The Ginge

The incredulity that spawned a blog.  Not a post, an entire blog.  Here we are on the first anniversary of the grumpy oldness that spurred a couple of friends to suggest I unleash my special brand of observational judgment on the world, so I figured it was time to revisit the hot mess of orange fury that started it all.

This is also yet another reason that I don’t drink with amateurs.

The boy that stirred a hops lubricated loin.

The Irish Cowboy.

My first Snapchat Relationship.

The Ginge.

The Silver Fox seemed into it, so I suppose I could lay this all at his feet.  But, no…even though his surprise at this particular turn of events was at least equal to mine; I know that it was my suggestion to sneak the teensiest of drinky-poos last St Patrick’s Day – before all the amateurs showed up for the St Paddy’s Day shitshow – so I only have myself to blame.

Just a hint of drink, really.

And The Fox really doesn’t do gay bars, so the fact that he was willing to even entertain meeting me at CCs for a little socializing and up-catching was an amazing feat in and of itself.

How did I not see that as a warning sign?

I was still technically living in Seattle, visiting Portland occasionally when my condo in Seattle was rented.  A catch up session with my best friend in a bar was really not a crazy idea.

True, it was St Patrick’s Day, but in checking my historical log – Facebook – I can see that when I arrived, it was dead.  My status update as I checked in was “What’s the opposite of a blow out?”

It was Tuesday.

The Fox had not yet joined me.  Seemed like a good time to play my favorite Asocial Media game, “Let’s See Who Is Here”, so I opened up Grindr and was immediately greeted (ignored) by the usual familiar pictures and profiles of the sexually dependent and emotionally retarded men I had become accustomed to seeing in this part of town.

There was a standout, though.  A fella named Books and Bikes was a few hundred feet away.  Hadn’t seen him before.

I tipped into my second Ninkasi as I waited for The Fox.  By the time he arrived, I had witnessed this Books and Bikes fellow close the gap between us to around 60 feet, which generally means on Asocial Media that someone is pretty much right on top of you.  I had chatted him up and gotten a few flirty and vague replies to my salutation, but hadn’t quite pinned down his location, other than to say that he was in the same room as me.

Ah, the headless torsos of Grindr.

Meanwhile, I was chuckling at the guy wearing a pair of cowboy boots to a gay bar.

On St Paddy’s Day.

The Fox and I had a couple of drinks together, he needed to catch up to me and drank to Monopolova Rocks to my third beer.  It was enough to lubricate the idea of heading across the NW/SW border of town – Burnside St – to see some male strippers undressed in green.

I showed him my favorite game.

Guess who was there?

Me being unashamed of what I do on Asocial Media, have a facepic on my profile.  Also, who wants to see a then 47 year old torso on display when they open up a hook-up app?  Imagine the neck injuries as people turned their necks violently away from their phones to avoid that visual.  Anyway…I have my facpic on my profile and eventually, this fine, young buck approaches The Fox and I and begins chattering away like we’re old friends.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Books and Bikes.

Not yet AKA:  The Ginge.

Everything led to one thing, and eventually, he, The Fox and I have closed the bar and are heading back to The Fox’s Lair, where I am a guest.  I’m slightly curious about what the intent is, since The Ginge is equally flirty with both of us and The Fox is…well, The Silver Fox.  I am prepared to make a graceful exit once we reach his place.  I am not prepared for any multiple player games, if that was what this kid had in mind.

Because:  no.

It is that I was raised better than that.

In my opinion.

Which is right, BTW.

By the by, I learn that The Ginge intended that he and I go mano a mano and The Fox makes his retreat to his bedroom.

I bust out, like, two of my three big moves on this guy and we tire ourselves out and burn a few alcohol based calories as the sun rises.

The Fox reappears, we all share coffee.  The Ginge and I lounge comfortably together on the couch.  The Fox plays his favorite game, 20 Questions.  We learn about where The Ginge grew up, what he’s studying in school.  What he does for work.  The Fox covers all the low bars in a nice, casual manner.  Of all the things he’s learned about guys I’ve met and dated or not dated, he’s never tried to steer me away from a train wreck.

Secretly, I think this is an assessment of the morbid fun to come as I hit the invariable dating wall.  In reality, I think this is just The Fox being so classically The Fox.

It was Wednesday.

The Fox has to get going, so he takes off and The Ginge and I decide to grab some breakfast as I walk him back to his car.

Oh, bike…of course.

