Stüpid Uhmericnz

I can beat this drum all day. Not because it’s fun – although, often it can be funny to witless witness – rather, because it’s quasi therapeutic to not let these moments pass unrecognized.

Also, I like that people are coming around to my way of thinking. It’s about damn time. One is, after all, either a part of the solution or else part of the problem.

I’ve been kvetching about how cities protect themselves from skateboarder liability suits for over a decade. You know those little metal pucks that cities put on the corners of railing/benches/dividers to keep sk8ers from doing tricks on them?

Yeah, those gotta go.

If for no other reason than cities haven’t managed police reform to protect their BIPOC citizenry from police brutality – and they are willing to suffer those wrongful death or excessive force suits without taking action to correct the problem. I say “Why? Why, then shall we protect the city from lawsuits from injured skateboarders?”

Let’s face it, skate culture is – in my observation – largely a white guy thing. And they choose – free will and all that crap – to perform tricks on these public constructs, using them in a manner that is not intended. Without helmets, I might add.

For that matter, I haven’t seen one person get ticketed on those e-scooters for violating the terms of use and riding helmetless, either. But the City hasn’t outlawed e-scooters.

But, no…these little metal pucks are somewhere on virtually every block downtown. Not in neighborhoods, mind you. Liability there rests with homeowners. On public property, though, the City is potentially liable for injuries on its property, so it protects itself from frivolous lawsuits from parents of brain damaged teens or spouses of the paralyzed father of their children (proving that we really need qualifiers for parenthood beyond the almost involuntary ability to attain an erection) by installing these pucks to help prevent injury.

No, what we need here is a justice system that is a little more bitchy.

Hold on a second…you raised a child without enough common sense to wear the recommended safety equipment and bought them the skateboard and let them out of the yard unsupervised and they hurt themselves on City property. Now they are a vegetable and We The People are expected to shoulder the blame?

Yes.

Ok, bitch. First of all, the correct answer is “No”. “Hell no, even”. Secondly, the key phrase there is “they hurt themselves. Periodt. We The People had nothing to do with it, this is totally a “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction” moment.

And, lastly, We The People think that we owe it to ourselves to ask if you need a date to the Darwin Awards, because we have a feeling you’ll be invited…and we’d really like to go!

Seriously, there really should be a public ceremony – if those are ever allowed again – actually awarding the families of people who improved humanity by removing themselves from the gene pool.

Maybe then we’d stop seeing unqualified humans released into the world unsupervised. Just a couple generations ago, we’d lock our less fortunate family members away in an attic to protect them from themselves and the family from the fallout of any potentially untoward behaviors.

Now, we lack the commitment to our families and our neighbors and buy them skateboards or smartphones, which allow them no end of potential trouble. And then we sue a third party if when shit goes sideways.

Also, now…we have these skateboarder-type people who cheated death and survived what likely should have been last words – think “Hey, watch this!” – and grown up.

And <shudder> procreated. Because wearing condoms was as much a violation of their rights as wearing masks during a pandemic is.

And, worst of all, 70 million of them have now been duped into thinking they were qualified to make an informed opinion about who should lead our country.

Why am I surprised? How long have we been putting the Surgeon General warning on cigarettes…40…50 years? Yet I still see people in their 30s and 20s smoking.

Like I said, I’ve been a proponent of letting Darwin sort it out for quite sometime. Alas…

But that affords me the opportunity to observe and report on the stupid things we do as a culture to help – or exploit – those poor, stupid, Stupid Americans.

Luckily, what I see is usually more entertaining than watching anti-maskers during a global pandemic or white supremacists vote.

Don’t believe me?

Maybe that’s for the best, since now that I’ve made the sad supporting case, the things I’ve ruefully chuckled about when I’ve witnessed them over the past weeks are <poof> gone. I knew I should have taken pictures.

The vagaries of aging…

Things like the sign I saw on the side of a cart in the local Kroger outlet, Fred Meyer. It was on a piece of merchandise handling equipment for an employee gathering online orders:

Free In-Store Pickup!

Um, isn’t that always the free option?

Mentally bending over backward, I know what they were attempting to say. F for execution, though. I get it, you’re trying to differentiate your online shopping/in-store pickup service from say…restaurants, right? When you’re too lazy to cook and order takeout or – for those of you old enough to remember – go to a restaurant to eat, you pay a premium to have the work done for you.

An example of this from my personal history:

I love pasta. It’s a genetic trait passed from mother to child, as far as I can see. Hehe.

But sometimes I just don’t want to expose myself to my own lack of discipline by preparing a full batch of pasta – which I always do, because who wants half a package of pasta in their cabinet and a half jar of sauce in their fridge? And what if you improperly dose out the sauce and don’t have enough left for the second batch?

Ergo, I cook it all up. Because pasta is one of those few foods that I will eat as leftovers. But then…I eat the whole pound of pasta in one sitting.

So to me, it’s sometimes worth paying the markup for a single serving.

To my ex (Rib), though – a chef – it was a non-starter.

I’m not paying $15 for something I could make at home for $.25!

I feel the same about eggs, so I get it. Although, when someone else is buying, I shut up and eat eggs! He stuck to his guns, though. I think I successfully ate pasta in a restaurant once while we were together. Hehe.

So what Freddy’s is saying is that they will shop for your groceries for you and not charge you extra like that chef that boils water for you does. But as far as marketing goes, I wanted to stop and argue with the cashier that made me pay for my groceries.

But, but…it says “free in-store pickup and here I am! Why are you making me pay?!?

Buncha meanies.

Although, since I was picking up cat food and a plant, arguing that I had “groceries” might have been tough.

The plant was “free”, because I’ve long wanted a fig but didn’t want to spend money on one, thinking Myrtle would just eat ruin it anyway. This fig – working name Figly – represents 300 recycled cans and bottles, of the Coke Zero (take that, V!) and craft beer variety, save the occasional fizzy water bottle. Thus, it was “free”. Since all of my Myrtle-free Zones are either too small, too dark for plants or already occupied by other plants like Cornelius, my corn plant, I had to improvise to protect Figly.

I’ll figure out something better. First, I need to get dear Figly a permanent pot, then I’ll rearrange furniture to create a better Myrtle-free Zone. Right now, I’m busy not spending money on a pot for my new plant that I “picked up in-store for free”.

In other stupid news, there have been a few public works projects around my home specifically tailored toward protecting our dummies.

First, with our new trend toward outside dining to protect against COVID spread while also supporting the restaurant industry and also definitely not curbing our right to not prepare our own food…I’ve noticed some issues.

Mostly, I love the City responding to the public need by allowing restaurants to use two to three parking spaces adjacent to their doors as outdoor dining areas. A few non-essential side streets have been turned into on street dining plazas and beer gardens. This has allowed restaurants and bars to add not just seating, but in order to create a dining “experience”, some restaurants have added foliage to their street dining rooms. Now that the weather has turned from False Fall to Actual Fall, sided tents and heaters are being added to the mix – just in time for Lockdown 2.0!

Hey, it even helps the air…plants take CO2 out of the air and release oxygen. That’s a bonus, even though I couldn’t say with any scientific certainty that COVID particles ever get absorbed into the plantings with the CO2. It’s pretty, and that’s enough for me.

But then I see this bar next to my house setting up their outdoor area. They’ve built picnic tables and benches, built planters and then stained them so patrons have a nice area to enjoy their fare.

