Dating Into Oblivion, ep1

Well, this little endeavor is off to a great start.  I hope you all enjoy this as much as I am so far.

To recap: my goal is to throw $20 at a date once a month and see what happens.

What could possibly go wrong?

It’s like I threw a party and no one came.

Don’t read too much into that last word.

And here’s the deal, I could see throwing a party and maybe no one shows up.

Once.

But today was the 4th time it’s happened.  Technically, the 3rd and 4th time.  That’s how quickly my faith collapsed inward, I scheduled two dates in one afternoon.

But it wasn’t always so grim.

It started off much worse.

My first attempt crept on me.  I went into a bar after seeing a movie one afternoon early this month.  

The bartender hit on me.

Flattering.  It wasn’t the first time, either, and it was appreciated.  But I didn’t dwell on the prior instance and just enjoyed the moment.  He went to the bother of finding me on the Facebook Messenger later that night…we aren’t friends on the Facebook, so I decided to be impressed by the minimal effort that required.

I really do have the bar set low.  Like, ground level.  It’s left me quite dumbstruck how hard guys make clearing a low bar look.

So, me and the bartender are talking about meeting up and I mention how interested I’d been in dating him since the first time I met him.

He goes silent-er.  Instead of multiple daily messages, it’s a response every other day and he’s steered clear of actually committing to a date/time.  Reading between the lines, I dial it back and say that if he’s looking for casual, it’s not really my thing but I’d give it a second thought with him.

Then it hits me.

“Oh my GOD.  You’re still MARRIED, aren’t you?!?”

The first time I met him, I’d been sitting at the bar at Hobo’s talking to Everybody’s Uncle Dave.  His group walks in and he tracks me as he walks by and bee lines it for the bathroom.  As is my usual lot in life, his friends pick the barstools immediately next to mine on this 40 foot long bar.

When he comes out of the can, instead of sitting on the other side of his friends, he hops into my lap.

He’s significantly attractive, so I cannot care.  He gives me his number quick and says we should get together.  

As I’m listening, it becomes obvious that this is his Stag Party and he’s getting friggin’ married.

Picture me standing up, him sliding onto his adorable butt on the ground and me leaving, because I think that’s what actually happened.

So, the second time around was about as elegant…he never replied.

Shake it off, Galby.

The second attempt moved from real life to something less analog, but still kinda quaint in the age of apps.  I’ve kept one asocial media website profile active for the last forever.

I was on said site and sent off a few smiles.  I keep it light, usually.  Im an older guy hitting on younger guys, if they don’t want to engage, I take the hint.

A nice looking guy bothered to strike up a conversation.  His profile had several private pics, which he kept locked.  I appreciated this, since if it’s meant to be something I see, it’ll be in person.  So many of these gay-tards (Chrisism) think they have no value past their sexual use that I usually know what someone’s junk looks like before I know their name…if I ever even get to know their name.

We talked for about ten days, discussing getting together and setting a date to meet.

This being my life, he cancelled because he got a job interview.  Priorities.  I get it.

Suddenly, his pics are unlocked.

I explain that I don’t want nor do I expect to see them and why.  Then he says he feels bad…but doesn’t lock them.

Several days go by.

I don’t visit the site often, but get an email every day that I have mail waiting.

Finally, I log in to make sure I didn’t miss something.

No mail.

And his pics are still open.  Since it looks like he’s never going to talk to me again – so dramatic – I take a look to see if his 28 year old physique matches his cute mug.

MY EYES!

It’s like the very reason I don’t have boudoir pics.  On a guy that has about 40% less reason to excuse said reason.

Why?!?  No, not “why?”  I think I’m actually jealous that this guy is so comfortable in his skin to have these pics.

My mind is fairly boggled.

But, I do never hear from him again.

Attempts three and four happened concurrently.  It wasn’t anything impressive or typically Portland, like a couple trying to date me.  These two opportunities simply presented about the same time.

