Call me what you will: cynical, crazy…whatchu got? But when my ex – Rib – texted this morning asking if we could talk, my mind immediately went dark.
It’s been a few years since we’ve talked outside of random social media interactions. Even longer since we’ve caught up in real-time.
Note to self: chill that white burgundy I got on their wine tasting trip to Portland. That’s gotta be 6 years old now?!?
Anyway. Out of nowhere came the thought, “His mom died”, and I was immediately sad. Thinking about her in the past tense. Thoughts like “She was the same age as my dad!”
Welp, I’m happy to report that guess was wrong. But the dire spirit was warranted.
He’s getting divorced.
That was in my top two reasons he’d want to talk, but by all (observed) accounts, they were strong.
Despite the reason Rib gave for them getting married – he needed insurance, which is a typical Rib dodge to a question he doesn’t want to answer – they seemed pretty solid. They’d bought a house together a year or so after getting hitched. They recently sold it for $400k more than they bought it for and had an offer on a million dollar build.
They were able to get out of that with less hoops to jump through than Elon trying to get out of his Twitter deal.
But the benchmark of our relationship was that we ended as friends. I figured breaking up with someone 18 years my junior when I was in my mid-40s was gonna be it for me, relationship-wise. A prediction that has held up, but I thought finally having an ex that became a friend was a good high water mark.
Or I had inadvertently strayed into lesbian tendencies territory. I did avoid buying a Subaru when I went car shopping, so I think I’m not in any danger of losing my Gay Card.
Using it is another, less likely story scenario.
Another moment of…not pride, but, y’know…something pride-adjacent was that he wanted to talk to me before he spoke to his family.
Especially his sister. Ironically, she’d gotten married for the same reason. Hey, I never said Rib used original material. That union also ended in divorce. After living in separate states for most of the marriage.
When I’d ended my relationship with Rib, I’d laid out my view of his worldview pretty plainly: he’d moved from his mom’s house, to his sister’s to mine. He needed to figure out who he was before he could be a real partner for someone. “You need to get the shit kicked out of you by the world for a bit” were my exact words.
We found an apartment for him and got him settled in his new life. Two weeks later his sister fixed him up with his soon to be ex-husband and they were immediately inseparable.
I was pissed at her, not him. He was just doing what he knew. She should have known better.
Anyway, a decade later, hearing his plan for his fresh start and then him finishing with, “That’s what you told me that I should do when we broke up. You were right. I don’t even know who I am right now, much less what I want!”
He was a real brat when we were dating. Fun, but a brat. But when I told him I was t dating someone with no job, no education and living with his sister, he batted down my objections with actions. Well, two of the three, he got a job a few days later and a few weeks later was asking me for help filling out financial aid paperwork for college.
I was really impressed by what this guy could do when someone expected something of him. There wasn’t much I could reasonably expect from him on the housing front, but four years later, we fixed that. At least for a few weeks.
Now he’s closing another circle in his life and I gotta hand it to him for having the insight to be able to look at his actions the last time he found himself single and decide what he wants to do differently this time.
I may not have had kids of my own to release into the world, but my MO when dating younger ‘mos had been to leave ‘em better than I found ‘em. I’m happy that I was able to see the results with Rib not once, but twice now.
Here’s hoping I get to witness the rewards he reaps for the work he’s signing up for, too. But I’m not taking my chips off the square that says “Takes his half of the house money and moves away” either.
When Olive died during last year’s heat dome, I wasn’t prepared for – or even thinking about – how that would hit me. I was surprised at the number of the stages of grief I could identify. But yesterday, I finally reached Acceptance.
For the record, Olive was a plant. Obviously an olive tree.
Olive was the first plant I acquired after moving back to Portland. Even that took a while to accomplish, since I got her in 2016 and had moved back in 2014. She was the product of an in-store event I’d hosted for a local Olive Oil company who had brought a couple trees as set decor for their booth. The owner of the company had offered me one of the three they’d brought up to the event and without hesitation I accepted.
Anyway, I lost her – and everything else on my balcony during our three day heat dome last year. Y’know, the one where our temps in the PNW were the hottest on the planet. That should never happen in Portland, OR. Even watering twice daily didn’t do the trick because the temps never went down at night, there was just no respite. I think that instead of providing relief, watering just changed the heat from baking the roots in their clay pots to steaming them…
That was some Denial right there. Anger was reserved for the climate change deniers and people who helpfully told me that my plants could have survived with even more watering. Bargaining was the ridiculous habit I had of still watering her stick figure remains in hope the roots came back this past spring.
I think what was hardest for me was the throwback memory I have of my first post-relationship gay friend here back in the early aughts. He was only a friend, but we’re really got to know each other deeply since we were both navigating traumatic waters at that point in our lives. He was in recovery for sex addiction before it became a fashionable excuse for misconduct among our powerful and famous men. But something he told me was that one of the steps he had to complete before he could date was to keep a plant alive for a year. It was an exercise in caring for another’s needs.
So, yeah. Losing Olive affected me. I don’t believe I will have another relationship in my life, but I want to know that I still could vis-a-vis successful plant husbandry. How’s that for a new twist on the old “It’s not me, it’s you” trope?
I didn’t replant my balcony for fall as I usually do. Nor did I plant anything this spring. I just kept watering Olive’s carcass.
The Silver Fox picked up his own Olive on one of his trips to Trader Joe’s. Sensing my interest when he told me, to promised to remain on the lookout for me on subsequent trips. But their plant inventory rotates so quickly that timing is critical.
Which is why I was excited to share this pic with him on my way home from a walk to my local TJs for cat treats yesterday.
Lil Olivier. They were out of the cat treats, BTW. The next best option – fried salmon skin – seemed like a sure thing, but Myrtle turned her nose up at them. My current mental exercise is debating whether to risk Olivier on my balcony or keep him inside where I only have to worry about Myrt.
The interesting thing to me is how my inside plants have benefited from my undivided attention over the last year. I went from a roster of four to fourteen in the past year. That’s including a pothos that I propagated a second plant from. There’s a third rooting out now and a jade that has two plants in one pot that I need to split out. My spider plant is throwing off some babies I need to trim and root out soon.
