TransDating: Part I

Sooooo…The Facebook, right?

Coming through for me the other (early) morning when I couldn’t sleep. I was scrolling through my newsfeed, I had probably cruised through the previous 36 hours worth of newsfeed-algorithm-worthy posts when I happened upon the “People You Might Know” feature.

Probably, this is where the ZuckerDrones are looking out for me, “thinking” this is what usually makes him throw his phone down in disgust so I could get back to sleep. Little do they (or DO they?!?) know that I usually at least look at the top recommendations before throwing my phone down in the aforementioned disgust.

Today, though, today…I’ve clearly got time. It’s 5-ish am, I’ve been scrolling for 45 minutes, “Why not see who the Facebook thinks I should know?” I think, before doing a deep dive.

I was a good 10 minutes into the PYMK section when I saw it.

Ok, given the name of this post, that was a poorly chosen pronoun due to the ease of exploitation that “it” allows. Well, exploit it for humor, we got no problems…we’re obviously chums for a reason. Exploit it for its vaguely gender-vague crime-worthiness and, well, you can fuck right off and then keep on humping.

Because, what I saw was a “who” that I crushed all the way out on while I was working at the airport.

One of the Fabulous Baker Girls has probably already used her super sleuthy skills to figure out who I’m talking about, she’s that good.

For the rest of you…this is a person I used to see a couple times a week because he managed a store out at PDX while I worked there. Still does, if the Facebook is to be believed.

And, believable or not, the Facebook was giving me the profile of a super sexy fella to scroll through as I debated “friending” him.

If he’d remember me or accept said friend request…TBD.

As I scrolled, I was rewarded with those validating pics young folks post…showcasing their natural gifts and/or the fruits of their gym labors.

Oh, right. I forgot there was also significant tattoo-age. They were all spelled correctly, so the attraction was preserved.

What it took me a few extra minutes of scrolling to realize was that the muscle definition and tattoos both served to draw the eye away from some very artfully concealed scars…of the double mastectomy variety.

Well, shit-fuck-damn.

I’ve always held young people unreasonably accountable to having a better physique than I, however…where gender reassignment is involved, I give a hall pass.

Does that seem fair?

Well, I don’t care. Ask your mother if life is supposed to be fair.

Back to me.

Trans-folk get a hall pass on body stuff because they are fighting an uphill battle. Whereas young cis men have hormones helping their physical accomplishments, trans-folk have what are likely the wrong hormones working against whatever correct hormones they may be pumping into their bodies. It results in a battle of science vs nature toward physically expressing their true selves.

I’m not judging that.

No way, no how.

Plus, in the case of this fine fella, and I’m sure many trans-men…should they put their minds to it, they could kick my ass twice before I knew the first ass whooping was happening. I’m smart enough to not make enemies, let alone enemies that could actually harm my favorite person.

But my trans hall pass has always expired where the appreciation of their physical accomplishments meets the reality of my Kinsey 6 sexuality. Top surgery and potentially hormone assisted physical accomplishments aside, at the end of the day I can’t get my old school homosexuality around the “beaver in my bed” scenario. I’m an ass man, through and through…but frontside foreplay is still a part of the routine, because…well, because it is.

Enter Anachronistic Xtopher.

It’s been a decade long entrance, in case you thought this was a fresh struggle.

You see, when I moved to Seattle back in ’06, I spent more than my fair share of time getting to know my new bevy of gay bars slash neighborhood watering holes. I really loved all of them. Little did I know that a lot of this euphoric experience was relative to me being fresh meat (at goddamned 40 years of age) in a relatively small dating pool’s bar scene.

Still, by ’08, I was well past that…the blush was off the proverbial lily.

It was then that I’d found myself out for a weeknight wee bit.

<Interior: The Cuff, upper bar…because they don’t bother opening the lower dance and patio bars on a goddamned Tuesday>

I’m swilling quietly, minding my own obliviousness at the end of the bar, when a brick shithouse of a dude in all his construction worker drag walks in, sits down by me and orders a beer.

Now, we all know where this is heading, because: title spoilers, but suspend your disbelief.

Jesus. Rough crowd.

I’m sitting there thinking, “Sure, on a four-sided bar, this is the only place to sit where you won’t have an unwelcome crowd form around you”.

It’s also a Tuesday, so crowds would be a no.

It’s also the side of the bar furthest the door.

Ergo: it’s also the only side of the bar that you have to pass all three of the other (service) sides of the bar to get to.

All of this conspires to convince me that this placement is intentional…for whatever reason.

Nevertheless, there was a beer or two of conversational foreplay before I trot out this gem, “How does it feel to be the best looking guy in this dump?”

“Well, it is a Tuesday…but still pretty damned ok”, he says, laughing.

“I was gonna offer to get your next beer, but as the second best looking guy in the bar, I realize that puts you in a tough place.”

“Drink up. I got this one, since you look smart enough to not waste your aspirations for bar dominations on a Tuesday night. But you’re definitely on the hook for the next one!”

“Thank god this isn’t a Wednesday”, I reply, thinking that this guy’s humor is right in line with mine. I’d love to have an equal in sass…not as easy as one might think since you have to factor overall disposition into the equation. I don’t mind an overly queeny sense of sass near as much as I’d run away from or flat out fail to appreciate a guy with hard up bro-sass.

That struggle? REAL.

