Just Go Back To Sleep

You *woke*, bro?

Over the past week or infinity, I’ve crossed paths with several *woke* people or groups. People, actually, whose values and politics align with my own.

Strangely, it has not gone well for me. Witness:

Facebook: Minimum Wage

I’m not going to lie, I’m still scared to look at my Facebook notifications for fear of seeing what a woke mob of Portlanders has left there for me. As a matter of fact, since this happened, I’ve likely opened my Facebook app less than a half-dozen times.

My crime? Standing up for a local restaurant chain called McMenamin’s. They had posted an ad for cooks.

The gall.

Actually, that was the lead comment by a woke Portlander who saw the ad on Craigslist and decided to post it on the DamnPortlanders Facebook page. A page that I’m quitting, if it hasn’t already expelled me.

Let me tell you about McMenamin’s crime before I go into details on my own. They posted this Craigslist ad for cooks: minimum wage (which is currently $13 and change, but moves to $14/hr on July 1st and $14.75 next July 1st) plus tips, medical/dental, 401k, PTO…not bad, in my opinion. Most of my service industry friends have no insurance since they are usually consigned to part-time positions. And 401k? Forget about it.

This woke Portlander was offended that a company would offer a minimum wage job in today’s job market, particularly in Portland.

My crime? I simply pointed out that Portland’s minimum wage is nearly double the federal minimum wage and that maybe there were other levers to pull to ensure Portland remains a livable city for our service industry workers – particularly since it’s such a big part of our culture. I may have also mentioned that attacking our own liberal policies made us look a bit schizophrenic.

Remember our unofficial town motto: Portland, where young people go to retire.

Anyway, I wasn’t expecting gratitude from my comment. I just wanted to throw a little voice of (t)reason into the dialogue. I’ll tell you what I wasn’t expecting…attitude.

I’m not even kidding. Given where the comment melee ended up, it actually started in a benign – if only by comparison – place. The OP claimed she worked on the minimum wage campaign five years ago and that it was out of date already. Without citing context, of course. She said that $15 should be the minimum.

I reminded her that $14.75 and $15 are pretty damn close, wondering if she was really upset about what amounted to $10/week. I also pointed out that she shouldn’t be upset by employers offering the minimum allowable wage – they were meeting the state’s baseline requirement of employers.

Her counteroffer was that the minimum should be $22/hr, $26 if you work downtown.

Ok, merely moments before, she’d declared that $15 should be the minimum. Now she’s saying $22 should be the minimum – do you feel like I was necessary in this debate? She seemed to be negotiating against herself just fine.

The split minimum wage is nothing new to Oregon. We created a three tiered minimum wage when we voted on it back in 2015.

There’s also a Rural tier that’s not pictured. The interesting thing from this last round of increases is the unexpected fallout: job loss. We’re famously one of the few states where you aren’t allowed to pump your own gas – we’re job creators like that. However, after the minimum wage hike, rural communities were allowed to eliminate those jobs and customers pump themselves there.

Basically, in small towns where there are fewer jobs, we managed to make things worse under the auspices of making them better. Now, don’t get me wrong…I’m all for a livable minimum wage. I’m also all for friggin’ oil and gas companies not getting away with crap like that.

I’m also the guy who pulls up to a gas station in Vancouver, Washington – and now Hood River and beyond – and sits in his car waiting for no one to come pump my gas. Basically, I’m a big dummy.

Anyhoo.

Asked the OP if she really thought the guy that takes my order at my favorite food cart downtown should be making $52k a year, because that’s what full-time work at $26/hr nets out to annually. I also asked if she thought a food cart could sustain that salary level, since I very much doubted that the owners of the cart made that much.

It got crazy from there.

Crazier.

One guy did a lovely math story problem for me involving rent on a one-bedroom at a crazy $1800/month rent, plus medical insurance, utilities, etc minus working full-time at $15/hr. Yes, the result was a negative number.

Also yes, he thinks a minimum wage earner is going to be dumb enough to live in the Pearl. Or alone. He seemed offended by my reply – a story about people having roommates.

Then someone jumped in suggesting a $30/hr minimum wage. Because, of course Portland should be 4x the federal minimum.

Who the fuck are these dumbasses?

I made another attempt at pointing out how taxing companies and the wealthy appropriately versus letting them hide profits and grow wealth through loopholes would help us provide healthcare for all. Oddly, that’s kind of a wash for employers in my mind, since they would have to pay taxes but wouldn’t have to bear the burden of paying for the administration of a healthcare plan. It’s a double win for employees, too. They wouldn’t have to pay a portion of their employer’s healthcare offering, plus the obstacle preventing employers from offering full-time jobs versus part-time jobs would be eliminated. Well, one of the obstacles, I know that some employers still need part-time workers to allow for scheduling flexibility.

Honestly, after that immersion into literal liberal retardation, I wouldn’t be surprised if I didn’t just opt out of the DamnPortlanders group, but go as far as deleting my Facebook profile altogether

Regardless, this is a great example of people not thinking for themselves – or maybe not having the critical thinking skills to extrapolate an action plan that is actually actionable…and solves more problems than it creates.

Last time around, we eliminated a few pump jockey jobs. This time around we’d be eliminating small business if these woke jokers had their way.

But they don’t seem primed to compromise. A behavior that makes me think they might just be happy being unhappy.

Twitter: Feminism

I recently shared a post that I came across on the AppleNews feed on my Twitter page. It was an opinion piece by a former member of Congress.