Me, being old and prone to confusion, asked them both out on the same day, today…which happens to be my Saturday.

Attempt three is someone who responded to a personal ad I placed.  Talk about old school.  He replied, included a face pic and a couple unsolicited and unexpected but not unwelcome – see above – body pics.  It’s ok, technically, since his name was in his email address.

He seemed nice and charming and genuine.  We set up a date to meet – today – which happens to be both our day off.  His only day off since he works full time and is a student.

Shut up, he’s 38.

My red flags are two:

He works nights, I work days.  We might only have one day per week to get to know each other.  

My second hesitation was that he’s from Mexico.

Hey, it can be a turn on and red flag at the same time!

My concern is that with English being his second language and so much of my persona being…snarkiness, a lot can get lost in translation,

I was impressed that he followed up to confirm this morning at 8:30.  I had an acupuncture appointment at 8:15, but replied at 9:30 when I got out.  

“Just give me a when and a where and I’m there”, I say.

At one o’clock, I’m still waiting.

I go scrolling through the Craigslist, killing time.  Also, maybe I need to be looking for February’s no-show.

I mean, date.

I click on an af that sounds up my alley.

There’s a few pics I recognize.

“Looking for today”…posted seven hours ago.

I’m having trouble getting my mind around someone who places this ad, emails me to confirm our date an hour later and then goes silent on me.

Obviously, he’s getting laid.

Only possible conclusion, right?  Setting aside my conviction that if he’s got…well, nevermind.  The point is, I call him on it.

He responds within minutes.

Full stop.  I’ve waited about four hours for you to give me a when and a where and when I tell you, “I get it, it’s your only day off for the week.  Take care of business” you suddenly have all the time in the world to respond?

Unfortunately, he chose to respond with, “You know how flakey gay guys are.  But I really want to see you!”

Yes, I do know how flakey gay guys are.  And I am not able to reconcile how four hours goes by without you picking a fucking time and coffee house while seven minutes elapsed between my j’accuse moment to his sudden reply.

Which brings us to my 4th attempt. 

This is a cute kid that I didn’t meet a couple of years ago when I moved back to town. 

I don’t drive + he lives in Vantucky = we never met.

But, we were already connected on the Facebook and when I joined the instagram last year, he was a suggested follow.  So, now there’s that.

Which is where I got into trouble.

But before that, last year, he got into a wreck that left him laid up for quite a while.  Long enough that he lost his entry level job at a quick serve restaurant and I’d been following his job search via status updates for a while.

I’m always – literally, if you know someone looking in Portland, OR let me know – hiring, so since we didn’t date I felt absolutely no awkwardness about extending an opportunity his way.

He

Never

Availed

Himself

Oh, well.

I thought about following up, but do I really want an employee I had to chase down to apply working for me?

No.

No, I don’t.

Some of the ones that voluntarily applied are enough of a probl…challenge.

So, I let it lie.

Then last week, we got into a DM on the Instagram that ended in him giving me his number.

We move to text and go at it like teenagers for a few days.  I can tell he’s no conversationalist, but get the vibe that he wants me to ask him out.

I do.

Thursday evening, about 6 or 7?

Sure.

I check in last night with a text, a 24 hour confirmation and hear nothing.

That was 22 hours ago and I don’t know if my thoughts are along the “Fucking millennials” or “Fucking fags” line.

Still…fucking something.

I do know that after a couple of years of not knowing him in real life, I feel as if I know what he wants or needs better than hizownself does.

He’s a Lost Boy.  That doesn’t make him a bad person, just lost.  Nothing more, nothing less.  But with potential in both directions, depending on whether he pulls his head out of his ass sooner, later or never.

I can say that my prior inclination to “raise” – for lack of a better word – a younger gay into a man is…not gone, but certainly sublimated.  I think it’s the job of a partner to help their SO become a better and better version of themselves.  I’m just aware that not every cute guy I come across with his act lying in shambles around his ankles isn’t automatically a perfect fit for me.

