ExPat

Hopefully, this won’t become a Chronicles of ExPat as was the case with Pat the Patriot. But I made this official yesterday morning

It’s amazing how asking a business who their Registered Agent is can motivate them to make right a bad shituation.

I’d complained at Pat’s second and the third Spa Days through this outfit’s webpage – since there was no way to directly contact the GM.

Both times, I got sales people reaching out to me about coming in to drive cars. The second time, I actually fired a warning shot in response, telling the salesperson my struggle and he replied that he’d printed my email and put it in front of the GM.

Nothing.

So I complained through the Department of Justice’s Consumer Protection department, thinking that might goose the guy to get involved. Sadly, that only prompted him to push an avalanche of papers – checklists and reports – into the DoJ inbox maintaining Pat’s quality as well as their exhaustive presale due diligence.

Case closed.

Until

Two back-to-back visits later, I get the GM’s email address from my service guy and drop the words lawsuit, overcharged, refund and lost income. Seriously, after a total of 5 weeks in the shop in 6 months, I was missing about $2500 in compensation from Lyft driving. I really thought that would get his attention. It was the largest chunk of what I laid out as about $7700 in what could become my lawsuit against his dealership.

At the end of the day, who knows what word it was that really prompted him to finally reach out. He claims he never noticed my mention of a lawsuit.

You can see where the quality performance really starts in this outfit if he’s not capable of reading for retention and picking out little details like that…

But, here we were, sitting at a table, finally talking. The GM, the new Service Manager and me.

He spends a lot of time running through his 25 year resume and attesting to the most important thing to him: happy customers.

I made a lengthy show of calling him either oblivious, stupid or a liar. But our conversation continued.

In his eagerness to demonstrate his commitment to customer satisfaction, he offered up three paths forward:

  • Let them have another (6th) crack at making Pat whole
  • Refund my extended warranty and repair charges and I can find another service provider to finish easing Pat into their early grave
  • Trade Pat in on a new vehicle
  • Now, you know my grumpy old ass. I countered with a two-point list after telling him Pat was his failure to fix and asking why I should reward him by buying another car from him when this one had been such a disaster.
  • Realizing I’d unwittingly sprung a trap by pointing a conversational arrow at letting them try to fix Pat again, I acquiesced while reminding Hong that there had been an unmentioned fourth option.
  • He promised to get Pat repaired and back on the streets by Friday. The two-day window he’d committed to was perfectly punctuated by the Service Manager’s snapping vertebrae as he reacted to the promise.
  • Great.
  • I take off in my loaner, again…seriously, this was my fourth loaner from them – I hadn’t expected to have a roster of vehicles on my ParkingKitty app when I bought Pat. So I deleted the first couple, but feast your eyes
  • Friday comes around and at lunchtime, I figure I’d best check in before the service guys were off. I message my Service Tech and he replies that the carpet hasn’t dried yet, so they’re going to leave it over the weekend.
  • I ask if they found any other leaks and he says no…then adds
  • The two floor plugs in the back were completely soaked, we resealed them, now the carpet just needs to dry!

  • Pushing down the strangeness of plugs becoming soaked – shouldn’t plugs be made of nonabsorbent material? – water leaking upward through the car’s belly and the desire to ask, “So that’s where the leak was all along?” I failed miserably at managing my sense of helplessness but gathered my thoughts and sent the GM another email. I asked about getting my warranty and prior repairs refunded and then asked about using that credit toward a new vehicle.
  • I was so frustrated and felt completely underwater in this transaction.

    Victimized.

    That’s a tough word – you conjure up images of violence or breaking and entering, not something civilized like transacting a car purchase. But I think it’s a good word. Think back to the financial crisis when people were throwing around terms like “predatory lending”. This was how I felt, like I was the weak prey versus an equal in the transaction.

    Again, I reiterated to him my dis-ease with furthering our professional relationship. A sense that both got worse and evolved into a “who cares, it’s never gonna happen” attitude simultaneously as I researched Pat’s trade in value.

    I was about $3800 upside down on them. I didn’t really see this joker that can’t follow up on an inspection checklist pulling a rabbit out of his hat here.

    Son of a bi…

    He actually did it, dragging me along with him.

    Of course, I sent the email on Friday afternoon and waited about 20 hours for a response, but when it came – well, it didn’t come with half measures.

    And just look at the car.

    It might have been my mention of regretting not going with the Tiguan when I’d been looking. Whatever it was – luck, listening skills (which seemed less likely given his track record with details) – the X3 he put in front of me was definitely speaking my language.

