So, How’s Your Monday?

You’d think I’d know a good sign or minor omen when I saw one.

Not this guy, nope.

When I woke up at 3 AM in a manner that caused Myrtle to not just jump off the bed, but land outside the bedroom…that’s not a sign, right?

That the cause of my sudden consciousness was that I’d dreamed I had been bitten by a snake while sleeping in my actual bed wasn’t a symbol, right?

In the dream, the snake had latched onto the outside/pinky edge of my hand and was not letting go. It was also making eye contact with me in my dream whilst doing so. After what seemed like a minute in my dream, I reacted…by shaking my hand until the snake was flung clear of the bed.

Or so I thought.

But I was distracted from checking by Myrtle crash landing in the living room, so I forgot about the snake as my brain woke up.

I called out for Myrtle as I realized my hand still ached where the dream snake had bitten me and wondered if Myrtle had been the actual perpetrator. That would explain why she wasn’t answering my call – like she ever does.

Then I felt something scrabble up my neck and into my hair. I shook my head and loosely ran a hand through it to free it of any critters that had become entangled in my mane.

Realizing my error, I jumped out of bed, flipped on the light and then flung back the sheets in search of any blood sucking little predators.

Nothing.

Heart pounding and semi wide awake, I turned to go to the bathroom. And then a snake…of hair flipped forward on my face.

Now, wide awake and fortunately still needing to use the bathroom, I answered nature’s call. I tried unsuccessfully to calm my nerves while washing my hands, examining the one for what I hoped would remain phantom injuries as I did so.

Failing at a return to normal breathing, I stopped at the freezer on my way back to bed and took a shot of ice cold tequila right out of the bottle.

Might not help, couldn’t hurt that much.

After a little tossing, I hear Myrt looking for a new place to sleep. She’s trying to open the drawers on my dresser to nest for the night. When I finally grow too frustrated listening to her to focus on my own sleep, I get up and shoo her under the bed.

She’d succeeded in opening two of the eight drawers, but she’s happiest in the third tier, explaining why she hadn’t gone silent.

But as long as I was up…I fed Myrtle her breakfast so she wouldn’t wake me too early.

And took a second shot, to be sure I’d not be awake too early.

Worked like a charm.

I woke at 8, thinking I’d like to sleep more, but knowing the daylight would fight me. Hardly a surprise, given the dawn I saw breaking through the windows when I fed Myrt.

So, I got up. Only to be rewarded by this.

I hate that cat.

Sometimes…I swear I added that in my mind as I typed.

Seriously, I know dinner was late because I didn’t get home til 8 from mom and dad’s…but it was Father’s Day! Cut me some slack. You’re really gonna eat breakfast when you aren’t hungry just because I put it out? And then puke it up while I sleep?!?

What a loathsome creature.

I clean up Myrtle’s un-eating and brush my teeth. Rib had been texting me about a cappuccino machine he thought he’d talk his hubby into getting – the exact machine he already has, but with an integrated milk frother, which is so him – so I was painfully aware of my lack of coffee or energy drinks in the house. Throwing on a hat and sneakers, I’m off because obviously, a trip to Nossa Familia was in order.

You can barely tell I’ve had a rough night and soon to be rougher morning. I arrive on the sidewalk to this.

Just come the fuck on.

I’ve had these tires about a month.

Luckily, I wasn’t planning on driving. I stomp to the cafe, telling Rib I had dibs on their old machine as I went along. When I arrive, I order and the barista asked if I want to use my free drink that I always forget about.

Yes! Yes…but add the $5 back as tip!

If Monday has it in for me, at least I can try to get in good with Karma by tipping well.

Worth it.

I go back home, water the Silver Fox’s plants, grab his mail and then steal his Dyson handheld to go vacuum my car while I try out the compressor that came as a GWP with Angela.

Worked like a charm – only took about 5 minutes, too! Now to shower and run up to Les Schwab to see if they can patch up or replace the tire they sold me. Hopefully, they can resist the urge to tell me I should replace all 4 tires again – which I fell for last time. Since these have less than 4K miles on them, hopefully my x-drive suspension won’t notice that one tire has 0 miles on it.

Gawd.

I hope that $5 tip worked. I don’t want to spend $250 on a new tire, let alone another thousand on all 4…wish me luck.

So, how is your Monday treating you?

So, How’s Your Monday?

Does This Pot Need A Stir?

Here’s a conversation I’m not hearing these days.

That’s what Jesus probably looked like: a Jewish Palestinian man.

But speaking for myself, this is what I was taught to picture when I think of Jesus.

Now, the religion I was educated in was largely European, Roman Catholic, so I get it.

Except…today, I don’t.

For all of its problems, modern day Europe doesn’t experience the same racial obstacles today that America does, because: slavery. But given our failure to overcome our country’s original sin, I do wonder why this conversation isn’t happening or why the imagery isn’t changing.

Hasn’t White Jesus figuratively enslaved religious Whites’ minds just as our ancestors literally enslaved Blacks?

Can a simple image elevate an entire race’s feeling of superiority and set a racial hierarchy that is irreversible?

I know that early European religious founders created the image of Jesus from an ego centric place. Not that it wasn’t good marketing: listen to this guy who looks like us.

Very palatable.

No messy racial differences to overcome initially.

But now there are racial issues to overcome.

Messy ones.

Earlier today I referred to this White washing of Jesus as Christianity’s very own original sin.

And I can’t shake it.

I keep wondering what would happen with race in America if we treated White Jesus like we are treating Confederate statues and iconography. As “quickly” as multiracial children are being born and moving us toward evolutionary equality and away from racism – with (I think I recall this correctly) an estimated half of all children born by 2025 to be multiracial – I wonder if replacing pictures of White Jesus with a truer image in Churches and media representations would erode the religious bias toward non-Whites in America.

Just a thought. I think we’re at least three generations away from a diminished racism in America. Some of that will simply have to literally die out. But in the meantime, maybe we can mitigate the damage those unchangeable racists will do in their realm of influence by exposing those they do influence to a dose of reality outside the home.

Imagine a child raised in a racist home seeing conflicting representations of Jesus in 2000 years of artwork and the picture of Jesus hanging in their church showing this guy

Having leaders of the church communities across our country poised to tell the story of “This is what he really looked like, but here’s why you see White Jesus” and present the idea to the child that what they hear at home is the “old” way of thinking.

Literally, the Dark Ages when White peoples wouldn’t listen to a Black son of a carpenter. I think a child’s mind would grasp the differences between what older relatives said and what they learned outside the home.

Actually, as I typed that, I thought of my grandfather and how I learned exactly that lesson from my parents. He thought nothing if speaking racist thoughts aloud, but my parents taught me what was right.

I think today’s church could do the same for young Americans who aren’t fortunate enough to be being raised by my parents or similar versions of them.

Does This Pot Need A Stir?

I Got Work To Do

Clearly.

One of my favorite things about the civil unrest America is experiencing recently is that it’s inclusive. I think that’s part of what has created the longevity in what we’re seeing with the protests.

George Floyd’s murder wasn’t any more or less representative of the problems in our country – regardless of whether it’s *just* police brutality, something larger like systemic racism or more overt like flat out bigotry – than Breonna Taylor’s.

