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

Celebrity Sighting

A couple months back, I was looking at one of my associate’s phones while she gushed about Carnie Wilson and Enrico Colantoni having come through her store at PDX.  What had really set her gushing was that Carnie had apparently come back through a few weeks after her selfie-session and remembered my associate.

I could see that being kinda exciting for one of us Normies.

Then Fred Armisen wandered through her store being his low-key, awkward self.  He left without making eye contact, buying anything or being recognized by my star struck employee.

Cue inward laughter.

Seriously, how did she recognize someone as obscure as Enrico Colantoni and not one of the stars of the show named for and filmed in the town she lives in?

Oh, well.

I didn’t have the heart to tell her.

But, championship timing, Universe.  Really, well done! 

Later that week, my parents took me out to lunch to enjoy the last hurrah of Summer.  Well, it could have been the last hurrah.  Turns out, it wasn’t.  In these parts, though, Summer is kinda like a virgin’s erection:  it could finish up without warning.

So, there we were, Mom, Dad, me.  Their dog, Buddy…sitting outside enjoying lunch.

I always enjoy my lunch visits with the parentals.  Even more so when Gus Van Sant is sitting over their shoulders.

It got me thinking about the game Black Sheep Bro and I would play when we went out drinking with our respective mates of the moment.  He was living with one of my employees from Linens ‘N Things – Jackie Jackass – and I was with <gulp> Sacha.

JJ was the one who introduced the game.  She was also – is! – this amazingly vivacious person.  There is basically sunlight pouring out of her eyes.  She also has an amazing ability to connect with people and bond groups of fairly disparate backgrounds.

Me, because of our mutual workplace connection.

Sacha, through their shared creative passion.

Black Sheep Bro…I don’t know what it was. Maybe she has a thing for guys with small johnsons who don’t take too long.  Who knows?

Since Jax suggested it, we were all pretty much game for the game.  She has a gift for making everything sound like a good time.

If she suggested a theme park based on awkward medical procedures, I’ve no doubt that she’d find investors.  

“Let’s get another Colonoscopy!”  Can you imagine the souvenir shop?

And then – poof! – we were playing Celebrity Sighting.

Simple rules:  do nothing but what you’d normally do, in our case that’s chat incessantly and drink obsessively, and when someone with the slightest resemblance to a celebrity crosses your field of vision, mutter “celebrity sighting” and state your case.  I think this is where I developed my ability to resist looking around like a crazy person when someone says, “Don’t look now…”

<Glares at Silver Fox>

Anyway, we had an uproariously good time with this little game.

Everything from <insert ethnicity here> Yul Brynner whenever a bald guy with any minimal degree of sex appeal walked by to Paddignton Bear if someone crossed our paths wearing a yellow hat or blue wool coat.

The more ADHD you are, the more successful you will be at this game.

Oh, and there’s no score keeping.  Your efforts either earn you a “No way, not even close!” type comment or your entry was the best one ever.  

There was really no in between.

And it seemed so familiar.  I didn’t discount the possibility that Jackie Jackass had been exposed to this through some other channel, nor did I find it outside the realm of possibility that she just made it up and living in LA had made it all feel familiar.

How can you ever really know?

Of course, when I saw the movie Kiss, Kiss. Bang, Bang I immediately thought “Native American Joe Pesci” was comic genius.

I didn’t immediately assume that Jax had riffed on the game from this movie, either.  The movie came out well after she introduced us to her version of this game.

Plus, if we made a celebrity behavioral mannerisms version of this game, she’s easily a frenetic personality match for the movie’s star, Robert Downey, Jr. so if she had stolen it from the movie…meh.  Whatever.  That didn’t happen.

The game has just been around.

Shortly thereafter, I saw this Facebook post and was reminded of the time I was getting my haircut at my Stephen’s Salon in Long Beach.  As I’m leaving, I’m walking backwards-ish talking to my stylist as I leave and turn around and run right into the wall known as Dolph Lundgren.

I have too many similar run-into stories like that to credibly deny that I’m not a celebrity hazard.  I bet the union distributes “How to Avoid Galby Injuries” pamphlets like my employers distribute flyers about avoiding Slips, Trips and Falls.

When I was working at FAO Schwarz in the Beverly Center, I came out of the stockroom, finishing a conversation over my shoulder while going through the door.  Stepping on Sally Field as I exited.

She’s so tiny.

Strangely, another time heading into Stephen’s Salon, I was running late and weaving through the courtyard crowd.  Unfortunately for her, Chaka Khan ended up being an unseen obstacle in my path.  Fortunately for me, I didn’t knock her over.

Not all the way, at any rate.  She’s kinda built like a weeble, as it turns out.

My first serious normal boyfriend took me on a date to a comedy show.  It turned out to be a filming of a VH-1 comedy show called Stand Up Spotlight, starting one Ms Rosie O’Donnell.

I don’t remember much about the show, itself…it was – god – almost 30 years ago!

