That Attitude Of Gratitude

I mean…superiority?

No, no. That doesn’t sound right.

Gratitude. Final Answer.

This has been kicking around my head for a few days since I weighed in on a comment thread about a letter to Portland’s mayor from a tourist who lives in Lewiston, Idaho.

He’d complained rather emotionally about how all the trash cans in the city wire overflowing, there were needles all over the parks and homeless people sleeping in every doorway.

I was trying to let it go…

Then, this morning on my way to work – more on that later, maybe – I followed a tourist couple for about a block and a half. Then we passed a very unfortunate looking homeless man sitting on the sidewalk…not sleeping and not in a doorway, just to be clear.

I don’t understand why he doesn’t go to a shelter. Y’know, if he’d just go to a shelter, he wouldn’t have to sit there like that…

And there it was.

All it took to catapult me back to my frustrated Facebook space was one tourist who “knew” better. She had the “I’d like to speak to the manager haircut” and everything.

Back in the day, she was the reason for this type of Society of Native Oregonian Born humor…

Please feel free to drop off you comment cards, passive-aggressive letters to our mayor and just any advice you might want to leave for Oregonians with this guy on your way out:

Ok, do let me fill in the blanks. Let’s start with the Haircut Lady.

There’s a few different types of shelters, not counting your basic flop house. The first is a free, take all comers until we’re full type of deal. The second is a pay-your-way-in and then taking all comers til we’re full type of situation.

I don’t think I need to explain that first one. The second one – I think – runs like $5-10 a night for a bed. If you’ve ever seen a panhandler looking for handouts so they can get a hostel room? Yeah, that’s this. Hostels aren’t throwing their doors open for homeless folks, they got guests to preserve an experience for.

Obviously, you can’t earn your $5-10 for a hostel sitting in the hostel, so off to work you go. Right?

Regardless, these places are pretty much first come, first serve on a daily basis. You may get preferential consideration if you were there the prior night, but only maybe…don’t quote me. But, what the nice Haircut Lady forgot to consider as one homeless person was ruining her vacation was that shelters are more like hotels than private homes.

That means they clean the rooms during the day.

Everyone out of the hostel.

They are welcome to hang in the common areas, but if you’re running a shelter and you’ve got space for 100 or so homeless homies to hang out in your common areas? Odds are you’re thinking, “We should add beds”…after all, the concern of shelters is to provide a place for people to sleep.

Stupid Haircut Lady.

So, she made me realize that I had to save humanity from its stupid self. Ergo, I must blog.

Save us, Dopey Wan, you’re our only hope.

Haircut Lady was a pretty minor perturbance.

Applying her to the coliseum that is the Facebook, where Anonymous Posters are throwing facts and reality to the lions…

well, we’re gonna need a bigger coliseum.

A bartender acquaintance of mine – who I rather respect – posted the Oregonian article about the Lewiston Tourist on his thread next to a gas can and a dumpster and just walked to a safe distance.

I read the article.

Then I read the comments.

There was a lot of, “Wish it were better, but we live in Portland!” type comments.

Then I thought, some of these people didn’t read the article. But at least they aren’t pouring any more gas on the situation.

And, then

I found a few comments that were negative.

And then more.

Then some that were harshly so.

And, then…some that defied any semblance of humanity.

BRB, haven’t been on the Facebook in a couple days – mandatory self imposed detox – but going to see if I can screen grab the comments…the things I do for my readers.

Ok, I gotta tap out on this one. No great screen grabs for you! Sorry…

Here’s the gist of my comment,

There are two factors to consider here, outside of homelessness:

The first is that Oregon in general and Portland in particular have made social services a priority. This means that for unemployed or underemployed or people living below – what I’ll liberally call – the poverty level can get access to free healthcare (from dental to mental and everything in between) under the Oregon Health Plan. That paired with our liberal food stamps program ensures a baseline of care for people in need.

Second, since these programs were just ideas and pilot programs aimed at – amongst other things – getting Portland’s homeless youth off the streets in the 80s & 90s and turning them into productive members of society, certain other cities have been offering their homeless who run afoul of the law the option of jail or a bus ticket to Portland. This approach solves two problems: one, said municipality’s own homeless problem; two, it very likely improves the homeless person’s quality of life.

Rain be damned.

Then I shared a story from that very same week of a young man – with facial tattoos, ergo: issues or terrible judgment – that had asked me for directions downtown. I’d told him where to go and how to get there, at his request. Then he’d TMIed me by apologizing for having to ask, he just hadn’t picked up his phone yet.

Me: phone?

Him: yeah, the county gave me a phone and this is where I have to pick it up.

Me: …

Him: yeah, I’ve only been in town a week, but the first day I was here, I got my OHP insurance and my prescriptions filled…and an Oregon Trail card with some grocery money on it.

Me: wait…you’ve only been in town a week from where?!?

Him: New Jersey.

Me: and you just got all this for showing up?

Him: yeah, man.

Me: huh.

Now, mind you…I’m standing on the street talking to this face-tattooed dude and thinking, “Right on, Oregon”, you really are the best state!

Just guess what the Facebook hive mind thought.

Never mind, I’ll tell you:

They.

Lost.

Their.

Shit.

Here’s one of my more vocal critics:

My response was that my critics’ arguments all seemed to stem from what they didn’t have. Free medical, free phone, free food.

Not what they did have. A damn home. A tether to reality…even if it came without a sense of empathy.

Yeah, I pointed that out.

Don’t worry, there hasn’t been a public pillorying like I got in about 2000 years, if you get my drift..,

“Me, me, ME!” – Facebook Users

Seriously, if any of these people traded what they have for what these horrible homeless people get for “free”…well, I find it hard to believe that they could last a week before realizing that maybe what they coveted was not worth the emotional value they assigned it.

Here’s your free health care. Enjoy going to a clinic filled with “those people” to see a doctor!

Here’s your free food. Oh, and the list of items you cannot use it for: goodbye booze, nicotine, energy drinks, your dignity when an acquaintance chats you up in line at the grocer as you are paying with your Oregon Trail card…

And, here’s your free phone. Enjoy your no data plan and trying to find a welcoming public place to charge your phone up.

Absolute idiots.

But, one must admire persistence. They were undeterred and stood firm in their “woe is me having to work” mantra.

Later, “they” – this aforementioned vocal critic – went on to add their thoughts (such as they are) to another thread. Take a gander:

Seriously? You don’t feel bad that a cop killed a homeless person? Obviously, this dumpster fire of a conversation degraded significantly after I weighed in.

Naturally, I had to fight my own impulses as to whether to educate, ignore or yell louder than this person.

I knew I was not engaging in that last activity. Not my style. Reason over volume any day, for me.

I was also pretty sure that whether the state of mind they were in was situational because they were all wound up over homeless people or their actual sad state of being – the current state was not ideal for absorbing or processing new information.

Fine, but just because I am choosing to ignore someone doesn’t mean I can’t take a lurk at their public (idiots…I swear) Facebook page. Right?

