The “Literal” Treatment

BMW has entered the chat.

A chat I don’t want to be involved in, anyway.

Certainly a chat I don’t want brands I value to seek to be involved in, either.

But this is America. We ruin everything.

And as hard as we fight to not be inclusive, except when it comes to money, there are exceptions. Companies in America gotta get everyone’s money – so they’re gonna at least act inclusive.

One of my favorite examples of this is corporate rainbow-washing every June for Pride month. And then the month ends…

It amuses me – this observation, but it doesn’t bother me. Not because I think The Gays, collectively, have become unworthy of anyone’s support or pride (which is true) but because it’s also such an stupid American cultural reality. It’s the End of Christmas Morning Phenomenon: “Is this all I got?”

So, yeah. Complain, please…that you got a spotlight for a full month, you ninnies.

Anyway, then there’s BMW entering into a courtship with what is arguably America’s largest and most diverse subculture. Actually, it might be the unacknowledged dominant culture.

Idiots.

The “sub”culture, not BMW. They might be geniuses.

What are they doing?

Pandering to the group of Americans who ignore the squiggly red line under words they type…because spell-check is wrong, not them.

Those idiots.

How? Just how does a multinational – global, even – manufacturing company target an audience like this?

Believe it or not, it likely didn’t involve anything as spectacular as running head-first at full speed into a wall or ripping whip-its before sitting down to develop content. Very likely, I’d imagine it was rather organic.

Picture it. The setting: HR. Aaand…scene!

That’s it. Can you picture HR without the mental image of the employee it conjures being a ubiquitous Karen?

That’s all it takes. Someone who embraced the rampant misuse of the word “literally” so long that a dictionary gave the fuck up and rewrote its definition to align with the misuse.

You think they’re gonna hire people who would demand a high level of detail from themselves in their work? I’m talking in any department, too, not just in advertising.

I just don’t want you walking away from this post laughing at stupid creatives in stupid corporate America. I want you horrified, chagrined and slightly frightened of how pervasive the problem is.

Oh, you want to actually know what got me going on this? Not that the pic at the top of the post didn’t bury the lede, but…check it:

The caption says “Your BMW Has Our Undivided Attention” – italics are my addition, for emphasis…in case you’re one of them and don’t know it.

Call me crazy, but to me, undivided implies focus. Presumably, that guy is wrist deep in my BMW.

His hands are inside my car.

Where are his eyes?

Where?!? What are his eyes focused on?!?

Not watching what the fuck his hands are doing, that’s where.

So the collateral that BMW sends me to earn my business by demonstrating their attention to the service they provide is a picture of them not providing a commensurate level of attention to the service they provide.

Got it. Yeah.

Don’t mind me. I’m just over here observing shit.

What really bugs me is that I got this in the mail on a Saturday. My day off. Well, the one that overlaps with USPS service.

My day off from running payroll for a laser manufacturing outfit.

That’s five days of me seeing people that manufacture lasers but can’t manage to remember to punch back in from lunch. So I spend a good deal of time each week being surprised lasers work as intended, given the poor performance our employees have at such an entry level job expectation: making sure they get paid accurately for their time by punching a damn time card.

But, hey…if our lasers work on potentially nothing more than dumb luck, maybe that BMW tech will manage to not fuck up my car while giving it what passes for undivided attention while working on it?

Or I’ll pop the hood on Angela one day and find a windshield wiper where there should be a dipstick. Which scenario seems more likely?

Figuratively more likely, by the way. I know a windshield wiper would never literally fit where a dipstick belongs.

The “Literal” Treatment

This Is My Life…

I’m bellied up for a lil post-Thor: Love and Thunder beer at my usual watering hole. Just, y’know, minding my own amidst the flyby conversations that happen to me here.

The perk/curse of being a regular.

I’m not complaining – this time.

But that ancillary type of conversation has its hazards.

For instance, when I walked in, the bartender asked how I was doing.

Me: Oh, y’know. Holding steady.

Him: <looks confused>

Me: <waits>

Him: <laughs awkwardly>

Me: <purses lips…here we go>

Him: What?!? You are not. <laughs again>

Me: What do you think I said?

Him: You’re not old!

Me: I said, “Holding steady”, not old and steady!

Him: <laughs raucously and minces off>

Hey, at least he didn’t question my sure-footedness.

But with that…we were off to the races. Before I even finished my first beer

Still working on #1, and yes…that’s Him in the background. 🤭

…we’d had another incident.

He has a habit of nattering incessantly verbally processing while he works. He was making a drink for someone and telling himself that something was missing. After his second verbal prompt, I jumped in to help.

Me: What are you on about?

Him: It’s missing something and I can’t. quite. <looks at me> Bitters!

Me: Glad I could help.

Him: <cackles> Nono, it wasn’t…

Me: Just. Don’t.

To be fair, there is a cluster of six bottles of assorted bitters just on the other side of my beer. I’m still taking credit for the alley-oop, though.

Im convinced that this would not happen to anyone else!

This Is My Life…

My Kind of Conversion Therapy

I got a call from my boss yesterday afternoon. She gets me. Here’s how the pre-call planning went via Microsoft Teams chat:

Boss: Hey!

Me: Quit screaming at me.

Boss: Call me.

Normally, my neurotic ass would immediately spiral with that enigmatic command. But like I said, she gets me. We have a…rapport.

She starts our conversation off with “Guess what?” Even though her tone suggested good news, that opener is cryptic enough that mentally I replied, “You need me to bring back my laptop?”

It was just the opposite, though. She told me that the CEO had finally signed off on my Offer Letter.