Then they posted this sign to help people not get stains on their clothing.

On a GD tree. Gourd help us all. I doubt Bob Ross was actually responsible for this apparently recently-painted tree.

Mind you, they built all this on a day they were closed, so they wouldn’t have been ruining customers’ clothes. Just lazy bastard passers’ by clothes who copped an entitled squat on the bar’s work in progress arts and craft project.

More global city-wide cures for stupid that I’ve seen recently involve solutions for one-way streets.

Personally, I think these signs should be replaced with something like…

If you haven’t seen the original Total Recall, the head explodes right after this warning. I think drivers going the wrong way down a one-way street should be prepared for something equally damaging.

But, not Portland. No…

In our bicycle-friendly little burg, where cyclists are expected to follow the rules of the road, we’re creating bike lanes on both sides of one-way streets.

Why?

Well, so we have a bike lane for travel in each direction…on a one-way street.

For the cyclists that are supposed to follow the rules of the road.

Sidenote: the song Warning Signs just came on my Of Monsters and Men Pandora station. My Pandora app isn’t even open while I’m working on this?!?

I’m not sure it’s perfectly clear here in the 4:30 PM darkness, but this is a two lane one-way street. See? No yellow line down the center. It used to be a three lane, but in order to protect retired skateboarders cyclists from their own inability to follow rules, the City removed a lane and added a second bike lane for against flow riding. The left-hand bike lane is inexplicably bordered by yellow stanchions instead of white, as on the right-hand with traffic flow bike lane.

Please. How is this possibly expected to work? We’re trying to protect a public who refuses to put forward an accountability for their own well-being.

Note of interest: yes, I was standing in the door of Portland’s oldest strip club – Mary’s Spot – as I took this pic.

Not to be outdone by cyclists, I saw a traffic accident the other day. I was getting on the freeway and a Trump Truck pick up truck exited the freeway on the on ramp I was attempting to use, experiencing a solo spin out and coming to rest pointed the wrong way against an overpass pillar and canted out into traffic so it blocked one lane and almost all of the second lane.

Good citizen that I am, I squeezed by and continued on my way, leaving the situation in Darwin’s capable hands. I also wanted to confirm my recollection that the next ramp on this freeway was actually to – or from in the case of this particular idiot – another freeway. Either this joker successfully drove the wrong way on not one, but two freeways before unsuccessfully exiting on the on ramp I was trying to use or he (I just chose the dumbest gender, I didn’t see that the driver was actually male) drove for multiple exits on the one freeway going the wrong direction.

These are our people…

I do not like them.

Not one bit.

But I like even less waiting for them to show me that their heads are full of shit.

What do you think, do I have a future as a Dr Seuss For Dummies author?

Why can’t families go back to locking away their embarrassing shortcomings, both genetic and/or rearing failures? I figure it’s a toss up, should what I ask for come to pass. With 70 million voting age Americans voting against rationale, science, basic rights and common sense, I know it’s almost as likely that I’d be the one living in my family attic.

At least there’s more than just books to keep me company. I would have the interwebs and social <shudder> media. Words With Friends and I could even take up video gaming!

Hell, maybe that should be what my long game is. My sister has a much nicer home than mine…maybe I should give into it!

Stüpid Uhmericnz

Eff Em El

I should probably type out the title to this post in all caps, but I don’t want to frighten you.

Which is also why I waited two whole – and surprisingly not run-on (oops) – sentences before dropping this lil chestnut on your eyeballs.

If I had any real friends, they’d shoot me.

Today? It would be a mercy killing. Not sure that’ll save anyone from the gas chamber, but maybe? If you pick the right lawyer…

And this day started out so promising, too.

I got my mail in ballot yesterday. Filled it out while I was waiting for my hair to dry today before heading to lunch with the ‘rents.

But, really…that’s the end of the upside. The rest of my day has been all uphill.

It’s so bad, I finally took the 50-something year old recommended poop test that my doctor has been nagging me about for the last three-ish years. I figured, “Why not? Today can’t get any worse…”

As if psyching out fate is a damn thing.

After dropping that off at the lab, I thought that since psyching out fate really isn’t a thing…maybe picking up that heads up penny I saw on the street wasn’t such a bad idea. And, yeah, back on that “if I had any real friends” thing? I totally maintained eye contact with the Street Rockefellers that were camping 3 feet away on the sidewalk so that they’d know that I was picking up money they were apparently too good for. Maybe they’d get mad that I was stealing their money and stab me.

So how does a day with such promise go careening off the rails?

Hard to say, really. Other than maybe the number of times that I’ve rhetorically asked “What could possibly go wrong?” have all hit the ear balls of The Universe at once – because, let’s face it, I really don’t know how any of that shit really works.

Maybe rhetorical questions go in the same category as “Letters to Santa” or “Prayers”…or maybe someone is actually listening and my rhetorical questions all arrived at their destination simultaneously, producing today as a single response to the cumulative inquiry.

  • My laptop seems to have crapped out. This morning, I woke to and email from the Genius Bar with a couple things that could rectify my issues. Of course, that didn’t work. I bought this refurbished Mac as a cheap and easy (on the wallet) replacement for my last laptop about two years ago. I was a little frustrated when it arrived to learn that it was only one model year removed from the Mac that I was replacing, so if I got two years out of it…that nets out to it lasted a year longer than it’s predecessor. See?!? How “bright side” was that statement?!? But, nooooo, my name is Grumpy, Old Xtopher and I am living in Fate’s crosshairs these days!
  • After lunch with mom and dad, I went out for a quick drive session, since I wanted to pull a double shift today. My usual shift is however long it takes to hit 10 rides. Somewhere between 3-4 hours. On double-days, I try to get a few rides in before rush hour and then hit the balance of my 20 in the evening. Keeps my ass from going numb.That’s right…on my second ride, my tire pressure warning goes off. I check the monitor and, sure enough, three tires are showing as 36-42 psi and my rear passenger side is showing 14…13…12.5…9…FML. I drop off my passenger at OHSU and then pull over to inflate so I can drive to Les Schwab for a patch. At least I was/am hoping it’s patch-able. The fact that I had to stop and re-inflate on the way to the tire shop didn’t seem too promising. I mean, the tire shop was maybe three miles from OHSU…I should know any time now whether it’s fixable or I’m fucked. I shouldn’t be too surprised that this is the second time I’ve been back for a repair since getting these new wheels back in…April? May? A blog buddy warned me that she’d had nothing but trouble from her Continentals. Still, I’m trying to find my Attitude of Gratitude by acknowledging that the Contis are doing far better with only two trips to the shop in 6 months, compared to Pat the Patriot’s six trips in 5 months.
  • I figured since I had 90 minutes to kill before I heard about Angela’s tire, I’d walk a few errands. First, dropping off my poo test. Second, third, I’ll swing by the post office and pick up a registered letter (don’t worry, it’s a gift card not a summons) and fourth…I’ll swing by the bank and switch a few nickels from one account to another in case I have to buy a new tire. Probably not the energy to be putting out there – practical as it sounded at the time. On my way from the ballot dropbox to the bank, I passed a spice shop and remembered last night’s craving for a seasoning for my popcorn. In I go! Unable to decide between cheddar and straight up popcorn salt, I pick up both. I head to the counter and…no wallet. Come on! I think I remember leaving it in Angela’s driver’s side glove box while gassing up. If that’s a fake memory, then I’ve lost my friggin’ wallet. Again. Upside: I need a new wallet. Downside: no popcorn seasonings. The guy was really nice about it, too. He offered to let me take the seasonings and bring cash back. Chuckling gratefully at the offer, I declined, thinking I’d probably get hit by an armored car on my way home if I took him up on the kind offer.
  • The most ironic thing about today? While I was at lunch, dad sneaks in one of those “I didn’t want to alarm your <insert parenting partner here>” type questions to make sure I’m doing ok.
  • At the time, I laughed it off, low-key complaining about my laptop. But I asked what had prompted the conspiratorial concern and he pointed back to an Instagram post from last week or so. The post in question was something like this:
  • But I had just shared it to my story from somewhere else on the ‘gram, so now it’s gone. But how lucky am I to have a dad that asks?!?
  • Even luckier to be able to answer, “Nah, just seemed like a good thought to share. With you and mom on my side, I never have to ask for help”! So, that felt good.
  • Everything else?
  • Annoying.
  • Now, I guess I best hoof it up to the post office – did I mention that the registered letter is at a post office branch 20 blocks away instead of the branch that is literally two blocks from my house? – then stop by Les Schwab and at least pick up (I hope) my wallet since it’s been 90 minutes and still no word. Might end up taking the weekend off…
  • Eff Em El

