The Red Shirt Diaries #26: LyftLife Edition

Long story, short:

I still love driving for Lyft. It’s currently my favorite form of prochristination and cure for boredom.

Now…

Short story, long:

Last night was the second time I’ve thought, “Sheesh, that could have been it for you, son” after a ride.

Yes, I talk to myself like that inside my head. Well, mostly inside my head. I also have a “Mom Voice” and a “Dirty Harry” persona that make occasional appearances.

But out of ~3500 rides, two that could have gone from dicey to deadly ain’t bad, right? Also, check out that 5-star rating! I feel a Rain Man voice coming on, because…

Clearly.

Anyway, I never wrote about the craziest drive I ever gave because it:

A) was just about everything anyone who’s ever said, “I bet you could write a book about your experiences driving” would think it would be; and,

B) my actual mom would use her actual mom voice on me and make me get a real job again.

Also, maybe I’ll write a book about it.

So…

The Runner Up Ride:

First off, last night started out as a shit show. I picked up a guy on my first ride who tells me he was just leaving a friend’s place after a hang out. Assuming correctly that “hang out” was exactly the euphemism I thought it to be, partnered with the reality that this is a heavyset fella, I was immediately equal parts envious and Nancy Kerrigan.

I mean, really…whyyyy?!?

Then it got weird, when he asked if he could ask me an off topic and admittedly weird question. I’m pretty game for weirdness, so I chuckled and told him to get at it. Well, it turns out this guy and I worked together briefly at a local healthy grocery from which we were both fired – because that’s what this joint is like. In a fit of C.R.S…I have absolutely zero recollection of him.

His question could have been weirder, but my C.R.S. added just the right layer of awkwardness to the conversation.

We trashed The Gays for a while, since he’d mentioned his friend was a dude and 1 + 1 = a sword fight. Then, as he was exiting the car at the bar I was dropping him off at (a coping mechanism I completely understand) he says, “For what it’s worth, being a gay guy in his 20s is totally different than being a gay guy in his…” and waves his hand at my general state of being. Then he shows me a quarter slot as he hefts his way out of the back that could hold every damn quarter ever. That overly cheeky fat fuck…the nerve.

First person to throw up in my car? Me. Almost. Well, I did, mentally.

Optimistically, I thought, “Well, things can only go up from here” in my Dirty Harry voice.

Then I picked up a young woman who answered “Better…” when I asked how she was doing. She followed it up with “I’ve been throwing up all day, but now it’s mostly dry heaving. But I brought a plastic bag, just in case.”

So…that was a quick arc, from virtual to actual (potential) vehicle based vomit.

It turns out she’d drank an entire bottle of something that was lost behind and effort to stifle something else on Friday night – on an empty stomach, no less – and yesterday was a Bob’s your uncle type day for her. Fortunately, we made it to her destination without incident, Portland’s pot-holey roads notwithstanding. Her ride ended close to my home – and, in a completely unnecessary side bar, right across the street from a place I lived back in ’96-97 – and I though that maybe I should just give up and call it a night.

Clearly, the universe was trying to tell me to fuck all the way off something.

But the (recreational) O.C.D. is strong in me and I like to give blocks of 10 rides when I go out. My feeling was that even if I was going to short-day it, I needed to hit five rides so I could sleep. Hell, at least four, so I could true-up my total ride balance to a mentally comfortable multiple of 5 or 10.

Full disclosure: when I get into what I call “overtime”, that 10 rides block goes out the window. If I’m in the far reaches of Portland on my 10th ride – as is often the case, given the level of fuckery I endure from the universe – I’ll put my app in Home or Lux Mode and take rides that come my way, but not hold myself to ending on a multiple of 5 or 10…

Surely, I could manage two or three more rides. Right?

Again, optimistically, I thought in my Mom Voice “You never know, the next ride could turn everything around for the better”.

That was just plain, old foolhardiness, though.

Enter, my third rider.

A phrase that is as potentially foreshadowing as a depraved mind could imagine. Seriously, you wanna know how this turns out? Remove the comma.

Let’s call this guy Donnie Drunko.

I clocked his blood alcohol level as elevated as he wobbled toward the car. I also clocked his sexual proclivities as he gave a long hug to a male friend before heel-toeing it my way.

He seemed amused when I told him I came out to drive after giving my wine rack the side eye too early in the evening, unnecessarily admitting he’d had a few drinks. “Yeah”, I replied, “but knowing my night owly tendencies, I knew that if I opened a bottle at 6:30, I’d be opening a second before 11.”

I went on to mentally muse that there was also a $15 streak bonus at 9:00 for giving three rides between 9-10 PM and I wanted to start a second streak in that hour to add a $30 bonus to my night’s effort. That bottle of wine could wait until 11.

Well, that’s what my thought process had been. I was already second-guessing that moderation decision and by the end of this ride, I was going to regret not boarding the bus to Hammertown.

Let’s just go straight from his surprise that it was only 7:40 and he was firmly wrapped up in a booze blanket, bypass the fairly enjoyable conversation about owning a house as a single person and skip onto me pulling up to his curb, eh?

He seemed to have trouble getting his shit together before deplaning getting out of the car. Not an unfamiliar phenomenon – especially with relaxed folk. People want to make sure they have everything, and that’s just more of a production from inside a bottle.

I’ve learnt to display a detached patience when this happens, like I don’t notice.

Instead of struggling to get out of the car, I realized he’d been struggling to close the diagonal distance between us. From the back, he grabs my arm to pull himself toward me so that his chest is against the back of my driver’s seat.

Assuming best intentions – like a moron – I ask if everything is ok, like maybe I parked in front of the wrong house. Nope…right house, wrong ballpark, as I soon found out.

“Do you, uh…want a hand job?” he slurs at me, his masked face surprisingly close to my own when I turned to face him.

“Boy, did you read that wrong”, I replied, enjoying the chance to use one of my favorite West Wing quotes in the same manner – albeit far more X-rated – that Leo McGarry had used it when Josh had tried to hug the curmudgeonly Chief of Staff on the show.

Shrugging off my rejection like it was my character flaw versus the complete cultural abdication of class on the part of The Gays that it is, he gets out of the car. Eschewing my usual “wait until they get to their door safely” M.O. I drive off immediately, debating when I should 1-star this clown and lamenting the pathetic state of Gay Kulture.

Internally, I’m trying to talk myself into waiting until morning. Then I hit the Block Hammer wall that I encounter so frequently on asocial media. When I don’t align with someone’s self-indulgent world view behaviors and they block me for – and I’m paraphrasing here – telling them that they are basically an affront to anyone with actual retarded developmental issues.

I know…you’re just dying to know that if that was the paraphrased version of my online response, what is the actual content. Trust me, it’s usually full on Julia Sugarbaker-esque indignation.

Low grade concerned that this guy could effectively pull that same cancel culture bullshit on me that faceless gays do online when they block me, simply by lodging a complaint about me with Lyft, I pull over and pull out my 1-star rating for this Lost Boy.

I hate giving someone a low rating/review and think Lyft is a little overly cautious in its pairing paradigm. Out of five possible stars, the app will never pair you with anyone you rate 3-stars or less. I think that’s a bit harsh, but I understand that they are trying to make the community the happiest possible place for passengers and drivers by pairing you with seeming favorites. It’s cool with that perspective. Wanting to be a busy boy, though, I tend to rate riders thusly:

5: good/great ride with a tip

4: good/great ride

3: lacking behavior, self-aware enough to tip to compensate

2: lacking behavior

1: WTactualF

This guy got a 1…even though I woke up to a chubby tip. I’d have still not felt bad had he given me a fat or even morbidly obese tip…and here’s why: it wasn’t until I pulled back onto the road to fetch my fourth ride that I realized this guy pulling himself so close to me could have easily ended with him pulling a knife across my throat – remember, I live in Stabtown, USA – as it did with a clumsy offer of a handy. Needless to say, I was a little trembly when I pulled up to my next pick up.

Happily, and in a fit of Mom Voice vindication, ride four was a 25 minute Lux ride from the swanky West Hills to far less swanky Felony Flats on the east side of town. As if the $50 ride itself wasn’t enough to tilt things back into cosmic balance for grumpy old Xtopher, the guy was a great conversationalist…which is fucking priceless.

The post-credits scene:

Since you obviously want to know…having stayed this long; no, I did not manage to double up on the streak bonus. Ride number four in my streak efforts barely fell into the 9-10 o’clock hour, but by the time he ran out his five-minute pickup time, it was 10:03 so I couldn’t start a second streak.

Still, I’ll gladly take:

A) a $50 ride

B) restored faith in my riders’ behavior; and,

C) getting to my 10 ride goal after a really rocky start to the night as offsets to a second $15 bonus.

