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

I Can’t Imagine…

Here’s a reference that my day-to-day life won’t let me escape from recently.

Chirruns.

Specifically, having my own.

There have been reminders like the expected daily posts and snaps from my friends with kids.  More obscurely, Beatles references – or John Lennon, at any rate – to the…oneness one feels with one’s offspring. I wish I could remember where I came across that particular reference.  I’d specifically like to avoid confronting that again.

But even in relatively expected safe havens, like TV, I find my reproductive shortcomings taunting me.  When Madam Secretary plot lines are calling out your life or lifestyle choices, you probably need to take a step back and give yourself a good once over.

Seriously, isn’t TV supposed to provide an escape?

Maybe it’s the new year…but, c’mon!  I’ve always been the guy who refers to children as an STD.

Perhaps the choices I’m meant to examine are more along the lines of whether I should not binge-watch Madam Secretary.  Sticking to the relatively safe havens of Doctor Who and strong male leads like Jean Luc Picard.

Sure.  Great.  Now I just look like a sexist jerk for blaming my introspective nature and nueroses on Tea Leoni.

But that Madam Secretary season finale last season.  <sigh>

All she wanted was to revisit a vacation destination – a cabin in the woods – with her husband and kids.  An escape for her to a less complicated time.  Naturally, her teenagers and adult children don’t want to go, which disappoints her.  Her husband -played by Tim Daly, and probably really more along the lines of what my life is actually missing – takes her to the cabin anyway, just the two of them.

Of course, good old Tim – and formulaic happy ending TV writing – has rallied the kids to the cabin early to surprise mom when they walk into the same exact cabin from all those years ago.

Can you hear my heartstrings?

So, in my ruminating, I’m back to the big life questions…what’s missing from my reality, the potential family cabin scenario or the romance of simply having someone in my life who cares enough for my emotional needs to get me the equivalent of Tea’s family getaway?

That’s a tough one.

But then it isn’t.  

I’ve never wanted kids.  I’m probably too selfish to make the life changing sacrifices good parents make.  I think I could instill great values in a young ‘un, though, don’t get me wrong.

So, I guess as I tap my way through this thought exercise of an essay, it’s not children that my psyche is telling me I’m missing out on.  It’s screaming out a warning to not abandon my expectations for a long term relationship in my life.  It’s that level of intimacy and nurturing that parenting and raising children represents that I think is what drives my desire for a relationship.

Not sex.

Not built in dates on national holidays.

Or an end to the sad looks single people get from couples.

Ok, maybe a little bit that last one.

You’d think that realization or the recognition of the meaning behind the propaganda my subconscious has been hurling at me would simplify things.

Nah.

But at least it provides some clarity before I went all Mia Farrow or Angelina Jolie on my life.

Which returns me to the future reality of growing old without built in caretakers.

Oddly, that I can imagine without freaking out.  Unlike, it would appear, imagining the potential of growing old without an intimate partner in my life to accompany me on that (mis)adventure.

I Can’t Imagine…

Merry Christmas!

And Feliz Navidad!

My Christmas – low key as it usually is in my family, just mainly together-time and food! – was kind of crap this year due to circumstances I couldn’t really control.

Well…I could control them somewhat.  And I did.

But I still ended up working today instead of being off with my family.

What happened is that I had a couple of new associates scheduled to work today that called out sick yesterday, probably a pretty good indicator that not even paying them double time for working the holiday was going to motivate them in to work today.

So…I motivated them in to quitting.

Manipulate is such a negative sounding word and I really feel like my implied ultimatum was effective in getting these two off my team.  That’s important to me, because when people abuse our attendance policy, the rest of the team pays the price.  

Hard.

I was able and lucky enough to find an associate to volunteer to come in to replace one of their shifts.  But for the other shift I had to push our scheduled Manager On Duty into a store, which meant I got to be the MOD.

It’s fine.

Really.

Hold on, while I mop up the mess that sarcasm made.

Christmas plans scuttled, but it didn’t really break my holiday spirit.  I thought I’d try and put together a few of the Christmas memories that came into mind while I worked among the holiday travelers at PDX.