I probably added a “finally” retroactively where there was not one in reality.

Seriously, though, it had taken three months to get my Offer Letter put together and approved. I know this because I found it hard to take her seriously when she asked if I was interested in converting from a contractor to a core employee…since it was April 1st.

When I pointed that out a couple weeks later during our weekly touch base, her response was, “Wait, did you mean it when you said ‘Yes’?!?”

And this is why we get along.

I probably could have shared my thoughts on this surprise (to me) development with my boss. Thoughts like, “Thank gourd for The Great Resignation making employers desperate enough to hire a grumpy old bastard like me!” or “You could hire millennial or Gen Z folks for less than me…if you could actually hire anyone from those generations”. (Sorry, Vee!) Actually, I’m confident she would have beat me to the punch on that last part.

Anyhoo…she’d warned me it was gonna take a while. “We move slow”, she had admitted. She did not undersell that.

I just never imagined it would be a longer process to complete than the tenure I had as a temp with the company at the time she had issued that warning. I’d gotten the exploratory offer at two months.

Two weeks later when she’d “updated me” about my salary expectations, I’d told her that was faster than I’d expected. Two weeks after that, she’d confirmed that HR was starting on my Offer Letter.

Ok

Five weeks later I hear that my Offer Letter was on the CEO’s desk for his approval and I’m all, “Eureka!”

Three weeks go by. Mind you, a week after I heard the CEO had it, his Admin called me to check on some expense reports “he’d” submitted.

I had patted myself on the back for not quid-pro-quo-ing his expense reports and just told her that I process expense reports on Fridays. It was Thursday…so the next day I reimbursed his $25,000 from four months worth of expense reports. Before the day ended, the Admin was back in my inbox telling me “she’d” completed the last two months of reports, so I added another $15k to his reimbursement before beer:30 that day.

You know how you know someone makes too much money? Not just that they can get by submitting expense reports only twice a year, but that they can do it by letting an average of $7k a month ride.

Oy.

Anyway, I’m glad I coughed up his dough because it took a scant two more weeks for the Offer Letter to find its way back to HR. No telling how long it would have taken if timing hadn’t worked out like it had!

But someone was impressed enough with me to throw a couple extra percentage points on my salary from what my boss had said she’d try to get for me – which was less than I’d asked for, but more than I was making as a contractor, so I wasn’t mad. But seeing it come back just a shade off of what I’d asked for made me feel it was worth the wait.

Mind you, this is still a 45 hr/week base at about 60-65% of what I made last year driving with Lyft. I’ve been doing some DoorDash deliveries to help bridge the gap, too – but that’s another shituation. I can max out at about a dozen hours on a good week with DoorDash, that’s about half as many hours as I drove for Lyft and on a good week I earn about a third of what I made driving for Lyft.

All that boils down to me working more than twice as many hours this year over last and maybe making 75% of what I earned driving <30 hours a week for Lyft. Since it’s July, I don’t think it’s premature to declare that this is gonna be a financially tough year.

But the first six months of this year have helped me get back into a budget mindset. Between that and the 16% bump I’m getting converting from contract to core, I think I can stare down the balance of the year without having to steal from my parent’s present retirement fund.

Anyway…here I am, the guy who swore he was done working for Da Man back in 2018. Didn’t quite make it five years before I found something that appealed enough to me that I could sell myself back to an outfit long-term.

Maybe this company is the conversion therapy I needed to take away the shitty taste my last few professional roles left in my mouth.

I don’t want to shock anyone – I have more than a few older readers – but, yes…that was me sounding optimistic. I apologize for not warning you ahead of time.

My Kind of Conversion Therapy

Management Tools

Sometimes I have to distract myself from the anger and frustration of things I cannot by focusing on something else. Looking at you, SCOTUS.

That’s not fair, this week’s decisions prove that it’s a disservice to the words “supreme” and “justice” to consider those recently appointed to the high court as anything other than Extreme Court Injustices.

I should distract myself from their work by focusing on the irony that two-thirds of the court now represent the views and interests of one-third of the country.

But instead, I distract myself with lesser frustrations and injustices. Yeah, I focus on things that make me angry and frustrated that I can at least do something about when the things I cannot do all that much about get me down.

For instance…have you ever heard of Hint water?

It’s like La Croix, if you opened it and left it out overnight. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy both. It’s just Hint has – in my opinion – jumped the ethical shark.

If you look closely at the pic, you can see it’s an Amazon ad for a 12-pack for $20.99 – for water.

That’s $1.75 a bottle. You can still pretty much buy a 12-pack of La Croix for the price of two bottles of Hint.

I was first introduced to Hint when I was working at the airport. PDX is an amazing airport, for sure. One of the amazing things they do is make their businesses within stick to street pricing – so unlike LAX, you won’t find a $16 bottle of kombucha at PDX. They further require their business partners to be minority owned/operated or have a minority business partner. But that’s not the point. The point is that they make their business partners provide annual pricing audits to prove they are within 20% of street pricing.

The business I was with used the infamous Peterson’s convenience stores as one of their comparable stores.

So, yeah…my employer at the airport used a business that is notoriously 30-40% overpriced to prove they were “within” 20% of street pricing. If you’re on the wrong side of the street, though, that math won’t hold up.

But this is where I first tried Hint, which I think we sold for around $2-3/bottle.

Mind you, we bought it for a buck a bottle from our wholesaler. None of this bothered me since my rent at the airport was a percent of sales. Gross sales. And rent was 18% of sales, which was also…gross.

