On The Road, Again.


(Plane not to scale)

More accurately, I should say that I’m in the air…again.

You all know how I love flying.

And covering my true emotions with humor.

Hell, I’m not even disappointed that my pithy tweet about my trip didn’t break the internet.


You see, my flight tonight from Atlanta to Portland is Delta #503, the area code for Portland being…503.

I’ll wait while you feel sorry for my friends that are routinely exposed you my rapier wit and its similarly pithy observations.

What can I say?  They obviously love me.

Speaking of love.  

I occasionally write about both travel and love.  Something I write about less often – maybe – is travel sex.

Why?

A couple of things:

1) Since the advent of so-called dating apps – mating apps or asocial media in Chrisenese – I’ve slow clapped for travelers who use hotel rooms as a shower to rinse clean any morality that would prevent one human for using another strictly for their own sexual gratification.  Because that’s an accomplishment.

Right.  Writing about this topic just manifests as this grumpy old man tilting at social windmills.

B) When Sacha left me, it was for a guy in Vancouver, WA – aka: Vantucky – and I (in)famously ejaculated, “You can’t even date within your own state?!?  How undateable are you?”  

So I guess I come by my contempt for the whole traveling sexual shenanigans thing somewhat honestly.

Plus, I think you gotta earn sex.  Put your time in at a bar getting to know someone.  Develop an attraction.  Find a desire that’s seated deeper than the profile pic they post of their abs from five years ago or – even worse – of their junk.

Hell, for that matter, just learn their name.

See?  I’m ranting.

But…because there’s always a but.

That doesn’t stop me from developing attractions from strangers when I travel.  I’m fairly gregarious by nature.  It was my default setting before I became grumpy.

Ever heard of the Stranger on a Plane Theory?

Basically, it’s a social phenomenon that predates social media, since now, clicking with someone nowadays usually involves some sort of social networking next step.

But the theory is usually one person’s therapy and their seatmate’s personal hell, since it affords and exploits the anonymity of travelers.

You’re never going to see them after all, right?  So complete honesty usually ensues and you basically cleanse yourself by barfing out all your deepest darkest to the poor bastard sitting next to you.

Luckily, I have WordPress.

And you.

Of course, I’m my reality – or surreality, as it likely is – I can indulge myself in some faux getting to know yous while traveling since…

I’m.

Never.

Gonna. 

See.

Them.

Again.

Right?

It’s kinda like a hybrid between having a connection with a co-worker, commonly known as a “work spouse” and this Stranger on a Plane thing.

Please allow me to introduce you to the Seminar Boyfriend Theory.

I wasn’t aware of this extension of my no-investment travel flirtations until a couple of days ago.

Mostly, because it hadn’t existed until then.

Sure, I’d met my current Work Wife at my company’s annual Seminar last November.

Simultaneously, I’d indulged myself in a little travel flirting with an impossibly young, straight averring (made up word warning!) and umappealingly cocky boy last year that I enjoyed spending time with, provided I didn’t take too seriously what came out of his mouth. Mostly this situation arose because each of our respective peer groups hung out with each other, so we were situationally thrown together.

Sure enough, once Seminar ended and he went back to the Great White North it was back to EOG-as-usual for me without a second thought.

I learned via LinkedIn a few months back that he’d left the company, so no repeat performances there.  All well and fine by me, I’d planned with my Work Wife to bring a couple of bottles of wine to match her contribution and that was my liver’s meal plan for the trip.

No boys required.

No hanging out in sports bars I had no interest in just because some exec had an open tab.  Nope.  I planned to spend this year’s free time – what little there is at Seminar – in the hotel gym and sleeping.

Until, of course, I met…

You know, I almost typed his actual name.  I don’t know why I don’t.  It’s not like my blog is Page 6 or anything.  Although, I do have a couple of pretty impressive sleuths amongst my loyal readers.  But his name is probably the Indian equivalent of John Smith.

I’ve been holding a low-grade mental debate about posting a pic of us that he took earlier today, but am conflicted about that breach of his anonymity.

That settles it.  Sometimes you just have to type through a problem.

Anonymity filter prevails.

You’ll just have to take my word for how cute this year’s Seminar Boyfriend is.

<fans face>

And as if this 5’9″ Indian descended Canadian needed to be any cuter than sparkly eyes, radiant smile and sexy (from what I could glean) physique…he is also smart and has the most endearing Indian accent and tone of voice.

I didn’t dedicate too much mental anguish to the gut wrenching does he/doesn’t he insecurities that eat away at me in normal dating and flirting environments.

I just enjoyed his company.  

