Phone Shaming

Ok, I’m the biggest proponent of setting a cell phone aside and connecting in person.

<looking at you, Silver Fox>

That said, I give in to the LTE charms of my device frequently and other times downright fail at simply focusing on the moment at hand when with my friends. Still, I oftentimes intentionally flip my phone face down – since I have no boyfriend – in order to make the most of the time I spend with Chosen Family and persons of friendly interest.

That doesn’t stop my beautiful friends from seizing a moment to bust. my. chops when they are gifted an opportunity.

Not recently, by any means, The Fox and I were meeting Little Buddy and her 2.0 at The Big Lebowski and what happens too often…happened. I was walking my two block commute alone, as gawd intended, and they – unbeknownst to me – were parking.

I get to the bar and am greeted with an assortment of stories on the struggle of parking in the Pearl District that were all punctuated with some sort of “and then I saw Galbs walking through the park with his phone in his face”.

Ok, I do that but I assure you that I have reasonable situational awareness the entire time! Trust me, I’d loathe encountering someone who can’t accomplish this obsessive/addictive multi-tasking, so I try to be vigilantly aware when I’m doing it…although my awareness – unsurprisingly? – and admittedly does not extend to people searching for parking.

That said, you just know I have stories.

I was reminded of this shituational conundrum today while innocently waiting for a barista to manufacture a half dozen shots. I’m in Sunriver – my heaven on Earth, but don’t tell everyone because the last thing I want is to see this lil high desert resort in Oregon overrun by people – and had just hit the halfway point on a high desert resort version of an urban hike with my sister, bro-in-law and aunt. We decided – no, predecided at the outset of our hike – to get a coffee at Brewed Awakenings as a reward.

My bro-in-law and I ordered, then he took some water outside for his pooch while I waited.

Left unattended, out came my phone.

“The Instagram will not be ignored, Dan!” – the bitchy guy that walked up behind me.

He wasn’t even super-bitchy. Just your basic passive-aggressive Portland BS…so how can I even complain?

My blog, that’s why.

I’m waiting by the counter with my back to the door – and a good three feet betwixt myself and either the register or the door. I’m ready for new customers coming in behind me or existing patrons approaching the barista for seconds.

But that won’t stop our intrepid Portland-y version of Spalding Gray looking grumpapotamus motherfucker that walked in behind me.

I chose this particular picture for two to three reasons, depending on how you tally.

First, I know this wasn’t the late, great Spalding Gray because he passed himself away in 2004.

Second, since he did suicide himself, I found the quote in the photo…intriguing.

And third, I forgot the third reason.

Anyway.

Zombie Spalding Gray walks in behind me and I know it when I hear, “Heaven forbid we put down our devices for a moment” as he walks by me, completely not at all impacted by my or my phone’s presence. I just look at him and choose to not be a dick – for once – by replying, “I just took my phone out of my pocket for the first time in almost an hour, Oldie Hawn”.

Because I’m mature.

The funny thing is, he had earbuds in his ears.

The shooting spree in ‘Murica thing is, he didn’t buy anything.

Rat bastard.

But at least he passive-aggressively sniped at me as he passed by. I’d hate to know that he had to pay for therapy to cure what mentally ails him.

The really funny thing was that I’d literally just explained to my aunt maybe a mile back how everyone in Sunriver was always super nice-ish, greeting you whenever your path crossed theirs. We’d passed several other guests during our walk and without fail, received a kind verbal greeting from them. My aunt, leading us past a group of construction workers working on bike path improvements, had even greeted the workers as we passed by.

She’s from Texas, but overall a pretty nice person in her own right. But her greeting of the non-big-haired-blue-collar-types has led me to share the story of the openly friendly behaviors that Sunriver offers.

I’m not gonna lie, I think it’s because there are literally zero minorities here and people are just letting their guard down.

I also think they have zero awareness that that is why they are doing it. And they look so proud of themselves for being so friendly. I really hate to judge their motivation.

Yet, I haven’t let that stop me from surmising their hopefully unconscious M.O.

Stupid Americans.

Then, there’s the Lady on the Bike.

And, trust me…she was no lady.

I had just left my condo in the Park Blocks and was checking my phone to react as needed to any alerts. I’d just woken up and donned a hat to cover my bed head so I could venture out for provisions for a lazy day. I was still in my slept in, wrinkled tee shirt and cut off sweat pants, and, yeah…freeballing in public after a short night.

I just wanted a Monster.

At least I had bothered to brush my teeth.

Sidebar: the whole time I’ve been writing this, there been an owl hooting intermittently outside my window. I’m not gonna lie, at first I thought it was one of my relatives getting down.

Apparently, I need to get laid so I can stop projecting my lewd thoughts onto hapless wildlife.

Anyway, I allow myself the distraction of deleting junky emails in the block from my place off Flanders to the busier arterial surface street of Everett. Then I drop my phone to my side and wait for a break in traffic.

When it’s safe to cross without feeling like I’m in a game of Frogged, I proceed….only to be stopped before reaching the far corner by an old hippie lady riding her bike across the side street.

From sidewalk to sidewalk.

It shouldn’t surprise you to learn that cyclists in Portland are expected to ride on the street and follow the basic rules of the old road.

Not this broad. Nor far too many e-scooter riders, but that’s another story. That I’ve already told. LOL.

“Of course, I wouldn’t expect you to put down your phone” she says under her wheeze as she peddles onto the sidewalk I should be walking onto. Mind you, I’m standing in one of the two busiest East/West streets in the Pearl while she breaks basic traffic laws.

But I have my phone in my hand, so it’s ok. Thank gawd I could save her the trouble of executing me, since I’m not a person of color.

I made it safely onto the far sidewalk with only a minimal lark left by her white privilege. But…still, I couldn’t shake the whole feeling of entitled victimization her attitude levied upon me.

Surrealiously.

Any moron with a minimum of accountability should know to shut up when riding their bike on the sidewalk. That she didn’t is surprising…but not at surprising as the ease with which she projected blame on to me for her transgression.

The Pearl is on the cusp of a huge project two blocks from my home. The 9 block parcel that houses Portland’s main Post Office building is scheduled to be torn down and redeveloped into nine blocks of housing…operations there have already scaled back. It’s really just a parcel service counter and PO Boxes these days. Sorting and bulk delivery have moved to their new location, meaning that the major truck traffic I’d grown used to on Pearl District streets has been diverted and eliminated as those businesses are re-routed to the new base of operations.

This chunk of land was even the major part of the Portland Design Commission’s submission to Amazon for its second world HQ – although, I’m pretty sure the PDC didn’t want to be seriously considered.

It was a self defense submission. Kinda like registering for a crock pot on your wedding wish list: it’s expected and if you don’t at least tell people what you’re willing to accept in a crock pot…you’re going to get screwed. And you’re also going to get five crock pots from your crackpot friends with the best intentions.

So, PDC threw in a bid do they could at least say that they participated.

For the briefest flicker of a moment, I missed the semi trucks bound for the Post Office. While this judgy, deflecting cyclist could capriciously disregard my presence…the old normal Post Office traffic would have reduced her to road pizza.

I’m not okay with that idea, per se. But I am aware that change in our country is going to come from people abandoning their “me first” mentality and living as a part of a whole, America. People who can’t do that, including the Trumpster Fire at the White House, should self select out.