Anyway, we chatted a bit about what afforded us the luxury of drinking on a Tuesday night in a bar people only cared about on the weekends. Some other stuff. He was a lot of fun to talk with, truth be told.

Comfortable.

Easy.

However, on beer four – my fifth, just to be completely honest – he disclosed that he was FTM (female to male, for the uninitiated). Now, sexually, my heretofore growing chub lost volume…for previously mentioned Kinsey 6 reasons.

Still

I was really enjoying this guy’s company. Obviously, having lived in Shittatle for two years and still finding myself drinking alone on a Tuesday night, I was in need of friends. If our schedules aligned to allow a regular social coalescence…that’s a good ROI on my Tuesday night of drinking.

Right?

Well, I never heard from him again, so fuck me. What are ya gonna do though? This person was – after two years in Seattle – literally within the first six people I’d given my number to.

He didn’t use it.

It’s been 10 years since that eye-opener of a night. But in a decade, I have realized that easily navigated complexities sometimes only end up being precursors to significantly more complex situations. Situations whose ramifications extend way further than the least crowded side of a four sided bar on the least crowded night of the week.

Well, when I put it that way, my ’08 encounter seems…easy. But, trust me…it wasn’t.

Not in the moment.

Reductively, it’s choosing between clams and sausage on the sexual menu. But in reality, clams vs sausage is an argument that a very, legitimately very small percentage of our population known as bisexual ever actually engages in. For the rest of us, that sexual argument is rarely ever brought front and center on a casual night of drinking. For me, dropping my pole in a decidedly gay watering hole for a drink generally results in “I got a drink” at best and “top or bottom?” in an unexpected better than best at the worst.

Having to navigate original plumbing in this fishing hole scenario made me think cats were my future.

Don’t worry, Myrtle has made me realize there’s no love to be found in a truly hopeless place.

Which is pretty much where I was earlier this year when I ended up chatting with Liz at my local caffeination station about proper gender pronoun usage. It was one of those conversations where I not only felt relief that I wasn’t the only person confused by what pronouns were socially acceptable for everyday polite usage, but also a conversation that left me thinking, “Nah, you should stay at home forever” once I realized that if a multi-unit coffee shop manager easily ten years my junior in goddamned Portland, Oregon can’t figure it out then I had – really – no hope.

Like, literally zero chance.

She was referencing customers – well, a specific customer – and in talking about them, acknowledged her confusion about correct pronoun usage.

Why?

Because she was using them – a pronoun heretofore used in a plural sense – to reference an individual. It made things…complex. And not just conversationally.

We each acknowledged the pronoun struggle by way of clarifying the actual object of her statements.

Why is this a big deal?

Well, let’s jump back to my awkward night at The Cuff. What if I happened to take my spontaneous drinking buddy’s bathroom break as a moment to confide in the bartender?

“Close me out, I think I’m gonna take him back to my place.”

Yeah, that’s how early 21st century conversation looked.

Ah, the simplicity of the aughts. We’re in the teens now, though.

Fuck simplicity.

Nowadays, I’d have to say, “Close me out, I’m taking them back to my place for a night cap.” Of course, I’m referencing an individual while using a plural pronoun…this is confusing!

Not to mention, unsafe.

Sure, we’re a decade back for this example. Nonetheless, what if this happened while I was talking to someone that the bartender knew to have a chain smoking boyfriend that never made it into the bar? I suddenly end up looking way cooler than I ever was in my original 40s. But I also end up probably equal parts likely to have an unplanned three way as I end up being rolled by an unexpected third or beaten up by a jealous, unknown boyfriend.

There’s a lot of downside to these vague, politically correct repurposing of existing pronouns.

But, by all means…let’s put personal safety aside for recreational contrariness of a sexual minority. Whatever happened to the pre-turn-of-the-century s/him for men veiled in feminine dress?

Was that so offensive, somehow?

My money is on the difficulty in creating the gender appropriate version of a pronoun for a woman out and about with her masculine flag flying. I’ve been semi-thinking about this for over a decade. What would that new pronoun be?

I think that – in a very weird turn of events in gay-phobic America in the second decade of a new millennia – that an inverse Crying Game scenario based on gender appropriate pronoun confusion would create a larger kerfluffle than Jaye Davidson could ever imagine.

That said

Of course I get a text from Diezel a few weeks ago asking if I’d ever date a FTM guy.

<eyeroll> “Why is life so hard?!?” – Me

Still, since I adore Diezel and also kinda try – as long as it doesn’t put me out too terribly much – to be a good friend, we chatted a bit about it. I knew this wasn’t one of those random questions, rather one borne of a specific circumstance – this wasn’t a random Monday Night Supper Club conversational topic like Intersectionality was – after all.

But our little chat took us through this whole decade-long arc of mine.

In mere moments…

The crux being, “What’s the point of plumbing, anyway?”

Honestly, for me, in about ten minutes…nothing. I think we get to a point where the sex is secondary to the connection.

Sexondary – Chrisism!

But as humans, as sexual beings…that secondary connection doesn’t happen until the sexual connection is either satisfied or mitigated. There’s a simple statement. Mitigating that sexual connection is simple…give it a few decades, then who cares?

BOTH OF YOU! That’s who. Since you’ve now both lived through a relationship where neither of you got your rocks off. Obviously, that scenario doesn’t necessarily or easily work. However, it might work if you’re in a post-sexual time of life.

