Portland Pride

I said I wasn’t going to go.

I wasn’t in the mood, borderline depressed.

It’s not my crowd, I’m too old.

It’s not safe, why put myself in a place where I’m a potential target?

My “Pride” body is in mothballs.

I went.

…and came away friggin’ renewed!

Don’t get me wrong, when I first showed up, I was mad. Since this outfit sets up in and around the North Park Blocks, I’m immersed in the Pride parade going-ons.

Even the day of, I left my house and went to my coffee shop for my morning joe, coming out my front door when it was just early bird parade prep stragglers.

I was convinced that sitting in my coffee shop perch would be the extent of my participation. However, as I watched the Park Blocks populate from straggler-status to party-mode, I kinda got inspired.

Then I left the cafe and went home.

Ugh…so people-y.

I sat on my couch and booted around the interwebs and the Netflix for a while before convincing myself around 11:30 to just go watch the Dykes on Bikes. They always kick off the parade and their ability to get the crowd pumped in a great boost.

The parade started at 11 this year.

C’mon!

I’d missed the Dykes.

But there I was, in the same spot I always occupied when I went to the parade. Standing on the edge of the parking lot across from the former Embers. Sun beating down from directly over me and radiating up at me from the asphalt I was standing on.

Convection Cooked Xtopher.

I missed the opportunity to go across the street for a quick beer to cool off. During other Portland Pride parades, I was amazed to walk into Embers during the parade and see how nut-to-butt packed it was. Post-standing-room-only, whereas I usually felt like I was the only non-homeless, non-employee, not wearing a dress patron there. But as everyone else waited in their best guess as to where a line was for the bar, I could usually count on standing still and getting a beer handed to me.

Ah, the occasional perks of being a regular.

I’d only been at the parade for 15 minutes, but could already feel myself deciding to stay. The frustration at missing the opening act was wearing off. And even though I couldn’t wander across the street for a beer, Portland’s local pubs had floats that at least refreshed me with the idea of a beer.

It was fun – as usual – to see the local businesses participating in this show of community. Not too long ago, these parades were really just processions of floats with go-go boys from the local bars, support organizations for our community and the occasional business from a city’s Gay District. It really reinforced the theme for the parade.

While “LOVE” is indeed the word, the participation by these businesses demonstrated that love is a word with many definitions. Obviously, for the parade overall, romantic and familial love was the primary meaning, but this participation by the community reinforced the less specific, global definition of the word.

They loved us.

Because love is also simply about a degree of acceptance. Taking the whole – don’t make it dirty, Diezel – good, bad or ugly.

Even our sports teams got in on it. Naturally, there were the local gay teams, like the gay soccer league team. But seeing our Blazer organization representing, that felt good for some reason. Not that I’m a sports fan or participant. But maybe because I’m not…having spent much of my youth feeling ostracized from my peer group because I didn’t have a head – or physical aptitude – for sports.

Of course, not everyone loves “us”. I had decided to make my way from my perch toward the head of Broadway.

This year’s Pride haps were pre-marred by the ominous yet vague threat that alt-right Proud Boys would be lurking outside Pride sponsored events to harass attendees as they left. Basically – Pride being an unapologetic party – they were openly declaring that they were gonna beat up drunk gays.

Proud Boys ruining Pride.

I can see why they’re so proud.

There were a couple of dust ups in the week leading to Pride weekend – most notably, three guys pulling their small penis mobile over on Broadway in broad daylight to beat up a gay – or at least gay enough looking – guy.

Profile much?

But that still lent credibility to their menacing promise. It kept me in. Maybe that was their real purpose.

Still, I was happy to hear about increased security, including the Portland Police, at Pride functions. For the second time in the years since the Pulse massacre, I was glad to see the parade head at Broadway and Burnside blockaded against vehicles.

Two heavy duty dump trucks were there to prevent any vehicular menace. A sad statement to have to make, but heaven forbid these alt-right people read a newspaper and figure out what terrorism in Europe is looking like these days.

Of course, dump trucks keep out cars and whatnot. But not all of the refuse.

As always, the “God Hates Fags” crowd was there. I think they really did a great job of rallying the three remaining members of their hate group for the parade.