We slip into the bathroom to shower and I’m tempted to show him my remaining big move.  But hunger triumphs and I decide to leave something for later.

As we’re leaving, he stops inside the door to put his shoes on, raised nicely, he had taken them off upon entering.  Somehow not falling over.

“No, it’s not that”, I just didn’t want to make a bunch of noise…as he slips on cowboy boots.

Lol.  That guy!

You rode your bike into town while wearing cowboy boots?

“Yeah, it’s not a big deal.”

You live across the river…right?

“Yeah.”  Smiling and not understanding.

Well, it seems like riding across a bridge on a bike is one thing and riding a bike with cowboy boots is one thing and doing them both simultaneously is two things that I’d consider uncomfortable.

“Uncomfortable is what you proposed a few minutes ago in the bathroom” he laughs.

It wasn’t that big of a move.

Of course, his bike had been stolen from in front of the bar in the few hours we had left it alone.  I suggest that maybe he forgot where he parked it.

“No, this is where I locked it up…well, this is my frame, just not my front tire and handle bars.”

He’s understandably pissed, and hops an Uber home, promising to text me so we can get together again.

All in all, not a terrible St Patrick’s Day for 2015.  Plus, with bonus call backs.  I’ve learned to not get my hopes up around men of any age following through on this type of thing.  Instead of investing my own energy in pursuing someone’s disingenuous promise to get together for a follow up – which is usually code for “I would feel like a slut if I didn’t pretend to plan to see you again” – I typically tell them that if they really want to see me again, they can initiate contact and that if I didn’t want to see them again, I wouldn’t be giving them my number to do with as they will.

Call.

Text.

Don’t Call.

Don’t Text.

Easier for me than reading between the lines or trying to decipher my least favorite language – Hint.

He texts that afternoon and suggests a hike.

Ok, a man that follows up.  I can do this.

Our hike turns into an Urban Adventure during which he tells me his life story.  Adopted.  Brother and his wife and kids are the only family he’s close to.  Unlucky in love.  Unlucky in work.  Just wants to get through school and get into the real world.

Your basic overaged kid drama.

Why any of that wasn’t a red flag…oh, yeah – because I’m me!

Our Hike turned Urban Adventure turns Day Drinking and Urban Misadventure as a friend of his texts to meet for drinks.

It’s 3:00 in the afternoon.

I gracefully beg off to let him spend time with his friend.

He insists I come.  Everyone loves Albert.

I didn’t, particularly.

I tolerated Albert.  Especially once I learned that said Albert was leaving town.  He was too precious for Portland.  Yes, this is coming from someone who just spent the night with a cowboy boot wearing bike commuter, whom Albert was more precious than.

The Ginge obviously had some low grade hero worship that he was leveraging with aloof sidewalk sunbathing as we enjoyed a drink outside at this cafe on an unusually Spring-y March 18th.

The Ginge had started a tab, insisting on buying me a drink when we arrived.  The tab had ridden through a couple of rounds for the three of us and I offered to pick it up.

No.

Split it?

No.

Tip?

I got this.

His card was declined.

I pull out some cash and re-state my offer as he gets lost deep in thought.  Reaching into his own pocket, he pulls out $10 and asks the bartender to split it, putting the rest on the card and thanking me for offering to buy, but he really did want to treat me.

Alright.

Gosh, be sweet.

Misguided, but sweet.

The next day we take another stab at hiking and end up in a bar…well before Happy Hour.  I’m not not ok with this.

It’s Thursday.

I spend part of the weekend with my family in extreme northwest Portland and part over-brunching with one of the four close friends I have from my Seattle days, who has also moved to the Portland area, while The Ginge heads out to his brother’s farm to kill poultry.  He seems pretty excited about it.

Nothing unusual with that.

What?  So he’s excited by butchering pea-brained foul.  That’s not a warning sign of anything.

In Oregon.

Home of the most Family Annihilators per capita in America.

We get together early the next week for some – wait for it – drinks and chat more.  I say chat.  I mean inappropriate over-sharing.  On his part.

It’s Monday.

Here I am, life coach to the Lost Boys.  But, as The Fox has observed on more than one occasion, I do enjoy fixing things that are broken.

Except that lawn mower engine that I took apart in the 9th grade.  I put that thing in a project locker and walked away from it.  Since then, I think my M.O. has kind of been to try to just not break things.

