The Red Shirt Diaries #18

I’m back from coffee with the Silver Fox, our normal Thursday/Friday ritual, where I announced undramatically that I thought I had colon cancer.  It’s a legit back-of-mind concern as I enter the year of the colonoscopy, but The Fox downplayed my announcement.

Oddly, cancer came up again later when I mentioned my stomach had been a little wonky since our beer date last night.  We were at our favorite watering hole, The Big Legrowlski, enjoying a new IPA option from our collective favorite brewery, Barley Brown.  It was an unfiltered IPA called Feast From the Yeast, or something thereabouts.

Anywho, that yeast was doing a number on me.  In addition to feeling tipsy after just a few sips, my stomach just began feeling fluttery as I quaffed.  Not a general flutter, a focused flutter, which is what made it weird.  

Of course, I didn’t let that stop me from enjoying a second pint!

But when I told The Fox about my 14 hour strong stomach flutter, he put me at ease by diagnosing me with pancreatic cancer.  It’s like we were playing hypochondriac poker.

Fortunately, the acid from the two cups of coffee pretty much killed – and then escorted out – whatever it was that was funking up my gut.

Instead of thinking about how cancer or heart disease will probably be my ultimate undoing, I thought I would share another of my less-likely-lethal ends while I sat here uncomfortably on my couch with Mistress Myrtle, who is in an uncharacteristically cuddly mood.

Sacha once corrected my comment about one of my irrational fears by telling me that all fears are irrational.  I disagree, I think my fear of heights and falling a distance is a healthy fear.  Darwin would be proud.

My fear of sharks is irrational.

Fully.

It’s not that I’m a frequent diver off the Australian Great Barrier Reef or South African Coast or even off Hawaii…then, perhaps, a fear of sharks would be quasi-reasonable.

I’m afraid of a shark attack in any body of water.

Ocean.

River.

Swimming pool.

Jacuzzi.

Bathtub.

Irrational.

I blame the Jaws movies.  Well, watching them at an impressionable age, at least.

Seriously, how cute is this?

So, after seeing those films, I became aware of a reluctance to put my head underwater in a swimming pool.  It was a discomfort that remained a fairly stagnant dis-ease as I rarely swam.

However, after Sacha left me and I came out of my post-breakup funk and dipped my toe back into the dating pool, I met this guy who called himself frigginfantastic online and we went on a few dates.  He lived on Hayden Island here in Portland and invited me to go kayaking with him on the Columbia River.

I went.

It was cool.

And disgusting.

Sitting in a kayak, you’re only a few inches from the filth that floats atop the river’s surface.  Discarded styrofoam from a decade ago, plastic, that gross foam and natural debris like twigs and leaves all combing to create a stinky, frothy, disgusting barrier that is quite un-see-through-able.

That lack of visibility awakened my fear of being caught off guard and general vulnerability.  I vascilated mentally between being grabbed by Jason from Friday the 13th and pulled under or just being attacked by a shark.

This was not too long after a news story of a confused shark swimming upriver, so…y’know, top of mind.

Not too long after this, The Fox and I became friends.  We took a trip to his family beach house about a year after meeting and spent a night there as well as at his ex-wife’s house about an hour inland.  I remember standing on the bluff at the beach, watching the surfers bob idly on their boards, waiting for a rideable wave.  Their feet dangling off their boards into the water…I shudder just thinking about it, a shark grabbing their lower leg.

When we got to Sallory’s place the next night, I was confronted by a more tangible challenge to this runaway fear of mine: a drink in the hot tub.  

At night.

The view of the night sky in this rural part of Oregon was awe-inspiring.  Leaning my head back against the side of the tub allowed me to enjoy the celestial view while also completely freaking out about my entire body being underwater and a potential target.  Mentally, I envisioned being bitten in half by a mammoth great white, legs and shoulders being all that was left, bobbing in the hot, frothy, bloody hot tub waters.

I felt the same discomfort last year sitting in my gym’s jacuzzi.  Because I’m obviously deranged.

The apex of this personal terror came during a vacation with Rib.  We’d rented a yurt on an island in the San Juans.  He was all jazzed about renting sea kayaks and paddling out to a nearby island, oblivious to his own mortality like only a 26 year old can be.

Irrational fear of sharks plus kayaking in legit Orca territory equals fuck me.  My heart was pounding so hard the entire time that I’m quite surprised that I didn’t end up with fractured actual ribs.

But, survive, I did.  Fear:  confronted.

