Myrt and I Need Couples Therapy

Still!

I went to a movie yesterday. Mary Poppins Returns…highly recommend, Charlotte, as if you haven’t already seen it! But anyone else that loves a good, family friendly story that’s dripping with nostalgia…go see it! If you also like crafty, half-marathoning, Disney loving new moms, then click on the link to check out Charlotte’s blog. It’s like checking in with an old friend, that you just met.

Anyway, The Fox and I enable one another for a drop-in to the good old local for a Pallet Jack on the way home. It’s a moral imperative, I tell ya. If Peej is on tap, I’m stopping in!

All this is to say that after I left the house at 345 for a 415 movie – after giving Myrt her midday snackety-snack – and have myself the teensiest of tasties on the way home…it’s 715. Myrtle’s 6 PM dinner is late!

That cat greeted me at the door like I’d just come home from a solo trek across Antarctica. Sure enough, in the extra 75 minutes, she’d finished her breakfast kibble, which she doesn’t normally do, and reverted to a near-feral state.

Wet dinner, coming right up, Missus!

Fifteen minutes of smacking later, she’s meowing at the door to go play in the hallway. Since getting a new neighbor a few weeks ago, I’m reluctant to let the Missus out into the hallway as often as I used to when it was just me and “another” old lady living on the floor. I don’t know why, I prop the door open for Myrtle while she’s in the hall putting the laying in playing and she runs in and under the bed when the elevator lifts off of the first floor.

30 minutes later, I’m texting a friend and I hear the distinct sounds of impending disaster.

Hur-uh-hurg-uh-rawlp!

Now, two things to keep in mind here:

First, Myrtle has a history of false alarms. More often than not, a few hacks sets her right.

Second, on the half dozen times she’s hurled since I’ve been holding her hostage, it’s that rawlp that signals real trouble.

I get up and look for the chunky puddle.

Nowhere.

Nor, it seems, I’d my feline overlord. It had sounded like she was by the utility room…

No.

I open the cracked door and Myrtle looks up at me from the doormat next door, her expression inscrutable. No barf.

Maybe it was a false alarm.

Breathing a sign of relief, I give her a distrustful look and turn to go back inside.

Something in my peripheral vision makes me stop. Sure enough, 20 feet away, there’s a clump puddle trying to decide what to do.

Myrtle…!

To her credit, she went to her office, located somewhere in the box springs of my bed, instead of supervising my clean up efforts. Unlike the close oversight I get when tending to her litter box.

Speaking of the Missus and her box of poo.

I know cats cover their waste as a generic throwback – or reminder – to their days in the wild. Covering waste is covert, so others don’t catch their scent. Like you when you use the bathroom on another floor at work to poo – you know who you are.

Anyway, my defective cat…she endeavors to cover her waste. I guess. If by “cover” you mean scratch around at everything near your box versus simply pulling litter over the waste and – y’know…covering it. I’ve watched this supposed superior being scratch at the wall behind the box, the chair or table legs that the box is under and the floor outside the box.

Nope.

The closest she’s gotten is scratching at the lip of the box. Unfortunately, since she was scratching with one paw and balancing her svelte self on the lip with the other paw, so only succeeded in covering her poop inasmuch as tipping the cat box over and burying it under an avalanche of spilling litter counts.

My cat ain’t bright, folks.

But these are her “Aaw, poor kitty!” behaviors.

She has never been a real affectionate cat. Playful is not her thing.

I nicknamed her Murderous Myrtle and The Mistress Myrtle for a reason.

This is our fourth year together. Each year at Christmas, my sister gets Myrt a gift, as she does for each of the family dogs. Usually it’s a crack-version of a treat, which Myrtle loves, and a catnip toy…which she pretends is trash.

Still, every year, I give it the futile college try. A little ignored encouragement and then into the closet it goes.

Until this year.

It might have just been the trauma of going into the kitty carrier and a 40 minute car ride. Or the DMZ meeting of my parents’ chihuahuas in my upstairs guest room – Myrtle has never traveled anywhere previously with me but the vet. But this year, the catnip toys got a little attention. At first, it was just a few

These fucking things again

…swaps after she emerged from under the bed. But then I caught her laying on her side, hugging one between her front paws.

I took some of the loose cat nip and sprinkled it on the carpet and she came over, sniffed at it, sat on it and then flipped over and rolled in it twice before skulking back under the bed.

Promising.

At home, I have no carpets. She diligently destroyed my one and only favorite all time carpet years ago. I think this is why she loves the neighbor’s doormat so much. Anyway, I tried sprinkling some loose catnip on a dish towel at home for her. Sure enough, she luuuuurrved it. I’d even catch her running to the towel and planting her front paws on it so she skidded across the floor, gliding on the towel.

I like this new cat!

Myrtle 2.0!

Until one morning I come back from coffee to find that she’s successfully covered a poop in her box with the dish towel.

That’s more like it.

Still, this is all just inane cat weirdness, right?

She hasn’t put me on my face in two years. That’s saying something!

