Would You Read This?

After finishing my NaNoWriMo challenge in November, I was lost.

I did it. End of challenge, end of story?

Ok, maybe not lost-lost, but in my mind, I had accomplished my goal. It’s not like I had a plan to publish and ultimately have the movie rights picked up by that scrappy little studio over at Amazon. So, for me it was all FIN.

But, because I’m an idiot and talked about what I was doing, people wanted to know: So, what’s next?

Fuck if I know. I wrote a book. Surely, that’s enough?

For me, it really was. But at the same time, going back to my finishing point, I felt like it was more of “Welp, there’s my 50k words. Donezo.” Rather than leave it that way, I went back into my ending to make it an actual ending.

Then I looked at my word count and thought, “Well, that’s really more of a novella versus a novel, per se.” That caused me to give it another read to see where I could flesh it out a bit. As I began reading, I was feeling critical about my lack of scene set up. I hadn’t really thought that I needed to do much in the way of actual world building, since people can probably figure out what Portland in the near present day looks like. Everyone will have their own little bubble world when they read it. Having no aspirations to describe a bougainvillea bush over the course of three pages like Anne Rice would, I didn’t dive too deep into what my main character’s house looked like, whether his office had plants or whatnot. I was letting that go.

But, in making that decision to keep the background simple, I was still staring at a novella-length work. My concept was to demonstrate a generational relationship within the gay community with my characters. I think for whatever reason – AIDS essentially wiping out a generation or two of us gays, which we could hardly avoid once it was upon us; or, being an extremely youth obsessed sub-culture as we are, which has backfired on us spectacularly and instead of forming bonds between generations we have a culture of age-shaming because, newsflash: most young people don’t want to have sex with “old” people. Go figure. That last one we certainly could have helped by simply not objectifying the subjects of our youth obsessed culture. Maybe. But here I was, Monday morning quarterbacking.

Great, now I’m making sports analogies. That’s surely a bad sign.

Neverthemess, that being my concept, I thought it would be cool to think of this as a three book arc. Arc One being a protagonist in a middling generation – a gay guy in his 30s and this isn’t a horror novel? Unheard of! – befriending a younger gay and an older gay and letting the story go from there. Arc Two would see the main character in his 40s while his younger friend gay-grows up and his older friend gets older. In Arc Three, his younger friend would gay-die age-wise in the gay culture and maybe his older friend would just die-die.

The vision I had for the stories was all how that generational experience unfolds and how one learns from the others or how information is handed by one to the next.

Y’know…how it should be. I wanted to show the sharing of information that we need, like when parents have to talk about the birds and the bees with their children because they need to learn about how life works. Well, gays need to know how a gay-life works, too. Instead of talking about the opposite sex, maybe we talk about STIs and anal douching. Keep reading, I’m pretty sure I’m not talking about that topic! Just giving you an idea of where gays need gay-guidance beyond what their parents can provide. Maybe some guidance of younger generations by the older characters that is something that straight parent-child relationships have but manifests differently between gay kids and their parents because…well, the shared experience is gone. More accurately, there’s a gap. Where does one comfortably pick up parenting their gay children once they have figured out who they are as adults? It’s still needed, but…even in my own experience, which I would put up there as one of the best, it’s different. My parents aren’t talking to me about raising a child or empty nesting as they might with my sibs.

One of my own biggest frustrations with gay culture has been how we seem to have lost cohesion and how the collective gay ego fills that void. Where we have an opportunity to build up future generations or respect previous generations, we tend to remain isolated in defense of or because of our inability to become thee better selves that aren’t driven by our next sexual conquest. Turns out, there’s no app for that.

But I also wanted to show the payback we could get for nurturing these intergenerational relationships, how it gives us something to look forward to as we age versus the fear of the unknown that is so often left unsaid between comments among friends like, “I never thought I would live until 30” or not having a friend base with the experience base to guide us through relationship obstacles. How many of us as adults – regardless of sexual orientation – could rely on our parents to guide us through the validity of the open relationship culture that gays face? Of course, the challenge with intergenerational relationships within these characters’ chosen families is to keep them like actual families, non-incestuous. This enabled me to correct one of my own perceived societal wrongs, too, as none of my main character’s sleep together. Their bond is formed based on an individual connection and the resulting dependency – which is not a bad word! – versus a sexual bond, which is where I think our culture’s intergenerational relationships have gone off the rails.

My characters forming a bond was only step one, and a very small step at that. My protagonist learning that there’s more to life than a steady boyfriend after a failed relationship besides work was the catalyst for building those bonds. The pacing when I started out was to alternate between personal life and work life with each chapter. In looking to flesh out my work’s size into a full novel – because if you’ve just got three novellas, why not edit them into a single novel, right? – I may have jacked up that original rhythm, but as the future unfolds, the cadence shifts further and further from work and into life, because now the main character actually has one. So I’m willing to let my thoughts for the original cadence go.

So, now I have my novel. Well, I’m two chapters away from fulfilling that statement, at any rate. That brings me back to the original question:

Now what?

