Of Course, *I’m* The Bastard

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Flash forward to now.

Now.

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

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

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

“But your DUI was years ago”, I said.

“No, the other one”, he replied.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until.

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

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

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

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

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

That’s all.

No nothing else.

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

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

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

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

You’re not Paula Deen, yo.

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

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

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

Neither option carried any generous feelings with me.

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

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

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

How cute.

Deflection.

Name calling.

Smells like a Trump supporter-level argument to me.

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

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

I think there’s a big difference there.

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

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

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

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

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

Maybe this time

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

He abandoned us.

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

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

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

Of Course, *I’m* The Bastard

TIL #11: Hyperbole

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s not that bad!

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

A-ha!

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

It’s not (only) that bad!

It’s worse.

Just wait.

Much, much…worse.

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

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

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

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

It gets worse

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

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

Don’t say I didn’t warn ya

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

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

That should have said

I’m (mostly) just kidding

I do say those things, but just for fun.

My fun.

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

The reality is that I turn my hyperbole on myself.

For.

Instance.

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

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

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

Graduated college.

Job searching.

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

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

Luckily, it was imaginary puke.

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

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

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

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

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

I said to myself.

For instance,

I said, mentally touching my pearls.

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

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

But I get a good chuckle out of that.

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

Because it’s probably gonna end up being right.

Yeah, I’m Ouisa.

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

TIL #11: Hyperbole

Pro-Tip

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

Food Delivery Apps.

“Easy”, I said. “Don’t.”

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

I totally get that. All that.

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

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

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

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

Why?

I was mad at Postmates, obviously.

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

So, I told the Filipina Fox my story.

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

Case in point:

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

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

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

Here’s why all that bothers me:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But, that’s a whole other rant.

Pro-Tip

Social Pushback

I’ve been getting a lot and – I must admit – doing plenty of my own.

My new stance – coming optimistically slow – is to call people being stupid out by calling them – get this – “stupid”.

Person, does that make them mad. My stance to that reaction is undelayed.

Don’t get mad, get smart.

Simple, no?

Unsurprisingly, they’d prefer to not.

Sadly, their preference to not be called stupid while putting no consideration forward to behaving thoughtfully or putting forth a little effort, resulting in an informed opinion is not something I’m willing to consider dear or acceptable because “it’s the best they are capable of” any more.

It’s dangerous.

Thursday’s innocent incompetent suggestion that injecting disinfectant into ones body could be effective in treating Coronavirus is a perfect example. I had to resist explaining how lists and conjunctions worked to someone on the Facebook the other day after he floated the idea that what I heard wasn’t what had been said.

My first reaction wasn’t frustration, surprisingly. It was sadness at how pathetic it must be to share a mind with Trump – as this person must, knowing what he meant by his words in contrast to the rest of us, who only knew what he said.

Side note: that injecting disinfectants into the body isn’t such a crazy notion as it may sound – just a good 75-150 years out of date.

Who knew? Certainly not I.

Seriously, click that link and read the story about the historical use of disinfectants as both a potential cure for maladies like plague to pregnancy to not-being-White-ness.

It actually presents an interesting counter argument to people whose defense of Trump as a president and 2020 candidate is based on inanities like “Biden is an accused sexual predator, too!”

I mean, like basic math wouldn’t teach us to cancel out common denominators.

That argument, I think I’ll call The Lysol Rebuttal.

Here’s the deal – and I could have used this yesterday, when I was sadly left to sarcastically call someone stupid:

Someone was admittedly refusing to vote for either mainstream candidate in November because both were sexual predators. They had floated the idea of writing in their own candidate, but not committed to anything past not voting for either Biden or Trump.

Now, I’m fine with anyone choosing to exercise their right to challenge our two-party democracy.

I’m not fine with them thinking that the right time to do so is six months prior to the General. Nor that the right place to effect change is on a Facebook comment thread.

I really can’t believe it took me this long to decide to just call that type of behavior stupid to its stupid face.

But that they were ok leaving Trump in office for the sole reason that they “thought” voting Biden in would amount only to trading one sexual predator for another.

Here’s where The Lysol Rebuttal comes in.

Just like Lysol – let’s actually call it “Lysol” since Lysol actually provided the douche as birth control product but wasn’t actually the brand of disinfectant used as an internal disinfectant in the 1800s – was used as birth control in the 1920s and 30s, we now know how to use it properly for effective results, making it safe to “use”.