Mind you, I’m <cough> in my sixth decade and my best friend is in his seventh…not sure when sexual compatibility moves to the back burner. But, goddamnit…I hope that this is a thing. Maybe these much maligned – at least in this blog – millennials will figure it out, this sexual conundrum.

<belly laugh interlude>

Better? Maybe you need another minute…

How’s it going? Oh, still wheezing?

Walk it off.

Focus on taking deep breaths through your nose, out through the mouth.

Sometimes Millennials figure things out!

Oh, gawd. It’s gotten worse!

I really feel like I should apologize. I’ll try and warn you before I say something like that next time.

Ultimately, I decided the friend request that motivated this whole blog-thought-exercise was a bad idea, since my desire to know him was initially sexually motivated. That seemed like a recipe for butt-hurted-ness…somehow.

So, for now? I’m leaving it with “I don’t know”. But I’m still thinking about it and trying to work my way through it correctly…

Stand by.

Lordy, I feel like this is gonna need a Part II…

TransDating: Part I

Galby’s Grow Op

No, mom…I’m not growing pot!

She’d totally turn me in, too.

No, my grow op is my lil patio pot garden.

Mom totally endorses this type of grow op. Out in “the wilds” surrounding my family’s homes in Columbia County, there are three Galby Gardens. One for each of my parents’ and siblings’ yards. Having a hopefully lush patio is the least I could do to try to blend in from my urban abode.

Mom even made a contribution at our lunch this week, trucking this lil baby in with her and Dad.

Let there be salsa! Er…tomatoes. I know there’s no such thing as a salsa bush.

Most surprising to me after planting my initial garden over in 3C last year was how Myrtle left the plants alone. She had killed most of my indoor plants, Christmas Cactus barely survived. There are still leaves with Myrtle’s bite marks scarred into them, so I was surprised she hadn’t tried to kill last year’s or even this year’s patio plants.

Sure enough, she’s content to sit peacefully amongst the greenery.

Well, she was sitting peacefully until I went to snap a pic, then she went on high alert.

Crazy cat.

To further nurture my yard-ly yield, my absentee takeaway from last year’s white elephant family Christmas celebration was an AeroGarden, which I just decommissioned today after what I hope will be a successful transition from hydro to soil.

Wish me – and these lil babies – luck.

The mini-countertop garden kit came with basil, dill and parsley. I was most excited about the basil, since I grow tired of buying mine. However, this plant got monstrous on my counter and dwarfed the other two in the aeroponic setup. Probably, I should have done this weeks ago. I fear the poor thing is too top heavy at the moment to successfully support itself, hence the alley oop from the deck railing.

The basil is still that big and heavy after taking 1/3 of the plant off…fingers crossed.

After planting the three victims – er – herbs, I think the parsley is the prettiest. Being in the creative couple’s project pot that Sacha and I each painted half of certainly enhances the delicate beauty of the plant itself.

I love that damn pot.

Again, not pot-pot. The one that survived the end of our relationship, ten years of condo living with no deck after moving to Seattle and then the return move to Portland. I rather like having a tangible reminder of that relationship. What better reminder than something we created together?

Regardless of how the new additions take to their soil surroundings, I’ve still got the perennials that I added this Spring as well as my personal favorite – don’t tell the others! My olive tree.

The Silver Fox was over the other day and remarked that it was really taking off. That’s a big improvement over his earlier observation as Winter began to give way when he said it didn’t look like it was doing too well. He’s some sort of master gardener, so I usually pay attention to his advice and admonishments…even when he ends up being wrong!

Anyway, last night he was over to watch some TV and I took the opportunity to passive-aggressively ask his advice on the olive tree and how to/when to prune it. I think it’s getting a little shrubby looking.

“Google ‘how to prune an olive tree'”, he offered.

Touché, Fox. Touché.

Should I name my olive tree?

“Olive” would be too obvious, right?

How about “Carl”? “Carl the Olive Tree”, no one would expect that…

Galby’s Grow Op

A Week of PCS

It’s something I think a lot of people talk about doing and don’t do enough.

Even more people probably actively deride the option altogether.

Then there’s the lucky minority that have not only the will, but the option.

Theater.

I’m squarely in the first category.

One of my earliest social outings with my parents was when they took me to see a play, just the three of us. I was so young. Seriously, like a 30 year old trapped in an eight year old’s body.

It was The Music Man.

Because parents always know…y’know what I mean?

<cough, cough> “You’re Gay, son!” <cough, cough>

Anyhoo…I was in plays and took Drama classes – I know…I’m not even that dramatic! – in Junior High and High School, but I didn’t live and breathe it like a true theater geek.

Nowadays, I try to enjoy it when I can and am lucky to have friends that appreciate and even enjoy the experience in my immediate life. Still, living about four blocks from Portland Center Stage, I feel a little guilty every year when I don’t buy a season ticket.

What can I say?

I’m choosy.

Thus, even though I don’t buy a season ticket, I still get the opportunity to enjoy the experience a few times each year.

Given that filter, last week was a real windfall…I went twice.

Well, conditionally, since one of the two events was technically the viewing of a film…

On Sunday, I went with some of the gang to see George Bernard Shaw’s Major Barbara.

I think it started – and I could be way wrong here – between the Facebook and BreitBarb because, gee…guess what her real life first name is? So it’s funny. Jortis – I can’t believe I’m just now making a blog name for him! – is our ticket hookup because he’s allegedly under 35 and can get endless PCS tickets for $20 a show and before you know it, Little Buddy was signed on and I’m being wrangled as a fourth.