Speaking of actual fractures, this was a couple of years before I fractured my tibia running.  The first occurrence.  My doctor decreed that I was retired from running and suggested a less stressful form of exercise, like swimming.

Yeah…no.

The Red Shirt Diaries #18

My $.02

You’d think that this whole blog page should be called My $.02, since that’s pretty much what every blog I read is…just people sharing their daily stories or opinions or recipes or product reviews.

But it isn’t.  It’s AtLeastIHaveAFrigginGlass because no matter what life throws my way, good or bad.  Glass half full or half empty…at least I have a friggin’ glass.

Now, that’s an optimistic turn for ya.

So, here’s my two cents.

Penny 1:

People I know personally – and a couple of direct messages – have picked up on a recent theme of me exploring dating again and made mention of the fact that they totally think I should date again.

Nice to have my life decisions affirmed, it is.

Over the last few – maybe six? – I’ve quickly begun to second guess the wisdom of that declaration.  Hearing people tell me to “go for it” keeps the old chin up when I start to think maybe becoming a Log Cabin Republican would be less exasperating.

But, seriously, I think “trying” might be putting too much effort into process.  It does it seem take two to tango, and I’m meeting a lot of guys with two left feet or who are really just into break dancing.  I’ll give you a moment wrap your mind around how break dancing works against the tango in my dating analogy.

I recently quit one dating app and jumped to another.  Last night, before bed.  

I woke up this morning to the learning experience of knowing what 17 fuzzy profile pictures guys’ junk looks like.  So, I guess that’s good news if any of them are congressmen.  Somehow I doubt that’s the reality here.

Seriously, though, how can you not have a clear headshot and the photos of the areas around your taint are better than my grandmother’s glamour shot?

Selfie-porn, people.  That’s what America has to offer.  

That’s fine.  When the most decent guy I’ve met was an in person chance encounter, maybe analog is the way to go.  I mean, his only problem was working too much – same – and not being able to directly say, “I’m in a five year relationship with someone who moved halfway across the country to be with me”.

Oh, look at that.  That wasn’t so hard.

One thing I did learn, that I’m trying to decide whether it’s practical or jaded, is to only commit $20 to a first date or two.

It keeps the date to a meet and greet type thing, getting you into real life with someone without getting you stuck at a table for an hour with Quasimodo if that end up being the reason for the poor quality profile pic.

Tabling that for now, because all it’s really providing me is blog subject matter and I doubt I could keep up.

Which is a good transition to Penny 2:

I just published blogs seven days in a row, which is a personal record for me.  That’s 10 of the last 11 days, too.  Plus one for this entry.  So, yay me.

That’s about 10,000 words in seven days.  I’m proud of that because I talked myself out of participating in NaNoWriMothid past November simply because I was traveling and that made my month only three weeks in which to scribble/tap out 50,000 words.

Man, I had an idea and everything.

But this past week has both exhausted me and proven to me that I can do this.  I’d estimate that about 5% of my comments and DMs – such as they are – involve suggesting that I write a book.  I’d enjoy that, methinks.  It’s not the writing part that intimidates me, it’s the “What next?” factor.  I could probably crack out a couple different drafts in 2018, that’s hardly putting James Patterson in any danger. The larger question remains then what?  

Does anyone know any agents or publishers?  

Is there a Publishing for Dummies?

There are people I know who have self-published.  I get mixed reviews from them. They allegedly earn more but suffer the consequences of limited distribution.  Plus, if I wrote a book, I think my vanity requires a physical book over simply an e-book.

I have one friend who has had several children’s books published but the last time we spoke about it, the data she had had publishers looking for very specific genres and author profiles.

If I wanted to deal with people disqualifying me based on arbitrary criteria, I’d date.

My $.02

Commitment

Last month, at my company’s annual leadership seminar, I got to see Eric Boles talk.  

My peers in the audience were impressed to see this former Jets football player speaking.  I was thinking, “This guy lives outside of fucking Seattle.”  I don’t think it’s funny to drag me all the way to Atlanta just to see someone from the PNW speak.

But that’s just my EOG default.

Anyway, he talked about change:  what prevents it, why we fear it, how we convince ourselves that we’re fine just how we are.  That reminded me of a saying from my early retail days working at South Coast Plaza in SoCal.  Whenever they would do work in a store, instead of just slapping up a MallWall to hide the vacant storefront, they would print a thematic and inspirational saying about change on it.

