Where Are They Now?

I’ve actually read a couple of blogs recently that have revived this snarky thought of mine.

It started a long time ago. Before the turn of the century, in fact. It began as a Where Are They Now for the gay “It” idols of the day – Kristen Bjorn porn stars.

Somehow this porn producer had managed to export every superficial SoCal gay attribute and imbue a cadre of Eastern European men with them and <ahem> whip out scores of videos that ruined positive body image health for gay men. Well, not single handedly, to be sure, but it was definitely a piece of the catastrophe.

Of course, the luster was short lived for me and I began to start thinking of these poor potentially exploited boys more like gayveal than physique role models.

Anyway, I just held that random “Where Are They Now” thought in the back of my mind as a reality check for the over- sexualized subculture of which I was a part.

A touchstone for reason.

This morning, one of the bloggers that I follow posted an interesting entry. His blog is a combination of short-form writing and pictorial entries. This morning’s was pictorial and caught me off guard when it included a pic of this guy

who was a gay-world famous underwear model after winning a model search competition from designer Andrew Christian.

To me, he – this model turned nobody – is symbolic of a couple of things:

First, these AC model contests were unique back in the early 20-teens but seemed to occur at the same time that Andrew Christian’s design was jumping the shark.

Suddenly, underwear styles were focused more on push up style structure or peekaboo openings and bare backsides…did we really need to reinvent thongs and jock straps? My gut told me that the marketing campaign was to distract from the functionality or even quality.

You’ve heard me bemoan people who seem to embrace the mantra, “It’s better to look good than to be good”, right?

Well, now you have.

Second, we – and I think I mean we as in American culture, not just gay culture – we’re making celebrities out of people whose only accomplishments seemed to be good genes and a rigid focus on corporeal development versus people with any appreciable skill or talent.

This is alarming in the gay community, particularly, because we already had a propensity to compensate physically for other – sometimes inequality imposed – shortcomings. It was almost like we represented our best selves using our bodies as a billboard.

No big deal.

Except

We seem to have gotten sucked into the industry of our physical selves and forgotten or minimized the importance of developing our inner selves.

Being good looking and physically fit shouldn’t be a bad thing, but somehow we found a way to ruin it.

Apologies to Michelle Obama.

Good looking men are making a living as go-go boys. Posting admittedly enjoyable pics of them in their underwear in exotic locations for Pride season all over the globe that are riddled with typos.

Redefining the phrase Peter Principle.

During the off-Pride season, too many of these guys end up shooting porn or escorting to maintain their lifestyle and – believe it or not – image.

Now, I’m no prude and certainly don’t condemn porn or sex work. It’s when either industry becomes predatory, preying on the desperate or unadmittedly stupid that I begin to take issue.

That’s not how I want my “Where Are They Now” question answered. I’ve seen too many so-called gay celebrities or community icons die after getting ground up in those industries. Yes, yes…this is all just an extension of my attraction to boys with broken wings.

How I’d like the question answered is with interviews of paunch-gutted male pattern baldness suffering men describing their post-over-exposed-beefcake successes. Six pack abs replaced by a keg sized beer belly and a story of how they built a successful local charity helping homeless gay youth off the street. Flawless skin overrun by a network of telltale drug-addiction scars but an inspiring long term relationship that saved a life by returning someone to not just sobriety but reality.

That’s a documentary that I’d watch.

Remember how this “Where Are They Now” throwback was credited to two recent blog posts that I’d read?

Yeah, well that was the easy one.

The second blog – and more challenging, to be honest – was a piece about good looking guys being shamed.

Didya?

Be honest…did you see that twist coming?

I hate to keep using that meme, but it’s so friggin’ perfect in so many instances.

And I really was not prepared for my thoughts after reading this blog post.

It is short, but in its brevity managed to take to task the people who troll people online that are simply showing off their physical accomplishments.

My thoughts – you know from reading above: slippery slope.

I came away from reading this blog with a yellow flag on my thoughts. I needed to remember that maybe the people who fall down that slope are the tip of the iceberg.

Sure.

I can admit that there’s just a lot of people in the world that are at a more disciplined point in their lives than I am. I’ve been there, I am not there now.

At the same time, I had to admit that I do unfairly criticize these people at times, even if it’s only mentally.

But.

While I’m internally committing to being more generative and appreciative of these physical accomplishments that I envy, I’m simultaneously struggling. Struggling with the reality that there are people who ignore me in my daily online and real life interactions because I am not one of them.

That’s tough.

I know when it’s happening. My less mellowed-with-age self would call it out. If someone ignored me online, I might have sent a final accusatory message that suggested they were bad people for their superficiality.

It wasn’t rewarding because I got to bitch someone out. It was rewarding because the response was usually one of two things:

A) I get so many responses, I can’t reply to them all

Poor thing.

I think the price of entry into the world of social media really should be that one is socially competent. Or at least…social.

It’s a lame excuse and one with an eight keystroke counter argument.

1) Hit Reply

2-7) Hit T H A N K S keys

8) Hit Send

This acknowledges the effort and largely discourages a response by closing the door to further conversation. In doing so, though, it remains social and even more importantly, preserves the self-worth of the sender. Sure, you’re gonna have those few people who don’t speak hint fluently, but that’s the cost of internet fame, eh? Everyone shouldn’t be treated like that worst case scenario.

Alternatively, if that’s too much of a burden, many apps allow you to turn off responses…maybe use those. Problem solved.

B) I’m only here for sex, not friends

Ok, that problem will just take care of itself eventually. Except it will perpetuate the negative and impersonal app-tastic culture we’ve cultivated over the last 20 years in the process.

So the hate and trolling that this guy mentions is familiar, I get it.

Is it a situation where one party bears the blame?

No…not at all.

It’s collateral damage to psychological warfare people don’t even know they are engaged in. I’d wager the majority of the trolls this guy is mentioning didn’t start out as trolls. They probably started out perfectly reasonable and over the course of being ignored repeatedly built up an intolerance that manifests itself by lashing out preemptively at the next sexy guy they see.