When he got distracted by something or someone else, I went on my way.  After all, I knew I was neglecting my Work Wife, and I knew that she knew it, too.  But, I think she was enjoying my display of what minimal game I have…she texted me a photo of the two of us eating dinner together at carnival night with the caption, “Your first couple photo”.

It was just the two of us, leaned in close to one another at a table for ten.

So, this phenomenon evolved in a completely random and unbelievable manner:  he came up to me.

It was dinner Monday night: Food Truck Night.

Outside in the side parking lot of our hotel.  

Remember, I’d accidentally left my jacket in a store back at PDX on Sunday morning, and everyone was showing up in jackets for this outdoor evening event.

We started chatting while waiting to be released to our foodie playground for the evening.  He had also chosen to go sans jacket, being from Edmonton this would be comfortable for him.

Although, in an unexpected spurt of smacktalk, he expressed concern for my comfort.

How could I not adore him instantly?

I assured him, I would be relatively comfortable in Atlanta’s balmy 54 degree evening.  But!  I added, if it got below 50 I’d either need a hearty booze jacket or be quickly re-examining my situation.

There were five food trucks.  My priority was the chicken and waffle truck.  Work Wife and Seminar Boyfriend followed suit.

After deciding what I wanted – duh – I offered to go get drinks for us while they ordered.  This was also the finals for the Food & Beverage division’s cocktail contest.

We had three options to vote for.

Work Wife chose the coconutty option while Seminar Boyfriend opted for the same bourbon concoction I was going for…and just like that we had our wedding menu:

Chicken & Waffles w/Manhattans (basically, and not that it matters)

I came back with the drinks and we chatted while waiting for our food.  He pointed out a couple of times which room was his…he’d left his lights on and his shades open.

I see.

No confusing messages here.

We couldn’t find a table, Work Wife had squeezed into an empty seat at another of Seminar’s ubiquitous ten seater round tables.  Preferring privacy – obviously – we ended up standing and eating our C&W while simultaneously balancing our paper food truck baskets atop our cocktails.

He wasn’t planning to go all Xtopher on the food carts like I was.  He did want to try more than one, though and said he wasn’t going to finish his portion, but would wait for me to go back.  By the time I conceded victory, he’d already finished his.

The boy can eat!

I switched course and shoved the last of my waffle in my mouth and we went for round two:  burritos!

We enjoyed our burritos with diet cokes while lurking near a pub table we expected to be abandoned soon.  We were rewarded about halfway through and shortly after, our new digs were crashed by a friend of mine from Seminar last year – who I learned the next day is his boss, a business development guy I met a couple of times during an RFP at PDX and a regional HR Manager…all of whom were Canadians.

Surrounded.

Clearly, it was time to retreat to the bento truck for some dumplings, after which I made my goodnights.(Over Boise, I know you were wondering)

The next day, we passed at breakfast but it was a busy day of merchandising breakouts, so we had to hit the ground running.  I noticed at lunch that he had changed his clothes and sent him an email through our Seminar app, teasing him about it.

He didn’t reply.

Oh, well.

When I passed him later at the elevators during a break, he offered up an in person account.

Oh, fine.  Be confusing.  Read the message and don’t reply.

Anyway, on with the day.  After we were released for the day, I decided to get in some cardio at the hotel gym.  A nice follow up to Monday’s lifting.

I probably won’t be able to walk when I get off the plane.
Once I’d showered, I got my funk going with the glass of wine that Work Wife had tried to distract me from the gym with while I dressed for Carnival Night.

Corn dogs and funnel cakes, I’m coming for you.

Naturally, I was a little buzzed off 3 ounces of wine on an empty, post-workout stomach.

Also, naturally – this is my life we’re talking about here – I ran into Seminar Boyfriend, first damn thing.

This is how the (not) infamous “first couple” pic came into being.  Little did Work Wife know – or did she? – that Seminar Boyfriend had snapped a covert pic of me filling my plate with carnie food and posted it to the app with the caption, “Xtopher living his dream!” in a totally non-fat shaming way.

If he only knew.

We played carnival games together, taking turns and holding one another’s drinks.  It was super sweet and just an empirically enjoyable evening.

I believe he made his goodnights first this night…yes! he did.  That’s how I ended up talking to his boss.

Until midnight as we caught up on the events that transpired with last year’s Seminar Boyfriend – he was a mess – and drank wine.

Yes, I did not mention that both Seminar Boyfriends turned out to work for the same woman.

Again, this is my life we’re talking about here.  I’m used to weird coincidences.

Well, there’s more to tell of this cute little alt-reality I’ve been enjoying in my head, but the plane is landing.

