The Haircut Saga

If you can even begin to understand what it’s like to be me for just the shortest of moments, it won’t surprise you to hear that in November I left my barbershop thinking,

That’s it, I’m never coming back!

It was the second time since I considered recreationally growing my hair longer that I’ve walked into Bishop’s in the Pearl with the intent of getting cleaned up around the edges and walk out with a haircut that was basically ready for junior high school picture day.
My goal in my mission to recreationally grow out my hair – into what I call crazy old man hair – was something like a low key version of this:img_3453
What I really meant by stating my goal to grow out my hair was just to openly defy the current hair style conventions of that ridiculous hard part haircut. You know, this one…img_0516
Hard part? More like hard pass!
And I’ve had the same haircut, essentially, for the last 10-15 years, so something of a change was in order…just not what I considered to be the current incarnation of The Big Gay Haircut. Going longer was my only safe bet.
Except…
Not so fast, old Xtopher.
In late September, I walked into Bishop’s, told my gal what I wanted and walked out with this:
img_3454
Fine.
I grow it out a little, about seven weeks, and then go back toward the end of November for my holiday haircut in late November. Gotta make myself respectable for my visit to mom and dad! I make myself very clear that I only want it cleaned up over the ears, not blended all the way up since I want to grow it longer.
“Got it”, she says.

Flash forward twenty minutes…
img_3454

That’s it, I’m never coming back!

I leave thinking that I’ll give it until the end of January. Maybe if I need to cave for something important – like an interview – I will, but otherwise, it’s not like I’m doing anything with my time…so this can be my lil hobby.
Toward the end of January – my birthday – I ask the Silver Fox if I should be thinking about getting a haircut. I hadn’t heard from my family about birthday plans, so I was beginning to suspect something. If my family is planning something, I figure I should mow the shag a bit to look presentable.
“Your family isn’t planning anything”, he says.
Fine. No worries.
“But I’d get a haircut if I were you!” he laughs.
Of course, I reasonably assume that he’s taking a chance to return some of my snark and take it in stride.
He wasn’t.
img_1108
Great. Now he can keep a secret.
Not to worry, I think I pulled the shaggy look off…
img_1342
Notice how the longer hair distracts from my growing girth?
Anyway…lesson learned. I had said I was giving it until the end of January and here it was, the 21st. I figured I could see this through the final ten days and then hit Bishop’s and see if they’ve learned any new listening skills.
The Fox and I head up to Trader Joe’s later that week – he usually lets me tag along so that I don’t have to hoof it 20 blocks with my groceries – read: a half case of wine – which I certainly appreciate. On our way back, we pass right by Bishop’s and I’m looking in and thinking that it figures they aren’t crowded now, but just watch…when I want my hair cut it’ll be like the week before picture week. Then I see it.
Oops. Him.
This guy that I used to…socialize with, privately, if you get my drift, when I first moved back to Portland. He was a complete and utter mess. I’d cut ties with him by the end of that first year back in town.
Of course, the next year, he turns up at a happy hour with Linda Belcher. She had invited me down to Old Town to grab a couple drinks with her common-law husband, Bob’s Burgers, and some of his acupuncture co-horts.
This guy shows up. Mostly because this is my life and this is just what one should expect when one is me. Also because he was engaged to a classmate of Bob’s Burgers.
F.
M.
L.
I learn that he’s in the Hair Program at Paul Mitchell over across Burnside. I’m actually surprised that I don’t see him more often, since I pass by there every time I go to the bank or movies…surprised, but grateful.
A year or so later, I do finally end up seeing him outside. “Long program”, I think to myself, but I’m on the far side of the street, so he doesn’t see me.
Maybe another year later, I see him again and wonder if he’s teaching there, but just assume they are smart enough to not let that happen.
So, here I am, less than ten days away from a haircut and I see him on a smoke break outside. Finally working after taking the better part of three years to graduate from what I gather is a seven or eight month program. My friend, JOrtis is a teacher at the Aveda institute and I just figured, why not ask how long the program should take. I think he said months…but knowing this mess, I could see him spacing out a seven or eight week program with a few trips to rehab.
Nonetheless, it explains something about my last two trips into Bishop’s for a haircut.
Turns out my petulant departure in November contained some pretty true words.
So, here it is, the first week of February and I’m thinking, “Well, it’s not like I’m still not doing anything…oh, wait”, but I’m still not really putting any emphasis on my hair maintenance.
The Fox says that he’s getting used to it, which I somehow gamely twist into a compliment.
And…since this is my life we’re talking about, I get an in person interview.

Screw it. This interview process started in November. If they ask, I’ll tell them that I am not getting a haircut until they offer me a job out of protest.

So, if The Great Job Hunt finally comes through and I get the job, I’ll trim this shituation up, otherwise, this is what they get. Until then…img_3453

Whatever I decide to do with this shaggy mane, the…let’s say lucky barber will have plenty of material to work with!

The Haircut Saga

Toxic Positivity

Yup. This is a thing now. If you’re curious as to what falls into The New Negative

What I’ve highlighted above will be important in a minute. But lemme be straight, even though I call it The New Negative, I understand the message. Loathe am I to quote our country’s Worst Lady – er, First Lady – but the message of her Be Best campaign and this Dallas Yogi are eerily similar.

Well, they are the same, at least in spirit. Until five posts later, my Instagram Yogi posted this

I mean, come on.

But, lest you think I’m going easier on a yogi versus a de facto hypocrite…I have said nothing to either about how their action made me feel.

I sat still and sipped my coffee and thought about the message while Sheryl Crow played at the cafe.

Be Best is a simple idea, with entirely unsurprisingly vague follow up. Maybe the meat of that campaign is the examples the Worst Couple – darn, did it again! – set for us as a bar to be better than.

But when you give a behavior a name, you set a different and specific bar. Something to focus upon to indeed, become better. In that regard, I like this Toxic Positivity thing.

If recent events and years have taught me anything, it’s that self improvement is a journey, not necessarily a fixed destination. Which is why I actually liked that one of my sources of motivation made such a basic error.

It proves that we are moving together on this journey, helping each other up along the way when we stumble. I think it’s too easy to assume that someone is at the finish line encouraging us to join them, but that finish line keeps moving.

As a former runner and current misanthrope, I don’t need to tell you that I prefer solo sports. One of the things I enjoyed doing on a run was talking myself into mini-goals.

Run to that next tree.

Pass that runner a block ahead of you.

Make it across this intersection before that car hits you.

