The Widow

There’s an old Sandra Bernhardt schtick about Grindr where she riffs on the gays being idiots for needing an app to find…let’s call it a date.  She says something along the lines of. “I don’t need an app to tell me there’s a hot guy three feet from me!”

And she’s kind of right about the ridiculousness and depth of our retardation if we need an app to introduce us to one another.  That’s partly why I call gay (let’s stick with this for now) dating apps asocial media.

But for once it actually seemed to work out as ridiculously as she described it.

I “met” a guy who lives on the next block.

Allegedly.

He was in my neighborhood and was a cute lil Sparky, so I threw him a woof.  Immediately after which, I recalled from his profile how he said “messages work better than woofs” so I sent him a message culpa.

It worked and we began chatting.  I learned that he’d moved up here recently from SoCal and lived in the Elizabeth, which is one of my aspirational Pearl District homes.

Not my favorite, but with units priced starting at a cool half mil for us plebeian folk…darned affordable.

And, literally on the block right behind me.

One of the few people to ever earn the distinction of being blocked by me on an asocial media site was an old guy who lived in the Elizabeth.  Our units faced each other until the hotel on the backside of my block was built.  We used to chat online over our morning coffees and had a nice virtual friendship.  He was looking for more, I was looking for less so we were at a little impasse of interest levels.  

But still, we randomly chatted.

The third time he reminded me what I can expect my junk to look like in 15 years, I blocked him.  I felt for him, we are living the same plight.  Too old to catch the interest of a gay of our very own, too young to actually be dead.  But, I don’t want to see my friends naked, and him pulling this shit on me every month or so demonstrated an ulterior motive I didn’t want to deal with, so we never met.

But, boy-oh!  If only I could manage my attractions, I coulda been living in a dream house.

However, now I was chatting with a 31 year old unreasonably good looking guy that lived in the very same building.  

Quite a package deal!

Bonus points were given that after a week of chatting, I still didn’t know what his junk looked like.

And it was a week of talking about hobbies, and tacos and post coital ice cream and beer and wine and working out…but after that first day on the app, I never “saw” him in my neighborhood again.  He was always 2-3 miles away, which I randomly attributed to him being at work or at the gym – one of the only pics he’d sent me was him working out, and it wasn’t at either of the gyms in the Pearl so I assumed that he had a distant gym that he preferred.

I try to assume the best.

But I did have some misgivings, based not only on his phone’s inability to accurately place him where he said he physically was, but also because I really doubted that he could afford a place in the Elizabeth.  My suspicion was that he didn’t live in the Elizabeth, but maybe somewhere, oh…2-3 miles away.

Whatever. 

He mentioned briefly that he had been engaged and his fiancé had died suddenly last year.  I didn’t pursue it via chat, but my mind briefly flashed back to my old neighbor and I began wondering what ever happened to him.

Actually, in my mind I had decided that was his fiancé and he’d died, leaving my condo to The Widow.

Nonetheless, despite those minor, niggling misgivings, I asked him out for a Friday drink.  I told him that I needed to be in bed – alone – by 8 for work the next day, but we could meet for a beer at 6 and I would introduce him to some of my favorite Oregon IPAs that he hadn’t met yet.

He declined.

Sure, in a sweet way, saying that he wanted more time together for our first meet up.  Ok, sure…how long does it take to drink a few beers and chat?  Two hours seemed like plenty, but I accepted his tentative alternate of Monday.

<ignores obvious warning whistles>

I just assumed that his current weekend was booked up, which I got used to while dating in Shittatle.

Here’s the funny part:

No, I swear, this is gonna kill ya.

Me, being playful me, texted him early on Friday and suggested he sneak out of work early and we could grab some happy hour since it was gorgeous out.  He replied, in what I assumed was a genuinely adult tone about how he’d just been sucked into a project that was gonna keep him late at work.

Oh, well…and I go about my day.  This does involve replying to random messages I’m getting on Scruff, mostly from people flying into town for the weekend who want to know if I’d like to give them a congratulatory fuck for arriving in Portland.

No.

But, while responding to one such message, I happen to see The Widow is online…aaaaand 146 miles away.

Shittatle.

I click on his profile, and sure enough:

Travel icon engaged, upcoming trip announced and, as I mentioned, he’s 146 miles away.

Oh, well.  I’m not upset by this.  I’m really more just curious as to why he wouldn’t say he’s going out of town.

Between my favorite sounding board, the Silver Fox – who insists I’m too hard on people, we decide that I should just let it lie until we meet on Monday.

“If he makes it back, I grumble.”