Or, maybe she just hasn’t succeeded in tripping me…and I’m hardly one to assume the worst.

However, a couple weeks ago…it was 3:40 on a Sunday morning. Billy Joel, this wasn’t, no regular crowd…just insomniac me, watching the Netflix.

And the Murderous Myrtle.

Knowing nothing of the prophet Billy Joel and his song about people being alone together, Mistress Myrtle had just climbed into my lap.

Climbed might be overselling it. She’d scrabbled over the far side of the coffee table, using my ankle for purchase; been freaked out by my cry of pain and jumped onto the back of the couch, landed on my shoulder and connected the claws of three paws with my tee shirt clad flesh.

Here’s the only G-rated and non-humiliating pic I could get of the damage

I’m not sure I could capture the double tracks on my shoulder without also exposing more side boob, chicken wing or Dunlap than I care to admit to. But on the plus side, my ankle looks way thicker than its usual Chankle (chicken ankle – Chrisism) self.

Since I was trying to get her off of and away from me, she settled on my lap. I sat and bled, fearful of the proximity of her claws to my crotch.

This has now become a part of Myrt’s nightly routine.

300: Snack

530: Pretend it’s dinner time.

600: Dinner. Finally!

630: Whine at the door. Or a kitchen cabinet door. Just whine.

700: Pre-bedtime nap.

830: Fully dilate pupils and attack.

845: Retreat, but be creepy about it.

1100: Bedtime!

It’s the addition of that 830 activity that has me on high alert. She’ll just come sit by the coffee table and stare at my ankles, like they are singing a hypnotic siren song that only she can hear. When she feels like mixing it up, she’ll sit behind the corner of the couch. I can hear her paws clickety-click-clack up slowly behind me and I’ll turn to see her sitting there, black eyed…

Meow

“Don’t you even think about it.”

Meooow

“Shoo, Crazy Eyes!”

…and she’s off to the box spring home office.

Clearly, we have differing hobbies. Mine is to cuddle and watch Netflix

…or nap, hers is to kill or maim me.

Maybe it’s because she resents that she’s not a dog and doesn’t get three or four walks a day.

Whatever, there was a couple of moderately non-lethal years in there. Maybe the dark days this winter are just hitting her particularly hard.

I’m still walking around, so she clearly still finds me useful. Even if it’s just as a cushion and occasional scratching post.

Myrt and I Need Couples Therapy

Visiting the Cousins

I just called myself out on procrastinating my own writing.

On someone else’s blog in the comments. PS: if you want a female perspective on dating, I dare say Doctor Maria might just be your gurl.How male doctors that look like ballsacks have a wife, a younger girlfriend and/or a trophy wife and this woman struggles is frustratingly representative of our culture’s myriad-standard. She’s a good contrast to my blog, proving that if I had a great job versus none, I’d still face an uphill dating battle.

Still procrastinating…so, before I apply for a job as a bus driver and then get fired for changing the destination display to STRUGGLE, let me set today’s entry up for you:

I started thinking about my cousins as topics last year, but never pulled the trigger. These were the second cousins I knew as a child. I just couldn’t get past where writing about the difference between our two branches of the family tree felt more like I was sitting on their branch with a saw.

So I shelved it.

Then, my first cousins joined the locals for our annual family vacation.

I noticed the difference between my memories of the seconds compared to the present day experiences with the firsts.

Maybe that was my blog.

But it seemed like it had the potential to be a 5k word blog…any of you signed up for that?!? Yeah, I feel like I’m abusing attention spans at 2k.

And that was before I noticed-slash-attributed the difference in behaviors of the family elder…

So, maybe this is two blog entries, maybe it’s three. Hell, maybe I thought about it long enough to wear myself out on the topic and describing the struggle is all I have left?

Until I stop procrastinating and start writing…none of us will know.

<deep breath>

The Seconds

My family is small.

I didn’t know much about family or family trees growing up. There was me and my three siblings, mom & dad and three grandparents. For a minute, there was a great grandmother running around my childhood saving me from beehives and breaking hips falling off couches. Mostly, though, it was me, the sibs, the ‘rents and the surviving grands.

That’s less than 10 in what I would call the entirety of my family as a kid.

Mom’s parents were…divorced? There’s an extended family there, but in Montana, so very distant. I think I met her dad once when he visited Oregon. Of her numerous aunts and uncles, I think two have visited. But not understanding extended family, younger me never really associated these folks with long term memories. Mom was an only child, for whatever reason. With my loose knowledge of grandma’s life before she became “the one with the tall hair and the cool toy closet”, I filled in blanks as to why. Not that there were blanks…it was just my naive mind filling in gaps with fiction instead of asking potentially sad-making questions.

I guess…

Dad’s parents were divorced, but still living. His grandmother was my beehive hero, but died when I was maybe eight.

Not from a bee sting, for the record.

His dad is still alive, 97 years old next month! Of course, dad’s mother was “the me” of her generation. A single recluse with an infamous death.