Well, Biden is kind of the same way – whether you believe the allegations or they are actually proved to be true. We know how to “use” him safely.

Right now, as I know it, his accuser (Tara Reade – not Reid – but can you believe the friggin’ coincidence?) claims to have filed a report with the Senate police (I think that’s what I read, who knew that was a thing) in ’93 that cannot be located now. She also says she complained to her boss, Biden’s Admin, who cannot not only recall it, says it never happened.

So, we’re kind of in a he said/she said/then another she said “Oh, no she di-in’t said”.

Meanwhile, Reade just now filed a police report in D.C. about the alleged ’93 assault.

Now.

Not when Biden was put on the ’08 Obama ticket.

Now.

Now it’s a significant barrier to his viability as a public servant. Not when he was only a heartbeat away from the presidency – serving as Veep to the first Black man elected to that office.

Now.

In other meanwhiles, we’ve got the currently sitting sexual predator who was elected (by Electoral College malfunction default, not popular vote, mind you) months after a tape of him bragging about his sexual predator prowess was released in 2016.

That was a result of what I call The Yeahbuts.

“Hey, your guy brags about grabbing women by the pussy and that he could shoot someone on the street in the middle of NYC and get away with it because he’s famous.”

“Yeah, but he’s an outsider, he’ll shake things up. Once he’s elected, he’ll act like a President.”

Ok, how come my yeahbut doesn’t work against Trump now?

Yeahbut, none of that happened – his outsider-ness hasn’t made him more effective and he hasn’t behaved presidentially.

Why are we still talking about him as a candidate? He’s proving daily that he’s harmful today.

The argument against is yeahbut Biden was possibly maybe harmful 27 years ago?

The Lysol Rebuttal.

Personally, anyone who chooses what we know is bad today, can’t see that it’s bad for us or enables it because they think both are equally bad and won’t choose?

Stupid.

It’s like being caught in a house fire in L.A. and choosing to die of smoke inhalation because the air outside is smoggy.

I’m not even considering this chosen course of action of mine as something that will make me unpopular – as if I care about popularity. These people are not folks I want to be popular amongst. But I will attempt to at least choose my words carefully enough to separate stupid thoughts and stupid actions from plain old stupidity.

That’s stupid” is not the same as “you’re stupid”.

There is a difference, not that the subjects will notice, I’m confident of that.

Social Pushback

I Am

Therefore, I am bothered.

For the last five weeks, if not longer, I’ve been mainly stuck at home. Outside of FaceTime, Messenger and Zoom and the Virtual Happy Hours they provide, my main source of socialization is Mistress Myrtle.

So I’ve been listening to a lot of Pandora and Spotify.

Since I’m a broke ass ho’, I have the free versions – which means I hear ads.

Side note: I don’t feel bad about not being a paid subscriber – I’m assuming they make more marketing to me than they would off of my – what…$30 annual subscription?

Anyway, I’ve been hearing this ad since day one of lockdown

And I’m really all for it, just like the freeway reader boards that have no congestion or accidents to report, so now they read

Stay Home, Save Lives

Fine.

I’m good with all that. Because we need to hear it, obviously.

That last one…goddamn, that’s hilarious.

But what I’m not fine with is them not making sense.

This ad I’ve been hearing listening to all this time, makes a great point. Up to a point

Here’s the deal, the ad states that:

  1. If we don’t stay home, as many as 1.4% of Oregonians could die
  2. The average Oregonian knows six hundred people
  3. That means five people I know could die from Miley Cyrus Coronavirus
  • Ok, well…first, I think 1.4% is on the low side, outside of math.
  • Second, I’ve got a list of at least five people that could please up and do my world a favor.
  • Third – and I think this is most important:
  • Five is not 1.4% of 600, so…what gives?
  • It’s 8.4, which I’d actually be really sad about even if it was rounded down to 8.
  • Every time that damn ad comes on I just want to call someone and demand an explanation. But, since I need to run to the Rx and it’s pouring outside, I’m dumping this complaint here and hope that helps it stop making me crazy.
  • I mean, seriously…if I wanted half-assed information, there’s FaceBook and Fox News.
  • But since I’m now at the point where I’ve muted someone on FaceBook for 30 days to see if that makes me less nuts than trying to talk sense to stupid Americans like her – maybe that’s another blog, we’ll see – or if I just have to unfriend her remains to be seen.
  • Maybe it just means I have to subscribe to a Pandora or Spotify…
  • I Am

    Does This K Make Me Look Fat?