Of life.

Let’s all go out and do something nice today, for no other reason than to just make an effort to change our collective culture. I know this will be easy for most of my readers, because based on your previous comments, I know I have great people reading my drivel.

Thanks for that! And thanks in advance for helping me to pay it forward by being a part of the solution to our country’s brokenness.

Phone Shaming

My Favorite Seattle Things

…all came to Portland last weekend. It was perfect.

Well, most of my favorite Seattle things. My ex, Rib, and his boyfriend were coincidentally in town in addition to the overdue but planned visit from my former Seattle neighbor and podcast co-host, D-Slice and her “new” girlfriend.

If DP and his boyfriend had come here instead of going to Greece and any of these folks had shown up carrying a Hot Mama’s pizza…that would have been perfect!

Surrealiously, who goes to Greece when you can visit Portland instead?

D-Slice had arranged an overnight visit a few weeks back, so I had taken the night off work – or what I’m calling work these days, but that’s another post – to spend some time with her. But, since I’m working graveyards, I wouldn’t get home until around 5 AM on the day of their visit.

No biggie, they were planning to arrive around 1 in the afternoon, so plenty of time for a nap before meeting up and then racing our way into the nearest gutter.

Enter, Rib.

He’d come to town, Rib-style a couple weeks ago with a text at around 8 PM saying that they were just finishing dinner in Olympia – about halfway between Portland and Shittatle – and decided to spend the night in Portland. I kind of envy that type of spontaneity, but since I was packing lunch and getting ready to hop on the bike for my evening commute, I had to tap out. This type of spur of the moment planning can also work against me since I prefer Happy Hour or afternoon drinking versus spending evenings out because bars are so people-y later. If I wasn’t due to work, I might have been finishing up around the time his text landed. <hiccup>

But, having been skunked two weeks ago, Rib gave me three days notice that he’d booked a trip with a 30 hour layover and would get in late Friday and leave early Sunday. His BF was gonna fly with him both ways. I think that’s a pretty fun piece of their relationship…kind of like spontaneously popping into town after dinner in Oly.

It makes me happy.

Anyway, Saturday morning rolls around and I get home from work, shower (very necessary), then debate just staying up for the day versus going to bed as the sun rises. With D-Slice and I, dinner and drinks can go a while. I was pretty sure I could go til 9 PM with no sleep, but not <gulp> closing time!

I popped a mellie and went to bed.

I awoke at 11 to a text from Rib. It was a picture of their Chicken Breakfast Sandwich, Chicken and Waffles and Cinnamon Roll breakfast at Tilt, right up the street from me.

Devil. Hate missing that!

Checking in, I learn they are at another Portland “in the know” experience.

Huber’s is famous for their dramatic table-side Spanish Coffees. Now they are iced, too! Well played, Huber’s…well played.

I missed two of those. But the boys were looking to meet up and get some US Open viewing in.

The request was rooftop bar. There’s only one (two, really…but one is too terribly bro-tastic to entertain) option in the Pearl, so I chased them that way while sucking down an iced coffee to shake off the lingering effects of my mellie before jumping into a pint.

They arrived just before I did, walked up to the rooftop, decided it was too douche-y and went back downstairs, heading out around the hostess station as I came in, went toward the stairs on the other side of the hostess station, got upstairs, groaned inwardly and then patted myself on my old man back for beating the youngsters to the bar.

Then I got their text.

Boo!

The important thing is that they validated my opinion of this bar. I’ve been there a dozen times in the 2-3 years it’s been open and never spent a dollar there because it’s just…so. ugh.

Back to the chase.

My whole life: chasing guys half my age.

<sigh>

I caught them a half block away and then amused myself be seeing how long I could follow them before they noticed me. Still texting them, of course.

We ended up back at Tilt because they have TVs.

And beer.

Two pitchers, some great conversation and one very upset Serena Williams later and we were caught up and ready for a D-Slice rendezvous.

It really was a nice couple of hours. Comfortably slipping between catching up, commenting on the match, chatting with the guys next to us and sniping at each other over beer choices – “anything but IPA!” – is a delightful afternoon, in my opinion.

But, why, Rib? Whyyyy would you get orders before heading to the bar only to come back with a pitcher of a craft version of Hamm’s?!?

Because he’s Rib. Naturally.

And because I’m me, he got a pitcher of IPA when I returned from the bar.

I was amazed that we had polished off two pitchers after their two Iced Spanish Coffees…oof.

But, in addition to the reminder of these young bucks’ alcohol tolerance, I’d been treated to an update of the new career as a flight attendant at the two-ish month mark. He’s been based in Salt Lake since graduating from flight attendant college, meaning he had to commute from Seattle to SLC for work. However, effective next month, he’ll be based in Seattle, so that’s a win.

There’s a vacation to Estonia next month, too. That reminds me of my relationship with Sacha. Collecting experiences and growing our world view together. It’s a priceless time in their lives and it excites me and gives me a nice nostalgic jolt.

Stories about the joys of owning a Tesla. Hilarious stories. OMG. I never realized the potential quirkiness of a car that runs like a smartphone! Just a quick for instance: the BF was telling me that he’d had to reboot his phone while driving and that had basically shut down the car’s computer for the minute it took to complete: no turn signals, no speedometer, no nothing…but you’re still driving.

Pass.

In addition to reinforcing my pedestrian lifestyle and dislike of the douche-y rooftop bars in the Pearl District, they also reconfirmed my condo-dwelling existence with a video of water bubbling up through their lawn from a burst water main. Poor kids. But, yeah…they are looking to sell the house and get into a condo or townhome situation. Thankfully, they have an Estonian getaway to look forward to after getting through their water main ordeal.

Anyway, there we were, heading off to meet up with the girls. It was a little intimidating – something I would have avoided 10 years ago…no, 20 – mixing new and old friends. Let alone my ex and my former neighbor’s new significant others. But I think that with the two newbies, there was enough history in their relationships to make meeting two to four new people comfortable. I refer to D-Slice’s GF as new, but she’s only new to me since they’ve been dating for a couple years now.

“Done with Voodoo Doughnuts, where should we meet?”

I’m heading to Big Legrowlski with the boys, you’re only a few blocks away!

“Of course, Big Legrowlski! Why did I even need to ask?”, D-Slice laughed in response.

We all had a couple of drinks at the BL and enjoyed a couple hours of lively, familiar chat together before the boys took off for their ritual Portland dinner experience at Katchka. They offered to take us along, but Russian food isn’t for everyone and it’s expensive – like last time I went it was ~$75 per person expensive – and then there’s the whole five people in a boutique restaurant makes for a crowded table…a pet peeve of mine is large groups forcing themselves into small venues. Plus, the girls and I needed some time for just us.

“I dunno, you just wanna grab a pizza, Galbs?”

Uh…definitely!

It’s all part of the podcast experience! Although, this podcast ended by 9 PM and without our signature podcast floor-aoke! I’m sure you can figure out that portmanteau…but comment if you need an explanation. I’m happy to provide in-person demonstrations, too.

We walked the few blocks between Big Legrowlski and Old Town Pizza – my all time favorite pizza joint.

We chatted the whole while. I love having people in my life – especially at this juncture in my life – that fit so comfortably. These people are my Chosen Family for a reason. Years can go by without a face to face meet up but you could not tell it from watching.