The Red Shirt Diaries #26: LyftLife Edition

Don’t Call It A Recap…

Especially when recrap would be a much better way to sum up 2020.

And since it’s 2020 we’re talking about, I’m just going to talk about the last two months – really, the last month, outside of an early November mention. The whole year would run 20000 words, I’m sure.

Truth be told, I’m just going to bitch about a few things that broke down and then express a little post-holiday gratitude. This shouldn’t take long,

All in all, I’d summarize 2020 as a year in which if it didn’t break, it probably died.

Here’s a few things that gave it up in the last weeks of the year:

My laptop. As I geared up for NaNoWriMo in early November, my laptop started shitting its pants whenever it stepped off a high curb. I’d planned a non-fiction piece about job searching in my fifties. Fortunately, after a few hours of online tutorials, I was able to coax my laptop back to the land of the continent. That NaNo project, though…never did quite manage the download from brain to laptop. The Silver Fox stood by helpfully – virtually – while also acing his best friend duties by offering up the MacBooks he saw at Costco as a potential solution. I thought about it, even looked at one online in my most frustrated moment, but just couldn’t pull the trigger. The Costco offering was ~$800 and an Air model. In hindsight, that would have layered in what turned out to be unnecessary excuses for not tapping out a NaNo entry this year since the Air just doesn’t have the memory for writing like the Pro does.

New Pros run $1500-2400 and a used one is gettable for around $400. That’s what I did last time I replaced my laptop. I ended up with a refurbished model that was a year newer than my old one, so on balance I’m netting up two years of use…and counting.

After that brush with disaster, it looked like smooth sailing.

This being my life, that didn’t last long. The second and third weeks of December made week one of November look like a snowball next to their avalanche of misery.

Let’s see…

This is probably a clunky segue after my snow analogy, but it started to rain in the second week of December. Hardly a surprise in the PNDub, but I mean it rained. Like, people were walking around with expressions that said, “All that pandemic home improvement we did and we didn’t think to add pontoons?!?”

That type of rain.

I didn’t really notice it outside hearing things like “two inches in the last 36 hours” on the radio.

Until…I came home from running errands one day, took off my shoes, kicked up my feet to watch some Seinfeld for a couple hours and then – when I put my shoes and socks back on so I could go drive, my socks were wet. Flipping over my shoes, I was greeted with the thought, “How long ago did I get these?!?”

Walked the hell out of them, I did.

Off to NikeTown I went.

I was shocked by a couple of things:

First, my new shoes were only $130. I say “only” because that is about what I remember paying for my last few pairs – further reinforcing my suspicion that I haven’t had these last shoes that long. In reality, I recollect it being about 2 1/2 years, so they had more of a life than old Phil and his shareholders would like.

Second, the kid who helped me with my purchase was both unnecessarily tall and flirty. I’m not mad about that last part.

Next, as I rushed to get to the Festivus episode of Seinfeld before Christmas, my TV crapped out on me. It just started shutting off after an hour or two of play. I’d reboot it and it would come back…for a couple days. Then it just stopped powering on altogether. Haven’t been able to revive it yet using the same Internet U continuing education resources I did with my laptop. I might need to actually get someone on the horn to figure it out.

Then again, the other U – as in Universe – might be trying to tell me it’s all for naught. Last night, my final ride was a pick up at Video Only, a local electronics chainlet. While I waited in front for my passenger to emerge, I had prime seating for the TVs playing right inside the door.

Also, now I know that my car will hold a 65″ TV.

But in a fit of mixed messages, the guy wasn’t a tipper, which I’d interpret as the Universe steering me away from a new TV after putting me in front of Video Only’s temptations. And this is a rather significant sign since on top of having to figure out the logistics of getting a large object into a small space (merry Christmas, Diezel) this ride was from the far north end of town – literally, the Oregon border – to the far southeast quadrant of town…over 30 minutes, thanks to an accident on the crosstown. Yeah, by all means, feel free to drag your huge TV away from that scenario with no feeling of gratitude.

Let’s see…laptop, TV, sneakers…what else?

Oh!

Angela. This would be Pat the Patriot’s replacement from last February, who I don’t write about often because she doesn’t spend an average of a week in the shop each month like Pat did. Still, the other day – Christmas Eve – I got in the car to drive a bit and my low tire pressure alarm went off. Looking at the vehicle status screen on the onboard, I saw that the back passenger tire was the issue, but it was only a half PSI off of the next closest pressure level. I chalked that up to the morning being rather colder than the more recent days and planned to monitor it as I drove and fill it when I parked later. Sure enough, as the tire warmed up, the pressure crept up but still needed an eventual top off.

Undaunted, after eight rides, the Universe tossed me another grenade.

I pulled to a stop at a freeway exit and while I waited for the light to change, Angela made a sound I’ve not heard before. Let me tell you, I love the onboard computer, but the alarms are not subtle.

Everything is DEFCON 4.

“Hey, dummy…get gas!” makes the same sound as “Low Tire Pressure”. That’s also the same sound as the warning for low outside temperature…which is triggered at an unalarming and balmy 37 degrees.

However, the sound Angela made at that off ramp made me debate running away from the vehicle. On top of that, I was treated to my dash display and my onboard console display both changing screens to tell me my brake pads needed replacing.

It was rather a stimulation overflow.

Hell, with all that fuss, I’d have thought the wheels had come completely off the vehicle.

Nonetheless, I managed to both proChristinate getting gas and filling the low tire, so when I got in my car later that day – to go searching for wrapping paper, which was harder to find on Christmas Eve than crapping paper was in March – I was treated to a deafening cacophony of alarms that lasted about two blocks.

Sweet Jesus, Germans…calm the hell down.

But, as of Christmas morning, the only alarm still regularly greeting me is the brake pads warning. It is, however, pulling double duty. I hear it when I start the car and again when I switch it off…so, someone is looking out for my C.R.S. Hoorah?

Not for nothing, I check my mail midweek, generally. Last night, for whatever reason, I checked it when I came home.

Yeah…pretty sure that’s a ticket. The city is pretty good about screaming the purpose of its mailings if you pay attention. Sometimes it’s as easy as seeing the bold type that screams “City Arts Tax Statement” and others, it’s just knowing that the mailing address is the County Health Clinic just down the way. Not that I’ve ever gotten a letter from them…

The vagueness of this letter – only a “Response Requested Within Thirty Days” to guide me – made me think “request” was meant to trick me into opening it. Like I’m getting invited to the Mayor’s re-election party or something. And I do remember driving one night and seeing three strobe like flashes out of the corner of my eye. I looked at my dash and saw I was doing low 40s in a 35 MPH zone, but wrote it off as paranoia since I was also on an old state highway versus at an intersection where one usually sees red light cameras.

Heck, I don’t even know if Portland uses photo radar for ticketing. I can’t wait to find out when I open this sometime next July.

Now, just to make sure that you’re not all looking longingly at your own balconies or googling “macrame nooses” – that might just be a Portland thing – remember, I did get a pair of new sneakers out of the ordeal.

Plus, then there’s the actual good things that happened in the last few months, no wait…weeks, no…wait hours of the year. Optimistically, I’m choosing to accept these as net positives despite the fact that the Universe tends toward Lucy behaviors to my Charlie Brown existence.

For instance, when I checked my mail last week, I got a Christmas card from Little Buddy.

I know it’s hokey and completely against my typical on-brand bitterness, but just look at that grandpa playing Santa with his grand baby! It just made me tear up again!

Also mail related: when I checked my mail last night, I found that the City of Seattle had gotten its shit together and sent me some unclaimed money.

Mind you, Portland had theirs resolved weeks ago. Like pre-Thanksgiving. But on the upside, I was expecting $100 and got a check for $123, so…I’m not complaining. Hopefully that maybe-ticket isn’t too much more than that. Actually, if the maybe-ticket turns out to be a not-ticket, that check can go right into my New TV Fund!

The actual bummer here is that I don’t want a New TV Fund. I’d been hoping to have January bills squared away last week so I could maybe splurge on a Peloton-like bike for home. My 2021 non-fiction project is going to be a bit of a redux to my Fitfy blog theme. I figure that will nicely close the loop on my aging series of non-fiction: dating, working and fitness.

Anyway, I digress. Now we’re up to Christmas Day!

I’m not kidding when I – again, against my Early Onset Grumpiness brand – say that seeing my sister and her family of three for the first time this year had me feeling things. My attendance at family Christmas was (secretly) predicated upon the size of the gathering.

Our Thanksgiving had been four – mom, dad, youngest bro and I – from three households. State guidance was no more than six – pass! – from two households – fail! Those guidelines held for Christmas, too.

That said, Christmas was set to be that same group along with the welcome addition of my sister’s family from central Oregon and the unwelcome addition of Black Sheep Bro and his two teenaged sons, whom none of us have ever met.

