Birthday: Food

My birthday was a week ago.

There may be (there is) a cake and fork situation in my refrigerator.  Only just barely, now, though…

But that cake is just the icing on a fantastic birthday celebration.

This is my big landmark birthday and it fell on a weekend.  The perfect recipe for breaking those diet resolutions I never bothered to make.

So.

Much.

Food.

Plus a secret gold star that I survived…but might be too big a shock for people who know me to survive.

The food started on Saturday with a solid four dozen peanut butter cookies that a couple of my co-workers made.  They were taking up too much desk space so I pared them down by a good half dozen in the first half hour.  

A full third were gone by day’s end.

At which point, I had to run out to get ready for my surprise party.

God bless The Silver Fox, but when Little Buddy called dibs for Saturday night, I knew something was brewing.  For his part, he kept the bond of trust, never admitting there was a jig, up with which to be.

And I threw out some doozy theories in the week leading up to the big day.  Seriously, I had the whole thing being filmed by any surviving Zapruder.

Little Buddy had told me she was inviting The Fox, who then made his apologies in advance for missing the get together because he had tickets to a play with Sallory.

“Like you won’t be changing those plans!”, I taunted.

I went on through the week with scenarios like, “The big surprise will be when I show up and announce that I’m only 40”.  

The Fox invited me to join he and Sallory at the hotel bar next door – he and I are…regulars – and kept changing the time.  I teased him with accusatory questions like, “How long does Little Buddy need to sneak in and decorate my place?!?”

It’s not that big and there’s nowhere really to hide.  But if that was the plan…I’m fortunate to have folks who would be bothered to go out of their way  for me.

He insisted that wasn’t the case, but when he had casually suggested the day before that we stop and get his Key Buddy key made for my new place…well, c’mon.  You don’t have to be an Olympic caliber conclusion jumper to arrive at the too easily drawn…conclusion.

All my scenarios be damned, though.

I show up at Tanner Creek Tavern and it’s just The Fox and Sallory.

We have a beer, they ordered food because somehow they hadn’t changed their tickets. There is only one opening night!  Even at The Armory.

I’ve been wrong a lot in my life, so I rallied pretty easily.  Plus, Sallory had brought me a present!

Presents: that which I secretly love but publicly play it cool.

This was still a nice upgrade from last year, though, when The Fox had bothered to be out of the country for my birthday.  I just love busting his chops.  He could light me on fire and he’d still be the best friend I’ve ever known.

This year, Rib and his new boyfriend had taken a page out of The Fox’s birthday playbook and gone to watch the Australian Open live, which inconveniently occurs around my birthday.

So, there we are, us three.  Beer and wine raised to toast the eve.  I’m happy to have them for even a little while.

And while I’m enjoying a simple moment with dear friends, I find myself following four eyes across the bar, focused on black balloons parading from the door and headed in our general direction,

Ok, that one I did not see coming.

Little Buddy.

2.0.

Breitbarb.

The good and getting better friend…he really will need a blog name at some point.

All parading toward our table.

Well, that can’t be a coincidence.

Wires having been crossed, I was expelled from the bar and left to cool my heels in the hotel lobby so our table could be staged with all the required fiftieth birthday party accoutrements.

You know, I’m lucky to have people I love in my life who also tolerate me.  Less surprising to me, but perhaps me alone, is that there’s a bar in my life that doesn’t mind setting aside a table for my friends to mark my pickled ass’ birthday.

On a damned Saturday.

In downtown Portland.

On the Onesie Pub Crawl weekend.

Whatever.  I was here first.

When I returned from my lobby exile, the Filipina Fox and her husband had joined the birthday melee.  So had a new instant friend that I’d met at LB’s and 2.0’s wedding last summer (more on that in a later blog, promise) and her younger, better looking and more Asian blooded version of my doppelgänger boyfriend.  Little Buddy had rallied quite a bar busting group for this lil surprise shindig.  

I was pleased.

So, Little Buddy had made this cake.

It was glorious, but also a shituation, as I learned.

She had been aiming to do a cake-homage to both my Star Trek fandom and my Red Shirt Diaries blog theme.  The red fondant hadn’t cooperated and she’d scratched it and taken it back to the drawing board for a slam dunk of subtlety that bumped the overt Enterprise shaped 30th birthday cake to second place in the Best Ever Cake category,

Sorry, not sorry, Sacha.

It was a Tribble Cake.

I mean, I ate a bunch of those tribbles and a healthy slice of cake.

And a second beer, duh.

Happy as I was, I learned that this party was portable.  There was a table waiting for us at Nostrana.