That’s a good realization.

There you have it. Episode 1 of Dating Into Oblivion.  Meanwhile, I’ve saved $80.  I’ve also enjoyed two and a half beers at Big Legrowlski while tapping this out.

And flirted with a probably straight guy over sci-if books.  So there’s that.

In theory, I’m quite an attractive option.

In reality…50 (minus 80-ish hours) and single, people.

Dating Into Oblivion, ep1

My E.O.G Game Is On!

I think I just level-upped my Early Onset Grumpiness.

Leveled Up?

I dunno which is righter.

No.  Wait.  I know neither is actually acceptable and just give up.

Anyhoo.  

The Silver Fox and I are sitting here in our neighborhood cafe, drinking our coffee and discussing Trump denying he used the phrase “shithole countries” the other day when something happened.

I’d seen this guy walk up with his dog – a young yellow lab, so I was attenuated on The Fox’s behalf since his dog share is also a lab.  The guy ties his dog up street side and comes into the cafe.

I give the guy a look that fails to register, but conveyed my, “You gonna leave your dog outside in the wet while you come in here and eat?”

Anyway, he ordered to go, as it turns out.  He’s standing there waiting for his sandwich and the next thing he or I know his dog is in the street greeting a passerby jaywalker.

With the table he was tethered to.

Now, I saw the guy come into the cafe sans puppy and assumed he had been lashed to one of Portland’s many bike racks.

No, our brainiac tied the dog to a table that is just a lightweight metal legged, wood slat top situation.  Patio furniture, basically.

The dog is enthusiastically greeting this jaywalking lady who is trying to pick the tabletop up out of the street and the dog has completely entangled himself in the leash and tablelegs.  Not that that is dampening the pup’s enthusiasm at all.

The owner finally arrives and handles the dog situation.  

I wonder if the dog knows the woman, explaining the overwhelming excitement of the animal toward her.

She’s now picking up hardware out of the street so cars don’t get screws stuck in their tires.  After she’s collected the attaching screws and whatnot, she carries on her way.

The guy comes in, picks up his sandwich and leaves.

I give him a hard stare as he walks by my window, which he adroitly ignores.

I walk up to our Substitute Barista and ask if the guy said anything to her about the table.  She’d missed the entire thing, helping customers.  Two of whom are standing right by me waiting for food and had seen the entire thing.

Neither of them confirm my account, so Substitute Barista and I go outside to assess.

The guy had set the detached top back on the legs and left the hardware sitting on the window ledge adjacent.

Substitute Barista declares that situation unsafe and I suggest taking the table into the cafe’s storage area.  She agrees, I grab the top and she grabs the legs.  She’s still talking about how could people do something like that.  One of the other witnesses is leaving as we’re coming back into the cafe and holds the door, saying, “Nice timing!” at her helpfulness.

I glare at her in disbelief, still she’s said nothing.

I go back to The Fox and pick up on our conversation, “It’s nice to see the GOP acknowledging that they are likely to lose their majority in Congress.  I just wish they would realize it’s not because incumbents are retiring or resigning so much as it’s their actions that will cause them to lose their majority.”

We went on to discuss the Trumpster Fire’s use of the phrase “shithole countries” some more, specifically how NPR had actually quoted the phrase and not bothered bleeping it.

The point I was making was how the mainstream media and congress have largely stood by and not specifically called out Trump for his bad behavior.  This is how he is able to continually get away with his devolving statesmanship.

No one speaks up.

Much like the two customers standing immediately by the dog owner today.  I watched what happened, stood up, crossed the cafe and narced on the guy who damaged someone else’s property and said nothing.

And why should he, given the example of our country’s leadership?

Well, I saw something and I said something.  

Then I said, “I hope that guy is a regular and you get a chance to call him out.”

Not that I want Substitute Barista involved in a confrontation, but I do think someone should be able to respectfully and safely say, “Hey, that wasn’t cool.”

