Crappy Pride, Y’all!

I could probably just end this post at the title without leaving any mystery as to how I feel about how little my subculture deserves a fucking parade. Far be it from me to be succinct, though. But I also don’t want to bore you with my feelings about standing outside at a parade some stupid American would happily make a massacre of with a bunch of people who pretend both that I’m visible and that they’re decent people for one day a year.

Also, far be it from me to show restraint, so let the fact that I’ve been kicking this post idea around for about a month be known. Give that a damn parade. Rest assured, that’s not proChristination, either. I have literally been trying to decide whether posting a Pride month entry needed to happen. It didn’t last year, thank you for noticing.

Plus, being the volunteer voice of treason for my subculture has gotten me nothing but disavowed by said subculture. Not that I was expecting anything other than a culture I could feel pride in from those jokers. Me and my unreasonable expectations.

But that’s all I have to say about that. I’m Gay Kulture’s voice of treason, not their Don damn Quixote.

So I’ll just leave you with a little story. The Silver Fox has already kind of heard this – and I hate to bore my number one reader – although he may have unremembered it, as he likes to say.

Someone recently asked me if I had big plans for Pride month. Not sure how deep they imagined my pockets or clear my calendar might be when they asked, but it sounded like in their imagination, I’d be off traipsing around the globe, careening from circuit party to circuit party in some sort of cum-drunk stupor all month.

Ok, that grossed me out. Me.

Happy to burst their bubble – but with the style and panache a straight ally expects of their GBF – I set her, um…straight.

Here’s what I said, basically. She was rightfully near death when I finished.

“I dunno. I’ve been thinking about getting a haircut.”

I could see her translating my sentence from straight to gay and imagining me with rainbow colors died into my ‘do.

She needs a lot of setting straight. Straight setting? I don’t know what the proper Queen’s English would deem proper English syntax there…

“But then, I dunno. I’m kind of invested in the length at this point.”

“It’s never been this long before, has it?”

“Nah. Could’ve never pulled it off when I was working professionally. But that’s not the point.”

I see her confusion and debate dragging her along a little longer or moving in for the big finish. Knowing how tragically short American attention spans are these days – especially when the topic is not themselves – I decide not to risk losing my momentum to the “Squirrel! Phenomenon”.

“Yeah, at this point the rejection I get from trying to date The Gays just isn’t as fulfilling as it used to be.”

She’s starting to slow down during our walk, like a 70s-era robot being defeated by an illogic loop.

“So I’m thinking maybe – I dunno – maybe I’ll just grow it out to Locks of Love length and then try to donate it, because I’m sure they’d look at it and tell me in no uncertain terms that cancer patients would rather be bald than sport this stringy nest I call a mane. That seems like a man imminently satisfying level of rejection.”

Dead. She died right there on the sidewalk, dutifully swearing to me that my admittedly neglected hair was gorgeous. These are the types of transparent lies people who love me trot out…and that’s why I love them. That and their last gasp is apparently supposed to be an ego-boost to their favorite (only) homo.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go check the weather app to make sure it’s still gonna pour rain on Sunday’s parade. I will culturally fucking appropriate a dance if I have to…

Crappy Pride, Y’all!

Nostalgia Zone

When I first heard – years and years ago, now – that there was a sequel in development to 1986’s summer blockbuster Top Gun, I might have sprained something rolling my eyes. Admittedly, when news of production delays started trickling out, my surprise was hard to locate.

But once this year surprisingly finally arrived, bringing with it the promise of the Memorial Day weekend release of Top Gun: Maverick, I was…intrigued. Daunted, but intrigued.

Daunted because I had been psyching myself up for a post-lockdown return to theaters for months. There were shows whose marketing made me swear they would be the trigger to get me back yo my pre-pandemic routine of seeing 2-3 movies each month. After the marketing hype died down and the reviews started rolling in and showing the reality of that hype, those movies quickly faded from memory.

It was like the hyper intensity of losing one’s virginity all over again! I wanted to “give it up” for a worthy movie, not…The King’s Man.

Like Spider-Man – which I see makes my prior analogy creepy since this movie is about a high school superhero. In my defense, that could have been any Marvel movie. However, I’d given a Disney employee a ride last November and mentioned Black Widow possibly popping my post-COVID theater cherry and he encouraged me to save it and stream Black Widow.

In defense of ScarJo’s superhero swan song, I did stream it and it was quite enjoyable. Even the second time I watched it on Disney+.

The reality is, Spider-Man didn’t do it for me. I just couldn’t get to a theater for Peter Parker. None of the other seasonal tentpole movies got me there, either.

Strangely, it did end up being a Marvel movie that ultimately got me there: Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness. It was…good, and I’m glad I saw it on a big screen, but at the same time understood the save it for streaming advice I’d gotten about Black Widow six months earlier.

But you know what made it the winner?

Top Gun: Maverick.

The gushing critical reviews were near-unanimous. It had a 97% score on Rotten Tomatoes.

It seemed to be universally taking everyone’s breath away.

What, you thought the title would be the only pun in this post?

It had a Memorial Day weekend opening, 36 years after the original’s holiday weekend – I think the original had a July 4th debut – release.

But it wasn’t the hype or the reviews that bore out the hype that still failed to get me there. It wasn’t only the crowds I anticipated for a three day weekend blockbuster release that kept me away.

It was the PNW weather, believe it or not.

You see, when I saw the original, it was during the first summer I lived away from home after graduating high school. I saw it in an old-time one screen movie house in Manhattan on a sultry summer weekend night.

No AC.

No air handling whatsoever.

Movie magic induced adrenaline.

Sweaty hunks playing volleyball.

For so many reasons, those herculon-upholstered movie theater seats probably needed to be wrung out after this show.

But what will always stay with me about this viewing experience is the Basic Becky that stood up in the middle of both the show and and the theater and decided that it was more important for us all to see everything she’d consumed that day.

