Tappa-Kegga-Day

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

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

Today is a day of rest.

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

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

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

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

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

Nope. Cannot do.

(I’m sorry, Phil, I’m working on it!)

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

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

Or, not-problem.

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

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

Birthday weekend shenanigans…

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

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

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

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

Jerk.

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

Resolutions for the new year?

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

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

2) Not cut my hair.

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

Why not?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Well, I guess we’re going to BL!

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

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

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

But not inside.

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

Are you surprised?!?

I’m debating how to answer:

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

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

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

Decisions, decisions.

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

Surprise!

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

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

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

Nah…that would be weird.

Not unwelcome…just weird.

What I should have said is:

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

Or,

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

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

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

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

You got any Pallet Jack on order?”

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

Sneaky.

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

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

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

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

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

But here ya go…

Birthday Boy with his birthday beer!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hats off, sis!

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

Tastes a little apricot-y.

My favorite moment of the night!

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

They were surprised by my statement.

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

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

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

This is why we’re friends.

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

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

Sometimes she sees me and joins me.

Other times I’m not there.

Still others, she doesn’t see me.

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

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

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

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

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

There’s worse ways to wake up.

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

Birthday breakfast.

Birthday lunch.

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

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

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

Yesterday was one of those days.

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

Touching.

Even Portland’s former mayor dropped me a note.

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

I remembered!

It started out about like this blog…

Then got sweet…

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading, every one of you!

Tappa-Kegga-Day

The Stoner Cafe

Longtime readers will recognize the name of this entry as what I named the vending machines in the basement of what my friend D-Slice called The Adult Dorm. We were neighbors there when I lived in Seattle.

The vending machines were on the basement level for five or so years after the building went condo. Maybe this was a construction leftover. However, since this was also the laundry level from when the building was apartments, something tells me they had been there quite some time before the construction guys arrived to rehab the building.

Also, there were Zagnuts in it.

Eventually, the machines were removed. This was actually a fairly sad realization for many residents, I learned. I had thought I was the only loser that frequented them, reinventing the walk of shame as I took my 14 floor elevator ride with a handful of change.

At least it was usually well after most of the residents’ bedtime, so I was usually able to do so undetected.

This nostalgia is top of mind again for me recently. Not because I sit around thinking about my glory days, no. Rather, because I have seemingly found a way to reinvent this phenomenon…if a vending machine can be considered a phenomenon.

Call it The Stoner Cafe 2.0.

Check that homepage out!

An aptly named app for my nostalgia, to be sure. The Stoner Cafe and this GoPuff app both wink at the reputation marijuana has for inciting the munchies.

Now, I’m not a big user when it comes to pot. Tried it in college, didn’t see the point. Tried it again when I moved from Seattle back to Portland, frankly, I’ve found that I can take it or leave it.

As I continue to struggle with an IPA induced increasing waistline, I wish I could actually “take it” – shut up, Diezel – in order to replace my beer penchant with zero calorie pot in order to unwind.

Alas…

The last time I used any marijuana product was 2016, and that was CBD derivative edibles rather than the THC counterparts. The THC being the intoxicating component of weed.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t get my own form of the munchies. Usually, this is my brain struggling to stave off boredom, versus any legitimate hunger. My mom pointed out this habit of mine to eat when I’m bored back before I even hit a double digit age. So it’s been around a while.

Knowing that about myself, I usually try to apply some discipline – believe it, or more likely, not – when purchasing junk food. I might pick up corn chips if I can fool myself into thinking I’ll make a nacho. If I go to the Costco, I’ll buy a big bag of snackage…because who can resist a good deal?!? Otherwise, I try to make my junk food consumption inconvenient so that I have to really want it.

Ergo, I’ll make myself get up and go to the store.

But a few months ago – maybe around Halloween – I discovered GoPuff. Seriously, did you see that pic of the homepage of the app? It’s like a convenience store on my phone.

I’d seen ads for this app while playing Words With Friends. I didn’t think too much of it at first, just a nuisance to be endured like all the other ads we put up with in our online lives.