My “offensive” comment underlined in red…

Overall, pretty innocuous re-post. In it, the author lays out a case that I was surprised to find out wasn’t common sense. Then I remembered 70 million Americans who would bristle at the accusation that they possess common sense and were willing to vote to prove it.

Enter the overwoke feminists.

The first comment came in: Can we try that again without the misogyny?

She jumped on this pretty fast for a blind Tweeter…

Ok, A) “bitch” is nearly as versatile a word as “fuck”, so if you know me…feel free to assume my intentions. If you don’t, methinks thou art projecting too much. Maybe try seeking first to understand instead of leading with an attack.

You can see the “Tweet Unavailable” above my comment, indicating she blocked me.

And, B) of all the people who need a feminist to have their back…Marjorie Taylor Greene hardly seems high on that list. As a matter of fact, I bet she’d decline any defense of her character and respect-worthiness from a feminist.

But this former follower of mine – a female using a gay pride flag emoji in her Twitter handle – wasn’t going to let anything like non-consensual support stop her. I encouraged her to check her assumptions and maybe try assuming best intentions versus worse, but she wasn’t having that. She even tagged in a friend of hers to join in the attack. I felt like the wounded gazelle to their simultaneous hunter lionesses and scavenger hyenas. As noted above, this woman is blind, but I’d be surprised if perhaps she was only blind to the opinions of others.

Once again: the problem with liberals is that when we have a chance to do something for the greater good, we distract ourselves with infighting versus collaboration. The result is an epic display of ineffectiveness.

The Street: Racial Justice

On the anniversary of George Floyd’s murder, there was a vigil-protest here in Portland. Because that’s what you get in a woke city whose unofficial forecast is “Cloudy, with a chance of protests”.

Commemorating nothing, I’d gone out to Kelly’s Olympian for a couple pints of the good stuff after clocking my 10 rides for the day. As I left – crossing 5th & Washington on the diagonal – I heard bucket drums behind me and turned to look once I’d cleared the intersection.

Sure enough, there was a wall of people dressed in black bloc just coming across 4th and up Washington toward me. A little excited to be catching a front row seat at one of my city’s marches in support of social justice, I pulled out my phone to capture a video.

Me: getting in trouble for basically standing.

What I hadn’t seen was the marchers’ advance team. Usually a few folks on bikes or motorcycles that ride ahead of the march to stop traffic prior to the marchers’ arrival. Because: safety first! I hadn’t noticed these two because they were on rented e-scooters – which I generally pay as much attention to as a mosquito.

They took issue with me taking a video. More accurately, they deferred authority to a vague “them” figure instead of being adults and just asking me not to film.

That’s not very Darnella Frazier of them.

I’m not someone who can physically defend myself, so I’m not sure why I mouth off as frequently as I do. I am good with words, though…so, maybe I do know why I pop off like I do.

I also bristle easily at intimidation. And these goombahs menacing me without owning it kind of demanded fucking with. I actually posted the video – along with my frustration – to my Instagram. It was there that one of the local protest pages filled me in on a possible rationale for the protesters request to not be filmed: videos could potentially be subpoenaed as evidence or to help identify marchers.

Ok. Sure…it’s a stretch, in my opinion. But I can respect a reasonable request with some context versus a vague threat from a disembodied “them”.

I actually thanked the local page that provided the insight, because I hate not knowing the “why” behind something I’m expected to do. Hate it. As a matter of fact, my complain-asking these types of questions and listening to the rationale behind things like ACAB, Defund/Disband the Police, Trans Rights, TERFs, and countless other movements that initially repelled me due to a too liberal use of hyperbole for my taste has helped me understand the actual meaning behind each group’s messaging.

I guess I have a thirst for knowledge. It’s like a sickness…

My question though: Why can’t the advance team use a specific reason like I was given after the fact while making their request versus just barfing out a “Hey, we don’t care, but they might…” and expecting me to fall in line?

Seems like police level bully behavior to me. “Because I said” is such a winning argument with me.

Instagram: Body Insecurities

There’s a fellow blogger and indie gay writer that I follow(ed) on Instagram as well. He lives in the UK and shared many of my frustrations with The Gays – apparently, we’re a global pandemic with our carelessly selfish behaviors.

But he’s also one of those gays that has self-diagnosed with anxiety and depression. I should have known that many red flags would only lead to bullshit shenanigans.

Last month, he posted a close up of his lower face with only the caption “It’s time to shave”. He sports stubble off and on, so I thought he’d been referring to his body’s follicular pigmentation betrayal.

I.

Was.

Wrong.

Ok, so I assumed incorrectly. I suppose that gives him carte blanche to return the favor by incorrectly assuming my own intentions. Where I thought I’d been on his wavelength and sent a cute comment, he’d been referring to gawd knows what else and chose instead to assume I’d been trying to offend him. By the time I came to awoke the next morning, I was blocked and he had apparently deleted the post. As you can see, I originally liked his “post deleted” comment because I thought he’d been responding playfully…then I scrolled to the final message.

It’s not like we were ever going to have an acquaintanceship outside of social media, but I’m still sad about his decisions. But that’s the trouble too often these days – and I refuse to use the term too liberally, so I’ll just let you get there on your own. Perhaps, though, if he didn’t allow himself to react rashly after listening to his more self-sabotaging demons, he wouldn’t be self-diagnosing with anxiety.

What do I know, though? I’ve just been dealing with a bunch of the same crap he whines about regularly for a couple decades longer. Of course, I’m the enemy.