Given the presence of the humidity and heat, the absence of AC or any ventilation and the smell of co-ed puke and the underlying burn of stomach acid…an irreplaceable memory was created.

While I could certainly do without a Basic Becky reunion, I just couldn’t get behind a Top Gun reunion without summer weather. The PNDub let me down, having clocked our 10th wettest May on record. Seeing Maverick under those weather conditions would have been as weird as going to a movie theater and not eating too much popcorn!

So, Doctor Strange it was. It was an action that also indulged my desire to root for the underdog, since Maverick’s release was expected to knock Doctor Strange off of its two week reign of the box office. My ticket purchase didn’t keep it on top – nor did the other dozen tickets sold for that screening. But those conditions made for a comfortable post-COVID return to the movies for this grumpy old man.

Crowds. Who needs ‘em?

Carrying that strategy forward might extrapolate to my seeing Maverick this week…while everyone else is wrapping up the Jurassic World trilogy.

Nostalgia Zone

Bitches Be Bitchin’

I lost two skirmishes in the Battle of the Sexes today and I didn’t even know I was engaged in the warfare.

To make it an even more epic or decisive loss, it was on the same battlefield street. Within a three block stretch.

To be honest, this could have easily been a car vs not-car kerfuffle – for which Portland is known.

That Google News headline is the result of a three to four hour closure of the city’s east-west freeway artery, courtesy of a pedestrian vs car engagement that did not go in favor of the pedestrian. Unless the pedestrian’s desired outcome was to go the way of the Dodo.

Oh, and yes…the weather icon in that pic does indicate it’s 70 degrees here today and raining. That’s Portland weather!

By contrast, my own losses seem less than minor. But my ire is still roused.

Karen 1:

I’m sure it’s disrespectful to call an anonymous woman Karen. Or, since there’s two in this story, not call her Karen Prime. You just never know what will set someone off – as this story will highlight.

I was driving up Lovejoy just a few blocks from home. As I approached an intersection where Lovejoy had the right of way and one-way 11th had a stop sign, I saw a pedestrian walking north on 11th as I was heading west. She was nowhere near the corner when I saw her and I didn’t know whether she was going to cross Lovejoy or turn and head east.

I’m not a mind reader, after all. But I am one of those people who rolls their eyes at the Portland transplants that try to blend in as native Portlanders by stopping to yield their wrong-of-way to people half a block away. Usually by stopping in the intersection to wait so that no one can use it until they are done bring magnanimous.

Yet, when I looked in the rear-view to see which trajectory she’d been on, there she was giving me a dramatic and exasperated palms up. Oh, for fuck sake. What was her expectation, that I do a brake stand for her just in case? Karen, your mom might have told you doors would open for you but that didn’t mean you’d stop traffic. Although, she did manage to create a seemingly entitled bitch.

I debated going around the block to engage, but then remembered the old…Oscar Wilde? No, it was a Mark Twain quote and went on my unsuspecting way.

Karen 2:

Meanwhile, I had to park two blocks later – delivering brunch to someone who failed to grasp the core concept of brunch – and it happened again. Except Karen 2’s BS butthurt was 180 degrees from Karen 1’s.

I know this because we don’t just run over homeless pedestrians here in Portland, we’ve killed our share of cyclists, too. We had a very vocal cyclist population that rightfully and vocally spent a decade pointing out how often drivers bothered to decorate their vehicles and nearby pavement with them. Once they were heard and managed to get the city to enact meaningful change to traffic laws and management, they went off the entitlement rails and started doing shit like the cyclist version of a California stop. Or the cyclist version of yielding their wrong of way – which is actually never conceding the right of way isn’t theirs for the taking in any situation – vehicular or pedestrian, their stance is “fuck you, I’m a cyclist”.

Anyway, as I was pulling away from the curb – one space back from an intersection where I again had the right of way – I saw a cyclist Karen slowing at the stop sign. At, not approaching. It’s an important designation since cyclists are famous for this move, one that usually precedes a sudden acceleration through the stop sign when they decide there’s no immediate threat.

Thinking the odds are she could have easily missed me pulling out of my parking spot, I gave her the whole “no, you go” gesture.

Again, not a mind reader. This was made clear by the exasperated eyeroll cyclist Karen awarded my thoughtfulness. Fuck me for trying, right? My gall was clearly lacking any form of mitigation.

Having found my peace with the universe after my prior Karen encounter, I simply admired my nails over the steering wheel until she composed herself enough to clear the intersection.

But as I resumed my day, I realized I was 0-2 in this three block stretch, I figured maybe I’d better use my time on activities that didn’t involve other humans and came home to my murderous feline.

Completely forgetting the three bags of recycling I’d brought down and put in my car to drop off after my brunch time efforts. So now guess what I get to do?

Maybe I’ll see if my dinner time car-karma is any better and do some deliveries “on the way home” from dropping them off. I’d say wish me luck, but c’mon…what could possibly go wrong? Haha.

Bitches Be Bitchin’

TRSD 32: When You’re With Me…

…you’re with Stupid.

Surrealiously.

Pure, adulterated – let’s face it, I can’t pull off unadulterated – stupid.

I went to coffee with a friend this morning, came home, worked out and then finally got around to cleaning my bathroom.

I’d been proChristinating it for too long. Almost as long as I’ve been putting off a haircut, and, no…the causal relationship between a messy bathroom and long hair has not escaped my notice.

But here I am, finally addressing one of those issues.

So I do the whole thing: toilet, sink, mirror, sweep, baseboards and then mop.

I was rather surprised that my back only complained a little. Mops and brooms are not really made for long people’s bodies.

Then I reward myself with a much needed shower and as soon as I pull back the curtain…

And I just didn’t have it in me to do anything more than stand there naked with the shower running and chastise myself for my completely-within-my-control level of idiocy. I stepped into the shower and just sulked about it.