That was fun, it got me there. But sometimes that runner I passed would turn right around and pass me back.

Guess what?

That could be a real “wah-wah!” moment, but instead of being de-motivated, I would just tell myself

Welp, now you’ve gotta pass that person again…

Even though this was usually my motivator

Anyway, I’m not posting today, am I? It’s not a weekend and I gotta work on other writing stuff. So I better wrap this up. Here’s what I’ll leave you with:

Sometimes these movements have consequences that reach across time. I hope this isn’t one of them.

Hollywood without Kevin Spacey and Jeffrey Tambor makes me sad.

There, I said it.

That doesn’t mean that I don’t think they should be held accountable for possible crimes or inappropriate actions. Joaquin Phoenix seems to be doing ok…why is that fair?

Congress working without Al Franken while our President presides unpresidentially every day seems like a gross incongruency.

But I hope in both cases we have learned that due process is one thing and Buzzfeed justice is another.

I am completely over woke. It went from a catchphrase to a…well, this

way too easily. And fairly unchecked, if you ask me.

From a woke culture to a bunch of thugs with microphones and twitchy trigger fingers. And this bothers me in regards to Toxic Positivity because while I’m writing this, If It Makes You Happy by Ms Crow comes on

…and that’s some Toxic Positivity, right there, y’all.

But I want to hear it.

Toxic Positivity

Who’s the Heckler?

This one’s for you, I reckon.

For everyone who isn’t you…here’s a lil pic for some backstory.

Now, I love people flipping me a dose of shit. It’s far easier for it to happen here – in the comfort of my own phone – than to trek all the way up to the Oregon Zoo and stand impatiently in front of the monkey exhibit. So, I’m smiling at what I assume is intended as good natured chop busting.

Still, since I don’t normally interact with someone with the handle Someone, I am curious about who Someone could be. Literally, anyone!

Naturally, last night around midnight when I saw this – alone in my bed while Mistress Myrtle stalked around the perimeter to plan her next attack – my mind was primed to go to a dark place. In doing a little – very little – slogging around the WordPress, I found that there’s no profile attached to this handle. Which is weird for WordPress.

It’s just like that time Sacha made a…Noooo. He wouldn’t…this isn’t his style…

So, I told him – this Someone person – that March was the next time I could go 30/30, took a Mellie and pulled a pillow over my face.

But after a restful night of sleep, a tasty smoothie for breakfast and otherwise wildly productive morning…I’m feeling creative. So I beta-read a quarter of a friend’s novel – my second run through – and still felt a little mojo percolating. I’d told myself that January was to wear me out on writing so I could set a goal of editing and formatting my own book in February before seeking out next steps in March.

Having any mojo left after January actually feels good!

Really good.

But I came out of it ready to work on what I’d written. I’ve made notes on what I want to do next and have a couple other pipeline ideas written down, too. I think this is what focus looks like for me.

Still, I want to post a few blog entries throughout this month, too. I’d committed to structuring my editing efforts into a Monday through Friday discipline, so perhaps I can blog on weekends?

We’ll see.

Both what I experienced last night at dinner and this morning on my way to coffee reinforced that I need to blog. Both occasions presented me with amusing “What could possibly go wrong?” anecdotes. Maybe they were more “This would only happen to me“, now that I think about it.

Obviously, I need to record those, either way…last night’s is too long for this particular post. My draft backlog is down to seven after January, so this seems like a perfect time to add one.

The Silver Fox and I made coffee plans for this morning before I left last night. As usual, it’s basically our usual plan, which is always as tentative as it is usual.

So, I confirmed this morning that I was up for it. In a rare turn of events, he wasn’t! That gave me an excuse to put on a hoodie and get back into bed with my smoothie and read more.

Fine.

After I showered and got myself ready for a dinner party at Little Buddy’s place this afternoon, I decided to strike out for some coffee anyway. I only had two “coffee dates” last week and figured I should start this week off strong.

The world doesn’t need an under caffeinated Xtopher…we’ve already got millennials.

Buh-dun-dunt…zing!

I dress for dinner, check the weather – we’re supposed to get snow tonight! – to make sure I choose an appropriate jacket and head out toward Nossa Familia.

I can handle 45 degrees in my mid-weight jacket. Tomorrow, though, I’ll finally have a chance to pull out my heavy jacket. Despite MomDonna’s protests that my go-to coat isn’t heavy enough for the weather, I don’t get out my heavy coat until the temps are in the 30s. I don’t want to pull my big down jacket out when it’s in the 40s, only to become truly miserable when the temps become inhospitable to human existence.

You gotta have a plan in this world, and that is mine.

I’m not kidding, that’s pretty much it in it’s entirety.

I know.

I get two blocks into my ten block coffee commute and it starts drizzling. Fine, it’s Portland. I look up and decide the clouds were just a little too heavy and decided to let off a little water weight.

Two blocks later, it’s hailing.

I debate ducking in to the RiteAid for an umbrella but still think that this is just a weird fluke. The clouds just don’t look rainy enough. Like, surely they don’t have anything more than this in them.

A block later, I’m ducking into a dry spot under the balcony of an apartment building.

It’s absolutely pissing.

I debate going home. Meanwhile, the troll in the back of my head is whispering “Caffeine” in a sing-songy voice.

I wait it out.

By the time I get to the next block, it has suddenly started pouring again and the hail has gotten larger. I’m right by my gym and I’m dripping wet.

I’ll be damned if I’m going in there!

I trudge on.

Quickly.

The rain stops as suddenly as it began two blocks away from Nossa. I give myself a good shake and mentally amend my usual iced latte order to a hottie as I enter the final stretch. Strangely, everyone passing by around me looks mysteriously not drenched.

Weird.

The good thing about a little downpour is that when I opened the door to Nossa, no line.

On the other hand…walking into the cafe, I’m all

Fortunately, I know my barista husband is in Antigua with the Nossa Familia familia on an annual educational excursion they award to employees. What I get today is just my back-up barista husband and some openly straight married guy.

So, I’m just sitting here sipping my hot latte and rocking the wet cat look I’m sporting.

Now, c’mon, Someone let me know who you are…as long as it’s not in some weird “better sleep with your lights on” way!

Who’s the Heckler?

What A Way To Go!

My stomach might explode.

If it does (it won’t) I just want it on record that too much of a good thing does not apply to food!

I made the ribolitta recipe that I came across this morning for dinner.