    I’d forgotten about this…achievement with everything else going on.

    Maybe that means I’m losing my competitive edge not being around other people. One thing I’ve noticed, having indulged in video chats with family and friends lately – ok, sure…I call them Virtual Happy Hours, but let’s call that Social Distancing Lubrication – is that we have to wait our turn to talk.

    Tech limitations being what they are – or maybe my laptop is old – the speaker/microphone tend to be something of a one trick pony. If you’re talking, you can’t hear, so if you want an actual conversation, you have to actually stop and listen.

    Bad news for these people who say they can do both, all they’re gonna be “hearing” while they talk over someone else is themselves.

    Perhaps that’s truly their deep-seeded happy place. Maybe now is when they’ll realize it. Or maybe they will realize it and come out of this better – actual – conversationalists.

    For my part, someone bothers to set up a VHH and then pulls that with me, I’ll turn the screen toward my sink and let them watch me drink wine and wash dishes while they conversationally masturbate.

    Now…what was I talking about?

    Oh, yes. Competitive edge.

    Soon after I started driving with Lyft last summer, I became aware of the fact that Lyft was a sponsor for Portland’s MLS team, the Timbers.

    It’s kind of a big deal around here.

    I noticed this when they ran a story on their blog about sending a featured driver to the match as a form of recognition. That sounded cool. I have actually never been to a match – they are harder to get into than Elton John’s post-Oscar party and I can easily drink better expensive beer elsewhere, so…<shrug emoji>

    But this sounded kinda like just my type of goofy fun.

    Then I read the present featured driver had 5000 rides and a 5-star rating.

    Ok, well, it seemed like I was gonna be logging a few miles before I got to his level. Plus, I’m aware that I can come off as quite a unit when I get going about something, so wasn’t expecting to maintain a 5-star rating long.

    Don’t even talk to me about that 98% Acceptance Rate. Sore subject…

    But, now you see the “K” I was referring to in the post title.

    It really only took about 7 months, and that’s driving ~25 hours a week. Of course, I should have hit it a couple weeks earlier…thanks, Coronavirus.

    An unexpected perk – and another way Lyft builds in recognition in their be-your-own-boss work environment is to award swag when you hit milestones. However, since my swag threshold kinda peaks at “sticker”, I didn’t pay much attention to this accomplishment/reward. My experience is that branded merch is pretty schlocky, so I tune it out.

    Not that I was ever a smoker, but remember those jackets you could redeem your “points” for from cigarette brands like Marlboro or Camel? Yeah, that’s the image I have of employer branded clothing.

    So, when I checked my PO Box yesterday and found a key to a package locker, I was completely surprised.

    Even more surprised at how surprised I was that I forgot something like this.

    I don’t know why that would have surprised me at all.

    But it was a cute little experience, taking this package home and being surprised again and again and again at the level of care they seemed to put into sending me this little moment of recognition in a fairly anonymous work environment.

    Seriously, that’s the inside of the lid. There was a note that was printed in a hand-written font by someone with an easy to make dirty name – think “Mulva” or “Bipple” – so I didn’t put that on blast here. The jacket itself was wrapped in a silver tissue with a 1K sticker holding it closed.

    Really, all this for a jacket I won’t wear?”

    But the last surprise – ok, second to last – was that I found the damn thing to be not only my style, but tastefully done, too!

    Nothing too garish. A current tech fabric style.

    Nice.

    Oh, and that last surprise?

    It fit.

    I asked for a Large, aspirationally. I’ll reluctantly admit that I’ve been apathetically resigned to XL lately, and they just do not fit my frame well.

    Luckily, iSolation has provided me with no excuses to procrastinate exercise lately, so my Large closet is getting less of a stretch lately, and this fit. Well, the arms are almost too short, which is normal for my gangly assed frame.

    So, call this grumpy old man pleasantly surprised.

    Plus, Myrt got something out of it, too.

    For all those times dinner was late because I was driving…

    Now, if I ever get back to driving, I can work on those Timbers tickets!