Then one night, I was up…couldn’t sleep. There was no food in the house. Not even cheese, which usually goes a long way with me as a snack.

Or a meal.

I was trying to be good and hadn’t ordered a pizza or used Postmates to get some Thai delivered. I thought that if I could just make it past the restaurant’s closing time, I’d be out of danger.

My brain had other OCD thoughts in mind though. Once 11 PM hit, my cravings ramped up. Significantly.

Fine.

Amazon Prime to the rescue.

Nope. My earliest delivery option was the next morning.

Then I remembered…GoPuff.

Problem solved!

Salt & Vinegar chips. Check.

Pringles. Check.

Ice Cream. Check!

Monster for the morning? Check. Times two.

Frozen Pizza. Why not?

Oh, I can order beer and wine on this app, too? Don’t mind if I do!

Unlike Amazon Prime, there’s no extra charge for ASAP delivery. Again, consider the target audience. That means that I didn’t have to wait two hours for delivery.

On top of that, the prices are pretty solid. Somewhere between grocery store and convenience store. I didn’t have to feel guilty over anything but what was in my cart because I wasn’t overpaying.

This is on my mind today, of course, since I’ve been procrastinating a post-holiday diet. My white elephant gift was labeled

To: Fatty

From: Santa Claus

So, yeah…that’s great. It was also a Nutri Bullet blender and my sister helpfully pointed out that they juice great. What is that, a hint? Luckily, I’m meaner to myself than any helpful life tip could ever be.

I just needed to get to a point where I could do some self-care without any temptations. Er, distractions. I thought that would be last week, but then the Silver Fox suggested a Golden Globe viewing party and offered up three bottles of wine.

“It’s a long show!” he offered when I countered with two bottles. Fair point.

So, Monday, then!

Then I get a text from my ex, Rib. He’s got a 30 hour layover on Tuesday and we should hang out.

Yes. We definitely should hang out!

So…Wednesday?

Well, if I’m gonna shut The Fox’s drinking buddy down for the better part of a week…we should have a last hurrah day.

Thursday, it is!

I’m sitting here, writing this and eating the leftovers of my Pringles as a text lands from The Fox

BL at 3:30?

BL being Big Legrowlski…where our favorite beer, Pallet Jack from Barley Brown’s, is back on tap.

Junk food successfully consumed, a Pallet Jack send off, now I’m ready.

The Stoner Cafe

Dating Into Oblivion: Fin

Welp, I just deleted a draft called Dating Into Oblivion ep6. The only note I had in my draft was

Who was this bachelor? I know it happened…

…which is a bad sign on the surface. Thinking a little harder about it – as I’ve been doing, being the end of this yearlong initiative – it might have been one of the better dating experiences I had in 2018.

Nothing good or pleasant stuck out, sure…conversely, nothing awful kept my experience with him fresh in my mind.

No tardiness or flakiness about getting together.

Not a sexual misadventure.

No ghosting.

Just neutral.

So, here’s to the unmemorable dude that was probably my best date of the year!

Like I mentioned, though, being the year end, I had been giving some thought to my 2018 writing initiative.

Did I “meet” my goal? Sure. I can average my $20 dating experiences in order to meet my 1/month goal. Some months were “feast” and others “famine”, so I could have been more consistent in channeling content.

Strangely, that consistency thread kept coming back in my ruminations. As did the question, “Do I want to continue this theme into 2019?”

I’m blaming this percolation of thought for ending my New Years Eve watching Rom-Coms until 2:30 AM. Turns out, my mild night was the known wildest – by virtue of latest bedtime – of my friends.

Yay, me!

It actually started out with the intent to be lame. I’d thrown a personal gauntlet down as I left my parents after my Christmas visit: Dry Week.

They didn’t believe it.

Not sure that I did, either, I threw my discretionary money into my debt-abyss, saving $100 for spending money.

Just not enough to get into any real trouble.

Forced success!

Except

The Silver Fox wasn’t having it.