I’ll just leave you with this, it remained fun, friendly and sweet…regardless of whether it had one side or two.

Oh, and I did get a little hug at the airport before he took off for the Great White North again.

That iced my cake, and I couldn’t hope for a better ending than that.

On The Road, Again.

The Fiendly Skies

It’s a bad start to any trip when you wake up two and a half hours before your alarm the morning of your departure.

Yet, there I was, wide awake at 2:00 after almost four – count ‘em! – glorious hours of sleep.

Me: I could go in early and get some work done before takeoff.

Working at the airport is convenient in this scenario.

Myrtle: You move, you die.

It’s like that beast can selectively read my mind.  But, the Mistress has been sleeping with me nightly the last six months, usually pinning me to one spot by nestiling into my crotch after I’m asleep.  That and using her litter box consistently last week for the first time in a year – damn feline UTIs – and I’m inclined to lay there and let her purr for a while longer.

Well, those two things and my own natural laziness and finely honed sense of procrastination.

I finally rip myself from my sheets at 4:15, as if I’m made of Velcro.

I’d spent my two hour non-nap thinking.

Ruminating.

Reflecting.

Bouncing back and forth between personal thoughts and work.

Did I pack everything?

I should just go in, this is ridiculous…I could knock out payroll and give a few breaks before I board.

I’ll bet I never hear from The Wallpaper again.

I should start going to the gym again.

I wonder whether Linda Belcher will snoop when she’s checking in on Myrtle.  Meh.  Nothing crazy in my nightstand.  But I do have The Silver Fox’s Pleasure Chest in my closet…I wonder what he’s got in there.

If I go to work, it’ll take away a development opportunity I assigned to one of the junior managers.  It’s good I’m staying in bed.

I wonder if Jeo and I will reform our friendship.  It was nice running into him the other day.  He gives great hugs.

I’d really like to have sex again with The Wallpaper when we’re not half drunk.

Do I need to leave a note for Linda Belcher?  Taking care of Myrtle can’t be too big a mystery…

I should wait on the gym.  If running is back on the radar, I want to focus on accomplishing that and not risk reinjuring my shoulder.

Should I put a disclaimer on the Pleasure Chest saying it’s not mine.   Nah…nothing bad will happen.  What could possibly go wrong?

God, I hate flying.

Y’know, that type of productive mind vomit.

Once I finally start stumbling around, my procrastination kicks into high gear.  I turn on my Sonos, it’s still on the station I’d created for The Wallpaper and a Rita Ora song starts playing.  I’d never heard of her before the other night and really like her music.

I play laser tag with The World’s Most Dangerous Feline, re-check my bag (ok, I guess this is semi-productive), clean the toilet, shower, dress, pack my Dopp kit, feed Myrtle, change my clothes and then realize that I probably should have given myself a few extra minutes to get to the MAX stop with my suitcase.

I call an Uber.  God bless my parents and their insistence on giving me some “walking around” money for my trip.  The Uber is on them!

My driver is pretty chatty, his name is Van according to the Uber app – talk about name predermination, an Uber driver named Van?  This guy never stood a chance.  I notice that his car’s onboard system refers to him as Jay and Jay’s playlist is pretty solid.  As I’m appreciating it, the display changes to the next song, Anywhere by…Rita-fucking-Ora.  

So, that’s how it’s gonna be, eh?

I get to the airport and check in with minimal fuss…thank goodness there was a retiree stationed at the kiosk to help me.  I really did need it this morning.  Despite the way being stymied by technology usually makes me feel, I cut myself a break this morning and refuse to chide my imminent old-age.

While check-in was breezy, I soon discovered that it was looking like that would be the last non-frustrating part of my day.  From here on out, it’s frenzy and frustration.

Checking my bag was an odyssey.  A line that snaked through every switchback in the stanchions.

Ugh.

I started kinda freaking out at the fact that I hadn’t seen my counterpart or The Boss yet, we are all on the same flight and I’d gotten to the airport 15 minutes before the boss said he planned to arrive.

Maybe they were carrying on.  Who knows with straight guys?  Me?  I had to pack a couple bottles of wine for me and my Boise counterpart to share over the coming week of meetings.

Why is this idiot kid taking so long?  What’s he checking…is that a bike?  

C’mon, universe!

Pairing the unwieldy parcel with the most challenged check-in agent seems a little excessive.

I finally complete this level of Hell and head to our pre-security store to touch base after a tough day yesterday and make sure my early morning associate, PLoop, got her break.

