Portland Pride

I said I wasn’t going to go.

I wasn’t in the mood, borderline depressed.

It’s not my crowd, I’m too old.

It’s not safe, why put myself in a place where I’m a potential target?

My “Pride” body is in mothballs.

I went.

…and came away friggin’ renewed!

Don’t get me wrong, when I first showed up, I was mad. Since this outfit sets up in and around the North Park Blocks, I’m immersed in the Pride parade going-ons.

Even the day of, I left my house and went to my coffee shop for my morning joe, coming out my front door when it was just early bird parade prep stragglers.

I was convinced that sitting in my coffee shop perch would be the extent of my participation. However, as I watched the Park Blocks populate from straggler-status to party-mode, I kinda got inspired.

Then I left the cafe and went home.

Ugh…so people-y.

I sat on my couch and booted around the interwebs and the Netflix for a while before convincing myself around 11:30 to just go watch the Dykes on Bikes. They always kick off the parade and their ability to get the crowd pumped in a great boost.

The parade started at 11 this year.

C’mon!

I’d missed the Dykes.

But there I was, in the same spot I always occupied when I went to the parade. Standing on the edge of the parking lot across from the former Embers. Sun beating down from directly over me and radiating up at me from the asphalt I was standing on.

Convection Cooked Xtopher.

I missed the opportunity to go across the street for a quick beer to cool off. During other Portland Pride parades, I was amazed to walk into Embers during the parade and see how nut-to-butt packed it was. Post-standing-room-only, whereas I usually felt like I was the only non-homeless, non-employee, not wearing a dress patron there. But as everyone else waited in their best guess as to where a line was for the bar, I could usually count on standing still and getting a beer handed to me.

Ah, the occasional perks of being a regular.

I’d only been at the parade for 15 minutes, but could already feel myself deciding to stay. The frustration at missing the opening act was wearing off. And even though I couldn’t wander across the street for a beer, Portland’s local pubs had floats that at least refreshed me with the idea of a beer.

It was fun – as usual – to see the local businesses participating in this show of community. Not too long ago, these parades were really just processions of floats with go-go boys from the local bars, support organizations for our community and the occasional business from a city’s Gay District. It really reinforced the theme for the parade.

While “LOVE” is indeed the word, the participation by these businesses demonstrated that love is a word with many definitions. Obviously, for the parade overall, romantic and familial love was the primary meaning, but this participation by the community reinforced the less specific, global definition of the word.

They loved us.

Because love is also simply about a degree of acceptance. Taking the whole – don’t make it dirty, Diezel – good, bad or ugly.

Even our sports teams got in on it. Naturally, there were the local gay teams, like the gay soccer league team. But seeing our Blazer organization representing, that felt good for some reason. Not that I’m a sports fan or participant. But maybe because I’m not…having spent much of my youth feeling ostracized from my peer group because I didn’t have a head – or physical aptitude – for sports.

Of course, not everyone loves “us”. I had decided to make my way from my perch toward the head of Broadway.

This year’s Pride haps were pre-marred by the ominous yet vague threat that alt-right Proud Boys would be lurking outside Pride sponsored events to harass attendees as they left. Basically – Pride being an unapologetic party – they were openly declaring that they were gonna beat up drunk gays.

Proud Boys ruining Pride.

I can see why they’re so proud.

There were a couple of dust ups in the week leading to Pride weekend – most notably, three guys pulling their small penis mobile over on Broadway in broad daylight to beat up a gay – or at least gay enough looking – guy.

Profile much?

But that still lent credibility to their menacing promise. It kept me in. Maybe that was their real purpose.

Still, I was happy to hear about increased security, including the Portland Police, at Pride functions. For the second time in the years since the Pulse massacre, I was glad to see the parade head at Broadway and Burnside blockaded against vehicles.

Two heavy duty dump trucks were there to prevent any vehicular menace. A sad statement to have to make, but heaven forbid these alt-right people read a newspaper and figure out what terrorism in Europe is looking like these days.

Of course, dump trucks keep out cars and whatnot. But not all of the refuse.

As always, the “God Hates Fags” crowd was there. I think they really did a great job of rallying the three remaining members of their hate group for the parade.

My photography leaves a bit to be desired, but it really was three guys, two signs and a bullhorn.

They really weren’t a match for the horns and sirens of every emergency service provider in the Portland area, who blasted them and drowned their hate-speak out as their vehicles rounded the corner of the parade route.

Do you see the vehicle ID on that ambulance?

Awesome!

Eventually, the haters gave up. More accurately, they probably moved down to the waterfront festival ahead of the parade’s end so that they could be ready to assault the crowd as they entered the festival after the parade. I don’t know who writes their stuff, but what I heard in between siren blasts makes me suspect one of their group is a self-hating homo.

“Instead of getting down on your knees to suck dick, you should get down an pray to God!”

“God hates you, you cum gurgling homo!”

…hearing them was really starting to make me feel proud to be a part of a community that has an annual party to promote love.

Surprisingly, dovetailing nicely on that feeling were at least a dozen religious groups sending delegations to march. Usually, I expect the MCC to be there since it’s “the gay church”. This year, though, I really noticed the participants from other religious denominations.

Because it really reinforced that with mutual love and respect for one another, we are all taking part in a global community and by extension, family.

I swear those balloons spell out “FAMILY”. A nice throwback to the Marriage Equality slogan, “Love makes a family”.