When the guy walked back by with his dog as I wrote this, I debated going outside and saying something to him.  The Fox kind of talked me out of it, which is good since I may fail the “respectfully” part of the conversation…but I glared at him real good.

My E.O.G Game Is On!

The Widow

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

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

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

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

Allegedly.

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

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

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

And, literally on the block right behind me.

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

But still, we randomly chatted.

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

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

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

Quite a package deal!

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

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

I try to assume the best.

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

Whatever. 

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

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

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

He declined.

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

<ignores obvious warning whistles>

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

Here’s the funny part:

No, I swear, this is gonna kill ya.

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

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

No.

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

Shittatle.

I click on his profile, and sure enough:

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

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

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

“If he makes it back, I grumble.”

But I do.

Until.

He messages me at 6:20, “I’m off!”

That’s your long day?!?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Next!?!

The Widow

Black & White

A while back, I was challenged on the Facebook to participate in this Black & White Challenge thingy.

The rules were to post one black and white photo each day for seven days, no commentary, no people.  Just photos.

I suspected it was just some elaborate ruse to get me to shut the hell up for a week and considered ignoring the challenge.  But, since my inner child is very much alive and well, I simply couldn’t resist the dare.

So I did it.

Mostly.

The final part of the challenge was to pass it on to one of your Facebook friends each day, but I’m lucky enough to have the friends I do…best not risk pushing them away any more than my sparkling personality (read:  EOG) already does.

Plus, it took me nine days to post my seven photos.  

Needless to say, it’s been bugging me ever since, the lack of context or comment on these posts.  Fortunately, I have a forum where I can basically say and do just about anything I want.

Take that, everybody else!

Now let’s see if I can not only recall these in order but also remember what struck me about them enough to include them in the first place.

Day One:  I go to work too damned early.  Sure, we had recently survived the idiotic annual shift to Daylight Savings Time once again, but seeing street lights on when I leave for work in the morning is a little much.

I think this was my Sunday shift, so I’m up at 3:45 and out the door by 4:30.  On my way to the MAX stop in Old Town I pass a gentleman’s club that’s still open, further reinforcing my belief that it’s not actuall morning.

Day Two:  This is where I do it, Portland International Airport.

Not “do it” like a wide-stanced senator, I actually work at PDX.  I love the environment and the carpet makes me happy.  This is version two of the world famous PDX carpet.  It was replaced two years ago after a couple decades of wear and tear.  And at about 50,000 travelers a day, that’s a lot of wear and tear over 20 years!

Day Three:  After a couple of days at the old Salt Mine, I’m ready for a drink to blow off a little midweek steam.  I actually stopped on the way home at a shitty little Old Town restaurant with good beer called Silver Dollar Pizza II.  I have no idea how this is related to Silver Dollar Pizza on NW 21st, but I do know that this is owned by the same jag off that formerly owned one of the three second-worst gay bars in Portland.  He sold it s while back and suddenly its not a gay bar anymore.  I guess you could say, <poof!> no poofs.

So, there I am, having a couple of beers and when I walk out, darkness.  Goddamned Daylight Savings.  But I walk around the corner and here’s this sign to brighten my night!  Nothing like blowing a few bucks in quarters and blowing away your day’s frustration with some Galaga!

Day Four:  This building.

I always lament my move to Shittatle by saying, “If the Pearl would have looked then like it does now, I never would have left”.  Truly, I would have taken the severance being offered and suffered through the remaining years of the W presidency in the happiness of my hometown.

When I left, the Pearl District was just starting it’s redevelopment phase and there were blocks of in-redeveloped warehouse space and abandoned buildings.  There were lots of galleries, a few co-ops and some new high rise buildings.

This is one of the co-ops. It’s someplace I could never afford to live, but a place that’s always been one of my Pearl aspirations.