Or Trayvon Martin’s.

Or any of the many trans POC that have been murdered over the past decades.

Early on, I was critical of muddying the message with unnecessary or unclear hyperbole. As the weeks have gone on, the messaging I’m seeing has evolved away from that, which is gratifying.

I do like a clear message.

But we’re also being presented with messages that don’t exclude people who don’t, won’t or can’t march. Sure, there have been some slips on that unity and inclusivity messaging, but from my perspective, it seems like they are simple gaffes versus an intentional exclusive focus. In my Social Media scrollings, I’m given daily reminders and suggestions of ways to support protests without marching:

Donating to organizations.

Making signs or masks for protesters.

Donating first aid supplies or water – or staffing a booth where they are available.

Things to read to further your understanding.

Conversations to have.

Providing legal aid, if you are a lawyer.

Donating. Because it can be said twice.

Personally, I’m focusing my Lyft shifts around times and areas where protests are occurring. There’s nights where I ferry people along the same five mile stretch for several consecutive trips. Frankly, being able to thank them and encourage them getting out to march makes us both feel good. Plus, hearing them complain about sore feet and tired bodies allows me to remind them that it’s only temporary and thank them again.

It’s nice. And I love hearing the stories of the sense of connection there is amongst the protesters.

I think that sense of community and connection is what has allowed the activists to sustain their momentum this time around. Outlasting the effort that the bad elements in their midst were willing to contribute.

Not hearing about the use of police force or property damage over this past week has been a welcome change. It allows the media to keep the true message of the protests front and center in the public’s mindset versus burnt and broken things derailing the focus.

And then there’s my personal favorite way to show support – supporting Black owned businesses and restaurants.

And this is where I have some work to do – why I feel behind. I got this email from Yelp the other day

It’s like many that I have seen on Instagram and the Facebook. Reminders or highlights that I appreciate. And free promotion for the businesses, which I love!

But then I looked at the list – mainly for places close by that I should try or go back to.

Something occurred to me.

Of the 50 Black owned businesses listed, only one was “in my area”. A reminder of how Portland truly lacks in diversity overall. Also, though, how cost prohibitive commercial real estate is in the core of the city, making it a near certainty that DBEs will remain pushed out.

Maybe with all of the non-Disadvantaged Business Entities folding in the days of COVID, we’ll see a re-thinking of those rental rates.

Maybe.

What also shocked me in reviewing the list was that I’d been to one. Just the one nearby. As much as I eat, you’d think I would have happened into a few of these places at least accidentally, but…no.

Sure, there were two that I follow on Instagram and always intended to go to. But you can’t take intent to the bank.

So there’s the work I need to do: eat out.

Just like we can vote with our dollars, we can support with them, too.

Now, before I finish knitting my selfish, racist bastard sweater out of flammable yarn I should say that Yelp’s list of 50 is hardly – thankfully – exhaustive. I’ve seen other businesses listed elsewhere and I’ve been to some that weren’t listed at all.

That’s fine. I give credit for effort and someone at Yelp did something, which is better than nothing.

But back to Portland’s lack of diversity for a second and how I can change my behaviors to support equality myself. This odd fact came up in conversation the other day – I want to tell you about Portland’s best BBQ.

It’s great. Really, really great.

Really.

And it’s owned by a fucking white guy.

Surprised?

In retrospect, I was – and not to sound racist, but c’mon…BBQ is kind of half the game with Black cuisine, right? Soul food and BBQ are top of mind when you think of a Black owned restaurant, aren’t they?

Maybe it’s just me. I doubt it dunno.

But when I set out for BBQ, do I need to go to the one that some newspaper food critic called the best? Is that maybe just another example of systemic racism?

How many Black food critics can you think of?

Zero is how many I can think of. Given the departure of Adam Rappaport from Bon Appetit last week for leading and perpetuating an exclusive culture at that particular food magazine, I’d say I’m both not alone and correct about the pervasiveness of systemic racism in yet another facet of American culture.

So, do I need to limit my BBQ options to what someone labeled “the best”?

Nah.

And I think it’s an example of a small behavioral change that would have a larger cultural impact.

Changing who or how we support business spreads the wealth. That sharing of resources allows the small Black owned businesses to create their own change independently. Whether that manifests as hiring more people into their business, opening and sustaining a new location in a less diverse part of town or just being able to care for their family on a different level…it matters. Hey, not all changes toward racial equity have to reinvent a wheel.

And at the end of the day, my belly is still full, so everyone wins.

I Got Work To Do

Circles

No, this isn’t about the song that has people calling Post Malone the relationship whisperer of the ’20s. Nor about why Of Monsters And Men would feel that it was incumbent upon them to remake this with an adult contemporary vibe…while Post Malone’s version was still getting airplay.

Indeed, this is about the phenomenon I experience while driving occasionally – a strangely frequent occurrence, actually – where I experience strange geographical orbits or find recurring conversational themes with my passengers or whatnot.

For example, the other day a passenger got into my car and I could feel something. It was in an area of town I don’t get to often. As a matter of fact, I’ve only ever picked up one person there before prior to this. The pick up is just a block past The Cajun and The Canadian’s house, so I was wondering if maybe I’d passed them driving down the street and not noticed them because I was looking at house addresses.

Nah, it was that I’d picked up the same guy and failed to realize it. He reminded me about halfway through our ride. And moments later, while we were still “catching up” another ride piled on and it was a passenger I recognized by name – how many non-Grace & Frankie characters do you know named Coyote? But he had a good 15 minute wait for me to drop off my current passenger and eventually dropped off.

It’s just as well, though. I call my repeat riders the 1% Club because it’s only about every hundredth ride I get a familiar face.

Two back-to-back would have been weird.

So I drop off this passenger and as I’m pulling out of the drive, get a ride to replace Coyote. The Lyft Life always seem to keep me busy, even when I miss out on rides because another driver frees up to get one that’s stacked on my queue.

It was another 1% Clubber.

Two would have been weird…three was nuts. Not that my rider was as amazed as I was – and I kept my awe pretty well checked, but she showed me how to really play it cool.

Hey, I never said the 1% Club was exclusively cool.

Anyway…any guesses what topic might have come up repeatedly throughout this past weekend?

Anyone?

Yeah. Take your pick.

George Floyd.

Defunding Police.

Protests – attending, traffic – stuck in, complaining about, managing, just…discussing.

And I’ll be honest, I learned so much!

Just by asking a question and then shutting my mouth.

It was a powerful weekend. I took today off of driving just to decompress and true to my ovalesque form, I’m gonna work it through here. Feel free to expand upon, agree, disagree, tell me I’m up in the night, tell me you learned something or whatever in the comments.

Let’s start off with the smartest man I’ve witnessed in quite a while. Sadly, this was not one of my passengers.

Brilliant, no?

Assuming cops read better than Trump…

First – or second, depending on how you define the phrase “Let’s start off with” in the hierarchical nature of lists – let’s go back to one of my posts from last week, ACAB. You can bet as I’m giving protesters a lift here or there or just debriefing the events of the past week with riders that this came up. And there’s me

You know what no one has really been able to make me understand?

…like I’m some kind of Seinfeld knockoff.