Foreshadowing, but someone else will have to write that entry for me, obviously. I’ll put it in my drafts under: Fool-ogy.

I forgot about my uncle. Dad’s younger bro by about a dozen years. He was always like a distant brother growing up, we were close in age. As a matter of fact, I think there are as many years between he and I as there are between him and dad. Anyway, that fleshes our my extended family of ten. He’s also rather integral to The Firsts, no?

But then, in the perimeter of my family consciousness, there was this not well known nor understood and mysterious aunt-figure we would visit a few times a year. My family lived in the suburbs of Portland when I was growing up, specifically Milwaukie and Oregon City – which made it sound less suburb-y than it was and still is. Just trust me. My cousins, on the other hand, lived in what seemed like Alaska. When we went to visit, it was an exercise in “Are we there yet?” for my impatient self.

In reality, I think they lived 20 minutes away.

But it was on a farm.

A real, live farm.

Without a paved road, I’m not even sure whether it was an unnamed road or a really long driveway. You got to there house and just stopped the car.

There were cows.

Chickens.

A donkey.

A baby in a manger…oh, wait. It was just my perpetually pregnant aunt.

Fields.

With real crops.

And cowpies.

I don’t remember them ever visiting us in the “city”.

Visiting them was like traveling backward in time. I think there was a lot of focus on being self-sustaining. There was a lot of chores. Homeschool was the only school. I wouldn’t know if anyone but us ever visited…but if I had to guess, I’d say they were church folk.

Not that I knew that my cousins attended church. I just remembered what their house was like. There were bibles. Pictures of Jesus, Mary and assorted saints hung on the walls.

My cousins weren’t really allowed to watch TV, aside from The Lawrence Welk Show.

You’d think that’s as cool as one could expect out in the milds of the pre-suburban-sprawl of the Oregon countryside. You’d be right, unless you factored the family’s Wurlitzer jukebox into the equation. And you’d still be right – having a jukebox is just cool – unless you took into account that the jukebox was essentially filled with more Lawrence Welk type music.

I’m sure, in retrospect, that it wasn’t all Lawrence Welk and Tiny Bubbles all the time. I’m sure there were Andrews Sisters and Hank Williams, Sr and whatnot.

There were for sure nothing I understood as music from the current century at that time: REO Speedwagon, Queen, AC/DC…y’know, the devil’s music.

So, what did we do after the five-day covered wagon journey to get to my cousins’ house? Well, sure…sometimes we cranked up that jukebox and hoped it was almost time to leave.

Other times, we did kid stuff while mom and my aunt – I think by this time I had figured out that my aunt was my grandma’s sister – did what they did. Whatever that was. My cousins were two girls roughly the same ages as my sister and me.

Sometimes I would make mud pies on the “road” with my sister and cousins. Other times we’d all play together in the fields or exploring a nearby creek. Still others, I’d go with my younger brother – just the older of the two, the younger still being a few years off – and uncle to do farm work.

What a lark that was!

We learned how to gather eggs and milk cows. Both skills I’d use in a much more modern and sometimes bastardized manner later in life.

Sometimes, we’d just hang our arms over a split rail fence watching my uncle work. Other times we would play in the hay loft.

Around the time my third cousin – a boy – was born, my brother learned that he didn’t like geese. Well, he learned – in a memory that is burned into my memory – that geese didn’t particularly like him. And that he liked running, at least to escape pursuing water fowl.

Picture a goose chasing a toddler boy up a dirt driveway…that is legitimately one of my favorite and most terrifying memories of both my childhood and a formative reminder of man’s place in the food chain.

Back before Portland made it popular, my aunt tried to give us a chicken to take home. Every visit, we would come home with eggs or bread and sometimes meat. I think we brought home meat…people seemed to always be giving us slaughtered animals when I was young. I’m pretty sure my aunt and uncle gave us beef. Some hunter-type neighbors – that’s how Milwaukie and OC North we’re back then – gave us venison. Venison was something I didn’t fully understand, but we always seemed to have it in the freezer.

Anyway, I’m not sure whether my aunt gave us this chicken for its eggs or for Sunday dinner. My dad didn’t strike me as the slaughter-a-chicken type guy, so I want to say eggs is the answer.

It turned out that it didn’t matter. In my childlike curiosity, I could not grasp the concept of us taking a chicken to the “city”. It was in a box in the back of our family truckster. Being pre-humane, my mother had put down the back window so there was air circulation for the chicken. Probably also so the car didn’t smell like chicken shit when we left.

My sister and older cousin both assured me that, yes…there was a chicken in a box in the back of our family station wagon.

But I had to see it to believe it.

You know what’s scary? A chicken flying into your face out of a box you’re crouched over.

It also kind of hurts…all that flapping.

Thank god it wasn’t more bees.

Anyway, the third second cousin was eventually followed by a fourth, another boy. I think it was between the fourth and fifth seconds that my youngest brother joined our little family, making us six.

