Today I Learned #12

Calculated Risks

I don’t want anyone to mistake this entry for something serious.

Like wine.

I mean, I take wine seriously enough to not abuse it. I mean, waste it…I’m sure anything I do that could be described as wine abuse is actually closer to self-abuse or self-medication, depending on the circumstance.

That said, I feel like we should discuss decanting.

Sidebar: Autocorrect just changed “decanting” into “decaying” and I literally decant even.

Decanting a sure thing bottle is convenient for aerating the wine and opening it up do the acidic notes can mellow versus overwhelming the rest of the flavors when you…sip. So I’ve generally made a habit of decanting a bottle anytime I have company over, but switching to a by-glass aerator if that second bottle tries to get popular.

My logic? Maybe that second bottle doesn’t get finished, right?

What? I’ve heard of that happening…

Here’s what I’ve learned.

Wine is much like friends vs dating later in life.

You get to know the quality peeps in your life that deserve and have earned decanting rights. Then there are the new unknowns that are best taken on a by-glass basis.

As I’ve managed to overcome my desire for a relationship and remain a Singleton this past year, I’ve engaged in a little thought exercise. I examined my urge to open or order what I consider great bottles of wine on a first date. Was I simply indulging my tastes and myself as I did something I’m not super comfortable doing?

Sidenote: Roller Coasters should have wine stands at the beginning of the line.

Or, was I trying to show off?

Ugh.

I’m going to skip over the grisly details. Suffice it to say, hearing an attractive man say that my wine was really good as he leaves are perhaps the least validating final words to hear from someone.

In case that needed to be mentioned.

The last time someone came over for wine in a dating capacity, I legitimately caught myself thinking – as I reached up for my decanter – “Am I prepared to try and switch bottles because ‘This doesn’t taste right, let’s try something else’ if this guy doesn’t seem worth the rest of the bottle?” More importantly, am I cool enough to pull off that switch to a bottle of TJ’s finest?!?

But, like I said, this isn’t a post about wine.

Exclusively

It’s about any variety of risks we take. Moreover, it’s about how our own opinions of those risks change over time. And how we assess and prioritize those opinions.

A fairly blue case study – oh, I should write about Gee sometime – to illustrate my point:

Yesterday, I had a solo lunch date with dad. Mom had gone shopping with my sister and his usual Friday lunch with his own dad was rescheduled for a doctor’s appointment.

Usually when mom, dad and I go to lunch, I can bank on each of them making use of the facility’s facilities. Occasionally it’s all three of us, which affords my dad and I the opportunity for a rather humorous take on what frequently happens at Portland intersections.

Yesterday, as our departure from the restaurant became imminent, I caved and asked dad if he wanted you use the restroom before we left.

He passed.

I raised my eyebrows.

When we got to my place, I asked if he wanted to come up and talk for a while longer. I wasn’t sure if he wanted to more kill time while my mom and sister were out. He said no, so we sat in the car and chatted a while before I got out of the car and chatted more while standing at the door.

When he drove off, I crossed the street, fobbed into my building and then tapped my toe impatiently while waiting for the world’s slowest elevator to return to the main floor.

Then I did a full on pee-pee dance in the elevator as we made our glacial ascent to the building’s fourth floor.

Seriously…it is so slow. I’m tempted right now to go take a ride and count off the “thousands” it takes to climb from the Ground floor to 3. Sadly, I have to meet friends in two hours and nine minutes, so I’m afraid there isn’t time.

By the time we reached my floor, I was straining so hard to keep my bladder sealed that I accidentally let a fart fly.

That felt better!

But I consciously tightened everything up again as I prepared to engage my legs and leave the lift. My concern? Was that just gas or was it a…warning?!?

I farted out a few letters of the alphabet on the way to my door and while I was fumbling to get my door unlocked. Fortunately, neither of the other two residents on my floor chose that time to leave their units!

There I was, sitting victorious upon my throne. The contents of my bladder successfully vanquished, I reflected upon the Battle of the Bladder.

Were my check-ins with dad legitimate concern or projection on my part?

I want to say legitimate concern, since he drives about 35 miles home after he visits.

But the reality was that this was my second elevator dance of the week, so…

Either I need to move to a building with a faster elevator – or, better yet, a turbo lift! – or I need to stop projecting and openly check-in with my own plumbing to calculate risk vs transit time between cans.

So far, I’m not there. I have only gotten as far as calculating the height of a curb as it relates to chances of a fart in my body’s state of misadventures. Maybe it’s time to up that game.

Bet you wished this had only been about wine now, right?

Wine and poop. I’m a real enigma, aren’t I?

Maybe this whole Calculated Risks thing is more about food and drink, now that I think about it. The last example that popped into my head was about coffee. While that folds nicely into the bathroom urgency risk, it’s more about heartburn!

I’ve long maintained that I only need one good cup of coffee to satisfy my craving.

And the occasional need for a jump start.

The end of that saying of mine is that I’ll drink diner coffee all morning and still not feel satisfied. But I will end up with a banger of a case of heartburn. But I understood the risk and how my body worked.

Now, since I haven’t been working, I’ve sat at f&b for a second cup of their cold brew while chatting-ish with the Silver Fox. As my unemployment has dragged on, though, I’ve had to re-examine that habit.

The cold brew at f&b is brewed using the Japanese method for iced coffee.

Cold brew, iced coffee, Japanese iced coffee; three very different things. At least inasmuch as acidity is concerned.

Cold brew has very little acid, meaning I can drink it all day. That it’s made with good, medium roast beans means I really can sip it all day, but feel satisfied after a single cup.

Iced coffee, Japanese brew method or not, medium roast bean or not…has all the regular acidity of coffee.

When I have that second cup, I’m weighing the risk factors. Usually, with The Fox, the calculations come out in his – and mine, by extension – favor. When I’m alone, I’ll stop at one cup, go somewhere else or skip it altogether.

The cost/benefit calculated risk exercise I go through when it comes to the debate over taking a shower and getting presentable just to go out for a cup of coffee are a little…embarrassing.

How about some interaction? Surely, I’m not the only one that does this type of calculating…although, maybe I’m the only one that admits to it.

Tell me in the comments, what are your Calculated Risks?