The truly sad news is that I’ve likely forgotten some recent examples. But overall, it seems people are – and I don’t know why this surprises me – just sleepwalking their way through wokeness.

My take? Being woke may as well be broke if you aren’t willing to think critically about the conversations you participate in. If all you’re doing is regurgitating talking points or assuming worst intentions without listening to the other person, you’re not going to help anyone.

More likely, as in my case, you’re likely just going to alienate likeminded folk.

Just Go Back To Sleep

C.R.S. Chronicles #5: Movies

I’ve watched a lot of TV during The Quarantimes. Movies. Shows. Series of entire shows. Entire series of movies – like the Harry Potter and Alien franchises.

Hey, a pendulum has to swing, ok?

Some movies I’d forgotten about. Others, I’d forgotten how good they were. And a rare few that I rewatched and was left wondering “How the hell did I think this was ever good?!?”

A mind forgets. Or romanticizes. Or whatevers.

Recently, that movie rewatching pastime has provided me with an intriguing low level apathy. Don’t worry, it’s a situational low level, this has nothing to do with my usual low level apathy.

Swearsies.

My recent apathy – call me an apathocary – has manifested as me watching WTF bad movies. My most recent being Breach starring Bruce Willis. Let me tell you, this was no yippeekayay in space. But, I know Americans today…please, watch it and then be mad at me for not warning you.

Odd side note: I realize now that I’ve been on a previously unrecognized Bruce Willis binge. Die Hard, the M. Night Shamalyan (I could not possibly have spelled that right) movies, Fifth Element, RED and then the lamentable Breach. Cue the “The More You Know” star.

But…occasionally, apathy takes a wrong turn.

Like tonight.

I was tucked into the couch with a bag of Tapatio Doritos, a four pack of Breakside that I Kramered from the Silver Fox’s place – since I also Kramer his scale – after my monthly weigh in (still just under 200…but month one was fat loss, month two is adding lean muscle mass to these twigs!) and was suddenly paralyzed with my remote in my hand.

Analysis Paralysis.

What.

To.

Watch?

Still feeling burned by my acquiescence to the “Watch Next” function, I was debating watching The Last Supper. It’s a prescient movie about the Cancel Culture we find ourselves in today. Plus, it’s tomato season, so…if you know, you know.

Instead – and I’m not saying The Last Supper is off the table, by any means – I found The Intervention.

I watched it because after reading the synopsis, I was left with weird Big Chill vibes. Plus, Alia Shawkat was in it. You know what an Arrested Development fan I am!

It’s not perfect cinema, but it does a really great job of serving up that slice of life I love so much. For that alone – that representation of how lumpy life can get in this brave new century we’d probably have been better off avoiding – I really enjoyed this movie.

Unexpected side effect: it was written by, directed and co-stars Clea Duvall. I used to love her ambiguous gender expressions, but lately – read: the past decade or so – had begun to appreciate her celluloid-like appearances less and less.

From tolerating her at her initial appearance on screen through the movie where she presents not just as a normal person’s relationship issues, where I think she does a great job at being the perfectly flawed perfect partner, to the end credits – where I first learned she’d written and directed – she was the adult version of the awkward teen I’d met so long ago in movies like Final Destination. I just love her Every Person-ness. She showed me again how she’s the actual real life hero person that so often we are gaslighted into thinking Reese Witherspoon and Chris Evans are.

Those aren’t real people. They couldn’t realistically show us the pain of not having a Hollywood body. Failing that Hollywood version of a Turing Test, any drama they appear in is enjoyed under my failed suspension of disbelief.

But Clea drips real-person-ality. Seeing her navigate relationship problems…feels…genuine. Like anyone could connect to it, versus “real” people having to suspend the disbelief of their own reality to enjoy the show.

If you get a chance, maybe watch this before spelunking into the dark corners of Bruce Willis’ career.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a rabbit hole of existential crisis movies to add to my queue. And She’s In Portland is for sure going on it…stand the fuck by for further details. Beats actually dating…I mean, have you met people lately?

Horrid.

Don’t <ahem> forget that. Just stay home and watch movies. Consider me your Movie Yenta.

C.R.S. Chronicles #5: Movies

Pro*Chris*tination

You know the old saying, right?

Hard work pays off in the future…procrastination pays off today!

Well, in my universe, occasionally there’s a psychotic eclipse type thing. Then both parts are true!

Case in point: I’ve needed new wiper blades since our February snow storm. Not much to bitch about, considering Texas. Heck, even my 99 year old grandfather was alone and without electricity just across town for three days! (Yes, dad insisted he go to a hotel, but since my grandfather isn’t about to take orders from some punk 75 year old…🤷🏽‍♂️)

So, yeah. My wiper blades getting gouged by ice and leaving streaks smack dab in my field of vision didn’t really merit a mention. I checked our local big box grocery for replacements, but it was $30 for the pair! After converting that from dollars to beers, I walked away.

Then I found myself at an oil change and figured I might as well get it done. They were out.

Fine!

But every time it sprinkled, there was a visual reminder of my overdue task. Usually accompanied by an audible screech from the blades skipping across the windshield.

Luckily – for me not future generations – this past April brought not showers as we learnt in nursery rhymes as children. As a matter of fact, Portland’s April was the driest on record…by one-third. We had only a half inch of rain versus the prior low record of three quarters of an inch.

No, that isn’t an invitation to book travel to PDX. You keep your germs local.

May was pretty much the same story. Low, but not a record low like April.

Until this week.