It was delish! Not bad for a vegetarian dish. I’m pretty sure this recipe could be converted to a full on vegan dish by removing the cheese and choosing a vegan bread.

But, why?!?

This dish has a mirepoix base – diced onion, 2 celery stalks and 3 carrots – sautéed in 3 tbsp of olive oil with 8 crushed cloves of garlic. Of course, I used more garlic…just a hint!

While the mirepoix softens, drain a 28 oz can of diced tomatoes – saving the liquid for later. Once the veggies reach your preferred softness, drop in the tomato solids and sauté them with the mirepoix for a couple of minutes. This caramelizes the natural sugars in the tomatoes.

As those sugars are heating up and getting tasty, drain a 14 oz can of cannelini beans. After a few minutes, drop the cannelini beans in and add the liquid from the tomatoes. Spice it up with some red pepper flakes. The recipe calls for 3/4 tsp, but I say go nuts. You know your preferences. Then add four cups of water and bring to a simmer.

You should also have a small hunk of parmesan cheese to grate over the top when serving. Cut the rind off that and just drop it in when you add the water.

You’ll never see it again…but you’ll taste it in every spoonful!

While that’s coming to temp, cut the leaves off of 2 bunches of dinosaur kale. You’re going to rip these into 2″ hunks and drop them into the soup in two batches. What I did was remove the spines from one bunch while my soup simmered, then added them in, letting them wilt while I prepared the second batch. I ripped those into 2″ segments and added them in once I finished them.

As that second batch was wilting, I got ready for my last steps. I cut a loaf of rustic bread in half and then ripped it into chunks while my oven preheated to 425.

When I finished ripping the bread up, I added about one-third of it to the soup and stirred it in. Then I ate a slice of bread while the oven finished pre-heating.

Once the bread had softened in the soup – about 5 minutes – and the oven was ready, I put the rest of the chunked bread on top of the soup and gave it a good drizzle of olive oil. Then I put it in the oven for 15 minutes with the lid off so the bread on top could really crust up. I checked it at 10 minutes and decided to leave it another 5.

While I waited on that, I was grating that parm and buttering half of the rest of my bread, about a quarter loaf. I figured that I’d save the other quarter for left overs.

You can see what this looked like when it came out of the oven up above. Here’s what it looked like plated and topped with cheese.

I had two bowls. That filled me to bursting.

Like I mentioned earlier, I read this in an email from Bon Appetit this morning. If you don’t subscribe…I recommend it.

Highly!

I took the magazine for about five years, maybe longer. Now that my subscription has lapsed, though, I still get emails such as the one this morning.

If you aren’t keen on paying for magazine subscriptions, keep an eye on the promotions Sur la Table runs. They usually do a B.A. give away twice a year. Well, it’s a “gift” with a $50-ish purchase. They might not do it any longer, though. Or maybe you’re just impatient. If so, a subscription is only $15…and well worth it, IMO.

Plus, you get a free tote. Hehe.

Can you believe I don’t get paid for that? I’m just making it easy for you! Honestly, it’s one of the funnest magazines I’ve read. I’d just flip through it for inspiration.

This was my first time making this dish. The only thing I did ahead was dice everything for my mirepoix. All of the other prep stuff I was able to complete between steps. Plus, there was time to wash the tools I used as I went, too.

I started this at 3 o’clock today and had sat down to some Twin Peaks at 4:20 with a beer and a piping hot bowl of soup.

Not pictured: a clean kitchen behind me!

I know the flavors in this dish will just get better as it sits, but you know me and leftovers! I’ve probably got three more servings like the one pictured above. Since it’s Italian, I bet I can muster up the enthusiasm to heat this up again and throw some cheese on it…although I’m not sure how the bread on top will work with refrigeration and reheating.

Still, if you have friends – or even one of those family thingies – just invite them over and kill the whole pot on one fell swoop.

Then it’s a party!

If you want the original article, with shopping list, here it is!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go lay on the couch and digest…with another episode of Twin Peaks, of course!

What A Way To Go!

Feed Yourself

That’s a quote from the Silver Fox on our way back from coffee this morning.

I was serving him some OCD verbal vomit about my life, work, writing. He’d accidentally triggered me about 20 minutes earlier when we were grocery shopping. I had read a recipe for ribolitta while waking up this morning and when given the options, he’d decided what I should do.

I really want to try this recipe…but maybe I should make the Black Bean Goodness that I didn’t make last night.”

He decided on the ribolitta so after coffee, we went across Lovejoy to the Safeway for the incredibly simple ingredients. We both realized quickly that he would not benefit from his decision since the recipe has kale and he doesn’t.

Still, he stuck with me.

He stopped a few times at counters that interested him along the way. I left him behind because that’s what happens to me when he takes me to the Costco. It’s a lot easier to catch up-slash-find someone in a Safeway.

Just.

Saying.

Anyway, while I’m checking out, giving Sacha some gas points – if he’s still using the same rewards account we used when we were together – The Fox asked if we need lottery tickets.

I picked some up yesterday, so we’re fine.

Actually, we’d gone to buy them together and he bought them. But the point was, we had ’em.

“You know some trucker in New Jersey won Powerball?”

That was a ticket from a few weeks back. Or months? So we’re ok.

The Fox doesn’t like to play Powerball for less than $100 million. Any less than that and it’s just throwing money away, I suppose. Hehe.

I’d read the story of the trucker. Thinking of it now got me simmering. Halfway home, out it came. All over the Silver Fox.

The same thing had happened last Thursday night. But I just let it simmer in my head until Friday. That afternoon, I realized I was feeling completely weighed down by the pressure.

Thursday, I had wanted to go to the gym. Didn’t.

I was feeling like writing was a slog.

Two more days…then your January challenge ends.

Friday, I woke up with the same…congestion. Mental funkiness. Then I checked email.

I got a “Thanks, but…” from a position I was kind of excited about with Le Creuset. I’d had three interviews. It was a strange process. They seemed to go top backward instead of bottom up, like normal. Usually, for a Store Manager job, I’d expect to interview with the District Manager I’d report to, then if I was a go forward candidate I’d be passed up the chain for a corporate round robin interview.

With LC, I started with a director level, then a regional, then the DM and got spun out of the process there before the final round.

Well, that was a lot of effort for nothing…

I debated responding, but worried I’d come off as petty. That idea got tabled, and that decision became part of the mental funk.

By mid-afternoon, I didn’t think I could rally. Texts from The Fox about a party that was still FIVE HOURS away had me shrinking into the couch, further and further, until I just told him I didn’t think I could do it.