It’s a tres she-she Italian restaurant that I’d never been to.  I’ve eaten several times at the Pearl District sibling restaurant, but that’s just a front for $50 pizza.  Nostrana is a mother lode restaurant.

We ate the pants off that place.

Remember, I was full from beer and cake.  

Let that stop me, I did not.

2.0 started us off with a charcuterie plate that featured typical sliced cheeses and cured meats as well as a few terrine options and fucking lengua.

Yeah, that’s beef tongue.

It.

Is.

So.

Good.

Little Buddy corralled the Som for some wine.

We were also downing bread like Dr Atkins was heading our way in slo-mo with a scale.

Then.

Then…the pasta main course.

The plan had been to take my Michael Douglas ass out to a bar after dinner but the trifecta of the Onesie Bar Crawl, 2.0 comfort considerations (in a gay bar) and my grumpy old man refusal to pay cover to be ignored in a bar landed us back at my place drinking The Fox’s wine.

It was perfect.

But the weekend wasn’t yet done with my belly.

Sunday morning was brunch with The Fox. No doubt penance for not canceling his opening night plans the night before.

No.

Check that…obviously he shouldn’t have made those plans in the first place.

Obviously!

I mean… he knows how extra I pretend to not be.  It’s like we had never even met.

But a one on one brunch with my NSLP – Non Sexual Life Partner – was beautiful.  What a delightful way to usher in day one of my 50th.

It’s surreal to type that.

Post brunch plans included a pre-family dinner nap…and I kind of needed it.  One big meal left in my weekend and I was already ready for my food coma.

We were eight for dinner.  I definitely didn’t get too hungry for dinner with eight.  But I nearly ate my weight with those eight.  If only our table had been at 8:00, that could have been a seizure inducing alliteration.

Alas, my family all traveled the 20-30 miles into town to join me at the newest Pok Pok. This is a Portland “It” restaurant from years past.  I’d never been, so they had opened a new place “ten” blocks from my place to tempt me.  I’ve been meaning to get there for months since they opened.

This was the perfect excuse.

I think we split nine entrees between the eight of us.  They recommend an entree for two people to share, so we were a little over that ratio given our census.  But best safe versus sorry, right?  Plus, I think I forgot a few in my tally.

Here’s my gold star moment:

My whole life, I’ve been a picky eater.  My list of “No’s” for food looks – and probably is – longer than any single person’s list of disqualifies for potential mates.

And yet, I don’t starve.

Because in my years I have learned to think of others, I made sure that our order included the mushroom salad for my mother, who may have single-handedly in life made mushroom farming a viable vocation.  

Seriously.  She loses it for mushrooms.

One of my favorite mom/son bonding stories is of our family table growing up.  At our pre-Chuck family dinner table on La Cour, I had a side of our six top table to myself.  My sporty siblings sat across from me and I sat next to my mother on my side of the table, obvious gay son dinner table placement, right?

Me being the petsnickety culinarian and my mother making her food budget pennies scream to feed her Galby Five, there were a lot of what I would call lesser filler ingredients.

Onions.

The Peppers Bell.

Mushrooms.

My awesome mom would sit next to me and eat these Xtopher-only deemed lesser ingredients off my plate.  Right out of their individual and separate piles I’d created for each at the perimeter of my plate.

Talk about a Niles Crane worthy OCD moment.

Talk about symbiosis!

Obviously, I stipulated that this Xtopher anathema of a mushroom salad be placed at the end of the table nearest Mom-Donna, furthest from me.  You know that bitch mushroom salad ended up getting passed to everyone and ended up at my corner.

It was my personal hell.

Me, being both a newly minted legitimately grumpy old man and a dick, I quietly engaged in the dinner table conversation with my family while quietly – and for attention only – eating off the mushroom salad plate.

No,

One.

Noticed.

Goddamnit.

I even casually and without irony said things like, “I think there are mushrooms in this” and yet…nothing.

I’d only had a glass of wine and a complimentary glass of champers at Thelonious Wines before dinner and a cocktail with, so I wasn’t even buzzed when I made the decision to choke down some mushroom salad, defiantly.

And no one noticed.

So I went home and ate some of Little Buddy’s bday cake…planting a fork in it for future and what turned out to be frequent use!

I’m still full a week later.

And that’s my birthday.

Of course, with so many people I hold dear in my life turning out to celebrate, my grinchy old heart might just be so full that it’s pushing down on my stomach, making me feel that I’ve over eaten.  

Toss up, eh?

For your amusement, the song Pandora barfed out as I’m wrapping this up was Knocking On Heaven’s Door by Bob Dylan…you can’t make this shit up.  It’s my life!