Frankly, I was happy to see rain in the forecast. At the same time, I figured I oughta get my act together, butch it up and get the deed done.

For safety.

I made the Silver Fox – yes, he finally put in a leisurely visit! – take me when we went to coffee the other day. Lo’ and behold…

On sale, you say?

40% off, no less?!?

Don’t get too excited, though. They are proving tougher than my fingertips and are still awaiting installation from the front passenger footwell.

Tomorrow’s another day, Slugger.

Next up, returning Angela to her chancellor-esque stature from the Lisa Left Eye Lopez situation some ne’er do well left her in a few weeks back.

It’s tough to see, but scroll down. After the curious incident of the fog light poking out of the bumper, The Fox ceded his parking spot to me until his return to city slickering. Don’t get me wrong, I’d rather it was sooner than later, but poor Angela! Just look what those philistines did to her!

Buncha bastards. Luckily, I’ve got friends like the Silver Fox to provide refuge and Diezel, who looks at it and says, “I can fix that” like the “in my sleep” doesn’t even need to be mentioned. Nor does the “you limp wristed ninny”.

Those are good friends to have in your corner.

Pro*Chris*tination

Barf, aight.

Ok, admittedly, that possibly makes you work to decipher my post’s meaning.

It’s about a Bar Fight that I found myself unable to avoid last week. Don’t worry, though, I’m neither lover nor fighter, so before you worry…it was a non-physical encounter.

Words only.

Promise.

But seriously, if this type of scenario is how I finally punch the clock on life, someone needs to write the Redshirt Diaries entry on it, okay?!?

This just happened to occur the night after we emerged from Lockdown 3.0 here in Multnomah county. We came out of it on a Friday, but I did my usual drive time from 8-midnight that night because there’s an 80s music show on my local station that I like to listen to.

Plus, bars on weekends…<shudder>. My saying is “I don’t drink with amateurs”; so weekends, St Patrick’s Day, Cinco…all those big drinking holidays, you can find me comfortably situated on my couch.

For Kelly’s Olympian, though…I ventured out on a Saturday.

Solo, of course. But I was still there showing support for my local favorite. Plus, it was a Saturday in the ghost town that is downtown Portland these days, so I figured it would be pretty empty at 9 PM. I figured I’d go in, have a few beers and do a lil video lottery before the mandated 11 PM closing time.

It started off with the best of intentions. I walk in, chit-chat with the two bartenders after ordering my Pallet Jack until one of the other three customers comes up to order something. I make my way back to the video lottery corner of shame lounge area.

It. Is. Packed.

The six machines have been reconfigured in three back-to-back pods to promote social distancing with one two top bar table positioned by one of the pods. Strictly speaking, it’s not perfectly socially distanced, but it’s not usually heavily populated enough to make it that much of a concern.

Saturday night, I was a little uncomfortable, but less so knowing I was two weeks-plus from my second shot. I took a seat at the only free machine and started spinning, removing my mask only to sip. These minor inconveniences aside, I managed to make a little small talk with the two guys chowing down on bar food while a friend of theirs held court on my preferred machine.

“Held court” was too nice a phrase…he was full on bloviating. I hadn’t gotten a good look at him on my way in, because I know what my eyes can do even while I’m policing them. Adding a mask to that situation makes it worse.

And I hadn’t placed the Foghorn Leghorn quality of his voice yet.

You see…I’d run into this blowhard before. I just hadn’t realized it yet.

The last time – as would turn out to be the case this time – he had brought a co-worker with him. Throughout my stay there, he had pretty much bashed this woman into obliteration over work frustrations and stuff. She was pretty much on the defensive the entire evening, apologizing and trying to placate this fat old white guy. From the sounds of it, he’d brought her in on a project with his company and at best seemed disinclined to let her forget his role in her good fortune. Worst case, it sounded like she was outperforming him in their partnership and that was not something he chose to view as a feather in his cap for choosing such a great business partner.

For my part, I endured his booming drawl, letting him off with a few glares he chose to ignore. I was, however ready to say something if the conversation turned to sexual orientation in any way. Not to profile, but she had a very low maintenance haircut, if you get my drift. They also seemed to be in the construction or related type field.

On Saturday, though, as this blowhard started to alienate the other gamblers, I realized that five of the eight people in the lounge were with him.

Co-workers, once again.

The other two players gave up on peace and left. Apparently, I’m not the only person who doesn’t appreciate this guy using our bar as a WeWork.

Figuring I could manage his company for another hour before closing, I changed machines just to be out of the direct path of his sound waves. He’d already hit the ATM once, so I figured he was on the downhill side of his stay, anyway. I decided on the machine right by the ATM to be as out of his way as possible.

A couple of his captives cohorts went out to smoke and never came back. Another drifted out a few moments later for a drink. It was just him, one poor victim and me.

Somehow, he got louder.

Oh, it’s because he was standing right behind me at the ATM. Must be having a bum luck night. And have either higher withdrawal limits than I do or was tapping multiple accounts to finance his evening’s entertainment.

I turned and glared at him as he yelled across the room behind me. In a moment of self-awareness I was surprised he possessed, he realized I had leveled my eye beams at him.

“Oh, sorry”, he mumbled from behind his mask.

“I appreciate that. I just moved to get away from you.”

For whatever reason, he went back to yelling at his co-worker across the room. I went back to my trademark grumpy old man low key seething. Nothing worse than someone who apologizes for something and then keeps doing it.

That’s about when he started in on specific complaints about work. Apparently, he wasn’t getting his therapeutic value from generic bitching.