How am I becoming an introvert at this point in my life?!?

Yesterday morning, though, I’d woken up feeling good! It excited me. I didn’t feel great, but I didn’t feel neutral, either. Or even worse. I suggested to The Fox that we venture out for a Bing Mi before dropping in to the Big Legrowlski to say goodbye to one of the bartenders.

He’s going to teach English in South Korea.

The Fox was hip to the suggestion. Who wouldn’t be?

Mmm. So much, fuck yeah in these crepe sandwiches! We took our food from the food carts to the BL and had a beer – ok, I had two, Mr Reasonable had one – and ate while we chatted Joey up.

We were the only two customers in the joint. On my second beer (an 11.2% ABV called Notorious) I wondered aloud what was wrong with people.

It’s 1:30 on a Saturday afternoon. Why aren’t people out having beer?!?

Anyway, had they been, I’m sure I would have complained about that, too. By the time we left at 2:00, I was recharged. I went home and tapped out my final January Challenge blog and felt accomplished afterward.

I was jazzed.

It’s a wonder what harmlessly flirting with a straight bartender can do for the spirits.

We had gone from Big Legrowlski to Penzey’s Spices on the way home. It’s a whole two blocks out of our way, but they had a gift with purchase coupon for a chili spice I wanted.

In my post-writing high, I was contemplating making some Black Bean Goodness and adding in some of my new chili seasoning.

Filipina Fox to the rescue! She was at BL having a beer and wanted a sounding board to download the work she was doing for her start up fitness business.

I actually whined a little. Believe it or not, I didn’t want another beer. I was reluctant to drink any more and then do any knife work in the kitchen.

But I went and talked anyway. I’m pretty sure that everyone was low key surprised that I walked in and then out 30 minutes later without consuming anything…

Here’s the real surprise, after all that restraint, I still didn’t cook last night. I felt full.

Satisfied.

Fully satisfied.

I watched a movie and smoked half a joint that I’d been gifted a while back. When I pinched it out, I amused the absolute hell out of myself wondering if I should just pinch it out or also blow though it like I learned to do with cigars.

Joint…

Cigar…

Cigars seemed pretty durable comparatively. I decided not to risk it.

I’d hate to end up with a prolapsed joint.

Imagining that or a shower of ground weed flitting through my kitchen is what absolutely gave me the giggles. I put the joint away.

Probably just in time.

Now I’m a little peckish…

I’d been watching Veep on Amazon. I knew I shouldn’t be cooking, though. And that I didn’t have any snacky food. Looking at the clock I saw it was 9:45. Everything was closed.

Nice going, Hunter S. Thompson…

GoPuff to the rescue!

Twenty minutes later…

I realized I’m no good at ordering frozen pizza online. I thought I’d chosen a full sized za, but got a snack size. Not to worry, they threw in a lunch-sized bag of Fritos.

I can make this work…

I slept like a damn champ last night! Flash forward a couple hours and four espresso shots later and this well rested and over-caffeinated grumpopotamus was peppering The Fox with indecisiveness. He’d already enabled ribolitta even though I’d not made my Black Bean Goodness – can we agree that I’m short handing that as BBG going forward? – and now I was just dumping on him.

I need to find a friggin’ job!

Is it weird that I wanna write today?!?

The thing is, I’m choosing companies I want to work for, but by the time they tell me that they chose someone else, I don’t wanna work for them anymore.

Should I write? I need to finish my novel and just find a publisher. It would be best if someone would option my book. Takes care of the job thing, that does.

The Fox, walking next to me with the patience of Job, is just letting me wear myself out.

But I just want to write another novel now. I don’t want to edit, I don’t care if I get published…I just wanna keep writing!

“You need to feed yourself”, he chimes in when I finally take a breath. I hold up the bag of groceries I’m carrying suggestively.

“Your spirit”, he clarifies. I point him toward the post office so I can check my box.

We part, with me insisting he check out a three year old SNL clip that I found last night. Then I come home, unload my groceries and debate whether to just begin cooking immediately.

All because that trucker won our money!

Maybe I’ll start my taxes…

Feed Yourself

The Portland Challenge

Someone called me out the other day when I blithely mentioned Portland’s weirdness factor. As if to say that every town is weird or something.

Sure. I’ll grant that point.

But with Portland, it’s a matter of magnitude.

We, the weird People:

There’s a homeless guy in a wheelchair that I see from time to time boxing with a newspaper machine. And bitching it out…I think that one of them needs out of that relationship.

Last summer, I saw a fella walking down the street using his prosthetic leg as a cane. I’m pretty sure prosthetic limbs are easier to install than IKEA furniture is to build, but this guy wasn’t having that. Maybe it was uncomfortable to wear the prosthetic because of the heat. It’s not like a shoe, where when it’s hot you can wear sandals. This might have been his work around. Lest you get the idea that I was too polite to snap a pic, worry not…my camera phone reactions are just too slow.

But maybe I’m a little too polite…

We are (were) voted the kinkiest city in America back in 2017. 2016? I dunno, it’s been a while since I’ve heard mention of it in the press. I don’t think it’s like the census and only done once a decade, so I’m sure someone has given us a run for the title since then. A “Hold my beer” moment, if you will. Then again, it’s not like I’m seeing less kink/fetish-type behaviors. There’s still (way too many, IMO) open relationships…like every time I meet a nice guy. Don’t forget Naked Pool Night, either – more on that later. I really can’t tell if that’s a kink or just plain old weird. To me.

Our homeless population. Nothing to brag about, but they are a semi- community unto themselves: from supporting one another in little gab-fests to flat out fucking in parks to the weekly potluck in the middle of one of our swankiest neighborhoods…mine.

Depending on who’s statistics you use, there could be ~16k to a high of 25k homeless people in Portland. Again, depending on the source, that could be anywhere from 3-7% of the population. Wanna have your mind blown? Portland’s black population is 6.3%. Basically, our homeless population is either half of or slightly more than that of its black residents.

We’re 72% white here in Portland…maybe that’s how we ended up so damn kinky. Overcompensating.

If these homeless folks ever organized, they’d be one hell of a voting block. But keep that quiet. The sad reality of mental illness in the homeless community being the sad reality that it is could work against us and Portland doesn’t need its own homeless version of Trump. It would probably end up being the newspaper machine that I always see that wheelchair guy boxing…

With the weird Places:

Have you ever seen a grown man naked? Well, have ya?!?