My photography leaves a bit to be desired, but it really was three guys, two signs and a bullhorn.

They really weren’t a match for the horns and sirens of every emergency service provider in the Portland area, who blasted them and drowned their hate-speak out as their vehicles rounded the corner of the parade route.

Do you see the vehicle ID on that ambulance?

Awesome!

Eventually, the haters gave up. More accurately, they probably moved down to the waterfront festival ahead of the parade’s end so that they could be ready to assault the crowd as they entered the festival after the parade. I don’t know who writes their stuff, but what I heard in between siren blasts makes me suspect one of their group is a self-hating homo.

“Instead of getting down on your knees to suck dick, you should get down an pray to God!”

“God hates you, you cum gurgling homo!”

…hearing them was really starting to make me feel proud to be a part of a community that has an annual party to promote love.

Surprisingly, dovetailing nicely on that feeling were at least a dozen religious groups sending delegations to march. Usually, I expect the MCC to be there since it’s “the gay church”. This year, though, I really noticed the participants from other religious denominations.

Because it really reinforced that with mutual love and respect for one another, we are all taking part in a global community and by extension, family.

I swear those balloons spell out “FAMILY”. A nice throwback to the Marriage Equality slogan, “Love makes a family”.

I decided to keep moving backward along the parade route to short-hand the remaining floats in the procession. Partially because this was turning into an all day event for me when I’d originally committed to viewing one entry. Notice how ungrumpy I’m seeming as I write? The same was also happening in real time as I watched the parade.

Catharsis!

I also wanted to head back toward my coffee house to see if they were still open. Normally, they are closed on Sundays. From what I’d witnessed earlier in the day, today was looking to shape up as one of their best days ever. I like seeing my local businesses thrive…even if a constant line to the door means I might not get a timely refill on my cold brew coffee.

Remember what I said about being a regular at my neighborhood gay bar? Yeah…well, it worked with coffee, too! The Fox had joined late, not believing the cafe would be open. He’d walked in – amazed – to a line to the door. Liz set him up with a cup, but was so busy that he didn’t get a chance to pay until the next day. It’s these local businesses with such good people working there and investing their personalities in the community they serve – these relationships – that I want to see thrive. I’m proud to be their customer.

Even still, it’s nice to see big business participate, too. Nike, Adidas, T-Mobile, even Wells Fargo…despite the road apples their crew didn’t manage to get entirely removed! It was odd that a few companies were conspicuously absent from prior years: Macy’s and Alaska Airlines being a couple of the standouts.

Maybe I just missed them, but then again…they do set up right in my front yard. Macy’s kind of makes sense, having shuttered their downtown store this past year. But Alaska would be a strange absence, given that they are a local PNW company.

But none of that is actually why I brought up the big business participation.

In order for these large companies to have a delegation in the parade to represent them, they’ve got to have employees that want to represent them. These global behemoths like Nike and Adidas, for instance. Sure, they both have Portland World Headquarters, but internally they have an environment of inclusion…specifically for their LGBT+ employees. That effort to make their employees more than just a minion helps them to attract and retain good talent.

But it also gives me hope that no matter how big the company, they are striving toward that scrappy small business value of their individuals being what drives their local success, like my friends that work at my favorite caffienation and inebriation stations.

By this time, I’d actually made my way back to the corner that f&b is on just in time to see the final floats heading into the route. Led by the Human Rights Campaign and Portland’s own Gay Beards, whose procession had a ball playing red rover under their huge flag.

Not to be too Portland about it, but the Witches Against Capitalism were well represented. As was our local Rocky Horror Picture Show enthusiasts…whose group presented zero g-rated picture opportunities, so enjoy the witches.From witches to Red Dress…I’d have a tough time finding a dress for the actual Red Dress Party – although I don’t since I’m not a size 12 anymore. These guys trotted out a dress for the Pride Parade…and you know they can’t wear the same dress twice!

That’s commitment.Sure, let’s have a float for sex workers, too.

