Paul Simon May Want To Rethink A Thing Or Two

Namely, the whole “Call Me Al” situation.

Why?

I’m not sure Al is what anyone really wants. Specifically the “Al” located in equality and separating it from equity.

What? You thought I wouldn’t bend over backward for a cryptic blog title?

Pish.

All summer long, I’ve heard cries for equality from marginalized communities. Not just in Portland, certainly, but from all across the country. Don’t get me wrong, this is perhaps not a rallying cry that originated in Portland – but we certainly picked that baton up and ran with it.

Our unofficial forecast doesn’t get to be “Cloudy, with a chance of protests” for nothing. Although, to be fair, as the kinkiest city in America…one might wonder if we mistook that baton for an adult toy. But that’s a rabbit hole for another time.

No, the Al/equality issues I’ve been observing this year have their origins in Minneapolis. The protests against Police Brutality and the calls for an end to Systemic Racism in America after George Floyd’s murder this past May started a nationwide movement that – thanks in no small part to our country and economy being shut down since March – have sustained like never before.

Thank gawd.

It’s an idea whose time has come…or rather, that should have come back in 1865.

Not to be left out, while we joined in those protests, there was another battle or two surging here in Portland. Remember, “Cloudy, with a chance of protests“, that’s plural. So we’re helping with carrying the banner for the Black and BIPOC communities. But simultaneously, there is a movement that I’m considering two separate battles, despite a significant population overlap.

First, Trans Rights.

This folds into the outcry from the Black/BIPOC communities, to be sure. The cause of this issue points back specifically to trans-women being murdered across the country. The astonishing majority of these murder victims are people of color. Icing that crap cake is the shit frosting that while no one is asserting that these women were murdered by police, they are not crimes that are given seeming equal gravity and diligence by police.

On the heels of that shituation is a phenomen that I think is definitely more important locally: Sex Workers Rights.

What can I say? We love our strip clubs here. I’d say grabbing a drink at a strip club – regardless of your gender – is as much a part of our town’s fabric as Food Carts. If there’s not a naked dancer basically within an arms reach, what’s the point?

But our local Sex Workers have been seeking legitimate standing as part of our work force for quite some time. The COVID-forced shutdowns of the clubs only exacerbated their frustrations.

The basic root or mascot of all these movements? In a word (or three)?

White, cis-males.

On second thought, maybe if Paul Simon was referring to an Al of either the Sharpton, Green or Jolson variety, he may not mind sticking to his guns on his “Call Me Al” take. But, if his Als were of the Bundy, Gore or Chipmunk varietals then, yeah…maybe it’s time to set those aside.

But I digress.

The irony of this targeting by these minority communities is that I don’t think any of those individuals would want to swap lives/situations with your run of the mill white, cis-males.

Which is why I try to focus on using words like equity or parity versus equality.

Take Gay Marriage as an example. It was called the fight for Marriage Equality, but what’s the first thing we do once we have it?

Open Marriages.

Pick a blog post or three from my archives at random and read them. I’ll bet at least one mentions some form of my observations of relationships in the gay community.

Basically, once The Gays had Marriage Equality, they changed it to suit themselves versus conforming strictly to established institutional norms.

We didn’t want Marriage Equality, so much as we wanted Equity. We wanted the same right to marry as heterosexual couples, but we didn’t want what their marriage had morphed into over time and religion.

Do you get the difference I’m trying to highlight? Cuz, it’s a fine point, and it’s late…and I had my syzzurp…so maybe I’m not doing the best job of articulating it.

I had to take a sleep break last night. Didn’t want to be blogging under the influence. (He says, sipping his beer)

Ok, so let me try another take on the point I was trying to make last night re: equality vs equity.

Let’s just say for the sake of argument that reparations for slavery were granted. Set aside any thoughts you have on awarding damages centuries after the crime…it’s just an example.

Now, let’s say that some lawmaker rips off my blog and decides that those reparations will be awarded in the form of a poorly named cracker box style suburban home with a nice little white picket fence and a new American made minivan in the driveway.

Sure, you might have some takers. Folks that realize something is more than nothing.

But.

I’d wager a large percentage of settlees would look at that settlement wondering what their net would be from selling those items…because culturally what the Black community values isn’t necessarily a direct translation to what white people would consider “The American Dream”. Actually, add “American Dream” to the list of systemic racism than needs dismantling.

Seriously…all you people that assert you can’t be a racist because you have a Black friend, ask your Black friend. Actually, ask them what Black people stereotypically think about white people.

One of two things will happen:

First, you’ll find out that they aren’t your friend, they are just friendly toward you because they are nice, possibly slightly scared of you. But, maybe they don’t actually trust you. You’ll know if this is the case because they won’t tell you anything. They’ll look at you like this

And then you know you’ll be needing to go back to the drawing board and read the things you’ve just been reposting to social media as an ally and take it in, do the work, build their trust.

The other thing that might happen is that they will absolutely unload on you with a machine gun of hilarious stereotypes that will make you second guess the validity of the statement

Stereotypes exist for a reason

Because…when you hear white peoples stereotypes, you’ll realize how bizarrely inaccurate racial stereotypes are. It’s way more than Karen asking to speak to the manager.

I had a Black co-worker back in the mid-80s. She did something embarrassing one day at work and absolutely fell out laughing. When she caught a breath, the first words out of her mouth were, “If I was white, I’d be red”, meaning she’d be blushing.

That’s when I started laughing, because: hilarious. Sheila – my friend – on the other hand, heard herself and stopped cold.

No more laughing.

Whites visible all around her eyeballs.

“What?”, I asked.

“You weren’t supposed to know that…”

“Because it’s a secret that Black peoples don’t ‘blush’? I wish I had your cover…I’d be way cooler.”

Then she laughed again, shaking her head as if to suggest that I could not, indeed, be cooler cool under any circumstances.

Ok, ok…I know a lot of you nonracists might not have Black friends to validate your status as an ally. But maybe ask your Asian friend what white people smell like. If they don’t say “Butter”, then go back and reread all the crap you’ve been blindly reposting to social media and work on building your ally trust.

Because white peoples are hilariously boring, and notoriously ill-humored about it. And, yeah…kind of have a butter-y odor we are nose blind to.

Shit, some of the hilarious things my Black friends have told me about white stereotypes…the funniest thing about them is my reflexive denial and eventual admission that they were more accurate than I’d like to believe.

We don’t have flavorful foods. We’ve ripped off plenty of cuisine from other cultures and then diluted their flavor profiles with cheese. Don’t even get me started on how we confuse heat for flavor.

We don’t make a big deal during sex, which is particularly strange since we make such a big deal about sex.

We actually can’t jump. Who saw that coming?

I’ve learned that nothing beats admission to the ally club faster than being able to recognize ones own cultural foibles. As is the usual in my life, I process through laughter.

Pain.

Joy.

Awkwardness.

Laughter doesn’t give me a clean slate of credibility when it comes to ally-ship. But it builds a lot of bridges. If people understand that I’m not so bad, then they’ll forgive me the trespasses of not being a perfect ally. It’s an unfortunate truism that people who fancy themselves the best allies are probably doing more harm than good by wearing the badge proudly amongst their friends and actually setting a poor example.

Me? I view ally-ship through the same neurotic filter as everything else in my life, so when people criticize me, my default response is definitely not surprise.

I feel like – despite my weed cocktail induced restful night – I’ve drifted away from my point.

Oopsies.

Well, let me try and salvage wrap this up with this thought:

Equity is I think the pragmatic and clear way of approaching these equality calls we encounter.

People asking for equality don’t necessarily want what “we” have. I think it’s more powerful when we encounter these calls for equality to examine the things we take for granted that are at the core of that ask for equality. Then realize that they want the equity to live their lives as blithely as we do.

Case. In. Point.

I didn’t get pulled over last weekend.

I was out doing my Lyft schtick. As is always the case, I got a call for a ride while my car was in motion. I was driving down a four lane road, two lanes each direction, when the call came in. I looked down, hit accept, looked back up and I was in a turn lane that I didn’t want to be in.

Checking my rear and side view mirrors – and looking over my shoulder! – before zippering in between the two cars I remembered being in my immediate area.

