Post

I’ve had this notion in draft mode for about 9 months now, so I suppose it’s about time I pushed this baby out.

Nine months ago, I flippantly said to a friend,

I’m not doing that. I’m post-that.

I think it was the Silver Fox and I think he was suggesting we go to the gym…specifically so he could get into hiking shape for his then upcoming six-week shuffling through Europe trip.

Post-that.

It was a time in my life where I’d been scratching at the professional employment door for the better part of a year like an unwelcome cat.

I was mentally preparing myself for an upcoming summer of gorgeous PNW weather…and dreading the main outdoor physical activity available to me being cycling.

I thought about it for a bit and wondered what my motivation really was.

This old Groucho Marx quote:

I don’t want to be a member of any club that would have me as a member

It kept popping up in my mind and casually in conversation. It got to the point where I had to acknowledge it; aka: obsessively think about it.

Admittedly, I didn’t come up with the answer. I think ruminations like this evolve over time. What is important to get to – for me – was the core value that was anxiously raising its hand to say something just outside my figurative peripheral vision.

I’d been applying for jobs I wanted with companies I wanted to work for and maybe getting interviews, maybe not, definitely not getting hired.

When that didn’t work, I changed my focus and broadened my search to jobs with companies I didn’t necessarily want to work with, but knew I could meet the job expectations. Surprisingly, I got the same results. More surprisingly, I was offended at being rejected by companies I held in low regard.

It all reminded me of how true my dating/interviewing analogy has always been. The way you (should) put your best foot forward in either situation, learn about the “opportunity” and then mutually decide whether it’s a good match. Ideally, both parties reach the same decision.

<pause to glare at millennials>

Moving on.

But where do I move on to from there? That scenario – thanks to my own analogy – encompasses dating, too. There I was, kind of at the massive intersection of Work, Romance & Fitness Boulevards and I didn’t want to cross any of them.

Fortunately, I didn’t want to jump into traffic, either. I think that’s a good sign.

I really couldn’t tell if I was broken or protesting. It’s probably worth noting that this overlapped with my nine month haircut hiatus. My mother had gone from niggling at me to get a haircut to being envious of my natural hair flip to quietly telling me that my dad would like to see me get a haircut.

That last one kind of got to me and I started mentally preparing myself to face a haircut. It also got me thinking that maybe what motivated me to work was making my parents proud.

I kicked that one around for a bit.

Then I remembered that my parent’s pride in me seems innate, not earned. It was a realization that made me feel truly fortunate.

I’d written a book that literally dozens of people read.

My parents were proud of me.

I’d taken any job I could get – perhaps the only – just to get off my couch and do something.

My parents? Still proud.

So working professionally to please my parents wasn’t the answer.

Maybe I was asking the wrong figurative question, then?

I wandered back to dating. And quickly ran away from that notion. I’d have to be pretty self-loathing to expose myself to that group of people for answers. Because the answer to the collective question – What are you looking for? – for folks in the dating pool is not

Y’know, an old, out of shape dude who’s adrift and underemployed. Yeah, that’d be nice.

But what I did remember was my dating bar. I expected people I dated to enhance my happiness.

Not make me happy.

Certainly not erode my happiness.

That got me thinking that I should absolutely apply that same bar to my work life.

Then I remembered that I had and quit my last job because it was absolutely eroding my happiness.

And just like a shit boyfriend, behaved the same way when I pointed it out.

I had started this exercise where I’d admitted I didn’t know the answer. I was now at the point where I’d searched for an answer and not found one.

You know where that left me?

Fucking religion.

Can you believe that?

Who answers your prayers?

God?

I’d long ago put my faith in myself. Not god.

Then I’d spent a few decades letting people take it away from me.

Bosses.

Customers.

Boyfriends.

Maybe I should just reach out and take that faith back?

I mentioned earlier that I wrote a book that “no one” read.

Y’know what? That didn’t bug me.

I’d written a book!

That realization made me feel good.

Good about myself and that accomplishment that “few” achieve. Well, few people, but hundreds of monkeys – if you put them all in a room together with a typewriter.

But it also made me realize that there were people in my life urging me to do it for a decade.

Just a few.

Not even a gang.

They were never in the same room together and maybe only once crossed paths on the same Facebook thread.

But they were there.

Just like my parents.

Maybe the answer I was looking for was actually those few voices that spoke up but were drowned out by the constant droning white noise of everyone else.

I realized that those few voices were coming from the people I wanted to hear.

Needed to hear, honestly.

The sincere people in my life.

But I’d been conditioned to listen to the masses and their collective white noise voice.

That voice, however, was like the Great and All-Powerful Oz.

Big and loud, but behind it? Just a curtain hiding small, scared individuals.

I was over trying to get through to “them”, they didn’t listen, anyway. Without listening, there’s no conversation…just one-sided talk.

I decided I was over that.

Postthat.

Post screaming into a void and expecting an answer.

Job boards.

Dating apps.

Gyms with mirrors that reflected only negative extremes: what was perfect or what was imperfect.

Declaring myself post allowed me the luxury to do what I wanted for my own satisfaction, not to meet the expectations of an undefined group of faceless people.

To find my own satisfaction.

Hell, to first define satisfaction for myself and start there.

And in finding the faith in myself to set that bar, I felt empowered and optimistic…and it was sustained for the first time in years. But it makes me think that stripping it down to that level will allow me to arrive at a place where the definition I have for happiness overall is stronger than any I’ve had before. I’m not standing there asking some company or stranger-I’m-fucking-and-calling-it-dating for a sign off on my happiness.

I’m doing my own happiness; specifically giving my time to activities and people that enhance my work-in-progress happiness.

And you know what?

Now I want to do the things that I was post-doing before.

So, that’s a pretty good place to end up.

PS: my favorite Groucho quote? Well, since you didn’t ask…

Go read a book!

Post

The Hustle

I’d kind of taken to thinking of my job search as an exercise in futility. Sure, the only exercise I was getting, but it wasn’t really contributing to an elevated state of health – physical or mental.

In searching for appropriate career level positions, I hit wall after apathetic wall.

The struggle is surreal.

I found myself rethinking the jobs I was applying for with companies I told myself I wanted to work for. My thoughts turned toward,

Do I really want to work for these companies?

Learning from my interviewing experiences with them, I realized answer was coming back “No” more and more frequently. Hell, more often than not, I was realizing I no longer wanted to be their customer.

At the same time, I was really digging my lil writerly routine.

Come to – er…wake up.

Clean up.

Head to the Arthouse and write for a few hours.

I found that the morning was when I was really able to create. I worried that work would ruin that flow.

Realistically, though, I needed to work. Not just for the financial aspect – although, obviously – but also for the ancillary payback.

Allowing me to feel that I’ve not just accomplished something, which I achieve with writing, but to feel that I’ve contributed to something.

Then there’s the social interaction void after leaving retail. I’m used to dozens if not hundreds of quick interactions with people that challenge me and keep me socially engaged.

A.

Day.

That’s tough to replace.

I wasn’t getting that on my couch – and I tried both ends!

Out of literal desperation, I applied for a part time job as a clerk in a convenience store. For what the owner called “Good money for a job like this” during my interview.

It was $12/hour.

The owner calls that good money, Oregon called that Minimum Wage. I should note that this was at the time, Oregon’s Min Wage is now $12.50, so I think I now qualify for membership at Mar-a-Lago or something, right?

I quickly learned the reason that the owner considered Minimum Wage good money for this job: his employees didn’t do much during their shifts. The majority of them played on their phones or read books waiting for customers. They didn’t even say “hi” to them when they entered the store. Some had friends stop by. Still others had hangouts with off duty employees.

The owner wasn’t getting a good return on his payroll investment, for sure.

But I just had a few lunch/dinner shifts a week, like 16-24 hours. Covering a store for an hour while the associate took their meal break, then moving to the next for an hour and then the last store to finish my four hour shift.

I got to talk to people and I got to do things…even if it was just putting beer and water into coolers. It’s weird, it was what I did at the airport to help out my associates. To make them feel supported. Now it was my job.

The other employees objected to that aggressively productive behavior of mine with an array of flimsy reasons. My response?

I came to work!