Actually, while I don’t disagree with their sign – that looks like it was made at breakfast and they just spontaneously decided to be in the parade over brunch – the reason I’m including these pics is two-fold:

A) there is a guy dressed as Deadpool wearing a straw hat right behind that blue tutu…WTF? Like I’d put it past Ryan Reynolds to show up for a random Pride parade appearance.B) I’ve had a “real” job my whole life…where’s my fucking boat?!?

Maybe I need to re-examine my vocational trajectory.

Oops…maybe that ship has sailed. (See what I did there?)

Then there’s random unicycle dude outfitted in pink and pulling a bike trailer with a giant “?” on it as if to say, “I don’t even know what I’m doing here…”

But that pink curly thing? Not a tail on his costume…it’s a whip.

If only I had a good action shot of it.Which brings us to the end of the parade. Since Dykes on Bikes open the procession, it seems only fair that’ll white guys on motorcycles finish things off, right?

Call it Dawgs on Hawgs…

Luckily, my backward moseying had brought me back to Big Legrowlski.

And this adorable little fella!

I was actually pretty parched, so I stopped in for just one.

Good old Silver Fox joined me for a second round.

Then Liz and the f&b crew stopped in for a quickie to cap off a huge day of business for their cafe. I had to stay and help celebrate that success!

Right?!?

The Fox being the reasonable person he is chose to duck out at this juncture. That turned out to be a good call since moments later – swigs later? – the gorgeous 80 degree day gave way to a biblical friggin’ rain storm.

Drops the size of my head.

Thunder!

I decided to wait it out. Unfortunately, the only rain break was awkwardly situated in the middle of a beer.

What’s an out of date Frat Boy to do?

Me, being the optimist that I am, stayed and drank until I’d hit six. Then I began to wonder in those God Hates Fags guys were right and worry that a flood was coming.

Not really.

But it was getting on to Mistress Myrtle’s feeding time. I asked Alex if she had any lost and found umbrellas. She jokingly provided me with this

which I proudly escorted back to my place while wondering how a bar ends up with a child’s umbrella.

The days that followed Pride have been fun exercises in immediate nostalgia. One of the best things about Portland Pride is that it’s always in the middle of Pride month – the worst thing is that it’s on Father’s Day. What this means is that we have a lot of pre-Pride festivities to warm us up and that we still have two weeks left in Pride month.

It’s like foreplay and afterglow.

My favorite part of this reality is that I have little reminders of Pride – like glitter all over the road in front of my home or this sticker I saw yesterday in front of Powell’s.

This whole surprise Pride participation has been just what my waning sense of self-pride needed.

Gay-men to that!

It was just the necessary kick in the butt to stop feeling worthless in my unemployed-ness and get my ass off the couch and back into the land of the living. More of that to follow!

Love and pizza, yo!

Portland Pride

Fat Shamed By My Phone

I’ve been a little lazy lately. Kind of living the life of a shut in or hermit.

Lots of factors.

However, the two that led to this initially and then hooked me, eventually were:

A) The first of the season sunburn that I exposed myself to during my spur of the moment half century ride has kept me inside versus making it worse. I could simply buy some sun screen, but for now I’m living a literal version of “once burned, twice shy”…at least until I stop peeling!

And,

B) I hurt myself. Yes, again. Yes, while I’ve allegedly been inactive.

But there’s a story behind that Point B.

Naturally.

The Silver Fox was laid up a few days back and I offered to take his pooch out for his pre-bedtime walk. His dog is a good boy. Certainly a better pet than my Mistress Myrtle, who is currently in the midst of an Otter Identity Crisis.

George is 110 pounds of heart. Definitely more heart than brain, but as soon as I open the door he’s doing his “happy to see you” dance. It’s the same dance I get when I’m visiting and use the bathroom in The Fox’s Lair. Anyway, having been a slug for the past several days and wanting to make sure The Fox gets every opportunity to rest up by sleeping through the night, I decide to give the dog a good pre-bedtime run. We zip around the North Park Blocks in the darkness in between sniff and pee breaks so that he can get all the pup-dates the neighborhood dogs leave…the NPB really are like Canine Facebook.