Fact: I’ve seen a lot of fucking plays in my life.

Also, factual is the statement that my memory is Swiss Cheese and I don’t recall every show I’ve seen any more than I recall every day that I’ve lived.

That said, I arrived at the show anticipating an “Oh, yeah…” experience when things took off down a familiar path. Still, every theater mounts a different experience.

It’s part of the joy of theater. Everything old can be new again.

I was surprised to find that I had not actually seen this show, like…ever. That’s an exciting new twist on how my known poor memory approaches seeing a play. It’s exciting!

Well, for me, anyway.

I won’t bore you with a breakdown of the plot. See it for yourselves! But, that doesn’t mean there aren’t stories about the evening to be told!

For instance

Little Buddy and I managed to only silently lose our shit when we realized the youngest of us had dozed off in the middle of Act II. Jortis was seated to my right and I looked over – guilty because I’m always fidgety in the theater and being raised Catholic generally feel guilty – only to discover that he was snoozing. Being the exceedingly mature influence that I am, I elbowed Little Buddy on my left and then dramatically leaned back so that she could bear witness to what was making me chuckle.

Then she started laughing, which made me laugh harder and it was off to the races from there.

I doubt either of us has had a better core workout than that in recent weeks.

I give us credit for keeping our laughing under control in the theater, but the fact of the matter is that I know we woke Jortis up and the married guy and his girlfriend sitting in front of us didn’t come back after intermission, so who knows how effective we really were in our efforts. Plus, Jortis treated me to my ticket for my birthday present, so I can’t really tease him.

The next day, for whatever reason, PCS was hosting a free My Fair Lady sing-a-long and Little Buddy has snagged a bunch of tickets.

Now, I’m not a huge singer since puberty and reality conspired to steal my ability to carry a tune, but I’m a fan of at least being present to witness a good time being had…so I was in.

Ironically, the official invite came in the form of a phone call during a bike ride. When known contacts call and I’m aware of my phone, I answer. Knowing me, when I answered Little Buddy pre-emptied my low grade dark panic with her greeting, “Nobody’s dead!” before going into the invite.

It’s ironic, because I had found myself alone for extended periods on the Springwater and had been indulging my endorphin rush by singing along with my music during those isolated moments.

But shit where hitting a note didn’t matter, like grunge music and mopey songs.

I promised to go and she shared that 2.0 – her hubby – might even go, acknowledging that theater wasn’t usually his thing but singing off key really is.

I probably wasn’t supposed to share that…

Oh well.

The Silver Fox and BreitBarb rounded out our group.

I distinctly remembered not having seen this movie for over 30 years.

Side note: the word “fucking” as an adjective was heavily implied in that sentence.

Probably closer to 35.

Jebus.

The show drew a respectably period dressed crowd. Those that didn’t dress up had the foresight to have not yet stowed their Derby Hats the day before. Or PCS had the even better foresight to schedule the sing-a-long at a time that appropriate prop attire would be handy.

Only time will really ever know. Although, MFL also being a George Bernard Shaw – someone having dropped George from his name in the credits – show, it was probably fairly intentional timing on PCS’ part.

Clever.

The show started with an introduction from a host who – turns out – performed the role of Eliza for PCS a handful of years ago.

Nice touch.

She talked us through her vision of basically Rocky Horror-ing it up. When to use the props in the lil popcorn bag we were given at the door, a few of the more popular song lines, a reminder that not all of the characters were sympathetic and encouraging us to feel free to engage with the show by heckling these characters.

Turns out, the largely female crowd – dressed in fancy hats and crinolines as they were – didn’t need encouraging. Also, most of the male characters in this show really did not age well. Not in the superficial sense, since most of the male leads looked to be in their young hundreds in the first place. No…”they didn’t age well” means, rather, that…holy shit, they were male chauvinist pigs as judged by the jury of time.

Our host instructed us to yell at Professor Higgins at a few specific points in the show. The crowd decided not to wait, pretty much starting in with his first lines.

I felt guilty on behalf of my gender.

Fortunately, the disdain and ire was aimed strictly at the 1960s screen production and the few males in the crowd were spared.

Good thing…we were really outnumbered.

Soon, though, the attention was drawn to the dubbing of poor Ms Hepburn and whether we were about to hear Julie Andrews or Marni Nixon and when either of them actually took over the pipes. The Fox assured us in his Fox Wisdom that it was Marni Nixon. I’d only ever heard of her and didn’t know from whence, so I stuck with my incorrect assertion that it was Julie Andrews.

I’m used to being wrong where Fox Wisdom is involved. Still, at least I wasn’t totally up in the night since Ms Andrews had famously played the role on Broadway.

Yeah, that’s why I was…confused.

Even though I’m not much of a public singer, I did catch myself being overcome with the urge to bust out a lyric or two a couple of times. I’d like to apologize to everyone on the block for that.

Other times, I was able to stave off the urge by humming into the mini kazoo from my treat bag.

It’s fun to realize that even with a character like ‘Enry ‘Iggins, who is so vile by modern day behavioral standards, we can all still revel in the transformation of a young woman from gutter snipe to lady and get caught up in the happenings all. these. years. later.

So, there you have it…I got my theater fix in! Whether the next show is next week or next year…who knows? My theater going is spontaneous, but with the best of intentions. Still, if you hear about me seeing the new Mary Poppins before my next play, just chalk it up to my persnickety tastes in theaters.