How screwed up is that?

Guys aspiring to a physical form that attracts social media attention ignore attention from their less attractive audience building up resentment that manifests itself as what then gets described as trolling or bullying.

Ok, first…make sure you aren’t calling someone a troll because they correct you on the not-overwhelmingly complex correct usage of there/they’re/their.

Second, maybe what we all need to do is infuse our social and real life lives with more compassion.

Point A above goes a long way. Be grateful you’re getting the attention you may not have admitted to yourself you seek. Know enough about interacting with humans to gracefully stop a conversation from progressing. Ignoring a conversation doesn’t make it go away, it alters it’s course.

On the flip side, maybe just stick to correcting real life friends on their grammar. Using the excuse, “They need to know” isn’t any less an abdication of responsibility than “I get too many responses to reply to them all” is when it comes to dealing with people online.

And…after all is said and done here? I realized that I don’t really care where most of these people end up. The great lot of them are Kardashian-esque Lost Boys, so maybe I should just do a little virtual housecleaning and make sure that I’m surrounding myself with people that enhance my happiness versus highlight the things about people that make me unhappy.

It’s been an interesting week in my head, folks.

Love and pizza, yo!

Where Are They Now?

Xtopher’s Rib

This here, ladies and gentlemen and all-gendered readers, is the oldest draft I presently own.

May 24, 2016…if you’re curious.

It’s been back on my mind because of my commitment to wrap up my open gay-jacent writing projects during Pride month. Also, Rib graduated Flight Attendant College last week and this was his first full week working as a Flight Attendant.

I sent him a text when I realized he had finished the 8 week course, which seemed to go on forever from where I witnessed it. I wonder what it felt like to him…although his occasional social media updates suggested he enjoyed his time there.

His response was, “Thanks, Dad!”

Classic Rib.

I should note that Rib actually provided his own blog identity after briefly wanting to change his name to Rib during Culinary School.

It is a name that has stuck with him, at least with my friends. The Silver Fox spied this restaurant on a trip through Spain and Portugal and demanded I forward it to Rib.

I initially started this post after I participated in a Writing Workshop that the original Fabulous Baker Sister had suggested to me.  It was my first such experience and I found that my ex had been a topic that came to mind during a couple of the assigned exercises.

Not knowing what to expect of the workshop, I arrived just the slightest bit anxious.  Also, the teensiest buzzed thanks to a spontaneous happy hour with my parents.  I love my mom and dad. The pre-funk helped me relax into the exercises.

I had been thinking about what – or if – to write about that experience.  It was really amazing.  There were four exercises we did and two of them had ended up involving the best of my ex boyfriends.  Later in this same week, he moved into his first home with his partner, so he’d kind of been center stage in my consciousness for several days around the week of the workshop.

Regardless of how readily he sprung to mind after the prompts given at the Writing Workshop, the blog entry kind of stalled.

Limbo.

Truth be told, I had actually started this draft the year before the date I quoted earlier…that was just the most recent edit.

The summer before, Rib and his boyfriend had come down for a spontaneous visit. I think it was near the end of Summer. They live in Seattle and had been to dinner at one of Rib’s former classmates from Culinary School. She lived in Olympia and when I got the call, he said that they had decided to pop down to Portland since they were so close.

Ok

Seriously, though, that type of spontaneity in a relationship is just fun.

They checked into their hotel and then popped over for a nightcap. We may have gone out for a Spanish Coffee at Huber’s that night because that’s what you do with out of town guests in Portland.

It was a fun evening, connecting with them as an actual couple, like adults. I admit that when we all lived in Seattle and ended up together, I’d recreationally by the boyfriend shots just because I knew how he suffered the next day.

To his credit, he was at least a willing sport, borderline good sport about it.

The day after their surprise visit, we went wine tasting in the valley. They had just bought a humongous orange Jeep. I was kind of jealous, never having really gotten over getting rid of my own Jeep at Sacha’s urging back in ’02. He hated it, granted it was a piece of shit…but the boys’ Jeep was certainly enviable.

We hit three different wineries and had a wonderful afternoon tasting at the different estates, two of which were simply breathtaking. I can’t believe I don’t have pics from that day at my fingertips…checkout my last post for a little insight as to how those might have gone missing.

Anyway, after the Writing Workshop, I was all jazzed up to share my Rib relationship story. Then I saw an article in the Huffington Post suggesting that people who were friends with their exes were either narcissists or psychopaths.

Great.

Here I was, 45-plus years on, feeling proud to finally have an ex that I was able to remain friends with. I’m off brand for friendship with Sacha. The Mulligan has the bad manners to die.

So, yeah, no pressure, Xtopher…but I felt Rib was my one last shot at exercising the concept of actually maintaining a post-relationship relationship with an ex.

You see, here’s the deal, Rib and I were never supposed to date, anyway.

We’d met in a bar one night when I wandered out for a solo beer in Seattle, as was my weekday ritual. There was this ginger nugget of a guy siting at the corner, right near where I ordered my beer.

We chatted while I waited to be served, so I ended up sitting next to him. Rib was sitting around the corner of the bar and occasionally interjected during our conversation.

Sassy.

He eventually drove the other guy away. As I watched him leave, I realized that he was actually meeting the bartender, Rock, at the door and they left together.

Glad I could help pass the time. Hehe.

Then it was just Rib and me. He’d still blurt out random conversation as I sipped. Eventually, I realized that hidden by his hedgehog hairstyle were earbuds.

“You’re listening to your own music?!?”, I said realizing now why his additions to my earlier conversation had seemed so erratic, they had come as he overheard our conversation between songs.

Seems he didn’t appreciate the bar’s music. When I asked why he didn’t go to a bar that was more his style, he admitted that the bartender gave him free drinks here.

“The one that just left with the guy I was talking to?”

