Dating Into Oblivion ep7.1

A Ghost Story

After our first date, I broke it off with The Transplant.

I had come to realize that regardless of how stimulating our conversations had been during our time together, stimulating isn’t my default setting. Playful is.

We had been texting about our second date, which he’d sorta planned while visiting Seattle with a friend of his that was in from Chicago. He suggested the M.I.A. documentary, of which I’d never heard.

I knew she was/is a rapper and had even heard one of her songs, which featured some poppy gunshots. Not that I’m a big fan of mainstreaming violence, but rap incorporates violence into its art form regularly.

And I’m not one to claim an understanding of art by any means, so I keep my own counsel on that opinion.

Oops. Lookie!

Anyway, before he’d even returned from Seattle, he’d changed his mind about the movie.

No problem, we can do something else.

Truth be told, I was kind of relieved. Not sure I could muster sufficient enthusiasm for a rap documentary in a second date scenario.

“You pick something”, he says.

So bossy!

I playfully replied.

Ok, he was not having playful.

I actually spent the next dozen or so messages texting on eggshells. Deliberately not pointing out that he planned and vetoed the scuttled plan, so he should figure out a replacement. I planned the first date, after all. Anyway, this reservedness was in direct opposition to what he said he really appreciated about me on our first date: that I don’t behave like I’m in an interview, carefully measuring my words and maintaining a cautious demeanor.

Screw that. Eventually a facade drops and then people learn how you really act. I don’t play dating games like that – hey, it’s Why I’m Single #12! – I go into dates dressed like I dress and acting like I act.

So, basically I come across as a teenager who has recently had a stroke.

(Not that kind, Diezel)

Anyway, I think in those dozen texts, I wrangled some form of “apology” for calling him bossy – an attitude which I would appreciate, for the record. I did not enjoy the direction this interaction had taken, and the best he could muster in response was “I’m not offended”. As a stand alone, with no additional words providing context, that just reads like a petulant, “Fine“.

Lemme think about it, I’ll walk by a couple of venues on my way home and see if there’s any groups neither of us have heard of playing…we can have an adventure!

He seemed to like that idea, so I figured an adventure date could help reset the conversation or clearly define his lack of playfulness. Nevertheless, after failing to shake the disease of the prior night’s texts, I decided to pull the rip cord. Here’s how that went.

Yeah, yeah…I didn’t even save him as a contact, I know. My rule is that I don’t save contacts until I know a person’s last name. How many generic Matts does my phone book need?

Matt, BTW was his given name. He and his brother were raised in something of a Christian Cult setting.

After leaving/escaping, he and his brother had both changed their names to non-biblically influenced monikers.

Like adults.

But at least the name he chose for himself simply made him sound like a Seattle-phile or an aggressive fish enthusiast. His brother chose Aphid.

Adults, these days…

But his response at least pointed back toward the reasonable and well-considered person I’d first met. So…date number two was back to Go-Status.

I wasn’t feeling particularly plucky on the big day, which happened to be a Friday night. Turns out that he’d had a rough day at work – an ongoing recent theme as he worked toward getting a new restaurant (not of his) up and running. It is – as is he, if you recall – vegan. Turns out vegans had been incensed by both the restaurant’s name and their use of honey on the menu.

You have to remember that some people are just happy being unhappy.

Was about all I could muster, advice-wise. My inner voice was screaming that a hamburger might improve their collective disposition, but I’m pretty confident that wasn’t a welcome observation.

I surely had no expertise with opening a vegan restaurant. I barely have experience with vegetables.

Show of hands, how many of my friends thought that exact thought right before they read it? A lot, right?

Nevertheless, I also cautioned him that the restaurant could capitulate to a bunch of cranks before it even opened its doors and I guarantee that those people would either:

1) Still never even show up

Or,

2) Find something else to bitch about.

Hey, I may not know vegans from vegetables, but I do know a thing or two about sons of bitches.

So, there we were, committed to a date, but neither feeling like going out. We decided on a movie and wine/whine at my place. I reminded him that my TV was in my living room and not my bedroom and he reiterated that he was not interested in just hooking up.

Game on. No…foreshadowing!

When he arrived, we went over to the Brodega across the street for some wine and vegan approved snacks. This she-she neighborhood market would surely have some, high prices on weird foods? I don’t call it a brodega for nothing. We ended up with some fancy chocolate bars – including some from Theo’s, which I decided to not tell him he could have just visited in Seattle. This is how vegan excommunication begins…using honey in your restaurant and eating chocolate.

Vegans are like religious folk: picking and choosing what dogma they will/won’t follow. I found it promising, while also making a note that he’d really traded one cult for another…

We leave the store…and run smack dab into the Silver Fox, who was “out walking his dog”.

How many times did you walk poor George around this block?!?

The Fox swore that when he’d left Big Legrowlski under the auspices of needing to let George out to pee, the bartendresses had made him swear he’d bring George by so they could see him. Feasible enough, but the Brodega still wasn’t on his way home.

I introduced The Fox and The Transplant, who in true introvert form was already walking away as he said hi.

We went back to my place and watched The Kindergarten Teacher, which is as great as you’ve heard…and if you haven’t heard, it’s great! We actually stopped the movie a couple times for pee breaks and also just to talk about the movie. It was really nice to have a fresh movie watching companion. The Fox and I watch shows together, but more often than not our movie breaks are to discuss (one sidedly) the show’s Game of Thrones connections or whether that actor was in this or that or is dead.

There’s nothing wrong with that. The Transplant is 24, though. His mid-movie talk breaks were more aspirational.

Big Thoughts.

High Art Concepts.

It was fun. Inspirational, to be honest. I haven’t indulged my brain like that since my college days of late night studying in the Catskeller, taking breaks to conversationally dissect what we’d just reviewed.

It was quite the mental stretch for me, and it was invigorating.