I have to go be old now.  Bye.

I guess that means that I’ve had this t-shirt hanging in my closet for close to 30 years, then.

Now I’m depressed.  That whole time of my life was so sweet and innocent.  I hadn’t yet learned how to be jaded and embittered about my past.  And the few years prior had been a collectively hellacious learning experience.

Ok…more better memories.

I ran into Gordon Sumner – better known as Sting – many times while I lived in LA.  Of course, I’d seen him perform live a couple dozen times, so running into him was somewhat organic.  Have you ever heard the urban legend about the guy that fell off of his bench while eating ice cream in Palm Springs and landed on Sting?  

That wasn’t me.  I doubt it really happened. Total urban legend.

Sacha and I went to Europe a few times during our relationship.  On one trip, I think it was Amsterdam-Paris-Monte Carlo but my memory gets our trip legs confused, but one of us popped off with a Macy Gray non-sequitur that had us both Holy-Shit-Best One Ever-ing.

Except

It was her.

That morphed into us seeing posters for her shows in every town we visited, vis-a-vis, Macy Gray stalked us through Europe.

Ok, jumping around in time, now…

For no reason, D-Slice invited me to go see Elvira, Mistress of the Dark one year after we had both moved into the same adult dorm.  The invite was for no apparent reason, that is.  The reason to go see Elvira is obvious: she’s awesome with a side of awesome.

She was screening her campy self-titled movie, which has the added bonus of containing one of my favorite movie lines ever.

Let me set the scene:

She’s helping her all-American boyfriend (she has an all-American BF, there’s hope for me yet) set the marquee at his movie house.  She’s up on a ladder and reaches down to get a letter from him, hitting her head on the marquee as she stands back up and falling off the ladder.

Classic Slip, Trip, Fall scenario, right there.

Anyway, she falls in dramatic, B-movie slow motion before being heroically caught in the arms of her boyfriend…

BF:  (concerned) How’s your head?

Elvira:  (discombobulated) I haven’t had any complaints.

<and…scene>

I’ve got this blog-entry placeholder just called Thomas.  It’s about a guy I worked with at Linens ‘N Things in Houston.  Maybe I’ll put some legs on that before my Staycation ends.  Who knows?

Anyhoo…also during my time in Houston being a busy worker bee for LNT, I was lucky enough to run – not literally, for once – into Mary Lou Retton while she shopped.  Good lord.  Have you ever heard the idiom/career advice about finding a career that matches your personality?  Yeah, MLR did that, for sure.  What a dynamic personality that lil dynamo had.

Plus, she makes Sally Field look like a giantess.

Speaking of giants – and monsters – Barbara Bush, Sr shopped at that same store.  The first time she was in, while everyone else hid behind drapery displays peeking out at her as she <gasp!> shopped just like a Normie, I got to reluctantly assist her with a tablecloth.

Me:  What size cloth do you need?

BB:  90”.

Me:  Ok, here you go, sweet cheeks.  (That last part is just editorial)

BB:  No, that’s not big enough!  I want it hang to the ground!

Don’t we all, sister?  But that’s not really practical now, is it?

Me:  Ok, well that’s gonna be a custom size, you know.  This cloth will only have about a 12” drop, depending on the actual diameter of the table.  

BB:  (getting agitated) I told you…it’s a 90” table!

Jesus.  She has a literal 90” dining table.

Me:  Oh, well…like I said, that’s gonna be a custom job.  Normal people don’t have tables that big.

Let alone, somewhere to put them.  I’d bet the dining rooms in most homes aren’t even 8’ across.  I’d also bet most wallets wouldn’t afford a 120” diameter tablecloth, nor the table it would go on, let alone the house that has a big enough room for it.

But that didn’t stop this Houston Home Girl from being butt hurt and side-eying me like I didn’t know what she was talking about as she walked off.

At least I didn’t knock her over.

Accidentally.

The next time she came in, I was busy doing busy manager stuff and didn’t see her until she was checking out,  I walked by the register just as my associate was gushing, “Mrs Bush, I just want you to know that my husband and I would take a bullet for you!”

Barf.

Like a bullet would dare even try to mess with Babs.

She saw me walking by as she ripped the check from her book and gave me an impressively withering look.  She’d been working on her side-eye game in her retirement,

That same associate later bought the Former First Lady’s check as a memento.

What the actual fuck is it about celebrities?

I think I prefer Jackie Jackass’ game much more than real life celebrity experiences.  Luckily, Portland provides plenty of opportunities to play Celebrity Sighting.

Even if I’m only playing with myself these days.  You’re welcome, Diezel.

There’s this David Ogden Stiers lookalike that rides his Segway through the Pearl.

The Fox and I see him during our morning coffee excursions and occasionally later in the day while we hang out at Thelonius Wines.  He’s a character, I can tell by the way he corners on that Segway like he just doesn’t give a fuck.

“What are you gonna do, Mail-Truck-I-Just-Cut-Off, hit me?”  If he had a free hand, I’m sure it would be sporting a one-fingered salute.