NaNoWriMo tries to help out. The name of the event actually stands for National Novel Writing Month. It is an annual event each November and it seems to me that they have heard this struggle I’m up against before. To that end, they have created a support environment for writers to set other goals for themselves throughout the year to avoid losing momentum. After fucking up my timeline with hubris in December, I took a step back in January to wear my writing impulse out so that I could do some legitimate editing. This also allowed me to make notes in my novel about where I wanted to add to the story to flesh the character relationships out further without doing so willy-nilly and potentially making mistakes that would be harder to correct than they were to make. I don’t trust myself or my own work ethic to put the effort into unfucking up something with that daunting a prospect to begin with.

I mean, look how long it took me to actually commit to writing the damn thing!

Oh, six years. Sorry, I thought you knew that. Maybe more, but I’m not thinking about that right now…

For February, that’s what I did. Reread my book and did some for better or for worse formatting. Turns out, when you aren’t trying to add content, you can do that in a couple of weeks. And I had met my NaNoWriMo editing goal of spending 40 hours in February focused strictly on what I had done in November and where I wanted it to go next. I had figured two hours a day, five days a week would get me there. Turns out, without some sort of stupid work to distract me, I was able to spend two to six hours per day on that process. The key was getting myself away from the house, as it happened.

So for the last week-ten days, I have been still getting away from the house and working on those added chapters. Since I kind of went balls out on this process, it was largely stream of consciousness writing. No outline, aside from what was in my head. Had I not been working off of a specific starting point from my own life, I’m not sure I could have succeeded with that lack of actual prep. Part of me thinks that is exactly what I wanted but instead of failure, I became President of the United States.

No, wait…that doesn’t sound right.

Ah, yes. Instead of failure, I had this slightly random fictionalization of something that had happened in my life. Turning the tables, it gave me a good opportunity to therapeutically re-write my own history from a really shitty starting point.

Going back into those chapters I wanted to add, I had a grasp of who the characters were in this quasi-alternative universe. That allowed me to make purposeful content additions that gelled – I hope! – with the rest of the story.

Needless to say, for Arcs Two and Three…definitely gonna need an outline. I’m going from scratch there and I can’t wait to see what happens to these folks.

And, of course, with NaNoWriMo’s guidance and motivational help, today was supposed to be spent working on that pitch letter. February is the month – I learned – where they host a pitch workshop. Any writer that completed a novel – or their 50k threshold, at any rate – can submit a 250 word pitch to their partners, named The Pitch Doctors, and they will select 20 at random from all submissions and workshop them. Of those 20, they will select one to be partnered up with a publisher. So, y’know, that’s kind of cool. The deadline is February 28th. No, wait…March 1st? Regardless, either way, I have built in plenty of latitude in my goal to submit a pitch letter so that I can make some false starts. Like this one, where instead of writing a pitch letter, I’m jacking off on WordPress. Out of 287,000 participants there were 35,386 plus ME that finished their novels. Out of those 35k writers, I’m hoping only 19 others actually take advantage of their pitch workshop…

But, honestly, it’s gonna take a little mental prep time to get my mind around only using 250 words to describe a story that I just used 87500 words to tell. So, this is what that effort looks like today. I’ve still got over a week…

Would You Read This?

Why I’m Single #20

Oops, I did it again.

News Flash: I’m apparently needy…

While out having a little solo misadventure, I gently hit on a guy. I’d just seen a movie and stopped on the way home for a Pallet Jack at Kelly’s Olympian. Really, I was just being nice, offering him a drink.

He declined, but we made polite conversation as we sat a barstool apart.

I learned that he’d just moved here two months ago – you know how I love those fresh arrivals – from Arizona. I mentioned my parents are visiting there now, which made him chuckle. When I asked why, he told me that the jokes about snowbirds and basically old people in general are no joke.

He is still looking for a good fitting job. He’s in his second home since moving up here, the first place just wasn’t a good fit. His housemate at the new place is a much more comfortable fit, personality-wise.

Anyway, he finished his drink and left. Then he came back a few minutes later and handed me a note and quickly scampered off. It basically said that he wasn’t sure whether I had been flirting with him or not, the dangers of being me. Although we weren’t in a gay bar, so I get his caution. But the note had his number and told me to text him if I had been.

Because I still got a little game.

It was way better than that time I used a cheesy pick up line on a guy at The Cuff.

How does it feel to be the best looking guy in this dump?

It was a slow night. There was only six people there and the dance bar and patio weren’t even open. Usually, there were a lot more ugly people there.

Or the time I shamelessly hit on a friend of D-Slice at one of her Free Drink Friday gatherings. I mean, that’s just bad form…hitting on your friend’s friends.

Isn’t it?

But we were talking and he had the most beautiful smile. Absolutely radiant!

It was quite beyond my control.

Even worse is the time I’m cruising down the street with my top down and see a good looking guy getting into a car, honk, yell “woo-hoo!” and it ends up actually being my neighbor.

See? That last one was just bad game altogether! But it was like 15 years ago or so.

So what’s the big deal? What did I do again? Why am I needy?

(At least what am I needy about now?)

The first three guys were all FTM trans folk. That last example was my lesbian neighbor.

I’m sure I’ve inadvertently made passes at even more trans people that went nowhere and they either never mentioned it or I never got to know them well enough to learn that information.

But what I know about myself is that I want the heart I desire to be attached to the plumbing I recreationally enjoy.