I’m starting to wonder where I can keep them as I look toward a plant stable approaching twenty by year-end. My apartment has limited window space. My living room wall is basically 16 feet of floor to ceiling window. My bedroom on the other hand has only two panes. Plus I’m pretty bad at opening the curtains, but I think that will be one of the next steps.
Right now, I’m using dense clustering as a defense against Myrtle’s rubbing them to death. She loves scratching her cheeks on them, but that’s generally to their detriment. To that end, when I started putting plants on window sills, I learned that I had to arrange the sill so there was no room for her to sit on the same sill.
Likewise, since my dracaena sits at the end of my TV console, I need to find a way to limit Myrtle’s ability to get to that end since she’s already snacking on it.
And the unsnacking all over the floor.
But enjoy the last few pics of my lil therapeutic plant farm while I resume my mental debate over Olivier’s initial home…
If you’re in the states, enjoy your extra day off on this three day holiday weekend. I’ll be potting at least one plant today or tomorrow!
No, this is not a nostalgia post about my Columbia House membership.
Whilst working from home yesterday, I was planning out my weekend. The focus was getting my weekend blogging goal back on track as well as my exercise regimen – which has been off track since my vacation. Add into that the Silver Fox’s return to town. And this is still on top of wanting to maintain my regular weekend misadventures.
But it was also Flashback Friday on my local radio station. Back when I was living that #LyftLife that meant I listened to the weekly Party Out of Bounds radio show from 8-midnight while driving Friday nights.
All 80s and 90s music for four hours? Yes, please.
Now that I’m living the WFH life, I listen to the morning show until 10 Monday-Friday and maybe switch to a pandora station later in the day. But on Flashback Friday I might put in a little longer on the show because they give away tickets to upcoming live shows from 80s and 90s bands every hour.
I’ve set my limit at 5 calls per hour, if I’m able to call when they throw it out. Sometimes I’m on a Teams or Zoom call and can’t.
It’s fine. I’ve already won seats at their free in studio performances twice this year, so if I miss out, I’m still having a pretty good live music year. Some of the shows though…Jane’s Addiction, Garbage, Crowded House. There’s about five shows to choose from each week at a variety of venues: The Moda Center (where the Blazers play), Edgefield (one of our larger outdoor venues), Crystal Ballroom (if you wanna experience a concert on the third floor of a hundred+ year old building, this is your place – and let’s hear it for feeling the floor move beneath your unmoving feet!), or Pioneer Courthouse Square (aka: Portland’s Living Room).
I’ve been to shows at all of these venues over the years, but my attendance was stagnant recently – pandemic closures notwithstanding. I’ve been to Moda many times, including Fleetwood Mac on three separate tours. I saw Everclear back in the late 90s or early aughts at the Crystal and was “recently” (aka: five-ish years ago!) invited to Echo and the Bunnymen there. Pioneer Courthouse has a couple different summer music events each year. The first is just a “Portland is awesome” type of thing…a free Lunchtime Concert Series every Thursday at noon. Back when our downtown had businesses operating in it, people would throw open their windows in the neighboring non-skyscraper buildings to lean out an watch. People on the streets would be drawn to this packed city block brick plaza. I’ve seen several shows there, too. Notably, the Indigo Girls back in the 90s and I was sad to miss their return to this venue this year. There have also been a couple of community concerts featuring our local Pink Martini to mark holiday tree lightings or punctuate a local event – like a protest concert or to honor the life of a colorful former Mayor.
Which leaves us with Edgefield out of the venues listed above. It’s a 7000 “seat” outdoor venue at the edge of town, owned by the same family that owns the Crystal Ballroom, so the music gene is strong. The official name of their music program is Edgefield Concerts on the Lawn…hence the apostrophes around the word seat earlier. I’d been decades ago when it first opened. It was fun to go and cop a squat on a patch of grass with a date or maybe as a foursome with another couple.
But that was decades ago, and my lawn squatting days are behind me.
Enter my drink buddy neighbor. He’s kind of my spirit animal for having a life as a single old man. I don’t know why this eludes me so. I think it might partially be a willful ignorance on my part. It was only a few – ok, closer to ten than five – years ago that I regularly wrote under the blog theme I called the Yes Game. Now I’ve got Jessla fresh off her divorce and recently moved back to the city from the coast talking about her Year of Yes as well as my drinking buddy reminding me that life is meant for living, not waiting for the end.
Anyway, my drinking buddy has adult children with a couple of grands that keep him busy, which is a resource I don’t share. Outside of that, which is plenty for most people, he also has this great life of solo adventures that have inspired me recently to do more than just carouse my way to the grave.
He’s the one that invited me to the Loverboy/REO Speedwagon/Styx show a couple months ago. That, in turn, motivated me to not be resigned to the sidelines of life. I remembered when doing things alone was a source of empowerment for me when I was younger. As I’ve aged, I’ve avoided that source of power while eschewing the source of one of my biggest frustrations: people.
It was good to be reminded that I can do both by planning strategically. While it will take a lot to get me back to the Moda Center for a show, post-pandemic. It was the show that I lucked into last week at Edgefield that highlighted the reality I’d been missing out on.
My drinking buddy ended up triple-booked on a Friday night: a family thing, a Timbers match (he’s a season ticket holder) and a show at Edgefield that he’d been raving about for weeks. It was the last-minute realization that he had a match that Friday and the laster-minute family thing that ended up with me being gifted his tickets to the Edgefield show.
To Bonnie-freakin’-Raitt, no less.
I couldn’t possibly say no! Even though I’d already said yes to walking the Silver Fox’s pooch while he was at the same show. And yes to walking Jessla’s dogs while she was out of town for the weekend.
On top of having a lunchtime doctor appointment…this was going to be quite the Friday. So at lunchtime I put my Out of Office on and hood it over to my doctor. That runs late, so I go right from there to Jessla’s pups afternoon walk. I’m back in my chair just before 130. At 430, I set my status to offline and head up to Jessla’s for a quick pee walk and dinner for her pups. Then I hop in the car and head east to Edgefield.
Did I mention that this free seat is in the 4th row of Reserved Seating?!? But I still have to wait in line with all the picnickers before the show starts at 630, thanks to this post-9/11 mass shooter gun violence world in which we live.
Getting 7000 people through metal detectors takes a minute. Factor in Bonnie pulls a Boomer crowd and you’ve got a real shitshow of a line scenario.