Christmasisms, if you will.

In no particular order…I really just hope to remember the thoughts I enjoyed today on my MAX ride home.

I’ll start with an easy one.

Ever since I took Spanish and Algebra in Junior High, I’ve amused myself by making a little equation out of the word Christmas.

Chris + mas (the Spanish word for “more”) = More Chris!

My staff today might disagree…hey, it’s double time!  I’ve seen enough war movies – both GI Jane and A Few Good Men! – to know double time means “fucking move faster, grunt!”.  

Yeah, that’s inside humor, Chris…

There was the Christmas that my grandfather gave us kids a foosball table.  Man, that was the shit.  I think we were so excited to see that sitting in the back of the El Camino that we collectively wet ourselves.  I didn’t even know gifts could be that cool.

But I did know that gifts could be the exact opposite.  When I was maybe ten, probably younger.  I got a gift that was basically this

As an adult, I’m ashamed of my ten year old self’s (maybe) behavior (definitely).  My paternal grandmother had bought me a suit.  I dare say it was my first suit.

It was very…brown.

Mom made me go into the bathroom and try it on.  I went.  I went and I stared at it, sitting there in its box.

I didn’t think of how little money my grandmother had, and that she’d chosen this while thinking of me.  Yeah, grandma totally knew ten year old me (maybe) was a Future Homo of America (definitely).

No, I didn’t think of that.  I thought of how brown it was.  I was apparently also hardwired to be a bitchy gay, too, since I waited an appropriate amount of time, rustled some paper and then went back out declaring it was, “Fine”.

I also learned at Christmas that gifts could be a rite of passage marker, too.  Like the Christmas Mom and Dad got us three older kids bikes for Christmas.  

Banana seats.

Handle bar streamers.

The whole shebang.

Wait…is shebang a sexist word?  Oh, well…if you’re easily offended you should probably be reading The Bible and not this drivel, so you really only have your delicate self to blame.

You know…the more I think about it, the more I wonder whether those bikes were Christmas gifts or just Awesome Parent gifts.  Well, it’s a good memory, either way.  I remember the three of us taking our bikes out for an inaugural ride, so if it was Christmas, it was temperate.  Riding around our cul-de-sac on La Cour, streamers flying.

Speaking of La Cour, the street I grew up on and fun little equations…my first pets name was Butch, making my porn name Butch La Cour.  <adult toy drop>

Ok…walking home on icy sidewalks now.  Just a couple more quick memories from today’s Christmas Snowmageddon.

I told you about my least favorite clothing gift of all time, how about my favorite clothing gift of all time?

Silk boxers.

Not for me, per se.  I agree with Kramer.

But I remember working a post-Christmas sale at Meier & Frank when I was managing Men’s Sportswear.  Alison, the Men’s Furnishings manager gives me a “Psst!  Hey, hey!” From across the aisle.  When I look up at her, she gives me directions via some crazy eyes that I correctly interpret as “Look over there!”.

Subtle, Alison.

I played it cool and was rewarded with a couple of barely college aged bros walking through the department in sweatpants.

Enjoyable – anytime – for me, probably excruciating for them on this instance since they both appeared to be learning that silk boxers are not practical attire until after you can no longer ejaculate over your own head.

I felt bad for them, but that wasn’t the only thing I was feeling, figuratively.

Gotta love silk boxer season.

Last one, swearsies.

Sacha and I – y’know what?  It’s Christmas.  I don’t want to think of Sacha anymore today.  

Plus, I’m home.  Let’s end this on silk boxers.

I’m gonna go inside, take off my pants, peel off my tights – proper Snowmageddon attire, bad walking ten miles at work attire – and sit on my couch with a pamplemousse La Croix and let my boys air out for a while.

Enjoy that Christmas visual.

Merry Christmas!

Commitment

Last month, at my company’s annual leadership seminar, I got to see Eric Boles talk.  