We chatted a little more, learning that he’d only been in town for a few weeks, having moved from SoCal. He liked it ok, but had not yet adjusted to how hilly it was, gesturing to his feet, where there was a large pair of high laced combat style boots.

Apparently, they were pretty heavy to lug around, especially after a few drinks. He admitted to having fallen just recently and blamed the terrain.

It was cute.

He ended up coming home with me that night – nothing happened, you pervs! I’d gotten him – with Rock’s help – a little too relaxed to safely haul his boots home.

Interestingly, and DP will tell me that he told me so, he never really left after that first night. DP’s relationship philosophy, as he’d described it to me once, was that you meet someone and take them home…they either never leave or you never see them again.

It’s admittedly jaded, but also truer than I’d like to admit.

However, while Rib was right up my alley as far as my tastes in guys go; I wasn’t ready to blindly accept DP’s sage dating advice at face value.

Over the coming days, I learned that Rib had chosen Seattle because his sister lived here and he’d wanted to get out of his mom’s house and onto his own two feet without totally forfeiting an actual safety net.

Made sense.

In SoCal, he’d gone to college for a while and then dropped out and moved back into his mom’s house. For the time before deciding to move, he’d been taking care of the family cats and cooking meals for his mom while she worked.

I asked what he was doing since getting to Seattle.

“Oh, y’know…taking care of my sister’s dog while she works and cooking dinner for her”

“Good thing you got out from under your mom’s skirts”, I joked.

Obviously, we weren’t a good match. I’m grumpy old me and he was just this endearing Lost Boy. I told him that and when he asked why, I told him that I expected a boyfriend to have a job.

Dating younger guys, I hardly expected them to have similar professional accomplishments, but I expected them to at least be working toward something.

Thinking that was that, I was surprised that he went out and got an interview at a local candy shop-slash-tourist trap.

Go, Rib!

Ok, that was kind of impressive and before you know it, we’re six months in.

It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. We’d have talks about serious stuff – how to continue his upward trajectory toward being an adult – that would end in big, slow rolling tears. It was strange to navigate those talks. They usually started with a Rib mini-tantrum, something like him hating his job.

He’d just blurt out, “I hate it! I’m quitting!”

I’d counter with something like what he hated about it and he’d yell “Everything!” or complain that he didn’t get paid enough for what they expected him to do. He’d eventually settle down and pull his knees up to his chin as he gained an understanding of what he was struggling with, arriving at the realization that he needed to be able to stick it out at a job he “hated” until he found something else.

He didn’t like it, but he understood it.

My rule of thumb when dating younger guys has always been “leave ’em better than you found ’em”. Rib surprised me by being pretty open to the perspective I had to offer – despite occasional tough conversations like I described above – when he encountered challenges, either at work or just in getting his feet under him in a new city.

Like I said, he’d grown frustrated with his job and somehow – I think through another co-worker – gotten hooked up as waitstaff for the private club behind my condo.

It was a challenging job jump because it was a pretty exclusive, high touch club. But he took to it.

He really got excited about the environment, from learning about high end wine to serving in a fine dining environment.

At some point in those first years we were together, education came up. I’m not sure how. Probably, I was a bossy jerk about him completing a degree.

Given his enthusiasm for cooking – for his mom, then his sister and now me – and food in general from his experience at the club, he was thinking about Culinary School.

It made sense, too. The boy was a complete geek whenever he came to my kitchen store. His passion and enthusiasm were obvious and my team loved seeing him pop into the shop to explore or take a class. Soon enough, we were having Thanksgiving dinners at the condo with his mom and aunts visiting from SoCal and the Santa Clara Pueblo in New Mexico.

Rib actually managed to complete his culinary degree debt free because of his Native American heritage. It was a big plus for him an took a lot of the stress out of his decision to finish his education.

His graduation was a big deal, as it should be. It was shortly after his Chef of the Day project. His mom came up from SoCal, his Seattle-sister was there, obviously, and my parents and sister drove up from Portland in what turned out to be the winter storm of the century. It had turned their three to four hour drive into a nine-plus hour affair.

Luckily, Rib went all out for his CoD and the menu included baby octopus. Prepared as obvious octopus. Everyone forgot the travel journey and seems to only remember that. But in having so much of our respective families present, it really felt like a family affair.

After graduation, he floundered. What he’d realized in college was that he didn’t want to be a cook.

Ok

When pressed during conversations about it, he’d articulate how he wanted to use his education to be able to design menus, but he was getting more and more interested in the front of the house experience he was picking up at the club.

His boss at the club ended up connecting him to a restaurant in Pike Place Market. It was fine dining and Rib was pretty excited about the change. It ended up being a good change for him. He was working part time hours and with the tips he earned he was making high $40k a year.

Waiting tables.

I was a little jealous!

This Lost Boy that I’d picked up in a bar a scant few years earlier that had had no job or inclination was now a college grad and making a respectable living for himself.

I was proud of him.

Even not realizing what was ahead for us.

Oooooh, foreshadowing!

So…right, even with all this growth, the boy still had quite a bratty streak in him. It was a constant in his personality and part of what I loved about him, but occasionally he’d take it too far.

Frequently, we’d be out with friends and – depending on the situation – he’d get bored because my friends did boring “old people” stuff and he wanted to dance and carry on or we’d do stuff with his friend and I was too much of an “Oldie Hawn”. We each enjoyed the others friends, but when he wasn’t into it, it could really get stressful.

It was on one of these nights out, us and DP, where I don’t remember what exactly was going on, but he wasn’t enjoying it.

Oddly, we were headed to his favorite late night food spot for some pozole, but he was still not having it. He was literally dragging his feet and bitching from a half a block behind us about how lame we were.

It was then that I realized that for all of his growth, this was as far as he was going to grow with me. I sent him home and went to dinner with DP.

I don’t know what he did when he left, but he was home when I got there, sitting on the floor somewhere between a pout and guilt. I told him that his behavior was unacceptable.

