Here Comes The Grumpopotamus!

This might entertain you.

It might not.

Really, it’s a lil good old therapeutic bitching for mine truly.

I went to bed content last night. Then I woke up…happy. Tired, still, but feeling happy. Before my feet hit the floor, I could feel that happy buzz ebbing. I know the Grumpopotamus is coming and I want to complain about what sent me to bed happy last night before it gets stampeded by it.

You see, I got to spend some social time with good folks last night. That right there is enough to make me content.

I found out around Little Buddy’s birthday that she’d never been to see the world famous drag show at Darcelle’s. Over the course of the next several months, we were able to coordinate a date to rectify that. Her husband, 2.0, is an unusually game fella and agreed to come along and the Silver Fox surprised me by accepting my invite.

I love that I have such an interesting group of friends! I can invite my best friend, a late in life gay, and one of my closest straight friends to a drag show and I expect my gay friend to decline but am not surprised that my straight friend is up for it.

My world is topsy turvy most of the time, but it’s a world with really. good. company.

Anyway, we go to the show because if you live in Portland…you go. Little Buddy having never been was a situation that needed to be corrected. I probably average a visit annually through no real effort and am familiar with the routine and several of the performers, but there is a drag sub-culture here that brings in a pretty steady crowd for their Wednesday-Sunday show schedule.

That’s nice, seeing a three-quarter full venue on a Wednesday night made me feel good for some reason. Sure, that reason might have only been relief that it wasn’t just my foursome and two bridal parties in the crowd.

The rest of the house was made up of relatively normal people, including a world famous (in Hood River, OR) stylist who was celebrating her 40th birthday.

Y’know, I just realized that I misspoke. The rest of the crowd wasn’t normal. There were four people celebrating birthdays in the audience last night, including two women who thought someone putting a microphone in their hand was an invitation to take over.

The aforementioned 40 year old – who world famously styled her double plus figure into some stretchy jeans and an open back top that looked like it was just a repurposed animal print bathroom curtain – was making the bridal parties look normal, and one of the brides was wearing a veil with dick horns on it. Her combination afforded me the opportunity to learn that she was wearing lacy underwear. I saw enough fabric over her waistband to make myself a pair of lacy underwear and enough skin to make Buffalo Bill break out his sewing machine, so that was nice and ughy. World Famous Stylist…

The second woman preventing us from being a normal audience was celebrating her 23rd. She was a “nurse” from a town whose population is just a couple unplanned high school pregnancies away from officially being “podunk” called Banks. Before she spoke, The Fox and I had referred to her as The Kardashian after seeing her tip the performers because…well, just close your eyes and think “Kardashian”. Whatever image pops into your head is exactly what she looked like. She had trouble answering the few questions Darcelle asks the birthday celebrants: how old are you, where are you from, what do you do…these are all questions that just function as set ups for Darcelle’s schtick. However, when the answer to “What do you do?” was “Uuuuhhh, I’m a – uuhh…nurse!” I think even Darcelle was momentarily surprised.

Or worried that she would one day soon be her nurse. Maybe she was scared.

You see, Darcelle is 87. As she pointed out, 88 in 100 days and she might need a nurse sooner rather than later.

I hope it’s not this nurse. We all agreed that she was likely the type of nurse that catered to rich old men with heart conditions…

Darcelle is the world’s oldest performing drag queen. She’s been doing her show at her own venue since 1967 and won an Emmy recently for a documentary about her story.

Holding a microphone is not an invitation to upstage her.

And this is why I went to bed happy last night. I got to watch this entertainer do what she’s been doing for half a century in the company of some very good friends. Any experience you can share with good friends is worth the price of admission. Watching Darcelle tolerate the antics of a Kardashian Nurse that weighed less than the wig and sequined full length dress she was wearing despite the fact that Darcelle’s age makes navigating her own showroom a physically challenging task was inspiring to me as a casually grumpy old man that barely tolerated the workplace shenanigans at my last job.

I felt pretty sure that old Walter Cole perfectly understood his place in the hierarchy of that room last night. I could sense it in his posture. The 23 year old didn’t realize that too soon she’d be some incarnation of that 40 year old world famous stylist who didn’t realize that she could call herself whatever she wanted while she was holding that microphone – go ahead, it’s your birthday – but that she’d failed to understand that she was standing in front of a soon to be 88 year old man, dressed in a gown that by itself probably weighed 40 lbs, wearing a two foot tall wig and enough makeup to paint the inside of the room we were all sharing who had been doing it for a decade longer than this 40 year old had been on this earth and she would never be him.

On top of that history in front of us, we also got to see some fun, campy lip syncing performances.

The entertainers ebb and flow throughout the week, depending on their day jobs and other gigs. The DQ I’ve known the longest – Bolivia Carmichaels – is the resident hostess at CC Slaughters right next door and leaves Darcelle’s after the 8:00 show to do a 10:00 show there. That’s a lot of work behind a microphone. Servers typically work 4-6 hour shifts…because taking care of people is hard. Bolivia taking care of people by serving up entertainment for 4 hours, in drag, largely unscripted?

That’s hard work.

I couldn’t do it. I wouldn’t even know how to start. But I know that sassing a Drag Queen isn’t going to make me famous for anything other than being obnoxious. Darcelle gives a talk toward the end of the show about how every performer she hires learns their schtick by laughing at themselves first and the audience second. It’s a good lesson. People who are self-anointed as world famous or whose biggest accomplishment to date was finding a dress that was short enough have not yet mastered this lesson.

I’d bet they missed it last night, too.

But Darcelle still came out and did my favorite number, Rhinestone Cowboy. Even if it was an abbreviated version because she’s almost 88!

We got to see the present company do a Crying Game worthy version of Hey Big Spender from…Sweet Charity? That absolutely brought the house down.

I missed seeing the company do it’s Cellblock Tango. But it needs more than three queens to make it work.

However, in the end? Penis headdresses and world famous pretenders couldn’t rub the luster off a great experience with great people.

Now, if you’ll excuse me…I’ve got a spin class to get to. I’m hoping some endorphins will help keep the Grumpopotamus at bay!

Here Comes The Grumpopotamus!

Motivation Monday

There’s a reason I include “What Could Possibly Go Wrong?” in just about any conversation that I can.

It’s hilarious. Even if only in a What About Bob way.

However, there’s a very real answer to the question, too. As I found out today, shortly after leaving the house all amped up to check a few errands off my to-do list…my goals:

Get my recycling dropped off and go to the bank.

Simple, right? I just wanted to get them done before it got too hot.

What.

Could.

Possibly.

Go.

Wrong?

I’d slept amazingly well after popping a melatonin – courtesy of the Silver Fox – around midnight last night. I slept straight through the night and woke up at 9:00!

Seriously.

I’ll take those results.

The Safeway where I drop my recycling and the credit union I bank at are equidistant from my house. In completely opposite directions, of course. I’ve been procrastinating these tasks for close to a week each, so after a great night of sleep, this really seemed like the day to tackle them right off.

I was even leveraging my coffee against completion of the task.

I could go to OnPoint first thing and then stop by f&b – my usual coffee haunt – on the way back. More than likely, I would run into someone outside f&b on my way to the bank and get sucked in, derailing everything.

With that in mind, I was leaning toward recycling first. Originally, I planned to take my recycling with me before my lunch time spin class and drop it off beforehand, since the Safeway is right next door to RevoCycle.

There’s no lunch time class today.

See? This is one of those many possible answers to my question-slash-mantra.

Deciding against putting off my recycling until tomorrow, I bribe myself with coffee fresh from my favorite roaster – Nossa Familia. It’s what they serve at f&b, but they just brew better drinks at Nossa. It’s across from the Safeway in the opposite direction from my spin gym, so very adjacent to my errand running.

I slap my ID label on my green BottleDrop bag and head out.

I have an ongoing struggle with recycling through BottleDrop.

It’s easy, since I don’t have to jockey for position in line with Portland’s homeless to use a reverse vending machine to redeem my bottle and can deposits. I just label my bag, hoof it across the Pearl, scan my card, drop my bag and wait 3-5 days for them to process my redemption refund.

It’s about $.01 per can or bottle, but it’s not too high a premium to not have to do it myself.

I think I made myself dizzy with that last sentence.

Here’s the wrinkle: they lose track of bags all. the. time.