Sadly, while standing there, I realized that this wasn’t even the dumbest thing I’ve done in the last several weeks. Instead of boring you with proof, I’ll skip right to the apex of my dumbassery.

My parents has this big that was going around a while back. It descended upon them the week before Mother’s Day, causing them to isolate that weekend. My youngest brother also came down with it around that same time, prompting the chicken/egg question no one wants to openly ask anymore – except me, apparently.

I wasn’t asking the question. I was observing.

They were down for about a week and change, then flew to Dallas to watch BSB’s kids while he was down for back surgery. They are gone for a week and then want to connect with me for breakfast – which I’m always down for with them!

Except

I wake up that day feeling…things I don’t like feeling.

My head was at about 30 psi, but there was nothing else. No runny nose, no headache, no fever, no phlegm-y throat…just pressure. Oh, my eyes were all runny and light sensitive. I’d slept like crap.

Naturally, I just assumed I had whatever they had. I told them, they’d just had it and were game, so off we went.

Well, almost off we went.

First, I went foraging in my medicine drawer. I’m sick rarely enough that I never know what I’ve got for over-the-counter cures around the house. With masks the last few years, that rarely became even more so.

Finding something in a blister pack that didn’t look like pepto, I made my way to the fridge for a bubble water to wash it down. Remembering my crappy night of rest, I popped a GOAT Fuel – a locally made, BIPOC-owned energy drink – and washed down my mystery cure with a half can in one quaff. Then I put on my shoes and ran out the door to meet mom and dad.

By the time I sat down at breakfast, I was high as a kite. I felt amazing. Not normal amazing. This was like MDMAmazing, and if you know, you know.

Over the course of breakfast, I over caffeinated to compensate and live-streamed my physical status updates to my poor parents. They seemed to enjoy – albeit in a horrified parental way – my body’s goings on. I’m sure they were simultaneously wondering how I’d made it this far in life without somehow winning a Darwin Award.

Simple – not dead yet. But don’t count me out!

Surprisingly, my parents let me leave with my car keys. I kid, but honestly, up until that last cup of coffee, I’d been thinking I was probably best walking home. I was also curious to see what I’d taken and how expired it was.

Literally.

I am use-my-camera-zoomed-all-the-way-in-to-take-a-pic-and-then-blow-the-pic-up-to-read-the-label years old.

Clearly, I’d lost the squinting game this time around.

When I get back home, I double-check the trash to make sure there’s an actual blister pack in there. I had begun to wonder if I’d accidentally taken that acid a passenger had tipped me back in my Lyft days.

Sure enough, there it was, one destroyed capsule package. I go to my medicine drawer again: allergy meds.

Ok, I can see that causing me to feel a little woozy. Ever since I have been on OTC remedies versus prescription, I’ve been a little more judicious in my use since they always hit me a little differently that they Rx stuff I took the first few years I had allergies.

Chalking it up to caveat dumbass, I decide to polish off the last of the GOAT Fuel from the fridge. Hey, the coffee seemed to help, right? When I open the fridge, I literally said, “Oh, for fuck sake” out loud.

If you’re wondering…my self-made attention deficit self had popped a can of 8% alcohol by volume White Claw and chugged half a can with an allergy pill on an empty stomach.

As humorous and simultaneously horrifying as that is, my brain instantly wondered if I’d just exposed my parents to the COVID since how would I not notice drinking alcohol if not for the loss of my taste?

Of course, I had to take several quick sips to see if I could taste the drink.

All good.

Knowing I was only a vector for stupidity and not a communicable disease, I laid down on the couch for a half hour and just reflected on what kind of dumb luck it must require to keep me alive.

A lot.

Like, seriously…if guardian angels and god are a thing, how the hell many angels are tasked with saving me from myself just to keep me alive to endure my hellacious existence longer?!?

Then it hit me. Maybe I was dead and this is my purgatory.

Or I’m just stupid.

TRSD 32: When You’re With Me…

K-GAY TV

Channel 1:

I had an unexpected palate cleanser of a TV experience last night. I watched – at the enthusiastic recommendation of a co-worker with dubious taste – Senior Year on Netflix. Since I don’t really know this person that well, I had to leverage her enthusiasm about the show with the unknowns of her viewing tastes.

I’m an Olympic caliber mathlete when it comes to rationalizing.

Plus, it was the Silver Fox’s last night in town, and he surprised me by taking his guts out for a tentatively exploratory drink with me. I hadn’t expected to see him since he had an afternoon wine date with some neighbors. But after jealously teasing him about what he planned to drink at this wine:30

…he followed up a couple hours later with “I’m saving my alcohol consumption for you!”

How could I refuse?

I had asked if he wanted to go out or stay in with wine and a movie. I think I might have mentioned – his imminent departure aside – that I wasn’t up for starting another series at the moment because, A) I can tell he’s itching to indulge one of his binge passions: subtitles. I can’t blame him. Regrettably, I’m already watching a 50/50 subtitled show and that’s giving me all the fix I need there, luckily it’s one based off of his recommendations so I’m in the clear as far as watching it without him. Back to that list, though; B) I don’t have the emotional bandwidth to invest in another series right meow. And it is an emotional investment. There’s the cost of simply committing to a series, for one thing, but then there’s subject matter to deal with.

We’d just come off of tearing through It’s A Sin on HBOMax and it was heavy! It’s the coming out/coming of age story of six friends who find themselves and each other in 1980s London.

Unlike Sex and the City, the city of London isn’t the unintended co-star. AIDS is. Hence the heavy.

I was glad to watch it, because: important. Even though I lived through that era in America, I needed it as a touchstone to the days when Gay Culture actually contained a culture versus <gestures vaguely> whatever these Lost Boys are trying to pass off as a community or culture today.