I wonder what ever happened to that lawn mower engine…

We end up at his place for the night, a huge house over in the NE part of town that we walked to from NW that he shares with god knows how many people.  It’s a sweet night of cuddling and sweet chatter from him that I am soaking up like a sponge.  It was kind of like meeting Rib for the first time, but with less insolence and more sharing…but all the same sweet charm you’d expect from the company of a young man.

His bed is tucked into a corner of his room, against two walls and I am in a position where I have to crawl over him to get out of bed in the morning to pee.  In doing so, I hear this strange snap-slash-pop come from my left leg or butt cheek.

Definitely not a fart, luckily.

Definitely excruciatingly painful, unluckily.

I think he heard it, too, but I manage to make it to the hallway before I double over in pain just after pulling his door closed.

That was definitely not the third of my big moves that I mentioned earlier, in case you were wondering.

When I leave the bathroom, I discover that he has gotten up and headed down stairs.  I painfully struggle to get dressed, borrowing a hat to cover my bed head before tracing his early morning bumpings-around to the kitchen.

He’s dressed and making tea, suggesting that we go for a stroll around his neighborhood.

Maybe he hadn’t heard the snap of what I would later learn was my sciatic nerve.  Maybe he was just projecting his 25 year old sense of invincibility onto me.

So, we went for a stroll.

What?

As we walked through the neighborhood, he pointed out houses that he loved.  He also talked more about his plan to live abroad after college.  Not a dream.  A plan.  Mentally, I downgrade him to temporary dating status and enjoy the light lecture he is now giving on the flora of his NE neighborhood.

He actually seems to know a lot about the plant life around his house and think that The Fox really missed an opportunity to exercise his Master Gardener status during this little walkabout.

After the walk, I beg off…to go get my new hobble checked out.  The Ginge wishes me well and suggests meeting up later in the week.

It’s Tuesday.

Over the next several days, he texts me pics of him spontaneously sunbathing in little neighborhood parks as the weather continues to be incredibly spring-like.  Just cute little selfies.

Cute and sexy.

I remember thinking that he’s too adorable to not want to date, but too unsettled to date seriously.  Plus, he has no real life plan beyond finishing college and moving abroad…someday.

I suggest we meet for lunch, to which he replies that he has no money.

<gasp!>

You mean, there’s a reason that I’ve been paying for things since last week besides I’m just a nice guy?

I got this.  It’s just lunch.  Don’t make a big deal over it.

He suggests Lardo, where I had never been and always heard great things about.  Given my picky eater status, this generally produces the effect of making me not want to go there.  Too much enthusiasm suggests that the food is over engineered for my tastes.

But, it’s a sexy 25 year old who wants to go with me, so we go.

I was right.  The Dirty Fries sound palatable to my finicky sensibility, but I have trouble finding a sandwich that doesn’t involve Kimchi.

I don’t remember what I order.

Mostly because of what happens next.

We sit down and are chattering away, waiting for our food, when two other guys sit down in the tightly arranged corner we are seated in.  I think it’s so cute that all the boys come here, but don’t necessarily compare our two situations since they seem way more comfortable and familiar with each other, by comparison.

Our food arrives and he has a foodgasm (Chrisism) as I pick at my sandwich and try not to eat all the fries.  We make little chat-sounds as we eat.  I poke at the baguette that holds the guts of my sandwich wondering why people get so excited about sandwiches made with this particular bread.  All it ever does for me is shred the inside of my mouth as I eat.

The boys next door get their food delivered and dig in.

As The Ginge completes the evisceration of his sandwich, he suddenly looks up at me and realizes that he’s been doing all of the talking.

Pretty much all week.

At least I presume that’s what flits behind his eyes as he asks, “So what about you?  What’s your deal?  What are you looking for in life?”

Well, I’m just getting settled into Portland, happy to be back.  Gotta decide what to do with my place in Seattle before I can really put down roots.  I’m interviewing for jobs…your basic nightmare.  Yada-yada-yada.

“But what do you want?” he continues, “What’s your struggle?”

My struggle?

“Yeah, do you want a boyfriend?” he asks, teasingly.

I think, well, that’s really cute…but, no.  Not if you’re going to really move out of the country in a year.  Or two.  My dating expiration date is a good 15 years past, I don’t really have time to dick around with casual dating.

Knowing, of course, that that’s not a polite thing to say, I reply that yeah…eventually, I would like to find someone special and settle down.

“Oh, that’s cool” he says, “But I can’t do that, that’s not who I am” he barfs out, answering an unasked question as two heads snap toward us, suddenly uninterested in their fancy, pointy-bread sandwiches.

