MNSC: Unicorn Edition

Not just because this happened…did I decide this needed to be subheaded Unicorn Edition.  But also because I fin my unlikely group of attendees at the situationally Friday Monday Night Supper Club to be unique in so many ways that they are unicorns in their own right.

I considered subheading this Full House as a cute entendres about the two married, gay and (most rare, at least in PDX) monogamous gay men and the three single gay men that seem to be the last three gay men in Portland that not only believe being single and feeding your libido a steady stream of strangers is not the apex of the human relationship condition, but also possibly the last three capable of actually entering into a relationship as an equal.

A full house, if you will, for all you card players out there.

Plus, five grown men and one torbi with an oversized catitude is literally a full house in my little condo.I joked about Myrtle being my typical Friday night date, but when The Canadian and The Cajun arrived, I dispatched The Silver Fox to bring them up and Myrtle made herself comfy at the bar.  

I originally called this monthly-ish gathering of friends Monday Night Supper Club because I hosted the inaugural edition selfishly on my Saturday night.  Since then, my friends have moved it once to Saturday to accommodate my schedule changing and then it bounced to Fridays because people do shit on the weekends in summer, like leave town.  However, the moniker hasn’t changed, although Diezel was kicking no around an acronym he liked for a while, but between us we never really landed on something that worked, so I still call it MNSC.

Everyone else just calls it “dinner”.

Oh, and now it happens to fall on my Sunday night.  Admittedly, I’m a little sleep deprived as I tap this out on the way to work after squeezing in about 4.5 hours in the rack.  This was after a less than smooth segue from hosting duties to slumber last night.

But I only left one dirty dish in the sink!

Well, one dirty dish and a decanter with about two undrank glasses of wine left in it.

Talk about a Unicorn!

At least in my house.

But, in addition to four bottles of wine, the menu included my go-to carbonara, summer favorite caprese salad – with mozzarella balls and halved cherry tomatoes from mom’s (and dad’s!) garden and a Watergate Salad courtesy of The Cajun’s kitchen that had me unreasonably excited!I didn’t snap a pic of the pasta, once it’s made, it’s eating time not picture taking time!

I love carbonara.

Disputed as it is in the pantheon of real Italian food – some placing it on the same level of authentic Italian as Americano coffee – carbonara is an easy Italian.  No huge prep, no super processy sauce…just simple carb-coma-inducing, hearty goodness that takes little more time to prepare than boiling the pasta.

I like to mis en place before I cook and clean as I go when I cook, this dish is perfect for that!

Dice a shallot and some garlic…”just a hint of garlic!” was a favorite exclamation from the kitchen of my turn of the century neighbor that inspired – or nurtured – my MNSC idea.

Slice some pancetta.

Grate some pecorino.

Poof!  Prep done!

Then it’s just boil the water, put the pancetta on to brown before throwing in the roots while the pasta cooks, separate some eggs and mix them in with the parm – and heavy whipping cream, if you like. 

Once the pasta is drained, throw in the cheese mix and stir it all together with the pancetta and it’s time to eat!

So.

Good.

Which is exactly what company of this caliber deserves!

MNSC: Unicorn Edition

Monday, Part V

Well, I just missed my train to work.

Hardly surprising, given my morning…but it all started out so promising this morning.

I.

Had.

A.

Plan.

It’s my Friday, you see.  Typically, I’ve been working later shifts on my Fridays to have more cross over time to support and develop the junior managers.  Well, on my Thursdays and Fridays, but now I have a spin class I go to on my Thursday night, so…screw ’em.

I joke.

But I’m still giving them one more night a week than they had been getting, so there is that.

Anyway, the added benefit here is that this gives my body a practice day for sleeping in on my weekend, so I’m not waking up at 5 am with my body patting itself on the back for the extra sleep.  Normally, I’ll wake up anywhere between 3:30 and 4:45 to be at work by 5 or 6.  On my late day, I’ll set an optimistic alarm for 8:30, but I’m usually awake by 7, at the latest.

Today, I was up and at ’em at 6:00.  I had my laundry going and had showered, dressed and answered work emails by 7:30.  I was then on my way to do my recycling…my goal being as few errands and chores left over on my weekend as possible to maximize my screwing around time.