But I didn’t signal…

To get to my passenger, I needed to reverse course and head back the way that I had come from. Of course…so I took a right and a left and then another left and then another left to get headed back in the correct direction.

The car I’d zippered in in front if followed me the entire way.

Well, it’s either a cop or I’m going to get murdered for cutting someone off.

It was a cop.

Now, here’s the thing: an hour earlier, I’d been driving downtown in one of our many three-lane and much maligned one-way streets when suddenly, a (sorry) rice rocket changed lanes from my right hand lane to the far left lane and then slammed on his (gender profiling) brakes at the stoplight.

Right in front of a cop.

Me, sitting at the light, caught the bored cop in the passenger seat’s eye and pointed out the car sitting directly in front of them, suggesting maybe the cops should do something about their flagrant moving violation.

Nothing.

Not even a glimmer of an acknowledgment that they too had witnessed the wreck-less-mess of the situation.

Well, there’s my tax dollars at work.

So, jump cut to an hour or so later when these headlights are following me around a residential block and I’m actually erring on the side of being murdered rather than being followed by a cop.

Here’s the thing you need to understand about me. I really do try to live according to the motto “Do the right thing, even when no one is watching”. So not signaling my earlier zippered lane change had me feeling neurotic anyway for failing to meet that standard. But that same neurosis jumped over the likelihood of being followed by a cop right to being followed by a murderer.

Because: me.

I debated pulling over and parking until the car passed, but opted for pulling into the right lane, forcing them alongside me at the next light.

Sure enough, cop.

I just can’t catch a break. A small-dicked, gun toting hothead that was angry over my earlier lane change would have really done wonders for my retirement planning.

Anyway.

I smize (smile with my eyes) knowingly over my mask at him and he nods at me from behind his own mask, making what I thought was a vague hand gesture. I drop my mask to one ear and give him a palms up. He does the same, repeating his confusing hand gesture.

I roll down my window and he does the same. I resist saying “Occifer” by way of greeting-slash-demanding-an-explanation, because I have a bare minimum of maturity.

He asks if I’m doing ok and I assure him I’m fine, just got lost in the traffic pattern change. Of course, he has to be one of those cute bastard cops instead of one of those stereotypical fat, doughnut aficionado bastard cops.

This is still my life we’re talking about, after all.

“You gonna be able to get home ok?” I know he’s inferring I’m driving drunk versus offering to accompany me home. I take my Lyft light off the dash and flash it at him replying that I’m trying to make sure everyone else gets home ok. Then we both head off once the light changes.

Nothing I appreciate more than consistency. Sadly, this is not an example of that. I mean, seriously, in the course of an hour I go from watching someone careen across three lanes of light traffic in 100 feet, slamming on their brakes in the process and cutting off a cop; to white cis-male me, changing lanes without signaling and barely avoiding a traffic stop in the process.

The original cops were partnered up and looking bored, but continued straight ahead after the other driver turned in front of them. I get followed for five blocks before manipulating my more curious but still apathetic cop into a confrontation.

Ugh.

Ugh.

But the biggest “ugh” isn’t the inconsistent inquisitiveness or traffic violation follow through. No, it’s the certainty that I was absolutely profiled by my cop and that affected how I wasn’t pulled over.

Those original cops were just apathetic. Either not even aware enough to have witnessed the violation or just didn’t care enough to be bothered by it.

To be honest, they bothered me more than the (perhaps only situationally) short-willied driver they ended up narrowly avoiding rear-ending.

But I don’t for a second doubt that if I’d been cruising in a hooptie instead of in Angela, I would have been pulled over and most likely hauled in for my moving violation – at best.

So, while I firmly resent the pigmentally-challenged Al group that I fall into, I don’t for a second take it for granted. As a matter of fact, I resent the cop who let me off with a “warning” almost as much as I do the apathetic cops who are just cruising their way to a fat PERS retirement payout for 25 years of doing a shitty job.

Neither is doing society any favors. Because I know that if these cops had been in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on May 25th, 2020…their behaviors would have been as derelict in their duty as those cops standing by watching George Floyd die instead of tasering Derek Chauvin’s cracker ass.

This little slice of life bullshit cop behavior that I witnessed over the course of barely an hour perfectly highlights the injustice Blacks and other minorities experience at the hands of the cops. I don’t deny that lane changing without signaling is not our society’s most pressing issue…but in this instance, it’s an example of greater issues. Knowing Black peoples have died at the hands of the police for far lesser infractions makes me mad. Not because I want a ticket, for sure. But I’d like to live in a society where everyone received the same grace as I do. Or the same latitude those punk kids cruising in the rice rocket daddy bought them – undoubtedly for some inane high school sports accomplishment – received.

Until that happens consistently versus haphazardly and likely as a product of not profiling…I’m not gonna be happy being any version of an Al.

Because, while I am bothered by the professional inconsistencies I see and experience from cops, I know it’s nothing compared to the potentially life ending things experienced at the hands of cops by BIPOC folk.

And that really bothers me because it’s just wrong. That should bother everyone. Despite what my mother tells me, I’m not special. If I can see this inequity, then anyone and everyone should be able to.

It’s enough to make me wonder if people would rather just not see it…

Paul Simon May Want To Rethink A Thing Or Two

Eff Em El

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

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

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

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

And this day started out so promising, too.

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

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

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

As if psyching out fate is a damn thing.

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

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

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

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

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

    No Me Pises

    You should probably wait for the laughter of your inner teenaged boy to die down before moving on…

    No me pises translates from Spanish to English as something familiar.

    Even if you aren’t a Proud Boy.

    Or a gun nut.

    And I’ll tell ya, this American is taking it back this week like The Gays took back the Proud Boys hashtag last week. Seriously, what were those bigoted idiots thinking trying to usurp pride from The Gays?

    Buncha dopes.

    What a wonderful time to be re-watching Ally McBeal…

    Not such a wonderful time to get a late night Messenger notice from Black Sheep Bro. I mean, surrealiously I’m on the West Coast and he’s in friggin’ Texas. Why he’s sending me messages at 11 PM my time?

    I don’t know.

    Nor do I know what brotherly charm he was hoping to evoke with this out of nowhere crap. But it didn’t do much to improve my disposition in the Xtopher vs Black Sheep Bro arena.

    But I do know that while he makes me scratch my head – and delete Snapchat – and ponder whether he’s heckling me from a path I want to venture down, several others have tried calling me down similarly unappealing paths that I think they can just travel alone. Or at least without the pleasure of my company…

    Take this joker on the Twitter.

    Not to bury the lede, but I reported the rat bastard.

    Suck on that sweaty dick, Jimbo.

    If only all instances of intolerable bullshit were handled as expeditiously as Twitter handled this.

    Actually, sometimes they are handled thusly, these petty bullshit things. They just are not always the matters of import that draw attention.

    Lucky for all of you, dear readers, I’m not shy about holding up the lumps from my life for your appreciation.

    For instance, the situation that prompted this response from Lyft.

    Good old Marcy from Lyft.

    Here’s the story:

    I was out driving last weekend – Friday. It was after I possibly stressed myself into being ill two days last week, which is another blog post on its own. Needless to say, I was driving to play catch up on my self-imposed weekly goals. Fortunately for me, my hypochondriac episode malady occurred just prior to the first rainy Fall weekend of the season.

    Unfortunately for me, I ran into a rider who seemed conflicted about a lot of things.

    The first of which was the difference between a driver and a bartender therapist.

    He gets in and tells me he’s going to a friend’s house to have a few drinks and hang out. Because, as it turns out, his live-in girlfriend is giving him hell at home.

    For what it’s worth, I have a cat at home who prefers I not be at home.

    Seemed safe enough.

    Banal, one might even think if they didn’t know the feline that is Mistress Myrtle…no matter how angelic she may pretend to be for the ‘Gram.

    So this passenger manages to cram a lot into this ride that didn’t even beat the minimum fare! This particular swine was absolutely rolling in his own pearls of wisdom.

    I’m not sure whether it was my lacking in a certain luster enthusiasm for the quicksand caliber topics he was therapeutically trundling into.