Sallory was coming to town for a tweener holiday party a friend of hers – and frenemy of The Fox and I – was throwing. His annual is a post-Christmas/pre-NYE party on the 30th. She wanted to meet for a drink before, and I’ve been terrible about making it to Happy Hour on her recent visits.

For his part, the Silver Fox wanted to make dinner on the 31st and then go to Tanner Creek Tavern for a low-key drink. Since they were closing at 11, he was entertaining the notion of closing the place.

Fate stepped in to help my decision making: the hundred I’d set aside for incidentals until my post-NYE midweek payday evaporated overnight in the form of an auto-pay I’d set up on my renters insurance coming due. Alright, well…good to have that paid up again. I’ll bet I forget again next year, too, but I’m betting my coffers will be in better shape to absorb that surprise.

Still, The Fox just wasn’t entertaining my lameness. He offers to buy and I try on an exasperated acquiescence.

That’s how I came to have some free time on New Years Eve 2018 to think about my writing goals for the past and upcoming years.

Of course, I didn’t realize it initially. I sat on my couch, TV off and remote in hand, debating just going to bed. I’d had two glasses of wine at dinner and one at the bar, I had enough alcohol on board to ease me off to Nod.

Deciding that the midnight revelries would just wake me up, I decided to wait it out. I put on the first movie in my Amazon queue without thinking much of it: Hitch.

Great. I enjoyed this movie in the theater and figured it was a good way to pass the time.

Now, once it hit me that this was a chick flick, my writing ruminations kicked back in. Those resurging questions made me reconsider whether three glasses of wine over five hours was actually enough.

I opened a throw away bottle of Robert Mondavi’s off brand Cab Sauv that I’ve had for about four years. I’d been saving it to serve up as a second bottle some night.

Since that opportunity had yet to present itself – and since I fully expected to be pouring most of this into my “cooking wine” bottle, I went for it. With a nice, healthy pour and settled back into Will Smith helping the fat guy get the pretty girl.

I raised my glass to the TV and toasted, “Screw you asocial media!” and watched the show about a dating doctor for men. My mind was engaged in a little back-burner thought exercise about deleting OKStupid since it had yielded only two in-person dates over 12 months.

More on that later, but key word: moron.

Hitch ended with me laughing and crying and possessing an empty glass. Amazon was suggesting a movie about a one night stand that lasts two nights after a blizzard shuts down NYC.

Well, three-quarters of a bottle ain’t gonna fit into my cooking wine

…armed with a second glass, I start the movie.

I didn’t expect this to hold my attention, and it didn’t. It was entertaining enough – in a disastrous type of way – but as its premise was based on two people meeting for a one night stand off a hookup site, I found my back-burner thoughts creeping to the forefront.

I distractedly opened up my vintage hookup site, just to see what was happening nearby. Note, I said “site”, not “app”…I tell myself that using an actual website is somehow better than using the apps I so vocally despise.

Hey, I haven’t gotten laid on a national holiday since the post-Rib romp of Thanksgiving…2013?

What could possibly go wrong, right?

Nothing major, but it does turn out that the closest gay guy to me is just 200 feet away…basically in the hotel whose bar I had left at 11 PM. It also happened to be an overly precious guy I nailed a couple of times while living in Shittatle.

I think he didn’t like that I didn’t feel as fortunate that he’d graced my bedsheets as he apparently thought I should. We probably both wrote that off as a character flaw and just never evered each other again.

Tonight wasn’t going to be an exception to that, certainly, but I kinda hoped he saw me next door. I was listening to our mismatched lovers on the TV as I looked out my naked living room windows, wondering if J’s hotel room window overlooked my balcony.

Karma.

I decided to polish off the bottle and focus on the movie, knowing it wasn’t good enough for me to ever come back to if I turned it off now. There was only 45 minutes left and one more good pour in the bottle, so why not?

See, it’s rhetorical reasoning like that that provides answers to the question I’m always musing on…

What could possibly go wrong?

Welp, I got back to the couch and settled into the end of the movie, unsure of exactly how our female protagonist ended up in jail…but rolling with it.

A few minutes later, my phone let me know I had a message. It was someone who thought I urgently needed to know what his butthole looks like without the benefit of even a “Hello”.