After the movie, which took three-plus hours to get through, he suggested a change of scene. He asked when the hotel bar next door closed, since I’d kind of raved about it earlier.

Midnight…so, 45-ish minutes. Do you want something else to eat? Drink?

“Not really, just a change of venue”, he replied.

I was kind of relieved, because I wasn’t yet in the frame of mind to take him to my normal haunts. We decided just to walk and see what happened.

What happened was we walked the waterfront and Eastbank Esplanade.

At midnight.

On a Friday. Well, Saturday.

We got back to my place at around 2:45 and at the door to my building, I tried to say goodnight. Apparently, he wasn’t done yet. We’d been holding hands for about four miles as we walked and talked, so I figured I could safely invest a little more time to continue the conversation.

Being 24, The Transplant can put on a good show of maturity, but at the end of the day – or very early the next morning, in this case – that maturity is going to be tested when it comes time to make your actions and words line up.

At around 3:30, I joked that he was going to have to pay for parking soon, by way of closing the chapter on date two. He told me that he’d taken an Uber over.

Then why are we drinking water?!?

I poured us each a glass of wine. Shortly thereafter, he invited himself to stay the night.

Maybe I was special enough that he’d deemed me worthy of escalating this to mating into oblivion status. I told him I thought that was premature, we hadn’t even kissed yet.

“It’s just sleeping“, he teased, suddenly fluent in playfulness.

Yeah, but spooning leads to forking,

I advised, continuing with,

That’s not something I’m not interested in, but I don’t want it to be unintentional.

We talked a bit more, about big stuff. Sexual health and history – I said big stuff, not hot stuff – and he still seemed up for it. I told him I didn’t have condoms, for both good and obvious reasons and he told me he had some in his bag. He also mentioned he’d brought the lube he likes.

Not looking for a hook up my ass.

His ass.

Not looking for a hook up but brings his own lube on a date? It secretly made me wonder about the veracity of his claim to be able to recite all of his sexual partners’ names – all of which started with a J, allegedly – on one hand.

I don’t seriously doubt his integrity, I think the kid just had an itch he wanted scratched.

Sooo, I added a C to that string of Js and at 6 AM we laid down for some well earned rest.

At 10:30, he was dressed and out the door to shop for his costume for a Halloween party that evening. Around 3 we texted for a bit on how that was going. My last text being something about how I’m glad he was finding what he needed because the Saturday before Halloween could be slim picking for costume stuff.

I’m assuming he just needed to cut a couple of eye holes in a white sheet since I haven’t heard from him since.

And y’know what’s the worst when shituations – wow, the Chrisisms are just cascading out in this post – occur? I’m past worrying about what I may or may not have done to deserve this. I do indulge in a few thoughts of things that he might have felt insecure about driving his actions…

Wink, wink.

But ultimately, my frustrated parent gene kicks in and I find myself wondering if he got hurt or taken advantage of that night…or worse. I know it’s unlikely, but it’s not a concern I can control. And Portland’s weirdos aren’t all lovable, harmless old curmudgeons.

Being 24, maybe his ego needed to be the dumper versus the dumpee…but he put a lot of effort into that charade, were that the case.

Regardless, after learning that a young fella I used to recreate with on occasion died – two years ago, obviously we weren’t close…just situationally joined on a temporary basis every now and again – a month after I saw him last, well…I just hope this particular ghost story remains theoretical.

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Dating Into Oblivion ep7.1

Dating Into Oblivion ep8

Admittedly, this will be an atypical post for this theme.

Spoiler Alert: No Date

It’s much more like January’s no-show dates. What makes it different is that these guys couldn’t even show up virtually. That’s how dire it is with these Lost Boys, my friends.

Without further doo doo, episode 8.

The other day, on my one remaining “Why do I even bother?” asocial media site, I had occasion to quote Maya Angelou.

It was a guy that had bothered to hit me up with an inscrutable wink via their messenger function. I mean, here, a wink can fairly well be interpreted as

I want you, but haven’t the social skills to actually successfully execute an action plan to formally seduce you…so maybe this will work?

Yeah, I think that’s a pretty good summary of a the definition of a “non-verbal” greeting on asocial media.

And here’s the deal, on these types of sites, there’s tells to back up someone’s intent. They may set their statue to some version of “Looking for Now” or if they have pictures they wish to only share discretely, they may make their stinky eye pic visible to you along with their winky eye greeting.

At least there used to be tells like that that you could rely upon to clarify someone’s intentions. I think people are getting more jaded on the ROI for flashing their selfie porn to strangers. That less than phenomenal individual is called a pic collector. That pejorative moniker can be a reality if a guy actively seeks out or requests that someone unlock their private gallery or it can be restorative if someone sends unsolicited access to their buttoir pics and then doesn’t get the response they were anticipating.

Either way, it’s a sad substitute for initiating an actual conversation or behaving in a way that isn’t just a base form of selfishness. I mean, FFS, masturbate already.

Anywho…I checked his profile and his status didn’t indicate he was looking and his nudie pics were still locked up. And in a jackalope type rarity (he isn’t unicorn-cute), his profile had words in it! It wasn’t just a bunch of checked or unchecked boxes…and the words were clever and funny.

I replied.

Now, there’s a third vague tell that I employ to suss out someone’s intent…y’know, whether they are just killing time or are maybe really looking to make a connection that doesn’t necessarily involve an erection.

They’ll introduce themselves.

When I replied, I signed off with my name.

After a few traded messages, I noticed he had yet to do the same. I knew that he was off early on a Wednesday and beginning a little staycation. After a couple more, I knew that it wasn’t just a really long weekend, that he had the entire following week off and that he had plans to do nothing.

Since I still didn’t know his name, I wished him well and told him I hoped he enjoyed himself. When he asked where I was going off to, I let him know that I wasn’t really going anywhere, I just didn’t take him seriously as friend material since he still hadn’t introduced himself.

