Felineversary

Well, well…look what I woke up to.

I knew this was coming up, and intended to post on my and Myryle’s two year anniversary on November 8th, but work ate my life and I missed it.

And the day that I brought this little freaky-deeky home deserves commemorating.

Even if I’m not completely sold on her innocence when it comes to my potential demise.

Death By Feline.

Sounds about right.

She was about a year and a half old when I got her, and I was her fourth owner in her short life, if you can believe that!

Believe me, there were days I certainly found it easier to believe than others.  The two trips she’s sent me on – not the glamorous kind with beaches or all you can eat buffets, no. 

The trips we’ve taken have been more along the lines of scabbed faces and broken teeth.

Specifically mine.

But there have been good times, too.

As soon as some come to mind, I’ll get them in here.

I call her The World’s Most Dangerous Feline.  Alternating disturbing and dangerous.

For instance, witness disturbing:

I’ve refererred to her as Mistress Myrtle or just The Mistress for short, prompting The Silver Fox to share this photo with me. 

Pretty spot on, considering what injuries she’s inflicted over the years.  From grisly, like above to more playful-ish, like this one.

If that’s not the picture of affection…

She has started mellowing out.  Or at least stopped treating my legs and wrist like this:I still have to keep my paper towels and TP stashed out of her reach.  She still finds ways to both express her displeasure with me and drive me to the poor house in paper towel expenses, though.

She had a UTI somewhere back around 12 months ago.  Of course, I only knew it because her cat litter clumps got a little…well, littler.  As anyone who’s ever had a UTI knows, peeing when you have one hurts.  As cat owners probably know, when cats associate pain with their litter box, they stop going there.

Fortunately, she moved from her litter box to my shower.  I’m sure it wasn’t because she’s considerate and there’s a drain in there, no.  Probably one of the Lost Boys I’ve <ahem> entertained (mildly by Portland standards, I’m sure) peed in the shower and she sensed it before I cleaned my shower.

However, when I am gone too long from home, she will also take to the tile in the bathroom or utility room to express her displeasure.  Hence, the continued exorbitant paper towel expenses.

Eventually, she began optimizing her time by eliminating the trip between her litter box to poop and the tub to pee.  Instead of peeing in the damn box, she started pooping by the toilet.

I know who’s boss.

The Mistress.

What I was spending on paper towels was at least offset by a meager savings on cat litter.

Still, if she’d asked my opinion..

During this cat box demonstration of feline disobedience, Myrtle was also starting to become more cuddly.

That’s a big plus!

AKA: mostly why I wanted a cat, independent but cuddly.

I chose poorly.

Thanks for that pro-tip.

While she still freaked out if I came at her too quickly when petting her, she was starting to crawl into my lap while I watched tv.

Usually right about the time that I need to refresh my drink or get rid of one of the drinks I had consumed earlier…

Sometimes she just lounges atop the glass coffee table near me.

No, wait…that was her hunting toes.  At least she’s stopped stalking my ankles like prey.  That usually happens when I’m not too alert and ends in injury of one sort of another.

Trust me, she does it, though.

Fine, don’t trust me.

In another show of – what I’m told is – trust behavior, she frequently exposes her belly while chilling.  That’s good…I want her to be a happy kitty!  And not just on the coffee table.  She gets her Baby Seal pose going everywhere:  coffee table, floor, dinner table, kitchen counter…

She don’t even care.

So, back to that cuddly stuff.

Since she began settling in, she’s favored sleeping in the bed, day or night.  Initially- y’know – for the first year and a half – that was dead center during the day and as far away from me as possible while still being on the bed when I was in it.

Apparently, she’d put a feline flag on the bed and claimed it as part of the Empire of Myrtle without my knowledge.

But six months ago, she started moving closer.  It started with her sleeping by my calf, occasionally revisiting her flaying skills on my ankles and toes.  As she tempered her killer instincts – inasmuch as they involved me as prey – she began moving up my thigh.

I was pretty happy with this development.  Not just because it meant fewer transfusions for yours truly, but also because I foresaw this as the last stop before cuddling like spoons with ma lil kitteh.

Oh, yeah.  Predict a cat’s behavior.  Go ahead and try.

She moved from the outside of my thigh to the inside.  I usually sleep on my side or on my back with my legs crossed at the ankles…so she was basically just laying in the crevice formed by my thighs.

Or the crevasse formed between my legs when I slept on my side in about the same position a body lands in after a failed attempt at flight.  Again, she usually found this comfy spot about 30 minutes before I had to pee.

She is loathe to reposition once she settles, let me tell you.

Boy howdy.

Her slight overreaction usually involves an insistence that she be rewarded for met magnanimously allowing me to move.  Hence the baby seal physique that compliments her Baby Seal pose so well.  In my efforts to minimize treat-age in her diet and maximize my potential to return to sleep, she began to climb up on my chest and sit.

More feline disobedience.

When my reaction failed to produce results, she settled in and laid down on my chest.

Overtime, she began to nurse, making me feel as if I were the treat.

Nursing left a big wet spot on my bedding.

Fine!

And, then I was up.

Score 1 for Myrtle’s long game.