Seriously.

I think they’ve correctly counted and credited three of my bags this year! The rest, I’ve had to wait 7-10 days to make sure they weren’t just behind, email them, wait about 5 more days for a reply and then – like this morning – get an email saying they credited me for my “average bag” value.

I didn’t say it was convenient, right? Here’s what bugs me, if they’ve only credited three of the dozen or so bags I’ve dropped this year…doesn’t that dilute the accuracy of my “average bag”?

I think it does.

I also think one of their processors is stealing bags and selling them to homeless people. I have a jaded, criminal mind.

So, that’s what can possibly go wrong when using BottleDrop.

Also, in a new twist, this can go wrong.

Ok, that I did not see coming.

Also, I just said “not see”…

I pulled a Basic White Girl move and went inside to talk to the manager. Turns out, the drop door is somehow broken. I decided to believe someone tried to break in. He offered to do a manual count for me and immediately followed it up with “I’ve already called someone to do a hand count for another customer”…so, not for me, then.

I decided to accept his co-op offer, knowing the other “customer” he was referring to…the homeless guy I passed on the way in. Then I decided to go across the street to Nossa for my coffee, knowing from prior experience that I had time. If the employee that the manager called to help the other guy showed up while they made my coffee – iced, as always – I’d go back over. Homeless guys, I also know from experience, usually only have about 50 cans at a time to recycle. I learned this during my time working in grocery.

I was telling this to my barista, who then wondered aloud what my plan was if the associate the manager allegedly called didn’t show up.

I told her I’d just run up to Freddy’s – our local branch of Kroger.

To understand why she was amazed, you have to know two things:

First, remember that I don’t drive, so I’m literally hoofing across town,

Second, the Pearl District is part of what Portland calls the the Alphabet District, which is pretty much all contained in the NW quadrant of town.

East-West streets are named sequentially from B-Y, excepting for X and Z, which have no streets. “A” – Ankeny – is on the other side of Burnside, which is in the SW quadrant of town since Burnside divides Portland’s North and South sides.

The North-South streets are pretty much numerical. There are a few standouts like Park, which I live on. My street is between 8th and 9th on Park at Everett.

So, my barista – who is hipster versus lazy – was standing behind her La Marzocco espresso machine at the corner of 13th and Lovejoy. I’m five blocks West and seven blocks North from my place. Her amazement is in my declaration of intent to go from 13th and Lovejoy to Freddy’s which is at 20th and Burnside.

What’s that…seven blocks further West and 10 blocks South? Remember, hipster not lazy. I chuckle and laugh as I grab a napkin to wipe the sweat off the head three feet over my fat gut.

I can use the exercise.

I take my iced, quad shot hazelnut latte and head out, noticing the homeless guy is still waiting for his hand count. Plan C, it is!

I am buoyed by the recollection that there’s an OnPoint Credit Union on the same block as Freddy’s, so this isn’t all bad! I won’t have to hike into SW to do my banking.

Bright side, right?!?

Riding my frustratingly endless wave of no income, I don’t have much reason to visit my credit union these days. But last week, I decided I wanted to rearrange my furniture to open up my lil one bedroom condo and make more room.

The only problem?

I have too much furniture. Well, technically, I probably have just enough furniture. Unfortunately, my bedroom has these really user unfriendly built ins that displaced my dresser to the living room.

It’s a TV stand now.

Luckily, I have – had – two dinner tables. One folds down and converts to a side table. I figured I’d sell that one initially. Once I started rearranging, though, it made a better flow to get rid of the other one.

So, I did.

Then I finished rearranging my living room and went out to treat myself to a congratulatory beer. I actually only had time to do this since one of the Fabulous Baker Sisters had had to cancel our plans to get together that afternoon. Since I was flying solo, I went to a gay club in Old Town I don’t get to too often. CC Slaughter’s is one of the closest gay bars to my home – 3rd and Davis, in case you want to do the math – and the least douche-y. It’s also home to an acquaintance of mine, one of only three drag bartenders in the country, Madame DuMoore. This was her look the day I visited.

But, she changes it up every damn day, so you never know who you’ll run into when she’s behind the bar.

And she’s just an amazing person and persona, so when she’s not busy, she’s fun to talk to, too!

That wasn’t the case this visit, left with no one to chat with while I drank my beer – I went into the video poker lounge. Truth be told, I was chatting with the guy sitting next to me, my usual MO…only this ‘mo was starting to get a twinkle in his eye, so I decided to make myself scarce.

I had a $50 that my table buyer had used as part of his payment. I mentally waved goodbye to it and slipped it into the machine.

I won $300.

I celebrated with another beer.

And then another.

I had paid myself back my $50 and kept playing with the rest.

I.

Kept.

Winning.

Feeling full, belly and pockets, I left the bar with $1200. Being slightly – what’s the word? – buzzed, I made it a block toward my place before thinking, “Hey, $1200 is almost my rent money! I should keep going.”

Drunken Logic is so prudent.

I leveraged my “wisdom” with a limit of one beer and headed over to a dive at 5th and Couch.

Well, that beer turned out to be too expensive, so I stayed for another. Boy, that beer was all over the map. I ended up only managing to leave with $1000 still in my pocket, but still presenting me with a too rare reason to visit a bank.

Long stories for two tasks, eh?

Well, this is my life…I can usually find something funny in even it’s most mundane tasks. Or something to grump about…while still chuckling at my frustrations.

Feeling accomplished, I decided to keep my Monday motivation going. At 20th and Burnside, I was pretty close to Washington Park, where I don’t get to that often. I know it somehow connects up to Forest Park, though I’ve not managed to get lost enough to figure out exactly how or where. Since I’ve only been there once this year, I decided on an urban hike.

I cracked out a nice lil sweat and a five mile hike. But that’s s blog post for another day. Time to fold laundry!

Motivation Monday

Why Do Drag Queens Hate Me?

News Flash: they don’t.

Well, not any more or less than the usual person.

For some, I’m an acquired taste.

But as we flit into Pride weekend in Portland, I figured drag was as good a topic to reflect on as any. And I’ve had kind of a funny history with drag queens. Or DQs as I’ve referred to them in the past, since saying two words is so damned hard.

Actually, in thinking about this, I realized that maybe DQs should hate me. Maybe just a little.

You see, I realized that in my early gay days, I was kind of embarrassed by people who did drag. Reflexively, I want to give myself a pass for this early discomfort, since it is something that I know was happening when I was first working to overcome my own gay shame and internal homophobia.

This was the late 80s and early 90s. My knee jerk (or just flat out jerk) reaction when seeing a drag queen in a Pride parade – about the only place I ever encountered them – was “Welp, that’s what will lead the news story about Pride”. My thinking – or frustration – with that obvious reality was that Pride parades were supposed to help normalize our culture for the flyover states. Showing the most flamboyant elements of our culture was doing more harm than good in that battle.

Then I realized a few things:

First, unless we’re naked, we’re all in drag. This is some Grade A DQ wisdom. And it’s dead-bang spot on, especially once we start dressing ourselves. We dress how we want to be perceived in the world.

Second, and piling onto and expanding that sense of expression, drag is a frigging art. If you’ve never watched one get into face- as it’s called – find a YouTube video and be prepared to be amazed. Drag Queens are equal parts self expression and performance art. Regardless of whether they are on a stage or socializing, when a DQ is in face, they are performing. That’s not just Jeff in a Dress you’re seeing. Jeff has a different name and persona once he slips those stilettos on.

Third, our community’s most extravagant fringes should be our ambassadors to the Normie Culture. Accepting anything less than our wildest representations is acceptance with conditions, like that friend who accepts that you’re gay as long as you don’t do gay stuff around him.

Bitch, when I’m being your friend…that’s me doing my gay stuff.

So, flash forward to me overcoming my own homophobia. It only took me leaving the LBC for Florida, living in Texas, moving back to Long Beach and landing back in my hometown of Portland.

Easy-peasy.

Except…not so fast.

When I move back to Portland in ’96, I lived on the Willamette River. This was back when Stark Street was commonly and crassly referred to as Vaseline Alley because most of the gay bars were clustered along a three-ish block stretch. Not the closest gay bars to my home, of course. That was Embers.

Half dance bar, half drag performance venue…I would bypass it for Stark Street unless I was out with a group of friends that wanted to shake their booties.