Sidebar: if you’re ever curious about how PDX can afford to consistently be the best airport in America or spend a cool billion on a remodel, now you know. They get 18 cents on every dollar spent there. Port of Portland ain’t messing around.

Anyway, well after I left there, I saw an ad on social media for Hint water. Three cases for a buck a bottle. They promoted it as 30% off, which I thought was a weird spin for a manufacturer.

But they’d jumped on the direct to consumer (DTC) bandwagon and this was their hook.

I bought some. But when I went to reorder, the best deal I could get was 20% off for a certain number of cases. Less than that, if only save 15%. So I stopped buying it.

And they’re still promoting it the same way, basically. Here’s a recent email promotion from them:

Get this, now three cases are $55.99! On sale! So only $1.55/bottle instead of $1.83/bottle.

But here’s why all this bothers me – I used to buy it from my purveyor for about a buck a bottle. That means they already had their markup on that price after buying direct from Hint. I’m guessing Hint sold to wholesalers for around $.75-.80/bottle, but that’s just a guess.

I don’t need this information. It’s just evidence of the stern fucking you get on a daily basis for the privilege of waking up in America.

Spitballing for inflation, a 400% markup to sell direct to consumers seems high. Especially when you think that the 30% off promo I took advantage of at a buck a bottle meant they normally charged $1.30/bottle at that time. Now their regular price is $1.83/bottle. Assuming for the sake of making a generous argument that all expenses raised by that same margin, they’re still making $.50/bottle more selling to consumers directly than they made selling to wholesalers.

Why is that fair?!?

Shouldn’t the reward of running a manufacturing venture and selling to the public as well be…more customers?!? Why do they need to be able to have street pricing be their guide in that arrangement. Seems like the only people that benefits is them. Their wholesalers lose potential business because of it, so they’re losing out. Customers pay the same price either way, so it’s a net zero situation at best for them.

But there’s Hint, pockets so full, they can’t sit down. That makes me mad. Pick a business model and run it.

But unlike the SCOTUS rulings, where all I can do is vote every chance I get which is every other year at best, I can do something about this. I can vote against their business practices with my dollars every day.

That’s a win for this grumpy old man. And for La Croix, apparently.

Management Tools

Crappy Pride, Y’all!

I could probably just end this post at the title without leaving any mystery as to how I feel about how little my subculture deserves a fucking parade. Far be it from me to be succinct, though. But I also don’t want to bore you with my feelings about standing outside at a parade some stupid American would happily make a massacre of with a bunch of people who pretend both that I’m visible and that they’re decent people for one day a year.

Also, far be it from me to show restraint, so let the fact that I’ve been kicking this post idea around for about a month be known. Give that a damn parade. Rest assured, that’s not proChristination, either. I have literally been trying to decide whether posting a Pride month entry needed to happen. It didn’t last year, thank you for noticing.

Plus, being the volunteer voice of treason for my subculture has gotten me nothing but disavowed by said subculture. Not that I was expecting anything other than a culture I could feel pride in from those jokers. Me and my unreasonable expectations.

But that’s all I have to say about that. I’m Gay Kulture’s voice of treason, not their Don damn Quixote.

So I’ll just leave you with a little story. The Silver Fox has already kind of heard this – and I hate to bore my number one reader – although he may have unremembered it, as he likes to say.

Someone recently asked me if I had big plans for Pride month. Not sure how deep they imagined my pockets or clear my calendar might be when they asked, but it sounded like in their imagination, I’d be off traipsing around the globe, careening from circuit party to circuit party in some sort of cum-drunk stupor all month.

Ok, that grossed me out. Me.

Happy to burst their bubble – but with the style and panache a straight ally expects of their GBF – I set her, um…straight.

Here’s what I said, basically. She was rightfully near death when I finished.

“I dunno. I’ve been thinking about getting a haircut.”

I could see her translating my sentence from straight to gay and imagining me with rainbow colors died into my ‘do.

She needs a lot of setting straight. Straight setting? I don’t know what the proper Queen’s English would deem proper English syntax there…

“But then, I dunno. I’m kind of invested in the length at this point.”

“It’s never been this long before, has it?”

“Nah. Could’ve never pulled it off when I was working professionally. But that’s not the point.”

I see her confusion and debate dragging her along a little longer or moving in for the big finish. Knowing how tragically short American attention spans are these days – especially when the topic is not themselves – I decide not to risk losing my momentum to the “Squirrel! Phenomenon”.

“Yeah, at this point the rejection I get from trying to date The Gays just isn’t as fulfilling as it used to be.”

She’s starting to slow down during our walk, like a 70s-era robot being defeated by an illogic loop.

“So I’m thinking maybe – I dunno – maybe I’ll just grow it out to Locks of Love length and then try to donate it, because I’m sure they’d look at it and tell me in no uncertain terms that cancer patients would rather be bald than sport this stringy nest I call a mane. That seems like a man imminently satisfying level of rejection.”

Dead. She died right there on the sidewalk, dutifully swearing to me that my admittedly neglected hair was gorgeous. These are the types of transparent lies people who love me trot out…and that’s why I love them. That and their last gasp is apparently supposed to be an ego-boost to their favorite (only) homo.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go check the weather app to make sure it’s still gonna pour rain on Sunday’s parade. I will culturally fucking appropriate a dance if I have to…

Crappy Pride, Y’all!

Nostalgia Zone

When I first heard – years and years ago, now – that there was a sequel in development to 1986’s summer blockbuster Top Gun, I might have sprained something rolling my eyes. Admittedly, when news of production delays started trickling out, my surprise was hard to locate.