The Fox had been insisting my seats were good, but the seats he had in the Sponsors Section – courtesy of his nephew, owner of Wyld, a cannabis edibles manufacturer – were better. Well, they came with reserved parking and free tacos and drinks, so he was partially correct. Otherwise, we both learned that they had moved the Sponsor Se ruin sometime in the past couple of decades. Here’s a view from my not-worse-than-his seat.
But that reserved parking was legit. After standing in a line for 45 minutes, what was I finally greeted by when I was able to branch off the mainline to the two measly metal detectors dedicated to Reserved Seating ticket holders?
I’d know that snow cap anywhere. He hadn’t responded to my bored-in-line inquiries about his whereabouts. Probably because he was driving out so he could walk right up to the Reserved Ticket Holder’s entrance. But it amused me – while I was ignoring my darker inner thoughts that he’s seen me and was ignoring me – that he was so focused on the venue that he didn’t notice me until moments after I sent this…
Anyway, we were both entertained by his level of surprise. A phenomenon I would repeat as I beat a hasty retreat during the encore to get back to Jessla’s pups for their evening walk and ran into the Fox’s former partner’s parents – with whom he’s still friends. The dad was wearing his Timbers jersey, showing support for his team as a season ticket holder since he’d made a different decision than my beneficiary. So we got to chat a bit until we made for our separate grassy parking spaces – turns out, they left early to get home to their dog, too. Since it’s an outdoor venue, I put down the windows and opened the moonroof to listen to the encore as I queued up to exit the lot.
I’m not the guy who runs into someone I know everywhere I go. I’m always the guy with the person who runs into someone everywhere there go. Seriously, it happened at the top of the Eiffel Tower. But in between this happening to me twice in one night, I saw an incredible show. A week later, I’m still in awe.
Mavis Staples was the opener. Let me tell you, at 83 this woman is absolutely killing it. She’s not tall enough to have ever ridden a roller coaster in her life, but onstage? Well, let’s just say that you can’t miss her – even though it was a good minute or two before I saw her head because it was behind a mic-mounted iPad.
What? I didn’t see her take the stage because I was getting a beer! The McMenamin’s brothers started out as beer makers, not concert promoters.
I watched Mavis in awe. Her band and back up were amazing on their own, but in no way making up for any diminished capacity in Mavis’ talent or skill. She might have had to sit down a couple of times during the set – 83 years old! – and the band didn’t lose a beat, but when she was ready to come back, she let ‘em know that the stage was hers again.
I will never not think of this performance when I hear a cement mixer’s engine idling while its tumble turns. That a voice that big comes out of such a small human. Epic.
If that was all there was to this show…it was still a bargain at twice the price. But wait…there’s more!
In my concert-going career I’ve been to myriad shows. Folks touring to promote a recent album, storytellers on tour, spectacles of a show that hid lipsyncing artists, intimate venues, stadium tours, has-beens on the State Fair circuit, perennial favorites, career touring acts…and much, much more!
And it’s not like those options are mutually exclusive. It’s more of a Venn diagram.
I’d always thought of Bonnie as a storyteller on tour given my knowledge of her history touring with the likes of Lyle Lovett and John Prine. In this instance she was that storyteller on tour, touring to promote a new album and perennial favorite. I wasn’t super-excited to learn about the new album since that usually draws focus from the library I’m familiar with. For someone whose first album came out 50+ years ago, though? She is still creating amazing content.
Case in point, after talking about touring with Prine and reminiscing about them performing Angel From Montgomery together and how she can’t imagine performing it without him since his death, she tells how that history and loss inspired her to write a song with a similar story behind it. She’d heard a story about a man who showed up on a woman’s doorstep years after she lost her son in an accident…to thank her for the gift of life her son’s heart gave him.
Being an emotional sap is another good reason to go to these types of shows alone.
A few songs later, she performed Angel From Montgomery, and I think everyone was crying when she hugged her guitar to her like it was her lost, dear friend.
Like I said, I beat feet at the encore, but didn’t miss anything but a 45 minute wait to exit the lot in doing so. Hearing her voice through the trees in the night air of a perfect PNW summer evening while idling in a grass field? It gave me time to think about what I take for granted: the future. Not for granted, so much, more something I look forward to with a sense of dread or contempt.
But this coming-up-on-73 year old and her 83 year old touring companion showed me that people can continue to give to the world around them well into the years of life when others have left their careers. And my Generation Jones aged drinking buddy is giving me an example on how to live life as a single-person without waiting for someone to live it with to enable it – and without caring what others think of my solo-status.
I am kind of happy about my reluctance to return to larger venues for this reason, too. Fringe benefit of going solo to smaller venues alone? I stand out as alone easier in a smaller setting. Hey, if I’m going it alone, I want credit for the finger I’m giving my failure at achieving an enduring relationship. Can’t get that in a crowd!
All of this is by way of telling you that on my fifth attempt at winning tickets in the Flashback Friday offerings yesterday, I succeeded!
You’ll notice it took 22 attempts – versus the weeks of effort that came before yesterday – but someone finally answered the phone! A few minutes later, I was the proud owner of a pair of tickets to the upcoming Shins show at Pioneer Courthouse Square and could not have been happier. Until a few minutes later when the texts started rolling in…
Probably that last one. So…thanks, Facebook Memories.
Three years?!? How has it been that friggin’ long already…since I’ve had a date?
Kidding. Trying/not trying.
But I guess it’s just one more reminder that it’s been a long pandemic. If we factor those two years out, then it’s only been one year!
Don’t get me wrong, I tried to make hay out of the forced free time we all gained with the 2020 lockdowns. In April, I started NaNoWriMo – despite having two WIPs from prior NaNos still waiting for completion, then didn’t finish. Again.
I think I got derailed after a Twitter battle with a local stripper, who I’m sure knew nothing of my existence until I dared to correct him on his feed. Then I was all he could focus on, earning me featured status in his social media stories where he called me old and ugly. Not to mention a failed writer.
The young people are so woke – which seems to manifest with being disagreeable and combative. That’s regardless of the validity of their initial point. What moxy.
Sure, I’d only finished three books at that point, clearly, that’s failure in the eyes of a stripper who leaves the stage in a thong.
I actually finished all tasks associated with my job title, son. I have to imagine that a stripper’s job isn’t complete until they are clothes free. But what do I know? When I was a young man, tracing on one’s flesh was viewed differently than it is today – and I appreciate the evolution of sex work from villainized and humiliating to artistic expression and empowering.