I didn’t care if they loved or hated me. I was getting paid with that sense of contributing with every task I completed and customer I met.

You’re so much nicer than the other employees!

I heard that a lot. In all three of the stores. Just about six months in now, I still hear it once or twice a week.

You know what? That’s nice to hear, but it also makes me feel bad. Most of my co-workers are nice enough to me – despite my reluctance to work down to their standard. What if the job just beat them down into spiritual submission?

Was it only a matter of time for me, too?

Doubts like that aside, I was finding myself entertaining the notion of finding job and financial satisfaction in more of a piecemeal manner. I’d been witnessing younger workers doing it for the last decade. Running from part-time job to part-time job to cover their expenses. Maybe I could turn away from the full-time mentality and “retire” to a gig mentality.

I began exploring app-based work like Uber or Postmates. The obvious problem there for me was: no car. Still, with Postmates I could use my bike. The problem there? My lazy ass. Since the FWV (friends with vehicles, duh!) I dropped hints to about this notion let those hints drop unacknowledged, I tabled the idea.

Somehow, in this same timeframe, I became the boss’ shining star employee and go-to. She asked me to cover her role during her month-long vacation. At full-time.

Fine, as long as it’s just for four weeks…I can do it.

Three weeks before she left, all hell broke loose. Two people got fired and another quit in the course of maybe five days. By the time my boss left for vacation, I was ready to go back to my sweet lil four hour shifts.

Flash forward two months and I was still averaging about 35 hours a week. Feeling broken, I at least had my family’s annual vacation get together to look forward to in a month.

Still, I told my boss to schedule me less so I could get my writing back on track. I was an entire project behind schedule.

No change. Unless being scheduled for only 32 hours counts.

Then I got a call I wasn’t expecting.

A temp agency specializing in HR had reached out to me a few weeks earlier about a position they thought I’d be perfect for.

Oh, and the position you originally applied for was filled, unfortunately.

No shit? That was months ago!

Anyway, the position was designed to offload the HR responsibilities of a dual role HR/Ops manager that wanted to focus on her Ops responsibilities.

I agreed, I would be perfect for the role. I interviewed and still thought it would be a great fit. The money was certainly better than the convenience store, but it was only two-thirds of what I should be earning. At part-time the money would barely cover my monthly expenses. Looked like I wouldn’t be ditching the convenience store job anytime soon.

I realized that idea didn’t bother me. I romanticized a perfect schedule where I worked my gig HR three days a week from 8-5 and did dinner breaks from 6-10, earning enough to feel financially able while having four days off a week.

But this is my life, right? That Cinderella story didn’t happen.

Surprisingly, the person creating this job thought you were too into people. She’s going with another candidate.

Oh, for fuck sake.

The person who was more into the Ops side of her job and didn’t want to be bothered with the Human Resources side of her role…didn’t want somebody who was into humans to take that off her plate.

Seriously.

Surrealiously.

This journey is basically the meat of my next non-fiction book. I’m leaning toward calling it 50-gig – get it? I’m ~50 and competing for gig work with them there millennials? – however, on days like that one…it’s hard not to call it These Damn Idiots I Meet.

I mean, really, dating. Job hunting. It could be the group name for my non-fic work. 50-gig and Dating Into Oblivion could both easily fall under that heading. I wonder if there’s a third piece to round out a trilogy.

Obviously, The Gym.

But, I’ve digressed.

Romantic notion of working three days a week: le poof.

Anyway, I go back to my partly full-time job at the convenience store, grateful to still have a purpose but missing out on writing. At night, I drink wine on my lonely couch while binge watching Star Trek TV shows in their chronological order versus release dates while mentally cutting myself to take away the pain of my obsolescence.

Then the HR temps call back a few weeks later.

Maybe a month.

Let’s say a few weeks ago.

I doubt you’d be interested, you might consider it too boring.

I took this with the grain of salt required to swallow my belief that nobody wanted me, anyway. Basically, my position was, “I dare them to fucking hire me!”

Still, the “three or four days a week” aspect really appealed to me.

They’d really like someone to start next Monday, if it’s a good fit.

I just laughed at that, still waiting for Old Mother Hubbard’s second home to land on me like a was The Wicked Job Hunter of the West.

Oh, boo. What was that collision of metaphor?!? Mixing nursery rhymes and Young Adult novels from barely the last century.

Hey, don’t even worry about it. It’s Wednesday…if they let me know by tomorrow morning, I can have my boss at the convenience store work me around it.

Apparently, my “I fucking dare you to hire me” attitude was too much to resist. Thirty minutes later, they called back and told me to get in there Monday morning.

Having resigned myself to never getting another professional job again, I’d gone back to thinking about app based gig-work. I’d looked into car-sharing options for driving with Uber or Lyft using someone else’s car through an app called GetAround. It would probably end up costing about a third of what I’d make driving, but it would pull me out of being able to say “yes” every time my boss at the store had a need.

Actually, every time isn’t fair. I knew she tried to not abuse my availability. I appreciated it. But still, of the instances I knew of where she didn’t call on me, I knew she was just sucking it up about half the time.

I felt bad about that.

Anyway, somewhere in there – and consistent readers already know this – I said “Fuck it”, and bought a car. They’ve subsequently been dubbed Pat the Patriot in a perfect fit of Portland political correctness.

I figured maybe I could still do some gig driving, if only for the experience of writing about it in either my blog or even that notion of a book. I’d actually priced it all out and come to the benchmark of driving only six hours a week covering my car costs.

I could live with that.

I could also live with my complete lack of surprise at my experience trying to sign up to drive with Uber.

I’d given up using Lyft in conjunction with Uber a decade-ish ago when a woman in a homemade floral print dress and Jesus bobble head on her dash tried to fist bump me. If I was gonna drive, my first choice was going to be with the brand I’d been using as a consumer.

After a month of effort, let’s just say that I’m driving with The Verb and not The (unearned) Adjective.

And it’s addictive.

Not just the people engagement reward, but actually, the immediacy reward, too. I’ve only driven three times, but it’s been very satisfying…like 90% fun and 10% “Meh, that was still better than a day working for my last professional job”.

Plus, I get a cell phone bill and think, “Welp, let’s cash in on the app” and my pay is instantly in my checking account. The next morning I wake up to a utility bill and think, “Well, I’ll go have coffee with The Fox and then drive for a couple hours to get this paid…beats paying for two more hours of parking”.

And, yes – I am looking for a monthly space to rent! Especially if I want to leverage that whole three days of work/four days off thing.

Until then, a couple hours to pay my $30 gas bill versus spend $4 on parking turned into driving for five hours and saving $10 on parking and limping out of my driver’s seat with $100.

See? Addictive.

Now, before it starts raining Other Shoes, here’s what’s on the horizon:

– Before I committed to Lyft, I applied to drive delivery for GoPuff and Postmates. I’ll probably fold at least one of those in, if only for the potential writing material for 50-gig. But also: tips! I’ve actually never had a tip job before, so I’d be interested in how that adds up.

Plus, as a car share rider from the early days, I never tip. It was part of the deal. Then the deal changed, but guess who didn’t? Yes, me. But also: practically everyone else. Out of – I think I’m at…18 rides over three outings I’ve been tipped by two riders. I don’t expect it, but feel I’ve really earned the gratuity when they land. It’s not that I got a tip for reflex of it all, I did something that stood out compared to other rides these Tipsters have taken.

That’s what I’m telling myself.

What else?

– Oh, yeah…the convenience store. There’s a shoe. If you know me, you know I won’t repay hiring me when no one else would – yes, for a job I should have a lobotomy to be qualified for – by walking away, middle fingers flying just because I got a better opportunity. So, if this HR gig pans out, I see a serious scheduling conversation happening there.

– The HR gig. When someone – an employer – says “three or four days a week”, who knows what they mean? It could be three days, with the hope that the dangling fourth will provide added bait. It could mean four, for so many reasons.

In this case, I heard “three”, because that’s what I wanted to hear. Then I talked to the owner and heard the job scope and said, “Yeah, I can do that in three”.

Sadly, I think they really want someone for four, but tough nuts.