“There’s no such thing as staying the same.  You are either constantly improving or allowing yourself to get worse.”

That phrase has stuck with me over the <gulp> decades since, during which sometimes I experienced improvement and others I “stayed the same”…

He told the story of his relationship.  How he’s been married 23 years and his wife will tell you it’s been 3-4 of the best years of her life.

Yuck-yuck-yuck.

You could hear the love and admiration in his voice when he talked about his wife and their daughters.  I was touched because that’s not something you hear much these days.  That raw reverence for one’s partner in life.

Too often these days, it’s less “all for one and one for all” and more “everyman for himself”.

How do you sustain a relationship over time – a lifelong commitment – with that insular mindset?

This was a leadership conference for a billion dollar retailer, so a guy telling stories about his wife might not have been the obvious choice.  But the thing is, I got it right away.  Maybe many of us did, perhaps not.  But for me it was an easy corollary because it’s one I’ve used quite often in my career.

Spoiler Alert:  I stole it.

A while back, I was interviewing with Sur la Table for a Store Manager job in Shittatle and the VP of HR was one of the three people I met with that day.  She talked about interviews like a first date.  If the first one goes well, maybe we’ll go for a second one and see how that goes.  If it goes well, maybe we’ll go steady.

“Is that really the type of analogy someone in HR should use in an interview?” 

I still got the job.

I better have, since it went from there and careened onto sushi body shots.  What the hell was I getting myself into?

Sidebar: 

When I arrived at the HQ for my interview, I rode the elevator up with a woman who walked in just as I was hitting my floor.  I asked what floor she needed and she said she was going to the same floor.

“Are you interviewing for the Store Manager job, too?”, I asked, making small talk.

“No, I work here, but I have an interview in a little while, too”, she said smirking.

“Well, I hope it goes well!”, I said as we both exited.

She said something about how everyone was excited about the new store I was interviewing for and wished me luck.

I thought that was nice and was super excited to talk to my hopefully new VP group, the final round of which was with my smirky elevator companion.  That was a fun moment.  Plus, as snarky as I am, I deserve shit like that happening to me.

Anyway, since that interview I’ve considered my job and co-workers a little differently.  Evaluated them as the relationships they are, particularly considering the amount of time the situation of work mandates that we spend with our co-workers.

Is my relationship with your job or co-workers a good one or a bad one?  Do I want to commit to this for the long run?

It was an eye opening change of perspective at the time and I was glad to see this topic pursued by a public speaker some ten years later.

We’ve all heard our employers talk about the team or how the work unit is a family.  When was the last time you heard it in a way that wasn’t slightly manipulative?  It shouldn’t be something that you hear once in a while – usually at an inopportune moment for you – it should be something you see in practice frequently.

One of the other analogies I’ve heard is how managers are bus drivers.  You only have so many seats available, fill them with the people who want to go to the same place your bus is heading, yada-yada-yada.

But families and buses are different than relationships.

There’s something more potent about the word relationship.  To me, anyway.  More serious.  Weighty.

Plus, it covers a gamut of interpersonal labels.  Takes it away from genetic bonds and into a territory I like to contemplate often:  Chosen Family.

Talk about weighty.  Now you’re into the arena of people you choose to be bonded to, versus the bonds you’re born into.

So, 30 seconds later, after all this has flooded through my mind and I’ve glanced over at my Seminar Boyfriend a couple times <sigh> he’s moved on to talking about our tendency to chase our own happiness instead of invest in someone else’s and how that in turn leads to inability sustain a relationship.

Right?

I like this guy.  If you’ve never heard him speak – or of him, as was my case – I suggest you look him up.

I bring this all up, not because of my work family, but rather because it so broadly encapsulates behaviors you can see in everyday interactions…and I love being able to understand someone’s motivations.  Looking at them through these relationship filters really helps to clarify a lot of what I experience and observe.

Newsflash:  people are scared and selfish.

The French have a word for the type of statement I just made:  duh.  I’m not sure exactly how it’s pronounced.

But just because it’s a simple statement doesn’t mean there’s a simple solution.  Tryst me, I’ve been banging my head on that wall for quite a while, before I even knew what that figurative wall was made of.

People don’t think of how their actions impact others, they consider what they want.

When we get feedback, most often it’s rejected if it doesn’t align with our perception of self.  Hell, if we accepted it, then we’d have to accept that we need to change something about our favorite person.

And none of that points toward an investment in another person’s happiness…just ours.  