Still, we ran up and down four of the five blocks of park in between Chez Galby and The Fox’s Lair, occasionally doubling back on ourselves as we ran and played. It was only 3/4 of a mile, but I knew it was more than George usually gets at that late hour and I could tell he was ready to settle in for the night when we were done.

I went to bed thinking, “You know, you could shuffle out a mile jog around the park blocks a couple times a week” and motivated to give that a try to see how my knees and lower legs tolerated it.

Of course, I woke up on Monday scarcely able to put my ever increasing body weight on my left foot.

Gotdammit.

So I’ve been relegated to the sofa most of this week…naturally, it’s also a week where my normal Monday morning acupuncture was cancelled because of the holiday.

First World Problem.

You’d have thought being laid up would give me plenty of writing time.

You’d have been mistaken.

I’ve been trapped in a daily Netflix Spiral.

But, ending the week on a high note, I am determined to tell the story of that time my phone fat-shamed me. It was also my last outdoor activity, a hike with Little Buddy in Forest Park. There might even be some pics, it was so long ago that I’ve forgotten if I snapped pics during that hike or not.

One of the reasons that I enjoy hiking is the natural setting, of course. That’s the same reason I enjoy cycling. The difference is that while hiking, I can enjoy the scenery a bit more than when it’s buzzing by at a whopping 15 MPH. Hence the potential for pictures.

My usual Forest Park hike is a ten mile affair, about 50/50 split betwixt sidewalk on the to and from and actual trail in the park itself. It’s usually a 3-4 hour endeavor, depending on how long I stay at Pittock Mansion once I reach this little urban summit. Little Buddy had told me she had a few hours between work and family dinner duties, so I stopped her from paying to park by my place when she rolls up, figuring we can park adjacent to one of the many entry points and start there.

I’m not just respecting her pending familial obligations, I’m also ensuring our post ambulation recreation at The Big Legrowlski: beer!

Here’s the rub, though: I’ve never driven to the trail, so I have zero clue where to direct Little Buddy. Being the slave to technology that I am, I google Forest Park and get directions.

This takes us in the complete opposite direction than I normally head off in when on foot, so I’m completely lost. I usually head NW through the Alphabet District – encompassing the Pearl District, Slabtown and The Conway neighborhoods – and then into Northwest and ultimately the forest on Thurman Street.

These google directions set us off toward Burnside, the primary East-West thoroughfare through town and really the first street in the Alphabet District, and the opposite end of the alphabet from my normal entry point. Mind you, Google Maps is – allegedly – going to provide the quickest route, so off we go.

Intrepid, no?

Here’s the payoff for struggling through those Portland neighborhood specific details…patience really can pay off.

We’re heading up Burnside, chattering comfortably away about her and 2.0’s new home escrow, an upcoming kitchen remodel in their current home and my parents’ kitchen remodel – it appears I literally have nothing to add to this conversation myself, so I’m ripping off my parents. But, being an okay son, when she mentions having a potential Quartz Guy, I tell her that my parents had wanted quartz but opted for marble because they couldn’t find a decent deal on quartz.

Sidebar: She literally just texted me this as I’m writing

Hehe…Wong’s.

This is my life, I cannot make it up any better.

End sidebar.

So, we’re driving up Burnside and our conversation is interrupted by directions, as is often the case when GPS is your friend. Or in this case, frenemy.

“In 600 feet, continue on past Taco Bell”…

As far as landmarks go, if you’re going to base them on businesses, Portland has a few iconic offerings along Burnside. For example,

Jim Fisher Volvo has been on Burnside since 1957 and its sign 60 feet over Burnside is nearly as famous as this guy sitting at the head of NW Burnside.

But, no, my phone had inherited my snarky and completely unveiled bitchy personality. Allow me to translate its directions for you.

“Hey, fatty, since you don’t drive and based on your drunken Uber history, the park you’re looking for is past Taco Bell…do not stop at Taco Bell!”

Little Buddy and I were so stunned by this out of character type of direction that it took us a moment to begin laughing our asses off. LB nearly drove into a truck. We were laughing so hard that we nearly missed the second warning at 400 feet. We’d regained our composure enough to enjoy the fact that google kept on shaming me until the “200 feet” marker.