He actually replied with something I could interpret as charm and chagrin.

Another jackalope moment. Maybe just as a projection on my part. Who knows.

We chatted a but more and then went off with our respective afternoons. I’m sure I had to go drink something somewhere with someone or something.

No, that’s probably exactly what it was…I really need to go back to full-time work!

We exchanged messages over the weekend and throughout the next week, but always about 12 hours out of sync. I blamed it on my janky sleep schedule. But while I was on, I took a look to see who else was lurking around that might be worthwhile.

What did I find? Maybe a unicorn!

A good looking guy with a few shared interests? Sure…he doesn’t maybe take his sexual health as seriously as he should, coming up allegedly on his second anniversary of his last STI screening. Maybe he just doesn’t update his profile here very often. This seems likely since he was 1200 GPS feet from me, it’s Fall and he’s not in Lancaster after a summer in Portland.

It didn’t matter, anyway, since an hour later he’d read my greeting and not replied. His profile says he liked tea, but I’m – obviously – not everyone’s cup of tea.

Or, anyone’s.

Still, it bothered me. Like this…

For me, if you’re looking for honesty and respect, ya oughta reflect it. I’ve broken off dating relationships with a couple of guys since moving back to Portland simply because they bankrupted my emotional bank account. Specifically, they withdrew my affection but never really made deposits, so eventually I just ran out of figurative fucks to give about them.

I think respect works off that same notion. If you only demand it and don’t return it, people aren’t going to give a damn about your demands.

Well, I’m not. I am a grumpy old man, after all.

So, I trotted our my bullshit buzzer and sent him a second message the next evening.

Notice the check mark in the yellow circle, that’s how I knew he’d seen my message.

What I notice about these lurking denizens of asocial media is the overprotectiveness they demonstrate for their brand. Usually, when I call out people on their bullshit, one of two things happens:

A) They posture and make excuses…your basic Crocodile Tears scenario.

B) They go on the offensive. So much energy into what just amounts to a blustering defense of themselves. It’s exhausting to witness and I really just hope this type of person will shorthand it and block me. Get it over with, already.

Well, this guy was a Type A in this case.

But what constitutes a “rather difficult evening”? It’s not really my business, but why bother offering it without context? You read my message but didn’t bother to reply until I impugned your brand the following day. If you hadn’t even read my message would that have meant that you had a “very difficult evening”?

And on a Halloween Weekend Saturday night…should I even care to believe such an excuse from someone? Halloween is generally referred to as Gay Christmas, in a fit of true irreverence. So maybe his costume just wasn’t coming together right and he read my message before deciding that he just really needed to focus on getting his Gay Vampire look just right.

I get it. Halloweekend is a struggle. Difficult times.

Almost as difficult as trying to figure out whether to indulge this fella’s response with anymore of my time.

So, I didn’t.

I had other things to attend to. Like Staycation Guy.

On Friday, I decided to just throw caution to the wind and call the guy out on his intentions. I acknowledged the awkwardness of communicating via a website and suggested we move to text for faster and easier communication.

If he was interested in continuing the charade…er, conversation.

12 hours later, I had his phone number and sent him a text.

Before bed that day, I sent him a message back on the old asocial media website.

I awoke the next day to this

…as well as the realization that text obviously wasn’t going to improve this guy’s communication rhythm.

I went and got coffee with The Fox and let his reply simmer on my mind’s back burner.

Ultimately, I decided not to say anything and just let it lie.

Until

Six hours later, he messaged me on my favorite timesuck. He was riffing on my follow up via the same routine which was a simple, “I sent a text”.

I sent one back.

Ok, I appreciate a certain wryness. But was that what was happening here or was this guy just fucking with me?

Or was he just a complete social retard?

And, yes, I know retard is not a good word. But I’m saying his social skills seemed to be somehow retarded. Like undeveloped or halted in such a way that he really didn’t know he was failing.

I’m ambivalent about training boyfriends anymore. I think I’m less enthusiastic about training friends. Shouldn’t friendship come naturally?

At the same time, I look around our country today and see how people are so divided. So readily writing people off as The Other. Declaring The Other as an enemy…

I decided to reply. On the timesuck.

In a message that would make a terrible text – it was about 3″ long – I laid it out.

Texting should have been a much more effective form of communication but wasn’t for him.

If we’d failed to successfully burst into the real world when he had no work to complicate it and no other plans for his week, could we reasonably expect it to get easier when he added the complexity of work back into his schedule?

He read it.

I guess there’s a third type of person that I failed to consider, they just do nothing when pushed. No response. Which is probably as much genuine honesty as you’ll ever get from that type of person.

Plus, I’m sure nothing makes a denizen of asocial media less responsive than being confronted with something that’s 3″ long…

Dating Into Oblivion ep8

Egypt

I’m not sure how to start this…it feels like either a “Back before the turn of the century” or a “When I was a kid” type situation.

Well, it was back before the turn of the century.  It might have even been as early as ‘89, which would have made me all of 21.  That would actually track back to the beginning of what is now kind of an unofficial ritual: the gift of travel for landmark birthdays.

Sure, let’s just go ahead and say that…now, it’s a fact.

Basically, it was so long ago that all of the ruins were, y’know, pretty much new.

The opportunity to travel just kind of fell into my lap, too.  My not-even-best friend, a goofy guy named Ken was talking about his friend backing out of their trip and now he was stuck with a solo trip and two tickets.

I’d almost bet money that we were either at Ripples Sunday beer bust or at Taco Bell immediately after beer bust.

I will absolutely guarantee that I was pleasantly buzzed on cheap beer and good music when – in one of the very first “What could possibly go wrong?” moments of my life – I threw out an off-hand, “I’ll go” like it was no big deal whether he accepted my offer or not.