<block>

Back to the movie.

Oh, good…at the ungodly hour of 2:15 AM on January 1st, in the 2019th year of someone’s lord, someone has decided fireworks were necessary.

Someone very nearby.

Luckily, I hadn’t gone to bed.

Let’s see…an ex lovah next door, fireworks and anonymous assholes. Yeah, I think 2019 is off to a good start.

The movie’s big finish?

A New Years Eve party.

Perfect.

On that full circle happy ending moment, I drained my wine glass, shut down the TV, popped a couple of Mellies and hunkered down in bed.

What I ultimately decided on to answer my earlier “continue” question was; hell, NO! It doesn’t mean I will or won’t delete OKCupid or my throwback hookup site. Those decisions are TBD, but I’m looking at them through the stop/start/continue filter and leaning toward stopping those actions in favor of starting an unknown other.

Nor does it mean that I won’t continue to catalog any notable dating experiences under the DIO hashtag, maybe the final entry down the road will be about a great date with a guy that continues to show up.

But my immediate payoff for this thought exercise of the past week? Waking up to this suggestion from OKStupid

Really earning their nickname with that one.

Seriously? That Lost Boy is your best dating suggestion to welcome me into 2019?!?

FML

But, hey, Diezel…I got a live one you might like!

Dating Into Oblivion: Fin

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

TIL #11

Appreciate the Little Gifts

Someone from friggin’ Appalachia won a billion dollar lottery.

I’m pretty sure you can buy a good chunk of Kentucky with that chunk of change. Probably all of Mississippi and Alabama…if you’re not opposed to relocation.

I wasn’t surprised that the ticket The Fox and I split wasn’t the winner. I wasn’t even mad. As my uncle once said after I teased that he couldn’t win the lottery without playing the lottery, “The odds are only slightly worse.”

Fact.

But it’s those theoretical losses, the ones that don’t cost me anything for which I’m really grateful. I’d much rather remember to be grateful with the most inconsequential of prompts than suffer a literal wake up call, have to grieve or recover and then find gratitude.

So, gimme those little gifts.

Jack Nicholson has a line in the movie Bucket List that folds well into this lesson.

Never pass up a bathroom, never waste a hard on and never trust a fart.

I get it. I really get it.

But even within that quote, there’s room to drill down. Never passing a bathroom is a good call, but once you’re there, there’s still a lot of variables. Give me the satisfaction of that really nice long pee versus the cursed stop and start pee…I much prefer knowing I’m done when the flow stops versus the cursed “not so fast, there pal!” sneaker pee.

The thrill of bending down to pick up a penny and appreciating that your eyes didn’t send you bending down to the sidewalk for what turned out to be gum. Hey, it’s still a penny, and you know what you can’t buy back regardless of how much you’re willing to pay? Your dignity when you stop and squat down for nothing.

And while we’re talking about getting to ground level, something I learned at least a decade ago was a gift from a personal trainer. It didn’t apply to me then, but I tucked it away for future use. Since I quit the gym, I have been looking for a workaround, but what he told me was that whatever I do with my exercise regimen that I should always protect the thin little muscles that run up my shin.

It’s interesting that it turned out to be my shin bones that were the first to fail me as I aged, but it turns out those little muscles still need to be ready to fire. They are responsible for lifting your toes as you walk. As people age and become less physical, those little muscles that never get trained specifically stop benefitting from whatever you do physically. Whether it’s a targeted leg day or spin or yoga or just walks in the park; you start to do less and they fail faster.

You can probably think of a specific person you know who shuffles when they walk or that walks mostly on their toes, like walking for them is more an act of just not falling forward. Well, those folks know what I’m talking about. And it’s those folks that are gonna get tripped up on an uneven sidewalk as they shamble along. Down they go and then <poof> hip replacement.

There are so many people that just never fully recover after a fall, it’s the beginning of the end for them because they’re just never the same.

So, I’m always on guard to do something that keeps my toes pointing upward. (Shush, Diezel) Plus, I’ve got Myrtle trying to trip me, I don’t need toes that cooperate with her efforts.