From Texas.

If the pandemic weren’t a thing, I’d still have “put my foot down” level issues with this occurrence.

After screwing up my courage – not in an alcohol related way – I took my shot with the parents. It’s not that I begrudge them their parental – and grandparental feelings – which I will never experience first hand, but my shot was that Christmas should be a repeat of Thanksgiving.

I know. This is why people sometimes call me the Voice of Treason.

But I figured not saying anything would be the real problem. And I didn’t want the Christmas follow up conversations to be:

People: What did you get for Christmas?

Me: Dead Family. You?

So, I said it.

What I offered was to do a same day drive over and back to drop off and pick up gifts for my sister’s family…on the additional condition that we all *not* miss BSB for another Christmas. As expected, the results were like my favorite joke* and resulted in BSB being cordially disinvited but my sister still coming over.

That suited me fine enough. Although I was chagrined-ish to run into my brother in law and nephew in the drive when I arrived, on their way out to walk the dog. After exchanging greetings and getting a brief update, my brother in law says to me, “Are you going to wear your mask in the house?” I’d completely put it on out of habit before getting out of the car.

At least I’m consistent.

Now, what you should know about my family is that we are terrible Americans. At least as far as Christmas goes. We have a small family. I’d say our “core” census is seven: mom, dad, sis, brother in law, nephew, brother, me. Even adding in what I’d call the extended family – my uncle’s family in Texas and my 98 year old hermit of a grandfather – only adds five to that.

Then there’s BSB trying to add in his brood of three to our numbers now that the wife he basically left the family for has left him. Allegedly for something that comes with a cork in it. I shared a bedroom with the guy growing up, though, and I’d say the wine was a cure and not the cause my BSB would have us believe.

But that’s another blog.

The reason we are bad Americans at Christmas is that we draw names for our gift exchange versus just buying everyone gifts from everyone. However, the upside is that between breakfast and dinner, we only have to open ~7 gifts instead of four or five dozen, so there’s very little disruption to our holiday feeding frenzy.

On top of that, we make lists. Whoever draws our names basically has a cheat sheet. My youngest brother, as I gather – having not seen his list, even put down websites. That guy came to Thanksgiving prepared!

Me? I came to Thanksgiving oblivious. When I learned the routine for this year, I was stuck completely in “What the fuck do I want?!?” mode.

I vamped my way through my list of 3-5 things before coming up with something useful:

1) Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice

2) Skateboard

Here’s the explanation of those requests. Really, though, I hoped I didn’t get those items because I’m old and hips are expensive.

3) This Tee

And then my brain kicked into gear.

4) An InstaPot.

There had been an InstaPot at last year’s Christmas, but it was a White Elephant style exchange and it got stolen by mom. But I loved the Brady Bunch Inspired gift I brought home…

I present to you the real reason 2020 has been such a shit show!

Now, this year’s rules mandated that the gifts be given anonymously – which I missed, so my brother in law knew I was his Santa – so when I opened my gift, I didn’t know who to check for smirkage.

Because it’s me, and I didn’t just happen, I was completely open to my Santa being someone who knew I’d never buy myself an InstaPot and that I was disappointed to not walk with one last Christmas. Heck, I’d gone rogue and bought my nephew a gift card to a sporting goods store and debated putting it in a box with some rocks to weigh it down, so I couldn’t reasonably expect my Santa to not have had the same notion.

But, not knowing who to scrutinize for tells, I was left with opening up the outer box for verification.

Blammo!

Apparently, not only can you find one for $100 – that’s another rule – you can find one that connects to goddamn wifi and can be controlled from your smartphone. What an amazing time to be alive!

I finally found out that my Santa was my sister. When I told her I was worried my list was either entirely gibberish or over the price limit, she gave me a humblebrag about her ability to “find a deal”. Whether that meant she’s a legit Coupon Queen or threw me a bone and bought the only thing on my list that wasn’t snarky, despite having to bend a rule is unclear. I am pretty sure she honestly found a deal. She is good like that.

Now, I just gotta decide what to make and then screw up my courage to do it!

All in all, it’s a year that makes me think “I should have moved into a unit on a higher floor” whenever I stand on my balcony. Luckily, the year is nearly behind us, so I don’t think I will be worrying whether a four story drop would qualify as a landing I could walk away from or not.

Now, for all of you who waited patiently for the *, here’s my favorite joke of all time:

What do you get when you cross the Atlantic with the Titanic?

Halfway.

Keep in mind, I heard this joke as a pre-teen on the friggin’ Muppet Show. That Fozzy Bear could bring a house down, I tell ya. But four decades later and I’m still carrying his torch!

Don’t Call It A Recap…

I’m A Psychic!

Completely acknowledging that I’ve definitely been called worse. However, as my own most severe critic, I tend to let other people’s gentler criticisms bounce off of me and swirl into the gutter where they belong.

But while psycho might be a more popular moniker amongst my lesser fans, psychic is strictly an internal title. At least as far as I know – as if that’s not an indictment of the very skill I am claiming.

Fine.

Let’s meet in the middle and call this my special version of psychic: preemptive lucky guesses.

The inspirational guess for this entry?

The Silver Fox.

A couple weeks back, he graced me with a visit so he could knock out 300 doctors appointments we could finally finish watching Ozark, which we started before he decamped to Monmouth for the end of the world. Because I’m figuratively an acerbic son of a bitch, I chose to remind him that he packed his calendar and seemed to expect me to make myself available during his free time during the two days he was in town. I also whined about his doctors appointments requiring him to fast the day before, which also eliminated my favorite social pastime.

No, I’m not telling you what that is, you really ought to be able to guess – even if you aren’t psychic like me. Ok, wait…just so none of my more sarcastic friends guess “masturbating”, the pastime in question is beer drinking!

This whining had the intended manipulative side effect of guilting him into staying an extra day – which I also complained about because that was a Friday…big drive day for me normally. But I took the day off to spend time with him.

All of this, by the way, just highlights why I should be exactly as single as I am.

Anyway, back to the acerbic part.

When we met to have dinner and watch the final episode of Ozark’s third season, I greeted The Fox with the accusation question: “Did you manage to meet with your realtor between doctors appointments while you were up here?”

Having spent enough time around me to be infected with my toxic sarcasm, he replied in the affirmative. Because he’s the Silver Fox, his affirmative response was also inscrutable.

I let it lie, but I had to do a little work to maintain my level of denial disbelief.

How does this all make me psychic?

I’m now having dreams that when I check his mail – worst paying job I’ve ever had, incidentally…but I might still add it to the resume since I’m closing in on a year in that position – I find realtor’s business cards on his countertop when I take it into his condo.

For those who have never been involved in or on the periphery of a home purchase, realtors leave business cards in houses they show so the listing agent has their contact info for follow up or whatnot. Additionally, you should just drop into open houses in your area. It’s fun to just look, plus, you may get a cookie out of it.

Anyway, I’m dealing with the dream situation by avoiding taking his mail into his condo when I check it. I’m tossing the junk mail in the recycling and leaving the few pertinent actual mail pieces in his box for now. If it gets too full, I’ll have to decide if I want to bring it over to my place or risk finding out my dreams really were visions…ostensibly, I should be able to handle a blow like that after New Years. Inauguration Day at the latest.

But I know for sure I can’t risk that type of blow in what’s left of this shit show of a year. That would definitely cause me to revisit the cho/chic suffixes I mentioned at the top of this post.

I’m A Psychic!

The C.R.S. Chronicles

Will this become a new theme?

Who knows?

(Probably no, as you read on you’ll figure out why…)

Nonetheless, here I am: declaring chronicles.

So, I’m a little O.C.D. Also, a tad hypochondriac – recreational hypochondria, as my P.C.P. likes to say as he calls me out.

Both relate in this instance. I’m just one big Venn diagram of dysfunction.

On the O.C.D. side of my personality, I drove last night into what I like to call overtime. That is, beyond my normal goal of 10 rides. Ten is nice, sometimes it takes two and a half hours and other times it takes five. Yesterday was a – because it’s my life – frustrating blend of those two potentials.

I started out just around 4:30 and got several short rides around my neighborhood ride out of the gate. So, by 5:30, I was staring down the barrel of being 40% finished and figured by 7:00 I’d be home.

Oh, no…just…no.

Suddenly, I was getting rides that had me zipping 20 minutes across town – which is about all it takes in Portland, really. Especially in the QuaranTimes.

Because I love to recognize when the app is taking care of me, I noticed that ride nine had me – once again – just a few blocks from home. My aunt used to say “Thank you, Jesus” just loud enough to be heard when something good happened for her because performative religion she has an attitude of gratitude. It’s something that I like to recognize, that A of G. But my attitude manifests more along the lines of “Thank you, Universe“.