Interestingly enough, I credit this balance between my “safety in numbers” approach to Embers and my early onset grumpiness with helping me develop a comfort and then appreciation of the drag community. You see, I would go dance at Embers with my friends, but being an evolving grouch, I could only take so much crowding and being stepped on before I had to give myself some alone time on the drag side of the bar.

Not that it was empty or even less crowded. But it was quieter…if only by comparison to the dance side. I’d stand in the back and watch the show for a bit or throw a $20 into the video lottery or grab a beer and enjoy it solo.

Ok, I usually did that last thing with either of the first two while the walls buffered the thumpa-thumpa of the music next door and I decompressed.

It was here that I first saw Linda Lee, Raven, Poison Waters and many other performers that showed me the breadth of our drag personalities.

Linda Lee simply refused to tuck as part of her prep. Usually you could count on at least one flash of a pantyhose encased crotch during her performance. She also didn’t really bother to learn the words to the songs she was lip syncing. When she got to the end of the words she knew, rumor – or legend now – had it that she’d either start mouthing “fuck you” over and over until she found another chorus or treat us to an incredibly obscene tongue display.

I remember seeing Linda out in public one day. Well, part of her, at any rate. It was a summer day and I was driving around doing errands and had one stop downtown before heading home. I was looking for parking and realized that I’d just missed an opportunity in the shape of a car door being carelessly flung open in front of me. I’d just rounded a corner and stopped versus trying to change lanes to avoid taking the door off. The door started to close again just as the driver’s leg was coming out. It was a thick, varicose veiny old man’s leg and it caught the door to stop it from amputating the leg as he tried to exit the car.

That was when I realized the leg was attached to a subtle pump, maybe a tasteful 2″ heel. It was midday after all. Gradually and awkwardly, Linda pulled the rest of herself out of the old car, her skirt riding up as she scooched of the driver’s seat, turning to hold the door open with her half exposed ass as she gathered her stuff off of the passenger seat.

Another signature Linda Lee show.

Raven was another story. For a crass as Linda was, Raven was to opposite to the point of genteel. The first few (hundred) times I encountered her, I was sure she was hitting on me. She’s Native American, so right up my alley. She’s also about 20 gay years older than me, so that alley ends at the end of a pier. Gradually, I got comfortable with her overtly flirty style and would just enjoy our occasional chats from her perch at the bar for what they were: low key social interaction. Those “I’m talking to a man in a dress” conversations were what really helped me embrace drag as both an art form and lifestyle that was an integral part of our gay community.

Still, neither of my experiences with these DQs prepared me for the time a performer ended her number by jumping off stage and making her way directly toward where I stood at the back of the bar. She was smiling like a crazy person and barely broke eye contact as she navigated the tables between us, prompting me to basically do one of those look-to-both-sides-then-mouth-“me?” things like the cool guy I am.

It was me she was headed for.

Apparently, I was distracting her throughout her number and I was to be chastised, thanked and asked out on a date.

In my stunned and flabbergasted state, I agreed, forgetting my Groucho Marx motto about not wanting to be a member of any club that would have me as a member. That carried over to finding fault with someone who was attracted to me…I wasted so much time hating my beautiful younger self.

This was somewhere between hereand here

in my 20s.

<sigh>

Anyway, we went out. I can’t remember his name, but I do remember our date started with me picking him up at his place and ended at my place the next day.

Being a good American conspicuous consumer, I appreciated that I was picking him up at his place in an old two story 20s-era apartment that I’d probably just about kill to live in. Tile roof, stucco exterior, arched doorways and fantastic landscaping. I was jealous and impressed…drag obviously paid better than I’d thought. Turns out, his day job – and family, black sheep that he was – set him up pretty well. Drag was just an expensive hobby, as his second bedroom turned sequin gown filled dressing room attested.

He was a beautiful boy outside of that fancy dress, but it was that second bedroom – and the later realization of that thought about the dress – that made us a bad match at the time. Both my faults. I’ve often wondered where he ended up…he was a really nice, fun guy. Too bad FaceBook was still a decade away.

After my decade long Seattle exile, I moved back to Portland and re-settled myself near the remnants of the now scattered gay bars. Stark Street has been rendered unrecognizable from the enclave of gay bars I’d left, only one remaining. Gentrification touches everyone…but I’d positioned myself close to my primary gay watering holes: Embers and CCs, which had the added bonus of being close to Hobo’s and Fox & Hounds for when I wanted to eat with my people and/or be left alone, respectively.

Embers and CCs has a steady stream of Drag Queens because they both had a drag component to their bar environment, CCs even has a Drag Queen Bartender

which is truly a rarity, I believe she’s one of only three in the US. Every shift is a completely different incarnation, each a very elaborate artistic creation.

Major drag bars aside, my favorite interactions with DQs occurred in settings that reminded me of my barside chats with Raven all those years ago. The Fox & Hounds is around the corner from CCs and on the opposite side of the block from Darcelle’s, Portland’s own world famous and Guinness Book of World Records holding female impersonator. This provided a steady stream – trickle, really – of drop in drag queens who, like me, wanted a drink in relative peace.

Even though I’m pretty sure all three bars are semi connected by Portland’s underground network of Shanghai Tunnels, most DQs would work the sidewalk around the block, chatting and taking in a casual smoke on their way to Fox & Hounds for their “break”.

I’d casually chat with these performers about where they were performing or whether they were just out and about for the night as well as what was going on. Sometimes, we’d just sit quietly, sipping in the camaraderie, others we’d play some video lottery and urge each other toward victory or commiserate our losses. Still others, we’d talk about our town and the community and the subculture that is drag.

At the end of the day, our struggles were what united us more than our sexuality. After one evening of winding down at Fox & Hound, I’d decided to wander around the corner to CCs to see what was going on. It was the first day that weed was legal for recreational use in the great state that is Oregon and there was a palpable – if not subdued, for some reason – energy in Old Town. There was a group of people from all walks of life planning a sort of smoke in on the Burnside Bridge beneath the ubiquitous Old Town sign

I learned this as I was passing CCs’ hostess in residence. Our relationship had run the gamut from enthusiastic, gushing fan when I saw her at my first Pride after moving to Seattle – a welcome bit of my hometown – to our current low key drive by greetings as she worked the crowd at CCs. This particular night, she acknowledged me by offering me a hit off her joint. I passed, but thanked her. She reminded me to go to the bridge later to celebrate. End of story.

My absolute most favorite DQ story happened shortly after this. I was meeting a friend at the Mock Crest tavern for a drink after work. I was working a few blocks away in North Portland at the time and got off work around 11. Oftentimes I’d chill with a beer or two before catching – or missing – the last bus home. We were sitting in this little shotgun of a hole in the wall bar, enjoying a beer and listening to the three piece band that they’d managed to somehow cram into this tiny space as we talked.

It was very pleasant, which I know is a surprise coming from me.

As we’re sitting there chatting, in walk a couple of Drag Queens and I’m wondering how the hell they got so lost as to end up in a dive bar in NoPo…only to realize one of the two was friggin’ Raven!

It’d been nearly 20 actual years since I’d seen her and my presumption was that she’d died, like her counterpart Linda Lee had. I bought her and her friend a beer and learned that she wasn’t dead, “just in my 60s!” as she’d put it. We chatted for about a half hour before she and her friend took off for town. They had stopped in to mentally prepare themselves for the evening out on the town seeing friends while navigating the crowd of “bitchy kids” as she put it.

I apologized for having been one of those bitchy kids when we first met and she gave me a big kiss, hugged me and told me I was always a delightful companion at Embers.

Not bad for a future grumpy old man.

As if that wasn’t enough to put a smile on my face, I’d also missed the last bus of the night. Naturally, I stayed and closed the place before grabbing an Uber home, reflecting on how life really is just such a rich and delightfully strange and unpredictable journey.

Back to my titular (hehe) question. Drag Queens certainly don’t hate me. If anything, some might say the opposite. In the best possible way, their collective acceptance of pretty much anyone they come across helped me to become a better human. Certainly, the acceptance I have felt from the drag community over the years has helped me accept – and stop hating – myself.

The things we learn in unexpected ways…

Why Do Drag Queens Hate Me?