Hopefully all that says about me is that I’m simply not the Kinsey Six everyone would imagine me to be…worst-case, I’m just a Five. If it makes me out to appear transphobic, well, I would hope it doesn’t.

But, am I? Are genitals shallow to the degree of being superficial in love? Am I misdefining what I’m looking for in my love life and conflagrating (Made Up Word Alert!) it with a sex life?

Either way, I’m striking out.

But at least my pick up game has gotten smoother as we’ve traveled forward in time.

Why I’m Single #20

Gods And Monsters

The May/December dynamic is hardly unique to gay culture.

<looking at you Catherine ZJ and Michael D>

Star Trek even gave it a glance in The Next Generation as Wesley whored his way through his teens and most of the male crew memb…wait, that didn’t happen on the show.

I got confused…I’m old.

No, it was in the episode The Best of Both Worlds when Admiral Hanson brings his protege, Commander Shelby, aboard on the way to investigate a missing colony.

Captain Picard witnesses the dynamic between the elder officer and his female subordinate. To their credit, the writers not only created a strong female character in Shelby that didn’t define herself by a relationship, they also made the Admiral self-aware enough to give an honest assessment of his situation when asked by Picard.

Just an old man’s fantasy.

Boy. Little did I know then…but as this will end up being my birthday post, what better time to dust off this three month old notion?

Back around the beginning of November, I caught an old art house flick I’d seen in 1998. Literally, in an art house movie theater. Gay cinema was still struggling somewhere between taboo and mainstream.

The movie? Gods and Monsters.

Somehow, they managed to corral a stellar cast to tell the story of the last days of golden era director James Whale – played by Ian McKellan. He created the Frankenstein movie and the sequel, Bride of Frankenstein while living as a closeted homosexual.

Whale’s housekeeper – Lynn Redgrave – hires a new yardman – Brendan Fraser – that catches Whale’s fancy, despite the gardener’s obvious heterosexual nature. The film explores that relationship, pretty baldly, too. There were moments viewing it at 30 that made me cringe as a young man who had suffered overt advances from older men. The film did not shy away from those clumsy, vague advances viewed through the 1930s mindset of an older man with a modestly lascivious gleam in his eye.

It was hard to watch then, providing a certain ew factor based on my experiences. It was still hard to watch now that the movie is of legal drinking age.

Obviously, I’m not one to judge an older/younger romance. But it was hard to watch from a couch that is fortunately situated in a much more tolerant era.

My gaydar is fairly well tuned. That, paired with gay men feeling comfortable enough to express themselves freely without policing either their naturally fey tendencies, flamboyant behaviors or even their wardrobes, makes it a fairly comfortable environment for me to appreciate men I find attractive without fear for my physical well-being. Those same factors have made straight men much more secure in their own sexuality, largely reducing their fear or discomfort when a gay man hits on them.

Not eliminating the fear, entirely, sadly…but there’s a topic for another time.

But this isn’t about old Hollywood pool parties or an analysis of why older men chase younger men.

Their lost youth, duh.

It’s about the lasting impacts of those inter generational gay/straight friendships.

I might even say it’s more about how people come into your lives for a reason.

Sure, James Whale might have thought his yard man, Clay, came into his life simply as a distraction from his failing health at first. Or, you know…to cut his grass. But as their relationship evolved, Fraser’s gardener provided more than “just an old man’s fantasy”. Ultimately, he inspired McKellan’s Whale – don’t make that dirty, Diezel – to live during his final weeks of life. Of course, Whale then tried to manipulate him into killing him in a “gay panic”. But at the end of the movie, maybe a decade after Whales’ death, we see the lasting fingerprint Whale left on his yardman as he watches one of Whales’ movies with his own son.

Clay – the gardener’s name – learned some tolerance and empathy from his exposure to someone different than himself. Not just any old man, either.

A gay, old man.

I think that double-whammy of diversity was too hard to sweep aside and it made Clay pay attention to Whale versus just looking through him. Even if he wasn’t immediately aware of what was happening in the moment. Later, it made him a better father and a better steward of future generations.

Noticing that the second time I watched the movie made me appreciate what we take away from the people who cross our paths.

<Cue up some John Lennon music…>

We can all use a little more awareness and empathy in our day to day encounters – random or not. Imagine a world, a country, a state, city or block where we could see that awareness and empathy in action.

It’s a not infrequent theme in my blog, human decency. Random kindnesses. Living with intention.

Holding doors for one another.

Making eye contact with people on the street, saying “hi” as you pass.

Little things.

I do them, even though I’m a self-professed grumpopatomus. Think of how unbearably chipper I’d be if someone thanked me for holding a door or smiled or just said “hi” back.

That’s a world I can imagine. I’d just rather see it.

And so, while I sometimes feel like a dirty, old man when a younger guy catches my eye, my motivation is nothing, at worst. At best, it’s to consciously leave them better than I found them. Whale’s presence in Clay’s life may have had unintentional benefits; I’d prefer mine are more direct impacts.

I think with American culture in general, each of us being aware of the legacy we leave younger generations with would be a positive for the future. But I think gay culture in particular would benefit from not being blind to what other generations have to offer our own, and vice versa.

Gay culture lacks a generational continuity. A handoff of knowledge and norms from one generation to the next. AIDS…whaddyagunnado? But instead of walking away from that cultural canyon, we should work toward filling it in to create a cultural continuity.