I decided to keep moving backward along the parade route to short-hand the remaining floats in the procession. Partially because this was turning into an all day event for me when I’d originally committed to viewing one entry. Notice how ungrumpy I’m seeming as I write? The same was also happening in real time as I watched the parade.

Catharsis!

I also wanted to head back toward my coffee house to see if they were still open. Normally, they are closed on Sundays. From what I’d witnessed earlier in the day, today was looking to shape up as one of their best days ever. I like seeing my local businesses thrive…even if a constant line to the door means I might not get a timely refill on my cold brew coffee.

Remember what I said about being a regular at my neighborhood gay bar? Yeah…well, it worked with coffee, too! The Fox had joined late, not believing the cafe would be open. He’d walked in – amazed – to a line to the door. Liz set him up with a cup, but was so busy that he didn’t get a chance to pay until the next day. It’s these local businesses with such good people working there and investing their personalities in the community they serve – these relationships – that I want to see thrive. I’m proud to be their customer.

Even still, it’s nice to see big business participate, too. Nike, Adidas, T-Mobile, even Wells Fargo…despite the road apples their crew didn’t manage to get entirely removed! It was odd that a few companies were conspicuously absent from prior years: Macy’s and Alaska Airlines being a couple of the standouts.

Maybe I just missed them, but then again…they do set up right in my front yard. Macy’s kind of makes sense, having shuttered their downtown store this past year. But Alaska would be a strange absence, given that they are a local PNW company.

But none of that is actually why I brought up the big business participation.

In order for these large companies to have a delegation in the parade to represent them, they’ve got to have employees that want to represent them. These global behemoths like Nike and Adidas, for instance. Sure, they both have Portland World Headquarters, but internally they have an environment of inclusion…specifically for their LGBT+ employees. That effort to make their employees more than just a minion helps them to attract and retain good talent.

But it also gives me hope that no matter how big the company, they are striving toward that scrappy small business value of their individuals being what drives their local success, like my friends that work at my favorite caffienation and inebriation stations.

By this time, I’d actually made my way back to the corner that f&b is on just in time to see the final floats heading into the route. Led by the Human Rights Campaign and Portland’s own Gay Beards, whose procession had a ball playing red rover under their huge flag.

Not to be too Portland about it, but the Witches Against Capitalism were well represented. As was our local Rocky Horror Picture Show enthusiasts…whose group presented zero g-rated picture opportunities, so enjoy the witches.From witches to Red Dress…I’d have a tough time finding a dress for the actual Red Dress Party – although I don’t since I’m not a size 12 anymore. These guys trotted out a dress for the Pride Parade…and you know they can’t wear the same dress twice!

That’s commitment.Sure, let’s have a float for sex workers, too.

Actually, while I don’t disagree with their sign – that looks like it was made at breakfast and they just spontaneously decided to be in the parade over brunch – the reason I’m including these pics is two-fold:

A) there is a guy dressed as Deadpool wearing a straw hat right behind that blue tutu…WTF? Like I’d put it past Ryan Reynolds to show up for a random Pride parade appearance.B) I’ve had a “real” job my whole life…where’s my fucking boat?!?

Maybe I need to re-examine my vocational trajectory.

Oops…maybe that ship has sailed. (See what I did there?)

Then there’s random unicycle dude outfitted in pink and pulling a bike trailer with a giant “?” on it as if to say, “I don’t even know what I’m doing here…”

But that pink curly thing? Not a tail on his costume…it’s a whip.

If only I had a good action shot of it.Which brings us to the end of the parade. Since Dykes on Bikes open the procession, it seems only fair that’ll white guys on motorcycles finish things off, right?

Call it Dawgs on Hawgs…

Luckily, my backward moseying had brought me back to Big Legrowlski.

And this adorable little fella!

I was actually pretty parched, so I stopped in for just one.

Good old Silver Fox joined me for a second round.

Then Liz and the f&b crew stopped in for a quickie to cap off a huge day of business for their cafe. I had to stay and help celebrate that success!

Right?!?

The Fox being the reasonable person he is chose to duck out at this juncture. That turned out to be a good call since moments later – swigs later? – the gorgeous 80 degree day gave way to a biblical friggin’ rain storm.

Drops the size of my head.

Thunder!

I decided to wait it out. Unfortunately, the only rain break was awkwardly situated in the middle of a beer.

What’s an out of date Frat Boy to do?

Me, being the optimist that I am, stayed and drank until I’d hit six. Then I began to wonder in those God Hates Fags guys were right and worry that a flood was coming.

Not really.

But it was getting on to Mistress Myrtle’s feeding time. I asked Alex if she had any lost and found umbrellas. She jokingly provided me with this

which I proudly escorted back to my place while wondering how a bar ends up with a child’s umbrella.

The days that followed Pride have been fun exercises in immediate nostalgia. One of the best things about Portland Pride is that it’s always in the middle of Pride month – the worst thing is that it’s on Father’s Day. What this means is that we have a lot of pre-Pride festivities to warm us up and that we still have two weeks left in Pride month.

It’s like foreplay and afterglow.

My favorite part of this reality is that I have little reminders of Pride – like glitter all over the road in front of my home or this sticker I saw yesterday in front of Powell’s.

This whole surprise Pride participation has been just what my waning sense of self-pride needed.

Gay-men to that!

It was just the necessary kick in the butt to stop feeling worthless in my unemployed-ness and get my ass off the couch and back into the land of the living. More of that to follow!