Or not so tough. If I end up working four days a week, it’s not the end of the world. Plus, since I’m HR, I have access. That access shows me – innocently, I assure you – that my non-temp predecessor was making $6/hr more than I am. But I get the temp costs offset. If they hire me off my contract, I’m getting that money. Knowing what I do of the owner, I won’t have to ask…she’ll offer. How awesome is it to have a boss you think of in those terms?

It’s fucking awesome.

Also: there’s an office cat. He’s nicer than Myrtle, too, which makes that fourth day a real draw. Poor Myrt. She’s not not nice. She’s just psychotic and can’t help herself.

Or I have Stockholm Syndrome.

Now, let’s see…other shoes. Other Shoes. Any others, hoes?

Ah, yes!

– Writing! Doy. The second book in the No One Of Consequence story is nearing completion. Yes, Phil…I’m editing! Hehe. After some good feedback, I also intent to brush off Book One and give it an extra lil polish before launching Book Two. Now I should have the ability to advertise, too.

I wanna run an ad campaign this month, I think I’ll go drive for a few hours.

I like the sound of that.

Then, come November I can put balancing work, work, work and possibly work schedules with writing, I’ll try and get most of 50-gig drafted during NaNoWriMo. That’ll be an adventure.

Almost as big an adventure as doing my 2019 taxes will be with two W2s, possibly four 1099s and at least a little bit of royalties income to factor in. I better start limbering up my procrastination muscles now!

Yes, it’s 5:30 in the morning on my day off…why do you ask? Truth be told, how this three job thing is working out so far has created a three weeks straight without a day off, so my old ass is tired! But I slept well on both Friday and Saturday night.

Of course, that was after saying

I’m burning the candle at both ends…with fucking blow torches!

So I was ready for early nights and good sleep. Maybe I’ll try a nap later.

Nah…I’ll go drive! Haha.

The Hustle

The Roto-est Of Rooters

I’ll need a photo ID as well as your insurance card.

A pleasant delivery doesn’t stop me from wondering aloud from behind the Silver Fox if they wouldn’t likely have a lot of imposters showing up to an appointment like his.

My pithy posit barely merits a side eye from The Fox, but I’m accustomed to my observations being met with an occasional absence of encouragement.

Today, you see, is a certain someone’s very special once-in-a-decade doctor appointment.

The dreaded colonoscopy.

You know it’s been longer than a decade since the last time we did this, right?

That was my question as I parked.

The Fox assures me that I’m wrong, but I remind him that a decade ago I was living in Seattle.

The email I got said it was my ten-year reminder!

As if that closes the conversation. I mean, “The email said” is a far better argument than “I read it on the internet”, but it’s far from authoritative.

Still, I let it drop, wondering if perhaps I took The Fox to his first “people pay for this experience?” appointment and perhaps there was a former boyfriend that filled in for me ten years ago.

It’s not unlike my best friend to be religiously early. We jokingly call it Fox Time.

Even for this. Closing in on his sixty-eighth birthiversary, if this happened to be his third procedure, I could easily see him justifying his first at a Fox Timely 48.

Of course, the problem there is that it probably only seems like we’ve known each other two decades. Especially to him, I imagine, given that he has to put up with me and sometimes I’m a little much.

For instance, we didn’t talk so much this morning in the our first of dozens of daily texts. I just sent him this:

So I dropped the timing question. No need to unnecessarily poke the bear, as the saying goes.

Or The Fox, in this case.

Poor guy’s about to get poked enough for a while, I imagine.

Besides, there’s plenty of other topical material presenting itself. As we step into the elevator, The Fox pushes to button for the top floor.

They’re on the top floor because everyone that goes there bottoms.

I could do this all day.

I did manage not to comment on the photograph of the canal hanging in the lobby of the office.

The gaping span framing a lovely waterway bordered by blossoming cherry trees.

Anyway, before the Silver Fox is done not responding to my initial query at the check-in window as to whether this office has a lot of imposters showing up for colonoscopies – it is Portland, the kinkiest city in America – I see this:

I cant help it. My derp thoughts just appear out of nowhere and without warning.

My imagination instantly starts creating this story where a translator is called in to break the process down into gay-speak.

Gurl, I hope you brought poppers because this. is. happening. Mmm. Git it.

And with a Cher tongue, flip of the imaginary wig and snap of a paper accordion fan, the consult is over and my best friend is led off by a GoGo Boy in gold lame hot shorts.

And the next time I see him, he’ll be all doped up and rubber-legged. I do recall that from last time…it was quite amusing to see my fairly dignified bestie a little worse for the wear.

But the light at the end of the <ahem> tunnel is food!

The last words he said to me were about how hungry he was. The last words he texted to me – a few moments after being led away – were about him being one pound inside his goal weight range.

That shut me up.

You know how many back to back colonoscopies I’d have to prep for to get down to the goal weight range that I abandoned?

Lots.

The staff would probably think I had fetishized a good snaking.

Like I said…it is Portland.

Now, I’d better go before they finish up and I’m tempted to write about The Fox’s behavior while he’s sedated!

The Roto-est Of Rooters

That Moment When…

Do you ever start telling a story about “the old days” or “a classic” movie/song/what-have-you only to have your brain catch up with your mouth halfway through and realize the story you’re nostalgically telling doesn’t pass current PC muster?

Of course this happened to me.

So, I suppose this should be titled “That awkward moment when”…

There I was, at Nossa – hey, it’s Sunday…it’s what I do. Anyway, I was talking to my barista boyfriend while he made my drink and the Silver Fox found the perfect table – y’know, one that looks perfect but spills my drink when he innocently adjusts his foot. Our conversation started after The Fox asked if the tables outside were reserved for the brunch the bar downstairs hosts on the patio on Sundays.

It’s a shared space, so sit wherever you want!

I heard a chipper and enthusiastic statement but his body language had an edge to it, so naturally that was the conversational thread I chose to pull. I commented that they sure put a lot of effort into their brunch service, since they start serving at 10 and I’d been there at 8 before to see them beginning their set up.

Yeah, they don’t even open the downstairs space, they just use the patio until their regular hours.

That was kind of surprising, since Portland weather is kind of…unreliable. But on top of two-plus hours of four people setting up the patio – which I assume is mirrored on the back end for clean up – with a bar cart, racks of tableware staged at the edge of the building and a music set up – which is usually a live band; they are spending money on extras as well.

Well, like all that isn’t extra.

But they are either buying extra pub height tables and chairs to supplement the regular patio furnishing the landlord provides or they are emptying out the bar below to provide seating. On top of that, Nossa has a couple of umbrellas they usually put out to shade the tables – I think there’s eight tables normally. The first time I witnessed this brunch endeavor, the restaurant added in some orange umbrellas. Today, the umbrellas were all a nice, dark green. No red Nossa umbrellas in the mix at all.

I don’t mind, really. It brings people in…

“Yeah, but with those green umbrellas, you’re probably gonna end up with not just your customers or their customers…you’ll probably get some Starbucks customers coming in to add a really confusing third leg to your customer barstool.”

Bring ’em on!

“Oh, really…you think you can rehabilitate Starbucks customer’s palates with your good coffee?”

He looks like he makes a real effort at thinking about it for a second, then says,

Well, maybe some of them…

We both laugh at that and that’s when it happened. I was thinking about that aha moment of a Starbucks drinker experiencing good coffee and instantly questioning their previous life choices.

That was the scene that popped into my crazy head, which made me laugh even harder. I asked my Fake Boyfriend if he’d ever seen Young Frankenstein.

I think I watched it a couple of years ago at my parents’ place one Christmas.

“Of course. It’s the perfect holiday movie! Do you remember when Madeline Kahn meets The Monster?”

Yeah. Hehe. Wait, I think I do…

So, naturally I go on to describe the scene and he’s giving me, “Yeah. Yeah!” as he listens along and remembers.

Except as I’m talking, I’m starting to remember this part of the scene

Where The Monster kidnaps Madeline and how the whole “Sweet mystery of life” moment occurs while The Monster is forcing himself on her.

I’m beginning to simultaneously try and gauge the people standing nearby – because were in Portland, for crying out loud…the wrong combo of AntiFa and Feminista overhearing this could get me in real trouble – and figure out how to get out of this conversation.