    But it was something he owned at a good enough price to absorb my negative equity into the price of the car. He also took my prior repair and warranty purchase in as a down payment credit.

    All of which means, the deal frigging worked.

    Of course, I made the deal contingent up on Lyft signing off on the car for service. The GM was confident that I’d be getting more lucrative, upgraded rides through LyftLux.

    We’ll see.

    Monday morning, I tootled down to the Lyft Hub for an inspection. They signed right off on it – telling me Portland wasn’t much of a Lux hive, but maybe expect them Friday and Saturday night.

    That tracked.

    But in looking at the Lux ride rates from the driver side, we keep 80% of the drop rate versus 20%. The per mile rate was ~3x more, too, so I am hoping that those special occasion Friday and Saturday night rides come through!

    Regardless, I drove away from my signing meeting thinking, “Welp, this is only gonna cost me one hour of driving more a week than Pat”. As long as I’m able to be driving consistently, an extra hour a week seems pretty manageable…keep your fingers crossed!

    ExPat

    Lemme Fix This For You…

    Here’s a shituation – and you can feel free to call this “being judge-y”. I don’t care, I’m making a point. Personally, I prefer to call this an observation. Since it’s also an accurate observation, people will see it for the indictment that it is.

    Hopefully.

    I was scrolling through the notties on the asocial media this morning whilst being lazy in bed and came across this gem. A real stand out in a bumper crop of guys exemplifying how gays have gone from fabulous to frivolous in just a couple of generations.

    But on Grindr, all you really need to have in order to set yourself apart from that group is a face pic.

    Or a shirt.

    Either way – pretty low bar.

    Here’s the profile:

    This guy needed to be slapped or shaken as a child. Maybe if he’d had a mildly traumatizing childhood, he wouldn’t have grown up to fetishize those things – assuming that when he says “wild” in his profile, he’s talking about kink. And his Instagram confirms he lives in Portland, so I’m assuming kink is a given.

    Actually, there’s just a lot of people here who came to Portland, didn’t get it, can’t afford to leave on a PT barista income and are using kink to just feel something besides their oppressive existential gloom.

    But I’m getting ahead of myself.

    Don’t worry, I’m not going all the way back to the beginning beginning – reading regulars will already know my take on open marriages.

    Synopsis: you’re with the wrong person.

    Everthemess, here’s this guy imploring potential suitors – if you can call them that, since the best case with this guy is missing out completely an orgasm – that they be exciting.

    I’m unreasonably excited that he at least said “please”. Albeit in a totally lazy manner. Thankfully, he didn’t bore me with a pithy “Plz”…there is a difference.

    No, the beginning I’m going back to is actually only as far away as that headline.

    More specifically, the follow up.

    Pls be exciting

    If you follow that up with “Happily married”, I’m left with little choice but to call BS.

    Here…

    Crappily married

    I fixed it.

    Pls be exciting + happily married = you don’t understand the core concept.

    I’m not even going to parse out how the words “fit” and “tummies” don’t actually belong in the same sentence. Well, ok…but I’m only sparing him one thought there:

    This guy put the “moron” in oxymoron.

    I’ve stopped trying to understand the avalanche of people in open relationships. It’s beyond my capabilities to help.

    However, what I’m left with is the shock and amusement that these people think they can do better. I mean, seriously…you trapped tricked one person into a relationship, that already seems like a lot for you. Now you think you deserve random hookups, too?

    I’m just gonna say it, those random hookup? Well, that’s the best you deserved. But this is America, by all means expect more, you Montessori level Stupid American.

    There’s an old saying, “Boring people get bored”. Sweetie, if you need exciting people around to be excited, well…

    At the same time, since I’ve visited the Instagram you linked in your profile, let’s talk about that. You took a trip to Thailand in December with your husband. That certainly seems like what some people would consider a “trip of a lifetime” – not to mention exciting.

    Yet, here you are, hand out for more.

    I hope you don’t mind my saying you are a bit more physically attractive than your spouse.

    Couple years younger, too?

    I’ll go out on a limb and assume he paid for the trip.

    As well as your gym membership to some douche-level gym. You’re not coming across as someone who’d be satisfied with a pedestrian level gym like 24 Hour or LA Fitness.

    So boring, those gyms.

    As I’m assuming your spouse must be. If you’re looking for exciting – I’m assuming it’s not as an escape to all the excitement of your home life.

    But, well…I guess my earlier synopsis covered that. Leaving us to riddle out how you failed to grasp the core concept behind the phrase “happily married”.