But lots of tears, speaking only for myself. So consider yourself warned.

But last night’s drink with The Fox ended up being an out of the house affair, sidestepping my fragility. At least initially. The topic of a movie eventually crept back in, but was ultimately rejected because of the time commitment. Today being a travel day, the Silver Fox didn’t really need to be up past his normal bedtime just to watch a movie. Me, having nothing else going, though…well, I was free to stay up and watch what I pegged as a little Brain Candy.

By and large, it was.

Cheerleader.

20 year coma.

Coma ends.

Cheerleader returns to finish high school at 37.

Brain Candy about brain trauma? Sure!

But the unexpected component was the wokeness of the project. The cast was diverse and the characters representative. I’m quite sure the male actors portraying gender fluid teens and dressing thusly will be quite the trigger for the vocal religious minority in the states.

It might actually account for the low rating on IMDb.

Might? Surely. It’s not a great movie, but the inclusivity that the movie portrays as today’s high school culture squares off nicely against the less-than-stellar experience high school was in reality for most any Millennial or older generational outsiders.

And I needed that optimistic thread in this story to offset the heaviness of It’s A Sin, which I’d say should be required viewing for anyone in the LGBTQ+ community before they’re allowed to take a pic of their junk or download Grindr.

It reset me to where I’d been when the Silver Fox rolled into town two weeks ago. Hopeful that the crop of gay dipshits I encounter every week might somehow collectively find their way out of the moniker Lost Boys.

Channel 2:

Before the Silver Fox made his return to town, I took another of his recommendations and watched Heartstopper.

Oh, my hell. <injects insulin> What a deliciously sweet story.

Goofy, gay art scene high schooler meets straight-but-secretly-questioning jock and they fall in love?

<sigh>

I am so jealous of the environment younger generations are living in. I mean, sure, I know it’s not all rainbows and unicorns…plus, they’re inheriting the planet we’ve all but destroyed, so they deserve a more idyllic youth. But this is exactly what my and the generations before me have been living toward these past decades: the ability to live life out of the closet and experience your true self in the open.

All those protests and pride parades and lobbying of politicians for equality under the law?

It was for this. So a couple of queer or questioning kids could fall in love.

Representation matters 100% – which is why people were so mad about Florida’s Don’t Say Gay law. Even more so about Disney’s initial silence over such a law going into effect in its backyard. You think your gonna make billions and billions on the back of our collective talent and get away with a shrug when we come under attack?

Au contraire.

TV, movies, theater and music…all of that art both imitates life and portrays the sometimes ugly truth of it. It’s cyclical. Sometimes art is a story or reflection of how something is. Others, it can be a representation of how it should or could be. In those instances, exposing non-allied individuals to something they are uncomfortable with through art can be a non-threatening way to introduce a topic and demystify or de-vilify it for them.

Again, representation matters…and with it, before long – a mere 50 years and counting in America – you’ll have boiled that taboo frog.

It was nice to watch a show – before I knew I needed it – that produced big, happy tears. I was so enthralled by the story and execution that I burned through all eight episodes in one night.

Again, it’s not like I’ve got anything else going on that would require me to be up and at it at a reasonable hour on a weekend.

The Fox’s return was pretty much hot on the heels of that viewing, so when he asked if I wanted to watch Young Royals, my answer was a heartfelt

Despite the fact that I suspected it was subtitled. Turns out, only dubbed. See? The Silver Fox challenges me to be a better me and me is rewarded with less work than me thought a better me would require. Of me.

Another high school coming of age/coming out story? Sure, why not?

And the trope isn’t totally monochromatic.

The boys in Heartstopper were both middle class Brits. This one was about a poor, working class Swede and a literal (well, in the show, not real life) Swedish Prince.

Totally different.

Ok, well different enough that it’s more of a fairy tail tale premise could be digestible for someone who couldn’t connect with a depiction of an uncomfortable topic in the shadow of their own class.

I know I’m aiming high to even think the representation these shows provide is on a straight line trajectory to the people that can’t/won’t/don’t accept the LGBTQ+ population.

I know.

But those who aren’t resistant, just underexposed can see this and be better armed against the hateful rhetoric that seems to be the default of that further out group. That we’re deviants or abominations or – even worse – have designs on their own perceived imperiled and precious little pooters.

No, thank you.

Even better, the representation these shows provide may equip the kids who are questioning their sexuality and where they belong on the spectrum of this intensely important part of the human experience. It might equip them to be able to start the conversation with someone who couldn’t nurture and enable their coming out as their true selves…especially if that someone is themself.

If the weather is t as glorious where you live as it is in Portland this weekend, treat yourself to one of these – maybe not It’s A Sin if you’re new to gay culture. I can’t promise you that you won’t tear up, but I can promise you some feel-good entertainment…and that it won’t make you gay.

K-GAY TV

Frayed

Is it sad that both of my parents are sick on Mother’s Day weekend and when I reviewed my “notes” about what I’d been wanting to process write about this weekend, both topics involved non-Mother’s Day friendly topics?

It’s true, though. One potential entry was the simple lessons we learn growing up – that are usually, let’s face it, imparted by our moms – that we fail to reach back to and just check in with to ensure we aren’t pieces of shit humans. Denial, am I right?

The other topic – this one – is literally closer to home.

It’s about Black Sheep Bro. More to the point, the collateral relationship damaged his sudden reemergence and desire to wreckoncile with the family is having.

At least as it appears from where I’m sitting. Which, strangely, is relatively on the sidelines.

Also, the last time any of us didn’t see him was when he ghosted us at mom’s house on Mother’s Day in the very early aughts. So his residency in my subconscious this week is timely.

I know I’ve mentioned BSB a few times over the years. Even recently, since his desire to repair his familial relations seem to have not surprisingly coincided with his divorce.

