The Haircut Saga: Fín

I’m sure I placed that diacritic backward. But I’m not here to talk about important things.

This is about me.

That came out wrong.

My neglect of my own hair maintenance is fairly obvious – in person – and just one facet of my ability to proChristinate that I’ve low key bragged about on this site. But given that this is my life, there has to always be some sort of Nth factor.

Finding that second link made me realize that I inadvertently lied to my new barber when I told him it had been 15 months since my last haircut. It has been two full years!

See also: how long my parents quietly suffered.

So, yeah…I got a haircut. Here’s a before:

Level of Neglect: Jesus

Level of Entendres: Double, speaking only about the hair. Sadly, no Jesus Level Abs detected in recent inspections.

Getting a haircut in this circumstance wasn’t just an accomplishment. It was a victory.

My old barbershop closed recently.

(Seriously, read that second link for why it was such an enjoyable victory for me. We’re talking layers of icing on this cake!)

It is a local chainlet, so don’t feel bad for them. It’s just one location. I’m not sure if the decision was pandemic related or if it’s more of a strategic business decision. For all I know, they got better lease terms in a nearby new building and will open a new shop in the area. But I’m still claiming the W on behalf of my stubbornness and self righteousness.

I’d recently been driving past a new shop on Broadway that opened in a couple of friends’ old gift shop location. Initially, I was curious that a barbershop using a single gender noun in its name could fly in liberal Portland, Oregon. Eventually, though, I decided to give Menspire the honor challenge of making something out of my nest of a mane.

Plus, you know I love a good portmanteau. And, really, Themspire is just confusing.

I wasn’t crazy about the $40 price tag, compared to my old shop’s $30…but think of all the money I’ve saved in my haircut budget over the last two years. Assuming I resume any sort of regular manetenance – boom, Chrisism! – with Menspire, I have a $240 cushion to pad my budget, or about 6 years of haircuts that I can offset with my “savings”.

Still, you know me…I went in dubious. It’s a hangover from the last two barber chains I’ve been to, here (Bishops) and in Seattle (Rudy’s). Also a nod to the whole, “if it looks too good to be true” trope, since both Bishops and Rudy’s are rather stylized. Menspire presents with a rather severe yet austere decor and I was wary that this would be a same old everyone gets the same stupid haircut schtick like Rudy’s and Bishops only with different aesthetics.

I learned that it’s a U.K. chain, complete with a training academy. Lil ol’ Portland is their first U.S. location.

Sure, appeal to my hometown pride, why don’t ya.

As I talked with Brandon the Barber, I realized several things:

A) The appointment lasted a full 45 minutes – and that’s normal, not a byproduct of my hair volume. Bishops appointments are so fast, the barber’s chair doesn’t even warm up.

2) They seem to default to razor cuts! I gave up on asking elsewhere because the answer was usually no. Additionally, I wouldn’t necessarily trust this particular old fuck buddy turned Bishops employee with a razor, so why trust anyone who associates with him?

C) Welp, in a fit of C.R.S. I’ve forgotten my third realization…<shrug emoji>

Neverthemess, I’d been debating my course of action with this cut: wade in with some shaping and styling or go balls out and return to a clean cut like this

I figured going all the way was overcommitting. So I waded in, figuring if I didn’t like an intentional long style, I could drop another $40 in a month or so and Bob’s your uncle.

I didn’t think to snap a pic of the fallout – probably because I was literally light headed – after the cut. Trust me, though, my follicular fallout was a good 8′ in diameter.

The cut ended up shorter than I’d imagined – explaining the debris field around me – and it felt…weird. I liked the look, though, and left with a smile.

Of course, then there’s the next day.

I wasn’t sure after sleeping on it and showering what I’d gotten myself into.

Was this some sort of resurrection of my junior High cut, the bi-level? Because I’m not sure that something that morphed into the dreaded mullet with all of its incarnations is worth the effort to resurrect.

The razor cut creates a lot of texture organically, probably by traumatizing the hair. But my hair has a natural flip when it gains any length. Otherwise, it’s pretty stringy and straight.

Looking in the mirror that next day I didn’t know if I loved my new style or if I looked like I’d scalped a young Meg Ryan and then had shock therapy. I felt like maybe I looked like a psychotic pixie and just hadn’t realized it.

Fortunately, things settled down up top over the next couple of days. While I was no longer accidentally ending up with the ends of my hair in my mouth while eating, those first few days required my eyes to adjust to the new length, which routinely had the tips of my hair poking me in them.

But things did settle down and I’m feeling pretty secure about the decision to stay on the long side. For now.

Of course, that confidence was rattled when the Silver Fox visited last week and said nothing about my cut. I had to passive-aggressively thank him for noticing on the second day of his stay.

I don’t know why I don’t have more friends…

Anyway, here’s a couple pics of the new ‘do. My selfie game is pretty weak, so…tough.

Now, back to the battle of the nose and ear hair! I’ve lost my ear hair camouflage and I suspect masks may go away soonish thanks to vaccinations, so there goes the old nose hair cover. Maybe I’ll try having those areas waxed…

The Haircut Saga: Fín

Wrong of Way

I’ve fairly had it. And I’m not even being grumpy. Well…maybe a tad, but I swear it’s a righteous grumpy and not at all recreational! But this is basically where I’m at right now:

Driving and pedestrianing cannot be as hard as these Stupid Americans make it look.

Sometimes they do such mind-bogglingly stupid things that I have to really think about what it is they could possibly be trying to accomplish.

Couldn’t hurt. If I bang long and hard enough (shut up, Diezel) perhaps the logic will come to me.

Honestly, I’m not completely sure where to begin.

Pedestrians?

Long time readers will likely remember that I’m a diagonal street crosser, which I’d like to stress should not be confused with being an idiot. However, some of the shenanigans I see while people are attempting to accomplish something as simple as crossing a street make me think that the perfect adjective for them is exactly that: simple.

Like, not all there.

These are people whose last words could believably be “Hey, watch this!” And when something goes awry with their pedestration, the expressions I witness range from shock, as if to suggest they simply cannot understand the nerve of someone honking at them for walking into traffic from between two parked cars; to utter surprise, like they simply cannot fathom how they ended up in their present situations.

Aliens really should be more considerate about where they return their abductees.