This kid was – pardon the entendres – a dick.
Ultimately, that all stopped when he blocked me – the penultimate admission that he was wrong. The ultimate expression being actually saying it. But this is hardly the United States of Accountability, let alone Admittingyouwerewrong.
Anyway, as this was going on, I flirted with the idea of going to one of his shows and tipping him one of my books – yeah, I’ve got a few copies laying around. My overt grumpapotamus self imagined reading wasn’t high on his hobby list, see also: how he got to his current level of misery in his life.
The womenstrippers I meet driving with Lyft are all – every damned last one of them – such interesting people. Very engaging. Great stories. The male strippers I meet are all cunts. And not in that cool English slang type of way. At best, they look at me, and treat me like, I’m an ATM. Not that I go to strip clubs often…none of them have palatable beers.
I also considered going and tipping him $.02, since me giving him my figurative two cents was what set him off in the first place. Ultimately, I decided my absence was the best action for me.
Still determined to make some productive hay out of the lockdown, I pivoted to another project I’d been kicking around. When I finished my third book, it came in at a whopping 530-ish pages. I hardly consider myself a gay George R. R. Martin, so I sought out opinions from a few beta readers. They all told me it was fine.
But that length made printing costs pretty high and I think the lowest price I could charge was $19…and that was with me making less than a buck a copy. I knew there was a logical plot break that I could use as a kind of cliffhanger if I chose to split this into two books, I just hadn’t.
But with one half finished draft from April’s NaNo making me feel guilty, I decided this was the perfect time to tackle that split.
And I did it!
Well, “did it” so long as completing the split and edit of the first half. I knew I needed to flesh out the second half to beef it up a bit. It had originally suffered under the pressure of me knowing the page count was running high for one book. This was my chance to flesh it out.
But my first goal was to get the newly shortened second installation in my No One Of Consequence series back up online. Then I hit a formatting snag. Just a teensy one, but it proved to be overwhelming to my lockdown self and I never went back to finish it. I couldn’t imagine jumping to the third installment to get that story wrapped up, it just seemed wrong.
Four frustrating months go by. I spent a lot of that time considering the optics of dying during a pandemic with unfinished works. I thought it looked pretty good. Other artists somehow pull it off.
No, wait…Hemingway! That’s a better comparison. I’m a drinker, not a druggie. And we’ve established the fact that 500+ page books are not my style, so…yeah. Hemingway.
That was probably my biggest self-soothe of the pandemic.
It carried me through the next three months. Right up to the next NaNoWriMo event, the big one in November. Now I can finish!
Or…start another work.
The following April?
Ok, this was pure motivation. And adrenalin.
I had just gotten my Peloton and was jazzed to pick up the autobiographical trilogy I’d fancied when I wrote Dating Into Oblivion. When I wrote that, I was nearing the end of a year long blogging theme that had resulted from a friendly intervention at my 50th birthday party.
As a result of the collective will of my well-intentioned friends, I leaned into a blog theme I had just finished that I hashtagged fitfy. It was a play on fifty, an age I had been determined to reach with some progress toward accepting my aging self with a healthier attitude toward diet and exercise.
I’d been having trouble forgiving myself for not being able to eat and exercise like an idiot twenty-something. Naturally, my 51st birthday had involved me tapping a keg of my favorite beer at my then-favorite bar.
Anyway, knowing I had that “fitness in my fifties” notion in the back of my head, I decided to tackle dating in my fifties. It gave me something to do, at any rate. I figured the trilogy could round out with working in my fifties. It was a notion I rather fancied.
The problem was, there wasn’t much I could actually do since I’d just gotten my bike. I considered harvesting stories from my year of fitfy blog posts, as I had when I put together Dating Into Oblivion. But I considered that would have been only a portion of the project. I needed new content to complete the story.
Another partial credit NaNo for old Xtopher. PaCreNaNo? Kind of sounds like a pancreatic medical crisis.
Maybe that stripper was right.
Possibly, but improbable. Maybe what I needed was the motivation of writing something people might be attracted to en masse. My current accomplishments and WIP library all featured what I call gay shit – and I hate to break it to you, but The Gays aren’t known collectively as big readers.
It’s the pandemic – everybody else was pivoting, why not me? That sounds like a riff of a Cranberries album.
I picked a theme close to every Portland NIMBY’s heart: the homeless. Came up with a mystery plot. I even created a nom de plume based off of my parents middle initials and old world naming paradigms – JT Robertson.
Finally…in November of 2021, I completed a NaNoWriMo! Have I published? No. I’m mentally kicking it around, polishing it up. Completely retooling the voice. Flipping the plot 180 degrees.
Y’know…the basic writer’s nightmare.
April’s NaNo is weeks away.
I’m determined to finish something from my WIP list before adding anything else to it. I figure at this point, if my goal is to have a WIP library consisting of a prime number of works – it isn’t but I need to set boundaries of some kind – then I either need to finish one or add four!
I think seven is enough of a library. Let’s see if this Facebook Memories shaming is enough of a motivator to get NOOC2 published and back online. Lord knows that providing airplane reading material for a friend’s trip to Africa last month wasn’t it, so fingers crossed.
Sure enough, I woke up this morning, uncovered my laptop…and started organizing my tax receipts. Then I got this text
So I wrote this, instead. I refuse to be so known by my best friend.
To answer my original question: seen. I feel seen.
I dunno, maybe it’s more of a torpor…but I couldn’t come up with anything to play off of that, so here we are, stuck with a lane riff off of “It’s kind of a funny story”.
A quick backstory:
My first “good” boyfriend died back in…late ‘96 – Jesus, he’s been dead nearly 25 years, that’ll take some time to absorb – anyway, we were separated by more than half a country by then. It’d probably been a good four years since our relationship had ended, too, which was a pretty good percentage of my 28 years.
Naturally, having a dream about him was unusual at that point. Nothing compared to the actual dream., though!
It was one of those moments where you know you’re just about to drift off, then suddenly there he was, floating near the ceiling of my bedroom. He’s gesturing toward me, as if to get me to somehow move closer to him, and I’m all, “Sorry, buddy…me no floaty” without registering that it’s weird that he could and was. Then he starts telling me to come with him, but without telling me where he was off to. Naturally, I was all, “Nah, I gotta, like…work in the morning”.