Not that it made me feel any better, but I found that I wasn’t the only person who felt disease at the radical catchphrase-cum-urban-art gaining steam as mainstream messaging. That made me feel a little less like a liberal Benedict Arnold, but my goal – my hope – was really to still come away from these conversations with greater understanding.

Hell, I have to admit, though, that it was gratifying to meet people who I could tell were taking time to think about my concerns over the hyperbole of “All Cops Are Bastards”. My assumption, I told people was that there was a story behind it, but I just didn’t know it. If I didn’t know it, as an average Joe, what if others simply took it at face value and suddenly good cops became collateral damage?

I’m glad that I could see people turning my concerns over.

Best answer?

A rider told me to think of it this way: ACAB is to cops what Original Sin is to Christianity. It comes with the badge, not the person.

Me: Why? Tell me more.

Basically, good people become complicit – regardless of other motivations for joining the force – once they put on the badge. Probably, it wouldn’t have resonated with me as much had another rider not told me something about police history that I did not know.

From Original Sin to Origin Story, if you will.

Not that other countries before us didn’t have a police force, but where policing really kicked into high gear in this country was with slavery. We needed people to patrol as a deterrent to escape and whatnot. These folks were called paddyrollers. When slavery ended, that shifted to ensuring safety for white people from freed slaves.

I’d never thought of it through that particular lens. Naturally, I came home looking for information and was amazed at the little nuggets I picked up – although I’m certainly not ready for any sort of Jeopardy by any means.

At this point, I was attenuated to this origin story. Things kept jumping out at me, including a quote about how necessary police were to protect Whites from freed slaves. I swear I screen shotted that quote, but fuck if I can find it now. So take this little gem as a break from heavy subject matters instead.

Sometimes I love the interwebs and the dweebs that inhabit the joint.

One final question I felt compelled to ask of a few people was about minority cops.

If all cops ARE bastards, are Black cops not just modern day Uncle Toms?

A good chunk of the people admitted they didn’t know or had never even considered that in the context of police brutality.

One Black passenger shared a story about someone she knew whose grandmother basically disowned him after their becoming a cop. But another – while not answering the question directly – flipped the question to something equally enlightening: double minorities.

This rider asked me to consider that once you’re a cop, your other identities are beside the point. That can actually result in Black cops being the object of fear and even hatred in their own community because the community doesn’t know where the loyalties lie or shake out.

Is it Black, Badge or Badge then Black when it comes down to it? Or is there even an answer?

“Think of gay Black men”, he said, clearly pegging me. Because of the stigma of homosexuality in the Black community, a lot of gay Black men are actually afraid of other Black men.

And I had to admit that this clearly stoned Black man in my back seat was a genius for making that complex point.

If I’d come out of the weekend with only that understanding of ACAB, I’d still call that a solid understanding win. As a matter of fact, I wish I could travel back to last Thursday and share just that with my passengers who engaged on this topic.

Tangential to that topic was just plain old protest messaging. In the post I linked to above, I discuss briefly how integrity – or its lack – is a trigger for me. That’s where my initial ACAB resistance started…All.

But there were other stories shared, individual awareness raised and even behavioral modification commitments made.

A couple of my favorite shared stories:

A person told me about being at a protest and finally understanding the difference between a peaceful protest and a nonviolent protest. We both agreed that violence was not an end goal either would appreciate, but then they went on to point out that protests are generally disruptive.

One of the reasons permits are required

I offered, trying to demonstrate understanding.

Peaceful protests are what you’ll see on a street corner with a few people waving signs or hanging banners from freeway overpasses. Non-violent protests are more raucous by nature because while the intent isn’t to hurt anyone, they aren’t above breaking a window or starting a fire to drive a point home. But property destruction isn’t violent, per se. It’s in your face, but for reform to happen, sometimes the impetus is financial versus moral.

I can still hear my question echoing in my head as the conversation leaps riders and morphs slightly in the process. This rider had been at a protest and seen plastic water bottles being thrown at cops by a couple of hooligans in their midst. Their fear was tear gas – again – or rubber bullets. Or worse yet, the sonic sound weapon (I think it’s called an LSAD) that the police had used after the mayor shut down tear gas. They’d have preferred tear gas. They came prepared with water bottles that were a baking soda and water mix, effective in taking the sting out of tear gas.

They had been happy to see the crowd shout down the water bottle chuckers, crying out “non-violent protest!” until they slinked away.

Indeed, I saw an example of this myself. Protesters at the fence around our Justice Center reacting when someone at the front climbed up on the fence to flick his cardboard sign at the police standing inside. They went after him. The cops, to their credit, did not react. But the fear was rubber bullets.

In that regard, I think Portland’s police force has responded in a more measured manner than elsewhere in the country. Obviously, not perfectly, but better.

Still, that gas and the (possibly called) LSAD came up more than once over the weekend. Mainly as examples of the police being militarized. Defensive statements in the argument to defund the police.

One rider passionately made the connection to militarizing the police being akin to the precise reason police needed to be defunded in the first place.

If the police have the military grade weapons, they’re going to use them – even if it’s to break up a peaceful group protesting between the White House and a church so the President can walk across the park for a photo op.

Great example of an argument against.

But another great example of the circles I experience in my car. Because there we are, right back where we started. Defund the Police doesn’t mean disband the police.

It’s hyperbole, once again.

It’s not that all cops are bastards and let’s turn the country into one big Florida gated community patrolled by polo wearing mall cops in golf carts by defunding the actual police.

The hyperbole obscured the point: reduce funding for things like police in schools and transit police. Hell, one rider posited even meter maids could go or be severely reduced – “Their budget is already paid by our taxes, excessive parking tickets just creates double taxation!”

But those branches of the force that would be eliminated would have their funding redirected toward better response alternatives. Mental health responders or substance abuse counselors being deployed with a goal of getting people in crisis the help they need connecting to resources that will help them – also funded through defunding ineffective police programs – versus getting them into contact with police officers without quality training to really protect and serve their communities.

And on that note – before I leave you to digest – I’ll pat Portland on the back again. In my nine months of driving with Lyft, I’ve had exactly one bad experience.

Riders ask me this all the time. Ok, hyperbole aside…often.

I picked up a young lady who was going to her boyfriend’s. She needed to stop on the way, it turned out, at a RiteAid to get a bandage.

No problem, I told her – as I do anyone who asks to stop or reroute during a ride. “It’s your ride, I’ll go where you tell me!” Then she thrusts her arm into my field of vision and says her dog bit her as she was leaving.

In retrospect, my best guess is that she’d been drinking at home and messing around with the canine equivalent of Myrtle, who stopped her shenanigans by sending a “Game Over” message in the only way that this rider would understand.

So I stop off at the RiteAid, not yet having connected the drinky dots.

She comes out and starts tending to her wound as I continue on.

Then she slips into Kitty Dukakis mode.

By the time I get to her destination – a shopping mall versus her boyfriend’s – she’s zonked out in the back, still sitting up. I can’t wake her up.

After several minutes of no-to-groggy responses, I use the emergency toggle in the app. I’m having a conversation about her as she settles deeper into unconsciousness in the back. The agent I’m talking to dispatches police while I’m on the line.

Here’s the great thing.