Today I Learned #12

TIL #8: Coded Language

So, I’m trying to get through January with a post a day. I was challenged – by two followers! – after yesterday’s peek into my mental whirlpool to not cop out. There goes my Joke Monday crutch – er…idea. But I took an inventory in my Draft Hopper and there are 20 posts chilling in limbo there.

This is one of them.

No promises, though, that this is any less of a mental whirlpool. But, as my first year of the second half century of my life closes, maybe it’s time to mothball the Today I Learned theme.

So, here’s the first. We’ll see whether the others end up bearing fruit or going into the WordPress compost!

Several weeks ago, the Silver Fox and I had the good fortune to walk behind a couple of nice looking young men while on our way to see Bohemian Rhapsody.

It’s important to say “walk behind” versus “follow”. I learned that living in SoCal in the 90s.

But this TIL theme isn’t about what I learned ~20 years ago. No, on this particular day I learned something else.

I was reminded that my best friend is a better person than he is a cool person. While we crossed Couch St on Park Ave (I know…) a few blocks from our homes, these nice looking men rounded onto Park a few yards ahead of us.

There was no doubt they were each genetically gifted in their own right. Neither trying too hard in their casual clothes. One shorter and more compact, the other taller and a little more lithe.

As far as generic tastes in men go, I bemusedly noted that there was one each for the The Fox and I to enjoy.

Not that anything besides an appreciative glance was going on here.

Speaking of glances, I glanced over at my dearest friend after a few feet and was met with crazy eyes and Linda Blair caliber above the shoulder happenings.

Apparently, these young men hadn’t escaped his notice, either. I used my inconsiderable power of mental telepathy to send him a message to be cool.

We dropped back a couple paces and laughed at how they had pinged both of our gaydar at the same time. They were coming up on Burnside – the busiest East/West street in the downtown area and the divider between the NW and SW quadrants of town.

We were still talking about them, The Fox was commenting as I did above that there was one of each of our usual tastes. Obviously, I agreed with him, but both were just so easy on the eyes. They actually put off a nice vibe. As we’d passed the door to f&b cafe – our default coffee shop – the one on the inside of the sidewalk had looked to make sure no one was coming out through the door.

Just nice.

Someone raised these guys.

Actually, it’s quite a Sophie’s Choice, eh?

I found myself thinking I really would not mind sitting across from either of these fine young lads on one of my $20 first dates. Of course, we were only a week off of my most recent dating failure, so potential return on a $20 investment was top of mind.

Speaking of guys I wouldn’t mind sitting across the table from, I mentioned we were on our way to see Rami Malek as Freddie, right? The Fox is coming over in a bit to watch the Golden Globes and I’m rooting for this fella.

I had intentionally used obscure words to describe my indecisiveness over which guy I found more appealing between the two of these gents. It struck me that neither of the guys ahead of us were alive when the movie I referenced was released.

Nor had they probably ever had an opportunity to be exposed to it. No matter how well they were raised…

Perhaps my caution to prevent them from realizing we were talking about them was unnecessary, but better safe than sorry. Fortunately, our Sophie’s Choice was just a thought exercise for a couple old men versus something with potential real life trauma as described in the movie/book.

But the occurrence got me thinking about how making generational references was pretty much a coded language, allowing overt subtlety, if that makes sense. I enjoy making statements like “back before the turn of the century” that tend to invite young people to stop paying attention, but using references with a time stamp prior to their birthdate applies some extra security to conversations. Beyond

…ABBA and early Madonna music, I’m not sure guys in their 30s would get 80s pop culture reference. Forget guys in their 20s.

Actually, forget most guys in their 20s knowing anything but Drag Race or “thank u, next” until Miley or whoever drops their next single/video/what-have-you.

Heaven forbid I should refer to someone as a Mary or a Rhoda. Talk about an unbreakable code!

While two decades ago, people would go to the mattresses about whether they were the Mary or the Rhoda, the Patsy or the Edina or the Will, The Grace, the Jack or the Karen of their group; nowadays you’re likely to get a blank stare if you mention it now.

You might get some traction if you call someone a Carrie or a Miranda or a Charlotte or a – what most gays seem to aspire to – Samantha. Sadly, after seeing a friend on the Facebook complain that someone missed a Will & Grace reference – rightfully ending the date early – I wouldn’t hold my breath.

Hell, I’d be impressed to meet an industrious person who would Google an overheard something and then respond appropriately.

Let’s face it, though, being (well) over 30, the Silver Fox and I are both Gay Invisible. I’m sure the other senses of younger gays are not heightened in this particular case if blindness. Add to that shituation that we both have the audacity to exist strictly in reality versus in someone’s phone universe, and I can virtually guarantee our anonymity, regardless of our chosen conversational topic.

But good manners are good manners and if you’re going to engage in potentially unwelcome conversation about someone in your vicinity, a whispered tone and some coded lingo are a nice courtesy.

Plus, The Fox’s whisper is hilariously not quiet.

I get after him about it in the moment, but it always makes me laugh afterward.

As I’ve kicked this around, it’s made me curious about older people I’ve known and whether they engaged in such conversational subterfuge.

Looking at younger generations, I’m not confident that there’s a substance to create a generational code. Again, there’s a great communal enthusiasm for all things RuPaul, Kardashian and pop diva…outside of that all I can think of is “yeet“, which for all my inquiring only makes me want to develop a nuke that targets people who use “yeet” conversationally.

For my part as a former younger person, any time my grandmother brought up her family – whom I’d met only a fraction of and then maybe only once or twice – I considered myself free to do some mental wandering. And just about anytime my grandfather mentioned “bits” I would lose track of the conversation because in my head I was screaming

It’s a quarter or fifty cents, not two-bits or four bits!

For all that internalized resistance, though, now I do the same damn thing. Usually at my aforementioned coffee house where a refill is fourbits.

That’s a very reasonable price for a cup of coffee in this day and age.

Who knows, maybe my attempt at using supposedly coded language when I want my conversation to be semi-private is just my way of having fun with the reality that – regardless of what generation we belong to – we all be a little attention centric toward our particular age group.

But that’s just my two-bits.

TIL #8: Coded Language

Tse Tse & Me

Isn’t that lil bugger adorable? Not sure what’s going on with the tail end condensation there…maybe he got ahold of some olean products.