My takeaway there was that drag is a hobby, not a second job. Plus, it’s an expensive hobby, so if you’re doing it, your “other job” – aka: actual job – pays you well enough that you make more than the $36k (or thereabouts) threshold to qualify for free Oregon Health Plan coverage. So, shut your drawn on lips.

Also to consider: if it takes a lot of money to make Dolly Parton look so glamorously cheap, imagine how much more it takes to make an overweight, hirsute man look good in a dress.

And then – in the drag world – instead of getting a paid gig, you usually end up getting to do a number or two in someone else’s meagerly paid gig for several years until you’ve established yourself as enough of a draw to have your own show.

But trust me, our PT Drag Queen is yelling loudly at anyone and everyone about how she wants a paid gig and where is it?!? Want to guess what my bartender friendquaintance and I talked about last time we chatted?

Yup. DQs who think putting on a dress and being a bitch entitled you to a pay check.

Key Word: entitled

And that’s what brings me full circle in my frustration. This PT Drag Queen and Haircut Lady are both lamenting – although, props to Haircut Lady for at least making empathy sounds – the focus on themselves.

What if Haircut Lady considers her good fortune to be able to leave her home and travel to Portland for a weekend getaway? By the way, remember, “getaway” is travel industry lingo for “get away from it all”…so Haircut Lady has left all her troubles behind for the weekend. Sadly, viewing another person’s crisis level problems ruined her escape from her own.

Sad.

But then there’s PT Drag Queen. They’re upset that they aren’t getting free healthcare, food and a phone in exchange for giving up their income and housing. As if that’s not twisted up enough, they are willing to join a class of society that they think the police should be able to essentially execute – by their own words – when they are perceived to have done something wrong.

That ain’t America.

It isn’t any modern religion I know of.

I feel like this question placement from OKStupid applies here…

It’s one thing to say it, people, and another to do it.

Anyway, it sure isn’t Portland.

For me?

I’ll gladly struggle to make it in a city and state that takes the well-being of its “worst” or least fortunate citizens and makes them a priority. After all, if we only acknowledge “those people” to complain about them, what have we done? But if we allocate tax money to help elevate our least fortunate to at least a minimal level of humanity – and I’m not kidding…it’s still a tragically low existence – than we’ve done something to help. It didn’t even cost us anything that we hadn’t already paid, either: taxes. All we had to do was go to work, something many of these homeless people are unable to do themselves.

Catch our Haircut Lady’s eyesore of a human being in a lucid enough state to ask; I’m sure he’d rather sleep inside and know where his next meal is coming from than sit on the sidewalk in filthy and rather unflattering clothing, drooling onto himself while people walk by, clucking their tongues in disgust.

My gregarious street youth?

He actually asked me if I knew where he could get a job. I told him Amazon seems to always be hiring…

Long and short of it, he’d probably happily take PT Drag Queen’s day job so that she could get all her well-deserved freebies the state and county have to offer.

Stupid Americans…where did we learn to think this way?

One of the things that makes me “grumpiest” is that I went to Catholic school.

No, wait…that came out wrong.

I am grateful that I went to Catholic school. The values I learned there – from the Bible I tell ya! – gave me a foundation to be at least a passing human being in life. I sure as hell (not a real place, BTW) am not perfect in anyone’s eyes: “god’s”, Christian’s, sexual or racial minority’s…so, thankfully I never claimed to be.

No, what makes me grumpy is that collectively we do such a poor job of practicing the simple lessons I learned from Catholic school and the Bible. These days, instead of doing unto others as we’d have done unto us – right? There’s no actual effort required for that one! At a baseline level, actually doing nothing earns us nothing in return.

But then we break the arrangement: we judge someone else.

How about that tenth commandment? Need a refresher?

People would – if you believe their words – kill for “a body like that” or “a decent parking space”…we’re America, we can bust two commandments in one go.

And then there’s some easy to ignore lessons from outside the Bible, since I know my education was a privilege.

Walk a mile in their shoes

I like to think of this as a Church of Elvis lesson, but it’s more likely a Native American idiom, where shoes are actually moccasins.

Or, hell…

Humor aside, the saying cautions us against envy and toward empathy.

But that’s proving to be a struggle. Isn’t there just an Instagram filter that applies empathy?

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That Attitude Of Gratitude

Kids These Days

…Got nothing on The Gays These Days.

In the defense of kids, at least they’re kids. I really have no defense for some of the ridiculous shit The Gays do.

Case.

In.

Point.

A byproduct of the reality TV celebrity culture lives here in Portland. One of the Fabulous Baker Girls suggested she arrange an introduction back when the sand was still falling through this guy’s Quarter Hourglass.

My gut reaction was to reject the proposition outright. I mean, A) I’m too old; but, B) I also just tend to steer way clear of that reality nonsense. But, to be fair, I still gave him a once over.

No…

Not for me. Far too dear.

But, we interact on the Instagram occasionally and I enjoy most of his escapades. Random fitness center selfies (told ya, too dear for me!) from his apartment building, dog walks – which is totally my “aw” spot – carpool karaoke solos and whatnot. Whether or not he should go blond again.

He shouldn’t.

Yes, I told him. He asked!

Of course, right now I’m watching his work trip (Nike, so I have to hate him now) to Japan and kind of dying of jealousy. I feel better if I tell myself that he’s the admin for the group.

A bit.

Right now, he’s low grade obsessing over being “in shape” for Coachella. To which I say: boo!

I mean…first of all, he’s in shape enough. But mostly, how is politically right supporting Coachella still a thing?!?

And that’s kind of got to be a deal breaker for at least the LGBTQ community, artists and their allies and supporter.

Doesn’t it?

Anyway, I’m sure that at least partially to that end, a couple of weeks ago I watched one of his stories where he was getting Botox and lip filler.

That gave me a little pause.

Naturally, I had to ask…

And then I never heard back from him. We’ll chat again, we always do…if I initiate it. The same “got better stuff to do” phenomenon occurred a few weeks ago when he was fake-bitching about having eaten a full dozen donuts.

Come to think of it, that might have been him bragging.

I certainly would.

But back to the whole Botox thing…just, c’mon. If he’d been older than I imagined – ok, he is, but if he’d been way older than I’d imagined – that would be one thing.

32 though…that just ain’t right.

And I come by this opinion pretty honestly. When I was living in Seattle, I had Botox. A few times.

I was nearing 40.

It was amazing how big a difference it made on my forehead after a lifetime of witnessing the stupid shit people do in public during my retail career. “Relaxing” those muscles that were in a near constant state of use from raising my eyebrows in surprise several times an hour at my co-workers’ and customers’ shenanigans really made a dramatic change to my forehead.

No more lines!

As a pleasant side effect, this also allowed me to remain an enigma to my friends and employees, so when I let my frustration show, it was a choice.

And a surprise!

But I only did it a few times. The last benefit I received from my use of Botox was surprising my doctor when she told me that her prices were going up from $10/unit to $15 and I replied,

I’m never coming back here again!

Poor dear…never saw that coming.

Anyway.

With that context for at least one of the injectables he was using, I felt I had a foundation for my comment. But this might surprise you: his use wasn’t what irritated me most about this Instagram excursion.