    It was.

    Men have needs.

    Ugh. So absolutely rapey.

    At least there’s porn. Hey…what kind of porn do you like?!?

    Gay.

    Oh, sweet! That actually just made me a little hard. Do you want to touch it?

    This gem he drops as he’s getting out of the car.

    No. No, I do not.

    For so many, many reasons.

    Do I want to Bobbit you? Yes, yes…perhaps I do.

    Maybe it was something else that got me going. Maybe it was the overwhelming cumulative effect of his closeted and misogynistic monologue in such a short period of time. Or that I didn’t have a beer to wash the figurative taste of his words out of my being.

    But some things I do know.

    I got into my 50s being single by absolutely wasting my time on idiots like this clown – not you, Rib, you’re a dear. Certainly, I wanted to head right back to where I picked him up from and tell any angry looking women I met to dump their boyfriends.

    Most definitely, I’m no longer flattered by fuckbois who think copping a feel is a reward worthy of my effort and pursuit. Had I been him, I’d have for sure known that my attached stiffy did not afford me the right to stiff my service provider.

    Quite the opposite – I’d think I have enough shame to overtip if I made such a social blunder. Lucky me, running into someone with this joker’s uncommon knowledge.

    Maybe I’ll understand his entitlement someday.

    And then there was the whole…I just don’t know what to feel about-ness of his offer to be a side piece.

    A fling…at my age.

    An unsolicited pinch hitter for his main piece, who I’m sure was unaware that her boyfriend was out haphazardly recruiting.

    Probably, knowing me and my penchant for being rulesy, it was more that first thing than anything else. I got to be single in my 50s by defining my own acceptable standards of behavior. One of those standards is being alone instead of being in a relational situation simply because it’s not being alone.

    This fucker wanted it all. Most upsetting to me was probably that he and I disagreed on whether he was entitled to any.

    Anyway, unlike with the Twitter guy, I didn’t even report this guy. I simply one-starred him – and any passenger I rate as three out of five stars or lower, the app will never pair me with again.

    Personally, I think three or below is a pretty harsh scale, so I use my Star Hammer judiciously. Most of my rides – and I’m talking all but about five out of ~2500 rides – have been great.

    That being the case, I break it down like this:

    Regular great ride – four stars.

    Regular great ride with a tip – five stars.

    If you’re just a meh, I might three star you. The very infrequent individual that finds and inhabits the ass in “passenger” gets a one star. As you can tell, I don’t really find the relevance in that whole two star business…what’s that, the ass that tips?

    When I was young, like my early 20s, there was a thing going around. This was before memes but after email. Sure, it was like in the days of AOL email addresses, but still. We would print them out and hold onto them to share with friends.

    Now that I think about it, memes are really to young people what recipe cards used to be to 50s housewives – something to share with peers.

    The pre-meme that I wanted to share?

    Every day, I am forced to deal with someone who ends up on the ever growing list of people who can kiss my ass.

    But that Marcy from Lyft? She ain’t on it, for sure. But she’s certainly on it…meaning, when I one starred this passenger, I selected “inappropriate rider behavior” and made a note about the indecentident on the ride but didn’t file anything formal with Lyft. Hell, I was pretty sure no one but me ever saw those notes.

    But Marcy found my flag and followed up – just to tell me that she’d seen it and suspended the pig-fucker. On my mental scales of justice, I figured Marcy’s intervention balanced that poor girlfriend’s ledger.

    So don’t tread on others might be the better tag line here. I think trampling in America would be a lot less frequent if we watched out for these unknown others, even when the tramplers themselves don’t seem to even care enough to look over their shoulders for witnesses before trampling.

    Here’s my parting shot of Chrisism wisdom:

    Do the right thing, even when no one is watching.

    Hi, my name is Grumpy, Old Xtopher…and you can believe that I’m fucking watching. It’s not like I have much else to do in these End Times.

    No Me Pises

    The Word of the Day is: Myopic

    No, no…not a Mayo pic.

    Myopic.

    I’d dare say not many would accuse me of lacking imagination. And thanks to my mother’s apparently favorite game when I was growing up – What If – I think that I’ve a well-nurtured sense of foresight, and I’m on the look out for all the possible outcomes I can imagine. Also courtesy of my parents and their desire to provide me with a good education and hold me accountable to a respectable return on their educational investment, I think I have an above average grasp of intellectual insight.

    All of this provides me with the wherewithal to ask with a straight face:

    What the fuck are you people doing?!?

    It also provides me with the ability to analyze my own history of asking such challenging questions and determine from the past patterns of behaviors what the response will be.

    And yet, knowing that…I still ask.

    I think being raised the way I was, having the values instilled in me that my parents and education provided and then living the life I have as an adult keeps me from writing these stupid, stupid Americans off as a loss as so many do. And encourage me to do as well…but I can’t.

    When even Melania Trump gets it enough to even articulate if not fully understand her own First Lady branding, well…I guess with that low bar I expect just about anyone to understand how to Be Best.

    Or better. Or whatever the hell slogan she puts on the hats on her website.

    Ah, found it. It’s Be Best. And here’s a picture that sums up the execution of her own initiative about as well as anything else that this administration has done:

    Although, I particularly enjoy this iteration, too…

    So, why am I rambling on about myopia?

    Honestly, it’s mainly because I continue to be broadsided – and I mean that I’m a completely genderless manner – by people pursuing their own myopic interests, usually in an overtly selfish manner. But on occasion in a super nice looking cloak of larger social issues. Even if that cloak doesn’t actually go with the rest of their outfit, if you know what I mean.

    For.

    Example.

    Exhibit A:

    I was just caught off guard by this guy chatting me up on A4A while I was responding to a message from a guy I’ve been trading platonic, neighborly messages with since he lives down the street from me and the Silver Fox seems to have abandoned me. (By the way, SF, you’re out of everything again…😂)Remember the guy I was there chatting with? He’s close to me, just like I am to this guy. Perhaps my failure to demand to see his junk has somehow retarded the advancement of our friendship. Nah, I kid…it’s because he doesn’t drink.

    Anyway, I declined this Hungjock1995’s offer to view and assess my junk, assuring him I was a fair and modest representation of my race and gender. He didn’t want to take my word for it.

    See how he throws out himself as representing “the normal” of The Gays as a pejorative? Our prior few messages were all one word replies from him, which is the challenge you see at the top of the frame in the first pic. As his criteria for engaging are: attractive, nearby and big dick, I can’t disagree with that assessment, I just won’t accept it and speak out against it when I encounter it.

    Honestly, I don’t know what I expected from someone whose screen name is Hungjock1995 and can’t muster the fortitude required to have a face pic on his profile. It seems like my habit of telling people my name when I engage with them and unabashedly decorating my asocial media profiles with a picture of my face makes me unique.

    And that was my catalyst for finally tapping this out. This guy can’t see past the tip of his own dick far enough to act like a normal human being. Nor can he muster any sense of shame or appropriate mortification for his behavior when it’s pointed out to him. He just sinks back into the cesspool of collectively acceptable human behaviors, indicating that other people let him get away with it so it’s ok.

    Quite a dichotomy at work there: unapologetic about crap behavior, smart enough to at least not associate his image or sully his good name with those same behaviors.

    Seems like he is hung in the “all frank, no beans” way. Cuz his cowardly behavior clearly indicates the absence of a set of balls.

    His myopic world vision is at least self-serving in an immediate way: he wants to get his (apparently sunflower seed sized) rocks off.

    Other people’s recent nearsightedness has had a more immediately dangerous impact. Actively treating others with disrespect in pursuit of your own selfish desires only demonstrates the minimally acceptable behaviors to the people who’s paths you cross, setting an example for them to live down to. Given my parting shot before – I assume – getting blocked, people don’t experience bad behavior anymore and think “I didn’t deserve that”. Nowadays, they look at those experiences and the takeaway seems to be “Ok, so that’s what I can get away with, too!”

    Exhibit B:

    There’s this local activist whose Instagram profile I came across as I’ve been witnessing my anarchist jurisdiction of a hometown’s protests from the mostly safe distance Instagram provides. So I followed him. When I see good content, I want to keep seeing it – and these protests are too important to not see. Yes, I just worked Nazi into this example that is centered around police brutality.