The bottle drop opens at 8 and I was seething about being fourth in line behind three of the founding members of the Portland Millionaire’s Club.

90 minutes later, caught up on all my Facebook and Instagram goings-on and Words With Friends plays, I was still waiting.  

Next.

In.

Line.

The guy in front of me was by far the slowest – and judging by his relatively meager cart load of recycling – and poorest of the three people ahead of me.  I moved to leave so that I could go home, drop off my recycling and make it to the 9:24 train to PDX when the guy turns to me and says, “I’ll take those for ya, if you’re not gonna stay!”

Like he’s being helpful.

I’m already pissy because my recycling will have to intrude on my weekend.  Also, its reached the point where it’s about more than I can comfortably carry on foot.  If much more accumulates, I’ll have to make two trips or impose on a friend with a car.

<Looking at you, Silver Fox>

But I also realize his slow and challenged behavior was part of an act.  He wanted me to just drop my recycling and leave them for him to claim.

Nice try, my street bound Rockefeller.

You’ve got to get up pretty early to catch me before the tidal wave of grumpiness overwhelms my day.  I only recycle now – mostly – because of my grumpiness.  Most of which – in this situation – I actually blame equally on homeless people and apartment/condo dwellers, since we are largely to blame for triggering the bottle redemption deposit to go from $.05 to $.10.  

The other reason I recycle is cuz I’m cheap and a dime is a lot of money to just throw down a recycling chute.

So, no.  But, thanks…I’ll bring my recycling back tomorrow.

What iced my Monday cake for me was walking the last block of my foot commute to the train at 9:22 and seeing my Redline train to the airport pulling away.

Calmly, I walked the last block while screaming, “Fuuuuuuuuck!!!” inside, pulled out my phone, texted the boss I’d be a few minutes late and started this blog post.

Also thinking, “You’ve got to sign up for the Bottle Drop recycling program, you cheap, old bastard.”  Seriously, the only reason I have resisted is because I have to buy the drop bags and I estimate that they cost about 10% of my overall redemption.  But I’m thinking the frustration it would relieve and the amount of time I would save standing in the aroma of despair would probably be worth $.01 per bottle…there’s my bright side of this fifth Monday of my work week.

Also, I was just reminded that I made plans for tonight.  They are about three hours before I get off work, so I get to share my shit iced crap cake of a day with someone else, now.  

I could really use a mental health day.

Monday, Part V

The Galby Effect

“What bar do you frequent?”

This was the question I was asked on Facebook Messenger by a friend coming to town next week as we talked about getting together.

Innocuous enough…for a normal person.

Awkwardly, my preferred watering hole – the neighborhood feeling but still gay – Fox & Hounds sold earlier this summer in a transaction that surprised everyone.  Even the former owner’s employees.

I was kinda irked, since I’d proposed buying the place a couple of years ago and was shot down because the owner had no interest in selling.

But, because I’m not a rash or hysterical person, I continued to go there once a week or so for a drink on my way home from work.

What?  

Fine.  

I’m not saying I’m rash or hysterical…we can agree to disagree.  However, a conveniently located beer on the way home from work trumps a lot of petty differences.

I was more irked that this new owner was making pretty sudden and drastic changes for someone who claimed that everything was going to stay the same.

I didn’t even balk that she was not-so-subtly turning the place straight.  Or trying.  But when she lost the bar’s lottery privileges, it was over.  If no one is going to talk to me while I imbibe – please, don’t – then I want to play some video lottery.

For no reason, clearly.   I mean, how could lottery be more fun than people?!?

Since then, I’ve been hanging out at either my neighborhood wine shop/bar (Thelonius Wines) or taproom (Big Legrowlski) and not really missing gay bars.  

Because:  don’t talk to me.

Yeah, I’m weird.

But having to cop to an absence of alignment with a local gay bar to my visiting friend, I was forced to acknowledge that The Galby Effect was once again rearing its awkward head.

I last noticed it during the early days of the Big Legrowlski.  I’d go and there’d be a respectable number of patrons for a new business.  Y’know, a few peppered here or there…nothing too crowded.  Sometimes I’d find myself alone when I walked in, but others would trickle in behind me soon enough.

No biggie.

But once the bar started to take off with a pretty regular business, 2-3 people lined up at any given point…that’s when I noticed it.