I recognize The Boss’ cotton-topped head from behind and am simultaneously glad he’s made it and chafed that he got ahead of me because he didn’t have a bag to check.

He’s grabbing a bagel and as PLoop is ringing him up, she’s making small talk with me.  She has an omnidirectional attention span that I usually find amusing.  Not this morning, though…The Boss is antsy to get through security since our flight leaves in an hour.

Nevertheless, she persisted.

I interrupt her chatter to ask about the break, she declares she snuck a potty break and I tell her that I’ll hold the fort while she grabs a snack.  I tell her to finish with The Boss, who has begun an antsy side to side dance.

You know what PLoop does?

Persists.

And I find it endearing.

The Boss takes off in the vague direction of the employee line through security.  Neither of us knows its precise location, since our badges allow us access to the secure parts of the airport without going through that line every time.  He told me on my first day that he’d show me how the routine worked but never did, so I never have done it.  On his way out, he tossed a little dagger my direction about everyone showing up today, three associates had called out the day before and it was a shit show.

But I could chuckle at his dig.  Thanks to some great teamwork, I survived the day.

Sidebar: dear gawd, the woman across the aisle from me is triggering my mysophonia.  She’s sniffing like Trump during a presidential debate.  It started five minutes after we pushed back, went on every 30 seconds for about 15 minutes and has been repeating ever since.  I think it’s a tic, there’s no thickness to it…just an incessant wet sniffle.

I take off my jacket and assume the position behind the register so PLoop can take her break.  It’s about 5:40 in the morning, we should board around 6 and I still want to get my own snacks and drink for the plane after going through security.  PLoop talks herself out onto her break and while responding when needed, my inner countdown clock is speeding up.

When she comes back, we exchange goodbyes – it really is nuts how much I’ve missed my team, dysfunction and all, when I’ve gone away for meetings or vacation – and head for security.  It’s not quite 6, but definitely past 5:55, so I gotta take some cuts to get ahead in line.  I wave my badge at the TSA agent and express my question by waggling my finger between three entry points.  He directs me to the middle, cutting out all of the switchbacks and queuing me up for the scanners.

I strip off my shoes as I approach, even though I’m fifth back on line, I’m the only one preparing.  

Belt off.

Fourth back.

The people ahead of me all grab totes simultaneously and start piling their accessories into their tubs.  Once the first guy has shoved his totes toward the rollers and made for the scanner, there’s enough room for me to grab a tote of my own.

I’m ready about the same time as the lady two up and the guy right in front of me.

The TSA guy feeding the rollers points s floral backpack my way and asks if there are any laptops or tablets in it.

“I don’t know, it’s hers”, I respond pointing to where the owner was moments ago…but she’s now suddenly in the scanner.

I give the guy a palms up gesture.

He moves on.

“Who’s kicks are these?”, he asks.

Those would be mine”, I say.

“Sick”

Cool.  Props from one of the fit TSA agents.  My day is looking up.

I randomly wonder what my junk looks like on the scanner as it rotates around me, then step out when invited and await the inevitable.

Expecting a pat down, I’m given a casual borderline #metoo caress as the agent is telling me he just needs to check my backside.

This happens every time I fly – something on my back triggers a pat down, but usually I get the whole enchilada.

This time, it’s just a little stroke.

Of course, there’s nothing there.  There’s so little there there, that I really think the agents are confirming the total absence of any ass on me.

Whatevs.  I heard someone say recently about TSA screenings, “I never turn down foreplay” and have adopted that same attitude.

I get redressed, trying hard to keep by Dunlap covered while putting my belt back on, and head off to get my flight snacks.  It’s about 6:05.  The plane is boarding, but I need s Monster and something to read.  Plus, the store is right by the gate.

The line is around the store.  

Ugh.  It’s the luggage check-in people all over again.

In an unusual twist, instead of running along the edge of the cash wrap around the Store which is how this usually goes – some brainiac had somehow convinced the line to form from the cash wrap straight back to the wall and then around the perimeter of the store, thus blocking all of the books and magazines as well as the coolers.

I wanted a book and a Monster.

Idiots.

I decide that instead of fighting and then joining the throng, I’d help my associate bust her line and make some other travelers happy.  I go to take off my coat and start ringing.

No coat.

Fuuuuuuuck.

I start ringing anyway.

Where did I leave it?  

Must have been security.

No.  No…that can’t be right, I’d never put my shoes on top of my jacket – germs – and my sneakers got complimented, so they weren’t covered by my jacket.

The pre-security store!

Fuuuuuck, again!

No time to go back through or have someone bring it to me, I decide as I’m ringing.  I can do without, it was mid 70s in Atlanta last week.  