Then you’ve clearly never had a beer at a Portland bar. I think being able to have a stripper within three feet of your drink is in the top five reasons Portland is weird. To be fair, there’s only two gay male strip clubs, although you’re bound to encounter randomly occurring go-go boys at some of the others. However, our straight strip clubs, well, it’s almost like 7-eleven can’t find a good corner location here. That’s how many strip bars we have. It hits pretty close to home, too. One of the Silver Fox’s neighbors owns several. I think it’s about five. That’s a lot of breast meat.

But, then again, the frequency in which one encounters random naked non-strippers is weirder to me than naked dancers. Call me crazy.

One of Portland’s more regrettable – wait…forgettable? Meh, take your pick – gay bars is The Eagle.

Eagle PDX? I forget. This bar used to be at the top of Vaseline Alley. I’m pretty sure it lost its lease, but whatever the cause, it shut down. Eventually, it relocated to North Portland…for no obvious good reason. During that transition, our Portland bar lost its affiliation with Eagle International and that’s why there’s name confusion.

Anyway, it’s a gay bar that caters to the leather community, so it draws its own clientele but also has drop-ins that one would call mainstream. I dunno…maybe there’s an occasional neighbor that walks in thinking, “Ooh, a beer!”, but I’m pretty sure that would be a one time (mis)adventure.

Especially if they wandered in on Naked Pool Night.

I know it’s on a Thursday, or possibly Thursdays. Not sure which, but the first time I found myself there for – no…on – Naked Pool Night, I quickly added “pool” to the list of activities that should not be done nude. It joined frisbee and volleyball, if you were wondering. Sorry, Roger!

And, finally, the weird Things:

How about the largest entry into the annual World Naked Bike Ride. Yup, right here in good old PDX! Our event has grown to over 10k participants. That’s a lot, even if you convert it to the metric system!

But our weirdness isn’t all about homeless folk and naked peeps. (See what I did there?)

We are the only city to host Red Bull’s Flugtag Festival three times. I’m not sure of the first year we hosted, but we also had them in 2015 and lastly in 2017.

Looks like kind of a big deal, right? That second pic is from 2017. Sadly, that will be our last time hosting. The crowd gathered on the river in small watercraft (ie: paddle boards, canoes and improvised floats) proved too frustrating to the captain of our local booze cruiser, The Portland Spirit. Tired of waiting, he proceeded to pilot his ship through the assembled flotilla. But he blew his horn several times before doing so. Apparently, our politeness at intersections does not extend to our waterways…

But what is it, you ask?

Well, it’s a party, don’t get me wrong. But it’s dressed up as a modern day soap box derby. The challenge is to create a self-propelled flying machine and then you’re judged on how far you get, but also flair!

Mostly, it’s an exercise in gravity.

But it’s ok…it’s held on the river, so as long as you can tread water, you’re ok. Probably.

Speaking of alternative transportation, it is a big part of our commuter culture. Sometimes, though, I feel like we are just going out of our way to be weird about alternative transportation. I love the mass transit, personally. I have been a bike commuter. But we just reached an agreement that will allow for a second, longer test of the e-scooter program that plagued most and thrilled a few last summer, too. So we have emerging alternatives. Far be it from us to rest on our laurels.

Then there’s this guy

There was a minute a couple years back where you could encounter those hover boards on our sidewalks…I don’t see them much any more. That leaves more room for skateboards, longboards and that motorized one wheeled version – I think that’s still considered a skateboard. But it is a toss up as to whether our skateboarders opt for the sidewalk or prefer a traffic lane. To me, it’s equally nerve wracking.

I’ll accept that we may have stolen Austin’s “Keep Austin Weird” slogan – see how I phrased that? I’ll accept it but I’m not guaranteeing it’s true…

That said, you’ve got to love how we made it our own.

Some of that success was just attracting specific groups of people that are collectively weird. I think our little slice of the west coast was a safe haven for any and all weirdos between LA and Seattle.

But then we’ve got our unique individuals that propel us further into the weirdness stratosphere than any group of people could.

…because your weirdness needs it’s own Facebook page. I know I’ve got a better pic of Brian Kidd – aka: The Unipiper – but you can’t beat the Keep Portland Weird mural in the background.

And our weird people do things! This is former two-term mayor Bud Clark.

Before becoming mayor, he owned the Goose Hollow Inn, a shitty little dive bar. Actually, he started the bar in 1967 in an area that would later be named after the bar itself. Prior to the bar opening, this neighborhood was just part of the SW quadrant of the city. Eventually, it grew up and became known as the Goose Hollow neighborhood.

But that’s not what he’s most famous for, in my opinion. He’s also this guy!

Plus, just about every time you put a microphone in front of him, his first words were whoop.

Whoop whoop!

That’s our mayor.

Speaking of mayors – and not that being gay is weird, but another of our former mayors is Sam Adams. He’s notable for being the first openly gay mayor in the 30 most populous cities in the country. Sadly, he’s also notable for the alleged sex scandal with an intern that was under 18. This prompted the joke:

Why is Portland a cool city to live in?

Because it’s the only city in the country where an 18 year old can get a Sam Adams.

Ba-dun-dun…tsss!

But we’re Portland, as long as you’re recycling, composting, raising urban chickens and not assuming anyone’s gender…you’re welcome to join us. After all, the Fonz can’t have all the fun!

The Portland Challenge

Diversity: Redux

Also, Diversity: Dux, because I’m a lame ass, Forgetful Freddy and thought that I posted my thoughts on diversity in Hollywood specifically, but entertainment as a whole two years ago!

This was back in September of 2016, after Rami Malek won his Emmy for Mr Robot. Look at all that’s happened for our endearing Egyptian heritaged actor in the two years that my OP gathered cobwebs in my drafts.

PS: he has a twin…named Sami – c’mon, twins named Rami and Sami? I’m dying. But as a striking teacher in LA, now someone else in the family is making headlines!

But before you begin thinking that my idea of diversity only extends as far as attraction, here’s a few other bullet points from my 2016 draft:

Laverne Cox and Candyce Cane had both become quite visibly cast trans-actors. Cox for several seasons on Orange is the New Black and Cane on Lucifer.

Empire and Atlanta were emerging phenomenons that showcased largely black ensemble casts. And on the other hand, Jane the Virgin was a soapy sitcom featuring a nearly all Hispanic lead cast and Sofia Vergara was pulling off a major role as a second wife in a mixed marriage on Modern Family.