There was a “We’re vegetarians” hiccup at Old Town, but I rolled with it and in trusting their ordering skills ended up with a delightful pesto pizza that was so tasty. I’ll order it again, it’s perfectly reminiscent of Hot Mama’s Green Pizza (pictured up above). While they made the pizza order, I went to the adjacent bar and got drinks, meeting them upstairs.

We nibbled and sipped.

We talked about their new blended lives in D-Slice’s condo in Seattle.

I caught up on the band situation – D-Slice having pared her two band affiliation down to a single new band called Hourglasses. She sounds fulfilled in the new arrangement. Her GF also performs, which is how they originally met.

The surprising thing is that her GF is so stable. It’s a refreshing change over her last girlfriend who had closet mental issues…but, y’know, the crazy ones are awesome in bed.

Whuddyagunnado?

I fully expected a stable personality, no surprise there. But what did surprise me was how intelligent she was.

Well-spoken.

Confident.

Comfortable.

I was so utterly pleased for my friend. I expected her GF to be stable by comparison to her last attempt at dating, don’t get me wrong. Even though I personally don’t date because I have a knack for finding guys that are damaged – and sadly, crazy boys don’t bring it to bed like crazy girls do, in my experience – at worst and “will do” at best. I wasn’t projecting that gift of mine onto my friend. D-Slice looks to have found someone that clears that minimal bar of not being crazy by a wide friggin’ margin. Talking to her with my friend was an extension of that comfortable fit my Chosen Family and I share.

How friggin’ awesome is that?!?

As we were leaving Old Town, D-Slice pulled out her phone in the middle of the restaurant and reminded me of our podcast photo op tradition.

All of our podcasts are fantastic experiences. It’s a new and unusual sensation to both be leaving one so clear eyed and able to – y’know…walk.

I crammed a lot into my one day with these great people…I’m more than happy to have the next one not be as long in the making as this – I don’t think I’ve seen D-Slice since I was packing up my condo after renting it out for about 18 months when I moved from Seattle back to Portland. That was April of 2016!

I reckon the ball is in my court, though: the next podcast is gonna be in Seattle. It’s only fair.

My Favorite Seattle Things

I Had an Idea On My Way to a Tiny House Warming

107-ish weeks ago, I posted an entry about a party that I’d been invited to and to which, I had actually gone. What was unique about it was that it was an invite from someone outside my inner circle, so my comfort was not necessarily assured.

This party was part of the impetus for my writing project that year. I called it #TheYesGame and the goal was…well, fairly obvious.

Well, I’m proud (?) to say that yesterday, I said yes again! While I’m sure there were additional moments of success in The Yes Game in the intervening 107 weeks, I’m still a grumpy old man at heart. What that means is that my reply to an invitation is more likely to be “maybe” versus “fuck, yeah”.

Still, yesterday’s party in question wasn’t too risky compared to the Garden Party of 2016. Back then, I only knew the host, not any guests. As a matter of fact, I really only knew the host as a service provider…he was my hair guy. I was confused about whether he was inviting me as a date or simply a guest. My confusion was enhanced because I really wanted to coitus him like a white guy.

None of these factors was in play yesterday.

The hosts yesterday are known to me through my inner circle friends. I guess that makes them second ring friends, right outside my Chosen Family. So, I really like them. Additionally, without confirming with any of our mutual friends, I had a high degree of certainty that I’d run into someone I know at the party besides the hosts.

That didn’t happen, but just like in the Garden Party of ’16, I had a really good time!

In both cases, I was able to find people to chat with and just be sociable. Plus, I got to see the hosts’ new Tiny House, which was the whole purpose of their party.

One thing that was different and surprising this time around was the getting there. Proverbial wisdom suggests that it’s half of the actual fun, right?

Well, yesterday I had to choose a means of getting there. Since it was hotter than Hades yesterday, I chose Uber over the bus.

The hosts aren’t MAX adjacent, so I didn’t have the option of taking a train. On a really hot day, I can tolerate a train…buses, though are kind of ugh on a normal day.

Anyway, as I’m wont to do in most situations, I just started chatting with the driver. Well, it’s that or attaching my face to my phone for the duration.

It’s my experience that most Uber drivers drive part-time as a means of supplementing their income. Yesterday, I had an Uber Unicorn – a full-time driver!

He went on to say that if anyone ever did an Uber Driver Reality Series, he was going to be on it.

…and, my imagination was off to the races.

I started with suggesting that the series could follow a Real Housewives type format, but that my preference would be to have more of a Portlandia vibe to the production.

Sure, it would be cool to give these featured drivers a communal garage and/or living space. But that latter feature feels kinda Real World-y. The Pacific Northwest hadn’t really embraced those types of shows in the past, though.

Additionally, Uber’s vehicle standards is kind of elitist, but only inasmuch as they want to protect the value of the experience their service provides. That standard lends credence to more of a Real Housewives-type luxury. Again, not very PNW-y.

For those reasons of exclusion, my gut said a Portland based reality show would have to come from a more quirky concept.

So, we’re back to Portlandia.

Obviously we’re gonna have to design our own app. The benefit there is that you can work in the usage waiver for appearing on camera to the Terms and Conditions.

No blurry faces on my show!

The point of the app is the same, basically. My vehicle standards would just be appropriately Portland-ized. Less this

More this

Imagine finishing up with your date, a great dinner or show or what have you and opening up the Uber app only to find it’s surge pricing.

Screw that!

What better reason do you need to open up the Portland version and get a ride? Sure, you’ll be on TV – and probably a lil buzzed – but you won’t get gouged by da man.

Then this guy pulls up

That would make for an interesting ride home.

The next day you could ask yourself, “Did I not get any because I’m cheap or because I traumatized my date by making her get into that car?!?”

But the real twist on my program wouldn’t be weird cars. It would be alternative transportation.

Maybe even a power share vehicle…our own version of a fare split.

We are kinda famous for our weird means of getting around. Electric Scooter shares just launched in town. We’ve got BikeTown stations all over the place. Segue commuters are as common as our Segue Tour service.

The person skateboarding down the street is equally likely to be a 50-something as they are to be wearing a wedding dress. I’m just saying we take it to its next illogical incarnation with a ride share app that is distinctly us.

Of course, there’s only a couple of options for moderators that come to mind. It’s got to be either our controversial and quirky former mayor

Or this guy

Obviously.

Because, like I said earlier, getting there is half the fun!

So…anybody know Andy Cohen? Hook me up.

I Had an Idea On My Way to a Tiny House Warming

What Could Possibl…

Yeah, ok…the hell with that question.

I’m torn about whether it will be my death certificate or my tombstone that says, “Well, that answers that question…”

I forwarded my acupuncture appointment reminder to voicemail earlier and when I went in to delete the message, saw that I actually had two. Now, this would hardly be the first time I’ve received two reminder calls, but that wasn’t the case today.

The second call was a follow up to a kick ass interview that I had last week. Just wanted to let me know that they went with an internal.

If you have been reading The Great Job Hunt series, you know how lovely I find those words.

So, instead of dwelling and falling into the same trap that I did last time I got the internal candidate rash, I decided to refocus on some funnier “What could possibly go wrong” moments and other recent examples of my quirk-centric existence.