I was reminded of this the other day when I watched The Assassination of Gianni Versace. There’s gay guys that can legally drink that don’t know the shock and horror of that random crime any more than they know the fear of living your true life in the open.

All these people, with no idea of the cultural importance of Versace’s work or the significance of a gay hustler executing an older, wealthy gay man.

The sad thing is that they blithely post about “living their best life” on social media with an insipid or ironic – god, I hope it’s ironic – pic of some frivolous thing like a venti gourmet coffee or expensive pair of shoes.

The irony to that “best life” is that many more young men enter into exploitative situations with older men to finance those “best lives”…strictly in a tit-for-tat (or cash-for-ass) basis. Sometimes that transaction is strictly through social media, but more and more men are turning to escorting to finance their best life. Bragging as they do that one sugar daddy isn’t enough.

Those who do not learn from their mistakes are doomed to repeat them, right?

I guess, culturally, that means we’ve got a bunch of little Cunanans – thankfully only in the escort way, not the spree killer way – running around without even knowing it. Ryan Murphy to the rescue…

But that’s the type of culturally defining story that we lose not just with a missing generation, but also because of the accepted reality of generational isolation. It shouldn’t take a TV show to educate an entire culture across generations.

But it does, sadly.

I was talking with Sallory months and months ago about this phenomenon. We were talking about how valuable generational influence is, whether it’s friendship or romance based. The gist of the conversation – which started as a “What is wrong with younger people these days?!?” type of thing – was that so many kids come up with a lack of adult or parental influence. People work. I know. But the benefit of older/younger relationships is a better filling in of that gap.

As funny as it sounds, it really does benefit younger generations to hear someone say, “When I was a kid…”

I’m definitely here to say that and I have people in my life that want to hear it. Friends and when I’m lucky, lovers.

Of course, in my case, the movie would be made as Cads And Monsters – given that old gay men are not gods. But the lost boys I let distract me are still certainly lil monsters in their own right. But hopefully having an older friend or boyfriend helps tame them.

Gods And Monsters

The Most Awkward Three-Way Ever

This just in from the Department of Awkward!

Ok, maybe it was a few weeks back…

It was the Second Last Hurrah before my diet began*. I was on my way to a solo movie and Chipotle date to carpet bomb my remaining cravings into submission. The First Last Hurrah had been some Pallet Jacks with the Silver Fox at the Big Legrowlski. They were nice and tasty, but three got the better of my judgment and after watching a couple episodes of Lucifer on Netflix, the devil got the best of me and I went to check out the new location of Portland’s oldest gay strip club.

Did ya follow that?

Silverado got booted off of Vaseline Alley – aka: Stark Street – quite a few years ago and made an inexplicable move from NW Portland to SW Portland. We’re talking a move of about 10 blocks, but suddenly their only gay bar neighbor was Casey’s, one of three tied for the worst gay bar in Portland**.

It seemed like a bad move.

But, they made a go of it. Even after their adjacent lousy gay bar neighbor went tits up. That persistent success is saying something, considering I usually wanted to wear a HazMat suit when I went there, yet here were these brave (read: desperate) young, gay men stripping.

Then, last year, they lost their lease. I can’t imagine – based on the above description of Cootieville – that the landlord thought they’d be able to get more for the property. But, that’s Portland real estate.

I figured I owed the new digs – three blocks from my place – a peek. Ironically, 20-ish years ago, this building was the first incarnation of Casey’s. I’ll let you all hashtag that ironic occurrence on your own.

So, the new space had a pedigree…I’m just not saying it was a good one.

The First Last Hurrah

Like I said, boredom and a few beers got the better of my judgment, so I took a lil stroll to check out the new place. It was clean. For another refreshing change of pace, it has bathrooms a respectable woman would at least hover in. They might even sit…

I didn’t recognize the bartender and wondered if some/all of the staff had been left behind in the old place. After ordering a beer, I took in the other half-dozen late night patrons, all gathered around the bar.

I took my beer and surveyed the rest of the ground floor. Big kitchen – that’s an upgrade. Some weird private tables tucked into structural grottos. They aren’t private as in private dances, as far as I could tell, they were actual 4-tops.

Besides, the only other thing upstairs was a karaoke set up. I flashed a quick look at those bellied up to the bar to make sure none of them had any aspirations. I think if I wanted bad entertainment, I could have stayed home, right?

I decided to check out the lower level, but only because it was 9:30-ish and the shows didn’t start until 10. It was small and had a low ceiling and a tiny stage. Definitely different than the old joint, where there was a huge stage that usually had two guys dancing and climbing around the large structural support pole. It was an atypical pole dancing set up. Guys usually did a mid-dance workout on it.

There’d be no workouts on this little stage.

There was a second bar downstairs, though. Someone knows their audience.

Yawn.

I’d taken a couple of sips of my beer and decided it was not the IPA that I’d asked for – at best it was a mass market lager. I went back upstairs and asked the bartender to redraw it for me. Hoping he just pulled the wrong beer.

My neighbor at the bar decided to get chatty while the underwear clad bartender demonstrated his displeasure at my request with his pace.