    Then he followed me.

    Then he followed me from a secondary account.

    Instead of making a nice veil out of that red flag to match the dress and continent dragging train I’ve made with the other red flag behaviors men give me, I just took it at face value and let it lie.

    See? Sometimes I can be chill.

    Ok, maybe I called it out a little and accepted the response that one was his personal page and the other was – and I’m paraphrasing here – more of his brand page where he could catalogue his participation in the protests. Just like he didn’t overreact when I observed that his accounts both seemed to like each other’s social media activity quite a lot.

    That’s the way it’s done.

    Gawd, I really loathe that rationale.

    But I’m chill. I let it go.

    He’s got good content on his protest page. The messaging is responsible and he’s not glamorizing any of the more destructive elements of our local protests – which makes his content a lot more focused on the point than the news seemed to be able to do.

    And as I watch his feed for the next few months and we trade messages that are sometimes nearly long enough to qualify as a conversation, I begin to feel a familiarity. Like we’re people who could meet in real life and have a not-awkward conversation…yes, this is the bar these days.

    Of course, then he starts working in videos of his remote viewing experiments and I think, “Oh, here we go…all aboard the Crazytown Express”. Not too long after that, I see him on the Grindr and am not even upset that he’s a Top/Vers, because I’m not thinking like that. However, I also see his profile blurb and wonder why men even bother to speak. Gay men in particular seem to do nothing with their mouths of any value unless their lips are wrapped around a – well, never mind. His profile ends with him imploring people to “be realistic”.

    The implication there not being that it’s not realistic to expect him to be polyorgasmic or ready to settle down on the first date. No, the implication was more, “Look how desirable and hot I am! If you aren’t as hot as me, don’t bother.”

    I may have only nearly avoided experiencing a remote vomiting episode.

    Which is really disappointing after the effort he’s put into polishing up that turd of a personality on his other social media profiles. But I get it, it’s 2020. People compartmentalize their needs in order to meet them expeditiously. Truly, I believe that compartmentalization is part of how people become so myopic. They forgive themselves their shitty behaviors by locking them away, out of sight and view themselves only through the filter of their better qualities they keep on public display.

    For instance this guy’s Grindr profile presumably meets his sexual needs as well as his need to posture and establish himself as superior to others.

    But I let that go. I thought about calling it out, because, really…it’s one sentence. How hard could it be to edit it out or carry on with the burden of ignoring advances from unworthy and unrealistic people? But I’m chill, I let it go.

    Then last night I saw him attending a wedding on his Instagram.

    In Texas.

    I’d only recently gathered that he’s from Texas, as a story from the day before was his family singing happy birthday to him – so I also assumed that was the reason for his trip. I get that. I’ve experienced the familial pull to come home when living away.

    But, in a pandemic?

    To Texas?

    And the birthday story seemed to be evenly split between people who take their health for granted and people whose age puts them at risk on top of any other underlying conditions that may be present.

    I kept it low key with a private response to his post…

    He seemed so much smarter than that level of behavior. He consistently wore his mask while at protests – not even doing that dumb thing people do where they pull down their mask to talk.

    But here he was, traveling to Texas and immediately exposing his family to whatever he brought in from Oregon as he loaded up with whatever the Texas fam had to give him to bring back…by not wearing a mask at either the birthday party or the wedding.

    And then he publicly posts my private message to him on his story.

    It was super nice of him to block out my profile pic – which is just the cover of my first book, including my name but no picture of mine truly. His response was…uninspired.

    And after that, I was done with the conversation and went back to watching The X-Files. If he’s in that headspace where he’s defending his brand over his individual wants and whims, I have heard that song too many times.

    That’s his nearsightedness. I didn’t really feel the need to let him practice his validations and rationalizations on me.

    Little did I know, he wasn’t done. When I checked back in before bed, he’d added like four new thoughts to what had become his one sided conversation. Apparently, he was going to practice his PR regardless of input from me.

    So, I spared my words in response and gave him the “Sure, Jan” and “Live Long & Prosper” emojis and went to bed.

    It’s amazing how hard someone will work to defend their actions instead of thinking, “Geez, people will probably have an issue with this action…maybe I shouldn’t post it until a future date, if at all”.

    One path certainly seems like less effort.

    But also…less attention.

    You know how in Peter Pan, Tinkerbell is saved by people clapping? I think that’s what it is, clapping…it could be something else. And not to draw any unintentional lines between The Gays and stereotypes like Tinkerbell…but that’s what’s going on here. This guy can’t not do the right thing and not engage in risky behavior by attending a wedding in Texas – which was certainly a myopic decision in and of itself by the bride & groom. Nor can he not get the attention – positive or negative, because he comes right out and says that he knew people would take issue with his decision – for participating so he just throws out his videos for the world to lavish him with attention in any form.

    Look. The Fuck. At. Me.

    I see you.

    No, no…I see you.

    Your validation for going is that it was your best friend, who apparently holds you in such high regard that he invited you to his Hot Zone Wedding. You back that up with some Swiss cheese pseudo-scientific BS about keeping your masks on until picture time – and I’m sure that the virus would certainly respect your need for photos at this wedding and not take advantage of your naked faces. Just like smoke did in bars when it was permissible – it never made anyone’s clothes reek of smoke but the people who actively smoked inside.

    Riiiight.

    For good measure, he reminded me that he’s a social worker and that two of his friends that attended are teachers and parents.

    That didn’t make me feel any better at all for the future. Actually, it made me feel low key bullied…so I haven’t engaged with him about his going on three day layover in Seattle on his way home from Texas – so much for that quarantining he assured me he was going to do when he returned.

    Please, be realistic

    Exhibit C:

    I’m taking a break – I’m exhausted reliving this…should I mention it all happened over the course of 30 hours? From the first Exhibit, which is actually C, to now – the point at which I need a break because my eyes are crossing from reliving these experiences…

    BRB.

    Aaaand…it’s been two days. Trust me, Exhibit C is just continuing to make me believe that we are going to “evolve” into nearsighted cyclops.

    Cyclopses? What the hell is the plural of cyclops? Moreover, should I just know this by this point in my life?

    I don’t know…

    So, longtime readers/followers should have a ton of problem picking out my triggers from this post I found on a friend’s Facebook feed. Wait, I guess it’s my feed, but the friend’s post appeared on it.

    Anyone want to go first?

    No? Ok…<deep breath>

    First, generalizations. All non-cis-male and non-white people were rioting prior to RBG’s death. ✅

    Second, they attacked white cis-men, while not acknowledging that up until maybe two years ago, they enjoyed that label, even if only as a product of other people’s assumptions. ✅

    Third, they are using emotionally charged words and absolutes. Also, misusing the word “literally”. Absolutes OM particular are credibility dealbreakers for me. When people say things like “everyone” or “all the time”, etc, I pretty much crack my knuckles and prepare to slap my trust buzzer. Hard.

    Fourth, and there’s no way you could have known this – they posted this shit from Norway, where they enjoy dual citizenship thanks to a parent with the poor judgment to move to Amerikkka during the Bush 2.0 years. When it got too stressful here, they booked a trip the fuck outta here, so…yeah, tell me again how you’re out protesting the state of America before the white cis-men?

    Fifth – for extra credit – yes, it only took two comments before the impact of the potential damage this inaccurate shitpost could create became clear: a commenter asked them to make it shareable and by the time I screen shot this, it had been shared 3 or 4 times. So, basically, this inaccurate and emotionally malignant post was being shared as some sort of internet wisdom.

    My comment – which was third – was exactly

    Generalize much?

    That earned me only a 😡 reaction from the poseur poster, which I had to call out along with enumerating my issues with the factual and moral issues I had with this post. The response I got was basically “What I meant was” followed by the same inaccurate statement including absolutes and emotionally charged words. But in all caps, apparently for clarity.

    We’ve gone back and forth for three days now. And I say “we”, but really, it’s been me engaging three friends of theirs, two of whom blocked me after responding, which earned them the nickname of Seagulls since they just flew in, shit on me and then flew off again.