I carried that ritual forward in life, thanks to her example.

But, since it is my life, the Universe decided to exert dominance and ride number 10 had me in Hillsboro. The Aech (A.K.A. Hillsburrito) is about 10-12 miles outside of town.

Literally.

Portland has had a growth boundary my entire life to promote density over sprawl. You’re welcome, Californians. Beaverton, Tigard and Hillsboro do not, so far as I can tell.

That has manifested in Portland being more dense and upwardly building. Luckily, the ‘burbs are there to pick up our slack and the result is that somehow, the towns have all basically coalesced, despite Portland’s sprawl discipline.

Anyway, I’m not going to shut off my app way out in the ‘burbs and drive my ass home for free. Fuck that. I was basically in a place in Oregon where I could throw a rock and hit surf (not really, weenie arm notwithstanding) so I set my app to only take rides ending closer to home and kept driving.

It took eight more rides before I was once again close enough to home to justify shutting off the app for the night. I stopped at a cart for some grub before the closed – it was just midnight, but they took orders til 1…no need to overdo overdoing it – and then went home.

I parked just as the app was pointing out to me that I was in a bonus zone. Was another ride worth an extra $6?

Nah.

Actually, totally! But as a driver, it bothered me for a potential ride to smell my food. They might feel guilty. I don’t mind them smelling someone else’s doggie bag, even though I try to air Angela out between rides by rolling down the windows.

Did I mention we are in the midst of a weekend forecast in the PNDub that would have the rest of the world building arks and gathering animals?

So, I went inside and treated my to-go food like a prom date: I finished in a few minutes.

But all day today, as I say on my ass on the couch, my O.C.D. was niggling. Gourd, I hope that word doesn’t have racist history…

Around 4:30, I had hit the road. But I’m not going out for two measly rides. To split the diff, I committed to seven. Not a full drive shift, but worth dragging my flat ass off the couch – which, oddly, still has a butt shaped indentation. In both ends.

It’s probably defective.

During my second ride – which would true up my 10 Goal for the week – something came up in conversation and I immediately portmanteau-ified it and debated my next five rides.

Couldn’t quit it. I’m such a fucking Ennis Del Mar.

BTDubs, Brokeback Mountain turns 15 this week and Jake Galbreath Gyllenhaal turns 40.

Heath’s update is a little less surprising and a little more dire.

My rational brain says,

You better write that down, yo.

But I didn’t have anything to write with/on…

I’m not kidding, you know you’ll forg –

I got a ride.

And that’s where C.R.S. comes in. For those of you outside my daily bubble – it stands for Can’t Remember Shit. It’s very serious.

Seriously, I thought I’d remember this blog topic because it was so compelling and dynamic. There were portmanteaus!

Alas, ’tis gone.

However, in the unlikely event that I a) remember what I forgot; and b) remember that I started a potential theme on my blog…well, I’ve at least made a first (only) entry as a foundation.

I figure around 2 this morning I’ll be faced with the dilemma: blog my rememory or go back to sleep.

Any bets there? 🥸

The C.R.S. Chronicles

Snoop-date

Ok, I’m far more a Martha Stewart than a Snoop Dog. Still, I figured an update on my subbing in a Weed Cocktail in lieu of beer or wine was needed.

In case you missed it – or can’t/won’t click the embedded link – at the end of August, I ventured into my neighborhood weed shop. It was on the advice of a passenger, who I had picked up at work and taken to her home.

Her work?

Budtender.

I’d been complaining about how weed was taboo when I was in school and that had caused it to never really become a part of my work detox routine.

The syzzurp was her recommendation. The bottle I bought has 25 doses, but I’m only taking a half dose in my weedtini so I’m only just now getting to the bottom of my first $55 bottle.

September wasn’t the model Dry Month, but it was definitely arid.

Going into September, I could recall one lockdown night that didn’t involve a drink or more. In September, my daily drinking went to a mere six occurrences. That doesn’t mean I was sucking down a syzzurp nightcap before bed those other nights, either.

That was a great realization. I wasn’t trading one habit for another, I was changing my ritual.

But on those nights I did partake of my new relaxation inclination?

Ten hours of sleep.

It’s leveling out closer to 8 hours, about as many weeks into this experiment. I’ll take that result.

Interestingly enough, regardless of how many hours of sleep I get off my W&T (weed & tonic), I’m amused to discover that I usually awake in the same position I went to sleep in.

It’s a phenomenon called Coffin Sleep, which is dark, but apt. I didn’t initially realize this was happening. But as my better sleep led to waking up later and that led to going to bed later…it became obvious that it was happening.

Mistress Myrtle gets the credit.

She would still retire at a respectable hour.

Me? I may drive until midnight or even 1 AM, because those rides just keep coming in. That’s so strange to experience, but another story.

I come home, maybe have a snack and a bubble water while watching an episode of whatever binge I’m currently passing time with. In September, that was still X-Files – there were 11 seasons and two movies, after all.

This month, I’m working my way through Ally McBeal. So I’ll have my snack and watch an episode. Make my Snoop-hattan and sip it during the second and then either turn in or watch a third episode while the syzzurp kicks in.

At worst, I’m a little head high when I head to bed. Usually, I’m just very heavy lidded.

The reason Myrt gets credit for me realizing I’d been sleeping coffin sleep deep is that when she went to bed ahead of me, she picked her spot on the bed for the night. When I wanted to get in, I had to fold in around her, which led to some strange bent spoon type sleeping positions. When I would wake up in a pike position or looking like the letter K in sign language, I figured it out.

Damn alpha cat.

Even though the positioning might be awkward, it never takes longer than 5 minutes to fall asleep. And that’s a great 5 minutes, too.

It’s like my body just lets go. It’s the most relaxed I feel all day. My body just coalesces into itself. I know where my arms and legs are located, but where they touch each other, I don’t know where each ends or begins.

It’s amazing.

On nights where I don’t coffin sleep, I might still wake up to pee a few hours after bed. Those bouts were fewer and farther in between than the prior six months of it being a nightly occurrence.

But those were the nights I learned about the body high that came with this product!

I think I should get a Nest security system just to watch the video of my nocturnal not so jaunty jaunts to the loo after a few hours of weed napping the night away. I imagine I’m about as graceful as Frankenstein out on a somnambulistic stroll.

When I get to the can, I’ve got to hold on to the wall as I squat so I don’t fall over or miss. I know that standing is a non-option for these episodes.

And then, <poof> right back to sleep.

The only real downside I have experienced – and it may not even be related – are my dreams.

Specifically, the snake dreams.

Snakes are not something I find not terrifying. Having them in my dreams was a very infrequent occurrence, pre-weedtini. I’m encountering them in my unconscious at least once a week now, so that’s quite an uptick.

The truly strange thing is that they are just there. Not doing anything scary, just being all snake-y. They might just be chilling somewhere on the sidelines of the dream. Occasionally, they have been cruising around the room I’m in in the dream. Once they were slithering up my body while I dreamed that I was sleeping in my bed.

Then there was the dream where I woke up in my dream to find my left leg inside a snake’s mouth and the snake just kinda looking at me with an expression that was somewhere between “What?” and “Hey Buddy, a little help here?”

Generally, I still prefer my dreams to lack a specific slither. But I’m not inclined to sub alcohol back into my relaxation routine as long as this is an option!

Snoop-date

Paul Simon May Want To Rethink A Thing Or Two

Namely, the whole “Call Me Al” situation.

Why?

I’m not sure Al is what anyone really wants. Specifically the “Al” located in equality and separating it from equity.

What? You thought I wouldn’t bend over backward for a cryptic blog title?

Pish.

All summer long, I’ve heard cries for equality from marginalized communities. Not just in Portland, certainly, but from all across the country. Don’t get me wrong, this is perhaps not a rallying cry that originated in Portland – but we certainly picked that baton up and ran with it.

Our unofficial forecast doesn’t get to be “Cloudy, with a chance of protests” for nothing. Although, to be fair, as the kinkiest city in America…one might wonder if we mistook that baton for an adult toy. But that’s a rabbit hole for another time.

No, the Al/equality issues I’ve been observing this year have their origins in Minneapolis. The protests against Police Brutality and the calls for an end to Systemic Racism in America after George Floyd’s murder this past May started a nationwide movement that – thanks in no small part to our country and economy being shut down since March – have sustained like never before.

Thank gawd.

It’s an idea whose time has come…or rather, that should have come back in 1865.

Not to be left out, while we joined in those protests, there was another battle or two surging here in Portland. Remember, “Cloudy, with a chance of protests“, that’s plural. So we’re helping with carrying the banner for the Black and BIPOC communities. But simultaneously, there is a movement that I’m considering two separate battles, despite a significant population overlap.