A Week of PCS

Let’s Bring It In

“C’mon, now. Give us a hug.” – Not Me

Ok, big news in the Silver Fox family from this past weekend: Number One Son has returned to Portland with his family after living away for just about ever. They weren’t far away, just a few hours of driving.

The Fox and Sallory, though are looking forward to having the grandbebe available in real life versus FaceTime, so it was quite an exciting weekend!

In related news, The Fox abandoned me for the weekend again to help with the move.

To make up for it, The Fox bought his son a “Welcome to the ‘Hood” beer at Big Legrowlski after they arrived in town.

Oh, and invited me along to say “Hi!”…that was the “making up for it” part.

Fortunately for me, this just happened to be the weekend that a couple of friends came into town for the weekend. That was well played, indeed, Universe.

What do these events have in common?

Beer.

Obviously.

Lots.

But, also, hugs.

Lots and unexpectedly lots of hugs.

I haven’t seen my visiting friends or The Fox’s son in person in years. But it was when I walked up to find Fox & Son outside the BL (as we call it), tossing back already in progress, that I started thinking about hugs as a communication device.

This is a big deal for me, since I don’t come from what I’d call a hug culture.

Well, apart from trees, that is.

I remember the family send off at my sister’s wedding as she and her husband took off for their honeymoon. We all stood in a receiving type line as she hugged her way to the car. It was all pretty standard rite of passage stuff until she gets to Black Sheep Bro and they hug. Gradually, he raises one leg and slowly wraps it around her hip. It was a pretty funny moment as well as a commentary on how little our family hugged, since he blurred the lines between platonic and intimate with his.

Although, I’m sure that meaning was hidden from him at the moment.

Regardless, we all got a good chuckle.

Maybe it’s just me and my shoddy memory. Then again, maybe my memory is correct this time around and my family was actually hug naive.

I don’t really care.

However, as an adult, I don’t really remember hugging to be part of a normal family greeting or farewell past the wedding hug until Sacha came into the pic. Then again, maybe we were re-traumatized by that wedding incident. Who knows?

Say what you will about Sacha – and if you ask him, I’m only ever barfing negative and embarrassing shit about him into the universe – but I remember hugging becoming a part of my family experience during his visits to our family gatherings.

It was kinda weird to see him hug my mom goodbye while I just chucked her on the shoulder with a casual, “Take care of yourself, Old Girl”. At first I managed no better than a one-armed side hug. Gradually, I was able to work my way up to a full frontal two-armed job because: growth.

So, when my Seattle friends arrived in town on Friday, it was the usual quick “gay friend w/a peck” greeting for us all and we were off. Honestly, not my favorite part of the gay culture, but given the expression I am happy bending to the cultural norms with my close friends who are so inclined. Casual acquaintances don’t get the same courtesy, they can make due with my normal not at all awkward typical greeting…

I didn’t think about those quick, off the cuff greetings that are the usual until I got to the BL yesterday and told Number One Son not to get up since he had his pup on his lap. He gave me an “oh, nonsense!” type response and got up to hug me.

That was when it dawned on me.

Well, 10 seconds later it dawned on me as I dropped my arms but couldn’t move away because I was still being hugged. The length of my embrace was just about the same amount of time it took to silently congratulate myself for not gay-smooch-greeting my best friend’s straight son – hey, nobody’s perfect. But that’s where I’m still newish to this whole hugging thing.

I’m assuming NOS was raised in a hugging environment. The Fox will confirm my suspicion soon enough. And it shows, because he’s got some serious hug game.

In my spare time while he wrapped things up, I started thinking about how sincere the greeting was. Not casual, like I’m used to with those carefree gay greetings where I find myself doling my casual greetings out only to significant people in my life.

Reread that.

How fucked up is that statement? Rationing out a throw away gesture to people I care about.

Now, back to NOS. As I’m standing there recanting my earlier silent congratulatory “attaboy” and chastising myself for blowing the appropriate hug duration. Then I relax into it and can feel the subtext of his hug.

It’s genuine.

Sincere.

Like I said, he had some good hug game and he’s happy to see me.

Me.

Miserable, old, grumpy Xtopher.

But that sharing of a physical connection as a greeting. Well, I started to ponder when that dropped out of our human or American cultural norm – I’m betting on the latter – and whether, no…how that impacted how we treat one another present day. I admit that I am one to harrumph at demonstrations of our discarding of social graces and niceties. I am also one to call myself out when maybe I’m part of the problem.

Potentially.

Now, I’m not suggesting that we spend 15 minutes hugging ourselves into and out of each family or social gathering, who has that kind of time? But let me tell you, after yesterday’s hug? I’m good for a while. I only wanted one beer as we sat chatting…but I fully admit that it could have been more a product of me being both cold – since we were sitting outside and it was 56 degrees – or my dinner nachos making me full.

But why not a combination of all three?

I like when something so seemingly innocent provides me the chance to think about how I interact with others and what I can learn from exposing myself – not like that – to other people.

It inspires me.

To be a better son.

And friend.

And person.

So, I can add Number One Son to the too short roster of truly great huggers in my life. It’s good to have him in town. I’m looking forward to seeing how The Fox adjusts to having family close by, I know his people mean a lot to him and the poor guy is usually stuck with this grumpy old bastard.