It’s a nice surprise to see my David Ogden Stiers Celebrity Sighting while we sip wine. The proprietress and The Fox like talking all things Game of Thrones during her downtime.  The Silver Fox is just happy to talk to someone that likes the show and understands what the hell he’s talking about.  He also loves that she casually let slip that she used to go to Bonetown with one of the stars.  

While that led an extra layer of amusement to this screenshot that I’d sent to The Fox

I’m still just not a fan of the show, and without my wreckless segway commuting David Ogden Stiers doppelgänger, I’m stuck with only a skateboarding Captain Jack Sparrow to entertain myself with during their conversations.

Now, that’s quite a Celebrity Sighting in itself, but if I spend too long thinking about him, I can easily talk myself into believing the person behind the celebrity caricature could easily have some of the less amusing pirate traits…

So, I don’t.

Ok, I’ve gotta go.  There’s a t-shirt I need to put up for sale on eBay…

Celebrity Sighting

I Have A Huge Confliction

Get your Chrisisms, right here!

Step on up!

I’m checking the Facebook before bed.  Yes, I’m going to bed before 8 pm on a Monday night.  Shut up.

I see a post from a guy I went on a few dates with about a decade or so ago.

A Lost Boy, for sure.

Former Porn Star turned Hair Burner…i.e. he never made it.  Luckily.

Former substance abuser, turned crutch drinker.

Y’know, one of those broken types I like so much.  But, I appreciated that the was pulling himself out of the grave he’d dug himself.  That’s something-ish.

We had fun; good talks, fun flirtations, a decent connection.

But, as things progressed over the course of several dates, he…couldn’t.

Eventually, he just faded out.

So much for a decent atypical haircut on CapHill.  

Atypical, meaning that I didn’t look like every other homo on the Hill.  That’s a worthy point.  I bet you can’t throw a pomade in Shittatle without it bouncing off a half dozen hard part haircuts before it hits the ground.

What’s the word for a gay douchebag?

Nevermind.

The point is, we never really untethered, socially.

My friends knew him.

We’d show up at the same place a couple times a year.

Then he moved away.

Eventually, he friended me on the dreaded Facebook.

I just rolled with it all.  Never rolling out the welcome mat, but also never calling out his shitty behavior.

Y’know, like sending me a friend request when he’s living with some older dude in my adopted hometown – those who know it, know it – and essentially putting on display what he deprived me of experiencing with him.

Cuz, that’s not a low grade psychotic behavior.

But, still…I roll.

Whatever he has with Not Me Older Guy implodes.  He moves back to his natural habitat – Shittatle – gets sober, finds god, becomes…tedious.  But only because I don’t tune into Facebook for a bunch of god-talk, especially in the form of AA, which I think verges on being a cult.

Good things happen.

He opens his own salon.

Reconnects with his problematic family.

Decides to become a trucker.

Because, once a Lost Boy, I suppose…

So, tonight…climbing into bed, I read that he’s been diagnosed with thyroid cancer.

The Big C.

And I feel bad.  It’s a reflexive reaction to news like this.  Empathy.

It occurs faster than I can read and as I finish the post, awash in my empathy, I read the statement that punctuates his disclosure: I just want prayers.

My eyes rolled just typing that.  Every time I read “thoughts and prayers”, I have to de-cultify it before I can look directly at the words.

It all boils down to compassion.  For whatever reason, we can’t own our own, we have to assign it to some sort of alleged and unproven higher power, because: faith.

Whatever.

My thoughts went all sarcastic Xtopher after that.

Into the realm of, “The ghoster becomes the ghost”…because I’m a grumpy old bastard and I don’t have a lot of pity for people.  There’s some wisdom behind the phrase, “You’ve made your bed, now lie in it”.  It’s certainly something I consider often in regards to my own mortality…after all, who is going to take care of me when I’m old?  

Fine.  Older.

It’s an impending grim reality of my existence…but at least I think I’ve returned all the phone calls I was socially expected to.

And, on that warm, fuzzy thought…I’m off to the land of Nod.

I Have A Huge Confliction

Father’s Day

Here’s the card that I got my dad for Father’s Day.

Three years ago?  Maybe four?  I’m quite the procrastinator.

Yeah, still in the plastic sleeve.

I sometimes wonder what The Cats In The Cradle would sound like if written from the son’s perspective.

Why?

Probably because as I’ve been procrastinating what to write to my dad on his Father’s Day card, I was trying to think of early memories of dad and struggled to do so.  Of course, that’s not surprising with my memory.

Side Bar: earlier this week I found myself chuckling at how accurate the phrase “killing a few brain cells” was as shorthand for drinking.

Anyway, that was about when The Cats In The Cradle popped onto my mental jukebox.  It’s been knocking around ever since.

What wasn’t surprising was that I never really associated that song with my dad.  He had a pretty good work/life balance.  As a matter of fact, when he did have to work on weekends when I was a kid it was a treat for me to go to work with him.  