So, forgive me if I occasionally forget to complain about the big things I might be missing in life: a lottery win, a job…a relationship. I’m probably wryly appreciating the fact that I didn’t piss myself or get gum – or worse yet, dog poo – on my fingers because my original parts are showing their miles.

Remember, I’m not worried that the glass is half empty or half full. It’s refillable and at least I’ve got a friggin’ glass!

TIL #11

Dating Into Oblivion ep7.1

A Ghost Story

After our first date, I broke it off with The Transplant.

I had come to realize that regardless of how stimulating our conversations had been during our time together, stimulating isn’t my default setting. Playful is.

We had been texting about our second date, which he’d sorta planned while visiting Seattle with a friend of his that was in from Chicago. He suggested the M.I.A. documentary, of which I’d never heard.

I knew she was/is a rapper and had even heard one of her songs, which featured some poppy gunshots. Not that I’m a big fan of mainstreaming violence, but rap incorporates violence into its art form regularly.

And I’m not one to claim an understanding of art by any means, so I keep my own counsel on that opinion.

Oops. Lookie!

Anyway, before he’d even returned from Seattle, he’d changed his mind about the movie.

No problem, we can do something else.

Truth be told, I was kind of relieved. Not sure I could muster sufficient enthusiasm for a rap documentary in a second date scenario.

“You pick something”, he says.

So bossy!

I playfully replied.

Ok, he was not having playful.

I actually spent the next dozen or so messages texting on eggshells. Deliberately not pointing out that he planned and vetoed the scuttled plan, so he should figure out a replacement. I planned the first date, after all. Anyway, this reservedness was in direct opposition to what he said he really appreciated about me on our first date: that I don’t behave like I’m in an interview, carefully measuring my words and maintaining a cautious demeanor.

Screw that. Eventually a facade drops and then people learn how you really act. I don’t play dating games like that – hey, it’s Why I’m Single #12! – I go into dates dressed like I dress and acting like I act.

So, basically I come across as a teenager who has recently had a stroke.

(Not that kind, Diezel)

Anyway, I think in those dozen texts, I wrangled some form of “apology” for calling him bossy – an attitude which I would appreciate, for the record. I did not enjoy the direction this interaction had taken, and the best he could muster in response was “I’m not offended”. As a stand alone, with no additional words providing context, that just reads like a petulant, “Fine“.

Lemme think about it, I’ll walk by a couple of venues on my way home and see if there’s any groups neither of us have heard of playing…we can have an adventure!

He seemed to like that idea, so I figured an adventure date could help reset the conversation or clearly define his lack of playfulness. Nevertheless, after failing to shake the disease of the prior night’s texts, I decided to pull the rip cord. Here’s how that went.

Yeah, yeah…I didn’t even save him as a contact, I know. My rule is that I don’t save contacts until I know a person’s last name. How many generic Matts does my phone book need?

Matt, BTW was his given name. He and his brother were raised in something of a Christian Cult setting.

After leaving/escaping, he and his brother had both changed their names to non-biblically influenced monikers.

Like adults.

But at least the name he chose for himself simply made him sound like a Seattle-phile or an aggressive fish enthusiast. His brother chose Aphid.

Adults, these days…

But his response at least pointed back toward the reasonable and well-considered person I’d first met. So…date number two was back to Go-Status.

I wasn’t feeling particularly plucky on the big day, which happened to be a Friday night. Turns out that he’d had a rough day at work – an ongoing recent theme as he worked toward getting a new restaurant (not of his) up and running. It is – as is he, if you recall – vegan. Turns out vegans had been incensed by both the restaurant’s name and their use of honey on the menu.

You have to remember that some people are just happy being unhappy.

Was about all I could muster, advice-wise. My inner voice was screaming that a hamburger might improve their collective disposition, but I’m pretty confident that wasn’t a welcome observation.

I surely had no expertise with opening a vegan restaurant. I barely have experience with vegetables.

Show of hands, how many of my friends thought that exact thought right before they read it? A lot, right?