I apologize for the lack of media for your viewing pleasure in this post. I had a couple of fun hug gifs to enhance the theme, but WordPress was being wonky and would let me add them in.

And people wonder why I’m grumpy…now I need another hug.

Let’s Bring It In

TIL #3: Big Pours

Well, it’s been a long month for being literally the shortest month of the year.  But February is behind me, and I guess any February you can walk away from can’t have been that bad.

It was actually really, really awful.  Which has had some of my sister’s wisdom on my mind over the past couple of weeks.  So, today’s Golden Nugget is courtesy of my wise older – and only – sister.

We had been discussing wine, tangentially, while trading texts.  I was complaining about having to get a refill and she teased me about how she had trained my nephew to fetch, or something.

I was immediately jealous and found myself questioning my indirect and situational lack of progeny.  I teased my sister a little, but also praised developing a solid, gentlemanly skill like pouring wine at an early age.  I think the ‘Phew was 15 or 16 at the time.  And frankly, knowing a good pour is an important part of enjoying wine.

Here’s how to enjoy – truly, legitimately – wine:

Start with good wine.

Decant or aerate.

Serve in glassware that enhances the overall sensory experience.

Repeat step three.

Often.

A little known fact, or adhered to, as I’ve come to learn and experience – and practice – is that good wine glasses are made to hold a 3 ounce pour (I think it’s 3, might be 5…I’m old and get confused!) that allows the bowl to hold the wine and keep the bouquet from escaping so that you enjoy the wine and aroma as part of the same enhanced experience.

How precious, right?

Still, it’s a fact.

So, how do you know if you’ve got a good wine glass?  Here’s a fun tip:  filling your glass visually to the hip or curve of the bowl should be 3 ounces.  If you have a good wine glass, the bowl should be shaped so that you can lay the wine glass on its side and the 3 oz pour doesn’t spill out.

Try it.

Here’s another weird wine fact:  there are about five perfect pours in a bottle.  Five.  This is perfectly symbolic of my singlehood, reinforcing that there’s no one for me to share with.

My sister and her wisdom was, basically, “Fuck that” in teaching her boy to pour.  She taught him to pour with a heavy hand.  I was offended, me and my delicate sensibilities, but I got it.  There was no telling whether the boy would be around when she needed a refill versus playing a vidya game or just being out screwing around, like kids do.

Get it, sis.

Here’s the impact this wisdom has had on my life, I usually drink wine alone or with the Silver Fox.  Instead of arguing about the extra glass – which is mine, of course – we split the bottle into two servings each.

It works well.  Except on nights like the other night, where he says he can only have one glass.  You’d think that would throw off our delicate balance, until he comes out of the kitchen with a full glass.  The Fox is pretty low key, so when he does something so overtly hilarious, I really cherish it.

Personally?  Over the last couple of years, I’m down to three servings in a bottle.  

This works well for me.  Especially on nights where The Fox and I watch some TV and split a bottle.  He’ll leave after we finish our two glasses and a few shows so that I can, presumably, head to bed.

If I’m not ready for bed just yet, I’ll open a bottle and have another drink.

Sometimes I’ll even finish that second bottle.

But here’s where being me really pays off:

I had 2 glasses with the Silver Fox and 3 glasses by myself.

There are 5 glasses in a bottle of wine.

Despite what my recycling bin tries to tell me the next morning, I’ve had 1 bottle of wine.

Is it semantics or is it some antics?

With me, I think you know what you’re getting.

Never!

And, yes…this TIL was posted out of order.  The month called for this topic to move up the list.  TIL #2 will be along soon enough!

TIL #3: Big Pours

Birthday: Love

Impressing myself with my own delusional contortions while writing about all the food I consumed over my birthday weekend yesterday, I mused that I wasn’t full from overeating.  No, rather, perhaps my heart was over full from all of the birthday love I had gotten.

Let me set aside the amount of food I consumed – it was all of the food – and tell you how that little bit of pithiness has managed to kick around my noggin for the last day.

Can one be so full of love that they feel physically satiated?

Well, there’s a thought dripping with derp.

The sincerity that I experienced over the last weekend has probably (definitely) always been there with my friends, I’m sure this birthday of mine was just such a focusing agent that the emotions are lingering.  Definitely more present, even 10 days later.

But it’s been coloring my life view lately, too.

Moms with their kids.

Hell, families.

Young couples.

Dogs.

Old couples absolutely take the cake, though.

Mmmm.  Cake.

Seeing old couples tottering through the airport together makes me smile.  Always.  Moreso this last week, though.

Feeling it, I am.

Strangely, I can’t even imagine or conceptualize the type of committment and discipline that’s required to nurture a decades long relationship.

Check that.  I can conceptualize it, actually, it’s the life long partner that’s difficult to imagine.

You have to forgive me, though.  For 10 of my 30 years of adult dating life, I’ve been not dating.  That’s a measly one-third success ratio.  That may suffice for a pro baseball player (I dunno, does it?!?) but in relationship terms, that seems to lack any certain luster.

Especially when spread over two relationships versus one.

Fail.

Yet

I did end my last relationship with the forethought that I may have been ending what was – and has certainly proven to be this far – my last chance at a relationship.  That wasn’t reason enough to try and hold on to something that wasn’t mine, though.

And I think we’re both better for it.  The last thing – in retrospect – that I wanted to do was hang on until Rib woke up one day and asked himself how the hell he ended up with an old boyfriend.