Somewhere in between knocking my aunt up, my uncle bought some land way out in the sticks. Eventually, this ended up being “just down the road” from the largest and most she-she of shopping malls in Oregon. At the time, it was all expansive fields with a Nordstrom sticking out of it. He parked a mobile home on his part and started building a farm. It kind of seemed like a hobby. Like a farmer with five small kids had time for side projects.

Over the years between the expansion of families and land and when my family moved away…to Kansas, of all the ironic places, I also started to realize something.

Or suspect.

At best, my aunt and uncle were producing stranger and stranger offspring. Giving the term second cousins an unfortunate double entendres. To the point where we had a legitimate rocker in the family now. And not in the AC/DC way as much as I’m the “maybe mom and dad are related” way. It’s a thought that evolved, but I never followed up on.

More questions you don’t ask, right?

But this rocking cousin was enough to make me wonder about my other younger cousins. The girls seemed normal enough, given the setting. But were the other boys’ behaviors just normal boys-growing-up stuff or were they…

I mean, a lot of little boys are bullies because they don’t know how to express themselves. But what’s bully behavior when a couple brothers away sits a quiet child, rocking back and forth to music no one else hears? Then there’s that middle boy, the one with a bucket on his head. All of the time…I swear, I never heard it, but I just know at some point my aunt said, “We don’t wear buckets at the table, sweetheart”.

Bless her little house on the prairie heart.

After we moved, we didn’t really see or hear from that branch of the family until grandma died. Somewhere in there, my eldest cousin announced her engagement to a boy she’d met at school. I’m not sure what was more surprising: getting married at her young age or that she had gone to a school.

What I knew was surprising was the following announcement that her younger sister was marrying her fiancé’s twin brother. Maybe the girls got weird by circumstance or maybe they were always weird and just passed.

Nature or nurture, right?

All I knew was that it was weird…siblings marrying siblings. And I think it was a double ceremony.

When grandma died, they insisted on holding a wake. My aunt was her sister, after all, so it made some sense.

So, out to the now-complete farm that we had never seen.

It was a compound.

On a hilltop.

My Black Sheep Bro and his girlfriend drove out with Sasha and I. Or vice-versa. We parked near the pole barn and walked over to the main house. My brother and I not sure what to expect. Nor how to appropriately warn-slash-prepare our significant others of the time about what they should expect.

I wouldn’t have been at all surprised to see a banjo playing hillbilly on the porch or my taxidermied grandmother standing in a corner…or both. Fortunately, it didn’t come to that.

We were welcomed in at the front door and taken past a hallway of bedrooms – that included a built in and lit grotto to the Virgin Mary at the end – to the living room.

Introductions were…a blur. I met a cousin’s husband and his twin, the other cousin’s now-ex-husband. There was a surly looking young man sitting – I shit you not – on an overturned bucket and sitting at the piano, but not playing it, another young man…quietly rocking back and forth.

My Black Sheep Bro and I exchanged a glance that said it all…actually, it said, “There better be booze”. We all socialized a little awkwardly, but pleasantly. I’m sure all the pre-marital sex and co-habitation and <gasp> homosexuality that we brought out from the city had more than one of them fighting the impulse to run to the grotto, but despite our different lifestyles and near-stranger status in each others’ lives…you could feel a connection in the room that evening.

There was pleasant chatting. Patient catching up on life events that were semi-alien to the listening participants on each side. But the bond of family provided a warmth in the room, that while awkward was still present.

Plus, a zebra-striped grand piano sitting in the middle of the room is always a great ice breaker…

Visiting the Cousins

The Search Continues!

I went to the gym recently. Everything appeared normal as I approached…

Until I rounded the corner and approached the front doors. Normally, I feel a little intimidated walking into the gym.

Doors are heavy!

For whatever reason on this day, I tore my eyes away from my feet. I like to mind my steps, because falling down would hurt. Also, I tend to become easily distracted by attractive and unattainable men.

What I saw when I looked up filled me with a minor sense of optimism…

We’re Hiring!

Well, sure.

Why not?

I went inside, making sure to smile at the check-in biometric machine that was on duty…just to leave a good impression. Then I did my little fitness thing.

When I got home, I went to the gym’s website to apply for my next dream job!

Alas…it wasn’t listed as available. Which means that someone out there has my job!

But I’m going to go back, obviously. When I do, I’m going to keep my eyes open for the person with my job.

If I see them, they’d better hope it’s not near the top of the stairs. Now that I’ve set my mind on it, I won’t be satisfied until I can hold my head high as a member of my gym’s team.

As the Before Model.

The Search Continues!

Today I Learned #12

Calculated Risks

I don’t want anyone to mistake this entry for something serious.

Like wine.

I mean, I take wine seriously enough to not abuse it. I mean, waste it…I’m sure anything I do that could be described as wine abuse is actually closer to self-abuse or self-medication, depending on the circumstance.

That said, I feel like we should discuss decanting.

Sidebar: Autocorrect just changed “decanting” into “decaying” and I literally decant even.

