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A True Fable

25 March 2006

Circle in, friends, and bend your ear this way, hear a tale of the wondrous wacky world we call our own. This story happened during the year Imperatrix (before she acknowledged the mantle of power which was her birthright) and the Consort (before he was Consort, but was already consort) spent traveling the wide world (in this case, Europe and North Africa) during the year which should have been their Senior year of college. Why they chose this time of their lives to do this ramble is a story unto itself, and why the trip, which originally was anticipated to be eight months in Greece became much more international, is also its own bit of yarn, which deserves its own unraveling at another time.

I bring you to a time in the Spring of the year, during the five weeks Imperatrix and Consort did travel to the land of Socrates and Plato, Sappho and Homer. Let us circle in to the time they spent on the island of Santorini, whose long-slumbering volcano is thought by many to have made Santorini the truth behind the fabled Atlantis …

As in many places in Greece, we found lodgings in someone’s home. People would meet the trains (or, on the islands, the ferries) and offer a room for rent. On Santorini, we had our own small whitewashed room that opened up onto a walled courtyard, which provided an accessible bathroom as well as allowing entry and egress without disturbing the family’s living quarters. Santorini, being the crescent-moon shaped caldera of an ancient volcano, is often a very windy place. Ocean winds blow across it, swooping up the steep sloped cliffs of the island.

Our travel companion during this year was the Let’s Go: Europe guide. As our Cape Sounion story (another tale for another day) attests, this travel guide was not always the most dependable. But during our stay on Santorini, we trusted it without question. And one thing that it mentioned in passing, but that is confirmed in many places, is that Santorini is an island of vampires. We had a friend in DC, Jay, who believed in vampires wholeheartedly, and so we were not ignorant of the offbeat beliefs of some of our fellow travelers on this road of life. But we chuckled when we read this in our travel guide (“tee hee!”), and moved on to the ferry schedule paragraph of the Santorini section.

Every now and again during our travels we would find ourselves flush with cash (thanks to self-imposed poverty), and we would splurge on a nicer than usual dinner. So one night on Santorini, we had dinner at an outdoor restaurant in Fira with a gorgeous view of the ocean and the curving island’s arms to either side of us. A nearby bar was playing great music, so we lingered at our table as the sun set, listening to the music while enjoying our after-dinner ouzo. Finally, the waiter began to show his impatience with our constancy, so we got up and began to walk up the cobbled streets. As we passed the bar playing the great music, we noticed a sign advertising half-price shots that night. Who could resist? We couldn’t. So we walked in, sat at the bar, and ordered. Good music was still playing, so we ordered again. And maybe, even a third (or a fourth?) time.

We finally made it back to the walled courtyard and our room, without disturbing the neighborhood or our hosts, and tumbled into bed. Now, being young, we hadn’t yet become wise drinkers (who ensure that their intake of water equals the intake of alcohol [to mitigate the hangoverishness of drinking]), but we had that night been rather generous drinkers. So, after an hour or so of sleep, I woke up to empty my bladder. The wind had picked up tremendously while we slept, and I had to hold onto the screen door to make sure it didn’t bang against the wall as I made my way to the toilet. As is usual when two people share a bed, my midnight rambles had woken the Consort, who took his turn going out to the toilet after I came in.

Now, the mind is a wonderful thing. But it is rather susceptible to flights of fancy when (a) under the influence of alcohol and (b) half asleep because of said alcohol and (c) trying to make sense of all the whistling wind noises swirling in the courtyard and (d) regurgitating random bits of facts that are bubbling up to the conscious. While I was in the bed, waiting for the Consort to return from the toilet (which was taking a long time, in my opinion), I realized what any sane person would have realized was happening: The Consort had been bitten by a Santorini vampire during his trip to the toilet and was now on his way back to the room, to initiate me into the legions of the undead! My GOD, why hadn’t I realized this sooner?

There was no back exit from this room, the door and window both opened up on the courtyard, where he was readying himself for the kill. But an exit out the back wouldn’t have helped me, I realized, because, as I remember Jay saying, vampires move unnaturally fast, and there would surely have been one hiding back there to cut me off as I attempted my escape. I was DOOMED! And I became as nervous as my inebriated state allowed… Maybe if I pretended I was asleep? Maybe if I made certain my covers went up above my ears, I couldn’t be bitten? (As I had believed when I was a little girl afeared of vampires in her bed in suburban New Jersey.)

But then, HALLELUIAH!, I remembered something else Jay had said, which is common knowledge among humans: Vampires can’t come in unless they are invited! That would be how I could keep myself safe until morning—if the Consort asked to come in, as he surely would, being reincarnated as the spawn of the devil (I decided in rambled and rambling drunk-thought), then I would shout an emphatic NO—But…!

But, I didn’t want to get him angry (vampires are superhumanly strong, Jay had warned us), and I certainly didn’t want him to know I KNEW he was a vampire, so that I’d have time to jump on the next ferry leaving Santorini before he could catch me the following night. What to do? What to do?

I had it! When (no longer “if”) he asked if he could come in, I would answer, in deep sonorous tones:

I don’t know, Consort, do you?”

Hah! That covered all the bases: (1) He wouldn’t be invited in, so, being a vampire, he wouldn’t be able to come in; and (2) I wouldn’t have antagonized him, so I’d be safe during the daylight hours to pack up and leave without fearing him stalking me!

I heard him approach… the screen door opened… he came in… and tumbled into bed. He wasn’t a vampire. Well, … I knew that. Yeah, I knew that. Sure. Ha-ha.

The next day I admitted my nocturnal alcohol-induced fears to the Consort. And he admitted he had a similar train of thought about me when I went to the toilet (“Imperatrix, you do whatever you think you can do.”).

Damn ouzo. Now, we stick to Sambuca.

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