    Have I mentioned that using the block button usually signals to me that someone knows on some level that they have no valid position to argue, so they don’t. But instead of admitting their error, they just block the person who pointed out their error.

    Very mature, I know.

    Anyway, this original poster has popped in twice after his all cap non-response. Once to reply only “Yikes” to a rebuttal of mine to one of their friends. The other to comment something like “Yeah, see?!?” to another friend’s comment to me – which was basically a personal attack like “This is why no one likes you”.

    This example of myopic behavior – nothing matters but my rights and I will tell you if you’re supporting me wrong – is particularly bothersome to me. The implication is that they aren’t happy and the cost for that is that no one else can be happy.

    Only then will things be right.

    In this case, the wronged party is a trans woman, whose deadname I respectfully forgot – also CRS – in spite of the fact that their chosen name reads like syphillis. Even though I know their chosen first name represents the Earth in Norse mythology and is also the wife of Thor.

    Humble, no?

    People who fancy themselves social activists need to be responsible. The theme of the rebuttal comments were basically targeted at the gall I displayed by daring to challenge a minority group member’s inaccurate language.

    Imagine. Me, an old white man. I seemed to be the only one concerned with how close this post came to demonstrating that equality wasn’t the goal, punishing people who had more or got more sooner was the only acceptable outcome.

    These individuals had zero problem setting aside the fact that we were members of the same subculture – that being the LGBTQI+ community – and how dare I call for unity when I am white and cis-gendered.

    Really?

    I most certainly made a comment that they – the original poster, not all commenters (gender neutral pronouns are sometimes real head-scratchers in conversation) – were behaving immaturely as evidenced in both their irresponsible choice of words and their intractable stance at how potentially destructive they were. But I followed that up with the fact that despite how often I see posts that I feel miss the target, I’m still supporting my community with my vote.

    Not because they prove through their words and actions that they deserve equality – they don’t, as a matter of fact, Pride season any more just makes me want to stand on a corner holding up a cardboard sign saying “What have you actually done to feel proud?” because I can’t tell what it is anymore – but because equality is the right way to vote.

    Despite the fact that marriage equality – since it was the example used in the post – isn’t something I vote for for my own selfish reasons, as my marrying ship has sailed. I vote for candidates who espouse continued support of that right and others – DACA, Roe, ObamaCare – because the rights of younger generations with their futures ahead of them deserve these rights.

    Despite the fact I’ll likely not personally avail myself to them.

    In spite of the petty manner in which they demand these rights and the manner that they destroy their own culture from inside in pursuit of them.

    I vote for what’s right.

    Sometimes I feel like our country can be divided into two factions that are beyond politics or religion:

    Binocular Vision vs Monocular Vision?

    That seems like a fairly safe way to phrase it. It’s only vaguely threatening to a myopic citizen’s ego.

    It’s certainly safer than a more overt but nonetheless accurate Adults vs Children. Not that it matters, regardless of how one labels the two factions, I’m not sure the adults can stop the children from what I’m convinced will be a pyrrhic battle to get their way.

    I’m sad and scared to think of how much further into the bowl this country can swirl before it disappears.

    The Word of the Day is: Myopic

    Hey, You!

    Yeah, you. Can you…not, please?

    I know I haven’t been writing much. It’s a thought that occurred to me just as I was trying to decide what to do with my night. My knee jerk, rationalizing and disabling thought was “Well, it’s because I’ve been driving so much lately”.

    Now, there’s a thought I’ve been having often lately.

    Every time I do, I pop open the app, ready to pat myself on the back for my epic drive times.

    Also, every time I open the app I see I’ve driven less than 30 hours that week.

    It’s nuts, it certainly seems longer. But maybe that’s just a factor of how raspy my throat is from nattering at passengers for <30 hours. Possibly with a little or a lot of “my ass is sore as hell” mixed in. And, I’d be remiss if I didn’t warn Diezel to keep it clean here. Really, it’s just my right butt cheek that’s complaining, for whatever reason – and, no, it’s not my wallet.

    But that same thought comes around whenever I’m amazed at how many passengers I get from out of state. It’s just a factor of how much I’m driving.

    Except it’s not. And yet, copious visitors there are.

    Visitors from COVID-denying hotspots.

    Recent red state refugees that landed in Portland.

    And when I realize how few hours I drive and how often these folks present themselves, I am amazed at the inverse relationship. Assuming that how out of control the situation seems can be extrapolated based on the number of rides I give people each week.

    Of course, it can’t. This is all just me entertaining myself – and since I don’t feel mentally up to anything more seriously grumptastic than this, this is what you get.

    Another highly unscientific method for tracking these – and I don’t want to channel Trump here, but – visitors and transplants from less than desirable locations is just observation. This weekend, I drove Friday, Saturday and today. Three days in a row is unusual. I needed to make up for taking Monday and Tuesday off while the Silver Fox was visiting. Each of those three days I witnessed at least three license plates from Arizona.

    Just Arizona.

    I didn’t see any Texas or Florida plates…but maybe they are just less noticeable.

    Still, 9+ Arizona plates in ~15 hours seems like a lot. Let’s call it 18 hours of driving, which errs on the high side. Seeing an AZ plate every two hours seems pretty frequent.

    I could just see the virus swirling around the vehicles like dust around Pig Pen.

    Fortunately for my recreational hypochondriac, I’ve got my vents set to recirculate. I know it’s better to be letting in fresh air, but I drive through tear gas zones a lot and don’t want to rely on my reflexes to save my eyes and throat. So when I want fresh air, I put the windows down.

    Simple pimple.

    Now, because for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, last night I had a group of soon-to-be college kids in my car (not like that, Diezel). It was a 4-some, three guys and a girl with hiccups. Now, Lyft asks riders to certify that they will wear masks and not sit in the front, so imagine the hernia inducing restraint I exercised when one of these shitheads kids got into the passenger seat.

    You know you’re all supposed to sit in the back, right?

    Pretty mild on the passive-aggressive-o-meter, right? The kids says “Yeah” and closes the door.

    Okay, then.

    Next, I exercised restraint by not volunteering that they were obviously not going to be adding a tip onto their parents’ credit card.

    When I asked what they were up to on a Saturday night, one of the guys said that my front seat mate was leaving for college the next day.

    Do you even need more than one guess?

    Arizona State.

    Why?

    Ok, with the restraint I’ve exercised up til now, my incredulity here is forgivable, right? Something about not winning them all…

    “They have a great business school”.

    Wharton is a great business school…

    <crickets>

    From the backseat, “Hey, can you make a stop along the way?”

    You know what, Arizona can have these entitled, clueless punks. I hope this kid survives long enough to put his business degree to use.

    I don’t mean to paint Arizonans as universally bad people, mind you. I mean, could anyone with this plate be entirely bad?

    No, no they could not be. But could these flaming patriots stupid Americans just stop running amok with all of their Pig Pen-ish virus?

    Hey, You!

    So, How’s Your Monday?

    You’d think I’d know a good sign or minor omen when I saw one.

    Not this guy, nope.

    When I woke up at 3 AM in a manner that caused Myrtle to not just jump off the bed, but land outside the bedroom…that’s not a sign, right?

    That the cause of my sudden consciousness was that I’d dreamed I had been bitten by a snake while sleeping in my actual bed wasn’t a symbol, right?

    In the dream, the snake had latched onto the outside/pinky edge of my hand and was not letting go. It was also making eye contact with me in my dream whilst doing so. After what seemed like a minute in my dream, I reacted…by shaking my hand until the snake was flung clear of the bed.

    Or so I thought.

    But I was distracted from checking by Myrtle crash landing in the living room, so I forgot about the snake as my brain woke up.

    I called out for Myrtle as I realized my hand still ached where the dream snake had bitten me and wondered if Myrtle had been the actual perpetrator. That would explain why she wasn’t answering my call – like she ever does.

    Then I felt something scrabble up my neck and into my hair. I shook my head and loosely ran a hand through it to free it of any critters that had become entangled in my mane.

    Realizing my error, I jumped out of bed, flipped on the light and then flung back the sheets in search of any blood sucking little predators.

    Nothing.