My peers in the audience were impressed to see this former Jets football player speaking.  I was thinking, “This guy lives outside of fucking Seattle.”  I don’t think it’s funny to drag me all the way to Atlanta just to see someone from the PNW speak.

But that’s just my EOG default.

Anyway, he talked about change:  what prevents it, why we fear it, how we convince ourselves that we’re fine just how we are.  That reminded me of a saying from my early retail days working at South Coast Plaza in SoCal.  Whenever they would do work in a store, instead of just slapping up a MallWall to hide the vacant storefront, they would print a thematic and inspirational saying about change on it.

“There’s no such thing as staying the same.  You are either constantly improving or allowing yourself to get worse.”

That phrase has stuck with me over the <gulp> decades since, during which sometimes I experienced improvement and others I “stayed the same”…

He told the story of his relationship.  How he’s been married 23 years and his wife will tell you it’s been 3-4 of the best years of her life.

Yuck-yuck-yuck.

You could hear the love and admiration in his voice when he talked about his wife and their daughters.  I was touched because that’s not something you hear much these days.  That raw reverence for one’s partner in life.

Too often these days, it’s less “all for one and one for all” and more “everyman for himself”.

How do you sustain a relationship over time – a lifelong commitment – with that insular mindset?

This was a leadership conference for a billion dollar retailer, so a guy telling stories about his wife might not have been the obvious choice.  But the thing is, I got it right away.  Maybe many of us did, perhaps not.  But for me it was an easy corollary because it’s one I’ve used quite often in my career.

Spoiler Alert:  I stole it.

A while back, I was interviewing with Sur la Table for a Store Manager job in Shittatle and the VP of HR was one of the three people I met with that day.  She talked about interviews like a first date.  If the first one goes well, maybe we’ll go for a second one and see how that goes.  If it goes well, maybe we’ll go steady.

“Is that really the type of analogy someone in HR should use in an interview?” 

I still got the job.

I better have, since it went from there and careened onto sushi body shots.  What the hell was I getting myself into?

Sidebar: 

When I arrived at the HQ for my interview, I rode the elevator up with a woman who walked in just as I was hitting my floor.  I asked what floor she needed and she said she was going to the same floor.

“Are you interviewing for the Store Manager job, too?”, I asked, making small talk.

“No, I work here, but I have an interview in a little while, too”, she said smirking.

“Well, I hope it goes well!”, I said as we both exited.

She said something about how everyone was excited about the new store I was interviewing for and wished me luck.

I thought that was nice and was super excited to talk to my hopefully new VP group, the final round of which was with my smirky elevator companion.  That was a fun moment.  Plus, as snarky as I am, I deserve shit like that happening to me.

Anyway, since that interview I’ve considered my job and co-workers a little differently.  Evaluated them as the relationships they are, particularly considering the amount of time the situation of work mandates that we spend with our co-workers.

Is my relationship with your job or co-workers a good one or a bad one?  Do I want to commit to this for the long run?

It was an eye opening change of perspective at the time and I was glad to see this topic pursued by a public speaker some ten years later.

We’ve all heard our employers talk about the team or how the work unit is a family.  When was the last time you heard it in a way that wasn’t slightly manipulative?  It shouldn’t be something that you hear once in a while – usually at an inopportune moment for you – it should be something you see in practice frequently.

One of the other analogies I’ve heard is how managers are bus drivers.  You only have so many seats available, fill them with the people who want to go to the same place your bus is heading, yada-yada-yada.

But families and buses are different than relationships.

There’s something more potent about the word relationship.  To me, anyway.  More serious.  Weighty.

Plus, it covers a gamut of interpersonal labels.  Takes it away from genetic bonds and into a territory I like to contemplate often:  Chosen Family.

Talk about weighty.  Now you’re into the arena of people you choose to be bonded to, versus the bonds you’re born into.

So, 30 seconds later, after all this has flooded through my mind and I’ve glanced over at my Seminar Boyfriend a couple times <sigh> he’s moved on to talking about our tendency to chase our own happiness instead of invest in someone else’s and how that in turn leads to inability sustain a relationship.

Right?