    Does This K Make Me Look Fat?

    We Need A Flood

    You’d think a little forced iSolation would be just the thing to keep an old grump like me happy. Or at least quiet.

    But, no. Even in the end times, I can find something to kvetch about.

    Ok, ok…somethings.

    At least I had to put more effort into it this time than simply opening the Facebook like the last time I aired out a good ire here on WordPress.

    This time, I had to go all the way to Gross Out to write off the chances for humanity.

    Hey, I heard there was a wine sale.

    I had to get up and go out, anyway. The Silver Fox had snuck back into town to clean out his remaining supplies and thought he’d forgotten a bag on the counter. Turns out, he’d forgotten to pack the bag, which gave us both a good chuckle.

    He’d lured me out by innocently mentioning crackers – not knowing I’d been craving them. For my efforts, I Kramer-ed said crackers and tipped myself his pesto.

    So, now in addition to wine, I needed some cheese. Don’t worry, mom…I was also out of broccoli and salad kits and had those on my list, too.

    As if the disappointment of arriving and seeing no wine sale signs wasn’t enough, the other shoppers were apparently willing to bend over backward to drive my regret home.

    It all started out so promising, too. They had set up a DeCon station outside for people to wipe down their carts before beginning. Even though there was a cute guy there doing just that, I grabbed my cart by the horns and went right in without lingering.

    I think I already mentioned how easy it is to screw up DeCon, so I make my concessions for cleanliness and accept the risk of going out during a pandemic. Also, I made a mental note to observe this guy shopping. Sure enough, no gloves and no wipes inside.

    But he put on a good show of Pandemic Correctness and was easy enough on the old peepers.

    Aside from the DeCon set up outside, I was impressed that Gross Out was taking Social Distancing seriously and had laid down directional arrows to make aisles one-way. That effort reduced the amount of passing traffic in the aisles, making it easier to have a 6 foot space between shoppers.

    Or should have.

    Fucking idiots.

    Like, if they put some effort into their cluelessness, they could reach the level of disdain I generally have for the garden variety stupid Americans our country churns out…folks who aren’t really dumb, just oblivious.

    As I’ve observed on many occasions in the past, though,

    There is no bar so low that an American can’t climb under it.

    That needs to be on the Statue of Liberty. New Colossus can find a new home.

    Fine.

    New Colossus can stay, but I should at least get billboards for my slogan.

    Or needlepoint pillows…

    Anyway, the jokers I was shopping with were ignorantly pointing their carts whichever direction they pleased, arrows be damned. Then they were standing around talking.

    With the people in their shopping group. I looked at them like, “Can’t you talk in the car on the way home?” Or at least talk and walk?

    No.

    For the solo shoppers randomly careening through the market, I considered offering them the opportunity to lick me in order to truly avail themselves to my available germs, but decided against it.

    I did allow myself a couple opportunities to glare at oncoming shoppers and then look pointedly at the nearest floor arrow before getting out of the way of some of my fellow shoppers.

    That’s when it hit me.

    These people oblivious to the establishment’s efforts to protect their customers (from themselves, as it turns out) were the same customers that were wearing gloves and masks. I even saw one person wearing protective goggles.

    I knew goggle-guy was just a stupid American and not a weird Portland denizen because they weren’t ski goggles.

    Surely, these numbskulls weren’t all symptomatic and venturing out. No, they knew. Like some kind of Hillbilly Scout Troop had taught them to prepare for people dumber than themselves.

    So, there I was, suddenly feeling vulnerable to all these people who protected themselves from others with the same uncommon sense as their own.

    That’s when I thought a plague from a vengeful god wasn’t enough. We needed a flood.

    These yahoos might be able to hoard handiwipes and masks, but let’s see how long their lawn chair flotilla protects them from raging floodwaters.

    Actually, I’d probably be taking gulps – at least of wine – if a flood came. I bought enough groceries for 10 days – although I’m not sure how my wine stock will hold out – so I don’t have to venture back too soon. By the way, that’s about 10x what I normally buy when I go to the store…

    I also bought myself a little dessert treat, since I’d been craving chocolate cake lately.

    If I learned anything from Zombieland, it’s to enjoy the little pleasures – preferably one with a long shelf life. Sadly, the $5 bottle of wine I bought was one of the tastiest red blends I’ve had in a while…regretting not picking up a couple more.