But I do.

Until.

He messages me at 6:20, “I’m off!”

That’s your long day?!?

I continue to let it lie until he messages me again later that night.  I’ve already popped my melatonin, as I do in order to be able to fall asleep at 8 pm.  I forget the context of the message, but my response is something along the lines of, “Let’s talk about it Monday.  Enjoy Seattle!”

Because I just couldn’t help myself.  I blame the melatonin.

He gets into this innocent act, thinking my response was meant for someone else.  When I explain my text, he insists he’s at home and basically dates me to meet up.

It’s about 7:45 now, so that’s a “no” from me, but I fall asleep wondering what would have happened if I’d called that bluff.

The next couple of days were spent with him asking to meet up again on Saturday and then immediately taking offense at some innocent pith I tossed out a few minutes later.  Same thing on Sunday, which ultimately ended with him asserting that he’s been trying to get me to meet up, but I won’t commit, so he’s walking away.

Good, I think and tell him, “In the last 48 hours, you’ve called me an asshole, a dick, passive aggressive and a few other pretty hostile things while continuing to alternate between asking me to get together and then manufacturing offense to get out of it, all while your phone thinks you’re in Seattle.  But, ok.  Bye.”

I feel bad when shit like that happens, especially with someone you’ve never met.  But what can ya do?  Given the evidence I witnessed and the behavior I experienced, I’m fine believing he was in Seattle – possibly at a Black Widow convention, maybe not – and just didn’t like being called out on it.

Haven’t heard from him since and still haven’t seen him around the ‘hood, so I’ll call this a lose/win situation.

Next!?!

The Widow

Why I’m Single #98

The locals aren’t amused by my schtick?

Maybe that’s it.

I mean, not that I have a schtick or anything.  I’m basically a big goof ball.  Sure, I’ve got my serious side that admittedly comes across as grumpy, but that’s not my default setting.

That’s 100% class clown.

Case in point, I’m killing it with the travelers passing through PDX.  Not just the cute ones, either, so you can’t call my goof ball setting a product of my flirting…although, it’s certainly present then, too!

A couple of weeks back the Oregon State University played Boise State in some sportsbally thing.  The game was in Boise – I assume that’s where the college is, Penn State be damned – and that had a lot of Beavers fans flying out of PDX to attend.

Seems like a lot of scratch just to watch young men scramble around in snug britche…oh, wait…I’m starting to see the allure.

Be right back.

Phew.  Ok.  Where was I?

Oh, yes.  

Originally, I had seen a flash of bright orange and mistaken a customer for a traveling Beavers fan.  Turns out, she was also wearing the cobalt-ish blue that made her a Boise State fan.  We chatted about how her flight was gonna be pretty awkward with all the Beavers, but at least it was short.  I chided her by asking if she’d actually flown to PDX just to mess with the Beavers on their flight over.

Laughingly, she told me that while that sounds fun, she was actually living in Portland for work these days.  She said that she tried to get back a couple times a season for games, and this was just the luck of the draw.

While she spoke, I was being served some pretty serious eyelash flutters and behind the ear hair tucking.  My homojo was misfiring, but I don’t care.  We’re never gonna see each other again, let kitty sharpen her claws.

She went on to say it was worth it, just to see the blue grass of the stadium.

I was corn-fused (ok, that’s only gonna be funny to Duck fans who call OSU’s hometown of Corvallis Corn Valley…) and asked if they were using bluegrass in their stadium.  She laughed, tucked her hair and fluttered her lashes and said, “Noooo!  They paint the grass blue!”

Like I was just the silliest of geese.

“Come to think of it, the Ducks do the same thing in their stadium with green grass!”

Moment over.

Then she took off for her gate.

After saying hi to some cute lil nugget of a man that walked in as we were wrapping up our conversation, I made an off hand comment to a co-worker about how Boise could really mess with the Beavs by painting their grass orange.  “It works for both teams, so maybe the Beavs would think they were at home…and they always lose at home!”

The Nugget was on the other side of the store looking at magnets and guffawed.

I looked over at him, thinking, “That’s what you get for eavesdropping, buddy!”  But he was looking down in shame for getting busted listening in and without moving his head, he raised his eyes and looked at me, giving me the cutest lil shy smile.

Why can’t he live in Portland?

Life is so hard.

Why I’m Single #98

Woodwork

I really oughta learn my place.

Saying things like, “I think I could be open to dating again…”

Really, who do I think I am?

The Yoda of gay dating?  No…but I could use one inside my head.

“Date or do not date.  There is no open to.” – Gay Yoda.