I’d walk in and do my normal Xtopher-esque entrance, nothing too Kramer-ish, and people were too busy helping other customers to give me anything other than a brief wave or smile.  Not even both!  Strictly one or the other.

Then I’d get my beer, find my seat and take a few sips, only to discover when looking up five minutes later that I was suddenly the only patron left.

It’s like Bar Rapture.

I’m the St Patrick of boozehounds.  Yeah, yeah…the whole snake thing is a bourbon legend.

It happened time and again, too.

Time of day, day of week…no variables mattered.  I could go in at 9 on a Friday and ten minutes later, pffft.  

Empty.

“What, they’re all going to the same show?” I’d ask, incredulous.

Getting a <palms up> from the bartender in response.

Anyway, I thought that I’d somehow shaken the curse of driving a bar’s business into the ground.  Certainly, my lack of affiliation as a regular with and local gay bar can be blamed on the new owner…but taking a broader view, I think The Galby Effect can be blamed for the sudden and unexplained decision to sell.  

My only “proof”, if you will:  I’ll wander into the former owner’s other bar once a month or so and when he’s there, he just looks guilty.  Obviously, he knows he’s a turncoat to the community and can’t explain what in the world came over him, so he just sits there awkwardly thinking, “Don’t talk to me, don’t talk to me, don’t talk to me” on repeat until I walk away.

Hey, buddy…it’s ok.  I understand.

The Galby Effect.

The Galby Effect

I Have A Huge Confliction

Get your Chrisisms, right here!

Step on up!

I’m checking the Facebook before bed.  Yes, I’m going to bed before 8 pm on a Monday night.  Shut up.

I see a post from a guy I went on a few dates with about a decade or so ago.

A Lost Boy, for sure.

Former Porn Star turned Hair Burner…i.e. he never made it.  Luckily.

Former substance abuser, turned crutch drinker.

Y’know, one of those broken types I like so much.  But, I appreciated that the was pulling himself out of the grave he’d dug himself.  That’s something-ish.

We had fun; good talks, fun flirtations, a decent connection.

But, as things progressed over the course of several dates, he…couldn’t.

Eventually, he just faded out.

So much for a decent atypical haircut on CapHill.  

Atypical, meaning that I didn’t look like every other homo on the Hill.  That’s a worthy point.  I bet you can’t throw a pomade in Shittatle without it bouncing off a half dozen hard part haircuts before it hits the ground.

What’s the word for a gay douchebag?

Nevermind.

The point is, we never really untethered, socially.

My friends knew him.

We’d show up at the same place a couple times a year.

Then he moved away.

Eventually, he friended me on the dreaded Facebook.

I just rolled with it all.  Never rolling out the welcome mat, but also never calling out his shitty behavior.

Y’know, like sending me a friend request when he’s living with some older dude in my adopted hometown – those who know it, know it – and essentially putting on display what he deprived me of experiencing with him.

Cuz, that’s not a low grade psychotic behavior.

But, still…I roll.

Whatever he has with Not Me Older Guy implodes.  He moves back to his natural habitat – Shittatle – gets sober, finds god, becomes…tedious.  But only because I don’t tune into Facebook for a bunch of god-talk, especially in the form of AA, which I think verges on being a cult.

Good things happen.

He opens his own salon.

Reconnects with his problematic family.

Decides to become a trucker.

Because, once a Lost Boy, I suppose…

So, tonight…climbing into bed, I read that he’s been diagnosed with thyroid cancer.

The Big C.

And I feel bad.  It’s a reflexive reaction to news like this.  Empathy.

It occurs faster than I can read and as I finish the post, awash in my empathy, I read the statement that punctuates his disclosure: I just want prayers.

My eyes rolled just typing that.  Every time I read “thoughts and prayers”, I have to de-cultify it before I can look directly at the words.

It all boils down to compassion.  For whatever reason, we can’t own our own, we have to assign it to some sort of alleged and unproven higher power, because: faith.

Whatever.

My thoughts went all sarcastic Xtopher after that.

Into the realm of, “The ghoster becomes the ghost”…because I’m a grumpy old bastard and I don’t have a lot of pity for people.  There’s some wisdom behind the phrase, “You’ve made your bed, now lie in it”.  It’s certainly something I consider often in regards to my own mortality…after all, who is going to take care of me when I’m old?  