Sure, the police come. But en route, based on what they know, they call a secondary unit to meet them. One that is designed to get drunks to a safe, non-jail place to sober up instead of placing them under arrest or citing them for public intoxication.

This isn’t even a traditional drunk tank.

This woman won’t even have a blip on her record for this…I think that’s a perfect example of defunding to de-escalate potential scenarios where police contact could devolve into police violence. Sure, Portland double-dipped on the response since there was a police team and the – I dunno what they’re called – Intervention Squad? But the police team knew to facilitate the hand off versus being directly involved. They were trained enough to have an attempted assessment type conversation with my passenger and then let her be until their backup arrived to take over.

A great experience.

The best part?

What am I not telling you?

The mall – Lloyd Center – serves a traditionally Black demographic.

How might this scenario had played out in Minneapolis? Or Ferguson, MO? Or Brunswick, GA?

For as much reform work as we have ahead of us as a country and as imperfect as Portland Police Bureau is simply for being the police…at least we have a liberal community that has made some imperfect efforts that have yielded enough imperfect results to make me confident that regardless of national legislative police reform, we’ll be able to make local impacts that will at least let our minuscule minority community get a head start. Gimp legged as it may be…

Circles

Victory!

Hopefully the title didn’t turn you off – thinking, “Great, here he goes about protests again”.

If it did, psych!

Things had gotten entirely too heavy around here – as in most corners of the country – these days. Time to lighten it up…with a Comcast update!

It’s been a little over a week since my new modem/router combo unit arrived. Initially, I was concerned as to whether or not I’d be able to successfully install the new device without the help of a twenty-something.

I’m intrepid, though, so after a thorough social media and email blitz in what might have been my last visit to the interwebs, I took the plunge and pulled the plug.

Literally.

My main concern was getting my Sonos and AppleTV connected to the new device, which was pretty easy.

Two plugs, two holes.

Unlike the old router, which had four.

Then I connected the router to the Comcast coax cable and plugged it in. After the lights did their thing, I opened up the Sonos app and got Aimee Mann Radio back into business.

It worked!

Then I got around to cleaning out the literal and figurative debris. This is what I pulled out from behind my console:

And this is the after:

Much cleaner. Something I’m not embarrassed to have seen sitting by my TV. In the first picture, you can see the giant old modem/router as well as a cable box – which I think I took advantage of having three times, max.

You see, when I have to switch inputs to watch cable, I’m likely not going to do it. The most difficult part of the endeavor was remembering what “input” each of the different devices was on. I actually made a cheat sheet on my Notes app because I knew I’d forget.

Anyway, I went about my afternoon and then later, settled in for some TV with dinner.

It worked!

I was on a roll.

The next day, though, when I went to do some work on my laptop…no internet.

Fine, fine, fine…I whip out the old instructions and start the troubleshooting. I hadn’t initially downloaded Arris’ app as the instructions had recommended. Having gone through everything in the instructions again with no change in results, I decided I needed to.

Sure enough, after registering my device, it helpfully displayed a graphic showing that I had no internet. After a few minutes of staring at that like it was a hieroglyph, I started poking around for answers. I knew that I had logged the change in equipment – in an easier than expected manner – with Comcast the prior day. But for whatever reason, the juice wasn’t going to Internet.

WiFi – check.

Devices – check.

Internet – no bueno.

It was really mind boggling, trying to figure out why WiFi devices like my phone and speakers were tethered to the new device and functioning, but my laptop and iPad – which are also running off WiFi – wouldn’t connect to the internet.

For whatever reason, I was getting a password request on any site I tried to open. Putting in the password for the new router didn’t work, either.

Redoubling my effort to stare intently at the pop up box asking for a password left me with a new question.

What the hell is a WPA2?!?

That was the password being requested.

Changing gears to stare with intent at the Arris app, it finally jumped out at me.

Friggin’ fine print.

There was a masked password under a bold heading that I’d initially skimmed past because it didn’t say “WPA2” over it. But on my third or seventieth glance, there it was in a tiny light gray font…

Plugged that bad boy into the pop up box on my laptop and badda-boom, badda-bing…porn!

Joking.

In the app, I was also easily able to change my WiFi network’s name to something less generic so I could find it. Since my balcony faces the back of a hotel…I tailored my network accordingly:

The only thing left was to call Comcast and adjust my package and billing.

Because it took three attempts before I successfully managed to talk to a person, I added a Comcast contact to my address book. I had to. Having realized after the first two callbacks I set up that my phone sends all calls who aren’t in my contacts to voicemail, I really had no other choice.

It’s not like I was gonna remember how to reset that feature any time soon.

But, after a 44 minute convo with an employee who was both chipper and helpful, I walked away from the call with a bill that had gone from a $120/month 75mbps internet and cable bundle (to get the best pricing) to a stand alone 100mbps internet only service for $35/fucking month ($55/month after the first year).

What a damn racket.

When I was dependent upon them for equipment, bundled packages were the only option. And each piece of equipment costs to “rent” each month. My old modem was $14/month. The modem I bought was $91 on Amazon.

91/14=6.5

So I was paying for my old modem about twice a year.

For about four years.

I should change their contact name to Fucking Criminals.

Now, I’m thinking I should start a pool on how long it takes me to actually return the equipment to their drop off. I’ve been twice in the last week, but both times there has been a crazy line outside the store due to social distancing protocols.

With just one associate working the line.

So I grumpy old left.

Plus, I just realized this morning that I hadn’t thrown my Comcast remote into the box…oops. Looks like being an old grump saved me having to wait in that mess twice!

Victory!

ACAB

Howdy y’all! It’s Grumpy, Old Xtopher – here for another episode of The Voice of Treason.

I don’t want to shock anyone, but I’m not going after my favorite barrel fish, The Gays, in this episode.

Well, not completely, anyway.

First, ACAB…what is it?

It stands for All Cops Are Bastards. Sometimes it’s represented by 1312, which is its first letter numerical equivalent…because when you have a message, you’d hate to just put it out there where anyone could understand you without a secret handshake or decoder ring being involved.

Gawd, I love sarcasm.

I’ve been taking pics around town over the last year of scenes where people have casually graffitied “Fuck the Police” or “ACAB” on walls or sidewalks. I say casually since there was no newsworthy catalyst. I’m just walking down the street and <bloop> graffiti. It’s actually something of a blog post I started last year called Un-Civil War, but I’m not sure it’ll ever make it out of draft mode at this point.

We’re heading into night four of protests in Portland and our third night of 8 PM curfew in the city. I also just heard from the Silver Fox that Governor Brown has activated the Guard to assist Portland. I’m extrapolating here based off an earlier story about this prior to the Guv committing Guard troops – in order to assist Portland in protecting its governmental buildings so the police are freer to patrol the city.

But what’s bothered me about the emboldening ACAB messaging has really come to a point for me over the last four nights.

I think it really crystallized for me when I was driving yesterday afternoon.

It was around 4 and I was taking a couple and their pup, Buffy – how sweet is that? – from Southeast to their home a few blocks from mine in Northwest. We were still on the Eastside, a few blocks from the Burnside Bridge and were suddenly passed by two troop movers, large trucks modified so cops could ride standing on the running boards. These were followed by two dually style pickups with grill lights flashing.