Modern Family also featured a gay married couple that was presented as basic, mainstream America…y’know, like gay marriage was normal.

All this had me thinking that in 2016, basic white people had just become so passé.

2017 saw an extension of that as the #MeToo movement gave voice to sexual predators in Hollywood, but also empowered everyday Americans to start talking about their own sexual abuse in ways and voices on a scale we had never been exposed to before.

It’s almost like – if one looked at it, just so – squinty eyed and head tilted – we could forget that we had a raging dumpster fire of a human sitting in the Oval.

While he raged about immigrants from “shithole countries” sending us “Bad Hombres” and rapists, murderers and drug dealer, America held Hollywood’s middle aged, white power players to task for their past abuses of their power and their peers.

While he engaged in a do nothing drum circle about a vanity wall – squandering his congressional majority by not forcing the issue when democracy was held hostage by a GOP stranglehold – the entertainment industry continued to publicly call him out on his lack of statesmanship and basic, human decency.

Twitter.

Mainstream Media.

Awards Shows.

Saturday-friggin’-Night Live.

The entertainment industry used its pulpit not to bully, as the President continued to do daily, but to reflect his behaviors back onto him and keep his egregious flaws in the light of day. That’s a fine and responsible use of a pulpit, right there.

I should mention that all the while, Hamilton is still either on Broadway or touring to sold out crowds across the country. For Broadway to send such a cultural juggernaut out into the world…that’s really not something that happens too often. Maybe once a decade you encounter that type of reception for a play in America.

Yet, here was Hilary Clinton, getting a standing ovation from the crowd when she entered the theater to see Hamilton. Conversely, the actors stopped to call our reprehensible vile VP Mike Pence out when he saw the show.

Heartening.

While 2018 started off with a bang – with Black Panther knocking the February box office off the charts – the year was certainly not a lock as far as the trajectory of diversity in our country was concerned. While Black Panther was a strong start, the separation of migrant families at our southern border began shortly after. Children taken from their parents and put in cages without even giving the parents a coat check claim on their offspring.

How abysmal.

Black Klansman came to the box office and kinda drowned in its own quirkily presented message. But then, like a beacon, Crazy Rich Asians closed out the summer box office season and laid way for Bohemian Rhapsody to carry us into the holidays.

But even with all of this headline making diversity in our popular culture, the White House was still ramping up for a budget battle for wall funding. The President couldn’t seem to decide if he wanted to replace the Statue of Liberty’s New Colossus passage with a simple “Keep Out” or something equally literary sounding like “Abandon Hope, All Ye Who Enter Here”.

And then we got The 2018 Golden Globes, courtesy of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Rami picks up a much expected win for his lead as Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody. Even more exciting, I suppose, is the upset win for the movie as Best Picture – Drama.

I thought Bohemian Rhapsody was good, don’t get me wrong! Not outstanding, but I enjoyed it. Malek was surprising in his ability to capture how Mercury’s social insecurities and discomfort manifested in behaviors that ranged from awkward to offensive bravado. I found myself checking my initial response – which was “this is bad acting” – several times and remembering, “oh, yeah…he did act pretty strange in interviews”. I’m glad that people got it.

Soooo, I’m also glad he won a Golden Globe for his work! I’m quite surprised, though, that the film picked up a best drama award. Most of the world seems shocked that the Foreign Press overlooked the sexual misconduct allegations by the director. I just thought there were better dramas in the category.

It *is* the HFPA, though. I can see where a film about a mixed heritage Brit that fronted a worldwide phenomenon of a rock band would score points with them. The Oscars might be a different story!

But diversity at this year’s Golden Globes wasn’t just about Rami and Freddie.

Crazy Rich Asians and If Beale Street Could Talk we’re both nominated for multiple awards, the latter bringing home several. Beale Street featured a another nearly exclusive cast of black actors, bookending the year that began with Black Panther’s release ten months earlier with almost exclusively black ensembles.

Sandra Oh was the first Asian American woman to (co)host the show – or any major entertainment awards ceremony in this country. Managing to go from a frequent nominee and audience member with only one major win under her belt for her 15 years on series TV

…to host of the show while also doubling her recognition with her lead actor work on Killing Eve.

The snarky observationalist in me wants to say that white actors were so rare in this ceremony that we only managed to sweep the achievement awards. We even had to make up a new one to pad our numbers!

Jeff Bridges was awarded the Cecil B DeMille award for his lifetime body of work in film. His family certainly has the pedigree to back that up. Father, mother, brother and wife of 45 years were or are all in the industry. Watching him receive his award made me a little nostalgic, though. I miss the days when old, white actors won awards and did one armed push ups on stage to remind us they mattered.

That new award I mentioned? The HFPA decided that their awards – presented to equal categories in Film and TV – lacked an achievement award for television to balance out the Cecil B DeMille award for film. They created the Carol Burnett award to balance those scales. Naming an award like this that will become a legacy that recognizes a seven plus decade career after a woman was another heartening sign from Hollywood that diversity was welcome in their industry, even if the country was still schizophrenic about the subject.

Miraculously, they managed to not fuck that action up by awarding it to a man on its inaugural presentation. It was kind of cute to see Steve Carrel spoof the slam dunk nature of the award – since recipients are told ahead of time – by reading off several male nominees along with Burnett. Even cuter was the camera cutting to her backstage with both hands giving crossed fingers as she waited for the winner to be announced.

Hell, maybe someday we’ll even have a Jamie Lee Curti…never mind.

Let’s just give Hollywood and the entertainment industry a deserved pat on the back for both inclusion and self-policing. The GOP could learn a lot from their example over the last few years.

And Rami – or Sami, or both…I could make an exception to my Puritan ways – if we ever cross paths on the street…I’m running you to a corner store for some beer and then we’re gonna get to work proving that old adage about the difference between a gay man and a straight man…

Now, onward to the Oscars!

Diversity: Redux

The Most Awkward Three-Way Ever

This just in from the Department of Awkward!

Ok, maybe it was a few weeks back…

It was the Second Last Hurrah before my diet began*. I was on my way to a solo movie and Chipotle date to carpet bomb my remaining cravings into submission. The First Last Hurrah had been some Pallet Jacks with the Silver Fox at the Big Legrowlski. They were nice and tasty, but three got the better of my judgment and after watching a couple episodes of Lucifer on Netflix, the devil got the best of me and I went to check out the new location of Portland’s oldest gay strip club.

Did ya follow that?