    Tappa-Kegga-Day

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

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

    Today is a day of rest.

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

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

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

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

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

    Nope. Cannot do.

    (I’m sorry, Phil, I’m working on it!)

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

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

    Or, not-problem.

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

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

    Birthday weekend shenanigans…

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

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

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

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

    Jerk.

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

    Resolutions for the new year?

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

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

    2) Not cut my hair.

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

    Why not?

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Well, I guess we’re going to BL!

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

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

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

    But not inside.

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

    Are you surprised?!?

    I’m debating how to answer:

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

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

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

    Decisions, decisions.

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

    Surprise!

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

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

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

    Nah…that would be weird.

    Not unwelcome…just weird.

    What I should have said is:

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

    Or,

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

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

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

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

    You got any Pallet Jack on order?”

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

    Sneaky.

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

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

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

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

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

    But here ya go…

    Birthday Boy with his birthday beer!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Hats off, sis!

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

    Tastes a little apricot-y.

    My favorite moment of the night!

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

    They were surprised by my statement.

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

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

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

    This is why we’re friends.

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

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

    Sometimes she sees me and joins me.

    Other times I’m not there.

    Still others, she doesn’t see me.

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

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

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

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

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

    There’s worse ways to wake up.

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

    Birthday breakfast.

    Birthday lunch.

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

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

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

    Yesterday was one of those days.

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

    Touching.

    Even Portland’s former mayor dropped me a note.

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

    I remembered!

    It started out about like this blog…

    Then got sweet…

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Thanks for reading, every one of you!

    Tappa-Kegga-Day

    Visiting the Cousins

    I just called myself out on procrastinating my own writing.

    On someone else’s blog in the comments. PS: if you want a female perspective on dating, I dare say Doctor Maria might just be your gurl.How male doctors that look like ballsacks have a wife, a younger girlfriend and/or a trophy wife and this woman struggles is frustratingly representative of our culture’s myriad-standard. She’s a good contrast to my blog, proving that if I had a great job versus none, I’d still face an uphill dating battle.

    Still procrastinating…so, before I apply for a job as a bus driver and then get fired for changing the destination display to STRUGGLE, let me set today’s entry up for you:

    I started thinking about my cousins as topics last year, but never pulled the trigger. These were the second cousins I knew as a child. I just couldn’t get past where writing about the difference between our two branches of the family tree felt more like I was sitting on their branch with a saw.

    So I shelved it.

    Then, my first cousins joined the locals for our annual family vacation.

    I noticed the difference between my memories of the seconds compared to the present day experiences with the firsts.

    Maybe that was my blog.

    But it seemed like it had the potential to be a 5k word blog…any of you signed up for that?!? Yeah, I feel like I’m abusing attention spans at 2k.

    And that was before I noticed-slash-attributed the difference in behaviors of the family elder…

    So, maybe this is two blog entries, maybe it’s three. Hell, maybe I thought about it long enough to wear myself out on the topic and describing the struggle is all I have left?

    Until I stop procrastinating and start writing…none of us will know.

    <deep breath>

    The Seconds

    My family is small.

    I didn’t know much about family or family trees growing up. There was me and my three siblings, mom & dad and three grandparents. For a minute, there was a great grandmother running around my childhood saving me from beehives and breaking hips falling off couches. Mostly, though, it was me, the sibs, the ‘rents and the surviving grands.

    That’s less than 10 in what I would call the entirety of my family as a kid.

    Mom’s parents were…divorced? There’s an extended family there, but in Montana, so very distant. I think I met her dad once when he visited Oregon. Of her numerous aunts and uncles, I think two have visited. But not understanding extended family, younger me never really associated these folks with long term memories. Mom was an only child, for whatever reason. With my loose knowledge of grandma’s life before she became “the one with the tall hair and the cool toy closet”, I filled in blanks as to why. Not that there were blanks…it was just my naive mind filling in gaps with fiction instead of asking potentially sad-making questions.

    I guess…

    Dad’s parents were divorced, but still living. His grandmother was my beehive hero, but died when I was maybe eight.

    Not from a bee sting, for the record.

    His dad is still alive, 97 years old next month! Of course, dad’s mother was “the me” of her generation. A single recluse with an infamous death.

    Foreshadowing, but someone else will have to write that entry for me, obviously. I’ll put it in my drafts under: Fool-ogy.

    I forgot about my uncle. Dad’s younger bro by about a dozen years. He was always like a distant brother growing up, we were close in age. As a matter of fact, I think there are as many years between he and I as there are between him and dad. Anyway, that fleshes our my extended family of ten. He’s also rather integral to The Firsts, no?

    But then, in the perimeter of my family consciousness, there was this not well known nor understood and mysterious aunt-figure we would visit a few times a year. My family lived in the suburbs of Portland when I was growing up, specifically Milwaukie and Oregon City – which made it sound less suburb-y than it was and still is. Just trust me. My cousins, on the other hand, lived in what seemed like Alaska. When we went to visit, it was an exercise in “Are we there yet?” for my impatient self.

    In reality, I think they lived 20 minutes away.

    But it was on a farm.

    A real, live farm.

    Without a paved road, I’m not even sure whether it was an unnamed road or a really long driveway. You got to there house and just stopped the car.

    There were cows.

    Chickens.

    A donkey.

    A baby in a manger…oh, wait. It was just my perpetually pregnant aunt.

    Fields.

    With real crops.

    And cowpies.

    I don’t remember them ever visiting us in the “city”.

    Visiting them was like traveling backward in time. I think there was a lot of focus on being self-sustaining. There was a lot of chores. Homeschool was the only school. I wouldn’t know if anyone but us ever visited…but if I had to guess, I’d say they were church folk.

    Not that I knew that my cousins attended church. I just remembered what their house was like. There were bibles. Pictures of Jesus, Mary and assorted saints hung on the walls.

    My cousins weren’t really allowed to watch TV, aside from The Lawrence Welk Show.

    You’d think that’s as cool as one could expect out in the milds of the pre-suburban-sprawl of the Oregon countryside. You’d be right, unless you factored the family’s Wurlitzer jukebox into the equation. And you’d still be right – having a jukebox is just cool – unless you took into account that the jukebox was essentially filled with more Lawrence Welk type music.

