The Red Shirt Diaries #18

I’m back from coffee with the Silver Fox, our normal Thursday/Friday ritual, where I announced undramatically that I thought I had colon cancer.  It’s a legit back-of-mind concern as I enter the year of the colonoscopy, but The Fox downplayed my announcement.

Oddly, cancer came up again later when I mentioned my stomach had been a little wonky since our beer date last night.  We were at our favorite watering hole, The Big Legrowlski, enjoying a new IPA option from our collective favorite brewery, Barley Brown.  It was an unfiltered IPA called Feast From the Yeast, or something thereabouts.

Anywho, that yeast was doing a number on me.  In addition to feeling tipsy after just a few sips, my stomach just began feeling fluttery as I quaffed.  Not a general flutter, a focused flutter, which is what made it weird.  

Of course, I didn’t let that stop me from enjoying a second pint!

But when I told The Fox about my 14 hour strong stomach flutter, he put me at ease by diagnosing me with pancreatic cancer.  It’s like we were playing hypochondriac poker.

Fortunately, the acid from the two cups of coffee pretty much killed – and then escorted out – whatever it was that was funking up my gut.

Instead of thinking about how cancer or heart disease will probably be my ultimate undoing, I thought I would share another of my less-likely-lethal ends while I sat here uncomfortably on my couch with Mistress Myrtle, who is in an uncharacteristically cuddly mood.

Sacha once corrected my comment about one of my irrational fears by telling me that all fears are irrational.  I disagree, I think my fear of heights and falling a distance is a healthy fear.  Darwin would be proud.

My fear of sharks is irrational.

Fully.

It’s not that I’m a frequent diver off the Australian Great Barrier Reef or South African Coast or even off Hawaii…then, perhaps, a fear of sharks would be quasi-reasonable.

I’m afraid of a shark attack in any body of water.

Ocean.

River.

Swimming pool.

Jacuzzi.

Bathtub.

Irrational.

I blame the Jaws movies.  Well, watching them at an impressionable age, at least.

Seriously, how cute is this?

So, after seeing those films, I became aware of a reluctance to put my head underwater in a swimming pool.  It was a discomfort that remained a fairly stagnant dis-ease as I rarely swam.

However, after Sacha left me and I came out of my post-breakup funk and dipped my toe back into the dating pool, I met this guy who called himself frigginfantastic online and we went on a few dates.  He lived on Hayden Island here in Portland and invited me to go kayaking with him on the Columbia River.

I went.

It was cool.

And disgusting.

Sitting in a kayak, you’re only a few inches from the filth that floats atop the river’s surface.  Discarded styrofoam from a decade ago, plastic, that gross foam and natural debris like twigs and leaves all combing to create a stinky, frothy, disgusting barrier that is quite un-see-through-able.

That lack of visibility awakened my fear of being caught off guard and general vulnerability.  I vascilated mentally between being grabbed by Jason from Friday the 13th and pulled under or just being attacked by a shark.

This was not too long after a news story of a confused shark swimming upriver, so…y’know, top of mind.

Not too long after this, The Fox and I became friends.  We took a trip to his family beach house about a year after meeting and spent a night there as well as at his ex-wife’s house about an hour inland.  I remember standing on the bluff at the beach, watching the surfers bob idly on their boards, waiting for a rideable wave.  Their feet dangling off their boards into the water…I shudder just thinking about it, a shark grabbing their lower leg.

When we got to Sallory’s place the next night, I was confronted by a more tangible challenge to this runaway fear of mine: a drink in the hot tub.  

At night.

The view of the night sky in this rural part of Oregon was awe-inspiring.  Leaning my head back against the side of the tub allowed me to enjoy the celestial view while also completely freaking out about my entire body being underwater and a potential target.  Mentally, I envisioned being bitten in half by a mammoth great white, legs and shoulders being all that was left, bobbing in the hot, frothy, bloody hot tub waters.

I felt the same discomfort last year sitting in my gym’s jacuzzi.  Because I’m obviously deranged.

The apex of this personal terror came during a vacation with Rib.  We’d rented a yurt on an island in the San Juans.  He was all jazzed about renting sea kayaks and paddling out to a nearby island, oblivious to his own mortality like only a 26 year old can be.