It was that his doctor let him video the whole thing!

I’m watching and then realize, (s)he’s working around his arm that is attached to the phone he’s using to video this whole thing. Shame on that friggin’ practitioner!

It makes me mad, but I guess it’s up to the two individuals involved…I guess. Once again, though – what we tolerate, we condone.

Maybe “kids” these days need adults (like me, or doctors) to tell them when something is not an appropriate behavior or just wrong for them.

But now I wonder if he’d still have that crooked smile if he let his doctor work in an obstacle free environment…

Kids These Days

Petty Minds Matter

You might remember that not quite a year and a half ago I moved one door over in my building over a rent dispute with the lady who owned the condo I’d lived in for two years. Well, the short of it is that after sitting vacant a year – which gave me an admittedly petty pleasure – she rented it.

At the rent I’d wanted the year before.

Go figure.

Not long ago, I met the new neighbor.

That one time was enough.

I’d decided when I heard him moving in that I wasn’t going to mention that I’d lived there before him when we eventually met.

It was such a good idea.

However, when we finally met, I was leaving and he was standing at his door in gym clothes with two bags of groceries. My assumption was that he was just getting home from work and had stopped for provisions on the way back from the gym.

He asked how long I’d lived here. Told me he was new to the area.

I had accidentally Mrs Kravitz-ed him when closing my bedroom blinds one night and seen two men getting cozy on the couch. Meeting him at his door affirmed my assumption that he was a big ‘mo.

The worst part was I could tell he was one of those clenchy, uptight types.

Sure enough

Whoever lived here before must have had a cat because it took me three days to clean before I could move in.

Definitely uptight.

He went on to make a couple carelessly pretentious comments about things that really made me stand back on my heels to put as much space as possible between us. Myrt, realizing I was just on the other side of the door, decided to scream a few times.

Oh, you have a cat, too?

“Yup. I actually got her when I lived in your unit.”

Beat.

Beat.

Oh! You lived here?

“Yeah. I moved about a year ago.”

So, you must know the person that lived here before!

I lean against my door frame, “Kinda.”

Well, he wasn’t much of a housekeeper is all I know.”

He makes one of those awkward laughs that you have to watch out for, the kind where if you laugh it’s interpreted as tacit agreement? Naturally, I remained stoically neutral. Maybe my eyes narrowed just the teensiest bit.

“I’m sure I couldn’t say. I guess not by your standards, at least. But I do know the owner had a professional two person crew in here for a day a few months back…”

Me: level gaze

Him: blink

Me: level gaze

Him: blink, blink

“Maybe there was just a lot of hair in the ducts, who knows?”

I’m sure that’s it.

Me: level gaze

Him: blink, picks up grocery bags

“Of course, I shouldn’t keep you. And I’m sure my friend is waiting outside now! I should go. Have a good night!”

I go to the elevator and push the button, looking back just in time to see him disappear into the building’s stairwell.

What the? Who leaves their house in gym clothes with two bags of groceries?!? And we’re talking produce on top type bags of groceries.

Maybe he was cooking for his couch canoodling friend.

I dunno.

What I do know is that he was pretty judgy for a guy who’s balcony has looked like this for three full months now

Even worse, there’s one of those countertop compost pails sitting out there now, too. How gross is your compost pail that it can’t sit in your kitchen?

Must be more gross than a bit of cat hair.

Anyway…that’s not the petty part.

The other day I was running a bag of Myrtle related items to the trash chute – she’d had a day. First, she pooped on the living room rug for whatever subtle bit of feline logic. Then a few minutes after I served her highness dinner, I hear

Hurr. Hurk. Hurr…huuuurk!”

coming from the front door and just as I get to her, Myrtle uneats all over the entry rug.

Huzzah.

So, I’m cleaning the rug and hear doors opening and closing all over the floor. Which is kind of my new normal. I’ve gone from a random door closing once or twice a week and occasionally seeing a tacky wine bottle in the recycling as evidence of the old lady who lives on the other end of the floor’s presence to having a neighbor who is one of those people that can never leave his unit successfully on the first try.

So, I’m cleaning and I hear a door close. A minute later, I hear another door close, then another again.

About this time, I head out to throw my cat barf in the trash chute and just as I reach for the trash room door knob, it opens. My old lady neighbor just about dies on the spot – I swear, I saw her soul try and leave her body.

She makes some urgent “Oh, my!” sounds as I excuse myself and she disappears into her unit again. That’s probably the last time I’ll see her in 2019.

I drop Myrtle’s barf bag into the trash chute and head back to my unit.

As I’m passing my old doormat, I see there’s a note sticking out from under it. Curiosity tugs at me, but since I now know that I’m unaware of my neighbor’s whereabouts, I keep going. All I can see is that it’s a piece of copy paper with laser printed text on it.

I’m kind of thinking it’s a note for a delivery driver or something and put it out of my mind.

The next morning, I’m heading out – probably for coffee – and as I’m grabbing my jacket, hear my neighbor’s door slam.

Then open again.

Then shut.

Open.

Shut.

Then the fire stairs door slams and I wait.

Nothing…he’s gone.

I leave and see the note is still there, but it’s been moved. I push the button for the world’s slowest elevator. There’s plenty of time as I’m waiting to sneak a peek at the note.

Dear Neighbour,

You may be unaware of how the sound of your music travels through the walls…

It becomes clear to me that the series of doors I’d heard the night before was my old lady neighbor delivering this note before taking out her trash. Additionally, for whatever reason, she’s used English spelling twice in her note even though I’ve never detected an accent when we’ve exchanged words in passing.

Whatever. I don’t really care. I do note, however, that it’s a shame my new neighbor’s music has made a bad impression on my old lady neighbor, since they both seem rather affected.

Seems like they should get along fine.

But the petty part of this whole thing is me thinking that I lived in this guy’s unit for however long and never got a snotty, passive-aggressive, nearly-anonymous note from my neighbor about my music.

Must have been the extra insulation from all that cat hair…

Petty Minds Matter

My Simmering Facebook Rage

My dad swung by my place yesterday.

He was on his way home from my grandfather’s house, where he’d been staying for a few days.  Apparently, grandpa is losing it.  That’s the only reason I can think of to explain why he would think that spending his 97th birthday in the hospital was a grand idea…anyway, he got released and dad spent a few days with him, getting him resettled.

And…since I’m on the way home, dad and I spent some time chatting in his car and catching up.

The hot topic:  my book.  Well, we could also call it how I’m passing the time while I’m not working, but where’s the fun in that?

It all reminded me that not too long ago, I was mad.

Oh, so mad.

I know.  Don’t sprain your face trying to feign surprise.

You see, a while back there was a Facebook policy change re: linking non-Facebook “businesses” to an individual’s profile.  That means WordPress, specifically, in my case.  At least until Fuckerberg buys it up.  Basically, this forces people to create unique “pages” for their blogs, crystal jewelry Etsy page, etcetera, etcetera, screw you, Zuck.

Let’s all take a moment to remember when he was trying to enforce “real names” on profiles a few years back and how well that went over with the drag queens…

Yeah, that was a misstep…in 6″ sequined heels, no less.

