Here Comes The Grumpopotamus!

This might entertain you.

It might not.

Really, it’s a lil good old therapeutic bitching for mine truly.

I went to bed content last night. Then I woke up…happy. Tired, still, but feeling happy. Before my feet hit the floor, I could feel that happy buzz ebbing. I know the Grumpopotamus is coming and I want to complain about what sent me to bed happy last night before it gets stampeded by it.

You see, I got to spend some social time with good folks last night. That right there is enough to make me content.

I found out around Little Buddy’s birthday that she’d never been to see the world famous drag show at Darcelle’s. Over the course of the next several months, we were able to coordinate a date to rectify that. Her husband, 2.0, is an unusually game fella and agreed to come along and the Silver Fox surprised me by accepting my invite.

I love that I have such an interesting group of friends! I can invite my best friend, a late in life gay, and one of my closest straight friends to a drag show and I expect my gay friend to decline but am not surprised that my straight friend is up for it.

My world is topsy turvy most of the time, but it’s a world with really. good. company.

Anyway, we go to the show because if you live in Portland…you go. Little Buddy having never been was a situation that needed to be corrected. I probably average a visit annually through no real effort and am familiar with the routine and several of the performers, but there is a drag sub-culture here that brings in a pretty steady crowd for their Wednesday-Sunday show schedule.

That’s nice, seeing a three-quarter full venue on a Wednesday night made me feel good for some reason. Sure, that reason might have only been relief that it wasn’t just my foursome and two bridal parties in the crowd.

The rest of the house was made up of relatively normal people, including a world famous (in Hood River, OR) stylist who was celebrating her 40th birthday.

Y’know, I just realized that I misspoke. The rest of the crowd wasn’t normal. There were four people celebrating birthdays in the audience last night, including two women who thought someone putting a microphone in their hand was an invitation to take over.

The aforementioned 40 year old – who world famously styled her double plus figure into some stretchy jeans and an open back top that looked like it was just a repurposed animal print bathroom curtain – was making the bridal parties look normal, and one of the brides was wearing a veil with dick horns on it. Her combination afforded me the opportunity to learn that she was wearing lacy underwear. I saw enough fabric over her waistband to make myself a pair of lacy underwear and enough skin to make Buffalo Bill break out his sewing machine, so that was nice and ughy. World Famous Stylist…

The second woman preventing us from being a normal audience was celebrating her 23rd. She was a “nurse” from a town whose population is just a couple unplanned high school pregnancies away from officially being “podunk” called Banks. Before she spoke, The Fox and I had referred to her as The Kardashian after seeing her tip the performers because…well, just close your eyes and think “Kardashian”. Whatever image pops into your head is exactly what she looked like. She had trouble answering the few questions Darcelle asks the birthday celebrants: how old are you, where are you from, what do you do…these are all questions that just function as set ups for Darcelle’s schtick. However, when the answer to “What do you do?” was “Uuuuhhh, I’m a – uuhh…nurse!” I think even Darcelle was momentarily surprised.

Or worried that she would one day soon be her nurse. Maybe she was scared.

You see, Darcelle is 87. As she pointed out, 88 in 100 days and she might need a nurse sooner rather than later.

I hope it’s not this nurse. We all agreed that she was likely the type of nurse that catered to rich old men with heart conditions…

Darcelle is the world’s oldest performing drag queen. She’s been doing her show at her own venue since 1967 and won an Emmy recently for a documentary about her story.

Holding a microphone is not an invitation to upstage her.

And this is why I went to bed happy last night. I got to watch this entertainer do what she’s been doing for half a century in the company of some very good friends. Any experience you can share with good friends is worth the price of admission. Watching Darcelle tolerate the antics of a Kardashian Nurse that weighed less than the wig and sequined full length dress she was wearing despite the fact that Darcelle’s age makes navigating her own showroom a physically challenging task was inspiring to me as a casually grumpy old man that barely tolerated the workplace shenanigans at my last job.

I felt pretty sure that old Walter Cole perfectly understood his place in the hierarchy of that room last night. I could sense it in his posture. The 23 year old didn’t realize that too soon she’d be some incarnation of that 40 year old world famous stylist who didn’t realize that she could call herself whatever she wanted while she was holding that microphone – go ahead, it’s your birthday – but that she’d failed to understand that she was standing in front of a soon to be 88 year old man, dressed in a gown that by itself probably weighed 40 lbs, wearing a two foot tall wig and enough makeup to paint the inside of the room we were all sharing who had been doing it for a decade longer than this 40 year old had been on this earth and she would never be him.

On top of that history in front of us, we also got to see some fun, campy lip syncing performances.

The entertainers ebb and flow throughout the week, depending on their day jobs and other gigs. The DQ I’ve known the longest – Bolivia Carmichaels – is the resident hostess at CC Slaughters right next door and leaves Darcelle’s after the 8:00 show to do a 10:00 show there. That’s a lot of work behind a microphone. Servers typically work 4-6 hour shifts…because taking care of people is hard. Bolivia taking care of people by serving up entertainment for 4 hours, in drag, largely unscripted?

That’s hard work.

I couldn’t do it. I wouldn’t even know how to start. But I know that sassing a Drag Queen isn’t going to make me famous for anything other than being obnoxious. Darcelle gives a talk toward the end of the show about how every performer she hires learns their schtick by laughing at themselves first and the audience second. It’s a good lesson. People who are self-anointed as world famous or whose biggest accomplishment to date was finding a dress that was short enough have not yet mastered this lesson.

