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

Commitment

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

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

But that’s just my EOG default.

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

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

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

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

Yuck-yuck-yuck.

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

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

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

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

Spoiler Alert:  I stole it.

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

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

I still got the job.

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

Sidebar: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But families and buses are different than relationships.

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

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

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

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

Right?

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

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

Newsflash:  people are scared and selfish.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Commitment

Getting Lit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fun!

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

Good times!

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

Enter, The Witness.

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

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

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

I don’t like it.

Tried to.

Can’t.

It’s like dating more than one guy.

No, actually dating, you tramps.

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

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

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

Talk about lowering the bar.

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

<eye roll>

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

Once again, we started off with innocent enough chatter.

Innocuous.  Hair talk.

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

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

You really just can’t win with some people.

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

“Simultaneously?, I ask.

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

Of course.

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

As if the pink eyebrows weren’t proof enough.

Then she cut my hair too short.

Getting Lit

On The Road, Again.


(Plane not to scale)

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

You all know how I love flying.

And covering my true emotions with humor.

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


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

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

What can I say?  They obviously love me.

Speaking of love.  

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

Why?

A couple of things:

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

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

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

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

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

Hell, for that matter, just learn their name.

See?  I’m ranting.

But…because there’s always a but.

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

Ever heard of the Stranger on a Plane Theory?

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

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

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

Luckily, I have WordPress.

And you.

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

I’m.

Never.

Gonna. 

See.

Them.

Again.

Right?

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

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

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

Mostly, because it hadn’t existed until then.

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

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

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

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

No boys required.

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

Until, of course, I met…

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

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

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

Anonymity filter prevails.

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

<fans face>

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

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

I just enjoyed his company.  

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

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

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

It was dinner Monday night: Food Truck Night.

Outside in the side parking lot of our hotel.  

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

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

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

How could I not adore him instantly?

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

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

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

We had three options to vote for.

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

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

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

I see.

No confusing messages here.

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

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

The boy can eat!

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

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

Surrounded.

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

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

He didn’t reply.

Oh, well.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If he only knew.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On The Road, Again.

The Fiendly Skies

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

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

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

Working at the airport is convenient in this scenario.

Myrtle: You move, you die.

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

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

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

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

Ruminating.

Reflecting.

Bouncing back and forth between personal thoughts and work.

Did I pack everything?

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

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

I should start going to the gym again.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God, I hate flying.

Y’know, that type of productive mind vomit.

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

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

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

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

So, that’s how it’s gonna be, eh?

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

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

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

Ugh.

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

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

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

C’mon, universe!

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

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

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

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

Nevertheless, she persisted.

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

You know what PLoop does?

Persists.

And I find it endearing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Belt off.

Fourth back.

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

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

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

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

I give the guy a palms up gesture.

He moves on.

“Who’s kicks are these?”, he asks.

Those would be mine”, I say.

“Sick”

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

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

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

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

This time, it’s just a little stroke.

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

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

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

The line is around the store.  

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

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

I wanted a book and a Monster.

Idiots.

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

No coat.

Fuuuuuuuck.

I start ringing anyway.

Where did I leave it?  

Must have been security.

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

The pre-security store!

Fuuuuuck, again!

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

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

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

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

It’s 6:15.

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

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

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

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

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

The Boss comes back with his carry on in tow.

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

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

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

Cheap ass bastards.

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

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

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

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

My conclusion?

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

No wonder the airline’s acronym is

Doesn’t 

Ever

Leave

The

Airport

But I’m not naming names.

The next thought I have?

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

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

The Fiendly Skies

My Huge Confliction

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

We’ll see…

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

Normally, Mistress Myrtle’s feeding routine is:

Dried Salmon snacks when we wake up,

I leave kibble for her to nibble throughout the day,

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

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

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

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

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

There’s something seriously messed up with my fridge.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I want.

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

$3.43

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

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

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

Seriously.  

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

Me:  Yup.  $8.49

Hipster Cashier:  Let me fix that for ya.

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

HC:  <distractedly> Oh.

Not a question or surprise.

HC:  OK, your total is $8.49 then.

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

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

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

Or

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

My Huge Confliction