Honestly, I think I can excuse the idiocy pedestrians exhibit. Comparatively. Let’s face it, anything catastrophic happens with the execution of their street crossing…it’s a win for Darwin and probably does the world’s collective IQ a solid by taking themselves out of the equation. It’s the potential canine or innocent child collateral damage that would bug me.

No, I think the real beef I have is with the drivers.

The shit they pull.

It’s not the excessive speeding. Nor the changing lanes without signaling.

No, nothing like that.

That behavior I get.

Sort of. Those people are just selfish jerks.

It’s more the behaviors I see that suggest that a driver just isn’t paying attention. Like oblivious would be a step up if we were to measure attention on some sort of whack scale.

Hell, I can even look the other way on my frequent observations of people driving the wrong way down a one-way street.

But what really sticks in my craw is drivers who unnecessarily yield their right of way. I know, I know…Portland drivers are world famous for this phenomenon. But the basic premise of that “No, you go” phenomenon is that the drivers arrived simultaneously at the intersection.

Honestly, I can kind of forgive that overly performative courtesy.

But stopping to yield a right of way when you aren’t required to stop? That I have an issue with. Like…so much “ugh”.

If you want to bend over backward to be kind to another driver or pedestrians who are stuck trying to cross a street outside of a crosswalk…I want to say “Knock yourself out”, but I just can’t. The issue I keep – almost literally – running into is “How many people did you inconvenience in your display of performative courtesy? Seems they can’t see the causal fallout of their actions.

Today, I saw a driver stop for some pedestrians pulling the old “crossing the street between parked cars” routine. On a two lane one-way street.

The driver practically stood on their brake pedal to yield their right of way.

I nearly kissed their back bumper and the driver next to me initially sped up as if they were going to run a yellow light before realizing what was happening and screeching to a halt.

Mind you, this all took place one car length in on the far side of an intersection where the cross street had to stop. There were cars on both sides. Looking in my rear view mirror, I saw one vehicle behind me.

Quick math: this performative courtesy inconvenienced five other people.

All because these idiot pedestrians couldn’t move one lousy car length to the corner before crossing the street. Well…that, plus they crossed paths with a dipshit driver.

Surrealiously.

I. Have. Had. It.

Wrong of Way

One Headlight

Did I ever tell you the story about the guy that I gave a ride to that was picking up his Maserati?

To be fair, this isn’t quite as good a deal as his. This is a $75000 car, low miles, $39k. His was a $100k car, low miles, $42k.

But still, you appreciate a good value, either way, no?

Anyway…he’d “bumped” – and yes, he used finger quotes – another car and cracked a headlight. Off to the shop he went and was happy that he literally only needed to replace the headlight, no bodywork.

See also: the title of my workout video.

The part itself was $3k.

Suddenly the $60k in depreciation looks…less impressive?

Conversely…one of my headlights went out while I was driving the other night. Today I took it to my shop, which I love, and asked them to replace it.

Full disclosure: I know I am perfectly capable of changing a headlight on a vehicle – maybe not a three friggin’ thousand dollar headlight, because I’m a goddamn clutz – but it’s cold and I decided to take out my White Guy card deck and play the There’s People For That card.

I’m a blow job creator.

Offhandedly, I mention that my pal, Diezel, had replaced my rear brake pads a month or so back, but couldn’t reset the onboard computer and maybe they could. Then I left, with the assurance they would call me in a few hours and Bob’s your uncle.

Sure enough, 10:30 I get the call and I’m all, “These guys fuckin’ rock”.

Kyle: Do you have a minute for me to run you through everything?

Me: Well, I’m alarmed by the word “everything” but buoyed but your timeframe, so please.

Kyle: Ok, so the headlight was just in need of a change, it’s a $20 –

Me: Sure.

Kyle: – part…so that’ll be $70 with labor.

Me: Oof. But, sure.

Job creator, remember?

Kyle: Now, the brake pads…

Me: Oh, yeah…

Kyle: Are fine. Looks like the back pads are at 11 mm and look practically new.

Me: Sure.

Kyle: The front pads –

Me: Say what, now?

I hadn’t asked about actually checking the pads, just reset the damn idiot light, FFS.

Kyle: – are also fine, they’re at about 8 mm and have plenty of life in them.

Phew.

Me: Ok, super! So, the dash light…

Kyle: The sensors, though.

Me: …

Kyle: Those are shot. The front shows 5% wear left on the pads and the back sensor is at 0%.

Me: So…the sensor needs to be replaced each time the pads are replaced?

Kyle: Yes, sir.

Me: Well, that’s not very kansei of the Bavarians, is it?

Shockingly, young Kyle got the reference – an old advertising gimmick from Nissan. BMWs, incidentally are technically not strictly German cars – the name being an acronym for Bavarian Motor Works.

Kyle: What a difference a continent or two makes.

Tou-friggin’– chè.

But, I knew from my time in Diezel’s Garage that this is a $12 part, just special order, so he couldn’t replace it while he’d been working on the pads. His concern was the overall frayed condition of the existing sensor, not that it was a one and done usage.

Me: Okay. So…?

Kyle: We can get both of those changed for $115.

Me: Ouch.

Kyle: …each.

Me: Whoa, whoa…whoa.

Kyle: Sorry, go ahead.

Me: Replace the rear.

Kyle: We can do that –

And then he breaks into his Columbo schtick.

Kyle: – it’s just that, y’know, with only 5% life on that front sensor, it’s gonna trip soon and then you won’t know when your front pads need a change. That could be bad, and, well…if it were me, I’d want to know.

Me: Yes, well, it’s me, now, right? I think you underestimate the blessing a looming tree and no brakes would be.

Kyle: Yeah, it was a tough year. I get that. I’m just telling you cuz, y’know…I’d want to know.

Me: Fiiiiinnne. Replace it.

Geez. I have a mother, Kyle.

Kyle: Great. We’ll get that done for you.

Me: So, is this a today thing or do you need it overnight?

Kyle: Oh, we can get this done today. No problem –

And fuck if this kid doesn’t Columbo me again.

Kyle: We also noticed…

Me eyes rolling back in overrode the rest of what he said. I contextually figured out the subject was the Drive Belt and the issue was that it was frayed.

Another $160 and blip, blah, bloop. Good as new.

Me: Alright, fuck the front pad sensor, fix the belt.