First, Trans Rights.

This folds into the outcry from the Black/BIPOC communities, to be sure. The cause of this issue points back specifically to trans-women being murdered across the country. The astonishing majority of these murder victims are people of color. Icing that crap cake is the shit frosting that while no one is asserting that these women were murdered by police, they are not crimes that are given seeming equal gravity and diligence by police.

On the heels of that shituation is a phenomen that I think is definitely more important locally: Sex Workers Rights.

What can I say? We love our strip clubs here. I’d say grabbing a drink at a strip club – regardless of your gender – is as much a part of our town’s fabric as Food Carts. If there’s not a naked dancer basically within an arms reach, what’s the point?

But our local Sex Workers have been seeking legitimate standing as part of our work force for quite some time. The COVID-forced shutdowns of the clubs only exacerbated their frustrations.

The basic root or mascot of all these movements? In a word (or three)?

White, cis-males.

On second thought, maybe if Paul Simon was referring to an Al of either the Sharpton, Green or Jolson variety, he may not mind sticking to his guns on his “Call Me Al” take. But, if his Als were of the Bundy, Gore or Chipmunk varietals then, yeah…maybe it’s time to set those aside.

But I digress.

The irony of this targeting by these minority communities is that I don’t think any of those individuals would want to swap lives/situations with your run of the mill white, cis-males.

Which is why I try to focus on using words like equity or parity versus equality.

Take Gay Marriage as an example. It was called the fight for Marriage Equality, but what’s the first thing we do once we have it?

Open Marriages.

Pick a blog post or three from my archives at random and read them. I’ll bet at least one mentions some form of my observations of relationships in the gay community.

Basically, once The Gays had Marriage Equality, they changed it to suit themselves versus conforming strictly to established institutional norms.

We didn’t want Marriage Equality, so much as we wanted Equity. We wanted the same right to marry as heterosexual couples, but we didn’t want what their marriage had morphed into over time and religion.

Do you get the difference I’m trying to highlight? Cuz, it’s a fine point, and it’s late…and I had my syzzurp…so maybe I’m not doing the best job of articulating it.

I had to take a sleep break last night. Didn’t want to be blogging under the influence. (He says, sipping his beer)

Ok, so let me try another take on the point I was trying to make last night re: equality vs equity.

Let’s just say for the sake of argument that reparations for slavery were granted. Set aside any thoughts you have on awarding damages centuries after the crime…it’s just an example.

Now, let’s say that some lawmaker rips off my blog and decides that those reparations will be awarded in the form of a poorly named cracker box style suburban home with a nice little white picket fence and a new American made minivan in the driveway.

Sure, you might have some takers. Folks that realize something is more than nothing.

But.

I’d wager a large percentage of settlees would look at that settlement wondering what their net would be from selling those items…because culturally what the Black community values isn’t necessarily a direct translation to what white people would consider “The American Dream”. Actually, add “American Dream” to the list of systemic racism than needs dismantling.

Seriously…all you people that assert you can’t be a racist because you have a Black friend, ask your Black friend. Actually, ask them what Black people stereotypically think about white people.

One of two things will happen:

First, you’ll find out that they aren’t your friend, they are just friendly toward you because they are nice, possibly slightly scared of you. But, maybe they don’t actually trust you. You’ll know if this is the case because they won’t tell you anything. They’ll look at you like this

And then you know you’ll be needing to go back to the drawing board and read the things you’ve just been reposting to social media as an ally and take it in, do the work, build their trust.

The other thing that might happen is that they will absolutely unload on you with a machine gun of hilarious stereotypes that will make you second guess the validity of the statement

Stereotypes exist for a reason

Because…when you hear white peoples stereotypes, you’ll realize how bizarrely inaccurate racial stereotypes are. It’s way more than Karen asking to speak to the manager.

I had a Black co-worker back in the mid-80s. She did something embarrassing one day at work and absolutely fell out laughing. When she caught a breath, the first words out of her mouth were, “If I was white, I’d be red”, meaning she’d be blushing.

That’s when I started laughing, because: hilarious. Sheila – my friend – on the other hand, heard herself and stopped cold.

No more laughing.

Whites visible all around her eyeballs.

“What?”, I asked.

“You weren’t supposed to know that…”

“Because it’s a secret that Black peoples don’t ‘blush’? I wish I had your cover…I’d be way cooler.”

Then she laughed again, shaking her head as if to suggest that I could not, indeed, be cooler cool under any circumstances.

Ok, ok…I know a lot of you nonracists might not have Black friends to validate your status as an ally. But maybe ask your Asian friend what white people smell like. If they don’t say “Butter”, then go back and reread all the crap you’ve been blindly reposting to social media and work on building your ally trust.

Because white peoples are hilariously boring, and notoriously ill-humored about it. And, yeah…kind of have a butter-y odor we are nose blind to.

Shit, some of the hilarious things my Black friends have told me about white stereotypes…the funniest thing about them is my reflexive denial and eventual admission that they were more accurate than I’d like to believe.

We don’t have flavorful foods. We’ve ripped off plenty of cuisine from other cultures and then diluted their flavor profiles with cheese. Don’t even get me started on how we confuse heat for flavor.

We don’t make a big deal during sex, which is particularly strange since we make such a big deal about sex.

We actually can’t jump. Who saw that coming?

I’ve learned that nothing beats admission to the ally club faster than being able to recognize ones own cultural foibles. As is the usual in my life, I process through laughter.

Pain.

Joy.

Awkwardness.

Laughter doesn’t give me a clean slate of credibility when it comes to ally-ship. But it builds a lot of bridges. If people understand that I’m not so bad, then they’ll forgive me the trespasses of not being a perfect ally. It’s an unfortunate truism that people who fancy themselves the best allies are probably doing more harm than good by wearing the badge proudly amongst their friends and actually setting a poor example.

Me? I view ally-ship through the same neurotic filter as everything else in my life, so when people criticize me, my default response is definitely not surprise.

I feel like – despite my weed cocktail induced restful night – I’ve drifted away from my point.

Oopsies.

Well, let me try and salvage wrap this up with this thought:

Equity is I think the pragmatic and clear way of approaching these equality calls we encounter.

People asking for equality don’t necessarily want what “we” have. I think it’s more powerful when we encounter these calls for equality to examine the things we take for granted that are at the core of that ask for equality. Then realize that they want the equity to live their lives as blithely as we do.

Case. In. Point.

I didn’t get pulled over last weekend.

I was out doing my Lyft schtick. As is always the case, I got a call for a ride while my car was in motion. I was driving down a four lane road, two lanes each direction, when the call came in. I looked down, hit accept, looked back up and I was in a turn lane that I didn’t want to be in.

Checking my rear and side view mirrors – and looking over my shoulder! – before zippering in between the two cars I remembered being in my immediate area.

But I didn’t signal…

To get to my passenger, I needed to reverse course and head back the way that I had come from. Of course…so I took a right and a left and then another left and then another left to get headed back in the correct direction.

The car I’d zippered in in front if followed me the entire way.

Well, it’s either a cop or I’m going to get murdered for cutting someone off.

It was a cop.

Now, here’s the thing: an hour earlier, I’d been driving downtown in one of our many three-lane and much maligned one-way streets when suddenly, a (sorry) rice rocket changed lanes from my right hand lane to the far left lane and then slammed on his (gender profiling) brakes at the stoplight.

Right in front of a cop.

Me, sitting at the light, caught the bored cop in the passenger seat’s eye and pointed out the car sitting directly in front of them, suggesting maybe the cops should do something about their flagrant moving violation.

Nothing.

Not even a glimmer of an acknowledgment that they too had witnessed the wreck-less-mess of the situation.

Well, there’s my tax dollars at work.

So, jump cut to an hour or so later when these headlights are following me around a residential block and I’m actually erring on the side of being murdered rather than being followed by a cop.

Here’s the thing you need to understand about me. I really do try to live according to the motto “Do the right thing, even when no one is watching”. So not signaling my earlier zippered lane change had me feeling neurotic anyway for failing to meet that standard. But that same neurosis jumped over the likelihood of being followed by a cop right to being followed by a murderer.

Because: me.

I debated pulling over and parking until the car passed, but opted for pulling into the right lane, forcing them alongside me at the next light.

Sure enough, cop.

I just can’t catch a break. A small-dicked, gun toting hothead that was angry over my earlier lane change would have really done wonders for my retirement planning.

Anyway.

I smize (smile with my eyes) knowingly over my mask at him and he nods at me from behind his own mask, making what I thought was a vague hand gesture. I drop my mask to one ear and give him a palms up. He does the same, repeating his confusing hand gesture.