I’d bet they missed it last night, too.

But Darcelle still came out and did my favorite number, Rhinestone Cowboy. Even if it was an abbreviated version because she’s almost 88!

We got to see the present company do a Crying Game worthy version of Hey Big Spender from…Sweet Charity? That absolutely brought the house down.

I missed seeing the company do it’s Cellblock Tango. But it needs more than three queens to make it work.

However, in the end? Penis headdresses and world famous pretenders couldn’t rub the luster off a great experience with great people.

Now, if you’ll excuse me…I’ve got a spin class to get to. I’m hoping some endorphins will help keep the Grumpopotamus at bay!

Here Comes The Grumpopotamus!

What Could Possibl…

Yeah, ok…the hell with that question.

I’m torn about whether it will be my death certificate or my tombstone that says, “Well, that answers that question…”

I forwarded my acupuncture appointment reminder to voicemail earlier and when I went in to delete the message, saw that I actually had two. Now, this would hardly be the first time I’ve received two reminder calls, but that wasn’t the case today.

The second call was a follow up to a kick ass interview that I had last week. Just wanted to let me know that they went with an internal.

If you have been reading The Great Job Hunt series, you know how lovely I find those words.

So, instead of dwelling and falling into the same trap that I did last time I got the internal candidate rash, I decided to refocus on some funnier “What could possibly go wrong” moments and other recent examples of my quirk-centric existence.

A much better use of my energy.

It’s amazing to me how many of these humorous situations are actually crowd sourced while I’m with friends versus my solo adventures. But let’s start with one of those rarer gems, shall we?

Because, it just happened.

I was at the pharmacy picking up a refill before the weekend – because I’m not working, pretty much have every day to get this errand done but for some reason would rather wait until 4:45 on a Friday to do so.

Maybe it’s that I wanna trot my keg belly across town at the hottest part of the day. Perhaps since it’s a Friday, I figured there’d be some guycandy knocking off early along the way to reward me for completing this task.

Maybe it was both.

I had called ahead, but there were still a few minutes needed to finish up my refill. Taking a seat, I heard the door open behind me and was treated to my guy candy.

Dressed in a cropped mesh football-ish jersey and cut off denim shorts, I assumed he couldn’t be coming from work. He might be heading to work, I mused, since my pharmacy is near one of Portland’s two gay strip clubs.

I got a little distracted when leaned over the counter and pushed his butt out toward me, but I did vaguely hear him say he needed a refill over the rushing of my pulse. My first thought was absolutely unmentionable but my second thought was, “This guy looks like he could have starred in a gay remake of an 80s Whitesnake video.

I was abruptly ripped back to reality by eight numbers: 11171996.

11

17

1996

He’s 22.

Of course, I had to share this with my friend, Diezel. He would certainly enjoy my discomfiture.

He certainly didn’t disappoint.

I couldn’t resist throwing a little shade in my jealousy over the carefree existence young gays have thanks to science, hence my “whore” comment.

Naturally, he sat down three feet from me and began finessing the fringe on his shorts. Picking at a thread here, lifting a knee to the side of his head to get a look at the backside of his shorts.

Seriously, kid…I’m looking. Let’s not overdo it, shall we?

Nevertheless, this St Lucille Bluth meme just captured my inner grumpy old man so perfectly in the moment…me, being all bitter over what I know I can’t have.

It was quite delicious – and responsible – that this kid was picking up his PrEP prescription moments before the weekend began. All the while, teasing the defenseless old man. It’s 90 degrees, kid. I’m too dehydrated to drool, don’t take it personally.

Earlier today, Jortis took some time to take a swipe at my figurative chops on the Facebook. He had seen a video about how to tell if there are sharks in the water before you swim in it.

He thought to tag me, which made me chuckle. Still, I watched the video through my fingers, ready to throw my phone aside at the first sign of a shark attack.

The video proudly touts the simple secret of detecting a shark infested body of water using only a spoon.

Step 1) Use spoon to taste a sample of the water

That’s it.

If the water tastes like salt there’s sharks in it.

I’ll wait while you recover from that subtle shock.

I’m of the mind that just because sharks are rarely found in fresh or brackish waters it doesn’t mean theyaren’t ever found there. As a matter of fact, I think every time you go into fresh water without encountering a shark, it just makes it more likely that it might happen the next time.

Yes, rivers.

Yes, lakes.

Yes, yes, yes, swimming pools, jacuzzis and bath tubs.

Fears are supposed to be irrational!

Also, I failed Probabilities & Statistics. In my defense, I took it at 8 am while I was working swing shift from 11 PM to 7 AM at Hoag Hospital.

This galeophobia of mine has been responsible for some rather amusing moments for my friends recently. At my expense, naturally. Not that I mind. With all the shit I sling, I best be able to take some in return!

Interesting side note, galeophobia is derived from the Greek word for weasel or polecat. Have you all become at least virtually acquainted with my murderous feline?

Not to be outdone, Little Buddy can generally be relied upon to insert an “irrational fear of sharks” bon mot into any given situation. And they’re usually pretty friggin’ hilarious.

This floor decal, for instance

Surely, there’s a shower curtain available.

I’m not suggesting at all that she goes out of her way to find these nightmare triggers for me.

The Facebook, on the other hand, seems to understand her shopping and internet browsing habits. Recently, this suggestion popped up on her Facebook feed.

She’s a crazy-talented baker, too, so I’ve no doubt about what the next birthday cake she bakes me will look like!

Finally – and I’m not suggesting that Little Buddy or Jortis is some sort of catalyst here – but last week, we all went to Portland Center Stage to see the final show of Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill.