Because it takes two to tango, as they say.  Three, or an open dance card at least if you’re in Portland, Oregon.

I’m not closing my borders, by any means, but I am readjusting my expectations to the point where I can entertain the idea that it wasn’t that I was closed off to dating in the first place.

Maybe I was just the only one in the dating scenario who was ready.

Fine.

And, in the meantime?  I have tales to tell.

Because in the last couple of months, my past dalliances have been coming out of the figurative woodwork to…I don’t know what.  

Make a point?

For, or against.  That is the question!

The New Kid

A couple of month ago, while the words “I think I’m ready to date again” were still hanging in the air, the new hotel next to my building opened.  That’s all well and fine, the absence of both construction worker (they really aren’t particularly hot, despite what The Village People would have you believe) and construction fencing was a big plus in my book.  Plus, the new restaurant was lookingbto be quite the add to the neighborhood.

Serving up great local Breakside IPA – check that, great looking guys serving up great local Breakside IPA, well, The Silver Fox and I knew we were in a good place.  

News Flash:  the battle of the bulge is back on, because I’m off wine and back on beer!

Y’know how the beer was both great and local?  Yeah, well the staff of Turner Creek Tavern seemed to be only great.  Literally every member of the team – as we chatted them up, Fox style – turned out to be from Ohio, Texas, Pennsylvania or some other far-flung, imaginary sounding, likely red voting land.

But the beer was good and local.  And closer than any other beer or wine in the neighborhood…so, go, we did.

The Fox’s nephew-in-law was moving to town for college and he had hoped to put his in-laws up in the hotel on move-in weekend.  Alas, the timing for reservations was just days out of sync with their trip.  But, family lodging still being top of mind, we wandered into the hotel lobby one evening to check it out.

Of course, we ended up talking to the assistant manager, who offered us a tour and gave us his card to set it up.

I set it up, since he gave me his card.

Turns out, it’s a pretty nice hotel.  Also turns out that the bar isn’t the only place that can’t hire locally.  On the tour, it comes out that The New Kid is – hence the name – from out of town.  We offer several suggestions for places to go since it seems he lives nearby. 

I offer to take him along to any of the aforementioned places, since it turns out that he’s in love with local craft beer.

We trade texts over the next week as we endeavor to set something up.  Here’s a breakdown of that…breakdown.

He thinks I’m nice and attractive.  Reflexively, I assume his employer’s vision plan is garbage.

I tell him that – while questioning his judgment – the best way to get a guy in the PNW is pretty much fresh off the boat before dating in Portland ruins them or makes them kinky.

He admits that he has been seeing someone, but he’s feeling neglected.

Great!  I can not neglect.  Plus, I’m on staycation for a week, so we don’t have to worry about meshing schedules, I’m pretty available all week.

He lets slip that the guy he’s been seeing is his boyfriend from back home, who he’d asked to not move here with him.  That explains the Pearl address on an assistant manager’s salary.

I revise my expectations for romance backward – I don’t want to date any mess, er…anyone fresh out of a relationship – but leave the social invite open.  If he wants to get together, I’m good with it.  We had clicked on an interpersonal level during the tour.  

Besides, I’m too old for him, probably.

He confides that he had surmised my age after seeing my email address and liked it.  No, it wasn’t an aol address.  Turns out, he would be turning 28 soon and apparently, older was on his next boyfriend wishlist.

Ok, that’s swell, but irrelevant unless we ever got together to further our friendship.

Never available.

Work.

Allegedly.

Once my entire week off had passed him by, I pulled out my spade calling bullhorn and informed him he was failing at friendship or whatever he wanted to accomplish in getting together.

Just figure out what you want, I told him.

I hadn’t shared with him that – through the power of Facebook Deductive Reasoning – I had figured out that the guy he’d kind of been dating was actually a five year relationship. 

If it were me, i helpfully told him, I’d start at home and clean that situation up, then find some work/life balance.  Once that happened, I’d be around, but I wasn’t looking for a text friendship or relationship.  While he’d been going home to a boyfriend that took him for granted every night, I was left holding a bag of nothing.

The Fox said I was too hard on him.

He never returned that text.

Perhaps someday.  Or not.  But speaking of perhaps somedays…

Jeo

I’d run into Jeo on MAX one day while checking out another guy.  So many cute men, so little time…even less actual opportunity.

He’d told me during that encounter that he’d been thinking about how he left things with me and how he wanted it different and had been wanting to talk.

Serendipity.  In a very Portland-y passive manner.