As funny as that was – shituationally – I felt a little cheated that there was no congratulatory message once I’d successfully made it past my drunken dietary siren.

Somehow – after that amazing ab workout slash dose of the best medicine – we made it to our urban trailhead destination. I recognized it, as I’d crossed this road a few times on other adventures. After parking, we head out into the trail as I try to mentally adjust my map so I don’t get us lost.

We both quickly realize that we aren’t entering at the easiest point on the path…as we pretty much are silenced 300 feet into a maybe 12 degree (I’m guessing, not really sure how grades are measured…just assume it’s steep) climb when LB says something along the lines of, “Geez, how long is this hill?!?”

Basically, what I was desperately trying to remember. Wiping the streams of sweat from my face before turning to answer, I tell her that “I can’t actually remember” and that it’s “longer than I recall, I’m trying to remember which way to go at the top so I don’t get lost again”.

Now, this Little Buddy of mine, she’s pretty sharp.

Again?!?”, she asks.

This totally takes the pressure off the early phone fat shaming since I answer her honestly by telling her that I’ve only gotten lost in Forest Park twice.

This year.

This just happens to be one of the two paths I’ve been lost on.

What could possibly go wrong?

I’d guess that the initial climb was about 1000 feet and my treacherous phone told me we climbed 13 stories. One of my math-y friends can figure the grade out and tell the rest of us in the comments.

After that initial near death humility inducing beginning, the path leveled off into a more comfortable elevation gain and we were back to our normally chatty and much less wheezy selves. It was last Wednesday and we both enjoyed the relatively people-free trail as we absorbed the natural settings and caught up.

It’s one of those normally awesome experiences that is even better for the company. I’m glad she and I have had a couple of opportunities to enjoy each other’s company, being outdoors, some beer, a lil wine, great weather and surprisingly few other people. As a matter of fact, once we reached the mansion, I mentioned that this was the smallest crowd I’d seen up there in the three years I’ve been hiking these trails.

Less than a dozen counting us. Excluding us, maybe not even a half dozen.

Heavenly.

Naturally, two of the only other visitors were feeling chatty. And commemorative, asking me to get a pic of them in front of the overlook. LB took off for a shady spot in the corner while the tourists from Salt Lake chatted me up. I mentally praised her reclusiveness, even though I knew that I was projecting my early onset grumpiness onto her mom check in moment.

I can’t blame the tourist for wanting to capture the beautiful view, even if the mountain wasn’t out that day.

I swear, there is a mountain in that haze…somewhere. Maybe next time. I have that luxury, even though it’ll probably be so crowded up there when the mountain is actually out that I won’t be able to get a decent shot of it.

Oh well, first <ahem> step is to get my foot cooperating again!

Fat Shamed By My Phone

Otherwise It’s Just A Bunch of Thursdays Strung Together

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

Ok, that sentence made my brain hurt.

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

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

Ok…that’s a fair point.

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

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

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

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

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

Otherwise It’s Just A Bunch of Thursdays Strung Together

Galby’s Grow Op

No, mom…I’m not growing pot!

She’d totally turn me in, too.

No, my grow op is my lil patio pot garden.

Mom totally endorses this type of grow op. Out in “the wilds” surrounding my family’s homes in Columbia County, there are three Galby Gardens. One for each of my parents’ and siblings’ yards. Having a hopefully lush patio is the least I could do to try to blend in from my urban abode.

Mom even made a contribution at our lunch this week, trucking this lil baby in with her and Dad.

Let there be salsa! Er…tomatoes. I know there’s no such thing as a salsa bush.

Most surprising to me after planting my initial garden over in 3C last year was how Myrtle left the plants alone. She had killed most of my indoor plants, Christmas Cactus barely survived. There are still leaves with Myrtle’s bite marks scarred into them, so I was surprised she hadn’t tried to kill last year’s or even this year’s patio plants.

Sure enough, she’s content to sit peacefully amongst the greenery.

Well, she was sitting peacefully until I went to snap a pic, then she went on high alert.

Crazy cat.

To further nurture my yard-ly yield, my absentee takeaway from last year’s white elephant family Christmas celebration was an AeroGarden, which I just decommissioned today after what I hope will be a successful transition from hydro to soil.