I’d never been outside of North America, and just barely the United States…I’d been to Tijuana during college, obviously, and Vancouver, BC with my parents when I was a kid.

So, this would be a big deal.

My parents had packed us kids into the family truckster one year and made the drive to Seattle to see the King Tut exhibit.  Remembering how cool I thought all that was made me really excited for this trip.

Still, I played it cool.

Now, a little advice, if you’ll indulge me.  I highly recommend making your first trip outside of your homeland anywhere other than what is basically a third-world country.  

That said, I had an amazing time!  I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.

Ken agreed, after making sure I could contribute $500 toward the airfare and lodging for the trip and whatever spending money I would need.

Me:  Um, yeah…I eat at Taco Bell because I want to.

I had a metabolism like a black hole.

So, basically, off we went.

I wonder if I told my parents?  I must have…Dad and I were practically neighbors at the time.  Well, if I didn’t, that ship has sailed by now.

I just had enough time to run to LA and get a passport before we took off.  This was super-pre-9/11 so it was pretty easy.  I’d packed a pair of pants, shorts, a bunch of tee shirts and my trusty old denim shirt into a backpack and pulled my first carry on adventure.

You know how long ago this was?  It was so long ago people were still allowed to smoke on airplanes.  Sweet baby cheeses, let me tell you how much I wished that I’d checked my bag.  After 20 hours on an airplane packed with chain smoking Egyptians, I was desperate for a change of clothes that didn’t smell like they had the name Nick O’Tine sewn into the collar.

I’d settle for a shower.

I hadn’t fully understood the difference between a hotel and a pensione when Ken was describing our lodging.  Once I was there, I suddenly lost the urge to shower.  As a matter of fact, after Ken showed me how to check the mattresses for the telltale signs of bedbugs, I wanted to put on every article of clothing I’d brought to protect myself.

Now I’m gonna itch for the rest of the day.

Naturally, after surviving the first night and not being bled out by bedbugs, I wanted to head off to Giza.  Mostly because I was pretty sure I’d die the next night.  But, that wasn’t until the next day.  

Our first full day was spent downtown in Cairo going to museums.  Of course, I adopted a “seen it all” attitude once in the British Museum after my Seattle excursion King Tut immersion experience.

Me: Yeah, those are Canopic Jars.  Do you know what they’re for?

It’s like I’ve always been a smidge obnoxious.

Case in point, outside the museum there is a huge hand in the shape of a fist.  I think it was a time-dismembered part of a colossus.  You know Ken was mortified when I made him take a picture of me standing behind it as if it were…manually pleasuring me.

To help you gauge his level of discomfort, he had checked a bag.  A big one.  In it were khaki pants, walking boots, linen shirts and…braided leather suspenders.   He looked like an extra from Agatha Christie’s Death on the Nile.  

Sidebar:  you know you live in Portland when Nile is autocorrected twice to Nike.

Man, I wish I could find that picture.  I swear it’s around here somewhere!

But to give you an idea as to the magnitude of our odd-coupled-ness as traveling companions…enjoy.

Ugh.  

The mid-stage hair project.

The high-waisted pleated shorts.

The knobby knees!

The too-big tee shirt that I think was a freebie from Hoag Hospital, where I worked nightshift for a time.

But the most embarrassing thing?

I was drinking Diet Pepsi.

Total bush-league, third world country bullshit, that.

The thing that amazed me about Cairo was the sheer volume of people.  Ken told me that 90% of Egypt’s population lived in metropolitan Cairo, which sounded like bullshit but looked accurate.  Plus, he went on, it was Ramadan and that meant that the other 10% had basically come into the city.

Me:  Well, the timing on this was obviously well thought out.

Seriously, I was a total bitch in my 20s.  I’ve mellowed.

But, on top of all the people, the cabbies were proving themselves an industrious class of workers.  They were driving like crazy through the streets of town – which looked wider and more hazardous than LA freeways, seriously…traffic was a free for all – hailing customers.

Yeah, how bass-ackwards is that?  What I first thought was angry drivers firing off warning honks to each other was the lazy cabbies trying to hail pedestrians.  The more aggressive cabbies drove up onto the sidewalk and yelled at you through the window to get in.

Um, yeah…that’s a hard pass.

Ok, so that was day one.  As I mentioned, day two was Giza.  After today, things get a little chronologically fuzzy.

Giza.

Was.

Amazing.

We got up early that morning and hopped into the first cab that hailed us.

It was further out than you’d imagine, but it was good to get there before the sun got directly overhead.  We traveled into the Giza complex on a road that wasn’t paved until a US President visited…was it Carter?  Maybe Ford.  Nevertheless, the drive from the city to the complex was awe inspiring, the pyramids started out huge in town and grew slowly during the drive until they were looming.

Literally everywhere.


And yet I had the feeling that I was standing in the sand covered parking lot of one of the remotest places on Earth.

Figuratively nowhere.

I learned a lot after my photo op with The Sphinx, standing guard over the pyramids as she does, she seemingly demands the right to inspect every visitor.  A big job during Ramadan.  

We explored the excavated barge – one of them, anyway – that had carried one or another of the pyramids’ occupants up the Nile to their final resting place.

I learned that up close, the pyramids are very step-like, much like the ruins in Mexico.  Of course, these pyramids were single-use as it were, so unlike the pyramids in Mexico, these had no exterior steps.  The top was never meant to be reached.  I also did not know that these pyramids had been covered in alabaster.  Napoleon stripped the alabaster from the surface and did god-knows-what with it, but the amount of looted alabaster was enough to build a 6’ alabaster wall around Paris.  France?  I can’t recall whether it was a wall around the city or the country…suffice to say, it was a shit-ton of alabaster.