Ridiculously, I ended up sitting side-by-side with them at a stop light, waiting to cross – if you can believe this – MLK Boulevard before crossing the bridge.

Just let the surreality of that whole scene wash over you.

I wasn’t sure what the protocol was in this situation, was I supposed to pull over or turn off and find another route? Just drive like it was no big deal?

I held my palms up in question when one of the cops riding the side boards looked my way.

His response was to nod once and then give me a makeshift non-contact “five” by dropping his open hand toward my upraised palm.

Well, he’s certainly not a bastard.

My passengers chuckled and we decided together to proceed across the bridge with the cops. I gave them a generous head start, though. And in a truly miraculous occurrence, no non-native Portland drivers honked at me.

From the turn they took onto 2nd once we crossed the bridge, it seemed they were heading for the Tom McCall Waterfront Park or possibly down to Naito Parkway to head into the government core of the city, which is in Southwest between 2nd and 5th Streets. That would actually track, since I’d been re-routed around protests in Southwest when I’d crossed the Hawthorne Bridge earlier.

I’d heard later from a rider that Tri-Met had stopped bus service downtown at 3:30 that afternoon, and at 6 PM, the city had closed down several bridges into downtown as well as the exits into downtown from the 405, which loops around the central core of the city – see also: my way home.

Basically, the city was trying to control access to downtown. If you were coming in from the outer neighborhoods, you were walking.

Which is exactly what the protesters did.

Several groups held rallies in areas of town. Some with early end times to respect the 8 PM curfew, others intending – it seemed – to end up downtown right around the start of the curfew. A couple of the groups that ended earlier had stragglers join the later march. That resulted in a group of several thousand people marching down Burnside toward the bridge I had followed combat geared cops across earlier.

I actually picked up a nice young woman a few block past this march – after weaving around its tail five blocks eastward – who had just broken off to head home. She’d just moved here in December for work and asked if “we” did this type of thing often.

I told her our unofficial nickname and weather forecast (Little Beirut and cloudy with a chance of protests) and she seemed to get the point. Still, I added,

Not enough bike lanes, bogus travel bans, police brutality…we generally seem pretty DTM here.

DTM?”

Down to March?

“I think I’ll like it here.”

Plus, great food.

“Not a bad fallback!”

But cool cops in tactical gear and fun stranger-on-a-plane type convos aside…this morning I watched an hour and 16 minute video that one of my friends from yesterday’s post…er, posted of himself in last night’s march. From the timing of it and where he was on Burnside when his video started, it’s likely he walked in front of me while I was blocked by the protestors in the pic above.

Ironically, in a fit of things that could only happen to me, this guy falls into the “If you drive Lyft long enough, you’re bound to give a ride to someone you boned” category as not only the inaugural but thankfully only member.

I watched the video because of the attached post

His post hashtags the now debunked DC Blackout that supposedly highlighted the difference between the start of Pride month at the White House in 2015 versus last night.

Only that pic wasn’t from last night. It was from 2011 or something…

His post also uses ultimatums and hyperbole that suggest if you stay inside or silent, that you’re complicit in the violence against minorities.

It also predicted the activation of the National Guard by a good 6 hours and assured his followers that the government was trying to exterminate protestors.

Okay

Still, I watched the video.

I’m proud to report that not any part of me was anxious to see this younger man tear gassed. Or exterminated.

I wouldn’t mind seeing him tone down his hyperbole a bit, though.

In the video I watched – which I know covers only one of three nights of his activism – he wasn’t chased.

Or tear gassed.

Nor shot at.

He yelled a lot of chants.

“Get out of your house and on the streets” to people watching from their balconies.

The call and return of “Say his/her name!” to give voice to George and Breonna and Aubry now that theirs have been silenced.

But the one that really bugged me was the “All Cops Are Bastards”.

And it bugged me for the same reason that his post bugged me: it’s dishonest.

The injustice these protests are addressing don’t need anything extra. Especially in today’s climate of malleable integrity.

If you use that as part of your platform in the battle against racism and unnecessary force by the police and they show – for example – this picture

…from another Portland protest, no less – then your argument and credibility are shot. C’mon, a cop hugging a black kid?

Definitely not a bastard.

Not to mention you’re no better than our current POSOTUS – that’s Piece of Shit of the United States, by the way.

And that’s a slippery slope.

If your response to a picture of a cop taking a knee with protesters mimicking Colin Kaepernick’s protest kneel is that he was just putting on battle gear…well, now you’re twisting reality. Because – go with me here – a cop is heading off to a protest so he takes his gear with him so that if shit starts to get tense, he can take a knee and put his gear on.

Sure.

Yet, that’s the excuse I’ve seen from the left when confronted with photos like that.

And now we’ve got this guy saying the National Guard has been activated to exterminate protestors.

So, yeah, things like ACAB bother me. Mainly because they are gateway lies. Propaganda that sounds flashy and gets hearts racing and righteous blood pumping fervently.

But do you need that when you’re right?

I think not, and now we’ve abdicated the moral high ground by lying.

For my part, after watching the video I reiterated my point about having permits to protest legally, that I was glad no one was injured in the video – and most proud to see a protester shout a fellow protestors down after he climbed up on a fence around our Justice Center and threw his sign at the cops inside the perimeter.

“This is a peaceful protest!” he yelled.

I applaud that.

I just dare the left and Black community allies to keep it an honest protest, too.

Leave ACAB where it belongs…in Genesis lyrics.

ACAB

Grounded.

As much as I like saying that Portland’s unofficial forecast is “cloudy, with a chance of protests”, I have to admit that the last 36 hours have caught me off guard.

The city was effectively sent to its room last night beginning at 8 PM via a curfew order from the Mayor. This was in response to rioters coat-tailing on a vigil for George Floyd in one of North Portland’s parks on Friday afternoon. I was actually driving that day and ended up taking three groups over and taking two home on return trips.

The traffic was a nightmare.

In retrospect, I should have seen the riots coming since I actually said the words “What kind of vigil breaks up before the candles come out at dusk?” as I dropped of my last riders. People were leaving, yet others were still en route to gather.

Maybe I was distracted at the welcome home I got when I pulled up to my building around 9:30. Once again, two of the five park blocks I live on were cordoned off and surrounded by police cruisers with their lights flashing.

Just so you know the proximity here, the park blocks run as follows:

Burnside – Couch (pronounce it right in your mind, we’ve talked about this…Cooch)

Couch – Davis

Davis – Everett

Everett – Flanders

Flanders – Glisan

I live in the Everett to Flanders block and the police had cordoned off half of my front yard as well as the entirety of the Flanders to Glisan block. They had also closed off Flanders from Park Ave (my street) up to Broadway, two blocks ahead.

I asked a dog walking neighbor what was up and he said there had been a shooting.

Weird. Remember when Portland was Stabby and not shooty?

Maybe that was inappropriate, so I followed it up with asking about the victim. Apparently, hit in the chest, but expected to survive.

Nonetheless, my mental abacus was not adding things up.

Until.

Later that night, around 10 PM when I tuned into the Instagram and saw march videos on my friends’ stories. It looked like they were downtown, which is in the Southwest quadrant of town.

For context, I live in the Northwest quadrant and the vigil was in the North quadrant.