Irrational fear of sharks plus kayaking in legit Orca territory equals fuck me.  My heart was pounding so hard the entire time that I’m quite surprised that I didn’t end up with fractured actual ribs.

But, survive, I did.  Fear:  confronted.

Speaking of actual fractures, this was a couple of years before I fractured my tibia running.  The first occurrence.  My doctor decreed that I was retired from running and suggested a less stressful form of exercise, like swimming.

Yeah…no.

The Red Shirt Diaries #18

Fitfy 49:45

Well, it’s getting on to tic-toc time, eh?

The last 7 weeks of this journey toward my big 5-oh.

It’s been interesting.  I started out convincing myself that I was doing similar things but with a different mindset I called intent.

Yeah, that was bullshit.

I was doing the same things and expecting a different outcome because I was being honest with myself about my actions.

Turns out, motivation is quite the bitch.  If you don’t have motivation, you get no results.  If you’re motivated toward the wrong goals or for the wrong reasons, you end up failing.  

I wasn’t looking for a pre-fifty phyrric victory.

I was looking to find a balance between my self care – diet, exercise – and the reality of living in an aging vessel.  In an effort to change my mindset around what constituted successfully defining a healthy lifestyle, I had to extract the mental vision I had of a 30-something robust male physique as the definition of success.  

That mental imagery was holding me back and shaping my decisions as well as informing my actions.

No bueno.

A guy pushing 50 shouldn’t be chasing that reality.  Well, maybe in pursuit of a bedmate, but not in a reflection from the mirror.  With that realization, I admitted that I was really at square one in my journey.  I’d made strides toward eating better and exercising differently, but all with the picture of myself with a ripped torso laughing as he drank as much as he wanted.

How depressing.

So I dialed it back.  I began working out at home, no one to compare myself to except that reflection I hated.  That helped.  

Suddenly, I was finding motivation to not get home with a drinking plan in place:  run in, feed the Mistress, change, run out to meet friends.  Now I was selectively coordinating my detox drinking with the Silver Fox, who’s much more disciplined than I am.  He’ll have one beer, two when he’s getting crazy, and then stop.  I needed that example and company to reign me in.  So, we’d have three beers or a bottle of wine between us when we met up, I’d stop occasionally on the way home and get a six pack that would last me close to a week and eat something, have one or two more and Bob was indeed my dietary uncle.

Getting my drinking consumption-to-frequency ratio in line was helpful.

The Filipina Fox was also helpful.  She gets me to a spin class occasionally, but at $18/class, less than she’d like.  

Less than I’d like, too.  

I appreciate that she forwards me deals from ClassPass, but I found a studio I like with equipment that is good for my body and that’s the studio I want to go to.  I’ll go when I can, but at this point I don’t want to compromise and end up on equipment that hurts my body.  It’s just as delititerious to my goal as surrounding myself with people who are at an age where they can achieve results that I can’t while living the lifestyle I want to.

So there it was.  The challenge to accept that I can socially live like an urban 30-something, but I had to forgive myself for looking like a middle-aged man in the process.

Being left with the option of working out in isolation has helped.

Tremendously.

My gut is tightening up, but I’m not looking for signs of abs.  I know they are there, I can feel them…I have to forget that other people may judge me on their personal inability to verify their existence.

Their problem, not mine.  If there were visible abs in my future, those same people would find something else on which to judge me negatively.

I gotta do me.

So, I’ve embraced my FUPA – Fat Upper Penis Area.  See, now I’m gonna be in trouble with the big girls for stealing their acronym.  

Middle-Aged White Guys ruin everything.

Now, instead of catching myself absent-mindedly juggling my chesticles I catch myself poking or bouncing my little belly.

And chuckling at myself when I catch it happening.  I’ve changed my belly perception from rejection to acceptance.  

It’s here, queer, get used to it.

That said, I’ve got to get some remedies in place for lower body exercises at home.

Right now, my belly fat detente is in a physical stalemate that I can appreciate:  it’s there but it’s not too heavy so that it pushes my pants down. 

Some of my shorter torso shirts raise up when I put on a coat or lift my arms past shoulder height, exposing my little “butt in front”.  That has gotten to…not a comfortable space, but a conscious space.  I’m mindful of it and move accordingly to prevent showing it off in public, but I don’t run past the mirror to avoid seeing it.