As a matter of fact, please forgive any factual errors you might encounter in this post.  It was 30 years ago and I’m not Ken!  I’m sure he remembers all this stuff!

Besides, my attention was divided between learning shit and doing shit like this

even though there were signs saying not to climb on the pyramids.  Apparently, every so often someone falls down the pyramid to their death.

Probably an American…we ruin everything.

Besides, it’s not like I was the only one.

(In fairness, this was at the Step Pyramid on another day…but still)

Ok, back at Giza.

Did ya know you can go inside the pyramids?  

I did not.

Nor did I want to after learning how.

There’s about a 3 ft square opening in the side of the Great Pyramid – why, I don’t know…maybe it was always there so the body and treasures could be taken in, but I would imagine there was a grander, more ceremonial entrance at some point.  This opening…it was both ingress and egress, at a steep decline toward the base of the pyramids.

As if trying to go down this entrance while crouched down to fit inside with my backpack on my back wasn’t enough…remember I was going in with roughly half the population of Egypt while sharing the space with the other half as they were coming out.

The worst part?  

You think ancient Egyptians were worried about bathrooms for the dead occupants?

They were not.

Likewise, then-modern-day Egyptians were unconcerned with the absence of bathrooms while they visited the sacred-ish burial site of their ancient ancestor.

So, yeah…Giza smelled like a huge cat box.

Getting back into the city, we shared a cab with some friendly – is there any other kind – Canadians we met out at old Sphinxy.  

I was amazed at how no one really bothered them like they did me.  Beggars were forever asking me if I was American, immediately followed by something along the lines of, “Good money!” and some waggled eyebrows that seemed to indicate I should give them some. 

It turns out that this couple took turns wearing either a tee shirt, hat or bandanna that had the Canadian maple leaf on it.  The beggars weren’t interested in crappy Toonies, it turns out.

That night, we had a four way with the Canadians.

Just kidding.  Although, if this were a movie – or Midnight Express – I’m sure that would have happened.  

We did, however, meet up for dinner at a hole in the wall – everything was – restaraunt that sat about a dozen people.

On the floor.

We ordered plates full of Egyptian cuisine, baba ganoush, hummus…other pasty delicacies.  Meat on sticks.  A bit of everything, which was easy because it didn’t cost anything.  It was so cheap, that after giggling for a minute, trying to figure out what Bom Frites were – not scary, this was pre-9/11 – we just ordered them.

This would be the first of many times during my travels abroad that I would try to order something exotic and end up with french fries.

Bom does sound amazingly similar to the French word for potato, pomme.

Live and learn.

And, seriously, I do that in almost every foreign country I visit.

Ken and I decided to end the night by walking off dinner.  We ended up at the Nile Hilton for a nightcap.  Remember how I said everything in Cairo was a hole in the wall?  I meant everything but this.

Holy shit.  This place was extravagant!  Also, remember what I’m wearing…and it may now smell like urine. We went into the bar, because we’re Americans, damnit.  

I told the bartender we wanted a beer, “Whatever the locals drink!”

“Ah, you want a Stella!”, which to hear him talk was pretty much the national beer.

Yeah, it was Stella Artois.

Not the nationally brewed beer, just the most convenient to import.  Little did I know that this whole experience would annoy me two decades later when every d-bag in Seattle was ordering the trendy “new” beer that everyone raves about.

That was now owned by InBev…parent company of Anheuser-Busch.  Twats.

Meanwhile, back in Cairo…we find ourselves wandering back to the pensione after dark when we’re beset by a bunch of street kids yelling “American?” at us.  Taking a page from our dinner companion’s playbook, I respond, “Nope, Canadian!” which resulted in confused looks from the kids and a lecture about the gravity of renouncing one’s citizenship from Ken on the rest of our walk home.

So, I’m a teensy bit of a traitor.  Flash forward to today and I bet that Ken is happily living in Canada after the 2016 election.

Later days found us alternating between cultural and exploration type excursions, just to give ourselves down days where we weren’t trekking out to the middle of the desert every day.

One of the down days, we wandered into something of an old town or walled city.  

Not a bad piece of architecture, eh?  For context – again, if I remember correctly – old town refers to post-pyramid-pre-Nile-Hilton, so it’s a fairly broad descriptor.  I believe this mosque(?) was outside of the walled city and a century or two newer.

I’m pretty sure what I’m doing here was sacrilegious, but I made it out alive.

Inside the walled city is basically a bazaar.  What I’m now programmed by Hollywood action movies to understand would simply be the setting for a nice machine gun battle followed by a super destructive high speed car chase.

Whatever.  I bought these!

I opened the box to see what was inside, it had been years since I opened it!  The necklace was folded up inside, as was some feathery boa souvenir thing from a Pride parade, about a hundred ticket stubs from Sting and Indigo Girls concerts, a couple of locks of hair from the two times I’ve grown my hair out in my adult-ish life and my original passport!

The Egypt trip was in ‘90, turns out.  It also turns out that maybe I already had my passport, since it seems to have expired in ‘95…but the picture looks right for the timeframe, and I definitely got it in LA…I wonder if they used to only last five years and not ten since I was still in a) high school and b) <gulp> Kansas in 1985.

Riddle me that, Sphynxy.

And, yes…that necklace was a part of my Halloween costume that year.  The next year, I went in drag, got confused for a True Lies Jamie Lee Curtis (I’d cut my hair by then) and haven’t dressed up since.

One of our day trips was our to the Temple of Horus.  Remember when I kinda said Cairo was safe?  Did I?  I think I did…but I definitely meant to.  

Well, Cairo may be safe – aside from the cab drivers – but going out to this remote temple, we had to travel in an armed convoy.  That wasn’t the least bit intimidating.

Me:  (imitating Ken while glaring at machine guns) Come to Egypt, it’ll be fun.

Me:  (imitating me) What could possibly go wrong?