But once this year surprisingly finally arrived, bringing with it the promise of the Memorial Day weekend release of Top Gun: Maverick, I was…intrigued. Daunted, but intrigued.

Daunted because I had been psyching myself up for a post-lockdown return to theaters for months. There were shows whose marketing made me swear they would be the trigger to get me back yo my pre-pandemic routine of seeing 2-3 movies each month. After the marketing hype died down and the reviews started rolling in and showing the reality of that hype, those movies quickly faded from memory.

It was like the hyper intensity of losing one’s virginity all over again! I wanted to “give it up” for a worthy movie, not…The King’s Man.

Like Spider-Man – which I see makes my prior analogy creepy since this movie is about a high school superhero. In my defense, that could have been any Marvel movie. However, I’d given a Disney employee a ride last November and mentioned Black Widow possibly popping my post-COVID theater cherry and he encouraged me to save it and stream Black Widow.

In defense of ScarJo’s superhero swan song, I did stream it and it was quite enjoyable. Even the second time I watched it on Disney+.

The reality is, Spider-Man didn’t do it for me. I just couldn’t get to a theater for Peter Parker. None of the other seasonal tentpole movies got me there, either.

Strangely, it did end up being a Marvel movie that ultimately got me there: Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness. It was…good, and I’m glad I saw it on a big screen, but at the same time understood the save it for streaming advice I’d gotten about Black Widow six months earlier.

But you know what made it the winner?

Top Gun: Maverick.

The gushing critical reviews were near-unanimous. It had a 97% score on Rotten Tomatoes.

It seemed to be universally taking everyone’s breath away.

What, you thought the title would be the only pun in this post?

It had a Memorial Day weekend opening, 36 years after the original’s holiday weekend – I think the original had a July 4th debut – release.

But it wasn’t the hype or the reviews that bore out the hype that still failed to get me there. It wasn’t only the crowds I anticipated for a three day weekend blockbuster release that kept me away.

It was the PNW weather, believe it or not.

You see, when I saw the original, it was during the first summer I lived away from home after graduating high school. I saw it in an old-time one screen movie house in Manhattan on a sultry summer weekend night.

No AC.

No air handling whatsoever.

Movie magic induced adrenaline.

Sweaty hunks playing volleyball.

For so many reasons, those herculon-upholstered movie theater seats probably needed to be wrung out after this show.

But what will always stay with me about this viewing experience is the Basic Becky that stood up in the middle of both the show and and the theater and decided that it was more important for us all to see everything she’d consumed that day.

Given the presence of the humidity and heat, the absence of AC or any ventilation and the smell of co-ed puke and the underlying burn of stomach acid…an irreplaceable memory was created.

While I could certainly do without a Basic Becky reunion, I just couldn’t get behind a Top Gun reunion without summer weather. The PNDub let me down, having clocked our 10th wettest May on record. Seeing Maverick under those weather conditions would have been as weird as going to a movie theater and not eating too much popcorn!

So, Doctor Strange it was. It was an action that also indulged my desire to root for the underdog, since Maverick’s release was expected to knock Doctor Strange off of its two week reign of the box office. My ticket purchase didn’t keep it on top – nor did the other dozen tickets sold for that screening. But those conditions made for a comfortable post-COVID return to the movies for this grumpy old man.

Crowds. Who needs ‘em?

Carrying that strategy forward might extrapolate to my seeing Maverick this week…while everyone else is wrapping up the Jurassic World trilogy.

Nostalgia Zone

Frayed

Is it sad that both of my parents are sick on Mother’s Day weekend and when I reviewed my “notes” about what I’d been wanting to process write about this weekend, both topics involved non-Mother’s Day friendly topics?

It’s true, though. One potential entry was the simple lessons we learn growing up – that are usually, let’s face it, imparted by our moms – that we fail to reach back to and just check in with to ensure we aren’t pieces of shit humans. Denial, am I right?

The other topic – this one – is literally closer to home.

It’s about Black Sheep Bro. More to the point, the collateral relationship damaged his sudden reemergence and desire to wreckoncile with the family is having.

At least as it appears from where I’m sitting. Which, strangely, is relatively on the sidelines.

Also, the last time any of us didn’t see him was when he ghosted us at mom’s house on Mother’s Day in the very early aughts. So his residency in my subconscious this week is timely.

I know I’ve mentioned BSB a few times over the years. Even recently, since his desire to repair his familial relations seem to have not surprisingly coincided with his divorce.

But here’s the deal, no one knows why he left. And when I say no one, I’m including him. I think he’s tossed out so many lies false flags over the 20 years he was MIA in his marriage to explain his estrangement, that he (conveniently) doesn’t even remember the truth. The reality of the situation – again, just from my personal interventions interactions with him during his estrangement – seems to be that when backed into a corner, he’d make something up. Probably something he presumed the listener would want to hear and just take at face value.

That certainly happened with me when I pushed him. My favorite story of his was blaming mom for his decision to leave. “She wasn’t supportive of me when I got my DUI” – and you just know he’s already on thin ice with me here for using someone else’s alleged poor behavior to deflect from his own law enforcement sourced actual bad behavior.

“How so? How was she unsupportive?”

“Well, when she brought me home, she sat me down and said to me, ‘I’m really disappointed in you’. That just was really hurtful at that moment and not what I needed to hear.”

Ok, well A) I think disappointed is the appropriate parental response after picking one’s progeny up from the drunk tank; but, B) that’s not what I remembered happening. I remember her running point on the collateral insurance damage, getting legal advice on BSB’s options and that type of supportive parenting.

And you know I told him exactly that,

“No, no. That was the first time.”