Fine.  Older.

It’s an impending grim reality of my existence…but at least I think I’ve returned all the phone calls I was socially expected to.

And, on that warm, fuzzy thought…I’m off to the land of Nod.

I Have A Huge Confliction

Bittersweet Sixteen

I think most of us remember where we were that morning.

Regardless of where we were when it happened, collectively, I think it’s appropriate to assume that five minutes later we were all super glued in horror to our televisions as we watched what became the slow collapse of the symbols of our international presence in the global community.

Those towers may also have been a big part of our sense of security and imperviousness to some degree, too.

Our Big Sticks, if you will.

Well, this morning at work, we will – of course – honor the memory of this day.  At 5:46, the entire airport will observe a moment of silence.  A fairly humbling moment in my airport work environment, given the co-opted weapons of that day.

As always, on this anniversary, I will be a bit dis-eased with the notion of air travel…more so than normal.  I’m glad that I won’t be getting on a plane this morning.

But, while it makes me simultaneously humble and proud to acknowledge this day in our nation’s history, last night at work something happened that made me even more proud.

I was in our C concourse store and a newer associate asked what all the hubbub was around the gate right outside our store.  He’d cocked his head toward the sea of people basically blocking off the entire concourse and I responded, “It’s probably just a bunch of Southwest Airlines customers demonstrating that they’ve forgotten what they learned in second grade.”  I was referring, of course, to Southwest’s unassigned seating, which – try as they might to instill organization into carnival seating – regularly produces similar results throughout the day.

“Oh.  I was just wondering, since there’s a bunch of uniforms and security…and bagpipes…”, he said in an explanation that just kinda ended in silence versus a period.

My first thought was, “Bagpipes!”

But then I explained to him the airport Color Guard, which I thought only Alaska Airlines did and had been discontinued.  Maybe Southwest picked up the practice.

Then I went and joined the perimeter of the crowd, because in my near-year working here, I hadn’t yet seen the entire process unfold and thought I’d missed my chance.  Oftentimes, there’s a state senator on hand, if they happen to be in town…and congress is in recess.

No such luck, as far as I could see.  And I would have loved to tell Merkley that I appreciate his service.  But this moment was about other people’s service to our country.

The military, airport police and TSA reps were all assembled with the Color Guard around the exit from the jetway onto the concourse.

There was the bagpiper.

A swelling crowd of people.

Of course, a passerby choosing me to inquire as to the goings on.  As if she doesn’t understand OEG.  Or, that I have a pleasant countenance and demeanor.

As if.

But, I tell her and she says, “Oh, that’s wonderful!  My husband fought in Vietnam.”  I replied that we all knew the welcome home that had been received by him at the time and that it was a shame.

She wandered off and started taking pictures as the bagpipes played and the Color Guard came to attention.

And the applause began.

And continued.

And built, with no crescendo in sight.

It was a little like the applause between the “last song” and the encore at a concert.

Finally, the vets started to appear.  In full wheelchair regalia.

You gotta remember that these old guys are being honored for a war that ended anywhere from 50-75 years ago, depending on the vet.  These guys definitely looked like WWII vets.  There were women being wheeled off, too.  I was not entirely sure whether maybe they were WACs or military spouses, but either way, they also served and sacrificed.

I was super impressed by one old dog who was high diving people as he was wheeled by.  I was still smiling at his spirit when an octogenarian gal came – literally – sashaying off the jetway and onto the concourse.  All smiles and short dance bursts and arms waving.

People were still clapping.

And filming,

And tearing up.

Even me.

And I was proud to be an American.

I was so engrossed in watching the procession that I didn’t get any great pix, but here’s a few I snapped as the event ended.

That guy in the Duck gear was the husband of the woman I spoke to before the vets deplaned.  I went over to him, shook his hand and thanked him for his service.

Before congratulating him on his team’s sound thrashing of Nebraska, of course.

Bittersweet Sixteen

Fitfy: 49.33

I originally set out to make this theme a weekly check-in for this final year of my 40s.  The larger goal was to motivate myself into finding a balance between a reasonably healthy physical self and mental and emotional satisfaction with how that state of physical being manifested itself.