That outing required some spirits to soothe my wracked nerves, so we went to the Winter Palace on the Nile for cocktails and to watch the sunset.

You’d think that I’d have a picture of the sun setting over the Nile, wouldn’t you?

Alas.  

Anyhoo, we met these fantastic British travelers and had a couple of drinks with them as the sun set.  It was two super fruity English men – is there any other kind ? – and their female traveling companion who looked just like Mrs Roper from Three’s Company.  You just know that was a fun evening!

They made us promise to come back another night, but we never reconnected, even though we did go back for another sunset.

I recall two more busy days on this trip.  The first is our trip out to the Valley of the Kings.

Do I need to tell you it was amazing?  

Because,

It.

Was.

Ah-may-zing!

Again…you’d think there would be pictures, no?

No.

Some of the tombs you could walk into and through.  Just like the Great Pyramid, there were rooms and rooms inside the tombs.  It was fun to see the excavations inside, as well as the remains of some of what were thought to be grave robbers and the damage they did.  Other tombs, like the boy king’s were set up so you didn’t get much of a look inside.

I think this same day trip took us out to the Valley of the Queens, too.  All I recall of that part of the day was some huge – talking big, ok? – temple for a queen with an impossible name.  I remember it in a very Anna Wintour manner as rhyming with Hates Cheap Suits.  So, make of that what you will with your extrapolations…

Fine.  It’s something like Haethupsut.

It’s Hatshepsut.  I googled it.  Here’s a pic I ripped off the inter webs.

Not bad for a queen, eh?  I’d say she was held in pretty high regard.  Or since she likely commissioned this herself…

While on the google, I noticed that this was in or near Luxor, meaning that I’m probably getting my days mixed together.  The day we visited Luxor, we hung out all day and hit the Pink Floyd Laser Light Show that night.

I shit you not.

Pink Floyd.

Lasers.

Egyptian ruins.

That’s worth the $500 cost of the trip right there.

Anyway, let me group a bunch of shit I remember about the trip into a final “day”.

We went and visited some Colossus statues that were still standing as well as nearby ruins…that’s where that Diet Pepsi/laundry day outfit picture was taken.  Also nearby was an alabaster mine.  Not much to look at, but the roadside shanty tent gift shop got a couple shekels from me.  One purchase still sits right on my coffee table to this day.

I use them as tealight holders.  The veins look amazing when the room is dark and the candles are lit.  The veins in the alabaster just glow.

You know these are going to get broken now.  But they have lasted nearly 30 years!

I guess the only thing that I can remember and haven’t mentioned was Alexander the Great’s…residence?  

Office?  

I don’t know.  

It was huge.

And pretty trashed, but it was fun for us two gay boys to stand amongst the ruins of the base of operations for his empire and just consider what it must have been like to be him – basically our age, albeit about 2500 years removed – and ruling the Roman Empire.

And, y’know…a big homo. 

Talk about your old fruits…

Honestly, though, it was really something to consider in the days where gays were unprotected in our home country.  No workplace or housing protections, let alone other basic civil rights like the right to marry.  

No hate crime legislation…almost, but not just then.

And a government that seemed fairly content up to then to just let us all die of AIDS, god willing.

<eye roll>

Let’s not even get started on what they do to the poor gay boys in Egypt!

Well, to be a part of a marginalized and powerless subculture in America and be standing in the ruins of Alexander the Great’s empire – Northeast African Branch – and think of a sub-30 year old gay controlling the world as he knew it?

Pretty empowering stuff.

Egypt

Farewell, Summer

Yesterday was the first day of Fall.  It certainly showed here in the PNW, too, all cool, gray and drizzly.

Wonderful!

Another reminder of how pecadelicious – Chrisism- my body is.  With my AC set at 70 in the Summer, I’m comfortable.  With my heat set at 70 in the winter, I’m freezing.

However, I was reminded as I noted the change of seasons that I never shared my vacation story, and it’s been a month.

It’s funny, I’m about to step into my sixth decade – ok, stumble or possibly stagger – but I can still be the bratty kid that complains to my parents that we haven’t had a family vacation forever.

I really rather rely on my elder and only sister for this type of stuff.  Her three younger brothers are borderline loners – at best.  Once Mom-Donna officially retires from her holding-the-family-together duties, the mantle will be hers to wear.  Mom has tried a few slow steps back from her matriarchal role, but still steps back in with statements of the, “I’d like to host one more holiday while I still can” type.  

She’s such a Prince Philip sometimes.

The result of my mild tantrum, nevertheless, was the parental gift of a summertime family vacation this past Christmas.

Finally, after a long break we were getting the Galby clan back together again in Central Oregon’s high desert retreat, Sunriver.

It’s always fun.

Always.

We’re together under one roof again, yet still free to pursue whatever we want throughout the day, coming together each night for dinner as a group.  Everyone takes a night of cooking duties, which is enjoyable for everyone.  Dad’s night – being the patriarch – is hosting dinner out at a restaurant.  The ‘Phew, as the youngest on the other hand, dips into his hard earned Birthday and possibly allowance fundage to treat us all to pizza delivery on the night of our arrival.

It’s a good ritual.  Plus, it provides me a chance to cook for people, which seldom happens outside of MNSC.

It just occurred to me that the last couple of family get togethers in the desert have proved near – or actually – fatal.

The last trip out for a Christmas getaway a couple years back was interrupted by a Christmas phone call from my ex, Sacha to tell me he had colon cancer…a story for another time.  Maybe.

That Christmas holiday was – more importantly to me – also marred with our family’s collective concern for dad, who had recently had a coronary procedure after which he wasn’t feeling well.

The trip before that was Rib’s first family vacation.  This was maybe five years ago?  Before the pizza even arrived, we were booking a flight for him to ABQ to attend his grandmother’ funeral.  Enviably, as I tap this out in a coffee house, he is with his new beau and family at Munich’s Oktoberfest.​

​I love that this video he sent me of his family vacation was so timely as I reminisced about mine.