    I’m sure, in retrospect, that it wasn’t all Lawrence Welk and Tiny Bubbles all the time. I’m sure there were Andrews Sisters and Hank Williams, Sr and whatnot.

    There were for sure nothing I understood as music from the current century at that time: REO Speedwagon, Queen, AC/DC…y’know, the devil’s music.

    So, what did we do after the five-day covered wagon journey to get to my cousins’ house? Well, sure…sometimes we cranked up that jukebox and hoped it was almost time to leave.

    Other times, we did kid stuff while mom and my aunt – I think by this time I had figured out that my aunt was my grandma’s sister – did what they did. Whatever that was. My cousins were two girls roughly the same ages as my sister and me.

    Sometimes I would make mud pies on the “road” with my sister and cousins. Other times we’d all play together in the fields or exploring a nearby creek. Still others, I’d go with my younger brother – just the older of the two, the younger still being a few years off – and uncle to do farm work.

    What a lark that was!

    We learned how to gather eggs and milk cows. Both skills I’d use in a much more modern and sometimes bastardized manner later in life.

    Sometimes, we’d just hang our arms over a split rail fence watching my uncle work. Other times we would play in the hay loft.

    Around the time my third cousin – a boy – was born, my brother learned that he didn’t like geese. Well, he learned – in a memory that is burned into my memory – that geese didn’t particularly like him. And that he liked running, at least to escape pursuing water fowl.

    Picture a goose chasing a toddler boy up a dirt driveway…that is legitimately one of my favorite and most terrifying memories of both my childhood and a formative reminder of man’s place in the food chain.

    Back before Portland made it popular, my aunt tried to give us a chicken to take home. Every visit, we would come home with eggs or bread and sometimes meat. I think we brought home meat…people seemed to always be giving us slaughtered animals when I was young. I’m pretty sure my aunt and uncle gave us beef. Some hunter-type neighbors – that’s how Milwaukie and OC North we’re back then – gave us venison. Venison was something I didn’t fully understand, but we always seemed to have it in the freezer.

    Anyway, I’m not sure whether my aunt gave us this chicken for its eggs or for Sunday dinner. My dad didn’t strike me as the slaughter-a-chicken type guy, so I want to say eggs is the answer.

    It turned out that it didn’t matter. In my childlike curiosity, I could not grasp the concept of us taking a chicken to the “city”. It was in a box in the back of our family truckster. Being pre-humane, my mother had put down the back window so there was air circulation for the chicken. Probably also so the car didn’t smell like chicken shit when we left.

    My sister and older cousin both assured me that, yes…there was a chicken in a box in the back of our family station wagon.

    But I had to see it to believe it.

    You know what’s scary? A chicken flying into your face out of a box you’re crouched over.

    It also kind of hurts…all that flapping.

    Thank god it wasn’t more bees.

    Anyway, the third second cousin was eventually followed by a fourth, another boy. I think it was between the fourth and fifth seconds that my youngest brother joined our little family, making us six.

    Somewhere in between knocking my aunt up, my uncle bought some land way out in the sticks. Eventually, this ended up being “just down the road” from the largest and most she-she of shopping malls in Oregon. At the time, it was all expansive fields with a Nordstrom sticking out of it. He parked a mobile home on his part and started building a farm. It kind of seemed like a hobby. Like a farmer with five small kids had time for side projects.

    Over the years between the expansion of families and land and when my family moved away…to Kansas, of all the ironic places, I also started to realize something.

    Or suspect.

    At best, my aunt and uncle were producing stranger and stranger offspring. Giving the term second cousins an unfortunate double entendres. To the point where we had a legitimate rocker in the family now. And not in the AC/DC way as much as I’m the “maybe mom and dad are related” way. It’s a thought that evolved, but I never followed up on.

    More questions you don’t ask, right?

    But this rocking cousin was enough to make me wonder about my other younger cousins. The girls seemed normal enough, given the setting. But were the other boys’ behaviors just normal boys-growing-up stuff or were they…

    I mean, a lot of little boys are bullies because they don’t know how to express themselves. But what’s bully behavior when a couple brothers away sits a quiet child, rocking back and forth to music no one else hears? Then there’s that middle boy, the one with a bucket on his head. All of the time…I swear, I never heard it, but I just know at some point my aunt said, “We don’t wear buckets at the table, sweetheart”.

    Bless her little house on the prairie heart.

    After we moved, we didn’t really see or hear from that branch of the family until grandma died. Somewhere in there, my eldest cousin announced her engagement to a boy she’d met at school. I’m not sure what was more surprising: getting married at her young age or that she had gone to a school.

    What I knew was surprising was the following announcement that her younger sister was marrying her fiancé’s twin brother. Maybe the girls got weird by circumstance or maybe they were always weird and just passed.

    Nature or nurture, right?

    All I knew was that it was weird…siblings marrying siblings. And I think it was a double ceremony.

    When grandma died, they insisted on holding a wake. My aunt was her sister, after all, so it made some sense.

    So, out to the now-complete farm that we had never seen.

    It was a compound.

    On a hilltop.

    My Black Sheep Bro and his girlfriend drove out with Sasha and I. Or vice-versa. We parked near the pole barn and walked over to the main house. My brother and I not sure what to expect. Nor how to appropriately warn-slash-prepare our significant others of the time about what they should expect.

    I wouldn’t have been at all surprised to see a banjo playing hillbilly on the porch or my taxidermied grandmother standing in a corner…or both. Fortunately, it didn’t come to that.

    We were welcomed in at the front door and taken past a hallway of bedrooms – that included a built in and lit grotto to the Virgin Mary at the end – to the living room.

    Introductions were…a blur. I met a cousin’s husband and his twin, the other cousin’s now-ex-husband. There was a surly looking young man sitting – I shit you not – on an overturned bucket and sitting at the piano, but not playing it, another young man…quietly rocking back and forth.

    My Black Sheep Bro and I exchanged a glance that said it all…actually, it said, “There better be booze”. We all socialized a little awkwardly, but pleasantly. I’m sure all the pre-marital sex and co-habitation and <gasp> homosexuality that we brought out from the city had more than one of them fighting the impulse to run to the grotto, but despite our different lifestyles and near-stranger status in each others’ lives…you could feel a connection in the room that evening.

    There was pleasant chatting. Patient catching up on life events that were semi-alien to the listening participants on each side. But the bond of family provided a warmth in the room, that while awkward was still present.

    Plus, a zebra-striped grand piano sitting in the middle of the room is always a great ice breaker…

    Visiting the Cousins

    Breakfast of Champions

    One of my favorite things about holidays is the time I get to spend with my family. Particularly, my mom and dad since I stay at their house.

    What excites me most is being able to cook. It’s something I simply don’t do for myself, for a variety of bullshit reasons…I just don’t.

    Cooking for others is just such a core reward. Since I don’t have anyone at home to cook for, outside of the maybe three or four times a year I host a dinner party, these escapes to the country are an indulgence for me.

    Plus, I’m pretty sure they enjoy it, too.

    Usually, it’s just a dinner or two since I’m generally only there a couple of days.

    This past Christmas, though, I was there for five nights!

    Bring Myrtle out, it’ll be great!

    …they said.