He pointedly began by reminding his sole remaining hostage that he brought them into the project. That earned him a little fealty.

But not enough, I guess?

Because his next move was to start talking about how hard it was for him, since his company was requiring minority business partners in the contracts they were awarding.

There it is.

Maybe it’s that the other four Latin business partners of his had seemingly permanently decamped to the outdoor seating so they could smoke…or not be around this dickwad, but fealty and deference from one Hispanic man wasn’t cutting the mustard. He’d ordered up five sycophants and was only getting one.

He started going in full bore on the manners in which this last guy – I’m guessing the boss or most senior of the group? – and his company were not delivering. In a fit of “no leg to stand on”-ness, in the 20 minutes I listened to this guy hammer away at this fella, he listed not one specific or actionable criticism.

Just…it’s hard.

Or…there’s so many other companies I would have chosen if I could have.

Nothing specific.

And this poor guy on the receiving end was just vaguely apologizing for equally vague complaints.

Me: You know, I’m not sure how your business is set up, but every organization I’ve ever worked for – as a people manager, mind you – has had private areas for these types of conversations. During business hours, no less!

Foghorn Leghorn <looking stunned>: Why don’t you mind your own business? This doesn’t involve you.

Now, the guy he’s been berating this whole time turns and gives me the most genuine look of relief I think I’ve ever seen. But then turns back to the guy in full suck-up mode. I felt bad.

Me: Since you don’t seem to have an inside voice and we’re barely 10 feet apart, you’re forcing your business on me. It’s non-consensual.

FL: Look, I don’t know what your problem is, we’re just trying to talk.

Me: And I’m just trying to have a few beers and blow a few bucks in peace. But since my complaint wasn’t specific enough for you: I’m tired of listening to you “you people” this poor guy. You’re a racist, I get it. I don’t want to hear it anymore. Shut up or go outside.

FL: <sputters indignantly>

His hostage assures him it’s ok, he understands. I didn’t. I realized that Foghorn was blaring something at me, but I’d been straining to hear what his companion was saying. I wanted to gut check my position, maybe I had heard wrong or blown something out of proportion – but I didn’t think so, I’ve been a victim and know what it sounds like. Foghorn’s victim not saying I misunderstood led me to believe my ears hadn’t deceived me.

Foghorn was still blaring at me about minding my own business. I cut him off.

Me: Look, it’s one thing when it’s an isolated incident, but I know that the last time I saw you here, you were doing pretty much this exact same act with a woman. So let me just say that, as a bystander, your misogynistic and racist bellowing is not ok. If you truly think I’m wrong, have me thrown out.

His co-worker was still in placate mode – although I saw the flash of understanding in his eyes when I pointed out I’d seen this behavior from Foghorn before. He said he was about ready to call it a night, and invited Foghorn to go with. Surprisingly, Foghorn acquiesced.

I breathed a sigh of relief and enjoyed the next few minutes of peace.

The bartender came back to bus and I could tell he was smirking behind his mask.

“Sorry…I wasn’t trying to cause a scene or start anything. I just couldn’t validate his words with my silence.”

The bartender laughed and told me I wasn’t wrong. It made me wonder how often people in positions like his are put in similar scenarios…and can’t say anything because: customers.

That made me sad. It also clued me into this guy’s possible MO. Taking folks he secretly hates or resents out on his expense account to dress them down for not owning a dick or being non-white away from work. Curious behavior, but one I completely have no trouble believing.

What’s shocking is that none of his victims have complained over his good old boy head. Since I know this was his open tab from how he permissively encouraged the others to get another drink or round while I was present, it would put his actions under the umbrella of any anti-harassment or zero tolerance policies his company has in place. I hope one day this impotent skid mark of a human either gets his comeuppance or (preferably) sees the errors of his actions and makes amends.

Sadly, based on my own past experiences, I doubt either will happen. That’s a barf situation that is anything but aight.

But if you read my blog regularly, you probably saw my call to action at the end of a post a week or two back encouraging everyone to respectfully but firmly stand up and point out an unacceptable behavior from our stupider American country people. Maybe I was more buzzed less respectful than I could have been Saturday, but I am out there stumbling walking the talk.

Barf, aight.

Code Words

Remember when Word Up was the Code Word?

Simpler times.

The last couple days, I’ve been thinking a lot about two other Code Words: Brand and Crazy.

This thought sentence exercise was completely inspired by an old friend who reached out for help on Wednesday. She needed help with a problem that I thought I’d successfully put behind me. A problem that began seventeen years ago and I thought I’d successfully, finally shut down a couple years ago:

Sacha.

I swear, this guy comes back more than the bad guy in a cheesy slasher flick. Only this time he was coming – I should say “allegedly”, but…no – for an old colleague-turned-friend.

She needed his address to serve him with a restraining order.

Apparently, the old boy has been harassing her. Not unreasonably, she’d like that to stop.

I was struck by the word she and the two people I reached out to both used to describe his “recent” behaviors: crazy. It also occurred to me how hard that adjective would hit him, since he’s so highly protective of his brand. Like, since before a person being a brand was popular. I once described his modus operandi as “It’s better to look good than to be good”, and, well…things haven’t gone too well for us over the past decade.

I thought I’d finally shaken him a couple years back when he reached out on Messenger with this little chestnut:

Can we have a mature conversation?

Any guesses how that landed?

My first thought was, “An opener like that suggests you certainly cannot”, but assuming that my most current information on the man held up, knew that bit of insight would immediately escalate things.