He knew, he flashed a couple of those big, sad, trauma tears and I told him we should break up. I could see that he was maxed out on growth, having taken a big step in moving from SoCal to Seattle, but he hadn’t really given up the security of having someone else in his move from Mom to sister to me. My thinking was that until he had to really bear the burden of his own responsibilities, this was as close as he was going to come to becoming his own man.

It was a super hard conversation. Flashing through my mind as it was happening was another conversation. We’d run into a friend of mine at The Cuff and he was chiding me about Rib being so young. This was early in our relationship, they were just meeting for the first time. In response to his trading, I’d said, “What? He’ll be 30 before I turn 50!”

It earned me a laugh and an eye roll at the time, but in breaking up with Rib it was playing in my mind as I admitted to myself that this could be the last relationship of my life.

I know…so dramatic.

Still, I knew that Rib would eventually get bored stagnating in this almost state. He’d come to this same conclusion eventually, then he’d leave me. Whether it was six months or six years later, I was certain it would happen and then I’d resent him. I’d react indignantly and overemphasize the sacrifice of my leveraged happiness that I’d made by selfishly staying with him.

Y’know, like I did with Sacha.

It took me a long time to get over my anger at him for leaving me. Part of that was the way that he’d left me, the other part was jealousy that he’d had the balls to leave me when I’d stayed with him out of fear of being single at the time.

So, I knew what I was talking about in this situation.

We set up a timeline for finding him his own place and within a few weeks, he was looking at furniture and settling in. I sent a lot of good kitchen stuff with him that we’d accumulated over the years together, but I knew that he’d get better use out of it than me.

His sister – unhelpfully – set him up on a date about three weeks after he moved out. She’s a serial dater, so I wasn’t surprised. However, I thought he really needed time to get to know himself as an individual before really dating again.

That disagreement – and Rib’s subsequent sudden new boyfriend – caused me to lay down a six month embargo on contact.

I needed time to heal and adjust myself.

Well, not “adjust myself”…y’know, just get an answer to “Who is single Xtopher?”

At the end of that timeframe, we found ourselves drawn together on occasion. Sometimes randomly, running into each other at a bar, cue shots for the boyfriend! Others, I’d get a request for a solo lunch date and we’d talk about struggles: work, boyfriend, what have you.

The boys still come to town – not enough in my opinion – and I’m happy to let them treat me to a $300 dinner…has anyone seen my pride? Usually, though, I see them pop up on social media. It’s a pleasant vicarious surprise, seeing them post from Flushing Meadows or Australia as they attend an Open. A sudden trip to Germany with the fam for Oktoberfest.

I’m glad to see him thriving with his new boyfriend. Now, particularly seeing him become a flight attendant after trying to get into the program for three years. That was something that came up seemingly out of nowhere, but he didn’t let the first two experiences discourage him.

And now he’s done it.

Anyway, I can’t think of a better way to wrap up Pride month than completing a project about a person I was lucky enough to spend some time with and am privileged enough to still be a part of his life, albeit just as a friendly little narcissistic and/or psychopathic sliver.

Right, HuffPo?

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go be alone forever.

<dramatic sniff>

Xtopher’s Rib

The Motion On The Ocean

As Pride month draws to a close, I feel the pressure mounting to mark complete a commitment I made to myself at the beginning of the month:

Finish up my thematically Gay drafts.

Having posts in draft status is part of blogging…at least for me. I haven’t found a great alternative for maintaining an idea pipeline for my writing. I know that my memory is probably only a slightly better option than scribbling ideas on toilet paper and storing them in the city’s waste management system.

So, I have drafts.

And they make me absolutely crazy!

I started this month with nearly 20 drafts. I like to keep the number of drafts around half that. It makes me feel like I’m both productive and in control. But put a cap on creative ideas, right?

Bad idea.

So, I allow myself latitude.

That said, since the start of June, I’ve gotten the number of drafts down to 13, including this one. It’s a memory lane type of piece about a bar that I used to go to: Ripples. So, completing it would be a double whammy achievement; crossing a draft off of the to-do list and completing my gay themed pieces during Pride month.

I was a little surprised to see that I have five gay oriented drafts in my pipeline still after publishing 10/27 days this month. The oldest is from May of ’16…I’ve told you, I put the “pro” in procrastinate.

So, shall we?

When I lived in Long Beach, CA – an important designation given so many states’ pride in the length of their oceanfront municipalities…WA, MS & CA are just the three that come readily to mind – I had two bars that I frequented: Ripples and Silver Fox. I’ve written a little about (a lot, TBH) the Silver Fox – the bar, not the bestie – since it was the first gay bar I went into as an adult. You can get a taste of those entries here and, well, here. Since my best friend is nicknamed The Silver Fox and is an unwitting star in so many of my exploits and (mis)adventures, I thought I’d give you a couple links versus making you scroll through the hashtag results. However, I’ve never really dedicated any significant time to recalling Ripples. Just a random thought here or there.

And it was such a formative piece of my coming out process. I mean, in the first place, this was back in the days when being gay was still kind of an underground experience. You came out, but frequently that was met with a grudging acceptance versus a celebration. People tolerated my sexual orientation and said things like, “I don’t care, just don’t rub my nose in it”.

So, the obviously cared.

Gay bars were places where we could let our guard down and be comfortable. I imagine that what I felt walking into a gay bar back then was similar to what a woman feels when she takes her bra off after a long day.

Just guessing.

But on top of that, it wasn’t just a bar, like the Silver Fox. It was a venue.

I was lucky enough to live across the street from it. Situated at the corner of Granada and Ocean in Belmont Shores, I had it made – across Granada, Ripples; across Ocean, the gay beach.

So, what’s this venue all about? Well, it’s been 20 years since I set foot in the place, and I started this blog post when I learned that the bar was up for sale…for something like $5 mil.

That’s the price of oceanfront commercial property in Cali these days, I guess.

But that’s the joint: Ripples, aka: the motion on the ocean. A basic bar on the main level; tables and chairs on one side, pool table on the other, his and hers-turned-his-by-circumstance bathrooms and then an enclosed patio. The upper level had another bar and then a huge parquet dance floor.