If I’m gonna drink, I’m gonna have a butt in front.  Instead of denying that reality, I’m looking for ways to alter the reality of the butt in back.  Shifting the focus to something I not only can change, but want to change.

Taking the stairs whenever practical is one thing, but not enough.  I think I’m ready to cautiously add squats into the home workout mix.

This shift to working out at home has taken me back to my days of participating on the Golf Team in High School – yeah, I fucking lettered in golf!  Golf is a solo sport, much like running.  

You compete against yourself.  

Focusing on – dwelling, really – on my inability to run any longer had lent itself to my disabled mental state and contributed to my lack of physical motivation.  Comparing my home workout results to my past performance like I did with prior golfing performances has allowed me to find a balance between efforts versus results while also factoring out my habit of comparing myself to others.  That behavior fuels the unhealthy motivations that led to excessive use of metabolic enhancers in my 30s and early 40s.  It also led to exercising too frequently and not allowing my body enough time to recover between workouts. Those are both factors that contributed to my arrival at 49 after two decades of my cavalierly undisciplined approach to exercise.

Coming out of this year with that balance and perspective to carry forward into the next two decades of my physical fitness life is the other half of the equation needed to get there healthily instead of crippling myself further along the way.

Fitfy 49:45

Getting Lit

First of all, not that kind of “lit”.  Although I live where it’s legal, I suck – thank gawd – at smoking, be it weed or nicotine.  Pretty good at puffing a stogie, go figure.  Still haven’t indulged in that for over a decade.  So, in regards to getting lit-lit, I’d be vaping or partaking of the edible variety.

But I was riffing on lit as it refers to literature.  You see, lately I’ve been quite distracted by books.

So much so, that I haven’t posted a blog in a couple of weeks.

It all started with Ready Player One, which I purchased for my work trip back on the 12th.  I spent my flight alternating between reading my new book and writing a blog post.  Ditto my return flight, which was the last entry I posted back around the 16th.

Of course, in between flights I fell in like with a co-worker at the work conference.

The new read continued to occupy my time on my daily MAX commute, which I usually spend writing my #MaxBlogChallenge posts.

The book is super enjoyable.  I’m not a big video game fan or home gamer, but Rib was, so I kind of know the culture second hand.  Plus, I do enjoy an occasional visit to Ground Kontrol for a few beers while I blow a sawbuck worth of quarters.  

Fun!

But I am definitely a fan of 80s-90s pop culture…Oingo Boingo music, John Hughes films.

Good times!

I intended to finish Ready Player One over Thanksgiving at my parents’, but you always forget something when you pack for a trip, right?

Enter, The Witness.

My mom brought me a stack of books to choose from:  The Witness, that ubiquitous Wally Lamb book and the second volume of The Tales of the City omnibus, which I had loaned her a few months back.

I always mean to re-read these old favorites of mine, but never make the time.  Instead I loan them out to The Broken Poet and – more favorably – Mom-Donna.  Heck, even Mistress Myrtle seems to enjoy my old books!So there mom is, trying to soothe my distress, always the Mom!  I decide Wally Lamb is too aggressive for a second book and pick The Witness. 

Lemme take a minute and tell you how I feel about reading multiple books.

I don’t like it.

Tried to.

Can’t.

It’s like dating more than one guy.

No, actually dating, you tramps.

You have to invest emotionally in books.  Giving up your imagination in this relationship versus your heart, in order to really get everything out of a book you can.

So, I tend not to do this…which is partially why I looked like a pouty baby when mom was handing out secondary reading options.

I got a few chapters in during my three day stay.  I packed it to pick up again when I finish Ready Player One.  It might go somewhere…but ever since I read Fifty Shades of Grey, my ability to fairly assess a book has been a bit wonky.

Talk about lowering the bar.

Oh, and I packed The Witness and forgot Tales…because you always forget something when you pack.

<eye roll>

The next day after work I went to get a haircut.  Naturally, in the Barber Lottery, I once again won my pink haired – and eyebrowed – trans barber.

Once again, we started off with innocent enough chatter.

Innocuous.  Hair talk.

But as soon as she started snipping, our innocent chatter veered awkwardly off course with “How was your Thanksgiving?”

She asked me, and I responded with enthusiastic yet low-key examples of our small family gathering.  When I asked her how hers was, I realized my mistake.  If I’d glanced down at myself in the mirror, I’m sure I would have seen this guy staring back at me.