And then a third thing happened.

I got mad.

This was the part that did it…

I was suddenly disgusted with the notion of framing a rape as the woman being wrong about what she wanted and coming out the other side of her assault fulfilled and awakened.

Ruined.

So, I’ve been running a B-reel argument about how “times have changed” and “it’s a comedy” with myself to help figure out whether my nostalgic feelings about this movie can survive in this woke #MeToo day and age. I told myself,

Just watch it again and make sure you’re not misremembering the context…

Nope. Can’t fall for that argument. I’m not planning on running for office, but still…can’t have Jeff Bezos tattling on me if he sees Young Frankenstein in my viewed queue.

Now I’ve given myself a headache.

That Moment When…

Kids These Days

…Got nothing on The Gays These Days.

In the defense of kids, at least they’re kids. I really have no defense for some of the ridiculous shit The Gays do.

Case.

In.

Point.

A byproduct of the reality TV celebrity culture lives here in Portland. One of the Fabulous Baker Girls suggested she arrange an introduction back when the sand was still falling through this guy’s Quarter Hourglass.

My gut reaction was to reject the proposition outright. I mean, A) I’m too old; but, B) I also just tend to steer way clear of that reality nonsense. But, to be fair, I still gave him a once over.

No…

Not for me. Far too dear.

But, we interact on the Instagram occasionally and I enjoy most of his escapades. Random fitness center selfies (told ya, too dear for me!) from his apartment building, dog walks – which is totally my “aw” spot – carpool karaoke solos and whatnot. Whether or not he should go blond again.

He shouldn’t.

Yes, I told him. He asked!

Of course, right now I’m watching his work trip (Nike, so I have to hate him now) to Japan and kind of dying of jealousy. I feel better if I tell myself that he’s the admin for the group.

A bit.

Right now, he’s low grade obsessing over being “in shape” for Coachella. To which I say: boo!

I mean…first of all, he’s in shape enough. But mostly, how is politically right supporting Coachella still a thing?!?

And that’s kind of got to be a deal breaker for at least the LGBTQ community, artists and their allies and supporter.

Doesn’t it?

Anyway, I’m sure that at least partially to that end, a couple of weeks ago I watched one of his stories where he was getting Botox and lip filler.

That gave me a little pause.

Naturally, I had to ask…

And then I never heard back from him. We’ll chat again, we always do…if I initiate it. The same “got better stuff to do” phenomenon occurred a few weeks ago when he was fake-bitching about having eaten a full dozen donuts.

Come to think of it, that might have been him bragging.

I certainly would.

But back to the whole Botox thing…just, c’mon. If he’d been older than I imagined – ok, he is, but if he’d been way older than I’d imagined – that would be one thing.

32 though…that just ain’t right.

And I come by this opinion pretty honestly. When I was living in Seattle, I had Botox. A few times.

I was nearing 40.

It was amazing how big a difference it made on my forehead after a lifetime of witnessing the stupid shit people do in public during my retail career. “Relaxing” those muscles that were in a near constant state of use from raising my eyebrows in surprise several times an hour at my co-workers’ and customers’ shenanigans really made a dramatic change to my forehead.

No more lines!

As a pleasant side effect, this also allowed me to remain an enigma to my friends and employees, so when I let my frustration show, it was a choice.

And a surprise!

But I only did it a few times. The last benefit I received from my use of Botox was surprising my doctor when she told me that her prices were going up from $10/unit to $15 and I replied,

I’m never coming back here again!

Poor dear…never saw that coming.

Anyway.

With that context for at least one of the injectables he was using, I felt I had a foundation for my comment. But this might surprise you: his use wasn’t what irritated me most about this Instagram excursion.

It was that his doctor let him video the whole thing!

I’m watching and then realize, (s)he’s working around his arm that is attached to the phone he’s using to video this whole thing. Shame on that friggin’ practitioner!

It makes me mad, but I guess it’s up to the two individuals involved…I guess. Once again, though – what we tolerate, we condone.

Maybe “kids” these days need adults (like me, or doctors) to tell them when something is not an appropriate behavior or just wrong for them.

But now I wonder if he’d still have that crooked smile if he let his doctor work in an obstacle free environment…

Kids These Days

Would You Read This?

After finishing my NaNoWriMo challenge in November, I was lost.

I did it. End of challenge, end of story?

Ok, maybe not lost-lost, but in my mind, I had accomplished my goal. It’s not like I had a plan to publish and ultimately have the movie rights picked up by that scrappy little studio over at Amazon. So, for me it was all FIN.

But, because I’m an idiot and talked about what I was doing, people wanted to know: So, what’s next?

Fuck if I know. I wrote a book. Surely, that’s enough?

For me, it really was. But at the same time, going back to my finishing point, I felt like it was more of “Welp, there’s my 50k words. Donezo.” Rather than leave it that way, I went back into my ending to make it an actual ending.

Then I looked at my word count and thought, “Well, that’s really more of a novella versus a novel, per se.” That caused me to give it another read to see where I could flesh it out a bit. As I began reading, I was feeling critical about my lack of scene set up. I hadn’t really thought that I needed to do much in the way of actual world building, since people can probably figure out what Portland in the near present day looks like. Everyone will have their own little bubble world when they read it. Having no aspirations to describe a bougainvillea bush over the course of three pages like Anne Rice would, I didn’t dive too deep into what my main character’s house looked like, whether his office had plants or whatnot. I was letting that go.

But, in making that decision to keep the background simple, I was still staring at a novella-length work. My concept was to demonstrate a generational relationship within the gay community with my characters. I think for whatever reason – AIDS essentially wiping out a generation or two of us gays, which we could hardly avoid once it was upon us; or, being an extremely youth obsessed sub-culture as we are, which has backfired on us spectacularly and instead of forming bonds between generations we have a culture of age-shaming because, newsflash: most young people don’t want to have sex with “old” people. Go figure. That last one we certainly could have helped by simply not objectifying the subjects of our youth obsessed culture. Maybe. But here I was, Monday morning quarterbacking.

Great, now I’m making sports analogies. That’s surely a bad sign.

Neverthemess, that being my concept, I thought it would be cool to think of this as a three book arc. Arc One being a protagonist in a middling generation – a gay guy in his 30s and this isn’t a horror novel? Unheard of! – befriending a younger gay and an older gay and letting the story go from there. Arc Two would see the main character in his 40s while his younger friend gay-grows up and his older friend gets older. In Arc Three, his younger friend would gay-die age-wise in the gay culture and maybe his older friend would just die-die.

The vision I had for the stories was all how that generational experience unfolds and how one learns from the others or how information is handed by one to the next.

Y’know…how it should be. I wanted to show the sharing of information that we need, like when parents have to talk about the birds and the bees with their children because they need to learn about how life works. Well, gays need to know how a gay-life works, too. Instead of talking about the opposite sex, maybe we talk about STIs and anal douching. Keep reading, I’m pretty sure I’m not talking about that topic! Just giving you an idea of where gays need gay-guidance beyond what their parents can provide. Maybe some guidance of younger generations by the older characters that is something that straight parent-child relationships have but manifests differently between gay kids and their parents because…well, the shared experience is gone. More accurately, there’s a gap. Where does one comfortably pick up parenting their gay children once they have figured out who they are as adults? It’s still needed, but…even in my own experience, which I would put up there as one of the best, it’s different. My parents aren’t talking to me about raising a child or empty nesting as they might with my sibs.

One of my own biggest frustrations with gay culture has been how we seem to have lost cohesion and how the collective gay ego fills that void. Where we have an opportunity to build up future generations or respect previous generations, we tend to remain isolated in defense of or because of our inability to become thee better selves that aren’t driven by our next sexual conquest. Turns out, there’s no app for that.

But I also wanted to show the payback we could get for nurturing these intergenerational relationships, how it gives us something to look forward to as we age versus the fear of the unknown that is so often left unsaid between comments among friends like, “I never thought I would live until 30” or not having a friend base with the experience base to guide us through relationship obstacles. How many of us as adults – regardless of sexual orientation – could rely on our parents to guide us through the validity of the open relationship culture that gays face? Of course, the challenge with intergenerational relationships within these characters’ chosen families is to keep them like actual families, non-incestuous. This enabled me to correct one of my own perceived societal wrongs, too, as none of my main character’s sleep together. Their bond is formed based on an individual connection and the resulting dependency – which is not a bad word! – versus a sexual bond, which is where I think our culture’s intergenerational relationships have gone off the rails.