    Unless

    Are you defining happiness as having some rube provide you with the foundational levels of Maslow’s pyramid?

    My guess is that’s the elephant in the bedroom. That awkward time of the week (for his sake, I hope getting a little unenthusiastic weekly sex from his future ex is the return on his investment in you) where you’ve gotta “pay rent” to the guy who probably does love you and demonstrates it by making sure your physiological and safety layers are solid.

    Leaving you to shuffle uncomfortably from one foot to the other when confronted with level three. Hoping your asocial media trolling drops someone hot enough exciting in your lap.

    If it happens, I’m sure the three of you (you, your exciting person and your community property divorce settlement) will all be very happy together…until you realize that your top tiers of esteem and self-actualization were just bastardizations of pride and unnecessary levels of physical fitness built of someone else’s projection of love and belonging on to you.

    Then you’ve got to hope your landing from the fall from that top tier isn’t too devastating for you to start over at the third level again.

    Hopefully, that’s an exciting challenge for you, Sugar.

    It’s certainly not exciting at all to observe. It’s depressing as all get out, to be completely honest.

    I’ve lived both sides of the scenario this guy is embracing – well, not the delusional crappily married part, so I guess I started out a little better prepared than him – and you know what? I’ll take my occasional ennui over his absent excitement any day.

    Either you know why, or you don’t. There’s really no explaining it to people who don’t get it – kind of like trying to reason with Trump supporters at this point. If they still support him, it’s absent of reason.

    But I still get out of bed each day hoping there are enough people who understand that not getting it isn’t the first step in the journey; knowing that you probably don’t even know you aren’t getting it is step one.

    Those people are exciting!

    Lemme Fix This For You…

    Unkempt

    Greeters Pressers!

    You could say it’s been a while. In my mind, I’ve already bastardized your assessment of the gap between posts, so be warned.

    It’s been a while since I posted: May 2nd.

    It’s been a while since I went to the gym: three months.

    It’s been a while since my last haircut: November 23rd, 2018.

    That last one is more complex than simple apathy.

    But the hair shituation seems to have bypassed the worst of the grow out aesthetic. The shag over the ears is long enough to tuck behind my ears, but still too short to do whatever it is that it’s supposed to do next. I’ll keep monitoring the progress.

    It’s literally like watching hair grow.

    My mom seems to be making peace with the ‘do, the last time we had lunch she offered the suggestion

    Maybe just get it shaped a little

    Which I agree with, in principle but just hate saying because it sounds so gay.

    Last week my sister and her husband came to town and took me out to dinner, treating me in the manner upon which I’ve become dependent. Hehe.

    She said hello as she moved to hug me and then, mid-hug, says

    It’s not as bad as mom says!

    Which is hilarious because I’m pretty sure that was our sibling version of a compliment. Equally funny, just the comforting reinforcement that my family cares enough to talk about my best being.

    The very next day – sometimes I’m social! – my ex, Rib, came to town on a work layover and his husband met him here. I grabbed a couple bottles of wine on the way over to their hotel and we drank them in the mezzanine of the lobby…from about 10:30 to midnight.

    Like with my sister, it definitely wasn’t a long enough visit, but still a delightfully condensed catch up…starting with

    Oh my gaaaawd, Jesus hair!

    …practically in unison and from across the lobby when they came off the elevator.

    It was kind of enabling, methinks for Rib’s hubster. He quit his job three months ago and has been enjoying his funemployment since. I’ve never seen him unshaven, but last week I got a three week growth showing.

    He doesn’t seem like the long haired type, but if my apathy can motivate others to present a rawer version of themselves…I’m all for it.

    So, there’s the aesthetic update: Jesus Hair.

    Next stop:

    Unkempt

    Murderous Myrtle

    Well, it’s finally happened.

    Myrt has upgraded her nickname from Mistress to Murderous.

    It’s a development that’s only surprising because I’m not dead. I always assumed that in our closed little ecosystem that I would be the only prey available to her.

    But, somehow I woke up to this unexpected sight this morning…

    I had to turn on the lights to determine that Myrtle hadn’t upgraded her recent poop mischief to that infamous “my cat pooped in my shoe” scenario. Then I thought it was dark fluff from the underside of my box spring.

    But, nooooo.

    Apparently, Myrtle is trying to make amends for her litter box antics. It’s just a surprising manifestation, since I live in a fourth floor condo with maybe a 20″ wide Juliet balcony.

