The Widow

There’s an old Sandra Bernhardt schtick about Grindr where she riffs on the gays being idiots for needing an app to find…let’s call it a date.  She says something along the lines of. “I don’t need an app to tell me there’s a hot guy three feet from me!”

And she’s kind of right about the ridiculousness and depth of our retardation if we need an app to introduce us to one another.  That’s partly why I call gay (let’s stick with this for now) dating apps asocial media.

But for once it actually seemed to work out as ridiculously as she described it.

I “met” a guy who lives on the next block.

Allegedly.

He was in my neighborhood and was a cute lil Sparky, so I threw him a woof.  Immediately after which, I recalled from his profile how he said “messages work better than woofs” so I sent him a message culpa.

It worked and we began chatting.  I learned that he’d moved up here recently from SoCal and lived in the Elizabeth, which is one of my aspirational Pearl District homes.

Not my favorite, but with units priced starting at a cool half mil for us plebeian folk…darned affordable.

And, literally on the block right behind me.

One of the few people to ever earn the distinction of being blocked by me on an asocial media site was an old guy who lived in the Elizabeth.  Our units faced each other until the hotel on the backside of my block was built.  We used to chat online over our morning coffees and had a nice virtual friendship.  He was looking for more, I was looking for less so we were at a little impasse of interest levels.  

But still, we randomly chatted.

The third time he reminded me what I can expect my junk to look like in 15 years, I blocked him.  I felt for him, we are living the same plight.  Too old to catch the interest of a gay of our very own, too young to actually be dead.  But, I don’t want to see my friends naked, and him pulling this shit on me every month or so demonstrated an ulterior motive I didn’t want to deal with, so we never met.

But, boy-oh!  If only I could manage my attractions, I coulda been living in a dream house.

However, now I was chatting with a 31 year old unreasonably good looking guy that lived in the very same building.  

Quite a package deal!

Bonus points were given that after a week of chatting, I still didn’t know what his junk looked like.

And it was a week of talking about hobbies, and tacos and post coital ice cream and beer and wine and working out…but after that first day on the app, I never “saw” him in my neighborhood again.  He was always 2-3 miles away, which I randomly attributed to him being at work or at the gym – one of the only pics he’d sent me was him working out, and it wasn’t at either of the gyms in the Pearl so I assumed that he had a distant gym that he preferred.

I try to assume the best.

But I did have some misgivings, based not only on his phone’s inability to accurately place him where he said he physically was, but also because I really doubted that he could afford a place in the Elizabeth.  My suspicion was that he didn’t live in the Elizabeth, but maybe somewhere, oh…2-3 miles away.

Whatever. 

He mentioned briefly that he had been engaged and his fiancé had died suddenly last year.  I didn’t pursue it via chat, but my mind briefly flashed back to my old neighbor and I began wondering what ever happened to him.

Actually, in my mind I had decided that was his fiancé and he’d died, leaving my condo to The Widow.

Nonetheless, despite those minor, niggling misgivings, I asked him out for a Friday drink.  I told him that I needed to be in bed – alone – by 8 for work the next day, but we could meet for a beer at 6 and I would introduce him to some of my favorite Oregon IPAs that he hadn’t met yet.

He declined.

Sure, in a sweet way, saying that he wanted more time together for our first meet up.  Ok, sure…how long does it take to drink a few beers and chat?  Two hours seemed like plenty, but I accepted his tentative alternate of Monday.

<ignores obvious warning whistles>

I just assumed that his current weekend was booked up, which I got used to while dating in Shittatle.

Here’s the funny part:

No, I swear, this is gonna kill ya.

Me, being playful me, texted him early on Friday and suggested he sneak out of work early and we could grab some happy hour since it was gorgeous out.  He replied, in what I assumed was a genuinely adult tone about how he’d just been sucked into a project that was gonna keep him late at work.

Oh, well…and I go about my day.  This does involve replying to random messages I’m getting on Scruff, mostly from people flying into town for the weekend who want to know if I’d like to give them a congratulatory fuck for arriving in Portland.

No.

But, while responding to one such message, I happen to see The Widow is online…aaaaand 146 miles away.

Shittatle.

I click on his profile, and sure enough:

Travel icon engaged, upcoming trip announced and, as I mentioned, he’s 146 miles away.

Oh, well.  I’m not upset by this.  I’m really more just curious as to why he wouldn’t say he’s going out of town.

Between my favorite sounding board, the Silver Fox – who insists I’m too hard on people, we decide that I should just let it lie until we meet on Monday.

“If he makes it back, I grumble.”

But I do.

Until.

He messages me at 6:20, “I’m off!”

That’s your long day?!?

I continue to let it lie until he messages me again later that night.  I’ve already popped my melatonin, as I do in order to be able to fall asleep at 8 pm.  I forget the context of the message, but my response is something along the lines of, “Let’s talk about it Monday.  Enjoy Seattle!”

Because I just couldn’t help myself.  I blame the melatonin.

He gets into this innocent act, thinking my response was meant for someone else.  When I explain my text, he insists he’s at home and basically dates me to meet up.

It’s about 7:45 now, so that’s a “no” from me, but I fall asleep wondering what would have happened if I’d called that bluff.

