Getting Lit

First of all, not that kind of “lit”.  Although I live where it’s legal, I suck – thank gawd – at smoking, be it weed or nicotine.  Pretty good at puffing a stogie, go figure.  Still haven’t indulged in that for over a decade.  So, in regards to getting lit-lit, I’d be vaping or partaking of the edible variety.

But I was riffing on lit as it refers to literature.  You see, lately I’ve been quite distracted by books.

So much so, that I haven’t posted a blog in a couple of weeks.

It all started with Ready Player One, which I purchased for my work trip back on the 12th.  I spent my flight alternating between reading my new book and writing a blog post.  Ditto my return flight, which was the last entry I posted back around the 16th.

Of course, in between flights I fell in like with a co-worker at the work conference.

The new read continued to occupy my time on my daily MAX commute, which I usually spend writing my #MaxBlogChallenge posts.

The book is super enjoyable.  I’m not a big video game fan or home gamer, but Rib was, so I kind of know the culture second hand.  Plus, I do enjoy an occasional visit to Ground Kontrol for a few beers while I blow a sawbuck worth of quarters.  

Fun!

But I am definitely a fan of 80s-90s pop culture…Oingo Boingo music, John Hughes films.

Good times!

I intended to finish Ready Player One over Thanksgiving at my parents’, but you always forget something when you pack for a trip, right?

Enter, The Witness.

My mom brought me a stack of books to choose from:  The Witness, that ubiquitous Wally Lamb book and the second volume of The Tales of the City omnibus, which I had loaned her a few months back.

I always mean to re-read these old favorites of mine, but never make the time.  Instead I loan them out to The Broken Poet and – more favorably – Mom-Donna.  Heck, even Mistress Myrtle seems to enjoy my old books!So there mom is, trying to soothe my distress, always the Mom!  I decide Wally Lamb is too aggressive for a second book and pick The Witness. 

Lemme take a minute and tell you how I feel about reading multiple books.

I don’t like it.

Tried to.

Can’t.

It’s like dating more than one guy.

No, actually dating, you tramps.

You have to invest emotionally in books.  Giving up your imagination in this relationship versus your heart, in order to really get everything out of a book you can.

So, I tend not to do this…which is partially why I looked like a pouty baby when mom was handing out secondary reading options.

I got a few chapters in during my three day stay.  I packed it to pick up again when I finish Ready Player One.  It might go somewhere…but ever since I read Fifty Shades of Grey, my ability to fairly assess a book has been a bit wonky.

Talk about lowering the bar.

Oh, and I packed The Witness and forgot Tales…because you always forget something when you pack.

<eye roll>

The next day after work I went to get a haircut.  Naturally, in the Barber Lottery, I once again won my pink haired – and eyebrowed – trans barber.

Once again, we started off with innocent enough chatter.

Innocuous.  Hair talk.

But as soon as she started snipping, our innocent chatter veered awkwardly off course with “How was your Thanksgiving?”

She asked me, and I responded with enthusiastic yet low-key examples of our small family gathering.  When I asked her how hers was, I realized my mistake.  If I’d glanced down at myself in the mirror, I’m sure I would have seen this guy staring back at me.

You really just can’t win with some people.

As I’m listening, I glance down at her work station’s shelf and see a stack of five books.  I ask her if they have special significance to her and she just casually responds that she’s reading them.

“Simultaneously?, I ask.

“Of course!”, she replies, “But two of them are actually textbooks because I’m teaching myself Hebrew.”

Of course.

And, no, I didn’t pursue the conversational thread about how one teaches oneself Hebrew effectively with a text-only resource.  I just sat there and enjoyed the literal, physical manifestation of how different she and I are as individuals.

As if the pink eyebrows weren’t proof enough.

Then she cut my hair too short.

Getting Lit

On The Road, Again.


(Plane not to scale)

More accurately, I should say that I’m in the air…again.

You all know how I love flying.

And covering my true emotions with humor.

Hell, I’m not even disappointed that my pithy tweet about my trip didn’t break the internet.


You see, my flight tonight from Atlanta to Portland is Delta #503, the area code for Portland being…503.

I’ll wait while you feel sorry for my friends that are routinely exposed you my rapier wit and its similarly pithy observations.

What can I say?  They obviously love me.

Speaking of love.  

I occasionally write about both travel and love.  Something I write about less often – maybe – is travel sex.

Why?

A couple of things:

1) Since the advent of so-called dating apps – mating apps or asocial media in Chrisenese – I’ve slow clapped for travelers who use hotel rooms as a shower to rinse clean any morality that would prevent one human for using another strictly for their own sexual gratification.  Because that’s an accomplishment.

Right.  Writing about this topic just manifests as this grumpy old man tilting at social windmills.

B) When Sacha left me, it was for a guy in Vancouver, WA – aka: Vantucky – and I (in)famously ejaculated, “You can’t even date within your own state?!?  How undateable are you?”  

So I guess I come by my contempt for the whole traveling sexual shenanigans thing somewhat honestly.

Plus, I think you gotta earn sex.  Put your time in at a bar getting to know someone.  Develop an attraction.  Find a desire that’s seated deeper than the profile pic they post of their abs from five years ago or – even worse – of their junk.