But here’s the deal, no one knows why he left. And when I say no one, I’m including him. I think he’s tossed out so many lies false flags over the 20 years he was MIA in his marriage to explain his estrangement, that he (conveniently) doesn’t even remember the truth. The reality of the situation – again, just from my personal interventions interactions with him during his estrangement – seems to be that when backed into a corner, he’d make something up. Probably something he presumed the listener would want to hear and just take at face value.

That certainly happened with me when I pushed him. My favorite story of his was blaming mom for his decision to leave. “She wasn’t supportive of me when I got my DUI” – and you just know he’s already on thin ice with me here for using someone else’s alleged poor behavior to deflect from his own law enforcement sourced actual bad behavior.

“How so? How was she unsupportive?”

“Well, when she brought me home, she sat me down and said to me, ‘I’m really disappointed in you’. That just was really hurtful at that moment and not what I needed to hear.”

Ok, well A) I think disappointed is the appropriate parental response after picking one’s progeny up from the drunk tank; but, B) that’s not what I remembered happening. I remember her running point on the collateral insurance damage, getting legal advice on BSB’s options and that type of supportive parenting.

And you know I told him exactly that,

“No, no. That was the first time.”

And…C) of course you have a second and secret DUI. But of course this is also none of your own fault. You are the victim. Yeeeeessssss.

Obviously.

And here’s a D) for ya –

I’ll take “Things to never say out loud” for $500, Alex!

– it doesn’t matter, because I don’t think any of it is true!

I mentioned he was a no-show at a family Mother’s Day gathering. Well, you can damn well bet I called him on the way home to low-grade chew him out over that decision. I knew he’d been thinking about “taking a break” as he had put it. Needing some time away to figure some things out he said.

This conversational thread came up several times during our weekend hang outs during the early part of that year. His former live-in girlfriend was my employee and they’d met through me. She was also great friends with my very own psychic herpes, Sacha.

He never really provided any detail, but I had a feeling his desire for distance stemmed from his breakup with his girlfriend sometime around the prior Thanksgiving. That was a shitty situation in and of itself, given the years-long relationship they’d had.

In true men-are-shit form, not long after that breakup, he’d taken up with his ex. We didn’t put any stock in the causal nature of her sudden reappearance on the scene. I actually knew it was the reality of the shituation. Everyone else in the family didn’t waste much energy on the chicken or the egg scenario BSB was trying to exist in.

But there we were, at mom’s for Thanksgiving and trying to plan Christmas. My sister started out trying to pin down headcount with my bro by asking him directly if the former-ex was coming. He replied cryptically, “She won’t be an issue” and then continued to stick to some variant of that vague BS every time the question came back around.

You see, we’re big White Elephant people.

Ok, that didn’t come out right.

We don’t try and play “hide the tree” with our gifts. We just try to have fun. We’ll draw names and do a gift exchange or pick a theme and then buy one gift that can be stolen…that type of thing. You can see where an accurate headcount being important comes into play.

“Don’t worry about her, I’ll deal with her”, honestly, I couldn’t tell if he was breaking up with her or disappearing her.

Suffice to say, no one present – haha – present thought there was a third option. Imagine our surprise when he showed up Christmas morning with the former-ex…and we’d followed his directions and not worried about her.

We were all pretty irked by his lack of follow-through. None more than my sister, who felt extra blindsided as the host.

However, flash forward to that last Mother’s Day and he’s not thinking back to that at all. He’s just laying it all – again, vaguely – at mom’s feet. “She knows what she did.”

Well, she didn’t.

She did know, as did we all since it was oozing out of every cell of her being, how hurt she was to hear that. Well, to hear it and have no idea what egregious wrong she’s committed that would earn her this retaliation.

That’s what she lived with for two decades, though. The pain working it’s way to the surface every family dinner or holiday, right there behind her eyes. Sometimes spilling out of them.

It got better over time.

Then it would get worse again because she’d somehow hear that he’d gotten married or that they started and then expanded a family.

But once they moved to Texas to be near the wealthy grandparents-in-law, I think we all expected that was the last of it.

Finally.

From me.

I’d been the one closest to the situation when he left. I was the point of contact after he started a family – since my job forced me to relocate to the city he was allegedly calling home at the time. That was a failed attempt.

Then when his kids started asking about his family, I was the one he and his former-ex-turned-wife reached out to.

With conditions.

You don’t have to know me too well to know that wouldn’t fly. And then there was the added murkiness of new but unimproved blame and excuses for why he left.

He and his wife were always drunk when they called me. And they were in Texas, so a couple drinking hours ahead and very late hour combined for some pretty abrupt ends to our conversations when I did what I did best: pulled at the logic threads until they – the arguments, BSB and/or his wife – unraveled.

Now, though, I feel like his resurfacing is starting to fray the fabric of my family.

Just who would have thought I’d be the one to take his BS best? I’m usually the least forgiving son of a bitch around.

Seriously, I can provide references.

I’m perfectly happy to point to the bed someone’s made themselves and tell them to get comfortable. At the same time, I’m able to treat this guy as a non-threat because he’s half a continent away and in a state I’m only ever setting foot in again if my plane goes down while flying over it. Then, of course, my feet are equally likely to be separated from my body, so…

Mom and dad, of course, are doing what amazing parents do. Parenting. I think they kept themselves fairly well insulated initially, which I respected – but still worried about.

A year-plus (maybe two-plus?) in, I know their defenses are down, I’m not surprised. I don’t know what it’s like to be a parent – let alone in a situation as painful as the one my mom has endured with BSB.

What’s caught me off guard is how tightly my sibs are holding on to this, though.

Then again, they also held on to the pain dad caused when he divorced mom. When he came back around – at the arrival of his first grand – it didn’t look good for him and his hopes to reconnect with his family.