You really just can’t win with some people.

As I’m listening, I glance down at her work station’s shelf and see a stack of five books.  I ask her if they have special significance to her and she just casually responds that she’s reading them.

“Simultaneously?, I ask.

“Of course!”, she replies, “But two of them are actually textbooks because I’m teaching myself Hebrew.”

Of course.

And, no, I didn’t pursue the conversational thread about how one teaches oneself Hebrew effectively with a text-only resource.  I just sat there and enjoyed the literal, physical manifestation of how different she and I are as individuals.

As if the pink eyebrows weren’t proof enough.

Then she cut my hair too short.

Getting Lit

Felineversary

Well, well…look what I woke up to.

I knew this was coming up, and intended to post on my and Myryle’s two year anniversary on November 8th, but work ate my life and I missed it.

And the day that I brought this little freaky-deeky home deserves commemorating.

Even if I’m not completely sold on her innocence when it comes to my potential demise.

Death By Feline.

Sounds about right.

She was about a year and a half old when I got her, and I was her fourth owner in her short life, if you can believe that!

Believe me, there were days I certainly found it easier to believe than others.  The two trips she’s sent me on – not the glamorous kind with beaches or all you can eat buffets, no. 

The trips we’ve taken have been more along the lines of scabbed faces and broken teeth.

Specifically mine.

But there have been good times, too.

As soon as some come to mind, I’ll get them in here.

I call her The World’s Most Dangerous Feline.  Alternating disturbing and dangerous.

For instance, witness disturbing:

I’ve refererred to her as Mistress Myrtle or just The Mistress for short, prompting The Silver Fox to share this photo with me. 

Pretty spot on, considering what injuries she’s inflicted over the years.  From grisly, like above to more playful-ish, like this one.

If that’s not the picture of affection…

She has started mellowing out.  Or at least stopped treating my legs and wrist like this:I still have to keep my paper towels and TP stashed out of her reach.  She still finds ways to both express her displeasure with me and drive me to the poor house in paper towel expenses, though.

She had a UTI somewhere back around 12 months ago.  Of course, I only knew it because her cat litter clumps got a little…well, littler.  As anyone who’s ever had a UTI knows, peeing when you have one hurts.  As cat owners probably know, when cats associate pain with their litter box, they stop going there.

Fortunately, she moved from her litter box to my shower.  I’m sure it wasn’t because she’s considerate and there’s a drain in there, no.  Probably one of the Lost Boys I’ve <ahem> entertained (mildly by Portland standards, I’m sure) peed in the shower and she sensed it before I cleaned my shower.

However, when I am gone too long from home, she will also take to the tile in the bathroom or utility room to express her displeasure.  Hence, the continued exorbitant paper towel expenses.

Eventually, she began optimizing her time by eliminating the trip between her litter box to poop and the tub to pee.  Instead of peeing in the damn box, she started pooping by the toilet.

I know who’s boss.

The Mistress.

What I was spending on paper towels was at least offset by a meager savings on cat litter.

Still, if she’d asked my opinion..

During this cat box demonstration of feline disobedience, Myrtle was also starting to become more cuddly.

That’s a big plus!

AKA: mostly why I wanted a cat, independent but cuddly.

I chose poorly.

Thanks for that pro-tip.

While she still freaked out if I came at her too quickly when petting her, she was starting to crawl into my lap while I watched tv.

Usually right about the time that I need to refresh my drink or get rid of one of the drinks I had consumed earlier…

Sometimes she just lounges atop the glass coffee table near me.

No, wait…that was her hunting toes.  At least she’s stopped stalking my ankles like prey.  That usually happens when I’m not too alert and ends in injury of one sort of another.

Trust me, she does it, though.

Fine, don’t trust me.

In another show of – what I’m told is – trust behavior, she frequently exposes her belly while chilling.  That’s good…I want her to be a happy kitty!  And not just on the coffee table.  She gets her Baby Seal pose going everywhere:  coffee table, floor, dinner table, kitchen counter…

She don’t even care.

So, back to that cuddly stuff.

Since she began settling in, she’s favored sleeping in the bed, day or night.  Initially- y’know – for the first year and a half – that was dead center during the day and as far away from me as possible while still being on the bed when I was in it.

Apparently, she’d put a feline flag on the bed and claimed it as part of the Empire of Myrtle without my knowledge.