It was the next evening that a friend called to tell me he’d died. I knew why he was calling the second I heard his voice and preemptively announced the reason.
One of the more surreal moments in my life – for sure – because who am I kidding, saying that was a dream?
It happened again a couple nights ago. I can’t tell you who it was beckoning to me. I just remember the disembodied, plaintive invitation. So far, no news on any deaths in my present or past circle of friends and intimates. As far as I know, I never met Charlie Watts, so I’m pretty sure it wasn’t him, despite the timing.
What struck me this time was my response.
What can I say, it’s been a rough couple weeks.
Really, though…a “Meh, why not?” attitude from a seemingly non-corporeal invitation? It’s a wonder I haven’t been abducted by now.
What bugs me isn’t the potential surprise of waking up dead the next day. No…it’s the resignation of the situation.
I joke often about the randomness of death. How an accident or sudden illness can take any one of us unexpectedly. Usually, I’m pretty blithe about it with some response along the lines of, “I don’t really have any plans, so…”
But this felt different. Like if ghost grandma showed up one night and offered her hand, I’d just toddle off alongside her into the great unknown.
Like I said, it’s been a rough couple of weeks. Making headway (or not, as the recent results show) on my condo savings goal and trying to wreckoncile – Chrisism – the Black Sheep Bro situation (and failing) are taking a cumulative toll on me. But…I’m actively counting the number of days I consecutively leave the house now, so I take that as a good sign that I’m coming out of this torpor or ennui or tailspin or whatever you want to call it.
Maybe if the voice comes back anytime soon, I’ll send Myrtle off with it.
Well, well, well…look what I found in my drafts. Coulda sworn I published this. But maybe since Tanner Creek’s wifi hadn’t had the chance to pick on the Silver Fox in a while, it glitched this into draft status instead of publishing.
After completing this week’s driver challenge, I took myself out for a well-earned dinner at my neighborhood watering hole. It’s literally on my block, I can walk there in the rain without getting wet – which is really something in Portland, Oregon!
Of course, since I’m a neurotic mess complex person, I had to acknowledge the pyrrhic nature of my celebratory dinner – I was alone…again…naturally.
The Silver Fox had decamped once again to the family estate south of town – well, south of several southwardly towns. My other frequent companion at this particular watering hole was at a funeral out of state. To egregiously paraphrase the prophet Yoda, “Fucked, was I”.
But I had earned this. And my ass yearned for a perch with a bar in front of it instead of a steering wheel.
And goddamnit if what to my googley eyes should appear but an infant baby with two daddies queer.
It was fucking a-door-able.
Me: Barkeep, another!
Proof positive here that there’s always more than one cure for what ails oneself. Some more nurturing than palliative.
I experienced a range of emotions. From the expected aaawwww-ness of an infant doing infanty things to a wholesome appreciation of a gaddy couple out for a dinner together. To envy and jealousy at that same notion.
Happily, I can report that I was misty eyed over the sweetness of the visage before me. Although, I wouldn’t have objected to anyone who thinks they know me “well-enough” who’d have bet on my potential beer-vaporizing darker emotions wresting control of the situation.
It was interesting that in the moment, I wasn’t overwhelmed with “what might have beens” over my persistent singledom. I was rather struck by how I missed my buddies. The usual neighborhood characters who live nearby – ok, all in the same building that I don’t live in – that I call friend who color in and enhance my happiness. I wasn’t lamenting the absence of that elusive something I never attained; I missed the presence of the folks I have attracted and managed to remain in the same orbit as.
Like I said at the top: I’m quite complex. That complexity only sometimes manifests in messy emotions. And this wasn’t one of them.
I’ve watched a lot of TV during The Quarantimes. Movies. Shows. Series of entire shows. Entire series of movies – like the Harry Potter and Alien franchises.
Hey, a pendulum has to swing, ok?
Some movies I’d forgotten about. Others, I’d forgotten how good they were. And a rare few that I rewatched and was left wondering “How the hell did I think this was ever good?!?”
A mind forgets. Or romanticizes. Or whatevers.
Recently, that movie rewatching pastime has provided me with an intriguing low level apathy. Don’t worry, it’s a situational low level, this has nothing to do with my usual low level apathy.
My recent apathy – call me an apathocary – has manifested as me watching WTF bad movies. My most recent being Breach starring Bruce Willis. Let me tell you, this was no yippeekayay in space. But, I know Americans today…please, watch it and then be mad at me for not warning you.
Odd side note: I realize now that I’ve been on a previously unrecognized Bruce Willis binge. Die Hard, the M. Night Shamalyan (I could not possibly have spelled that right) movies, Fifth Element, RED and then the lamentable Breach. Cue the “The More You Know” star.
But…occasionally, apathy takes a wrong turn.
I was tucked into the couch with a bag of Tapatio Doritos, a four pack of Breakside that I Kramered from the Silver Fox’s place – since I also Kramer his scale – after my monthly weigh in (still just under 200…but month one was fat loss, month two is adding lean muscle mass to these twigs!) and was suddenly paralyzed with my remote in my hand.
Still feeling burned by my acquiescence to the “Watch Next” function, I was debating watching The Last Supper. It’s a prescient movie about the Cancel Culture we find ourselves in today. Plus, it’s tomato season, so…if you know, you know.
Instead – and I’m not saying The Last Supper is off the table, by any means – I found The Intervention.
I watched it because after reading the synopsis, I was left with weird Big Chill vibes. Plus, Alia Shawkat was in it. You know what an Arrested Development fan I am!
It’s not perfect cinema, but it does a really great job of serving up that slice of life I love so much. For that alone – that representation of how lumpy life can get in this brave new century we’d probably have been better off avoiding – I really enjoyed this movie.
Unexpected side effect: it was written by, directed and co-stars Clea Duvall. I used to love her ambiguous gender expressions, but lately – read: the past decade or so – had begun to appreciate her celluloid-like appearances less and less.
From tolerating her at her initial appearance on screen through the movie where she presents not just as a normal person’s relationship issues, where I think she does a great job at being the perfectly flawed perfect partner, to the end credits – where I first learned she’d written and directed – she was the adult version of the awkward teen I’d met so long ago in movies like Final Destination. I just love her Every Person-ness. She showed me again how she’s the actual real life hero person that so often we are gaslighted into thinking Reese Witherspoon and Chris Evans are.