Drive sounds integral. If Angela ain’t driving who cares if she has front pads? In the back of my mind, I recalled Diezel spouting off the percentage of stopping power provided by the front wheels and began imagining that tree.

Kyle: Of course –

When did service consultants become so genteel?

Kyle: – it’s just that, y’know if it were my car, I’d want to know.

Me: Yeah, yeah.

<Visualizing mom in my mind>

Me: What’s the all in?

Kyle: Very good, that would be…$460.

I’d left the garage after I dropped off my car and then walked around downtown, hitting first my ATM and then the ATMs of my two credit cards. I’ve gotten to the point where I like to keep the balances below two-thirds, and with Presidents’ Day, things had crept upward.

Ok, Presidents’ Day, a snowpocalypse and restaurants reopening for 25% capacity dining.

Having just paid those balances back down with my snowpocalypse driving fundage – which was embarrassingly lucrative – and the old man sleep deprivation that had me up and out of bed at 630 this morning after less than three hours of sleep – I was a little crunchy.

And. It. Showed.

Kyle: Let me see if I can’t work in some sort of discount for you.

Me: Fine –

<You’re cute, Kyle, but I’m not blowing you for a discount>

Me: – do you need it until tomorrow?

Kyle: Doubtful, we’ll probably have it done today.

I took a much needed nap.

After I scheduled – different post topic – a haircut for 4:00.

Of course, I wake up at 1-ish, boot around a bit and decide to make some food.

Kyle calls at 2:30, just as I’m finishing up and plating.

She’s ready.

Everything’s happening at once now, innit? I figure I’ve got just enough time to eat, finish Bliss on Amazon – skip it – and pick up Angela before my haircut.

I roll in there and Old Man Everett pulls my invoice as some grease twink disappears to bring my car around.

<I see you, Grease Twink, and I’ll be back to pick you up later!>

Old Man Everett is trying to review my bill and close me out – minus a healthy 5% discount…on labor – but Kyle must’ve seen me eyeballing Grease Twink and is doing his best impression of a fly to my windshield.

I can do both, so much to Old Man Everett’s flusternation, I do. But Kyle has needs – namely, my attention. I’ll give up my discount for that.

But, all’s well that ends up with me in bed alone.

Again.

Naturally.

And I still managed to hear Angela purr for a few blocks before my haircut.

Sure enough,

One Headlight

Valentimes Part One

Yeah, I posted Valentimes Part Duex before I posted Part One. Also, I’m posting Part One after the big day. I’m not offering a defense of my timing, either way. It’s my blog and…

So, there.

Anywho…I’ve given between 3500 and 4000 rides since I started driving for Lyft about 18 months ago.

There’s been fewer than expected drunks.

More than anticipated Tinder “dates” – and you’d be surprised how many people pay extra to spring for a Lux ride to take them away from said “dates”…

Rides to funerals and memorials.

Countless healthcare and essential workers during the – sadly – ongoing pandemic.

A couple of unapologetic bastards conservatives.

Trips to or from the E.R. Too many, in fact.

Side note: how sad is it that our effed up healthcare system makes it necessary to take a goddamned Lyft to an E.R. instead of calling an ambulance?!?

And exactly two women who made me cry either during or after their rides.

Goddamned widows. Rubbing my perpetual singledom in my face.

I was actually okay at one widow.

Specifically, the one whose husband died a few years back. He sounds like he was a great husband, I heard their love story – which lasted 41 years.

But he sounded like a fucking badass, too.

Not because he drove a vintage black Mustang convertible.

Nor because they were high school sweethearts.

Or clearly wealthy. Particularly because his widow seemed like she was continuing to live a modest life after his death in honor of his memory, suggesting that the pleasures of their lives together were similarly modest.

The more exciting adventures I learned about during our ride were short bursts compared to the simple daily joys she described.

Their first date. Birthdays. Humble chivalry.

These were the things neither of these people took for granted in their relationship. They didn’t use one another in pursuit of the next big thing – either as an excuse or a means.

Her story was one of a satisfying life together. Inspiring to me in its endurance, something that I fear too few even aspired to in today’s value system.

The second widow was actually the first. Hearing her story made me think I should write a Valentine’s Day post. But it was the second widow who made me realize that the universe wasn’t going to let me off the hook.

Writing a book about my dating misadventures or fictionalizing my own ideals of relationships in my No One Of Consequence book series wasn’t going to cut it.

The least I could do is write an account of true love, even if it was only second hand.

Widow Number One earned her title when her husband had a major heart attack on Valentine’s Day last year.

Strictly going off visual cues, I’d say she was late 70s. I was taking her to work. She was looking like she’d be her own badass, and ended up being a heroic example of living a life for me.

Fret not, I picked her up in the South Waterfront neighborhood, which is pretty high rent. Ok, it’s fucking high rent, so she wasn’t working at nearly 80 because she had to.

Turns out, she doesn’t drive at all. Her husband used to take her to work before he died. Luckily (?) the pandemic closed the office down before her bereavement leave put her back to work. Now, she only had to go to the office once a week to ensure things were running smoothly. Normally, she figured she’d take the bus, but…pandemic + late 70s = bad combo.

She was enjoying Lyft, though, and the way she said that made me suspect she was enjoying it as a throwback to her husband taking her to work. I’m pretty sure her return to the office after this all ends will include at least an occasional escort to work.

She told me that when she was going through her husband’s things, she found several Valentine’s Day cards he’d made for her. I thought it was weird that he’d kept them, not her. But as she continued on, I realized these were unused cards.

That got me.

On top of being the kind of guy who encouraged his wife to work a part time office job after their kids left the nest, then celebrated her success when her search for post-child rearing purpose earned her a promotion to office manager after several years – she told me proudly that her employee number was 13, so she’d been there a while.

This is the guy who found his own post-retirement fulfillment in driving his wife to and from work to support and nurture her happiness.

This guy spent his in between hours working on his art. He was a post-career artist. Why would I be surprised that this guy made or was in the process of completing future Valentine’s Day cards for his wife?

Putting myself in that mindset, I got it. It wasn’t about making a card instead of buying one. It was about making one that appropriately captured the depth of feeling he had for his wife. Something that expressed the gratitude one must feel toward the person who accompanies you on the journey of a literal lifetime.