Sidebar: if this is playing anywhere near you ever, I suggest you go see it.

Quite.

Amazing.

Anyhoo…after the show, we all cry-stumbled over to Powell’s because Jortis had a book he needed to pick up. None of us, save Jortis, knew what book he was after – and I’ve since forgotten…old – but I was surprised to find our party lost together in the sci-fi/fantasy room. This room is about a quarter of a city block, so don’t doubt me when I say we were lost together.

Plus, I had some door trouble as a result of being raised right. When I held the door for one of our foursome, eighty other people decided that Powell’s was the place to be and I got stuck at the entrance while watching the three people I was with get smaller and further and further spread out.

I caught up with LB in the Orange Room – or was it the Pink Room?

Nevertheless, there we were, waiting.

Maybe a little buzzed.

Definitely feeling the emotional weight of the show we’d just seen.

And it’s Little Buddy to our emotional rescue!

She somehow managed to catch a cluster of book titles that struck her as the perfect indicator that Jortis and I were in the right area. This is probably part of why I think it might have been the Pink Room…

Have you ever noticed how homoerotic fantasy fiction is?

I have.

Little Buddy definitely has.

Bones of the Earth?

This Side of Judgment?

How many titles in that pic have the word Queen in them?!?

Insanity.

Random insanity.

And this just happens to catch Little Buddy’s eye. I mean, c’mon! I have no question why LB is in my life, she’s prepaying her time in purgatory, obviously.

But, if I did…this moment is a perfect illustration.

For my part, not to be out-distracted, I noticed a book about 6″ – seriously, no double entendres intended – outside of the frame of the picture above.

I don’t know who this Belgarath the Sorcerer is, but his name is an anagram for my last name.

How.

Friggin’.

Random.

Ever since I’ve seen this, I’ve been trying to have a dream about Belgarath where we meet, fall in love, get married and then his name is Belgarath bal Gather.

(Like I’d tell you my real last name)

Anyway…hey, look! I distracted myself from my double-disappointing news day! I failed to mention that I’ve been summoned to Seattle next week for a preliminary round of We Hired An Internal, causing me to cancel a trip to The Gorge to christen LB and 2.0’s new wine country escape and Jortis’ birthday.

How’s that for crap timing?!?

But, like I said…channeling funny stories into my psyche in order to drive out the demons of bad news.

And it worked.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I also picked up a grocery bag of junk food earlier today as I wandered the aisles of my local RiteAid trying to figure out what it was I went in for.

Imma go comfort eat all of that.

Because, what could possibly go wrong?

It was dishwasher detergent, btw. And, no…I didn’t remember before I left.

What Could Possibl…

I’ve Taken Cap’t Can’t’s Advice

“You know what? Take a hike, don’t ever talk to me again.”

This was the reaction from Captain Can’t when I’d apologized for unintentionally offending him about eight months before I left my last job.

Very mature, right?

Well, The Boss had cleverly manipulated me into being the adult, setting a good example and taking the high road with my jag of a peer. While it worked poorly for me in this particular shituation and The Boss never re-addressed it with Cap’t Can’t, I am happy to report that upon quitting that exercise in daily frustration of a job, I have embraced Cap’t Can’t’s unintentional wisdom.

Frequently.

And will later today, I’m sure. I’m actually writing this as a motivator after failing to get outside yesterday…it was a “too cold”, overcast 65 degree day here in P-Town West.

Today, I need to find my motivation and a trail.

It’ll just be a city trail in Forest Park, but I’ll manage to make it new by inadvertently getting lost on my 10 mile urban sojourn. Unlike last week’s Hood River adventure with Little Buddy.

LB and 2.0 are in the process of buying a house across the Columbia from Hood River and we swung by their title company for a quick errand on the way to our trail. There we were…conveniently adjacent to Aniche Vineyards, where BreitBarb had a case of wine in need of transport back to town.

So, when in Rome…

Not a bad way to loosen up before a hike!

We crossed back over the Columbia and dog legged over to a speck on the map called Mosier to hike a short trail there…

It’s a 3.5 mile switchback path that screams “Live in Mosier!” on behalf of what I’m sure is a nonexistent Mosier Chamber of Commerce. We’ll get to the views, but the houses you can see across the ravine the trail skirts as you climb the backside of a hill are incredible. As much as I appreciated the real estate views during our climb, I was also well aware of the fact that if I lived there, I’d appreciate a much better view facing out past the Mosier Plateau trail and over to the breathtaking Columbia River Gorge.

So, speaking of ravines, Little Buddy and I learned something about each other that day.

She learned that I didn’t like heights and I learned that she didn’t know that about me. There was occasionally a few feet between the path and that cliff. It wasn’t bad, mostly it felt vaguely reminiscent of the hillside Buttercup throws the Dread Pirate Roberts down in The Princess Bride. And there were plenty of wildflowers growing alongside the trail.

But as you can see in the swimming hole pic above, the situation wasn’t all fun and games.

That newfound fear amused us on the way up. I think LB was a little relieved to find that I had a more normal fear than the previously shared fear of sharks…in any body of water. She had brought her new family pooch, Barley, as well. At just under 4 months, this was his first hike and he was a well behaved champ of a hiker, so that was a fun distraction on the way up, too.

He was much better behaved than the two dogs we encountered on the hilltop after we did the turnaround loop. I was leading, so I saw the first of these off leash pooches playing amongst the wildflowers and knee high wild grasses before LB or Barley and excitedly exclaimed “Goat!”.