The Ginge

The incredulity that spawned a blog.  Not a post, an entire blog.  Here we are on the first anniversary of the grumpy oldness that spurred a couple of friends to suggest I unleash my special brand of observational judgment on the world, so I figured it was time to revisit the hot mess of orange fury that started it all.

This is also yet another reason that I don’t drink with amateurs.

The boy that stirred a hops lubricated loin.

The Irish Cowboy.

My first Snapchat Relationship.

The Ginge.

The Silver Fox seemed into it, so I suppose I could lay this all at his feet.  But, no…even though his surprise at this particular turn of events was at least equal to mine; I know that it was my suggestion to sneak the teensiest of drinky-poos last St Patrick’s Day – before all the amateurs showed up for the St Paddy’s Day shitshow – so I only have myself to blame.

Just a hint of drink, really.

And The Fox really doesn’t do gay bars, so the fact that he was willing to even entertain meeting me at CCs for a little socializing and up-catching was an amazing feat in and of itself.

How did I not see that as a warning sign?

I was still technically living in Seattle, visiting Portland occasionally when my condo in Seattle was rented.  A catch up session with my best friend in a bar was really not a crazy idea.

True, it was St Patrick’s Day, but in checking my historical log – Facebook – I can see that when I arrived, it was dead.  My status update as I checked in was “What’s the opposite of a blow out?”

It was Tuesday.

The Fox had not yet joined me.  Seemed like a good time to play my favorite Asocial Media game, “Let’s See Who Is Here”, so I opened up Grindr and was immediately greeted (ignored) by the usual familiar pictures and profiles of the sexually dependent and emotionally retarded men I had become accustomed to seeing in this part of town.

There was a standout, though.  A fella named Books and Bikes was a few hundred feet away.  Hadn’t seen him before.

I tipped into my second Ninkasi as I waited for The Fox.  By the time he arrived, I had witnessed this Books and Bikes fellow close the gap between us to around 60 feet, which generally means on Asocial Media that someone is pretty much right on top of you.  I had chatted him up and gotten a few flirty and vague replies to my salutation, but hadn’t quite pinned down his location, other than to say that he was in the same room as me.

Ah, the headless torsos of Grindr.

Meanwhile, I was chuckling at the guy wearing a pair of cowboy boots to a gay bar.

On St Paddy’s Day.

The Fox and I had a couple of drinks together, he needed to catch up to me and drank to Monopolova Rocks to my third beer.  It was enough to lubricate the idea of heading across the NW/SW border of town – Burnside St – to see some male strippers undressed in green.

I showed him my favorite game.

Guess who was there?

Me being unashamed of what I do on Asocial Media, have a facepic on my profile.  Also, who wants to see a then 47 year old torso on display when they open up a hook-up app?  Imagine the neck injuries as people turned their necks violently away from their phones to avoid that visual.  Anyway…I have my facpic on my profile and eventually, this fine, young buck approaches The Fox and I and begins chattering away like we’re old friends.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Books and Bikes.

Not yet AKA:  The Ginge.

Everything led to one thing, and eventually, he, The Fox and I have closed the bar and are heading back to The Fox’s Lair, where I am a guest.  I’m slightly curious about what the intent is, since The Ginge is equally flirty with both of us and The Fox is…well, The Silver Fox.  I am prepared to make a graceful exit once we reach his place.  I am not prepared for any multiple player games, if that was what this kid had in mind.

Because:  no.

It is that I was raised better than that.

In my opinion.

Which is right, BTW.

By the by, I learn that The Ginge intended that he and I go mano a mano and The Fox makes his retreat to his bedroom.

I bust out, like, two of my three big moves on this guy and we tire ourselves out and burn a few alcohol based calories as the sun rises.

The Fox reappears, we all share coffee.  The Ginge and I lounge comfortably together on the couch.  The Fox plays his favorite game, 20 Questions.  We learn about where The Ginge grew up, what he’s studying in school.  What he does for work.  The Fox covers all the low bars in a nice, casual manner.  Of all the things he’s learned about guys I’ve met and dated or not dated, he’s never tried to steer me away from a train wreck.

Secretly, I think this is an assessment of the morbid fun to come as I hit the invariable dating wall.  In reality, I think this is just The Fox being so classically The Fox.

It was Wednesday.

The Fox has to get going, so he takes off and The Ginge and I decide to grab some breakfast as I walk him back to his car.

Oh, bike…of course.

We slip into the bathroom to shower and I’m tempted to show him my remaining big move.  But hunger triumphs and I decide to leave something for later.

As we’re leaving, he stops inside the door to put his shoes on, raised nicely, he had taken them off upon entering.  Somehow not falling over.

“No, it’s not that”, I just didn’t want to make a bunch of noise…as he slips on cowboy boots.

Lol.  That guy!

You rode your bike into town while wearing cowboy boots?

“Yeah, it’s not a big deal.”

You live across the river…right?

“Yeah.”  Smiling and not understanding.

Well, it seems like riding across a bridge on a bike is one thing and riding a bike with cowboy boots is one thing and doing them both simultaneously is two things that I’d consider uncomfortable.

“Uncomfortable is what you proposed a few minutes ago in the bathroom” he laughs.

It wasn’t that big of a move.

Of course, his bike had been stolen from in front of the bar in the few hours we had left it alone.  I suggest that maybe he forgot where he parked it.

“No, this is where I locked it up…well, this is my frame, just not my front tire and handle bars.”

He’s understandably pissed, and hops an Uber home, promising to text me so we can get together again.

All in all, not a terrible St Patrick’s Day for 2015.  Plus, with bonus call backs.  I’ve learned to not get my hopes up around men of any age following through on this type of thing.  Instead of investing my own energy in pursuing someone’s disingenuous promise to get together for a follow up – which is usually code for “I would feel like a slut if I didn’t pretend to plan to see you again” – I typically tell them that if they really want to see me again, they can initiate contact and that if I didn’t want to see them again, I wouldn’t be giving them my number to do with as they will.

Call.

Text.

Don’t Call.

Don’t Text.

Easier for me than reading between the lines or trying to decipher my least favorite language – Hint.

He texts that afternoon and suggests a hike.

Ok, a man that follows up.  I can do this.

Our hike turns into an Urban Adventure during which he tells me his life story.  Adopted.  Brother and his wife and kids are the only family he’s close to.  Unlucky in love.  Unlucky in work.  Just wants to get through school and get into the real world.

Your basic overaged kid drama.

Why any of that wasn’t a red flag…oh, yeah – because I’m me!

Our Hike turned Urban Adventure turns Day Drinking and Urban Misadventure as a friend of his texts to meet for drinks.

It’s 3:00 in the afternoon.

I gracefully beg off to let him spend time with his friend.

He insists I come.  Everyone loves Albert.

I didn’t, particularly.

I tolerated Albert.  Especially once I learned that said Albert was leaving town.  He was too precious for Portland.  Yes, this is coming from someone who just spent the night with a cowboy boot wearing bike commuter, whom Albert was more precious than.

The Ginge obviously had some low grade hero worship that he was leveraging with aloof sidewalk sunbathing as we enjoyed a drink outside at this cafe on an unusually Spring-y March 18th.

The Ginge had started a tab, insisting on buying me a drink when we arrived.  The tab had ridden through a couple of rounds for the three of us and I offered to pick it up.

No.

Split it?

No.

Tip?

I got this.

His card was declined.

I pull out some cash and re-state my offer as he gets lost deep in thought.  Reaching into his own pocket, he pulls out $10 and asks the bartender to split it, putting the rest on the card and thanking me for offering to buy, but he really did want to treat me.

Alright.

Gosh, be sweet.

Misguided, but sweet.

The next day we take another stab at hiking and end up in a bar…well before Happy Hour.  I’m not not ok with this.

It’s Thursday.

I spend part of the weekend with my family in extreme northwest Portland and part over-brunching with one of the four close friends I have from my Seattle days, who has also moved to the Portland area, while The Ginge heads out to his brother’s farm to kill poultry.  He seems pretty excited about it.

Nothing unusual with that.

What?  So he’s excited by butchering pea-brained foul.  That’s not a warning sign of anything.

In Oregon.

Home of the most Family Annihilators per capita in America.

We get together early the next week for some – wait for it – drinks and chat more.  I say chat.  I mean inappropriate over-sharing.  On his part.

It’s Monday.