In a fit of Harry Chapin irony, I’ll be working today while the rest of the family is out to brunch with dad and grandpa.  

But when I got to go to work with him, it was a strangely exciting environment.  He was an engineer and the offices were usually darkened except for his office, lending a feeling of isolation to the day…like we were the only two people on the planet. Sometimes his boss or a co-worker would also pop in, but usually it would just be the two of us and I would play with his drafting tools while he worked.

One time as we pulled up, I was amazed to see a battered old airplane fuselage in the yard of his company – he worked for a pipe manufacturer and apparently the fuselage was bought for scrap metal.  I don’t know if this is something that my child’s imagination and sense of wonder filled in or not, but I remember associating the old aircraft with a recent news story about a plane crash.  It gives the whole working weekend with dad thing a further sense of adventure in my memory.

One of my other random childhood memories of dad was one of the few snow days we had as a kid.  Dad – I’m sure for the sake of mom’s sanity – had taken us boys out to play in the snow.  Somehow – probably I innocently pegged dad with a surprise snowball, the real surprise being I threw something and hit a target – dad ended up chasing me around, both of us laughing like maniacs.  Dad had eventually caught me, obviously, and we’re both laughing; I’m trapped…he’s holding me facing away from him, feet dangling a few inches off the ground and he’s feeding me a snowball that I didn’t order.

And we’re laughing and laughing and laughing like maniacal popsicles.  It was a good day.  Especially for me, since I’m not the outdoorsy type.  I’m sure that’s why it stayed with me.  I was more the stay inside and study or watch Gillian’s Island type of kid versus the athletic type like my siblings.

I remember when I got my first “real” job.  No more picking berries during the summer for me, now I was a man with a real job!  Must’ve been maybe 14 or so?  No…had to have been younger.  Maybe I was in the seventh grade?  How old are kids then?

Anyway, I was hired by the golf course down the road to shag and clean balls – shut up, Diezel – at the driving range.

Yeah, I was the target.

And I felt so cool!  It was obviously a new sensation for me.

Anyway, I’d been hired to take over for the owner’s son when he went away to school.  It was great!  Again, not being outdoorsy or sportsball-inclined, this was a big deal to me.  This helped connect me to both my dad and grandfather, since golf was his favorite pastime.  

Oops, is his favorite pastime.  

I got fired.

I walked into the so-called Pro Shop one afternoon for work and the owner was behind the counter and just says he doesn’t need me anymore, it’s not working out and he’s gonna have to let me go.

I was pretty shocked.

I rode my bike home kind of in a daze.  This is one of those weird times as a kid where something fairly traumatic happened to my kid self and I kind of logically processed my feelings but as soon as I hit my driveway, I just reverted to traumatized kid mode and started bawling.

Not for nothing, it turned out that my dad hears my literal sob story and takes off to the golf course.

How fucking awesome is that?

Dad takes off out of the driveway to give that mean old golf course dude what for!

For me!

He comes home a little later, I think the real  story ended up being…guess who came home from school for the summer?

What a dick move.  But dad had sorted that situation for me and – while still sad at losing my cool job – salvaged my shredded dignity and sense of self-worth.

It was heroic to my barely teenaged self.

Luckily, dad was there to support me during my transition back to the Summer berry-picking workforce.  It wasn’t the last time I’d find myself between jobs and not the last time dad was there to help minimize the struggle between paychecks.

I know I’m lucky.

Probably my favorite memory of dad wasn’t a specific memory, rather, it was a time in my life.

An era, if you will.  And it’s my blog, so you will.

It was when we both lived in SoCal.  

The LBC.  

Belmont Shore, specifically.

Mom and dad had separated.  Mom and the rest of the kids were back in Portland.  Dad was single.  I was coming out.

We lived just blocks from each other.  I was young, moving around often.  Dad was in his idyllic little stucco building on St Joseph.  Still, we were never more than a few blocks away…it was like a tether, living that close to my dad as a nascently independent adult.

We’d run into each other at the local convenience store…the 7-eleven, the Murder Mart, the AM/PM.  Me:  buying Super Big Gulps for the day at the beach; him:  Coors Light or lottery tickets.

Hey, we both have faith in the lottery, ok?

We never ran into one another at bars, obviously, but we each had our neighborhood haunts.  His:  Legends; mine: Ripples.  As a matter of fact, I can scarcely remember running into him once at a restaurant.  It’s just the vaguest of memories.  

Maybe it’s a false repressed memory.  Who knows?  But for not running into each other while eating, dad made a point of being fairly consistent about having a standing dinner or lunch date with me.  We’d meet weekly and go to breakfast at Chuck’s on the beach – still my nostalgia dive favorite breakfast place.  Or we’d go to Hof’s Hut for lunch.  Or maybe SuperMex for dinner.

It was nice.

I never felt like it was dad taking me out.  I felt more like I was getting to know him as a man.  Maybe he felt the same way…a lot had changed with us both.