And…C) of course you have a second and secret DUI. But of course this is also none of your own fault. You are the victim. Yeeeeessssss.

Obviously.

And here’s a D) for ya –

I’ll take “Things to never say out loud” for $500, Alex!

– it doesn’t matter, because I don’t think any of it is true!

I mentioned he was a no-show at a family Mother’s Day gathering. Well, you can damn well bet I called him on the way home to low-grade chew him out over that decision. I knew he’d been thinking about “taking a break” as he had put it. Needing some time away to figure some things out he said.

This conversational thread came up several times during our weekend hang outs during the early part of that year. His former live-in girlfriend was my employee and they’d met through me. She was also great friends with my very own psychic herpes, Sacha.

He never really provided any detail, but I had a feeling his desire for distance stemmed from his breakup with his girlfriend sometime around the prior Thanksgiving. That was a shitty situation in and of itself, given the years-long relationship they’d had.

In true men-are-shit form, not long after that breakup, he’d taken up with his ex. We didn’t put any stock in the causal nature of her sudden reappearance on the scene. I actually knew it was the reality of the shituation. Everyone else in the family didn’t waste much energy on the chicken or the egg scenario BSB was trying to exist in.

But there we were, at mom’s for Thanksgiving and trying to plan Christmas. My sister started out trying to pin down headcount with my bro by asking him directly if the former-ex was coming. He replied cryptically, “She won’t be an issue” and then continued to stick to some variant of that vague BS every time the question came back around.

You see, we’re big White Elephant people.

Ok, that didn’t come out right.

We don’t try and play “hide the tree” with our gifts. We just try to have fun. We’ll draw names and do a gift exchange or pick a theme and then buy one gift that can be stolen…that type of thing. You can see where an accurate headcount being important comes into play.

“Don’t worry about her, I’ll deal with her”, honestly, I couldn’t tell if he was breaking up with her or disappearing her.

Suffice to say, no one present – haha – present thought there was a third option. Imagine our surprise when he showed up Christmas morning with the former-ex…and we’d followed his directions and not worried about her.

We were all pretty irked by his lack of follow-through. None more than my sister, who felt extra blindsided as the host.

However, flash forward to that last Mother’s Day and he’s not thinking back to that at all. He’s just laying it all – again, vaguely – at mom’s feet. “She knows what she did.”

Well, she didn’t.

She did know, as did we all since it was oozing out of every cell of her being, how hurt she was to hear that. Well, to hear it and have no idea what egregious wrong she’s committed that would earn her this retaliation.

That’s what she lived with for two decades, though. The pain working it’s way to the surface every family dinner or holiday, right there behind her eyes. Sometimes spilling out of them.

It got better over time.

Then it would get worse again because she’d somehow hear that he’d gotten married or that they started and then expanded a family.

But once they moved to Texas to be near the wealthy grandparents-in-law, I think we all expected that was the last of it.

Finally.

From me.

I’d been the one closest to the situation when he left. I was the point of contact after he started a family – since my job forced me to relocate to the city he was allegedly calling home at the time. That was a failed attempt.

Then when his kids started asking about his family, I was the one he and his former-ex-turned-wife reached out to.

With conditions.

You don’t have to know me too well to know that wouldn’t fly. And then there was the added murkiness of new but unimproved blame and excuses for why he left.

He and his wife were always drunk when they called me. And they were in Texas, so a couple drinking hours ahead and very late hour combined for some pretty abrupt ends to our conversations when I did what I did best: pulled at the logic threads until they – the arguments, BSB and/or his wife – unraveled.

Now, though, I feel like his resurfacing is starting to fray the fabric of my family.

Just who would have thought I’d be the one to take his BS best? I’m usually the least forgiving son of a bitch around.

Seriously, I can provide references.

I’m perfectly happy to point to the bed someone’s made themselves and tell them to get comfortable. At the same time, I’m able to treat this guy as a non-threat because he’s half a continent away and in a state I’m only ever setting foot in again if my plane goes down while flying over it. Then, of course, my feet are equally likely to be separated from my body, so…

Mom and dad, of course, are doing what amazing parents do. Parenting. I think they kept themselves fairly well insulated initially, which I respected – but still worried about.

A year-plus (maybe two-plus?) in, I know their defenses are down, I’m not surprised. I don’t know what it’s like to be a parent – let alone in a situation as painful as the one my mom has endured with BSB.

What’s caught me off guard is how tightly my sibs are holding on to this, though.

Then again, they also held on to the pain dad caused when he divorced mom. When he came back around – at the arrival of his first grand – it didn’t look good for him and his hopes to reconnect with his family.

In that case, though, I felt I had an emotional leg up over the sibs. While they’d moved back to Oregon with mom after the divorce, I’d stayed in California – because: baby gay – and eventually ended up living in the same city as dad. We had a huge lead over his relationship with his other kids. It was kind of symbiotic: I had to accept his tearing apart of the family and he had to accept my sexuality when it wasn’t a popular thing.

With BSB, though? I don’t fucking care. Honestly, I’m surprised he’s still alive. Not just because his ex-wife is a redhead, either.

If he wants to try to make brotherly with me, let him. If I respect his approach – and it rings true, which is a high bar for a man with his gravitational pull to pull off – fine. If his approach doesn’t pass my sniff test?

Well, just picture me as King Kong atop the Empire State Building swatting down his biplane overtures at reconciling.

But my brother and sister care. They are bothered. My working assumption up til this very week has been that they’ll eventually meet me where I’m at emotionally with BSB – however that looks for them.