My new friend asked where I lived and – I don’t know why – I suggestively whispered that I lived right around the corner. Then I asked where he lived as the bartender placed my new beer in front of me.

Oh, I live out in southeast. I was just over here for dinner with friends.

“Don’t drink to much!”, I offered cheerfully before grabbing my drink and spinning away from the bar.

I half-suspected that the bartender had served me a spitter, he looked pretty smug when he put it in front of me. I tipped him anyway, but I wasn’t about to sip it in front if him.

I ended up at the lottery machines by the door, having likely alienated the “crowd” and the staff. I didn’t have a ton of cash on me or in reality, but I figured I could lose $20 while I drank my beer with my back to the bar.

I won $50.

Fine.

I’ll play this down to $50 and call it a night.

At $52 and change, I won a little under $100. I was slightly annoyed because my beer still tasted like shit.

Fine. I’ll play it down to $100, then.

Overall, I like problems like this…and then the lottery went down. Machine by machine…they were just powering down, heading right toward me.

I scrabbled to quit my game and cash out. Unfortunately, the blackout hit my machine before I could…fortunately, it auto-printed a cash out ticket.

I went to the bar and sat down with my beer.

How is it?

I was surprised the bartender cared, but he’d been nearby dropping off a cocktail for a new arrival a couple barstools away. I just wrinkled my nose and shook my head.

Well, what do you want me to do about it?!?

I was surprised by the escalation in his voice. I waved my cash out ticket at him and asked if his side of the lottery was working. He said no, so I pushed my beer across the bar, said, “Tell someone, that’s what I want you to do about it because I think your lines are crossed”, and left.

Sheesh. If he’s gonna be a snowflake…

The Second Last Hurrah

Of course this would happen to me. I’m all greased up and ready to start a diet the following day and the universe conspires to make me go back to a bar to pick up a lottery win. I debated waiting, but it was over $100 and, frankly, it would come in handy.

Because this is an old school Portland dive, they open early. I think it’s 9 AM, if you can believe that! 11 AM, at the latest. I booted around the house until noon, knowing that if I went, I’d probably have a beer…assuming they had bottles, that is.

But I really didn’t want a beer.

I kind of started obsessing about drinking a beer.

But I really didn’t want a beer!

I think it was a distraction technique, but I figured if I was on my way somewhere when I stopped in for my money, I couldn’t hang around.

Since I was picking up cash, I decided to be on my way to a movie. Great. Now I had a plan. The movie was at 4:15, so I’d leave at 3:45, cash in my ticket and be at the theater by 4:05.

What could possibly go wrong?!?

Well, plenty…this is my life, here.

I started thinking about popcorn. The voice in my head was whispering that I had extra money, go mad!

No, my last meal should be something halfway good. If I was going to limp into a diet, movie theater popcorn wasn’t going to be the last thing I ate.

I’m not even sure where the voice in my head came up with that idea.

I was writing, so I didn’t want to tank my momentum by going out for lunch. I decided to make a post movie stop at Chipotle on my way home.

That’s a fair compromise.

I’m starving when I get to Silverado. I walk in and am greeted with an overly chipper

Well, hello there, Handsome!

Great. It’s the bartender that always hits on me.

Every.

Damn.

Time.

I’d first met him at another bar, when we were both on the drinking side. He was with friends and he’d left them to come sit by me. Well, on me, actually. On a barstool.

How we didn’t end up on the floor, I dunno.

He ends up giving me his number and going back to his friends. Over the next few days, we text, but can’t schedule a meet up.

He’s the busy one. When I point that out and thank him for the attention, he throws

It’ll be easier next week, there’s just so much to do before the wedding.

Knowing nothing of a wedding, I ask who’s getting married.

Me, silly! Didn’t I tell you?

“Must’ve slipped your mind. But I’m glad it came out, I’m not what’s missing in your relationship.”

Now, you’d think that would send a pretty clear message. For whatever reason, I don’t see him for over a year after this. The next time I walk into his bar, though, he scampers out from behind the bar and gives me a big hug.

He’s wearing a jock strap.

For the love of…I’m only a man!

You never call! Where have you been?!? We need to get together!

I have a couple beers and then leave, thinking nothing of it, really. Bartenders hitting on me has lost its luster.

You left without saying goodbye!

I usually pay cash in bars. I didn’t reintroduce myself and only remembered his name when another patron used it to get his attention.

He remembered my name from two years ago and hadn’t purged me from his contacts list?!?

Alright, I can indulge this attention. When he asked why we never got together originally, I reminded him that he’d gotten married and said…something vague about being sorry it didn’t work out.

Oh, we’re still married! We’re just open. It’s no big deal.

How do you remember my name but not that I’m not willing to be someone’s side piece? I remind him.

You’re gonna pass this up just because I’m married?

He asked playfully, but as I was replying I get this…nope, never mind, it’s too graphic a pic to post.

I replied that I was, indeed, able to resist and bid him farewell.

But, phew. The only thing this kid has going against him is that he’s married.

The mere memory deserves another phew!

Nowadays when I see him, he greets me and calls me Handsome, but doesn’t overtly hit on me any more.

Anyway, he’s getting my cash for me and I’m waiting at the bar when someone beside me says

Well, look what the cat dragged in!

Sitting right next to me is The Stripper. I think I only missed the fact that it was him because he was sitting like a customer at the bar, wearing clothes and everything!