    And just to end on a fun note, here’s a little quarantine meme for yas.

    We Need A Flood

    Forget Winter

    reality is coming.

    I woke up at about 4:30 this morning, which is my old normal. Lately, though, I’ve been nailing the whole “sleep through the night” thing. As I tried to talk myself out of tossing and turning, hoping instead to just fall back asleep until my alarm went off when it was time to move my car, I let my mind wander:

    • I should get up and pee
    • There’s some really funny COVID memes going around right now
    • Maybe I should just go move my car now…
    • Is that cigarette smoke?
    • Maybe I should fast today
    • I can’t wait to take a shower, I feel really gross after not showering yesterd – oooh, maybe I should work on some Quarantine Dreads!
    • Where’s Myrtle?

    I finally decided to get up and pee, turning on the light briefly to make sure Myrt hadn’t “mined” my route to the toilet with any little surprises.

    All clear.

    As I answered Nature’s call, I chuckled at the “told ya sos” my friends would give me for being awake at this hour. Yesterday evening I had posted a question to my Facebook peeps as to whether or not 6:20 was too early to turn in on a Saturday night. I’d had a full day of doing nothing* and thought maybe it was time to finish my wine, take a half a gummy and hit reset.

    Reliably, my wise and enabling friends let me know it was ok to turn in early, while cautioning that I’d be awake at 2:00 if I did.

    Well, surprise! Surprise! SURPRISE…I ended up staying up, having two more glasses of wine, forgoing the gummy and going to bed at 11:00. Hence, sleeping til 4:30 instead of 2:30.

    Anyway, as I was washing my hands, I decided that it was cigarette smoke I’d been smelling and tried to suppress my frustration at people breaking our association rules, since it would only serve to further wake me up.

    I failed.

    I congratulated myself as I lay in bed seething – at least I hadn’t gone out onto my patio and glared around, looking for the smoker.

    Instead, I was laying in bed wondering if this was it, now. Civilization’s collapse. At the end of one week of forced isolation, the community rulebook was essentially toilet paper.

    Then I reminded myself that we hadn’t actually made it a full week before our selfish and entitled behaviors started seeping out. Not that they had very far to seep.

    I mean, the hoarding that started a couple weeks back is a fine example of people’s selfishness.

    The fact that we’ve spent the last two weeks educating stupid Americans adults on proper hand washing is, likewise, a fine example of how people believe “rules” are for other people.

    But what stuck in my head was the fat fuck jogger I’d encountered the other day. I’d been doing my morning drive routine, feeling good that 80% of my riders had been healthcare professionals and that I’d helped return them to the front lines for the day. Suddenly, I was skidding to a halt in an intersection – don’t worry, mom, skidding was hyperbole…I’d only been going 20 MPH – to avoid hitting this jogger.

    He had leapt from the sidewalk to the crosswalk without looking or even breaking his stride. I’d seen him on the far side of the side street sidewalk as I drove across the opposite crosswalk, entering the intersection. I had anticipated that with his slowing to look both ways before crossing the street when he reached the corner, that I’d likely be exiting the intersection by the time he was ready to cross.

    Nope.

    As if this fat fuck jogger was the last person on the planet, he just Usain Bolt-ed into the crosswalk. I was actually kind of surprised that he hadn’t collapsed onto the asphalt after shattering his tibia running off the curb like that…like I said, fat.

    Anyway, I did what I think any reasonably nice driver would do as I slammed on my brakes – I gave him a palms up over my steering wheel. For his part, he gave me a single finger salute as he continued to try run at a pace suggesting he was urgently trying to catch the physique that had – at one time – fit into his running attire.

    Good luck, pal. That fit body has quite a head start on fat you.

    As I resumed my right of way, I thought to myself how odd it was that he’d gotten so out of shape and now he was expecting people to yield to his fitness pursuits. I mean, really…it’s not like a healthy body was just waiting for him on the other side of the crosswalk. He could certainly have waited his turn.

    That thought was still percolating as I realized this yahoo had actually turned to run parallel to me so that he could continue flipping me off.

    All while righteously not making eye contact with me. I’m pretty sure someone mathematically inclined could actually come up with a formula to quantify the inverse relationship of the level of wrong-ness an action was compared to the length of time one postured themselves as the wronged party afterward.