    Mostly, this was just my sister campaigning to get mom and dad’s cute little chihuahua family used to having a cat around before they move theirs in for a couple of months. Their home of 25 years just sold – it closes in a couple of days – and the retirement home they are building in Central Oregon won’t be complete for a couple of months…so they are packing it over to mom and dad’s for the next couple months.

    PS: they were wrong, btw. Myrtle was totally traumatized the entire time and I was a neurotic mess…but the dogs were fine!

    I think I put on 10 lbs in those five days.

    My absolute favorite part of the trip was cooking breakfast Christmas morning. Normally, the three of us will make do with coffee – or Monster! – and snacky bites until lunch time. Occasionally, we’ll go out for a breakfast, just the three of us.

    But Christmas morning, the whole fam damily was coming over. It’s not that big of a deal: mom & dad, me, my youngest brother, and my sister, her husband and their son.

    I take it back…that’s a big deal.

    We were only planning breakfast and dinner for Christmas, and mom wanted dinner to be easy.

    Not sure if I’ll get into that, since this is about breakfast, suffice it to say that I got a little Xtopher on dinner.

    But breakfast was something I ended up being quite proud of:

    Frittatas!

    I’m a huge dope, plus I was a tad neurotic about being responsible for feeding the whole family, so I forgot to take a pic of my frittata efforts…they were quite beautiful. Please accept the above ripped from Google substitute.

    Mine were so much better looking after five minutes under the broiler. They were such simple concoctions, too:

    9 eggs

    1 cup of broccoli florets

    6 oz of cubed ham

    1/2 a large onion

    6 oz of cubed cheddar

    Easy-friggin’-peasy!

    It’s basically breakfast pizza.

    But still, I fretted over my frittatas. Over simple stuff and stuff you should stress about, like flipping the damn thing into a plate. Mom was a super duper help, because that turned into a four-hand task.

    That was only the second funniest part, too. In my distracted state, I grabbed the frying pan handle about three minutes after taking it out of the broiler. I’ve got a decisive grip, too, so I got some air between the pan and stovetop before the burn registered.

    No worries, though:

    Are you still picturing four hands grabbing a skillet and simultaneously trying to secure an inverted serving plate to it while flipping the whole thing top to bottom?

    I assure you…pure grace.

    Dad helped me flip the second one. We were also successful, although mom is way more intuitive in the kitchen and I wasn’t super articulate that morning. Poor dad. What a game guy, though!

    I mention all this simply because I was struck by the disparity between the enthusiasm I felt making breakfast for my family Christmas Day versus the mess of a breakfast I made for myself this morning…

    The shapes are kind of the same…but, yeah. I made myself a frozen pizza for breakfast today.

    Actual breakfast pizza.

    On the plus side, the third burn I gave myself on Christmas Day – on a friggin‘ crock pot! – is finally healing.

    I used my knuckle to push the crock pot of lil smokies back on the counter. Who knew the outside of that thing was set to “Chernobyl”? I swear, I was in contact with it for maybe two seconds.

    Blister.

    Scab.

    Scar.

    Ugh.

    Hopefully, it heals before my solo self-care cooking makes my heart explode. I’d hate for this blister to give my knuckle a jump start on my cremation…

    Breakfast of Champions

    The Red Shirt Diaries #22

    Vacation Edition.

    Step aside, Myrtle. You’re not the only allegedly domesticated animal that wants to kill me. My brother’s dog, Buster, has a different animal psychosis that may prove equally lethal to my feline frenemy’s efforts at home.

    Alliteratively – definitely not affectionately – called Bastard by yours truly, he’s had nothing but vicious growls and barks for me since the second time we’ve met. How long do you think that takes to become tedious?

    Yeah. Not long.

    He’s vicious sounding, but I’ve never really thought he would intentionally hurt me. My uncle may think otherwise after having his fingers nipped by Bastard the first time they met. I think it was an accident. The damn dog seems pretty hapless in his predatory skills.

    But you know the saying, sometimes even a blind dog finds a bone.

    Still, I do try to maintain a sense of optimism. Well, about people anyway. And since Bastard is my brother’s dog…I give it a shot.

    Our vacation house is a six bedroom affair, two masters down stairs and four bedrooms upstairs that share two Jack and Jill style bathrooms. My uncle and his family are sharing one set of bedrooms and my brother and I are sharing the other with my sister and brother in law.

    And that’s how I died in my mind this morning.

    Because my siblings insist on traveling with their dogs, they lock them in the bedrooms when they are gone so they don’t bug the rest of us. They leave the water bowl in the bathroom between, which I think is wise given the inherent doofiness of dogs.

    However, that works against me when everyone else leaves before I shower for the day. I went into the bathroom to get ready for the day, cheerfully greeting Bastard when he saw me – AKA: growled at me – through my sister’s bedroom door. I also noted that the sister-unit had left two of the drawers on the vanity open while getting herself ready this morning, but really thought nothing of it…it’s just my programming from my days as an Ops Manager in a department store, those Cosmetics Girls were always reporting broken drawers and related leg injuries after running into open drawers full speed.

    Until

    I poked my head into my sister’s room to say hi to her dog, Rex.

    Bastard went crazy and started barking at me until I pulled my head back into the bathroom. Admonishing the insanine – insane + canine = insanine…Chrisism – to knock it off, I realized just in time that I was about to trip backward over the open drawers.

    Near miss.

    Fortunately, a side effect of living with Myrtle is cat-like reflexes. My life has literally depended upon them.

    That could’ve been a blow to the temple or impact trauma that would not have ended well for this Red Shirt. Keeping what was left of my cool, I closed my sister’s bedroom door and the vanity drawers and took my shower, thinking about how mad Myrtle would have been if I let another animal kill me.

    Better luck next time, Bastard.

    The Red Shirt Diaries #22

    I Should Be…

    Sleeping:

    It is 2 AM, after all. But I went upstairs after dinner to charge my phone and woke up at about 1 AM. After tossing and turning for a while, I came downstairs to do something productive.

    So fat – er, far – I’ve had a bowl of Kettle Chips and a Coke Zero.

    Job Hunting?:

    My sister asked me a few months back if I’d ever considered expanding my job search to Bend, Oregon versus just waiting for a position in Portland that I want.

    Yeah, but now that your kid is getting ready to move there for college, I gotta wait a couple years so it isn’t weird.

    I never claimed to be a reasonable person, a non-claim I fully embrace since the State of Oregon rejected my unemployment claim on the grounds that a reasonable person would not quit a job simply because a company failed to enforce its policies from its own employee handbook. Given that measurement, I’d rather be unemployed and unreasonable.

    The thing is, now that I’m with the whole fam-damily in nearby Sunriver, all I wanna do is not leave.

    Ergo, I should at least see what jobs are available here.

    Reading:

    I’m about two decades behind – ok…only a month -on my WordPress Reader content. I should be better about that…if only because there’s no easy way to go back a month to the last entry I read.

    Scroll, scroll, scrolling I a-go!

    Writing:

    Yes, I know that I am writing…as a procrastination tool. I’ve got several V.O.D.s that I could be working on cleaning up – particularly one about visiting my cousins when I was young that’s been on my mind this week as I reunite with my family. The entry is about my second cousins, but having my first cousins around this week has pulled me back to it…

    There’s also several new blog ideas that I’ve got in draft mode – V.O.D. stands for Very Old Draft, incidentally – that I’m putting off: a lil something about how I’m trading my time for money these days, a piece on Crazy Rich Asians that is morphing into a diversity piece as it sits being neglected and a Dating Into Oblivion update/catch up piece.