Once we were back to our nightly cuddling detent; her by my leg side, me free to hit the head without traumatizing her comfort, we both found enough sleep.

Me: 4-8 hours.

Her: 16-20 hours.

A couple of months ago, I woke up with my legs in a figure 4 and Myrtle curled up and purring like a monster truck between them.

I am unsure how this happened.

But now it happens every night.

My reward here, is that after a couple of months of her vaguely menacing my genitals while I sleep, she has begun using her litter box again.

Not every time she goes and certainly not every day.

But often.

In a rage of frustration after taking a five minute shower only to open the shower curtain and find shed peed on my bath mat…

Or letting her run the hallway to find she’d peed on my doormat, strange theme…

Or thinking I’d outsmart her by showering without putting my bath mat down until I was ready to get out of the shower…

…only to fine Lake Cat Pee’s tide drifting toward the shower, well…I’d come to a point of “It’s her or me”.

My last ditch effort here in salvaging our relationship was to begin shutting off the bathroom door and putting her litter box in front of the door.  Subtle, no?  And by litter box, I mean the fourth new litter box of our relationship.

I was rewarded with mixed results.

A pee in the box and a poop on the laundry room floor.

A poop in the box and a pee on the laundry room floor.

Both in the box!

This last led me to try and hug The Mistress, which sent her into freaky-deeky mode.

Fine, I’ll just leave some treats in the table for when she calms down.

The next day, literally the next day, I came home to poop in the box and a reminder – in the form of Lake Cat Pee on the bathroom floor – that Myrtle can open doors.

All of this made me reluctant to ask a friend to watch Myrtle while I was away this week at Seminar..

The Silver Fox was still on his month long Iberian Adventure.

I really didn’t want to expose a less initiated friend to Myrtle’s pee-cadillos.

I debated just leaving a big bowl of kibble and bowls of water everywhere.  Mom-Donna suggested boarding her…too expensive.  That got me thinking, though, and I was able to find a pet sitter on Craigslist who would come once a day for $10.  I booked her…and then she didn’t show up for our key exchange date.

Fucking – audience participation time!  You choose:

A) Portland flakes;

or,

B) Millennials

So, I was back to the buncha-food, buncha-water plan.

When

Linda Belcher invited me to lunch.

After I casually bitched about my plight, she practically insisted I should have just asked her to begin with.  It’s right between her office and her bus stop, anyway.

I tried talking her out of it and we settled on her stopping by my place for a glass of wine on her way home while I was gone.

If some wet cat food happened to fall into a bowl for The Mistress, so much the better.

I got nightly pics of Myrtle along with texts about how sweet my cat is while I was gone.  On the night of my return, I got an excited text from Linda about how Myrtle had been so good while I was gone…using her box the entire time.

Sure enough, I came home to a box littered with poops and clumps.  I rewarded my beastie with treats and sat down for a little snack myself before bed.  After finishing her snack, Myrtle gave me the cold shoulder.

The next day, I woke up and discovered a couple of dried up pees and poos in the laundry room, just as I suspected.

That’s my Myrtle.

Felineversary

On The Road, Again.


(Plane not to scale)

More accurately, I should say that I’m in the air…again.

You all know how I love flying.

And covering my true emotions with humor.

Hell, I’m not even disappointed that my pithy tweet about my trip didn’t break the internet.


You see, my flight tonight from Atlanta to Portland is Delta #503, the area code for Portland being…503.

I’ll wait while you feel sorry for my friends that are routinely exposed you my rapier wit and its similarly pithy observations.

What can I say?  They obviously love me.

Speaking of love.  

I occasionally write about both travel and love.  Something I write about less often – maybe – is travel sex.

Why?

A couple of things:

1) Since the advent of so-called dating apps – mating apps or asocial media in Chrisenese – I’ve slow clapped for travelers who use hotel rooms as a shower to rinse clean any morality that would prevent one human for using another strictly for their own sexual gratification.  Because that’s an accomplishment.

Right.  Writing about this topic just manifests as this grumpy old man tilting at social windmills.

B) When Sacha left me, it was for a guy in Vancouver, WA – aka: Vantucky – and I (in)famously ejaculated, “You can’t even date within your own state?!?  How undateable are you?”  

So I guess I come by my contempt for the whole traveling sexual shenanigans thing somewhat honestly.

Plus, I think you gotta earn sex.  Put your time in at a bar getting to know someone.  Develop an attraction.  Find a desire that’s seated deeper than the profile pic they post of their abs from five years ago or – even worse – of their junk.

Hell, for that matter, just learn their name.

See?  I’m ranting.

But…because there’s always a but.

That doesn’t stop me from developing attractions from strangers when I travel.  I’m fairly gregarious by nature.  It was my default setting before I became grumpy.

Ever heard of the Stranger on a Plane Theory?

Basically, it’s a social phenomenon that predates social media, since now, clicking with someone nowadays usually involves some sort of social networking next step.

But the theory is usually one person’s therapy and their seatmate’s personal hell, since it affords and exploits the anonymity of travelers.

You’re never going to see them after all, right?  So complete honesty usually ensues and you basically cleanse yourself by barfing out all your deepest darkest to the poor bastard sitting next to you.