I swore that I wrote about him in one of my Dating Into Oblivion posts, but can’t find it now.

Here’s the shorthand:

I may be over bartender’s hitting on me at this point in my life. Believe it or not, though, I still fell for the same trick last year when a stripper grabbed my phone and texted himself, then saved the number.

That’s my real name. Gotta go dance, but you better call me!

He’d been chatting with me for about an hour, refusing both my offer of a drink and deflecting the attention of other guys. He had introduced himself as Jett and was surprisingly articulate. This, partnered with not accepting my offer to buy him an overpriced stripper’s drink – which is usually just something like cranberry juice and soda for $8 – made me think maybe.

Maybe he actually liked me.

Maybe he wasn’t just trying to lure me down for $20 lap dances on his slow nights…

He was, I guess. He never committed to my offers to get together. To his credit, he never asked me to come see him, either. Nonetheless, after a couple of weeks, I stopped replying.

I slow blinked and muttered something under my breath and then turned to say hi.

I could feel my cheeks flushing red.

Are you sticking around? I’ve got a double today, starting in about 15 minutes!

“Nope. Just stopped in on my way to a movie to cash that in”, I say, nodding at The Bartender.

You should let me show you around before you go!

He’s super friendly, which I want to think is just him being nice. The Bartender comes back and starts counting my winnings to me and I can feel pressure building up behind my eyes.

“I was down there last night. Small.”

Yeah, I bet you can touch the ceiling! It’s small, but I like it.

And I swear to god, with those last words, he looked right at my crotch.

I feel like I’m thirty seconds from completely unspooling between these two sexy, frustrating men. I make my goodbyes, barely even able to imagine touching the ceiling downstairs while Jett touches the floor.

Pushing my way into the waning daylight, I hit the bricks thinking, “Fuck it, I’m getting popcorn!”

Seriously, only I could get stuck between two feuding flirts and come away feeling like I’d done something wrong.

But movie theater popcorn and Chipotle made me feel much better about it.

* It didn’t

** All polling data is based on my own experiences and extremely subjective. That doesn’t make it inaccurate…

The Most Awkward Three-Way Ever

Dating Into Oblivion: Fin

Welp, I just deleted a draft called Dating Into Oblivion ep6. The only note I had in my draft was

Who was this bachelor? I know it happened…

…which is a bad sign on the surface. Thinking a little harder about it – as I’ve been doing, being the end of this yearlong initiative – it might have been one of the better dating experiences I had in 2018.

Nothing good or pleasant stuck out, sure…conversely, nothing awful kept my experience with him fresh in my mind.

No tardiness or flakiness about getting together.

Not a sexual misadventure.

No ghosting.

Just neutral.

So, here’s to the unmemorable dude that was probably my best date of the year!

Like I mentioned, though, being the year end, I had been giving some thought to my 2018 writing initiative.

Did I “meet” my goal? Sure. I can average my $20 dating experiences in order to meet my 1/month goal. Some months were “feast” and others “famine”, so I could have been more consistent in channeling content.

Strangely, that consistency thread kept coming back in my ruminations. As did the question, “Do I want to continue this theme into 2019?”

I’m blaming this percolation of thought for ending my New Years Eve watching Rom-Coms until 2:30 AM. Turns out, my mild night was the known wildest – by virtue of latest bedtime – of my friends.

Yay, me!

It actually started out with the intent to be lame. I’d thrown a personal gauntlet down as I left my parents after my Christmas visit: Dry Week.

They didn’t believe it.

Not sure that I did, either, I threw my discretionary money into my debt-abyss, saving $100 for spending money.

Just not enough to get into any real trouble.

Forced success!

Except

The Silver Fox wasn’t having it.

Sallory was coming to town for a tweener holiday party a friend of hers – and frenemy of The Fox and I – was throwing. His annual is a post-Christmas/pre-NYE party on the 30th. She wanted to meet for a drink before, and I’ve been terrible about making it to Happy Hour on her recent visits.

For his part, the Silver Fox wanted to make dinner on the 31st and then go to Tanner Creek Tavern for a low-key drink. Since they were closing at 11, he was entertaining the notion of closing the place.

Fate stepped in to help my decision making: the hundred I’d set aside for incidentals until my post-NYE midweek payday evaporated overnight in the form of an auto-pay I’d set up on my renters insurance coming due. Alright, well…good to have that paid up again. I’ll bet I forget again next year, too, but I’m betting my coffers will be in better shape to absorb that surprise.

Still, The Fox just wasn’t entertaining my lameness. He offers to buy and I try on an exasperated acquiescence.

That’s how I came to have some free time on New Years Eve 2018 to think about my writing goals for the past and upcoming years.

Of course, I didn’t realize it initially. I sat on my couch, TV off and remote in hand, debating just going to bed. I’d had two glasses of wine at dinner and one at the bar, I had enough alcohol on board to ease me off to Nod.

Deciding that the midnight revelries would just wake me up, I decided to wait it out. I put on the first movie in my Amazon queue without thinking much of it: Hitch.

Great. I enjoyed this movie in the theater and figured it was a good way to pass the time.

Now, once it hit me that this was a chick flick, my writing ruminations kicked back in. Those resurging questions made me reconsider whether three glasses of wine over five hours was actually enough.