Decanting a sure thing bottle is convenient for aerating the wine and opening it up do the acidic notes can mellow versus overwhelming the rest of the flavors when you…sip. So I’ve generally made a habit of decanting a bottle anytime I have company over, but switching to a by-glass aerator if that second bottle tries to get popular.

My logic? Maybe that second bottle doesn’t get finished, right?

What? I’ve heard of that happening…

Here’s what I’ve learned.

Wine is much like friends vs dating later in life.

You get to know the quality peeps in your life that deserve and have earned decanting rights. Then there are the new unknowns that are best taken on a by-glass basis.

As I’ve managed to overcome my desire for a relationship and remain a Singleton this past year, I’ve engaged in a little thought exercise. I examined my urge to open or order what I consider great bottles of wine on a first date. Was I simply indulging my tastes and myself as I did something I’m not super comfortable doing?

Sidenote: Roller Coasters should have wine stands at the beginning of the line.

Or, was I trying to show off?

Ugh.

I’m going to skip over the grisly details. Suffice it to say, hearing an attractive man say that my wine was really good as he leaves are perhaps the least validating final words to hear from someone.

In case that needed to be mentioned.

The last time someone came over for wine in a dating capacity, I legitimately caught myself thinking – as I reached up for my decanter – “Am I prepared to try and switch bottles because ‘This doesn’t taste right, let’s try something else’ if this guy doesn’t seem worth the rest of the bottle?” More importantly, am I cool enough to pull off that switch to a bottle of TJ’s finest?!?

But, like I said, this isn’t a post about wine.

Exclusively

It’s about any variety of risks we take. Moreover, it’s about how our own opinions of those risks change over time. And how we assess and prioritize those opinions.

A fairly blue case study – oh, I should write about Gee sometime – to illustrate my point:

Yesterday, I had a solo lunch date with dad. Mom had gone shopping with my sister and his usual Friday lunch with his own dad was rescheduled for a doctor’s appointment.

Usually when mom, dad and I go to lunch, I can bank on each of them making use of the facility’s facilities. Occasionally it’s all three of us, which affords my dad and I the opportunity for a rather humorous take on what frequently happens at Portland intersections.

Yesterday, as our departure from the restaurant became imminent, I caved and asked dad if he wanted you use the restroom before we left.

He passed.

I raised my eyebrows.

When we got to my place, I asked if he wanted to come up and talk for a while longer. I wasn’t sure if he wanted to more kill time while my mom and sister were out. He said no, so we sat in the car and chatted a while before I got out of the car and chatted more while standing at the door.

When he drove off, I crossed the street, fobbed into my building and then tapped my toe impatiently while waiting for the world’s slowest elevator to return to the main floor.

Then I did a full on pee-pee dance in the elevator as we made our glacial ascent to the building’s fourth floor.

Seriously…it is so slow. I’m tempted right now to go take a ride and count off the “thousands” it takes to climb from the Ground floor to 3. Sadly, I have to meet friends in two hours and nine minutes, so I’m afraid there isn’t time.

By the time we reached my floor, I was straining so hard to keep my bladder sealed that I accidentally let a fart fly.

That felt better!

But I consciously tightened everything up again as I prepared to engage my legs and leave the lift. My concern? Was that just gas or was it a…warning?!?

I farted out a few letters of the alphabet on the way to my door and while I was fumbling to get my door unlocked. Fortunately, neither of the other two residents on my floor chose that time to leave their units!

There I was, sitting victorious upon my throne. The contents of my bladder successfully vanquished, I reflected upon the Battle of the Bladder.

Were my check-ins with dad legitimate concern or projection on my part?

I want to say legitimate concern, since he drives about 35 miles home after he visits.

But the reality was that this was my second elevator dance of the week, so…

Either I need to move to a building with a faster elevator – or, better yet, a turbo lift! – or I need to stop projecting and openly check-in with my own plumbing to calculate risk vs transit time between cans.

So far, I’m not there. I have only gotten as far as calculating the height of a curb as it relates to chances of a fart in my body’s state of misadventures. Maybe it’s time to up that game.

Bet you wished this had only been about wine now, right?

Wine and poop. I’m a real enigma, aren’t I?

Maybe this whole Calculated Risks thing is more about food and drink, now that I think about it. The last example that popped into my head was about coffee. While that folds nicely into the bathroom urgency risk, it’s more about heartburn!

I’ve long maintained that I only need one good cup of coffee to satisfy my craving.

And the occasional need for a jump start.

The end of that saying of mine is that I’ll drink diner coffee all morning and still not feel satisfied. But I will end up with a banger of a case of heartburn. But I understood the risk and how my body worked.

Now, since I haven’t been working, I’ve sat at f&b for a second cup of their cold brew while chatting-ish with the Silver Fox. As my unemployment has dragged on, though, I’ve had to re-examine that habit.

The cold brew at f&b is brewed using the Japanese method for iced coffee.

Cold brew, iced coffee, Japanese iced coffee; three very different things. At least inasmuch as acidity is concerned.