Love and pizza, yo!

Portland Pride

BikeTown Chronicles #3

How do I get myself into these shituations?

Oh, yeah…I’m stubborn.

And…competitive.

Fine, but I can still whine about this stuff, right?

After a gorgeous weekend through which I suffered through what The Fox likes to call bubble guts, I was feeling pent up. And, yeah, a bit frustrated that I hadn’t managed anything active during the good weather.

Sunday was our most beautiful and warm day of the year thus far and Monday was projected to be the same. So, I’d committed to getting outside after coffee. I was a little torn about completing some actual responsible tasks before my ride, but talked myself out of it since I was only planning a 90 minute/20 mile ride.

I’d be back in plenty of time to get to the FedEx/Kinkos to print out some documents for my unemployment hearing next Tuesday and get them in the mail.

Then as I was leaving my neighborhood coffee shop, the barista asked what my plans were.

“Bike ride! It was touch and go between bike or hike, but the ride wins out today!”, I told him.

The Fox had told me that our barista had been telling him about a 70 mile ride he’d done recently. “Told me” as in “I interpreted it as a dare”.

So, I leave the cafe after vocalizing my intent to take off on a little 20 miler. Saying it out loud makes me accountable, right?

Then I go home and get sucked into Netflix for an hour.

I end up leaving the house around 12:30, still plenty of time. Home by 2, showered and planted in Kinkos by 3, probably done by then, realistically.

My usual short ride out the Springwater Trail ends at the 6.5 mile mark, preventing me from having to cross any real major thoroughfares on my urban trail ride. It’s a 1.5 mile trip through the waterfront to the trail, so I come up a couple miles short of my 20 mile goal. I’ve offset that by taking a loop over the Tilikum Bridge and back around the waterfront to make up the difference.

I noticed my water bottle hitting my leg as I ended that loop and thought that I hadn’t placed it completely back in its cradle after my last drink.

Wrong.

I’d somehow lost a screw and that was causing the whole contraption – including my bike pump – to pivot on the remaining screw. I pulled over to tighten shit up and got back on the road, satisfied that I’d gotten the situation secured.

I get to the 6.5 mile mark and am feeling pretty good. My butt is tolerating the seat pretty well and I think, “Let’s just go to 30”. This is where my competitiveness and mild OCD kick in. I get to the 30 mile turn around point and it’s in the middle of the path, versus one of the park areas or major intersections. I decide to ride on so that I can fill my water bottle at my turnaround.

That happens at the 35 mile point and I think, “35 miles? That’s not a ride. No one does 35s”. I haven’t done a 40 since last year and decide to push on, thinking back to a conversation Little Buddy and I had during last week’s hike. She mentioned that most of her and 2.0’s rides were 40-60 mile affairs…so, why not?

I get to the 40 mile point in Gresham and think back to last year, when I was last here and decided not to push further to the end of the path. I also recall last weekend’s ride where I’d run into my friend, Casey Adler, and we’d rode along for a bit together toward the end of his ride.

He’d gone all the way to the end of the trail in Boring.

I was going to go, too.

This mentality is how I get myself into these situations.

The path out to Boring was lovely. It’s newer than the rest of the Springwater, so it’s also in really good shape, which is nice because my bum was beginning to ache.

At the 45 mile turnaround point, I do question my rationale for completing a ride that is 60% longer than my prior ride. Then I ignore myself and keep going because I’m gonna need to refill my water bottle, right?

I arrive at the Boring Trailhead Park and stumble off my bike in need of a little stretch. I walk it out around the little bathroom hut and realize that I’m not alone. There’s a “serious cycler” on the other side of the bathrooms getting ready to ride out. I decide to stretch until he leaves, not in the mood to be passed by a fit someone that is just starting his ride.

Once he leaves, I go to the water fountain to refill my bottle before getting under way.

Broken.

Ugh…I set my sights on refilling at Gresham City Park and gingerly head out. GCP is kind of new, I think maybe it was added when the Springwater was extended, but I’m not sure. What I am sure of is that there’s no water fountain.

I get back on the trail. I’m beginning to resent the overt associations the Springwater Trail has with…water as my thirst gets real. I think this as I’m cycling past signs telling me that I’m in the Johnson Creek Watershed.

Water, water everywhere.

Somehow, I manage to catch my fit serious cycler as I peddle toward the next park – a baseball field – in hopes of hydration. I’m in a mid-range gear in sprint mode because my knees are beginning to complain. I decide to follow him for a bit and ratchet my effort back to avoid overtaking him.

Yes, I’m judging him while also telling myself that he’s probably still in his warm up mode.

Then I see he’s wearing dress shoes.

Chuckling – and rejudging – I think that maybe he’s a bike commuter and forgot to pack his cycling shoes. It is Monday, after all.

No, I tell myself…

A) Who lives in town and works in Boring?

B) He’s gotta be on his way home at this time of day, so he rode to work in the same shoes.

Now I’m curious.

And passing him.

I pull into the baseball field and begin cruising around for a functional water fountain.

Jelly legs.

As I’m refilling my bottle for the second time after immediately draining the first refill, fit serious cycler guy cruises past and I mentally say farewell, absolutely setting my sights on not catching him again.

I succeed!

But I do run into a couple of other curious characters on my ride back in.

The first was a motivationally fit fella out on the path in just bike shorts.