Hell, for that matter, just learn their name.

See?  I’m ranting.

But…because there’s always a but.

That doesn’t stop me from developing attractions from strangers when I travel.  I’m fairly gregarious by nature.  It was my default setting before I became grumpy.

Ever heard of the Stranger on a Plane Theory?

Basically, it’s a social phenomenon that predates social media, since now, clicking with someone nowadays usually involves some sort of social networking next step.

But the theory is usually one person’s therapy and their seatmate’s personal hell, since it affords and exploits the anonymity of travelers.

You’re never going to see them after all, right?  So complete honesty usually ensues and you basically cleanse yourself by barfing out all your deepest darkest to the poor bastard sitting next to you.

Luckily, I have WordPress.

And you.

Of course, I’m my reality – or surreality, as it likely is – I can indulge myself in some faux getting to know yous while traveling since…

I’m.

Never.

Gonna. 

See.

Them.

Again.

Right?

It’s kinda like a hybrid between having a connection with a co-worker, commonly known as a “work spouse” and this Stranger on a Plane thing.

Please allow me to introduce you to the Seminar Boyfriend Theory.

I wasn’t aware of this extension of my no-investment travel flirtations until a couple of days ago.

Mostly, because it hadn’t existed until then.

Sure, I’d met my current Work Wife at my company’s annual Seminar last November.

Simultaneously, I’d indulged myself in a little travel flirting with an impossibly young, straight averring (made up word warning!) and umappealingly cocky boy last year that I enjoyed spending time with, provided I didn’t take too seriously what came out of his mouth. Mostly this situation arose because each of our respective peer groups hung out with each other, so we were situationally thrown together.

Sure enough, once Seminar ended and he went back to the Great White North it was back to EOG-as-usual for me without a second thought.

I learned via LinkedIn a few months back that he’d left the company, so no repeat performances there.  All well and fine by me, I’d planned with my Work Wife to bring a couple of bottles of wine to match her contribution and that was my liver’s meal plan for the trip.

No boys required.

No hanging out in sports bars I had no interest in just because some exec had an open tab.  Nope.  I planned to spend this year’s free time – what little there is at Seminar – in the hotel gym and sleeping.

Until, of course, I met…

You know, I almost typed his actual name.  I don’t know why I don’t.  It’s not like my blog is Page 6 or anything.  Although, I do have a couple of pretty impressive sleuths amongst my loyal readers.  But his name is probably the Indian equivalent of John Smith.

I’ve been holding a low-grade mental debate about posting a pic of us that he took earlier today, but am conflicted about that breach of his anonymity.

That settles it.  Sometimes you just have to type through a problem.

Anonymity filter prevails.

You’ll just have to take my word for how cute this year’s Seminar Boyfriend is.

<fans face>

And as if this 5’9″ Indian descended Canadian needed to be any cuter than sparkly eyes, radiant smile and sexy (from what I could glean) physique…he is also smart and has the most endearing Indian accent and tone of voice.

I didn’t dedicate too much mental anguish to the gut wrenching does he/doesn’t he insecurities that eat away at me in normal dating and flirting environments.

I just enjoyed his company.  

When he got distracted by something or someone else, I went on my way.  After all, I knew I was neglecting my Work Wife, and I knew that she knew it, too.  But, I think she was enjoying my display of what minimal game I have…she texted me a photo of the two of us eating dinner together at carnival night with the caption, “Your first couple photo”.

It was just the two of us, leaned in close to one another at a table for ten.

So, this phenomenon evolved in a completely random and unbelievable manner:  he came up to me.

It was dinner Monday night: Food Truck Night.

Outside in the side parking lot of our hotel.  

Remember, I’d accidentally left my jacket in a store back at PDX on Sunday morning, and everyone was showing up in jackets for this outdoor evening event.

We started chatting while waiting to be released to our foodie playground for the evening.  He had also chosen to go sans jacket, being from Edmonton this would be comfortable for him.

Although, in an unexpected spurt of smacktalk, he expressed concern for my comfort.

How could I not adore him instantly?

I assured him, I would be relatively comfortable in Atlanta’s balmy 54 degree evening.  But!  I added, if it got below 50 I’d either need a hearty booze jacket or be quickly re-examining my situation.

There were five food trucks.  My priority was the chicken and waffle truck.  Work Wife and Seminar Boyfriend followed suit.

After deciding what I wanted – duh – I offered to go get drinks for us while they ordered.  This was also the finals for the Food & Beverage division’s cocktail contest.

We had three options to vote for.

Work Wife chose the coconutty option while Seminar Boyfriend opted for the same bourbon concoction I was going for…and just like that we had our wedding menu:

Chicken & Waffles w/Manhattans (basically, and not that it matters)

I came back with the drinks and we chatted while waiting for our food.  He pointed out a couple of times which room was his…he’d left his lights on and his shades open.

I see.

No confusing messages here.

We couldn’t find a table, Work Wife had squeezed into an empty seat at another of Seminar’s ubiquitous ten seater round tables.  Preferring privacy – obviously – we ended up standing and eating our C&W while simultaneously balancing our paper food truck baskets atop our cocktails.