A lot of big thinking talk that should hopefully point us toward an internal examination of the motivations behind our actions, but something tells me it was just entertainment for too many of us.

Otherwise, it’s kind of feedback, right?  And we can’t have that, because then we might have to change something.

Commitment

Black & White

A while back, I was challenged on the Facebook to participate in this Black & White Challenge thingy.

The rules were to post one black and white photo each day for seven days, no commentary, no people.  Just photos.

I suspected it was just some elaborate ruse to get me to shut the hell up for a week and considered ignoring the challenge.  But, since my inner child is very much alive and well, I simply couldn’t resist the dare.

So I did it.

Mostly.

The final part of the challenge was to pass it on to one of your Facebook friends each day, but I’m lucky enough to have the friends I do…best not risk pushing them away any more than my sparkling personality (read:  EOG) already does.

Plus, it took me nine days to post my seven photos.  

Needless to say, it’s been bugging me ever since, the lack of context or comment on these posts.  Fortunately, I have a forum where I can basically say and do just about anything I want.

Take that, everybody else!

Now let’s see if I can not only recall these in order but also remember what struck me about them enough to include them in the first place.

Day One:  I go to work too damned early.  Sure, we had recently survived the idiotic annual shift to Daylight Savings Time once again, but seeing street lights on when I leave for work in the morning is a little much.

I think this was my Sunday shift, so I’m up at 3:45 and out the door by 4:30.  On my way to the MAX stop in Old Town I pass a gentleman’s club that’s still open, further reinforcing my belief that it’s not actuall morning.

Day Two:  This is where I do it, Portland International Airport.

Not “do it” like a wide-stanced senator, I actually work at PDX.  I love the environment and the carpet makes me happy.  This is version two of the world famous PDX carpet.  It was replaced two years ago after a couple decades of wear and tear.  And at about 50,000 travelers a day, that’s a lot of wear and tear over 20 years!

Day Three:  After a couple of days at the old Salt Mine, I’m ready for a drink to blow off a little midweek steam.  I actually stopped on the way home at a shitty little Old Town restaurant with good beer called Silver Dollar Pizza II.  I have no idea how this is related to Silver Dollar Pizza on NW 21st, but I do know that this is owned by the same jag off that formerly owned one of the three second-worst gay bars in Portland.  He sold it s while back and suddenly its not a gay bar anymore.  I guess you could say, <poof!> no poofs.

So, there I am, having a couple of beers and when I walk out, darkness.  Goddamned Daylight Savings.  But I walk around the corner and here’s this sign to brighten my night!  Nothing like blowing a few bucks in quarters and blowing away your day’s frustration with some Galaga!

Day Four:  This building.

I always lament my move to Shittatle by saying, “If the Pearl would have looked then like it does now, I never would have left”.  Truly, I would have taken the severance being offered and suffered through the remaining years of the W presidency in the happiness of my hometown.

When I left, the Pearl District was just starting it’s redevelopment phase and there were blocks of in-redeveloped warehouse space and abandoned buildings.  There were lots of galleries, a few co-ops and some new high rise buildings.

This is one of the co-ops. It’s someplace I could never afford to live, but a place that’s always been one of my Pearl aspirations.

C’mon lottery…

Day Five:  I’m pretty sure this was one of the days I missed posting because I was traveling, sue me.  I took off for my company’s annual leadership seminar midweek and took a little light reading for the trip.  Of course, if I’d forgotten it, the hotel had me covered with its own good book.  

I love the act of holding an actual book while I read.  It’s such an analog feeling.  The weight of the book in my hands, the smell of ink and paper.  Imagination engaged and senses engaged…I was off on an adventure that was simultaneously futuristic and nostalgic.  If you have a chance to read this before the movie comes out, do.  If not, the movie will be pretty good, I’m sure.  Spielberg at the helm?  Pretty good indicator, right?

Day Six:  And then I missed another day.  But it got me back home where I was greeted by some wet foliage when I walked through the park in front of my building.

Actually, I was pretty impressed that I didn’t slip on this leaf as I traversed these sometimes treacherous bricks.

Day Seven:  It’s my weekend!  And I was lucky enough to meet up with the Filipina Fox for a drink while her hubby was traveling for work.  Also, she got me into this challenge, so it’s only fair that she was with me when I snapped my last entry.

It’s a statue of a giant whisk.  Because: Portland.