Those aren’t real people. They couldn’t realistically show us the pain of not having a Hollywood body. Failing that Hollywood version of a Turing Test, any drama they appear in is enjoyed under my failed suspension of disbelief.
But Clea drips real-person-ality. Seeing her navigate relationship problems…feels…genuine. Like anyone could connect to it, versus “real” people having to suspend the disbelief of their own reality to enjoy the show.
If you get a chance, maybe watch this before spelunking into the dark corners of Bruce Willis’ career.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a rabbit hole of existential crisis movies to add to my queue. And She’s In Portland is for sure going on it…stand the fuck by for further details. Beats actually dating…I mean, have you met people lately?
Don’t <ahem> forget that. Just stay home and watch movies. Consider me your Movie Yenta.
Yeah, I posted Valentimes Part Duex before I posted Part One. Also, I’m posting Part One after the big day. I’m not offering a defense of my timing, either way. It’s my blog and…
Anywho…I’ve given between 3500 and 4000 rides since I started driving for Lyft about 18 months ago.
There’s been fewer than expected drunks.
More than anticipated Tinder “dates” – and you’d be surprised how many people pay extra to spring for a Lux ride to take them away from said “dates”…
Rides to funerals and memorials.
Countless healthcare and essential workers during the – sadly – ongoing pandemic.
A couple of unapologetic bastards conservatives.
Trips to or from the E.R. Too many, in fact.
Side note: how sad is it that our effed up healthcare system makes it necessary to take a goddamned Lyft to an E.R. instead of calling an ambulance?!?
And exactly two women who made me cry either during or after their rides.
Goddamned widows. Rubbing my perpetual singledom in my face.
I was actually okay at one widow.
Specifically, the one whose husband died a few years back. He sounds like he was a great husband, I heard their love story – which lasted 41 years.
But he sounded like a fucking badass, too.
Not because he drove a vintage black Mustang convertible.
Nor because they were high school sweethearts.
Or clearly wealthy. Particularly because his widow seemed like she was continuing to live a modest life after his death in honor of his memory, suggesting that the pleasures of their lives together were similarly modest.
The more exciting adventures I learned about during our ride were short bursts compared to the simple daily joys she described.
Their first date. Birthdays. Humble chivalry.
These were the things neither of these people took for granted in their relationship. They didn’t use one another in pursuit of the next big thing – either as an excuse or a means.
Her story was one of a satisfying life together. Inspiring to me in its endurance, something that I fear too few even aspired to in today’s value system.
The second widow was actually the first. Hearing her story made me think I should write a Valentine’s Day post. But it was the second widow who made me realize that the universe wasn’t going to let me off the hook.
Writing a book about my dating misadventures or fictionalizing my own ideals of relationships in my No One Of Consequence book series wasn’t going to cut it.
The least I could do is write an account of true love, even if it was only second hand.
Widow Number One earned her title when her husband had a major heart attack on Valentine’s Day last year.
Strictly going off visual cues, I’d say she was late 70s. I was taking her to work. She was looking like she’d be her own badass, and ended up being a heroic example of living a life for me.
Fret not, I picked her up in the South Waterfront neighborhood, which is pretty high rent. Ok, it’s fucking high rent, so she wasn’t working at nearly 80 because she had to.
Turns out, she doesn’t drive at all. Her husband used to take her to work before he died. Luckily (?) the pandemic closed the office down before her bereavement leave put her back to work. Now, she only had to go to the office once a week to ensure things were running smoothly. Normally, she figured she’d take the bus, but…pandemic + late 70s = bad combo.
She was enjoying Lyft, though, and the way she said that made me suspect she was enjoying it as a throwback to her husband taking her to work. I’m pretty sure her return to the office after this all ends will include at least an occasional escort to work.
She told me that when she was going through her husband’s things, she found several Valentine’s Day cards he’d made for her. I thought it was weird that he’d kept them, not her. But as she continued on, I realized these were unused cards.
That got me.
On top of being the kind of guy who encouraged his wife to work a part time office job after their kids left the nest, then celebrated her success when her search for post-child rearing purpose earned her a promotion to office manager after several years – she told me proudly that her employee number was 13, so she’d been there a while.
This is the guy who found his own post-retirement fulfillment in driving his wife to and from work to support and nurture her happiness.
This guy spent his in between hours working on his art. He was a post-career artist. Why would I be surprised that this guy made or was in the process of completing future Valentine’s Day cards for his wife?
Putting myself in that mindset, I got it. It wasn’t about making a card instead of buying one. It was about making one that appropriately captured the depth of feeling he had for his wife. Something that expressed the gratitude one must feel toward the person who accompanies you on the journey of a literal lifetime.
You might not always get that on the first pass. She said these cards were, of course, beautiful and I could tell that finding them had touched her very deeply. But I could easily stay a while in that position her husband must have found himself in – even now: not fully being able to express how this woman made him feel. Abandoning a card because it wasn’t good enough for his wife. <sigh>
But it shows how attitudes and behaviors have changed over the decades. I don’t think I’d have to defend the additional statement that a lot of those changes might have been for the short term good, but long term bad of the individuals.
And I can’t even get a return text.
While you’re here: If you haven’t yet and are curious about the writing works I mentioned earlier – Dating Into Oblivion and No One Of Consequence – check out my author page: https://www.amazon.com/Christopher-Galbreath/e/B07PLNKTHB/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1 for a view of my work. All books are available in paperback or e-book formats – and the e-books are cheap and the pages don’t fall out as I’ve heard from one of my supportive blogging buddies! It’s also a good way to keep up with the blog, since they post to my author page as well as here. I can’t say the same about the consistency of my Facebook author page…
One of my favorite things to say back when I was giving 50-60 hours a week to the man was:
Today’s been one hell of a week.
Chrisism. Use it in good health.
I reworked it last year for quarantimes into “2020 has been a hell of a decade“, but it just didn’t hit as hard.
Anyway, 2021 has kind of started off distinguished only from 2020 by a singular event for me: the inauguration of an adult as president. Otherwise, SSDD.