Cold brew has very little acid, meaning I can drink it all day. That it’s made with good, medium roast beans means I really can sip it all day, but feel satisfied after a single cup.

Iced coffee, Japanese brew method or not, medium roast bean or not…has all the regular acidity of coffee.

When I have that second cup, I’m weighing the risk factors. Usually, with The Fox, the calculations come out in his – and mine, by extension – favor. When I’m alone, I’ll stop at one cup, go somewhere else or skip it altogether.

The cost/benefit calculated risk exercise I go through when it comes to the debate over taking a shower and getting presentable just to go out for a cup of coffee are a little…embarrassing.

How about some interaction? Surely, I’m not the only one that does this type of calculating…although, maybe I’m the only one that admits to it.

Tell me in the comments, what are your Calculated Risks?

Today I Learned #12

My Work Is Never Done

Recently, in Why I Hate the Interwebs land, I came across the tweet below.

I’m not sure why I bothered to white out his identity. Pretty sure it’s because I don’t want to inadvertently contribute to his…notoriety. He’s already a Portland-famous self-proclaimed celebrity.

I point out that his celebrity is self-proclaimed…if it were up to me, I’d choose Stupid American as a label for this clearly adrift Lost Boy.

Ok, A) yes. Right?!?

But, also, B) I wasn’t really that confident that he was joking. I think I was trying to “program” his behavior with my words.

Also, I am fairly sure this is why people sometimes refer to people who use Twitter as twits.

Another grumpopatomus response that went through my head was

Not as weird as you even asking the question.

But grandma had a strong voice when it came to appropriate behavior, so I gave her her day on the Internet.

Now, because I can exist in the simultaneous states of grumpy and self-entertained, I was having a different internal conversation with my dear departed grandma about this tweet as I typed my response. That voice was cracking me up with a running dialogue kvetching about how much work it would be to execute this plan.

I mean, the waxing, the bleaching, you’re gonna want an intensive week of leg day workouts beforehand…and then you gotta find a photographer. And it can’t be just any photographer.

“Why not? Wait…what do you know about leg day?”

Don’t you worry. But it wasn’t all water aerobics at the Y for me, let me tell you.

Now, you’d want natural light for this shoot. You’d need an outdoor photographer.

“An outdoor photographer?”

Of course! This isn’t picture day at school. You can’t just hire any old guy from Sears Portrait Studio to do this.

Obviously…?”

Quite right, you are! Imagine some poor schmuck that makes his living taking pictures of pets for family Christmas cards trying to pull this off.

“Mm-hmm. I’m sure that simply wouldn’t do.”

Correct, again.

You’re gonna want the guy who puts out a Grand Canyon calendar every year for this job.

He’s used to working with giant, gaping holes.

“That was quite a lot of set up just to backhandedly call this guy a slut, grandma.”

He’s nothing but a common tramp.

I’m not sure why, but sometimes grandma sounds like grandma in my head. Others, she has a Southern accent. I call her my imaginary Southern grandma. This time she had a New York Jewish accent. That’s new…

It’s a wonderful time to be alive, folks.

My Work Is Never Done

Noah’s Ark

That’s really the only way to describe the weird coincidences that popped up in my day yesterday. But, since I kinda low-key committed to writing every day in January – mostly as a procrastination technique to avoid editing my NaNoWriMo book – by god, I’m gonna tell you about it.

Yesterday was definitely a Noah’s Ark day.

If something happened, it happened twice. And since this is my life, it was random and bizarre.

Two-by-two weirdness, if you will.

First, out of nowhere, I got an extremely welcome check-in IM from a high school classmate, the Notorious KPG. She’s pretty damn inspirational – makes me feel a little guilty for the aforementioned procrastinating, actually. After raising her family, she’s gone back to college and is taking what seems to be a full damn load. She still balances family time and date nights with the hubster. Her Insta and FB are full of pix of her and her family or just her making crazy faces at the camera. She’s a delight!

Plus, she knows me well enough to send this lil gift along with her IM

She says Baby JGL. I say

JGL, baby!

Tomato, to-mah-to.

I didn’t think much of it at the time. Just enjoyed the quick check-in and the Guy Candy.

Chrisism.

Until later when this happened.

I’d been late responding to the Silver Fox because I was tapping out a lil blog. He didn’t mind and seemed to think me writing was an acceptable excuse for my delayed reply. Actually, the gif he sent is animated…

Better, right? If I can’t get a little Joseph Gordon-Levitt action, I’ll take a little JGL in action.

In and of itself, I’d go about my day without giving that coincidence more than a bemused Instagram post.

Except…

Last night I was watching a series that Bachelor #4 from last year’s Dating Into Oblivion theme got me hooked on during our late night on/off again texting and IMing – Lucifer. They won’t be at the Golden Globes tomorrow, by any means, but it’s entertaining enough to pass the time.

It beats baseball.

This guy popped up in an episode.

He looked very familiar – and I decided to obsess about what I’d seen him in rather than focus on his piss poor gay interracial love triangle with a married man.