The next couple of days were spent with him asking to meet up again on Saturday and then immediately taking offense at some innocent pith I tossed out a few minutes later.  Same thing on Sunday, which ultimately ended with him asserting that he’s been trying to get me to meet up, but I won’t commit, so he’s walking away.

Good, I think and tell him, “In the last 48 hours, you’ve called me an asshole, a dick, passive aggressive and a few other pretty hostile things while continuing to alternate between asking me to get together and then manufacturing offense to get out of it, all while your phone thinks you’re in Seattle.  But, ok.  Bye.”

I feel bad when shit like that happens, especially with someone you’ve never met.  But what can ya do?  Given the evidence I witnessed and the behavior I experienced, I’m fine believing he was in Seattle – possibly at a Black Widow convention, maybe not – and just didn’t like being called out on it.

Haven’t heard from him since and still haven’t seen him around the ‘hood, so I’ll call this a lose/win situation.

Next!?!

The Widow

Why I’m Single #98

The locals aren’t amused by my schtick?

Maybe that’s it.

I mean, not that I have a schtick or anything.  I’m basically a big goof ball.  Sure, I’ve got my serious side that admittedly comes across as grumpy, but that’s not my default setting.

That’s 100% class clown.

Case in point, I’m killing it with the travelers passing through PDX.  Not just the cute ones, either, so you can’t call my goof ball setting a product of my flirting…although, it’s certainly present then, too!

A couple of weeks back the Oregon State University played Boise State in some sportsbally thing.  The game was in Boise – I assume that’s where the college is, Penn State be damned – and that had a lot of Beavers fans flying out of PDX to attend.

Seems like a lot of scratch just to watch young men scramble around in snug britche…oh, wait…I’m starting to see the allure.

Be right back.

Phew.  Ok.  Where was I?

Oh, yes.  

Originally, I had seen a flash of bright orange and mistaken a customer for a traveling Beavers fan.  Turns out, she was also wearing the cobalt-ish blue that made her a Boise State fan.  We chatted about how her flight was gonna be pretty awkward with all the Beavers, but at least it was short.  I chided her by asking if she’d actually flown to PDX just to mess with the Beavers on their flight over.

Laughingly, she told me that while that sounds fun, she was actually living in Portland for work these days.  She said that she tried to get back a couple times a season for games, and this was just the luck of the draw.

While she spoke, I was being served some pretty serious eyelash flutters and behind the ear hair tucking.  My homojo was misfiring, but I don’t care.  We’re never gonna see each other again, let kitty sharpen her claws.

She went on to say it was worth it, just to see the blue grass of the stadium.

I was corn-fused (ok, that’s only gonna be funny to Duck fans who call OSU’s hometown of Corvallis Corn Valley…) and asked if they were using bluegrass in their stadium.  She laughed, tucked her hair and fluttered her lashes and said, “Noooo!  They paint the grass blue!”

Like I was just the silliest of geese.

“Come to think of it, the Ducks do the same thing in their stadium with green grass!”

Moment over.

Then she took off for her gate.

After saying hi to some cute lil nugget of a man that walked in as we were wrapping up our conversation, I made an off hand comment to a co-worker about how Boise could really mess with the Beavs by painting their grass orange.  “It works for both teams, so maybe the Beavs would think they were at home…and they always lose at home!”

The Nugget was on the other side of the store looking at magnets and guffawed.

I looked over at him, thinking, “That’s what you get for eavesdropping, buddy!”  But he was looking down in shame for getting busted listening in and without moving his head, he raised his eyes and looked at me, giving me the cutest lil shy smile.

Why can’t he live in Portland?

Life is so hard.

Why I’m Single #98

Fitfy 49:45

Well, it’s getting on to tic-toc time, eh?

The last 7 weeks of this journey toward my big 5-oh.

It’s been interesting.  I started out convincing myself that I was doing similar things but with a different mindset I called intent.

Yeah, that was bullshit.

I was doing the same things and expecting a different outcome because I was being honest with myself about my actions.

Turns out, motivation is quite the bitch.  If you don’t have motivation, you get no results.  If you’re motivated toward the wrong goals or for the wrong reasons, you end up failing.  

I wasn’t looking for a pre-fifty phyrric victory.

I was looking to find a balance between my self care – diet, exercise – and the reality of living in an aging vessel.  In an effort to change my mindset around what constituted successfully defining a healthy lifestyle, I had to extract the mental vision I had of a 30-something robust male physique as the definition of success.  

That mental imagery was holding me back and shaping my decisions as well as informing my actions.

No bueno.

A guy pushing 50 shouldn’t be chasing that reality.  Well, maybe in pursuit of a bedmate, but not in a reflection from the mirror.  With that realization, I admitted that I was really at square one in my journey.  I’d made strides toward eating better and exercising differently, but all with the picture of myself with a ripped torso laughing as he drank as much as he wanted.

How depressing.

So I dialed it back.  I began working out at home, no one to compare myself to except that reflection I hated.  That helped.  