Maybe they start texting or messaging him back when he reaches out. Maybe it wouldn’t be until they see him at the vacation mom and dad planned for him and his boys. They’re coming to Oregon to visit their other grandparents who live in a remote southern coastal town. They visit for two weeks every year, but their personalities are stricter than the ideal grandparent. That has manifested as shorter trips or, like last year, a week with my parents after a week with the in-law grandparents.

This year, it’s a week in Sunriver. I’m planning to go. My sister lives nearby but isn’t staying in the Sunriver house like she usually does. No telling what my youngest bro will do. So far, I think getting him to my sister’s house would be a good level of participation.

This, though…this is where the fray really began to show.

My parents were very transparent about their desire for their kids to all get along. They also admitted that they knew our relationships with BSB would heal differently than theirs.

I was comfortable with that being where things were with us.

But this vacation? It overlaps with the two weeks my youngest brother takes his solo-vacation around his birthday each year. The expectation hope was he’d join us for a week.

Fray.

Then BSB re-injured his back and was looking at surgery in the next week or two. He was supposed to get confirmation of that yesterday, so I don’t know where things stand there.

What I do know is that my parents canceled a trip to see my sister so they could be ready to fly out to help BSB with the kids while he recovered.

Huge fray.

That’s where we’re at on Mother’s Day eve. And I do not like it one bit.

Best part? BSB has sent me a couple of IMs while I typed this out…and one of the pushes I saw included an emotionally charged phrase that makes me…afrayed of what the full message will say.

Super.

Makes me wish the dead-to-me would cooperate by accepting their dead-to-me status.

Frayed

Bad Math

It’s been following me around this week.

I swear, I’m not even trying to entice this shit. It has been a particularly frustrating week for my inner Rain Man, though.

It started when I picked my parents up from the airport after their trip to see Black Sheep Bro. Actually, it was likely well underway at that time, but I hadn’t become attuned to it yet. They wanted to fill up my tank at the Fred Meyer near their house. At $4.95/gallon at the place by my house, I wasn’t saying no!

We roll into the station and the guy puts in mom’s phone number and asks if she wants to use her $1 off. She says yes, and I look at the sign and think the resulting $3.97/gallon makes the price damn near reasonable. We get the receipt and mom declares the $3.93/gal price to be downright worth the stop. I’m staring at the sign and mentally subtracting a dollar from the price posted in it and not coming up with $3.93 – but at least it was an error in our favor.

Then I woke up to this on the Twitter this morning:

Seriously. The state of Florida thinking their involvement in the schools improves the quality of the humans they turn out is grossly overestimating their contribution.

Like, not even in a bizarro universe is that a truth.

Here’s a math problem for ya: True or False – a racist minority + racist laws = less racists?

Pretty sure that is false and only increases the number of racist in that state because there’s no critical thinking – race theory or otherwise – being taught in those classrooms to offset the racist behaviors these kids learn at home from their racist parents.

My response on the Twitter post was something to do with math books being inherently unrelated to Critical Race Theory since…it’s fucking math! Maybe they were worried about the whole three-fifth a man thing coming up in the fractions chapter.

Hard to apply logic to a mind filled with the screwball thinking that goes on in Florida, though.

But here’s where I realized that this whole bad math thing had been simmering for a while. My now-truly-a-gig gig, driving for DoorDash.

My mind likes to recreationally search out patterns, and the way this app operates kind of lends itself to that on every job. When you accept a delivery, there’s a tiny .5 font telling you the estimated miles involved. I started noticing it so I’d stop accepting orders to the suburbs 10-15 miles away for $9 and no tip. Then it went from nothing over 10 to nothing over 7. Now, I’m loathe to accept something over 5 miles away unless it pays around $15.

But that’s not the algebra I’m getting at. My mind just likes to see that a job has X miles in it and then see how close that math shakes out. This is all really just something to pass the time, anyway. Might as well keep an eye out for things that make it worth the while…otherwise, I’ll focus on how boring it is and how much I really don’t like it.

But this is where it gets interesting. To me, anyway.

In the same Rain Man vein, I try to keep my lifetime deliveries at a number that ends in a 5 or 0. I did the same thing with my Lyft rides.

What makes it hard is mentally keeping track of where I’m at. Since it’s boring and I hate it, I consider 5 deliveries a full shift. I can usually mentally count to 5. But there are jobs that I cancel for one reason or another: the restaurant is closed or surprisingly open given the dysfunction I experience once I arrive. There’s been a couple instances where I show up and they are having a random and insurmountable issue and tell me they have to cancel. I’ve had a couple of “shopping trips” where they were literally out of every damn thing the customer wanted.

So, that makes it kind of tricky on the old memory.

But after a few instance of checking my number and seeing odd things, I start paying attention – determined to true up my number and make my wreck-reational OCD happy.

I’d hit the road thinking, ok…I gotta do 7 jobs tonight to get back on track. I hit my seventh job and call it, and see this:

117?!? Well, that ain’t right. I try and figure out how things got that fucked up and just can’t make it make sense. More determined than ever, I hit the road the next time, determined to balance my scales with 8 deliveries.

It was a tough night and I failed, hanging it up out of frustration after my normal 5. Then I see this…

Ok, do the math with me here. 123 minus 117 does not equal 5!!!

Fine. The next time I hit the road, I’m committed to 7 deliveries.

Looks familiar, right? Just where I’d left off last time. This time, no grumpy old Xtopher moments to derail my productivity and I hang it up a few hours later, feeling like I’ve righted my universe.

Oh, short-lived peace of mind…

That’s right, people. 123 plus 7 is now 128!