Y’know, to ditch the body-negative mindset that I’ve been emotionally kicking the shit out of myself in pursuit of for the last 20 years or so.  I didn’t quit this theme so much as I took a hiaitus in order to refocus on that goal when I found myself falling back on the same habits that had delivered me to where I found myself on Jan 22 of this year: injured, eating emotionally, physically and mentally depressed…your basic nightmare.

So, that’s what I did.  I put down my phone, walked away from the laptop and WordPress app – at least as far at Fitfy was concerned – and focused on collecting myself mentally to re-engage with diet and exercise.

I addressed diet first.

Before it addressed me.

Also, because I’d gotten comfortable being physically lazy.

I’d been having a real challenging time at work with a really unhealthy emotional situation with Capt Can’t.  I’d been drinking too much and too often to self-soothe instead of dealing with the situation.  I went 29 out of 30 days with more than four drinks in me.

In addition to the drinking – as if that much alcohol wasn’t enough of a red alert – I’d been eating crap.  Candy and coffee for breakfast and chips or popcorn with my alcohol for dinner.  

It’s a wonder I survived the month.  Luckily, I had my righteous rage to sustain me.

But, changing the diet was hard.  I needed some crutches.  Like sharing my bottle of dinner wine with the Silver Fox instead of hiding out in my living room overfilling my own glass.  

See?  That’s a 50% reduction in consumption right there.

Ok, 60/40 since I’m kinda tricky.

Fine!  70/30 because he’s more disciplined than me to begin with…but, still – a reduction in consumption!

Other nights, I would switch to a diet soda overdose to distract my way through a couple days of not drinking.

Then there was reintroducing real food to my diet.  I focused on significantly reducing my “reward days”.  Actually, the goal was more to flip the ratio of healthy meals with bullshit junkfood reward meals by 180 degrees.  I had to be willing to allow myself to waste food while doing this, because normally I will resist cooking at home under the auspices of not liking leftovers.

Step one here was a win-win because I challenged myself to cook food that created leftovers I can tolerate eating, like Italian food.  The bonus here was that I had a couple days of lunches afterward.

What I was most proud of with this first step was that I was eating friggin’ Italian food.  This isn’t something I would have entertained back in June after slipping back into my old food punishing ways of plain grilled chicken and broccoli for dinner.

And lunch.

I was making fun, carbolicious food that felt like a mother’s hug in my belly.

It was a treat, but still healthy-ish.

It wasn’t popcorn.

There were a few nights I’d steer myself away from eating take out for dinner and cook up some tasty red meat protein at home, not great for me…but good enough.  Yet on other nights, I’d order that pizza and then only allow myself one reasonably sized meal off of it.  No eating the entire thing in one sitting or breakfast pizza the day after.  Wasting food isn’t my favorite thing, but I needed to force some discipline into my diet while fending off a potential binge by making myself feel deprived.

If a few slices paid the price, so be it.

Ok, enough of my public diet shaming…it’s making me crave chips for dinner.

The other piece I needed to address was exercise.

I’d already gone butt-wild at the gym early this year and ended up reinjured for my troubles.  The healing break that caused in my gym goings came at a not awesome time:  right on the heels of my Capt Can’t work stress and subsequent medicinal regimen of booze and comfort food.

I think I put on 15 lbs in 30 days.

That also didn’t help with my healing – carrying around a bunch of extra weight.

So, coming off the bench, my mind was set on cardio to slim down versus focusing on those gay muscles.  A nice chest and arms is aesthetically pleasing, but I’d have to look pretty hard to find anything darker than a dotted line between my Fitfy Mission Statement and chesticles.

Complicating the matter, the cardio machines at 24hr Fitness tended to tweak my knee injury pretty easily.  This is something I wished to avoid.

Cycling, it was.

Sadly, I wasn’t getting home from work until around 5 each day, which made getting on the bike for a couple hours hard. Particularly when you factor in that I’d need to come home, shower, make dinner and hopefully be in bed by 8 for work the next day.

I was averaging one ride a week.

No bueno.

Fortunately for me, The Filipina Fox had just started her new spin instructor gig at RevoCycle, just a few blocks from my house.  She taught Tuesday and Thursday nights and encouraged me to use the first two free gymcentive – Chrisism – to try the gym out.

I was skeptical.  

I loved the results that spin produced as a workout, but these classes are in the $13-18 range.