Here I am, life coach to the Lost Boys.  But, as The Fox has observed on more than one occasion, I do enjoy fixing things that are broken.

Except that lawn mower engine that I took apart in the 9th grade.  I put that thing in a project locker and walked away from it.  Since then, I think my M.O. has kind of been to try to just not break things.

I wonder what ever happened to that lawn mower engine…

We end up at his place for the night, a huge house over in the NE part of town that we walked to from NW that he shares with god knows how many people.  It’s a sweet night of cuddling and sweet chatter from him that I am soaking up like a sponge.  It was kind of like meeting Rib for the first time, but with less insolence and more sharing…but all the same sweet charm you’d expect from the company of a young man.

His bed is tucked into a corner of his room, against two walls and I am in a position where I have to crawl over him to get out of bed in the morning to pee.  In doing so, I hear this strange snap-slash-pop come from my left leg or butt cheek.

Definitely not a fart, luckily.

Definitely excruciatingly painful, unluckily.

I think he heard it, too, but I manage to make it to the hallway before I double over in pain just after pulling his door closed.

That was definitely not the third of my big moves that I mentioned earlier, in case you were wondering.

When I leave the bathroom, I discover that he has gotten up and headed down stairs.  I painfully struggle to get dressed, borrowing a hat to cover my bed head before tracing his early morning bumpings-around to the kitchen.

He’s dressed and making tea, suggesting that we go for a stroll around his neighborhood.

Maybe he hadn’t heard the snap of what I would later learn was my sciatic nerve.  Maybe he was just projecting his 25 year old sense of invincibility onto me.

So, we went for a stroll.

What?

As we walked through the neighborhood, he pointed out houses that he loved.  He also talked more about his plan to live abroad after college.  Not a dream.  A plan.  Mentally, I downgrade him to temporary dating status and enjoy the light lecture he is now giving on the flora of his NE neighborhood.

He actually seems to know a lot about the plant life around his house and think that The Fox really missed an opportunity to exercise his Master Gardener status during this little walkabout.

After the walk, I beg off…to go get my new hobble checked out.  The Ginge wishes me well and suggests meeting up later in the week.

It’s Tuesday.

Over the next several days, he texts me pics of him spontaneously sunbathing in little neighborhood parks as the weather continues to be incredibly spring-like.  Just cute little selfies.

Cute and sexy.

I remember thinking that he’s too adorable to not want to date, but too unsettled to date seriously.  Plus, he has no real life plan beyond finishing college and moving abroad…someday.

I suggest we meet for lunch, to which he replies that he has no money.

<gasp!>

You mean, there’s a reason that I’ve been paying for things since last week besides I’m just a nice guy?

I got this.  It’s just lunch.  Don’t make a big deal over it.

He suggests Lardo, where I had never been and always heard great things about.  Given my picky eater status, this generally produces the effect of making me not want to go there.  Too much enthusiasm suggests that the food is over engineered for my tastes.

But, it’s a sexy 25 year old who wants to go with me, so we go.

I was right.  The Dirty Fries sound palatable to my finicky sensibility, but I have trouble finding a sandwich that doesn’t involve Kimchi.

I don’t remember what I order.

Mostly because of what happens next.

We sit down and are chattering away, waiting for our food, when two other guys sit down in the tightly arranged corner we are seated in.  I think it’s so cute that all the boys come here, but don’t necessarily compare our two situations since they seem way more comfortable and familiar with each other, by comparison.

Our food arrives and he has a foodgasm (Chrisism) as I pick at my sandwich and try not to eat all the fries.  We make little chat-sounds as we eat.  I poke at the baguette that holds the guts of my sandwich wondering why people get so excited about sandwiches made with this particular bread.  All it ever does for me is shred the inside of my mouth as I eat.

The boys next door get their food delivered and dig in.

As The Ginge completes the evisceration of his sandwich, he suddenly looks up at me and realizes that he’s been doing all of the talking.

Pretty much all week.

At least I presume that’s what flits behind his eyes as he asks, “So what about you?  What’s your deal?  What are you looking for in life?”

Well, I’m just getting settled into Portland, happy to be back.  Gotta decide what to do with my place in Seattle before I can really put down roots.  I’m interviewing for jobs…your basic nightmare.  Yada-yada-yada.

“But what do you want?” he continues, “What’s your struggle?”

My struggle?

“Yeah, do you want a boyfriend?” he asks, teasingly.

I think, well, that’s really cute…but, no.  Not if you’re going to really move out of the country in a year.  Or two.  My dating expiration date is a good 15 years past, I don’t really have time to dick around with casual dating.

Knowing, of course, that that’s not a polite thing to say, I reply that yeah…eventually, I would like to find someone special and settle down.

“Oh, that’s cool” he says, “But I can’t do that, that’s not who I am” he barfs out, answering an unasked question as two heads snap toward us, suddenly uninterested in their fancy, pointy-bread sandwiches.

Resisting the urge to provide some backstory to these guys before inviting them to take a dream vacation on Fuck You Cruiselines, I remind The Ginge that I hadn’t asked for that pleasure as I try to compose myself after that conversational bucket of cold water.

I try not to sound too angry, but am also considering how I shouldn’t be surprised that he had mistaken my hanging out with him as what his ego wanted it to be.  How that same ego let his assumptions run unchecked as he just stroked himself off to me with each overshared fact of his life.  I try not to look confused at how I’d just gotten dumped by someone I wasn’t dating, who I was running back of mind scenarios on to successfully transition from a few sexual encounters to friendship without being awkward.

Apparently, that’s some evolved thinking.

Considerations he hadn’t…considered.

Someone else’s feelings and desires.  Even though he had asked the question, he hadn’t listened to the answer, so much as assumed it.  Moving immediately back from what I wanted to what he was willing to provide.

I suggest a change of eavesdroppers and start busing our table, shaking my head incredulously at the boys next door as if to ask, “Can you believe that just happened?”

They clearly could…and seemed to consider it dessert.

We move down the street to Scandals.  A bar I am usually ashamed to be caught at – even at night – but that seemed fitting for the upcoming life coaching.  We sit at the bar and sip IPAs as I backtrack our conversation and suggest that he could listen to what people are saying before telling them what he thinks they need to hear.

An arena that I have a little experience in, and one that I think I have become good at judiciously dispensing advice and opinions in without ruffling feathers or coming off as telling someone what to do.

Him…not so much.

But, I know when I was 25 the slice of pie that could be called “what I know” also – thanks to my own ego and overinflated sense of self mixed with a healthy dose of very little practical life experience – encompassed the “what I think I know” and “what I don’t know that I don’t know” slices of the knowledge pie as well.

shit you know

Ok, that pie chart is missing a piece, in my opinion, but that’s a good enough visual to give you an idea of what I was trying to teach this guy.

Basically, that his assumptions about what I wanted were a good 90 degrees from reality, but that I really appreciated him vomiting out that embarrassing conversation in front of complete strangers.   He seemed – unsurprisingly – oblivious to that fact.

I suggested that we just move on with the same enjoyment of each other’s company that we had shared in the last week but try to make do without ripping each other’s clothes off again.

He made a joke about me not being up for it, patting my butt.

Mentally, I knocked him off his barstool, but laughed.

An 80s song came on the bar’s music system that I couldn’t place.  He mentioned that it was before his time, but offered to Soundhound it, pulling out his phone.

He showed me the app as it returned the name of the song and the artist and I sat by amazed.  “It’s like google for music!” he exclaimed, “You can even go to your music store and buy and download it or send yourself a reminder via text or email to look it up later”.

I had already begun downloading the app on my own phone, asking what else he had on his phone that I should know about.

Relieved at a return to normal type conversation.

No, I don’t recall the name of the song now.

He started talking about Snapchat, which I volunteered that I knew I was too old to use.  Elaborating that I had read an article recently that suggested no one over 30 should even attempt to use it.

Undeterred by an unknown and obviously old tech editor’s opinion, he started showing me how it worked.  Taking a pic of us and posting it to “His Story”, then trying to edit text into it to send to Albert.

He struggled.

I floated the notion that – at 25 – he was proving the point.  “No, no…I just forget how to do it because it’s so simple to use!  You decide what you want to post, who can see it and for how long they can see it.  After that time, it just goes away.”