We’ve talked/texted in the last few months. Shared early morning MAX rides to the airport – he’s s flight attendant – and ran into each other on the street a few times.

But we haven’t managed to sync up on purpose for some face time.  Mutual responsibility there.

For my part, he shared with me that he was just out of a relationship and still living – well, this probably sounds familiar.

But for his part, he’s away from home so often that having his own place really doesn’t make a ton of sense to him.  Plus, apparently his ex is a way better roommate than boyfriend.

Whatever, it’s fine.  

Jeo has continued to impress me with his drive, creativity and constant initiative.  Ok, that might be redundant, but this guy is really inspiring.  

Also, an A+ hugger.

But overall, just a great person to have any type of interpersonal relationship with, regardless of what’s happening with the Slot As and Tab Ds between us.

The Wallpaper

Speaking Slot As and Tab Ds…I ran into The Wallpaper socially a while back.  Well, we sloshed into one another in a bar.

He got what he’d been wanting for the better part of a year now – his new boyfriend be damned – and I haven’t heard from him since.

Guess he realized that it wasn’t what he’d wanted all along.  Which is fine by me, because weird open relationships, freshly single men…none of that is what I’ve been wanting, right?

Plus, from an accomplishment standpoint…Jeo and The New Kid leave The Wallpaper looking a little outdated.

The Broken Poet

Thanks, Twitter.

Apparently, in an unforeseen “add all” error when setting up my Twitter profile, The Broken Poet got tossed into the fray from my phone contacts.

Hey, I was trying to use the Twitter to grow my blog presence, so help a brother out with some shares, aight?

Nope.  I cannot pull that type of talk off.

Anyway, my carelessness in not realizing my “add all” was from my phone contacts versus my Facebook friends list may have been aided by a little wine.  I didn’t realize that had been the case until it – he – followed me back.

He immediately started responding to my tweets with bullshit like, “I miss Portland”.

Yeah, not even engaging on that front.

But then he starts popping up on my Twitter feed with pathetic Poor Me tweets and I have to debate unfollowing him.  I go back and brush up on my Covert Narcissism facts to bolster my urge to respond supportively.  Plus, I try to temper my gut reactions to this guy based on how he treated me.  That was almost two years ago.  Even though I know people can change, I also know he basically pulled similar shit with his next boyfriend since he was a virtual friend of mine.

People can change.  It doesn’t mean that they will.  Plus, me being open to dating is about me not anyone that I’ve dated in the past.  I’m trying to relate to people based on their present actions and how they affect me.

Of course, when he starts tweeting from the hospital, I make the mistake of letting my empathy out.  Turns out, he’s in the hospital for a “staff infection”, maybe also for borderline literacy.  

I don’t correct him.

That’s definitely too much.

But he starts in with how his life is passing him by and all his Victim Greatest Hits like how if he could do his life over things would be different and I just tell him that he’s gotta focus in the future and not dwell in the past.

Of course, this gets me a “You don’t know me” response and I sprain my eyes and walk away.

The Other Kid

For once I’m able to actually find a guy that is kind, good looking – with some mutual attraction – and have a couple of dates.  

It’s nice.

He’s really sweet when we’re together, holding my hand while we sit on the couch and watch a movie and giving me the sweetest kiss goodbye when he leaves.

I have the pleasure of cooking him dinner.

He has good table manners!

I wonder how he manages to be single and available.  He corrects me be saying that he’s single but not gay available.

When I ask what that means, he tells me he’s saving himself for marriage.  He literally says the words “butt stuff” which makes me laugh out loud and sob internally.

But I get what he means by saying he’s not gay available.  He does seem to have a fantastic network of friends, based on the number of Friendsgivings he attended.  He also seems to have s surprising number of dates for someone in his moral position…he must have an itch he wants to scratch, because he’s dating pretty hard.

Sadly, that makes him unavailable to me as often as I would like, but at the same time, I understand that that means I’m not his future husband.

This doesn’t bother me.

Like with Jeo, it’s just nice to be in the presence of someone who is living their lives so intentionally.  So, this Other Kid is an enjoyable and occasional add to my life even without further potential.

Now that I think about it, they’ve both deleted their asocial media profiles over the last couple of months and seem perfectly happy without it.  Probably, I should embrace that.  Maybe that was my mistake in planning when thinking about dating, associating with these Lost Boys who are largely living their lives unaccountably from one orgasm to the next…that’s really not what I want for myself.

Woodwork

Sex vs Intimacy Blog

What’s out there once we put sex into the right context and give it the correct priority in our lives?

What is the right context?