You ever seen the movie Highlander? “There can be only one” ring a bell? I mention it because my reaction to that math might have resulted in me Highlander-ing Gilbert Gottfried this past week.

Just picture it…

But more important to me as a business person is how am I supposed to have confidence in an organization that can’t count? Especially since they farmed it out to a computer who was clearly programmed by graduates of the Florida Public Schools. Even more so, as an “employee” of this outfit, how do I muster faith in their accounting that I’m being paid correctly?

Not to worry, since this is me, I’m more concerned with unfucking up my stats. I’m back to needing 7 jobs to get there.

And in a victory for mathletes the world over…

Victory is mine! I can figuratively sleep once again. I’m back into a comfortable rhythm of blocks of 5 deliveries and calling it a day. My aggressive and goal oriented brain starts rocking the boat by turning numbers over in itself figuring out how many jobs a week I need to do to pay my rent. I try to settle that bastard down because it comes up with 35…which is only 7/night five nights a week – or three nights if I do a double one weekend day!

Me: Shut. Up.

I try willing my inner Rain Man to just settle down. It’s a struggle, because after 30+ years in retail, making goals is an intoxicating reward.

Still, I go out to put my 5 in tonight before dinner with a friend. I feel like I’m squeezing too much into my day, but am driven by the exercise, earn, write paradigm of success I’ve set for myself – a whole other goal. So I do it. I think that with my average being 2 deliveries/hour, I can make my 6 o’clock dinner with a little cushion if I am on the road by 330.

Fate favors all sorts. Sometimes even me…as I had my 5 jobs in by 5 and was pulling in to the garage by 515! Then I checked my lifetime number…

For the love of…just, goddamnit!

Bad Math

I Can’t Have It All?

Part 2: What the hell was I thinking?

Damn universe, always teaching me lessons…like crippling humility.

So, there I was…having most of it. Gently nudged into balance by the Silver Fox. I’d gotten Angela all spruced up for her annual check-in with Lyft, but was focused more on those other pillars that make me feel like a normal person productive: writing and exercising.

No big news on the writing front.

Yet….

Couple blog posts. I re-read my prime WIP, by way of seeing where I need to tweak formatting before I hit publish. That’ll happen this month.

For sure.

So that’s something. Hoorah for lightly edited stories.

Also something?

I exercised twice as many days in March as I had in February. That ain’t nothing. April’s looking good, too, there’s a Class Every Day challenge and I’m on track. But balanced old Xtopher is keeping in mind that some days will be ride days, others will be strength…but mixed in will be days that are just a longer than my usual 5 minute post-ride stretch classes or even yoga classes.

Balance.

Also helpful? And this is where all that foreshadowing nonsense comes in: I got de-platformed by Lyft.

You read that right. Boy, they rogered me but good. Real good.

But that’s another blog.

I chose to look at it optimistically. The removal of a barrier to a balanced day.

The thing is, though, my temp gig doesn’t pay that well. I mean, I can’t complain, it’s not minimum wage – which I’ve certainly done as I explore non-career level employment. And it pays the bills. And-and, in a real Pinocchio twist, they started making sounds about converting me from a temp role to a real boy job.

The pay talk…we’ll see. I’m looking at it as a positive – even though the talk happened on April 1st. That’s just how my life goes. It was a good talk.

Except, the universe being the lesson teacher that it is, I was de-platformed by Lyft after dumping about $3k into little repairs for Angela that I’d been putting off. That was the month after the surprise $2500 I’d put into her in January, no less.

And after all that I had boldly (ie: no drink in hand) faced my taxes.

The day after I’d done my first draft of the taxes was the day I got the dry fuck from Lyft.

I’ll tell ya…I don’t believe in god, but I fully embrace the notion behind the phrase “If you wanna make god laugh, make a plan”.

And that’s what I had done. Made a financial plan that included making quarterly payments to the Feds for my $11k tax bill.

Thank god it was only a first draft. The second draft is a much less traumatic $8k, but it’ll still require an episiotomy after my main revenue stream gave me the same treatment it gave the driver that raped a passenger here in Oregon.

That seems fair. My punishment is the same as a rapist. My crime? I got two speeding tickets in a 12 month period. Yeah, well stick with “sounds fair”.

More on that later, I’m sure. You know how loquacious I can be when I get going on something.

Now, look…I may be seriously fucked right now, but I’m all Mr Bright Side, damnit! Even if that just means I jump off the bridge with the best view in town – that’s a tough one here in Portland – and don’t take anyone else out with me.

So that naive dumbass Mr Bright Side fella is looking at this as a way to achieve balance. Less opportunities for proChristination. Fewer distractions.

Bright side. Mr. Me.

But since my temp job doesn’t keep me in the happy hour budget I like, tax debt or no, nor does it afford the luxurious $30 treats Mistress Myrtle prefers…I need a second income stream.

Reluctantly, I signed up to be a delivery old man boy with DoorDash.

I hate it. It’s boring. It does give me that “in service to others” paycheck I found I missed after leaving retail. So, that’s a plus. And it pays around $7-10 more and hour than the temp job, so there’s that, too.

But it’s sooooo fucking boring.

Bright side? I can really only tolerate doing 5 deliveries in a shift. More than that is excruciating. Ok, that last part wasn’t very bright side, I admit. But, dashing out to do 5 deliveries after work a few nights a week and then a double or triple on a – singular – weekend day leaves me plenty of time for happy hour hangouts during the week – and it gives my budget the wiggle room to offset said indulgence. It leaves me the time for writing and exercising.

All. That.

