When Gender Arrived for Dessert
Gender arrived once dessert had been served, but nobody noticed at first. Goldilocks was arguing with Othello over what could be done about the Trump administration, and Poirot was checking his mousse with a teaspoon, searching for diamond rings. It was Buffy who glimpsed Gender before the others. “Who are you?” she said.
“I’m Gender,” said Gender.
Buffy pouted. “Splainy?”
“You don’t say that when anyone else arrives during dessert now, do you?” said Gender.
“Who else does?” said Buffy, passing Gender a slice of flan. “If I’d known I could give the lasagna a swerve, I’d have dusted a few more vamps.”
Poirot raised his teaspoon to the light. Encased in a blob of chocolate mousse was a twinkling diamond earring. “The undead are the criminals like anyone else, ma petite,” he told Buffy. “They should be tried—not killed.”
“Try the undead?” cried Gordon Ramsey, cutting into his slice of flan. “Will you detectives eat anything?”
Gender sighed. “Why does it get chilly whenever I enter the room?”
Across the table, Iago whispered to Othello, “See? Gender’s a dish best served cold.”
“Gender is a dish,” said Othello dreamily, dropping his chin into his hands. “And a hot one, at that. Gender, you free tomorrow night? Wear pink. I know a nice little French place.”
“Aren’t you and Desdemona monogamous?” Gender asked Othello, straightening their neck-tie.
Othello coughed into his fist.
“Besides,” added Gender, “I’m facing Trump in court tomorrow.”
Behind their paw, Baby Bear asked Goldilocks, “Did Gender just say they fart in court?”
At the head of the table, Goddess Kali was simmering, her pendant flashing its angry emerald eye.
“Mon Dieu, Poirot, you imbecile!” cried Poirot, rising to his feet. “It isn’t about the diamonds! Non! It’s been in front of you all this time.” His peered right into Gender’s eyes. “Where were you on the night of the murder, mon brave? Clearly, you were in one of two places."
“Fuck your binaries, Hercule,” said Gender.
“Want me to dust the detective?” said Buffy, pulling out a stake.
“Leave the dusting to Desdemona,” sighed Othello. “She knows how to clean around the delicate artwork.” A tear welled in his left eye. “I’m worried she’s screwing our pristine Michelangelo. No shammy gets marble as shiny as that.”
Digging into his flan, Iago said, “What a tart.”
“Bigotry,” said Gender, glaring at Iago, “is a dish best left unserved.”
“Bigotry? Strange name for a tart,” said Iago, chewing, “but you can’t un-serve what you’re already eating.”
“That’s bollocks,” muttered Gordon Ramsey, “as everyone knows.”
Goddess Kali watched Iago with a steely gaze and pushed her dessert bowl away.
Poirot quietly walked around the table, his monocle glinting in the lamplight. “Bien sur, ender's arrival has given me an idea. In every generation, at least one pronoun is born. One word in all the world that makes people feel included.”
Buffy rolled her eyes. “We know this. Man’splainy.”
“Alors!” cried Poirot, pointing at Buffy. “And where were you on the night of the murder?”
“Trying to save the world,” muttered Buffy. “Except this time, it’s screwed.”
“Can anyone confirm this, mes amis?” asked Poirot.
Gender raised their hand.
Suddenly, Goddess Kali rose to her feet and hurled her scythe across the room. It landed—thwack!—in the wall, splitting a Picasso in two. “SILENCE!” she cried. All faces turned to her.
“Interesting effect for a Picasso,” whispered Goldilocks.
“At best,” said Baby Bear, “it’s experimental.”
“Scythe matters,” said Buffy, before muttering under her breath, “my bad, Joss. I shouldn’t make soup mix of your copyright.”
Poirot sucked his teeth.
“ENOUGH!” cried Goddess Kali, before launching into a spellbinding speech about relativism, boundaries, and the state of the current administration. Finally, once everyone was nodding in agreement—including Iago, who was taking pencil notes—she said, “We can achieve equality. We can embrace the world. Gender, you’re a social construct. Please take the floor.”
Gender rose to their feet. “Folks, there’s no excuse for treating me like I have fewer rights than any other human or goddess or god or bear or fairy tale character. . .”
“. . . Or Picasso,” muttered the Picasso.
“Roger that,” said Gender. “I’ve stolen nothing, I don’t have sly affairs, I’ll wear anything I want to, and my pronouns are pretty straightforward. I’ve paid every single parking ticket I’ve ever been given, and I’ve told U.S. Immigration about my every change of address. So stop treating me like I’m guilty of something. Now, does anyone else have anything to announce?”
“I have two boyfriends,” said Baby Bear proudly. “Also, I’m a bear.”
“I saved the world before I even had a permit,” said Buffy.
“On occasion, I date gentlemen,” said Poirot, who had now returned to his seat. He sighed. “And I ‘ave no alibi for the time of the crime.”
“Neither does this flan,” said Gordon Ramsey, “but it’s got ‘murder’ written all over it.”
“I’m starting to think we all have,” said Buffy.
“That,” said Gender, straightening their stocking tops, “is what Misogyny wants you to think.” Rising, they headed to the Picasso and pulled out the scythe. “I actually told Misogyny about this dinner, but I kind of lied about the date. He’s terrible company. Always puts his foot in it and never, ever says sorry."
“He may not be here in the flesh,” said Goddess Kali, glaring around the table, “but he’s definitely here.”
“Mon Dieu!” cried Poirot, rising again. “At last, the little grey cells ‘ave seen the light! Misogny wasn’t present! Misogyny was absent! Misogyny had the motive—en fait, when doesn’t he?”
“He’s in league with white supremacy and ableism, no doubt,” said Baby Bear.
Goldilocks and Othello nodded sagely, but Iago said, “Huh?”
Goddess Kali banged her fist on the table. “If Misogyny’s the killer, I say we kill him back!”
“On it,” said Buffy, reaching beneath the table. “Just let me find my crossbow and I’ll get real pointy with his behind.”
Poirot rubbed his hands keenly. “Pointy? His behind? Alors, I also can do that.”
“Got enough stakes for you all,” announced Buffy. “I say we get Hellmouthy.”
And suddenly, potential slayers were rising up everywhere, all around the table, awakening to the call.
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