But, intrepid souls that they are, they chose to Lean In on a few other changes.  This has all resulted in what appears to be the Facebook incessantly trying to monetize my newly created blog page by recommending what they call a boost for my page.

“For as little as $30, your post could rea”…and I’ve stopped listening, Mark.

When that didn’t succeed in getting my attention, they gave me a $30 credit to prove their point.  I went back to read how many people I could be reaching if I followed their recommendation:  up to 16,000 and change per day?  No…3,000.  Well, I mean it depends, I guess.

I’m not going to lie.  I tried it.  I don’t just decide to get mad and fly off the handle with only a perceived affront, after all.  It was kind of an interesting experience.  I got to select my target demographic from an age and gender and lifestyle perspective.  It’s kind of like a Choose Your Own Algorithm Adventure, right?

Still, what I ended up with was a half dozen new followers and two people commenting on my boosted post something along the lines of “Why am I seeing this on my page?”

Fuck if I know, ask The Zuck.

As far as I know, there aren’t any angry women in the Liberal, Gay & Lesbian, 25-50 demogra…oh, wait.  Hey, Mark, my advice?  Just shortcut that into an Overly Woke demographic option and save us all some trouble.

Anyway, as an offset to this trauma, the Emoji upgrades are cool-ish, except the nerd emoji now looks like a Minion on FB

It makes me wonder how Disney is just letting that go?

So, what about my conversation with dad got my hackles up about this again?

Well, since this forced transition, my overall WordPress traffic has been down.  Like…way down.  I have managed to put that particular ire on a back burner, since I don’t really care.  It’s not like I’ve monetized my blog.  That was actually slated to be a 2019 consideration…ta-da!  I think the folks who have signed up for ads on their blogs are the ones who truly care about traffic.  300 per week seems to be the magic minimum from what I’ve seen in my research.  I get there.

Truth be told, that’s been a struggle since the transition, though.  On the flip side, the only day I’ve ever hit over 100 views per day on WordPress was post transition, so it seems – like so many of the metrics on WordPress – to be fairly random.  One of the things that WordPress doesn’t seem to be able to track well is the people who scroll from your archives versus people who click from one post to another.

Whaddyagunnado, right?

You’re probably still wondering why talking to my dad would bring this back up, right?

Alright, alright…a friend of mine connected me with a publisher for my book.  I have a FaceTime (thanks, again, Zuck) meeting with them on the 15th.  Then there’s the whole NaNoWriMo Pitch-a-palooza thing on the 17th.  That could result – depending on how much faith one puts into random math – in a consultation with some professionals, too.

But, the more I look into this, the more I lean toward simply self-publishing.  My research tells me it’s a viable concern and that you get more out of it.  I’ve read testimonials from authors who have done both straight to self-publishing and worked with publishers and then converted.  The control you have over that process seems to be preferred.  Hell, if only for the reason that one author gave that you get paid every month instead of twice a year.

Let’s face it, this book isn’t a vanity project, for that I have this little blog-thingy.  I’m going to see this through for the potential income stream.  Y’know, since I can’t trick anyone into hiring me, that’s gonna come in handy.  If I didn’t need to consider that, I would simply leave the book in NaNo-Land and pat myself on the back for doing it.

And that’s where my frustration bubbled over a little while talking to my dad.  One of the things self-publishers need to do is rely on support from their social network to drive initial purchases – er, I mean…reviews.  Favorable reviews drive sales from new readers.  So, I need to be able to connect with my Facebook friends and family to ask for that review or share.    I realize that posting a link to my personal page is not that hard when compared to the old system where WordPress automatically shared to my Facebook page.  But it’s my rage, so just let me manage it.

…plus, I am getting over it.

But you just know that I’m going to try boosting my post when there’s an Amazon link involved.  I can’t wait to see what the Overly Woke demographic makes of that.

Oh, and you’re all on the hook for a review or a share.  So, there.

My Simmering Facebook Rage

I Don’t Like Anyone

Congratulations if you’ve made it to this point in my life and I like you.

Or even worse (for you) I call you friend.

Because I think the “like” department is either out of stock or never reopened after the Partial Government Shutdown.

I started thinking about this a couple weekends ago, after back to back dinner parties. But yesterday, it really crystallized for this old grumpopotamus.

I haven’t enjoyed the company of new people at all for at least a month!

Friday, I had an interview with MudBay. Again. Having breakfast with my parents beforehand, they even seemed caught between optimism and incredulity that this interview process was still going on. To be fair, I started with one DM in November and then got switched to a second in January after nothing happened with the first.

It was fine by me, DM #1 didn’t leave me feeling like she liked me as a candidate. This was after she just happened to be present when I did a drop in with a Store Manager that a former colleague recommended I talk to.

DM #2 and I seemed to really jive during our chats. So I was excited about Friday, even though the pay is pretty meh. It’s still seeming like a company that 99% aligns with what I’m looking for in a company.

So I show up out in BFE yesterday to have what I hoped was a final interview.

DM #1 was unexpectedly in attendance.

FFS.

Our conversation this time – she did more of the talking between the two of them – seemed better. DM #2 swoops in at the end to say she’ll be calling all the people they speak to in this round by Wednesday to let them know their status. I would hope that means a yea/nay on the job offer front. Regardless, it was specific. That’s way better than the way DM #1 left me hanging after our surprise first meeting.

I’ll call you when we’re ready to move forward with interviews!

Too chipper.

Also, I didn’t know this was an interview, so she didn’t have my resume to walk away.

So she didn’t have my contact info.

Or. My. Last. Name.

I can find you in our applicant tracker!

Too chipper.

By first name? You said you got hundreds of applicants. From a job that posted in June of 2018…and it’s November.

I can search by referral source, since you were referred by an employee!

Too chipper.

Plus, she should have said Muddy, since that’s what they call one another.

Well, that might narrow down the applicants with my first name. Assuming she remembered it. Or the Muddy’s name that referred me…

So, while I can at least appreciate that this conversation was a good one, I’m still a little rankled by the Shanghai Round Robin style interview.

Mostly, because I don’t like people anymore, it seems.

I actually got to have a spur of the moment lunch with Little Buddy a few days later while she was in my hood doing errand-type things. She was detoxing some family stuff with some fun adult lunch time.

I’m glad I can be that person for someone!

But, naturally, I ruined it by telling her I didn’t like the new people that came to her dinner party.

Why not? They are amazing people! So accomplished.

I dunno. The woman seemed intent on being the star of the party.

Pish. She’s fine, she just didn’t know anyone but me. You know how we can be in a group.

Fair point. But it all seemed like showing up to a wedding in a prettier dress than the bride to me.

I’m pretty sure we left that at a neutral assessment that I am just crazy.

Since it snowed here this week – with an anticipated 4″ on Friday – the wine event LB, 2.0, the Silver Fox and I were all going to Saturday got canceled.

Of course.

Naturally, the snow never materialized…

My walk to f&b for coffee was completely un-treacherous. The Fox joined me and we couldn’t decide if there was an unusual amount of families passing by outside or if there was just too few not families out to dilute their presence.