Well, spandex shorts. When he’d passed me heading toward town, I’d appreciated his bare torso and turned to appreciate the rear view after he passed. No pads in his shorts!

This time, as he passed me on his return to whatever outer region of town he called home, I wondered, “Where the hell does he put his keys?!?”

Or his emergency $5?

Or his ID?

My parents raised me well. My zippered back pocket held all three.

Sexy and dumb. Maybe I should chase him down…nah. Peddle, Xtopher.

The second character I passed on my ride back into town was resting shirtless on a bench by my 30 mile turnaround viewpoint. He made some vague hand signal as I passed by that appeared to me to be an offer of oral sex but I convinced myself was some cycler code greeting.

He should have been wearing a shirt.

After passing him, I reach down for my water bottle.

Gone.

I’m not totally surprised, because it never fit snuggly into the cradle. Then I notice the cradle, too, I’d gone. As is my bike pump.

Fuuuuuuuck!

It’s ok…I’m inside the final 15 miles.

That optimistic thought evaporates as I pass the perpetually wet spot on the trail that I always amuse myself by thinking, “Here’s the spring the trail is named for” as I pass through it.

I pull off to stretch and rest my bum for a few minutes. Shortly after I get back to my ride, Shouldn’t Be Shirtless Guy passes me. I think that he must have been riding pretty hard to catch up after so long just as he drops his hand and makes yet another weird, finger waggly hand gesture to me.

What the hell is this guy on about?

I’m approaching the segment of the trail called Tres Bridges because there are three bridges in relatively short succession taking riders over some industrial land, train tracks and Hwy 99. After my prior four rides this season, I’m remembering the rhythm of the bridges’ uncomfortable bumps so I can stand to avoid the ass abuse they create. I don’t need that this far into my ride.

I’m in the final ten miles.

I come off the last bridge and the shirtless guy is there, pulled off at a bench again. This time, as I pass, he laughs maniacally at me and laugh tracks me from my approach until I can’t hear him any longer.

“Oooooh”, I think, “He’s a crazy”. Ok, that tracks.

It’s Portland.

As I come out of Sellwood and get back onto the last leg of the Springwater before it becomes the Esplanade, I begin to feel…crispy. It’s now that I realize my spontaneous 50 mile ride is going to come in at a smidge over four hours.

Without sunscreen.

In a sleeveless tee.

“It won’t be that bad”, I think, considering the base tan I’ve developed on my bikes and hikes from earlier in the season.

That thought was wrong.

Oh, well…might as well get my sunburn out of the way.

Plus, now I’ve crossed a half century ride off my summer bucket list. I’m also well prepared to talk myself out of future aspirational endeavors.

And, hey…there’s always the two-day mail option to get my unemployment hearing stuff in before the weekend!

Oh, btw, my fitness tracker is convinced that I somehow burned 1300 kcals on my ride. That’s 1.3 million calories. However, since I woke up still fluffy today, I’m going to choose to believe that my fitness tracker is either broke or crazier than Shouldn’t Be Shirtless Guy.

BikeTown Chronicles #3

The Red Shirt Diaries #21

The Big One edition.

I just got back from a quick escape to the coast with The Fox.  This is an important point, only because we specifically discussed potential caffeination strategies simply because of the beach house’s remote location.

Coffee wasn’t going to come handily.  Either you have to make the dreaded drip at the house, prepare to trek into town for whatever offerings you find or take some with.  

It’s a worthwhile trade off for this view, though.

The Fox is a Stok fanatic, which is a pre-made cold brew that you can buy in the store.  So, he was taking a bottle of that to get him through and offered to take a second for me.  I told him that I would likely just grab some Monsters to get me by.  I used to have a daily habit, but weaned myself off when I moved back to Portland and found worthy cold brew that was accessible on the daily.

Still, I spent the next several days listening to facts about how bad Monsters are and how they were named as one of the 10 worst things you can buy at the grocery.

Our route home from the coast was atypical for The Fox.  Normally, he will stop off in the hinterlands of Portland at the Costcos and Wincos to stock up for Armageddon. However, this time we stopped by the Fox Family Homestead to pick up Sallory – who is off on another family world tour and in need of a lift into the city and the airport.

No better reason to change the usual routine than that!

So, the usual Costco stock up and Winco Stok up run was put off a day.  I was asked if I needed anything and really could only think of hamburger.  Later, as we all played a pick up game of Where I Hurt – it’s a mental poker game I play when a group of us complain about our respective maladies – and my losing hand consisted solely of nightly calf cramps, I added magnesium.

The Fox rolls up to my front door with the ground beef and magnesium later as well as some back up lasagnes and a flat of Monsters.

Enabler.

I can find a place in my pantry for those!

However, it did prompt this question about our usual coffee date this morning:

My Earthquake Kit.

Of course, the big one is nigh.  There’s scarcely a month that passes without at least one of the weekly rags publishing some sort of article about life after certain death.  Most recently, it was a Dr Know entry about whether houseboats were the next big housing craze in Portland – after RVs and ADUs – particularly as a potential way to survive and ride out the aftermath of The Big One.  The response, I will leave to your sleuthing.

Because

This morning’s quandary for the Red Shirt was, “Would I want to survive?”

Even with the Monsters The Fox provided and the cash stash my parents taught me to have, I imagine Portland will quickly de-volve into some sort of post-apocalyptic knock-off version of itself.

Zoo Bombers will run the looter gangs.

Vegans will become cannibals before the first aftershock.