Case in point, even though I declared my dating exploits over at the completion of the yearlong effort that led to Dating Into Oblivion (I swear that there’s a link to buy it somewhere on this blog page, should you be queerious), I still maintain a profile on Adam4Adam and occasionally recreate a profile on the human cesspool known as Grindr.
But, despite the Silver Fox’s assertion that I’m too hard on people, I maintain a standard when it comes to asocial media.
While that standard may look like me doing my damndest to die alone, I swear it’s really a filter that allows others to unintentionally self-select out of my dating pool.
Basically, everyone blocks me all of the damn time.
Por ejemplo, just last night, I had a guy launch into his schtick with me. For those of you wondering what a millennial gay considers a best foot:
No punctuation, no introduction.
I can reasonably assume that the string of vowels and consonants in his profile’s headline is his name, still…confirmation would be overly taxing? It looks both unpronounceable without a little guidance and vaguely Hawaiian.
Also, to his credit, there is blessedly, no butthole pic.
This is really what happens…do you think any reaction would be reasonably considered “too hard” on these friggin’ ass clowns?
Since Grindr is nice enough to alert users when someone looks at their profile, I cannot help but notice that Sup has not looked at mine.
So…I look at his, just to kill some time in case there’s somehow a backlog in what I’m sure is the very high tech and sophisticated alert system on this…mess of an app.
Uh-huh. We’re both tops – Google it – and he specifically calls out that interested parties should not be over 35.
Really, I guess I should be flattered that while my actual age is an anagram of 35…I am most decidedly not 35, but somehow made it through his filter.
Did you read my profile?
Impressively, he responds in the negative and enthusiastically says he will do so right now. Then logs out.
My notifications are still showing me as invisible to The Gays, so I know he didn’t check me out and then – reasonably – run off into the woods.
Seventeen hours later he messages me back, seemingly having missed my anagrammatical eligibility to put Lil Xtopher somewhere I know he doesn’t want him.
I point out our disparate definitions of the term “right now” and…he blocks me.
Far be it for me to brag, but this happens multiple times a month. I know. Every month, I’m blessed to be able to demonstrate to people the benefit to themselves of not knowing me.
Namely, that without me in their lives, they can carry on blindly running full speed into pain walls that they themselves built. Heaven forbid, someone actually want to help another person become a better version of themselves. Or, y’know…a decent human being that contributes more to Gay Kulture than supporting their local STD clinic.
Remember…this is a Valentine’s Day post.
I really don’t know why I tease you by dangling that carrot shaped sex toy that – I hope – got mangled in the garbage disposal while awaiting its return to service.
That was graphic. Maybe now is a good time for a shot break.
This is my life, folks. And you wonder why I proChristinated my colonoscopy…
Except…every now and again someone seems to be looking out for me.
Now, a wise person – as I consider myself to be…shituationally – knows to take a fix up at about 1/1000 of its face value.
This is a brief tale about that one time a bar owner tried to set me up with the only other gay guy at the bar. And by “at the bar” I mean in the Pandemic Pivot of a Beer Garden that the owner of Big Legrowlski has managed to pull off. It’s really something. Five tents, broken into a group of two and three by a fire pit. Each tent has a physics defying heater mounted to the roof, meaning when I come out in December and January to support my local…I’m freezing my giggle berries off.
Anyway, last weekend, the bar owner comes over to keep me company for a second. He leads with a few seconds of small talk and then – in a fit of foreshadowing that makes me momentarily worried about the quality of his wife’s sex life – plunges into the real reason for his visit.
Hey, do you see that guy behind me?
Literally ever guy at the beer garden aside from he and I. I give him exasperated eyes.
To the left!
No mate, my left. Sorry. Sorry.
Cue up the Throwback Offenses!
Just as every Black person had likely heard a version of “I’m not normally into…but…”, every gay person has had a well intentioned abortion of a fix up from a well-intentioned straight friend who tries to fix up the only two gay people they know. Or, as in this case, the only two gay people in their general vicinity.
Argument against the existence of God: this phenomenon.
Somehow, this guy ends up joining us. Around my table, it’s: mine truly, the bar owner and then this…guy, and finally an empty seat in the clockwise position.
Buffers are important. Even when not needed.
I’d already told the bar owner “Hard pass” once we nailed down The Gay In Question. I’d even helpfully pointed out a few of the other guys at the fire pit that could eat crackers in my bed, just not this guy.
He was one of those classic “Is over 40, acts under 30″ gays.
How he ended up at my table – or why – was a short lived mystery. After being introduced by name by the bar owner but getting nothing in return (classic basic fag move) I also come to realize that this guy is a low talker.
It’s an exhausting – read: excruciating – 10 minutes. I should have just taken the hit and dragged Mumbles off to the giant elephant statue in the park for a blowie to get rid of him.
Glad, was I, that I did not.
As clumps of sand broke through my life force hourglass, I began to realize that Mumbles was into the bar owner.
The straight, father of two bar owner.
What an idiot.
Read the fucking tent, man.
Alas, this socially illiterate ‘mo starts playing grab ass with the bar owner’s nipples. That is something I will endure in a goddamned gay bar, but within normal societal watering holes, you keep that shit tight.
Not this clown college drop out.
Only minutes passed, I’m sure…but it felt like one hell of a week between meeting this guy and him crawling back into the sewer that birthed him. Small victories, though, I was still in possession of my table.
That’s enough for me. I might be perpetually single, but I can hold down a goddamned table in a beer garden in a rain storm.
You’d think that would be enough Dating IntoOblivion visitations for me for 2021, but no. Like a trooper – a. very. bored. trooper. – I maintain my usual divided attention at home while watching TV.
Shameless vs Words With Friends.
Then on the next episode, Shameless vs Adam4Adam.
Then on the next episode, Shameless vs Instagram and Facebook in a Battle Royale of short attention spans.
Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
The end result being that maybe I got my own date.
Slated to meet this coming (all over) Sunday at the Big Legrowlski. He seems nice, but if nothing else, this purple haired, four off-the-ears-facial-piercings guy in his 30s – I know, so many piercings for a guy that age…but at least he can commit! – will serve as a visual aid to the bar owner as to the type of guy he should drag before me in the future.
Crappy Valentimes, errybody! And, yes…I know that Part Deux preceded Part Un.
Part Un is…special. Maybe bring tissue. Or your label maker and a box to store your jadedness in.