LB told me to get a pic because our friend BreitBarb hasn’t met a negative emotion goats can’t banish. Now I’ll always be the boy who cried goat.

These dog’s owner had very little control of his animals. I learned both of their names, but can only remember Peter, the first one we met, now. Of course, I remember it because the owner yelled it a lot during the back half of our hike in lieu of actually leashing his exuberant pup. He also yelled the name with some fey accent, so it didn’t come out “Peter” as much as it did a plaintive and eventually annoying “Poitier“.

Still, the view from the top of the trail was simply awe inspiring.

And windy!

I really should have taken a selfie of wind blown old Xtopher, but while I really wanted to see what the never ending, cooling mountaintop gorge winds did to this shaggy mess of hair, I still don’t selfie as often as I could as an American citizen in good standing should.

I’d be a lousy Kardashian.

The top of the trail wasn’t even the top of the mountain, either.

I couldn’t imagine the view being any better from the top, but I was still a little curious about the eastward view from the top since we could only see westward and across the river into Washington state from our trail.

I had all the friends I wanted on the trail with me. Little Buddy and I chattered easily away during our hike, occasionally breaking to get Barley’s take on a topic. Still, this didn’t prevent a few children of the wilderness from trying to introduce themselves to me on the way back.

Lizards…do. not. want.

They kept getting bigger and bigger as the trail descended, too. Weird. Shortly after we passed back by the swimming hole, they stopped appearing, which was good because if they had gotten any bigger I’m afraid I would have been sharing the path with a Gila Monster.

The return trip also afforded us a longer stop at the little pioneer cemetery that we’d passed on the way up.

That second pic is of an 8 year old’s grave. She and I share the same birthday so it was an exciting and eerie discovery.

There weren’t a lot of grave stones in this tiny memorial. There were a lot of depressions in the ground around the trail that made me suspect there were some unmarked graves with wood caskets that had caved in on the trail side. Many of the visible graves were young people, 20 and under…so heartbreaking to imagine the pioneer experience of losing any family on their trek west, let alone losing a child and having to leave them behind.

I was pulled out of this morose imagining on the way up by the appearance of hikers trailing behind us. They stopped in the little cemetery, too, and we moved out. It felt too crowded with our party of three and their party of five. Three moms and two infants.

The Mom Squad.

In addition to feeling crowded, I also didn’t want to be around moms and their babies should the realization that these were largely kids’ graves dawn on them.

Why did I feel guilty about this company?

Anyway, the path being largely switchbacks, we got not far from the Mom Squad. Their chatter was…incessant. I’m sure our own was equally distracting to them, maybe. For me, the semi-valley-girl-esque tone of their talk distracted from the rest of the amazing environs.

Still

I was appreciative of their active lifestyle and unwillingness to be limited by their children.

However

I also judged the safety of strapping your infant onto a front-facing backpack and toddling off on mountainside paths that made me uneasy. I was fearful that mother and Child were only a loose stone away from going over the side.

It made me a little uneasy. I was glad when our little party returned to the viewpoint from the turn around loop and discovered that they had left for the trailhead without doing the loop.

Still, kudos to getting the kids out in nature early. I believe it will create a solid connection to the beautiful PNW wilderness for these newly minted S.N.O.B.s (Society of Native Oregonian Born) and that’s the type of person that keeps the PNW spirit alive!

Little Buddy and I had originally planned to grab lunch after our hike, but we were running late and she needed to get home to get dinner going for her boy and also allow Barley to relieve himself. He’s one of those pups that will only pee off leash…

So, no lunch.

Still, there was time for a teensy wine tasting at Marchesi Vineyards on the way home. LB is a member, so the tasting is gratis. And they had my favorite wine back in stock, so I could pick up a couple bottles of the good stuff to hold me over.

Not driving or having a car makes it hard for me to get out of town, so I love having friends that will take me along every now and again and try to make the most of every chance I do get.

This is my type of high road.

I’ve Taken Cap’t Can’t’s Advice

BikeTown Chronicles #3

How do I get myself into these shituations?

Oh, yeah…I’m stubborn.

And…competitive.

Fine, but I can still whine about this stuff, right?

After a gorgeous weekend through which I suffered through what The Fox likes to call bubble guts, I was feeling pent up. And, yeah, a bit frustrated that I hadn’t managed anything active during the good weather.

Sunday was our most beautiful and warm day of the year thus far and Monday was projected to be the same. So, I’d committed to getting outside after coffee. I was a little torn about completing some actual responsible tasks before my ride, but talked myself out of it since I was only planning a 90 minute/20 mile ride.

I’d be back in plenty of time to get to the FedEx/Kinkos to print out some documents for my unemployment hearing next Tuesday and get them in the mail.

Then as I was leaving my neighborhood coffee shop, the barista asked what my plans were.

“Bike ride! It was touch and go between bike or hike, but the ride wins out today!”, I told him.

The Fox had told me that our barista had been telling him about a 70 mile ride he’d done recently. “Told me” as in “I interpreted it as a dare”.

So, I leave the cafe after vocalizing my intent to take off on a little 20 miler. Saying it out loud makes me accountable, right?

Then I go home and get sucked into Netflix for an hour.

I end up leaving the house around 12:30, still plenty of time. Home by 2, showered and planted in Kinkos by 3, probably done by then, realistically.