He wasn’t planning to go all Xtopher on the food carts like I was.  He did want to try more than one, though and said he wasn’t going to finish his portion, but would wait for me to go back.  By the time I conceded victory, he’d already finished his.

The boy can eat!

I switched course and shoved the last of my waffle in my mouth and we went for round two:  burritos!

We enjoyed our burritos with diet cokes while lurking near a pub table we expected to be abandoned soon.  We were rewarded about halfway through and shortly after, our new digs were crashed by a friend of mine from Seminar last year – who I learned the next day is his boss, a business development guy I met a couple of times during an RFP at PDX and a regional HR Manager…all of whom were Canadians.

Surrounded.

Clearly, it was time to retreat to the bento truck for some dumplings, after which I made my goodnights.(Over Boise, I know you were wondering)

The next day, we passed at breakfast but it was a busy day of merchandising breakouts, so we had to hit the ground running.  I noticed at lunch that he had changed his clothes and sent him an email through our Seminar app, teasing him about it.

He didn’t reply.

Oh, well.

When I passed him later at the elevators during a break, he offered up an in person account.

Oh, fine.  Be confusing.  Read the message and don’t reply.

Anyway, on with the day.  After we were released for the day, I decided to get in some cardio at the hotel gym.  A nice follow up to Monday’s lifting.

I probably won’t be able to walk when I get off the plane.
Once I’d showered, I got my funk going with the glass of wine that Work Wife had tried to distract me from the gym with while I dressed for Carnival Night.

Corn dogs and funnel cakes, I’m coming for you.

Naturally, I was a little buzzed off 3 ounces of wine on an empty, post-workout stomach.

Also, naturally – this is my life we’re talking about here – I ran into Seminar Boyfriend, first damn thing.

This is how the (not) infamous “first couple” pic came into being.  Little did Work Wife know – or did she? – that Seminar Boyfriend had snapped a covert pic of me filling my plate with carnie food and posted it to the app with the caption, “Xtopher living his dream!” in a totally non-fat shaming way.

If he only knew.

We played carnival games together, taking turns and holding one another’s drinks.  It was super sweet and just an empirically enjoyable evening.

I believe he made his goodnights first this night…yes! he did.  That’s how I ended up talking to his boss.

Until midnight as we caught up on the events that transpired with last year’s Seminar Boyfriend – he was a mess – and drank wine.

Yes, I did not mention that both Seminar Boyfriends turned out to work for the same woman.

Again, this is my life we’re talking about here.  I’m used to weird coincidences.

Well, there’s more to tell of this cute little alt-reality I’ve been enjoying in my head, but the plane is landing.

I’ll just leave you with this, it remained fun, friendly and sweet…regardless of whether it had one side or two.

Oh, and I did get a little hug at the airport before he took off for the Great White North again.

That iced my cake, and I couldn’t hope for a better ending than that.

On The Road, Again.

The Fiendly Skies

It’s a bad start to any trip when you wake up two and a half hours before your alarm the morning of your departure.

Yet, there I was, wide awake at 2:00 after almost four – count ‘em! – glorious hours of sleep.

Me: I could go in early and get some work done before takeoff.

Working at the airport is convenient in this scenario.

Myrtle: You move, you die.

It’s like that beast can selectively read my mind.  But, the Mistress has been sleeping with me nightly the last six months, usually pinning me to one spot by nestiling into my crotch after I’m asleep.  That and using her litter box consistently last week for the first time in a year – damn feline UTIs – and I’m inclined to lay there and let her purr for a while longer.

Well, those two things and my own natural laziness and finely honed sense of procrastination.

I finally rip myself from my sheets at 4:15, as if I’m made of Velcro.

I’d spent my two hour non-nap thinking.

Ruminating.

Reflecting.

Bouncing back and forth between personal thoughts and work.

Did I pack everything?

I should just go in, this is ridiculous…I could knock out payroll and give a few breaks before I board.

I’ll bet I never hear from The Wallpaper again.

I should start going to the gym again.

I wonder whether Linda Belcher will snoop when she’s checking in on Myrtle.  Meh.  Nothing crazy in my nightstand.  But I do have The Silver Fox’s Pleasure Chest in my closet…I wonder what he’s got in there.

If I go to work, it’ll take away a development opportunity I assigned to one of the junior managers.  It’s good I’m staying in bed.

I wonder if Jeo and I will reform our friendship.  It was nice running into him the other day.  He gives great hugs.

I’d really like to have sex again with The Wallpaper when we’re not half drunk.

Do I need to leave a note for Linda Belcher?  Taking care of Myrtle can’t be too big a mystery…

I should wait on the gym.  If running is back on the radar, I want to focus on accomplishing that and not risk reinjuring my shoulder.

Should I put a disclaimer on the Pleasure Chest saying it’s not mine.   Nah…nothing bad will happen.  What could possibly go wrong?

God, I hate flying.

Y’know, that type of productive mind vomit.

Once I finally start stumbling around, my procrastination kicks into high gear.  I turn on my Sonos, it’s still on the station I’d created for The Wallpaper and a Rita Ora song starts playing.  I’d never heard of her before the other night and really like her music.