Cute, anal leaking or not, this guy has been in my mind the last couple of days as I’ve found myself succumbing to spontaneous involuntary bouts of unconsciousness. I’d guess that I’ve slept 34 out of the last 48 hours.

Realistically, since I am sleeping at night, turning in around my normal midnight bedtime and easily sleeping through until ten AM, when Myrtle’s hungry, bitching meows finally succeed in waking me, I know it’s not Sleeping Sickness. The Tse Tse Fly bite generally causes nighttime wakefulness, prompting daytime slumber.

I’m only suffering from that last part.

On Sunday, I woke at 6 AM after heading to bed at 10 the night before. I was unusually relaxed after three beers at Tanner Creek Tavern next door to my house. A couple of months ago, they stopped ordering Breakside IPA, a favorite of The Fox and me as well as a top draw for us to belly up. The staff is fantastic and pretty easy on the eyes, but y’know…what I can drink up with my eyes is a minor part of my bar allegiance decision making process. Discovering that Tanner Creek had brought in a Barley Brown IPA to placate our Breakside Boycott – an act of resistance that included the Silver Fox and I walking into the bar with 22 ounce bottles of Breakside that we purchased from the Brodega across the street – lured us back.

That the new addition was also an 8.5% ABV promoted a nice, early bedtime after three doses.

I didn’t think much of my early rise, since it was a legitimate eight hours of sleep. Still, I managed to procrastinate my way through the morning until I had to get ready for a noon:30 meet up with Jortis and Little Buddy for our semi-regular theater going at Portland Center Stage.

The show was at 2:00, but we were meeting for…brunch, yeah…brunch at 12:30. I sat down on the couch to kill time while my hair dried and woke up at 1:30. I’d fallen asleep in a seated position.

Ridiculous.

I rarely nap. I want to say “never”, but when I’m sick, it happens. Or when I’m getting sick. Confused from my unconsciousness, I texted my apologies to Jortis who had sent me a text when I was 10 minutes late, which is kind of unlike me. Not that I’m not usually the last one there, since I live closest and usually head out on the four block walk at our designating meeting time…

A couple hours later I awoke to a response text reminding me that the show started at 2:00 and at the time it landed there was still 30 minutes before showtime.

It was 3:30.

Having failed at making my only plans for the day, I put on a movie and promptly fell asleep again on the couch.

When my excessive sleep followed me into a second day, I began to shift my neurotic hypochondria to more realistic sources – having not been to the Congo recently.

I spent some of my few waking hours wondering if the teenage dream disease-slash-excuse for doing nothing for an entire school year had actually caught up with me.

Out of all of the symptoms listed, I was only experiencing malaise and fatigue. I for sure wasn’t experiencing any loss of appetite, having made a pound of pasta and 18 meatballs on Sunday night, finishing it for breakfast on Monday morning.

The Fox posited that my symptoms might have been a result of my return to exercise greatness last week. I was experiencing some good delayed onset muscle soreness, but was reluctant to chalk my excessive sleep up to exercise. Knowing me and my tendency to procrastinate at the drop of a hat, it was a problematic diagnosis.

Having successfully not only remained awake for a solid three hours straight but also cleaned myself up and dragged myself out of the house, I’m beginning to accept the notion that what had me down the last two days was something much simpler.

Last week was the end of Portland’s first real week of Fall weather. Lots of rainy afternoons. That, plus 4 PM nightfall could easily trigger a little SAD in the most diehard PNW natives.

And I’m not much of a diehard…I even use an umbrella! But only when it really rains.

Pair that basic root cause with what is likely to be my last attempt at dating for the year – if not ever – and I can see where my defenses against a torpor spiral could have failed me. Especially when I think of how my persistent seeming unhireability contributed to weakening those defenses.

Ugh, and then there’s the holiday.

Maybe Portland’s first Fall Storm was just the icing on the perfect emotional storm cake that’s been baking in my psyche these past few months. But at least my response was to simply ride it out with a nap, I’m pretty sure that could have been worse.

Like I said earlier, I’m out and about today, which is a good change of pace. I’m looking at other changes in behavior that I can stop/start/continue to maintain an upward emotional trajectory.

I think dating can easily fall into the stop bucket.

Enough of that emotional mayhem.

I know, emotionally exhausting as it is, that I must continue my job search. I need the sense of purpose work provides. However, I’m kind of battling the whole mentality of the pursuit. I want a job that aligns with my interests and values. Jobs like those pay me every day versus every two weeks. But my phone – and the job search alerts it sends me – seems to be pointing me in a different direction.

Really, LinkedIn? Three decades of retail management work experience and you’ve managed to scrounge up an open position at 7-Eleven? They also like to throw a management job at a local gas station/convenience store chainlet at me once or twice a week. That job has been open for six months!

Talk about a red flag.

The struggle for me now in my job search is not applying for jobs like that out of a desperate mindset. While they pay 1/3 of what I’m realistically worth, and half of what I accepted when I embarked on my last professional misadventure, the last thing I need is to be rejected for a position for which I’m grossly overqualified.

So, unfortunately, job search falls into the continue bucket. I just need to silence the voice in my head that is chanting the definition of insanity.

Maybe the start I need in my career search is developing new skills. I’ve been low-key exploring getting a professional certification in Human Resources after my last job. Generally, I hold an organization’s HR department in fairly low esteem, having experienced the execution of their dual responsibilities – the best interests of the employees and protecting the organization they serve – manifest as pencil whipping their job description. I’m not eager to sign up for professional impotence. If I want a poor return on my efforts, I could keep dating.

Then again, it pays well…even if the pay off isn’t professional satisfaction.

Alright. So I’ve got some vague marching orders. The local cafe has chosen to not play music today and the corner I’ve tucked into to enjoy my coffee while I write my way out of my torpor has now been surrounded by cubicle dwellers escaping for lunch.

All of those misophonia triggers have positioned themselves close enough to me for me to smack them, as their poor table manners require…so I should GTFO of here before I end up accidentally assaulting someone with my empty mug.

Off to the gym!

Plus, I just farted.

Tse Tse & Me

Dating Into Oblivion: episode 9

So, I met this guy.

Oh, wait…can you believe that it’s December and I’ve only managed 9 DIO entries on a goal of one per month?