Yard chickens will become prophets – because it is still Portland.

And, somehow, I think all the little things about humanity that bother me will survive…even becoming amplified.

My inner optimist wants to believe that survivors will band together to create a better tomorrow.  Focused on making a community out of the ruins of our hipster culture.  But realistically, I think sacrificing myself by running into my crumbling building to rescue my neighbor’s (completely fictional, but give it time) balcony chicken will be the better move.

“All hail the prophet Cluckerella!” will be my last words as I fling my neighbor’s (again, completely fictional) balcony chicken off the balcony to freedom from our collectively crumbling roost.

The Red Shirt Diaries #21

PDX Weather…

Life in the PNW is low-key glorious.  We don’t want word getting out and even more people moving here to experience it.  They always bring their hometown tarnish with them and it harshes our mellow just a bit.

Let ‘em scratch their heads in confusion about life here:

Rain.

Without umbrellas.

Great food.

That comes from a truck on the street.

Great coffee.

That’s intimidatingly simple to order.

Beer swilling liberal haven.

Filled with inexplicably fit folk…

Being smart and right burns a lot of calories, m’kay?

Let ‘em think all that crap about us. As long as they stay there and don’t move here.

Come get a taste of the wonder, but be careful how you time your visit.

You can get a great hike in our in the gorge or cascades.

Or

You can watch horrified like the rest of us as our beautiful landscape burns at the hands of some punk.

You can enjoy our tasty brewed treats – caffeinating or intoxicating.

Or

You can question reality – and how strong that beer was – when you (think you?) see one of these characters.

Two of those are undeniably real, the other is a secret.  Not sure whether any of them are actually a reason to stop drinking or a better reason to start.

Again, it’s about timing in the PNW.

Just when you think you know all the potential traps to avoid when planning your exotic getaway to weird Portland, Orygun, you go to your travel agent and say something like, “Um, like we wanna go” – just assuming you’re from the San Fernando Valley for some reason – “for a weekend during Spring Break.  All the locals will be gone, but it’s not as touristy bad as summer will be.” only to find yourself wondering why your Travel Agent is giving you this face.

It’s because you can’t outsmart us.

Don’t.

Even.

Try.

It’s a little known fact that our summers here are simply glorious.

God’s Country.

Lit by the longest, most sunshiny days you can imagine.

An even less known fact is springtime in Portland.  Every year I wait for it.  It doesn’t happen every year, but when it does…it’s amazing!

It’s been on my radar since early this week, when people were talking about snow this coming Saturday – aka: tomorrow, at this point.

I have to check myself when I start to expect it, because you never know it’s coming.

Wrap your mind around this:  all four seasons in one day.

It almost happened yesterday.

I woke up and tried to plan my day’s attire.  Really, the mystery here is what type of outerwear I’m putting over my jeans and tee shirt.  It was 32 degrees.

Winter.

I’d gone in on my usual day off, but ended up arriving a few minutes later than expected.  I’d taken a later train than planned when I’d returned to my condo for an umbrella after hitting the street and discovering rain with drops the size of my head.

Aaaah, Spring.

And, yes.  We locals do use umbrellas.  We aren’t idiots, like the transplant that started that rumor.

I left work and decided that I deserved a margarita.

The Silver Fox joined me for my second and when we left, proving margaritas are a cure for what ails ya – working on my Saturday, in this case, it was sunny and golden bright out.

Summer.

For two blocks.

Then it was sunny and raining out.  It kept getting brighter and the rain got harder.  People were laughing and smiling as they strode the sidewalks of Old Town in the surprise – and gorgeously lit – shower.

“Sunshine drops!”, I yelled out, giddy over the prospect of hitting the weather lottery.

This is why people think we don’t use umbrellas.  You’re out and about and get caught be a sudden shower.  Others might step into a doorway and wait it out, Portlanders relish it and carry on about their business.

I went home and surprised Myrtle doing something she wasn’t supposed to do – sitting in one of my dresser drawers that for sure wasn’t open when I left.

But I was only home to grab a growler so I could get provisions for the evening and hole up for the finale: snow.

I went to the Big Legrowlski to fill up and chatted for a sample or two with one of my favorite Pearl District peeps as she filled my growler with a lusciously light triple IPA.

As I was leaving: hail.

So close.

I woke up this morning to a reminder from Apple and Mother Nature:

PDX Weather…

The New American Psycho

Surprising no one, the way we behave toward one another bothers me.  As the voice of treason, I am not silent about it…pleasing no one.  I’m not any happier about it than you are, trust me.

But you’re either a part of the solution or you’re a part of the problem, right?

I’ve been looking for and ruminating on a root cause for this shift in behavior.

What is the bogey that enabled this new sense of…blithe disregard for each other?

Was it our increasing Short Attention Span?  Were we or are we becoming too SASsy for our own good?

Fidget Spinners, for instance.  I think most of us acknowledged the idiocy of this it toy from last year.  However, did you see parents explaining to their children that this was a stupid toy and a waste of $10?  

No.  No, you didn’t see that.  Because: shut the kid up is more of a parenting agenda than reasoning with ones child or developing critical thinking skills early on by making a child articulate why they want a toy.  Hint: it’s because everyone has one.  How about just making them earn their treats anymore.  

Definitely a part of the problem…but just a symptom, not the cause.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for using this as a tool to soothe a child or adult that pings hard enough on the autism scale that they can actually count the spins.  But face it, that wasn’t the target customer here.