But that’s how he is. He says and asks things that are so textbook Covert Narcissist. He’ll drop a question like that – and whether or not you realize it, he’s already claimed victory. If you don’t notice the twist, you’re walking right into his trap because you let him put you on the defensive by accepting his premise that he had to prime you with his all-knowing-ness about your immaturity before starting a conversation. Really, you’re so lucky that he even deigns to talk to you at all…and now you’re on guard for any of your imaginary potentially offensive behaviors.

On the other hand, if you do notice his machinations, pointing them out will simply spring his trap immediately and it’s now a snappy screaming match that you can’t get a word edgewise into. So he wins, regardless.

That being my takeaway from past dealings with him, I simply stated that my life was fine with his absence.

All my discipline earned me in response was a “👍🏽” from the little sociopath. Every now and then I wonder if he was reaching out over something important or for his usual recreational hostilities. I worry it could have been about one of his parents.

Then again, he hadn’t let me know when his grandmother died, so maybe that was too much to expect. He had called me on Christmas Day, probably six or seven years ago now, to tell me that he had colon cancer. It was a big deal, since his uncle had died from exactly that while we were together.

The difference between those scenarios – his grandmother’s or parent’s health and his own – is exactly one variable: him.

The best thing about that Christmas Day phone call? It was a big box of nothing. He didn’t want any help, he didn’t call to make things right with us…he just called for the drama paycheck.

Seriously, 364 other days of the year he could have called. He chooses Christmas Day. Maybe it was a sign of what he’d sown in his life finally bearing fruit…but I think it’s that he was alone and feeling it.

No. I know better than that. There’s a difference between being merely alone and being lonely.

For so many, the latter is crippling. Especially if you don’t like your own company.

Anyway, that’s where the word crazy kept dropping in these last few days.

He has been kind of crazy since the whole cancer thing.

Well, I’m no doctor, so I don’t know if you can catch crazy from chemo. But I am more of a Sacha Subject Matter Expert than I want to be.

What my expertise tells me is that the crazy was there all along. But since he protected his brand so well – and, hats off to his foresight in the wake of the behavioral trajectory America in general, but Gay Kulture in particular have taken – the majority of the people who come into contact with him think this is a relatively new development.

And that’s how it is, now. Do your worst, and if someone calls you out, block ’em. Ironically, people do that and think things like, “I don’t need that kind of negativity in my life” when they are unknowingly doing the victims of their narcissistic bullshit a favor…despite the fact that neither realizes it in the moment.

But that’s what ya gotta do to protect your brand. Surround yourselves with patsies at best and enablers at worst. Fuck everyone else.

For the folks that are just reaching the whole “crazy” conclusion, you just weren’t there for the conversations that led me to tell him “It’s better to look good than to be good” years before his cancer scare. If he’s crazy now, it’s not because of cancer, it’s more that you’re just now noticing. Honestly, you’re probably noticing because if he’s beat cancer, he’s feeling less vulnerable to pesky little things like “Other People’s Opinions” than his rampant insecurities ever let him feel before, so he’s masking his shit behaviors less and less.

Just a guess.

Optimistically, I wonder if he ever thinks about that conversation.

Pragmatically…I know better than to think he’d reflect on his past actions – if a deathbed scenario didn’t leave him a better person, I’m sure it only emboldened the shoddy person that was already lurking there.

Anyway, onward and upward, that’s how you build a brand, damnit! My old friend is just the most recent collateral damage.

Maybe one day our American culture will get back to where Code Words were fun again versus socially acceptable land mines for silencing anyone who dares to hold a mirror up to someone’s actions.

That’s something to look forward to, I guess…until then, I’ll just keep doing nice little gestures – like holding a door open for the glaring person following too closely behind me – and hope my small part becomes catchier than that Cameo song at the top of this post.

Code Words

The Fauci Ouchie

This is what my friend, Diezel calls the COVID vaccinations. Somehow, we became vaccination twins: our second shots both lining up on the same day.

I’ll tell you this, on the second day I’m definitely feeling the accuracy of that moniker.

First shot: nothing.

Second shot: well, I’m not sure it’s a legit malaise or my usual “my lazy ass”. I described it to Diezel as feeling like I was taken apart and forced back together.

Overall, completely acceptable side effects 29 hours in.

Which is great news for a variety of reasons. Not the least of which was a certain Bubble Boy with an itch that needed scratching. He had wanted to come over last night and had been trying to set something up since Sunday.

So, actually, he wanted to come over Sunday night.

Or Monday.

Or – please, please, please – Tuesday.

You know a boy is either hard up or sweet on a fat, old man if he’s that persistent. I hear him, though, when he complains about Grindr Gays in particular and asocial media in general – and it leads me to believe it’s the former versus the later.

Last time he’d been over – and keep in mind, this has been going on for about five months, now – he asked what the art in my bathroom was.

Not the painting of someone’s junk!

Fair point…that one is not mine, for the record fairly self-explanatory. He was talking about this one:

You’re kidding! You don’t know who REM is?!?

He was not kidding. It’s just a dumb album poster for a band, I wouldn’t call it art. But it’s something my youngest brother gave me for Christmas in the last century. He was just a kid at the time, and it meant something to me to be included in his gift giving – which came from his allowance and part-time job earnings. So I put it in a cheap little frame, which was all the rage for one’s framing needs at this point in time. It’s hung in every home of mine since.

The funny thing is that Bubble Boy always compliments my music when he’s over. Until now, I just assumed it was a statement of fact, kind of like agreeing that the sky is blue.