This is actually my oldest (surviving) draft idea.  I created it after my first few dates after moving back to Portland.  This, along with another thought exercise I was engaged in during that same timeframe on the context of people’s subtext have been on my mind again recently as I explore my openness once again to a possible relationship.

I’m gonna try and get them both out soon.  This is an interesting time for me.  You all should enjoy it along with me…or at least get a peek into my head as I expose myself to other people.

I can’t say that this topic has been “off” my mind for two years, I usually scroll through my drafts once a week or so and this is the (current) last on the list.  By the by, that list is currently 17, down from 24 in early September.  I sure hope the quality doesn’t show between these dusty old drafts and my more spontaneous pieces about – oh, say…why I can’t go get a haircut.

Besides being naturally more attenuated to the chasm between sex and intimacy now that I’ve reinstalled a men’s alleged dating app, I’ve also recently learned – through the magic of the Facebook – that The Wallpaper has paired up.

Remember The Wallpaper?

He’s a real sweetheart.  We lived together for a bit after Sacha left me and my friends had encouraged me to not be alone so much.  Obviously, a newly minted 21 year old gay was exactly what they were thinking when they suggested that.

We lost touch after I moved to Shittatle and then randomly ran into each other in a bar here in Portland 10 years later, just before I officially moved back.

We’ve been promising to get together “sometime” ever since.

It’s never happened.  Mostly, I blame myself.  

Ok, maybe I should give a little backstory:

He’s called The Wallpaper because during one – or two or three – of our random evening FB Messenger chats, he sent me a pic of his tush – or two or three – which became the wallpaper pic for my phone’s lock screen.

It’s an insanely cute tush.

So, that probably gives you a little insight into the direction some of those Messenger conversations careened.  For the most part, they were innocent enough, but poorly timed, “let’s get some wine” conversations that never manifested.  The others…well, someone had an itch he needed help scratching.

I wasn’t not flattered.

But I was my open and honest self and told him that I wasn’t looking for anything casual…especially with someone I call a friend.  For me, sex and friendship are on two opposite sides of the intimacy line.

On the other side of the conversation, he wasn’t not looking to date – obviously, hehe – but he’d never dated an older guy before.

He was referring to me.

Or at least the 16-ish year age difference between us.  A legitimate hesitation on his part, as that difference is about 50% of his entire life.

I was his MoPed.  A lot of fun to ride, but he wouldn’t want his friend to see him on one.

Ironically, The Wallpaper has a motorcycle, so that MoPed analogy works on many levels.

I don’t know if he got what he wanted elsewhere in those instances, but I know he’s found what he needed in a boyfriend.  I can’t be anything but happy for him, good guys deserve good guys…that check the right boxes for them.  I’m excited to watch their journey from the relative distance of the Facebook.

But he’s unique in his situational need for sex.  He was tapping his pool of acquaintances – at least in my case – in his search for getting himself…tapped.  I wouldn’t do that, but I do understand the relative safety that provides over the insecurity of seeing someone’s picture on an app and going to a stranger’s house for a bit of the old naughty.

That’s a funny meme, but not so funny when contrasted with the real life story of the two guys who lured five men to their deaths back east over this past summer using…gay dating apps.  

Talk about asocial media.  They escalated the dysfunction of those social media apps by a magnitude or two.

In the end, I’m glad The Wallpaper has found the ultimate security of the sure thing a relationship provides.  Plus, it’s so much more fulfilling than an anonymous hook up.

Ok, sure…I say “sure thing” knowing that couples have to put some work into syncing up their respective sex drives and/or schedules when it comes to <ahem> coming.  But it’s less work than trolling for random dick or ass on these timesuck dating apps.  I’d rather think that successfully hooking up in one of those situations is like playing the Lottery of Lust.

Does he appeal to you.

Are you sexually compatible.

Is he even available.

While relationship sex might be an equal – if not decidedly different – amount of effort, in the meantime, you have genuine intimacy.  

That’s amazingly valuable, in my opinion.  And undervalued these days.  It’s not that there’s not some degree of intimacy in a hook up, it’s just illegitimate intimacy.  Well, that’s kinda judgy sounding.  It’s at least forced.

Intimate strangers.

Is that a thing?

Should it be?

Maybe it’s my religious upbringing, but I don’t think it should be.  Actually, I think it’s more that I doubt it actually is.

Maybe that missing intimacy is what’s actually creating this culture of Lost Boys that is running amok in gay America.

Is being held by a stranger – whether strictly as a cuddle date (don’t get me started on that bullshit) or after a hookup – a real enough intimate contact to meet our messy human emotional needs?