The best possible start to any week or end to any weekend was their Sunday Beer Bust, even older gays called it a Tea Dance. Pay $5 at the door, get a wristband and plastic party cup and drink all afternoon. I think the beer bust was something like four hours, maybe 2-6? Plenty of time for brunch, gym and/or the beach beforehand. But you wanted to get there early, before the line went all the way down the block…but not so early that you were too early.

In a fit of coincidence, both of my favorite bars in the LBC were owned by Johns. One was literally a Silver Fox, the other was a stocky, jocular Hispanic guy. When I met Barbie – the owner of Purr in Seattle – she reminded me of John. They both provided this space that was an extension of their generous and caring spirit.

That reinforcement of the feeling of a safe space for gays was taken a step further here – you felt like part of the family. As a matter of fact, John’s sister set up each week on the patio with a Mexican buffet dinner. Grilled (right there on the patio) chicken, refried beans, rice, salad fixings. Not a bad way to end the beer bust, right?

For all of us gays, watching our straight counterparts dating, marrying and starting a family, this weekly ritual provided us with something alien to our lifestyle: family. We certainly weren’t likely to be starting one of our own, so this situational family – chosen family or logical versus biological as Armistead Maupin puts it – provided a tether to a normal type Sunday dinner with the family.

Albeit a Sunday dinner with an admittedly debaucherous edge!

I think it was this tether to reality that afforded my generation of gays to have their Peter Pan Syndrome and not grow up without becoming full on Lost Boys in the process. Anymore, what I observe of gay men barely even resembles a Lost Boy and is careening dangerously toward Lord of the Flies type madness.

But I digress. Go figure.

Think about it, Friday and Saturday nights, you come to the bar and have some drinks with your friends, cut loose on the dance floor, shoot some pool…unwind from your week. Maybe you connect with someone and have some sexy times. Maybe you don’t, but come 2 a.m. you hit the sidewalk sale after the lights come up for a last chance at getting your rocks off.

Come Sunday afternoon, you’re back to end the weekend as a community. Delighting in sending your friends back to their 9-5 closets for another week. Not missing a chance to see who shows up with their Friday or Saturday night trick turned possible relationship.

And if you aren’t ready to call it a weekend when beer bust ends at 6, there was usually a show upstairs after. If you didn’t mind paying for drinks, well…the entertainment was always worth the price of another drink or two. At least once a month you could count on seeing The Campers, a bearded drag troupe that would play out scenes from camp movies, lip syncing the lines while hilariously acting them out. My favorite were their Baby Jane scenes.

So good.

Also, familiar. Or, fagmiliar if you’ll allow the Chrisism.

The standing room crowd would usually recite the lines along with The Campers.

One of the other faves, although less frequent, were the Del Rubio Triplets.

Edie, Millie and Elena…this was the late, late 80s and early 90s, and these sisters – born in 1921 – were in their late 60s and early 70s serving up acoustic guitar covers of Devo’s Whip It in sequin and lame short skirts and cowboy boots to a raucous crowd of buzzed and tanned beach boys.

God, it was so awesome! I think all three sisters survived into their 80s. If I recall correctly, Millie even lived to be 90. They were famous for their Christmas shows, appearances on evening talk shows and cameos in movies like Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, but I’ll always remember them for their shows at Ripples.

And, while I could always stop in for a cold one after a long day at work or hard day of sunbathing across the street and rely on some friendly chat with the bartender or other transient barside resident, it’s those events like beer bust and the shows that set it apart from just being a bar for me and made it a haven.

I could go on and on about the motion on the ocean, but maybe those are stories for another time. The month is nearly over, after all…

The Motion On The Ocean

Otherwise It’s Just A Bunch of Thursdays Strung Together

So, a couple months back, I was re-watching Rumor Has It, the “sequel” to The Graduate starring Jennifer Aniston with Kevin Costner playing the “real life” version of the college student who was seduced by Shirley MacLaine’s “real life” Mrs Robinson.

Ok, that sentence made my brain hurt.

Just watch the movie if you’re at all curious. It’s worthwhile entertainment. Plus, I love overly complex Dramedy plots. This definitely fits that bill.

In the movie, Kevin Costner compares taking risks in life to fully living a life by dismissing a life without said risk as “just a bunch of Thursdays strung together”.

Ok…that’s a fair point.

However, coming from Costner’s middle-aged millionaire playboy, it is also a cautionary tale.

Take it from someone whose life is essentially a cascading series of Saturday night closing times…

I get the appeal of “taking off for Paris at a moment’s notice” or even just turning a spontaneous dinner into a night on the town and then getting a hotel room to end the night on a responsible and fun note. If you’re a millionaire playboy, I even get that dinner involving a private jet.

However, I think too much of our cultural focus as Americans is invested in the pursuit of those playboy millionaire and Mrs Robinson moments versus pursuing meaningful and lasting relationships. “Too much” being tantamount to losing focus on what a real adult relationship looks like.

So, while I can appreciate the spontaneous humor of a Dramedy like this sorta-sequel to The Graduate, I can also really own the fact that I’m the former (sans) millionaire playboy status sitting alone on his couch watching this movie alone while his murderous feline circles waiting for me to nod off so she can eat my lips. Viewed through that filter, I’d take fewer Saturday night closing times and a bunch more strung together Thursdays – although I’d prefer to spend those Thursdays with a friendlier feline.

Otherwise It’s Just A Bunch of Thursdays Strung Together

Dating Into Oblivion, ep2

Here we are…Bachelor Number 5.

Sorta.

If January was an embarrassment of no-shows, February was mostly a cluster fuck of bad timing.  Ultimately, Bachelor Number 5 had a lot more qualities about him that worked against our compatibility than just bad timing, though.

That bad timing was mostly a product of my being sick for a week, struggling to get fully recovered for another and then dealing with some pretty hostile BS at work for a third week.