I get my book – Ready Player One – and my Monster, pay, say goodbye to my associate and head across the concourse to the gate…where people are standing in no particular order.

“Nice line”, I say to my counterpart, because we’re talking agin now that I realized that I was responsible for my behavior, regardless of whether I think he should be fired for his.  I can only hold myself accountable to maintaining my professional demeanor.

“They just started boarding”, he says as I notice an unmoving line coming from the jetway.

It’s 6:15.

“This is excruciating”, I complain, “You look like shit.  Are you hungover?”  Professionalism can still be passive-aggressive, right?

We chat while the line goes nowhere.  The gate agent makes an announcement that is unintelligible and The Boss comes over to stand by us just as Capt Can’t decides to join his boarding group in line for the plane.

I call our pre-security store and ask PLoop to get my jacket to my office for me.  Luckily, there’s nothing in it I need.

At about 6:30 – our scheduled departure time – the gate agent makes another announcement about gate checking carry ons and The Boss goes to check his…his plan all along.  Not paying the $25 bag fee.

We’re still on boarding group one.  Capt Can’t – who is in group one – has finally been swallowed up by the jetway, so I guess that’s progress.

The Boss comes back with his carry on in tow.

His response to my raised eyebrows is, “He’s gonna make an announcement and then take it at the gate”.

The announcement comes toward the end of boarding for the enormous group one.

Almost everyone left in the holding room rushes the gate with their carry on.

Cheap ass bastards.

I’m standing there with a book in one hand and Monster in the other alone with two ladies and a (pretty cute) guy…all that’s left of groups two and three.

“Well, now I’m going to be the last one on this plane just out of principle”, I say to the straggling lot.

At 6:41, I take my seat and by 6:43 we are pushing back.

Good god, I’ve never seen a less organized boarding gate process…and I’ve flown Southwest!  I’m literally thinking this during the safety talk, that has to be in person versus video because the in flight entertainment system is down.  

My conclusion?

That retiree at the check-in kiosks was the only airline associate worth a damn this morning.

No wonder the airline’s acronym is

Doesn’t 

Ever

Leave

The

Airport

But I’m not naming names.

The next thought I have?

That I’m gonna have to listen to Trump Sniffler for four damn hours because y’know what?  There was something in my jacket I needed…my headphones!

Oh well, the way this is going my music would have somehow managed to be all Rita Oro the whole way.

The Fiendly Skies

Stupid Americans

Re-read the title of this post in a French accent.  That’s how I typed it.

Pretty much any European accent will work.

It’s a phrase that randomly trots through my head when confronted with how non-global our educational focus is as a country.

After all, how many languages do you speak?

I was confronted by this twice yesterday.  

Once, innocently on the Facebook when a friend shared a kindness of strangers travel story.  The first comment was “Threat all people with respect”.  

Obviously, meaning “treat”, right?

I got a good chuckle out of the concept of threatening someone with respect.  It was like that old dry rejoinder, “Don’t threaten me with a good time!”

Well, my comment was something about an awkward H.

The OP cautioned me that the comment was made by a French friend of hers.  That was perfect, really, since the first time I heard “Stupid Americans” go through my head was about an hour after getting off a plane in Paris.  Sacha had insisted I learn a few <ahem> key phrases on the plane. 

Whatever, it’ll help kill 10 hours…but you couldn’t insist on this before we got in the plane?  It’s not like I was gonna master French somewhere over the Atlantic.

“Puis-je avoir ma cle, sil vous plait?”, I vomited at the hotel’s front desk, attempting to ask for my – wait for it – key.

Get it?  Key phrases.

Ok.  Sorry.

“Speak English”, was the response that came with the key.

A derisively toned “Stupid Americans” is what I heard in my head.

So, now I’m trying to helpfully point out a typo to someone on Facebook that is communicating – in writing – in what is likely one of three of four languages she knows.

She gets points!

And here I am, still just a Stupid American.

Case in – ugh – point, while my original imagined occurrence of hearing “Stupid Americans” was while traveling in France, now I work in travel retail.

While giving a break at work yesterday, a young Spanish man (fans self…woo) approached me to ask how much a set of headphones cost.  He struggled.  I was just finishing up with a customer and another Manager was nearby talking to the Sales Associate returning from her break – who emigrated from Russia and frequently apologizes for her accent/English – so I asked them to help.

“I’m not sure what he wants…”

Based on his gestures and non-verbals, her confusion was understandable.

Get ready for some misplaced maternal pride, Mom.