You might not always get that on the first pass. She said these cards were, of course, beautiful and I could tell that finding them had touched her very deeply. But I could easily stay a while in that position her husband must have found himself in – even now: not fully being able to express how this woman made him feel. Abandoning a card because it wasn’t good enough for his wife. <sigh>

But it shows how attitudes and behaviors have changed over the decades. I don’t think I’d have to defend the additional statement that a lot of those changes might have been for the short term good, but long term bad of the individuals.

And I can’t even get a return text.

While you’re here: If you haven’t yet and are curious about the writing works I mentioned earlier – Dating Into Oblivion and No One Of Consequence – check out my author page: https://www.amazon.com/Christopher-Galbreath/e/B07PLNKTHB/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1 for a view of my work. All books are available in paperback or e-book formats – and the e-books are cheap and the pages don’t fall out as I’ve heard from one of my supportive blogging buddies! It’s also a good way to keep up with the blog, since they post to my author page as well as here. I can’t say the same about the consistency of my Facebook author page…

Regardless, thanks for stopping by!

Valentimes Part One

At Least We Tried?

The poor restaurant industry in Portland.

They just can’t catch a break.

After going into Lockdown 2.0 in mid-November, Multnomah county was announced as meeting re-opening thresholds for COVID infections last week. Specifically, falling below 200 cases per 100,000 residents. The re-opening date was set for Friday, February 12th.

Mother Nature decided to bloop a lil dose of PDX weather on us, though:

Being a native Portlander, though, I view a potential winter weather event as an either/or proposition. It’s either something that happens or completely fails to materialize. Unless, that is, the forecast is off by just enough that we’ve already eaten our way through our kale hoard and then it’s

So by the time the 10-day forecast had gone from an unheard of six days of snow to only four, I’d written it off. I felt that cavalier position was merited when the predicted Thursday noon start for snowfall had passed and that we were heading for a big buncha nothin’.

Of course, my more reasonable friends told me, “Oh, no…they bumped it back to 4:00″.

So, four o’clock comes and goes. Nothing.

Then, just before nightfall, I see one lil lonely flake drift down into my balcony courtyard-slash-well and I think, “There you go. Snowpocalypse ’21!”

The next day:

Bloopsie-daisies.

That was about 4″ at 2:00 after I trudged over to the Safeway to get Myrtle some wet cat food, y’know, since I’d decided it was going to be a non-event and didn’t stock up.

Then I went inside and did what you do on a snow day – or what college kids do every day – got baked and took a four hour weed nap.

Of course, I woke to not only a text from my mom asking if I was “bored yet”, but after I didn’t respond for a couple hours, she set dad off on a text mission. I woke up around 8, I think, to a “Hello?” text from him and had to mea culpa for being such a lightweight stoner.

Last night, when I stepped out onto the balcony to assess the “disaster”, though, I could feel freezing rain hitting my skin. If you’ve never had the pleasure of feeling freezing rain, boy howdy…it burns.

I stood there getting pelted by icy, burning rain and pondered the irony of the situation: Portland is finally allowed to re-open indoor dining at 25% capacity and then the city basically shuts down because of snow and ice.

Following last night, I woke up to this new forecast:

Great…more pain for the service industry. A whole day of freezing rain.

Unless it’s not.

Of course, as I’m writing this, a buddy of mine texts to tell me the Last Restaurant Standing in the neighborhood is open.

It looks like they are at capacity, too…given the guidelines. But I’m still feeling guilty that I haven’t showered, so can’t really bop over there to give a lil support. Even if it meant sitting outside in a tent.

Hell, I’ve got five and a half hours to drink think about it…so maybe I’ll rally and then grab a pint and a snack before closing time.

At Least We Tried?

Stockholm Syndrome

My cat is a lemon.

Living with her is about as awesome as squeezing said lemon into one of the wounds she inflicts.

But when she’s not busy inflicting bodily harm, she usually divides her time between sleeping and watching the hummingbirds come and go to her newly hung bird feeder that someone installed for her viewing pleasure.

And how does the ingrate repay me?

Yes, yes…bloodlettings to free me from the evil spirits in my system, sure.

But, other than those hostilities, usually she sleeps all day. Then, when I decide to go sit in the cold wind, protected only by a tent from a rainy evening in the gutter or perhaps go out and give a few rides to earn some money to keep her in the style to which she is accustomed…I suddenly am met with this psychotic bullshit.

Really, Corn Kitty?

Oh, yes…really.

You want to know how I know?

She’s vacated the position in the picture above and left only a poop marking her space. Yet, when I come home and discover the gift, I’m met with a neutral stare that innocently suggests,

Somebody shit on the floor.

Stockholm Syndrome

Valentimes Part Duex

You ever have one of those days?

Weeks? Months? Years?

Lives?

One of my favorite things to say back when I was giving 50-60 hours a week to the man was:

Today’s been one hell of a week.

Chrisism. Use it in good health.

I reworked it last year for quarantimes into “2020 has been a hell of a decade“, but it just didn’t hit as hard.

Anyway, 2021 has kind of started off distinguished only from 2020 by a singular event for me: the inauguration of an adult as president. Otherwise, SSDD.

Case in point, even though I declared my dating exploits over at the completion of the yearlong effort that led to Dating Into Oblivion (I swear that there’s a link to buy it somewhere on this blog page, should you be queerious), I still maintain a profile on Adam4Adam and occasionally recreate a profile on the human cesspool known as Grindr.

But, despite the Silver Fox’s assertion that I’m too hard on people, I maintain a standard when it comes to asocial media.

While that standard may look like me doing my damndest to die alone, I swear it’s really a filter that allows others to unintentionally self-select out of my dating pool.

Basically, everyone blocks me all of the damn time.

Por ejemplo, just last night, I had a guy launch into his schtick with me. For those of you wondering what a millennial gay considers a best foot:

Sup

No punctuation, no introduction.

Sup

I can reasonably assume that the string of vowels and consonants in his profile’s headline is his name, still…confirmation would be overly taxing? It looks both unpronounceable without a little guidance and vaguely Hawaiian.

Also, to his credit, there is blessedly, no butthole pic.

This is really what happens…do you think any reaction would be reasonably considered “too hard” on these friggin’ ass clowns?

Since Grindr is nice enough to alert users when someone looks at their profile, I cannot help but notice that Sup has not looked at mine.