I roll down my window and he does the same. I resist saying “Occifer” by way of greeting-slash-demanding-an-explanation, because I have a bare minimum of maturity.

He asks if I’m doing ok and I assure him I’m fine, just got lost in the traffic pattern change. Of course, he has to be one of those cute bastard cops instead of one of those stereotypical fat, doughnut aficionado bastard cops.

This is still my life we’re talking about, after all.

“You gonna be able to get home ok?” I know he’s inferring I’m driving drunk versus offering to accompany me home. I take my Lyft light off the dash and flash it at him replying that I’m trying to make sure everyone else gets home ok. Then we both head off once the light changes.

Nothing I appreciate more than consistency. Sadly, this is not an example of that. I mean, seriously, in the course of an hour I go from watching someone careen across three lanes of light traffic in 100 feet, slamming on their brakes in the process and cutting off a cop; to white cis-male me, changing lanes without signaling and barely avoiding a traffic stop in the process.

The original cops were partnered up and looking bored, but continued straight ahead after the other driver turned in front of them. I get followed for five blocks before manipulating my more curious but still apathetic cop into a confrontation.

Ugh.

Ugh.

But the biggest “ugh” isn’t the inconsistent inquisitiveness or traffic violation follow through. No, it’s the certainty that I was absolutely profiled by my cop and that affected how I wasn’t pulled over.

Those original cops were just apathetic. Either not even aware enough to have witnessed the violation or just didn’t care enough to be bothered by it.

To be honest, they bothered me more than the (perhaps only situationally) short-willied driver they ended up narrowly avoiding rear-ending.

But I don’t for a second doubt that if I’d been cruising in a hooptie instead of in Angela, I would have been pulled over and most likely hauled in for my moving violation – at best.

So, while I firmly resent the pigmentally-challenged Al group that I fall into, I don’t for a second take it for granted. As a matter of fact, I resent the cop who let me off with a “warning” almost as much as I do the apathetic cops who are just cruising their way to a fat PERS retirement payout for 25 years of doing a shitty job.

Neither is doing society any favors. Because I know that if these cops had been in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on May 25th, 2020…their behaviors would have been as derelict in their duty as those cops standing by watching George Floyd die instead of tasering Derek Chauvin’s cracker ass.

This little slice of life bullshit cop behavior that I witnessed over the course of barely an hour perfectly highlights the injustice Blacks and other minorities experience at the hands of the cops. I don’t deny that lane changing without signaling is not our society’s most pressing issue…but in this instance, it’s an example of greater issues. Knowing Black peoples have died at the hands of the police for far lesser infractions makes me mad. Not because I want a ticket, for sure. But I’d like to live in a society where everyone received the same grace as I do. Or the same latitude those punk kids cruising in the rice rocket daddy bought them – undoubtedly for some inane high school sports accomplishment – received.

Until that happens consistently versus haphazardly and likely as a product of not profiling…I’m not gonna be happy being any version of an Al.

Because, while I am bothered by the professional inconsistencies I see and experience from cops, I know it’s nothing compared to the potentially life ending things experienced at the hands of cops by BIPOC folk.

And that really bothers me because it’s just wrong. That should bother everyone. Despite what my mother tells me, I’m not special. If I can see this inequity, then anyone and everyone should be able to.

It’s enough to make me wonder if people would rather just not see it…

Paul Simon May Want To Rethink A Thing Or Two

Eff Em El

I should probably type out the title to this post in all caps, but I don’t want to frighten you.

Which is also why I waited two whole – and surprisingly not run-on (oops) – sentences before dropping this lil chestnut on your eyeballs.

If I had any real friends, they’d shoot me.

Today? It would be a mercy killing. Not sure that’ll save anyone from the gas chamber, but maybe? If you pick the right lawyer…

And this day started out so promising, too.

I got my mail in ballot yesterday. Filled it out while I was waiting for my hair to dry today before heading to lunch with the ‘rents.

But, really…that’s the end of the upside. The rest of my day has been all uphill.

It’s so bad, I finally took the 50-something year old recommended poop test that my doctor has been nagging me about for the last three-ish years. I figured, “Why not? Today can’t get any worse…”

As if psyching out fate is a damn thing.

After dropping that off at the lab, I thought that since psyching out fate really isn’t a thing…maybe picking up that heads up penny I saw on the street wasn’t such a bad idea. And, yeah, back on that “if I had any real friends” thing? I totally maintained eye contact with the Street Rockefellers that were camping 3 feet away on the sidewalk so that they’d know that I was picking up money they were apparently too good for. Maybe they’d get mad that I was stealing their money and stab me.

So how does a day with such promise go careening off the rails?

Hard to say, really. Other than maybe the number of times that I’ve rhetorically asked “What could possibly go wrong?” have all hit the ear balls of The Universe at once – because, let’s face it, I really don’t know how any of that shit really works.

Maybe rhetorical questions go in the same category as “Letters to Santa” or “Prayers”…or maybe someone is actually listening and my rhetorical questions all arrived at their destination simultaneously, producing today as a single response to the cumulative inquiry.

  • My laptop seems to have crapped out. This morning, I woke to and email from the Genius Bar with a couple things that could rectify my issues. Of course, that didn’t work. I bought this refurbished Mac as a cheap and easy (on the wallet) replacement for my last laptop about two years ago. I was a little frustrated when it arrived to learn that it was only one model year removed from the Mac that I was replacing, so if I got two years out of it…that nets out to it lasted a year longer than it’s predecessor. See?!? How “bright side” was that statement?!? But, nooooo, my name is Grumpy, Old Xtopher and I am living in Fate’s crosshairs these days!
  • After lunch with mom and dad, I went out for a quick drive session, since I wanted to pull a double shift today. My usual shift is however long it takes to hit 10 rides. Somewhere between 3-4 hours. On double-days, I try to get a few rides in before rush hour and then hit the balance of my 20 in the evening. Keeps my ass from going numb.That’s right…on my second ride, my tire pressure warning goes off. I check the monitor and, sure enough, three tires are showing as 36-42 psi and my rear passenger side is showing 14…13…12.5…9…FML. I drop off my passenger at OHSU and then pull over to inflate so I can drive to Les Schwab for a patch. At least I was/am hoping it’s patch-able. The fact that I had to stop and re-inflate on the way to the tire shop didn’t seem too promising. I mean, the tire shop was maybe three miles from OHSU…I should know any time now whether it’s fixable or I’m fucked. I shouldn’t be too surprised that this is the second time I’ve been back for a repair since getting these new wheels back in…April? May? A blog buddy warned me that she’d had nothing but trouble from her Continentals. Still, I’m trying to find my Attitude of Gratitude by acknowledging that the Contis are doing far better with only two trips to the shop in 6 months, compared to Pat the Patriot’s six trips in 5 months.
  • I figured since I had 90 minutes to kill before I heard about Angela’s tire, I’d walk a few errands. First, dropping off my poo test. Second, third, I’ll swing by the post office and pick up a registered letter (don’t worry, it’s a gift card not a summons) and fourth…I’ll swing by the bank and switch a few nickels from one account to another in case I have to buy a new tire. Probably not the energy to be putting out there – practical as it sounded at the time. On my way from the ballot dropbox to the bank, I passed a spice shop and remembered last night’s craving for a seasoning for my popcorn. In I go! Unable to decide between cheddar and straight up popcorn salt, I pick up both. I head to the counter and…no wallet. Come on! I think I remember leaving it in Angela’s driver’s side glove box while gassing up. If that’s a fake memory, then I’ve lost my friggin’ wallet. Again. Upside: I need a new wallet. Downside: no popcorn seasonings. The guy was really nice about it, too. He offered to let me take the seasonings and bring cash back. Chuckling gratefully at the offer, I declined, thinking I’d probably get hit by an armored car on my way home if I took him up on the kind offer.
  • The most ironic thing about today? While I was at lunch, dad sneaks in one of those “I didn’t want to alarm your <insert parenting partner here>” type questions to make sure I’m doing ok.
  • At the time, I laughed it off, low-key complaining about my laptop. But I asked what had prompted the conspiratorial concern and he pointed back to an Instagram post from last week or so. The post in question was something like this:
  • But I had just shared it to my story from somewhere else on the ‘gram, so now it’s gone. But how lucky am I to have a dad that asks?!?
  • Even luckier to be able to answer, “Nah, just seemed like a good thought to share. With you and mom on my side, I never have to ask for help”! So, that felt good.
  • Everything else?
  • Annoying.
  • Now, I guess I best hoof it up to the post office – did I mention that the registered letter is at a post office branch 20 blocks away instead of the branch that is literally two blocks from my house? – then stop by Les Schwab and at least pick up (I hope) my wallet since it’s been 90 minutes and still no word. Might end up taking the weekend off…
  • Eff Em El

    No Me Pises

    You should probably wait for the laughter of your inner teenaged boy to die down before moving on…

    No me pises translates from Spanish to English as something familiar.