    Suffice to say, this guy was still acting like the injured party a half block later. Maybe he’d been hoping I’d run him over and put him out of his misery and was mad that I’d managed to miss.

    But thinking on my fat fuck jogger friend had led me back to my second seemingly random thought of the morning: COVID memes.

    There’s some pretty amusing observational memes going around. Things like:

    We’re only three weeks away from knowing everyone’s natural hair color.

    Or these little gems:

    There was one that I failed to grab and can’t find now that I’m bummed about. It was a split screen with a caption that said something like “Quarantine 2020” and the split was a before and after pic. The before was a Barbie doll, all glammed up and looking Barbie-sexy while the after pic was the same pic photoshopped with a little Jabba effect because with the gyms closed and social distancing being trendy, all the gays will do is sit at home and binge eat while binge-watching Real Housewives of Anywhere and RuPaul’s Drag Race.

    Like I said, it was pretty funny, especially since it was from a gay meme account and you know what gym bunnies the 20-30 year old gays can be. I do appreciate self-aware humor.

    Another that stuck with me was:

    You know COVID-19 is serious when gay men start having sex with their boyfriends again.

    That’s funny and sad at the same time. The important thing here is that – knowing my attitude regarding open relationships – I didn’t throw my phone when I saw that meme.

    And because sometimes all you need for a funny moment is a good flipping of the script,

    Because some of us lived through the 80s and 90s and are less shocked by the GOP’s shenanigans. Now we gays have loads of time on our hands to watch straight people react to the ongoing Trump administration nonsense, our only task: popping popcorn.

    Anyhoo…before I knew it, my alarm was going off and it was time to go move my car onto the street. On Saturdays, I usually park in the lot down the block because there’s not a lot of demand on Lyft, so $7 for all day is a far better deal than $2/hour from 8:00 until I head out to drive in the evening. Since I was contemplating bed at 6-ish last night, having not even showered for the day yet, I didn’t drive.

    Obviously.

    And since street parking is free until 1:00 p.m. on Sundays, I’ll usually pay for a couple hours and then drive in the afternoon.

    Anyway, I moved Angela out to the street, wondering if I was the only person in Portland still paying for parking.

    Wondering if I was also wrong about the cigarette smoke after checking my weather app

    And knowing that the potential fast was off after finding an energy drink and some pistachios tucked into the side pocket of Angela’s door. Also knowing Quarantine Dreads were off because I’m taking The ‘Phew to the airport this afternoon so he can fly home and see his parents, just to be sure we do our part for carrying Coronavirus from the city to rural Oregon. Hehe. But, yeah…I’ll have to shower for that.

    Most rewarding, as I was exiting the building, some neighbor I’ve never seen before was exiting to walk a dog that I’ve also never seen before…smoking a fucking cigarette.

    I coughed dramatically in the foyer after he didn’t hold the door for me and decided I was gonna tell on him. It’ll make me sound batshit crazy, too

    Um, yeah. There’s a guy I’ve never seen before and I don’t know what unit he’s in, but he was smoking inside!

    …but I’m not gonna let that stop me! There’s only 18 units in my building and less than half are occupied full time, I’m sure some industrious someone can figure it out.

    Naturally, my morning ends with me coming back to my unit to Myrtle sitting in the bedroom door with an expression that said both, “Where have you been?” and

    Someone shit on the floor.

    at the same time.

    Maybe I’ll let Myrtle fast today – or at least while I sip my energy drink…

    *to be fair, I had done a mini workout at home and cleaned the condo…so the day wasn’t spent entirely in Sofa City.

    Forget Winter

    Scared New World

    Welp, I made it three days.

    I’ve no doubt that I’m good for weeks on end of self-imposed isolation, but once I’m told to stay home, my natural obstinacy kicks in.

    Obviously.

    Not that I haven’t been keeping track of the number of people I’ve been within 6 feet of at the same time.

    Friday: 6

    Saturday: 3

    Sunday: 4

    Remember, I drive for Lyft, too. My back seat is within my 6 foot bubble – so traffic is pretty far down back there. I’d definitely say that my back seat is performing worse than the stock market!