So…I look at his, just to kill some time in case there’s somehow a backlog in what I’m sure is the very high tech and sophisticated alert system on this…mess of an app.

Uh-huh. We’re both tops – Google it – and he specifically calls out that interested parties should not be over 35.

Really, I guess I should be flattered that while my actual age is an anagram of 35…I am most decidedly not 35, but somehow made it through his filter.

Did you read my profile?

Impressively, he responds in the negative and enthusiastically says he will do so right now. Then logs out.

Fucking millennials.

My notifications are still showing me as invisible to The Gays, so I know he didn’t check me out and then – reasonably – run off into the woods.

Seventeen hours later he messages me back, seemingly having missed my anagrammatical eligibility to put Lil Xtopher somewhere I know he doesn’t want him.

I point out our disparate definitions of the term “right now” and…he blocks me.

Far be it for me to brag, but this happens multiple times a month. I know. Every month, I’m blessed to be able to demonstrate to people the benefit to themselves of not knowing me.

Namely, that without me in their lives, they can carry on blindly running full speed into pain walls that they themselves built. Heaven forbid, someone actually want to help another person become a better version of themselves. Or, y’know…a decent human being that contributes more to Gay Kulture than supporting their local STD clinic.

Remember…this is a Valentine’s Day post.

I really don’t know why I tease you by dangling that carrot shaped sex toy that – I hope – got mangled in the garbage disposal while awaiting its return to service.

That was graphic. Maybe now is a good time for a shot break.

This is my life, folks. And you wonder why I proChristinated my colonoscopy…

Except…every now and again someone seems to be looking out for me.

Now, a wise person – as I consider myself to be…shituationally – knows to take a fix up at about 1/1000 of its face value.

This is a brief tale about that one time a bar owner tried to set me up with the only other gay guy at the bar. And by “at the bar” I mean in the Pandemic Pivot of a Beer Garden that the owner of Big Legrowlski has managed to pull off. It’s really something. Five tents, broken into a group of two and three by a fire pit. Each tent has a physics defying heater mounted to the roof, meaning when I come out in December and January to support my local…I’m freezing my giggle berries off.

Anyway, last weekend, the bar owner comes over to keep me company for a second. He leads with a few seconds of small talk and then – in a fit of foreshadowing that makes me momentarily worried about the quality of his wife’s sex life – plunges into the real reason for his visit.

Hey, do you see that guy behind me?

Literally ever guy at the beer garden aside from he and I. I give him exasperated eyes.

To the left!

I look.

No mate, my left. Sorry. Sorry.

Cue up the Throwback Offenses!

Just as every Black person had likely heard a version of “I’m not normally into…but…”, every gay person has had a well intentioned abortion of a fix up from a well-intentioned straight friend who tries to fix up the only two gay people they know. Or, as in this case, the only two gay people in their general vicinity.

Argument against the existence of God: this phenomenon.

Somehow, this guy ends up joining us. Around my table, it’s: mine truly, the bar owner and then this…guy, and finally an empty seat in the clockwise position.

Buffers are important. Even when not needed.

I’d already told the bar owner “Hard pass” once we nailed down The Gay In Question. I’d even helpfully pointed out a few of the other guys at the fire pit that could eat crackers in my bed, just not this guy.

He was one of those classic “Is over 40, acts under 30″ gays.

How he ended up at my table – or why – was a short lived mystery. After being introduced by name by the bar owner but getting nothing in return (classic basic fag move) I also come to realize that this guy is a low talker.

It’s an exhausting – read: excruciating – 10 minutes. I should have just taken the hit and dragged Mumbles off to the giant elephant statue in the park for a blowie to get rid of him.

Glad, was I, that I did not.

As clumps of sand broke through my life force hourglass, I began to realize that Mumbles was into the bar owner.

The straight, father of two bar owner.

What an idiot.

Read the fucking tent, man.

Alas, this socially illiterate ‘mo starts playing grab ass with the bar owner’s nipples. That is something I will endure in a goddamned gay bar, but within normal societal watering holes, you keep that shit tight.

Not this clown college drop out.

Only minutes passed, I’m sure…but it felt like one hell of a week between meeting this guy and him crawling back into the sewer that birthed him. Small victories, though, I was still in possession of my table.

That’s enough for me. I might be perpetually single, but I can hold down a goddamned table in a beer garden in a rain storm.

You’d think that would be enough Dating Into Oblivion visitations for me for 2021, but no. Like a trooper – a. very. bored. trooper. – I maintain my usual divided attention at home while watching TV.

Shameless vs Words With Friends.

Then on the next episode, Shameless vs Adam4Adam.

Then on the next episode, Shameless vs Instagram and Facebook in a Battle Royale of short attention spans.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

The end result being that maybe I got my own date.

Slated to meet this coming (all over) Sunday at the Big Legrowlski. He seems nice, but if nothing else, this purple haired, four off-the-ears-facial-piercings guy in his 30s – I know, so many piercings for a guy that age…but at least he can commit! – will serve as a visual aid to the bar owner as to the type of guy he should drag before me in the future.

Crappy Valentimes, errybody! And, yes…I know that Part Deux preceded Part Un.

Part Un is…special. Maybe bring tissue. Or your label maker and a box to store your jadedness in.

Valentimes Part Duex

The C.R.S. Chronicles #2: Routines

This is a tough topic for me: routines.

For the singular reason that routine rhymes with poutine and then my figuratively fat ass is off to the races.

I mean, can you blame me? Poutine and routine are of far opposite edges of the self-discipline spectrum. One with alleged rewards, the other with now rewards.

It’s like that old saying about procrastination:

Hard work will pay off in the future, procrastination pays off today.

I’m kind of a Subject Matter Expert on procrastination.

Anyhoo…I digress. (Another form of procrastination, no?)

I was thinking about routines yesterday in the shower. Hey, I don’t do all of my thinking on the porcelain throne, but the bathroom counts for a large portion of my aha moments.

Anyway, I have a routine in the shower. Mostly because I’m a little bit or a germaphobe but also because I’m a recreational hypochondriac. As 2020 taught me we all should be.

Crotch.

Feet.

Hair.

Face.

Pits.

Here’s why:

I don’t want to wash my face with “dirty” hands. Like washing a dirty body part with soap somehow fails to leave my hands clean…anyway, I figure starting with my crotch likely addresses the dirtiest region of my body, right? Then I move onto my feet, probably the next dirtiest part.