In that case, though, I felt I had an emotional leg up over the sibs. While they’d moved back to Oregon with mom after the divorce, I’d stayed in California – because: baby gay – and eventually ended up living in the same city as dad. We had a huge lead over his relationship with his other kids. It was kind of symbiotic: I had to accept his tearing apart of the family and he had to accept my sexuality when it wasn’t a popular thing.

With BSB, though? I don’t fucking care. Honestly, I’m surprised he’s still alive. Not just because his ex-wife is a redhead, either.

If he wants to try to make brotherly with me, let him. If I respect his approach – and it rings true, which is a high bar for a man with his gravitational pull to pull off – fine. If his approach doesn’t pass my sniff test?

Well, just picture me as King Kong atop the Empire State Building swatting down his biplane overtures at reconciling.

But my brother and sister care. They are bothered. My working assumption up til this very week has been that they’ll eventually meet me where I’m at emotionally with BSB – however that looks for them.

Maybe they start texting or messaging him back when he reaches out. Maybe it wouldn’t be until they see him at the vacation mom and dad planned for him and his boys. They’re coming to Oregon to visit their other grandparents who live in a remote southern coastal town. They visit for two weeks every year, but their personalities are stricter than the ideal grandparent. That has manifested as shorter trips or, like last year, a week with my parents after a week with the in-law grandparents.

This year, it’s a week in Sunriver. I’m planning to go. My sister lives nearby but isn’t staying in the Sunriver house like she usually does. No telling what my youngest bro will do. So far, I think getting him to my sister’s house would be a good level of participation.

This, though…this is where the fray really began to show.

My parents were very transparent about their desire for their kids to all get along. They also admitted that they knew our relationships with BSB would heal differently than theirs.

I was comfortable with that being where things were with us.

But this vacation? It overlaps with the two weeks my youngest brother takes his solo-vacation around his birthday each year. The expectation hope was he’d join us for a week.

Fray.

Then BSB re-injured his back and was looking at surgery in the next week or two. He was supposed to get confirmation of that yesterday, so I don’t know where things stand there.

What I do know is that my parents canceled a trip to see my sister so they could be ready to fly out to help BSB with the kids while he recovered.

Huge fray.

That’s where we’re at on Mother’s Day eve. And I do not like it one bit.

Best part? BSB has sent me a couple of IMs while I typed this out…and one of the pushes I saw included an emotionally charged phrase that makes me…afrayed of what the full message will say.

Super.

Makes me wish the dead-to-me would cooperate by accepting their dead-to-me status.

Frayed

Settled Affairs

I think I mentioned a while back that my grandfather passed away. He was just weeks shy of his 100th, so I like to say that he pulled a Betty White. I also like to say he might have liked older women, so was sure to leave a cushion between them. I think she died 3 weeks shy of her century and grandpa had closer to 6.

Of course, as he handed off the patriarch title to my father, I also like to think he was teaching us one last life lesson: don’t get your hopes up. You see, I’d bet the family was a bit more excited about having a centurian in our midst than he was about being said centurian.

Why doesn’t spellcheck like that word – centurian? It wants to make it “centurion”, but grandpa wasn’t a gladiator. The spelling paradigm for other decades of age grouping is “ian”, so why not here, too?

Septuagenarian.

Octogenarian.

Nonagenarian.

Centurian.

Maybe there’s just not a word for it in the English language since it’s such a rare thing in Western culture. Maybe there’s another word for it. Look, I don’t have time to Google it…I’m making sauce!

Also, my place smells fantastic right now.

Anyway…he decided to die without a Will. My uncle had helped him draw one up while he was visiting years ago – along with a power of attorney – and all he needed to do was get them notarized. He managed to get the PoA completed, but just didn’t find the time to get the Will done.

I come by my procrastination honestly.

So my dad and uncle have been slogging through settling grandpa’s estate.

It wasn’t – or hasn’t – been too challenging, aside from dad being local and my uncle being in Texas. My dad’s goal had been to have the house sold by the time that he and mom went to my cousin’s wedding in early April. Then it was just a matter of waiting out probate.

My uncle’s goal was a little less defined. Actually, it may have not even existed. Honestly, I think he has separation issues. If I’m not mistaken, someone still has some of grandma’s stuff in their garage that he couldn’t part with. She’s been dead close to 20 years now.

But my uncle did manage to go through a lot of stuff when he was here for the service. Including a quarter of a closet worth of stuff he wanted to keep.

I get it, this was the house he grew up in. That’s a rare occurrence anymore.

That said, he was reluctant to commit to anything more than what was ok to donate. At the same time, he actively poo-pooed the notion of an estate sale.

But once he was on a plane, my sister and I got right to work doing just that. To hear my parents talk about it, we were amazing. Honestly, though, my sister was an absolute force. I don’t have her drive or determination. Plus, her round trip commute every day with mom and dad was close to 3 hours!

Hats off, sis. All the props.

Since mom and dad credited us equally, it was their pleasure to encourage us to liberate anything we wanted from the estate. In the interest of heirlooms and legacies, y’know.

Since grandpa’s house closed a couple weeks back – the didn’t quite make dad’s timeline, but they were signing papers at the wedding – and there’s about a month left on probate, I figured now was a good time to highlight some of the things of his I’ve brought into my home.

Also, I’ve done the work on my relationship with grandpa and feel like I can look at these reminders and think of the man he was without being reminded only of the good or bad.

Oh, quick sidebar: one of the things that my uncle found was the original advertisement for his house – which was new construction in the mid-60s. Let me just say that I think the reality of owning a house for 40+ years os a thing of the past. Americans can’t commit like that. At the same time, selling a house for 30+ times the original purchase price is also a thing of the past. At least on my coast.

Now that the sidebar is out of the way, you can probably think of some of the amazing things that gathered dust at grandpa’s during the last half of his life. Not to mention all of mine.