You should probably wait for the laughter of your inner teenaged boy to die down before moving on…
No me pises translates from Spanish to English as something familiar.
Even if you aren’t a Proud Boy.
Or a gun nut.
And I’ll tell ya, this American is taking it back this week like The Gays took back the Proud Boys hashtag last week. Seriously, what were those bigoted idiots thinking trying to usurp pride from The Gays?
What a wonderful time to be re-watching Ally McBeal…
Not such a wonderful time to get a late night Messenger notice from Black Sheep Bro. I mean, surrealiously I’m on the West Coast and he’s in friggin’ Texas. Why he’s sending me messages at 11 PM my time?
I don’t know.
Nor do I know what brotherly charm he was hoping to evoke with this out of nowhere crap. But it didn’t do much to improve my disposition in the Xtopher vs Black Sheep Bro arena.
But I do know that while he makes me scratch my head – and delete Snapchat – and ponder whether he’s heckling me from a path I want to venture down, several others have tried calling me down similarly unappealing paths that I think they can just travel alone. Or at least without the pleasure of my company…
Take this joker on the Twitter.
Not to bury the lede, but I reported the rat bastard.
Suck on that sweaty dick, Jimbo.
If only all instances of intolerable bullshit were handled as expeditiously as Twitter handled this.
Actually, sometimes they are handled thusly, these petty bullshit things. They just are not always the matters of import that draw attention.
Lucky for all of you, dear readers, I’m not shy about holding up the lumps from my life for your appreciation.
For instance, the situation that prompted this response from Lyft.
Good old Marcy from Lyft.
Here’s the story:
I was out driving last weekend – Friday. It was after I possibly stressed myself into being ill two days last week, which is another blog post on its own. Needless to say, I was driving to play catch up on my self-imposed weekly goals. Fortunately for me, my hypochondriac episode malady occurred just prior to the first rainy Fall weekend of the season.
Unfortunately for me, I ran into a rider who seemed conflicted about a lot of things.
The first of which was the difference between a driver and a bartender therapist.
He gets in and tells me he’s going to a friend’s house to have a few drinks and hang out. Because, as it turns out, his live-in girlfriend is giving him hell at home.
For what it’s worth, I have a cat at home who prefers I not be at home.
Seemed safe enough.
Banal, one might even think if they didn’t know the feline that is Mistress Myrtle…no matter how angelic she may pretend to be for the ‘Gram.
So this passenger manages to cram a lot into this ride that didn’t even beat the minimum fare! This particular swine was absolutely rolling in his own pearls of wisdom.
I’m not sure whether it was my lacking in a certain luster enthusiasm for the quicksand caliber topics he was therapeutically trundling into.
Men have needs.
Ugh. So absolutely rapey.
At least there’s porn. Hey…what kind of porn do you like?!?
Oh, sweet! That actually just made me a little hard. Do you want to touch it?
This gem he drops as he’s getting out of the car.
No. No, I do not.
For so many, many reasons.
Do I want to Bobbit you? Yes, yes…perhaps I do.
Maybe it was something else that got me going. Maybe it was the overwhelming cumulative effect of his closeted and misogynistic monologue in such a short period of time. Or that I didn’t have a beer to wash the figurative taste of his words out of my being.
But some things I do know.
I got into my 50s being single by absolutely wasting my time on idiots like this clown – not you, Rib, you’re a dear. Certainly, I wanted to head right back to where I picked him up from and tell any angry looking women I met to dump their boyfriends.
Most definitely, I’m no longer flattered by fuckbois who think copping a feel is a reward worthy of my effort and pursuit. Had I been him, I’d have for sure known that my attached stiffy did not afford me the right to stiff my service provider.
Quite the opposite – I’d think I have enough shame to overtip if I made such a social blunder. Lucky me, running into someone with this joker’s uncommon knowledge.
Maybe I’ll understand his entitlement someday.
And then there was the whole…I just don’t know what to feel about-ness of his offer to be a side piece.
A fling…at my age.
An unsolicited pinch hitter for his main piece, who I’m sure was unaware that her boyfriend was out haphazardly recruiting.
Probably, knowing me and my penchant for being rulesy, it was more that first thing than anything else. I got to be single in my 50s by defining my own acceptable standards of behavior. One of those standards is being alone instead of being in a relational situation simply because it’s not being alone.
This fucker wanted it all. Most upsetting to me was probably that he and I disagreed on whether he was entitled to any.
Anyway, unlike with the Twitter guy, I didn’t even report this guy. I simply one-starred him – and any passenger I rate as three out of five stars or lower, the app will never pair me with again.
Personally, I think three or below is a pretty harsh scale, so I use my Star Hammer judiciously. Most of my rides – and I’m talking all but about five out of ~2500 rides – have been great.
That being the case, I break it down like this:
Regular great ride – four stars.
Regular great ride with a tip – five stars.
If you’re just a meh, I might three star you. The very infrequent individual that finds and inhabits the ass in “passenger” gets a one star. As you can tell, I don’t really find the relevance in that whole two star business…what’s that, the ass that tips?
When I was young, like my early 20s, there was a thing going around. This was before memes but after email. Sure, it was like in the days of AOL email addresses, but still. We would print them out and hold onto them to share with friends.
Now that I think about it, memes are really to young people what recipe cards used to be to 50s housewives – something to share with peers.
The pre-meme that I wanted to share?
Every day, I am forced to deal with someone who ends up on the ever growing list of people who can kiss my ass.
But that Marcy from Lyft? She ain’t on it, for sure. But she’s certainly on it…meaning, when I one starred this passenger, I selected “inappropriate rider behavior” and made a note about the indecentident on the ride but didn’t file anything formal with Lyft. Hell, I was pretty sure no one but me ever saw those notes.
But Marcy found my flag and followed up – just to tell me that she’d seen it and suspended the pig-fucker. On my mental scales of justice, I figured Marcy’s intervention balanced that poor girlfriend’s ledger.
So don’t tread on others might be the better tag line here. I think trampling in America would be a lot less frequent if we watched out for these unknown others, even when the tramplers themselves don’t seem to even care enough to look over their shoulders for witnesses before trampling.
Here’s my parting shot of Chrisism wisdom:
Do the right thing, even when no one is watching.
Hi, my name is Grumpy, Old Xtopher…and you can believe that I’m fucking watching. It’s not like I have much else to do in these End Times.