I play laser tag with The World’s Most Dangerous Feline, re-check my bag (ok, I guess this is semi-productive), clean the toilet, shower, dress, pack my Dopp kit, feed Myrtle, change my clothes and then realize that I probably should have given myself a few extra minutes to get to the MAX stop with my suitcase.

I call an Uber.  God bless my parents and their insistence on giving me some “walking around” money for my trip.  The Uber is on them!

My driver is pretty chatty, his name is Van according to the Uber app – talk about name predermination, an Uber driver named Van?  This guy never stood a chance.  I notice that his car’s onboard system refers to him as Jay and Jay’s playlist is pretty solid.  As I’m appreciating it, the display changes to the next song, Anywhere by…Rita-fucking-Ora.  

So, that’s how it’s gonna be, eh?

I get to the airport and check in with minimal fuss…thank goodness there was a retiree stationed at the kiosk to help me.  I really did need it this morning.  Despite the way being stymied by technology usually makes me feel, I cut myself a break this morning and refuse to chide my imminent old-age.

While check-in was breezy, I soon discovered that it was looking like that would be the last non-frustrating part of my day.  From here on out, it’s frenzy and frustration.

Checking my bag was an odyssey.  A line that snaked through every switchback in the stanchions.

Ugh.

I started kinda freaking out at the fact that I hadn’t seen my counterpart or The Boss yet, we are all on the same flight and I’d gotten to the airport 15 minutes before the boss said he planned to arrive.

Maybe they were carrying on.  Who knows with straight guys?  Me?  I had to pack a couple bottles of wine for me and my Boise counterpart to share over the coming week of meetings.

Why is this idiot kid taking so long?  What’s he checking…is that a bike?  

C’mon, universe!

Pairing the unwieldy parcel with the most challenged check-in agent seems a little excessive.

I finally complete this level of Hell and head to our pre-security store to touch base after a tough day yesterday and make sure my early morning associate, PLoop, got her break.

I recognize The Boss’ cotton-topped head from behind and am simultaneously glad he’s made it and chafed that he got ahead of me because he didn’t have a bag to check.

He’s grabbing a bagel and as PLoop is ringing him up, she’s making small talk with me.  She has an omnidirectional attention span that I usually find amusing.  Not this morning, though…The Boss is antsy to get through security since our flight leaves in an hour.

Nevertheless, she persisted.

I interrupt her chatter to ask about the break, she declares she snuck a potty break and I tell her that I’ll hold the fort while she grabs a snack.  I tell her to finish with The Boss, who has begun an antsy side to side dance.

You know what PLoop does?

Persists.

And I find it endearing.

The Boss takes off in the vague direction of the employee line through security.  Neither of us knows its precise location, since our badges allow us access to the secure parts of the airport without going through that line every time.  He told me on my first day that he’d show me how the routine worked but never did, so I never have done it.  On his way out, he tossed a little dagger my direction about everyone showing up today, three associates had called out the day before and it was a shit show.

But I could chuckle at his dig.  Thanks to some great teamwork, I survived the day.

Sidebar: dear gawd, the woman across the aisle from me is triggering my mysophonia.  She’s sniffing like Trump during a presidential debate.  It started five minutes after we pushed back, went on every 30 seconds for about 15 minutes and has been repeating ever since.  I think it’s a tic, there’s no thickness to it…just an incessant wet sniffle.

I take off my jacket and assume the position behind the register so PLoop can take her break.  It’s about 5:40 in the morning, we should board around 6 and I still want to get my own snacks and drink for the plane after going through security.  PLoop talks herself out onto her break and while responding when needed, my inner countdown clock is speeding up.

When she comes back, we exchange goodbyes – it really is nuts how much I’ve missed my team, dysfunction and all, when I’ve gone away for meetings or vacation – and head for security.  It’s not quite 6, but definitely past 5:55, so I gotta take some cuts to get ahead in line.  I wave my badge at the TSA agent and express my question by waggling my finger between three entry points.  He directs me to the middle, cutting out all of the switchbacks and queuing me up for the scanners.

I strip off my shoes as I approach, even though I’m fifth back on line, I’m the only one preparing.  

Belt off.

Fourth back.

The people ahead of me all grab totes simultaneously and start piling their accessories into their tubs.  Once the first guy has shoved his totes toward the rollers and made for the scanner, there’s enough room for me to grab a tote of my own.

I’m ready about the same time as the lady two up and the guy right in front of me.

The TSA guy feeding the rollers points s floral backpack my way and asks if there are any laptops or tablets in it.

“I don’t know, it’s hers”, I respond pointing to where the owner was moments ago…but she’s now suddenly in the scanner.

I give the guy a palms up gesture.

He moves on.

“Who’s kicks are these?”, he asks.

Those would be mine”, I say.

“Sick”

Cool.  Props from one of the fit TSA agents.  My day is looking up.

I randomly wonder what my junk looks like on the scanner as it rotates around me, then step out when invited and await the inevitable.

Expecting a pat down, I’m given a casual borderline #metoo caress as the agent is telling me he just needs to check my backside.

This happens every time I fly – something on my back triggers a pat down, but usually I get the whole enchilada.

This time, it’s just a little stroke.