Wish me – and these lil babies – luck.

The mini-countertop garden kit came with basil, dill and parsley. I was most excited about the basil, since I grow tired of buying mine. However, this plant got monstrous on my counter and dwarfed the other two in the aeroponic setup. Probably, I should have done this weeks ago. I fear the poor thing is too top heavy at the moment to successfully support itself, hence the alley oop from the deck railing.

The basil is still that big and heavy after taking 1/3 of the plant off…fingers crossed.

After planting the three victims – er – herbs, I think the parsley is the prettiest. Being in the creative couple’s project pot that Sacha and I each painted half of certainly enhances the delicate beauty of the plant itself.

I love that damn pot.

Again, not pot-pot. The one that survived the end of our relationship, ten years of condo living with no deck after moving to Seattle and then the return move to Portland. I rather like having a tangible reminder of that relationship. What better reminder than something we created together?

Regardless of how the new additions take to their soil surroundings, I’ve still got the perennials that I added this Spring as well as my personal favorite – don’t tell the others! My olive tree.

The Silver Fox was over the other day and remarked that it was really taking off. That’s a big improvement over his earlier observation as Winter began to give way when he said it didn’t look like it was doing too well. He’s some sort of master gardener, so I usually pay attention to his advice and admonishments…even when he ends up being wrong!

Anyway, last night he was over to watch some TV and I took the opportunity to passive-aggressively ask his advice on the olive tree and how to/when to prune it. I think it’s getting a little shrubby looking.

“Google ‘how to prune an olive tree'”, he offered.

Touché, Fox. Touché.

Should I name my olive tree?

“Olive” would be too obvious, right?

How about “Carl”? “Carl the Olive Tree”, no one would expect that…

Galby’s Grow Op

The Red Shirt Diaries #20

I get random texts from friends when something reminds them of me. That’s sweet, right? Until you factor in that what usually makes them think of me is usually something Siegfried and Roy would slowly back away from.

My friends know my feline relationship.

Read: peril.

I get asked every couple of months why I keep her if she’s that crazy-slash-mean-slash-bloodthirsty.

The answer is pretty easy, I chose her. That’s a commitment. It’s one that her first three homes failed to honor in the first 18 months of her life and part of why I think she’s so…weird.

The other part is just tortitude…torties are fairly famous for their antisocial behaviors.

Well, and then there’s the other other part: I think I can fix broken things.

That’s on me.

Still, she has mellowed over the last two and a half years.

Who can resist a lap nap with a sweet kitty? Even if it’s just a temporary state of sweetness.

My friends get this.

Hence the pictures.

I get a good chuckle out of them.

But, still…I won’t be surprised if I end up dying in a Myrtle Related Incident.

Whether it’s one of her ankle hunting strikes like the above near miss two years ago or a new, unexpected development remains to be seen.

Right meow, my money is on a bathroom mishap.

I moved into a new unit in my building at the first of the year. The old bathroom was shotgun style, long and deep…everything one after the other from the door.

Sink.

Tub.

Toilet.

The new situation is more of a side-by-side deal. Myrtle is usually sitting on the counter, sweetly when I finish showering. She’s like a stoner, staring in amazement at the swirling steam mixed with airborne cat hair riding the heatwaves my shower generates.

In my old bathroom, she did the same, but from the floor since the bathroom counter didn’t offer the same view of this kitty mesmerizing awesome phenomenon. Myrtle thinks it’s the best thing I’ve ever done…moving to give her a better view from her sink top perch.

Still, she catches me off guard: a month or so ago, I was removing some uninvited follicular guests by leaning over the counter toward the mirror. She usually rubs up against my belly and chest, adding hair to my shirt as I’m tweezing. This time, I was wrapped in a towel at my waist.

Little bitch bit my nipple.

I’m so not into that.

So, I try to be wary while being realistic. If Myrtle wants to be on the counter, she’s gonna be. Making an issue of it will just piss her off and she’ll still do it…just not while I’m around.

Cats, right?