Sidebar: We just added a sixth quadrant, South Portland. Because Portland is weird and when the root of the word is Latin-ish for “four”, we’re gonna have six, dammit.

I’m not sure why I was surprised by this. Not only are we a town of liberal activism, but we are also a town of traveling and escalating protests. What starts as a vigil in one quadrant traveled through town and escalated into a protest and eventually a riot – and its not atypical for a freeway to be blocked by protesters marching across or down it, either. And the further they march, the more destructive the protest gets.

It’s like I forgot Portland’s other nickname: Little Beirut.

Sure enough, the rioters in Southwest broke into and burned the Justice Center. Well, started a fire at, at any rate. It was a big building on Friday morning and when I walked by it Saturday morning…still a big building. It’s not like it burned to the ground.

Here’s what caught me off guard, though: usually I witness the escalation. Living where I do, well…I’m centrally located. Even to the occasional chaos.

Maybe it’s because my county – Multnomah – is the only one in the state that is not yet in phase one of the reopening plan (which I’m happy about). In non-lockdown situations, this is the time of year is normally be sitting at a sidewalk cafe enjoying an adult beverage with one of the Foxes Silver or Filipina. Such as it is, no restaurants or bars are presently open for sidewalk socializing.

I woke up Saturday morning to scattered stories – both news and Insta – of the destruction in Southwest Portland. Not only had the Justice Center been burned. Several jewelry stores and store fronts (Louis Vuitton and Apple among them) had had their windows broken out and been looted.

There were pictures of smashed iPads and empty velvet bracelet displays on the streets and sidewalks of downtown.

And social media was melting down.

All while protests continued throughout the morning and afternoon in Southwest.

I watched the shameful debacle from my couch – taking a break for a little juxtaposed National Pride moment to watch the SpaceX launch. But the thing that kept popping into my head (and the reason I called these protests a debacle) was, “This isn’t working”.

This. Isn’t. Working.

One young e-quaintance posted this to his story, he’d been downtown at the protests and took some video, surprised that cops were firing tear gas and – what he thought – bullets into the crowd. In his video, I could hear him shrieking “They started this. The cops started this!”

His last story was from his car, filming cops walk by in his drivers side rear view mirror, saying he wasn’t close enough to see if the shots he heard were bullets or not. Mind you, he was close enough to see the cops allegedly smiling and laughing through their riot gear.

I asked him…well, I’ll just show you

See how I have to apologize at the end for pointing out logic? Peaceful protests are our right, guaranteed by the Constitution. But in order to protect citizens from being victimized by one another exercising their First Amendment rights, cities across the country have enacted laws requiring protests to have permits in order to be deemed legal.

In other words, no one person or group’s right supersedes or negates any one else’s.

An interesting point to overlook, given this protest was being conducted under the auspices of one individual being deprived his right to life and an entire race being denied their right to equality and the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness.

He – dammit, they…they are trans – didn’t respond. You can see that they read the message.

Crickets.

It’s telling to see someone, especially a trans person – one of the presently most vocal groups on the subject – protesting privilege and lowering themselves into the melee of “Fuck the Police” and then going silent when pushed for details.

Oh, you don’t know if the protest you participated in was legal or not? But you still jumped on the bandwagon of bashing the authorities when they did their job and broke your protest up? <bloop> Privilege.

I should note, ACAB is shorthand for “All Cops Are Bastards”. You will also see it coded into 1312, which was not only the unit number of my condo in Seattle, but also the alphabetically numeric equivalent of ACAB. Sometimes people actually have the balks to post (spray paint) their message to a broad audience instead of just speaking their coded lingo to rile up their own little subversive slice of the population by saying “Fuck the Police”. It’s not a blanket statement I endorse. Which isn’t unusual for me. I typically resist generalizations.

Elsewhere on social media, another guy I know posted an nifty little blurb about the history of riots.

The Boston Tea Party.

The Stamp Riots.

Stonewall.

One that I didn’t know about that led to the creation of the District of Columbia. I thought that was interesting.

“Riots work” was his point.

It was impressively put together to illustrate his point. Yay, facts.

Yet I couldn’t help but notice that none of the examples he posted were race riots.

Selma, Alabama? Not a part of his argument.

Nothing on the Watts riots from the 60s.

OJ’s LA riots in the 90s? Nope.

More recently, St Louis or Charleston? Absent.

This. Isn’t. Working.

Me, being me, I jumped into the comment thread. I actually said that I agree with the right to protest and demonstrate. However, in a time where the 24-hour news cycle is a thing and our population is dense enough – not to mention our seat of government being conveniently located on the same continent and not weeks away by boat – that maybe such extreme methods such as massive scale property destruction are no longer effective at communicating one’s message.

Perhaps, I posited, destructive riots no longer effect change as they once did, so much as they empower disenfranchised fringe populations with the opportunity to therapeutically retaliate for their impotence. Wasn’t one of these disenfranchised populations responsible for the results of the 2016 elections? Trump whipped the uneducated and (latent and overt) racist elements of our country up – enabling them by giving voice to their shamefully harbored secrets – to protest vote versus sitting the vote out in their collective powerlessness while progressives and liberals sat the vote out in protest because their candidate didn’t get the nomination.

So we protested.

Again.

Then, we rioted.

Again.

Then…nothing changed.

Again.

Maybe, my point is, if the most effective examples of riots leading to change are from a century or almost three ago, that should tell us something.

Maybe if the most current example you have of an effective riot is 50 years ago and still not 100% resolved, “effective” isn’t an accurate description.

Maybe if you have to disregard the most pertinent examples of recent riots because change has not been affected then you need to ask if riots are, indeed, actually effective.

Maybe, in a population as dense as ours – both definitions of the word being applicable – a vigil or peaceful protest is just a clarion call to those same disenfranchised folk Trump whipped up during his campaign to come out and play.

So my point to my friend was, maybe we need to find a way to change how our message is communicated. For the effort of asking a question, I was rewarded with this response from a stranger – no context, just this

Yes, thank you for posting the point I said I understood – in meme form. Fucking Android users.

My point had been whether these lather, rinse, repeat protests were actually meeting our demand to be recognized.

I think not so much anymore.

Why?

Well, because capitalism will just make more of whatever is destroyed. All rioting and looting seems to be doing any more is heightening demand to produce more.

How is that effective?

Job creation?

We can quote him, name streets after him all over the country and observe his birthday as a national holiday; but if we don’t understand the meaning behind his words have we actually heard Doctor King’s words? Let alone…learned from them.

I took a public speaking course a while back – sometime between present day and MLK’s assassination – and I learned something interesting.

It stuck with me.

Basically, the point of the lesson was that it’s a speaker’s responsibility to present their message in a manner in which it will be received. That served me well as a manager of people. Whether it was a group setting or one-on-one communication, if I wanted people to listen, I had to talk to them. If I only wanted them to hear me, then it didn’t matter what I said or how I said it, because hearing and listening are two different things.

I can hear the news and police helicopters buzzing around outside my home. They were there at 11 PM last night, they are there now.

I hear them.

But I’m not listening to them. I don’t like what they are telling me. As much a fact, I’m actively trying to tune them out.

That’s what I think protesters need to ask themselves.

Who is listening to your message? Right now, it seems the people in power are at worst actively trying to tune you out and at best, trying to undo the collateral damage you are doing from the rioters who heard and were enabled by your words.