Nevertheless, I also cautioned him that the restaurant could capitulate to a bunch of cranks before it even opened its doors and I guarantee that those people would either:

1) Still never even show up

Or,

2) Find something else to bitch about.

Hey, I may not know vegans from vegetables, but I do know a thing or two about sons of bitches.

So, there we were, committed to a date, but neither feeling like going out. We decided on a movie and wine/whine at my place. I reminded him that my TV was in my living room and not my bedroom and he reiterated that he was not interested in just hooking up.

Game on. No…foreshadowing!

When he arrived, we went over to the Brodega across the street for some wine and vegan approved snacks. This she-she neighborhood market would surely have some, high prices on weird foods? I don’t call it a brodega for nothing. We ended up with some fancy chocolate bars – including some from Theo’s, which I decided to not tell him he could have just visited in Seattle. This is how vegan excommunication begins…using honey in your restaurant and eating chocolate.

Vegans are like religious folk: picking and choosing what dogma they will/won’t follow. I found it promising, while also making a note that he’d really traded one cult for another…

We leave the store…and run smack dab into the Silver Fox, who was “out walking his dog”.

How many times did you walk poor George around this block?!?

The Fox swore that when he’d left Big Legrowlski under the auspices of needing to let George out to pee, the bartendresses had made him swear he’d bring George by so they could see him. Feasible enough, but the Brodega still wasn’t on his way home.

I introduced The Fox and The Transplant, who in true introvert form was already walking away as he said hi.

We went back to my place and watched The Kindergarten Teacher, which is as great as you’ve heard…and if you haven’t heard, it’s great! We actually stopped the movie a couple times for pee breaks and also just to talk about the movie. It was really nice to have a fresh movie watching companion. The Fox and I watch shows together, but more often than not our movie breaks are to discuss (one sidedly) the show’s Game of Thrones connections or whether that actor was in this or that or is dead.

There’s nothing wrong with that. The Transplant is 24, though. His mid-movie talk breaks were more aspirational.

Big Thoughts.

High Art Concepts.

It was fun. Inspirational, to be honest. I haven’t indulged my brain like that since my college days of late night studying in the Catskeller, taking breaks to conversationally dissect what we’d just reviewed.

It was quite the mental stretch for me, and it was invigorating.

After the movie, which took three-plus hours to get through, he suggested a change of scene. He asked when the hotel bar next door closed, since I’d kind of raved about it earlier.

Midnight…so, 45-ish minutes. Do you want something else to eat? Drink?

“Not really, just a change of venue”, he replied.

I was kind of relieved, because I wasn’t yet in the frame of mind to take him to my normal haunts. We decided just to walk and see what happened.

What happened was we walked the waterfront and Eastbank Esplanade.

At midnight.

On a Friday. Well, Saturday.

We got back to my place at around 2:45 and at the door to my building, I tried to say goodnight. Apparently, he wasn’t done yet. We’d been holding hands for about four miles as we walked and talked, so I figured I could safely invest a little more time to continue the conversation.

Being 24, The Transplant can put on a good show of maturity, but at the end of the day – or very early the next morning, in this case – that maturity is going to be tested when it comes time to make your actions and words line up.

At around 3:30, I joked that he was going to have to pay for parking soon, by way of closing the chapter on date two. He told me that he’d taken an Uber over.

Then why are we drinking water?!?

I poured us each a glass of wine. Shortly thereafter, he invited himself to stay the night.

Maybe I was special enough that he’d deemed me worthy of escalating this to mating into oblivion status. I told him I thought that was premature, we hadn’t even kissed yet.

“It’s just sleeping“, he teased, suddenly fluent in playfulness.

Yeah, but spooning leads to forking,

I advised, continuing with,

That’s not something I’m not interested in, but I don’t want it to be unintentional.

We talked a bit more, about big stuff. Sexual health and history – I said big stuff, not hot stuff – and he still seemed up for it. I told him I didn’t have condoms, for both good and obvious reasons and he told me he had some in his bag. He also mentioned he’d brought the lube he likes.