    There’s not a lot of room to work there…plus, Myrtle’s not the best hunter. She hasn’t caught the red dot once since I’ve known her.

    Even more concerning is that I left my balcony door open for her while I was out, like I do when it’s nice. But when I got home, it had cooled down, so I closed the doors and put on the heat while I watched a movie before bed.

    I had no idea there was a bird in the unit!

    Then I slept through the entire death match that I imagine happened after I went to bed. I mean, the bird might have been dead when I got home, but not put out for me yet…somehow that seems more disturbing.

    Do you think this more a Santa Myrtle scenario or an escalation of her psychotic behaviors?

    Regardless, this is a cat behavior I surely never thought I’d have to deal with in my urban life!

    But since people often comment on Myrt’s weight and shape, her litter box shitnanigans do make it easier to put her on a diet. I’m basically using food to positively reinforce good kitty bathroom habits, so she’s leaned down quite a bit in the last few weeks.

    Apparently, her new svelteness has allowed her to better keep up with her prey.

    Yup, I just found a way to take the blame for this poor bird’s death. Welcome to my head, people.

    Murderous Myrtle

    Why I’m Single #20

    Oops, I did it again.

    News Flash: I’m apparently needy…

    While out having a little solo misadventure, I gently hit on a guy. I’d just seen a movie and stopped on the way home for a Pallet Jack at Kelly’s Olympian. Really, I was just being nice, offering him a drink.

    He declined, but we made polite conversation as we sat a barstool apart.

    I learned that he’d just moved here two months ago – you know how I love those fresh arrivals – from Arizona. I mentioned my parents are visiting there now, which made him chuckle. When I asked why, he told me that the jokes about snowbirds and basically old people in general are no joke.

    He is still looking for a good fitting job. He’s in his second home since moving up here, the first place just wasn’t a good fit. His housemate at the new place is a much more comfortable fit, personality-wise.

    Anyway, he finished his drink and left. Then he came back a few minutes later and handed me a note and quickly scampered off. It basically said that he wasn’t sure whether I had been flirting with him or not, the dangers of being me. Although we weren’t in a gay bar, so I get his caution. But the note had his number and told me to text him if I had been.

    Because I still got a little game.

    It was way better than that time I used a cheesy pick up line on a guy at The Cuff.

    How does it feel to be the best looking guy in this dump?

    It was a slow night. There was only six people there and the dance bar and patio weren’t even open. Usually, there were a lot more ugly people there.

    Or the time I shamelessly hit on a friend of D-Slice at one of her Free Drink Friday gatherings. I mean, that’s just bad form…hitting on your friend’s friends.

    Isn’t it?

    But we were talking and he had the most beautiful smile. Absolutely radiant!

    It was quite beyond my control.

    Even worse is the time I’m cruising down the street with my top down and see a good looking guy getting into a car, honk, yell “woo-hoo!” and it ends up actually being my neighbor.

    See? That last one was just bad game altogether! But it was like 15 years ago or so.

    So what’s the big deal? What did I do again? Why am I needy?

    (At least what am I needy about now?)

    The first three guys were all FTM trans folk. That last example was my lesbian neighbor.

    I’m sure I’ve inadvertently made passes at even more trans people that went nowhere and they either never mentioned it or I never got to know them well enough to learn that information.

    But what I know about myself is that I want the heart I desire to be attached to the plumbing I recreationally enjoy.

    Hopefully all that says about me is that I’m simply not the Kinsey Six everyone would imagine me to be…worst-case, I’m just a Five. If it makes me out to appear transphobic, well, I would hope it doesn’t.

    But, am I? Are genitals shallow to the degree of being superficial in love? Am I misdefining what I’m looking for in my love life and conflagrating (Made Up Word Alert!) it with a sex life?

    Either way, I’m striking out.

    But at least my pick up game has gotten smoother as we’ve traveled forward in time.

    Why I’m Single #20

    The Haircut Saga

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

    That’s it, I’m never coming back!

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

    Flash forward twenty minutes…
    img_3454

    That’s it, I’m never coming back!

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

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

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

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

    The Haircut Saga

    Tappa-Kegga-Day

    That was what we called kegger night in college.Literally.

    Ok, maybe just too old for a birthday on a three day weekend. Because the MLK day/Xtopher’s birthday alignment means my birthday was celebrated for four damn days.

    Today is a day of rest.

    Also, I have a handyman here (not) fixing things.

    Having been busy yesterday, I just checked the Facebook for the first time since…maybe Saturday? Friday?!? Oh, the social media birthday love. It motivated me to share some of my weekend with you, which I wasn’t planning on.