My usual short ride out the Springwater Trail ends at the 6.5 mile mark, preventing me from having to cross any real major thoroughfares on my urban trail ride. It’s a 1.5 mile trip through the waterfront to the trail, so I come up a couple miles short of my 20 mile goal. I’ve offset that by taking a loop over the Tilikum Bridge and back around the waterfront to make up the difference.

I noticed my water bottle hitting my leg as I ended that loop and thought that I hadn’t placed it completely back in its cradle after my last drink.

Wrong.

I’d somehow lost a screw and that was causing the whole contraption – including my bike pump – to pivot on the remaining screw. I pulled over to tighten shit up and got back on the road, satisfied that I’d gotten the situation secured.

I get to the 6.5 mile mark and am feeling pretty good. My butt is tolerating the seat pretty well and I think, “Let’s just go to 30”. This is where my competitiveness and mild OCD kick in. I get to the 30 mile turn around point and it’s in the middle of the path, versus one of the park areas or major intersections. I decide to ride on so that I can fill my water bottle at my turnaround.

That happens at the 35 mile point and I think, “35 miles? That’s not a ride. No one does 35s”. I haven’t done a 40 since last year and decide to push on, thinking back to a conversation Little Buddy and I had during last week’s hike. She mentioned that most of her and 2.0’s rides were 40-60 mile affairs…so, why not?

I get to the 40 mile point in Gresham and think back to last year, when I was last here and decided not to push further to the end of the path. I also recall last weekend’s ride where I’d run into my friend, Casey Adler, and we’d rode along for a bit together toward the end of his ride.

He’d gone all the way to the end of the trail in Boring.

I was going to go, too.

This mentality is how I get myself into these situations.

The path out to Boring was lovely. It’s newer than the rest of the Springwater, so it’s also in really good shape, which is nice because my bum was beginning to ache.

At the 45 mile turnaround point, I do question my rationale for completing a ride that is 60% longer than my prior ride. Then I ignore myself and keep going because I’m gonna need to refill my water bottle, right?

I arrive at the Boring Trailhead Park and stumble off my bike in need of a little stretch. I walk it out around the little bathroom hut and realize that I’m not alone. There’s a “serious cycler” on the other side of the bathrooms getting ready to ride out. I decide to stretch until he leaves, not in the mood to be passed by a fit someone that is just starting his ride.

Once he leaves, I go to the water fountain to refill my bottle before getting under way.

Broken.

Ugh…I set my sights on refilling at Gresham City Park and gingerly head out. GCP is kind of new, I think maybe it was added when the Springwater was extended, but I’m not sure. What I am sure of is that there’s no water fountain.

I get back on the trail. I’m beginning to resent the overt associations the Springwater Trail has with…water as my thirst gets real. I think this as I’m cycling past signs telling me that I’m in the Johnson Creek Watershed.

Water, water everywhere.

Somehow, I manage to catch my fit serious cycler as I peddle toward the next park – a baseball field – in hopes of hydration. I’m in a mid-range gear in sprint mode because my knees are beginning to complain. I decide to follow him for a bit and ratchet my effort back to avoid overtaking him.

Yes, I’m judging him while also telling myself that he’s probably still in his warm up mode.

Then I see he’s wearing dress shoes.

Chuckling – and rejudging – I think that maybe he’s a bike commuter and forgot to pack his cycling shoes. It is Monday, after all.

No, I tell myself…

A) Who lives in town and works in Boring?

B) He’s gotta be on his way home at this time of day, so he rode to work in the same shoes.

Now I’m curious.

And passing him.

I pull into the baseball field and begin cruising around for a functional water fountain.

Jelly legs.

As I’m refilling my bottle for the second time after immediately draining the first refill, fit serious cycler guy cruises past and I mentally say farewell, absolutely setting my sights on not catching him again.

I succeed!

But I do run into a couple of other curious characters on my ride back in.

The first was a motivationally fit fella out on the path in just bike shorts.

Well, spandex shorts. When he’d passed me heading toward town, I’d appreciated his bare torso and turned to appreciate the rear view after he passed. No pads in his shorts!

This time, as he passed me on his return to whatever outer region of town he called home, I wondered, “Where the hell does he put his keys?!?”

Or his emergency $5?

Or his ID?

My parents raised me well. My zippered back pocket held all three.

Sexy and dumb. Maybe I should chase him down…nah. Peddle, Xtopher.

The second character I passed on my ride back into town was resting shirtless on a bench by my 30 mile turnaround viewpoint. He made some vague hand signal as I passed by that appeared to me to be an offer of oral sex but I convinced myself was some cycler code greeting.

He should have been wearing a shirt.

After passing him, I reach down for my water bottle.

Gone.

I’m not totally surprised, because it never fit snuggly into the cradle. Then I notice the cradle, too, I’d gone. As is my bike pump.

Fuuuuuuuck!

It’s ok…I’m inside the final 15 miles.

That optimistic thought evaporates as I pass the perpetually wet spot on the trail that I always amuse myself by thinking, “Here’s the spring the trail is named for” as I pass through it.

I pull off to stretch and rest my bum for a few minutes. Shortly after I get back to my ride, Shouldn’t Be Shirtless Guy passes me. I think that he must have been riding pretty hard to catch up after so long just as he drops his hand and makes yet another weird, finger waggly hand gesture to me.

What the hell is this guy on about?

I’m approaching the segment of the trail called Tres Bridges because there are three bridges in relatively short succession taking riders over some industrial land, train tracks and Hwy 99. After my prior four rides this season, I’m remembering the rhythm of the bridges’ uncomfortable bumps so I can stand to avoid the ass abuse they create. I don’t need that this far into my ride.

I’m in the final ten miles.