This is the way my mind mandates this occur. Crotch->feet. It cannot go the other way, because I’ve had athletes foot in my lifetime and just in case washing dirty body parts with soap doesn’t result in clean hands, well, I’d hate to accidentally transfer any athletes foot germs to my bawdy parts.

C’mon, Dater Gurl, tell me that’s just not possible. I know it in my logical brain, but I can’t get my irrational brain to play along.

Anyway, shampooing my hair next effectively takes care of the neurotic germy impulses that do their best to ruin a perfectly nice shower.

Once my hands are “clean”, I can wash my face and then hit the armpits and I’m G2G – good to go.

The only deviation from this routine is typically adding in some oral care.

Not that kind, Diezel!

If I want to stand under the hot water (my building’s only “amenity”) longer or kill time while I’m conditioning my hair, I’ll brush in the shower.

What? Don’t make it weird.

Any deviation from that routine just fucks the rest of my life up.

For instance…I don’t like to wash my hair every day. I have been trying to get into a “rinse only” routine on Tuesdays/Thursdays/Saturdays, to keep my mane from getting too dry and split ends-y.

But only rinsing my hair throws of the whole “clean hands” routine, right?

On those days, I start with rinsing my hair then wash my face; moving onto crotch, feet and then lastly, pits.

Sometimes it works just fine.

Other times?

Can’t Remember Shit.

I’ll get my hair wet, then wash my face, hit the pits and then shut off the water, having completed my normal cycle. Just forgetting that I started in the middle. It’s usually about the time I reach for my towel that I remember. But occasionally I find myself in need of a fresh towel after starting to dry off and remembering that I’m still a filthy whore from the navel down.

Second time is generally the charm, though.

Regardless, how big a mental case am I?!?

Not just because I forget simple shit like what I’ve washed in the shower. No, you have to add in that I have a specific shower routine that is a routine for quasi-insane reasons.

Anyway…overall, I’m a fan of routines. But having to endure C.R.S. doing its damnedest to ruin a good thing sometimes makes routines more of a boggart than a friend.

Maybe I should just etch a checklist into the shower wall…

The C.R.S. Chronicles #2: Routines

Here’s The Poop

Hell, yes, this is gonna be a colonoscopy tale.

Command performance, no less!

For all of you tl,dr readers, here’s the punchline:

The evening you’re taking human grade drano to clean out your insides for your colonoscopy is not the time to watch Challenger: The Final Flight on Netflix.

Just hear me now and believe me later on that one, m’kay?

I mean, seriously – and you’ve got to believe that this was only a coincidence, this being the anniversary week of the disaster – a documentary about rocket boosters and failing O-rings?

Tell me that wasn’t accidentally brilliant foreshadowing.

Ok, now, for all you long form readers:

The Date

When the GI doctor calls, you answer the phone, ok? Just…pick up your phone and schedule the appointment.

My doctor is so cute, how he implores me to at least put on a veneer of self-care.

My response? “How long did you chase me around to take this damn shit – “

“Fit. It’s called a Fit test.”

Shit test?”

No response.

“Three years. At least. You think I’m just gonna let this GI guy off easy without making him work a little bit?”

“Just answer your phone and then this will all be behind you.”

“Pun intended. Look, this is all Chadwick Boseman’s fault. I only took the test because he up and died”

Sidebar: “up’n died” is southern speak for a sudden death. I picked it up when I lived down around the Gulf. Probably my one takeaway.

“Anyway, we both knew that I’d fail the damn thing after complaining about my come and go, passive-aggressive hemorrhoids for the last five years!”

“Just – “

“I know. Pick up the phone. Sheesh.”

So they called. Which I considered rude.

And I scheduled the damn appointment…probably nine weeks out, no less. But their earliest appointment afforded me an opportunity to indulge a dark behavior that I’ve kind of let slip away over the past couple of decades: scheduling consequential doctors appointments around my birthday. The earliest appointment available was on January 26th, my birthday is on the 21st, so this was close enough to be darkly satisfying.

The Foreplay

Now, I’ll admit that I scheduled the damn colonoscopy with near certainty that it wouldn’t actually transpire. I’m not saying I was intending to put any effort into making it not happen. It’s just…this is my life we’re talking about here, weird shit just happens.

Maybe my GI guy would get hit by a meteor. My life being borderline ridiculous, whatever might cause my appointment to not happen would likely be something even more Wile E Coyote worthy than that.

I certainly did not think it would be anything as mundane as me potentially losing my insurance. I did nothing to renew my existing coverage during open enrollment because…I was on the cusp of getting a PT job with Multnomah county that would start in December, with benefits kicking in on January 1.

Who’s life is it?

Right.

So…what happened with the job? Fuck if I know. Let’s call it festively colored tape. Mom would have been so proud, too. Alas…

A little more on point for my appointment being canceled: Snowpocalypse ’21! Native Portlanders shrug when snow is forecast for the valley floor. This is a stark contrast for the enthusiastic loosing of Portland’s collective shit – not to be confused with what I was about to experience: the losing of one’s shit – when snow is predicted in the mountains. Those local ski bums go nuts for those forecasts.

However, Portland sitting on the valley floor between the Coast and Cascade mountain ranges protects us from a lot of weather. The ranges frequently keep us insulated from the severe stuff on either side. Additionally, our famed rain comes from clouds that cover the valley like a blanket, keeping our temperatures too high to really foster a good snowfall.

Yet, here we were, a couple weeks out from my appointment and my weather app was showing four days featuring a ❄️ next to them. That still gave us several days before my appointment for things to clear up, but Google “Portland Snowpocalypse” and see what you get.

Never mind – the fun begins around 45 seconds in.

Nonetheless, Portland weather being the exercise in insanity that it is…those four ❄️ became two and then one and then two again over the next seven days.

And then…it just rained.

Cut to the weekend before my appointment and the whispers were starting again. I could barely hear them over the sound of my eyes rolling and supermarkets being ransacked for kombucha and kale.

I had other problems of my own making to worry about.