    My brain is fatigued and more than slightly pickled, though…fatigued from three weeks of daily writing. Im thinking of hanging that initiative up this Friday or Saturday. My goal was daily blog posts for a month. Would the 1st-26th count?

    My original goal was to wear myself out writing so when I go in to try editing my book again, I make notes on what I want to edit. Last time I went in to try and edit, I started adding and fracked up my timeline.

    I figure wrap up my January writing initiative, take a few days to read a book a blog buddy sent over – I’m seriously burnt out on words enough that I’m barely reading the blogs I follow. When I sat down to his book, the only opinion I had was

    Nope. Cannot do.

    (I’m sorry, Phil, I’m working on it!)

    So, take a few days to read my friend’s work then get cracking on some damage control on my own.

    Anyhoo, I’m sure you’ve already figured out the pickling problem.

    Or, not-problem.

    The unexpected outpouring of well-wishes I encountered on the Facebook surprised me, as usual. It also kinda washed over me and extended my birthday feels another day.

    Friday and Saturday were pretty low key, drinks and shenanigans with my own version of Fox & Friends. Little Buddy shot me an invite, all spur of the moment, to go see a Power Point Improv show we’d discussed a while back. I couldn’t make it, prior engagement.

    Birthday weekend shenanigans…

    I debated not telling her it was birthday-related. I really am low key about my birthday. Swearsies.

    Saturday when I was out with the Silver Fox, I asked him

    My family has been quiet about my birthday. Are they up to something? If they are…I kinda feel like I should get a haircut.

    He assured me that they were not. Then he casually remarked that I might want to get a haircut, though.

    Jerk.

    Hehe. I assumed he was commenting about my overall shagginess.

    Resolutions for the new year?

    Not exactly my thing. But when I do make them, they are me all the way.

    1) Write and post a blog entry daily, which you all know.

    2) Not cut my hair.

    I’ve been trying to grow out a longer style for the last six months or so. Around June, I figured if I wasn’t going to work, maybe I should indulge my back of mind musings on having crazy old man hair.

    Why not?

    Only, the last few times I’ve gone in to get it cleaned up around the edges, I’ve ended up long on top, trimmed back to above the ears and looking like a Flock of Seagulls refugee.

    So, I gave basic hair maintenance two tries and then embargoed it til the end of January. When I make up my mind about these types of things, I always feel bad for my friends. They’re the ones that have to look at – no, endure the fallout.

    Anyway, I don’t care, my family isn’t planning anything, so I don’t give it much more thought. A little later, my mom texts me and invites me to brunch on my birthday.

    Perfect. Nice and low key, just the way I like it.

    For Sunday afternoon, The Fox and I had just planned on going to the hotel bar next door for a few beers. Then we were going to come back to my place and watch some Grace & Frankie. It was a perfect plan.

    When we meet up on the corner, he announces that Owl X had texted him that Pallet Jack was back at Big Legrowlski.

    Well, I guess we’re going to BL!

    I’m laughing and crossing Everett before I even finish the sentence.

    All things being equal, it’s Sunday afternoon. I know either bar will have some of my favorite staff working – all of whom definitely fall into the Guy Candy category. But Joey at Legrowlski is in his last couple of weekends before leaving the country to work overseas and has a habit of “accidentally” oversharing the most scintillating personal details. Unless the Tanner Creek boys are working in jock straps for my birthday, Pallet Jack and Joey win!

    We walk in and I’m immediately irked by the twosome sitting in the corner. They brought their dog in. I love the dogs that come with or walk by at The Fox and I sit outside sipping away the Summer.

    But not inside.

    I’m trading hellos with Joey while I hope the Rug Room isn’t too packed, cuz I don’t want to sit on the small bar side with a dog.

    Are you surprised?!?

    I’m debating how to answer:

    – Surprised you let a dog – other than me! – in?!?

    – Surprised that I don’t see Pallet Jack on the tap list?!?

    Don’t let anyone tell you that being a grumpy old man is easy.

    Decisions, decisions.

    The Fox is pulling me out of the way. I’m trying to look behind me to see whose way I’m in and he’s shoving me into the Rug Room.

    Surprise!

    My parents, siblings and brother in law are tucked around a pub table in one corner. Their table, I notice, is blocking the fire exit. The Fox is standing behind me, trying to get me into the group. They certainly know me.

    Little Buddy, 2.0 and JOrtis are sitting around a low table, looking pretty happy with themselves.