    Heart pounding and semi wide awake, I turned to go to the bathroom. And then a snake…of hair flipped forward on my face.

    Now, wide awake and fortunately still needing to use the bathroom, I answered nature’s call. I tried unsuccessfully to calm my nerves while washing my hands, examining the one for what I hoped would remain phantom injuries as I did so.

    Failing at a return to normal breathing, I stopped at the freezer on my way back to bed and took a shot of ice cold tequila right out of the bottle.

    Might not help, couldn’t hurt that much.

    After a little tossing, I hear Myrt looking for a new place to sleep. She’s trying to open the drawers on my dresser to nest for the night. When I finally grow too frustrated listening to her to focus on my own sleep, I get up and shoo her under the bed.

    She’d succeeded in opening two of the eight drawers, but she’s happiest in the third tier, explaining why she hadn’t gone silent.

    But as long as I was up…I fed Myrtle her breakfast so she wouldn’t wake me too early.

    And took a second shot, to be sure I’d not be awake too early.

    Worked like a charm.

    I woke at 8, thinking I’d like to sleep more, but knowing the daylight would fight me. Hardly a surprise, given the dawn I saw breaking through the windows when I fed Myrt.

    So, I got up. Only to be rewarded by this.

    I hate that cat.

    Sometimes…I swear I added that in my mind as I typed.

    Seriously, I know dinner was late because I didn’t get home til 8 from mom and dad’s…but it was Father’s Day! Cut me some slack. You’re really gonna eat breakfast when you aren’t hungry just because I put it out? And then puke it up while I sleep?!?

    What a loathsome creature.

    I clean up Myrtle’s un-eating and brush my teeth. Rib had been texting me about a cappuccino machine he thought he’d talk his hubby into getting – the exact machine he already has, but with an integrated milk frother, which is so him – so I was painfully aware of my lack of coffee or energy drinks in the house. Throwing on a hat and sneakers, I’m off because obviously, a trip to Nossa Familia was in order.

    You can barely tell I’ve had a rough night and soon to be rougher morning. I arrive on the sidewalk to this.

    Just come the fuck on.

    I’ve had these tires about a month.

    Luckily, I wasn’t planning on driving. I stomp to the cafe, telling Rib I had dibs on their old machine as I went along. When I arrive, I order and the barista asked if I want to use my free drink that I always forget about.

    Yes! Yes…but add the $5 back as tip!

    If Monday has it in for me, at least I can try to get in good with Karma by tipping well.

    Worth it.

    I go back home, water the Silver Fox’s plants, grab his mail and then steal his Dyson handheld to go vacuum my car while I try out the compressor that came as a GWP with Angela.

    Worked like a charm – only took about 5 minutes, too! Now to shower and run up to Les Schwab to see if they can patch up or replace the tire they sold me. Hopefully, they can resist the urge to tell me I should replace all 4 tires again – which I fell for last time. Since these have less than 4K miles on them, hopefully my x-drive suspension won’t notice that one tire has 0 miles on it.

    Gawd.

    I hope that $5 tip worked. I don’t want to spend $250 on a new tire, let alone another thousand on all 4…wish me luck.

    So, how is your Monday treating you?

    So, How’s Your Monday?

    Victory!

    Hopefully the title didn’t turn you off – thinking, “Great, here he goes about protests again”.

    If it did, psych!

    Things had gotten entirely too heavy around here – as in most corners of the country – these days. Time to lighten it up…with a Comcast update!

    It’s been a little over a week since my new modem/router combo unit arrived. Initially, I was concerned as to whether or not I’d be able to successfully install the new device without the help of a twenty-something.

    I’m intrepid, though, so after a thorough social media and email blitz in what might have been my last visit to the interwebs, I took the plunge and pulled the plug.

    Literally.

    My main concern was getting my Sonos and AppleTV connected to the new device, which was pretty easy.

    Two plugs, two holes.

    Unlike the old router, which had four.

    Then I connected the router to the Comcast coax cable and plugged it in. After the lights did their thing, I opened up the Sonos app and got Aimee Mann Radio back into business.

    It worked!

    Then I got around to cleaning out the literal and figurative debris. This is what I pulled out from behind my console:

    And this is the after:

    Much cleaner. Something I’m not embarrassed to have seen sitting by my TV. In the first picture, you can see the giant old modem/router as well as a cable box – which I think I took advantage of having three times, max.

    You see, when I have to switch inputs to watch cable, I’m likely not going to do it. The most difficult part of the endeavor was remembering what “input” each of the different devices was on. I actually made a cheat sheet on my Notes app because I knew I’d forget.

    Anyway, I went about my afternoon and then later, settled in for some TV with dinner.

    It worked!

    I was on a roll.

    The next day, though, when I went to do some work on my laptop…no internet.

    Fine, fine, fine…I whip out the old instructions and start the troubleshooting. I hadn’t initially downloaded Arris’ app as the instructions had recommended. Having gone through everything in the instructions again with no change in results, I decided I needed to.

    Sure enough, after registering my device, it helpfully displayed a graphic showing that I had no internet. After a few minutes of staring at that like it was a hieroglyph, I started poking around for answers. I knew that I had logged the change in equipment – in an easier than expected manner – with Comcast the prior day. But for whatever reason, the juice wasn’t going to Internet.

    WiFi – check.

    Devices – check.

    Internet – no bueno.

    It was really mind boggling, trying to figure out why WiFi devices like my phone and speakers were tethered to the new device and functioning, but my laptop and iPad – which are also running off WiFi – wouldn’t connect to the internet.

    For whatever reason, I was getting a password request on any site I tried to open. Putting in the password for the new router didn’t work, either.

    Redoubling my effort to stare intently at the pop up box asking for a password left me with a new question.

    What the hell is a WPA2?!?

    That was the password being requested.

    Changing gears to stare with intent at the Arris app, it finally jumped out at me.

    Friggin’ fine print.

    There was a masked password under a bold heading that I’d initially skimmed past because it didn’t say “WPA2” over it. But on my third or seventieth glance, there it was in a tiny light gray font…

    Plugged that bad boy into the pop up box on my laptop and badda-boom, badda-bing…porn!

    Joking.

    In the app, I was also easily able to change my WiFi network’s name to something less generic so I could find it. Since my balcony faces the back of a hotel…I tailored my network accordingly:

    The only thing left was to call Comcast and adjust my package and billing.

    Because it took three attempts before I successfully managed to talk to a person, I added a Comcast contact to my address book. I had to. Having realized after the first two callbacks I set up that my phone sends all calls who aren’t in my contacts to voicemail, I really had no other choice.

    It’s not like I was gonna remember how to reset that feature any time soon.

    But, after a 44 minute convo with an employee who was both chipper and helpful, I walked away from the call with a bill that had gone from a $120/month 75mbps internet and cable bundle (to get the best pricing) to a stand alone 100mbps internet only service for $35/fucking month ($55/month after the first year).

    What a damn racket.

    When I was dependent upon them for equipment, bundled packages were the only option. And each piece of equipment costs to “rent” each month. My old modem was $14/month. The modem I bought was $91 on Amazon.

    91/14=6.5

    So I was paying for my old modem about twice a year.

    For about four years.

    I should change their contact name to Fucking Criminals.

    Now, I’m thinking I should start a pool on how long it takes me to actually return the equipment to their drop off. I’ve been twice in the last week, but both times there has been a crazy line outside the store due to social distancing protocols.

    With just one associate working the line.

    So I grumpy old left.

    Plus, I just realized this morning that I hadn’t thrown my Comcast remote into the box…oops. Looks like being an old grump saved me having to wait in that mess twice!

    Victory!

    Of Course, *I’m* The Bastard

    I own it, but don’t think I wear that label with pride. If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you probably know my triggers and how to avoid them.

    It’s not all that hard. Try to behave like a decent human being, try to be considerate of others, have a bit of integrity…pretty low bar shit.

    It’s that try business that both makes these criteria easy and challenging. And a bit forgiving at the same time.

    I never said I wasn’t complex – but still, when there’s wiggle room, how hard does one have to try to remain on the wrong side of grumpy old Xtopher?