My characters forming a bond was only step one, and a very small step at that. My protagonist learning that there’s more to life than a steady boyfriend after a failed relationship besides work was the catalyst for building those bonds. The pacing when I started out was to alternate between personal life and work life with each chapter. In looking to flesh out my work’s size into a full novel – because if you’ve just got three novellas, why not edit them into a single novel, right? – I may have jacked up that original rhythm, but as the future unfolds, the cadence shifts further and further from work and into life, because now the main character actually has one. So I’m willing to let my thoughts for the original cadence go.

So, now I have my novel. Well, I’m two chapters away from fulfilling that statement, at any rate. That brings me back to the original question:

Now what?

NaNoWriMo tries to help out. The name of the event actually stands for National Novel Writing Month. It is an annual event each November and it seems to me that they have heard this struggle I’m up against before. To that end, they have created a support environment for writers to set other goals for themselves throughout the year to avoid losing momentum. After fucking up my timeline with hubris in December, I took a step back in January to wear my writing impulse out so that I could do some legitimate editing. This also allowed me to make notes in my novel about where I wanted to add to the story to flesh the character relationships out further without doing so willy-nilly and potentially making mistakes that would be harder to correct than they were to make. I don’t trust myself or my own work ethic to put the effort into unfucking up something with that daunting a prospect to begin with.

I mean, look how long it took me to actually commit to writing the damn thing!

Oh, six years. Sorry, I thought you knew that. Maybe more, but I’m not thinking about that right now…

For February, that’s what I did. Reread my book and did some for better or for worse formatting. Turns out, when you aren’t trying to add content, you can do that in a couple of weeks. And I had met my NaNoWriMo editing goal of spending 40 hours in February focused strictly on what I had done in November and where I wanted it to go next. I had figured two hours a day, five days a week would get me there. Turns out, without some sort of stupid work to distract me, I was able to spend two to six hours per day on that process. The key was getting myself away from the house, as it happened.

So for the last week-ten days, I have been still getting away from the house and working on those added chapters. Since I kind of went balls out on this process, it was largely stream of consciousness writing. No outline, aside from what was in my head. Had I not been working off of a specific starting point from my own life, I’m not sure I could have succeeded with that lack of actual prep. Part of me thinks that is exactly what I wanted but instead of failure, I became President of the United States.

No, wait…that doesn’t sound right.

Ah, yes. Instead of failure, I had this slightly random fictionalization of something that had happened in my life. Turning the tables, it gave me a good opportunity to therapeutically re-write my own history from a really shitty starting point.

Going back into those chapters I wanted to add, I had a grasp of who the characters were in this quasi-alternative universe. That allowed me to make purposeful content additions that gelled – I hope! – with the rest of the story.

Needless to say, for Arcs Two and Three…definitely gonna need an outline. I’m going from scratch there and I can’t wait to see what happens to these folks.

And, of course, with NaNoWriMo’s guidance and motivational help, today was supposed to be spent working on that pitch letter. February is the month – I learned – where they host a pitch workshop. Any writer that completed a novel – or their 50k threshold, at any rate – can submit a 250 word pitch to their partners, named The Pitch Doctors, and they will select 20 at random from all submissions and workshop them. Of those 20, they will select one to be partnered up with a publisher. So, y’know, that’s kind of cool. The deadline is February 28th. No, wait…March 1st? Regardless, either way, I have built in plenty of latitude in my goal to submit a pitch letter so that I can make some false starts. Like this one, where instead of writing a pitch letter, I’m jacking off on WordPress. Out of 287,000 participants there were 35,386 plus ME that finished their novels. Out of those 35k writers, I’m hoping only 19 others actually take advantage of their pitch workshop…

But, honestly, it’s gonna take a little mental prep time to get my mind around only using 250 words to describe a story that I just used 87500 words to tell. So, this is what that effort looks like today. I’ve still got over a week…

Would You Read This?

Tappa-Kegga-Day

That was what we called kegger night in college.Literally.

Ok, maybe just too old for a birthday on a three day weekend. Because the MLK day/Xtopher’s birthday alignment means my birthday was celebrated for four damn days.

Today is a day of rest.

Also, I have a handyman here (not) fixing things.

Having been busy yesterday, I just checked the Facebook for the first time since…maybe Saturday? Friday?!? Oh, the social media birthday love. It motivated me to share some of my weekend with you, which I wasn’t planning on.

My brain is fatigued and more than slightly pickled, though…fatigued from three weeks of daily writing. Im thinking of hanging that initiative up this Friday or Saturday. My goal was daily blog posts for a month. Would the 1st-26th count?

My original goal was to wear myself out writing so when I go in to try editing my book again, I make notes on what I want to edit. Last time I went in to try and edit, I started adding and fracked up my timeline.

I figure wrap up my January writing initiative, take a few days to read a book a blog buddy sent over – I’m seriously burnt out on words enough that I’m barely reading the blogs I follow. When I sat down to his book, the only opinion I had was

Nope. Cannot do.

(I’m sorry, Phil, I’m working on it!)

So, take a few days to read my friend’s work then get cracking on some damage control on my own.

Anyhoo, I’m sure you’ve already figured out the pickling problem.

Or, not-problem.

The unexpected outpouring of well-wishes I encountered on the Facebook surprised me, as usual. It also kinda washed over me and extended my birthday feels another day.

Friday and Saturday were pretty low key, drinks and shenanigans with my own version of Fox & Friends. Little Buddy shot me an invite, all spur of the moment, to go see a Power Point Improv show we’d discussed a while back. I couldn’t make it, prior engagement.

Birthday weekend shenanigans…

I debated not telling her it was birthday-related. I really am low key about my birthday. Swearsies.

Saturday when I was out with the Silver Fox, I asked him

My family has been quiet about my birthday. Are they up to something? If they are…I kinda feel like I should get a haircut.

He assured me that they were not. Then he casually remarked that I might want to get a haircut, though.

Jerk.

Hehe. I assumed he was commenting about my overall shagginess.

Resolutions for the new year?

Not exactly my thing. But when I do make them, they are me all the way.

1) Write and post a blog entry daily, which you all know.

2) Not cut my hair.

I’ve been trying to grow out a longer style for the last six months or so. Around June, I figured if I wasn’t going to work, maybe I should indulge my back of mind musings on having crazy old man hair.

Why not?

Only, the last few times I’ve gone in to get it cleaned up around the edges, I’ve ended up long on top, trimmed back to above the ears and looking like a Flock of Seagulls refugee.

So, I gave basic hair maintenance two tries and then embargoed it til the end of January. When I make up my mind about these types of things, I always feel bad for my friends. They’re the ones that have to look at – no, endure the fallout.

Anyway, I don’t care, my family isn’t planning anything, so I don’t give it much more thought. A little later, my mom texts me and invites me to brunch on my birthday.

Perfect. Nice and low key, just the way I like it.

For Sunday afternoon, The Fox and I had just planned on going to the hotel bar next door for a few beers. Then we were going to come back to my place and watch some Grace & Frankie. It was a perfect plan.

When we meet up on the corner, he announces that Owl X had texted him that Pallet Jack was back at Big Legrowlski.

Well, I guess we’re going to BL!

I’m laughing and crossing Everett before I even finish the sentence.

All things being equal, it’s Sunday afternoon. I know either bar will have some of my favorite staff working – all of whom definitely fall into the Guy Candy category. But Joey at Legrowlski is in his last couple of weekends before leaving the country to work overseas and has a habit of “accidentally” oversharing the most scintillating personal details. Unless the Tanner Creek boys are working in jock straps for my birthday, Pallet Jack and Joey win!

We walk in and I’m immediately irked by the twosome sitting in the corner. They brought their dog in. I love the dogs that come with or walk by at The Fox and I sit outside sipping away the Summer.

But not inside.

I’m trading hellos with Joey while I hope the Rug Room isn’t too packed, cuz I don’t want to sit on the small bar side with a dog.