A much better use of my energy.

It’s amazing to me how many of these humorous situations are actually crowd sourced while I’m with friends versus my solo adventures. But let’s start with one of those rarer gems, shall we?

Because, it just happened.

I was at the pharmacy picking up a refill before the weekend – because I’m not working, pretty much have every day to get this errand done but for some reason would rather wait until 4:45 on a Friday to do so.

Maybe it’s that I wanna trot my keg belly across town at the hottest part of the day. Perhaps since it’s a Friday, I figured there’d be some guycandy knocking off early along the way to reward me for completing this task.

Maybe it was both.

I had called ahead, but there were still a few minutes needed to finish up my refill. Taking a seat, I heard the door open behind me and was treated to my guy candy.

Dressed in a cropped mesh football-ish jersey and cut off denim shorts, I assumed he couldn’t be coming from work. He might be heading to work, I mused, since my pharmacy is near one of Portland’s two gay strip clubs.

I got a little distracted when leaned over the counter and pushed his butt out toward me, but I did vaguely hear him say he needed a refill over the rushing of my pulse. My first thought was absolutely unmentionable but my second thought was, “This guy looks like he could have starred in a gay remake of an 80s Whitesnake video.

I was abruptly ripped back to reality by eight numbers: 11171996.

11

17

1996

He’s 22.

Of course, I had to share this with my friend, Diezel. He would certainly enjoy my discomfiture.

He certainly didn’t disappoint.

I couldn’t resist throwing a little shade in my jealousy over the carefree existence young gays have thanks to science, hence my “whore” comment.

Naturally, he sat down three feet from me and began finessing the fringe on his shorts. Picking at a thread here, lifting a knee to the side of his head to get a look at the backside of his shorts.

Seriously, kid…I’m looking. Let’s not overdo it, shall we?

Nevertheless, this St Lucille Bluth meme just captured my inner grumpy old man so perfectly in the moment…me, being all bitter over what I know I can’t have.

It was quite delicious – and responsible – that this kid was picking up his PrEP prescription moments before the weekend began. All the while, teasing the defenseless old man. It’s 90 degrees, kid. I’m too dehydrated to drool, don’t take it personally.

Earlier today, Jortis took some time to take a swipe at my figurative chops on the Facebook. He had seen a video about how to tell if there are sharks in the water before you swim in it.

He thought to tag me, which made me chuckle. Still, I watched the video through my fingers, ready to throw my phone aside at the first sign of a shark attack.

The video proudly touts the simple secret of detecting a shark infested body of water using only a spoon.

Step 1) Use spoon to taste a sample of the water

That’s it.

If the water tastes like salt there’s sharks in it.

I’ll wait while you recover from that subtle shock.

I’m of the mind that just because sharks are rarely found in fresh or brackish waters it doesn’t mean theyaren’t ever found there. As a matter of fact, I think every time you go into fresh water without encountering a shark, it just makes it more likely that it might happen the next time.

Yes, rivers.

Yes, lakes.

Yes, yes, yes, swimming pools, jacuzzis and bath tubs.

Fears are supposed to be irrational!

Also, I failed Probabilities & Statistics. In my defense, I took it at 8 am while I was working swing shift from 11 PM to 7 AM at Hoag Hospital.

This galeophobia of mine has been responsible for some rather amusing moments for my friends recently. At my expense, naturally. Not that I mind. With all the shit I sling, I best be able to take some in return!

Interesting side note, galeophobia is derived from the Greek word for weasel or polecat. Have you all become at least virtually acquainted with my murderous feline?

Not to be outdone, Little Buddy can generally be relied upon to insert an “irrational fear of sharks” bon mot into any given situation. And they’re usually pretty friggin’ hilarious.

This floor decal, for instance

Surely, there’s a shower curtain available.

I’m not suggesting at all that she goes out of her way to find these nightmare triggers for me.

The Facebook, on the other hand, seems to understand her shopping and internet browsing habits. Recently, this suggestion popped up on her Facebook feed.

She’s a crazy-talented baker, too, so I’ve no doubt about what the next birthday cake she bakes me will look like!

Finally – and I’m not suggesting that Little Buddy or Jortis is some sort of catalyst here – but last week, we all went to Portland Center Stage to see the final show of Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill.

Sidebar: if this is playing anywhere near you ever, I suggest you go see it.

Quite.

Amazing.

Anyhoo…after the show, we all cry-stumbled over to Powell’s because Jortis had a book he needed to pick up. None of us, save Jortis, knew what book he was after – and I’ve since forgotten…old – but I was surprised to find our party lost together in the sci-fi/fantasy room. This room is about a quarter of a city block, so don’t doubt me when I say we were lost together.

Plus, I had some door trouble as a result of being raised right. When I held the door for one of our foursome, eighty other people decided that Powell’s was the place to be and I got stuck at the entrance while watching the three people I was with get smaller and further and further spread out.

I caught up with LB in the Orange Room – or was it the Pink Room?

Nevertheless, there we were, waiting.

Maybe a little buzzed.

Definitely feeling the emotional weight of the show we’d just seen.

And it’s Little Buddy to our emotional rescue!

She somehow managed to catch a cluster of book titles that struck her as the perfect indicator that Jortis and I were in the right area. This is probably part of why I think it might have been the Pink Room…

Have you ever noticed how homoerotic fantasy fiction is?

I have.

Little Buddy definitely has.

Bones of the Earth?

This Side of Judgment?

How many titles in that pic have the word Queen in them?!?

Insanity.

Random insanity.

And this just happens to catch Little Buddy’s eye. I mean, c’mon! I have no question why LB is in my life, she’s prepaying her time in purgatory, obviously.

But, if I did…this moment is a perfect illustration.

For my part, not to be out-distracted, I noticed a book about 6″ – seriously, no double entendres intended – outside of the frame of the picture above.

I don’t know who this Belgarath the Sorcerer is, but his name is an anagram for my last name.

How.

Friggin’.

Random.

Ever since I’ve seen this, I’ve been trying to have a dream about Belgarath where we meet, fall in love, get married and then his name is Belgarath bal Gather.

(Like I’d tell you my real last name)

Anyway…hey, look! I distracted myself from my double-disappointing news day! I failed to mention that I’ve been summoned to Seattle next week for a preliminary round of We Hired An Internal, causing me to cancel a trip to The Gorge to christen LB and 2.0’s new wine country escape and Jortis’ birthday.

How’s that for crap timing?!?

But, like I said…channeling funny stories into my psyche in order to drive out the demons of bad news.

And it worked.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I also picked up a grocery bag of junk food earlier today as I wandered the aisles of my local RiteAid trying to figure out what it was I went in for.

Imma go comfort eat all of that.

Because, what could possibly go wrong?

It was dishwasher detergent, btw. And, no…I didn’t remember before I left.

What Could Possibl…

Xtopher’s Rib

This here, ladies and gentlemen and all-gendered readers, is the oldest draft I presently own.

May 24, 2016…if you’re curious.

It’s been back on my mind because of my commitment to wrap up my open gay-jacent writing projects during Pride month. Also, Rib graduated Flight Attendant College last week and this was his first full week working as a Flight Attendant.

I sent him a text when I realized he had finished the 8 week course, which seemed to go on forever from where I witnessed it. I wonder what it felt like to him…although his occasional social media updates suggested he enjoyed his time there.