Luckily, I have WordPress.

And you.

Of course, I’m my reality – or surreality, as it likely is – I can indulge myself in some faux getting to know yous while traveling since…

I’m.

Never.

Gonna. 

See.

Them.

Again.

Right?

It’s kinda like a hybrid between having a connection with a co-worker, commonly known as a “work spouse” and this Stranger on a Plane thing.

Please allow me to introduce you to the Seminar Boyfriend Theory.

I wasn’t aware of this extension of my no-investment travel flirtations until a couple of days ago.

Mostly, because it hadn’t existed until then.

Sure, I’d met my current Work Wife at my company’s annual Seminar last November.

Simultaneously, I’d indulged myself in a little travel flirting with an impossibly young, straight averring (made up word warning!) and umappealingly cocky boy last year that I enjoyed spending time with, provided I didn’t take too seriously what came out of his mouth. Mostly this situation arose because each of our respective peer groups hung out with each other, so we were situationally thrown together.

Sure enough, once Seminar ended and he went back to the Great White North it was back to EOG-as-usual for me without a second thought.

I learned via LinkedIn a few months back that he’d left the company, so no repeat performances there.  All well and fine by me, I’d planned with my Work Wife to bring a couple of bottles of wine to match her contribution and that was my liver’s meal plan for the trip.

No boys required.

No hanging out in sports bars I had no interest in just because some exec had an open tab.  Nope.  I planned to spend this year’s free time – what little there is at Seminar – in the hotel gym and sleeping.

Until, of course, I met…

You know, I almost typed his actual name.  I don’t know why I don’t.  It’s not like my blog is Page 6 or anything.  Although, I do have a couple of pretty impressive sleuths amongst my loyal readers.  But his name is probably the Indian equivalent of John Smith.

I’ve been holding a low-grade mental debate about posting a pic of us that he took earlier today, but am conflicted about that breach of his anonymity.

That settles it.  Sometimes you just have to type through a problem.

Anonymity filter prevails.

You’ll just have to take my word for how cute this year’s Seminar Boyfriend is.

<fans face>

And as if this 5’9″ Indian descended Canadian needed to be any cuter than sparkly eyes, radiant smile and sexy (from what I could glean) physique…he is also smart and has the most endearing Indian accent and tone of voice.

I didn’t dedicate too much mental anguish to the gut wrenching does he/doesn’t he insecurities that eat away at me in normal dating and flirting environments.

I just enjoyed his company.  

When he got distracted by something or someone else, I went on my way.  After all, I knew I was neglecting my Work Wife, and I knew that she knew it, too.  But, I think she was enjoying my display of what minimal game I have…she texted me a photo of the two of us eating dinner together at carnival night with the caption, “Your first couple photo”.

It was just the two of us, leaned in close to one another at a table for ten.

So, this phenomenon evolved in a completely random and unbelievable manner:  he came up to me.

It was dinner Monday night: Food Truck Night.

Outside in the side parking lot of our hotel.  

Remember, I’d accidentally left my jacket in a store back at PDX on Sunday morning, and everyone was showing up in jackets for this outdoor evening event.

We started chatting while waiting to be released to our foodie playground for the evening.  He had also chosen to go sans jacket, being from Edmonton this would be comfortable for him.

Although, in an unexpected spurt of smacktalk, he expressed concern for my comfort.

How could I not adore him instantly?

I assured him, I would be relatively comfortable in Atlanta’s balmy 54 degree evening.  But!  I added, if it got below 50 I’d either need a hearty booze jacket or be quickly re-examining my situation.

There were five food trucks.  My priority was the chicken and waffle truck.  Work Wife and Seminar Boyfriend followed suit.

After deciding what I wanted – duh – I offered to go get drinks for us while they ordered.  This was also the finals for the Food & Beverage division’s cocktail contest.

We had three options to vote for.

Work Wife chose the coconutty option while Seminar Boyfriend opted for the same bourbon concoction I was going for…and just like that we had our wedding menu:

Chicken & Waffles w/Manhattans (basically, and not that it matters)

I came back with the drinks and we chatted while waiting for our food.  He pointed out a couple of times which room was his…he’d left his lights on and his shades open.

I see.

No confusing messages here.

We couldn’t find a table, Work Wife had squeezed into an empty seat at another of Seminar’s ubiquitous ten seater round tables.  Preferring privacy – obviously – we ended up standing and eating our C&W while simultaneously balancing our paper food truck baskets atop our cocktails.

He wasn’t planning to go all Xtopher on the food carts like I was.  He did want to try more than one, though and said he wasn’t going to finish his portion, but would wait for me to go back.  By the time I conceded victory, he’d already finished his.

The boy can eat!

I switched course and shoved the last of my waffle in my mouth and we went for round two:  burritos!

We enjoyed our burritos with diet cokes while lurking near a pub table we expected to be abandoned soon.  We were rewarded about halfway through and shortly after, our new digs were crashed by a friend of mine from Seminar last year – who I learned the next day is his boss, a business development guy I met a couple of times during an RFP at PDX and a regional HR Manager…all of whom were Canadians.