Right…

It clicked with me that this was kind of what his behavior with me had been.  He threw out all of his shit that he needed to process externally, I listened, we met his intimacy needs emotionally and physically and then he decided what I wanted.

It’s like Big Brother.

If he was socially retarded.

I did the social media contact thing for a few weeks after that day.  Eventually, I realized that it was all one-sided.  He didn’t participate on my page, it was all me commenting and liking his shit.  He was too busy with other social engagements to hang out when I asked.

A little later, I un-friended him.  Somehow, he found out about that and was upset.  I told him that I hadn’t meant to ruffle his feathers, but I was looking for people who wanted to be actively friendly toward me.  He wasn’t behaving in a friendly manner, and that had made me realize that he never really had, actually.  He had just used me to meet his needs and when he was done, it was over to him.

Like the whole thing happened on Snapchat.

So, I went away.

If that was not how he had intended his actions to be taken, I was definitely open to hanging out…but he was the one making that difficult.

I never heard from him again.

The Ginge

Adventures in Yes

The birthday yes.

Not “Yaaaaassss!!”, just a simple exercise in counter-curmudgeonliness.

I had a full day of amazing celebrating with friends and family stacked up with well wishing socializing tighter than the evening commuter push over O’Hare on a Friday night…until my evening date cancelled.

Two things:

– First, maybe don’t schedule a date on your birthday with someone you haven’t known for three months.  It’s a recipe for disaster.  Well, it’s a recipe for normal flaky gay behaviors, but it happened on my birthday so I’m taking some license with the hyperbole.  Sue me.

– Second, he didn’t know it was my birthday.  That means there was no pressure to crumble beneath.  I was actually quite torn about withholding that information from him…obviously, my gut instinct served me far better than my neurosis.

The thing that pissed me off most about this was just your basic run of the mill Narcissistic Death bullshit.  I was the guy you could count on to get some Thanksgiving ass.  Before apps.  When we had to do it in real time.  Or any holiday.

Now it’s just snowing in my bedroom.

And uphill.

So…what’s an EOG gay to do with a few free hours on his birthday.

Hello, Scruff.  You dirty, disappointing bitch.

One thing leads to another and it’s suddenly 9 pm…which I suppose is late for my gay twilight years.  But I’ve begun this interesting chat conversation with a recent – as in one week prior – Portland transplant from France.  Is it wrong to nickname him The Frog?  I hope not, because it’s just happened.

He’s been out and about shopping-slash-exploring in his new city.  Hopping on and off public transportation in order to do so, like a good European.  Chatting with people he encounters around town or on the bus – as inadvisable as that sounds, I actually encourage it…conditionally.  Some of that exploring was situational, some accidental as he hopped on a wrong bus or train here or there.  He tells me that he’s going to pass through downtown to make a connection to his place in the South Waterfront and suggests a meet up for a drink.  Turns out he loves cider and I had told him about Cider Bite earlier in our conversation.

Of course, I pass.

It’s, like, late.

Or something.

But, time wears on and he and I keep chatting and I remember my commitment to say yes more often.

And “Say Something” by A Great Big World had just come on my Sonos, so I said “Yes” and met him at his stop in Old Town.

We traded a couple of texts on my way to meeting him, he told me that he was in a black jacket.  Helpful information, that.  I warned him that I was in a too lightweight jacket for the weather and that I hadn’t shaved in a week and hadn’t showered for an evening out.  He tells me that he’ll keep an eye out for a homeless person approaching him.  Sassy.

He was a tall one, wasn’t expecting that for some reason.

And it was raining, I mentioned that, right?

And I had loaned my umbrella to the Fox for his trip to Cuba, just in case.  He’s a planner.

I hadn’t planned on rain during his vacation, it seems.  Nor do I own a jacket like the Frog was wearing…one with a hood and also happens to be waterproof.  Soggy, I got.

It’s getting on to closing time at Cider Bite, so we hoof lively and make our way there.  The home of 24 taps of delicious cider-y goodness.  I arrive, dripping.  Planting the Frog at the bar, I introduce him to one of the boys that owns the place before sneaking off to the loo to give myself a good toweling off.  I’m calling a 33 year old bar owner a “boy”, FML – incidentally, said “boy” promptly gives me a side eye dripping with “a little young for you” judgment.  Knowing I have zero romantical type designs on the Frog, I don’t give it a second thought, past enjoying that he thought that maybe I could.

Bless his heart.

We go on to chat and make some fun small talk as we sip.  We discuss the origins of the ciders with the owner.  All very interesting info to the newb.  Most tend to be Pacific Northwest by design, but there happen to be a few from the east coast that you simply have to have if you’re gonna open a cider bar and please the masses by passing their low-bar street cred criteria.  Woodchuck cider lurches into the conversation.  I explain that it’s from the New England area of the east coast.  He asks where and I tell him it’s right by New Hampshire, making my hands into the parallelogramish shape of the state for him and only add to his confusion.  Trying to clear that up, I proceed to make it worse by saying that it’s south of Maine, north of Boston like it’s a question.

This all earns me the teasing of a European because I don’t know my own country’s geography like the back of my hand.  Defensively, I counter that it’s not like I thought that Portugal was in South America, but can’t fault him for putting a dunce cap on America as a whole.

He saves my unhurt ego by telling me that some people he has met in America think that France is in Australia.  Sweet Jesus, people are dumb.

I also learned that the prior day – 1/20 – had been his birthday, so that was fun.  

We’ve tried a couple of ciders and it’s time to head out as the guys close up for the night.

Deciding it’s never a bad time to not end fun conversation and also always a good time for food, we head over to Hobo’s for some later-night grub.  It’s a great choice, because:  food.  But also because it’s a good introduction to a neighborhood with a little cluster of gay bars that a newbie gay will undoubtedly frequent, but a bar that we can easily still talk comfortably in.

Also, not to put too fine a point on it, but there’s food.

I know he’ll find CCs on his own, so I figure this is a better choice.  I introduce him to Uncle Dave, who is frequently behind the bar at Hobo’s.  My friend, frequent bartender, occasional caretaker and always good guy.

I have some chicken wings – I’m always ordering the tenders and Uncle Dave is always serving me the wings.  Silly man.  The Frog has a burger.  Having just introduced the him as a recent transplant from France, I’m not surprised he wants to try a burger.  I am surprised at the rapid-fire-fucking-with that Uncle Dave engages him in around his order…I try to stop it as my stomach turns over, but an enthusiastic immigrant is running amok, enabled by a bartender suddenly turned auctioneer:

I’ll have the Hobo’s Burger

You want cheese on that?

Yes!

Bacon?

Yes.

Guac?

Yes.  (in a tone that suggests he isn’t entire sure what that is…)

Egg?

Ok.

Jalepenos?

Yes.

<barfs in mouth>

Fries or a salad?

I say something about how ridiculous a salad would be on top of that order and suggest the French Fries then laughingly comment that he’s not going to be able to lift that monster of a burger and then order us a couple of hard root beers.  Uncle Dave skulks off to the kitchen to start our order and if he’s not chuckling about what he just did to this poor kid…well, I would have been.

We talk more about what he wants to do for work.  He’s a trained in environmental ecology and I congratulate him on picking Portland.  That leads to how the hell he chose PDX in the first place.  Turns out that it’s really just a marriage between convenience and flight of fancy.  He knew he wanted to live in the US and on the West Coast but between here and SF this was where his father had a tenuous network connection to help get him started out.  A colleague whose niece or daughter or something – it’s France, I really wanted it to be “former mistress” – lived here and needed a roommate, voila!

His burger comes and I tease him about what his eyes did when Uncle Dave put the plate in front of him.  Uncle Dave lays down on the floor to rest after carrying the burger out.  I kid, but he deserved to wear himself out after trying to kill this kid with a hamburger.  Hehehehe.

I ask him how he settled on Joe for his Americanized name.  He explains that it’s just JO, short for Jean Olivier…his first name.  I explain to him why that might be awkward.  He seems aloof and/or indifferent.  He tells me his middle name, another hyphenated tongue twister for my American pallate.  Then his last name, which I am sure is the French equivalent of “Smith”, but I’m distracted by the overwhelming number of syllables in his complete name.

Oy.

Glad he chose JO.

Having finished my 6 wings, I go to the bar for another root beer as he chokes down the last of the first half of his burger.  This second half might take a minute to finish.