    Diezel and Linda Belcher are wrapped into the far corner, flanking some other guy. It’s kind of dark and the walls are all black in the Rug Room, but I really don’t know if I don’t remember him, can’t see him well enough to recognize honor if someone brought me a present.

    Nah…that would be weird.

    Not unwelcome…just weird.

    What I should have said is:

    Do you know what this could do to a man my age?!?

    Or,

    Surprised someone throws a surprise party for a something-ty-first birthday?!?

    But instead I just stood there with my mouth hanging slightly open.

    The Silver Fox is chuckling contentedly behind me and still nudging me, so I begin hugging my way into the room. As I’m finishing, people start shifting their comments toward birthday beers.

    It’s not that they are out of Pallet Jack, it’s that in order to ensure they have Peej for the party, they’ve been sitting on a keg for the past two weeks! Owl X and I had even discussed it the prior week as I was leaving, neither palleted nor jacked and she said, “See you soon!”

    You got any Pallet Jack on order?”

    “Maybe. I’m not sure. Brendan” – the owner and Dude enthusiast – “said he wanted to keep it on tap always, so probably?”

    Sneaky.

    Joey takes me into the walk-in and I’m resisting saying anything about Three Minutes in Heaven. Somehow we manage to get about five people into the walk-in to document the transition. Several of us are lecturing Joey on how tapping a keg used to be a lot harder than what he talked me through…when we were your age.

    I’d actually seen the new tap mechanisms back in my grocery working days a few Great-Job-Hunts-ago.

    The Fox was talking about Rent Parties that we would have in college. Get a keg for $35 and invite your friends over for a $5 all-you-can-drink night!

    I was telling Joey how we would have to manually pump the taps at those keg nights.

    My sister was angling for a good pic. Hint: I no longer have a “good side”!

    But here ya go…

    Birthday Boy with his birthday beer!

    A little later someone rectified the situation on the tap list, too.

    That eventually – after we got booted from the rug room three hours later so the band could set up – evolved into having a Secret Tap “for the regulars”. A few of them stopped by over the course of the afternoon and evening and shared a pint with the party. Owl X had been a little late arriving and missed the tap moment, but she found the light controls and smoke machine! Karaoke was briefly discussed and abandoned.

    I think we’d held the festivities – and the bar side – hostage with our sheer number of people for another hour before people started heading off into the cloudy evening. No Blood Wolf Moon viewing here in Portland!

    Diezel and his date – the stranger was his. I mean, geez, D, it’s my birthday…you gotta let me unwrap something! – had another birthday party to go to and we’re the first to leave. I got to chat with them a while and I have to say, I’m glad Diezel may have found himself a good old keeper.

    Not to jinx anything. Since I’m not involved, I think it’s safe…

    Little Buddy took her guys and headed off toward the ‘Couv. She has a kiddo at home to think of feeding. I forgot to ask how the Power Point Improv was, but in retrospect, I think it may have even been a red herring!

    My family was the next to go, but almost the last to leave besides The Fox, Owl X and I. Mom was “taking one for the team” as my sister put it and acting as the family DD. Still, having her driving after dark on a cloudy night was a little hard for me to be 100% comfortable with.

    On the other hand, I hadn’t been drunk with my siblings since…I dunno. Maybe my sister’s wedding? But I don’t think we were out of control for that. My brother rarely has a beer, let alone what we decided was four for him that night. My sister shocked me by jumping in head first with her first beer. Since Peej was not yet available, she had a Notorious Triple IPA…just an 11.2% alcohol by volume concoction.

    Hats off, sis!

    My dad took a break from his canned water of choice (Coors Light, which I heard they were giving away in Flint for hydration, j/s dad!) and enjoyed some of Oregon’s Finest.

    Tastes a little apricot-y.

    My favorite moment of the night!

    I’d said the exact same words to Little Buddy the first time her, 2.0 and I had gotten together for beers. LB and I were working together again, her and 2.0 had just decided to give the dating thing another go and I’d been convinced to try an IPA. I’d notoriously hated them for 20 years, opting instead for Ambers and Reds.

    They were surprised by my statement.

    Well, it’s definitely got a stone fruit note to it.

    They humored me. Well, maybe they agreed that I had a weird mouth and I agreed to ignore their assessment.

    “It must just be a weird palate thing with your family”, Little Buddy said.

    This is why we’re friends.

    Joey’s shift had ended and my other favorite bartendress had reported for duty, sneaking a crowler of the good stuff into my goodie bag.