And then there’s this gem.  I snapped this selfie in my elevator afterwards.  All this black and white nonsense made me nostalgic for the work of Herb Ritts or one of those super gritty Rolling Stone covers with the pop culture icon viewed through a haze of exhales cigarette smoke.

Obviously, I’m missing the smoke.

And some professional lighting.

And the pro photog.

Gawd.  What if this is what I really look like?!?

Black & White

Cherish

I used to think that it was kinda cool that Black Jesus from Madonna’s Like a Prayer video went to the same college in SoCal (allegedly) that I took a couple of classes at.

But, I’m kind of aloof with shit like that and no one seemed impressed with my unwillingness to accept that urban JuCo legend at face value.

“Show me” – Me

“Hey, where’s everybody going?” – pretty much also Me

Well, ya can’t win ‘em all.  So now I have that cool story for dinner parties.

It’s really a story that I’ll cherish for the rest of my days…

<eye roll>

But while I was be bopping along to Like a Prayer at home a while back – thank you, Pandora – I started to think about how many odd tangents I have concerning Madge from my days in LA back in the early 90s.  Again, I’m kind of aloof – or passively envious, too close to call – so when I ask a relative stranger what he does for a living (just in case it’s a blind date I’m not aware of) and he says, “I’m a storyboard artist for music videos” I’m intrigued, but don’t really want to pursue it…because you just know what’s coming.

I man up and ask, “Any videos I would know or are you allowed to even talk about it?”  

Was that rude?  The look my friends – I had found myself as part of a foursome at a movie with a couple of friends and this stranger – give me not only suggests that it was a set up but also that I’m blowing it.

Reason number 19 why I’m single, right there:  I’m still calling it aloof.

Turns out – like you need to be told – that he’d recently worked on a couple of Madonna’s music videos and was currently preparing to begin another.

“Well, I’m glad you could make some You time, that creative stuff can really be a rabbit hole!”

One of my friends does a minor palms up in his lap and lolls his head in exasperation.  I’m assuming there was a pretty hearty eye roll in there, too, but we’re in theater seats, so I’m getting all of this from the side and over my maybe-blind-date’s shoulder.

It couldn’t have gone that badly, because he ended up inviting the three of us to his birthday party later in the summer.

At Al Jolson’s house, no less.  Well, his old house.  He was still dead back then.

Naturally.

This is where I met her.

Donna De Lory, I mean.  One of Madonna’s backup singers and dancers.  

That’s her on Madonna’s left.  She and I played volleyball together in Al’s backyard. Niki Harris – on Madonna’s right side was on the other side of the net.

Madonna herself was a no-show.  She’d only RSVPed as a maybe (allegedly), so the writing was on the wall there…I mean, it wasn’t even the main house, just the converted carriage house.  It was still pretty damn cool.  

Sadly, this means that the closest I’ve ever come to her was at one of the Dance Your Ass Off events in LA.

Close enough for me.  I’m sure I wasn’t dancing what minimal ass I had off, too.  I was likely sitting on the sidelines with a drink in my hand being…aloof.

She was still pretty brassy back then.

Donna was perfectly sweet and fun.

Niki, a little less so, but she was on the losing team.  Just saying.

And then there was my most orgasmic – er, organic Madonna tangent.

I was judging people dancing at a bar and casually lifted up the tail on a cute boy’s shirt to give the ol’ caboose a check and that somehow got his attention.

I don’t know how he interpreted that action as an invitation to stop and chat.  Some people are so presumptuous.

But, he did.

So, we did.

And that went well, so then we did it.

Well, here’s how it actually went down:

We yelled at each other for a while near the dance floor upstairs at Ripples.  I think it was Ripples, it was my regular dance bar hang out.

What’s weird is that after that, we ended up at his place.

Ok, that’s not so weird.  He probably said something while we were talking about how he had worked on a Madonna video.

Cherish, no less.

In the back of my mind, I remember my imaginary Jewish grandmother saying, “Oh!  A merman!” like that was somehow on par with being a Doctor.

Me, being me, demanded – in a totally adorable manner – proof.

“Show me.”

Hey, when you look like this you can apparently act like a jackass and still get laid.  Not that I realized I had any actual sexual power at the time.

Plus, I kind of manipulated him into taking me home.  That totally sounds like me.

So we went back to his place on The Heights and then I pretended to be interested in all of his Madonna memorabilia in what I imagine he considered foreplay.

And then we did stuff that peeled paint.

To this day, I still think of this basic visual whenever the topic of mermen comes up.