Of course, there’s nothing there.  There’s so little there there, that I really think the agents are confirming the total absence of any ass on me.

Whatevs.  I heard someone say recently about TSA screenings, “I never turn down foreplay” and have adopted that same attitude.

I get redressed, trying hard to keep by Dunlap covered while putting my belt back on, and head off to get my flight snacks.  It’s about 6:05.  The plane is boarding, but I need s Monster and something to read.  Plus, the store is right by the gate.

The line is around the store.  

Ugh.  It’s the luggage check-in people all over again.

In an unusual twist, instead of running along the edge of the cash wrap around the Store which is how this usually goes – some brainiac had somehow convinced the line to form from the cash wrap straight back to the wall and then around the perimeter of the store, thus blocking all of the books and magazines as well as the coolers.

I wanted a book and a Monster.

Idiots.

I decide that instead of fighting and then joining the throng, I’d help my associate bust her line and make some other travelers happy.  I go to take off my coat and start ringing.

No coat.

Fuuuuuuuck.

I start ringing anyway.

Where did I leave it?  

Must have been security.

No.  No…that can’t be right, I’d never put my shoes on top of my jacket – germs – and my sneakers got complimented, so they weren’t covered by my jacket.

The pre-security store!

Fuuuuuck, again!

No time to go back through or have someone bring it to me, I decide as I’m ringing.  I can do without, it was mid 70s in Atlanta last week.  

I get my book – Ready Player One – and my Monster, pay, say goodbye to my associate and head across the concourse to the gate…where people are standing in no particular order.

“Nice line”, I say to my counterpart, because we’re talking agin now that I realized that I was responsible for my behavior, regardless of whether I think he should be fired for his.  I can only hold myself accountable to maintaining my professional demeanor.

“They just started boarding”, he says as I notice an unmoving line coming from the jetway.

It’s 6:15.

“This is excruciating”, I complain, “You look like shit.  Are you hungover?”  Professionalism can still be passive-aggressive, right?

We chat while the line goes nowhere.  The gate agent makes an announcement that is unintelligible and The Boss comes over to stand by us just as Capt Can’t decides to join his boarding group in line for the plane.

I call our pre-security store and ask PLoop to get my jacket to my office for me.  Luckily, there’s nothing in it I need.

At about 6:30 – our scheduled departure time – the gate agent makes another announcement about gate checking carry ons and The Boss goes to check his…his plan all along.  Not paying the $25 bag fee.

We’re still on boarding group one.  Capt Can’t – who is in group one – has finally been swallowed up by the jetway, so I guess that’s progress.

The Boss comes back with his carry on in tow.

His response to my raised eyebrows is, “He’s gonna make an announcement and then take it at the gate”.

The announcement comes toward the end of boarding for the enormous group one.

Almost everyone left in the holding room rushes the gate with their carry on.

Cheap ass bastards.

I’m standing there with a book in one hand and Monster in the other alone with two ladies and a (pretty cute) guy…all that’s left of groups two and three.

“Well, now I’m going to be the last one on this plane just out of principle”, I say to the straggling lot.

At 6:41, I take my seat and by 6:43 we are pushing back.

Good god, I’ve never seen a less organized boarding gate process…and I’ve flown Southwest!  I’m literally thinking this during the safety talk, that has to be in person versus video because the in flight entertainment system is down.  

My conclusion?

That retiree at the check-in kiosks was the only airline associate worth a damn this morning.

No wonder the airline’s acronym is

Doesn’t 

Ever

Leave

The

Airport

But I’m not naming names.

The next thought I have?

That I’m gonna have to listen to Trump Sniffler for four damn hours because y’know what?  There was something in my jacket I needed…my headphones!

Oh well, the way this is going my music would have somehow managed to be all Rita Oro the whole way.

The Fiendly Skies

I Need A Haircut

I have briefly considered wearing my hair in a longer style recently.  I think this is just a further manifestation of my desire to avoid being perceived as sporting anything that could be lumped into the notion of “the gay haircut”.  To be sure, this has everything to do with my time in Seattle where every homo on The Hill seemed to have the same haircut…most, courtesy of Rudy’s Barbershop.

Don’t think there’s such a thing as a gay haircut?

Remember this bullshit from a few posts back?

Ugh.  The Hard Part.

A good name for my autobiography in progress, shit name for a hairstyle.

Totally gay.  Plus, it makes me respect gay guys a little less – yes, that is possible.  I imagine someone walking in and saying, “This is the style I want” and whipping out this guy’s pic.  Because, we should all take our style cues from the guy with facial tattoos…

I still won’t go to the Rudy’s in Portland, a) because Bishops is several bucks cheaper, but also b) because I usually get a more diverse choice of stylists there, making for a better experience for me.

Usually.

Foreshadowing!

Oh, and c) Bishops offers a beer while you wait, last I checked, Rudy’s didn’t.  Sure, it’s bullshit hipster beer like PBR or Montucky – same beer, by the way, just different marketing.  I kid you not.

I’ve gotten pretty good at timing my arrival at my local Bishop’s so that I’m the first one there.  In and out in record time.  The stylists are usually happy to see me, especially if it’s a slow starting day and there’s no line waiting to get in.