To be fair, that last point might be hard for Republicants to follow, since it involves science.

Once I realized he was unfamiliar with REM, I began to wonder if he liked my music like I liked my grandfather’s. Let’s just push that thought down, though, shall we?

Operating under my “Leave ’em better than you found ’em” mantra, I decided to widen his musical palate. To that end, while I was laying on the couch with a tiny and rare headache following my second shot, I decided to train a new Pandora station for his next visit.

What? I didn’t say it had to be an earth shattering improvement. Just better that they were before meeting me. Plus, music is important. It helps people <ahem> come together.

No other way I could have said that was as cringey or fun for me.

Anyway, since I was still feeling pretty good close to the end of his shift, I told him to get it while it’s (reasonably) good and he came over after work.

What? He’s chasing me down remember? I’m good if only for the simple fact that I’m available.

And I’m glad I had him over last night instead of betting on feeling better today than yesterday.

You know what didn’t friggin’ happen while he was here, though?

That damn station didn’t play a single damn REM song during his visit. Mind you, it’s on the third REM song (forth now, as I proofread) since I turned it on and sat down to tap this out.

My home network technology is kind of a jerk.

Ironically, neither Diezel nor I felt the same relief after our second shot as we did following our first doses. In texting with the Silver Fox yesterday afternoon, I shared that I thought my lack of relief was tied to a sense of waiting for the other shoe to drop as far as side effects were concerned.

As in, the legends around who experiences side effects and why had me feeling rather sure that I’d fall into the side effects realm.

Needless to say, I definitely felt some relief last night around 11. <smiling devil emoji>

Waking up to just stiffness and soreness today also provided a little more relief. I’m not taking it for granted, though. Perhaps my side effects are just running on Gay Standard Time…so I’ll reserve final judgment until tomorrow night.

Plus, on the full protection spectrum, I know I’ve got another 12 days to full efficacy. I’m sure Bubble Boy won’t mind that I don’t have a lot of other social engagements to distract my attention from the maintenance needs of his libido for the near future.

Dying from COVID: meh

Dying in the service of a 29 year old’s hormones: <thumbs up emoji>

Keep your fingers crossed that this barely noticeable side effects trend continues.

The Fauci Ouchie

The C.R.S. Chronicles #4

A while back, I posted something about one of my favorite drums to beat: Stupid Americans.

I had this list of petty and not-so-petty grievances that I wanted to talk about. However, in a love child like twist of my own stupidity and C.R.S. when it came time to enumerate them…I forgot.

Well, guess what?

I remembered!

In retrospect, it was quite an impressive forget. The subject is a series of radio ads whose point seems to be preventing the dumbest among us from dragging down our life expectancy numbers.

Looking at you, here, all men everywhere.

Yeah, I forgot a radio campaign that I probably hear two dozen times a week.

At the time of the original post, the subject of this Public (dis)Service Announcement was not leaving babies in cars.

For what it’s worth, I’m all for protecting babies. Especially from stupid parents. That’s why my vote goes to vasectomizing all men at whatever time is appropriate. Pretty sure that means puberty versus birth, which is too bad, they could just do the vasectomy at the same time that they – unpopular opinion warning – rip off that fucking foreskin.

Because, who are we kidding…you think people who had to be retail Hy as an adult how to wash their hands properly last Spring are taking the time to properly clean a foreskin?

Hell, since I’m on a rant – and I think I’m right about waiting until puberty – let’s just CRISPR out the appendix and foreskin and then it’s smooth sailing til puberty. Actually, are we still that attached to toenails?

Food for thought. Sure, it’s junk food, but…🤷🏽‍♂️

<end rant>

Back to the point.

The ads were paid for by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA.

Look what even shows up in my Instagram ads!

In the pot roast baby ads, they dramatically underemphasize – to get dumb people to keep listening – the stupidity behind the need for this ad. Suggesting things like “maybe the day care is closed today” or “normally your spouse drops the kiddo off in the morning” before going on to how a poor, innocent adult person might understandably get out of their car, lock it and walk away without realizing they left their child in it.

Y’know, basically infantilizing the parents instead of screaming, “Hey, fuckwads! Don’t forget to take your STDs kids out of the car with you when you get out!”

The real zinger here? This line:

Every year, dozens of children die after being left in a hot car”

<needle skip>

Dozens?!?

You’re telling me that our – not you, Donald – tax dollars paid for a national radio ad campaign for an issue that presumably doesn’t even impact an average of one innocent child per state? Not to mention that these are the folks who made us start putting child seats in the back seat anyway. If they’d just left well enough alone and let these dumbass parents put their onboard babies in the front with them…problem avoided.

Not that that’s a superior alternative, I’m just pointing out the irony.

Having potentially saved dozens of kids last Summer and Fall – and who am I kidding, we probably have to prorate that number downward to account for the partial year that the ad ran – they’ve now changed focus.

The new campaign is…

Don’t try and out run a train at railroad crossings!

Oh, just come on now!

Having saved the babies of unfit parents, they’re now trying to save the soon to be absentee fathers? For what it’s worth, I’d bet you could solve both problems by not intervening in Darwin’s realm where the dads’ lives and trains are concerned.

Let there be more lives that end unceremoniously with the words

Hey, watch this!

…and let’s just see if that fixes the whole baby pot roast thing.

It’s far less invasive than “vasectomies for everyone”! But I think we should keep that one on deck.

The C.R.S. Chronicles #4

The Red Shirt Diaries #31

COVID vaccine!