    And if you’re going to put any effort into a relationship with me…how bad at effort do you have to be to end up remaining on that side of me?

    Enter – or re-enter in this case – Black Sheep Brother. If you haven’t read about him, try looking for the black story, er, back story. Seriously, I just did and failed.

    Long story short, Black Sheep Bro bailed on the family because he needed some time away. This was maybe 2005-ish. I was still with Sacha, so maybe it was even earlier…2002? I know it was – well, never mind. Short story is already long.

    I told him at the time – as he was my best friend. Wow, it just occurred to me that this was pre-Silver Fox! Anyway, he told me he needed a break and I warned him to not just disappear, “Do it right”, I told him, “That way re-entry won’t be a bitch. Or impossible.”

    Flash forward to now.

    Now.

    After I acceded to family pressure to reach out to him after he got married, moved to Shittatle and had a kid. Since we both lived in Seattle, reaching out was the obvious choice – just ask my mom and sister! Hehe.

    So I did it. That was three hours of my life I’m not getting back. During that talk, he finally told me “the reason” he needed a break. I apostrophenated – Chrisism – that because the reason defied reason. He said he was disappointed that mom hadn’t been more supportive when he got his DUI.

    “I expected more from you”, he said she said.

    “But your DUI was years ago”, I said.

    “No, the other one”, he replied.

    I know I failed to hide my reaction to that, but his excuse still smelled like bullshit. “I think that’s a parent’s job to say stuff like that”, I tried.

    It all ended with him showing me he had a full deck of victim cards, but at least I tried.

    Flash forward to 2013-ish and he’s moved to Texas with his wife and now two kids. To be near his wife’s family.

    In their state of bliss, they both take turns drunk dialing me to talk about how awesome they are. The wife trying to back channel a relationship for BSB and his family, for their kids.

    Black Sheep Bro slurring out conditions the family must accept in order to be rewarded with the presence of him and his progeny. Your basic shit show. Now, he’s laying out conditions like “As long as I don’t have to be around That Man“, which genuinely confused me. Of course, I asked, got no clarification and eventually started guessing. For my effort, I was rewarded with a “He knows what’s he did” when I guessed he’d been referring to our father.

    For the record, I think both of my parents are pretty damn awesome, so he’s partying alone in this Blame Game.

    I also pointed out that last time he laid the blame for his abandoning the family at mom’s feet. I also told him that conditional returns were not something I was going to condone.

    Apparently, he doesn’t need that kind of negativity in his life. I’m a real buzz kill, I know.

    But since then, I’ve not heard boo from him or his wife, even though I’ve been privy to the goings on because mom and his wife are friends on the Facebook. I’ve also managed to deflect suggestions from the family that I reach out to BSB for his fiftieth. That suggestion arose from his wife’s accurately interpreted vaguebooking that his marriage was ending.

    I considered myself fortunate to have been able to beg off that chore since I had an outdated number.

    Until.

    Present day…I get a text from my sis asking if I’d also received a friend request from BSB like her and our youngest brother.

    I hadn’t actually. I chalked this up to our last conversation and noted my surprise that he’d not blacked it out. But I also was only manufacturing any offense I presented because over the years I’ve been friended and unfriended by both him and his wife multiple times and received vague attempts at reaching out from Facebook profiles with fake names and no pictures – all claiming to be Black Sheep Bro.

    If I wanted to chat with faceless blank profiles, I’d spend my time on Grindr.

    But of course, my friend request came in a day or two after everyone else’s. And goddamnit, I wrestled with it – even while entertaining myself that he’d cared enough about me to do something petty like ask for my friendship last.

    Me being me, though, I found a way to be actually – and in my mind, rightfully – bothered. I was offended that after all the water under the bridge we’ve had, he just sends a friend request.

    That’s all.

    No nothing else.

    I didn’t know what to do with that. For a while, I leaned toward just accepting it without comment. How passive-aggressive of me. Realistically, I rationalized, this will probably result in him de-friending me yet again, so why not?

    But, then around midnight last night, I decided to demand an explanation.

    Via Messenger, because two can play the Drunk Dial game – I’m just playing the 2020 version.

    Really? Just showing up after all these years and all your vitriol with a “Hey, y’all!”?

    You’re not Paula Deen, yo.

    Why? Because your wife left you? Now we’re worthy of your attention?

    Tell me why you aren’t sticking it where you and I both know I should tell you to. What’s changed? How have you *suddenly* grown? Because all I want when I see this is to groan…I feel bad for you. But not badly enough to sign up for the same BS behaviors you’ve delivered in the past.

    And, y’know what? I genuinely felt that he owed me – us, as a family – some goddamned context. To just blithely send out friend requests on the Facebook without it left me vacillating between he felt entitled to our forgiveness and/or that he felt his actions weren’t in need of forgiveness.

    Neither option carried any generous feelings with me.

    I have to say, his response presented me with a third option that I’d not considered: that he didn’t know how to ask for forgiveness.

    In retrospect, it was a fairly obvious option. But the rest of his response left me a little dubious that his rationale wasn’t entitlement all along.

    And how would you have me reach out after all these years? I would follow the example you set…if there were one. Yeah I turned to a long lost family relationship in a time of personal adversity. But don’t recall asking you for shit. You’re still the sanctimonious prick aren’t you. And real angry about it apparently. You wanna tee off on someone else just for making an effort? Try a therapist or your ugly cat.

    How cute.

    Deflection.

    Name calling.

    Smells like a Trump supporter-level argument to me.

    But, to clarify, he’s trying to equate my living in distant parts of the country with his actively departing the family after dropping a blame bomb on mom. Then dad. The reality there, which he’ll not acknowledge since it’s a fact – and we know how Trump Supporter Logic works with facts – is that I still called and took calls from the family. I still came home for holidays.

    I was coming to terms with being gay. He was having a mental breakdown in the heart of a well-known river in Egypt.

    I think there’s a big difference there.

    And he wraps up his indictment argument by shaming me for kicking him while he’s making an effort.

    Trying, if you will. And I won’t, as it turns out. If the level of effort he’s willing to put into this after almost two decades is to tap a button that says “Send Friend Request”, then that’s far too little and way too late. Here’s a parting gift for you, Black Sheep Bro, pardon me while I spray liberally.

    It makes me sad. And I’m sure it will or could result in awkward family gatherings down the road. But I’ve traveled those roads before, so I know the terrain. One of the things that I said in my texts with my sister was this:

    I feel bad for her and dad. Never having been a parent, I can’t imagine how that parental “never give up” thing must feel. Like on one level it’s, “Oh, here we go again” and on the other, “But he’s our son”…so they can’t not sign up for the potential hurt once again. Just in case it pays off this time.

    It’s like me and dating, I called it the Lottery of Love.

    Maybe this time

    I’ve got a good supply of forgiveness. It’s just not endless – even for my brother. If he wants back into my life, it’s not gonna be with spin like saying his relationship with the family is “long lost”.

    He abandoned us.

    For me, I’ll sprinkle some of my forgiveness on the situation when he’s accountable for his actions. No more “She knows what she did” or “That man” or being offended that I don’t let him piss on my leg yet again while telling me it’s raining.

    He’s still my brother, that won’t change. But I’m fine with the present state of our relationship – which he forced upon me – until he does.

    If that means I’m the bastard, so be it.

    Of Course, *I’m* The Bastard

    TIL #11: Hyperbole

    Maybe this isn’t a Today I Learned so much as it is a Today I Figured Something Out. Yet another thing you old bastards have been keeping from me!

    Y’know, those little a-ha! moments. They really are fewer and further between than I’d have figured as a know-it-all kid. As a matter of fact, surrounded as I find myself by such stupid Americans, I’m surprised that there isn’t much more fanfare when it does happen.

    Note to self: throw mental parade next time this happens, you earned it.

    Like that time I finally got why it’s called a blow job. I’d simply been looking at it from the wrong <ahem> perspective.

    Those types of a-ha moments. Or in that particular case, “ah-ah-aaaahhh-ha” moments.

    Well, today…there I was, underthinking things when another one* hit me.