“Cuanto questo?” I said, gesturing to the headphones.  And, no, I’m not sure at all that I spelled that correctly.  Every finger on my body reached for the Q key while typing “cuanto”.

“Si!  Si, si, si.” he replied with relief.

“Son – uh – trente dolares”, I told him while trying to remember if I could pull the old “Trente faltan uno centavo” our of my hat to communicate $29.99 instead of just telling him $30 like you can say “Seis faltan cuarto minutos” to indicate it’s a quarter to six.

Or something like that.

I couldn’t remember for the life of me, so I just ended up handing a penny back to this confused, hot Spaniard.

I walked out of the store with the other Manager and she was praising me for doing a good job with that customer.

All I heard was, “Stupid American”.  

I also shared the thought running through my head about what that scene would have been like if our broken English Russian associate had been helping the pigeon English Spaniard.

It’s pretty funny in my head, but pretty sad in reality, since one of the people is living in a country that requires her to speak a foreign language every day in order to feed herself and I could barely translate $30 from English to Spanish after taking five years of the language in High School and College.

The other guy was basically me 20 years ago, bless his little corazon.

Fine.

30 years ago.

Or, as they say in Spanish…trente.

Stupid Americans

Dry Week: Update

I talk a lot about being a procrastinator. 

“I put the ‘pro’ in procrastinate”, I say.

The flip side of that personality is spontaneity.  As in, “Hey, me…let’s do a Dry Week!” without considering the implications.

Like, I decided this on a Saturday night.  Without considering that while Saturday is my Monday, that would mean I have an entire work week ahead of me versus beginning my Dry Week on my Friday or Saturday and ending on my weekend so I can celebrate my success.  Now I’ve got five days in and a work week behind me…and I want to detox with a drink.

Alas.

Who knows?  Maybe it’ll be a Moist Week.

Another unseen ramification of a spontaneous Dry Week is pain.  One never really considers the slight medicinal effect of alcohol.  After a rough day of schlepping around Portland International, I can relax sore muscles with a beer or two or a glass of wine.

Additionally, I’ve had a visit from this recurring mouth pain.  I consider it an indicator of a cold or allergy episode.  Or my one wonky wisdom tooth coming out of dormancy.  So, maybe I’m getting sick and my sinuses are putting pressure on my upper jaw; maybe my teeth are doing the Macarena; or maybe I just don’t have my usual painkiller on board.

Makes a decent argument for situational medicinal marijuana, though.  I know I’ve got a honey stick around here somewhere.

The final side effect of not having a sufficiently elevated B.A.C I’ve encountered this week has been the niggling – and surprisingly spontaneous- urge to join up for NaNoWriMo.

National.

Novel.

Writing.

Month.

It’s every November, the challenge is to write a minimum 50,000 word novel in 30 days.

Ok, first, when I write, I describe my process as Hemingway-ing.  Having this thought in a Dry week ought to be enough of a disqualifier for the idea.

Second, I’ve got my company’s annual seminar this month, so that’s five days of work functions from dawn to drunk, effectively making my ~1675 daily word average a straight up 2000 words in order to meet the challenge.

Sure, I can bust out a 3500 word blog entry or two per month, but my other entries tend to be in the 1200-1500 word range.

And I don’t write every damn day!

This past month, I think I wrote 14/31 days for 16 or 17 posts.  It was my biggest volume month ever.

What the hell is sober Xtopher thinking?!?

Someone wrestle me to the ground and make me shotgun a keg.

Dry Week: Update

Sex vs Intimacy Blog

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

What is the right context?

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

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

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

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

Remember The Wallpaper?

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

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

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

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

Ok, maybe I should give a little backstory:

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

It’s an insanely cute tush.

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

I wasn’t not flattered.

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

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

He was referring to me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Does he appeal to you.

Are you sexually compatible.

Is he even available.

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

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

Intimate strangers.

Is that a thing?

Should it be?

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

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

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

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

Yet people do.

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

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

Because that’s intimate.

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

If not intimate, at least it’s validating…

Ok, I have to go be grumpy now.

Sex vs Intimacy Blog

I Need A Haircut

I have briefly considered wearing my hair in a longer style recently.  I think this is just a further manifestation of my desire to avoid being perceived as sporting anything that could be lumped into the notion of “the gay haircut”.  To be sure, this has everything to do with my time in Seattle where every homo on The Hill seemed to have the same haircut…most, courtesy of Rudy’s Barbershop.

Don’t think there’s such a thing as a gay haircut?

Remember this bullshit from a few posts back?

Ugh.  The Hard Part.

A good name for my autobiography in progress, shit name for a hairstyle.