Resisting the urge to provide some backstory to these guys before inviting them to take a dream vacation on Fuck You Cruiselines, I remind The Ginge that I hadn’t asked for that pleasure as I try to compose myself after that conversational bucket of cold water.

I try not to sound too angry, but am also considering how I shouldn’t be surprised that he had mistaken my hanging out with him as what his ego wanted it to be.  How that same ego let his assumptions run unchecked as he just stroked himself off to me with each overshared fact of his life.  I try not to look confused at how I’d just gotten dumped by someone I wasn’t dating, who I was running back of mind scenarios on to successfully transition from a few sexual encounters to friendship without being awkward.

Apparently, that’s some evolved thinking.

Considerations he hadn’t…considered.

Someone else’s feelings and desires.  Even though he had asked the question, he hadn’t listened to the answer, so much as assumed it.  Moving immediately back from what I wanted to what he was willing to provide.

I suggest a change of eavesdroppers and start busing our table, shaking my head incredulously at the boys next door as if to ask, “Can you believe that just happened?”

They clearly could…and seemed to consider it dessert.

We move down the street to Scandals.  A bar I am usually ashamed to be caught at – even at night – but that seemed fitting for the upcoming life coaching.  We sit at the bar and sip IPAs as I backtrack our conversation and suggest that he could listen to what people are saying before telling them what he thinks they need to hear.

An arena that I have a little experience in, and one that I think I have become good at judiciously dispensing advice and opinions in without ruffling feathers or coming off as telling someone what to do.

Him…not so much.

But, I know when I was 25 the slice of pie that could be called “what I know” also – thanks to my own ego and overinflated sense of self mixed with a healthy dose of very little practical life experience – encompassed the “what I think I know” and “what I don’t know that I don’t know” slices of the knowledge pie as well.

shit you know

Ok, that pie chart is missing a piece, in my opinion, but that’s a good enough visual to give you an idea of what I was trying to teach this guy.

Basically, that his assumptions about what I wanted were a good 90 degrees from reality, but that I really appreciated him vomiting out that embarrassing conversation in front of complete strangers.   He seemed – unsurprisingly – oblivious to that fact.

I suggested that we just move on with the same enjoyment of each other’s company that we had shared in the last week but try to make do without ripping each other’s clothes off again.

He made a joke about me not being up for it, patting my butt.

Mentally, I knocked him off his barstool, but laughed.

An 80s song came on the bar’s music system that I couldn’t place.  He mentioned that it was before his time, but offered to Soundhound it, pulling out his phone.

He showed me the app as it returned the name of the song and the artist and I sat by amazed.  “It’s like google for music!” he exclaimed, “You can even go to your music store and buy and download it or send yourself a reminder via text or email to look it up later”.

I had already begun downloading the app on my own phone, asking what else he had on his phone that I should know about.

Relieved at a return to normal type conversation.

No, I don’t recall the name of the song now.

He started talking about Snapchat, which I volunteered that I knew I was too old to use.  Elaborating that I had read an article recently that suggested no one over 30 should even attempt to use it.

Undeterred by an unknown and obviously old tech editor’s opinion, he started showing me how it worked.  Taking a pic of us and posting it to “His Story”, then trying to edit text into it to send to Albert.

He struggled.

I floated the notion that – at 25 – he was proving the point.  “No, no…I just forget how to do it because it’s so simple to use!  You decide what you want to post, who can see it and for how long they can see it.  After that time, it just goes away.”

Right…

It clicked with me that this was kind of what his behavior with me had been.  He threw out all of his shit that he needed to process externally, I listened, we met his intimacy needs emotionally and physically and then he decided what I wanted.

It’s like Big Brother.

If he was socially retarded.

I did the social media contact thing for a few weeks after that day.  Eventually, I realized that it was all one-sided.  He didn’t participate on my page, it was all me commenting and liking his shit.  He was too busy with other social engagements to hang out when I asked.

A little later, I un-friended him.  Somehow, he found out about that and was upset.  I told him that I hadn’t meant to ruffle his feathers, but I was looking for people who wanted to be actively friendly toward me.  He wasn’t behaving in a friendly manner, and that had made me realize that he never really had, actually.  He had just used me to meet his needs and when he was done, it was over to him.

Like the whole thing happened on Snapchat.

So, I went away.

If that was not how he had intended his actions to be taken, I was definitely open to hanging out…but he was the one making that difficult.

I never heard from him again.

The Ginge

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