So, here’s how that wariness manifested into a Red Shirt situation and I potentially end up dead:

Mistress Myrtle used to rub up against my ankles when I got out of my old shower. My friends all pretty much agree that she’s just reapplying her stank.

In the new place, she upgraded.

I was bent at the waist, drying my legs and Myrtle started rubbing her head on my towel dried hair. It rather caught me off guard and I jerked my head up, just missing the counter.

Here’s how this looks:

This has been a daily ritual ever since. I open the shower curtain and she’s sitting there waiting eagerly.

Personally, I think this is a hygiene upgrade for her. She’ll rub her head on mine and then scrub up against the slate style countertops.

It’s cute.

But about once a week, she’ll try to use her claws to tease my hair up into a better rubbing surface for her favorite cat.

Knowing that jerking upward will result in a bleeding scalp, I quickly duck in order to get away from the claws.

Yup.

More near misses, courtesy of the Mistress.

I really see this being some sort of Rube Goldberg type elaborate death.

Myrtle grabs my scalp with her claws.

I duck to avoid, smacking my head on the counter’s edge.

This causes me to jerk upright suddenly.

I lose my balance and overcorrect to remain on my feet.

…and fall backward into the tub.

Maybe the fall kills me, maybe it just paralyzes me and I end up laying there until I expire.

More than likely, I’m immobilized in the tub until Myrtle the Merciful decides ten minutes later that it’s a lost cause and she begins to eat my face.

No use letting a good meal spoil, right Myrt?

The Red Shirt Diaries #20

TIL #2: Gross Out

Sacha’s mom used to call it The Rotten Food Store.

When I worked briefly in grocery, I heard one of my co-workers refer to it as The Gross Out. This one stuck with me.

It’s actually the Grocery Outlet, and when The Fox mentioned that Sallory shopped there I almost fell over.

The optics didn’t work for me: I’d always attributed shopping at The Gross Out as a poor person’s prerogative, I consider Sallory anything but.

I think I actually said, “What is she, suddenly poor?!?” while mentally picking myself up. Maybe it’s that she lives in a small town and there aren’t a lot of other options. Certainly no New Seasons or Whole Foods.

It was one of these “small town” options that she’d first found Stok at, and that was a good find so it wasn’t hard to find my rationale to trust this statement at face value.

But, still…The Gross Out?!?

I admit it, I struggled a little.

This was tough to get my mind around.

I mentioned it to her personally while we were having wine on one of her trips to the city.

Looking at me straight on, with all earnestness, she says to me, “You’ve got to go check out the wine selection. It’s unbelievable!”

My liver clicked into place.

She went on to tell me that her preferred Gross Out is on the coast in Lincoln City – if I’m recalling this right, because: wine – and that their wine manager was all about great tips on what was drinking well. Oh, and it’s all so cheap! She swore that Trader Joe’s had nothing on them.

I was intrigued and The Fox and I giddily planned a trip to our local.

“Go up and down every aisle, there’s some great buys”, Sallory insists.

Our closest outlet is in the Hollywood District and we walked in past racks of outdoor plants. That was unexpected.

Equally unexpected was the entire front quarter of the store being taken up by the wine department.

I’m barely exaggerating.

There’s were case stacks everywhere. It was an oenophilliacacious – yeah, that’s a made up word – sprawl. Signs everywhere pointed to what Manny was recommending or drinking.

Hopefully, this Manny fella was the wine manager and not some bum with cardstock and a nice marker.

The Fox and I scooped up bottles and bottles. In reality, I think I only nabbed a half case…testing the waters. But, hey…old vine Zins and Paso Robles Sauvignon for $5-15? I didn’t really feel like I could make a mistake here.

It was hard to resist.

TJ’s would always be there for cheap table wines if this failed to live up to the hype.

It, um…didn’t.

I left there – after walking up and down every aisle, as advised – with bags of pasta, frozen pizzas and veggies, some frozen meals that I thought would make a good lazy lunch, bags of food to stick my freezer and pantry. Oh, and wine!

All for $127…

I’m not going to lie, suddenly, I couldn’t wait to try some of these other whackadoodle stores that I’d written off years ago. If Gross Out could surprise me, what else was out there to blow my mind?