    Linda Belcher was the last non-regular to leave. Although, since she passes the bar on her way rom her office to the bus stop, she’s known to wander in looking for me on occasion.

    Sometimes she sees me and joins me.

    Other times I’m not there.

    Still others, she doesn’t see me.

    I think I enjoy the times she sees me and joins me most, but those times she doesn’t see me are pretty friggin hilarious.

    We got to sit in the Rug Room and chat a little. The band was really good, just a him & her type duo. Not too loud, so we could enjoy both the music and some talk. Her husband – Bob Belcher of Bob’s Burger fame, obviously – is in Nepal for several months and I’ve been meaning to check in on Linda Belcher for a couple weeks…just…life.

    There were some folks I’d have loved to see present. Some – like Filipina Fox and her husband – were out of town for the weekend. Others, the Silver Fox just couldn’t contact because he didn’t have their contact info. He’s not on social media, so he couldn’t use Messenger as a tool to reach out to my other known associates.

    The biggest shocker wasn’t how well he pulled this off – starting with hiding the keg weeks ago. No, it was that he kept it a secret. That’s truly impressive. He’s always accidentally giving away the twist in a movie or show. I think the years that we’ve been friends have caused some of my sneakiness to accidentally rub off on him.

    I woke myself up on my actual birthday morning because I’d been smiling so hard in my sleep that I think I couldn’t actually be unconscious and simultaneously that happy.

    There’s worse ways to wake up.

    We finally got to watch some Grace & Frankie last night. I know you were worried.

    Birthday breakfast.

    Birthday lunch.

    And then the bottle of wine The Fox got me last year at my birthday to round out the birthday proper while we binged on Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin’s old-age misadventures.

    I was exhausted after four days of friendly camaraderie and about a month’s worth of alcohol in that same timeframe.

    My low key day today brought all the feels back just by opening Facebook. I’ve been doing a good job of only checking in once a day. Actually, I’ll miss days now and then.

    Yesterday was one of those days.

    That big old birthday smile came back. For some, maybe it’s not a big deal…but to me, having over 100 folks take time out of their day to wish me well is a big deal.

    Touching.

    Even Portland’s former mayor dropped me a note.

    Replying to these messages is what made me think to blog about my birthday in detail. Plus, this gave me a chance to prove that I didn’t drink too much!

    I remembered!

    It started out about like this blog…

    Then got sweet…

    I didn’t even know I had birthday wishes! Outside of the lottery win that refused to comply…

    Actually, there was a little WTF moment when I started responding. Check out the background…

    Hmmm. <unfriend>? Actually, it fits my personality. Well, not the “god” part. But, it’s the thought, right?

    And speaking of my personality. One of The Fabulous Baker Sisters has to weigh in!

    And, I’m case you worried, we had more than a few Myrtle mentions…

    So, here’s to another year of surviving Myrtle’s Gulag, life and the occasional happy surprise.

    Thanks for reading, every one of you!

    Tappa-Kegga-Day

    I Think It’s Contagious

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

    I’m blocked

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

    Of course, I spoke to him.

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

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

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

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

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

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

    So I took a nap.

    Then I went to an exercise class.

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

    Then I thought I should write.

    Maybe I should watch a movie

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

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

    …so, she couldn’t really blame me.

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

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

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

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

    I Think It’s Contagious

    Today I Learned #13

    Flashback Edition

    Since I’m procrastinating finishing up a draft or two during my Publish Every Day January initiative, and just killing time before an interview…here’s some food for thought. More like food for grossing you out, but I’m not here to add idioms to our lexicon.

    Oh, wait…Chrisisms.

    But this isn’t that type of thing.

    When I was in college, I guess I learned some things. However, 25 years later, what do I remember? I studied history, yet every time the Silver Fox starts a story with, “You were a History Major…” my mind utterly blanks.

    Here’s what I remember from college:

    1) 1066. That was the year of the last Norman invasion of England.

    2) How to ride a motorcycle. Or, not. Let’s say that I learned that it was not a skill I naturally possessed.

    3) Household toilets have a 6 foot spray radius.

    Those last two things were both courtesy of one of my college roommates, Cindy.

    She was pretty tough. A compact and stout girl a couple years older than me, but that didn’t stop me from calling her Cynthia just to annoy her. Come to think of it, the number of times she put me on the floor for being a wiseacre might have something to do with why I remember so little of what I learned in college.

    Also, alcohol.

    Anyway, yeah…just remember, water droplets are dispersed into the air every time you do this

    without closing your toilet lid.