I can.

And one is still in draft form. Maybe I’ll mothball it. Heck, maybe I’ll finish strong! January had four bachelors – even though they were all no shows, if I recall correctly – so I’m giving myself partial credit for that effort and saying that right now, I am at 12/12 on the year. Plus, there was my Halloweentime attempts at dating that resulted in multiple ghosts and/or false starts, so I’d put my attempts on the year closer to 14…

Still, just to goose actual in person failures – er, attempts maybe I’ll go ask out both of the cute baristas here at Nossa Familia and then go shopping for a New Years Eve outfit.

Just kidding, I’m not going out on NYE! Way too crowded. Way too many amateurs.

I ran across our latest potential late one evening late last month while swiping left on all of the jokers OKStupid thought would be good matches for me.

Sidenote: Seriously, OKC, “opposites attract” is an irony. Stop sending me emails about guys that managed to score a 60% compatibility using your algorithm. Either they were too lazy to answer enough questions to generate a legitimate compatibility score or we aren’t compatible. I don’t need to be reminded by you that I’m a tough sell. As a matter of fact, I think there is a bar one must clear to activate a profile on OKC, but it’s ridiculously low, like answer five questions. If you’re trying to set yourself apart from hookup sites and apps, maybe raise that to 50 and set it up so that they have to answer at least five questions from each of your ethics, dating, lifestyle, sex and other buckets before they can activate a profile.

Mkay?

Thnx.

Anyway, furthering my quest to prove or disprove my Rib Theory that getting a guy fresh off the boat in your town is a solid plan, I swiped right on this guy. He’d actually mentioned in the first line of his bio that he’d just moved to Portland.

For all you readers that closely monitor the ages of the (almost, in a completely unshocking double entendres) men that I date, he is also 33, which puts him squarely in the Damn Near Old Enough to Not Be My Son category. I actually can’t even wrap my head around a scenario where someone my age has a child his age, but I know that it’s biologically possible.

I actually enjoy the heaps of shit people give me for dating younger guys. Linda Belcher refers to my dates as being “from the half-off rack”, another pretty legit double entendres since they are much younger than me but also fairly scratched and dented. Another pointed out that this new guy was “one whole year” older than Rib and then drily complimented me on my growth…they failed to take into account that Rib was merely 24 when I met him, though. He’s 32 now, so really I think I earn a prop or two for starting in with someone a third older than him at the starting line.

Feel free to take a minute to regroup after that epic rationalization. I have a lot more experience with my crazy than you do, friends. Trust me, though, I know my mental contortions can result in dizziness. Possibly nausea.

Anyway, I decided to check out this guy’s bio to see what a 94% compatibility actually looked like. He actually answered a lot of questions. Hundreds. After ascertaining that we clicked enough minimal boxes to invest, I messaged him.

So, when you say “new to town”…how long have you *really* been here?

To my surprise, I woke up to a new message from him. He’d been in town six days…and I was off to the races. We traded messages on OKC for the rest of the week and on Friday night, he started putting out – not that way, Diezel – messages that I should ask him out.

So I did.

He declined.

Little psychopath.

Just kidding. He legit had a good reason, and a bad one.

The bad reason was just lame. Not that I cared. He’d been working on his bedroom at his new apartment and all of his going out clothes were back at his hotel. Again, not that I cared how he was dressed…this is Portland, after all. Plus, I’m probably the jeans and tee-shirt guy prototype, so really, I didn’t care how he was dressed.

But on the other hand, his pod was arriving the next day, so going out the night before moving day wasn’t the optimal situation, obviously.

But when I checked in the following Monday to see how his first day on the new job had gone, our texting led to me inviting him out to try what I call the best beer in Oregon, Barley Brown’s Pallet Jack IPA. You can only get it on tap and I know the one bar in the area that always has it on tap.

It isn’t Big Legrowlski.

It’s this dive bar that I’ve gone to off and on – more on now that it’s only about ten blocks from my place – for about 20 years. It’s called Kelly’s Olympian, and it’s pretty cool. There’s motorcycles suspended from the ceiling and neon gas station and repair shop signs hung on the walls. And they always have Pallet Jack. The one time they blew a keg while I was there, they had a back up keg to put on.

Anyway, he accepted the offer. Not only did he accept, he countered with meeting up the following day. I had been trying to veil my invitation to weeknight drinking with a drink – or two, as it happened – with the weekly cubicle dweller holiday known as Hump Day. But it’s not like I had anything else going on a Tuesday night, so game on!

Of course, Tuesday started five days of rain. The biblical type, too. Our first real inclement weather of the Fall season.

Talk about a harbinger.

But we each arrived, a little damper for the pedestrian transit. Turned out, he liked the beer…which didn’t surprise me a bit. We chatted comfortably for a couple hours and each enjoyed two Pallet Jacks.

Our conversation was alternately serious and fun, not a bad way to get acquainted. He talked about not assuming others’ intentions, but seeking to understand before reaching a conclusion. I really like this challenge. I call it a challenge because I also struggle to live that ideal. It’s hard. I’ve been a wise-cracking asshole for so long that it’s hard for me to let people prove themselves before judging their intent.

Actually, if the Myers-Briggs personality tests are to be believed, I’m a perceiver not a judger.

Following Myers-Briggs down their rabbit hole, I’m an EFNP.

Go ahead, look.

The long and short of it is that I’m a dating nightmare. Not to foreshadow, but that intuitive versus sensor bucket really works against me.

One of the other conversations we had came up when I mentioned that I’d been single following Rib for four years, roughly the same length we were together. I think he had assumed that it was a bad break up. I’d said something about still seeking a successful relationship. I clarified that Rib and I still enjoy a very nice friendship, a success in its own right. Then he said something that I found really interesting.

Why do people think of a relationship ending as a failure? If you tell someone you were in a rock band for twenty years, they’ll probably think that you were pretty successful musician. Why is it different for relationships?

Ok, that flipped a mental table. I really enjoyed that analogy.

Maybe we were talking about his parents or the Silver Fox, who were each divorced after decades of marriage. Memories get a little fuzzy midway through a second beer for me.

My only counterpoint was that maybe it’s in how it ends. Someone in a rock band for two decades is likely left with a moderate amount of wealth. If they truly were successful. People leaving a marriage after two decades are left with an intimacy vacuum.