But adults – parents included – have their own fidget spinner:  Pop Culture.

How about that Hozier guy?  Remember him, the Take Me to Church guy?  Good for him, being the “it” artist in 2014/15, replaced midway through ’15 and well into 2016 by Ed Sheeran.  

Poor Hozier…sold some records and then what?  Our collective OCD saw something else shiny and new to distract us.

Poor Ed, too.  Stealing the pop culture crown – only to learn that pop culture is basically a wood chipper when the mob learns you’re a great singer with a mild personality and not the Kardashian-monster-type personality we’ve come to expect of our pop icons.  All this from a guest turn on Game of Thrones, no less…speaking of pop culture run amok.  I don’t watch, but The Fox does and I spent the better part of two years waiting for the GoT shoe to drop whenever I was with him.  

Not just in movies or TV shows we watch or discuss.  The GoT obsession followed us to our local wine bar where somehow we learned that the co-owner and Som extraordinaire dated Jon Snow when she lived in LA.

But it’s not pop culture, again…that’s still just a symptom, methinks.

Ten-ish years ago, a friend of mine said this about relationships:  Relationships happen in the moment – which I believe.  However, he went on to say that you meet someone and hang out and hook up then never leave or nothing happens.

I’m not sure how I feel about that.  I’ve definitely experienced the back half of that assertion, a lot.  But the first part sounds so easy.  And not in a slut shaming kind of way.  The hooking up immediately part is pretty much The Gay Way, but the never leaving part sounds more like a relationship of comfort for a 20-something. I think that is sweet and helpful for providing security while one finds themselves and that these relationships can create some great gay adults – talk about an oxymoron, emphasis: moron – but what about the folks that doesn’t happen for?

Lol.  Ed Sheeran just came on the radio at my coffee shop.

Eventually, I think these people become institutionalized by the hook up and get used to nothing happening after.  They forget their hopes and expectations of more.

Wait for it

Enter asocial media.  The dreaded dating app.  By our gay 30s, we’ve been bred – hush, Diezel – to expect less.  And we’re Americans, so we want as much of whatever we can get as we can get.

Basically, we’re all a bunch of whores self medicating our loneliness with meaningless sex.

But that’s not good enough.  We’re still gay, so we’ve got to make it fabulous and then, beyond reason, this hook up culture of ours becomes aspirational.

JFC.  

Now straight people have hook up apps.  Whoopee!  Everyone can now experience a life of nothing happening.

Great, deep, connective virtual conversations with the one.  The one that you never end up meeting in real life.

Or the one that scratches your libidic – warning: that word has high Chrisism potential – itch and then you never end up hearing from them again.  

These realities happen over and over again and more than people finding reward from this cycle, I hear people giving up.  Returning to a focus on the friends that have been there time and again after either scenario.  That becomes their focus, and it’s not a bad one.  It’s just that – as a too longtime frequenter of bars and clubs…it’s their sole focus.  People are with their friends and they aren’t open to outsiders breaking in.

So…what’s the right balance?  I’d seriously like to know, because suddenly, the only thing happening in the moment is sex with no expectations.  We are becoming hopeless, as hopeless as any other addicts:  either we get our fix and that’s fine, or we go on the wagon and tell everyone about it in an innocently judgy-slash-superior fashion. 

I blame Vegans for that behavior taking hold in American discourse.

While I think this is another symptom of the problem, I think those that break the cycle and change their behavior bring us closer to the cure.

Enter my early morning reading today.  I read this article about a woman who thought she was confronting a Neo-Nazi in a restaurant I’d challenge a Neo-Nazi could scarcely afford.

She wasn’t.

She just didn’t know what the word Luftwaffe actually meant, which was what our alleged Neo-Nazi’s tee shirt was raping her snowflakey eyes with.  Jumping to conclusions – assuming the worst, if you will – she said something.  

Now, im one for saying something.  Kudos for that.  It’s what happened after that leaves her short in my ledger.

As this was happening, the husband of the owner was doing some Snopes-worthy googling and learned that while this is associated to Hitler’s Air Force, the term literally only means “Air Force”.

Not Jew Bombers.

Not Air Hitler.

Just…Air Force.

End of story.

He goes out to soothe the still unfolding shituation, barely getting a couple of words in before our erstwhile Nazi hunter storms out of the restaurant and takes to social media to decry the unfair treatment of our self-appointed hero, being thrown out of Katchka, and all.

Which was barely partly true.

There was a dude there in a tee shirt with a German word on it.

The rest is dramatic hyperbole.

But maybe this isn’t exactly the psychotic behavior that’s been bugging me so much as it is just telling of our decreasing national character.  Maybe it’s just another symptom of the problem that is eluding my pointing finger.

But then, no.  

I check myself by asking, what if we applied character to all of these situations above?

Parents being responsible and shaping their children into good humans instead of placating them and essentially creating a race of entitlement instead of a generation that understands the cause and effect of earning things for oneself.  Bonus points if they also teach them to think critically for themselves instead of simply following the crowd of consumers.

Adults taking that same critical thinking to analyze their in-the-moment self gratuitous acts and determine what the potential ripple effects could be before acting: swiping left or jumping into bed with a stranger.  

“Will this make me a better person?” – No One on Grindr, Ever.

How about our Katchka Failed Hero?  What if Deavon Snoke has stuck around, I posited this morning at coffee.