Suddenly, I was finding motivation to not get home with a drinking plan in place:  run in, feed the Mistress, change, run out to meet friends.  Now I was selectively coordinating my detox drinking with the Silver Fox, who’s much more disciplined than I am.  He’ll have one beer, two when he’s getting crazy, and then stop.  I needed that example and company to reign me in.  So, we’d have three beers or a bottle of wine between us when we met up, I’d stop occasionally on the way home and get a six pack that would last me close to a week and eat something, have one or two more and Bob was indeed my dietary uncle.

Getting my drinking consumption-to-frequency ratio in line was helpful.

The Filipina Fox was also helpful.  She gets me to a spin class occasionally, but at $18/class, less than she’d like.  

Less than I’d like, too.  

I appreciate that she forwards me deals from ClassPass, but I found a studio I like with equipment that is good for my body and that’s the studio I want to go to.  I’ll go when I can, but at this point I don’t want to compromise and end up on equipment that hurts my body.  It’s just as delititerious to my goal as surrounding myself with people who are at an age where they can achieve results that I can’t while living the lifestyle I want to.

So there it was.  The challenge to accept that I can socially live like an urban 30-something, but I had to forgive myself for looking like a middle-aged man in the process.

Being left with the option of working out in isolation has helped.

Tremendously.

My gut is tightening up, but I’m not looking for signs of abs.  I know they are there, I can feel them…I have to forget that other people may judge me on their personal inability to verify their existence.

Their problem, not mine.  If there were visible abs in my future, those same people would find something else on which to judge me negatively.

I gotta do me.

So, I’ve embraced my FUPA – Fat Upper Penis Area.  See, now I’m gonna be in trouble with the big girls for stealing their acronym.  

Middle-Aged White Guys ruin everything.

Now, instead of catching myself absent-mindedly juggling my chesticles I catch myself poking or bouncing my little belly.

And chuckling at myself when I catch it happening.  I’ve changed my belly perception from rejection to acceptance.  

It’s here, queer, get used to it.

That said, I’ve got to get some remedies in place for lower body exercises at home.

Right now, my belly fat detente is in a physical stalemate that I can appreciate:  it’s there but it’s not too heavy so that it pushes my pants down. 

Some of my shorter torso shirts raise up when I put on a coat or lift my arms past shoulder height, exposing my little “butt in front”.  That has gotten to…not a comfortable space, but a conscious space.  I’m mindful of it and move accordingly to prevent showing it off in public, but I don’t run past the mirror to avoid seeing it.

If I’m gonna drink, I’m gonna have a butt in front.  Instead of denying that reality, I’m looking for ways to alter the reality of the butt in back.  Shifting the focus to something I not only can change, but want to change.

Taking the stairs whenever practical is one thing, but not enough.  I think I’m ready to cautiously add squats into the home workout mix.

This shift to working out at home has taken me back to my days of participating on the Golf Team in High School – yeah, I fucking lettered in golf!  Golf is a solo sport, much like running.  

You compete against yourself.  

Focusing on – dwelling, really – on my inability to run any longer had lent itself to my disabled mental state and contributed to my lack of physical motivation.  Comparing my home workout results to my past performance like I did with prior golfing performances has allowed me to find a balance between efforts versus results while also factoring out my habit of comparing myself to others.  That behavior fuels the unhealthy motivations that led to excessive use of metabolic enhancers in my 30s and early 40s.  It also led to exercising too frequently and not allowing my body enough time to recover between workouts. Those are both factors that contributed to my arrival at 49 after two decades of my cavalierly undisciplined approach to exercise.

Coming out of this year with that balance and perspective to carry forward into the next two decades of my physical fitness life is the other half of the equation needed to get there healthily instead of crippling myself further along the way.

Fitfy 49:45

Scotty

You want to know what a hot shit job was in SoCal was in the late 80s-early 90s?

Doctor?  Meh.

Lawyer?  God, no.

How about Realtor?

I suppose it was about as glamorous a profession as you could get back in the day. 

Somehow I ended up friends with one.  It was through my friends Keith and Jim.  Although, I’m fuzzy on how I knew them…it must have been through The Silver Fox.

This one,

not this one: #thesilverfox

What can I say, I knew the bar before I knew the man.  The bar was named for the owner, John…a Silver Fox in his own right.

Anyway, somehow I met Keith and Jim, they introduced me to Scotty and the four of us held court in the corner of the bar several nights a week.  We could, too, because of Scotty. 

He was so affected.  In retrospect, I’d say it was all some sort of compensatory affectation or just visual reminders that he would not be fucked with.

He was 6’5″, becoming one of the only people I’d really run across at that point in my life – he and Dolph Lundgren being the standouts in my memory – that I physically looked up to.

He wore an ankle length leather duster…custom, of course.

He drove a Rolls Royce.  This was before people commonly drove them.  I mean, maybe it’s really only Bellevue, Washington where it’s commonplace, now that I think of it.  His was two toned gold, with suicide doors.  I remember it being a Silver Shadow, but it looked more like the Phantom pictured below.

He actually reminded me of a cross between John Wayne and The B-52s Fred Schneider, if that helps conjure up any imagery.

Anyway, like I said, the four of us owned the place.  The hot, muscly couple everyone aspired to one day be or break up, the realtor who “could buy and sell you, twice” – his words – and me, the 22 year old twink.