Seriously, talk about an overworked plot point. Just to make it completely eye roll worthy, the boyfriend ended up murdered.

Lucky bastard.

Clearly an IMDb rabbit hole was preferable to watching that play out too closely.

Turns out, he played Anna Kendrick’s boyfriend in Twilight.

It’s true, Anna. And this guy was your love interest…

Since I was avoiding paying too much attention to last nights episode, I dove into his IMDb “did you know” section. That’s where I saw this.

Now, Aaron Himelstein is what one might call an uncommon name. It jumped out at me and I couldn’t shake the feeling of

Who the fuck is that and why does that name sound so familiar?!?

So…off to see if he had an IMDb page…

In scrolling through his credits, I realized he’d been in a couple of Marvel movies. That got my attention. As a matter of fact, Google usually throws a good half dozen Marvel related articles on my radar a week…and I’d just read one that morning.

I went back into my Google history – no shame there, it’s all geek guy stuff and settling argument searches! – and reread the story from earlier.

Yup.

There it was, typo and all.

Does that seem like a lot of work?

Welcome to my brain.

Sadly, all this unbridled curiosity ain’t curing cancer.

It’s just minutia.

Drivel.

But it keeps me from trying to edit my novel and applying that shotgun attention span to something important that needs focus. Plus, it reminds me that while Michael Welch might have been in Twilight, he was also in one of the favorite movie franchises of my life.

Much better to be able to geek out over his Star Trek role than Twilight, right? I’ll call it the highlight of his career.

And, no…since I know you wanna know I’m those depraved little hearts of yours that I just adore. I didn’t get laid twice yesterday.

Or once.

But god bless you for thinking I could…

Good lord. Did I actually type that I wanted to blog every day this month?!?

Yikes.

Procrastinating on that goal might actually drive me to the gym!

Noah’s Ark

Bad Influences

Have you been bombarded by so-called Influencers lately? Speaking from personal experience; I have and it’s been tedious.

When I was a kid…no, that’s not right. Earlier this century, back in the aughts, being an influencer was kind of a rare thing. Usually, it was someone from the media or a local personality. I encountered a lot of them when I was opening the “don’t call it a flagship” Sur la Table in Bellevue, Washington in ’09.

Thank gawd it was a rare thing back then.

They.

Were.

Precious.

Most of them were women, maybe a step or two above a debutante or socialite. Mostly by a decade or more in age and a tenuous claim to a job. Most of those jobs amounted to being a blogger, back before everyone had one.

But there were a couple of published lifestyle authors and an occasional morning show host that came with some gravitas. They were important to be able to connect with and talk to because they had an audience and they knew that connecting with me was about promoting the brand I represented versus a vested interest in their own self-promotion.

Unlike the other dilettantes and poseurs.

But today, it seems like dilettantes and poseurs are all that’s left of the once almost illustrious title of influencer.

What’s more, just like one doesn’t call it a comeback or refer to oneself as hot or cool…maybe true influencers don’t call themselves influencers.

I started thinking about this just before Christmas while visiting with the ‘phew. He’s in the middle of his freshman year of college and we were just catching up on his quick trip to SoCal to attend a music festival called Rolling Loud. He’d gone with some of his high school classmates. When we came around to next year and whether upgrading to the VIP experience would be worth the extra $100/ticket – he thinks it will be, so why not? – money in general came up.

Tickets: $250-350

Airfare: $250? I’m guessing, but it’s in between the Thanksgiving and Christmas peak travel season, so I bet they aren’t giving away plane seats.

Hotel: $150/night for three nights, and this is for a hotel room near USC so it could be more!

Plus Ubers everywhere and food.

So, yeah. Money came up.

That segued into a classmate of his who he said was an influencer for he didn’t know what, but she got around $3k a couple times a month for whatever she did.

For the first time this holiday season, I was able to maintain a neutral expression while inside I was doing my best Gilbert Gottfried and disbelief was spewing out of my figurative mouth while I mentally debunked everything.

My immediate thoughts, when I began turning this over in my head later that night, was all of the self-proclaimed influencers in my Instagram feed. Don’t be surprised, but I follow a lot of random gay guys.

Ok, fine…take a moment to regroup.

Better?

Off we go, then.

There’s a guy I follow named Ben Something. By all initial accounts, he was just this cute lil college kid in NYC that liked showing off his dimples and nice butt on his Instagram feed.

Then it turns out that he’s dating a fairly well known gay porn performer. Ok, I know the porn star is a bottom, and the Ben kid sure pinged as a bottom, so I wasn’t surprised to see them both post “single again” Insta-stories within a couple hours of one another.

Kids. So cute.

I wasn’t even surprised when Ben was dating someone else less than a week later.

Lost Boys. But this is part of finding oneself, right? And he’s an appropriate age for it.

<Looking at you, PNW guys in your 30s…>

Then I started seeing him post “paid partnership” pics on behalf of Pure for Men, which is a supplement for men who engage in receptive anal sex. I’ve never looked into it, but I’m assuming it’s basically a $20 solution for a $5 problem.