Silverado got booted off of Vaseline Alley – aka: Stark Street – quite a few years ago and made an inexplicable move from NW Portland to SW Portland. We’re talking a move of about 10 blocks, but suddenly their only gay bar neighbor was Casey’s, one of three tied for the worst gay bar in Portland**.

It seemed like a bad move.

But, they made a go of it. Even after their adjacent lousy gay bar neighbor went tits up. That persistent success is saying something, considering I usually wanted to wear a HazMat suit when I went there, yet here were these brave (read: desperate) young, gay men stripping.

Then, last year, they lost their lease. I can’t imagine – based on the above description of Cootieville – that the landlord thought they’d be able to get more for the property. But, that’s Portland real estate.

I figured I owed the new digs – three blocks from my place – a peek. Ironically, 20-ish years ago, this building was the first incarnation of Casey’s. I’ll let you all hashtag that ironic occurrence on your own.

So, the new space had a pedigree…I’m just not saying it was a good one.

The First Last Hurrah

Like I said, boredom and a few beers got the better of my judgment, so I took a lil stroll to check out the new place. It was clean. For another refreshing change of pace, it has bathrooms a respectable woman would at least hover in. They might even sit…

I didn’t recognize the bartender and wondered if some/all of the staff had been left behind in the old place. After ordering a beer, I took in the other half-dozen late night patrons, all gathered around the bar.

I took my beer and surveyed the rest of the ground floor. Big kitchen – that’s an upgrade. Some weird private tables tucked into structural grottos. They aren’t private as in private dances, as far as I could tell, they were actual 4-tops.

Besides, the only other thing upstairs was a karaoke set up. I flashed a quick look at those bellied up to the bar to make sure none of them had any aspirations. I think if I wanted bad entertainment, I could have stayed home, right?

I decided to check out the lower level, but only because it was 9:30-ish and the shows didn’t start until 10. It was small and had a low ceiling and a tiny stage. Definitely different than the old joint, where there was a huge stage that usually had two guys dancing and climbing around the large structural support pole. It was an atypical pole dancing set up. Guys usually did a mid-dance workout on it.

There’d be no workouts on this little stage.

There was a second bar downstairs, though. Someone knows their audience.

Yawn.

I’d taken a couple of sips of my beer and decided it was not the IPA that I’d asked for – at best it was a mass market lager. I went back upstairs and asked the bartender to redraw it for me. Hoping he just pulled the wrong beer.

My neighbor at the bar decided to get chatty while the underwear clad bartender demonstrated his displeasure at my request with his pace.

My new friend asked where I lived and – I don’t know why – I suggestively whispered that I lived right around the corner. Then I asked where he lived as the bartender placed my new beer in front of me.

Oh, I live out in southeast. I was just over here for dinner with friends.

“Don’t drink to much!”, I offered cheerfully before grabbing my drink and spinning away from the bar.

I half-suspected that the bartender had served me a spitter, he looked pretty smug when he put it in front of me. I tipped him anyway, but I wasn’t about to sip it in front if him.

I ended up at the lottery machines by the door, having likely alienated the “crowd” and the staff. I didn’t have a ton of cash on me or in reality, but I figured I could lose $20 while I drank my beer with my back to the bar.

I won $50.

Fine.

I’ll play this down to $50 and call it a night.

At $52 and change, I won a little under $100. I was slightly annoyed because my beer still tasted like shit.

Fine. I’ll play it down to $100, then.

Overall, I like problems like this…and then the lottery went down. Machine by machine…they were just powering down, heading right toward me.

I scrabbled to quit my game and cash out. Unfortunately, the blackout hit my machine before I could…fortunately, it auto-printed a cash out ticket.

I went to the bar and sat down with my beer.

How is it?

I was surprised the bartender cared, but he’d been nearby dropping off a cocktail for a new arrival a couple barstools away. I just wrinkled my nose and shook my head.

Well, what do you want me to do about it?!?

I was surprised by the escalation in his voice. I waved my cash out ticket at him and asked if his side of the lottery was working. He said no, so I pushed my beer across the bar, said, “Tell someone, that’s what I want you to do about it because I think your lines are crossed”, and left.

Sheesh. If he’s gonna be a snowflake…

The Second Last Hurrah

Of course this would happen to me. I’m all greased up and ready to start a diet the following day and the universe conspires to make me go back to a bar to pick up a lottery win. I debated waiting, but it was over $100 and, frankly, it would come in handy.

Because this is an old school Portland dive, they open early. I think it’s 9 AM, if you can believe that! 11 AM, at the latest. I booted around the house until noon, knowing that if I went, I’d probably have a beer…assuming they had bottles, that is.

But I really didn’t want a beer.

I kind of started obsessing about drinking a beer.

But I really didn’t want a beer!

I think it was a distraction technique, but I figured if I was on my way somewhere when I stopped in for my money, I couldn’t hang around.

Since I was picking up cash, I decided to be on my way to a movie. Great. Now I had a plan. The movie was at 4:15, so I’d leave at 3:45, cash in my ticket and be at the theater by 4:05.

What could possibly go wrong?!?

Well, plenty…this is my life, here.

I started thinking about popcorn. The voice in my head was whispering that I had extra money, go mad!

No, my last meal should be something halfway good. If I was going to limp into a diet, movie theater popcorn wasn’t going to be the last thing I ate.

I’m not even sure where the voice in my head came up with that idea.

I was writing, so I didn’t want to tank my momentum by going out for lunch. I decided to make a post movie stop at Chipotle on my way home.

That’s a fair compromise.

I’m starving when I get to Silverado. I walk in and am greeted with an overly chipper

Well, hello there, Handsome!

Great. It’s the bartender that always hits on me.

Every.

Damn.

Time.

I’d first met him at another bar, when we were both on the drinking side. He was with friends and he’d left them to come sit by me. Well, on me, actually. On a barstool.

How we didn’t end up on the floor, I dunno.

He ends up giving me his number and going back to his friends. Over the next few days, we text, but can’t schedule a meet up.

He’s the busy one. When I point that out and thank him for the attention, he throws

It’ll be easier next week, there’s just so much to do before the wedding.

Knowing nothing of a wedding, I ask who’s getting married.

Me, silly! Didn’t I tell you?

“Must’ve slipped your mind. But I’m glad it came out, I’m not what’s missing in your relationship.”

Now, you’d think that would send a pretty clear message. For whatever reason, I don’t see him for over a year after this. The next time I walk into his bar, though, he scampers out from behind the bar and gives me a big hug.