When we walked in, we bypassed any line at the door as well as ID checks.  We’d walk by the first well of the bar where the infamously obscenely sized John Barnes was usually slinging drinks and bee lined for our corner where people moved away as we approached and settled in.

Then our drinks were placed on the bar, which was conveniently within reach.

Now, this corner was pretty well placed.  As I said, you could reach the bar easily.  You could see the stage, two of the TVs and practically lean into the VJ booth – it was the 90s, shut up – so all the entertainment was at hand…which was handy since Scotty liked to let the VJ know when it was time to put on a Pretenders video.

Still, I didn’t think it was that primo a location.

I think mentioning that to the group soon after being introduced to Scotty is was cemented my position in the foursome.  Of course, it probably came out as a bitchy complaint.

“Is this where were standing again?!?”

Which probably began a litany of the awesomeness of this position.  One that ended, I recall blurrily, with how every hot guy in the bar had to either pass by us to buy drinks or pee.

“Because picking up guys outside a men’s room is so classy?”, I replied…in question form because that’s how SoCal twinks spoke back then.

Ugh.

All eyes turned to Scotty, which was when I realized perhaps I had made a mistake.  That is, until Scotty threw his head back and let loose a belly laugh that practically shook the walls.  I learned through experience that you only saw this two or three times per year, so I eventually understood why the default reaction was…trepidation.

Soon, I was a regular thrice weekly fixture at the end of the bar.  Originally, it was less frequent because in addition to my Long Beach Society responsibilities at Ripples with my roommate Petur and his anti-socialite friend Dennis for Sunday Beer Bust and Tuesday’s $1 long necks at The Mineshaft I still had my private social life.

I had my own dates and pretty regular weekly dinners with my Dad.

Eventually, Scotty ended up getting an equal share of my time to the LBS, two nights each.  Then a bigger share as the split grew to 3-2 and then 4-2.

I was randomly getting picked up for dinner beforehand at least once a week.  Occasionally hitting a Sunday morning open house before Beer Bust and even driving myself home in the Rolls once in a while when Scotty couldn’t.

Beats walking.

It never occurred to me that at 23-ish, I’d entered a dating and sexual slump.  I mean, I expect guys to ignore my ass now when I hit on them, but half my life ago…well, I thought I had lost my mojo.  I was in 0 mood for dating, this was soon after my first-ever boyfriend and I broke up.  He’d not only broken my heart by cheating on me, he’d beaten me up a couple of times while he was at it.  Apparently, it’s poor form to be upset with ones alleged boyfriend for sleeping with other guys in my bed.

Who knew?

So, yeah, I didn’t want to date, but I did want to have some occasional sexy times.  

Beyond that, a guy just likes to be asked.  Am I right?

Complaining about it earned me another rafter rattler from Scotty.

Right?  Because it’s ridiculous.

It was amazing to have that intimate knowledge of Scotty’s lighter side, the juxtaposition of that with his normal severe  default demeanor made our friendship feel special.

We got along well.  It wasn’t long after Keith and Jim introduced us that we began meeting solo at the bar when they had to go to the gym.  Hey, I still had a metabolism, I didn’t need to go to the gym.

And Scotty had Fuck You Money.

The only time we had an issue in our friendship was the literal only time I dressed in drag for Halloween.  I was going with another friend and felt super insecure about dressing in drag, but it’s what Penguin – another blog, another time – wanted to do, so we went.

I inadvertently killed it, apparently looking like a True Lies era Jamie Lee Curtis.  I had a steady stream of guys dropping by to chat me up, so that was nice.  

Mojo, back.

Scotty showed up, walked by, settled into the corner and casually scanned the room.  Eventually, he realized I was Jamie Lee Curtis – I raised by beer bottle in a salute and a lightbulb went off.

Then, all alone in his little corner kingdom, he threw his he’d back and let another roaring bout of laughter fly…looking like a crazy person losing his shit in the corner.

I really enjoyed that moment, filling a close friend.  Come to think of it, that’s pretty much been a driving factor in my personality ever since, surprising people when they think they know me.

A while later, he walked by and said, “Tomorrow, 6:30” and left.

I left a while later.  I didn’t win the costume contest, thank gawd.  I think the fireman with the huge dildo hanging from his fly had won and King Tut was second place.  But I don’t really think that first guy was in serious costume.  

Anyway, I left.

There was a guy hanging around not taking “fuck off” for an answer.  He’d proposition me with some things I wasn’t into and wouldn’t leave me alone, so Penguin and I took off.

The next night, Scotty and I had dinner at The Pizza Place and shared some good laughs over the prior night.  Then we went to the bar, getting there long enough after happy hour ended and early enough that Scotty pulled the Rolls right up in front, like he liked.

We went in, had a drink and the guys showed up.  We hung out, watched some music videos, chatted with passersby and had a typical enjoyable night.

When one of the passersby turned out to be the obnoxious guy that ended my night the day before, it got awkward.  I was giving him passive-aggressive disinterest that only an Oregonian could interpret, meaning I was being too nice for him to get the point.  However, he knew no one else, so hanging around as long as he did made everyone uncomfortable.

Scotty suggested he leave, but the guy obliviously refused.