Not looking for a hook up my ass.

His ass.

Not looking for a hook up but brings his own lube on a date? It secretly made me wonder about the veracity of his claim to be able to recite all of his sexual partners’ names – all of which started with a J, allegedly – on one hand.

I don’t seriously doubt his integrity, I think the kid just had an itch he wanted scratched.

Sooo, I added a C to that string of Js and at 6 AM we laid down for some well earned rest.

At 10:30, he was dressed and out the door to shop for his costume for a Halloween party that evening. Around 3 we texted for a bit on how that was going. My last text being something about how I’m glad he was finding what he needed because the Saturday before Halloween could be slim picking for costume stuff.

I’m assuming he just needed to cut a couple of eye holes in a white sheet since I haven’t heard from him since.

And y’know what’s the worst when shituations – wow, the Chrisisms are just cascading out in this post – occur? I’m past worrying about what I may or may not have done to deserve this. I do indulge in a few thoughts of things that he might have felt insecure about driving his actions…

Wink, wink.

But ultimately, my frustrated parent gene kicks in and I find myself wondering if he got hurt or taken advantage of that night…or worse. I know it’s unlikely, but it’s not a concern I can control. And Portland’s weirdos aren’t all lovable, harmless old curmudgeons.

Being 24, maybe his ego needed to be the dumper versus the dumpee…but he put a lot of effort into that charade, were that the case.

Regardless, after learning that a young fella I used to recreate with on occasion died – two years ago, obviously we weren’t close…just situationally joined on a temporary basis every now and again – a month after I saw him last, well…I just hope this particular ghost story remains theoretical.

Dating Into Oblivion ep7.1

55,000!

Sadly, not the number of my followers on WordPress…or even page views, for that matter.

No, this is just what some random woman yelled at me yesterday as I was walking down the street.

Portland has a lot of street performers; buskers and whatnot. Like this shiny fella.

And of course, the Unipiper, who is always a treat to encounter.

One that I haven’t seen in quite sometime – to my relief – is the giant Pirate Clown! Although, I am a little concerned that someone might have…conquered him.

Anyway, part of me wondered if she was shouting the estimated number of street performers in the area. Another part briefly considered whether she might actually be one of them – with my luck, her schtick was guessing people’s weight and she had just yelled mine out.

As I was writing her off, she clarified: 55,000 acres.

Ok, thanks?

Now, I try to not watch the news too often because I don’t watch TV to enhance my naturally grumpy demeanor, rather to escape it. But I am savvy enough to intuit that she was commenting on the current state of forest fires in my fair Oregon.

55,000 is a great number of acres to be ablaze.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m all for a spontaneous conversation with a rando. Usually, I’ve bellied myself up somewhere for some refreshment-slash-therapy-cum-company, though, so it was quite by reflex that I looked at my hand to see if I was holding a drink after her ejaculation.

(Enjoy that little giggity gift, Diezel.)

A glance skyward confirmed my assumption as to her meaning.

There’s some pretty dense smoke in our air these days, but at least – so far – we’ve been spared the ash fall that we had during last summer’s wildfires. If you want to know what snow in July looks like, any of us Oregonians can paint you a picture based on our last summer, which took on a slight nuclear winter feel.

Maybe it was August.

Maybe the exact when isn’t the point. That it looked like it was snowing at any point during the summer was.

As I hustled on by, I thought, “I know…I read the air advisory to stay inside today” and admitted to myself that just probably I didn’t need to be outside. My second thought was, “Look lady, I just wanted a Diet Coke, ok?” otherwise, I’m totally not opposed to at least slowing down for a chat with a relatively harmless street person.

Case in point:

However, I wasn’t feeling too charitable yesterday. My personage wasn’t feeling 100% to begin with, which I do worry is partially smoke particulate related. Also, I get a little reflexively cross when discussing forest fires because it’s usually caused by one of us Stupid Americans in the first place.

But even if I had been feeling chatty and inclined to slow down to indulge a rando on the street, it probably wouldn’t have been a great conversation…since she was smoking!

55,000!