C’mon lottery…

Day Five:  I’m pretty sure this was one of the days I missed posting because I was traveling, sue me.  I took off for my company’s annual leadership seminar midweek and took a little light reading for the trip.  Of course, if I’d forgotten it, the hotel had me covered with its own good book.  

I love the act of holding an actual book while I read.  It’s such an analog feeling.  The weight of the book in my hands, the smell of ink and paper.  Imagination engaged and senses engaged…I was off on an adventure that was simultaneously futuristic and nostalgic.  If you have a chance to read this before the movie comes out, do.  If not, the movie will be pretty good, I’m sure.  Spielberg at the helm?  Pretty good indicator, right?

Day Six:  And then I missed another day.  But it got me back home where I was greeted by some wet foliage when I walked through the park in front of my building.

Actually, I was pretty impressed that I didn’t slip on this leaf as I traversed these sometimes treacherous bricks.

Day Seven:  It’s my weekend!  And I was lucky enough to meet up with the Filipina Fox for a drink while her hubby was traveling for work.  Also, she got me into this challenge, so it’s only fair that she was with me when I snapped my last entry.

It’s a statue of a giant whisk.  Because: Portland.

And then there’s this gem.  I snapped this selfie in my elevator afterwards.  All this black and white nonsense made me nostalgic for the work of Herb Ritts or one of those super gritty Rolling Stone covers with the pop culture icon viewed through a haze of exhales cigarette smoke.

Obviously, I’m missing the smoke.

And some professional lighting.

And the pro photog.

Gawd.  What if this is what I really look like?!?

Black & White

Embers

I’m on a quasi alliterative titular jag, it seems.

Last night’s entry had lit in its title.

This morning/afternoon, I’m writing about embers.

Later today, I’ve got one tentatively titled woodwork that should post.

You didn’t really need to know that, but these are the things about my blog that I enjoy…so, I’m sharing.

It’s almost noon on Friday.  The first Friday in nearly 49 years that Portland won’t be celebrating the weekend at a dance bar called Embers.

It’s been going nearly as long as I’ve been around.  Sometimes strong.  Others…well, it was one of the bars that I referred to as being in a three-way tie for second worst gay bar in Portland.  

The worst, Casey’s has always in my mind held the best wishes for continued success by these three bars:

One of the contenders for second worst – The Fox and Hounds – sold a few months back and immediately launched a transformative campaign to alienate its base clientele by changing everything.  The campaign was known as “We’re not going to be making a lot of changes or anything”.

Embers shuttered it’s drag stage and dance floor at 2:30 this morning for the last time after announcing earlier this week that its owner had suffered a stroke and was no longer able to run the business.

So…CONGRATULATIONS, EaglePDX, on being the last second worst gay bar in Portland!

Oh, and Casey’s quietly closed a few months back, so…this is a really big day for you!

All that having been said, Embers holds an awkward place in my nostalgic old heart.  So much so, that I would still pop in every couple of weeks or so for a beer and some chat with the staff.  Usually, I was the only non-homeless person and non-somehow tenuously employed by the bar patron in the place.

This is my life, people.  Try not to cringe.

But back before making its run at the title for second worst gay bar in Portland, well…it was an IT bar for Portland.

I was forcibly relocated to the Great Plains before I could legally drink or patronize a night club in Portland.  Two facts that the Great Plains didn’t really give a fuck about, because my Catholic High School honor student buddies started taking me to one of the two (only) premiere (by default) night clubs (dive bars) in beautiful downtown (no comment) Atchison, Kansas to do homework (I shit you not) when I was 14.

Kiby’s East – there was no other Kiby’s – was where I learned to both harshly judge and appreciate a true shit-hole-in-the-wall bar.  When it’s 50% of your choices – 33%, if you seriously consider doing nothing to be an option – you make the most of it.

It was on the banks of the Missouri River.  On sultry summer nights, they’d open up the back doors to let the breeze cool the dance floor.