I know people are loathe to consider themselves needy, but I think intimacy is as important to people as food and water.  It’s probably just as crazy to deny that reality as it is to deny our need for shelter.

Yet people do.

People replace intimacy with sex and settle for whatever false intimacy they can get while cuddling afterward while not acknowledging that they don’t even know if they know this guy’s actual name.

Or pretending they aren’t judging the cleanliness of his bedroom and wondering if he washes his sheets regularly.

Because that’s intimate.

Well, anyway…at least another human is touching you.  Maybe even telling you that you were “good”.

If not intimate, at least it’s validating…

Ok, I have to go be grumpy now.

Sex vs Intimacy Blog

JLD Has Breast Cancer 

It’s one of those moments where you’re so stunned by bad news that you momentarily forget that this isn’t someone you actually know.

In yet another week of our ongoing mind boggling existence in America under the 45 regime, I find myself observing people around me registering even more shock at celebrity tragedy.

The Hef dies at 91.

The Pratt/Faris divorce devolves.  (Maybe)

Julia Louis Dreyfus has breast cancer.In a simple, yet poignant note on the Instagram, she both announces her diagnosis, expresses gratitude and issues a call to arms on healthcare.

Pretty heroic.

Of course, the nation reacts with stunned awe, commence pre-grieving mode.  That said, I’m usually conflicted at the amount of emotional devastation people can summon for celebrities they’ve never met.  On the one hand, I’m happy to see that we haven’t lost our sense of empathy.  However, I’m also curious about where that empathy is when something bad happens closer to home with them.

Rarely do I see someone so utterly destroyed at the loss of a parent, as was the case with Hef recently and Debbie Reynolds late last year.  Empirically, I know that the shock at the loss of a parent is different, since children are usually present for their decline.  Things aren’t left unsaid, hopefully.

Not so with a celebrity death.  It’s pretty much all shock, all of the time since we are exactly not in their everyday lives.  I expect that’s where a lot of the (over)reaction comes from.

Still, I can’t help but wonder whether we wouldn’t be better off as a people if we couldn’t find a medium to our empathy.

Perhaps our parents would be better cherished at the end of their lives instead of brought out, dusted off and propped at the head of a table for holidays and birthdays.

Or maybe we’d just have much fatter homeless people.

Hard to say.

And let’s not even talk about the death of a pet.

Yup, celebrity and pet deaths…that’s pretty much the apex of our emotions inAmerica these days.  

I’m gonna find a challenge for myself to be better about that…stay tuned.

JLD Has Breast Cancer 

My First Sound Check

You’d think at my age, I’d have done just about everything I ever wanted to do at least once.

Not so, my friend.  Not so…

For instance, I’d never been to a sound check for a live show before.

Sure, as a baby queer in high school, I had been in choir and drama club, watching judgmentally as the unbeloved tech folk set up their lights and sound.

Yeah, when I was in college and exploring the fraternity option, I day drank shit keg beer and blurrily watched as Otis Day and the Knights phoned in their pre-show prep at the Pike House.  Hey, it was a kegger-cum-concert.  I was more interested in figuring out if I could pass in a fraternity at KSU without getting the shit kicked out of me and disappearing sometime mid-rush week at the time than in the pre-show goings on of that band from Animal House.  Naturally, my focus was stretched as I further divided my attention by lustily considering my potential frat brothers and fellow pledges…yeah, I was gonna end up dead.

Nonetheless, I ended up seeing Otis Day scream into the mic a few times prior to the show, but it wasn’t a super complex sound system we were dealing with.  It was the backyard deck of a frat house, after all.

So, when my bestie-neighbor from Seattle called me and invited me to a show that one of her bands was doing here in town, I was in.

D-Slice and I possibly share a single liver.  Or were both cloned from the same one…they’re doing that, you know.  There’s a reason I don’t look like my brothers and sister!

As a human, she’s top notch.  As a neighbor, she’s kinda like a Julie McCoy.  I first met her when our apartment-turned-condo opened and several of us first wave residents moved in simultaneously as the housing market verged on its infamous 2008 crash…effectively stranding us all in a partially sold 146 unit building.

I would bet that there were only about 60 units occupied during those early years.  If I had a better – less muddled – memory, I could be more specific.  Alas…

Yet, this small group of us housing market castaways bonded.