Too rich for my broke ass and its paycheck to paycheck existence.  I’d already let my 24hr membership lapse in arrears, though, so in this particular moment, “free” was just inside my price range.

Of course, I loved the workout.

It was all the usual good stuff about a spin workout: intensity, intervals, instruction, motivation…but their equipment was unique, too!  Their bikes are free-wheel affairs, like a real bike versus the typical weighted wheel you usually find on spin bikes.  The free-wheel meant no added stress on my knee.

Being able to walk pain free the day after class:  priceless.

After my week of free classes was up, it was time for an overdue vacation and time with the fam.  I swear, I will get around to writing about it, but for now, just know that I spent plenty of time on my bike.  And, my parents being the awesome folks they are, they slipped their broke ass boy some walking around money before putting me on a plane.  I swear, this whole “walking around money” phenomenon that happens in my family before someone gets on a plane?  I’ve always been a little jealous when I’m not the one traveling. 

But, thanks to the parentals, I had a few shekels for some spin classes.

And that’s where I’ve been putting my exercise effort, 2-3 times per week.  It’s nice, most of the classes I take are 40 minutes of spin and 20 minutes of what they call body sculpt.  Basically, that’s a 20 minute barre class…which is just enough to finish kicking my ass.

It’s been a great few weeks – this is the last week of my pass, so someone start a GoFundFatty to raise money for my next pass!  I’ve dropped enough fluff to fit quasi-comfortably into my 33″ waist shorts.  That’s a nice benefit…one that doubles my shorts wardrobe, too!  I’m still closer to 200 lbs than I’d prefer to be, but I’m moving in the right direction and I also know that some of my weight loss is camouflaged by lean muscle gain as I begin to regain leg muscle that has eroded over the last year of poor exercise.

It’s nice to see some definition peeking out from the shorts I now fit into again.  I call those muscles my eighths but people who are not cursed with chicken legs would call them quads.

Best part?

The last month of exercise has been largely pain free!  Like I said earlier, I can walk without soreness the day after class. That’s a huge plus.

My one instance of suffering was not so much a result of my exertion in class as much as it was a side effect of my usual gracefulness.

I’d been pushing myself hard in this particular class.  It was my second of the week and I’d noted the drop off in performance compared to the first class of the week earlier in my month-o-spin and wanted to push through it.

Mostly, I succeeded.

Mostly.

We were doing climb intervals.  Slowly increasing resistance until you were forced out of the seat to finish the interval, then repeating the process – the climb, if you will – about three times during a song.

It was the second song, second climb.  I already felt like I’d left it all on the last climb, so I was struggling…but determined.

Once that second climb ended and the Filipina Fox gave us permission to return to the seat…I sat.  As a matter of fact, I didn’t just sit, I fucking sat.

Hard.

Right on poor little lefty, if you get my drift.

No idea what he was doing hanging out back there, but I’ll tell you this…I didn’t pedal right for the rest of the class.

Meh.  It’s ok, though…it’s not like I’m using those muscles anyway, so I guess it could have been worse.

Fitfy: 49.33

My First Sound Check

You’d think at my age, I’d have done just about everything I ever wanted to do at least once.

Not so, my friend.  Not so…

For instance, I’d never been to a sound check for a live show before.

Sure, as a baby queer in high school, I had been in choir and drama club, watching judgmentally as the unbeloved tech folk set up their lights and sound.

Yeah, when I was in college and exploring the fraternity option, I day drank shit keg beer and blurrily watched as Otis Day and the Knights phoned in their pre-show prep at the Pike House.  Hey, it was a kegger-cum-concert.  I was more interested in figuring out if I could pass in a fraternity at KSU without getting the shit kicked out of me and disappearing sometime mid-rush week at the time than in the pre-show goings on of that band from Animal House.  Naturally, my focus was stretched as I further divided my attention by lustily considering my potential frat brothers and fellow pledges…yeah, I was gonna end up dead.

Nonetheless, I ended up seeing Otis Day scream into the mic a few times prior to the show, but it wasn’t a super complex sound system we were dealing with.  It was the backyard deck of a frat house, after all.

So, when my bestie-neighbor from Seattle called me and invited me to a show that one of her bands was doing here in town, I was in.