Are you surprised?!?

I’m debating how to answer:

– Surprised you let a dog – other than me! – in?!?

– Surprised that I don’t see Pallet Jack on the tap list?!?

Don’t let anyone tell you that being a grumpy old man is easy.

Decisions, decisions.

The Fox is pulling me out of the way. I’m trying to look behind me to see whose way I’m in and he’s shoving me into the Rug Room.

Surprise!

My parents, siblings and brother in law are tucked around a pub table in one corner. Their table, I notice, is blocking the fire exit. The Fox is standing behind me, trying to get me into the group. They certainly know me.

Little Buddy, 2.0 and JOrtis are sitting around a low table, looking pretty happy with themselves.

Diezel and Linda Belcher are wrapped into the far corner, flanking some other guy. It’s kind of dark and the walls are all black in the Rug Room, but I really don’t know if I don’t remember him, can’t see him well enough to recognize honor if someone brought me a present.

Nah…that would be weird.

Not unwelcome…just weird.

What I should have said is:

Do you know what this could do to a man my age?!?

Or,

Surprised someone throws a surprise party for a something-ty-first birthday?!?

But instead I just stood there with my mouth hanging slightly open.

The Silver Fox is chuckling contentedly behind me and still nudging me, so I begin hugging my way into the room. As I’m finishing, people start shifting their comments toward birthday beers.

It’s not that they are out of Pallet Jack, it’s that in order to ensure they have Peej for the party, they’ve been sitting on a keg for the past two weeks! Owl X and I had even discussed it the prior week as I was leaving, neither palleted nor jacked and she said, “See you soon!”

You got any Pallet Jack on order?”

“Maybe. I’m not sure. Brendan” – the owner and Dude enthusiast – “said he wanted to keep it on tap always, so probably?”

Sneaky.

Joey takes me into the walk-in and I’m resisting saying anything about Three Minutes in Heaven. Somehow we manage to get about five people into the walk-in to document the transition. Several of us are lecturing Joey on how tapping a keg used to be a lot harder than what he talked me through…when we were your age.

I’d actually seen the new tap mechanisms back in my grocery working days a few Great-Job-Hunts-ago.

The Fox was talking about Rent Parties that we would have in college. Get a keg for $35 and invite your friends over for a $5 all-you-can-drink night!

I was telling Joey how we would have to manually pump the taps at those keg nights.

My sister was angling for a good pic. Hint: I no longer have a “good side”!

But here ya go…

Birthday Boy with his birthday beer!

A little later someone rectified the situation on the tap list, too.

That eventually – after we got booted from the rug room three hours later so the band could set up – evolved into having a Secret Tap “for the regulars”. A few of them stopped by over the course of the afternoon and evening and shared a pint with the party. Owl X had been a little late arriving and missed the tap moment, but she found the light controls and smoke machine! Karaoke was briefly discussed and abandoned.

I think we’d held the festivities – and the bar side – hostage with our sheer number of people for another hour before people started heading off into the cloudy evening. No Blood Wolf Moon viewing here in Portland!

Diezel and his date – the stranger was his. I mean, geez, D, it’s my birthday…you gotta let me unwrap something! – had another birthday party to go to and we’re the first to leave. I got to chat with them a while and I have to say, I’m glad Diezel may have found himself a good old keeper.

Not to jinx anything. Since I’m not involved, I think it’s safe…

Little Buddy took her guys and headed off toward the ‘Couv. She has a kiddo at home to think of feeding. I forgot to ask how the Power Point Improv was, but in retrospect, I think it may have even been a red herring!

My family was the next to go, but almost the last to leave besides The Fox, Owl X and I. Mom was “taking one for the team” as my sister put it and acting as the family DD. Still, having her driving after dark on a cloudy night was a little hard for me to be 100% comfortable with.

On the other hand, I hadn’t been drunk with my siblings since…I dunno. Maybe my sister’s wedding? But I don’t think we were out of control for that. My brother rarely has a beer, let alone what we decided was four for him that night. My sister shocked me by jumping in head first with her first beer. Since Peej was not yet available, she had a Notorious Triple IPA…just an 11.2% alcohol by volume concoction.

Hats off, sis!

My dad took a break from his canned water of choice (Coors Light, which I heard they were giving away in Flint for hydration, j/s dad!) and enjoyed some of Oregon’s Finest.

Tastes a little apricot-y.

My favorite moment of the night!

I’d said the exact same words to Little Buddy the first time her, 2.0 and I had gotten together for beers. LB and I were working together again, her and 2.0 had just decided to give the dating thing another go and I’d been convinced to try an IPA. I’d notoriously hated them for 20 years, opting instead for Ambers and Reds.

They were surprised by my statement.

Well, it’s definitely got a stone fruit note to it.

They humored me. Well, maybe they agreed that I had a weird mouth and I agreed to ignore their assessment.

“It must just be a weird palate thing with your family”, Little Buddy said.

This is why we’re friends.

Joey’s shift had ended and my other favorite bartendress had reported for duty, sneaking a crowler of the good stuff into my goodie bag.

Linda Belcher was the last non-regular to leave. Although, since she passes the bar on her way rom her office to the bus stop, she’s known to wander in looking for me on occasion.

Sometimes she sees me and joins me.

Other times I’m not there.

Still others, she doesn’t see me.

I think I enjoy the times she sees me and joins me most, but those times she doesn’t see me are pretty friggin hilarious.

We got to sit in the Rug Room and chat a little. The band was really good, just a him & her type duo. Not too loud, so we could enjoy both the music and some talk. Her husband – Bob Belcher of Bob’s Burger fame, obviously – is in Nepal for several months and I’ve been meaning to check in on Linda Belcher for a couple weeks…just…life.

There were some folks I’d have loved to see present. Some – like Filipina Fox and her husband – were out of town for the weekend. Others, the Silver Fox just couldn’t contact because he didn’t have their contact info. He’s not on social media, so he couldn’t use Messenger as a tool to reach out to my other known associates.

The biggest shocker wasn’t how well he pulled this off – starting with hiding the keg weeks ago. No, it was that he kept it a secret. That’s truly impressive. He’s always accidentally giving away the twist in a movie or show. I think the years that we’ve been friends have caused some of my sneakiness to accidentally rub off on him.

I woke myself up on my actual birthday morning because I’d been smiling so hard in my sleep that I think I couldn’t actually be unconscious and simultaneously that happy.

There’s worse ways to wake up.

We finally got to watch some Grace & Frankie last night. I know you were worried.

Birthday breakfast.

Birthday lunch.

And then the bottle of wine The Fox got me last year at my birthday to round out the birthday proper while we binged on Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin’s old-age misadventures.

I was exhausted after four days of friendly camaraderie and about a month’s worth of alcohol in that same timeframe.

My low key day today brought all the feels back just by opening Facebook. I’ve been doing a good job of only checking in once a day. Actually, I’ll miss days now and then.

Yesterday was one of those days.

That big old birthday smile came back. For some, maybe it’s not a big deal…but to me, having over 100 folks take time out of their day to wish me well is a big deal.

Touching.

Even Portland’s former mayor dropped me a note.

Replying to these messages is what made me think to blog about my birthday in detail. Plus, this gave me a chance to prove that I didn’t drink too much!

I remembered!

It started out about like this blog…

Then got sweet…

I didn’t even know I had birthday wishes! Outside of the lottery win that refused to comply…

Actually, there was a little WTF moment when I started responding. Check out the background…

Hmmm. <unfriend>? Actually, it fits my personality. Well, not the “god” part. But, it’s the thought, right?

And speaking of my personality. One of The Fabulous Baker Sisters has to weigh in!

And, I’m case you worried, we had more than a few Myrtle mentions…

So, here’s to another year of surviving Myrtle’s Gulag, life and the occasional happy surprise.

Thanks for reading, every one of you!

Tappa-Kegga-Day

Gods And Monsters

The May/December dynamic is hardly unique to gay culture.

<looking at you Catherine ZJ and Michael D>

Star Trek even gave it a glance in The Next Generation as Wesley whored his way through his teens and most of the male crew memb…wait, that didn’t happen on the show.

I got confused…I’m old.