I come off the last bridge and the shirtless guy is there, pulled off at a bench again. This time, as I pass, he laughs maniacally at me and laugh tracks me from my approach until I can’t hear him any longer.

“Oooooh”, I think, “He’s a crazy”. Ok, that tracks.

It’s Portland.

As I come out of Sellwood and get back onto the last leg of the Springwater before it becomes the Esplanade, I begin to feel…crispy. It’s now that I realize my spontaneous 50 mile ride is going to come in at a smidge over four hours.

Without sunscreen.

In a sleeveless tee.

“It won’t be that bad”, I think, considering the base tan I’ve developed on my bikes and hikes from earlier in the season.

That thought was wrong.

Oh, well…might as well get my sunburn out of the way.

Plus, now I’ve crossed a half century ride off my summer bucket list. I’m also well prepared to talk myself out of future aspirational endeavors.

And, hey…there’s always the two-day mail option to get my unemployment hearing stuff in before the weekend!

Oh, btw, my fitness tracker is convinced that I somehow burned 1300 kcals on my ride. That’s 1.3 million calories. However, since I woke up still fluffy today, I’m going to choose to believe that my fitness tracker is either broke or crazier than Shouldn’t Be Shirtless Guy.

BikeTown Chronicles #3

A Week of PCS

It’s something I think a lot of people talk about doing and don’t do enough.

Even more people probably actively deride the option altogether.

Then there’s the lucky minority that have not only the will, but the option.

Theater.

I’m squarely in the first category.

One of my earliest social outings with my parents was when they took me to see a play, just the three of us. I was so young. Seriously, like a 30 year old trapped in an eight year old’s body.

It was The Music Man.

Because parents always know…y’know what I mean?

<cough, cough> “You’re Gay, son!” <cough, cough>

Anyhoo…I was in plays and took Drama classes – I know…I’m not even that dramatic! – in Junior High and High School, but I didn’t live and breathe it like a true theater geek.

Nowadays, I try to enjoy it when I can and am lucky to have friends that appreciate and even enjoy the experience in my immediate life. Still, living about four blocks from Portland Center Stage, I feel a little guilty every year when I don’t buy a season ticket.

What can I say?

I’m choosy.

Thus, even though I don’t buy a season ticket, I still get the opportunity to enjoy the experience a few times each year.

Given that filter, last week was a real windfall…I went twice.

Well, conditionally, since one of the two events was technically the viewing of a film…

On Sunday, I went with some of the gang to see George Bernard Shaw’s Major Barbara.

I think it started – and I could be way wrong here – between the Facebook and BreitBarb because, gee…guess what her real life first name is? So it’s funny. Jortis – I can’t believe I’m just now making a blog name for him! – is our ticket hookup because he’s allegedly under 35 and can get endless PCS tickets for $20 a show and before you know it, Little Buddy was signed on and I’m being wrangled as a fourth.

Fact: I’ve seen a lot of fucking plays in my life.

Also, factual is the statement that my memory is Swiss Cheese and I don’t recall every show I’ve seen any more than I recall every day that I’ve lived.

That said, I arrived at the show anticipating an “Oh, yeah…” experience when things took off down a familiar path. Still, every theater mounts a different experience.

It’s part of the joy of theater. Everything old can be new again.

I was surprised to find that I had not actually seen this show, like…ever. That’s an exciting new twist on how my known poor memory approaches seeing a play. It’s exciting!

Well, for me, anyway.

I won’t bore you with a breakdown of the plot. See it for yourselves! But, that doesn’t mean there aren’t stories about the evening to be told!

For instance

Little Buddy and I managed to only silently lose our shit when we realized the youngest of us had dozed off in the middle of Act II. Jortis was seated to my right and I looked over – guilty because I’m always fidgety in the theater and being raised Catholic generally feel guilty – only to discover that he was snoozing. Being the exceedingly mature influence that I am, I elbowed Little Buddy on my left and then dramatically leaned back so that she could bear witness to what was making me chuckle.

Then she started laughing, which made me laugh harder and it was off to the races from there.

I doubt either of us has had a better core workout than that in recent weeks.

I give us credit for keeping our laughing under control in the theater, but the fact of the matter is that I know we woke Jortis up and the married guy and his girlfriend sitting in front of us didn’t come back after intermission, so who knows how effective we really were in our efforts. Plus, Jortis treated me to my ticket for my birthday present, so I can’t really tease him.

The next day, for whatever reason, PCS was hosting a free My Fair Lady sing-a-long and Little Buddy has snagged a bunch of tickets.

Now, I’m not a huge singer since puberty and reality conspired to steal my ability to carry a tune, but I’m a fan of at least being present to witness a good time being had…so I was in.

Ironically, the official invite came in the form of a phone call during a bike ride. When known contacts call and I’m aware of my phone, I answer. Knowing me, when I answered Little Buddy pre-emptied my low grade dark panic with her greeting, “Nobody’s dead!” before going into the invite.

It’s ironic, because I had found myself alone for extended periods on the Springwater and had been indulging my endorphin rush by singing along with my music during those isolated moments.

But shit where hitting a note didn’t matter, like grunge music and mopey songs.

I promised to go and she shared that 2.0 – her hubby – might even go, acknowledging that theater wasn’t usually his thing but singing off key really is.

I probably wasn’t supposed to share that…

Oh well.

The Silver Fox and BreitBarb rounded out our group.

I distinctly remembered not having seen this movie for over 30 years.

Side note: the word “fucking” as an adjective was heavily implied in that sentence.