I swear, I don’t covet. Really, the one thing I wanted once it was pulled out from the back of a bottom cabinet was the cookie jar from my childhood.

I knew it was valuable – estimates put it at around $300 – so I was reluctant to accede to mom and dad’s encouragement. Dutifully, I posted it online. But when takers failed to materialize, well…it wasn’t going to Goodwill!

It’s so cool. And aside from grandpa bringing out his 5 lb coffee cans full of change for us to sort through during our visits, stuffing my hand into this cookie jar was very looked forward to part of visiting grandpa.

And that was kind of how I approached my heirlooting heirlooming. Make it available for sale, but if no one took it, it was up for grabs.

I say “kind of” because there was a slatted bench I wanted – despite having nowhere to put it. Grandpa had it at the foot of his bed forever, however, my bedroom isn’t as spacious as his. Still, you know how The Gays are with the mid-century aesthetic.

So, for me – for now – it’ll be a plant stand. Also, like the cactuses on the other window sill, this keeps Myrtle out of the windows, which means I can put the screens back up for the summer. Who knew that Myrtle would hate slats?

Don’t worry, she’s upped her pooping out of the box game to let me know she objects to the placement.

You can’t really see it well in that pic, but there’s also one of a pair of nifty ashtrays that I pinched. I don’t smoke, so really these were just nostalgic discoveries when we found them. However, when I turned them over to find my grandmother’s signature of them, they became a remote tray and place to drop my keys and wallet.

I’m not a smoker. That’s not to say they aren’t well used…luckily, grandma’s glazing game was right on, otherwise I’m sure the smell that went along with those nicotine stains would have been a nostalgia dealbreaker.

Yes, yes…dusty. I know.

Unbeknownst to us, grandpa had a thing for old bottles and insulators. Like an “entire kitchen cabinet full” thing. That being the case, I didn’t mind adding a couple of his to my own collection of glass whatnots.

That bottle is an old Old Bushmills bottle. The glass – in raised letters – says that “Federal law forbids the reuse of this bottle”. My limited pre-post-Googling on this topic hasn’t brought and federal prohibitions – see what I did there? – to light. I’m sure someone <cough, cough> Phil! <cough> will have a notion on the topic, so let me know in the comments.

The last instance of heirlooting I’m gonna share was both a last minute discovery and an “I’m grabbing that before the house goes on the market” type of thing.

No one in my family agrees with me that this had been in great-grandma’s kitchen when she died in the mid-70s. So I’m likely wrong, but that’s what I remember. Still, when we cleared away the project remnants from it and pulled the protective cardboard off of it, I think everyone was surprised by its presence in grandpa’s garage. Clever man had the wear-withal to protect its surface, despite its relegation to his garage…

I’m just stunned that no one snatched it up at the estate sale! So, that being the reality, once dad told me the date the house was going live on MLS, I did a midnight run and picked this baby up. If no one else wanted it, Myrtle can use it as a feeding station. Saves my old knees and back squatting done multiple times a day to feed the not-as-old-as-me bitch gal.

I mean, look at it. It’s amazing! And in better shape for its age than I – but I’m working on it! Since entertaining isn’t really a thing these days – at least in my life – I’m in no hurry to add chairs. But I will, I’m sure.

Someday.

Until then, I’m glad I have these mementos of grandpa’s. For as difficult as our relationship was after I came out as gay, these remind me of the amazing grandfather he was, even if he wasn’t always the best human. And on that last point, he didn’t change so much as he changed his behaviors. That says something. I knew in certain moments of silence that he was editing his responses, if not abandoning them altogether. An impressive feat for someone whose anachronistic behaviors had been written off by most as “That’s just how he was raised” things we would have to endure.

Well, I was watching, and I think he proved them all wrong. That’s both a memory and an example that I can embrace.

Especially as my family faces it’s next obstacle: bringing Black Sheep Bro back into the fold.

Settled Affairs

Innate Skills

This is what happens (to my crazy ass, anyway) when your subconscious self thinks that your conscious self needs a reminder that you really shouldn’t be allowed out of the house unsupervised.

No, your personal retina/rod/cone situation has not been hacked.

Yes, I do know that orange is my favorite color.

And you can and have heard me joke about being OCD.

Wreckreationally.

But when I go into a store for a maté and a snack and the maté are on sale 2/$5, I get two. Of my favorite flavor.

Which is blood orange. I get it…

However, being responsible – or trying to be – about snacking, I’ll opt for something not crunchy or too processed. Dried apricots, right?!? They’re just hanging right there…

Obviously, also also orange-y.

No. I did not see the emerging theme.

But then I had to wait in line for some Karen-type. Her behavior stressed me out. Maybe it was more of an annoyed reaction. I dunno.

But those bastards at the Brodega run their line right down the goddamned chip and chocolate aisle – yes, they have about 18 feet of gourmet chocolate bars. Naturally, my response to this person’s behavior was emotional eating.

Plus, they recently – as I discovered in that moment – revamped their Cretor’s assortment to include cheese flavors again. Before this, they’d switched to only a pickle flavored SKU, and…no, thank you. Homey don’t want that.

However…

Anything cheesy and Cretor’s is amazing.

Highly recommend.

But what would you have me do in that situation?!? Of course, I picked one up.

So now I’ve got that calling me home. Myrtle could take a page out of cheesy popcorn’s playbook…

Innate Skills

The Password is: CULTURE

Celebrity Host: Yogurt.

Me: <blinks>

CH: Kombucha.

Me: <blink, blink>

CH: Live performances.

Me: THINGS I SEE FOR FREE!

CH: Oh! Wait, what? No. I’m sorry, we were looking for “culture”!

Me: Same, yo…but not on my budget! Someone else gonna need to pick up that tab.

CH: No parting gifts for you. Can someone get my agent on the phone!