It’s when I feel like I became friends with my father.  That’s why that era is such a fondly treasured time for me.

It’s funny, I don’t really consider my father to have any resemblance to the ne’er around father from that Harry Chapin classic, obviously.  I do think I’m damn lucky to be able to say I’ve grown up to be even a hint of the person that is my father.

And, who knows?  Maybe next year I’ll mail the damn card.  Baby steps.

Father’s Day

Created In My Own Image

Anyone who has hung around me for any length of time has probably heard my personal take on fitness and diet:

In my 20s, I could eat and drink anything I wanted.  If I got fat, I just thought about losing weight and it happened.

When I was in my 30s, I could still eat and drink whatever I wanted but I had to work at keeping myself in shape.

Now that I am in my 40s, it doesn’t matter what I eat or how much I exercise…my body wants to be fat.

It’s a gross oversimplification of the situation…but it kind of encapsulates the basic experience I have had.  But maybe a 3000 word blog post will flesh out the reality of the situation and even exercise – ok…exorcise – a few of the shameful demons I battled along the way to how I came to be in this body I live in today.

First off, I was a scrawny kid who grew into a gangly 20-something.

 That’s me on the left.  I’m reasonably sure that the pants I am wearing were reincarnated curtains.  Just kidding.  They were Gar-Animals.  I’m also pretty sure that I could probably have worn that shirt until Junior High.

Oddly, I’m wearing a similarly colored baseball ringer as I write this.

Even more strange is the also similarly colored souvenir baseball ringer I picked up on one of my trips to Italy at the Rome Hard Rock Cafe.

What the hell?  I’m such a poser…I’m not even that athletic, which brings us back to that gangly kid.

Somewhere in my late teens – between leaving Manhattan and meeting my first boyfriend in Long Beach – I decided to get in shape.  Putting some meat on my bones was absolutely a byproduct of an unfortunate meeting between myself and a couple of shit kickers in my college days.  That’s all I’m saying about that, though.

For now.

I started working out with my buff college room mate on his Soloflex.

He swore he wasn’t gay.

He showed me some basic exercises and I pretty much copied what he did while trying to hide my involuntary physical response to him working out with me while shirtless and wearing his onion skin shorts from International Male.

He swore he wasn’t gay.

Whatever.  Neither was I, bro.

Once my family relocated to sunny SoCal and disintegrated into the California divorce culture – temporarily…like “two decades” temporary – I ended up in Long Beach.

I was fucking home.  Not home, like the feeling of home that Portland instills in me.  Home as in, I was in a place where I could let out the me that I had always tried to suppress as a closeted teen.

I joined a gym.  My first gym is my present gym:  24 Hour Fitness.  We’ve had a few trial separations over the years, but the thing – honestly – that keeps me coming back is their facility in Portland’s Pearl District.  It’s this enormous warehouse space.  In my opinion, it’s the greatest gym space that I’ve ever been in.  Probably in some part because of this picture that my tripping out of the closet self aspired to be:this guyYou know what I’m talking about.

So, I join the gym.  I run on the beach bike path down in Belmont Shores.  Obliviously running past the city’s two gay beaches and the cruise-y parking lot I would eventually come to name Le Boulevard de L’amour.

Loving the attention I received in doing so, even if I didn’t fully understand it.

Loving it way more than the attention I got in the showers at the gym.  You know that whoever designs gym showers is a total closet case.  Yes, I’m entertaining the idea that there is just one guy responsible for them all.  The only argument against?  Gym showers don’t actually have glory holes in the stalls.  Nor do they tend to have doors or shower curtains.

So, there’s 21 or 22 year old Xtopher…innocently showering at the gym.  Curiosity occasionally getting the better of me and causing me to glance at the aspirational physiques showering near me.

And the not-so-innocent things they are doing.

Learning to avoid the sauna and the steam room – ok, I can say that I understand people acting out in the relative anonymity and humidity of the steam room…their identity is fairly obscured, but the sauna?  It’s like broad daylight in there.  These guys got off on the public stuff.

Really got off on it.

Not that I would understand that for many years.  Nonetheless, learning to avoid those parts of the gym, ceding them – literally – into the hands of lonely, perverted gays.  Plus, Little Xtopher just doesn’t do extreme heat, which I think it perfectly normal as evidenced by the knowledge that I know what was happening in the steam room and sauna was decidedly not perfectly normal.  Also, take that, Shrinkage.

Sadly, I frequently still needed to shower at the gym before work or going on with my day.  It was SoCal…no one is making an unnecessary trip home to shower and change in that cluster fuck of traffic.

Necessary evil.

One guy who really loved showers hit on me one day as we dressed.  Asked me out.  He was a Doctor.

Oh!  A Doctor!

What?  I was a simple retail whore.  Ok…contextually the wrong word.  I just worked my way through a lot of different retail jobs building my resume and jumping for a full-time position, an increased responsibility and/or more money.  That type of whore.