But six months ago, she started moving closer.  It started with her sleeping by my calf, occasionally revisiting her flaying skills on my ankles and toes.  As she tempered her killer instincts – inasmuch as they involved me as prey – she began moving up my thigh.

I was pretty happy with this development.  Not just because it meant fewer transfusions for yours truly, but also because I foresaw this as the last stop before cuddling like spoons with ma lil kitteh.

Oh, yeah.  Predict a cat’s behavior.  Go ahead and try.

She moved from the outside of my thigh to the inside.  I usually sleep on my side or on my back with my legs crossed at the ankles…so she was basically just laying in the crevice formed by my thighs.

Or the crevasse formed between my legs when I slept on my side in about the same position a body lands in after a failed attempt at flight.  Again, she usually found this comfy spot about 30 minutes before I had to pee.

She is loathe to reposition once she settles, let me tell you.

Boy howdy.

Her slight overreaction usually involves an insistence that she be rewarded for met magnanimously allowing me to move.  Hence the baby seal physique that compliments her Baby Seal pose so well.  In my efforts to minimize treat-age in her diet and maximize my potential to return to sleep, she began to climb up on my chest and sit.

More feline disobedience.

When my reaction failed to produce results, she settled in and laid down on my chest.

Overtime, she began to nurse, making me feel as if I were the treat.

Nursing left a big wet spot on my bedding.

Fine!

And, then I was up.

Score 1 for Myrtle’s long game.

Once we were back to our nightly cuddling detent; her by my leg side, me free to hit the head without traumatizing her comfort, we both found enough sleep.

Me: 4-8 hours.

Her: 16-20 hours.

A couple of months ago, I woke up with my legs in a figure 4 and Myrtle curled up and purring like a monster truck between them.

I am unsure how this happened.

But now it happens every night.

My reward here, is that after a couple of months of her vaguely menacing my genitals while I sleep, she has begun using her litter box again.

Not every time she goes and certainly not every day.

But often.

In a rage of frustration after taking a five minute shower only to open the shower curtain and find shed peed on my bath mat…

Or letting her run the hallway to find she’d peed on my doormat, strange theme…

Or thinking I’d outsmart her by showering without putting my bath mat down until I was ready to get out of the shower…

…only to fine Lake Cat Pee’s tide drifting toward the shower, well…I’d come to a point of “It’s her or me”.

My last ditch effort here in salvaging our relationship was to begin shutting off the bathroom door and putting her litter box in front of the door.  Subtle, no?  And by litter box, I mean the fourth new litter box of our relationship.

I was rewarded with mixed results.

A pee in the box and a poop on the laundry room floor.

A poop in the box and a pee on the laundry room floor.

Both in the box!

This last led me to try and hug The Mistress, which sent her into freaky-deeky mode.

Fine, I’ll just leave some treats in the table for when she calms down.

The next day, literally the next day, I came home to poop in the box and a reminder – in the form of Lake Cat Pee on the bathroom floor – that Myrtle can open doors.

All of this made me reluctant to ask a friend to watch Myrtle while I was away this week at Seminar..

The Silver Fox was still on his month long Iberian Adventure.

I really didn’t want to expose a less initiated friend to Myrtle’s pee-cadillos.

I debated just leaving a big bowl of kibble and bowls of water everywhere.  Mom-Donna suggested boarding her…too expensive.  That got me thinking, though, and I was able to find a pet sitter on Craigslist who would come once a day for $10.  I booked her…and then she didn’t show up for our key exchange date.

Fucking – audience participation time!  You choose:

A) Portland flakes;

or,

B) Millennials

So, I was back to the buncha-food, buncha-water plan.

When

Linda Belcher invited me to lunch.

After I casually bitched about my plight, she practically insisted I should have just asked her to begin with.  It’s right between her office and her bus stop, anyway.

I tried talking her out of it and we settled on her stopping by my place for a glass of wine on her way home while I was gone.

If some wet cat food happened to fall into a bowl for The Mistress, so much the better.

I got nightly pics of Myrtle along with texts about how sweet my cat is while I was gone.  On the night of my return, I got an excited text from Linda about how Myrtle had been so good while I was gone…using her box the entire time.

Sure enough, I came home to a box littered with poops and clumps.  I rewarded my beastie with treats and sat down for a little snack myself before bed.  After finishing her snack, Myrtle gave me the cold shoulder.