Ok, my skinflintiness is situational. I’m choosing to be amused by the pattern. I’m also choosing to be grateful for the opportunity to see live performances again.

It had been too long before the pandemic started. Tack on two pandemic years to that too long and you’ve got a real risk of Xtopher returning to some devolved Appalachian form of human.

Don’t get me wrong, I know my problematic drinking made me luckier than most during the pandemic. Geez, that sounds like a line from a winning entry for a free stay at Betty Ford…

Tis true, though. My former old standby, the Big Legrowlski, hosted music during the pandemic.

Daily.

It was quite…the salvation.

No, I wasn’t there daily, thank you.

But a couple times a week. I’d go and sit in their three-sided tents outside and watch people perform through the 10 foot windows, doors open and speakers on the sidewalk.

Plus, fire pit. It was the mental health booster I needed during the lockdown. Sorry for anyone who thought “alcohol” was the correct answer there. Close second, but…no. And that’s despite the fact that many of these mental health boosts happened in 40 degree weather, oftentimes with rain running in under the tent wall and right under my feet.

So when I was working from home and heard one of the DJs from my local radio station – Kink.fm – say he was giving away tickets to a Saturday morning performance at the inaugural re-opening of their live music lounge…I was on that phone! Despite the fact that refreshments were being sponsored by Coors Light.

And I won!

And that’s why I was out of bed before noon a few Saturdays back.

Tom Odell, that is, not free Coors Light. (Sorry, dad!)

Seriously, having a chance to see live music for the first time in over two years…we’ll, I thought Indigo Girls playing at the Pioneer Courthouse Square would get me fixed up. But that show isn’t until June. And I’d have to buy my tickets. I still might. Or I’ll just go hangout on the sidewalk, since the venue is literally a brick plaza on a city block.

Proof Portlanders use umbrellas?

Legitimately seeing live music for free, though? Highly recommend. And as if free wasn’t an awesome enough incentive? The free libations included some Topo Chico hard seltzer options, so I had some. Partook of the two free drink maximum, did I.

Booze Bracelet!

Then there’s the reality that this venue holds less than 100 people. I tried to count seats, and I don’t think it has 70. It had 7 rows of seats. I chose to stand close to the bar in the back, since I was alone.

Free, boozy, intimate…well, I doubt I’ve ever experienced those three adjectives simultaneously before.

Plus, Tom Odell has a seriously distinctive and evocative singing voice. The first note off the piano made the hair on my eyes stand up and when he opened his mouth, tears started welling up on my forearms.

Wait. Something’s not right in that paragraph…here, don’t think too much about that. Look at these pics, instead.

Ok, his voice and fingers do all the heavy lifting. He doesn’t have to rely on visual distractions like dancing and pyrotechnics to give a killer experience. But it does make for a dozen pics that look almost exactly the same.

But just look how small the venue is!

Pre-show audience games

Best part – besides standing in a room with a few dozen strangers having an aurally stimulating experience? When I turned on the car, guess who was playing on the radio?

Right outside the station, no less. Quite a meta-moment, if you ask me.

This is all top of mind for me right meow since I just got home from a show with Little Buddy. I was her +1 for Freestyle Love Supreme this afternoon. Yay for married season ticket holders with busy spouses!

That’s right, I am spoiled and got to see a second live performance in less than a month for free! I wasn’t super into seeing the show, but I was super into a social fix with Little Buddy. It’s always too long between visits, but since she moved out to the Columbia River Gorge, it’s even further between visits.

Don’t get me wrong, she invites. I think I’ve taken her up on it twice, although one of those might have been prior to the full-time residency. But it’s home to some of the best wine in Oregon – and that’s saying things! – so it is somewhat problematic for this light weight…since it’s an hour away.

So on the second-nicest day of the year so far in Portland, I donned my dress-Chucks and went to the theater.

Hey, it was over 70 today…I almost wore shorts!

For a show I wasn’t jazzed to see – call it a variant of something every younger sibling knows too well, since this was co-created by Lin Manuel Miranda and (through some scheduling miracle) playing at the same time that Hamilton was in town – this was pretty damned entertaining.

The premise is that it’s all pretty much improvised based off of audience feedback, hence the “freestyle”. There’s also a lot of hip-hop vibe going on with that improv. There’s a beatbox guy, a couple MC folks, not in the Master of Ceremony vein, rather the MC rappers tack onto their stage names.

And then a bunch of middle-aged or better white women from the suburbs yelling out suggestions.

FWIW, my word was gonna be orgasm – but some of these Karens brought proof they’d had sex with them. Since I have a modicum of decency, I didn’t ejaculate yell out my contribution.

I think part of the fun for me was judging what people did yell out.

Two people yelled out answers that one of the MCs had used as an example. Friggin’ brainiacs, those two.

Several others yelled out variations of things like “singing” or “dancing” and I was all, “Really? We’re here to watch some hip-hop improv and your subject matter suggestions are ‘singing and dancing’?!?”

Mouths shut, husband’s wallets open, ladies. That’s all the contribution to the arts you need to worry about.

Makes me regret not yelling “Orgasm!” when they were taking suggestions on the “Something you can’t live without” theme. Seriously, someone yelled “Banana”…to be fair, I think it was the sibling of the STD that yelled out “Monkey” when the MCs were looking for verbs as a cue. But who can’t live without a banana?!?

Despite my audience members doing their best to prove they are barely more tolerable only being seen versus heard, I’m in the mood for more super spreader events live entertainment.

Given my aforementioned pandemic “live entertainment loophole”, I can only imagine how exciting these past few weekends were for others. I can overlook them not fully knowing how to audience appropriately.

And, damnit…now I’m in the mood! I may need to pick up a rush ticket or two over the coming month. Who knows, I might even troll Craigslist for an Indigo Girls ticket.

The Password is: CULTURE