His response was, “Thanks, Dad!”

Classic Rib.

I should note that Rib actually provided his own blog identity after briefly wanting to change his name to Rib during Culinary School.

It is a name that has stuck with him, at least with my friends. The Silver Fox spied this restaurant on a trip through Spain and Portugal and demanded I forward it to Rib.

I initially started this post after I participated in a Writing Workshop that the original Fabulous Baker Sister had suggested to me.  It was my first such experience and I found that my ex had been a topic that came to mind during a couple of the assigned exercises.

Not knowing what to expect of the workshop, I arrived just the slightest bit anxious.  Also, the teensiest buzzed thanks to a spontaneous happy hour with my parents.  I love my mom and dad. The pre-funk helped me relax into the exercises.

I had been thinking about what – or if – to write about that experience.  It was really amazing.  There were four exercises we did and two of them had ended up involving the best of my ex boyfriends.  Later in this same week, he moved into his first home with his partner, so he’d kind of been center stage in my consciousness for several days around the week of the workshop.

Regardless of how readily he sprung to mind after the prompts given at the Writing Workshop, the blog entry kind of stalled.

Limbo.

Truth be told, I had actually started this draft the year before the date I quoted earlier…that was just the most recent edit.

The summer before, Rib and his boyfriend had come down for a spontaneous visit. I think it was near the end of Summer. They live in Seattle and had been to dinner at one of Rib’s former classmates from Culinary School. She lived in Olympia and when I got the call, he said that they had decided to pop down to Portland since they were so close.

Ok

Seriously, though, that type of spontaneity in a relationship is just fun.

They checked into their hotel and then popped over for a nightcap. We may have gone out for a Spanish Coffee at Huber’s that night because that’s what you do with out of town guests in Portland.

It was a fun evening, connecting with them as an actual couple, like adults. I admit that when we all lived in Seattle and ended up together, I’d recreationally by the boyfriend shots just because I knew how he suffered the next day.

To his credit, he was at least a willing sport, borderline good sport about it.

The day after their surprise visit, we went wine tasting in the valley. They had just bought a humongous orange Jeep. I was kind of jealous, never having really gotten over getting rid of my own Jeep at Sacha’s urging back in ’02. He hated it, granted it was a piece of shit…but the boys’ Jeep was certainly enviable.

We hit three different wineries and had a wonderful afternoon tasting at the different estates, two of which were simply breathtaking. I can’t believe I don’t have pics from that day at my fingertips…checkout my last post for a little insight as to how those might have gone missing.

Anyway, after the Writing Workshop, I was all jazzed up to share my Rib relationship story. Then I saw an article in the Huffington Post suggesting that people who were friends with their exes were either narcissists or psychopaths.

Great.

Here I was, 45-plus years on, feeling proud to finally have an ex that I was able to remain friends with. I’m off brand for friendship with Sacha. The Mulligan has the bad manners to die.

So, yeah, no pressure, Xtopher…but I felt Rib was my one last shot at exercising the concept of actually maintaining a post-relationship relationship with an ex.

You see, here’s the deal, Rib and I were never supposed to date, anyway.

We’d met in a bar one night when I wandered out for a solo beer in Seattle, as was my weekday ritual. There was this ginger nugget of a guy siting at the corner, right near where I ordered my beer.

We chatted while I waited to be served, so I ended up sitting next to him. Rib was sitting around the corner of the bar and occasionally interjected during our conversation.

Sassy.

He eventually drove the other guy away. As I watched him leave, I realized that he was actually meeting the bartender, Rock, at the door and they left together.

Glad I could help pass the time. Hehe.

Then it was just Rib and me. He’d still blurt out random conversation as I sipped. Eventually, I realized that hidden by his hedgehog hairstyle were earbuds.

“You’re listening to your own music?!?”, I said realizing now why his additions to my earlier conversation had seemed so erratic, they had come as he overheard our conversation between songs.

Seems he didn’t appreciate the bar’s music. When I asked why he didn’t go to a bar that was more his style, he admitted that the bartender gave him free drinks here.

“The one that just left with the guy I was talking to?”

We chatted a little more, learning that he’d only been in town for a few weeks, having moved from SoCal. He liked it ok, but had not yet adjusted to how hilly it was, gesturing to his feet, where there was a large pair of high laced combat style boots.

Apparently, they were pretty heavy to lug around, especially after a few drinks. He admitted to having fallen just recently and blamed the terrain.

It was cute.

He ended up coming home with me that night – nothing happened, you pervs! I’d gotten him – with Rock’s help – a little too relaxed to safely haul his boots home.

Interestingly, and DP will tell me that he told me so, he never really left after that first night. DP’s relationship philosophy, as he’d described it to me once, was that you meet someone and take them home…they either never leave or you never see them again.

It’s admittedly jaded, but also truer than I’d like to admit.

However, while Rib was right up my alley as far as my tastes in guys go; I wasn’t ready to blindly accept DP’s sage dating advice at face value.

Over the coming days, I learned that Rib had chosen Seattle because his sister lived here and he’d wanted to get out of his mom’s house and onto his own two feet without totally forfeiting an actual safety net.

Made sense.

In SoCal, he’d gone to college for a while and then dropped out and moved back into his mom’s house. For the time before deciding to move, he’d been taking care of the family cats and cooking meals for his mom while she worked.

I asked what he was doing since getting to Seattle.

“Oh, y’know…taking care of my sister’s dog while she works and cooking dinner for her”

“Good thing you got out from under your mom’s skirts”, I joked.

Obviously, we weren’t a good match. I’m grumpy old me and he was just this endearing Lost Boy. I told him that and when he asked why, I told him that I expected a boyfriend to have a job.

Dating younger guys, I hardly expected them to have similar professional accomplishments, but I expected them to at least be working toward something.

Thinking that was that, I was surprised that he went out and got an interview at a local candy shop-slash-tourist trap.

Go, Rib!

Ok, that was kind of impressive and before you know it, we’re six months in.

It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. We’d have talks about serious stuff – how to continue his upward trajectory toward being an adult – that would end in big, slow rolling tears. It was strange to navigate those talks. They usually started with a Rib mini-tantrum, something like him hating his job.

He’d just blurt out, “I hate it! I’m quitting!”

I’d counter with something like what he hated about it and he’d yell “Everything!” or complain that he didn’t get paid enough for what they expected him to do. He’d eventually settle down and pull his knees up to his chin as he gained an understanding of what he was struggling with, arriving at the realization that he needed to be able to stick it out at a job he “hated” until he found something else.

He didn’t like it, but he understood it.

My rule of thumb when dating younger guys has always been “leave ’em better than you found ’em”. Rib surprised me by being pretty open to the perspective I had to offer – despite occasional tough conversations like I described above – when he encountered challenges, either at work or just in getting his feet under him in a new city.

Like I said, he’d grown frustrated with his job and somehow – I think through another co-worker – gotten hooked up as waitstaff for the private club behind my condo.

It was a challenging job jump because it was a pretty exclusive, high touch club. But he took to it.

He really got excited about the environment, from learning about high end wine to serving in a fine dining environment.

At some point in those first years we were together, education came up. I’m not sure how. Probably, I was a bossy jerk about him completing a degree.