No, it was in the episode The Best of Both Worlds when Admiral Hanson brings his protege, Commander Shelby, aboard on the way to investigate a missing colony.

Captain Picard witnesses the dynamic between the elder officer and his female subordinate. To their credit, the writers not only created a strong female character in Shelby that didn’t define herself by a relationship, they also made the Admiral self-aware enough to give an honest assessment of his situation when asked by Picard.

Just an old man’s fantasy.

Boy. Little did I know then…but as this will end up being my birthday post, what better time to dust off this three month old notion?

Back around the beginning of November, I caught an old art house flick I’d seen in 1998. Literally, in an art house movie theater. Gay cinema was still struggling somewhere between taboo and mainstream.

The movie? Gods and Monsters.

Somehow, they managed to corral a stellar cast to tell the story of the last days of golden era director James Whale – played by Ian McKellan. He created the Frankenstein movie and the sequel, Bride of Frankenstein while living as a closeted homosexual.

Whale’s housekeeper – Lynn Redgrave – hires a new yardman – Brendan Fraser – that catches Whale’s fancy, despite the gardener’s obvious heterosexual nature. The film explores that relationship, pretty baldly, too. There were moments viewing it at 30 that made me cringe as a young man who had suffered overt advances from older men. The film did not shy away from those clumsy, vague advances viewed through the 1930s mindset of an older man with a modestly lascivious gleam in his eye.

It was hard to watch then, providing a certain ew factor based on my experiences. It was still hard to watch now that the movie is of legal drinking age.

Obviously, I’m not one to judge an older/younger romance. But it was hard to watch from a couch that is fortunately situated in a much more tolerant era.

My gaydar is fairly well tuned. That, paired with gay men feeling comfortable enough to express themselves freely without policing either their naturally fey tendencies, flamboyant behaviors or even their wardrobes, makes it a fairly comfortable environment for me to appreciate men I find attractive without fear for my physical well-being. Those same factors have made straight men much more secure in their own sexuality, largely reducing their fear or discomfort when a gay man hits on them.

Not eliminating the fear, entirely, sadly…but there’s a topic for another time.

But this isn’t about old Hollywood pool parties or an analysis of why older men chase younger men.

Their lost youth, duh.

It’s about the lasting impacts of those inter generational gay/straight friendships.

I might even say it’s more about how people come into your lives for a reason.

Sure, James Whale might have thought his yard man, Clay, came into his life simply as a distraction from his failing health at first. Or, you know…to cut his grass. But as their relationship evolved, Fraser’s gardener provided more than “just an old man’s fantasy”. Ultimately, he inspired McKellan’s Whale – don’t make that dirty, Diezel – to live during his final weeks of life. Of course, Whale then tried to manipulate him into killing him in a “gay panic”. But at the end of the movie, maybe a decade after Whales’ death, we see the lasting fingerprint Whale left on his yardman as he watches one of Whales’ movies with his own son.

Clay – the gardener’s name – learned some tolerance and empathy from his exposure to someone different than himself. Not just any old man, either.

A gay, old man.

I think that double-whammy of diversity was too hard to sweep aside and it made Clay pay attention to Whale versus just looking through him. Even if he wasn’t immediately aware of what was happening in the moment. Later, it made him a better father and a better steward of future generations.

Noticing that the second time I watched the movie made me appreciate what we take away from the people who cross our paths.

<Cue up some John Lennon music…>

We can all use a little more awareness and empathy in our day to day encounters – random or not. Imagine a world, a country, a state, city or block where we could see that awareness and empathy in action.

It’s a not infrequent theme in my blog, human decency. Random kindnesses. Living with intention.

Holding doors for one another.

Making eye contact with people on the street, saying “hi” as you pass.

Little things.

I do them, even though I’m a self-professed grumpopatomus. Think of how unbearably chipper I’d be if someone thanked me for holding a door or smiled or just said “hi” back.

That’s a world I can imagine. I’d just rather see it.

And so, while I sometimes feel like a dirty, old man when a younger guy catches my eye, my motivation is nothing, at worst. At best, it’s to consciously leave them better than I found them. Whale’s presence in Clay’s life may have had unintentional benefits; I’d prefer mine are more direct impacts.

I think with American culture in general, each of us being aware of the legacy we leave younger generations with would be a positive for the future. But I think gay culture in particular would benefit from not being blind to what other generations have to offer our own, and vice versa.

Gay culture lacks a generational continuity. A handoff of knowledge and norms from one generation to the next. AIDS…whaddyagunnado? But instead of walking away from that cultural canyon, we should work toward filling it in to create a cultural continuity.

I was reminded of this the other day when I watched The Assassination of Gianni Versace. There’s gay guys that can legally drink that don’t know the shock and horror of that random crime any more than they know the fear of living your true life in the open.

All these people, with no idea of the cultural importance of Versace’s work or the significance of a gay hustler executing an older, wealthy gay man.

The sad thing is that they blithely post about “living their best life” on social media with an insipid or ironic – god, I hope it’s ironic – pic of some frivolous thing like a venti gourmet coffee or expensive pair of shoes.

The irony to that “best life” is that many more young men enter into exploitative situations with older men to finance those “best lives”…strictly in a tit-for-tat (or cash-for-ass) basis. Sometimes that transaction is strictly through social media, but more and more men are turning to escorting to finance their best life. Bragging as they do that one sugar daddy isn’t enough.

Those who do not learn from their mistakes are doomed to repeat them, right?

I guess, culturally, that means we’ve got a bunch of little Cunanans – thankfully only in the escort way, not the spree killer way – running around without even knowing it. Ryan Murphy to the rescue…

But that’s the type of culturally defining story that we lose not just with a missing generation, but also because of the accepted reality of generational isolation. It shouldn’t take a TV show to educate an entire culture across generations.

But it does, sadly.

I was talking with Sallory months and months ago about this phenomenon. We were talking about how valuable generational influence is, whether it’s friendship or romance based. The gist of the conversation – which started as a “What is wrong with younger people these days?!?” type of thing – was that so many kids come up with a lack of adult or parental influence. People work. I know. But the benefit of older/younger relationships is a better filling in of that gap.

As funny as it sounds, it really does benefit younger generations to hear someone say, “When I was a kid…”

I’m definitely here to say that and I have people in my life that want to hear it. Friends and when I’m lucky, lovers.

Of course, in my case, the movie would be made as Cads And Monsters – given that old gay men are not gods. But the lost boys I let distract me are still certainly lil monsters in their own right. But hopefully having an older friend or boyfriend helps tame them.

Gods And Monsters

Going Their Own Way…

Several months back, Big Word Ben gifted me a much belated birthday present: tickets to the 2018 Fleetwood Mac tour.
Not a bad gift, right?

There was much scandal and speculation about this tour, dubbed An Evening With Fleetwood Mac, after it was announced that Lindsey Buckingham would not be touring with them. Point in fact, the rumor mill – oops, rumours mill – was reporting that he had been fired from the group.

Again.

The rumor ripples of this announcement were fast and choppy. Buckingham is their male vocalist as well as lead guitarist. The last time I had seen Fleetwood Mac he had easily done over half of the vocal heavy lifting.

Christine McVie had just returned from about 15 years of retirement – at 71! – for the last tour and was easing her way into the band’s routine last time around, so it’s not like they aren’t used to changing up the batting order for their shows.

Still, as the “young one” in the band – he and Stevie were ~66 last time the group came through Portland – he had been the real mover and shaker on stage. Stevie did her trademark twirls, but for the most part, her dancing was in place, usually with her feet planted and just consisted of some pretty wild upper body gyrations. Lindsey, on the other hand, had been out to make a point. Jumping around stage like a flea and spinning, squatting, kicking with a true frenzy. It was kind of annoying since it looked like he was showing off to some degree, but also made the show a real visual presentation.
So, what’s it going to be like in 2018? Lindsey and Stevie are both 70, Lindsay isn’t coming, Christine is 75, John and Mick are sitting pretty in the shadows at the back of the stage, as usual. Well, except for Mick’s crazy audience shout-back solo at the midway point. For the record, that was and is still a pretty amazing part of the show.