D-Slice and I possibly share a single liver.  Or were both cloned from the same one…they’re doing that, you know.  There’s a reason I don’t look like my brothers and sister!

As a human, she’s top notch.  As a neighbor, she’s kinda like a Julie McCoy.  I first met her when our apartment-turned-condo opened and several of us first wave residents moved in simultaneously as the housing market verged on its infamous 2008 crash…effectively stranding us all in a partially sold 146 unit building.

I would bet that there were only about 60 units occupied during those early years.  If I had a better – less muddled – memory, I could be more specific.  Alas…

Yet, this small group of us housing market castaways bonded.

What began as drinks in the community room, or the laundry room – usually bemoaning the fact that the sales office promise of a roof top deck had not yet become a reality – between a few dozen regulars evolved into progressive parties, moving from one unit to another on a host floor.  D-Slice upped this game by going private.  She resurrected a past event of hers that she called Free Drink Friday from a former residence…perhaps a college dorm, who knows?  What I do know is that the rules were pretty simple:  she starts us off with a few bottles of wine, some beer and/or whatever randomly occurring bottles of liquor she has in her unit (shut up, Diezel) and maybe some light snacks or a pizza or two.  Attendees can BYOB if they are so inclined or just show up and suckle off the provided well.  The party would go until quiet hours kicked in or the booze ran out.

Easy-peasy.

D-Slice, being a kindred spirit – key word:  spirit – was not one to let quiet hours stand in the way of a good time.  A few of us cooler neighbors would stick around and bat clean up after everyone else left.  With the booze, not the actual clean up, fuck that.

During one of these late nights, as D-Slice and I were the sole stragglers, we realized the booze-fueled brilliance of our drunken wit and wisdom deserved an audience.  Just like that, the Podcast was born.

Not the actual podcast phenomenon.

I assure you, we are not responsible for the low key craze of data-plan-eating streaming talk shows, no.  Our Podcast was pretty much just code for us hanging out, drinking and chatting.  Occasionally, we’d invite another friend or neighbor and call them a special guest.  Others, one of us would call a special session Podcast to debrief a specific situation or, more likely, shituation.

More often than not, my favorite part of our Podcast was its inevitable end.  Not because I yearned for the finish…no, it was the finale itself.  What I came to call Flooraoke.

I’m sure you can figure it out.

But at some point, we’d add in some music to the mix of our easy conversation and as the evening wore on and we became slightly worse – or better, depending on your criteria – for the booze, the focus on the conversation would wane and the attention to the music would take center stage.  Center floor, at any rate.  I’m no singer, but D-Slice has put out a few independent CDs and been a part of several bands since I’ve known her.  As gravity pulled us toward its inevitable victory, I would end up slumped in a chair while D-Slice put up more of a fight and ended up heroically sprawled on the floor in her ignominy.

Then, the magic would happen.

Some song would just spark her fire and she was zoned and in her zone, singing toward a gloriously undignified slumber.  After a few songs, I would make my own way home to bed, warmed with the already slipping away memories of the past several hours.

It is an amazing memory, these Poscast sessions.

So, hitting her show in Portland was a no-brainer.

Initially, I’d been worried about the show keeping me up past my bedtime for my early morning work alarm.  Turns out, the disclaimer that I might not stay for the whole show was unnecessary.  It was an afternoon show with the Heart Shaped Boxes.

Nonetheless, my disclaimer about leaving early had set the pre-funk ball in motion.  No need to derail that plan simply because the show was starting earlier.  In true rock star fashion, we just started drinking earlier…which is how I came to be at her sound check.  

I hopped out of my Uber on the corner of the block that the bar she was performing at was in and walked back to the door.  There, I was met by a heavy metal David Cross type guy.

But, once inside, the bar proved to be a pretty small collection of nice staff members with properly spelled tattoos.  Not  a bad place to spend a Saturday afternoon.

I was introduced to the other Boxes, all of whom I knew from the Facebook, D-Slice had met them all through a rock camp for girls where they were all camp counselors.  

Ok, it’s cooler than that makes it sound.  It’s called Rain City Rock Camp, if you’re so inclined google them and maybe donate.