Surrounded.

Clearly, it was time to retreat to the bento truck for some dumplings, after which I made my goodnights.(Over Boise, I know you were wondering)

The next day, we passed at breakfast but it was a busy day of merchandising breakouts, so we had to hit the ground running.  I noticed at lunch that he had changed his clothes and sent him an email through our Seminar app, teasing him about it.

He didn’t reply.

Oh, well.

When I passed him later at the elevators during a break, he offered up an in person account.

Oh, fine.  Be confusing.  Read the message and don’t reply.

Anyway, on with the day.  After we were released for the day, I decided to get in some cardio at the hotel gym.  A nice follow up to Monday’s lifting.

I probably won’t be able to walk when I get off the plane.
Once I’d showered, I got my funk going with the glass of wine that Work Wife had tried to distract me from the gym with while I dressed for Carnival Night.

Corn dogs and funnel cakes, I’m coming for you.

Naturally, I was a little buzzed off 3 ounces of wine on an empty, post-workout stomach.

Also, naturally – this is my life we’re talking about here – I ran into Seminar Boyfriend, first damn thing.

This is how the (not) infamous “first couple” pic came into being.  Little did Work Wife know – or did she? – that Seminar Boyfriend had snapped a covert pic of me filling my plate with carnie food and posted it to the app with the caption, “Xtopher living his dream!” in a totally non-fat shaming way.

If he only knew.

We played carnival games together, taking turns and holding one another’s drinks.  It was super sweet and just an empirically enjoyable evening.

I believe he made his goodnights first this night…yes! he did.  That’s how I ended up talking to his boss.

Until midnight as we caught up on the events that transpired with last year’s Seminar Boyfriend – he was a mess – and drank wine.

Yes, I did not mention that both Seminar Boyfriends turned out to work for the same woman.

Again, this is my life we’re talking about here.  I’m used to weird coincidences.

Well, there’s more to tell of this cute little alt-reality I’ve been enjoying in my head, but the plane is landing.

I’ll just leave you with this, it remained fun, friendly and sweet…regardless of whether it had one side or two.

Oh, and I did get a little hug at the airport before he took off for the Great White North again.

That iced my cake, and I couldn’t hope for a better ending than that.

On The Road, Again.

The Fiendly Skies

It’s a bad start to any trip when you wake up two and a half hours before your alarm the morning of your departure.

Yet, there I was, wide awake at 2:00 after almost four – count ‘em! – glorious hours of sleep.

Me: I could go in early and get some work done before takeoff.

Working at the airport is convenient in this scenario.

Myrtle: You move, you die.

It’s like that beast can selectively read my mind.  But, the Mistress has been sleeping with me nightly the last six months, usually pinning me to one spot by nestiling into my crotch after I’m asleep.  That and using her litter box consistently last week for the first time in a year – damn feline UTIs – and I’m inclined to lay there and let her purr for a while longer.

Well, those two things and my own natural laziness and finely honed sense of procrastination.

I finally rip myself from my sheets at 4:15, as if I’m made of Velcro.

I’d spent my two hour non-nap thinking.

Ruminating.

Reflecting.

Bouncing back and forth between personal thoughts and work.

Did I pack everything?

I should just go in, this is ridiculous…I could knock out payroll and give a few breaks before I board.

I’ll bet I never hear from The Wallpaper again.

I should start going to the gym again.

I wonder whether Linda Belcher will snoop when she’s checking in on Myrtle.  Meh.  Nothing crazy in my nightstand.  But I do have The Silver Fox’s Pleasure Chest in my closet…I wonder what he’s got in there.

If I go to work, it’ll take away a development opportunity I assigned to one of the junior managers.  It’s good I’m staying in bed.

I wonder if Jeo and I will reform our friendship.  It was nice running into him the other day.  He gives great hugs.

I’d really like to have sex again with The Wallpaper when we’re not half drunk.

Do I need to leave a note for Linda Belcher?  Taking care of Myrtle can’t be too big a mystery…

I should wait on the gym.  If running is back on the radar, I want to focus on accomplishing that and not risk reinjuring my shoulder.

Should I put a disclaimer on the Pleasure Chest saying it’s not mine.   Nah…nothing bad will happen.  What could possibly go wrong?

God, I hate flying.

Y’know, that type of productive mind vomit.

Once I finally start stumbling around, my procrastination kicks into high gear.  I turn on my Sonos, it’s still on the station I’d created for The Wallpaper and a Rita Ora song starts playing.  I’d never heard of her before the other night and really like her music.

I play laser tag with The World’s Most Dangerous Feline, re-check my bag (ok, I guess this is semi-productive), clean the toilet, shower, dress, pack my Dopp kit, feed Myrtle, change my clothes and then realize that I probably should have given myself a few extra minutes to get to the MAX stop with my suitcase.

I call an Uber.  God bless my parents and their insistence on giving me some “walking around” money for my trip.  The Uber is on them!

My driver is pretty chatty, his name is Van according to the Uber app – talk about name predermination, an Uber driver named Van?  This guy never stood a chance.  I notice that his car’s onboard system refers to him as Jay and Jay’s playlist is pretty solid.  As I’m appreciating it, the display changes to the next song, Anywhere by…Rita-fucking-Ora.  