    Saturday, I attempted to cajole the Silver Fox into a glass of wine at our local since he had told me that he’d already been cajoled by his sons into joining their mother in her self-imposed quarantine. Since he didn’t have a return date, I suggested a bon voyage drink. I also reminded him that he could be a carrier and spread the virus into his ex-wife’s safety perimeter.

    That worked as well as my attempt to milk a wine out of him, so I ordered a pizza.

    Five minutes later, he sent me a pic of a glass of wine at the bar around the corner.

    C’mon!

    Of course, I had to stay home and wait for my pizza to be delivered to my door – and then left for me to pick up once the driver had left.

    Yesterday, I had plans to meet The Kids for coffee. However, after a Sunday morning of driving in a deserted downtown Portland, I canceled.

    I had three rides in two hours. Sunday mornings are usually pretty slow, but that’s about 50% down from what I’d usually encounter. Usually people are leaving town and I’ll pick up a couple airport rides and maybe even a return from an arriving traveler. Perhaps a ride of pride, if I’m out early enough. For sure, I’ll pick up several brunchers.

    Nope. Those days are over.

    I took a guy to work at Laughing Planet – a local “good food” cafe.

    I got called to a hotel near my place downtown. Pulling up, I expected it was either an airport run or a brunch drop off. Uh-uh…I was taking this traveling couple to pick up their car. They hadn’t even left it because they got hammered the night before. Nope, these shrewd millennial travelers were juking the system and instead of paying $40 a night to park their car at their boutique hotel, had left it on a residential street across the river where parking is free and Lyft-ed to their hotel and back for ~$10 total.

    Including tip.

    Smart!

    And then I took a guy to work. Not a nurse, as I expected because of the time. He was going to work at NikeTown. When I mentioned he was going in pretty early for a Sunday, he told me there was a mandatory meeting to talk about Nike’s decision to close their stores until the Coronavirus was managed.

    After that morning of trolling for rides along a deserted Broadway and MLK – which are busy thoroughfares, I thought maybe being out and about was at best, being foolhardy and at worst, being part of the problem.

    So I canceled my coffee date with The Kids. Hell, the CDC had just updated its guidance for crowds from 250 to 50.

    This morning was similar to yesterday. Still needing an income stream, I decided to drive the rush hour and at least help get some medical personnel to work. Usually, I’ll have at least one ride to a hospital or clinic in the mornings, probably two depending on my start time.

    Sure enough, my first ride was at about 6:40 and was a nurse going up to Oregon Health Sciences University – OHSU for short. She was also the newest member of the 1% Club, people I’ve given more than one ride to.

    However, after thanking her for all she does as she exited my car, I didn’t have another ride for 65 minutes. Again, the streets looked post-apocalyptic and I thought about going home. After pulling down $25 in two hours yesterday, I lamented my potential $5 Monday and stubbornly kept cruising.

    Usually, my rule is to point my car homeward between rides and if I make it home, stop. That, or to shut it down if I go a half hour without a ride.

    But I’m old, I’m getting rather good at stubborn.

    One of the things I learned from The Fox while he was sipping his wine alone on Saturday evening was that our local had decided that day to reduce service to only five days a week from 5-9 pm. I was amazed, an emotion that turned to shock when I learned that they had furloughed about 70% of their staff along with that decision.

    Of course, this turned out to be only hours ahead of the decision by Washington Governor Jay Inslee to close all bars and restaurants. An executive order that itself barely beat California governor Gavin Newsome’s decision to do the same in California.

    That’s kind of what prompted my solo-coffee outing this morning. I know the seating at Nossa Familia is pretty scarce, and I figured with the way the city was looking, I wouldn’t have any trouble being socially distant.

    I was not wrong.

    Even when someone did show up – as it turned out, it was the customer behind me…the only other patron – but we were still plenty of feet apart. Of course, once she sat down, she made a show of dramatically clearing her throat.

    Anyway, knowing Oregon’s own governor – Kate Brown – has promised her own decision on either a curfew or temporary end of service for Oregon’s bars and restaurants, I thought this could be my last chance to hang out in a coffee shop for a few weeks.

    So here I am.

    I’d invited The ‘Phew out for dinner tomorrow, doing my part to make sure that particular college kid has enough pizza in his diet to keep going. But now that’s seeming like it may not happen.

    It would be a bummer if we had to put it off for the foreseeable future. I guess I could always invite myself to my parents for dinner and take him out with me…which would also be nice, but in a different way.