Keith and Jim left and shortly afterward, Scotty suggested I looked ready.

“I’ll get him home!” Obnoxious Guy helpfully offered.

“My mom taught me to leave with the people I came with”, I said, declining as Scotty and I made for the door.

Of course, he followed.  I was in the lead and didn’t say another word to him as he tried to talk to me past Scotty, who’s duster made an excellent shield for me.

I was the first to arrive at the passenger door and had stopped listening to Obnoxious Guy steps ago.  I was really good at blocking people in real life long before social media made it a virtual privilege.

I turned to let Scotty unlock my door and instead saw him unhingimg Obnoxious Guy’s jaw befor Obnoxious Guy hit the sidewalk and Scotty threw me the keys, yelled “Drive!” and jumped into the passenger seat.

He’d hurt his hand nowhere near as badly as he’d messed up that guy’s face, but I could tell he was in pain.

“What the hell was that?” I demanded.

“You don’t want to know.”

I gathered he’d been saying some things I didn’t want to hear and they offended Scotty’s sense of this Chosen Family of ours.  I’ll give him this, for all of the drinks and dinners he shared with me, the most generous thing he ever did was protect my honor from what I could only assume was some self-hating gay type.

I was ok with that.

Soon after, I met my Mulligan at Beer Bust and settled down, eventually leaving town. When I moved back a decade later, I wandered into The Silver Fox, met by Johns owner and bartender, both still somehow alive and working.

No sign of Scotty or the boys.  I never saw them again, nor do I know what happened to them.

One thing I do know now is how to explain my pre-Mulligan slump.  Somehow, through assumption or impression, it was known to all but I that Scotty and I were dating.  I found out when chatting up a guy at the bar and he tried to place me as the guy who dated the guy with the Rolls.

I tilted my head back and let go with a Scotty-esque laugh of my own.  Shaking me head and refusing to explain, changing the topic to the old guy that used to sit where we were sitting, “Hello, gorgeous!” guy.

Dead.

Well, he was pretty old.

What I kept to myself that night was that there were worse things than my friendship with Scotty being misconstrued. Regardless of how that myth came about, the reality is that it probably saved my ass from running into more guys like my first boyfriend or Obnoxious Guy.

Or worse.

So, yeah.  Thanks, Scotty, wherever you are, you magnificent bastard.

Scotty

Woodwork

I really oughta learn my place.

Saying things like, “I think I could be open to dating again…”

Really, who do I think I am?

The Yoda of gay dating?  No…but I could use one inside my head.

“Date or do not date.  There is no open to.” – Gay Yoda.

Because it takes two to tango, as they say.  Three, or an open dance card at least if you’re in Portland, Oregon.

I’m not closing my borders, by any means, but I am readjusting my expectations to the point where I can entertain the idea that it wasn’t that I was closed off to dating in the first place.

Maybe I was just the only one in the dating scenario who was ready.

Fine.

And, in the meantime?  I have tales to tell.

Because in the last couple of months, my past dalliances have been coming out of the figurative woodwork to…I don’t know what.  

Make a point?

For, or against.  That is the question!

The New Kid

A couple of month ago, while the words “I think I’m ready to date again” were still hanging in the air, the new hotel next to my building opened.  That’s all well and fine, the absence of both construction worker (they really aren’t particularly hot, despite what The Village People would have you believe) and construction fencing was a big plus in my book.  Plus, the new restaurant was lookingbto be quite the add to the neighborhood.

Serving up great local Breakside IPA – check that, great looking guys serving up great local Breakside IPA, well, The Silver Fox and I knew we were in a good place.  

News Flash:  the battle of the bulge is back on, because I’m off wine and back on beer!

Y’know how the beer was both great and local?  Yeah, well the staff of Turner Creek Tavern seemed to be only great.  Literally every member of the team – as we chatted them up, Fox style – turned out to be from Ohio, Texas, Pennsylvania or some other far-flung, imaginary sounding, likely red voting land.

But the beer was good and local.  And closer than any other beer or wine in the neighborhood…so, go, we did.

The Fox’s nephew-in-law was moving to town for college and he had hoped to put his in-laws up in the hotel on move-in weekend.  Alas, the timing for reservations was just days out of sync with their trip.  But, family lodging still being top of mind, we wandered into the hotel lobby one evening to check it out.

Of course, we ended up talking to the assistant manager, who offered us a tour and gave us his card to set it up.

I set it up, since he gave me his card.

Turns out, it’s a pretty nice hotel.  Also turns out that the bar isn’t the only place that can’t hire locally.  On the tour, it comes out that The New Kid is – hence the name – from out of town.  We offer several suggestions for places to go since it seems he lives nearby. 

I offer to take him along to any of the aforementioned places, since it turns out that he’s in love with local craft beer.

We trade texts over the next week as we endeavor to set something up.  Here’s a breakdown of that…breakdown.

He thinks I’m nice and attractive.  Reflexively, I assume his employer’s vision plan is garbage.

I tell him that – while questioning his judgment – the best way to get a guy in the PNW is pretty much fresh off the boat before dating in Portland ruins them or makes them kinky.

He admits that he has been seeing someone, but he’s feeling neglected.