Filling the bill and rounding out the band, it was announced that Mike Campbell from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and Neil Finn from Crowded House/The Finn Brothers/Split Enz would be taking on the guitar work and male vocals.I was left quite curious whether this would still be a really heavy male vocals show, though. Newcomers notwithstanding, the band ended up leaning on Christine for what I would call about half of the vocal numbers in the Portland show. Now, there’s a reason she was not the primary vocalist in the band in the first place – but as much as I’ve always loved her one or two numbers on each album and even her solo work – at 75, you could tell her voice was getting tired during the two hour show.

But keep in mind, that’s about half the singing in a two hour show…down from a three hour production with Lindsey.

I was ok with the shortened show, because I’m older, too. A three hour show starting at 8 PM makes me tired just thinking about it.

Plus, as it turns out, in addition to Christine leading the vocals charge, the band also chose to steer fairly clear of the Buckingham library. For the most part. Neil did some great lead solo numbers as well as sharing some duets with each of the ladies.The show ended up being a walk way down Memory Lane, for the most part, though, with a great deal of what I would call deep tracks from the Peter Green era of the band.
I was fairly impressed with the band’s effort to acknowledge the stand ins for Lindsey throughout the show, too. It wasn’t just a “hey, here’s these guys” type of situation. After Mick’s World Turning drum solo at halftime, he came to the front of the stage and talked about the next number. It was a song, he said, “that he heard at a time he needed to hear it”, which was an interesting turn of phrase. I was pretty surprised when he went on to introduce Neil to sing Don’t Dream It’s Over, arguably Crowded House’s biggest hit. It was actually a highlight in the show for me as an audience member and as a HUGE Crowded House fan.Big Word Ben seemed to know about this number in advance and warned me, “Just wait until the halfway point”, which I didn’t fully understand until Stevie wandered out onto the stage toward the end of the song and joined in.
It was exciting. Hearing these two voices working together to recreate something I was so familiar with. Until Stevie basically fell off the stage trying to keep up with Neil. He’s only ten years her junior, but it demonstrates the truth behind the old adage about teaching and old dog new tricks. After the number, she kind of joked about her effort, but it was just super unclear whether she forgot the words or if she just got lost.

Here, have a little levity that I found in my Google suggestions while digging around for pics and info for this entry:

My answer to that question:

Attempting this number.

But I am still one to give an E for effort, so I was ultimately happy that they had at least tried to integrate the newcomers.

The back half of the show included a bit more visibility overall for Stevie, so it was good that she had an opportunity to redeem herself after the Crowded House number. Again, though…at 70, she’s not so much the twirling hippy girl she once was. You could tell that her dancing was more an exercise in remaining upright versus it’s former lost in the moment self. The same was evident with Christine when she left her keyboard and came forward for some maracas work during a solo number of hers. Both were very stiff hipped in their movements, which I noted, before immediately reminding myself of how I must look when I get off the couch to pee during a Netflix binge. Yeah, “Shut up, Me”. Both get high marks from me for just showing up, that’s for sure!

We got to the end of the show, with the band being led off the darkened stage by stagehands with flashlights…gotta be careful to not trip on a wire going across the equipment-packed stage. Hips are expensive!

People immediately started leaving as soon as the lights dimmed. Big Word Ben indicated that he didn’t think there was an encore, either, by way of explanation. It’s rare to see that many people take off after a curtain call. Usually it’s just the competitive drivers or people who have to work super early. This audience was moving. We were soon the only people in our immediate area. We chatted briefly about the show. How the set list was so different without Lindsey, but both still glad to have added another notch to our Fleetwood Mac Concert Belts. Mine is nowhere near as long as his, but he’s got a few years on Neil, so I chalk it up to him just having more opportunities.

All that said, I certainly didn’t feel robbed when the lights came back up and the group returned to the stage. Quite honestly, when Freefalling started, I felt like the show was just made. What a perfect way to ice this cake. Stevie nailed a rendition of one of Mike’s former bandleader’s biggest hits while a slide show played behind the band. It showed lots of concert pics of Petty, who had died just over a year earlier at only 66. It was also a very poignant reminder of the connection between the two bands. Mike Campbell joining for this tour was the top of mind connection for most, but then there was the Leather and Lace duet between Petty and Stevie, too. The picture show behind the stage reminded us all of just how much history there was with Stevie and Petty touring together over the years. I think most of the people left in the arena ended up pretty choked up by the end of the song.

At the end of the show, we were left with quite a different Fleetwood Mac experience. We were able to get a good debriefing in during the walk down to Old Town, were BWB had parked. Old Town is just a hop, skip and river from the Rose Quarter and at 10-ish at night a 15 minute walk over the bridge versus waiting to exit a parking garage for who knows how long or even waiting to board what were overflowing MAX train cars for a one-stop ride over the bridge. We talked about everything I discussed above and both agreed that different or not, it was still easily worth going.

The one thing that surprised us both? The show was billed as starting at 8 on the tickets, 8:15 on the Rose Quarter website and by golly, that show started just as we found our section at 8:15!

A rock band starting on time? Yeah, these guys are getting to a point where bedtime is important. But they still deliver a show worth seeing!

Going Their Own Way…

TIL #11

Appreciate the Little Gifts

Someone from friggin’ Appalachia won a billion dollar lottery.

I’m pretty sure you can buy a good chunk of Kentucky with that chunk of change. Probably all of Mississippi and Alabama…if you’re not opposed to relocation.

I wasn’t surprised that the ticket The Fox and I split wasn’t the winner. I wasn’t even mad. As my uncle once said after I teased that he couldn’t win the lottery without playing the lottery, “The odds are only slightly worse.”

Fact.

But it’s those theoretical losses, the ones that don’t cost me anything for which I’m really grateful. I’d much rather remember to be grateful with the most inconsequential of prompts than suffer a literal wake up call, have to grieve or recover and then find gratitude.

So, gimme those little gifts.

Jack Nicholson has a line in the movie Bucket List that folds well into this lesson.

Never pass up a bathroom, never waste a hard on and never trust a fart.

I get it. I really get it.

But even within that quote, there’s room to drill down. Never passing a bathroom is a good call, but once you’re there, there’s still a lot of variables. Give me the satisfaction of that really nice long pee versus the cursed stop and start pee…I much prefer knowing I’m done when the flow stops versus the cursed “not so fast, there pal!” sneaker pee.

The thrill of bending down to pick up a penny and appreciating that your eyes didn’t send you bending down to the sidewalk for what turned out to be gum. Hey, it’s still a penny, and you know what you can’t buy back regardless of how much you’re willing to pay? Your dignity when you stop and squat down for nothing.

And while we’re talking about getting to ground level, something I learned at least a decade ago was a gift from a personal trainer. It didn’t apply to me then, but I tucked it away for future use. Since I quit the gym, I have been looking for a workaround, but what he told me was that whatever I do with my exercise regimen that I should always protect the thin little muscles that run up my shin.

It’s interesting that it turned out to be my shin bones that were the first to fail me as I aged, but it turns out those little muscles still need to be ready to fire. They are responsible for lifting your toes as you walk. As people age and become less physical, those little muscles that never get trained specifically stop benefitting from whatever you do physically. Whether it’s a targeted leg day or spin or yoga or just walks in the park; you start to do less and they fail faster.

You can probably think of a specific person you know who shuffles when they walk or that walks mostly on their toes, like walking for them is more an act of just not falling forward. Well, those folks know what I’m talking about. And it’s those folks that are gonna get tripped up on an uneven sidewalk as they shamble along. Down they go and then <poof> hip replacement.

There are so many people that just never fully recover after a fall, it’s the beginning of the end for them because they’re just never the same.

So, I’m always on guard to do something that keeps my toes pointing upward. (Shush, Diezel) Plus, I’ve got Myrtle trying to trip me, I don’t need toes that cooperate with her efforts.

So, forgive me if I occasionally forget to complain about the big things I might be missing in life: a lottery win, a job…a relationship. I’m probably wryly appreciating the fact that I didn’t piss myself or get gum – or worse yet, dog poo – on my fingers because my original parts are showing their miles.

Remember, I’m not worried that the glass is half empty or half full. It’s refillable and at least I’ve got a friggin’ glass!

TIL #11