So, that’s how it’s gonna be, eh?

I get to the airport and check in with minimal fuss…thank goodness there was a retiree stationed at the kiosk to help me.  I really did need it this morning.  Despite the way being stymied by technology usually makes me feel, I cut myself a break this morning and refuse to chide my imminent old-age.

While check-in was breezy, I soon discovered that it was looking like that would be the last non-frustrating part of my day.  From here on out, it’s frenzy and frustration.

Checking my bag was an odyssey.  A line that snaked through every switchback in the stanchions.

Ugh.

I started kinda freaking out at the fact that I hadn’t seen my counterpart or The Boss yet, we are all on the same flight and I’d gotten to the airport 15 minutes before the boss said he planned to arrive.

Maybe they were carrying on.  Who knows with straight guys?  Me?  I had to pack a couple bottles of wine for me and my Boise counterpart to share over the coming week of meetings.

Why is this idiot kid taking so long?  What’s he checking…is that a bike?  

C’mon, universe!

Pairing the unwieldy parcel with the most challenged check-in agent seems a little excessive.

I finally complete this level of Hell and head to our pre-security store to touch base after a tough day yesterday and make sure my early morning associate, PLoop, got her break.

I recognize The Boss’ cotton-topped head from behind and am simultaneously glad he’s made it and chafed that he got ahead of me because he didn’t have a bag to check.

He’s grabbing a bagel and as PLoop is ringing him up, she’s making small talk with me.  She has an omnidirectional attention span that I usually find amusing.  Not this morning, though…The Boss is antsy to get through security since our flight leaves in an hour.

Nevertheless, she persisted.

I interrupt her chatter to ask about the break, she declares she snuck a potty break and I tell her that I’ll hold the fort while she grabs a snack.  I tell her to finish with The Boss, who has begun an antsy side to side dance.

You know what PLoop does?

Persists.

And I find it endearing.

The Boss takes off in the vague direction of the employee line through security.  Neither of us knows its precise location, since our badges allow us access to the secure parts of the airport without going through that line every time.  He told me on my first day that he’d show me how the routine worked but never did, so I never have done it.  On his way out, he tossed a little dagger my direction about everyone showing up today, three associates had called out the day before and it was a shit show.

But I could chuckle at his dig.  Thanks to some great teamwork, I survived the day.

Sidebar: dear gawd, the woman across the aisle from me is triggering my mysophonia.  She’s sniffing like Trump during a presidential debate.  It started five minutes after we pushed back, went on every 30 seconds for about 15 minutes and has been repeating ever since.  I think it’s a tic, there’s no thickness to it…just an incessant wet sniffle.

I take off my jacket and assume the position behind the register so PLoop can take her break.  It’s about 5:40 in the morning, we should board around 6 and I still want to get my own snacks and drink for the plane after going through security.  PLoop talks herself out onto her break and while responding when needed, my inner countdown clock is speeding up.

When she comes back, we exchange goodbyes – it really is nuts how much I’ve missed my team, dysfunction and all, when I’ve gone away for meetings or vacation – and head for security.  It’s not quite 6, but definitely past 5:55, so I gotta take some cuts to get ahead in line.  I wave my badge at the TSA agent and express my question by waggling my finger between three entry points.  He directs me to the middle, cutting out all of the switchbacks and queuing me up for the scanners.

I strip off my shoes as I approach, even though I’m fifth back on line, I’m the only one preparing.  

Belt off.

Fourth back.

The people ahead of me all grab totes simultaneously and start piling their accessories into their tubs.  Once the first guy has shoved his totes toward the rollers and made for the scanner, there’s enough room for me to grab a tote of my own.

I’m ready about the same time as the lady two up and the guy right in front of me.

The TSA guy feeding the rollers points s floral backpack my way and asks if there are any laptops or tablets in it.

“I don’t know, it’s hers”, I respond pointing to where the owner was moments ago…but she’s now suddenly in the scanner.

I give the guy a palms up gesture.

He moves on.

“Who’s kicks are these?”, he asks.

Those would be mine”, I say.

“Sick”

Cool.  Props from one of the fit TSA agents.  My day is looking up.

I randomly wonder what my junk looks like on the scanner as it rotates around me, then step out when invited and await the inevitable.

Expecting a pat down, I’m given a casual borderline #metoo caress as the agent is telling me he just needs to check my backside.

This happens every time I fly – something on my back triggers a pat down, but usually I get the whole enchilada.

This time, it’s just a little stroke.

Of course, there’s nothing there.  There’s so little there there, that I really think the agents are confirming the total absence of any ass on me.

Whatevs.  I heard someone say recently about TSA screenings, “I never turn down foreplay” and have adopted that same attitude.

I get redressed, trying hard to keep by Dunlap covered while putting my belt back on, and head off to get my flight snacks.  It’s about 6:05.  The plane is boarding, but I need s Monster and something to read.  Plus, the store is right by the gate.

The line is around the store.  

Ugh.  It’s the luggage check-in people all over again.