Great!  I can not neglect.  Plus, I’m on staycation for a week, so we don’t have to worry about meshing schedules, I’m pretty available all week.

He lets slip that the guy he’s been seeing is his boyfriend from back home, who he’d asked to not move here with him.  That explains the Pearl address on an assistant manager’s salary.

I revise my expectations for romance backward – I don’t want to date any mess, er…anyone fresh out of a relationship – but leave the social invite open.  If he wants to get together, I’m good with it.  We had clicked on an interpersonal level during the tour.  

Besides, I’m too old for him, probably.

He confides that he had surmised my age after seeing my email address and liked it.  No, it wasn’t an aol address.  Turns out, he would be turning 28 soon and apparently, older was on his next boyfriend wishlist.

Ok, that’s swell, but irrelevant unless we ever got together to further our friendship.

Never available.

Work.

Allegedly.

Once my entire week off had passed him by, I pulled out my spade calling bullhorn and informed him he was failing at friendship or whatever he wanted to accomplish in getting together.

Just figure out what you want, I told him.

I hadn’t shared with him that – through the power of Facebook Deductive Reasoning – I had figured out that the guy he’d kind of been dating was actually a five year relationship. 

If it were me, i helpfully told him, I’d start at home and clean that situation up, then find some work/life balance.  Once that happened, I’d be around, but I wasn’t looking for a text friendship or relationship.  While he’d been going home to a boyfriend that took him for granted every night, I was left holding a bag of nothing.

The Fox said I was too hard on him.

He never returned that text.

Perhaps someday.  Or not.  But speaking of perhaps somedays…

Jeo

I’d run into Jeo on MAX one day while checking out another guy.  So many cute men, so little time…even less actual opportunity.

He’d told me during that encounter that he’d been thinking about how he left things with me and how he wanted it different and had been wanting to talk.

Serendipity.  In a very Portland-y passive manner.

We’ve talked/texted in the last few months. Shared early morning MAX rides to the airport – he’s s flight attendant – and ran into each other on the street a few times.

But we haven’t managed to sync up on purpose for some face time.  Mutual responsibility there.

For my part, he shared with me that he was just out of a relationship and still living – well, this probably sounds familiar.

But for his part, he’s away from home so often that having his own place really doesn’t make a ton of sense to him.  Plus, apparently his ex is a way better roommate than boyfriend.

Whatever, it’s fine.  

Jeo has continued to impress me with his drive, creativity and constant initiative.  Ok, that might be redundant, but this guy is really inspiring.  

Also, an A+ hugger.

But overall, just a great person to have any type of interpersonal relationship with, regardless of what’s happening with the Slot As and Tab Ds between us.

The Wallpaper

Speaking Slot As and Tab Ds…I ran into The Wallpaper socially a while back.  Well, we sloshed into one another in a bar.

He got what he’d been wanting for the better part of a year now – his new boyfriend be damned – and I haven’t heard from him since.

Guess he realized that it wasn’t what he’d wanted all along.  Which is fine by me, because weird open relationships, freshly single men…none of that is what I’ve been wanting, right?

Plus, from an accomplishment standpoint…Jeo and The New Kid leave The Wallpaper looking a little outdated.

The Broken Poet

Thanks, Twitter.

Apparently, in an unforeseen “add all” error when setting up my Twitter profile, The Broken Poet got tossed into the fray from my phone contacts.

Hey, I was trying to use the Twitter to grow my blog presence, so help a brother out with some shares, aight?

Nope.  I cannot pull that type of talk off.

Anyway, my carelessness in not realizing my “add all” was from my phone contacts versus my Facebook friends list may have been aided by a little wine.  I didn’t realize that had been the case until it – he – followed me back.

He immediately started responding to my tweets with bullshit like, “I miss Portland”.

Yeah, not even engaging on that front.

But then he starts popping up on my Twitter feed with pathetic Poor Me tweets and I have to debate unfollowing him.  I go back and brush up on my Covert Narcissism facts to bolster my urge to respond supportively.  Plus, I try to temper my gut reactions to this guy based on how he treated me.  That was almost two years ago.  Even though I know people can change, I also know he basically pulled similar shit with his next boyfriend since he was a virtual friend of mine.

People can change.  It doesn’t mean that they will.  Plus, me being open to dating is about me not anyone that I’ve dated in the past.  I’m trying to relate to people based on their present actions and how they affect me.

Of course, when he starts tweeting from the hospital, I make the mistake of letting my empathy out.  Turns out, he’s in the hospital for a “staff infection”, maybe also for borderline literacy.  

I don’t correct him.

That’s definitely too much.

But he starts in with how his life is passing him by and all his Victim Greatest Hits like how if he could do his life over things would be different and I just tell him that he’s gotta focus in the future and not dwell in the past.

Of course, this gets me a “You don’t know me” response and I sprain my eyes and walk away.

The Other Kid

For once I’m able to actually find a guy that is kind, good looking – with some mutual attraction – and have a couple of dates.  

It’s nice.

He’s really sweet when we’re together, holding my hand while we sit on the couch and watch a movie and giving me the sweetest kiss goodbye when he leaves.

I have the pleasure of cooking him dinner.

He has good table manners!