What began as drinks in the community room, or the laundry room – usually bemoaning the fact that the sales office promise of a roof top deck had not yet become a reality – between a few dozen regulars evolved into progressive parties, moving from one unit to another on a host floor.  D-Slice upped this game by going private.  She resurrected a past event of hers that she called Free Drink Friday from a former residence…perhaps a college dorm, who knows?  What I do know is that the rules were pretty simple:  she starts us off with a few bottles of wine, some beer and/or whatever randomly occurring bottles of liquor she has in her unit (shut up, Diezel) and maybe some light snacks or a pizza or two.  Attendees can BYOB if they are so inclined or just show up and suckle off the provided well.  The party would go until quiet hours kicked in or the booze ran out.

Easy-peasy.

D-Slice, being a kindred spirit – key word:  spirit – was not one to let quiet hours stand in the way of a good time.  A few of us cooler neighbors would stick around and bat clean up after everyone else left.  With the booze, not the actual clean up, fuck that.

During one of these late nights, as D-Slice and I were the sole stragglers, we realized the booze-fueled brilliance of our drunken wit and wisdom deserved an audience.  Just like that, the Podcast was born.

Not the actual podcast phenomenon.

I assure you, we are not responsible for the low key craze of data-plan-eating streaming talk shows, no.  Our Podcast was pretty much just code for us hanging out, drinking and chatting.  Occasionally, we’d invite another friend or neighbor and call them a special guest.  Others, one of us would call a special session Podcast to debrief a specific situation or, more likely, shituation.

More often than not, my favorite part of our Podcast was its inevitable end.  Not because I yearned for the finish…no, it was the finale itself.  What I came to call Flooraoke.

I’m sure you can figure it out.

But at some point, we’d add in some music to the mix of our easy conversation and as the evening wore on and we became slightly worse – or better, depending on your criteria – for the booze, the focus on the conversation would wane and the attention to the music would take center stage.  Center floor, at any rate.  I’m no singer, but D-Slice has put out a few independent CDs and been a part of several bands since I’ve known her.  As gravity pulled us toward its inevitable victory, I would end up slumped in a chair while D-Slice put up more of a fight and ended up heroically sprawled on the floor in her ignominy.

Then, the magic would happen.

Some song would just spark her fire and she was zoned and in her zone, singing toward a gloriously undignified slumber.  After a few songs, I would make my own way home to bed, warmed with the already slipping away memories of the past several hours.

It is an amazing memory, these Poscast sessions.

So, hitting her show in Portland was a no-brainer.

Initially, I’d been worried about the show keeping me up past my bedtime for my early morning work alarm.  Turns out, the disclaimer that I might not stay for the whole show was unnecessary.  It was an afternoon show with the Heart Shaped Boxes.

Nonetheless, my disclaimer about leaving early had set the pre-funk ball in motion.  No need to derail that plan simply because the show was starting earlier.  In true rock star fashion, we just started drinking earlier…which is how I came to be at her sound check.  

I hopped out of my Uber on the corner of the block that the bar she was performing at was in and walked back to the door.  There, I was met by a heavy metal David Cross type guy.

But, once inside, the bar proved to be a pretty small collection of nice staff members with properly spelled tattoos.  Not  a bad place to spend a Saturday afternoon.

I was introduced to the other Boxes, all of whom I knew from the Facebook, D-Slice had met them all through a rock camp for girls where they were all camp counselors.  

Ok, it’s cooler than that makes it sound.  It’s called Rain City Rock Camp, if you’re so inclined google them and maybe donate.

Other than the HSBs and the staff, the bar was empty, save for a lone young man with the long, straight hair and basic black jeans and tee metal dude dress code.  He was sitting on a table, facing the back of the bar, doing some finger work on his guitar to warm up.  I assumed he was with the opening act, and said as much to D-Slice.  She said she wasn’t sure, she hadn’t been involved in the booking, she just went where she was told to be when she was told to be there.

Not a bad gig.

It was then that she excused herself for her sound check work and the metal dude turned on his table so that he was facing me.  D-Slice said I should go say hi and buy him a beer before leaving me to sip on my own.  We both knew I wasn’t going anywhere.

I sipped and watched each band member go through the mic checks and other asundry settings as each coordinated not only how their equipment sounded but also gave feedback on how the rest of the band sounded to them…which is important, although I’d never given it a thought.  In retrospect, it probably explained a lot about some of the shittier live shows I’d been to.

Meanwhile, metal dude sat across the bar from me, giving me deadeye while mutely jamming on his tabletop perch.

Other patrons started filtering in for the show.  Prudently, I ordered another beer before it got crowded.

I was meeting other musicians that knew D-Slice from the time she’d spent collaborating with the Portland version of the girl’s rock camp.  Apparently, this show was a fundraiser for them.  