So, a Doctor was a good get.

Just ask his boyfriend.

Oy.  Gays.

Obviously, somewhere along the line I not only came out to myself, but also began to nurture my sexuality.

I met another guy at the gym there in Long Beach.  He was 29…so old!  But also, so muscle-y and cool.  Definitely what I was aiming for with my efforts.

We started dating.

We also started working out together.

And other stuff.

We dated for quite a while.  Like, a year…which was a lifetime in my young 20s.  He introduced me to protein shakes – shut up, Diezel – to help build muscle and supplement the Taco Bell diet that both my wallet and metabolism would support at this point in my life.

I was a Salad Gay.  Chrisism.  Just a working-poor gay guy.

I also started working night shift, which allowed me to take classes in the daytime.

It allowed him to sleep with other guys in my bed while I worked.

What?  Why wouldn’t my boyfriend have a key to my apartment?  This so explained his approach to occasional sex to “keep it special”.  He had to conserve his *chi* in order to spread it around.

His surprise when I dumped him after walking in on him with another guy on morning…a guy who looked surprisingly twink-ish, was tall and had brown hair just like your favorite blog author.  On this blog site, anyway.

At least he had a type.

Men, it would seem.

Anyway, his surprise manifested itself as him beating me up.  Well, definitely knocking me around pretty good.

He and I disagreed on the types of marks I earned by standing up for myself.

Who wants to know his name?  Hehehe.  I tend to preserve people’s identity on my humble little blog, but I can actively picture some of my friends getting pretty riled up reading that and demanding to know.  Let’s say this pretty much unconsciously ended the appeal of older men for young Xtopher.

Clearly, I needed to be in better shape.

And alone.

I kept going to the gym.  It was a great way to detox from my “Yes, sir” days at work and my commute frustrations.  I’m kind of sociable – not sure if you picked up on that – and from Oregon…so, I would chat with people at the gym between sets.  This was before Super Sets were invented, so it helped pass the rest periods between sets.  I made several gym friends, one that was probably – oh…my age now!  He used to lecture me about using too much weight, telling me, “I never use more than 60 lbs, no matter the exercise” and looking at himself in the mirror.  Nodding appreciatively at his results.

Whatever, Old Person.

What?  You know you can’t tell kids anything.  Me included.  Ask my parents.

Anyway.

This went on until I ultimately met someone – who wasn’t a gym rat like me <gasp!> – fell in love and moved away with him to Florida.  Another blog.  Trust me.  But, I kept working out.  Whether it was an apartment complex gym or the real deal.  And running.  Wherever I was, Florida, Texas (yes…Texas), back in Long Beach once I returned to SoCal or in Oregon when I finally worked my way back to my hometown…I worked out.  By the way, I might have left SoCal for a guy, but when I say I worked my way back to Oregon…I mean it literally.  I was lucky enough to be hired on by a company while in Florida that was growing westward.  And I hitched my wagon right up, even if it meant an 11 month stay in awful Houston, Texas.

Ah, the days when I could get a friggin job.

So, back in Portland.  My hometown.  I’m 28 years old and this is where I first met the 24 Hour Fitness in the Pearl District, which was barely anything but warehouses along with a few that had oddly converted to row houses.  I don’t even think the road it’s on was paved.  Pretty sure it was gravel.

It’s also where – one night as I danced at Embers after work – I met the Sucks At Cheating Ex.  He literally walked out of the manufactured smoke on the dance floor as I leaned against the bar drinking a Sam Adams.

Yes, this was before the joke at our openly gay and unfortunately-named Mayor’s expense:

Q:  Why is Portland so great?

A:  It’s the only city in the country where an 18 year old can get a Sam Adams.

Yes, his name was Sam Adams.

Ok.  Is.

Google it for context.

Now, back to that smokey dance floor at Embers.

The smoke literally parted as he walked off of the dance floor.  Time slowed down.  That’s a sign, right?

He was all sweaty, so I offered to buy him a beer…because I had developed some wickedly good game in SoCal.

“Ok” he replies, “But I’m not gay.  I’m just here meeting friends.”

It’s last call.

We end up at my Jeep – which is parked right about in front of where I live in the North Park Blocks as I type.  I’ve taken a newbie gay guy to my car after picking him up in a bar.  Memories of Le Boulevard de L’amour swirl as we talk.

This post is full of weird little memory bombs.

He’s still sweating.  He apologizes for his drippy state, saying it’s just the supplements he takes before he works out.

Foreshadowing.

Ok, I thought you were just having a panic attack because you’re a straight guy sitting in a gay guy’s car outside a gay bar that your *friends* never showed up at and it’s 3:00 in the morning.

Whatever.

It’s 1997.  I’m 29.

 We start to date.

Awkwardly.

We work out together.

He comes out.

Over-dramatically.  Another blog.

He introduces me to his Agent.

I start modeling.

He moves in with me and my lesbian roommates.

We buy a house.