Given his enthusiasm for cooking – for his mom, then his sister and now me – and food in general from his experience at the club, he was thinking about Culinary School.

It made sense, too. The boy was a complete geek whenever he came to my kitchen store. His passion and enthusiasm were obvious and my team loved seeing him pop into the shop to explore or take a class. Soon enough, we were having Thanksgiving dinners at the condo with his mom and aunts visiting from SoCal and the Santa Clara Pueblo in New Mexico.

Rib actually managed to complete his culinary degree debt free because of his Native American heritage. It was a big plus for him an took a lot of the stress out of his decision to finish his education.

His graduation was a big deal, as it should be. It was shortly after his Chef of the Day project. His mom came up from SoCal, his Seattle-sister was there, obviously, and my parents and sister drove up from Portland in what turned out to be the winter storm of the century. It had turned their three to four hour drive into a nine-plus hour affair.

Luckily, Rib went all out for his CoD and the menu included baby octopus. Prepared as obvious octopus. Everyone forgot the travel journey and seems to only remember that. But in having so much of our respective families present, it really felt like a family affair.

After graduation, he floundered. What he’d realized in college was that he didn’t want to be a cook.

Ok

When pressed during conversations about it, he’d articulate how he wanted to use his education to be able to design menus, but he was getting more and more interested in the front of the house experience he was picking up at the club.

His boss at the club ended up connecting him to a restaurant in Pike Place Market. It was fine dining and Rib was pretty excited about the change. It ended up being a good change for him. He was working part time hours and with the tips he earned he was making high $40k a year.

Waiting tables.

I was a little jealous!

This Lost Boy that I’d picked up in a bar a scant few years earlier that had had no job or inclination was now a college grad and making a respectable living for himself.

I was proud of him.

Even not realizing what was ahead for us.

Oooooh, foreshadowing!

So…right, even with all this growth, the boy still had quite a bratty streak in him. It was a constant in his personality and part of what I loved about him, but occasionally he’d take it too far.

Frequently, we’d be out with friends and – depending on the situation – he’d get bored because my friends did boring “old people” stuff and he wanted to dance and carry on or we’d do stuff with his friend and I was too much of an “Oldie Hawn”. We each enjoyed the others friends, but when he wasn’t into it, it could really get stressful.

It was on one of these nights out, us and DP, where I don’t remember what exactly was going on, but he wasn’t enjoying it.

Oddly, we were headed to his favorite late night food spot for some pozole, but he was still not having it. He was literally dragging his feet and bitching from a half a block behind us about how lame we were.

It was then that I realized that for all of his growth, this was as far as he was going to grow with me. I sent him home and went to dinner with DP.

I don’t know what he did when he left, but he was home when I got there, sitting on the floor somewhere between a pout and guilt. I told him that his behavior was unacceptable.

He knew, he flashed a couple of those big, sad, trauma tears and I told him we should break up. I could see that he was maxed out on growth, having taken a big step in moving from SoCal to Seattle, but he hadn’t really given up the security of having someone else in his move from Mom to sister to me. My thinking was that until he had to really bear the burden of his own responsibilities, this was as close as he was going to come to becoming his own man.

It was a super hard conversation. Flashing through my mind as it was happening was another conversation. We’d run into a friend of mine at The Cuff and he was chiding me about Rib being so young. This was early in our relationship, they were just meeting for the first time. In response to his trading, I’d said, “What? He’ll be 30 before I turn 50!”

It earned me a laugh and an eye roll at the time, but in breaking up with Rib it was playing in my mind as I admitted to myself that this could be the last relationship of my life.

I know…so dramatic.

Still, I knew that Rib would eventually get bored stagnating in this almost state. He’d come to this same conclusion eventually, then he’d leave me. Whether it was six months or six years later, I was certain it would happen and then I’d resent him. I’d react indignantly and overemphasize the sacrifice of my leveraged happiness that I’d made by selfishly staying with him.

Y’know, like I did with Sacha.

It took me a long time to get over my anger at him for leaving me. Part of that was the way that he’d left me, the other part was jealousy that he’d had the balls to leave me when I’d stayed with him out of fear of being single at the time.

So, I knew what I was talking about in this situation.

We set up a timeline for finding him his own place and within a few weeks, he was looking at furniture and settling in. I sent a lot of good kitchen stuff with him that we’d accumulated over the years together, but I knew that he’d get better use out of it than me.

His sister – unhelpfully – set him up on a date about three weeks after he moved out. She’s a serial dater, so I wasn’t surprised. However, I thought he really needed time to get to know himself as an individual before really dating again.

That disagreement – and Rib’s subsequent sudden new boyfriend – caused me to lay down a six month embargo on contact.

I needed time to heal and adjust myself.

Well, not “adjust myself”…y’know, just get an answer to “Who is single Xtopher?”

At the end of that timeframe, we found ourselves drawn together on occasion. Sometimes randomly, running into each other at a bar, cue shots for the boyfriend! Others, I’d get a request for a solo lunch date and we’d talk about struggles: work, boyfriend, what have you.

The boys still come to town – not enough in my opinion – and I’m happy to let them treat me to a $300 dinner…has anyone seen my pride? Usually, though, I see them pop up on social media. It’s a pleasant vicarious surprise, seeing them post from Flushing Meadows or Australia as they attend an Open. A sudden trip to Germany with the fam for Oktoberfest.

I’m glad to see him thriving with his new boyfriend. Now, particularly seeing him become a flight attendant after trying to get into the program for three years. That was something that came up seemingly out of nowhere, but he didn’t let the first two experiences discourage him.

And now he’s done it.

Anyway, I can’t think of a better way to wrap up Pride month than completing a project about a person I was lucky enough to spend some time with and am privileged enough to still be a part of his life, albeit just as a friendly little narcissistic and/or psychopathic sliver.

Right, HuffPo?

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go be alone forever.

<dramatic sniff>

Xtopher’s Rib

The Mulligan

A Mulligan – for all of you non-golfer types out there – is a do over.

The Mulligan was my do over.

I’m on the left…

David was my second boyfriend after coming out to myself as gay. It would still be another five years or so before I completed the coming out process: telling my family, not making discomfort over my sexuality other people’s problem and then ultimately being able to discuss it as a non-issue. However, after my first boyfriend – who hit me and cheated on me – David was my chance to have a right relationship.

In other words, he goes back quite a ways.

Back to the days when people were officially “not dying from AIDS”.

Back far enough that when he didn’t die from AIDS – years after we broke up – I wrote about it on MySpace.

We had met at Ripples. Yup, another Long Beach story!

It took a while. I had to watch him from a distance for about 18 months before I worked up the nerve to casually bump into him at a Beer Bust.

Yes, I’d been going to Ripples before I was actually legal..

He was so cute. To me, at least. I liked the way his underbite made his head look like a peanut from the side.

I’m willing to admit that that might be an odd attribute to find attractive. But having watched him from afar for so long, I found that his mannerisms were also quite endearing.

He would flutter his eyelashes when he spoke.

The way he gestured. Casual and intimate, but not flamboyant.

I learned later that these mannerisms were part of his southern upbringing.

Genteel.

Perhaps not the most masculine adjective for a guy, but for me, this worked. It made me feel comfortable.

Eventually.