In an unusual twist, instead of running along the edge of the cash wrap around the Store which is how this usually goes – some brainiac had somehow convinced the line to form from the cash wrap straight back to the wall and then around the perimeter of the store, thus blocking all of the books and magazines as well as the coolers.

I wanted a book and a Monster.

Idiots.

I decide that instead of fighting and then joining the throng, I’d help my associate bust her line and make some other travelers happy.  I go to take off my coat and start ringing.

No coat.

Fuuuuuuuck.

I start ringing anyway.

Where did I leave it?  

Must have been security.

No.  No…that can’t be right, I’d never put my shoes on top of my jacket – germs – and my sneakers got complimented, so they weren’t covered by my jacket.

The pre-security store!

Fuuuuuck, again!

No time to go back through or have someone bring it to me, I decide as I’m ringing.  I can do without, it was mid 70s in Atlanta last week.  

I get my book – Ready Player One – and my Monster, pay, say goodbye to my associate and head across the concourse to the gate…where people are standing in no particular order.

“Nice line”, I say to my counterpart, because we’re talking agin now that I realized that I was responsible for my behavior, regardless of whether I think he should be fired for his.  I can only hold myself accountable to maintaining my professional demeanor.

“They just started boarding”, he says as I notice an unmoving line coming from the jetway.

It’s 6:15.

“This is excruciating”, I complain, “You look like shit.  Are you hungover?”  Professionalism can still be passive-aggressive, right?

We chat while the line goes nowhere.  The gate agent makes an announcement that is unintelligible and The Boss comes over to stand by us just as Capt Can’t decides to join his boarding group in line for the plane.

I call our pre-security store and ask PLoop to get my jacket to my office for me.  Luckily, there’s nothing in it I need.

At about 6:30 – our scheduled departure time – the gate agent makes another announcement about gate checking carry ons and The Boss goes to check his…his plan all along.  Not paying the $25 bag fee.

We’re still on boarding group one.  Capt Can’t – who is in group one – has finally been swallowed up by the jetway, so I guess that’s progress.

The Boss comes back with his carry on in tow.

His response to my raised eyebrows is, “He’s gonna make an announcement and then take it at the gate”.

The announcement comes toward the end of boarding for the enormous group one.

Almost everyone left in the holding room rushes the gate with their carry on.

Cheap ass bastards.

I’m standing there with a book in one hand and Monster in the other alone with two ladies and a (pretty cute) guy…all that’s left of groups two and three.

“Well, now I’m going to be the last one on this plane just out of principle”, I say to the straggling lot.

At 6:41, I take my seat and by 6:43 we are pushing back.

Good god, I’ve never seen a less organized boarding gate process…and I’ve flown Southwest!  I’m literally thinking this during the safety talk, that has to be in person versus video because the in flight entertainment system is down.  

My conclusion?

That retiree at the check-in kiosks was the only airline associate worth a damn this morning.

No wonder the airline’s acronym is

Doesn’t 

Ever

Leave

The

Airport

But I’m not naming names.

The next thought I have?

That I’m gonna have to listen to Trump Sniffler for four damn hours because y’know what?  There was something in my jacket I needed…my headphones!

Oh well, the way this is going my music would have somehow managed to be all Rita Oro the whole way.

The Fiendly Skies

My Jimmy Buffet Life

Usually this theme manifests itself in a Margaritaville or Cheeseburger In Paradise kind of way.  But last night, Why Don’t We Get Drunk And Screw took the wheel.

Aaaand…Mom, stop reading.

It’s ok, she’ll make Dad read on and give her a synopsis.

I’m hardly bragging about this feat.  It’s only the second time I’ve had sex this year.

My undoing?  The irresistible Wallpaper.

You can do the legwork and figure out the key to his blog name yourselves, but I will tell you that several times in the course of this year, he’s hit me up on Facebook: The Messenger and several times our conversation has turned toward last night’s   activities.

The short of that is that it didn’t happen cuz we wanted different things.  Him: an itch scratched, Me: something more.

Plus, we were friends.  Randomly occurring friends, not close.  But we’d run into each other out on the town and sass each other on The Facebook often, so I valued the current level of our friendship.

Call us life extras for each other.

So, last night, he posts on Facebook that he’s at a bar a few blocks from my house celebrating his Friday…at around 3 pm.

I sass him.

He sasses back, demanding my presence.

I capitulate – foreshadowing! – on the grounds that I’m only keeping him company until his real friends get off work. He’s a super sweet and adorable as fuck guy, I don’t need a reason to see him socially, just a circumstance.

This was it.

I get there and he’s talking to someone at the bar.  I order a beer and say hi, meeting his new acquaintance Keith and then sit at a table behind them.  The Wallpaper joins me a few minutes later.

We start in on easy conversation, very nice.  Small talk, but it has substance.

“Oh my god!”

I look around.

Someone hugs him and says, “I can’t stay, but couldn’t leave you alone here!”

Heath, I learn.  I amuse myself with the alliterative quality of his bar-quaintances.

Keith.

Heath.

Precious.

We all talk.

They go smoke.

Five beers and four hours later, we’re at my place, Heath having made me promise not to let him drink too much and The Wallpaper telling me that he was staying over.