My agent calls me fat.

Remember this pic?

 I start using his supplements.

Yellow Jackets.

I’d made it to 32 before my metabolism fully betrayed me.  I was working out hard, but the results were slowing down.  I started with Yellow Jackets as a supplement and then worked in Creatine, Nos, Ripped Fuel…so many supplements.

My mentality quickly evolved or escalated, take your pick, into a dangerous “If the recommended dose gives me good results, then doubling it will be amazing!”  Sure, there was a pit stop along the way into mixing fat burners, recovery supplements, yada-yada-yada.

We worked out together at 24 Hour.  It was a fun date.  We made up nicknames for the people working out around us so we could talk about them.  Bad Ass Bitch.  Granny Face.  Bird Legs.

So that’s where he gets the whole nickname thing.

I was usually so jacked up that I needed – yeah, needed – a few martinis to effectively fall asleep.  But I looked amazing.  Who needed sleep?

Well, around 34 or 35, my stomach lining started eroding.  I got really bad heartburn that I couldn’t shake.  My body fat was so under control, I had gaunt cheeks and the fat had all but disappeared from my arms, legs and whatever I had that constituted an ass before this all began.

I quit drinking.

I stopped taking supplements.

My heartburn went away.  Cured!

The Sucks At Cheating Ex left me.

For a waiter.  A tall guy.  Muscular but slim.  Dark hair.

At least he had a type.

My heartburn turned into heart ache.

I started drinking.

I was 36.

Here we are, almost out of my 30s in this saga and just crossed the 2000 word threshold.

Right on track.

Unlike my life at this point.

And my exercise regimen.

I would still run to clear my head and heart, but I couldn’t go to the gym:  too painful.  I drank every night.  It’s not that I was a complete shut in.  I had EOGed the cable company at this point in my life, so I had to go to CCs on Monday nights to watch their rebroadcast of Queer As Folk after it aired on Sunday night.  I’m sure that was all on the up and up.  Whatever, it’s not like I wasn’t the only one there.

I was.

The bartenders and barbacks would bring me refills as I sat there on the dance floor watching the show.  Alone.

They would bring me snacks.

And drinks.

And drinks.

Eventually, they even let me order pizza from Old Town Pizza across the street.

Those angels delivered to across the damned street.

My waist size closed in on my age.

I met the Silver Fox around this time, too.  He wanted to date, maybe.  But, nononono.  I needed my time to grieve.  Plus, older guys…I still shuddered at the thought.  He and I became friends, though.  He would join me occasionally at CCs, as would one of my best friends from my prior relationship, Big Word Ben.

It was their friendship that eventually helped pull me out of my slump and get me and my fitness routine and my life back on track.

But, Seattle called.

Or put a gun to my head.

You choose.

It was the Bush years.  No, not that one, the second one.  10% of all Oregonians were out of work and my job in Salem had just been eliminated and relocated to Seattle.  Stay in Oregon with a severance package or move to Seattle and have a job?

The answer seemed so clear to me then.

Obvious, actually.

Plus a change of scenery would do me good.

Off to Seattle I went.  I had an apartment with a gym in it.  There was a 24 Hour about 10 blocks from my place – yes, mom…about 10 blocks! – and I was redeveloping my relationship with food and drink into a more healthily balanced entity.

My job there ended up ending a year after I moved to Seattle to save it.  That’s typical Chris luck, so I just rolled with it.  It wasn’t like a guy had treated me badly and broken up with me or anything.  This I could handle.  I bounced around to a few jobs that ultimately led to Sur La Table, where my cooking game really got on track and my diet came to exist in a good balance with my exercise routine, despite the universe and its attempts to make me into a fatty again.  I was making good money and working in a geographically undesirable place for exercising at 24 Hour, so I joined David Barton Gym, since it was right outside the door of my store.

It was good.  Very inspirational.

Then I got transferred to another store and DBG became geographically undesirable.

But

There was another gym close by.  About a block.  Not as good as next door, but I was trying to be reasonable as I approached 40.

Speaking of which, I committed to myself to get back into shape for my 40th…in a good way.  No destructive supplements and no abuse of the ones I do use.

Moderation.

I was being reasonable, after all.

Who the fuck was this reasonable person?  I must have killed off all of my crazy brain cells during my grieving period and this was what was left.

I joined X-Gym.

Their business model was “All personal training, all of the time”.  Their marketing campaign was “20 minutes, twice a week”.  It was amazing.  By 40 I was in the best shape of my life.  The coaching I received helped me to improve my form, grow comfortable with “new” exercise disciplines and re-evaluate my eating habits.  Totally worth the investment.

In myself.

Suck it, Former Agent.

The summer after I turned 40, I went to a nude beach with a friend.  Totally not my thing, but there I was.  He undressed and went into the bushes.  I undressed and laid down.

Flip.

No friend.

Flip again.

No friend.  Maybe a bear ate him.  I’d say “The Bad Type” but neither type of bear is really my type, so let’s go with the potentially lethal type versus the potentially leather type.