We were decidedly the only two people in the cafe for the most part until he left at 1:30. There was a couple of ladies who walked in and declared they had a half hour to kill and could they just hang out.

It had started snowing. Big, fat flakes. But, still…no! Buy a goddamned coffee and wait. Sheesh. These ladies looked to be 60-ish.

But the type of 60-ish that are entitled and well to do. Terrible combination. In my opinion, that question cost more in dignity that a $3 cup of coffee would have cost them.

I’m probably just mad because I know the cafe is struggling. Their rent is going up and likely to cut their barely double digit profit margin in half, making it likely they’ll close.

All because they’re in a convenient rendezvous area. And too nice to say

Buy a goddamn $3 cup of Joe or GTFO. Ma’am.

At two, I said goodbye to the staff and wandered next door to wash the taste of coffee out of my mouth with a Pallet Jack. Since I was in the area.

There was a cute and nice couple at the bar when I walked in. They chuckled at the catch up conversation the bartendress and I had but settled up, decanted and left shortly after I sat down. That left me, the bartendress (I’ve gone so long without giving her a nickname that I’m afraid she’s just going to become The Bartendress Without A Name…I guess I could call her T’Bwana, thoughts? It’s an acronym portmanteaus!) and a couple at one of the two tables by the window.

We continued our chatter while T’Bwana did her side work and tended the occasional need of the couple.

A third couple came in with a Plus One from New Zealand. They were fun, but not from around here, so I was over them quickly. Another regular came in and sat at the table behind me, reading.

Then.

It.

Happened.

Eight people came in. Fine. Whatever. I’ve made my peace with this illogical occurrence. Party of eight walks into a bar of mostly two-top tables.

What.

Ever.

I get it, you’re entitled, too. Maybe you’re looking for the old gals next door?

What ticked me off was that they pulled the last two tables in the main bar together for a sit down. The entire room next door – The Rug Room – is empty!

Oh, no…wait, I forgot!

This whole tome, there’s been a couple in The Rug Room. They came in, ordered drinks and went into The Rug Room. T’Bwana went in to check on them a while after and came back in with that “I’m So Sure” head tilt girls do.

What?

Is it weird that there’s 8 tables and 15 chairs in there and those two are sitting cross legged on the floor?!?

Kum-bay-yes! What the what?!?

Regardless, plenty of room for this octet in The Rug Room is the point. Instead, they decide to become a black hole in the middle of the main bar.

And they pulled the last two tables together crooked so there’s no good path around them that doesn’t involve a hop on one foot.

Naturally, I finish my beer and leave.

Loudly.

I might have mentioned something to T’Bwana as I was settling up.

So, I could make an anonymous call to the Fire Marshall for ya…I know you work for tips and can’t piss these oblivious bastards off.

T’Bwana texted me later saying they’d left shortly after me.

Huh.

Ok, one last example of how I don’t like anyone…and it’s my favorite story from the last couple weeks, so I hope you hung on.

This could only happen to me.

The Silver Fox had a dinner party. Me, him and his new neighbor. His new neighbor is having trouble making friends. Now, normally I’d give this type of invite a wide berth, cuz it’s an obvious setup, right?

Well, The Fox has me covered

Don’t worry, you aren’t his type, he likes younger guys, too.

Ouch.

But he’s right. He’s seen a guy I flung with once getting off the elevator on their floor. Me, being the Devil. No. Devil’s Advocate, mention that maybe the NY transplant gay couple on his floor are Portland-ing it up with a random third?

They’re in Palm Springs.

Nertz.

His assumption is solid.

I meet this guy from LA and – more recently – down the hall and he is just so friggin’ so.

Precious.

I’m calling him Jimbo.

A) because he’s from New Orleans, originally.

B) he would hate that nickname. And,

C) if you pronounce the “J” with a Spanish accent, you get “himbo” or a male bimbo, and he was!

He monopolized the conversation with unamusing anecdotes about how precious he is.

He has two houses in New Orleans.

He wants to buy a house in France when he retires. But not alone! Why not? I’m sitting here with you and my best friend, and I’m feeling pretty alone!

His BMW is hard to park in this little garage.

He can’t believe that condos in this building are selling for a half mil more than his house in the Hollywood Hills. Thank god he rented that instead of selling!

Why?

Topping it off, he has a friend visiting from Seattle soon.

Ok, that’s all your problem in meeting friends. No one compares to you. You’re fresh off the boat from the west coast city with the most superficial people, importing people from the west coast city that has yet to learn how to deal with its near instantaneous wealth and living in the chill city trapped between them.

Yeah. That’s your problem.

Shortly after we finished dinner – asparagus risotto and what must have been 24 ounce steaks! – he was talking about a shoe dilemma. He’d just mentioned he was a clothes horse.

The Fox gamely interrupted with a question about Marie Kondo. I loved that.

Of course, since Jimbo’s name isn’t Marie Kondo, he didn’t have time for the question and went back to his shoes. Apparently, they’re his faves but he needs to have them resoled and worked on.

I haven’t tried the guy you recommended, but I just can’t find a good shoe guy up here.

Welp, at least you’ve clearly overwhelmed yourself by turning over every stone.

He went on to share his decision on his ultra first world problem…

I have to go to LA in a few weeks for work. I’ll just take them to my old shoe guy. But I’m gonna tell him he has to get them done in a day.

Because, obviously.

One couldn’t trust this gifted shoe tradesman to be able to mail a shoebox. No, Jimbo needs his shoes now. This guy is so lucky to have a customer like Jimbo. I’ll bet he threw a party when she left town,

The Fox gave his dog, George, a doggie downer before the guests arrived. It had kicked the hell in.

Hard.

George was stoned out of his doggie brain.

And nuzzling my crotch while I scratched his butt.

The Fox got up to get dessert. I was so full, but…dessert!

You know what, G? I’m so full! But I’m still eating my dessert! Yeas I am. Yes I am! I’m just gonna fart to make some room and blame you! Yes I am!

A few minutes later, I pick up a decidedly not doggie scented fart coming from Jimbo’s end of the couch.

Oh, FFS. Really? You’re a precious homosexual…could you please act like it?!?

I debated telling him I was just joking about farting and blaming the dog. I may lack a certain – or any couth, but I have manners.

I can hold a fart – usually – until I get home.

Then he did it again.

Oh, this. This!

I really don’t like most people. But the ones I don’t like most are really amusing. For sure, not in the previous way that they think they are amusing, either. And the people I do like enjoy the shit that happens to me just as much as I do!

Because, it really would only happen to me…

I Don’t Like Anyone

Feed Yourself

That’s a quote from the Silver Fox on our way back from coffee this morning.

I was serving him some OCD verbal vomit about my life, work, writing. He’d accidentally triggered me about 20 minutes earlier when we were grocery shopping. I had read a recipe for ribolitta while waking up this morning and when given the options, he’d decided what I should do.

I really want to try this recipe…but maybe I should make the Black Bean Goodness that I didn’t make last night.”

He decided on the ribolitta so after coffee, we went across Lovejoy to the Safeway for the incredibly simple ingredients. We both realized quickly that he would not benefit from his decision since the recipe has kale and he doesn’t.