At the very least.

Money doesn’t fill a void like that.

Still, I did enjoy the analogy.

We parted, in a drizzle. He hugged me and kissed my cheek – I’m not usually one for kissing on the first date. If we only end up friends, now I’ve kissed a friend, and that’s not a usual behavior of mine. So, the kiss on the cheek was an unexpected surprise.

He promised to send me his number on OKC so we could get together again and then said I didn’t have to walk him to his bus stop. He’d demurred on both of my offers to pick him up at his office for our date, so I was forming the opinion that he was either reserved or independent and wanting to find his own way versus being shown. I actually hadn’t intended to offer to walk him when I asked him where his stop was. I was trying to figure out if we were heading the same direction. When he told me where he was heading, I said I was heading the opposite way and said good night.

When I turned in for bed that night, I sent him a thank you message on OKC while resisting the urge to assume anything about how he didn’t use his 20 minute bus ride to send me his number. My message was really just a way to indicate that I’m not one of those dating game types that thinks waiting X days after a date is the cool way to date.

He responded pretty much immediately.

I pushed down the impulse to label his behavior and replied that I’d shoot him a text at a more reasonable hour and clicked off my nightstand lamp.

The next day we texted a lil bit.

The next day, I offered to take him out for a little bit riskier drink. The dive bar happy hour date had come in right at my $20 first date limit. Well, excluding gratuity. My second date idea was Portland City Grill in Portland’s tallest building – actually, there might be a taller structure now. Regardless, it has views like this

…from about 30 floors over Portland, which I think any newcomer would surely appreciate. That said, this ain’t no $20 date. He had said that he liked martinis, particularly, real martinis with vermouth, dirty and with onions instead of olives. A twist in the summer versus onions.

We laughed at how people who made martinis without even a trace of vermouth were just drinking vodka, but I made note of the order. I’m attentive like that, despite how I struggle with how ordering a date’s drink could be misconstrued and #metoo-ed.

Anyway, Portland City Grill’s cocktails are probably $12-15 each, so…yeah, this wasn’t a $20 date.

He suggested the following day, Friday. Yesterday. I agreed, which was followed up by him offering to wait til early next week to avoid the crowds I loathe so much. I found that kind, and attentive in its own right but committed to perseverance.

It was just one drink, after all. I wouldn’t mind two, but I was cognizant of the fact that he was both coming from work and had mentioned he was a lightweight. My intention was neither to pour him onto a bus nor end up with him at my place…so, probably just one drink.

I sent him a confirmation text at noon-ish the next day to make sure we were still on for that evening.

He responded immediately with

Can we please reschedule for Monday?

Turns out that some co-workers were going out after work and invited him along. Setting aside my grumpy old man-ness, I told him we could reschedule and to go get his networking on.

He read it immediately, but didn’t respond.

Why do people leave or turn on read receipts for their texts? Seriously, the only reasons I can think of are that they are clueless that they are on or it’s so you know they’re blowing you off.

Anyway, this is where being an intuitive type works against me: I’m prone to noticing patterns.

It was one thing to reschedule. It was another to not say “thanks for understanding” or even “sorry” when he did so.

I’d enjoyed meeting this guy. He and I were a good match according to the folks that wrote the OKStupid algorithm. He was fun to talk to, seemed to have some good life experiences under his belt and just engaging.

That said, I’d decided not to write this until today so that we’d have two dates under our belts and I’d have an idea how I felt about him. What direction I hoped this to go in. You see, algorithms aside, he’s an attractive guy…but hairy.

Generally, I’m attracted to smooth guys. I’m getting past guys that aren’t clean shaven, I live in hipster-ville, after all. But I haven’t really gotten into being attracted to guys with chest hair. And this fella is a hairy motherfucker. But, I am challenging myself to set aside that immediate spark qualifier that I’ve relied upon when meeting people. Look where it’s gotten me, after all.

Yet, here I am…Saturday. The day I intended to write this entry, if for no other reason than my December output has been meager. Only, I hadn’t successfully crossed my two date threshold.

Since it seemed like a pretty arbitrary goal – two dates – I decided to write this entry anyway. As I’m sitting at Nossa, sipping my coffee and tapping this out, I jump over to OKC to double-check a quote from our messages there.

He’s on.

Now, I can’t fully explain why this wrankled me so. I think it was because he’d never thanked or apologized to me for post-poning on me yesterday.

So, I just sent him a text message.

Your actions are giving me a “not interested” vibe.

I know that this is more than likely to offend someone, in the case that they aren’t interested and aren’t being clear. On the other hand, if it’s not intentional, it at least opens the door to conversation about how I ended up at that…perception.

Being a native Portlander, I take a lot of guff for our reputation for being passive-aggressive. I offset this through my actions, namely: being direct in my communication.

Of course he responds immediately.

Now he chooses to be in the moment. Surprising no one he says he had fun and would like to be my friend.

Oddly, he still didn’t apologize that I felt that way or take any accountability for how I’d gotten that hint. My least favorite language, right there: hint.

One of the patterns this intuitive person tends to recognize is that pattern where people fail to accept responsibility for their actions. I’m responsible for my feelings, and try to be equally responsible for my actions…so expecting others to acknowledge their own actions and their fallout seems pretty fair to me. I’m also not one who is going to get all butt-hurt about someone makes me feel. I gave them the power to make me feel hurt, I can easily take it away.

Something, Felicia

What he didn’t know in his offer of friendship – genuine or simply another sentence in hintonese – was that I expect more of my friends than my lovers. Relationships come and go – successful, as he frames them, or not – but people I call friend are in my life indefinitely. We may not see each other every day or every week. I’ve some friends I only see once a year, but we know each other and when I see them, it seems like yesterday.

I told him his actions yesterday didn’t seem like he’d make a good friend for me. After explaining why, I said

If you’ve got the balls to not be offended by that, then the <ahem> ball is in your proverbial court.

He texted me back, but I’m not in any hurry to read it. So far today, his texts have shown that he’s more interested in preserving the perception that he’s a good guy versus actually – y’know – being one.

If he wants to show me he’s someone else versus another typical lost boy, he’ll put some effort into it.