Oldie Hawn, he would call me…and I kid you not when I say I loved it.

But me dying alone or not, at Myrtle’s whim or not, is not the issue that’s been on my mind.

Right, Myrtle?

For once.

Rather, it’s been…surreally, can one be so fulfilled with the experience of loving another that it sustains them through their lifetime?

Whoa.

Now, there’s a derp-full thought.

Tangentially, can one be sustained by less intimate love?  Without asking the question directly, I assume that’s what the cool septua and octa genarians are rocking these days…although Grace & Frankie would have me doubting that assumption.

Personally speaking?  I’d say maybe.  I knew Rib might be my last shot and I did what I thought right for us both.  Since then, I think I’ve followed my Orangatan spirit animal – which is often misconstrued as grumpiness – and just not tolerated foolishness in dating.

I’m starting a movement, too…there’s a legacy.

Sure, I’ve been hoodwinked a couple times. Mostly cuz I’m dumb.  And slightly weak.  I blame my penis.

But I still have a ripcord that I pull when shit gets too bovine.

But I find comfort in the comfortable warmth and familiarity of my Chosen Family…when sincerity sustains more than postcoital pizza or Ben & Jerry’s, I think you’ve stumbled onto something.

It’s made me take a longer, more thoughtful look at young widows and widowers who never remarried.  What is it they know that the rest of us haven’t had the misfortune to figure out yet?

It’s definitely food for thought.

By the way, after all the food I ate last weekend?  Look at what “holiday” my traitorously supportive calendar told me fell on my birthday.

Birthday: Love

Birthday: Food

My birthday was a week ago.

There may be (there is) a cake and fork situation in my refrigerator.  Only just barely, now, though…

But that cake is just the icing on a fantastic birthday celebration.

This is my big landmark birthday and it fell on a weekend.  The perfect recipe for breaking those diet resolutions I never bothered to make.

So.

Much.

Food.

Plus a secret gold star that I survived…but might be too big a shock for people who know me to survive.

The food started on Saturday with a solid four dozen peanut butter cookies that a couple of my co-workers made.  They were taking up too much desk space so I pared them down by a good half dozen in the first half hour.  

A full third were gone by day’s end.

At which point, I had to run out to get ready for my surprise party.

God bless The Silver Fox, but when Little Buddy called dibs for Saturday night, I knew something was brewing.  For his part, he kept the bond of trust, never admitting there was a jig, up with which to be.

And I threw out some doozy theories in the week leading up to the big day.  Seriously, I had the whole thing being filmed by any surviving Zapruder.

Little Buddy had told me she was inviting The Fox, who then made his apologies in advance for missing the get together because he had tickets to a play with Sallory.

“Like you won’t be changing those plans!”, I taunted.

I went on through the week with scenarios like, “The big surprise will be when I show up and announce that I’m only 40”.  

The Fox invited me to join he and Sallory at the hotel bar next door – he and I are…regulars – and kept changing the time.  I teased him with accusatory questions like, “How long does Little Buddy need to sneak in and decorate my place?!?”

It’s not that big and there’s nowhere really to hide.  But if that was the plan…I’m fortunate to have folks who would be bothered to go out of their way  for me.

He insisted that wasn’t the case, but when he had casually suggested the day before that we stop and get his Key Buddy key made for my new place…well, c’mon.  You don’t have to be an Olympic caliber conclusion jumper to arrive at the too easily drawn…conclusion.

All my scenarios be damned, though.

I show up at Tanner Creek Tavern and it’s just The Fox and Sallory.

We have a beer, they ordered food because somehow they hadn’t changed their tickets. There is only one opening night!  Even at The Armory.

I’ve been wrong a lot in my life, so I rallied pretty easily.  Plus, Sallory had brought me a present!

Presents: that which I secretly love but publicly play it cool.

This was still a nice upgrade from last year, though, when The Fox had bothered to be out of the country for my birthday.  I just love busting his chops.  He could light me on fire and he’d still be the best friend I’ve ever known.

This year, Rib and his new boyfriend had taken a page out of The Fox’s birthday playbook and gone to watch the Australian Open live, which inconveniently occurs around my birthday.

So, there we are, us three.  Beer and wine raised to toast the eve.  I’m happy to have them for even a little while.

And while I’m enjoying a simple moment with dear friends, I find myself following four eyes across the bar, focused on black balloons parading from the door and headed in our general direction,

Ok, that one I did not see coming.

Little Buddy.

2.0.

Breitbarb.

The good and getting better friend…he really will need a blog name at some point.

All parading toward our table.

Well, that can’t be a coincidence.

Wires having been crossed, I was expelled from the bar and left to cool my heels in the hotel lobby so our table could be staged with all the required fiftieth birthday party accoutrements.

You know, I’m lucky to have people I love in my life who also tolerate me.  Less surprising to me, but perhaps me alone, is that there’s a bar in my life that doesn’t mind setting aside a table for my friends to mark my pickled ass’ birthday.

On a damned Saturday.

In downtown Portland.

On the Onesie Pub Crawl weekend.

Whatever.  I was here first.

When I returned from my lobby exile, the Filipina Fox and her husband had joined the birthday melee.  So had a new instant friend that I’d met at LB’s and 2.0’s wedding last summer (more on that in a later blog, promise) and her younger, better looking and more Asian blooded version of my doppelgänger boyfriend.  Little Buddy had rallied quite a bar busting group for this lil surprise shindig.  