Still, he stuck with me.

He stopped a few times at counters that interested him along the way. I left him behind because that’s what happens to me when he takes me to the Costco. It’s a lot easier to catch up-slash-find someone in a Safeway.

Just.

Saying.

Anyway, while I’m checking out, giving Sacha some gas points – if he’s still using the same rewards account we used when we were together – The Fox asked if we need lottery tickets.

I picked some up yesterday, so we’re fine.

Actually, we’d gone to buy them together and he bought them. But the point was, we had ’em.

“You know some trucker in New Jersey won Powerball?”

That was a ticket from a few weeks back. Or months? So we’re ok.

The Fox doesn’t like to play Powerball for less than $100 million. Any less than that and it’s just throwing money away, I suppose. Hehe.

I’d read the story of the trucker. Thinking of it now got me simmering. Halfway home, out it came. All over the Silver Fox.

The same thing had happened last Thursday night. But I just let it simmer in my head until Friday. That afternoon, I realized I was feeling completely weighed down by the pressure.

Thursday, I had wanted to go to the gym. Didn’t.

I was feeling like writing was a slog.

Two more days…then your January challenge ends.

Friday, I woke up with the same…congestion. Mental funkiness. Then I checked email.

I got a “Thanks, but…” from a position I was kind of excited about with Le Creuset. I’d had three interviews. It was a strange process. They seemed to go top backward instead of bottom up, like normal. Usually, for a Store Manager job, I’d expect to interview with the District Manager I’d report to, then if I was a go forward candidate I’d be passed up the chain for a corporate round robin interview.

With LC, I started with a director level, then a regional, then the DM and got spun out of the process there before the final round.

Well, that was a lot of effort for nothing…

I debated responding, but worried I’d come off as petty. That idea got tabled, and that decision became part of the mental funk.

By mid-afternoon, I didn’t think I could rally. Texts from The Fox about a party that was still FIVE HOURS away had me shrinking into the couch, further and further, until I just told him I didn’t think I could do it.

How am I becoming an introvert at this point in my life?!?

Yesterday morning, though, I’d woken up feeling good! It excited me. I didn’t feel great, but I didn’t feel neutral, either. Or even worse. I suggested to The Fox that we venture out for a Bing Mi before dropping in to the Big Legrowlski to say goodbye to one of the bartenders.

He’s going to teach English in South Korea.

The Fox was hip to the suggestion. Who wouldn’t be?

Mmm. So much, fuck yeah in these crepe sandwiches! We took our food from the food carts to the BL and had a beer – ok, I had two, Mr Reasonable had one – and ate while we chatted Joey up.

We were the only two customers in the joint. On my second beer (an 11.2% ABV called Notorious) I wondered aloud what was wrong with people.

It’s 1:30 on a Saturday afternoon. Why aren’t people out having beer?!?

Anyway, had they been, I’m sure I would have complained about that, too. By the time we left at 2:00, I was recharged. I went home and tapped out my final January Challenge blog and felt accomplished afterward.

I was jazzed.

It’s a wonder what harmlessly flirting with a straight bartender can do for the spirits.

We had gone from Big Legrowlski to Penzey’s Spices on the way home. It’s a whole two blocks out of our way, but they had a gift with purchase coupon for a chili spice I wanted.

In my post-writing high, I was contemplating making some Black Bean Goodness and adding in some of my new chili seasoning.

Filipina Fox to the rescue! She was at BL having a beer and wanted a sounding board to download the work she was doing for her start up fitness business.

I actually whined a little. Believe it or not, I didn’t want another beer. I was reluctant to drink any more and then do any knife work in the kitchen.

But I went and talked anyway. I’m pretty sure that everyone was low key surprised that I walked in and then out 30 minutes later without consuming anything…

Here’s the real surprise, after all that restraint, I still didn’t cook last night. I felt full.

Satisfied.

Fully satisfied.

I watched a movie and smoked half a joint that I’d been gifted a while back. When I pinched it out, I amused the absolute hell out of myself wondering if I should just pinch it out or also blow though it like I learned to do with cigars.

Joint…

Cigar…

Cigars seemed pretty durable comparatively. I decided not to risk it.

I’d hate to end up with a prolapsed joint.

Imagining that or a shower of ground weed flitting through my kitchen is what absolutely gave me the giggles. I put the joint away.

Probably just in time.

Now I’m a little peckish…

I’d been watching Veep on Amazon. I knew I shouldn’t be cooking, though. And that I didn’t have any snacky food. Looking at the clock I saw it was 9:45. Everything was closed.

Nice going, Hunter S. Thompson…

GoPuff to the rescue!

Twenty minutes later…

I realized I’m no good at ordering frozen pizza online. I thought I’d chosen a full sized za, but got a snack size. Not to worry, they threw in a lunch-sized bag of Fritos.

I can make this work…

I slept like a damn champ last night! Flash forward a couple hours and four espresso shots later and this well rested and over-caffeinated grumpopotamus was peppering The Fox with indecisiveness. He’d already enabled ribolitta even though I’d not made my Black Bean Goodness – can we agree that I’m short handing that as BBG going forward? – and now I was just dumping on him.

I need to find a friggin’ job!

Is it weird that I wanna write today?!?

The thing is, I’m choosing companies I want to work for, but by the time they tell me that they chose someone else, I don’t wanna work for them anymore.

Should I write? I need to finish my novel and just find a publisher. It would be best if someone would option my book. Takes care of the job thing, that does.

The Fox, walking next to me with the patience of Job, is just letting me wear myself out.

But I just want to write another novel now. I don’t want to edit, I don’t care if I get published…I just wanna keep writing!

“You need to feed yourself”, he chimes in when I finally take a breath. I hold up the bag of groceries I’m carrying suggestively.

“Your spirit”, he clarifies. I point him toward the post office so I can check my box.

We part, with me insisting he check out a three year old SNL clip that I found last night. Then I come home, unload my groceries and debate whether to just begin cooking immediately.

All because that trucker won our money!

Maybe I’ll start my taxes…

Feed Yourself

Our National Moral Compass

I was gonna write about Kevin Costner being the proto-dad in movies these days, but decided to take a break from movie material.

Seems like most people anymore have a Moral Spinner, making right and wrong less of a literal constant and more like some sort of MadLibs or design your own disaster – er – adventure scenario.

Welcome to the United States of America. Our new national color is every shade of grey.

Case in point: The MAGA Teens

You tired of hearing about this yet?

I am, yet it won’t leave my mind. Or my homepage on Apple News.

The kids that survived the Valentines Day shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida took their trauma and created a national movement.

The Covington Christian kids said, “Hold my holier than thou water!” and took their white privilege and created national drama.

That.

Won’t.

Go.

Away.

My overwhelming question, every story I read about this, is

Where the hell were the adults?!?

High School class trips used to have parent or teacher chaperones.

I know, back when I was a kid

Hell, parents used to teach kids to walk away from a fight. Nowadays, I can’t tell if it’s “stand your ground” or “don’t take off your blindfold” on any given day.