Oh, and for those of you keeping track at home, this is my second consecutive post to mention mermen.  How about that?  Although, I can’t really count the first one since it was a reblog…still.

Cherish

Getting Lit

First of all, not that kind of “lit”.  Although I live where it’s legal, I suck – thank gawd – at smoking, be it weed or nicotine.  Pretty good at puffing a stogie, go figure.  Still haven’t indulged in that for over a decade.  So, in regards to getting lit-lit, I’d be vaping or partaking of the edible variety.

But I was riffing on lit as it refers to literature.  You see, lately I’ve been quite distracted by books.

So much so, that I haven’t posted a blog in a couple of weeks.

It all started with Ready Player One, which I purchased for my work trip back on the 12th.  I spent my flight alternating between reading my new book and writing a blog post.  Ditto my return flight, which was the last entry I posted back around the 16th.

Of course, in between flights I fell in like with a co-worker at the work conference.

The new read continued to occupy my time on my daily MAX commute, which I usually spend writing my #MaxBlogChallenge posts.

The book is super enjoyable.  I’m not a big video game fan or home gamer, but Rib was, so I kind of know the culture second hand.  Plus, I do enjoy an occasional visit to Ground Kontrol for a few beers while I blow a sawbuck worth of quarters.  

Fun!

But I am definitely a fan of 80s-90s pop culture…Oingo Boingo music, John Hughes films.

Good times!

I intended to finish Ready Player One over Thanksgiving at my parents’, but you always forget something when you pack for a trip, right?

Enter, The Witness.

My mom brought me a stack of books to choose from:  The Witness, that ubiquitous Wally Lamb book and the second volume of The Tales of the City omnibus, which I had loaned her a few months back.

I always mean to re-read these old favorites of mine, but never make the time.  Instead I loan them out to The Broken Poet and – more favorably – Mom-Donna.  Heck, even Mistress Myrtle seems to enjoy my old books!So there mom is, trying to soothe my distress, always the Mom!  I decide Wally Lamb is too aggressive for a second book and pick The Witness. 

Lemme take a minute and tell you how I feel about reading multiple books.

I don’t like it.

Tried to.

Can’t.

It’s like dating more than one guy.

No, actually dating, you tramps.

You have to invest emotionally in books.  Giving up your imagination in this relationship versus your heart, in order to really get everything out of a book you can.

So, I tend not to do this…which is partially why I looked like a pouty baby when mom was handing out secondary reading options.

I got a few chapters in during my three day stay.  I packed it to pick up again when I finish Ready Player One.  It might go somewhere…but ever since I read Fifty Shades of Grey, my ability to fairly assess a book has been a bit wonky.

Talk about lowering the bar.

Oh, and I packed The Witness and forgot Tales…because you always forget something when you pack.

<eye roll>

The next day after work I went to get a haircut.  Naturally, in the Barber Lottery, I once again won my pink haired – and eyebrowed – trans barber.

Once again, we started off with innocent enough chatter.

Innocuous.  Hair talk.

But as soon as she started snipping, our innocent chatter veered awkwardly off course with “How was your Thanksgiving?”

She asked me, and I responded with enthusiastic yet low-key examples of our small family gathering.  When I asked her how hers was, I realized my mistake.  If I’d glanced down at myself in the mirror, I’m sure I would have seen this guy staring back at me.

You really just can’t win with some people.

As I’m listening, I glance down at her work station’s shelf and see a stack of five books.  I ask her if they have special significance to her and she just casually responds that she’s reading them.

“Simultaneously?, I ask.

“Of course!”, she replies, “But two of them are actually textbooks because I’m teaching myself Hebrew.”

Of course.

And, no, I didn’t pursue the conversational thread about how one teaches oneself Hebrew effectively with a text-only resource.  I just sat there and enjoyed the literal, physical manifestation of how different she and I are as individuals.

As if the pink eyebrows weren’t proof enough.

Then she cut my hair too short.

Getting Lit

On The Road, Again.


(Plane not to scale)

More accurately, I should say that I’m in the air…again.

You all know how I love flying.

And covering my true emotions with humor.

Hell, I’m not even disappointed that my pithy tweet about my trip didn’t break the internet.


You see, my flight tonight from Atlanta to Portland is Delta #503, the area code for Portland being…503.

I’ll wait while you feel sorry for my friends that are routinely exposed you my rapier wit and its similarly pithy observations.

What can I say?  They obviously love me.

Speaking of love.  

I occasionally write about both travel and love.  Something I write about less often – maybe – is travel sex.