I briefly felt bad about getting my cover comped by D-Slice. It passed…I mean, really, how often do you get to say, “I’m with the band” when you’re me?

I was surprised to look across the bar and see one of my high school classmates.

I joke.

That fella belonged to one of D-Slice’s band mates, who is also in two bands. Her name is TRex, hence the mascot that travels with her.  This other band of hers, Shower Scum, did a tribute song to The Donald.  Don’t worry, I may have misused the word “tribute” since the song was called Fuck You! Needless to say, the song went over like gangbusters in Portland. 

There was lesbian couple in the audience.  Very chatty and sociable.  In true Portland fashion, they brought their toddler.  In even truer Portland fashion, one mother’s outfit matched his outfit…which was a very hipster take on Oshkosh B’gosh overalls.  

Initially, I’d judged the dykes tyke’s presence in a bar pretty harshly.  Then I remembered grade A lesbian parents were, of course, above my reproach.  My reminder came on the form of his accessories:  construction yellow ear protection.

How damned adorable is that?

I just sat there and watched him switch between toddling between his parents and bouncing on one of their hips or the other’s as I watched a couple of the acts before Heart Shaped Boxes.

The opener.

TRex’s second band.

The metal dude’s band:  featuring a chunky girl with the blue hair and an awkward drummer with the mis-matched Star Wars socks.  Both of whom were probably only in  the band because they were in love with the aforementioned long-haired rocker that turns out to be their lead singer…

Suddenly it hit me, this was a benefit for a girl’s rock camp.  

Sleep away camp for girls that like music.

It was a daytime show on a weekend.

The awkwardness of the metal dude’s deadeye stare and the googly-eyed quality of the stares he got from his band mates.

Shit.  This whole band was underage.

I ordered another beer and moved closer to the front door.

D-Slice and the rest of the HSBs did their set and it was good!  Really good.  I loved knowing the arc her performing had taken since her first solo CDs – all of which I still have.

After her set, D-Slice and I found some time to squirrel away to the sidewalk parklet seating for another beer and some undistracted conversation now that her work was done.  We caught up on current life events – hers was going better than mine – and relived some of our greatest Podcast hits.

It was too short, of course.  Her band mates were her transportation and they were anxious to get back to the airBnB for some R-n-R after the show.

But, our decade long friendship had stood the test of being apart for a couple of years and fallen right back into that easy camaraderie that made it so precious to me.

I left the bar on that high, with a side of pride at not accidentally hitting on a teenaged boy.

Plus, it was a daytime show, so I was rested for work the next day.

And what the hell happens the following day on my way home from work?  A long-hair rocker dude sits down right next to me on the MAX.  I figure this is either the universe telling me something or at least dangling something different in front of me.  Maybe telling me not to be too closed minded when declaring the dating and mating seasons of my life closed?  I mean, really, D-Slice and I are unlikely friends.  She is a rocker, sleeve tattoo and all while I’m someone you’d easily mistake for an accountant.

Alright, universe, I’m listening.

Turns out, it was the exact same metal dude from the day before and the universe was just giving me the one fingered salute or trying to get my ass thrown in jail.

But, seriously…what are the odds?

My life, I gotta tell ya.

My First Sound Check

Introducing Your Ex

I was at coffee with The Silver Fox a couple weeks back and he was recounting a great night out with his ex – oh, let’s call him…Casey – and their old group of friends.  I dunno, I think there was a trivia championship or karaoke or something at some bar and he was able to see the whole group together again, which has been pretty rare – obviously – since the break up.  Not that he normally participates in anything karaoke or trivia related.  This particular excursion was heavily weighted by the benefit of seeing people he doesn’t often get to interact with any longer.

He was still jazzed – he’s such a social animal, sometimes I wonder how curmudgeonly old me got to be his best friend – from the energy of such a large gathering.  He’d even gotten introduced to new people, after a couple of years there were new boy/girlfriends and just some general new additions to the group. As excited as he is to be involved with a large social dynamic, add in fresh social blood and he’s gonna have quite a night.

It’s an enviable social skill.

Naturally, what I took away from this recounting was him telling me that Casey had introduced him as his friend.

Now, this is by and large a heterosexual group and Casey didn’t come out to this group of his friends until well after beginning his relationship with The Fox, but that didn’t stop me from clarifying that he was introduced as a friend versus an ex-boyfriend before letting him continue with his social waxing.

So there’s the backstory on this little social thought exercise I’ve been kicking around for a while:  It’s weird within our culture to introduce ones ex.   Continue reading “Introducing Your Ex”

Introducing Your Ex