Something tells me the kids have heard “stand your ground” loud and clear and the adults are perfectly happy to put a blindfold on and abdicate their parental responsibilities.

For instance, we all saw the video of the teen in “the hat” – those friggin’ hats – facing down a Native American easily four times his age. Collectively, most of us lost our shit.

Sure…there were a few

<looking at you, Savannah Guthrie>

But I think seeing the video, the majority of us recognized shitty teenage testosterone fueled cockiness when we saw it. Personally, I saw a tight pic of a teen with a shit eating smirk, a Native American elder playing a drum and a few extras surrounding him.

I saw what I saw.

I wanted to end that punk.

Gosh, lemme see if I can recall what happened next…

Oh, yeah…his parents hired a connected DC PR firm.

I’ll tell ya, I was a pretty good kid. My parents sent me to a private catholic high school, too. But still, kids are kids. Puberty is a horrible time for parents.

If they happen to be present enough to notice their kids and, y’know…parent them.

For the record, jerk kid or not, the number of times my parents had to hire me a PR firm to undo my jerkiness is 0.

Zero.

I think if your kid does something that makes that number anything higher than zero, he doesn’t get the luxury of deflecting the blame.

Shockingly, the PR firm managed to paint the kid as a victim. We haven’t seen the whole thing, they say. A three minute video isn’t the whole story, they say.

There were black people!

Quick!

Phew.

It worked.

Mainstream media – print and network – were walking back their criticism of the situation. Celebrities that jumped into the conversation were suddenly tweeting their mea culpas.

A lot of them admit to not having watched the entire video, just the three minute one.

New information has come to light…

So I watched one of these new videos.

I was horrified.

Oh, those black guys.

Sure, they were adults yelling at passers by in the area. They were members of an extremist black religious group. Probably about the same to the rest of the black community as what the KKK is to white people.

There was maybe a half dozen of them.

In contrast, these Native Americans had maybe a half dozen peaceful protesters in roughly the same area.

Black extremists.

Native American peaceful protesters.

And then, the MAGA Teens.

In watching one of the “entire videos” I came away absolutely baffled.

There must have been 150 of them.

At least.

And they were little dicks.

Take away the blacks and Native Americans – that they far outnumbered, did I mention that? – and these white kids were still little shits.

Why?

Because when you look at the entire video, you get a bigger picture of their other offense: harassing women.

It’s not rape if you enjoy it!

Really?

Who decides that the rape was enjoyed?

I’m guessing it was the rapist, in their opinion. Certainly not the victim. That’s just a guess on my part since the school field trip they were on was to attend the Right to Life March…y’know, the anti-choice march?

Yeah. A catholic school bused its all-white-boy student body to DC to march against women’s rights and then allowed them to harass women and Native Americans while maybe mildly annoying some militant blacks by yelling louder than them.

And the white kids are the victims.

Yeah…those poor kids and their moral spinners.

Personally, I still think it would have been nice to see an adult or two in the crowd.

Parent.

Teacher.

The US Park Police. Oh, wait…they’re shut down.

Hey, speaking of shut downs…you know what we should probably shut down? The tax exempt status of Covington Christian High School and any church they are affiliated with. I couldn’t check to see if they were listed as a 501(c)(3) organization or not since the school shut down all of its social media and websites and advised its student body to do the same.

Hiding much?

I don’t know why I’m so annoyed by this, but I sure am. At least after Charlottesville, we got a “There’s bad people on both sides” from the White House. Now, these snot nosed brats might get – I heard they did, but haven’t verified that – an invitation to the WH. Maybe il Cheeto will send out for more hamberders.

Meanwhile, mainstream media and public figures are gaslighting themselves and apologizing to the next generation of Stupid Americans for making them feel temporarily at fault for their bad behaviors.

This is a new low for a country that already hit an embarrassing low by accepting that “literal” was an antonym and a synonym for “figurative”. I guess it’s safe to leave you with

I literally cannot even.

Wrong is wrong, folks. Take off your blindfolds.

I can’t believe I delayed writing about Kevin Costner as a proto-dad and ended up writing about kids that need a parent. Go figure.

Our National Moral Compass

Tappa-Kegga-Day

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

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

Today is a day of rest.

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

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

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

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

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

Nope. Cannot do.

(I’m sorry, Phil, I’m working on it!)

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

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

Or, not-problem.

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

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

Birthday weekend shenanigans…

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

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

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

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

Jerk.

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

Resolutions for the new year?

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

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

2) Not cut my hair.

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

Why not?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Well, I guess we’re going to BL!

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

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

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

But not inside.

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

Are you surprised?!?

I’m debating how to answer:

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

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

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

Decisions, decisions.

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

Surprise!

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

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

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

Nah…that would be weird.

Not unwelcome…just weird.

What I should have said is:

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

Or,

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

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

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

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

You got any Pallet Jack on order?”

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

Sneaky.

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

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

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

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

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

But here ya go…

Birthday Boy with his birthday beer!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hats off, sis!

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

Tastes a little apricot-y.

My favorite moment of the night!

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

They were surprised by my statement.

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

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

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

This is why we’re friends.

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

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

Sometimes she sees me and joins me.

Other times I’m not there.

Still others, she doesn’t see me.

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

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

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

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

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

There’s worse ways to wake up.

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

Birthday breakfast.

Birthday lunch.

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

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

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

Yesterday was one of those days.

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

Touching.

Even Portland’s former mayor dropped me a note.

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

I remembered!

It started out about like this blog…

Then got sweet…

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading, every one of you!

Tappa-Kegga-Day

Gods And Monsters

The May/December dynamic is hardly unique to gay culture.

<looking at you Catherine ZJ and Michael D>

Star Trek even gave it a glance in The Next Generation as Wesley whored his way through his teens and most of the male crew memb…wait, that didn’t happen on the show.

I got confused…I’m old.

No, it was in the episode The Best of Both Worlds when Admiral Hanson brings his protege, Commander Shelby, aboard on the way to investigate a missing colony.

Captain Picard witnesses the dynamic between the elder officer and his female subordinate. To their credit, the writers not only created a strong female character in Shelby that didn’t define herself by a relationship, they also made the Admiral self-aware enough to give an honest assessment of his situation when asked by Picard.

Just an old man’s fantasy.

Boy. Little did I know then…but as this will end up being my birthday post, what better time to dust off this three month old notion?

Back around the beginning of November, I caught an old art house flick I’d seen in 1998. Literally, in an art house movie theater. Gay cinema was still struggling somewhere between taboo and mainstream.

The movie? Gods and Monsters.

Somehow, they managed to corral a stellar cast to tell the story of the last days of golden era director James Whale – played by Ian McKellan. He created the Frankenstein movie and the sequel, Bride of Frankenstein while living as a closeted homosexual.

Whale’s housekeeper – Lynn Redgrave – hires a new yardman – Brendan Fraser – that catches Whale’s fancy, despite the gardener’s obvious heterosexual nature. The film explores that relationship, pretty baldly, too. There were moments viewing it at 30 that made me cringe as a young man who had suffered overt advances from older men. The film did not shy away from those clumsy, vague advances viewed through the 1930s mindset of an older man with a modestly lascivious gleam in his eye.