The next week, The Fox took me along to the Costco. There’s always a few things I need there, so I was glad to tag along. On the way out, he asked me if I would mind hitting the WinCo across the way.

Initially, I balked…then I remembered.

Let’s GO!

Oh, my hell.

La Croix was a buck less than anywhere near me.

Myrtle’s wet food was $.57/can and my normal market sells it for $.95/can.

I got to the checkout with a half cart of bounty thinking, “Welp, here goes another $100”. But it was all stuff that had a shelf life, either in the pantry or freezer.

I left feeling like I’d been living life wrong all these years.

When I was bragging to a co-worker a few days later, she immediately jumped in with her own news: she and her husband had just gone to Cash & Carry, the Costco and WinCo and stocked up for less than $300 for their family of three for the next three months.

Shut the front door.

Trader Joe’s will always be on my shopping rotation, there’s just too many tasty things that you can only get there. Including delicious Spanish wines on the cheap.

But I learned to root out a good value during this little adventure and can’t believe it took me so long to come to the damn table. Come to think of it, Mistress Myrtle is nearly out of food, so I’ll have to plan a trip in the next week-ish to see what’s new at The Gross Out and WinCo.

Listen to your elders…find a Gross Out and go!

TIL #2: Gross Out

TIL 8: Dad Crying

Did you know there’s such a thing as Dad Crying?

No?

Me, either!

And I’m not even a parent.

It’s so humiliating.

Definitely not cool.

Or grumpy.

But it’s a thing, and I think I fucking have it.

This isn’t what I planned on writing about today.  You’re just going to have to wait to hear Myrtle’s latest attempts on my life.

Soon, though.

Because right now, I gotta get this out of me.  I think it’s been a thing I was aware of for quite some time, dating back to Rib’s accomplishments in Culinary School.  It was a slow trickle then, these feelings.

But it’s getting worse.

Mostly, this phenomenon occurs in darkened theaters, thank gawd.  The last three movies I’ve seen have opened the tap.

Speaking of taps, no…I wasn’t drinking during these shows.  Well, soda.

It started with Love, Simon.  This gay teen coming of age slash love story made a reasonable case for my tearing up.  

I wrote about it, and that link above will take you there.  But one of the comments I got on that entry made me think – which I like.

The point made was that Love, Simon Glee-coated thisbperson’s coming out story and wasn’t representative of the traumatic experience coming out can be for many gays…check that, many LBGQTI peeps.

It’s a valid point.

Totally.

But I think why I liked it was exactly that.  Sure, he struggled with coming out to himself and then his friends and family…and then it wasn’t that bad.  He’d – or the writers – had built his fears up to something larger than they were and the process was resolved in tidy fashion.

I know the feeling.  Luckily.

But I know that’s not always the case.

Given the political climate in America, even the world, where equal rights for LBGTQI people aren’t the default, the stories of bravery and struggle need to be told.

At the same time, I think part of what got me emotional about this flick – besides that I’m a total sucker for a good chick flick…key word, good – was that it was Glee/washable.

Acceptance isn’t the default, not by a long shot, but the work of previous generations has gotten us to the point that at least this type of movie can be made without being relegated to the LOGO network or an art house only release.

But then Ready Player One got ahold of those same heart strings and played me.  It had to be a fluke of nostalgia, right?

Testing that theory, I went and saw it again when I couldn’t get it off my mind.

Nope.

Played those same strings.

Harder.

Fighting those same urges to go see it again, I went today to a matinee of Blockers.

John Cena was brilliantly funny in his role as a stay at home Dad with hair trigger water works…and I left the theater with a name for my affliction: Dad Crying.

I also left the theater with a salty residue on my cheeks that wasn’t  from the popcorn I shame ate.  Don’t make that dirty, Diezel.

Thank gawd I was in the theater alone!

I have prepared for and accepted two truths about the back 9 of my life:

First, I’m going alone; and,

Second, I’m going to get grumpier as I go along.

EOG paradigm: shattered.

And this after being reminded that my “only” nephew graduates from high school this June.  I hope that takes place in a dark room, too.  Just in case, I better go sunglass shopping.

TIL 8: Dad Crying