Beyond those recent vacation danger moments, I’d say our other vacations were reasonably trauma free.  

Well

There was the Bike Ride Incident and The Nose Hair Situation, both of which I blame exclusively on my Black Sheep Brother.  Only one of which is near funny.  Black Sheep Bro and I went trail riding with the ‘Phew, I think he was still aged in single digits at the time.  We were having a blast leading him through the trails with a vague goal of finding a path to the ever elusive Benham Falls when he just barely nicked a fallen log that had been cut through to preserve the bike trail’s passability.

He.

Went.

Flying.Poor kid.  Right into a tree.

Little fucker scared the hell out of me and BSB before walking it off.

Talk about a dodged bullet.  I thought for sure my only nephew – at the time – was going to spend the rest of his Halloweens dressed as Stephen Hawking.

Things have changed since then.

I’d sent my bike home with mom and dad the week before after they came to town for a lunch date.  Er, doctor’s appointment.  When they picked me up, all I had to do was show up on the curb with my suitcase.

And a case of wine.

That’s a good change, in my opinion!  My sister had put in a request for some of that good stuff I’m always going out to Hood River for, so I took two bottles each from two of my favorite wineries out there.  I was reserving those for my night of cooking.  But since it’s also Summer, I rounded out my case with eight bottles of Rose.

My parents clucked their tongues at my “extra” baggage.  Not only because their car was also full of their bags, food for the week and doggie travel needs, but also because they had also brought a case of wine.

Great minds…meet the Galby clan!

We made it all fit.

Plus, a growler I’d gotten at 2.0 and Little Buddy’s wedding the day before.

And a huge watermelon The Silver Fox had gifted us.

As we made off on our way, I rationalized two cases of wine being barely enough if even four of the six legal drinkers partook with any regularity.  Really, that’s an easy three bottles a night, closer to four.

Five.  Five a night, tops.

As I mentioned, we all still take our bikes, but only my sister’s family unit rode together.  I put in daily rides, except for arrival and departure days.  It was good.  I’d spent the prior couple of weeks in spin class to trim up a bit.  But nothing prepared my ass for 15-20 mile rides in the saddle of a real bike.  My butt was less bun, more hamburger by the time I left.  But a nice 60+ mile four day stretch was good for me.  

After a successful jump start in spin, with minimal discomfort to my never-healing knee, I had aspirations of riding to the top of the Cinder Dome of the mega-volcano Newberry Crater.  Once the hills hit “straight up” status, my knee straight up refused.

Oh, well.  I still got plenty of exercise and just enough sun, even without the view from the top of the dome.

For my brother’s part, he pedaled to the store one evening, only to return grumpy or confused.  Hard to say.  He was all disturbed at how everyone he passed greeted him.  

I told you…loners.

Anyway, I’d noticed it on my rides. too.  It hadn’t bothered me, though.  I enjoy the social nicety of greeting passersby.  I was more interested in the range of greeting; from the apex vocal salutation to this:which was kind of a very minimal entry.  It was also an indictment for the homogenized environment we were spending the week in.  The darkest skin in this high desert mecca was simply overexposed and under sun screened.

This was the first time we didn’t – not a single one of us, let alone the group – spend time laying about at the pool.  There was a sister’s family rafting trip and a brother and nephew kayaking excursion, otherwise it was fairly pedestrian adventures.  Shopping in Sunriver or heading into Bend for some…shopping.

My sister and brother-in-law took the ‘Phew to look at COCC – that’s for you, Diezel.  He was considering Central Oregon Community Colkege for his first two years, but came back ambivalent.

I cannot believe I’m days away from having an 18 year old nephew!

While they were doing campus tours, the rest of us took off for the High Desert Museum.  Quite a way to spend an afternoon, with some self-improvement undertones.  It’s a nice mix of self-guided educational exhibits and nature path wanderings.

There were way more pics taken than I can comfortably squeeze into my humble blog post, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t throw something in just for Diezel’s enjoyment, so he knows he’s never too far from my thoughts.

So, enjoy, my friend and chosen family member!

Just to shake it up, no humans died or had close calls this time around.  But Buddy, my parent’s dog decided to give us all a scare, with a late day trip to the vet.  The local Sunriver vet wasn’t equipped to handle his situation and escalated him to Bend, 20 miles away.  This resulted in a doped up doggie and my parents enjoying my carbonara reheated.

But, in spite of the changes, the important things remain…

Each of us, being there, for one.  It was touch and go for me.  Mom and dad had picked a seemingly random week in August, the month that usually works for all of us.  Little did we know that we’d signed on for the biggest travel debacle in Oregon highway history: the 2017 eclipse.  

With the increase in tourists traveling in and me working at the airport, I was fairly certain I’d be asked to cancel my vacation.  The request was just to be back for the two days prior as people landed and one million tourists and 27,000 rental cars hit the road.

I was more than willing to fly back instead of risk the road trip…ODOT was tactfully suggesting that people take not only plenty of water for their travel, but also relief vessels, if you get my drift.

I don’t want to be that close to my family.  Hello, Alaska Airlines!

In addition to being there, also the food!

I think cooking for people is the simplest way to show love.  It’s demonstratively caring for them by providing sustenance.  Sharing stories and time over the table.  Figuratively or literally breaking bread together…there is – to me – no better way to illustrate family.

And every night, there we were…gathered at the table celebrating our bond.

Not a bad Christmas gift, parentals…thank you!

Farewell, Summer

Why I’m Single: #374

I bet I could actually validate that number.

My friends might even argue that the following belongs in the top 10, who knows?