Uncle Dave starts off with some conspiratorial muttering about how cute the guy is and whether I’m intending anything he’ll want to hear about later.  God bless everyone who thinks I’ve got the kind of game it takes to be the object of any random 20-something’s affections.  When I am, I consider it a viable reason that I won’t win the lottery.

Like any reason for not winning the lottery needs to be realistic.

I mean, I had just “lost” $1.5 billion (potential) dollars in the Powerball…but, no.

He had told me his bus schedule home when we were chatting earlier, and it occurs to me that we have about 20 minutes to get him on a bus.  See?  I’m not even maneuvering toward getting him to spend the night at my nearby place.

He chews and stuffs faster.  I’m actually a little worried about how much he is consuming.  He’s visibly struggling to swallow and I think his forehead is beginning to glisten with a light sheen of the meatsweats.

Undeterred, he paces out his last bite just in time to get our change and head out to the bus stop.

Into the rain.  Portland’s weathery breach, once again.

I walk him down to his bus stop, not just to make sure he gets there but also to ensure that the bus actually arrives.  Midnight buses in Portland have screwed me more than once.

So, we stand there and wait.

In Portland’s sliver of a remaining skid row.

In the rain.  Did I mention it was raining?  Oh, I did?  How about my lightweight jacket?

Naturally, the bus is late.  I spend the time showing him what apps I use for transit and discuss Uber with him as a back up to have handy.  I’m wiping down my phone frequently, since any bus shelter in this neighborhood would ultimately just be shelter.

His bus finally arrives and we part, committing to another meet up soon.

Flash forward a week and we’ve chatted a few times.  He actually scored a job over the last few days.  I’m jealous…but it was a good story.  Some random stranger he said “hi” to on the street during his explorations.  That guy’s company was looking for a French-speaking reviewer of some sort.  You can’t fight the universe on random encounters.  He’s disappointed that it isn’t in his field of study, but that is actually not surprising for my American sensibilities.  No one seems to work in their field of study any more.

Still, this whole story about his job just kind of falling into his lap reminded me of why I started my Yes Game in the first place.

He’s a good guy.  Maybe I’ll make him take me out for a congratulatory cider when he gets his first paycheck.  I mean, I didn’t even mention the Coneheads…obviously, I have to see him again!

And all because I allowed myself a birthday yes…I wonder what else this game will yield.

More friends?

A job?

It certainly seems to like doing that for others – why not me?  We’ll see!

Adventures in Yes

And Yet I Still Don’t Like Sushi

Well, I never called him again after that night ten years ago, but he keeps popping up in the periphery of my present day life.

Not calling seemed like the right call for a date that ends with him pushing a drag queen.

Down.

Hard.

It was one of those surreal cartoonish moments.  One minute I’m standing there talking to said DQ, the next her feet have made an appearance and there is just enough time to register the surprise that flits across her face – and this surprise could have been the thought “I have those same shoes!” – before she hit the wall three feet away and crumpled to the floor.

Then everything clicks into place and you realize that your date pushed her.

Hard.

His next shift was probably his last at CCs.  He was banned from the bar in the moments following that altercation, so that just seems like a realistic assumption.

I’ve thought of him a few times recently because one of Portland’s local Drag Queen celebrities recently died, Tiara Desmond.  It was she that I’d been talking to that night as we often did when I’d come in for a drink and she was working.  She might have been working both CCs and Darcelle’s at that point…all I know is she was around CCs at least as often as I was.

She had a more legitimate reason to be around.  I was just there drinking my way through some therapy after my boyfriend had left me.

For a waiter.

On our anniversary.

No biggie.  Just another gay in the life of Chris.  And there have been a lot of gays in my life.

The point is, she was always nice to me.  Genuinely nice, which I really needed.  More than I needed whatever medicine I was swilling at the time.

But her death has brought that night to the fore front of my consciousness frequently in recent weeks.

He was a go-go boy at CCs back when CCs had go-go boys.  The hottest one, in my humble, pickled opinion.  And HE asked me out.  Which is probably the beginning of the end of me being impressed with myself by younger guys hitting on me.

There’s always a reason.

Always.

What’s wrong with you?

What do you want?

But just because I’m no longer impressed or flattered doesn’t mean I’m not still open to the potential opportunity.  I like to think I’m more selective in my screening nowadays.

Probably, I’m not.

We’d gone on a couple of impromptu dates.  He was off work, let’s us grab last call at another bar or running into each other socially out on the town.

Or more accurately careening into one another.

We had a couple of date-y dates.  My favorite was also my first Pimps and Whores party.  I want to say it was at his place.  I hope it was because I think we woke up there the next day.  My memory of that time is decidedly fuzzy.

But this deliberate date was dinner.  I’d suggested it and told him to pick the place – dangerous stuff for a picky eater.

He chose sushi.

Fuck.

I chose Masu.  If I’m gonna eat food I don’t like, I’m gonna do it like a baller ant the newest and it-est sushi place in town.

We had a good dinner, surprisingly, I didn’t starve.  When I went to drop him at home after he asked where I was going as I exited the freeway.

“I’m not done with you yet” he replied when I told him I was heading to his place.

So, we ended up at CCs.  For a nightcaps.

You know the end result of that side trip.  I hadn’t figured him for the jealous type.  But who knew what else was going on.  I was kind of naive back then.

Remember, my boyfriend of six years had left me shortly before and I’d never seen it coming.

Needless to say, I felt my culinary compromise failed to deliver a decent return on my investment.

Smash cut to this evening.

I’m out for a semi-regular happy hour with my favorite local…let’s call them the Fabulous Baker Girls.  The surname is a 60% match.  The adjective is a 100% match.  They are all diversely fabulous.  So FBG1 and I are out at Henry’s having some beer and small plates and chattering away the evening.  It’s beer, so I’m also monitoring my gastrointestinal seismic activity, which is fine because FBG1 takes small talk to a level.  I love just sitting there and letting it was over me.  I don’t think I could keep up with her if I tried, she has the gift for gab.

Quite enjoyable.

Anyway, now and then when we’re together, something clicks.  Tonight it was after she’d suggested splitting the HH California Rolls and I had told her to go ahead, but I might just watch.

A few conversational ellipses later, she’s talking about this tangential friend and how he does a drag brunch somewhere in town.

<pronouns shift accordingly>

Oh, yeah…with Bolivia Carmichaels?  I’ve seen a few of her shows advertised at CCs.

“I’m not sure, I think it’s on her Facebook page” and I’m grossly paraphrasing our conversation here…

And I find her Facebook page and we start talking about the place and how I need to get there since I keep hearing about it.

I’m not sure how many degrees of separation this DQ was from FBG1 nor whether the DQ’s husband was part of said degrees or not, but I literally failed to suppress my ejaculation when I clicked on his profile.

Sorry, my ejaculation was of the “OMG, I dated this guy for a minute just after the turn of the century” type.  Just in case you thought otherwise.

Dirty readers.

And just guess who that husband was?

I tried some California Roll.

And I still don’t like sushi.

And Yet I Still Don’t Like Sushi

The Layover

I was out having a nightcap a while back after having dinner with the Silver Fox.  Literally minding my own business since no one else could be bothered.

I was just sulking in the corner of a bar down the street when a guy I had gone on a single date with a couple of months prior shot me a message on the Scruff.

“Are you at CCs?”

Surprisingly, I wasn’t.  While I love their cheapskate pricing, and I had actually set out intent on making there, I ultimately decided that the deluge I was walking through wasn’t worth saving the $.50 per drink, so I ducked into the second saddest gay bar in Portland:  Embers.

I told him I was almost done with my drink and then heading home and he replied that he was at CCs and I should stop by on my way home.

Feeling generous, I didn’t point out that he probably could have figured out whether I was in the same bar as him or not pretty easily.  Nor did I correct him on his poor trip planning but decided I might just as well make an appearance since the rain had tapered off.

I walk in and he’s sitting by himself in the corner…not judging, that’s my big move, too.  But he is like 26 or something, so I don’t think he can use the same grumpy, old man reasoning for sitting on the sidelines.  Anyway, we chat a few minutes and go to the bar to order a drink, a second for each of us just with better company than the last.

Definitely better for him, IMO.