I opened a throw away bottle of Robert Mondavi’s off brand Cab Sauv that I’ve had for about four years. I’d been saving it to serve up as a second bottle some night.

Since that opportunity had yet to present itself – and since I fully expected to be pouring most of this into my “cooking wine” bottle, I went for it. With a nice, healthy pour and settled back into Will Smith helping the fat guy get the pretty girl.

I raised my glass to the TV and toasted, “Screw you asocial media!” and watched the show about a dating doctor for men. My mind was engaged in a little back-burner thought exercise about deleting OKStupid since it had yielded only two in-person dates over 12 months.

More on that later, but key word: moron.

Hitch ended with me laughing and crying and possessing an empty glass. Amazon was suggesting a movie about a one night stand that lasts two nights after a blizzard shuts down NYC.

Well, three-quarters of a bottle ain’t gonna fit into my cooking wine

…armed with a second glass, I start the movie.

I didn’t expect this to hold my attention, and it didn’t. It was entertaining enough – in a disastrous type of way – but as its premise was based on two people meeting for a one night stand off a hookup site, I found my back-burner thoughts creeping to the forefront.

I distractedly opened up my vintage hookup site, just to see what was happening nearby. Note, I said “site”, not “app”…I tell myself that using an actual website is somehow better than using the apps I so vocally despise.

Hey, I haven’t gotten laid on a national holiday since the post-Rib romp of Thanksgiving…2013?

What could possibly go wrong, right?

Nothing major, but it does turn out that the closest gay guy to me is just 200 feet away…basically in the hotel whose bar I had left at 11 PM. It also happened to be an overly precious guy I nailed a couple of times while living in Shittatle.

I think he didn’t like that I didn’t feel as fortunate that he’d graced my bedsheets as he apparently thought I should. We probably both wrote that off as a character flaw and just never evered each other again.

Tonight wasn’t going to be an exception to that, certainly, but I kinda hoped he saw me next door. I was listening to our mismatched lovers on the TV as I looked out my naked living room windows, wondering if J’s hotel room window overlooked my balcony.

Karma.

I decided to polish off the bottle and focus on the movie, knowing it wasn’t good enough for me to ever come back to if I turned it off now. There was only 45 minutes left and one more good pour in the bottle, so why not?

See, it’s rhetorical reasoning like that that provides answers to the question I’m always musing on…

What could possibly go wrong?

Welp, I got back to the couch and settled into the end of the movie, unsure of exactly how our female protagonist ended up in jail…but rolling with it.

A few minutes later, my phone let me know I had a message. It was someone who thought I urgently needed to know what his butthole looks like without the benefit of even a “Hello”.

<block>

Back to the movie.

Oh, good…at the ungodly hour of 2:15 AM on January 1st, in the 2019th year of someone’s lord, someone has decided fireworks were necessary.

Someone very nearby.

Luckily, I hadn’t gone to bed.

Let’s see…an ex lovah next door, fireworks and anonymous assholes. Yeah, I think 2019 is off to a good start.

The movie’s big finish?

A New Years Eve party.

Perfect.

On that full circle happy ending moment, I drained my wine glass, shut down the TV, popped a couple of Mellies and hunkered down in bed.

What I ultimately decided on to answer my earlier “continue” question was; hell, NO! It doesn’t mean I will or won’t delete OKCupid or my throwback hookup site. Those decisions are TBD, but I’m looking at them through the stop/start/continue filter and leaning toward stopping those actions in favor of starting an unknown other.

Nor does it mean that I won’t continue to catalog any notable dating experiences under the DIO hashtag, maybe the final entry down the road will be about a great date with a guy that continues to show up.

But my immediate payoff for this thought exercise of the past week? Waking up to this suggestion from OKStupid

Really earning their nickname with that one.

Seriously? That Lost Boy is your best dating suggestion to welcome me into 2019?!?

FML

But, hey, Diezel…I got a live one you might like!

Dating Into Oblivion: Fin

Why I’m Single: #16

I am simply a fool.

An idiot, I tell you.

Not that you don’t believe me, but let me explain anyway.

I’ve always had this little niggling notion that I wasn’t as brilliant as people will allow me to let myself believe. However, it came into sharp contrast last night, shortly after encountering this while visiting my parents for the holidays.

My parents’ neighbor’s house is quasi infested with these little buggers and apparently, mom and dad get random visitors when one wants to get away from the hive for a bit.

Or is suicidal.

Kidding, mom and dad gently move them to the patio.

Mom saw this picture after I posted it to the Instagram and Facebook last night and responded in two perfectly mom-ish ways within the same breath:

1) The regular mom way: she told me there were spare toothbrushes in my bathroom drawer. This actually made me reminiscent of the “good old days” when I had game and hope, and kept a few spare toothbrushes in my bathroom cabinet for spontaneous overnight guests.

And,

2) The my mom way: she feigned a reasonably decent indignant tone while both chastising me and chuckling about the ridiculousness level of the situation.

Neither of those reasons are why I’m an idiot and a fool.