The Fox – probably spot on – asserted that she’d have endured furtive glances and whispers of other diners for the rest of her meal,

However, I challenge, what if she’d stay-a culpa-ed and bought our Neo-Not-zi dessert or a shot of Katchka’s much lauded horseradish infused vodka by way of apology?

She’d have demonstrated courage and character.  That’s what.

Alas, the only courage she possessed was publicly shaming what turned out to be an innocent person, then cut and ran to play victim on social media, likely damaging the restaurant in the process of showing up her ego.  In doing so, she showed herself to be more bully than hero, a designation that requires no character.

That’s the new American psycho, in my opinion…that right there.  Fuck everyone, so long as we look good.

Katchka by the way – the restaurant from this morning’s readings means “duck” in Ukrainian.  The restaurant’s owner never wanted to forget the word that saved her grandmother’s life.  In fleeing her home in Belarus as the German Exterminators stormed her hometown, she was stoped by a soldier.  She claimed to be returning home to Ukraine and definitively not a Jew. The soldier was skeptical but challenged her with a random test, what is the Ukrainian word for duck?

Luckily, it happened to be the same word in both languages, katchka…and life and death literally became a matter of a trivial coincidence.

The New American Psycho

Blocked!

Ok, it’s not writers block, per se.  It’s more a conflict of decisiveness.

What to write.

Whether or not to indulge my natural procrastination.

Subject matter.

My will

When I get stressed, I want to write about my stressors to therapeutically get them out of my head.  However, some of my readers are familiar with some of the sentient stressors in my life and I don’t want to put them in an awkward position of loyalties.

So, what am I to do as I sit in the coffee shop on my Saturday while the Silver Fox reads the interwebs and asks salient questions like, “What does ‘FFS’ mean?”

Get a refill, of course.

While I was up at the counter, an old co-worker popped into my mind.  Not because he stressed me out like some of my current work associates.

He was hilarious.  Mostly for the same reasons that he thought he was hilarious, so that was a nice confluence of opinions.

Mostly.

Dave was born in the Philippines, moving to the US for college. I worked with him at a hospital in Pasadena, CA after my boss – Mother Mary – moved there from Hoag.  She got me a job in procurement.  My new boss, The Hairpiece heads our four man team housed out of the bowels of the hospital.  The door to my office was literally a ramp.

I think I worked in the former morgue.

Anyway, The Hairpiece had an assistant who I replaced when he got promoted to whatever he spent his time doing…I never did figure that out.  I think he mostly spent his time sucking up to The Hairpiece while looking like a cat in a Rocking Chair Factory.  Quite interesting to watch since he was a fey man with a good case of nerves.

Understandable, since The Hairpiece was know to have a short fuse as well as Short Man Syndrome.  And that frigging rug fooled no one.

Who has a convertible (Le Baron) in SoCal and  never puts the top down?

His hairline used to sweat…all 360 degrees of it.

Rounding out our team of four was Dave, the Filipino.

And that, that right there was what I remember most about Dave.

Philippines.

Filipino.

Dave’s accent used P and F equally interchangeably.

He was in charge of distribution, my counterpart to procuring.  Really, I’ve no idea what The Nerves did.  I bought stuff, Dave passed it out, The Hairpiece randomly screamed around the sectioned off concrete pit we called an office and The Nerves just stood meekly in a corner with darty eyes.

Because Dave’s lair had actual owned product in it, his area was locked and controlled access.

My office – literally at the bottom of the ramp, versus around a corner like everyone else’s – was unlocked, usually with the door wide open.  I would keep my door closed during the SoCal so-called winter, but didn’t like having to, I weighed comfort against comfort.

Closing the door kept me a tad bit warmer.

It was a door with a frosted glass insert – no name on my door – on the top. This was pretty much headlight level for vehicles pulling up to the procurement office, I liked to see what was coming my way since having a glass topped door made it impossible to pretend I wasn’t in.

Plus, the water cooler was in my office.  If the Arrowhead man lost control of his load – shut up, Diezel – coming down the ramp,  I wanted to know how many 5 gallon water bottles were careening my way.

Because the water cooler was in my office, and because Dave the Filipino’s office was always locked, the coffee pot ended up in my office.

This made me the de facto office Coffee Bitch.

Which brings me back to my refill this morning, which is now half gone.

Dave was a coffee drinker.  Seriously, he had a problem.  The Nerves started out high strung and Dave the Filipino started out with an urgency I could appreciate.  A good quality in a co-worker, unless he’s an occasionally over caffeinated Asian.

Occasionally I would be off my game in the morning or he arrived early, he’d storm into my office with his usual urgency for his morning hit.  Finding the pot empty, he’d bring the empty vessel to me and shake the carafe at me screaming, “Chris, Chris!  Where the puck is the pucking copy?!?”

Of course, I’d have a few minutes of fun with that.

Depending on my mood, I’d engage him in friendly conversation while the coffee brewed, substituting as many Fs for Ps or vice versa as possible.  If I was feeling more devilish, I’d pretend that our copy machine was missing, asking The Nerves if it was here when he arrived or The Hairpiece if we should file a police report.

The latter usually earned me a fading litany of “Puck you, you pucking round eyed pucker” as Dave retreated to his office.

I’d always deliver him a fresh cup as a peace offering afterward.

Blocked!

My People

This morning while grabbing my coffee, I was reminded of a time in my life where I had “people”.  That is how I used to categorize folks who were my friends because of a bond that formed through a business relationship.