The bartender is someone I consider a friend of mine, even if it’s really just within the confines of the bar.  He’s just a nice guy.  Does a pretty fine job of balancing the needs of the customers at the bar with spending a little more time with the regulars that he appreciates.  It caught me off guard when he told me that he really enjoyed when I came in and sat at the bar with him.

Anyway, we approach the bar together and he gives me this sly look that says,

molly you in danger girl

But what are ya gonna do?  I order a cider or something and he orders a…I dunno…a cocktail with a premium alcohol in it, a far cry from the crappy Bud he was nursing when I walked in.  My buddy looks at me as if to ask, “That alright with you?” and I just nod.  The cocktails are $7.  I get the message he’s sending loud and clear.  But, whatever.  It’s $7, I think I can splurge for him.  Plus, I’ve been known to have beneficial effects on some of the Lost Boys I have spent time with, so let’s call it an investment.

A very small one.

He starts talking about how he was going to buy his own drink and “it was nice that I had bought his but I didn’t have to” then careens into “we can go to my place after this drink and have some wine” which produced an unchecked”WTF?” look from yours truly.

Surprisingly, he noticed it.

It didn’t land well…

Ladies and Gentlemen, meet The Layover.

I knew from our first date that he was new in town and staying with friends that were quickly becoming not friends.  He was often unable to get into their place because they wouldn’t allow him to have his own key so he could come and go without them being there.  Some friends.  But kids these days do the craziest things.  I had my couch surfing days in my 20s, but I considered the friends I imposed on to be more substantial than the friends this guy seems to have.  The guys I dated were shit, but my friends were grade-fucking-A.

A layover is what you call having sex with someone as a cover for crashing at their place versus going home.

Think:  drinking too much at a bar and not wanting to drive home.

See also:  stayed out too late and the buses stopped running.

Or this bullshit.

It was a move that was strangely reminiscent of the Broken Poet and his living situation when I met him.  Another Fagabond.

So, I ask him if that’s why he invited me out, so that he’d have a place to stay that night.  Seriously.

“No, no, no.  I just haven’t gotten any reply texts from my friends, so I’m not sure when I can get in.  I thought it would be fun to hang with you until they text me back” he says, “Not that maybe it wouldn’t be nice to stay over…”

No.  Nonono.  I have an early squash game.  Ok, that’s me ripping off When Harry Met Sally, but I did have breakfast plans with the Fox in the morning.  Not that he doesn’t understand sly, old Galby getting a little of the hush, the bad and rescheduling.  I think he rather likes it, some good old vicarious living for the Fox.

But, no.  This is not acceptable behavior and my grumpy, old man tells him just that.  Plus, it’s been two months, I’m dating other guys and would like to just narrow the field to one.  So, I’m not having sex with anyone, let alone a rando.

I swear, I say it nicer than that reads.  Just accept that my blog has a lot of paraphrased conversations in it.

Which lands him in his phone for most of the rest of our drink.  When I push him on it, he pouts that he needs to find a place to stay, just in case.  Since I won’t let him stay with me.

Having left my sympathy in my other coat, I tell him that he should have been up front with his need when he texted me.

“But I didn’t know for sure that they would do this!” he complains, picking up his phone.

Don’t let me keep you.  I know that’s important.

“There’s a guy who invited me to his hotel.”

And that’s your plan?  Sex for a place to stay?

“I just want to sleep!  I didn’t sleep at all last night and then I had a shitty day at work…I just want to sleep” he cries.  “I told him that, and he said it’s fine, but I know he’s gonna want sex when I get there.”  He actually looked himself over while he was saying it, as if agreeing with himself that he was irresistible.

I propose to him that a guy in a hotel room on Scruff probably didn’t come to town to cuddle with a stranger.

Who raises these people?

Am I alone in being unflattered in the extreme at his behavior toward me?  The assumptions this guy trades in…and he’s not alone, it’s like these assumptions are the new legal currency of America.

What would anyone else have done?  Feel free to comment, text or talk amongst yourself.

Poor, old Galby.

Blindsided again.

He asks, “Is that what you want, to date someone?  Because I totally would be up for trying that.”  Especially if it gets him a roof over his head tonight.  “Then why did you stop talking to me?  Why didn’t you ask me out?”

Well, you didn’t reply for days at a time to my texts after our first date.  You started off strong and then tapered off from there.  When you told me that you had rented a room out in the suburbs close to work, I saw the writing on the wall:  delayed replies + moving out of the area = no dating.

“Um, hello!  It’s called mass transit, people!  Why does everyone make such a big deal out of 7 miles?  I don’t get it.”

I’m guessing prior bad experience?

Some days it just isn’t worth chewing through the restraints.

He texts the next day to tell me that he had fun with me the night before and that work was slow.  He wanted to get together that night because he was off the next day.

I quickly came up with alternate plans, but suggested we could have coffee that following afternoon.

If.

If he was serious about wanting to try dating me.

Well, let me tell you.  That was a shit show.

I made it.

I created it.

I produced it.

And I acted in that show.

Text me when you wake up (not mentioning anything about where that might be…) and we will make plans.

1:30 pm.

That’s when he texts.  I’d already written him off.  I intentionally put the ownership of people I suspect will flake on me.  Like I don’t learn a few tricks in 25 years of dating.  This guy’s celebrating 25 years of not wearing diapers, so this tactic might have not been obvious to him.

I tell him I’m busy until 4-ish and he has a little melt down.  “That means I have to kill two hours!  Tell me where you are and I’ll meet you.”

I’m on my couch watching a movie, so I dodge by telling him I would text him when I was free.

And I do.  I tell him where to meet me for coffee and he asks if I’ve eaten since he hasn’t.  I had a delicious Bing Mi from the food carts, as I recall, but remind him that we were just meeting for coffee.  It seems like he just had two hours to eat, when it hits me:  he’s out of money.

Papa Xtopher?  No.  Nonononono.

I get to Barista and – as usual – there’s no friggin’ seating.  As a nice change of pace from the normal laptop wasteland that usually greets me when I walk in, there’s a mommy and me coffee klatch happening.  I’m happy to not be able to find a seat, because I sense from the people around the moms and their toddler twosomes, that their experience has been rather negatively impacted by the kids.

Well, I’ve got my own kid to deal with and figure I can throw him a burger.  I walk out and run into him as he’s coming out of the home goods shop next door.  I suggest an alternate and we’re off.

As suspected, I get to buy him a burger.  The waiter suggests we get large sides since it’s happy hour and they are the same price as the small.  The Layover suggests he’s hungry enough to eat a large and I suggest we just get a small of each:  fries and onion rings.

We sit, and I immediately excuse myself for the loo.  When I return, he’s on Grindr.  Really?  That’s how this works?

Looking for a place to stay?  I chide.

He kind of puts his phone away while we eat.  Telling me that he found a place to stay “Out by work” again, as if daring me to say something about how far away that is.

I wonder if we secretly got married on our first date as I let that land out of bounds and watch it roll away into the bushes.

Instead, I encourage him to tell me about his new place while he eats.  He makes an attempt but keeps getting pulled into his phone.  He’s a double-tasker, it seems.  He can eat and text, eat and talk or talk and text.

Talk and text wins and he tells me a little about his new place, a little about how tired he is and asks what I have going the rest of the night.

You know…just meeting friends for dinner, I lie because I’m kind of donezo with him.

“Yeah, I’m meeting a friend at his place when he gets off work”…”But I’m super tired since I didn’t sleep at all last night.”

I mentally visualize another ball bouncing into the underbrush.

“What time is dinner?”

6:00

“We could go lay down for an hour…”

Or not.  You’ve got a burger to finish, Mr. I-Haven’t-Eaten-All-Day.

“I could get a box.”

Do that.  I’ll walk part of the way to your friend’s with you.

So, for any of you who have read my blogs about dating or lived through any of my recent dating misfortunes…this one’s for you.  I can learn from past mis-steps.  I don’t write people off immediately, nor do I make them pay for another’s transgressions.  I do hold them accountable to bringing something to the figurative table.

If what they bring is a penchant for hook-up apps and a skill for staying one step ahead of homelessness…well, I’m not the solution for their problems.  I could be fun to date once they get a grip on their problems, but while I may liken gay guys to broken-winged birds that doesn’t mean I have to cast myself in the role of St. Francis of Assisi in the little drama they call a life.

 

 

The Layover