In addition to having a macabre sense of scheduling for impactful doctors appointments, I’m also loathe to be dependent upon others. Especially when it comes to driving. Having not driven for close to 15 years, I learned to mostly make do on my own two feet. Usually, when I couldn’t, I felt like a bother or a burden. These jokers telling me I couldn’t drive after my <ahem> procedure just kind of pissed me off.

Never a good ingredient to add to the mix of “I really don’t want to do that anyway” that I was already feeling here.

I wasn’t going to ask my parents because, ew. Also, they already do so much for me, their most pathetic favorite child.

This would have to fall to someone who was 1) in debt to me for performing a similar friendship task; and B) a close friend…no way was this falling to an acquaintance who’d not cleared the friendship bar.

Obviously, they had to be local, too. That made this a fairly small candidate pool. Plus, still ew. I’m not the type of person who is comfortable being helped. Particularly in such a helpless state that I’m unable to operate a vehicle.

I’d already predisqualified the Silver Fox, since he’d been isolating with his ex about 90 minutes out of town since last March. It was hard to do, too, since the colonoscopy transport tally was 2-0 in my favor.

The only other friend I’d consider a candidate was Diezel, who I’d taken to his LASIK last…spring? Maybe summer? I don’t even know. I just know that I had a credit in the ride bank. Mind you, this is a friend that had helped me move five years ago, truck and all. He also just replaced my rear brake pads for me, so asking him to give me a ride felt like extra ice cream on my neediness cake.

It was for that reason – those reasons? – that I’d said “Of course!” immediately when he’d asked me during my brake pad installation for a ride back to his LASIK doc to have one eye tuned up.

Just let me know when and I’m in…

I’m not taking bets that you know what happened.

What are even the freaking odds that his appointment would be within 90 minutes of my own on the 26th?!?

When I joke about my life…it’s really just my way of coping with the horror-slash-irony of my reality.

So I had to cave and ask the Fox.

But I waited. The bitter end has nothing on my proChristination. My pre-tooter-rootering call was two weeks before my appointment. Because of my insurance debacle – which turned out pretty well…I was automatically renewed in my current plan versus canceled when I did nothing during open enrollment – that call took place 10 days out instead of 14.

During the call, they asked about my ride home and I told them I didn’t have one.

“That’s ok, you can take a Lift. They have a medical transport you can use.”

News to me, being a Lyft driver.

You see the problem here?

Fucking homonyms.

So the Silver Fox got his shoulder tap maybe five days out. And, not that he would, but how could he say no two days before my birthday?!? Haha. I wasn’t remotely worried about that, simply neurotic over being a bother to him. He insisted that he’d come up that morning and then drive back down that evening, but that it was no bother.

Crazy bastard.

But I was ready to go. Finally.

The “Let’s Do It”

I’m not gonna lie. To this point in my life, I’ve never spent a night in the hospital and I’ve never had stronger sedation than novocaine. Naturally, my neurotic self had built up a mythology that had me believing that the cumulative shock of experiencing either would simply kill me.

Because: obviously.

Since I was assured that the anesthesia I’d get was nowhere near the level of a general sedation during my intake call, clearly I’d check in for my procedure and then immediately be hospitalized and surgery-ized by whatever terrors they discovered up in my dusty, old man claptrap during my scope.

I couldn’t imagine any other possible outcome.

Yet, there I was…sipping my preptail at 6 pm the night before my procedure. Watching Challenger: The Final Flight with zero irony.

I made quite the last hurrah of what I’d imagined to be my final meal – ever: Cajun Mac from my current favorite food cart, Montage a la Cart, and finishing up my birthday cheesecake.

Then I’d had a weedtini around 11 PM on Sunday night, resulting in my waking up at noon on Monday. I highly recommend being unconscious for as much of any day that requires you to fast or be on a clear liquid diet from the time you wake up.

By the time I sat down with my preptail at 6 PM, I had only been up for ~6 hours, yet I hadn’t eaten for 20 hours. Very tolerable.

Each episode of the Challenger documentary is about 45 minutes long, give or take a few either way.

The first episode took me 90 minutes to get through. About 30 minutes in, I was blasting off my couch to the can – still absolutely without irony. I’d had the wear with all –

Or is it wherewithal? I need to look up the ideology of that word. To me, it connotes a certain sense of smarts…something you would “wear” with anything. Why the “where” version is seemingly correct according to spellcheck is…completely off topic.

– to put on my jam pants and leave the bathroom door open so I wouldn’t have to mess around with belt buckles or doorknobs in what I had been forewarned would be a crisis. Still, my journey from blasting off the couch to a panicked, if not literal, splashdown on my toilet seat was bridged by what I imagined was some sort of manic looking forward moonwalk.

Apropos of the documentary I was watching; inconvenient, though, given that mental image made me chuckle along the way. Chuckling while trying to hold your guts in is not advised.

Within 90 minutes of finishing my preptail – which was nowhere near as horrific tasting as I’d been led to believe…barely more distasteful than cough syrup – my *output* was clear. Quite a feat, given my last supper. I also considered it to be a harbinger of good things ahead…like a fool.

The next morning, I woke to jokey texts from Diezel about my upcoming violation. For my part, feeling cocky about my clear stream that obstructions hadn’t predicted until after the second dose, I offered him my remaining prep solution to use…as he would. We enjoyed the humor that colonoscopy prep for his proclivities and peccadillos brought to mind, both knowing no one in Portland is *worth* that level of prep.

But like a good soldier, I took my second dose. I immediately started worrying – having absolutely no experience with what men who bottom during sex do these days for prep, outside of being the beneficiary of such preparations – that I would either not be completely clear for my scope or that I wouldn’t evacuate all of the liquid from my system prior to my appointment.

I am a neurotic mess, I tell ya. I think it’s my subconscious fucking with conscious Xtopher, but still…in my imagination I was envisioning laying there unconscious and the doctor experiencing something like the Log Ride at Disneyland as he went about his doings.

Erase that mental picture.

Of course, it snowed while I was sleeping. But only a slush. The GI guy had called while I was texting with Diezel and I’d answered with, “You are not closing your office!”

He wasn’t.

But someone had cancelled and he wanted to see if I wanted to get violated an hour earlier. Since The Fox was driving up, I passed. For his part upon hearing that option, the Silver Fox had encouraged me to take it. Because of course he’d be on Fox Time, despite driving 90 minutes to get me.