    Even if you aren’t a Proud Boy.

    Or a gun nut.

    And I’ll tell ya, this American is taking it back this week like The Gays took back the Proud Boys hashtag last week. Seriously, what were those bigoted idiots thinking trying to usurp pride from The Gays?

    Buncha dopes.

    What a wonderful time to be re-watching Ally McBeal…

    Not such a wonderful time to get a late night Messenger notice from Black Sheep Bro. I mean, surrealiously I’m on the West Coast and he’s in friggin’ Texas. Why he’s sending me messages at 11 PM my time?

    I don’t know.

    Nor do I know what brotherly charm he was hoping to evoke with this out of nowhere crap. But it didn’t do much to improve my disposition in the Xtopher vs Black Sheep Bro arena.

    But I do know that while he makes me scratch my head – and delete Snapchat – and ponder whether he’s heckling me from a path I want to venture down, several others have tried calling me down similarly unappealing paths that I think they can just travel alone. Or at least without the pleasure of my company…

    Take this joker on the Twitter.

    Not to bury the lede, but I reported the rat bastard.

    Suck on that sweaty dick, Jimbo.

    If only all instances of intolerable bullshit were handled as expeditiously as Twitter handled this.

    Actually, sometimes they are handled thusly, these petty bullshit things. They just are not always the matters of import that draw attention.

    Lucky for all of you, dear readers, I’m not shy about holding up the lumps from my life for your appreciation.

    For instance, the situation that prompted this response from Lyft.

    Good old Marcy from Lyft.

    Here’s the story:

    I was out driving last weekend – Friday. It was after I possibly stressed myself into being ill two days last week, which is another blog post on its own. Needless to say, I was driving to play catch up on my self-imposed weekly goals. Fortunately for me, my hypochondriac episode malady occurred just prior to the first rainy Fall weekend of the season.

    Unfortunately for me, I ran into a rider who seemed conflicted about a lot of things.

    The first of which was the difference between a driver and a bartender therapist.

    He gets in and tells me he’s going to a friend’s house to have a few drinks and hang out. Because, as it turns out, his live-in girlfriend is giving him hell at home.

    For what it’s worth, I have a cat at home who prefers I not be at home.

    Seemed safe enough.

    Banal, one might even think if they didn’t know the feline that is Mistress Myrtle…no matter how angelic she may pretend to be for the ‘Gram.

    So this passenger manages to cram a lot into this ride that didn’t even beat the minimum fare! This particular swine was absolutely rolling in his own pearls of wisdom.

    I’m not sure whether it was my lacking in a certain luster enthusiasm for the quicksand caliber topics he was therapeutically trundling into.

    It was.

    Men have needs.

    Ugh. So absolutely rapey.

    At least there’s porn. Hey…what kind of porn do you like?!?

    Gay.

    Oh, sweet! That actually just made me a little hard. Do you want to touch it?

    This gem he drops as he’s getting out of the car.

    No. No, I do not.

    For so many, many reasons.

    Do I want to Bobbit you? Yes, yes…perhaps I do.

    Maybe it was something else that got me going. Maybe it was the overwhelming cumulative effect of his closeted and misogynistic monologue in such a short period of time. Or that I didn’t have a beer to wash the figurative taste of his words out of my being.

    But some things I do know.

    I got into my 50s being single by absolutely wasting my time on idiots like this clown – not you, Rib, you’re a dear. Certainly, I wanted to head right back to where I picked him up from and tell any angry looking women I met to dump their boyfriends.

    Most definitely, I’m no longer flattered by fuckbois who think copping a feel is a reward worthy of my effort and pursuit. Had I been him, I’d have for sure known that my attached stiffy did not afford me the right to stiff my service provider.

    Quite the opposite – I’d think I have enough shame to overtip if I made such a social blunder. Lucky me, running into someone with this joker’s uncommon knowledge.

    Maybe I’ll understand his entitlement someday.

    And then there was the whole…I just don’t know what to feel about-ness of his offer to be a side piece.

    A fling…at my age.

    An unsolicited pinch hitter for his main piece, who I’m sure was unaware that her boyfriend was out haphazardly recruiting.

    Probably, knowing me and my penchant for being rulesy, it was more that first thing than anything else. I got to be single in my 50s by defining my own acceptable standards of behavior. One of those standards is being alone instead of being in a relational situation simply because it’s not being alone.

    This fucker wanted it all. Most upsetting to me was probably that he and I disagreed on whether he was entitled to any.

    Anyway, unlike with the Twitter guy, I didn’t even report this guy. I simply one-starred him – and any passenger I rate as three out of five stars or lower, the app will never pair me with again.

    Personally, I think three or below is a pretty harsh scale, so I use my Star Hammer judiciously. Most of my rides – and I’m talking all but about five out of ~2500 rides – have been great.

    That being the case, I break it down like this:

    Regular great ride – four stars.

    Regular great ride with a tip – five stars.

    If you’re just a meh, I might three star you. The very infrequent individual that finds and inhabits the ass in “passenger” gets a one star. As you can tell, I don’t really find the relevance in that whole two star business…what’s that, the ass that tips?

    When I was young, like my early 20s, there was a thing going around. This was before memes but after email. Sure, it was like in the days of AOL email addresses, but still. We would print them out and hold onto them to share with friends.

    Now that I think about it, memes are really to young people what recipe cards used to be to 50s housewives – something to share with peers.

    The pre-meme that I wanted to share?

    Every day, I am forced to deal with someone who ends up on the ever growing list of people who can kiss my ass.

    But that Marcy from Lyft? She ain’t on it, for sure. But she’s certainly on it…meaning, when I one starred this passenger, I selected “inappropriate rider behavior” and made a note about the indecentident on the ride but didn’t file anything formal with Lyft. Hell, I was pretty sure no one but me ever saw those notes.

    But Marcy found my flag and followed up – just to tell me that she’d seen it and suspended the pig-fucker. On my mental scales of justice, I figured Marcy’s intervention balanced that poor girlfriend’s ledger.

    So don’t tread on others might be the better tag line here. I think trampling in America would be a lot less frequent if we watched out for these unknown others, even when the tramplers themselves don’t seem to even care enough to look over their shoulders for witnesses before trampling.

    Here’s my parting shot of Chrisism wisdom:

    Do the right thing, even when no one is watching.

    Hi, my name is Grumpy, Old Xtopher…and you can believe that I’m fucking watching. It’s not like I have much else to do in these End Times.

    No Me Pises

    RIP: The Middle Ground

    Y’know, for too brief a fleeting moment, I had some hope.

    For democracy in America.

    Hell, just for regular old, garden variety people in America.

    I’ll wait while you gather yourselves together and pick your jaws up off the floor at my rampant optimism.

    Don’t worry. It’s gone. As I sit here at the beer garden in front of my local – the Big Legrowlski – in the middle of what used to be a street called Couch, sipping a pint of the good stuff and being buzzed by what I surmise are a pair of albino gnats…it’s gone.

    Dead.

    (My thumb is making this Jackie Treehorn inspired glass PG)

    Sadly, even in a year as dramatic and as filled with soapy plot twists as 2020, I’m not sure it’s coming back to life. Unlike Marlena Brady, I think that my hope for the middle ground in America is staying dead.

    I was embarrassed after last Tuesday’s presidential debate.

    As a Democrat.

    As an American.

    And even as an adult.

    Overall, I was glad that Biden called out Trunt‘s bully behaviors and went so far as to tell him to shut up.

    Hilary certainly could not have walked away from such a statement without being disqualified as a serious candidate and having her gender weaponized against her. But watching Trump use those same childish and distracting tactics in the 2020 debate that he did throughout his 2016 campaign made me wonder if democracy in America is merely a matter of he who shouts loudest, wins.

    It’s hardly been a matter of statesmanship these last years.

    While the debate was embarrassing and hard to watch, I walked away thinking that even with as little substantive dialogue as the debate served up, Biden was the clear winner simply for not being the biggest imbecile on stage.

    It’s a low bar, to be sure. But Stupid Americans love their low bars.

    Personally, I prefer lowbrow bars…but that’s every other day in my life. Today is about setting a better bar.

    Then I remembered that these same Stupid Americans would be Trump’s base and that critical thinking and analytical skills don’t really mesh well with giant pick ups, gun racks and white supremacy.

    Secretly – fearfully – I still look at polling returns with a degree of dubious optimism. A 14 point lead in the polls is nothing to sneeze at.

    Still.

    As recently as last night, I had some active hope. Hope that was eroding but at least wasn’t at imminent risk of being abducted by a local madman, possessed by the devil, marrying an unknown sibling or ending up stranded on a desert island after going down in a small plane into shark infested waters.