Birthday: Food

Nicole’s Revenge

I’ll admit that the title of this post falls squarely – probably deeply – into the “too soon” category.  Alas…when has that ever stopped me?


I am invited for breakfast and Cuban Coffee and catch up time with the Silver Fox after his return from Cuba earlier in the week.

Anyway, the price is simply that I bring OJ.  Not a terrible deal, since an egg breakfast in this town will run you $15, easy.  Still not a bad deal, even knowing that the Fox prefers the OJ from our neighborhood Brodega, which runs $6.99 for 24 oz.

Brodega:  Chrisism for she-she over-priced neighborhood markets that cater to a crowd with more wealth than desire to mix with the riff -aff at the nearby Safeway.

So, I wander out at 8:00 with my mission.  And $22 in my Levis.

That last part is important because:

Math + Peppy Blondes + Early Morning = Grumpy Old Man

It’s simply an unavoidable universal truth.  Quite beyond my control.

I go to the checkout to pay for my juice and the cashier comes skipping over.  Pretty, young, blonde…your basic nightmare.  Speaking of “too soon”, it’s too early for this level of enthusiasm.

Really, it’s the excessive display of energy at this early weekend hour that bugs me.  Not the display of excessive energy.  See the difference?

This is when I encounter the $22 in my pants.

I give her the $20 and am met with, “Oh!  I’m out of $1s!”  Great delivery…I really thought the world was ending.

Now, being someone who is was raised to show his work when it comes to math, I’m not terribly surprised to see the shadow of confusion flicker across her face as I offer her my two $1 bills, hoping against hope that she will give me $5.01 in change instead of making me wait for her to replenish her supply.

There’s breakfast on the line, woman!  She should know how seriously we Portlanders take our breakfast…ok, any meal in this town before 2:00 on a weekend is collectively referred to as brunch, even if it doesn’t involve alcohol.  We’re renegades.

“It’s ok, I got it” she proudly declares.  Obviously convinced she had saved the world; she drops two $1 bills, four quarters and a penny on the counter.  I scoop my change up like panties (not hers, just a colloquial set of underwear…) off a stranger’s floor on an early weekend morning while working on my glaring side eye.  I really hate pocket change.  I consider any day that ends with me dropping more than $1 in loose coin into my change can to be a low-grade failure.


This turn of events was simply demoralizing.

As I’m leaving the store, pocket jingling, the Fox texts that there’s no hurry since his houseguest is still sleeping.

Fuuuuuck.

I could have waited for her break before making my purchase.  Speaking of which, where was my hot, hipster cashier, anyway?

So, I come home, refrigerate that OJ and begin my bitch-blog.  This is quite a therapeutic process.  I get about two paragraphs in before the Fox texts me that I can come anytime, breakfast is ready to be plated.  It’s been maybe five minutes since his previous text.  I give my phone a deadpan glare for delivering this traitorous message as my creative juices started boiling, chug my monster, save the post and head out.

Forgetting the OJ in my fridge.

And for all of you who know me well – or know that there’s no such thing a free breakfast in Portland – yeah…when I got the invite given the circumstances listed above, I made this face:

But the Fox being so uniquely the Fox and just an awesome human, I wasn’t exposed to three thousand vacation pictures with my eggs and coffee.  No, I walked in with my recently retrieved $6.99 OJ and was greeted with a great breakfast scramble, delicious coffee and a counter full of Cuba-swag that my best friend had brought home for me.

But there was no cheese in the eggs, so I think we know who paid the real price here.

Nicole’s Revenge

Machete

I’m pretty sure the friend that floated the notion of wiling away a Monday watching Star Wars at Portland Center Stage prior to the release of Episode VII quit her job the week before just to be available for the endeavor.  

Allow me to introduce my Little Buddy.

That’s just a wild guess on my part, though.

Two things that I do know for sure, however:

A) I had previously committed to myself not to see the newest release until after the hubbub died down.  One of the perks of persistent unemployment is movie matinees.  With no crowds to irritate our curmudgeonly hero.

And;

B) I didn’t previously fully understand Machete Order aside from the random off-the-cuff cultural reference.

So, let’s tackle that second point first, just to make the info available to any of my friends and/or readers who may be easily pigeon-holed into the cultural Dark Side.  Machete Order is supposedly the optimal viewing order for the first two trilogies.  The overwhelming bonus would be that it eliminates ep1, effectively reducing the loathsome Jar Jar Binks to about 5 minutes of screen time and about 6 lines of dialogue.

Need more?