The next day, I woke up and discovered a couple of dried up pees and poos in the laundry room, just as I suspected.

That’s my Myrtle.

Felineversary

The Red Shirt Diaries: #17

My dinner last night included a found bottle of Pinot from Patricia Green Cellars.

Let’s call it a Continental Dinner in honor of a fallen Oregon winemaker.

Literally fallen, incidentally, which made her early death hit home with me even a tisch more.  She was discovered dead in her remote cabin and early CoD is thought to be from injuries sustained after falling down.

Finding the bottle was serendipitous.

My fear of falling down alone came to the front of my mind about 15 years ago when a co-worker sustained injuries that kept her off work and on light duty after falling in her bathtub.

My grandmother died after spending several days stuck between her commode and shower.  There’s no way to class that shituation up, so laugh, cry…your choice.  Even though she was found alive, the damage was done for her.

As if I needed to somehow have this fear hit closer to home, then there’s Myrtle…aka: the worlds most dangerous feline.

Twice, she has already tripped me.  The first time was a near miss…my temple having passed within millimeters of the corner of my hallway table on its way to landing on my face.

The second occurrence…well, I was ready for her.  Somehow, I managed to fall backward after tripping over her, twisting midair and landing on my front – now half-fake – tooth.

Mistress Myrtle has taken her game to a more ninja level than her previous two stealth attacks.  She’s not too strictly attach to the trip, willing to settle for a slip…as long as itvresults in a fall, it seems.

To that end, she’s taken to peeing in my shower over the last six months.

As her captive caretaker, I know she started forsaking her box after a UTI, associating the box with pain.  That makes me feel sad for her, poor lil kitty.

Until I run the shower and almost slip on the slimy reconstituted cat pee she left there.  Lemme tell ya, people think of cat per as an odor.  

Not always so, Jabroni.

If I miss it because it’s not stinky, there’s quite a next level dance off in my shower as I struggle to not die naked and wet in my shower after falling.

Don’t worry…I know Myrtle will be there to make that ignominious death so much worse by eating my lips, fingertips and any other soft tissues she can get too.

<shudder>

So, if the evitable happens, please know that  my wake must include Culture Club’s I’ll Tumble For Ya and as many other falling down references as possible.

The Red Shirt Diaries: #17

My Huge Confliction

Who knew the Chrisism confliction would have legs as a blog theme?

We’ll see…

I realized this morning at 4:30 that I was the Old Mother Hubbard…I’d failed to remember to pick up dry cat food last night and my kitty cupboard was bare.

Normally, Mistress Myrtle’s feeding routine is:

Dried Salmon snacks when we wake up,

I leave kibble for her to nibble throughout the day,

When I get home, she gets a few more Dried Salmon cubes to tide her over to her 6:00 wet dinner.

Wet dinner is at 6:00.  Do not make the mistake of missing dinner time.

Running out of kibble is not a situation I want to find myself in when the only thing keeping me alive is that I provide the food that The World’s Most Dangerous Feline loves to hate.  Fortunately, I was able to double down on the wet food…”Look, Myrtle, it’s dinner for breakfast!”

She was not as excited about this as I’d hoped.

So, this evening; after changing, playing a bit and giving The Mistress her salmon snacks, I beat feet to the RiteAid for dried food.  I also figured I’d pick up some beer and chips to inspire my dinner making creativity.  I’d pulled some beef out of the freezer this morning and put it into a water bath in the fridge to thaw.  When I got home, the whole damn thing was frozen.

There’s something seriously messed up with my fridge.

All this is pointing toward me having chips and beer for dinner.

Since this is my life, the RiteAid was out of dried cat food.

Looks like my last meal would be Nacho Cheese Doritos and some Hop Valley Alphadelic IPA.

At least the beer was on sale.  A 12-pack for $13.99 ain’t all that bad.

None of this in any way has to do with my confliction.

I get to the checkout, wait for Shaky James to complete his transaction and then step up.  The very disaffected young lady – aka: millennial – ringing me up scans the beer and says, “ID for the beer”, which I guess passes for a complete sentence in her universe.  I pass her my ID, she types something into her register, pulls her phone out of her hoodie pocket, answers a text, scans my Doritos, mumbles something about what I owe her and stops.