They had $1 pitchers of beer for what would pass as happy hour.  Perfectly affordable to us high schoolers whose after school jobs paid $2.35 an hour.

I once saw – while taking a study break on the mezzanine – a big muscly guy dancing by himself on the crowded dance floor.  Well, I say he was by himself, but over his wife beater clad shoulders he was wearing what I hoped was his pet boa constrictor cum dancing partner.  I watched as he flirted with it, lifting its head to his lips to kiss at it playfully as the snake’s tongue flickered at his lips.

Then, in an emotionally scarring PDA, he put the whole head of his snake in his mouth.  I’ve seen similar things happen at EaglePDX.  

Colloquially-speaking.

So, from boas constrictor to feather, I have a good idea of what makes a bar tragic or fabulous or something of the unremarkable in between variety.

Embers was all of these at some point over the 21 years that I’ve been whetting my whistle at its gold fish inhabited bar.

One of The Fabulous Baker Sisters put Embers on my social radar via MySpace after I moved back to PDX from SoCal in the winter of ‘96.  

When The Fourth Fabulous Baker Sister speaks, I listen.  Especially about booze, clubs or in this case, both.

My socializing quickly began to include Embers.

Occasionally, I would go there after work with my team to dance our asses off and blow off steam built up over the course of the week.  I would usually park my Jeep in front of the building I now live in and stagger back several hours later feeling invigorated and refreshed, baptized in the sweaty waters of a smoke machine filled dance floor.

The next day my chicken legs were rubber at work from too much dancing.  But those nights of group dancing with Margi, Candace, Jackie Jack Ass, Erica-Schmerica and Panzy are some of my most treasured 20-something memories.  Pansy being a couple decades our senior, but representing and showing us how it was done…even if toward the end of the night it was done on her back, waving her arms in the air on the dance floor after too many drinks and/or clove cigarettes.

Other times, I’d sit alone at the gold fish inhabited bar and drink.  Raven, one of the older drag performers would chat me up, hitting on my unreceptive ears as we watched Linda Lee obscenely tongue flick her way through performing a song whose words she was only vaguely acquainted with.  This was how I preferred to watch the show after the first time a drag queen hit on me here.  Jumping off the stage after her number and bee lining her way through the crowd of chairs right up to me to introduce herself.

That DQ was a sexy boy, turns out.  I should have set aside my own homophobia and accepted his advances.  Probably, it would have headed off some bad mojo I didn’t know was brewing for my future.

Every Pride Parade I attended in Portland passed by this Portland icon, overflowing the crowd into the street for the day, much like the scene from last night.

Sometimes, I would stop by with Black Sheep Bro, where without fail, my straight slightly younger brother would get hit on in a gay bar and I would not.  That’s fair, thanks, universe.  I chalk it up to my self-unrealized intimidating beauty.

Then there was the time I turned those tables and met a so-called straight boy whose friends had allegedly failed to show up for the evening.  I turned from the bar to face the dance floor after ordering a drink, the machine generated smoke parted and out walked Sacha.

The good old days…yeah.

Ten years later, I moved away.

Ten years later, I moved home.

Again.

Embers was still there.

Portland’s heralded gay strip – which Embers was never on – Stark Street, graphically nicknamed Vaseline Alley, had been broken up.  Now, instead of a street filled with gay bars and then Embers, way over there; Portland now had gay bars all over the inner part of the west side of town and Embers was sitting dead in the middle of them.

Literally, dead, as it came to pass.

Living now right across the Park Blocks from the bar, I’d go in there…and it just wasn’t the same.

Some familiar bartenders and staff.

The owner sitting at the end of the bar, being asocial.

Some drag queens.

But the crowd was hard to find.

An occasional crowd at a performance, but now the drag community – at least in these four walls – had become so insular as to be nearly exclusive.  It’s probably my own fault, rebuffing Raven’s advances and dissing that other boy in a dress so many years ago…this was my karma.