    When I’m in a funk and spiraling downward, my older and wiser (just ask them, they’ll tell you) friends will tell me

    It’s not that bad!

    and I’ve always considered those to be words of encouragement. But as another deluge of Headlines-turned-Cautionary-Tales washed over me this morning, it hit me.

    A-ha!

    They must surely have been silently adding a word in order to not give away the surprise.

    It’s not (only) that bad!

    It’s worse.

    Just wait.

    Much, much…worse.

    It’s funny, too. As I’ve been aging – involuntarily, obviously – I’ve found myself warning younger people. When they say something that I know (now) to be naive, I’ll whisper conspiratorially

    Listen, I don’t want to ruin the surprise, but…

    I figure it’s safe, knowing that they likely stopped listening to me when I said the word “listen”, because what could I possibly know, right?

    On the other hand, sometimes I like to co-opt my old frenemy Dan Savage’s lil chestnut of wisdom and just push people down a little harder when they say something naive

    It gets worse

    I really like that one, since I think I mentioned people don’t really listen anyway. I just get my lil chuckle either way. Either because I can tell they didn’t listen and heard what they assumed they would hear or they did hear and…that look!

    I don’t give away the surprise. I just leave the warning hanging there, sagely. However, when it finally does happen, I then get to say

    Don’t say I didn’t warn ya

    I’m just kidding. I don’t really do that.

    Oops. Look at me…leaving words out, just like the grumpy old man that I am.

    That should have said

    I’m (mostly) just kidding

    I do say those things, but just for fun.

    My fun.

    But since I’m old people humor me because I might be dangerous, we all get a good – if not awkward – chuckle.

    The reality is that I turn my hyperbole on myself.

    For.

    Instance.

    In the last couple weeks, a couple of my original blog buddies have poked their cute little heads back into the WordPress arena. It’s good to see old friends familiar avatars around this dusty old joint again.

    In one of their returns – via comments on one of my blog posts and their blogosphere re-entry blog entry – we discussed the states of affair in his life.

    Turns out he’s been having one lately. Or at least a low-key dating experience.

    Graduated college.

    Job searching.

    Put on his – and this turn of phrase of his made me jealous because it’s really funny – COVID-15. But it’s ok, he says, because his beau likes him just the way he is.

    Funny. When Myrt barfs on the floor, I clean it up. However, today I also learned that when I barf on the floor…I also clean it up.

    Luckily, it was imaginary puke.

    Anyway, in one of those moments of self-directed wry hyperbole – dryperbole? Chrisism – I thought to myself

    Yeah, yeah…we get it – you’ve got a boyfriend

    in faux exasperation – because secretly I’m a big emotional schmuck and it makes me happy when people begin relating.

    But I went on to have this whole follow up conversation in my head

    Some people just keep these things to themselves instead of blabbing them all over town

    I said to myself.

    For instance,

    I said, mentally touching my pearls.

    I like to keep these things to myself when I like a boy. I find that as soon as someone finds out they’re my boyfriend – pffft! – they’re gone.

    Meh, wudyagundo – in my head I’m both my worst enemy and my best audience. It’s a bit crowded up there.

    But I get a good chuckle out of that.

    Anyway, if you ever find me letting hyperbole that you think should probably be silent out for a stroll, don’t be offended…try and enjoy it.

    Because it’s probably gonna end up being right.

    Yeah, I’m Ouisa.

    *I’d just like to clarify, the whole blow job a-ha moment was back before the turn of the century…not recently.

    TIL #11: Hyperbole

    Pro-Tip

    I was having socially distant beers with Filipina Fox recently – we were drinking in the park, surrounded camouflaged by homeless people milling about. She took the opportunity to ask my opinion on something that had been bugging her lately.

    Food Delivery Apps.

    “Easy”, I said. “Don’t.”

    But, she explained her conflict – she is a more than competent cook, by the way – of wanting to support local business and be lazy convenience. But when she orders delivery, she gets mad that the restaurant has to pay a commission to the app, effectively removing the support she wants to provide. Plus, delivery drivers need the income, too.

    I totally get that. All that.

    However, working in banking as she does, specifically in a capacity where local, small businesses are her clients, she has seen the documentation of sales and expense restaurants incur as part of app based delivery services. The examples I’ve seen point toward that app portion of the fees being about 35% of the order value…and in food, that’s pretty much more than a restaurant’s profit margin. She wanted my opinion since when my Lyft Life gets a little too peopley or if there’s just no ride demand, she knows that I’ll flip on Postmates as an alternative.

    Frankly, I really enjoy my untethered, non-professional gig jobs. The flexibility to work when I want, do what I want, yada-yada-yada…with no boss or corporate overlord to worry about. As an added bonus, both options allow me to flex a muscle I took for granted when I walked away from my retail career in disgust – namely: being in service to people.

    Still, that a friend was demonstrating this level of hand-wringing worrying about how her actions impacted others made my little gig worker self feel appreciated in a way that most of my actual past bosses failed at.

    Yet there I was, telling her to fuck worrying about me and my gig working ilk.

    Why?

    I was mad at Postmates, obviously.

    Well, mad might be overselling it. But Postmates, I have observed in my last few attempts to customer them, has either been doing some shady shit or at least allowing it to happen. Since the reason for my disgust with retail was precisely that shady type of shit being allowed to fester versus holding people accountable to ethical standards…well, this observation bothered me.

    So, I told the Filipina Fox my story.

    The last few times I’ve ordered Postmates for my self, I’ve abandoned my order and found alternative forms of sustenance because I saw that Postmates wasn’t just making money on both ends, like apps do. They seemed to be actively price gouging.

    Case in point:

    I went to order from a local Chinese restaurant and found my favorite comfort food – Chef’s Special Fried Rice, which has shrimp, beef and chicken in it! – and added it to my order for $13.95. I thought that seemed kind of high, recalling that it was under $10 when I stumbled in there back in the good, old pre-COVID days and ordered at the bar, had a Heineken while I waited and left for under $20 with tip.

    Then again, maybe I misremembered that since I’d had a few beers prior to walking in.

    But then-then again, it is super yummy, so even at $13.95…worth it. So, I ordered it anyway. But just to make myself miserable, I googled Republic Cafe’s menu and, well…screw you, Uncle Bob.

    Here’s why all that bothers me:

    First, it seems to only happen with independent restaurants. When I’ve needed a Chipotle fix, those prices seem consistent with my prior in-restaurant orders. So, again, this is impacting small, local businesses.

    Sidebar: I have noticed while driving, when I have to order and pay for something for a customer with my pre-paid Postmates card, that there are variations between what the app tells me the total should be and reality at national restaurants, but I don’t know what the customer is actually charged, so can’t definitively say that this doesn’t also happen with chain restaurants, too. But this sets up point number two pretty nicely.

    Second, who knows whether this is a self-defense decision by the restaurant or something Postmates mandates. Regardless, even in the best case, the commission they are getting is off a higher priced menu, so they’re at least getting more for their 35% cut. If the best case here is that the restaurant is jacking their prices up 30% plus in order to offset the cost of selling through apps, well…that mitigates my friend’s concern, right?

    Apps are still charging crazy delivery fees to the customer. Their other customer. Usually somewhere in the $3-5 range. So, on top of the $4-5 they would make on my $13.95 order from the restaurant, they add another $4-5 from the customer.

    So, they’re making around $10 on each $15 order placed.

    And I know, they promote restaurants with free or reduced delivery, too. I have no idea how that works out for the restaurants versus the apps. But on the flip side of that, for every order under $15, Postmates racks on a “small cart fee” of $2 to the customer, so…they’re making money somewhere or wheres – I don’t feel bad for them.

    Like Filipina Fox, I feel a little bad for some of the businesses. But mostly, I feel mad that the customer is getting abused the way they are. The end result being that I will make decisions kind of like what she has been opting to do, which is just put on my big boy pants and walk down to the restaurant and pick up my own damn food.

    No, really…I have to put on pants. Quarantine dress code and all means I’m probably sitting around in sweats versus dressed to go out. And sweats are not ok for going to pick up to-go food…it’s not like I’m getting on a plane, for Pete’s sake.

    But, that’s a whole other rant.

    Pro-Tip