Why?

A couple of things:

1) Since the advent of so-called dating apps – mating apps or asocial media in Chrisenese – I’ve slow clapped for travelers who use hotel rooms as a shower to rinse clean any morality that would prevent one human for using another strictly for their own sexual gratification.  Because that’s an accomplishment.

Right.  Writing about this topic just manifests as this grumpy old man tilting at social windmills.

B) When Sacha left me, it was for a guy in Vancouver, WA – aka: Vantucky – and I (in)famously ejaculated, “You can’t even date within your own state?!?  How undateable are you?”  

So I guess I come by my contempt for the whole traveling sexual shenanigans thing somewhat honestly.

Plus, I think you gotta earn sex.  Put your time in at a bar getting to know someone.  Develop an attraction.  Find a desire that’s seated deeper than the profile pic they post of their abs from five years ago or – even worse – of their junk.

Hell, for that matter, just learn their name.

See?  I’m ranting.

But…because there’s always a but.

That doesn’t stop me from developing attractions from strangers when I travel.  I’m fairly gregarious by nature.  It was my default setting before I became grumpy.

Ever heard of the Stranger on a Plane Theory?

Basically, it’s a social phenomenon that predates social media, since now, clicking with someone nowadays usually involves some sort of social networking next step.

But the theory is usually one person’s therapy and their seatmate’s personal hell, since it affords and exploits the anonymity of travelers.

You’re never going to see them after all, right?  So complete honesty usually ensues and you basically cleanse yourself by barfing out all your deepest darkest to the poor bastard sitting next to you.

Luckily, I have WordPress.

And you.

Of course, I’m my reality – or surreality, as it likely is – I can indulge myself in some faux getting to know yous while traveling since…

I’m.

Never.

Gonna. 

See.

Them.

Again.

Right?

It’s kinda like a hybrid between having a connection with a co-worker, commonly known as a “work spouse” and this Stranger on a Plane thing.

Please allow me to introduce you to the Seminar Boyfriend Theory.

I wasn’t aware of this extension of my no-investment travel flirtations until a couple of days ago.

Mostly, because it hadn’t existed until then.

Sure, I’d met my current Work Wife at my company’s annual Seminar last November.

Simultaneously, I’d indulged myself in a little travel flirting with an impossibly young, straight averring (made up word warning!) and umappealingly cocky boy last year that I enjoyed spending time with, provided I didn’t take too seriously what came out of his mouth. Mostly this situation arose because each of our respective peer groups hung out with each other, so we were situationally thrown together.

Sure enough, once Seminar ended and he went back to the Great White North it was back to EOG-as-usual for me without a second thought.

I learned via LinkedIn a few months back that he’d left the company, so no repeat performances there.  All well and fine by me, I’d planned with my Work Wife to bring a couple of bottles of wine to match her contribution and that was my liver’s meal plan for the trip.

No boys required.

No hanging out in sports bars I had no interest in just because some exec had an open tab.  Nope.  I planned to spend this year’s free time – what little there is at Seminar – in the hotel gym and sleeping.

Until, of course, I met…

You know, I almost typed his actual name.  I don’t know why I don’t.  It’s not like my blog is Page 6 or anything.  Although, I do have a couple of pretty impressive sleuths amongst my loyal readers.  But his name is probably the Indian equivalent of John Smith.

I’ve been holding a low-grade mental debate about posting a pic of us that he took earlier today, but am conflicted about that breach of his anonymity.

That settles it.  Sometimes you just have to type through a problem.

Anonymity filter prevails.

You’ll just have to take my word for how cute this year’s Seminar Boyfriend is.

<fans face>

And as if this 5’9″ Indian descended Canadian needed to be any cuter than sparkly eyes, radiant smile and sexy (from what I could glean) physique…he is also smart and has the most endearing Indian accent and tone of voice.

I didn’t dedicate too much mental anguish to the gut wrenching does he/doesn’t he insecurities that eat away at me in normal dating and flirting environments.

I just enjoyed his company.  

When he got distracted by something or someone else, I went on my way.  After all, I knew I was neglecting my Work Wife, and I knew that she knew it, too.  But, I think she was enjoying my display of what minimal game I have…she texted me a photo of the two of us eating dinner together at carnival night with the caption, “Your first couple photo”.

It was just the two of us, leaned in close to one another at a table for ten.

So, this phenomenon evolved in a completely random and unbelievable manner:  he came up to me.