Latin night on Sundays.  That had a crowd! But the bar wasn’t so much a celebration of the Latin pop culture of Selena and Shakira as it was a horrifying celebration of a mariachis meets quincinera Latin culture.  Again, it felt strangely exclusive to my old white ass.

Which is too bad, because Latin men…<swoon>.  Looking at you, Wallpaper.

Pride was still an amazing experience here.  Sadly, that raucous party was just a single day in the year.

I stopped trying to catch the nostalgic night scenes from my 20s and 30s and would settle for stopping by for a happy hour drink.

I began walking on the far side of Broadway from the bar after running into a day-drunk friend stumbling out of Embers for the third time in the first six months after moving back to the hood.  Aaah, the glamor of a gay bar that opens at 11 am.

Also, running into bored daytime bartenders smoking on the street put me at too great a risk of becoming that stumbling day drunk person during my idle days.

But now that risk is gone, for better or for worse.

The neighborhood gossip mill has started in with the “here comes more ugly condos” trope, but it could be worse…the building’s decades long decay could just accelerate.

Surprisingly, the rumor mill hasn’t resurrected – as far as I know – the rumor that Silverado, one of the Vaseline Alley era bars, was moving from its exile in SW to take over the space, closer to the other gay bars.  Since it and Casey’s were the only gay bars in SW – technically, Vaseline Alley was in SW, but only by one block – now that rumor would make total sense.  This would leave Scandals as both the only gay bar of any significance in SW and the only gay bar left in the original gaybourhood…tightening the gay scene in Portland, once again.

That wouldn’t be so bad, in my opinion.

Alas, the news is reporting that the building’s owner is looking to sustain the space as part of the LGBTQI community, seeking investors from around the nation to invest some capital in the space and open a fresh gay club.

And that’s an outcome I can appreciate.

RIP Embers.  And thanks for the mEmberies.

Embers

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

Fitfy 49:39

Missed these little check-ins from the final year of my fifth decade?

Fret not, they’ve not been pushed far from the front of my mind…they are only a trip past my bathroom mirror away, as a matter of fact.  But, this final week of the third quarter of this trip around the sun for me seemed like a good time to check-in again.

First some obvious accountabilities:  exercise and diet.

Exercise:

I’ve quit my gym.  That may not seem like anything but a big step backward, but I think it’s not.  Sure, this was initially a financial decision, the money I spent on gym membership could be better spent on wine, after all!  

I kid.

What I came to realize, though, was that at this time in my life, lifting weights was problematic.  More of a tether or a crutch for my old fitness mindset of recreating or restructuring my physical self…making it into something it’s not.

I have some 4-25 lb dumbbells at home that I can use for a variety of toning exercises when the mood hits.  Overall, that’s what I want to rediscover: tone.  My arms were as thick as my neck in my 30s – don’t get excited, I’ve been called pencil neck before. My chest and ankle measurements might make you wonder if my “father” was, in fact named Frankenstein.

What happens to that forced physique when you stop feeding it iron plates is not pretty.  Over the past three months, as I’ve changed my exercise regimen up – mostly changed it to “rest” – is that those muscles have softened.  My chest does not have as much in common with a 35 year old man as it maybe does with a 50 year old woman.

And that’s ok…for now.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want either of those racks.  But it’s a stop on the way to slimming down.

So, what’s this new regimen?

It’s more intense cardio based, as far as structured exercise goes.  Spin class.  God bless RevoCycle and the Filipina Fox for getting me back into spin!  I really love it…it’s prohibitively expensive, so I’ve been on a little break for the last few weeks, but the time commitment vs results impact is exactly what I want as I try to return to a slimmer silhouette overall.

The remainder of what I’ve been doing outside of mini weight workouts at home and spin class is lifestyle exercises.  Things designed not to get me out of the house and into the gym, but rather to get me out of the house and outside.