I am overheating, so I head into the water for a dip.

As I’m coming out, all Bo Derek-y, I see him finally coming out of the shrubs.  I’m walking toward my towel and he’s walking right toward me.  I didn’t immediately realize he was checking me out, with apparently favorable results, until he pulled a shocked face upon realizing he’s just sexually objectified his friend.

The rest of the day was a little weird.

But hopefully that will serve to highlight the results I had gotten.

Physically fit and healthy at 40.

Yay, me.  The hard work was worth it!

Then I meet Rib.  I’d been single for six years after a six year relationship…not that I hadn’t started trying to date, but Seattle.  ‘Nuff said.  He’s fresh off the boat and I hit it off-ish with this 24 year old.

We start dating.  Blog coming…maybe.  I get overwhelmed by all the feels I have for him and our time together, so who knows?

He’s quite the caretaker and we eat well.  He wants to overcome his twink-ish build, a pain near and dear to my heart, so we start working out together.

What?  There’s no pattern.  Shut up.

The food and drink kind of overwhelms my 40-something metabolism and I start packing on some spare lbs.  Rib is supportive and great, he says things like, “I kind of like a guy with a little bell-bell” as he pats my bell-bell.

Back to x-Gym.  I commit to get back in shape for my 45th birthday.

They’re great.

It happens.

Sure, I cry a lot.

That’s how hard they push you.

Sadly, I had also injured (exacerbated, but no one will ever get that story out of me) my shoulder and was in the process of making it worse as I exercised.

But I looked great!

Later that year, I developed shin splints as I was training to run the Seattle Half Marathon.  It was a long distance for me.  I had always been a 5 miler.  Fresh off my efforts with X-Gym, I powered through to my goal.  Once I reached it, I figured that I would see the Doctor if they hadn’t subsided.

They didn’t.

When my Doctor asked how long I had been feeling the shin splints, I replied honestly, that it had been about six weeks…no, maybe two months?

Blink, blink.

“Shin splints don’t last that long.”

I did a palms up.

“You need to go here and see this foot and ankle guy.  He’ll set you up for a bone scan, but stop running.”

No fucking way, doc.  I’ve been running for 30 years.

More, even.

“Well, you had a good run, then.  Didn’t ya?”

Ok, I set that one up.  That’ll teach me to leave a door open.

Sure enough, I had a stress fracture in my right tibia.

“You’re retired” my doc says.  “Find something else to do.  Swimming.  Cycling.  No more running.”

I figure going back to how it was before the half marathon would be a good compromise.

Plus, I hate being told what to do.

I fracture my left tibia.

“Retired.  Did you not hear me say that?” he says.

The third try was not the charm.  But it was the second time that I fractured my right tibia.  So there is that.

I got the hint.

Apparently, the supplements that I abused, plus just general aging and stuff had compromised my bone density and, well…no more running.

I missed it.  I had a real difficult time accepting the end of the 30+ year relationship that I had with running.  There’s nothing better for clearing your head than the ballistic action it provides.  I pictured my troubles literally being shaken loose and falling by the wayside.

My white rhythm never allowed me to succeed at simultaneously breathing and swimming, so that was a non-starter for broken old Xtopher.  Likewise, my ass wasn’t built for a bike seat, but it was at least a less lethal – if slightly less comfortable – solution to the middle finger my metabolism was giving post 45 year old me.

So, I tried it.

Oh, did I mention that I had broken up with Rib after 4 years?  Yeah, that grief wasn’t helping things along.

At all.

Also not helpful was moving back to Portland and finally – 20 years later – developing a taste for the ubiquitous Oregon IPA.

I needed to become one with the cycling.

I needed to develop a consistency with exercising more than just my drinking arm regularly.

And, there is effort involved.  I am investing in the process…and discovering that my original parts are simply wearing out.

The shins.  Not the band, the other ones.

The shoulder.  Nope, never gonna tell you what happened.

The knees.  Shut up, Diezel.

The back.  More shutting up, Diezel.

The bike tires.  What?  They just go flat for no reason.

Exercise these days is an exercise in making progress and then healing.

I need to – and am, I swear…or at least I’m making an effort to – develop a new sense of moderation in both my diet and exercise regimens.  What worked in the past no longer works for my pushing 50 self.  I need to get my routine to the point where it’s making progress and then recovering not healing.

But…I’m remembering an old guy that Twink Me used to see at the 24 Hour in Long Beach.

And I am beginning to understand his wisdom.

Stay tuned.

Ok, maybe I meant that a nearly 4000 word blog entry would flesh out some of the history I have with my relationship with fitness.  My longest post so far.  Thank you so much for reading.  I’m flattered by the time you put into checking into my little corner of the internet.  Feel free to share, if you like it, maybe your friends will, too!

Now, I think it’s dinner time for Myrtle and myself, chicken and broccoli for me and Mediterranean Feast for her.

Created In My Own Image