    Instead, I turned on the fire, read a bit, snacked a bit and jerked this place-holder piece off into the blogosphere…I’m on vacation, after all.

    Now, since I opted for caffeine over alcohol with my chips and ergo – won’t be sleeping anytime soon…back to reading!

    PS: “ergo” usage count in this blog entry – 2. No, 3!

    #lazywriting

    I Should Be…

    Spice Force

    Well, Portland shut down its OccupyICE camp last week.

    It was time. Actually, it was over-time. I’d been watching from the sidelines, as is my style, for the last couple of months while Little Beirut did what it does.

    Protest.

    In many ways, we did good things that made me nod in appreciation. Then there was the OccupyICE movement which started out fine, taking our protests from the streets and parks to the front door of those we protested.

    In past years, this has led to marches that shut down freeways and damaged property. That was avoided this time, but I was still disappointed in the evolution of this protest. When I would watch video, the protesters were not behaving in a way that made me proud to be associated with their message. While their actions were not violent or destructive, their words still were.

    Shocking no one, words are important to me. Maybe we’ve learned as protesters that actions speak louder than words, but I think our next evolution needs to ensure that our words are matching our non-violent and non-destructive actions.

    This was not the case with the OccupyICE protest at the ICE facility in southwest Portland for the last several weeks. Just like the Occupy Wall Street movement from years ago, what started out as a hive of like minded social activists morphed into a homeless camp.

    Ironically, the Garden Party I attended over the weekend had two radio hosts at it whose offices were right in the thick of the OccupyICE imbroglio. They echoed my relief that the camp had been shut down. However, while I was relieved that it was shut down and would no longer be a threat to our collective credibility, they were relieved that it was no longer a threat to their personal safety.

    We come by our Little Beirut nickname pretty honestly here in Portland…unfortunately.

    Meanwhile, though, elsewhere in the city we were staging protests in a much more constructive fashion.

    The Silver Fox and I had occasion to mix with folks in our collective front yard last month as they held a rally in the park to protest the separation of immigrant families.

    It was extremely peaceful.

    It was organized.

    It was huge.

    The rally was set to take place in front of the former US Customs House on the park block just diagonally across the street from The Fox’s and my homes. It ended up spilling over and filling half of the park block in front of our houses as well as on the other side.

    It was a simple enough affair with a good mix of the usual local politicians and activists speaking as well as former military people and just parents spreading their heartfelt message of resistance. There were roving petitioners circulating to garner support for whatever ballot measures they were advocating for and even someone there with resources to help get voters registered…just in case.

    But in addition to the words spoken, what was left behind has peacefully influenced passers by in the park blocks for weeks after the rally.

    Sidewalk Protests.

    The sidewalks around the park blocks as well as the brick paths through the park blocks themselves are covered in chalk. Literally hundreds of messages scribbled out to remind us every day that our government has committed these horrifying acts against immigrant families.

    Committed.

    Not supported or ignored, committed.

    And that’s not ok.

    But what’s even heartened my heart more than Portland getting its protest act together has been the activity of a certain business – and namesake inspiration for this post – in recent months.

    Penzey’s Spices.

    If you talk to business leaders about mixing politics or religion with their businesses, I’m sure you’d get a high 90% of them saying that it’s a bad idea. Indeed, when it comes to politics, most businesses usually play both sides of the fence by donating within the mandated maximums equally to political campaigns.

    Then Citizens United happened.

    That decision resulted in limitless spending by corporations to advance their agendas and support their interests. Obviously, this benefits Oil and Pharma more than retail business interests. Corporate spending follows those same divisions with retailers having little to no interest in changing their political spending, for the most part.

    However, Penzey’s has done better than just doing what they’ve always done. They went out on a branch and literally risked putting their money where their mouth is. In recent months, their email marketing – written by Bill Penzey himself – has flat out declared its opposition to the actions of our government. Specifically calling out the Republican – Ratpublican – Party for its continued endorsement of Trump’s actions, whether it’s open approval or tacit through lack of condemnation.

    Their stance is simple. They are a spice company and spices are used in the most basic demonstration of familial bonding – meal prep. Therefore, it follows that keeping families together would be a natural interest for them to endorse.

    Boy, howdy…have they ever!

    The picture above is a giveaway they did back in April. It was a shareable promotion for their email followers. Sallory – who lives way out of town- asked The Fox to pick hers up. He then signed up for their email list and invited me to go with him. Of course, if I’m walking four blocks, I want the free gift, too!

    I’ve shopped at Penzey’s off and on for the last decade or so since they opened their Seattle store. I was living with a culinary student and working at Sur la Table, of course I’m going to a spice store! When I moved back to Portland, I just happened to end up living practically around the corner from their store. When I need something for my turn cooking for Monday Night Supper Club, I hustle over to Penzey’s. When it’s not my turn for MNSC, I usually go over to buy something to sprinkle on my popcorn…I cook for other people, not myself.

    But I’d never signed up for their email list.

    Boy, was I missing out!

    Not only do they have great promotions, the free giveaway actually had laminated recipe cards in it with ideas for using the free spices, but the emails themselves are inspirational.

    Bill’s words have actually motivated me to nurture my own spirit through cooking…just for me. As a person who famously hates leftovers, that’s really something. I have always enjoyed comfort food leftovers. Lately I’ve been reminded that all food can be a comfort.

    In today’s US of Hey, How The Hell Did This Happen we can use all the comfort we can get.

    And for Penzey’s their stance is paying off. Their words encourage resistance with a reminder of what values are core and important…people are important. We are urged to take care of people versus interests through their occasional emails. I can only imagine that their subscription list has swollen considerably in the first quarters of this year. They ran out of the April giveaway within hours of opening and their online fulfillment wasn’t far behind in being depleted.

    Instead of pulling out the whole “while supplies last” chestnut, they fulfilled every last online order and store raincheck they had. The same thing happened earlier this month, even though they had significantly increased their on hands for their next promotion. I think they even put a minimal purchase requirement on the second promotion…like $5.

    After both events you didn’t hear from them for several weeks while they caught up with orders. Sure, that’s what it’s all about, right? They’re a business. Marketing – especially with a giveaway – costs money.

    But I can’t tell you how happy I am to get an email from a company that bravely stands up and says “This Is Wrong” to its customers that reinforces the fact that Americans vote.

    Even if it’s just with their dollars. I’m glad that the rewards justify the risk and horrified that I just acknowledged that a company supporting an obvious truth – families should not be separated by government – was a risk. Their business has increased 80-fold.

    That’s not 80%, it’s 80 times better year over year.

    To illustrate:

    An 80% increase on $100 in sales equates to $180.

    An 80-fold increase on $100 in sales results in $8000 in sales.

    Nurturing people is good business.

    Facilitating a place – mealtime in this case – where people and families can come together to discuss what’s happening in life and the world is good for people, regardless of culture. But right now, America needs that safe place to talk.

    Spice Force

    Xtopher’s Rib

    This here, ladies and gentlemen and all-gendered readers, is the oldest draft I presently own.

    May 24, 2016…if you’re curious.

    It’s been back on my mind because of my commitment to wrap up my open gay-jacent writing projects during Pride month. Also, Rib graduated Flight Attendant College last week and this was his first full week working as a Flight Attendant.