I actually dug around the Amazon for a bit and proved my own theory without disproving my own hyperbole: psyllium supplement is $.17/dose and Pure for Men is $.85/dose.

Then I got to watch a trip to Paris, that turned out to be a meet up with his ex…and several other actors for CockyBoys. I’m sure you can figure out what the trip was actually for. Seriously, though…who flies porn “stars” into Paris to make a movie?

What a time to be alive.

I mean, getting by on your looks.

To recap: Pure for Men mouthpiece, CockyBoys actor…and all this time I thought he was a ballet student. Yeah. Regardless, there’s a life plan full of intent.

Then there’s the 19 y/o Aussie bodybuilder…I started following him after seeing a before/after pic of his struggle with acne.

Frankly, the before pic was the stuff of teenage nightmares. I felt awful for him. But his story was impressive. He’d managed his acne with a combination of medicine and diet.

It was very Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead, so I was drawn to it. Plus, the FS&ND guy was also an Aussie, which I found to be an interesting coincidence.

Turned out, the Aussie kid was only 18. He’d not only managed to overcome his acne through his dive into nutrition. Following diet up with exercise, he’d transformed himself from a 98 lb weakling – sorry, I’m not converting that empirical expression into metric – into a buff bodybuilder.

He competes now.

Frankly, he’s rather overworked, in my opinion. Then again, that’s kind of the end goal for a bodybuilder: keep building body, right?

But his journey was inspirational. Until I tried listening to him talk. It was painful. Then again, teenagers are usually still learning their own voices, so I just hit mute and watched his sometimes fun beach antics with his friends and his impressive gym videos.

What I did learn from him, though, was he wanted to create a fitness culture on YouTube to help others find what he found through fitness and nutrition.

Not a bad goal.

Somewhere in there, he also created a clothing line of fitness apparel. Mostly sleeveless tops, but I assume he was going for a specific audience.

This past week, I saw a story of his that was captioned “last day at one of my three jobs”. That made me pay a little more attention to what had been going on with him. Working three jobs and about 50 hours a week is a lot with his fitness regimen-slash-gym time. Factor in commute time between jobs and it’s not just a 50 hour commitment, either.

Until

Later that day – the same damn day – he posted on his story that we should all follow his “private account” because he was starting an Only Fans page.

Where to start?

Ok. Only Fans is a feature that you can enable on Instagram that allows you to charge a monthly subscription for selfie porn.

Seriously.

I’ve seen many of these random gays I casually follow start Only Fans and then embarrassingly promote themselves to gain subscribers. They seem to charge $2.99-9.99 a month for the privilege of seeing their exclusive content.

I’ve actually found this internet secret that allows me to get free porn, so I’ve never once been tempted by this Only Fans nonsense. However, I remembered my nephew’s classmate and her alleged twice monthly $3000 payday.

That’s only 600 subscribers at $9.99/month. Plus, straight guys are way dumber about porn than gay guys. Maybe a hot co-ed can get more than another gay gym bunny.

Speaking of straight guys being idiots about porn? This Aussie kid is straight. Too narcissistic to stay that way in my opinion/experience, but he’s 19. He’ll probably figure it out. For now, he’s starting his Only Fans for $19.99/month!

Marketing to a gay audience at twice the market rate is a pretty bold marketing decision. We’ll see how that works out for him.

For now, I see him starting to pop up in the stories of guys around the world, whose sole purpose on Instagram is to help one another build their follower-ship into the tens of thousands.

Fine. I get that. We’re in the Me Generation on Crack. It’s all about the likes and follows.

For my part, these random people Instagram thinks I should follow? I do. Sometimes…if they don’t engage with me, then I unfollow them.

I’m sticking to social media being a social experiment versus playing into the likes and follows culture. If I wanted empty socialization, I’d hang out on hookup apps, aka: asocial media.

I figure if some guy in Brazil can post in Portuguese and engage with me in English, Australians, Brits and even Americans can be bothered to interact occasionally with their followers in their native language. It’s how I virtually separate good folks from pretty trash on line.

I know, I set a high bar for people. <eyeroll>

Anyway…this Aussie kid. Flash forward a few more days and he’s slashed his Only Fans to $9.99/month. Looks like he’s learning something. Nothing important, in my opinion…

But then he posts a pic of one of his bros and says they are going to be creating some “hot content” together for his Only Fans subscribers…maybe he’s learning something about himself that is important.

Or, not

Back in my day, cute young guys knew how to behave. Straight guys slept with as many people as possible, like it was their right. Gay guys acted like they were too good to deign settling for a lesser human as a sex partner, 10s Only was the attitude.

Now it’s Fans Only.

Noted.

Regardless, the meme makers have these guys covered.

See ya around, Influencers. When I see shit like this clogging up my corner of the internet

…I swipe and unfollow. I don’t know either of those guys. I guess I’m – surprisingly – not under the influence.

Bad Influences