In the meantime, this is me…not holding my breath.

Dating Into Oblivion: episode 9

Putting the “Man” in Manifest

I was talking with one of my Bartendresses yesterday after she invited me down for a beer. She was bored. She manifested being super busy by inviting me down. By the time I got to the Big Legrowlski, she was busy with a group of four at a two-top table (yes, I instantly disliked them) who had all ordered food, a group of two at at four-top and me, who had pre-ordered tots, since they take 20 minutes in the bar’s air fryer. Right after I walked in, a group of three walked in and bellied up beside me, ordering food and then more food.
I had to wait for a break – aka, a second beer – to be able to talk to her. She had invited me down out of boredom, but I had – I told her – been thinking about a celebratory beer after crossing my 50k word count on my NaNoWriMo goal. I think she was equally excited and insisted I come down to celebrate with her. Naturally, she wanted to know what it was about.
This is something I have been struggling with: what’s my book about.
It’s a story about gay generations connecting.
My position is that this is something that gay culture is missing, that thread of community across time. AIDS didn’t help, to be sure. I usually shorthand the impact of AIDS on the gay community as having wiped out an entire generation of gay men, so…you know, that’s gonna take a toll. But, gays being gays, I don’t think we needed AIDS wiping us out to prevent this generational connection from happening. We’re ageist as a group, anyway. Twinks and VOGs (Very Old Gays) rarely coming together as a community, outside of a new iPhone release, anyway.
So, that’s one thing my book is about, but in a very top level description kind of way.
There’s a popular saying amongst writers or writing instructors: write what you know. Maybe that’s for writers that are too lazy to research or who lack the creativity to build a world from scratch. That certainly sounds like me…so I started there. The starting point that I chose was my main character picking up his life after a break up. That’s another way of describing my book.
But I did something after that point. Sure, I wove in anecdotes from my experiences and used friends as a basis for characters, but outside of those frameworks I made shit up. I created a story that was positive. A life for my main character where he is able to make an impact on the people in his life and learn and experience new things as he goes through his own life. It’s kind of an experiment in “what ifs” looking back at my own life after the starting point of this break up. It was a fun type of alt-nostalgia for me to write. Is that like alternative facts, KellyAnne?
Long and short of it, we talk about my ex briefly as a bridge into my book and then it’s over.
The Silver Fox and I grab coffee this morning, which is our usual, but Sundays are tough because the local cafe is closed. We generally default to Nossa Familia, but their seating is typically outside and I’m not keen on sitting outdoors in low 50-degree temps. So, we made our way to the SW quadrant and had a cup at Heart Coffee. Best things first: guy candy. Worth the trip for the man honeys alone. But, as we’re sitting there chatting by the cafe window – and we had a lot to catch up on after not seeing each other for a week over the holiday – my ex walks by with a couple other people. He approached from behind me and I suspect he saw me first because when I looked up from my cup, our eyes met. They didn’t lock, they just met. I did not roll my eyes away, because I’m a mature person. “Sacha just walked by”, I say, interrupting The Fox. In the coolest way possible, he wildly starts spinning his head like Linda Blair on speed while I say “Outside. Outside. Oh, they’re coming in. C’mon.”
They actually did not come in, but one of the two people with him happened to be a former co-worker of his and a mutual friend who was in town for a post-holiday visit. She did come in, just to say hi and give me a hug and it was lovely. I told her is was great to see her and that I appreciated her coming in. I told her to tell Sacha “hi” for me. I did not tell her to tell him “thank you for staying outside”.
So, I guess that’s what I get for using that part of my life as a starting point for my book. An opportunity to encounter the catalyst and not have a bad experience.
That was nice.
In reality, I expect nothing to happen with this novel now that it is written. I’ll proof is, but after that? If nothing happens, I will have accomplished what I set out to do. But in the back of my mind is the fantasy that my book does get published. And becomes a three part series. And gets optioned for a movie. Directed by Gus Van Sant. Ben Whishaw plays the young main character in movie one, Benedict Cumberbatch plays the middle aged lead in the second and then Ton Hanks steps into the role in the last movie. And Mike Meyers as Fat Bastard gets cast as my ex…who has only one minute of screen time in the first movie.
Y’know, just as a little mental amusement for myself.

Putting the “Man” in Manifest

Dating Into Oblivion ep5

The Masseur

It won’t surprise longtime friends – or readers, for that matter – that I was attracted to my massage therapist.

This goes back a couple of years. I’d just moved back to Portland but had not yet given up going to the gym, despite my cascading physical degeneration.

The offset to the injuries wasn’t restraint, it was massage! This was in my pre-acupuncture days. I’d go every two weeks, occasionally treating myself in an off week.

It took me a while of trial and error to find a guy here. I’d resigned myself to joining Massage Envy up in Seattle, but the closest one to me here in Portland was about 35 blocks and one river away, and I just couldn’t get there. I mean, physically, I could. It was mentally that I couldn’t get there. It’s too far to walk, really, and I think people who overdo it on fragrances and take public transportation are the devil’s dingleberries, so I couldn’t be that guy that got on a bus or train smelling like I’d just had sex with a coconut. So…I had to make other arrangements.

You remember Columbia House?

Yeah, you want to know what’s harder to quit than that? Massage Envy. I think my last conversation with them included the words, “Do not make me come up there!”

Anyway, I find this freelancer that works well with what I need and is actually affordable enough for me to see him every two weeks. Perfect!

As is my habit, I became attracted to him. I don’t know what it is about me – yes, I do – but I can fall in love with just about any guy in a service industry job: baristas, waiters, bartenders…remember Richard? Yeah. It’s a curse.

But I was surprised in this particular case, since it wasn’t an instant attraction and it wasn’t an attraction that developed over the course of me having nothing else to look at as I swilled a beer or two. This was a massage, most of my time was spent face down and when I wasn’t, my eyes were closed. So, no. This wasn’t a physical attraction, strictly speaking.

Now, I don’t want to shock anyone, but I’m kind of a chatter box.

Right?!? So imagine me laying there, head jammed into a horseshoe shaped headrest just chattering away like my jaw isn’t restricted at all. We pretty much talked throughout every session.

That’s what got me.

He was such a good guy. That’s what attracted me to him. How reasonable of me.