There’s plenty to be grateful for. And since I hate it, the ~20 hours I give it each week balances my books. Well, excluding the G-men obligation. I might have to see if there’s a niche market for barely out of shape old men on OnlyFans to solve that problem. God only knows what weird shit passing as erotic that The Gays are lapping up these days.

Fucking morons.

But I think I’ve got a third draft of my taxes in me. I just need to make a phone call first. I think we all know how long I could drag that task out. So I’ll also file an extension…sometime between April 14th and 17th.

It’s good to have a plan.

And goals. Since my goals are work, exercise, write and not “pay less in taxes than Trump” I think I’m in a good place.

Fuck, being optimistic is a weird feeling. I should’ve stretched more before this post. Anyone else miss grumpy old Xtopher?

Don’t worry, he’ll be around. Until then, cheers to the bright side and cheers to you for reading. Thanks!

Look how my thigh is about the same size as my thumb in that pic. You go, Chicken Legs McGee!

I Can’t Have It All?

Decisions, Decisions…

I had everything planned out for the week. To a literal T. But you know the old saying: If you wanna make god laugh, make a plan.

That’s all the god-talk you’re getting from me.

I had my two-part “Having it all” post for mid week and weekend, sandwiching a fatness fitness post, and that was my writing week.

But then I won tickets to a pre-concert private show from a local radio station and now that’s all I wanna write about!

But I’ve gotta stick to the plan, right?

<crickets>

Anyone?

So, it’s the fitness post, then. Chalk it up to underwhelming demand.

Plus, it’s quick and I’m tired.

I don’t write about my Peloton often. It’s such a cult-y thing, so I try to be low key. Although, since I dropped 30 lbs in the first two months and then likely gained it all back over the holidays, maybe I’m pissing away a potential Peloton payoff by not being more vocal. Surely their brand can’t stand the scandal of my Delta Burke-esque results.

But I digress.

Yesterday was my one year anniversary with my bike. I was kind of jazzed about that and kind of blues about it, too.

I know in the dark attic spaces of my mind lives the remnants of my insipid narcissistic younger self. He still thinks with a twink metabolism – you know the kind, the type of metabolism that burns more calories thinking about exercise than I do in a 30 minute spin class. That guy figured length of bike ownership would produce results. Like, simply by passing the one year anniversary, I’d magically transform my flab-ulous center into fabulous abs.

Well, lemme tell ya, the only things of steel on me are my jaw muscles. And it ain’t just from flapping them. It’s also due to all the masticating I do, too.

On the other hand, there’s the guy who currently lives in the biggest rooms in my head. He’s the guy that decided I deserved ice cream tonight.

So, yeah…he’s a coin toss between self-care and self-sabotage, that guy.

He’s the one that enabled my weight gain over the holidays when I was recovering from a bruised tailbone. And compounded that with an overly-permissive attitude about getting back on the bike once I healed up.

He was finally vanquished in late February by a coalition of all of the other Chrises I keep locked away upstairs. Led, of course by Twink Chris.

Getting a largely work from home temp assignment didn’t hurt those efforts, either. I found I could wake up early and workout, shower and be “in the office” by 8 or wake up at 745, grab an energy drink, brush my teeth, be at my desk at 8, then workout and shower during my hour lunch break.

Which do you think I do more?

Regardless of my shiny-skinned, baseball cap wearing mornings, I was relieved because I’d been bracing myself for the defeat of not making it back on the bike by my one year anniversary. Let’s face it, that was a real possibility, given how seriously I take my health and fitness.

I mean…what kind of asshole buys exercise equipment on April Fools Day?!?

That’s the bullshit attitude I’m talking about.

Fortunately, that didn’t come to pass.

As much a fact, I made progress that once again even impressed my favorite person. By mid-month, I realized I was on pace to hit my 200th ride by my anniversary. It’s easier than it sounds, racking up ride numbers – think cool down rides after each ride and you’re looking at an easy two-fer scenario.

Heck, I realized I was also in striking distance of hitting my centurion strength workout and my 25th yoga class.

Clearly, none of those accomplishments mattered in the company of my stretching results. And I’ll be goddamned if I’m gonna look at a sore thumb result like that and not choose to give myself a stroke versus a pat on the back for everything else I achieved over the course of the year.

That’s a healthy attitude.

So in the last 8 days before my anniversary, I finally started taking the advice of the trainers and replaying my 5-minute post-ride stretching classes. Since I know that’s kind of cheating, I punished myself by making myself do at least a 10-minute morning stretch class on the days I didn’t ride – which was, yeah…also kind of a cheat.

But in this case, those particular two wrongs did make a right.

Here’s what I’ll say about my drive to sync up these milestones with my first anniversary of ownership: It was kind of a “Go big or go out like Mr. Big” mindset, and if you know what I’m talking about, you know that was a perfectly Xtopher thought to have.

Talk about your Red Shirt Diary topics!

Ok, that’s all I’m saying about the cult. But here’s a couple pics of the instructors that keep me cumming coming back to the bike.

I ride because I secretly would love a sexy man to make that face in my presence…even if I couldn’t see it.

And since you just had to endure that mental imagery, here’s a pic from one of the ABBA themed rides, just for a fun mental palate cleanser…

That’s my towel on my handlebars and a collar so big and 70s fabulous on her top that it looks like a towel draped around her neck. And now I’ll wrap up with some sweaty old Xtopher pics so you can experience a fraction of the emotional pain that I inflict upon myself…

All in pursuit of keeping my <ahem> pointer visible in my own line of sight and this pointer consistently on the right side of 200…

Namasté, bitches!

Decisions, Decisions…