As it was, I ordered my take and bake pizza – and a salad! – to pick up on the way home and then just waited for the time to come nigh. I decided on take and bake since I would be enjoying my post-procedure meal alone, with The Fox slated to return to Monmouth after dumping my woozy ass off at home.

I tried to make “operating the oven” my biggest concern for the next couple of hours.

Sadly, my niggling fear of results and – oh, look…SNOW! – had me distracted.

I was watching pics/stories on Instagram of Portland getting some snow. Thankfully, my view was clear. On the other hand, the doctor’s office was on top of a hill with an elevation of all of 500 feet above sea level. Whenever there’s a chance of snow on the valley floor, this is basically the only part of town affected. Well, this elevation.

Once The Fox picked me up – 45 minutes before my appointment, and this is about a seven minute drive without traffic – I started to have some concerns.

Actually, that’s not a fair statement. Because I’m a petty bastard, if the Silver Fox insisted on picking me up 45 minutes early, I was gonna make him run an errand with me on the way. Just a few blocks out of the way to our bank so I could take some money out of one account and deposit it into another. It was two transactions at the ATM. We were back on track by 1:55 and my check in time was 2:30.

As soon as we got onto highway 26, heading up the 500 foot high hill, we started seeing what might be flakes. Halfway up, we were sure they were flakes. By the time we hit the top of the hill, it was as close to white out conditions as you’re gonna get in Portland.

It was 2:06.

You know my motto: What could possibly go wrong?

Of course, the Universe has an answer for that: Just you fucking wait.

Intrepid is hardly the word one would use to describe me. Still, after killing some time in the car, I began my reluctant trudge into the office at 2:24.

My intake paperwork was done by 2:40 and by 2:55 I was laying on a gurney with an open in the back gown, an IV line in my arm (another first) and a nice toasty blanket.

I was actually dozing on the gurney.

Around 3:20, the anesthetist wheeled me into the “suite”, as they called it. I noted that there were no adjoining rooms, so it wasn’t much of a suite and could I get a discount?

She laughed at my nervous banter and we chatted until the doctor made it to the suite.

He asked how my prep had gone and I told him how relatively easy it had been. I also told him my hemorrhoids had decided to just remind me of their presence the morning before, just so he wasn’t surprised.

If you’ve got a melon baller handy, feel free to scoop those mothers out, ok?

More chuckles…

The Afterglow

…then I woke up in the recovery area.

It was 5:00 PM.

Who slept like a champ?

I was mostly surprised about that since the anesthetist had told me that I’d wake up pretty much immediately once she stopped pushing the drugs into my IV. Either it took a long time or my being anesthesia naive affected me more than she’d anticipated.

That last point makes its own argument.

Here’s my argument for the former point:

Thirteen polyps.

Because, of course my colon would have 13 lucky fucking polyps. Adding to that that two were 12 and 20 millimeters in size – 3 to 5 times the size of the other 11 polyps and…well, there was some work to be done up in the old fart cannon. For what it’s worth, my thumb is 20 mm wide. That is certainly no baseball or grapefruit sized shenanigans but still seems pretty big.

But on the plus side, what I’d pretty much self-diagnosed as hemorrhoids, with my doctor’s non-visual buy in, had apparently been polyps. So…those are gone, now. And, unlike Challenger, my O-ring is now pristine.

Huzzah.

Now, maybe it’s that I slept until 5:00, but I swear, aside from a few wobbles in the recovery room and on my way out to the waiting room where I would be transferred to the Silver Fox’s custody, I didn’t feel a lot of aftereffects of the anesthesia. The Fox may have other examples of how I’m wrong, but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Almost like the snow was sticking to the ground that afternoon.

How’s that for a transition?

The Fox decided – to my relief – to stay until morning versus driving back to Monmouth in the snow. Based on pics his ex wife had sent, it looked heavier down in her rural area.

However, a take and bake was fine for my post-procedure meal, but it simply would not do for a thank you dinner for The Fox. We stopped and picked it up – him declining when I asked if he was going in to get it, further proof of my functionality! I toddled in and then back to the car. Climbing back in, we decided on fried chicken from a local fancy schmancy restaurant that was still open for takeout. As the Silver Fox made his way, I ordered our meals through their website…again, coming out of anesthesia like a champ!

We picked up our chicken, made it back to my place, opened some wine and put in a movie. We both made it through the meh-movie (Outside the Wire on Netflix) but neither of us made it more than halfway through our meals. You gotta love coming off of what turned out to be a 48 hour fast with fried chicken leftovers and an entire pizza in your fridge.

Oh, and a salad. 😒

It took me a full 24 and then some hours to have my triumphant return to the poopatorium. A weird sensation, feeling your guts fill up. But, no issues – which was a pleasant surprise given what I was told about the effort required to get that 20 millimeter sized guy out of me.

Because – I suppose – of the size and effort of removing that fat bastard from me, the GI guy said he wanted to do a follow up in three months.

Hoorah.

Although, the paperwork he sent home with me said six months, so maybe it’s more a matter of he doesn’t know exactly when his kid’s tuition is due.

That’s what I’m going with. Unless, of course, pathology comes back with something I don’t want to hear.

Here’s The Poop

The Red Shirt Diaries #28

It’s probably bad form to post under this theme twice within a week. Please, don’t pack me off to the cotton-walled Hilton.

Early last summer, I began musing that I’d died in late February or early March. Really, it was just boredom and mentally passing the time in lockdown.

It was certainly a way to explain the hell we were all living through.

Then, as the campaign season wore on and Election Day approached, I started to wonder if maybe I hadn’t died late in 2016…and this was how I’d be spending my eternity in hell.

Trump’s America.

It certainly seemed feasible enough. Plus, the hangover I had on 11/9/2016 was the worst I’d ever had – no joke. Maybe I had died of alcohol poisoning back then.

But then…something awesome happened.

Biden and Harris pulled out a win. Things were looking up. Well, up despite the efforts of 74 million idiots.

So this morning, not too long after Trump snuck out of the White House for the last time

I was finally able to put that simmering concern to rest as I watched Biden address the nation as our 46th president. And, while I’m sure he will be the first Democratic one-term president in about a half century, all felt right knowing that our 47th president was very likely sitting there watching.

Congratulations to is all – Americans, stupid or non-Trunts alike.

We made it.

We survived.

We will heal.

The Red Shirt Diaries #28