    I sent him a text when I realized he had finished the 8 week course, which seemed to go on forever from where I witnessed it. I wonder what it felt like to him…although his occasional social media updates suggested he enjoyed his time there.

    His response was, “Thanks, Dad!”

    Classic Rib.

    I should note that Rib actually provided his own blog identity after briefly wanting to change his name to Rib during Culinary School.

    It is a name that has stuck with him, at least with my friends. The Silver Fox spied this restaurant on a trip through Spain and Portugal and demanded I forward it to Rib.

    I initially started this post after I participated in a Writing Workshop that the original Fabulous Baker Sister had suggested to me.  It was my first such experience and I found that my ex had been a topic that came to mind during a couple of the assigned exercises.

    Not knowing what to expect of the workshop, I arrived just the slightest bit anxious.  Also, the teensiest buzzed thanks to a spontaneous happy hour with my parents.  I love my mom and dad. The pre-funk helped me relax into the exercises.

    I had been thinking about what – or if – to write about that experience.  It was really amazing.  There were four exercises we did and two of them had ended up involving the best of my ex boyfriends.  Later in this same week, he moved into his first home with his partner, so he’d kind of been center stage in my consciousness for several days around the week of the workshop.

    Regardless of how readily he sprung to mind after the prompts given at the Writing Workshop, the blog entry kind of stalled.

    Limbo.

    Truth be told, I had actually started this draft the year before the date I quoted earlier…that was just the most recent edit.

    The summer before, Rib and his boyfriend had come down for a spontaneous visit. I think it was near the end of Summer. They live in Seattle and had been to dinner at one of Rib’s former classmates from Culinary School. She lived in Olympia and when I got the call, he said that they had decided to pop down to Portland since they were so close.

    Ok

    Seriously, though, that type of spontaneity in a relationship is just fun.

    They checked into their hotel and then popped over for a nightcap. We may have gone out for a Spanish Coffee at Huber’s that night because that’s what you do with out of town guests in Portland.

    It was a fun evening, connecting with them as an actual couple, like adults. I admit that when we all lived in Seattle and ended up together, I’d recreationally by the boyfriend shots just because I knew how he suffered the next day.

    To his credit, he was at least a willing sport, borderline good sport about it.

    The day after their surprise visit, we went wine tasting in the valley. They had just bought a humongous orange Jeep. I was kind of jealous, never having really gotten over getting rid of my own Jeep at Sacha’s urging back in ’02. He hated it, granted it was a piece of shit…but the boys’ Jeep was certainly enviable.

    We hit three different wineries and had a wonderful afternoon tasting at the different estates, two of which were simply breathtaking. I can’t believe I don’t have pics from that day at my fingertips…checkout my last post for a little insight as to how those might have gone missing.

    Anyway, after the Writing Workshop, I was all jazzed up to share my Rib relationship story. Then I saw an article in the Huffington Post suggesting that people who were friends with their exes were either narcissists or psychopaths.

    Great.

    Here I was, 45-plus years on, feeling proud to finally have an ex that I was able to remain friends with. I’m off brand for friendship with Sacha. The Mulligan has the bad manners to die.

    So, yeah, no pressure, Xtopher…but I felt Rib was my one last shot at exercising the concept of actually maintaining a post-relationship relationship with an ex.

    You see, here’s the deal, Rib and I were never supposed to date, anyway.

    We’d met in a bar one night when I wandered out for a solo beer in Seattle, as was my weekday ritual. There was this ginger nugget of a guy siting at the corner, right near where I ordered my beer.

    We chatted while I waited to be served, so I ended up sitting next to him. Rib was sitting around the corner of the bar and occasionally interjected during our conversation.

    Sassy.

    He eventually drove the other guy away. As I watched him leave, I realized that he was actually meeting the bartender, Rock, at the door and they left together.

    Glad I could help pass the time. Hehe.

    Then it was just Rib and me. He’d still blurt out random conversation as I sipped. Eventually, I realized that hidden by his hedgehog hairstyle were earbuds.

    “You’re listening to your own music?!?”, I said realizing now why his additions to my earlier conversation had seemed so erratic, they had come as he overheard our conversation between songs.

    Seems he didn’t appreciate the bar’s music. When I asked why he didn’t go to a bar that was more his style, he admitted that the bartender gave him free drinks here.

    “The one that just left with the guy I was talking to?”

    We chatted a little more, learning that he’d only been in town for a few weeks, having moved from SoCal. He liked it ok, but had not yet adjusted to how hilly it was, gesturing to his feet, where there was a large pair of high laced combat style boots.

    Apparently, they were pretty heavy to lug around, especially after a few drinks. He admitted to having fallen just recently and blamed the terrain.

    It was cute.

    He ended up coming home with me that night – nothing happened, you pervs! I’d gotten him – with Rock’s help – a little too relaxed to safely haul his boots home.

    Interestingly, and DP will tell me that he told me so, he never really left after that first night. DP’s relationship philosophy, as he’d described it to me once, was that you meet someone and take them home…they either never leave or you never see them again.

    It’s admittedly jaded, but also truer than I’d like to admit.

    However, while Rib was right up my alley as far as my tastes in guys go; I wasn’t ready to blindly accept DP’s sage dating advice at face value.

    Over the coming days, I learned that Rib had chosen Seattle because his sister lived here and he’d wanted to get out of his mom’s house and onto his own two feet without totally forfeiting an actual safety net.

    Made sense.

    In SoCal, he’d gone to college for a while and then dropped out and moved back into his mom’s house. For the time before deciding to move, he’d been taking care of the family cats and cooking meals for his mom while she worked.

    I asked what he was doing since getting to Seattle.

    “Oh, y’know…taking care of my sister’s dog while she works and cooking dinner for her”

    “Good thing you got out from under your mom’s skirts”, I joked.

    Obviously, we weren’t a good match. I’m grumpy old me and he was just this endearing Lost Boy. I told him that and when he asked why, I told him that I expected a boyfriend to have a job.

    Dating younger guys, I hardly expected them to have similar professional accomplishments, but I expected them to at least be working toward something.

    Thinking that was that, I was surprised that he went out and got an interview at a local candy shop-slash-tourist trap.

    Go, Rib!

    Ok, that was kind of impressive and before you know it, we’re six months in.

    It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. We’d have talks about serious stuff – how to continue his upward trajectory toward being an adult – that would end in big, slow rolling tears. It was strange to navigate those talks. They usually started with a Rib mini-tantrum, something like him hating his job.

    He’d just blurt out, “I hate it! I’m quitting!”

    I’d counter with something like what he hated about it and he’d yell “Everything!” or complain that he didn’t get paid enough for what they expected him to do. He’d eventually settle down and pull his knees up to his chin as he gained an understanding of what he was struggling with, arriving at the realization that he needed to be able to stick it out at a job he “hated” until he found something else.

    He didn’t like it, but he understood it.

    My rule of thumb when dating younger guys has always been “leave ’em better than you found ’em”. Rib surprised me by being pretty open to the perspective I had to offer – despite occasional tough conversations like I described above – when he encountered challenges, either at work or just in getting his feet under him in a new city.

    Like I said, he’d grown frustrated with his job and somehow – I think through another co-worker – gotten hooked up as waitstaff for the private club behind my condo.

    It was a challenging job jump because it was a pretty exclusive, high touch club. But he took to it.

    He really got excited about the environment, from learning about high end wine to serving in a fine dining environment.