It was hard to watch then, providing a certain ew factor based on my experiences. It was still hard to watch now that the movie is of legal drinking age.

Obviously, I’m not one to judge an older/younger romance. But it was hard to watch from a couch that is fortunately situated in a much more tolerant era.

My gaydar is fairly well tuned. That, paired with gay men feeling comfortable enough to express themselves freely without policing either their naturally fey tendencies, flamboyant behaviors or even their wardrobes, makes it a fairly comfortable environment for me to appreciate men I find attractive without fear for my physical well-being. Those same factors have made straight men much more secure in their own sexuality, largely reducing their fear or discomfort when a gay man hits on them.

Not eliminating the fear, entirely, sadly…but there’s a topic for another time.

But this isn’t about old Hollywood pool parties or an analysis of why older men chase younger men.

Their lost youth, duh.

It’s about the lasting impacts of those inter generational gay/straight friendships.

I might even say it’s more about how people come into your lives for a reason.

Sure, James Whale might have thought his yard man, Clay, came into his life simply as a distraction from his failing health at first. Or, you know…to cut his grass. But as their relationship evolved, Fraser’s gardener provided more than “just an old man’s fantasy”. Ultimately, he inspired McKellan’s Whale – don’t make that dirty, Diezel – to live during his final weeks of life. Of course, Whale then tried to manipulate him into killing him in a “gay panic”. But at the end of the movie, maybe a decade after Whales’ death, we see the lasting fingerprint Whale left on his yardman as he watches one of Whales’ movies with his own son.

Clay – the gardener’s name – learned some tolerance and empathy from his exposure to someone different than himself. Not just any old man, either.

A gay, old man.

I think that double-whammy of diversity was too hard to sweep aside and it made Clay pay attention to Whale versus just looking through him. Even if he wasn’t immediately aware of what was happening in the moment. Later, it made him a better father and a better steward of future generations.

Noticing that the second time I watched the movie made me appreciate what we take away from the people who cross our paths.

<Cue up some John Lennon music…>

We can all use a little more awareness and empathy in our day to day encounters – random or not. Imagine a world, a country, a state, city or block where we could see that awareness and empathy in action.

It’s a not infrequent theme in my blog, human decency. Random kindnesses. Living with intention.

Holding doors for one another.

Making eye contact with people on the street, saying “hi” as you pass.

Little things.

I do them, even though I’m a self-professed grumpopatomus. Think of how unbearably chipper I’d be if someone thanked me for holding a door or smiled or just said “hi” back.

That’s a world I can imagine. I’d just rather see it.

And so, while I sometimes feel like a dirty, old man when a younger guy catches my eye, my motivation is nothing, at worst. At best, it’s to consciously leave them better than I found them. Whale’s presence in Clay’s life may have had unintentional benefits; I’d prefer mine are more direct impacts.

I think with American culture in general, each of us being aware of the legacy we leave younger generations with would be a positive for the future. But I think gay culture in particular would benefit from not being blind to what other generations have to offer our own, and vice versa.

Gay culture lacks a generational continuity. A handoff of knowledge and norms from one generation to the next. AIDS…whaddyagunnado? But instead of walking away from that cultural canyon, we should work toward filling it in to create a cultural continuity.

I was reminded of this the other day when I watched The Assassination of Gianni Versace. There’s gay guys that can legally drink that don’t know the shock and horror of that random crime any more than they know the fear of living your true life in the open.

All these people, with no idea of the cultural importance of Versace’s work or the significance of a gay hustler executing an older, wealthy gay man.

The sad thing is that they blithely post about “living their best life” on social media with an insipid or ironic – god, I hope it’s ironic – pic of some frivolous thing like a venti gourmet coffee or expensive pair of shoes.

The irony to that “best life” is that many more young men enter into exploitative situations with older men to finance those “best lives”…strictly in a tit-for-tat (or cash-for-ass) basis. Sometimes that transaction is strictly through social media, but more and more men are turning to escorting to finance their best life. Bragging as they do that one sugar daddy isn’t enough.

Those who do not learn from their mistakes are doomed to repeat them, right?

I guess, culturally, that means we’ve got a bunch of little Cunanans – thankfully only in the escort way, not the spree killer way – running around without even knowing it. Ryan Murphy to the rescue…

But that’s the type of culturally defining story that we lose not just with a missing generation, but also because of the accepted reality of generational isolation. It shouldn’t take a TV show to educate an entire culture across generations.

But it does, sadly.

I was talking with Sallory months and months ago about this phenomenon. We were talking about how valuable generational influence is, whether it’s friendship or romance based. The gist of the conversation – which started as a “What is wrong with younger people these days?!?” type of thing – was that so many kids come up with a lack of adult or parental influence. People work. I know. But the benefit of older/younger relationships is a better filling in of that gap.

As funny as it sounds, it really does benefit younger generations to hear someone say, “When I was a kid…”

I’m definitely here to say that and I have people in my life that want to hear it. Friends and when I’m lucky, lovers.

Of course, in my case, the movie would be made as Cads And Monsters – given that old gay men are not gods. But the lost boys I let distract me are still certainly lil monsters in their own right. But hopefully having an older friend or boyfriend helps tame them.

Gods And Monsters

I Think It’s Contagious

I chatted with someone yesterday that started the conversation by blurting out

I’m blocked

Now, I couldn’t tell if it was a question or an exclamation. Since he was looking at his phone, I assumed it was some social or a social media occurrence.

Of course, I spoke to him.

During the course of our conversation, I learned that he’d been referring to writer’s block, he was visiting town with his wife through Friday and that he thought that Trump’s vanity wall was an absolute necessity.

He spoke nearly the entire time we were together. Literally the only time I spoke was when I inquired about who had blocked him and when I left him.

I need to get away from you before my IQ bottoms out.

This is, by the way, why I like to pay cash. The last thing I want to do is stop my dramatic exit to settle up on my way out.

But ever since I woke up today, I’ve felt a little off.

I had an interview that went…okay. I wasn’t as articulate as I know I could be, but I couldn’t tell if it was because I felt that the woman didn’t like me or if she was behaving aloofly because my answers were lacking a certain luster.

So I took a nap.

Then I went to an exercise class.

Then I sat quietly in the couch, thinking. No TV, no music.

Then I thought I should write.

Maybe I should watch a movie

I couldn’t find my remote. I looked under the cushions, on the kitchen counter…in the bathroom – I dunno, just being thorough.

I looked under Myrtle, which she was most displeased about. Then again, she did this the other day.

…so, she couldn’t really blame me.

Fortunately, the last time she did that, a friend mentioned that there was an AppleTV app. All was not lost.

So now I’m sitting here, watching Lost In Translation and ignoring the reality that I’m blocked up. This is not the movie to snap me out of that funk, but it reminds me that I’m not alone in this funk.

Maybe tomorrow will be different. For today, this is what I got.

…and I can’t stop thinking about where that Trump supporter’s wife was…who goes on vacation with someone and then goes somewhere without them?

I Think It’s Contagious