The free spaces in the shortest month of the year outside of those three weeklong timeframes didn’t really leave much for me to work with.

Sidebar:  the only man on my early morning MAX to work this morning happens to be a cute, lil twink nerd.  He’s mostly sleeping a couple rows up from me, but just woke up long enough to stick his finger in his nose and then bite his nail.

I’m screaming inside.

Ok, so…Bachelor Number 5.

In a moment of questionable optimism – and probable inebriation – I created an OKStupid dating profile.

While it’s not overtly a hook up site/app, it still qualifies as asocial media in my book because of its swipe culture:  left to reject, right to express interest.  These swipes are encouraged based mostly on the picture, you don’t really get a lot of data about the person until you open their profile.  Really, we’re dismissing people based on looks here, aka:  fuckability.  But it’s got an addictive quality to it, this swiping.

Once you actually click on someone’s profile, you can see what they have to say for themselves.  What they like, how they spend their time.  People are encouraged to answer questions ranging anywhere from values to politics to dating to sex in order to help the algorithm determine compatibility with the most important person in the world:  you.

Still sounds fun, but it gets a little tedious.  Questions aren’t filtered based on the basics you provide in your profile, so I get questions like, “I think I would enjoy experimenting sexually with someone who is the same gender”

Definitely me.  ✔️

But in the case of Bachelor Number 5, I could also discover that we are both tops, so that was helpful…if not poorly timed since I swiped first and found this out later.

We had only traded a few messages beyond the initial “Hey, how are ya”.  It wasn’t something he was making a priority, a minimum of a day passing between my messages and his responses.

I tend to read that as a sign, part of my E.O.G. charm as The Silver Fox and Little Buddy have pointed out.  In this experiment, I was keeping that impatience in check.

Over the course of the week we traded messages, he went to visit Shittatle for the weekend.  I tried engaging him about what neighborhood, whether he goes up often, how I lived there for a decade, etc.  He still just gave me…not much to go with.  So, by the time he messaged me back on Tuesday after his trip, I’d learned he was a top and not really looking for friends.  At least not putting any efforts into creating friendship with me.  That partnered with his geographic undesirability – Beaverton, if you can believerton that – it was pretty easy for me to check him off of my list of potential mates.

Swipe.

But, February wasn’t a total bust.  I did finally get a chance to connect with one of my January Bachelors early in the month.

He’s a cute kid.  Twenty seven, now, not really a kid…but he hasn’t really come into his own yet.  I feel his struggle.  But I’m not engaging with it, as is my usual reflex.

So, y’know…coming out of last year without that habit was good for me.

Remember, this particular bachelor is someone I tried to meet unsuccessfully three years ago.  To his credit, this time around he was dealing with my grumpy old man-ness with jovial alacrity.

Or not really paying attention.

Speaking of geographic undesirability, he lives about 30 minutes away in Vantucky.  With me not driving, that puts a lot on him, effortwise, if we’re gonna see one another.  Which is another solid plus for him since I don’t even have a parking space to offer a guest.

When we finally got together, it was just a shared bottle of wine at my place.  He took about a half a glass to warm up and then it was off to the races.

Talking, you depraved perverts.

Unfortunately, he was kind of just barfing out his life story, not conversing.  But we finished the bottle and I learned some stuff about him.  I didn’t get a lot of talking in, so he probably only learned that I could listen and decided I was cute…which is always nice to hear.

We decided to do it again the following week, so naturally, I had to get the plague that was going around.

Whaddyagunnado?

We texted throughout the week and he was gracious about my frailty, but over the next ten days or so…pffft.

His responses started getting further spaced.  And shorter.  There’s not much I can do with “Hey” greetings or “Yea” responses.  So…I don’t.

Maybe we’re just meant to be acquaintances.  Which is fine…but he is just so darned tasty looking – a feast for these old, lascivious eyes, if you will – that it is a little disappointing.  But ultimately, I want to nourish more than my libido.

Alas, poor Whorick.

Dating Into Oblivion, ep2

Gay Rights…

or rather rites…of passage, that is.

I was doing laundry last night and wondering how to kill time while simultaneously reflecting back on my evening out with Little Buddy.

She had taken me out to a show for some quality us time, which was awesome fun – as usual – but also something I enjoyed being able to enjoy with her.  Planning a party is always kinda stressful, so I know I wouldn’t have been able to really enjoy myself in her shoes at the surprise party she threw me.

I know, I’m projecting!

Anyway, this was just time for us to witness and enjoy!  

Witness…Tony Starlight!

Enjoy…his tribute show honoring Sir Elton John.

It was amazing…just the right type of retro-drag-schmaltz.  I’m sure I will get to more depth than that at some point, but something else caught my attention while I lay on the couch, listening to the washer spin.

He took a break during his show to acknowledge special events people were out celebrating.  Naturally, Little Buddy was ready.  I thought about sinking under the table, but knowing my gut reaction to spotlights and microphones, LB had provided a picture to make me easier to track down.

It was fine.  He took it easy on me.  Plus, Little Buddy had thoughtfully avoided any pictures with the diabolical “50” in them.

I’m kinda still busy selling myself on those digits.

However – and this is what I was thinking about last night – he did bust the chops of a couple of younger folk.

There was another guy celebrating his birthday, he was marking his 28th.  Tony suggested he could maybe help him out by being a Big Brother for his drummer.  His drummer, of course having caught my eye several times over the course of the night.

It’s not that I minded this drummer boy, if you will, staring at me.  Darkened dinner theater corner is some of my best lighting.  Plus, one has to admire the craft of an overt flirt like this.  He was using his de facto bandleader as an excuse to gawk openly at me, since I was right over his shoulder.  Whenever he would look at his band mate for cues, there it was.  I could feel him staring at me from behind his sunglasses.

Yeah…you keep telling yourself that, Xtopher.

Anyway, he was looking pretty cool in a patterned shirt under a white fur vest paired with white polka dot pants.  It was a fun outfit.