Other than the HSBs and the staff, the bar was empty, save for a lone young man with the long, straight hair and basic black jeans and tee metal dude dress code.  He was sitting on a table, facing the back of the bar, doing some finger work on his guitar to warm up.  I assumed he was with the opening act, and said as much to D-Slice.  She said she wasn’t sure, she hadn’t been involved in the booking, she just went where she was told to be when she was told to be there.

Not a bad gig.

It was then that she excused herself for her sound check work and the metal dude turned on his table so that he was facing me.  D-Slice said I should go say hi and buy him a beer before leaving me to sip on my own.  We both knew I wasn’t going anywhere.

I sipped and watched each band member go through the mic checks and other asundry settings as each coordinated not only how their equipment sounded but also gave feedback on how the rest of the band sounded to them…which is important, although I’d never given it a thought.  In retrospect, it probably explained a lot about some of the shittier live shows I’d been to.

Meanwhile, metal dude sat across the bar from me, giving me deadeye while mutely jamming on his tabletop perch.

Other patrons started filtering in for the show.  Prudently, I ordered another beer before it got crowded.

I was meeting other musicians that knew D-Slice from the time she’d spent collaborating with the Portland version of the girl’s rock camp.  Apparently, this show was a fundraiser for them.  

I briefly felt bad about getting my cover comped by D-Slice. It passed…I mean, really, how often do you get to say, “I’m with the band” when you’re me?

I was surprised to look across the bar and see one of my high school classmates.

I joke.

That fella belonged to one of D-Slice’s band mates, who is also in two bands. Her name is TRex, hence the mascot that travels with her.  This other band of hers, Shower Scum, did a tribute song to The Donald.  Don’t worry, I may have misused the word “tribute” since the song was called Fuck You! Needless to say, the song went over like gangbusters in Portland. 

There was lesbian couple in the audience.  Very chatty and sociable.  In true Portland fashion, they brought their toddler.  In even truer Portland fashion, one mother’s outfit matched his outfit…which was a very hipster take on Oshkosh B’gosh overalls.  

Initially, I’d judged the dykes tyke’s presence in a bar pretty harshly.  Then I remembered grade A lesbian parents were, of course, above my reproach.  My reminder came on the form of his accessories:  construction yellow ear protection.

How damned adorable is that?

I just sat there and watched him switch between toddling between his parents and bouncing on one of their hips or the other’s as I watched a couple of the acts before Heart Shaped Boxes.

The opener.

TRex’s second band.

The metal dude’s band:  featuring a chunky girl with the blue hair and an awkward drummer with the mis-matched Star Wars socks.  Both of whom were probably only in  the band because they were in love with the aforementioned long-haired rocker that turns out to be their lead singer…

Suddenly it hit me, this was a benefit for a girl’s rock camp.  

Sleep away camp for girls that like music.

It was a daytime show on a weekend.

The awkwardness of the metal dude’s deadeye stare and the googly-eyed quality of the stares he got from his band mates.

Shit.  This whole band was underage.

I ordered another beer and moved closer to the front door.

D-Slice and the rest of the HSBs did their set and it was good!  Really good.  I loved knowing the arc her performing had taken since her first solo CDs – all of which I still have.

After her set, D-Slice and I found some time to squirrel away to the sidewalk parklet seating for another beer and some undistracted conversation now that her work was done.  We caught up on current life events – hers was going better than mine – and relived some of our greatest Podcast hits.

It was too short, of course.  Her band mates were her transportation and they were anxious to get back to the airBnB for some R-n-R after the show.

But, our decade long friendship had stood the test of being apart for a couple of years and fallen right back into that easy camaraderie that made it so precious to me.

I left the bar on that high, with a side of pride at not accidentally hitting on a teenaged boy.

Plus, it was a daytime show, so I was rested for work the next day.

And what the hell happens the following day on my way home from work?  A long-hair rocker dude sits down right next to me on the MAX.  I figure this is either the universe telling me something or at least dangling something different in front of me.  Maybe telling me not to be too closed minded when declaring the dating and mating seasons of my life closed?  I mean, really, D-Slice and I are unlikely friends.  She is a rocker, sleeve tattoo and all while I’m someone you’d easily mistake for an accountant.

Alright, universe, I’m listening.

Turns out, it was the exact same metal dude from the day before and the universe was just giving me the one fingered salute or trying to get my ass thrown in jail.

But, seriously…what are the odds?

My life, I gotta tell ya.

My First Sound Check