What can I say?  I tip like my father.

However, on my last trip…well, it was a trip.

First in the door, and no line had formed behind me.  I’m getting really good at not noticing that lines no longer form around me.  In this case, I easily convinced myself it wasn’t because I’m too old to be waiting for anything cool enough to queue up for.

It was Thursday morning at 10:50.

Normies were working.

I love my atypical weekend.

Anyhoo…

One of the two worker-people unlocks the door – she’s kinda non-descript and I decide I instantly want her cutting my boring hair instead of the girl with fluorescent pink braids.

Of course, this being my life, I got Pinky.

No big deal.  I can rally.  It’s only 25 minutes of my life, which is cumulatively the same amount of time I’ll probably spend having sex with other people between now and the end of my life.

Oh!  The end of my life in two or three decades!  Sorry to alarm you, mom!

I actually found myself checking myself on my earlier choice of stylists.  It doesn’t matter, really…I just think my dull head will bore someone as outwardly extravagant as Pinky.  Simultaneously, I’m mentally scrolling through the covert reasons for her  choices in self-expression.  I am decidedly a tee shirt and jeans guy, but still, I appreciate the effort people put into their appearance.

Even if I question the underlying motivations.

Total sidebar, as I’m writing about Pinky, I’m debating whether one of my DBE partners thought – or reflexively assumes – my comments about his garb this morning were slightly racist.

And whether maybe they were.  Or, at best were ignorant or insensitive.

I assure you that they were well intentioned, if not poorly informed.

But you gotta understand that my DBE is Snoop Dogg’s uncle as well as the father of a Women of WWE woman…when he dresses he makes this guylook like a tee shirt and jeans guy.

His outfit for today’s meeting was an exercise in monochromatic brocade paired with pointy toed patent leather shoes with hobnails (for lack of the appropriate cobbler jargon) around the sole at the front and topped off with a metal point with a skull shaped into it.

Those were some fucking shoes.

As a white guy, I don’t think I stood any better chance of commenting on them and not sounding ignorant or racist than Harvey Weinstein does of complimenting an actress’ gown and not sounding predatory.  So, fuck me.

So, Pinky starts in on the cut with some small talk about where I live and what I do.

Everything was fine until the second question, which was also about the same time I realized Pinky was trans…providing a shorthand answer to a few of  my initial questions on why someone would have that hair color.

And dye their eyebrows to match, by the way.

Regardless, it really popped against an alabaster skin tone that would make Casper look tanned.

It wasn’t that I do HR for a group of news & gift shops at PDX that caused the conversation to slide sideways.  It was the, “That sounds interesting” comment, rejoined with my, “Mostly, I just chase staffing issues all week” that committed our conversation to a slide that I didn’t even try to steer out of.

I have this longstanding rule about not pissing certain people off:

Your barista.  

Any waiter.

No need to risk a “sneezer”, right?

Barbers and stylists certainly qualify for this group of people not to piss off.

At this point, I start to realize I’m in a conversation that I’ll be lucky to escape from with just a pair of scissors stuck in my skull.  At worst, I’ll also be buried with a bad haircut.

You see, when she asked why staffing was such a problem, I didn’t leave it at a simple, “Hiring at the airport is just challenging”.  

No.

I had to go on and talk about how it’s tough to have a group of long-term associates – read: older – in today’s hiring environment because many of my new hires are college students…or at least college aged.

See how that last part comes across as judgy?

Me, too.

Now.

But the reality is that the two demographics just. don’t. get. along.

So our conversation is now in a full-on slide and Pinky contributes that maybe it’s not that millennials – her word – weren’t so much flaky or lazy – also her words – as they were tired of being pawns in the big capitalism game that is America.

I totally allowed that point, agreeing with the current backlash of the younger generations toward the Boomer-favoring economy.

Maybe millennials are just tired of working to pad someone else’s balance sheet.

Once again…not taking advantage of a strategic opportunity to not re-engage, I posit that no one is required to actually participate in capitalism.  She questions my sincerity by demanding an answer to how one will survive in today’s America without working for The Man.

You know, I say, I don’t know.  Yours is about the fourth generation to struggle with that question and I really don’t know the answer.  You’re in Oregon, where craft beer and weed are the past and current alt-industries.  Look at all the craft brewers selling out to big beer in “distribution deals” and ask yourself if weed will follow a different path.

Doubtful.

So, these alt-industries that basically have working class hero stamped in their DNA sell out.  Here’s what we think is the answer to capitalism run amok, selling out and caving to said capitalism.  The generations between you and I didn’t figure it out.

It’s up to your generation to do us one better.

– And this is fully where I should have muzzled my inner Julia Sugarbaker –

But until you do, you might try not biting the capitalist hand that’s feeding you, because that’s a little hypocritical, no?

Her mouth made the same perfect circle that both my eyes were making as she realized whatever she realized and I realized that I’d just broken one of my cardinal service people rules.

God help me.