I like this guy.  If you’ve never heard him speak – or of him, as was my case – I suggest you look him up.

I bring this all up, not because of my work family, but rather because it so broadly encapsulates behaviors you can see in everyday interactions…and I love being able to understand someone’s motivations.  Looking at them through these relationship filters really helps to clarify a lot of what I experience and observe.

Newsflash:  people are scared and selfish.

The French have a word for the type of statement I just made:  duh.  I’m not sure exactly how it’s pronounced.

But just because it’s a simple statement doesn’t mean there’s a simple solution.  Tryst me, I’ve been banging my head on that wall for quite a while, before I even knew what that figurative wall was made of.

People don’t think of how their actions impact others, they consider what they want.

When we get feedback, most often it’s rejected if it doesn’t align with our perception of self.  Hell, if we accepted it, then we’d have to accept that we need to change something about our favorite person.

And none of that points toward an investment in another person’s happiness…just ours.  

A lot of big thinking talk that should hopefully point us toward an internal examination of the motivations behind our actions, but something tells me it was just entertainment for too many of us.

Otherwise, it’s kind of feedback, right?  And we can’t have that, because then we might have to change something.

Commitment

Celebrity Sighting

A couple months back, I was looking at one of my associate’s phones while she gushed about Carnie Wilson and Enrico Colantoni having come through her store at PDX.  What had really set her gushing was that Carnie had apparently come back through a few weeks after her selfie-session and remembered my associate.

I could see that being kinda exciting for one of us Normies.

Then Fred Armisen wandered through her store being his low-key, awkward self.  He left without making eye contact, buying anything or being recognized by my star struck employee.

Cue inward laughter.

Seriously, how did she recognize someone as obscure as Enrico Colantoni and not one of the stars of the show named for and filmed in the town she lives in?

Oh, well.

I didn’t have the heart to tell her.

But, championship timing, Universe.  Really, well done! 

Later that week, my parents took me out to lunch to enjoy the last hurrah of Summer.  Well, it could have been the last hurrah.  Turns out, it wasn’t.  In these parts, though, Summer is kinda like a virgin’s erection:  it could finish up without warning.

So, there we were, Mom, Dad, me.  Their dog, Buddy…sitting outside enjoying lunch.

I always enjoy my lunch visits with the parentals.  Even more so when Gus Van Sant is sitting over their shoulders.

It got me thinking about the game Black Sheep Bro and I would play when we went out drinking with our respective mates of the moment.  He was living with one of my employees from Linens ‘N Things – Jackie Jackass – and I was with <gulp> Sacha.

JJ was the one who introduced the game.  She was also – is! – this amazingly vivacious person.  There is basically sunlight pouring out of her eyes.  She also has an amazing ability to connect with people and bond groups of fairly disparate backgrounds.

Me, because of our mutual workplace connection.

Sacha, through their shared creative passion.

Black Sheep Bro…I don’t know what it was. Maybe she has a thing for guys with small johnsons who don’t take too long.  Who knows?

Since Jax suggested it, we were all pretty much game for the game.  She has a gift for making everything sound like a good time.

If she suggested a theme park based on awkward medical procedures, I’ve no doubt that she’d find investors.  

“Let’s get another Colonoscopy!”  Can you imagine the souvenir shop?

And then – poof! – we were playing Celebrity Sighting.

Simple rules:  do nothing but what you’d normally do, in our case that’s chat incessantly and drink obsessively, and when someone with the slightest resemblance to a celebrity crosses your field of vision, mutter “celebrity sighting” and state your case.  I think this is where I developed my ability to resist looking around like a crazy person when someone says, “Don’t look now…”

<Glares at Silver Fox>

Anyway, we had an uproariously good time with this little game.

Everything from <insert ethnicity here> Yul Brynner whenever a bald guy with any minimal degree of sex appeal walked by to Paddignton Bear if someone crossed our paths wearing a yellow hat or blue wool coat.

The more ADHD you are, the more successful you will be at this game.