This is not working.

Grounded.

American Dumbass

Seriously, the only title for a reality TV show that I’d believe actually reflects reality. I probably still wouldn’t watch it, though, since I get plenty of examples of the Stupid Americans phenomenon in the wild.

Case in point – and here’s a bonus, I can bash Americans and The Gays in one swipe – PrEP. Now, assuming most of my readers are normal people and not tramps (just kidding, you whores) let me tell you a little about PrEP.

PrEP stands for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis and is a medicine for HIV-negative people that helps prevent HIV infection by disabling the virus’ ability to replicate in a new host. It is intended to help minimize new infections in high risk individuals.

Naturally, every gay man seems to be on it.

And – proving we’re just as dumb as the next idiot – that has led to an increase in risky behaviors among gay men. Honestly, it’s like carte blanche for promiscuity. When you caution a gay guy about risky choices, the dismissive response seems to have culturally become

It’s ok, I’m on PrEP.

It’s like

With a side of

…thrown in for good measure. Of course, never a subculture to miss out on an opportunity to <ahem> poke fun at ourselves – y’know, that defense mechanism we sissy boys all learned to beat the school bully to the punch – this has led to a plethora of reductive memes.

Everything from

And more pop-culturally relevant snarkiness like this

To defensive-slash-denial based arguments to dismiss potential judgment of our behaviors. Of course, while ignoring any other potential issues – because PrEP right now seems to be the crown jewel in the pill culture world of consequences that we live in.

I mention this because – impinging upon personal freedom arguments aside – masks seem to be the new PrEP for us Stupid Americans.

Which is to say that I almost ran over an aggressive jaywalker yesterday. Seriously, this old broad – or possibly a quarantine woman in her mid 30s, hard to tell, all I saw was two inches of gray roots – stepped off the curb and into the street in front of me while I was tooling down the road at 35 MPH.

No crosswalk.

No corner intersection.

No looking both ways.

Just <bloop> I’m crossing the street.

As I brought Angela to a sudden-yet-graceful stop, I noticed her mask and said out loud, “It’s ok, I’m wearing a mask”.

The place – the Pearly Gates.

St Peter: What are you doing here?

Roots Lady: I dunno, I was wearing my mask.

COVIDiot.

Someone make me a meme of that please.

30-something gays who act like you’re still in your 20s?

Yeah, talking to you. Get on it.

I was ruminating on this while out for an urban hike yesterday. The parks and paths were littered with people out enjoying the sun.

Walking, running, cycling.

Nearly all without masks.

My thought? “Well, they’ll make handsome corpses”.

From what I understand, masks protect those around you from aerosolized viral transmissions if the wearer is a asymptomatic but infected. Most obviously, germs spread via coughing and sneezing. They also allow an extra layer of protection to non-infected people who would otherwise breathe those aerosolized particles in, thereby introducing foreign germs into their systems.

But!

You can also spread these particles through:

Spraying it instead of saying it.

Laughing.

Panting…

Y’know, like you do when you’re exercising.

So, there I was, wheezing into my mask yesterday looking around at all of the more fit people around me getting their fitness on sans masks.

Seriously.

Not even taking the most minimal of precautions to protect themselves by wearing a mask.

Why?

Because it’s uncomfortable.

Sure, I get it – I was just fast-walking and the inside of my mask was like a windshield at a drive-in theater swamp. I can’t imagine what running or cycling with one on would be like.

It’s ok, I’m social distancing when I exercise.

But, are you?

Under the best of conditions, I’m annoyed by others when I go out to our city paths for a walk. Mainly because I really don’t understand why people won’t follow basic traffic flow on pathways and sidewalks. Portland is a bridge city, thanks to the Willamette River running through its center. Ergo, our city paths often cross bridges, with at least sidewalks on both sides of the bridge – making walking with the flow of traffic a pretty easy thing to accomplish with no real effort.

So, why won’t people?

Mostly because they don’t think about it, I’d imagine. But also, our paths are mostly divided into a cycling side and a pedestrian side, each about 6′ wide. The cyclist side is always marked with an arrow indicating traffic flow, in order to reduce head on collisions between cyclists.

Pedestrians, though, get this marker

As you can see, it’s got arrows indicating pedestrian traffic is both ways. Also, since it’s Portland and our unofficial forecast is “Cloudy with a chance of protests”, you get impromptu art like this

Which is a fact. I’m actually surprised I haven’t seen one with a mask painted into it yet.

Anywho…there I am, wishing I could comfortably walk without my mask around all these fit, germ-spewing Petri dish Stupid Americans, but I can’t because they won’t behave in a manner that indicates “social distancing” is anything more than an abdication of personal accountability than “I’m on PrEP” is for the overly promiscuous Gays. There I am, on a 6′ wide pathway on the bridge walking with the flow of traffic and I’ve got other walkers coming at me head on instead of walking on the opposite side of the bridge in order to consistently maintain a 6′ bubble.

Pop Quiz

Me: What’s 6′ divided by 2?

Stupid American: Uh…social distancing?

Me: Oooh, no! Sorry, not even close.

Actually, my fellow exercisers make Gray Roots look like a genius. At least she had her “PrEP” on.

See y’all on the next lockdown. I’ve pitched a reality show for it called America’s Got Common Sense. Due to an absence of content, it’s just three minutes of credits and 57 minutes of commercials for contactless toilet paper and alcohol delivery services, a sweatpants wardrobing service, Windex epipens, UV butt plugs, lighting halos for Instafluencers and premium Zoom packages.

I think it will be a real hit this Fall. All three major networks have picked it up.

American Dumbass

Of Course, *I’m* The Bastard

I own it, but don’t think I wear that label with pride. If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you probably know my triggers and how to avoid them.

It’s not all that hard. Try to behave like a decent human being, try to be considerate of others, have a bit of integrity…pretty low bar shit.

It’s that try business that both makes these criteria easy and challenging. And a bit forgiving at the same time.

I never said I wasn’t complex – but still, when there’s wiggle room, how hard does one have to try to remain on the wrong side of grumpy old Xtopher?

And if you’re going to put any effort into a relationship with me…how bad at effort do you have to be to end up remaining on that side of me?

Enter – or re-enter in this case – Black Sheep Brother. If you haven’t read about him, try looking for the black story, er, back story. Seriously, I just did and failed.

Long story short, Black Sheep Bro bailed on the family because he needed some time away. This was maybe 2005-ish. I was still with Sacha, so maybe it was even earlier…2002? I know it was – well, never mind. Short story is already long.

I told him at the time – as he was my best friend. Wow, it just occurred to me that this was pre-Silver Fox! Anyway, he told me he needed a break and I warned him to not just disappear, “Do it right”, I told him, “That way re-entry won’t be a bitch. Or impossible.”

Flash forward to now.

Now.

After I acceded to family pressure to reach out to him after he got married, moved to Shittatle and had a kid. Since we both lived in Seattle, reaching out was the obvious choice – just ask my mom and sister! Hehe.

So I did it. That was three hours of my life I’m not getting back. During that talk, he finally told me “the reason” he needed a break. I apostrophenated – Chrisism – that because the reason defied reason. He said he was disappointed that mom hadn’t been more supportive when he got his DUI.