Another thing that won’t surprise anyone that knows me, is that I didn’t act on this attraction.

Why, you justifiably ask?

Well, if I’m going to be reasonable in my attraction, not falling for a pretty face but a good human instead…you know I’m going to inject that with my more predictable weirdness.

There are two reasons I didn’t act on my attraction:

First, I really don’t want to be the creepy guy that hits on people in their workplace. Fair enough, right?

Second, though – and I think this is less reasonable than it is neurotic – is Reason I’m Single #74…I don’t want to see my friends naked. Ditto, my friends seeing me naked.

(Sorry, Roger!)

I’m not moving from a clinical nudity scenario into a frivolous situation like dating or recreational sex. That’s a weird boundary I struggle to cross. As a matter of fact, I ran into this guy on the street a few times while I was seeing him professionally and was dependably awkward.

Outside what turned out to be our mutual coffee shop.

Well, you look like you’re on your way somewhere, so I won’t keep ya!

Because the presence of a paper coffee cup clearly implies he doesn’t have time to stand around and talk to me.

The other time I ran into him was at a First Thursday. It’s the monthly art walk in the Pearl District. As a Pearl District resident, I try to avoid it at all costs, but it usually sneaks up on me.

In one such unguarded moment, I ran into Brian on the street and we made casual hellos before I said,

Well, I don’t want to keep you from your friend

…and gestured to the unidentified woman standing a few feet away.

“Oh, that’s just my sister!”

“I heard that,” his sister deadpanned.

“We were just going for a drink, want to join us?”

Oh, no…you go. I wouldn’t want to take time away from your sister!

Because I’m so polite and concerned with a stranger’s vacation experience.

Flash forward to this past Spring. I’ve run into him randomly on the street again while wandering around downtown. Having discontinued our therapeutic relationship when he left town on the ground of vague family matters, it had been at least 18 months since I’d seen him.

Turned out, the reason he’d left town was he had somehow ended up with custody of his child – I can’t remember why because my mind was reeling over how I’d missed this little nugget of personal information. Usually, I hear “kids” from a guy and see this in my head

But I guess that mental imagery also prevents this information from lodging into long term memory,

I tuned back in somewhere around he’s “back in town and practicing again” along with an invite to come back and see him. I explained that I was doing acupuncture nowadays and without missing a beat, this smooth operator suggested we grab a coffee.

Apparently, he had some time to kill before he picked up his…daughter?

Yeah, I wanna say daughter.

Anyway, I talked myself into it – the whole dating a guy with kids thing – because I really liked him.

Of course, it was all academic anyway.

We walked and drank coffee and then ended up at my place. We were in the Park Blocks and I really had to pee!

Friggin’ coffee!

I ran up to my place and when I came out of the bathroom, all I saw was his bracelet on my closed bedroom door. Myrtle likes to spend time on my bed, so I usually leave the door open.

I saw a lot more when I opened the door.

I thought I should level the playing field, since I’ve seen you naked…

He didn’t even roll onto his back to talk, just cocked his chin over his shoulder.

“And it looks like I’ll be starting with you on your stomach this time?”, I playfully added.

Seems fair, doesn’t it? But don’t worry, you’ll definitely finish with me on my back!

This is not how I’d envisioned this cup of coffee ending. I’d like to say that I reluctantly joined him, but that wasn’t the case.

I did reluctantly let him out of my bed when he reminded me later that he had to go get his…still going with daughter. My reluctance was borne from a general disease with my own experiences in sleeping with people so soon after meeting.

I managed to not say, “Call me”, as I closed the door. But he did volunteer it…not that I felt any better hearing it. There was a brief internal optimistic struggle when I saw his bracelet was still on my bedroom door handle.

Gotta love the Leave Behind.

Don’t worry, you didn’t miss me announcing that I was no longer single. He never did call. Which, really…that’s a good thing. It saved me having to break up with him because of his…I still wanna say daughter.

News flash: I don’t like to share my toys.

Dating Into Oblivion ep5

Oh, Bother…

I think being bothered is a good thing. Keeps you present.

That just fell out of my mouth earlier this week while The Fox and I were at coffee.

The cafe manager had stopped by to talk while he grabbed a quick break. We always have enjoyable chats when he can take a moment like that with one or both of us. He and The Fox have actually had beers together a few times, too. When I get the download from those conversations, I’m not jealous of them…but I can appreciate that I missed something good.

But, to be clear, my bother in this particular conversation isn’t the same as our childhood pal

…and while I have friends and colleagues who have referred to me as Pooh’s human friend, I think over the years we’ve known each other that has congenially morphed into Grumpy Old Xtopher.

Since that moniker doesn’t lend itself to Pooh’s famously mild expletive, you can call me Whiny the Pooh for this post.

Because that’s more my style!

While I think my state of botheredness fluctuates depending on my real or perceived infraction, these moments really do keep me present. Both in my surroundings, but also in my own behaviors.

Who knew being the non-violent version of Hannibal Lecter would actually not only help me be a better person personally but also hopefully help me to be a better part of my community? Hopefully, if I’m bothered by someone else’s behavior, I don’t go on to become guilty of the same thing.

Sadly, as low a bar as that statement represents, I think more often than not, that’s actually what enables others to validate their own poor behaviors. Welcome to the United States of Kindergarten.

Yesterday I went to the Apple Store with my parents to get help with my mom’s new iPhone. They had an appointment for 2:10 and we showed up around quarter to 2:00 to check in. The associate checking us in told us that their appointment was actually 2:20…but said we were welcome to wait. We asked if that would end in us being seen sooner and when getting an uncertain reply, decided to go across the street for coffee and come back.

For as smooth as the process of checking us in and getting us staged went – maybe we just didn’t really care since we had coffee – we ended up at the Genius Bar just about on time.

I guess not so for the woman next to me. I heard her complaining to an employee she shanghaied about their wait, and “how much longer it would be?” The associate checked his iPad and said, “Looks like your appointment was at 2:30, and we’re only a little behind, so it shouldn’t be too much longer!”

I checked my phone.

It was 2:35.

Really, lady?!?

“Ok, well my son has another appointment across the river at 3:00, so the sooner the better!”

Nonono.