It was dinner Monday night: Food Truck Night.

Outside in the side parking lot of our hotel.  

Remember, I’d accidentally left my jacket in a store back at PDX on Sunday morning, and everyone was showing up in jackets for this outdoor evening event.

We started chatting while waiting to be released to our foodie playground for the evening.  He had also chosen to go sans jacket, being from Edmonton this would be comfortable for him.

Although, in an unexpected spurt of smacktalk, he expressed concern for my comfort.

How could I not adore him instantly?

I assured him, I would be relatively comfortable in Atlanta’s balmy 54 degree evening.  But!  I added, if it got below 50 I’d either need a hearty booze jacket or be quickly re-examining my situation.

There were five food trucks.  My priority was the chicken and waffle truck.  Work Wife and Seminar Boyfriend followed suit.

After deciding what I wanted – duh – I offered to go get drinks for us while they ordered.  This was also the finals for the Food & Beverage division’s cocktail contest.

We had three options to vote for.

Work Wife chose the coconutty option while Seminar Boyfriend opted for the same bourbon concoction I was going for…and just like that we had our wedding menu:

Chicken & Waffles w/Manhattans (basically, and not that it matters)

I came back with the drinks and we chatted while waiting for our food.  He pointed out a couple of times which room was his…he’d left his lights on and his shades open.

I see.

No confusing messages here.

We couldn’t find a table, Work Wife had squeezed into an empty seat at another of Seminar’s ubiquitous ten seater round tables.  Preferring privacy – obviously – we ended up standing and eating our C&W while simultaneously balancing our paper food truck baskets atop our cocktails.

He wasn’t planning to go all Xtopher on the food carts like I was.  He did want to try more than one, though and said he wasn’t going to finish his portion, but would wait for me to go back.  By the time I conceded victory, he’d already finished his.

The boy can eat!

I switched course and shoved the last of my waffle in my mouth and we went for round two:  burritos!

We enjoyed our burritos with diet cokes while lurking near a pub table we expected to be abandoned soon.  We were rewarded about halfway through and shortly after, our new digs were crashed by a friend of mine from Seminar last year – who I learned the next day is his boss, a business development guy I met a couple of times during an RFP at PDX and a regional HR Manager…all of whom were Canadians.

Surrounded.

Clearly, it was time to retreat to the bento truck for some dumplings, after which I made my goodnights.(Over Boise, I know you were wondering)

The next day, we passed at breakfast but it was a busy day of merchandising breakouts, so we had to hit the ground running.  I noticed at lunch that he had changed his clothes and sent him an email through our Seminar app, teasing him about it.

He didn’t reply.

Oh, well.

When I passed him later at the elevators during a break, he offered up an in person account.

Oh, fine.  Be confusing.  Read the message and don’t reply.

Anyway, on with the day.  After we were released for the day, I decided to get in some cardio at the hotel gym.  A nice follow up to Monday’s lifting.

I probably won’t be able to walk when I get off the plane.
Once I’d showered, I got my funk going with the glass of wine that Work Wife had tried to distract me from the gym with while I dressed for Carnival Night.

Corn dogs and funnel cakes, I’m coming for you.

Naturally, I was a little buzzed off 3 ounces of wine on an empty, post-workout stomach.

Also, naturally – this is my life we’re talking about here – I ran into Seminar Boyfriend, first damn thing.

This is how the (not) infamous “first couple” pic came into being.  Little did Work Wife know – or did she? – that Seminar Boyfriend had snapped a covert pic of me filling my plate with carnie food and posted it to the app with the caption, “Xtopher living his dream!” in a totally non-fat shaming way.

If he only knew.

We played carnival games together, taking turns and holding one another’s drinks.  It was super sweet and just an empirically enjoyable evening.

I believe he made his goodnights first this night…yes! he did.  That’s how I ended up talking to his boss.

Until midnight as we caught up on the events that transpired with last year’s Seminar Boyfriend – he was a mess – and drank wine.

Yes, I did not mention that both Seminar Boyfriends turned out to work for the same woman.

Again, this is my life we’re talking about here.  I’m used to weird coincidences.

Well, there’s more to tell of this cute little alt-reality I’ve been enjoying in my head, but the plane is landing.

I’ll just leave you with this, it remained fun, friendly and sweet…regardless of whether it had one side or two.

Oh, and I did get a little hug at the airport before he took off for the Great White North again.

That iced my cake, and I couldn’t hope for a better ending than that.

On The Road, Again.