I appreciated it even more when Tony gave him a little hell when introducing the band.  I swear he said his drummer’s name was “Michael Homo”, but who knows for sure?  Anyway, there he was being outed as a 25 year old college student while Tony quipped he got college credit for playing music for old people.  I think that was supposed to be a cheeky bit of self deprication because this is also Tony’s 25th anniversary year, but I think most of the room felt that burn.

I just sat there and laughed.

But I was realizing how desperately young gays, like this Mike Homo fella, need a good intro into camp during their formative years.  This drummer boy has the schmaltz with a gay tilt that is Tony Starlight.  Lucky for him.  And, further, it needs to be personal and intimate, this camp schooling.  The modern crop of gays seem to get their camp exposure from RuPaul’s Drag Race.  Fine, I guess if you enjoy that kind of thing.  But all it seems to be creating is a bunch of gay parrots that speak in bitchy one-liners and memes.

I’d like a side of personality with mein camp, please.

I’m not saying that a sense of camp humor is the first thing a gay needs to learn, but it should be a part of the whole.  I think it’s a part of being fully sub-culturally aware, regardless of whether it’s an active part of your personality.

It’s part of our collective history, and I think young gays today don’t understand that history.  I love pride month as much as the next gay – total lie, I eschew pride most of the time, but at least I know what it’s about.

Hint: the party is not what it’s all about.

What frustrates me about pride month isn’t so much that I seem to have permanently misplaced my pride body, but rather that our month has been reduced to as many weekends of parades, costumes, excessive drinking and indiscriminate sex as one can cram into a month.  

Today is February 3rd and in the first 72 hours of Black History Month, I have yet to see a randomly occurring parade, party or orgy.  I think the gays are missing an opportunity.  Sadly, I think this thing that should bring us together and strengthen us as a community is on a trajectory to become a divisive agent within our ranks.

I wonder if middle aged blacks are worried that black youth don’t know what this bridge represents

or could even name it in the same manner that I worry that young gays can’t identify this building

or this man

and engage in a conversation about the cultural relevance of either.

Whoa.  How did I end up here?

Suffice it to say, I had a point…originally.

Maybe I can salvage my train of thought.  It was a rough day at work…

Gays today are being cultured by their own generation.  I’ve had conversations with younger men that left me not only certain that they had very little – if any – idea of the struggle to earn the freedoms they enjoy.  

That’s kind of on us as a culture.  

Sure, it wouldn’t hurt to teach some gay history in schools…but how likely is that to happen?

And the hard part here is that a good chunk of a couple of generations was wiped out by AIDS, so there’s not a lot of us old geezers around to do the good work.  Not to mention the priority we put on sexualizing our youth obsessed subculture versus taking the time to raise them before we rear them.

But on the other hand, that phenomenon goes both ways.  There’s a fair number of Daddy Hunters out there sexualizing their elders.  If that’s not a misconstrued cry for help…

Anyway, back to the gay rites of passage.

If I was allowed just one, it wouldn’t be coming out to oneself, or ones family.  Nor would it be the first time in a gay bar or pride parade or sexual encounter.

No.

I think my prescribed rite of passage would be to read Tales of the City.  At least the first six books.

Actually, I think that would be a good thing for any person wanting a glimpse into the breadth of our culture and how our struggle impacted individuals.  Sure, there’s a couple odd story lines in there.  Otherwise, it has a lot of important exposure for people: gays, lesbians, trans, young, old…not to mention rich, poor, middle class, happy and not so happy childhoods and how they prepare individuals to become a part of the culture they identify with or the adult chosen families that they find themselves a part of.

What say you, mein reader…what would you prescribe as a rite of passage into this gay culture we are inhabiting?

Gay Rights…

Dating Into Oblivion, ep1

Well, this little endeavor is off to a great start.  I hope you all enjoy this as much as I am so far.

To recap: my goal is to throw $20 at a date once a month and see what happens.

What could possibly go wrong?

It’s like I threw a party and no one came.

Don’t read too much into that last word.

And here’s the deal, I could see throwing a party and maybe no one shows up.

Once.

But today was the 4th time it’s happened.  Technically, the 3rd and 4th time.  That’s how quickly my faith collapsed inward, I scheduled two dates in one afternoon.

But it wasn’t always so grim.

It started off much worse.

My first attempt crept on me.  I went into a bar after seeing a movie one afternoon early this month.  

The bartender hit on me.

Flattering.  It wasn’t the first time, either, and it was appreciated.  But I didn’t dwell on the prior instance and just enjoyed the moment.  He went to the bother of finding me on the Facebook Messenger later that night…we aren’t friends on the Facebook, so I decided to be impressed by the minimal effort that required.

I really do have the bar set low.  Like, ground level.  It’s left me quite dumbstruck how hard guys make clearing a low bar look.

So, me and the bartender are talking about meeting up and I mention how interested I’d been in dating him since the first time I met him.

He goes silent-er.  Instead of multiple daily messages, it’s a response every other day and he’s steered clear of actually committing to a date/time.  Reading between the lines, I dial it back and say that if he’s looking for casual, it’s not really my thing but I’d give it a second thought with him.

Then it hits me.

“Oh my GOD.  You’re still MARRIED, aren’t you?!?”

The first time I met him, I’d been sitting at the bar at Hobo’s talking to Everybody’s Uncle Dave.  His group walks in and he tracks me as he walks by and bee lines it for the bathroom.  As is my usual lot in life, his friends pick the barstools immediately next to mine on this 40 foot long bar.

When he comes out of the can, instead of sitting on the other side of his friends, he hops into my lap.

He’s significantly attractive, so I cannot care.  He gives me his number quick and says we should get together.  

As I’m listening, it becomes obvious that this is his Stag Party and he’s getting friggin’ married.

Picture me standing up, him sliding onto his adorable butt on the ground and me leaving, because I think that’s what actually happened.

So, the second time around was about as elegant…he never replied.

Shake it off, Galby.