    At some point in those first years we were together, education came up. I’m not sure how. Probably, I was a bossy jerk about him completing a degree.

    Given his enthusiasm for cooking – for his mom, then his sister and now me – and food in general from his experience at the club, he was thinking about Culinary School.

    It made sense, too. The boy was a complete geek whenever he came to my kitchen store. His passion and enthusiasm were obvious and my team loved seeing him pop into the shop to explore or take a class. Soon enough, we were having Thanksgiving dinners at the condo with his mom and aunts visiting from SoCal and the Santa Clara Pueblo in New Mexico.

    Rib actually managed to complete his culinary degree debt free because of his Native American heritage. It was a big plus for him an took a lot of the stress out of his decision to finish his education.

    His graduation was a big deal, as it should be. It was shortly after his Chef of the Day project. His mom came up from SoCal, his Seattle-sister was there, obviously, and my parents and sister drove up from Portland in what turned out to be the winter storm of the century. It had turned their three to four hour drive into a nine-plus hour affair.

    Luckily, Rib went all out for his CoD and the menu included baby octopus. Prepared as obvious octopus. Everyone forgot the travel journey and seems to only remember that. But in having so much of our respective families present, it really felt like a family affair.

    After graduation, he floundered. What he’d realized in college was that he didn’t want to be a cook.

    Ok

    When pressed during conversations about it, he’d articulate how he wanted to use his education to be able to design menus, but he was getting more and more interested in the front of the house experience he was picking up at the club.

    His boss at the club ended up connecting him to a restaurant in Pike Place Market. It was fine dining and Rib was pretty excited about the change. It ended up being a good change for him. He was working part time hours and with the tips he earned he was making high $40k a year.

    Waiting tables.

    I was a little jealous!

    This Lost Boy that I’d picked up in a bar a scant few years earlier that had had no job or inclination was now a college grad and making a respectable living for himself.

    I was proud of him.

    Even not realizing what was ahead for us.

    Oooooh, foreshadowing!

    So…right, even with all this growth, the boy still had quite a bratty streak in him. It was a constant in his personality and part of what I loved about him, but occasionally he’d take it too far.

    Frequently, we’d be out with friends and – depending on the situation – he’d get bored because my friends did boring “old people” stuff and he wanted to dance and carry on or we’d do stuff with his friend and I was too much of an “Oldie Hawn”. We each enjoyed the others friends, but when he wasn’t into it, it could really get stressful.

    It was on one of these nights out, us and DP, where I don’t remember what exactly was going on, but he wasn’t enjoying it.

    Oddly, we were headed to his favorite late night food spot for some pozole, but he was still not having it. He was literally dragging his feet and bitching from a half a block behind us about how lame we were.

    It was then that I realized that for all of his growth, this was as far as he was going to grow with me. I sent him home and went to dinner with DP.

    I don’t know what he did when he left, but he was home when I got there, sitting on the floor somewhere between a pout and guilt. I told him that his behavior was unacceptable.

    He knew, he flashed a couple of those big, sad, trauma tears and I told him we should break up. I could see that he was maxed out on growth, having taken a big step in moving from SoCal to Seattle, but he hadn’t really given up the security of having someone else in his move from Mom to sister to me. My thinking was that until he had to really bear the burden of his own responsibilities, this was as close as he was going to come to becoming his own man.

    It was a super hard conversation. Flashing through my mind as it was happening was another conversation. We’d run into a friend of mine at The Cuff and he was chiding me about Rib being so young. This was early in our relationship, they were just meeting for the first time. In response to his trading, I’d said, “What? He’ll be 30 before I turn 50!”

    It earned me a laugh and an eye roll at the time, but in breaking up with Rib it was playing in my mind as I admitted to myself that this could be the last relationship of my life.

    I know…so dramatic.

    Still, I knew that Rib would eventually get bored stagnating in this almost state. He’d come to this same conclusion eventually, then he’d leave me. Whether it was six months or six years later, I was certain it would happen and then I’d resent him. I’d react indignantly and overemphasize the sacrifice of my leveraged happiness that I’d made by selfishly staying with him.

    Y’know, like I did with Sacha.

    It took me a long time to get over my anger at him for leaving me. Part of that was the way that he’d left me, the other part was jealousy that he’d had the balls to leave me when I’d stayed with him out of fear of being single at the time.

    So, I knew what I was talking about in this situation.

    We set up a timeline for finding him his own place and within a few weeks, he was looking at furniture and settling in. I sent a lot of good kitchen stuff with him that we’d accumulated over the years together, but I knew that he’d get better use out of it than me.

    His sister – unhelpfully – set him up on a date about three weeks after he moved out. She’s a serial dater, so I wasn’t surprised. However, I thought he really needed time to get to know himself as an individual before really dating again.

    That disagreement – and Rib’s subsequent sudden new boyfriend – caused me to lay down a six month embargo on contact.

    I needed time to heal and adjust myself.

    Well, not “adjust myself”…y’know, just get an answer to “Who is single Xtopher?”

    At the end of that timeframe, we found ourselves drawn together on occasion. Sometimes randomly, running into each other at a bar, cue shots for the boyfriend! Others, I’d get a request for a solo lunch date and we’d talk about struggles: work, boyfriend, what have you.

    The boys still come to town – not enough in my opinion – and I’m happy to let them treat me to a $300 dinner…has anyone seen my pride? Usually, though, I see them pop up on social media. It’s a pleasant vicarious surprise, seeing them post from Flushing Meadows or Australia as they attend an Open. A sudden trip to Germany with the fam for Oktoberfest.

    I’m glad to see him thriving with his new boyfriend. Now, particularly seeing him become a flight attendant after trying to get into the program for three years. That was something that came up seemingly out of nowhere, but he didn’t let the first two experiences discourage him.

    And now he’s done it.

    Anyway, I can’t think of a better way to wrap up Pride month than completing a project about a person I was lucky enough to spend some time with and am privileged enough to still be a part of his life, albeit just as a friendly little narcissistic and/or psychopathic sliver.

    Right, HuffPo?

    Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go be alone forever.

    <dramatic sniff>

    Xtopher’s Rib

    Portland Pride

    I said I wasn’t going to go.

    I wasn’t in the mood, borderline depressed.

    It’s not my crowd, I’m too old.

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

    My “Pride” body is in mothballs.

    I went.

    …and came away friggin’ renewed!

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

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

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

    Then I left the cafe and went home.

    Ugh…so people-y.

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

    The parade started at 11 this year.

    C’mon!

    I’d missed the Dykes.

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

    Convection Cooked Xtopher.

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

    Ah, the occasional perks of being a regular.

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

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

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

    They loved us.

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

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

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

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

    Proud Boys ruining Pride.

    I can see why they’re so proud.

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

    Profile much?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Do you see the vehicle ID on that ambulance?

    Awesome!

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

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

    “God hates you, you cum gurgling homo!”

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

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

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

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

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

    Catharsis!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Maybe I need to re-examine my vocational trajectory.

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

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

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

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

    Call it Dawgs on Hawgs…

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

    And this adorable little fella!

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

    Good old Silver Fox joined me for a second round.

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

    Right?!?

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

    Drops the size of my head.

    Thunder!

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

    What’s an out of date Frat Boy to do?

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

    Not really.

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

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

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

    It’s like foreplay and afterglow.

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

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

    Gay-men to that!

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

    Love and pizza, yo!

    Portland Pride