Probably closer to 35.

Jebus.

The show drew a respectably period dressed crowd. Those that didn’t dress up had the foresight to have not yet stowed their Derby Hats the day before. Or PCS had the even better foresight to schedule the sing-a-long at a time that appropriate prop attire would be handy.

Only time will really ever know. Although, MFL also being a George Bernard Shaw – someone having dropped George from his name in the credits – show, it was probably fairly intentional timing on PCS’ part.

Clever.

The show started with an introduction from a host who – turns out – performed the role of Eliza for PCS a handful of years ago.

Nice touch.

She talked us through her vision of basically Rocky Horror-ing it up. When to use the props in the lil popcorn bag we were given at the door, a few of the more popular song lines, a reminder that not all of the characters were sympathetic and encouraging us to feel free to engage with the show by heckling these characters.

Turns out, the largely female crowd – dressed in fancy hats and crinolines as they were – didn’t need encouraging. Also, most of the male characters in this show really did not age well. Not in the superficial sense, since most of the male leads looked to be in their young hundreds in the first place. No…”they didn’t age well” means, rather, that…holy shit, they were male chauvinist pigs as judged by the jury of time.

Our host instructed us to yell at Professor Higgins at a few specific points in the show. The crowd decided not to wait, pretty much starting in with his first lines.

I felt guilty on behalf of my gender.

Fortunately, the disdain and ire was aimed strictly at the 1960s screen production and the few males in the crowd were spared.

Good thing…we were really outnumbered.

Soon, though, the attention was drawn to the dubbing of poor Ms Hepburn and whether we were about to hear Julie Andrews or Marni Nixon and when either of them actually took over the pipes. The Fox assured us in his Fox Wisdom that it was Marni Nixon. I’d only ever heard of her and didn’t know from whence, so I stuck with my incorrect assertion that it was Julie Andrews.

I’m used to being wrong where Fox Wisdom is involved. Still, at least I wasn’t totally up in the night since Ms Andrews had famously played the role on Broadway.

Yeah, that’s why I was…confused.

Even though I’m not much of a public singer, I did catch myself being overcome with the urge to bust out a lyric or two a couple of times. I’d like to apologize to everyone on the block for that.

Other times, I was able to stave off the urge by humming into the mini kazoo from my treat bag.

It’s fun to realize that even with a character like ‘Enry ‘Iggins, who is so vile by modern day behavioral standards, we can all still revel in the transformation of a young woman from gutter snipe to lady and get caught up in the happenings all. these. years. later.

So, there you have it…I got my theater fix in! Whether the next show is next week or next year…who knows? My theater going is spontaneous, but with the best of intentions. Still, if you hear about me seeing the new Mary Poppins before my next play, just chalk it up to my persnickety tastes in theaters.

A Week of PCS

Hood River

In keeping with my Yes Game change in mentality, I ended up wine tasting in Hood River, OR this afternoon.  Yaaasssss.

Ok, we met at 11:00.  But I promise, the first cork didn’t pop until noon.  Which is good, because, spitters are quitters.  In related news, I had a pretty good buzz by 12:45.

Backing up a few days, though, to how I ended up here:  I was invited to go by a friend of mine that I have worked with on and off over the last…eight years now?  Sheesh, time flies.  Or in this case, ferments, because I think my connection with this particular friend gets better and better as time passes.  Last year, she even gave herself a nickname – Little Buddy.  And who am I to resist a Gilligan’s Island themed nickname?  Lo, though I see myself as a Thurston Howell III or Ginger Grant type – depending on the day and my mood – I guess my Little Buddy’s choice of nickname was relative to our working relationship at the time and that made me the Skipper by default.

Knowing my present state of crotchetiness, my intrepid LB invited me to go with her and her boyfriend out to Hood River to pick up their wine club order from AniChe Cellars.  She promised to make a day of it with stops at another winery as well as a few breweries in the area.  I got a little buzz just listening to the itinerary.  She seemed to have it all laid out and it sounded like this (mis) adventure is a typical excursion for the quarterly wine club pick up.  She sweetened the invite by removing my third wheel status and including the Silver Fox in the plans.  I know AniChe is one of his favorite local wineries, so he was on board within a text.

Of course, it’s the coldest fucking day of the year so far…getting progressively colder on the 50-ought mile trip out the Gorge to Hood River, but we lucked out with the snow.  There was a lazy, idyllic, dry snow passively falling when we arrived; the forecast tomorrow calls for “abandon hope, all ye that enter” snow.  So there’s that.

We were meeting LB and her boyfriend at a coffee shop right across from the tasting room, and we hopped out of the car and made for the a warm cuppa.  The Fox had managed to get both curbside wheels on the curb while parking – and I was enjoying his chagrin when I should have been watching out for that cold bitch, Mother Nature, since she has it in for me for some reason and expertly placed one of those idyllic, dry, drifting snowflakes on my eyeball while I teased the Fox.  Oy.  Oh well, beats what I’ve been getting from her in the city recently, which is surprise deluge without a hat, hood or – gasp! – umbrella.

Being the first table to arrive for tastings seems to have its perks.  Aniche is a small enough outfit in a tight wine community that the Little Buddy was recognized when she entered.  The Silver Fox, being the Silver Fox is a former wine club member and was remembered by the host, the daughter of the vintner.  Also, the Ani in AniChe.  Che being her brother.  Would you expect a name any less “Aaaawwww!” inducing from a winery in a tight wine community.  there was a little catch up small talk about the biz and the present offereings…maybe even something about a new human that Ani is presently gestating, but you know me – I’m not that warm and fuzzy, so I just let the folks that knew each other do themselves.