    But that’s closer to the surreality that is American politics in 2020 than the poise and demeanor present in American politics prior to Donald J Trump bumbling into the DC swamp. Remember, that’s coming from a Portland native, and my town has a living former mayor who was famous for this before entering politics:

    So I know something about non-traditional candidates, shall we say?

    Here’s where my hope flashed bright before ultimately getting its last rites.

    Of course it was from a passenger – gotta love the Lyft Life! And I swear, I don’t know why people vomit this shit out in my presence…well, maybe I could come up with something if I drank about it overanalyzed it long enough.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love railing against the state of Portland and America with my mostly liberal townsfolk cum passengers. Making a left leaning statement in Angela in Portland is practically guaranteed to be met with an echo chamber response. If it’s not, those aligned with the erroneously named right wing know enough in this town to not wait for Biden to advise-slash-implore them to do the <ahem> right thing. But I usually start off with innocuous Joey-fare versus dousing my passengers with a cauldron of intelligent political observational conversational content.

    Last week, after picking up a guy at a bar on the Columbia River – and, sadly, this is my only opportunity to pick up guys at bars these days – that answer was:

    Drunk!

    That ride devolved into a back seat monologue about COVID being a hoax, a guarantee that come mid-November no one would be wearing masks and the old chestnut that only 6% of reported COVID deaths were actually from COVID and not underlying conditions.

    I’m giving you a fair warning that I expect a pat on the back for my actual response:

    The people who died from COVID *had* underlying conditions, they weren’t actively dying from those conditions, that’s why they are called co-morbidities and not Causes of Death.

    What I didn’t add as I assessed my booze filled passenger in my rear view was:

    Obesity is a co-morbidity you fat, stupid fuck.

    Which is where that pat on the back was earned.

    Seriously, this guy was 375 pounds of Captain Oblivious.

    But he tipped the tipping scales with a nice fat one, even though I’m not sure that wasn’t just inebriation versus political contrition.

    My hope collapsed like a Brad Pitt built house in New Orleans last night after picking up a guy at his work last night at about 11. I started off innocuously enough with:

    My mom worked at that Freddy’s for several years.

    I could have gone with something like “I lived right down the road from here growing up”, but chose the work connection. Also, I’m not entirely sure I’d call the present day incarnation of me “grown up”. Maybe groan up…

    How that veered into him admitting he’s a Republican, I dunno. I do know, however, that his conversational blowout included him saying, “I understand a lot of the Democratic values like healthcare and living wages”. I sincerely praised him for being able to look past the labels and appreciate the good intent behind those values, regardless of political labels.

    Seriously, I was buoyed by his perspective. It didn’t hurt that he said he despised Trump. Then he admitted he hadn’t voted in 2016 because of that. When I probed – shut up, Diezel – he said he just hated Hilary.

    That’s where his blowout of a conversation veered off the road and dangerously into a tree that I’d call Chappaquiddick territory. Talk about political appropriation!

    I’m not gonna lie, I told him – respectfully – that was both sexist and irresponsible.

    He listened, though, as I went on to say that voting isn’t just a right, it’s a civic responsibility. It’s not Prom Queen, our job as voting age Americans isn’t to pick the candidate we like most, it’s to pick the candidate best suited to do the job.

    If you want to vote for who reflects your values, do it on the local level…maybe that’s why there are more Representatives than Senators? To make sure each citizen of every state has a chance to connect personally on a political level. The President, though? He’s our Commander in Chief, sure, but he’s also our Diplomat in Chief. He – fuck, they – are our face to the world. Expecting them to mirror your personal values is literally a 1:330 million improbability chance.

    That’s not a realistic expectation to place on one person. And sadly, with the obsolescence of the old political chestnut “There’s more that unites us than divides us”, it looks like realism in politics is going or has gone the way of the Dodo.

    Ask me in 28 days.

    As for last night?

    As my passenger exited the car over the sound of someone figuratively hammering nails into a coffin, I reminded him that there’s three ways to vote for Trump:

    1. Vote for Trump
    2. Don’t vote
    3. Vote for a third party or write-in
  • And then said, “Vote for Biden, I won’t tell…and he might die or retire. Then we get a young President Harris that would more accurately represent the majority of the non-Boomer Americans like you and I!”
  • Oh, don’t even get me started on her. I like Biden way better than her!

  • Ok, well, that position made zero sense. It was like common sense dressed up as a nun for Halloween and said it was Nun Sense.
  • But as I drove away I had two thoughts:
  • First, that that was exactly why my hope for The Middle Ground was dying. We’d just had a 15 minute conversation about doing the right versus ideological thing and that was his parting shot. He hit the bullseye on the “missed the point” target.
  • Second, I made a winning wager with myself that he wouldn’t have the drunken shame of Fat Fucker to overtip. Being stupid is bad enough. Being stupid and cheap is quite another.
  • Then again, I type that on the heels of a headline about Trump walking away from stimulus talks until after the election – talk about holding a country hostage over a narrow purview…but I guess last night’s Republican learned it from the top.
  • Can the meteor hit Earth now, please?
  • RIP: The Middle Ground

    Dry…Month?!?

    Could be. Now that I’ve found this lil secret weapon:

    But first, the back story!

    As we emerged from August, smoldering from yet another dumpster fire of a month in 2020, it occurred to me that I could only recall one night since March 18th that I didn’t drink.

    Now, does that mean there aren’t more?

    No.

    But realistically, I’d assume that I blacked out more memory in the last six months than my CRS caused me to forget – before you ask: Can’t Remember Shit.

    This is a frequent topic during my Lyft shyfts – how are you coping? Oddly enough, I give a lot of rides to people in the cannabis industry. About as many weed indy riders as strippers, to be honest. Besides essential hospital workers, these are Portland’s essential heroes.

    For what it’s worth, I think both represent great coping mechanisms. Well, one is a coping mechanism.

    So, these weedies – as I’ve just now decided to call them – often tip pre-rolls. That’s great and all, but I suck at smoking, so the last time I was offered one, I appreciatively declined. When I told her why, she got very excited and told me I had to try syrups.

    Sizzurp, in case you didn’t see that on the label pictured above.

    So I decided to check it out.

    This is about the time I started trundling running again – or what I’m calling running these days – and I thought intoxicating qualities aside, pain relief potential could also be a win.

    I wander into my local dispensary, Broadway Cannabis Collective – about which I’d gotten a hot tip from a passenger that this was the best shop in town, lucky me – and after waiting my socially distant turn, inquired. Meeting my randomly matched budtender at the cooler, she started in on a dizzying diatribe of information. This was after telling me they didn’t sell much from this cooler, so the info she had off the top of her head was…well, like I said – dizzying.

    But what jumped out at me was this line:

    These are the ones I’d go with, the small bottle is 125 and the large is 1000, so that’ll really last you!

    <record scratch>

    1000?!?

    I heard my grandpa in my head saying “I just wanted to get “x”, not buy the place”…but played it totally cool.

    No, really, totally cool.

    Like on a scale of 1 to shizzle, I was a fo‘.

    Wait, wait…don’t unsubscribe! I’m sorry! Hehe.

    As she continued on, recommending that I try a small bottle to see how I like it and casually flipping labels around to tell me about the profile of each flavor, I saw that the “125” bottle was only $15 and realized the 125 that she was referring to was milligrams of THC.

    Glad I played it cool.

    Realizing my mistaken assumption, I chose the 1000 milligram bottle, whose dose was one teaspoon. That meant the bottle had 24 doses and I’d just bought two 12-packs of La Croix, so I figured it was meant to be and that I was set for a couple weeks.

    You might want to start with a half dose until you know how it hits you.

    My budtender suggested.

    Ok, so I’m set for a month!

    And let me tell you, a half teaspoon sets me up just right! After my evening concoctions the first two nights, I slept over 10 hours both nights.

    I’m so fucking rested, I feel guilty.

    On the third morning, I woke up feeling exceptional – having neither imbibed alcohol or sizzurp the night before. Stretching, my hands ending up moving from akimbo over my head to stretched towards my toes and then resting on my abdomen – or where my abdomen would be if not for the shed I’ve build over my tool…I realized something was missing. Or at least significantly reduced.

    After just three days with no booze.

    I’m so mad weed was villianized when I was a kid.

    And while my shed may be shrinking, my wallet is breathing a sigh of relief. I can get a 6-pack of a great IPA for $8-12 bucks. That’s a steal compared to $6 + tip at a bar, for sure. It cannot compare to about $1.25 for a half-dose of this sizzurp, though. I’m a convert, mind you, I am typing this post at the oldest bar in Portland…no need to overdo it, right?

    Call it a dryish month.

    Dry…Month?!?