I was pleased.

So, Little Buddy had made this cake.

It was glorious, but also a shituation, as I learned.

She had been aiming to do a cake-homage to both my Star Trek fandom and my Red Shirt Diaries blog theme.  The red fondant hadn’t cooperated and she’d scratched it and taken it back to the drawing board for a slam dunk of subtlety that bumped the overt Enterprise shaped 30th birthday cake to second place in the Best Ever Cake category,

Sorry, not sorry, Sacha.

It was a Tribble Cake.

I mean, I ate a bunch of those tribbles and a healthy slice of cake.

And a second beer, duh.

Happy as I was, I learned that this party was portable.  There was a table waiting for us at Nostrana.

It’s a tres she-she Italian restaurant that I’d never been to.  I’ve eaten several times at the Pearl District sibling restaurant, but that’s just a front for $50 pizza.  Nostrana is a mother lode restaurant.

We ate the pants off that place.

Remember, I was full from beer and cake.  

Let that stop me, I did not.

2.0 started us off with a charcuterie plate that featured typical sliced cheeses and cured meats as well as a few terrine options and fucking lengua.

Yeah, that’s beef tongue.

It.

Is.

So.

Good.

Little Buddy corralled the Som for some wine.

We were also downing bread like Dr Atkins was heading our way in slo-mo with a scale.

Then.

Then…the pasta main course.

The plan had been to take my Michael Douglas ass out to a bar after dinner but the trifecta of the Onesie Bar Crawl, 2.0 comfort considerations (in a gay bar) and my grumpy old man refusal to pay cover to be ignored in a bar landed us back at my place drinking The Fox’s wine.

It was perfect.

But the weekend wasn’t yet done with my belly.

Sunday morning was brunch with The Fox. No doubt penance for not canceling his opening night plans the night before.

No.

Check that…obviously he shouldn’t have made those plans in the first place.

Obviously!

I mean… he knows how extra I pretend to not be.  It’s like we had never even met.

But a one on one brunch with my NSLP – Non Sexual Life Partner – was beautiful.  What a delightful way to usher in day one of my 50th.

It’s surreal to type that.

Post brunch plans included a pre-family dinner nap…and I kind of needed it.  One big meal left in my weekend and I was already ready for my food coma.

We were eight for dinner.  I definitely didn’t get too hungry for dinner with eight.  But I nearly ate my weight with those eight.  If only our table had been at 8:00, that could have been a seizure inducing alliteration.

Alas, my family all traveled the 20-30 miles into town to join me at the newest Pok Pok. This is a Portland “It” restaurant from years past.  I’d never been, so they had opened a new place “ten” blocks from my place to tempt me.  I’ve been meaning to get there for months since they opened.

This was the perfect excuse.

I think we split nine entrees between the eight of us.  They recommend an entree for two people to share, so we were a little over that ratio given our census.  But best safe versus sorry, right?  Plus, I think I forgot a few in my tally.

Here’s my gold star moment:

My whole life, I’ve been a picky eater.  My list of “No’s” for food looks – and probably is – longer than any single person’s list of disqualifies for potential mates.

And yet, I don’t starve.

Because in my years I have learned to think of others, I made sure that our order included the mushroom salad for my mother, who may have single-handedly in life made mushroom farming a viable vocation.  

Seriously.  She loses it for mushrooms.

One of my favorite mom/son bonding stories is of our family table growing up.  At our pre-Chuck family dinner table on La Cour, I had a side of our six top table to myself.  My sporty siblings sat across from me and I sat next to my mother on my side of the table, obvious gay son dinner table placement, right?

Me being the petsnickety culinarian and my mother making her food budget pennies scream to feed her Galby Five, there were a lot of what I would call lesser filler ingredients.

Onions.

The Peppers Bell.

Mushrooms.

My awesome mom would sit next to me and eat these Xtopher-only deemed lesser ingredients off my plate.  Right out of their individual and separate piles I’d created for each at the perimeter of my plate.

Talk about a Niles Crane worthy OCD moment.

Talk about symbiosis!

Obviously, I stipulated that this Xtopher anathema of a mushroom salad be placed at the end of the table nearest Mom-Donna, furthest from me.  You know that bitch mushroom salad ended up getting passed to everyone and ended up at my corner.

It was my personal hell.

Me, being both a newly minted legitimately grumpy old man and a dick, I quietly engaged in the dinner table conversation with my family while quietly – and for attention only – eating off the mushroom salad plate.

No,

One.

Noticed.

Goddamnit.

I even casually and without irony said things like, “I think there are mushrooms in this” and yet…nothing.

I’d only had a glass of wine and a complimentary glass of champers at Thelonious Wines before dinner and a cocktail with, so I wasn’t even buzzed when I made the decision to choke down some mushroom salad, defiantly.

And no one noticed.

So I went home and ate some of Little Buddy’s bday cake…planting a fork in it for future and what turned out to be frequent use!

I’m still full a week later.

And that’s my birthday.

Of course, with so many people I hold dear in my life turning out to celebrate, my grinchy old heart might just be so full that it’s pushing down on my stomach, making me feel that I’ve over eaten.  

Toss up, eh?

For your amusement, the song Pandora barfed out as I’m wrapping this up was Knocking On Heaven’s Door by Bob Dylan…you can’t make this shit up.  It’s my life!

Birthday: Food