    Cindy was a design major, so she shared this with me when she was studying bathrooms. Ever since, I’ve accepted that I’ve been brushing my teeth with poop in most of the places I’ve lived.

    But, you know how I am…my mind doesn’t stop there.

    I’m also aware that I store my towels and spare crapping paper on the shelves over my toilet. Even if I closed the lid every time I used the bathroom (I don’t) there’s no way that my guests will.

    Basically, I just live with the knowledge that every time I bathe, I’m massaging poo splatter all over my clean body and whenever I use TP to blow my nose, I’m shoving shit into my nostrils.

    Probably explains why my nose hair grows so well…fertilizer.

    Today I Learned #13

    Noah’s Ark

    That’s really the only way to describe the weird coincidences that popped up in my day yesterday. But, since I kinda low-key committed to writing every day in January – mostly as a procrastination technique to avoid editing my NaNoWriMo book – by god, I’m gonna tell you about it.

    Yesterday was definitely a Noah’s Ark day.

    If something happened, it happened twice. And since this is my life, it was random and bizarre.

    Two-by-two weirdness, if you will.

    First, out of nowhere, I got an extremely welcome check-in IM from a high school classmate, the Notorious KPG. She’s pretty damn inspirational – makes me feel a little guilty for the aforementioned procrastinating, actually. After raising her family, she’s gone back to college and is taking what seems to be a full damn load. She still balances family time and date nights with the hubster. Her Insta and FB are full of pix of her and her family or just her making crazy faces at the camera. She’s a delight!

    Plus, she knows me well enough to send this lil gift along with her IM

    She says Baby JGL. I say

    JGL, baby!

    Tomato, to-mah-to.

    I didn’t think much of it at the time. Just enjoyed the quick check-in and the Guy Candy.

    Chrisism.

    Until later when this happened.

    I’d been late responding to the Silver Fox because I was tapping out a lil blog. He didn’t mind and seemed to think me writing was an acceptable excuse for my delayed reply. Actually, the gif he sent is animated…

    Better, right? If I can’t get a little Joseph Gordon-Levitt action, I’ll take a little JGL in action.

    In and of itself, I’d go about my day without giving that coincidence more than a bemused Instagram post.

    Except…

    Last night I was watching a series that Bachelor #4 from last year’s Dating Into Oblivion theme got me hooked on during our late night on/off again texting and IMing – Lucifer. They won’t be at the Golden Globes tomorrow, by any means, but it’s entertaining enough to pass the time.

    It beats baseball.

    This guy popped up in an episode.

    He looked very familiar – and I decided to obsess about what I’d seen him in rather than focus on his piss poor gay interracial love triangle with a married man.

    Seriously, talk about an overworked plot point. Just to make it completely eye roll worthy, the boyfriend ended up murdered.

    Lucky bastard.

    Clearly an IMDb rabbit hole was preferable to watching that play out too closely.

    Turns out, he played Anna Kendrick’s boyfriend in Twilight.

    It’s true, Anna. And this guy was your love interest…

    Since I was avoiding paying too much attention to last nights episode, I dove into his IMDb “did you know” section. That’s where I saw this.

    Now, Aaron Himelstein is what one might call an uncommon name. It jumped out at me and I couldn’t shake the feeling of

    Who the fuck is that and why does that name sound so familiar?!?

    So…off to see if he had an IMDb page…

    In scrolling through his credits, I realized he’d been in a couple of Marvel movies. That got my attention. As a matter of fact, Google usually throws a good half dozen Marvel related articles on my radar a week…and I’d just read one that morning.

    I went back into my Google history – no shame there, it’s all geek guy stuff and settling argument searches! – and reread the story from earlier.

    Yup.

    There it was, typo and all.

    Does that seem like a lot of work?

    Welcome to my brain.

    Sadly, all this unbridled curiosity ain’t curing cancer.

    It’s just minutia.

    Drivel.

    But it keeps me from trying to edit my novel and applying that shotgun attention span to something important that needs focus. Plus, it reminds me that while Michael Welch might have been in Twilight, he was also in one of the favorite movie franchises of my life.

    Much better to be able to geek out over his Star Trek role than Twilight, right? I’ll call it the highlight of his career.

    And, no…since I know you wanna know I’m those depraved little hearts of yours that I just adore. I didn’t get laid twice yesterday.

    Or once.

    But god bless you for thinking I could…

    Good lord. Did I actually type that I wanted to blog every day this month?!?

    Yikes.

    Procrastinating on that goal might actually drive me to the gym!

    Noah’s Ark