Then she answers another text as I ask her if I can put in my Plenty number.

She puts her phone down on the counter and makes a minimal fuss about forgetting about the store’s loyalty program, replying, “Sure…if you want”.

I want.

Then she tells me my total.  This time I can hear her clearly.

$3.43

I start to question the total as she answers another text, so I shut up and give her a $10.

Am I a bad person or just a grumpy old man?  Surely being a grumpy old man is a condition that’s exacerbated by bad service, right?

The funny thing is, is that lately I’m scoring on buying beer.  Over the weekend, I picked up a 6-pack at the Brodega.  It was on sale, too…$8.49 from the $10.99 regular price.  It rang up at $12.49.  When I questioned that, the cashier asked if I was sure…so I went and checked.

Seriously.  

By all means, don’t take my first word for it, let me verify that for you.

Me:  Yup.  $8.49

Hipster Cashier:  Let me fix that for ya.

Me:  The funny thing is that this is ringing up for $1.50 more than the non-sale price.

HC:  <distractedly> Oh.

Not a question or surprise.

HC:  OK, your total is $8.49 then.

Me:  <thinking> Because you don’t want to charge me the $.10/can tax on this…right.

So, it’s been a pretty good week for this old beer hound.

But now my confliction is, do I just complain about this cashier’s over-the-top poor performance?

Or

Do I also complete the survey for a chance to win $1000?  I can’t tell which way the karmic winds are a-blowing here…

My Huge Confliction

What’s the 911?

Can you believe it just took me three tries to call 911?

It’s not that I’m that low functioning.  Although, it is 5:30 in the morning.  And I did take a sleeping pill last night.  Probably mostly that I’m a teensy bit neurotic.

But THREE attempts.

I smelled smoke when I walked through the lobby of my building this morning, vaguely registering the thought, “Good luck, Myrtle!”

Although, she’s been super sweet, cuddly and barely lethal lately.

I had already put the alarming scent away and was jaywalking diagonally across the street in my little Alphabet District neighborhood when I saw the smoke in the park.  Oddly enough, now I couldn’t smell the smoke.

I debated the need for fire department assistance, since I realized it was a heavily smoking trash can.

Thanks, homeless people…let’s face it, 5:30 in the morning on Wednesday is too late on Tuesday night for even the heartiest partiers to reasonably be the culprit.

I called 911, kinda thinking that there’s a non-emergency number I should call for smoke versus reporting said smoke to the emergency responders.  I’m thinking all this as I hear, “If this is an emergency, say ‘911’ after the tone or press any key on your phone at any time”.

Well, thank goodness it’s not an emergency. Listening to that probably wouldn’t soothe my nerves in an actual crisis.

“911”, I say.  Feeling guilty, of course.

Click.

I’m crossing Broadway now, wondering if I’m required to stay on scene.

I’m a minute late in my departure for work, you see.

Dial tone.

What the…?  Ok, this is a sign.  I search my contacts for the non-emergency number that I’m sure is in my contacts.  I am a grumpy old man, after all.  Gotta be prepared to call the authorities to report young people having too much fun.

Nothing.

Obviously, I’ve deleted the number in an attempt to disarm my inner self-righteous bastard self.

I google Portland Fire and Rescue and call the closest firehouse to me.  I’m musing that the one in SW is actually closer to me than the one in my own NW neighborhood as the phone rings and I walk down Everett toward 6th Street now.

I get a recorded message from the administrative offices telling me office hours and urging me to call 911 in an emergency.

I hang up.

I reluctantly call 911 again, this time pressing any key after the recorded message.  This is obviously some sort of Obama Death Panel nonsense.

When the operator answers, she asks, “Police, Fire or Medical?” and I reply, “Smoke?”

She asks the location and I tell her it’s in the North Park Blocks at Everett between 8th and Park.

I’m approaching 3rd now and she tells me that she has a report of fire in the park at Flanders.

I look at my phone, unsure of how someone can not know how the Alphabet District works.

Burnside.

Couch.  Don’t you dare mispronounce that.

Davis.

Everett.

Flanders…and…so…on, all the way through Vaughn.  Yeon just doesn’t count.

I calmly respond that, “That must be the same one”.

“Do you see them onsite?”

“No, but I was late for my train, you see…”

Click.

Well, I did at least try.

What’s the 911?