The second attempt moved from real life to something less analog, but still kinda quaint in the age of apps.  I’ve kept one asocial media website profile active for the last forever.

I was on said site and sent off a few smiles.  I keep it light, usually.  Im an older guy hitting on younger guys, if they don’t want to engage, I take the hint.

A nice looking guy bothered to strike up a conversation.  His profile had several private pics, which he kept locked.  I appreciated this, since if it’s meant to be something I see, it’ll be in person.  So many of these gay-tards (Chrisism) think they have no value past their sexual use that I usually know what someone’s junk looks like before I know their name…if I ever even get to know their name.

We talked for about ten days, discussing getting together and setting a date to meet.

This being my life, he cancelled because he got a job interview.  Priorities.  I get it.

Suddenly, his pics are unlocked.

I explain that I don’t want nor do I expect to see them and why.  Then he says he feels bad…but doesn’t lock them.

Several days go by.

I don’t visit the site often, but get an email every day that I have mail waiting.

Finally, I log in to make sure I didn’t miss something.

No mail.

And his pics are still open.  Since it looks like he’s never going to talk to me again – so dramatic – I take a look to see if his 28 year old physique matches his cute mug.

MY EYES!

It’s like the very reason I don’t have boudoir pics.  On a guy that has about 40% less reason to excuse said reason.

Why?!?  No, not “why?”  I think I’m actually jealous that this guy is so comfortable in his skin to have these pics.

My mind is fairly boggled.

But, I do never hear from him again.

Attempts three and four happened concurrently.  It wasn’t anything impressive or typically Portland, like a couple trying to date me.  These two opportunities simply presented about the same time.

Me, being old and prone to confusion, asked them both out on the same day, today…which happens to be my Saturday.

Attempt three is someone who responded to a personal ad I placed.  Talk about old school.  He replied, included a face pic and a couple unsolicited and unexpected but not unwelcome – see above – body pics.  It’s ok, technically, since his name was in his email address.

He seemed nice and charming and genuine.  We set up a date to meet – today – which happens to be both our day off.  His only day off since he works full time and is a student.

Shut up, he’s 38.

My red flags are two:

He works nights, I work days.  We might only have one day per week to get to know each other.  

My second hesitation was that he’s from Mexico.

Hey, it can be a turn on and red flag at the same time!

My concern is that with English being his second language and so much of my persona being…snarkiness, a lot can get lost in translation,

I was impressed that he followed up to confirm this morning at 8:30.  I had an acupuncture appointment at 8:15, but replied at 9:30 when I got out.  

“Just give me a when and a where and I’m there”, I say.

At one o’clock, I’m still waiting.

I go scrolling through the Craigslist, killing time.  Also, maybe I need to be looking for February’s no-show.

I mean, date.

I click on an af that sounds up my alley.

There’s a few pics I recognize.

“Looking for today”…posted seven hours ago.

I’m having trouble getting my mind around someone who places this ad, emails me to confirm our date an hour later and then goes silent on me.

Obviously, he’s getting laid.

Only possible conclusion, right?  Setting aside my conviction that if he’s got…well, nevermind.  The point is, I call him on it.

He responds within minutes.

Full stop.  I’ve waited about four hours for you to give me a when and a where and when I tell you, “I get it, it’s your only day off for the week.  Take care of business” you suddenly have all the time in the world to respond?

Unfortunately, he chose to respond with, “You know how flakey gay guys are.  But I really want to see you!”

Yes, I do know how flakey gay guys are.  And I am not able to reconcile how four hours goes by without you picking a fucking time and coffee house while seven minutes elapsed between my j’accuse moment to his sudden reply.

Which brings us to my 4th attempt. 

This is a cute kid that I didn’t meet a couple of years ago when I moved back to town. 

I don’t drive + he lives in Vantucky = we never met.

But, we were already connected on the Facebook and when I joined the instagram last year, he was a suggested follow.  So, now there’s that.

Which is where I got into trouble.

But before that, last year, he got into a wreck that left him laid up for quite a while.  Long enough that he lost his entry level job at a quick serve restaurant and I’d been following his job search via status updates for a while.

I’m always – literally, if you know someone looking in Portland, OR let me know – hiring, so since we didn’t date I felt absolutely no awkwardness about extending an opportunity his way.

He

Never

Availed

Himself

Oh, well.

I thought about following up, but do I really want an employee I had to chase down to apply working for me?

No.

No, I don’t.

Some of the ones that voluntarily applied are enough of a probl…challenge.

So, I let it lie.

Then last week, we got into a DM on the Instagram that ended in him giving me his number.

We move to text and go at it like teenagers for a few days.  I can tell he’s no conversationalist, but get the vibe that he wants me to ask him out.

I do.

Thursday evening, about 6 or 7?

Sure.

I check in last night with a text, a 24 hour confirmation and hear nothing.

That was 22 hours ago and I don’t know if my thoughts are along the “Fucking millennials” or “Fucking fags” line.

Still…fucking something.

I do know that after a couple of years of not knowing him in real life, I feel as if I know what he wants or needs better than hizownself does.

He’s a Lost Boy.  That doesn’t make him a bad person, just lost.  Nothing more, nothing less.  But with potential in both directions, depending on whether he pulls his head out of his ass sooner, later or never.

I can say that my prior inclination to “raise” – for lack of a better word – a younger gay into a man is…not gone, but certainly sublimated.  I think it’s the job of a partner to help their SO become a better and better version of themselves.  I’m just aware that not every cute guy I come across with his act lying in shambles around his ankles isn’t automatically a perfect fit for me.

That’s a good realization.

There you have it. Episode 1 of Dating Into Oblivion.  Meanwhile, I’ve saved $80.  I’ve also enjoyed two and a half beers at Big Legrowlski while tapping this out.

And flirted with a probably straight guy over sci-if books.  So there’s that.

In theory, I’m quite an attractive option.

In reality…50 (minus 80-ish hours) and single, people.

Dating Into Oblivion, ep1