“Obviously”, he says.  And I’m glad for his good impaired judgment.

I’d recently – couple weeks – heard of a motorcycle rider being killed on highway 30 and my mind suggests he’s been quiet on social media lately and he has a motorcycle.

The math is obvious, my inner voice suggests.

I check his Facebook page.  Nothing new since the last time I called him out for drinking in my hood and not calling me.

You see how I had to go when he said “Come”?

I mean, nothing new since then except he now has a boyfriend…the guy he was drinking with last in my hood.

That explains The Facebook silence.

New.

Romance.

I never begrudge someone that.  Quite the contrary, I encourage others in the pursuit of that which has eluded me.

Yet, he tells me that it just happened.  He asked, The Wallpaper described his thought process as, “Well, it’s been a few years since I dated anyone…why not?” and Bob’s your uncle.

Dating.

Except.

The Wallpaper isn’t getting boyfriend behaviors from this guy.  He’d come to realize they hadn’t communicated in 30 hours and acknowledges that a) that doesn’t feel right; and b) he’s not upset by it.

I enjoy seeing these young people I’ve known grown into pretty good humans.

Smash cut to us not watching a movie on my couch.

I said pretty good!  And I’m only human, too.

Luckily, I’m past my operational BAC and we just go to bed.

I don’t sleep, but enjoy that he cuddles into me while he does.

Three hours later, something wakes him and he ends up somehow – charming and sexy soon to be 33 year old that he is – astride my favorite person, cautioning me, “Don’t cum inside me.”

I’m debating leaving to buy a lottery ticket since somehow – gracious host that I am – I haven’t shown him where my lube is yet somehow he’s got as many inches in him as I have beers in me.

My response is to think that I’m an almost 50 year old buzzed man who was pushing rope three hours ago and now my decade-plus randomly occurring fantasy is happening.

How many times does 50 go into 33?

As many as he fucking can.

For my second sexual encounter – nope! third, I just remembered another – of the year, I’d rate us a 7.

He was a smoldering 10.

I was a 4, at best.

He rolled off of me after with a resigned, “I guess I’m single again!” to which I had no reply.

I want to give that another go.  With less beer in me and less bloat on me.  Maybe lightning will strike twice.  I promised myself I wouldn’t play hard to get if I got another crack at this beautiful man.

Meanwhile, I slept 0 hours last night.  Left work early for a movie date with The Filipina Fox, which I fell asleep during…after being awake for 29 hours, then had a big cheeseburger for dinner.

Thus restoring the order to my normal Jimmy Buffet Life.

My Jimmy Buffet Life

The Red Shirt Diaries: #17

My dinner last night included a found bottle of Pinot from Patricia Green Cellars.

Let’s call it a Continental Dinner in honor of a fallen Oregon winemaker.

Literally fallen, incidentally, which made her early death hit home with me even a tisch more.  She was discovered dead in her remote cabin and early CoD is thought to be from injuries sustained after falling down.

Finding the bottle was serendipitous.

My fear of falling down alone came to the front of my mind about 15 years ago when a co-worker sustained injuries that kept her off work and on light duty after falling in her bathtub.

My grandmother died after spending several days stuck between her commode and shower.  There’s no way to class that shituation up, so laugh, cry…your choice.  Even though she was found alive, the damage was done for her.

As if I needed to somehow have this fear hit closer to home, then there’s Myrtle…aka: the worlds most dangerous feline.

Twice, she has already tripped me.  The first time was a near miss…my temple having passed within millimeters of the corner of my hallway table on its way to landing on my face.

The second occurrence…well, I was ready for her.  Somehow, I managed to fall backward after tripping over her, twisting midair and landing on my front – now half-fake – tooth.

Mistress Myrtle has taken her game to a more ninja level than her previous two stealth attacks.  She’s not too strictly attach to the trip, willing to settle for a slip…as long as itvresults in a fall, it seems.

To that end, she’s taken to peeing in my shower over the last six months.

As her captive caretaker, I know she started forsaking her box after a UTI, associating the box with pain.  That makes me feel sad for her, poor lil kitty.

Until I run the shower and almost slip on the slimy reconstituted cat pee she left there.  Lemme tell ya, people think of cat per as an odor.  

Not always so, Jabroni.

If I miss it because it’s not stinky, there’s quite a next level dance off in my shower as I struggle to not die naked and wet in my shower after falling.

Don’t worry…I know Myrtle will be there to make that ignominious death so much worse by eating my lips, fingertips and any other soft tissues she can get too.

<shudder>

So, if the evitable happens, please know that  my wake must include Culture Club’s I’ll Tumble For Ya and as many other falling down references as possible.

The Red Shirt Diaries: #17

Stupid Americans

Re-read the title of this post in a French accent.  That’s how I typed it.

Pretty much any European accent will work.

It’s a phrase that randomly trots through my head when confronted with how non-global our educational focus is as a country.

After all, how many languages do you speak?

I was confronted by this twice yesterday.  

Once, innocently on the Facebook when a friend shared a kindness of strangers travel story.  The first comment was “Threat all people with respect”.  

Obviously, meaning “treat”, right?