Regardless of gender identification and politics, I’ve decided that I’ll probably go back to wearing my hair styled short again.  I think it was my writing about Egypt and seeing pictures of younger me, but whatever the impetus, I recently found myself entertaining the thought, “Maybe I could be one of those old guys with the IDGAF long hair…”

As grumpy as I am, I suspect that scenario plays out with me taking clippers to my head in frustration one evening.  Which, having likely worn out my welcome at Pinky’s Pelo Palace – er…Bishop’s – might be my follicular reality soon enough…

I Need A Haircut

My Huge Confliction

Who knew the Chrisism confliction would have legs as a blog theme?

We’ll see…

I realized this morning at 4:30 that I was the Old Mother Hubbard…I’d failed to remember to pick up dry cat food last night and my kitty cupboard was bare.

Normally, Mistress Myrtle’s feeding routine is:

Dried Salmon snacks when we wake up,

I leave kibble for her to nibble throughout the day,

When I get home, she gets a few more Dried Salmon cubes to tide her over to her 6:00 wet dinner.

Wet dinner is at 6:00.  Do not make the mistake of missing dinner time.

Running out of kibble is not a situation I want to find myself in when the only thing keeping me alive is that I provide the food that The World’s Most Dangerous Feline loves to hate.  Fortunately, I was able to double down on the wet food…”Look, Myrtle, it’s dinner for breakfast!”

She was not as excited about this as I’d hoped.

So, this evening; after changing, playing a bit and giving The Mistress her salmon snacks, I beat feet to the RiteAid for dried food.  I also figured I’d pick up some beer and chips to inspire my dinner making creativity.  I’d pulled some beef out of the freezer this morning and put it into a water bath in the fridge to thaw.  When I got home, the whole damn thing was frozen.

There’s something seriously messed up with my fridge.

All this is pointing toward me having chips and beer for dinner.

Since this is my life, the RiteAid was out of dried cat food.

Looks like my last meal would be Nacho Cheese Doritos and some Hop Valley Alphadelic IPA.

At least the beer was on sale.  A 12-pack for $13.99 ain’t all that bad.

None of this in any way has to do with my confliction.

I get to the checkout, wait for Shaky James to complete his transaction and then step up.  The very disaffected young lady – aka: millennial – ringing me up scans the beer and says, “ID for the beer”, which I guess passes for a complete sentence in her universe.  I pass her my ID, she types something into her register, pulls her phone out of her hoodie pocket, answers a text, scans my Doritos, mumbles something about what I owe her and stops.

Then she answers another text as I ask her if I can put in my Plenty number.

She puts her phone down on the counter and makes a minimal fuss about forgetting about the store’s loyalty program, replying, “Sure…if you want”.

I want.

Then she tells me my total.  This time I can hear her clearly.

$3.43

I start to question the total as she answers another text, so I shut up and give her a $10.

Am I a bad person or just a grumpy old man?  Surely being a grumpy old man is a condition that’s exacerbated by bad service, right?

The funny thing is, is that lately I’m scoring on buying beer.  Over the weekend, I picked up a 6-pack at the Brodega.  It was on sale, too…$8.49 from the $10.99 regular price.  It rang up at $12.49.  When I questioned that, the cashier asked if I was sure…so I went and checked.

Seriously.  

By all means, don’t take my first word for it, let me verify that for you.

Me:  Yup.  $8.49

Hipster Cashier:  Let me fix that for ya.

Me:  The funny thing is that this is ringing up for $1.50 more than the non-sale price.

HC:  <distractedly> Oh.

Not a question or surprise.

HC:  OK, your total is $8.49 then.

Me:  <thinking> Because you don’t want to charge me the $.10/can tax on this…right.

So, it’s been a pretty good week for this old beer hound.

But now my confliction is, do I just complain about this cashier’s over-the-top poor performance?

Or

Do I also complete the survey for a chance to win $1000?  I can’t tell which way the karmic winds are a-blowing here…

My Huge Confliction

I’m A Hypochondriac…

Kinda.

It’s hypochondria, but in a cute way.  For my own amusement, really.  It’s like a non-fatal version of The Red Shirt Diaries.  Just a little mental entertainment.

Am I secretly an only child?  Someone who grew up as part of a brood shouldn’t really have developed this idiosyncratic inner realm of self-sufficient entertainment.

Maybe I imagined my siblings as part of this rich (now semi) private head-world I retreat to.  Do you think my parents just play along with it?

“Humor him.  He might be dangerous.” – The Parentals

More likely, this is all the fault of the prophet Bill Murray and HBO.  One too many viewings of What About Bob during my delayed onset formative years.

Too much hair in my sink?  Alopecia. 

Stiff neck?  Cancer, obviously.  This is actually happening right now.

Gastric distress?  Norovirus.  No way that it could be too much garlic in last nights dinner…

But at the same time, those self-diagnoses have created some interesting ironic moments in my doctors office.

I say interesting, he says, “Stop googling symptoms and just come into the office”.

I don’t know why he’s such a killjoy.

Well, maybe one or two for instances come to mind…

Like the time I had self-diagnosed with shin splints.  I’d been increasing my running after making myself single again in an attempt to rid myself of the dreaded Relationship Body.  Somewhere in there, my mind decided I was at that age where I needed to dip my toe into the realm of Extreme Sports, as people do as they age.  Nothing crazy like the Iditarod…just the Seattle Marathon.  