“I expected more from you”, he said she said.

“But your DUI was years ago”, I said.

“No, the other one”, he replied.

I know I failed to hide my reaction to that, but his excuse still smelled like bullshit. “I think that’s a parent’s job to say stuff like that”, I tried.

It all ended with him showing me he had a full deck of victim cards, but at least I tried.

Flash forward to 2013-ish and he’s moved to Texas with his wife and now two kids. To be near his wife’s family.

In their state of bliss, they both take turns drunk dialing me to talk about how awesome they are. The wife trying to back channel a relationship for BSB and his family, for their kids.

Black Sheep Bro slurring out conditions the family must accept in order to be rewarded with the presence of him and his progeny. Your basic shit show. Now, he’s laying out conditions like “As long as I don’t have to be around That Man“, which genuinely confused me. Of course, I asked, got no clarification and eventually started guessing. For my effort, I was rewarded with a “He knows what’s he did” when I guessed he’d been referring to our father.

For the record, I think both of my parents are pretty damn awesome, so he’s partying alone in this Blame Game.

I also pointed out that last time he laid the blame for his abandoning the family at mom’s feet. I also told him that conditional returns were not something I was going to condone.

Apparently, he doesn’t need that kind of negativity in his life. I’m a real buzz kill, I know.

But since then, I’ve not heard boo from him or his wife, even though I’ve been privy to the goings on because mom and his wife are friends on the Facebook. I’ve also managed to deflect suggestions from the family that I reach out to BSB for his fiftieth. That suggestion arose from his wife’s accurately interpreted vaguebooking that his marriage was ending.

I considered myself fortunate to have been able to beg off that chore since I had an outdated number.

Until.

Present day…I get a text from my sis asking if I’d also received a friend request from BSB like her and our youngest brother.

I hadn’t actually. I chalked this up to our last conversation and noted my surprise that he’d not blacked it out. But I also was only manufacturing any offense I presented because over the years I’ve been friended and unfriended by both him and his wife multiple times and received vague attempts at reaching out from Facebook profiles with fake names and no pictures – all claiming to be Black Sheep Bro.

If I wanted to chat with faceless blank profiles, I’d spend my time on Grindr.

But of course, my friend request came in a day or two after everyone else’s. And goddamnit, I wrestled with it – even while entertaining myself that he’d cared enough about me to do something petty like ask for my friendship last.

Me being me, though, I found a way to be actually – and in my mind, rightfully – bothered. I was offended that after all the water under the bridge we’ve had, he just sends a friend request.

That’s all.

No nothing else.

I didn’t know what to do with that. For a while, I leaned toward just accepting it without comment. How passive-aggressive of me. Realistically, I rationalized, this will probably result in him de-friending me yet again, so why not?

But, then around midnight last night, I decided to demand an explanation.

Via Messenger, because two can play the Drunk Dial game – I’m just playing the 2020 version.

Really? Just showing up after all these years and all your vitriol with a “Hey, y’all!”?

You’re not Paula Deen, yo.

Why? Because your wife left you? Now we’re worthy of your attention?

Tell me why you aren’t sticking it where you and I both know I should tell you to. What’s changed? How have you *suddenly* grown? Because all I want when I see this is to groan…I feel bad for you. But not badly enough to sign up for the same BS behaviors you’ve delivered in the past.

And, y’know what? I genuinely felt that he owed me – us, as a family – some goddamned context. To just blithely send out friend requests on the Facebook without it left me vacillating between he felt entitled to our forgiveness and/or that he felt his actions weren’t in need of forgiveness.

Neither option carried any generous feelings with me.

I have to say, his response presented me with a third option that I’d not considered: that he didn’t know how to ask for forgiveness.

In retrospect, it was a fairly obvious option. But the rest of his response left me a little dubious that his rationale wasn’t entitlement all along.

And how would you have me reach out after all these years? I would follow the example you set…if there were one. Yeah I turned to a long lost family relationship in a time of personal adversity. But don’t recall asking you for shit. You’re still the sanctimonious prick aren’t you. And real angry about it apparently. You wanna tee off on someone else just for making an effort? Try a therapist or your ugly cat.

How cute.

Deflection.

Name calling.

Smells like a Trump supporter-level argument to me.

But, to clarify, he’s trying to equate my living in distant parts of the country with his actively departing the family after dropping a blame bomb on mom. Then dad. The reality there, which he’ll not acknowledge since it’s a fact – and we know how Trump Supporter Logic works with facts – is that I still called and took calls from the family. I still came home for holidays.

I was coming to terms with being gay. He was having a mental breakdown in the heart of a well-known river in Egypt.

I think there’s a big difference there.

And he wraps up his indictment argument by shaming me for kicking him while he’s making an effort.

Trying, if you will. And I won’t, as it turns out. If the level of effort he’s willing to put into this after almost two decades is to tap a button that says “Send Friend Request”, then that’s far too little and way too late. Here’s a parting gift for you, Black Sheep Bro, pardon me while I spray liberally.

It makes me sad. And I’m sure it will or could result in awkward family gatherings down the road. But I’ve traveled those roads before, so I know the terrain. One of the things that I said in my texts with my sister was this:

I feel bad for her and dad. Never having been a parent, I can’t imagine how that parental “never give up” thing must feel. Like on one level it’s, “Oh, here we go again” and on the other, “But he’s our son”…so they can’t not sign up for the potential hurt once again. Just in case it pays off this time.

It’s like me and dating, I called it the Lottery of Love.

Maybe this time

I’ve got a good supply of forgiveness. It’s just not endless – even for my brother. If he wants back into my life, it’s not gonna be with spin like saying his relationship with the family is “long lost”.

He abandoned us.

For me, I’ll sprinkle some of my forgiveness on the situation when he’s accountable for his actions. No more “She knows what she did” or “That man” or being offended that I don’t let him piss on my leg yet again while telling me it’s raining.

He’s still my brother, that won’t change. But I’m fine with the present state of our relationship – which he forced upon me – until he does.

If that means I’m the bastard, so be it.

Of Course, *I’m* The Bastard

What *Could* Possibly…well, you know the rest.

I have a project today.

Life savvy-slash-reasonably intelligent people-slash-those armed capably enough to cope in the world might think of this as more of a cute “project”.

But not me.

I’m installing a new modem/router.

Witness my white whale

Isn’t that cute? It’s called a surfboard.

I’m appropriately terrified.

I may as well be changing Angela’s oil on my own. I’m having flashbacks to the lawn mower engine I disassembled in my Junior High Shop class and gave up putting back together. I just stuffed it into a locker and waited out the end of the school year. Thankfully, my dad got promoted at work and relocated the family half a country away.

It’s the Shop Class Dropout Relocation Program.

So, yeah. This is more daunting than cute for me.

But after paying for Comcast’s modem/router at least 5x over in their monthly equipment rental fees, I’m bound and determined to make this switch and then fling their equipment at their building as I whiz by in Angela.

So, wish me luck. If you never hear from me again, don’t be too surprised.

Oh, gawd…it just occurred to me: I’m going to have to come up with a pithy new wifi name. Farewell, YouGoGlennCoco.

What *Could* Possibly…well, you know the rest.