Oh, and there’s no score keeping.  Your efforts either earn you a “No way, not even close!” type comment or your entry was the best one ever.  

There was really no in between.

And it seemed so familiar.  I didn’t discount the possibility that Jackie Jackass had been exposed to this through some other channel, nor did I find it outside the realm of possibility that she just made it up and living in LA had made it all feel familiar.

How can you ever really know?

Of course, when I saw the movie Kiss, Kiss. Bang, Bang I immediately thought “Native American Joe Pesci” was comic genius.

I didn’t immediately assume that Jax had riffed on the game from this movie, either.  The movie came out well after she introduced us to her version of this game.

Plus, if we made a celebrity behavioral mannerisms version of this game, she’s easily a frenetic personality match for the movie’s star, Robert Downey, Jr. so if she had stolen it from the movie…meh.  Whatever.  That didn’t happen.

The game has just been around.

Shortly thereafter, I saw this Facebook post and was reminded of the time I was getting my haircut at my Stephen’s Salon in Long Beach.  As I’m leaving, I’m walking backwards-ish talking to my stylist as I leave and turn around and run right into the wall known as Dolph Lundgren.

I have too many similar run-into stories like that to credibly deny that I’m not a celebrity hazard.  I bet the union distributes “How to Avoid Galby Injuries” pamphlets like my employers distribute flyers about avoiding Slips, Trips and Falls.

When I was working at FAO Schwarz in the Beverly Center, I came out of the stockroom, finishing a conversation over my shoulder while going through the door.  Stepping on Sally Field as I exited.

She’s so tiny.

Strangely, another time heading into Stephen’s Salon, I was running late and weaving through the courtyard crowd.  Unfortunately for her, Chaka Khan ended up being an unseen obstacle in my path.  Fortunately for me, I didn’t knock her over.

Not all the way, at any rate.  She’s kinda built like a weeble, as it turns out.

My first serious normal boyfriend took me on a date to a comedy show.  It turned out to be a filming of a VH-1 comedy show called Stand Up Spotlight, starting one Ms Rosie O’Donnell.

I don’t remember much about the show, itself…it was – god – almost 30 years ago!

I have to go be old now.  Bye.

I guess that means that I’ve had this t-shirt hanging in my closet for close to 30 years, then.

Now I’m depressed.  That whole time of my life was so sweet and innocent.  I hadn’t yet learned how to be jaded and embittered about my past.  And the few years prior had been a collectively hellacious learning experience.

Ok…more better memories.

I ran into Gordon Sumner – better known as Sting – many times while I lived in LA.  Of course, I’d seen him perform live a couple dozen times, so running into him was somewhat organic.  Have you ever heard the urban legend about the guy that fell off of his bench while eating ice cream in Palm Springs and landed on Sting?  

That wasn’t me.  I doubt it really happened. Total urban legend.

Sacha and I went to Europe a few times during our relationship.  On one trip, I think it was Amsterdam-Paris-Monte Carlo but my memory gets our trip legs confused, but one of us popped off with a Macy Gray non-sequitur that had us both Holy-Shit-Best One Ever-ing.

Except

It was her.

That morphed into us seeing posters for her shows in every town we visited, vis-a-vis, Macy Gray stalked us through Europe.

Ok, jumping around in time, now…

For no reason, D-Slice invited me to go see Elvira, Mistress of the Dark one year after we had both moved into the same adult dorm.  The invite was for no apparent reason, that is.  The reason to go see Elvira is obvious: she’s awesome with a side of awesome.

She was screening her campy self-titled movie, which has the added bonus of containing one of my favorite movie lines ever.

Let me set the scene:

She’s helping her all-American boyfriend (she has an all-American BF, there’s hope for me yet) set the marquee at his movie house.  She’s up on a ladder and reaches down to get a letter from him, hitting her head on the marquee as she stands back up and falling off the ladder.

Classic Slip, Trip, Fall scenario, right there.

Anyway, she falls in dramatic, B-movie slow motion before being heroically caught in the arms of her boyfriend…

BF:  (concerned) How’s your head?