We settled in to our six flight tasting with whites, obviously, which I powered through.  Donating only one of them to the Fox, but only after trying it.  Gotta make mom proud by at least trying.  The whites were good, but reds are where my tongue hangs its hat.  I’ve tasted three or four AniChe reds in the past and love them.  I wasn’t surprised to find that two of my close friends here are or have been wine club members.  I was kind of jealous, actually, since now driving tends to limit my opportunities to pop out to wine country for an afternoon.

Then again, I am quite the lightweight, so I appreciate being a passenger versus driving.

Speaking of not being the driver, my offset service was to run up the street and feed the meter when our parking time ran out.  Ok, I ran up the street conveniently between the fourth and fifth pours, but I still went.

Me being the worst person on the planet, Mother Nature threw another snowball into my eye as I left the tasting room.  In my mind, I was giving my best Nancy Kerrigan “Whyyyyyy?!?!?!” impression.  Seriously, though, blinking is an autonomic feature versus a conscious effort…it seems like quite a fail for this to happen not once, but TWICE within an hour.  Plus, ice in your eye is pretty much like a needle sticking into your eye.  If you’re listening, Mother Nature, I’ll pass in the future.

Somehow – remember the perks I mentioned earlier? – our flight of six evolved into eight tastes.  The Fox also ended up rejoining the wine club and a trip up the Gorge to pick up four bottles turned into 24 bottles leaving the tasting room.  Those extra two pours were rather shrewd investments on the host’s part, no?

We leave, for my part I’m wishing I had deeper pockets and a hand truck because I am kind of lamenting my involuntarily semi-retired budget limitations.  I want a case of wine, too!  <foot stomp>

But I got to carry a case, at least.  Hey…wait a second.  Oy.

On to winery number two, where we all swear we’re just doing a tasting flight.  The Little Buddy loves this particular tasting room, and just wants me to see it.  I can see why she likes to visit whenever she’s in the neighborhood.  It’s snowing, after all, but the patio has vinyl drapes hung, propane patio heaters blasting and baskets of lap blankets around for people to sit and enjoy their flights.  Marchesi winery has definitely got their winter game figured out because the Fox and I are amazed at how may cars are in the full parking lot as we pull in.  Being the Fox, he still finds a place five from the door.  If only he could channel that Fox Luck into a winning lottery ticket…

It’s 1:45 on a Saturday afternoon, it’s snowing and the LB and her boyfriend cozy up under a throw together and get their cozy on.  The Fox has his hat pulled down low, gloves on, coat and scarf cinched tight and a throw blanket on his lap and is looking like a nursing home denizen that was force-wheeled outside for some fresh air in the middle of Spring.

I’m waiting to see icicles form on his nose.

Personally, I have my booze jacket on and sit there sipping contentedly.  It’s all about maintenance with booze jackets.  Until someone leaves and kindly offers me their blanket.  I begrudgingly accept, thinking “I guess, if you’re too lazy to just put it away on your way out”.

Grumpy.  Old.  Man.

We enjoy our flights – complete with only a cursory single white offering – and the complimentary antipasti Little Buddy gets as a wine club member and go to town on some breadsticks that are positioned on each table in a cute vasey-type-container.

Then LB retrieves another from a neighboring table.

Carbs.  So good.

But not good enough to sustain us on our journey home, so back toward Hood River proper to burn a gift card for Double Mountain Brewery that the Fox has been carrying around for about a year.  Plus, he brought his growlers to fill.  Little Buddy and her bf – fine, his nickname is 2.0…not sure why I didn’t just tell you that in the first place except that it’s not my nickname for him, it’s hers so maybe I felt like it was stealing her clever thunder – swear to their pizza prowess at Double Mountain, too, so it’s a win-win-win.

And there’s a 45-60 minute wait.  Seriously, I could get pizza delivered at home in 60 minutes, why would I wait that long just to get a table?  I could probably order pizza from the parking lot, drive home and get there before the pizza arrived.  Plus, I actually did do that last night and I still have half of a Straight From New York pizza leftover, so I’m not that invested.

Unless…

There’s fPriem Brewery right down the road.  I happen to really like their IPA and there’s apparently pizza there, too.  I’m a real giver, you know, so if pizza is what the rest of our drunken-Donner-party-esque group wants, I’m willing to tag along.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained and we’re off.

After filling the growlers.

And forgetting to use the gift card to pay.

Layering in excuses for a return visit…

…and it’s another 30-45 minute wait for a table at pFriem.  Seriously, these people have a problem.  It’s 3:30 on a Saturday.  I check in via text with LB and 2.0 and they are ok with the wait, but by the time they park, the Fox has moseyed down the street a block to a non-brewery pizzeria called Solstice and they can seat us immediately.

In the kid’s section.

This is fucking nicely with my grumpiness.

Upshot: there’s coloring.

And beer!

And bacon roasted brussels sprouts.

And rosemary french fries.

And we all still had room for pizza.

None of us finished our drawings, though.  Can our stomachs have ADD?

Then it was time to make a break for the cars and ease on down the road back toward civilization.  Or consistent cell coverage, anyway.  Plus, Little Buddy’s youngest young ‘un was due back from a birthday sledding adventure within the next few hours, so we packed it in and called the mischief managed.

Another great thing about not driving?  I took an all-too-rare nap on the way home.  But I deserved one, saying “Yes” really takes it out of ya.

 

 

Hood River