At first, I thought those fluttery lashes were more like bitchy eye rolls. This incorrect assumption was part of what intimidated me and kept me from approaching him. Later, I learned that they were just a conversational tic – y’know, the things you learn bar stalking people. Even later, I would learn that this was also a way for him to camouflage his disease when talking about things that made him uncomfortable. Effectively breaking eye contact so that he could assert himself when he was insecure in doing so.

It was interesting to get to know someone so well, on that intimate a level. Well, for me, anyway. Remember, I was probably 21-24 when we were together. Realizing that I could understand and know someone that well was new to me.

How could I not love him?

God, we did everything together.

Beach, movies, errands.

Wait, almost everything. He didn’t work out.

Still, the beach was the most important thing. This was SoCal, after all!

He was in the Air Force. OMG…seeing him in his uniform.

His roommate was an older guy and a civilian worker for the Air Force and they’d met and eventually begun living together when Rick’s original roomie moved out. They shared a two bedroom townhouse. Within six months, I was living there.

There were only four units in the row house, but they had the end unit which provided them with a small yard area where they’d have barbecues on the weekends or just chill with a cocktail after work. It was at these gatherings where I’d met many of their shared friends and eventually been adopted into the group. Les, Randy, the Billys Black and White…I’m still socially connected to some of these mutual friends through the magic of Facebook. These were good people to know. They helped me to nurture my identity as a gay man.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have three chosen families in my life. Groups of gay men and people who supported me emotionally and enriched my existence through theirs. Relationships that transcend simple presence.

This group of men was my first.

We had a neighbor in the row house that The Mulligan dismissively referred to as Bitch Tits. He was quite a little doughboy, but it was learning months and months after meeting him that the two had dated that made me understand the true emotion behind the moniker. This was quite a while before Fight Club came out as a book and Meatloaf’s character in the movie took the nickname mainstream. I sometimes amuse myself imagining The Mulligan crossing paths with Chuck Palahniuk and somehow influencing that character.

There’s a legacy…

One of the difficult things that I learned about The Mulligan was that he was super insecure. This manifested itself as an irrational jealousy.

At one point, he was even jealous of Bitch Tits. Usually, though, this was an issue for us after an afternoon at the beach or evening at the bar…when I spent the evening not talking to other guys.

I mention this because learning this about him allowed me to learn something about myself: I’m capable of being all in in a relationship.

The Mulligan was mustering out – does the Air Force muster? – and one of his benefits was being moved basically wherever he wanted since the Air Force has dragged him away from home. One of the other discharge requirements was a physical, which was when he learned that he had HIV.

His discharge from the Air Force was a pretty emotional time for this gayby. But I was so ga-ga in love with this guy…when he said he wanted to be closer to his family back in Mississippi, my thought was basically “Let’s get out of this place and away from your damn triggers”.

We’d been back to his hometown of Long Beach, MS a couple of times. We had been to New Orleans for Mardi Gras with his best friend and Long Beach was just a couple hours away by car. It didn’t hurt that in some strange irony, his best friend’s grandparents were snow birds that spent their winters on the Gulf Coast.

Neither of us were keen on living as a gay couple in Mississippi. We settled on the gulf coast of Florida. The beach lifestyle was one we were reluctant to give up, but the east coast was too far from his parents.

So…off we went.

We lived together for about a year in Florida before I learned something else: people don’t change because I sacrifice.

I realized this when I’d “done laundry” with a neighbor that he’d met actually doing laundry. The three of us had hung out after they became friends. Meeting up in the laundry room with a four pack of wine coolers to do laundry made the time pass quicker.

Being accused of having a crush on this friend he’d made kind of negated the joy that situation presented, so I stopped.

Funny, I hadn’t noticed him packing his jealousy when we left California.

Must’ve been in the trunk of his car…

A while later, he’d gone to visit his parents for a weekend. I couldn’t go because I was working. When he came home and asked me – what’s the opposite of nonchalantly? Challant? – how many times I’d cheated while he was away, I tried to make a joke out of it. It’s my way.

“Just the usual three-way”, I said, waggling my hands.

When women persist, it’s empowering and creates a political call to action.

It’s not usually so cool when men persist, especially insecure men.

This was when I learned something else about relationships: you can’t let someone else’s happiness erode your own.

I was so nuts in love with The Mulligan. I think part of that was me fully accepting myself and another person for who we were; good, bad and ugly. But I came to realize that I couldn’t bankrupt my own happiness in the hopes that it would infuse his. He wasn’t unhappy, but he was making himself situationally miserable by letting his jealousy ride roughshod over his emotional well-being.

And his relationship.

Realizing that a relationship should enhance my own happiness, I broke up with him. He couldn’t be happy with me – or anyone – until he accepted and got happy with himself.

Luckily, we had a two bedroom.

I felt like the biggest shit in the world for dumping a guy with HIV. It was pretty much still a death sentence in the early 90s, but my mental well-being wasn’t any more of a cure than the drugs available to him.

I was offered a promotion at work – well, at work in Houston – and took it.

I spent a year in Texas before getting promoted to California. Effectively working my way back to SoCal and my second hometown.

In late ’95, my boss offered me a lateral promotion to Portland. I passed, reluctant to give up my situation in the LBC. I was back in touch with old friends. I had a cadre of new friends, too. This was when I was living across the street from Ripples on one corner and the gay beach on the other. I was just a few blocks from where my dad lived.

I had it really good.

Made, one night even say.

My boss, being a pretty damned good salesperson – or one hell of a manipulator, depending on how you looked at it – somehow leveraged being close to my grandparents and a $5000 a year raise to get me to reconsider.

Sorry, Dad, gotta go!

I moved up to Portland in late January of ’96. I had rented a place on the river.

…just in time for the big flood of ’96.

Oh, well, life is lumpy.

This is what I wrote about on MySpace.

I’d gone to bed one night and was dangling between consciousness and sleep. As I lay there, I heard someone whispering my name.

Now, this was not an unusual thing for me. I had experienced this many times in my life.

Usually, I heard my Mom’s voice.

A couple of strange times, my Dad’s best friend.

I had heard the phenomenon summarized as an awareness that you were on someone else’s mind. They were thinking about you or worried or some such.

Mom = awwwww.

Let’s not go there on Dad’s best friend, m’kay?

Hearing The Mulligan saying my name wasn’t weird…but it went on so long. I rolled onto my back to get comfortable, not really thinking about it.

Floating above me was The Mulligan.

The ceiling of my room was gone and there was The Mulligan, looking down at me, smiling and casually moving his arms and legs like he was treading water.

He laughed at my alarm.

I asked – without speaking – what he was doing. He told me he wanted me to come with him.

Nice non-answer, buddy.

I asked again, adding, “Come with you where?”

Again, he didn’t answer me directly, just repeating his invitation by way of replying to my question.

This went on for quite a while, him drifting above me like he was floating on some current just above my ceiling. Well, where my ceiling should have been.

There was this enveloping sense of warmth and joy throughout. It was surreal.

I’ve never experienced anything like it.

You’ll be glad to know, though, that in true early onset grumpiness fashion, I eventually told him that I had to get to sleep because I worked early the next day, rolled over and closed my eyes. I squeezed them closed so hard that I could feel them shielding me from that warm light emanating from The Mulligan.

I remember before I “fell asleep”, checking with one eye over my shoulder to make sure the ceiling was back where it was supposed to be.