So, I was at breakfast this morning.  It was 8:15 on a Sunday morning, because: grumpy, old man.  It was also the Sunday after Halloween.  I was particularly grumpy this morning because I was deprived of witnessing any costumed walk of shame action from last night’s drunkfest.  Yes, I stayed in, how did you guess?

Oh, right…I don’t drink with amateurs.  Probably another reason I’m single: I don’t socialize when it’s too much “fun”.  Reason #217?

Plus, the guy I’ve been on a few dates with recently got sick and decided *not* to go to his roommate’s Halloween party, which effectively uninvited me and restored my inner peace since I would no longer have to spend the evening explaining why I wasn’t dressed up.

So, I was wide awake at 7:30…having slept straight through the night, but I still awoke bemoaning the fact that I had only gotten seven hours of sleep after turning in just after midnight.  Then I remembered Daylight Savings Time happened last night, I got a full eight, uninterrupted hours of sleep!  I shower quickly, grab my book and head down to Fuller’s.

The Fox is out at his beach house this weekend with his foster dog, so I’m flying stag for breakfast and on no one’s schedule but my own.

I’ve been reading the latest from Patricia Cornwell.  I’ve started calling her Patsy OK, because her books just aren’t as good to me as they were when they came out.  Since she came out, perhaps.  It’s hard to say, but it doesn’t matter – literally, few enough people read my blog that what I think of this book is of no consequence.  She ended her last book in an open-ended way that strongly suggested that she had killed off her main character, Kay Scarpetta.  I was sad, so my feelings about this particular book are strangely complicated…more so than they should be, I’m sure.  It’s just a book.  She’s just a character.  But I cry at movies, so give my sense of nostalgia a break.

Having just moved back into the Pearl District of Portland from way out in Northwest – literally 16 blocks – I chose Fuller’s because it’s one of my favorites and also two blocks from my new place.  I love it because it’s just a breakfast and lunch place, closes at 2-ish o’clock and consists of two U-shaped counters that the wait staff work from inside while you sit on a low stool on the outside.

Not perfect for groups.  How could I not love it?

I let the waitress know I didn’t need a menu and gave her my order before my butt actually hit the stool.  She was feeling sassy, so she asked if I wanted coffee.

“Only if you want a tip.”

I’m recognized here, so I have a little latitude.  Recognized, not known.  Probably, I also get my food sneezed on a lot.  Smart move?  Don’t go to Fuller’s with me.

Anyway…I’m sitting there, reading my book and sipping crappy, diner coffee – which I love on occasion, it’s such an emotionally comforting taste-memory association.  I’m conscious of the fact that the stools are starting to fill up.  My food is delivered, I’m trying to take up as small a space as possible, since the stools are spaced for 1970’s sized Americans, not the behemoth bodied Americans of present day.

Eventually, someone sits next to me.  Had to.  Not the last seat in the place, but the other one that I could easily see was between two of the aforementioned American normal types and you’d have to be a size 0 to be comfortable sitting there.

He was just a normal looking guy; judging by his hairstyle, one who hadn’t thought to shower before getting breakfast.  I hoped he had thought to brush his teeth as I pulled in a little further so he had plenty of room.  The waitress was pouring him coffee and promising to bring him creamer as soon as one became available.  I scooted my bowl of creamer closer to him and told him to help himself as the waitress refilled my cup.

He thanked me and I told him we may as well be neighborly.

I’m not even foreshadowing, bro.

After he orders, I amuse myself with a little mental checklist:

  • Takes his crappy, diner coffee the same way I do
  • Can comfortably chat with strangers
  • Ordered the same omelette I did
  • Likes hot sauce on his eggs

I’m finishing my last bite of breakfast, coming to the end of my chapter and thinking the whole bed-head thing would be pretty easy to overlook when he takes his first bite.

<Record Skip>

I can overlook a lot of things:

  • Bed hair
  • Smoking
  • Unemployment
  • One’s past mistakes

Not scraping your teeth across your fork, though.  I close my book.  Stand up.  Grab my check.  Gulp half my coffee.  Leave.

That’s it.

#374.

Bad Table Manners.

You could be pro-life with me and have good table manners and be fine for quite a while since abortion doesn’t really come up in conversation with me and the guys I date too often.  But we’re gonna eat together about a dozen times a week if we’re dating…putting up with bad table manners in that context is asking a lot of me and my misophonia.

I didn’t finish my cup of coffee, so I treated myself to a nice Americano at Palmetto, which is only a few blocks away from Fuller’s.  Heading back to Fuller’s to grab my hastily left behind jacket, I’m sipping my cup of the good stuff and enjoying the quiet morning.

Since the universe loves to give me a good spoonful of my own medicine at every opportunity, I passed by Bed Head as I was heading home.

Told you I wasn’t foreshadowing, right?

He was walking into The Henry as I passed by Powell’s on the far side of the street.

So?

The Henry is one of the early condos built in the Pearl.  Great location.  Priced at about $500 a SF, and not on the low side of $500.  k.d. lang purportedly lives there.  You had to buy early or have some deep pockets to comfortably get into this building.  And it’s 3 blocks-ish from my place.  I can see it from my window.  And my eyesight isn’t anywhere near as sharp as Sarah Palin’s.

Bed Head lives there.  FML.  Just goes to show that you can’t buy class.

I shook my head.  Walked away.  Ironically opened Scruff, just to see what else I wasn’t missing.  Got hit on by a guy who’s dating a friend of mine.  FML, again.

I didn’t say I was actually unhappy about being single, did I?

Jury is definitely out on that.  No hung jury jokes, people.  Please.

If there really is a list of reasons I am single, maybe #1 should be that guys aren’t worth it.

And, since I didn’t think to sign out of Scruff, The Pornstar (unpublished blog) sent me a message a few minutes later.

Cheese and Rice.

And still no costumed walk of shame action.  Sheesh.

Why I’m Single: #374