Having been (note the tense…foreshadowing!) a lifelong runner, I just decided to gradually lengthen the duration of my runs.  Some training plan, eh?  It was that increased training intensity that led me to attribute my lower leg pain to shin splints.

Power through, bucko…just a few weeks left and then you can back off.

Or, y’know, mention it to your totally self-absorbed doctor during your annual check up.  I hadn’t planned on it, I was just so caught off guard when he asked me about me during my appointment that it just sort of came out.

Like premature ejaculation.

Literally, since he followed up with, “How long has this been going on?”

“About a month…maybe six weeks?  But I just assume it’s normal with the extra training.” AKA: it happens to everyone.

And just like that awkward sexual encounter, my running life was over.

“Call this guy and make an appointment.  And for gods sake, stop running.”

Me:  

Him:  You fractured your tibia.  You’re retired from running.  Find some other way to exercise.

Me:  <puts gun in mouth>

But I’ve written about that struggle in other blogs.  Go find it if you’re that curious.  

Then there was that time that I’d followed orders and not googled my symptoms.  Just meandered across the intersection and into the office.  

It’s really great when you live diagonally across the street from your doctors office.

I mean, no reason for google.  It was just a cold I couldn’t shake.  But it was terrible:  headaches, snot, fever.

“Do you have allergies?”, he asks like he doesn’t have my entire medical history right in front of him.

“What, are you playing solitaire on that thing?!?  You’ve been seeing me for almost a decade!  Of course I don’t have allergies.” I get cranky when I’m sick.

Crankier.

He goes on to make his case, trying to sell me on his theory.

I’m sitting there, shaking my head and thinking I got that doctor that finished last in his class.

Desperate for relief, I ask – for the sake of argument – what the treatment would be for allergies.  Maybe there would be some benefit even from the wrong medicine.

Him:  I’ve already sent some prescriptions to your pharmacy.

Smug bastard.

Turns out, I have allergies.

So, maybe he wasn’t the worst student in his med school class.

That doesn’t mean that that pain in my knee wouldn’t be better served by my insurance company approving knee replacement as an elective surgery.  Acupuncture is working just fine at reducing the pain and increasing functionality, but, c’mon…it’s just delaying what is obviously the inevitable.

To a recreational hypochondriac, anyway.

I’m A Hypochondriac…

What’s the 911?

Can you believe it just took me three tries to call 911?

It’s not that I’m that low functioning.  Although, it is 5:30 in the morning.  And I did take a sleeping pill last night.  Probably mostly that I’m a teensy bit neurotic.

But THREE attempts.

I smelled smoke when I walked through the lobby of my building this morning, vaguely registering the thought, “Good luck, Myrtle!”

Although, she’s been super sweet, cuddly and barely lethal lately.

I had already put the alarming scent away and was jaywalking diagonally across the street in my little Alphabet District neighborhood when I saw the smoke in the park.  Oddly enough, now I couldn’t smell the smoke.

I debated the need for fire department assistance, since I realized it was a heavily smoking trash can.

Thanks, homeless people…let’s face it, 5:30 in the morning on Wednesday is too late on Tuesday night for even the heartiest partiers to reasonably be the culprit.

I called 911, kinda thinking that there’s a non-emergency number I should call for smoke versus reporting said smoke to the emergency responders.  I’m thinking all this as I hear, “If this is an emergency, say ‘911’ after the tone or press any key on your phone at any time”.

Well, thank goodness it’s not an emergency. Listening to that probably wouldn’t soothe my nerves in an actual crisis.

“911”, I say.  Feeling guilty, of course.

Click.

I’m crossing Broadway now, wondering if I’m required to stay on scene.

I’m a minute late in my departure for work, you see.

Dial tone.

What the…?  Ok, this is a sign.  I search my contacts for the non-emergency number that I’m sure is in my contacts.  I am a grumpy old man, after all.  Gotta be prepared to call the authorities to report young people having too much fun.

Nothing.

Obviously, I’ve deleted the number in an attempt to disarm my inner self-righteous bastard self.

I google Portland Fire and Rescue and call the closest firehouse to me.  I’m musing that the one in SW is actually closer to me than the one in my own NW neighborhood as the phone rings and I walk down Everett toward 6th Street now.

I get a recorded message from the administrative offices telling me office hours and urging me to call 911 in an emergency.

I hang up.

I reluctantly call 911 again, this time pressing any key after the recorded message.  This is obviously some sort of Obama Death Panel nonsense.

When the operator answers, she asks, “Police, Fire or Medical?” and I reply, “Smoke?”

She asks the location and I tell her it’s in the North Park Blocks at Everett between 8th and Park.

I’m approaching 3rd now and she tells me that she has a report of fire in the park at Flanders.

I look at my phone, unsure of how someone can not know how the Alphabet District works.

Burnside.

Couch.  Don’t you dare mispronounce that.

Davis.

Everett.

Flanders…and…so…on, all the way through Vaughn.  Yeon just doesn’t count.

I calmly respond that, “That must be the same one”.

“Do you see them onsite?”

“No, but I was late for my train, you see…”

Click.

Well, I did at least try.

What’s the 911?