This is not ok. Now, we were only about seven blocks from the river, but our evening rush hour starts as early as 2:00 and we were smack dab in the middle of downtown. Even if her son’s appointment was literally just on the other side of the water, the bridges become a pinch point during the evening commute.

A half hour drive time would not be unreasonable.

What was she thinking?!?

I don’t know, it probably sounded a lot like “me, me, me”, though. Now what she was doing was making this someone else’s problem when it was completely her own doing. Even worse, in taking an appointment slot that was unworkable for her, she took a slot that could have worked for someone else.

Now she was trying to manipulate this poor guy into jockeying around the customers so she could go first. To his credit, he held firm with, “Well, it looks like there’s just one iPhone ahead of yours, so it shouldn’t take too much longer!” in a cheerier voice than I would have given her.

At least mentally.

This reminded me of another instance from earlier in the week. It actually made me take a picture as it came hot on the heals of my quote at the beginning of this blog post.

This basic is demonstrating what it is to be not present.

Which, in turn, bothered me.

The sign she is standing right next to says, “Please Wait Here…” as I’d been watching her, two people had walked up and asked her if she was waiting – one of them was the Silver Fox, who was excitedly awaiting his flu shot – and I’d only been watching her for a couple of minutes. Now, she could have certainly chosen to sit in the waiting area while she waits for her Rx to be filled. She knows the chairs are there, she set her tablet and handbag in one of them.

Having chosen to stand in line instead, you’d think after enough people asked if she was in line, perhaps – just maybe – she’d think to herself, “Self, I think I should get out of the way”.

No…not our girl.

She’s so unpresent that she didn’t even notice me overtly taking her picture from about 5 feet away.

This seems like a good moment to check in with my Drag Queen Spirit Animal.

Now you know why she’s my Spirit Animal. Every other homo – of a certain age – remembers her infamous cameo/quote from the pre-turn of the century gay film festival darling, Trick. She shared her wisdom with us there, giving that entire generation of gays the 411 on the perils of getting semen in your eye…

So, yeah…that’s good to know if you’re some run of the mill Stupid American. But this gay guy didn’t need to be told that was an experience best skipped.

What can I say? I have uncommon knowledge as it turns out.

So, as entertaining as Coco is, whether in a cameo in Trick or Will & Grace or even my beloved Arrested Development…my love for her was cinched the first time I saw her “That bothers me” schtick on stage. There was a mental click when she stated it, so simple. It’s when it hit me that shit is gonna bother me, but screaming and yelling about it – tilting, if you will – is just gonna make me look like a crazy Don Quixote type. I can be bothered and still lead a relatively normal life.

Shut up, Everyone That Knows Me.

Moving on…

Oh, look! A story about the least present people on the planet! One whose headline tells me that basically, I already know everything that story has to offer.

I’ve long lamented the influence those people have over American culture and the direct influence they have in making our culture an increasingly frivolous and anonymous one.

They have simultaneously taught us to be vacuous while managing to keep us incessantly keeping up with them.

Not me, just to be clear.

I wouldn’t watch them hold hands and jump off a cliff…because, they bother me and could even prove annoying to me while doing something that was inherently a net positive for the world.

But, an unexpected side effect of the bother they add to my life is that they keep me present in not ignoring the things that matter in life like they seem to as a family. When I say “the things that matter”, I mean everything beyond their “me, me, me” behavior.

Meanwhile, back in WordPress Land, I just barf these amusing yet niggling annoyances of mine into the void and walk away. And it’s not like them there Kardashians…for me, it’s not about “the likes” here. WordPress is a group of people that want to write for the sake of creating, or educating, or entertaining…or, yeah, like me: therapy.

That said, I do like the likes and comments because they enhance the experience of writing for me. I tend to try – how noncommittal was that? I need a Yoda, “There is no ‘tend to try’ only tend or not tend” – to participate and interact with other writers that I follow to show them the same support and encouragement they show me. But since I follow about five dozen other writers, I often get behind and visit my half dozen favorites more than the rest.

Which is why seeing this today on one of my favorite writer’s blog posts kind of bothered me.

What’s missing in that red circle was the feedback buttons. This is another recent entry from her that demonstrates the usual set up:

This woman is a funny writer. She has a great voice and style and usually spells everything correctly. Isn’t it nice of me to blank out her name so you can’t go follow her?

What’s great to me is that she writes about being a mom and living in suburbia – two things that are far afield from my life experience – in a manner that draws me in and amuses me. She makes me understand and sympathize with her struggles…and chuckle along with her as she does her own screaming into the WordPress void.

The post that she turned off feedback buttons for was one of her funniest yet, in my opinion. It involved an improperly stored “lady’s little helper” that her son discovered next to her as she woke up.

Ok, we haven’t all been there, clearly. But just imagine the shargrin that people could have contributed in the comments. Because there’s for sure plenty of fun anecdotes out there, this I know.

Also, shargrin = Share + chagrin = Chrisism. It’s like the opposite of schadenfreude. Instead of enjoying someone else’s embarrassment, you empathize with them and share a similarly embarrassing moment.

Since shargrin is – basically – most of my life, I’m bothered to not be able to participate in this post. But also, it bothers me that she deprived herself of the opportunity to salvage her parental dignity by closing off comments. It’s like she tossed her story into the void and walked away from it.

That’s not very present.

But I still liked the post…I just think that the feeling of forgiveness she cost herself by not hearing her readers’ shargrin ultimately sold herself short. For the record, though, she was present where it counted most: helping her son understand his feelings about what he witnessed.

I guess, ultimately, that makes her a lot like me: not perfect, but present and accountable enough to bother trying to be better. The kids I had coffee with today gave me something that was an unexpected gift.

Try to be 1% better today than you were yesterday.

“Like…every day?”, I asked.

Yup!

“But that’s – like – a 400% improvement over the course of the year”, I whined.

Yup!

These two cheery motherfuc…I don’t need that type of positivity in my life. Do you know the damage that could do to old Whiny the Pooh?!? Later, they set me back in balance by sending me this

I got a good chuckle out of that. And that’s what motivated me to sit down and tap this out. We don’t have to be perfect or put on a show of false happiness to be good people. We just need to be aware enough of our own shit to be able to know the difference between how our actions affect others and the world around us.

Are you the shit or a shit?

Oh, Bother…