I wonder how he manages to be single and available.  He corrects me be saying that he’s single but not gay available.

When I ask what that means, he tells me he’s saving himself for marriage.  He literally says the words “butt stuff” which makes me laugh out loud and sob internally.

But I get what he means by saying he’s not gay available.  He does seem to have a fantastic network of friends, based on the number of Friendsgivings he attended.  He also seems to have s surprising number of dates for someone in his moral position…he must have an itch he wants to scratch, because he’s dating pretty hard.

Sadly, that makes him unavailable to me as often as I would like, but at the same time, I understand that that means I’m not his future husband.

This doesn’t bother me.

Like with Jeo, it’s just nice to be in the presence of someone who is living their lives so intentionally.  So, this Other Kid is an enjoyable and occasional add to my life even without further potential.

Now that I think about it, they’ve both deleted their asocial media profiles over the last couple of months and seem perfectly happy without it.  Probably, I should embrace that.  Maybe that was my mistake in planning when thinking about dating, associating with these Lost Boys who are largely living their lives unaccountably from one orgasm to the next…that’s really not what I want for myself.

Woodwork

Embers

I’m on a quasi alliterative titular jag, it seems.

Last night’s entry had lit in its title.

This morning/afternoon, I’m writing about embers.

Later today, I’ve got one tentatively titled woodwork that should post.

You didn’t really need to know that, but these are the things about my blog that I enjoy…so, I’m sharing.

It’s almost noon on Friday.  The first Friday in nearly 49 years that Portland won’t be celebrating the weekend at a dance bar called Embers.

It’s been going nearly as long as I’ve been around.  Sometimes strong.  Others…well, it was one of the bars that I referred to as being in a three-way tie for second worst gay bar in Portland.  

The worst, Casey’s has always in my mind held the best wishes for continued success by these three bars:

One of the contenders for second worst – The Fox and Hounds – sold a few months back and immediately launched a transformative campaign to alienate its base clientele by changing everything.  The campaign was known as “We’re not going to be making a lot of changes or anything”.

Embers shuttered it’s drag stage and dance floor at 2:30 this morning for the last time after announcing earlier this week that its owner had suffered a stroke and was no longer able to run the business.

So…CONGRATULATIONS, EaglePDX, on being the last second worst gay bar in Portland!

Oh, and Casey’s quietly closed a few months back, so…this is a really big day for you!

All that having been said, Embers holds an awkward place in my nostalgic old heart.  So much so, that I would still pop in every couple of weeks or so for a beer and some chat with the staff.  Usually, I was the only non-homeless person and non-somehow tenuously employed by the bar patron in the place.

This is my life, people.  Try not to cringe.

But back before making its run at the title for second worst gay bar in Portland, well…it was an IT bar for Portland.

I was forcibly relocated to the Great Plains before I could legally drink or patronize a night club in Portland.  Two facts that the Great Plains didn’t really give a fuck about, because my Catholic High School honor student buddies started taking me to one of the two (only) premiere (by default) night clubs (dive bars) in beautiful downtown (no comment) Atchison, Kansas to do homework (I shit you not) when I was 14.

Kiby’s East – there was no other Kiby’s – was where I learned to both harshly judge and appreciate a true shit-hole-in-the-wall bar.  When it’s 50% of your choices – 33%, if you seriously consider doing nothing to be an option – you make the most of it.

It was on the banks of the Missouri River.  On sultry summer nights, they’d open up the back doors to let the breeze cool the dance floor.

They had $1 pitchers of beer for what would pass as happy hour.  Perfectly affordable to us high schoolers whose after school jobs paid $2.35 an hour.

I once saw – while taking a study break on the mezzanine – a big muscly guy dancing by himself on the crowded dance floor.  Well, I say he was by himself, but over his wife beater clad shoulders he was wearing what I hoped was his pet boa constrictor cum dancing partner.  I watched as he flirted with it, lifting its head to his lips to kiss at it playfully as the snake’s tongue flickered at his lips.

Then, in an emotionally scarring PDA, he put the whole head of his snake in his mouth.  I’ve seen similar things happen at EaglePDX.  

Colloquially-speaking.

So, from boas constrictor to feather, I have a good idea of what makes a bar tragic or fabulous or something of the unremarkable in between variety.

Embers was all of these at some point over the 21 years that I’ve been whetting my whistle at its gold fish inhabited bar.

One of The Fabulous Baker Sisters put Embers on my social radar via MySpace after I moved back to PDX from SoCal in the winter of ‘96.  

When The Fourth Fabulous Baker Sister speaks, I listen.  Especially about booze, clubs or in this case, both.

My socializing quickly began to include Embers.

Occasionally, I would go there after work with my team to dance our asses off and blow off steam built up over the course of the week.  I would usually park my Jeep in front of the building I now live in and stagger back several hours later feeling invigorated and refreshed, baptized in the sweaty waters of a smoke machine filled dance floor.

The next day my chicken legs were rubber at work from too much dancing.  But those nights of group dancing with Margi, Candace, Jackie Jack Ass, Erica-Schmerica and Panzy are some of my most treasured 20-something memories.  Pansy being a couple decades our senior, but representing and showing us how it was done…even if toward the end of the night it was done on her back, waving her arms in the air on the dance floor after too many drinks and/or clove cigarettes.