So…Tuesday is the big day. Shot #2.

I only know one person personally who has had a bad reaction to the vaccination. That said, cocktail napkin mary suggests there’s a 50/50 chance at any given person having a bad response.

Obviously, the odds are against me, given my relatively unscathed friends and family.

This has been weighing on me. Specifically, how do I plan my last day of unvaccinated life?

Should I be responsible and get some driving done – which I would normally do on Mondays, anyway – I’m case I have a bad reaction and end up going down for a day or more?

Or, using some sort of Xtopher-style inverse logic, should I go out in a figurative blaze of glory? Maybe hit a casino or take myself out for some beers?

Decisions, decisions…

And, tipping the scale completely over, Bubble Boy started texting this afternoon. He wants to know when he can see me again. Responsibly, I told him Tuesday, so long as I wasn’t impacted by the shot.

I know he wanted me to say tonight or tomorrow, but…get used to disappointment, Bucko.

Two is enough options for me to vacillate between.

Getting ready to hop into bed, I cannot tell you which way this will go down. Waking up will bring a whole new adventure.

But in true Red Shirt style, my house will be clean by the time that needle goes into my arm on Tuesday…just in case I manage to buck the trend and spontaneously kick the bucket.

Wish me luck! Or…y’know, weigh in on how you’d spend your last day amongst the living.

The Red Shirt Diaries #31

Groceries With Galby

Some have infamously noted that I possess the palate of a seven year old.

I might say I’m simply a victim of my own lack of planning, spontaneity and the resulting impatience that the hunger those qualities engender.

Let’s ease you into this…

Gross Out:

Because I don’t know when I shop on Tuesday what I’m going to want on Friday, I’ve learned to just shop more frequently. Odds are, if it sounds good Tuesday, I’ll probably still have a taste for it Wednesday. No guarantees beyond that.

Therefore, I’ll shop Grocery Outlet for staples like wine shelf stable pantry items. That way, they are there when I have a hangry moment and don’t have time to spare to run to Freddy’s, Safeway or the lil Brodega across the street.

Nonetheless, since being urged to eat more veggies and fiber, I’ve been making an effort to have a salad several times a week. Gross Out has the same salad kits as the big chains, usually for a buck less (we’re talking $3 versus $4 at the chains), so I’ll pick up three or four when I pop in for wine other supplies.

The other day, though, I went specifically to grab a couple bottles of wine Caesar salad kits to go with my pizza leftovers from Wednesday night. I’d gotten a Caesar with the pizza, but ate it all, worried that the concoction wouldn’t age well once the dressing was on…and I’m a weird one with leftovers, so just accept that was my logic and be happy I’m eating salad.

I pop back to produce, breaking the Gross Out rule of hitting every aisle so you don’t miss a deal, avoiding the wine department temptation and intent on my mission.

Plus, it was past Myrtle’s dinner time.

When I hit the produce corner, I see that I’ve also hit the jackpot. There are several “Reduced For Quick Sale” options. But, hey…I made a point of stopping here to save a literal buck, so I decided I could do a chop salad instead on a Caesar and save another literal buck.

Right?

Save $2 on two salads: good

Save $4 on two salads: great!

I’m beating feet back up front and my inner seven year old palate demon steers me down the pasta aisle.

Maybe there’s Mac & Cheeeeese!

Ugh.

Fine.

Luckily, the Velveeta Deluxe that was 2/$1 were long gone, which made me sad but happy. A good deal is a good deal, but I’m not paying for my eventual coronary by saving $4.49 on a box of food I shouldn’t be eating anyway…Plus, I still had a dollar’s worth at home. Plus-plus a box of some strange broccoli added version that I’d picked up last time…

Proud of my situationally forced ability to resist temptation, I remained on mission. Until

Look, I’m just a man with a child’s tastes, ok? I haven’t had Velveeta in probably 20 years. And it’s not like I’m going to eat this like a college kid would – by peeling it like a banana and going to town.

I’m getting some damn crackers and a good bottle of wine. Because adults compensate.

Speaking of college kids…

GoPuff:

These bastards.

They are my new Stoner Cafe.

And they most certainly have my number are out to get me.

Usually I can ignore their marketing emails. Generally, they are either of the “redeem points and save” variety or the “Ben & Jerry’s BOGO” variety.

Admittedly, that last type is harder to ignore.

But then I saw one that was too intriguing to resist.

Something like, “Try Something New For A Nickel”. Let’s be honest, I think we can all agree that my seven year old palate is not adventurous. But for a nickel, I could explore.

Especially when the “something new” ends up being spiked seltzers! I’m not sure how they got this promotion past the iron fisted OLCC, but I jumped on $.20 worth of a new seltzer called Basic. The flavors sounded…safe fine.

Not wanting to look like a cheapskate, I figured I should order something else. Since it was right there in my “Buy It Again”, I added a 12-pack of White Claw.

New problem: now I just look like a booze hound.

So I added in some energy drinks. Since they didn’t have my go-to brand/flavors in stock, I – wait for it – tried a new drink called G.O.A.T.

I could live with the delivery person assuming I was on a liquid diet.

Now, a Pro-Tip: when putting away your “groceries” do not put energy drinks between alcoholic beverages.

That was a close fucking call this morning.

So, despite the opening assertion, I’d dare say that I’ve somehow refined this seven year old palate that I seemingly possess.

Crackers and wine with my cheap cheese?

Boutique spiked seltzers and energy drinks?

I should have a Pinterest page for my culinary embarrassments…

Groceries With Galby