    While all of this is going on and even sounds practical, it’s against the backdrop of exacerbated stupid American idiocy.

    This was simultaneously hilarious and horrifying.

    Hilarious, because Panic At The Costco brilliantly sends up both the name of the band – Panic At The Disco – and riffs on the one intelligible line from probably their best known chorus, which is a shouted

    I chime in with “Haven’t you people ever heard of closing the goddamn door?”

    Which some clever person co-opted by changing “closing the door” to “washing your hands”.

    Horrifying because – well, lots.

    First, because in 2020 we really are being confronted with how few people seem to actually understand the hows and whys of hand washing.

    It’s pathetic.

    Second, because Panic At The Costco is real. We’ve been seeing hoarding stories of toilet paper for a couple of weeks now. And that was before the shit really hit the fan last weekend.

    Naturally, on top of Moronvirus, Portland weather decided to deliver snow last Saturday. Snow forecasts here will reliably strip a store of perishables. Add in an airborne virus and these stupid Americans will purge stores of all things crapping paper. Maybe it’s because their heads are so far up their asses that they suspect a runny nose could reasonably lead to diarrhea.

    Who knows? I find it best to try and not understand this mindset too well. While I’m all for seeking to understand, somewhere in the back of my mind is my mom’s voice warning me about making faces when I was a kid.

    What if my mindset gets stuck like TP Hoarders’ mind’s while I’m trying to find the logic in their actions?

    I dunno. Maybe Stupid New World is a better name.

    Scared.

    Stupid.

    Probably interchangeable in this current circumstance. Sadly, I am only reasonably certain that one of those adjectives will pass within the next month or so…

    Scared New World

    So, I Cured Coronavirus

    You’re welcome.

    Ok, not really. But I feel a rant coming on and think that’s a longer commitment than I can offer on Friday morning – for instance, it’s now Friday night – so I’m posting something pithy to take my mind off of that other shituation. Maybe tomorrow or Sunday I will let my EOG/White Privilege out to whine.

    You’re still welcome.

    Damn. Now I want wine.

    Earlier this week, I had a doctor appointment and found myself sitting in a waiting room with a hipster/homeless/homo-type who thought he was funny. He coughed – incorrectly – and after a few moments looked around and chuckled “Coronavirus” at the room.

    Definitely homeless.

    Naturally, I woke up the next day with a sore throat. One of those stand-alone types of sore throat where the place that your throat and sinuses meet is burning. Y’know, like after you do some coke?

    Ok, me either. But I have these oversharing friends…

    Anyway, I bought some Zicam and figured I’d nip this in the bud. However, as the day wore on, either that Zicam was doing a great job or my not-so-secret-hypochondria was asleep at the wheel. I’d barely managed to imagine a runny or stuffy nose – let alone manifest anything serious.

    The next day, however, I succeeded in waking up congested. After a few hours, I began to wonder if I should email my doctor, just to be safe. I took a Zicam while I fretted about it and a couple hours later, I went into my medicine drawer looking for more serious ammo.

    Y’know, just in case.

    Yeah, I don’t even know what some of that crap is. I know there’s writing on the foil backing, but when I tossed the boxes away, I hadn’t anticipated my eyes reminding me of the age I strive so hard to forget.

    Then my eyes settled on the Zirtec and I thought, “Yes! That’s all this is, allergies…again!” It’s an annual rite of passage from Winter to Spring for me. Having only developed allergies six years back, this ritual still catches me off guard. Plus, Portland weather being Portland weather, I never know if this will occur during our Fake Spring or later in the year when actual Spring rolls into town.

    So I patted myself on the back, popped a Zirtec and went about my day.

    Two hours later, I realized I felt fantastic! Well, for me.

    The next day, I did the same.

    Also, Thursday.

    And again this morning. That was when I realized I’d been taking Zirtec that was…vintage?

    Ok, it expired almost five years ago…while my poor mother facepalms and wonders where she went wrong, I’m patting myself o the back and wondering what they’ll name the process of taking “moldy” allergy meds to “cure” a flu.

    I’m not going to warn you not to try this at home. If you’re dumb enough to consider me a role model, I’m happy to get credit for the Darwin assist. <grimace emoji>

    So, I Cured Coronavirus