Other times, I’d sit alone at the gold fish inhabited bar and drink.  Raven, one of the older drag performers would chat me up, hitting on my unreceptive ears as we watched Linda Lee obscenely tongue flick her way through performing a song whose words she was only vaguely acquainted with.  This was how I preferred to watch the show after the first time a drag queen hit on me here.  Jumping off the stage after her number and bee lining her way through the crowd of chairs right up to me to introduce herself.

That DQ was a sexy boy, turns out.  I should have set aside my own homophobia and accepted his advances.  Probably, it would have headed off some bad mojo I didn’t know was brewing for my future.

Every Pride Parade I attended in Portland passed by this Portland icon, overflowing the crowd into the street for the day, much like the scene from last night.

Sometimes, I would stop by with Black Sheep Bro, where without fail, my straight slightly younger brother would get hit on in a gay bar and I would not.  That’s fair, thanks, universe.  I chalk it up to my self-unrealized intimidating beauty.

Then there was the time I turned those tables and met a so-called straight boy whose friends had allegedly failed to show up for the evening.  I turned from the bar to face the dance floor after ordering a drink, the machine generated smoke parted and out walked Sacha.

The good old days…yeah.

Ten years later, I moved away.

Ten years later, I moved home.

Again.

Embers was still there.

Portland’s heralded gay strip – which Embers was never on – Stark Street, graphically nicknamed Vaseline Alley, had been broken up.  Now, instead of a street filled with gay bars and then Embers, way over there; Portland now had gay bars all over the inner part of the west side of town and Embers was sitting dead in the middle of them.

Literally, dead, as it came to pass.

Living now right across the Park Blocks from the bar, I’d go in there…and it just wasn’t the same.

Some familiar bartenders and staff.

The owner sitting at the end of the bar, being asocial.

Some drag queens.

But the crowd was hard to find.

An occasional crowd at a performance, but now the drag community – at least in these four walls – had become so insular as to be nearly exclusive.  It’s probably my own fault, rebuffing Raven’s advances and dissing that other boy in a dress so many years ago…this was my karma.

Latin night on Sundays.  That had a crowd! But the bar wasn’t so much a celebration of the Latin pop culture of Selena and Shakira as it was a horrifying celebration of a mariachis meets quincinera Latin culture.  Again, it felt strangely exclusive to my old white ass.

Which is too bad, because Latin men…<swoon>.  Looking at you, Wallpaper.

Pride was still an amazing experience here.  Sadly, that raucous party was just a single day in the year.

I stopped trying to catch the nostalgic night scenes from my 20s and 30s and would settle for stopping by for a happy hour drink.

I began walking on the far side of Broadway from the bar after running into a day-drunk friend stumbling out of Embers for the third time in the first six months after moving back to the hood.  Aaah, the glamor of a gay bar that opens at 11 am.

Also, running into bored daytime bartenders smoking on the street put me at too great a risk of becoming that stumbling day drunk person during my idle days.

But now that risk is gone, for better or for worse.

The neighborhood gossip mill has started in with the “here comes more ugly condos” trope, but it could be worse…the building’s decades long decay could just accelerate.

Surprisingly, the rumor mill hasn’t resurrected – as far as I know – the rumor that Silverado, one of the Vaseline Alley era bars, was moving from its exile in SW to take over the space, closer to the other gay bars.  Since it and Casey’s were the only gay bars in SW – technically, Vaseline Alley was in SW, but only by one block – now that rumor would make total sense.  This would leave Scandals as both the only gay bar of any significance in SW and the only gay bar left in the original gaybourhood…tightening the gay scene in Portland, once again.

That wouldn’t be so bad, in my opinion.

Alas, the news is reporting that the building’s owner is looking to sustain the space as part of the LGBTQI community, seeking investors from around the nation to invest some capital in the space and open a fresh gay club.

And that’s an outcome I can appreciate.

RIP Embers.  And thanks for the mEmberies.

Embers

On The Road, Again.


(Plane not to scale)

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

You all know how I love flying.

And covering my true emotions with humor.

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


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

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

What can I say?  They obviously love me.

Speaking of love.  

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

Why?

A couple of things:

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

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

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

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

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

Hell, for that matter, just learn their name.

See?  I’m ranting.

But…because there’s always a but.

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

Ever heard of the Stranger on a Plane Theory?

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

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

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

Luckily, I have WordPress.

And you.

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

I’m.

Never.

Gonna. 

See.

Them.

Again.

Right?

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

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

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

Mostly, because it hadn’t existed until then.

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

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

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

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

No boys required.

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

Until, of course, I met…

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

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

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

Anonymity filter prevails.

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

<fans face>

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

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

I just enjoyed his company.  

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

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

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

It was dinner Monday night: Food Truck Night.

Outside in the side parking lot of our hotel.  

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

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

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

How could I not adore him instantly?

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

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

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

We had three options to vote for.

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

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

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

I see.

No confusing messages here.

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

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

The boy can eat!

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

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

Surrounded.

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

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

He didn’t reply.

Oh, well.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If he only knew.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On The Road, Again.