns. Matthew and Declan joined them. Later, Gansey arrived with Blue and Henry. Ronan had stripped out of his Sunday suit and was sprawled on the lawn in his usual attire of shredded jeans and black muscle tee. Adam was lying on the grass next to him and he was helping Opal make crowns out of daisies and clover and Queen Anne’s lace. Chainsaw stalked around the trio, making her usual raven commentary that only Opal and Ronan could decipher. Declan was grilling and Matthew stood at his elbow, chattering away and holding whatever Declan told him to. The scene was remarkably similar to Ronan’s eighteenth birthday party except that they all looked tired and sad.

Blue settled down next to Ronan and showed him how to blow on a blade of grass to make it whistle. Ronan, being the musician of the bunch, mastered the skill and before long he and Blue and Opal were composing grass symphonies. Adam contented himself with chewing on a long stem of grass and applauding. Henry and Gansey gravitated to the grill. Gansey quizzed Declan about his apartment and the dream business. Henry, whose mother was tied to the trade of dream objects, supplied his insights. Matthew got bored and ran over to play with Opal; they had ganged up on Ronan and before long the three of them descended into a loud, tangled mess of limbs.

Adam watched with a fond smile, silently wondering at these strange dream creatures. He wondered most of all about Ronan, who had given life to both Opal and Matthew, becoming, in a sense, mother and father and brother to them. He had also given life to a host of dream animals and the recently departed Cabeswater (Adam felt a pang remembering the spectacular forest). With a deep, heartfelt sigh Adam decided that Ronan was probably one of the few people alive to know, on some level, what it was like to be a god. Gods made something from nothing, populating the world with their creations. With all of his imagination and power and his ability bring forth the perfect partner (rather like Niall had done with Aurora), Adam was again overcome with the knowledge that Ronan had chosen him. He was dating a god…

Declan interrupted the wrestling match to announce that lunch was ready. Everyone gathered around the picnic blankets. There were hotdogs and hamburgers with the fixings, potato salad, chips, slaw, baked beans, deviled eggs, fruit, cupcakes, tea, and a pitcher of mint mojitos that Blue had smuggled out of the house. The food came from the grocery store deli but the cooks there were good, getting the down home food just right. Everyone loaded up their plates and dug in. Opal was soon a mess and Ronan fussed at her and tried to clean her face off but she kept batting his hands away. Ronan gave up with a frustrated huff and Blue laughed, asking if he was finding child rearing to be difficult. Ronan smirked and tousled Opal’s hair, “You have no idea.”

After their bellies were full it was time for remembrances. Declan started. He talked about Aurora, getting choked up as he told about how she always knew when he was having a bad day, how she would find a way to make him smile. Ronan did not talk and Matthew cried. Adam said that Aurora had shown him what a mother should be and that he had loved every moment he had spent with her. Blue and Gansey chimed in with their memories of golden Aurora visiting with them beneath the boughs of Cabeswater.

They did not speak of the mothers who were still living, though they did raise a glass in honor of mothers in general. At some point Henry made the comment about Gansey deserving recognition for mothering them all through their years at Aglionby. Adam asked if Gansey wasn’t more of a father figure and Ronan answered, gruffly, that he was both. “He nags like a mother but then he gets all authoritarian like a father.” Gansey looked affronted but Blue agreed, teasing him for his dad jokes and dad fashion choices. It was decided that Gansey could be an honorary mother and Opal solemnly placed the flower crown she made on his head.

The day drew to a close and they went their separate ways: Blue returned to 300 Fox Way, Adam to St. Agnes, Henry to Aglionby, and Gansey to Monmouth. Declan and Matthew stayed with Ronan at the Barns. The brothers sat on the front porch and watched the sun set behind the trees. Opal raced around the lawn, chasing fireflies and shrieking in the language of the trees. Ronan found it ironic that Opal, originally named Orphan Girl, had since gained an unlikely family while he and his brothers had become the true orphans. They were all the family they had in this world.

Matthew nodded off and Declan woke him and sent him inside to sleep. Before Declan retired for the night he placed his hand on Ronan’s shoulder and squeezed. “Mom would be proud of you,” he murmured. “Dad, too. You’re a hell of a guy, Ronan, and I’m so damn lucky that you’re my brother.”

Ronan sat on the steps until it grew uncomfortably cool. Opal was curled up next to him, her head in his lap. He watched as the lightning bugs settled down and the deer crept out of the woods. It seemed impossible that the world kept going now that Niall and Aurora were gone. He felt a twinge in his heart and recalled the ghost of a boy who had been his friend. Gone but not forgotten. Ronan sighed deeply and picked up Opal, cradling her to his chest as he went into the house. Ronan put Opal to bed, brushing the hair out of her eyes, and watched the dream girl sleep. So many things had changed, were still changing, but Ronan would not forget the loved ones who had passed on. He scratched at the still itchy skin over his hipbone where the tattoo text spelled out remembered. As long as he and his brothers lived Aurora would not be forgotten.

Mother’s Day was a bitch.