He’s wearing a jock strap.

For the love of…I’m only a man!

You never call! Where have you been?!? We need to get together!

I have a couple beers and then leave, thinking nothing of it, really. Bartenders hitting on me has lost its luster.

You left without saying goodbye!

I usually pay cash in bars. I didn’t reintroduce myself and only remembered his name when another patron used it to get his attention.

He remembered my name from two years ago and hadn’t purged me from his contacts list?!?

Alright, I can indulge this attention. When he asked why we never got together originally, I reminded him that he’d gotten married and said…something vague about being sorry it didn’t work out.

Oh, we’re still married! We’re just open. It’s no big deal.

How do you remember my name but not that I’m not willing to be someone’s side piece? I remind him.

You’re gonna pass this up just because I’m married?

He asked playfully, but as I was replying I get this…nope, never mind, it’s too graphic a pic to post.

I replied that I was, indeed, able to resist and bid him farewell.

But, phew. The only thing this kid has going against him is that he’s married.

The mere memory deserves another phew!

Nowadays when I see him, he greets me and calls me Handsome, but doesn’t overtly hit on me any more.

Anyway, he’s getting my cash for me and I’m waiting at the bar when someone beside me says

Well, look what the cat dragged in!

Sitting right next to me is The Stripper. I think I only missed the fact that it was him because he was sitting like a customer at the bar, wearing clothes and everything!

I swore that I wrote about him in one of my Dating Into Oblivion posts, but can’t find it now.

Here’s the shorthand:

I may be over bartender’s hitting on me at this point in my life. Believe it or not, though, I still fell for the same trick last year when a stripper grabbed my phone and texted himself, then saved the number.

That’s my real name. Gotta go dance, but you better call me!

He’d been chatting with me for about an hour, refusing both my offer of a drink and deflecting the attention of other guys. He had introduced himself as Jett and was surprisingly articulate. This, partnered with not accepting my offer to buy him an overpriced stripper’s drink – which is usually just something like cranberry juice and soda for $8 – made me think maybe.

Maybe he actually liked me.

Maybe he wasn’t just trying to lure me down for $20 lap dances on his slow nights…

He was, I guess. He never committed to my offers to get together. To his credit, he never asked me to come see him, either. Nonetheless, after a couple of weeks, I stopped replying.

I slow blinked and muttered something under my breath and then turned to say hi.

I could feel my cheeks flushing red.

Are you sticking around? I’ve got a double today, starting in about 15 minutes!

“Nope. Just stopped in on my way to a movie to cash that in”, I say, nodding at The Bartender.

You should let me show you around before you go!

He’s super friendly, which I want to think is just him being nice. The Bartender comes back and starts counting my winnings to me and I can feel pressure building up behind my eyes.

“I was down there last night. Small.”

Yeah, I bet you can touch the ceiling! It’s small, but I like it.

And I swear to god, with those last words, he looked right at my crotch.

I feel like I’m thirty seconds from completely unspooling between these two sexy, frustrating men. I make my goodbyes, barely even able to imagine touching the ceiling downstairs while Jett touches the floor.

Pushing my way into the waning daylight, I hit the bricks thinking, “Fuck it, I’m getting popcorn!”

Seriously, only I could get stuck between two feuding flirts and come away feeling like I’d done something wrong.

But movie theater popcorn and Chipotle made me feel much better about it.

* It didn’t

** All polling data is based on my own experiences and extremely subjective. That doesn’t make it inaccurate…

The Most Awkward Three-Way Ever

I Think It’s Contagious

I chatted with someone yesterday that started the conversation by blurting out

I’m blocked

Now, I couldn’t tell if it was a question or an exclamation. Since he was looking at his phone, I assumed it was some social or a social media occurrence.

Of course, I spoke to him.

During the course of our conversation, I learned that he’d been referring to writer’s block, he was visiting town with his wife through Friday and that he thought that Trump’s vanity wall was an absolute necessity.

He spoke nearly the entire time we were together. Literally the only time I spoke was when I inquired about who had blocked him and when I left him.

I need to get away from you before my IQ bottoms out.

This is, by the way, why I like to pay cash. The last thing I want to do is stop my dramatic exit to settle up on my way out.

But ever since I woke up today, I’ve felt a little off.

I had an interview that went…okay. I wasn’t as articulate as I know I could be, but I couldn’t tell if it was because I felt that the woman didn’t like me or if she was behaving aloofly because my answers were lacking a certain luster.

So I took a nap.

Then I went to an exercise class.

Then I sat quietly in the couch, thinking. No TV, no music.

Then I thought I should write.

Maybe I should watch a movie

I couldn’t find my remote. I looked under the cushions, on the kitchen counter…in the bathroom – I dunno, just being thorough.

I looked under Myrtle, which she was most displeased about. Then again, she did this the other day.

…so, she couldn’t really blame me.

Fortunately, the last time she did that, a friend mentioned that there was an AppleTV app. All was not lost.

So now I’m sitting here, watching Lost In Translation and ignoring the reality that I’m blocked up. This is not the movie to snap me out of that funk, but it reminds me that I’m not alone in this funk.

Maybe tomorrow will be different. For today, this is what I got.

…and I can’t stop thinking about where that Trump supporter’s wife was…who goes on vacation with someone and then goes somewhere without them?

I Think It’s Contagious

Myrt and I Need Couples Therapy

Still!

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

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

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

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

Wet dinner, coming right up, Missus!

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

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

Hur-uh-hurg-uh-rawlp!

Now, two things to keep in mind here:

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

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

I get up and look for the chunky puddle.

Nowhere.

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

No.

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

Maybe it was a false alarm.

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

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

Myrtle…!

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

Speaking of the Missus and her box of poo.

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

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

Nope.

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

My cat ain’t bright, folks.

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

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

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

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

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

Until this year.

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

These fucking things again

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

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

Promising.

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

I like this new cat!

Myrtle 2.0!

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

That’s more like it.

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

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

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

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

And the Murderous Myrtle.

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

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

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

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

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

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

300: Snack

530: Pretend it’s dinner time.

600: Dinner. Finally!

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

700: Pre-bedtime nap.

830: Fully dilate pupils and attack.

845: Retreat, but be creepy about it.

1100: Bedtime!

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

Meow

“Don’t you even think about it.”

Meooow

“Shoo, Crazy Eyes!”

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

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

…or nap, hers is to kill or maim me.

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

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

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

Myrt and I Need Couples Therapy