Hiking, mostly.  I live in the Pacific Northwest…God’s Country.  I have 40 miles of trails in Forest Park, a quick two mile urban hike away.  I live on Park Ave – between 8th and 9th St in Portland’s Alphabet District.  My stretch of Park is between Everett and Flanders – do not  stalk me…you’d be gravely disappointed.  Forest Park has an entrance at about 28th and Thurman.  That’s 14 blocks over and 19 blocks up.  

Easy.

Until you see this, anyway.

We all need a little touch up now and then, eh?  That’s what this year-long theme is about!  But I found an alternate entrance a few blocks further up the hill and have had myself a couple of nice 10 mike hikes over the last few weeks.  It rained almost all of last week, but today on my weekend agenda…yeah!  More hiking!  

Now

Diet:

Ugh.

Remember, what I didn’t want to do was overcorrect here and go radical self-deprivation by only allowing myself chicken and broccoli for dinner.  That usually leads to chicken and broccoli for most lunches, too.  And that leads to Unhappy Xtopher.

Also, I didn’t want to not drink.

I wanted to eat real food, have real junk food and get my drink on when I wanted to.  Be that when hanging out with friends or doing a little self-soothing after work.

I’d say the one thing my diet is missing right now is protein.  In eschewing chicken, I’ve become cognizant of the fact that I’m not chewing enough of anything that used to be alive.  Almonds, peanut butter, lunch meats and tuna ain’t cutting it.

Non-Dad-Bod Xtopher needs some red meat.

Shut up, Diezel.

Other than too much pasta in my diet, I’ve been happy with my intake.  Oddly, I’ve found myself craving kale lately.  I should definitely give into that, I bet my body is feeling less nostalgic than it’s actually trying to tell me it needs something.

My alcohol consumption is steady, I know you were worried.

I find that my drinking has become less…binge-y and more consistent.  Neither in a bad way.  When I was drinking before, I’d drink for several hours, ignoring the fact that I was setting records with how many drinks I could consume in an hour.

I’ve gone from drinking 2-3 drinks an hour for several hours to drinking 2-4 drinks a night.  Maybe I drink 5-6 nights a week versus 3-4 nights a week, but I’m not waking up groggy after and I find myself deciding to have another beer versus just giving into habit or simply being handed one by an attentive bartender.

All this came to the front of my mind during last week’s acupuncture appointment.  My Needle Man had been diagnostically probing my abdomen and when he was done, instead of quickly pulling my shirt back down and making a comment about covering my shame, I began absent-mindedly playing my belly like a drum.  He smirked at me and when I realized what I’d been doing, smiled sheepishly and apologized.

He made a comment about enjoying seeing such self-acceptance in today’s body shaming culture.  Someone just innocently enjoying their body without realizing it – literally, in my case, he said – was refreshing.

I told him that I planned on enjoying my body in not so innocent ways later, which gave us both a chuckle.  That may sound a bit depraved to you, but we talk about my sex life almost as often as we talk about my digestion.

If we’re gonna talk shit, nothings off the table.  Plus, there’s a couple of treatments he does that have a great reproductive side effect.  It may not be strictly necessary in my case, but that doesn’t mean it still can’t be appreciated!

The conversation eventually led to – well, directly led to – how self-acceptance was kind of the theme of 2017 for me.  I described how nothing I did physically replaced running in my life, how I could run in the rain but cycling and hiking in the rain were no-goes for me.

“Why don’t you run anymore?”

So, I gave him the back story and then short-handed it to “bone density issues in my lower legs”.

I’ll short-hand his response to “There’s a needle for that”.

Me:  Do not get my hopes up.

Not at all, he told me, cautioning me that it will take time and be something I have to build up to, but there’s probably no reason I shouldn’t count on running again.

So, as I enter the last quarter of this Fitfy (mis)adventure, I find myself looking forward to an unexpected and welcome gift for my 50th birthday…an evening jog to close out my work day.

It’s just what I wanted.

Fitfy 49:39