The viewing order starts with epIV and V, introducing the core characters and establishing the major plot points.

Then we jump back to epII and III, skipping epI altogether and treating the other two entries in the second trilogy as kind of a mythology-origin story flashback to give you background on the whole Vader/Luke/Leia evolution.

Finish up with the almost universal favorite – well, universal in the context of planet Earth, anyway – epVI and I was up to speed and refreshed on the story lines.

Watching at PCS was delightful because they were spaced out well enough that I had about 45 minutes between shows so I could stretch my legs.  That, of course being a euphemism for “get a beer” between shows.  First film was at 9am and thanks to my wonderfully enabling LB, I was having a beer between shows at 11:15 in the morning.

Little Buddy had qualified the invite with the disclaimer that she might skip the reviled-albeit-reduced prequels and maybe – maybe – return for the finale.

She did.

Then she didn’t.

But, look at me powering through alone until the bitter end.  Also, quite literally having nothing else to do but fritter away my Monday with people who probably haven’t had sex this century.

If ever.

Ok, that was an old school pejorative stereotype.  Portland geeks are hawt.  So I got to watch movies in a room full of the elusive hot nerd types.

So, that’s Machete.  I’m a fan.  I don’t have children or cable, so I feel I could realistically live out my remaining days never coming into contact with ep1 again.

Now, onto the grumpy, old man factor…

Blockbuster movie releases – much like brunch in Portland – is a young person’s game.  That said, after my machete romance, I was primed to reconsider my crowd avoidance social tactics and wade into the crowds for early release viewing.

Naturally, my inner turmoil prompted me to do nothing.

But, I did think about going to a midnight show Thursday night/Friday morning.  My justification being that downtown Portland is certainly not going to draw the crowds found in the sub-urban wastelands bordering it.  Still, I chose to employ the “wait and see” method.  So, today I decided to jump onto my Regal app and see what the what actually was.

Turns out, shows started at 7 pm on Thursday.  So much for Friday releases.  I looked at shows for today – yesterday now – and found that the shows were all sold out until Saturday.

Fuuuuuuck!

Oh well.  It’s a sign.

A sign that I should check the 3D showings, which I normally eschew.  I think too many movies are unnecessarily made in a 3D format, but this is a reasonable exception.

Portland:  where young people come to retire…

None of those cunts (used strictly in the UK slang meaning) were gonna drop an extra $3 for a 3D ticket, it seems.  I had no difficulty procuring a seat for a 9 pm showing on the 3D screen for The Force Awakens.

So I fucking went.

A few takeaways from tonight’s experience:

BTW:  SPIOLER BELOW!!!

Seriously.  Don’t bitch at me if your idle curiosity gets the best of you and my humble blog *ruins* the show for you…

A) Hot gay nerds!  I actually struck up a conversation in line with the HGN standing behind me.  He was super nice and fun to talk to.  Also, the aforementioned HOT.  So, we sat together.  Right by another single HGN.  This poor guy…so much more G and N in his mind than H, which he totally was, that he didn’t think to even silence his phone…which promptly went off during the movie.  Twice.  Probably another of his nerd friends wanting to talk TFA reviews from lands eastward.  Poor bastard.

B) Someone BIG dies.  Oh shut up.  It’s not like I told you anything surprising…it’s prudent Hollywood story craft.  To be clear, when I say someone BIG, I’m not talking Jabba size.  I’m talking a key player.

Besides, they can always bring him back. Yeah….

C) I’m a nerd.  A gay nerd.  Well past my reasonable expectation of a “hot” designation’s expiration date, but I’m appreciating the guy candy that comes with the evolution of the HGN designation.

D) I need a fucking job.  I have way too much time on my hands.  When going to the movies for an entire day is a better use of my time than anything else…it’s time to go back to work.

I literally have some sort of trigger pulling paralysis.

I plan things.

I create routines.

Then, I procrastinate.

And I can!

I literally have all day to look for jobs.

Or go to the gym.

Or write.

So, why not ramp up to my one task for any given day with a nice slow start?  A pot of coffee with the Silver Fox or a few hours of Netflix?

What could possibly go wrong?

Well, maybe it’s another blog post, but what usually goes wrong is one of my awesome friends wanting to treat me to a happy hour or grab some grub after they get off work.

It’s not a terrible life, don’t get me wrong…

Is this a good time to mention that this is my first blog post created entirely on my iPhone?  I left the movies and felt restlessly compelled to honor a commitment to a high school friend and get a blog out.  So I stopped for a beer at one of my favorite, cheap watering holes.

This one’s for you, KPG!

Machete