The next evening, I got a call from Black Billy. As soon as he identified himself, I blurted out, “He’s dead, isn’t he?” When Black Billy asked how I knew, I told him the story from the night before.

I could hear him thinking he should have called me before happy hour, but I was stone cold sober as I recounted the prior night’s experience.

That was almost 22 years ago. It’s still one of the weirdest and most amazing experiences of my life.

Occasionally, when I’m out having a drink by myself, I’ll think about him. I mean Ghost Mulligan, since ghost-him is old enough to drink now. In my mind, I’ll ask him what would have happened if I said yes.

He just smiles that peanut-headed smile and bats his eyelashes at me.

The Mulligan

The Motion On The Ocean

As Pride month draws to a close, I feel the pressure mounting to mark complete a commitment I made to myself at the beginning of the month:

Finish up my thematically Gay drafts.

Having posts in draft status is part of blogging…at least for me. I haven’t found a great alternative for maintaining an idea pipeline for my writing. I know that my memory is probably only a slightly better option than scribbling ideas on toilet paper and storing them in the city’s waste management system.

So, I have drafts.

And they make me absolutely crazy!

I started this month with nearly 20 drafts. I like to keep the number of drafts around half that. It makes me feel like I’m both productive and in control. But put a cap on creative ideas, right?

Bad idea.

So, I allow myself latitude.

That said, since the start of June, I’ve gotten the number of drafts down to 13, including this one. It’s a memory lane type of piece about a bar that I used to go to: Ripples. So, completing it would be a double whammy achievement; crossing a draft off of the to-do list and completing my gay themed pieces during Pride month.

I was a little surprised to see that I have five gay oriented drafts in my pipeline still after publishing 10/27 days this month. The oldest is from May of ’16…I’ve told you, I put the “pro” in procrastinate.

So, shall we?

When I lived in Long Beach, CA – an important designation given so many states’ pride in the length of their oceanfront municipalities…WA, MS & CA are just the three that come readily to mind – I had two bars that I frequented: Ripples and Silver Fox. I’ve written a little about (a lot, TBH) the Silver Fox – the bar, not the bestie – since it was the first gay bar I went into as an adult. You can get a taste of those entries here and, well, here. Since my best friend is nicknamed The Silver Fox and is an unwitting star in so many of my exploits and (mis)adventures, I thought I’d give you a couple links versus making you scroll through the hashtag results. However, I’ve never really dedicated any significant time to recalling Ripples. Just a random thought here or there.

And it was such a formative piece of my coming out process. I mean, in the first place, this was back in the days when being gay was still kind of an underground experience. You came out, but frequently that was met with a grudging acceptance versus a celebration. People tolerated my sexual orientation and said things like, “I don’t care, just don’t rub my nose in it”.

So, the obviously cared.

Gay bars were places where we could let our guard down and be comfortable. I imagine that what I felt walking into a gay bar back then was similar to what a woman feels when she takes her bra off after a long day.

Just guessing.

But on top of that, it wasn’t just a bar, like the Silver Fox. It was a venue.

I was lucky enough to live across the street from it. Situated at the corner of Granada and Ocean in Belmont Shores, I had it made – across Granada, Ripples; across Ocean, the gay beach.

So, what’s this venue all about? Well, it’s been 20 years since I set foot in the place, and I started this blog post when I learned that the bar was up for sale…for something like $5 mil.

That’s the price of oceanfront commercial property in Cali these days, I guess.

But that’s the joint: Ripples, aka: the motion on the ocean. A basic bar on the main level; tables and chairs on one side, pool table on the other, his and hers-turned-his-by-circumstance bathrooms and then an enclosed patio. The upper level had another bar and then a huge parquet dance floor.

The best possible start to any week or end to any weekend was their Sunday Beer Bust, even older gays called it a Tea Dance. Pay $5 at the door, get a wristband and plastic party cup and drink all afternoon. I think the beer bust was something like four hours, maybe 2-6? Plenty of time for brunch, gym and/or the beach beforehand. But you wanted to get there early, before the line went all the way down the block…but not so early that you were too early.

In a fit of coincidence, both of my favorite bars in the LBC were owned by Johns. One was literally a Silver Fox, the other was a stocky, jocular Hispanic guy. When I met Barbie – the owner of Purr in Seattle – she reminded me of John. They both provided this space that was an extension of their generous and caring spirit.

That reinforcement of the feeling of a safe space for gays was taken a step further here – you felt like part of the family. As a matter of fact, John’s sister set up each week on the patio with a Mexican buffet dinner. Grilled (right there on the patio) chicken, refried beans, rice, salad fixings. Not a bad way to end the beer bust, right?

For all of us gays, watching our straight counterparts dating, marrying and starting a family, this weekly ritual provided us with something alien to our lifestyle: family. We certainly weren’t likely to be starting one of our own, so this situational family – chosen family or logical versus biological as Armistead Maupin puts it – provided a tether to a normal type Sunday dinner with the family.

Albeit a Sunday dinner with an admittedly debaucherous edge!

I think it was this tether to reality that afforded my generation of gays to have their Peter Pan Syndrome and not grow up without becoming full on Lost Boys in the process. Anymore, what I observe of gay men barely even resembles a Lost Boy and is careening dangerously toward Lord of the Flies type madness.

But I digress. Go figure.

Think about it, Friday and Saturday nights, you come to the bar and have some drinks with your friends, cut loose on the dance floor, shoot some pool…unwind from your week. Maybe you connect with someone and have some sexy times. Maybe you don’t, but come 2 a.m. you hit the sidewalk sale after the lights come up for a last chance at getting your rocks off.

Come Sunday afternoon, you’re back to end the weekend as a community. Delighting in sending your friends back to their 9-5 closets for another week. Not missing a chance to see who shows up with their Friday or Saturday night trick turned possible relationship.

And if you aren’t ready to call it a weekend when beer bust ends at 6, there was usually a show upstairs after. If you didn’t mind paying for drinks, well…the entertainment was always worth the price of another drink or two. At least once a month you could count on seeing The Campers, a bearded drag troupe that would play out scenes from camp movies, lip syncing the lines while hilariously acting them out. My favorite were their Baby Jane scenes.

So good.

Also, familiar. Or, fagmiliar if you’ll allow the Chrisism.

The standing room crowd would usually recite the lines along with The Campers.

One of the other faves, although less frequent, were the Del Rubio Triplets.

Edie, Millie and Elena…this was the late, late 80s and early 90s, and these sisters – born in 1921 – were in their late 60s and early 70s serving up acoustic guitar covers of Devo’s Whip It in sequin and lame short skirts and cowboy boots to a raucous crowd of buzzed and tanned beach boys.

God, it was so awesome! I think all three sisters survived into their 80s. If I recall correctly, Millie even lived to be 90. They were famous for their Christmas shows, appearances on evening talk shows and cameos in movies like Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, but I’ll always remember them for their shows at Ripples.

And, while I could always stop in for a cold one after a long day at work or hard day of sunbathing across the street and rely on some friendly chat with the bartender or other transient barside resident, it’s those events like beer bust and the shows that set it apart from just being a bar for me and made it a haven.

I could go on and on about the motion on the ocean, but maybe those are stories for another time. The month is nearly over, after all…

The Motion On The Ocean