My Hair Guy.

My Barista.  Back in the dark ages of coffee when I drank SBUX.

My Nordie’s Guy.

My Doula.

My Trainer Guy.

My Bartender.

My Car Guy.  For buying.

My Car Guy.  The grease monkey one.

Obviously, it was hard for me to find common ground for a friendship with my grease monkey guy.  But, me being so awesomely me…I managed.  My Car Guy was a mechanic who worked across the street from the first gay bar I ever went into, The Silver Fox in beautiful downtown Long Beach California. silver-fox

OK, not downtown.

Man, while you’re picking your jaws up off the floor over the irony that my best friend’s blog name is also the name of the first gay bar that I went into, I’ll amuse myself with now much the exterior of this joint has changed.  It’s deco palace exterior is quite different from the vanilla So-Cal stucco basic-ness from when I was a boy.  And those windows?  They used to run across the front on both sides versus the little peek-a-boo business that’s going on now.  It’s a good thing, because even at…21 – yeah, that’s it – your dear Xtopher had a dark side, and walking in past those windows I remember thinking that they were ideal for a drive by hate crime.  It was Long Beach in the early 90s.

Yeah, I never sat by the windows.

So, anyway, I bonded with My Car Guy over comments of his like, “Why don’t you have a drink across the street instead of hanging out here for an hour?”

That hour was always better spent in the care of the lascivious Mr. John Barnes and his free pours.

Ok.  Had enough time to recover?

So, I caught myself leaving Nossa Familia this morning after a prolonged chat with one of their awesome baristas, thinking, “Man, my coffee people are the best” and remembered my old habit of referring to service industry folk as my own belongings.  Why?  She told me this great story.

I hadn’t seen her in particular there for quite some time.  Since going back to work full-time, I’ve only managed to get into the shop twice a week, at best.  I go to work at 5:00 and they don’t open until…later.  I’m actually not sure what time they actually open.  I do know that they’re just a bunch of layabouts since they aren’t at work when I need them.

Obviously.

nossa-exteriorNossa Familia is more of a roastery than a coffee shop.  Their Pearl – and I think only?  ok, only one that I care about – location is where they roast and package their beans for retail distribution.  They also have this cute little walk up coffee counter.  It’s located behind the flimsiest of doors, that happens to be a wall panel with a single door cut into it.  That panel is covering a roll up garage door and hangs on a track and can be slid to the side during the summer months.  The whole space is about 144 square feet.  Annoyingly, they also have coffee classes on Saturdays, which is the only day that I know I can always make it there.  Sometimes I am – and by “sometimes” I mean every damned Saturday, regardless of what time I go – lucky enough to be walking in to order my coffee to a room of home brewers waiting to be taken back into the roasting room for their class.

“People take up a lot of space” ~ Hitler

nossa-doorwayLike I said, this morning I got to see my favorite of their crew.  A cute little blonde woman whose sass reminds me of one of my old assistant managers.  She was also a shorty.  And, as it turns out, they both have girlfriends.  I learned that about My Barista just this morning during her story.

And all I did was ask how she survived our recent Snowpocalypse.

Ready?  Here goes…

The Snowpocalypse coincided with her day off, starting the day before her scheduled day off and extending it to a full “weekend” due to its overnight shenanigans pretty much shutting down the town on Friday.  She casually mentions that her and her girlfriend had gone to see Magical Beasts Thursday before the snow and freezing rain began – at which point she ignored the question her new co-worker (I had never seen her before) asked about how the movie was – when they came out and saw that the snow had finally decided to make a showing, they went and got a bunch of comfort food fixings and went home to wait it out.

Pretty basic couple stuff.

I was pretty jealous.

Especially after the evening of IMing and drinking I had had the night before with an old friend of mine.  It resulted in my waking up wondering if I should hold him to the commitment we had to get together when we weren’t drinking.

It also resulted in a tasty new screen saver for my phone.  <wink>

But this is hardly the time for a sidebar.

She talks about how frustrating it is to drive in the snow and ice anyway and how her car’s door lock had gotten frozen over the last time we had ice and she broke it trying to stab through that ice with her key.  I interjected that she was super-polite to make it easier for people to break into – very Portland – and reminded her that if people wanted to break in, they were going to get in.  A broken lock just minimizes the damage.

She goes on to tell me “Wait, wait…it gets better!” and described being awoken by a car alarm in the middle of the night during the ice, her girlfriend sleepily asking, “Is that our car?”  Upon deciding that it was their car’s alarm, they open the windows to see a guy cautiously running off.  The weird part, she says, is that the dude only stole the most random stuff.  She’s cataloging the personal items of hers that were in the car and not stolen:

Her golf clubs.

Her trumpet.

How did I not know this woman was a lesbian, I’m thinking to myself.

Her parking change.

The guy just stole a bunch of papers.  The car was a little neater-looking, to hear her tell it.  Also very Portland, tidying-up thieves.

“Weird…” she says.

Punctuating the end of her story by turning her head slightly toward her now butt-hurt-looking new co-worker, but cutting her eyes all the way, and saying, “It was really good, you should go see it” in a perfect deadpan.

Told you she was sassy.

Me, I’m chuckling at the passive-aggressive smack down she gave her interrupting co-worker while mentally picturing her thief running off in a snow and ice storm with a set of golf clubs and a trumpet.

I’m hoping you all know that doula thing was a joke.

 

My People