Totally gay.  Plus, it makes me respect gay guys a little less – yes, that is possible.  I imagine someone walking in and saying, “This is the style I want” and whipping out this guy’s pic.  Because, we should all take our style cues from the guy with facial tattoos…

I still won’t go to the Rudy’s in Portland, a) because Bishops is several bucks cheaper, but also b) because I usually get a more diverse choice of stylists there, making for a better experience for me.

Usually.

Foreshadowing!

Oh, and c) Bishops offers a beer while you wait, last I checked, Rudy’s didn’t.  Sure, it’s bullshit hipster beer like PBR or Montucky – same beer, by the way, just different marketing.  I kid you not.

I’ve gotten pretty good at timing my arrival at my local Bishop’s so that I’m the first one there.  In and out in record time.  The stylists are usually happy to see me, especially if it’s a slow starting day and there’s no line waiting to get in.

What can I say?  I tip like my father.

However, on my last trip…well, it was a trip.

First in the door, and no line had formed behind me.  I’m getting really good at not noticing that lines no longer form around me.  In this case, I easily convinced myself it wasn’t because I’m too old to be waiting for anything cool enough to queue up for.

It was Thursday morning at 10:50.

Normies were working.

I love my atypical weekend.

Anyhoo…

One of the two worker-people unlocks the door – she’s kinda non-descript and I decide I instantly want her cutting my boring hair instead of the girl with fluorescent pink braids.

Of course, this being my life, I got Pinky.

No big deal.  I can rally.  It’s only 25 minutes of my life, which is cumulatively the same amount of time I’ll probably spend having sex with other people between now and the end of my life.

Oh!  The end of my life in two or three decades!  Sorry to alarm you, mom!

I actually found myself checking myself on my earlier choice of stylists.  It doesn’t matter, really…I just think my dull head will bore someone as outwardly extravagant as Pinky.  Simultaneously, I’m mentally scrolling through the covert reasons for her  choices in self-expression.  I am decidedly a tee shirt and jeans guy, but still, I appreciate the effort people put into their appearance.

Even if I question the underlying motivations.

Total sidebar, as I’m writing about Pinky, I’m debating whether one of my DBE partners thought – or reflexively assumes – my comments about his garb this morning were slightly racist.

And whether maybe they were.  Or, at best were ignorant or insensitive.

I assure you that they were well intentioned, if not poorly informed.

But you gotta understand that my DBE is Snoop Dogg’s uncle as well as the father of a Women of WWE woman…when he dresses he makes this guylook like a tee shirt and jeans guy.

His outfit for today’s meeting was an exercise in monochromatic brocade paired with pointy toed patent leather shoes with hobnails (for lack of the appropriate cobbler jargon) around the sole at the front and topped off with a metal point with a skull shaped into it.

Those were some fucking shoes.

As a white guy, I don’t think I stood any better chance of commenting on them and not sounding ignorant or racist than Harvey Weinstein does of complimenting an actress’ gown and not sounding predatory.  So, fuck me.

So, Pinky starts in on the cut with some small talk about where I live and what I do.

Everything was fine until the second question, which was also about the same time I realized Pinky was trans…providing a shorthand answer to a few of  my initial questions on why someone would have that hair color.

And dye their eyebrows to match, by the way.

Regardless, it really popped against an alabaster skin tone that would make Casper look tanned.

It wasn’t that I do HR for a group of news & gift shops at PDX that caused the conversation to slide sideways.  It was the, “That sounds interesting” comment, rejoined with my, “Mostly, I just chase staffing issues all week” that committed our conversation to a slide that I didn’t even try to steer out of.

I have this longstanding rule about not pissing certain people off:

Your barista.  

Any waiter.

No need to risk a “sneezer”, right?

Barbers and stylists certainly qualify for this group of people not to piss off.

At this point, I start to realize I’m in a conversation that I’ll be lucky to escape from with just a pair of scissors stuck in my skull.  At worst, I’ll also be buried with a bad haircut.

You see, when she asked why staffing was such a problem, I didn’t leave it at a simple, “Hiring at the airport is just challenging”.  

No.

I had to go on and talk about how it’s tough to have a group of long-term associates – read: older – in today’s hiring environment because many of my new hires are college students…or at least college aged.

See how that last part comes across as judgy?

Me, too.

Now.

But the reality is that the two demographics just. don’t. get. along.

So our conversation is now in a full-on slide and Pinky contributes that maybe it’s not that millennials – her word – weren’t so much flaky or lazy – also her words – as they were tired of being pawns in the big capitalism game that is America.