I got a good chuckle out of the concept of threatening someone with respect.  It was like that old dry rejoinder, “Don’t threaten me with a good time!”

Well, my comment was something about an awkward H.

The OP cautioned me that the comment was made by a French friend of hers.  That was perfect, really, since the first time I heard “Stupid Americans” go through my head was about an hour after getting off a plane in Paris.  Sacha had insisted I learn a few <ahem> key phrases on the plane. 

Whatever, it’ll help kill 10 hours…but you couldn’t insist on this before we got in the plane?  It’s not like I was gonna master French somewhere over the Atlantic.

“Puis-je avoir ma cle, sil vous plait?”, I vomited at the hotel’s front desk, attempting to ask for my – wait for it – key.

Get it?  Key phrases.

Ok.  Sorry.

“Speak English”, was the response that came with the key.

A derisively toned “Stupid Americans” is what I heard in my head.

So, now I’m trying to helpfully point out a typo to someone on Facebook that is communicating – in writing – in what is likely one of three of four languages she knows.

She gets points!

And here I am, still just a Stupid American.

Case in – ugh – point, while my original imagined occurrence of hearing “Stupid Americans” was while traveling in France, now I work in travel retail.

While giving a break at work yesterday, a young Spanish man (fans self…woo) approached me to ask how much a set of headphones cost.  He struggled.  I was just finishing up with a customer and another Manager was nearby talking to the Sales Associate returning from her break – who emigrated from Russia and frequently apologizes for her accent/English – so I asked them to help.

“I’m not sure what he wants…”

Based on his gestures and non-verbals, her confusion was understandable.

Get ready for some misplaced maternal pride, Mom.

“Cuanto questo?” I said, gesturing to the headphones.  And, no, I’m not sure at all that I spelled that correctly.  Every finger on my body reached for the Q key while typing “cuanto”.

“Si!  Si, si, si.” he replied with relief.

“Son – uh – trente dolares”, I told him while trying to remember if I could pull the old “Trente faltan uno centavo” our of my hat to communicate $29.99 instead of just telling him $30 like you can say “Seis faltan cuarto minutos” to indicate it’s a quarter to six.

Or something like that.

I couldn’t remember for the life of me, so I just ended up handing a penny back to this confused, hot Spaniard.

I walked out of the store with the other Manager and she was praising me for doing a good job with that customer.

All I heard was, “Stupid American”.  

I also shared the thought running through my head about what that scene would have been like if our broken English Russian associate had been helping the pigeon English Spaniard.

It’s pretty funny in my head, but pretty sad in reality, since one of the people is living in a country that requires her to speak a foreign language every day in order to feed herself and I could barely translate $30 from English to Spanish after taking five years of the language in High School and College.

The other guy was basically me 20 years ago, bless his little corazon.

Fine.

30 years ago.

Or, as they say in Spanish…trente.

Stupid Americans

Dry Week: Update

I talk a lot about being a procrastinator. 

“I put the ‘pro’ in procrastinate”, I say.

The flip side of that personality is spontaneity.  As in, “Hey, me…let’s do a Dry Week!” without considering the implications.

Like, I decided this on a Saturday night.  Without considering that while Saturday is my Monday, that would mean I have an entire work week ahead of me versus beginning my Dry Week on my Friday or Saturday and ending on my weekend so I can celebrate my success.  Now I’ve got five days in and a work week behind me…and I want to detox with a drink.

Alas.

Who knows?  Maybe it’ll be a Moist Week.

Another unseen ramification of a spontaneous Dry Week is pain.  One never really considers the slight medicinal effect of alcohol.  After a rough day of schlepping around Portland International, I can relax sore muscles with a beer or two or a glass of wine.

Additionally, I’ve had a visit from this recurring mouth pain.  I consider it an indicator of a cold or allergy episode.  Or my one wonky wisdom tooth coming out of dormancy.  So, maybe I’m getting sick and my sinuses are putting pressure on my upper jaw; maybe my teeth are doing the Macarena; or maybe I just don’t have my usual painkiller on board.

Makes a decent argument for situational medicinal marijuana, though.  I know I’ve got a honey stick around here somewhere.

The final side effect of not having a sufficiently elevated B.A.C I’ve encountered this week has been the niggling – and surprisingly spontaneous- urge to join up for NaNoWriMo.

National.

Novel.

Writing.

Month.

It’s every November, the challenge is to write a minimum 50,000 word novel in 30 days.

Ok, first, when I write, I describe my process as Hemingway-ing.  Having this thought in a Dry week ought to be enough of a disqualifier for the idea.

Second, I’ve got my company’s annual seminar this month, so that’s five days of work functions from dawn to drunk, effectively making my ~1675 daily word average a straight up 2000 words in order to meet the challenge.

Sure, I can bust out a 3500 word blog entry or two per month, but my other entries tend to be in the 1200-1500 word range.

And I don’t write every damn day!

This past month, I think I wrote 14/31 days for 16 or 17 posts.  It was my biggest volume month ever.

What the hell is sober Xtopher thinking?!?

Someone wrestle me to the ground and make me shotgun a keg.

Dry Week: Update