Elvira:  (discombobulated) I haven’t had any complaints.

<and…scene>

I’ve got this blog-entry placeholder just called Thomas.  It’s about a guy I worked with at Linens ‘N Things in Houston.  Maybe I’ll put some legs on that before my Staycation ends.  Who knows?

Anyhoo…also during my time in Houston being a busy worker bee for LNT, I was lucky enough to run – not literally, for once – into Mary Lou Retton while she shopped.  Good lord.  Have you ever heard the idiom/career advice about finding a career that matches your personality?  Yeah, MLR did that, for sure.  What a dynamic personality that lil dynamo had.

Plus, she makes Sally Field look like a giantess.

Speaking of giants – and monsters – Barbara Bush, Sr shopped at that same store.  The first time she was in, while everyone else hid behind drapery displays peeking out at her as she <gasp!> shopped just like a Normie, I got to reluctantly assist her with a tablecloth.

Me:  What size cloth do you need?

BB:  90”.

Me:  Ok, here you go, sweet cheeks.  (That last part is just editorial)

BB:  No, that’s not big enough!  I want it hang to the ground!

Don’t we all, sister?  But that’s not really practical now, is it?

Me:  Ok, well that’s gonna be a custom size, you know.  This cloth will only have about a 12” drop, depending on the actual diameter of the table.  

BB:  (getting agitated) I told you…it’s a 90” table!

Jesus.  She has a literal 90” dining table.

Me:  Oh, well…like I said, that’s gonna be a custom job.  Normal people don’t have tables that big.

Let alone, somewhere to put them.  I’d bet the dining rooms in most homes aren’t even 8’ across.  I’d also bet most wallets wouldn’t afford a 120” diameter tablecloth, nor the table it would go on, let alone the house that has a big enough room for it.

But that didn’t stop this Houston Home Girl from being butt hurt and side-eying me like I didn’t know what she was talking about as she walked off.

At least I didn’t knock her over.

Accidentally.

The next time she came in, I was busy doing busy manager stuff and didn’t see her until she was checking out,  I walked by the register just as my associate was gushing, “Mrs Bush, I just want you to know that my husband and I would take a bullet for you!”

Barf.

Like a bullet would dare even try to mess with Babs.

She saw me walking by as she ripped the check from her book and gave me an impressively withering look.  She’d been working on her side-eye game in her retirement,

That same associate later bought the Former First Lady’s check as a memento.

What the actual fuck is it about celebrities?

I think I prefer Jackie Jackass’ game much more than real life celebrity experiences.  Luckily, Portland provides plenty of opportunities to play Celebrity Sighting.

Even if I’m only playing with myself these days.  You’re welcome, Diezel.

There’s this David Ogden Stiers lookalike that rides his Segway through the Pearl.

The Fox and I see him during our morning coffee excursions and occasionally later in the day while we hang out at Thelonius Wines.  He’s a character, I can tell by the way he corners on that Segway like he just doesn’t give a fuck.

“What are you gonna do, Mail-Truck-I-Just-Cut-Off, hit me?”  If he had a free hand, I’m sure it would be sporting a one-fingered salute.

It’s a nice surprise to see my David Ogden Stiers Celebrity Sighting while we sip wine. The proprietress and The Fox like talking all things Game of Thrones during her downtime.  The Silver Fox is just happy to talk to someone that likes the show and understands what the hell he’s talking about.  He also loves that she casually let slip that she used to go to Bonetown with one of the stars.  

While that led an extra layer of amusement to this screenshot that I’d sent to The Fox

I’m still just not a fan of the show, and without my wreckless segway commuting David Ogden Stiers doppelgänger, I’m stuck with only a skateboarding Captain Jack Sparrow to entertain myself with during their conversations.

Now, that’s quite a Celebrity Sighting in itself, but if I spend too long thinking about him, I can easily talk myself into believing the person behind the celebrity caricature could easily have some of the less amusing pirate traits…

So, I don’t.

Ok, I’ve gotta go.  There’s a t-shirt I need to put up for sale on eBay…

Celebrity Sighting