I totally allowed that point, agreeing with the current backlash of the younger generations toward the Boomer-favoring economy.

Maybe millennials are just tired of working to pad someone else’s balance sheet.

Once again…not taking advantage of a strategic opportunity to not re-engage, I posit that no one is required to actually participate in capitalism.  She questions my sincerity by demanding an answer to how one will survive in today’s America without working for The Man.

You know, I say, I don’t know.  Yours is about the fourth generation to struggle with that question and I really don’t know the answer.  You’re in Oregon, where craft beer and weed are the past and current alt-industries.  Look at all the craft brewers selling out to big beer in “distribution deals” and ask yourself if weed will follow a different path.

Doubtful.

So, these alt-industries that basically have working class hero stamped in their DNA sell out.  Here’s what we think is the answer to capitalism run amok, selling out and caving to said capitalism.  The generations between you and I didn’t figure it out.

It’s up to your generation to do us one better.

– And this is fully where I should have muzzled my inner Julia Sugarbaker –

But until you do, you might try not biting the capitalist hand that’s feeding you, because that’s a little hypocritical, no?

Her mouth made the same perfect circle that both my eyes were making as she realized whatever she realized and I realized that I’d just broken one of my cardinal service people rules.

God help me.

Regardless of gender identification and politics, I’ve decided that I’ll probably go back to wearing my hair styled short again.  I think it was my writing about Egypt and seeing pictures of younger me, but whatever the impetus, I recently found myself entertaining the thought, “Maybe I could be one of those old guys with the IDGAF long hair…”

As grumpy as I am, I suspect that scenario plays out with me taking clippers to my head in frustration one evening.  Which, having likely worn out my welcome at Pinky’s Pelo Palace – er…Bishop’s – might be my follicular reality soon enough…

I Need A Haircut

My Dysfunctional Relationship

Yesterday was my one year anniversary.

With.

My.

Job.

Honestly, if you would have asked me a year ago whether I was more likely to date a guy for a year or remain employed for a year…I’m not sure I could have guessed which would come to pass.

I really think I would have bet on the guy.

Nah.  

That’s not right.  For two reasons:

First, I’ve gotten really good at cutting off losers and abusers in my personal life.  Not legit abusers, I learned that lesson early on.  I mean abusers as in the folks that emotionally bankrupt me and just DGAF about their responsibility to the person they date.  They’re harder to spot, these covert narcissists.  

Probably, I even overcorrect.

Definitely.

Plus, last year at this time I wasn’t even giving dating a second thought.

Second, I was starting a job working for someone in my prior professional network…so, it should’ve been a slam dunk.

Little did I know what I’d signed on for.

But, I made it.

I’m not entirely sure what positives I’ve gotten out of this relationship, it’s definitely not my best professional situation.  

Well, reconnecting with a few past co-workers and making some new, valued profession connections that will outlast my tenure in my current role…obviously.

Outside of that, I know that regardless of what personal gains I can or can’t catalogue, I can say that I contributed.  At least walk in on Year 2, Day 2 knowing that for however one-sided this relationshit seems to have been when/if (when) I leave it, I will be leaving it better than I found it.

Just like the guys I’ve dated.

Even if the job can’t recognize the positive impacts I’ve made there, either.

Just like the guys I’ve dated.

Wow…when your job is your life partner, who needs a boyfriend?

The biggest head scratcher for me at the end of year one is – because I think of my job as a relationship – why do we look at dating someone new and starting a new job so differently?

For instance, if I’m meeting someone new and we get past the first few weeks, I settle into getting to know him.  Between month one and three, I’m looking at how we relate and how our individual selves fold together.  By month six, I’m looking at longer term, will I want to live with this guy?  And by one year, I know the answer to that question and either move forward and in together or move on.  

Sure, those timelines can move around for better or worse – says the single guy weeks away from closing out his fifth decade of life…alone.  But I’ve got landmarks built in along the way about every three months to check in with myself and evaluate.

Conversely, with a job…a year is pretty much the professional qualifier to be considered a stable candidate by prospective employers.  Less than a year, you’re expected to explain yourself…and the onus is on the employee.  Employers are presumed…innocent, shall we say?

How is that fair.  

I know the answer.

But, perhaps interviews should be more like singles bars and dating.  There should definitely be a two drink minimum and interviewers should be the guy who’s looking for love and is eager to prove he’s better than your last boyfriend.  Or, at least be the person that’s there to tell you that you’re alright and too good for that last job.  

Maybe it’s just me.  Anyone else look at it that way?  Different thoughts?  Lemme know.

My Dysfunctional Relationship