Here’s the two pieces of evidence for that argument that hit me as I responded to comments on that pic:

1) In case it’s not obvious, I am using my Dopp kit as a toothbrush holder, because laying your toothbrush on the countertop is gross, right? Well, in the background, you can see a seashell resting inside-up…on top of a toothbrush holder. That originally escaped my notice, hence my MacGyver Dopp kit version.

Idiot.

2) When mom offered me a fresh brush, I initially rejected the idea, thinking that I’ve got three. I’ll just rinse the one I brought real good and make do til I get home. I brush my teeth in the shower in the morning. It’s a habit I picked up watching My Tutor back in the…early 80s. JFC that makes me feel old. Anyway, Olivia Newton John tutors Matt Lattanzi – who later became Mister Olivia Newton John – in this show. During it, young impressionable gay me was struck by a scene where one of Matt’s (very lucky) friends was standing outside his shower talking to him while he got cleaned up after a long day of tutoring – I am fuzzy on the precise plot – and Matt’s brushing his teeth in the shower. When I became an independent adult, I adopted the same habit and via the transitive property, became as hot as Matt Lattanzi.

Presto.

I also have both a medium and firm bristled toothbrush on my bathroom counter to use at night – or as the mood strikes – depending on how my mouth feels.

This is the meat of #2 and what occurred to me while mom was enjoying pretending to not enjoy the shituation at hand:

When guys come over to my house – where I live alone – they see two toothbrushes on my vanity. I’m sure the first thought they have typically hasn’t been, “Yeah, this guy’s a weird duck…I’m sure he has another one in the shower, too!”

No, I am totally willing to believe that the first thought is that I’m lying to them about being single and a lying, cheating bastard of a boyfriend.

If only.

Told ya…I’m simply a fool.

And that’s another one of the myriad reasons I’m single.

Why I’m Single: #16

Dating Into Oblivion: episode 9

So, I met this guy.

Oh, wait…can you believe that it’s December and I’ve only managed 9 DIO entries on a goal of one per month?

I can.

And one is still in draft form. Maybe I’ll mothball it. Heck, maybe I’ll finish strong! January had four bachelors – even though they were all no shows, if I recall correctly – so I’m giving myself partial credit for that effort and saying that right now, I am at 12/12 on the year. Plus, there was my Halloweentime attempts at dating that resulted in multiple ghosts and/or false starts, so I’d put my attempts on the year closer to 14…

Still, just to goose actual in person failures – er, attempts maybe I’ll go ask out both of the cute baristas here at Nossa Familia and then go shopping for a New Years Eve outfit.

Just kidding, I’m not going out on NYE! Way too crowded. Way too many amateurs.

I ran across our latest potential late one evening late last month while swiping left on all of the jokers OKStupid thought would be good matches for me.

Sidenote: Seriously, OKC, “opposites attract” is an irony. Stop sending me emails about guys that managed to score a 60% compatibility using your algorithm. Either they were too lazy to answer enough questions to generate a legitimate compatibility score or we aren’t compatible. I don’t need to be reminded by you that I’m a tough sell. As a matter of fact, I think there is a bar one must clear to activate a profile on OKC, but it’s ridiculously low, like answer five questions. If you’re trying to set yourself apart from hookup sites and apps, maybe raise that to 50 and set it up so that they have to answer at least five questions from each of your ethics, dating, lifestyle, sex and other buckets before they can activate a profile.

Mkay?

Thnx.

Anyway, furthering my quest to prove or disprove my Rib Theory that getting a guy fresh off the boat in your town is a solid plan, I swiped right on this guy. He’d actually mentioned in the first line of his bio that he’d just moved to Portland.

For all you readers that closely monitor the ages of the (almost, in a completely unshocking double entendres) men that I date, he is also 33, which puts him squarely in the Damn Near Old Enough to Not Be My Son category. I actually can’t even wrap my head around a scenario where someone my age has a child his age, but I know that it’s biologically possible.

I actually enjoy the heaps of shit people give me for dating younger guys. Linda Belcher refers to my dates as being “from the half-off rack”, another pretty legit double entendres since they are much younger than me but also fairly scratched and dented. Another pointed out that this new guy was “one whole year” older than Rib and then drily complimented me on my growth…they failed to take into account that Rib was merely 24 when I met him, though. He’s 32 now, so really I think I earn a prop or two for starting in with someone a third older than him at the starting line.

Feel free to take a minute to regroup after that epic rationalization. I have a lot more experience with my crazy than you do, friends. Trust me, though, I know my mental contortions can result in dizziness. Possibly nausea.

Anyway, I decided to check out this guy’s bio to see what a 94% compatibility actually looked like. He actually answered a lot of questions. Hundreds. After ascertaining that we clicked enough minimal boxes to invest, I messaged him.

So, when you say “new to town”…how long have you *really* been here?

To my surprise, I woke up to a new message from him. He’d been in town six days…and I was off to the races. We traded messages on OKC for the rest of the week and on Friday night, he started putting out – not that way, Diezel – messages that I should ask him out.

So I did.

He declined.

Little psychopath.

Just kidding. He legit had a good reason, and a bad one.

The bad reason was just lame. Not that I cared. He’d been working on his bedroom at his new apartment and all of his going out clothes were back at his hotel. Again, not that I cared how he was dressed…this is Portland, after all. Plus, I’m probably the jeans and tee-shirt guy prototype, so really, I didn’t care how he was dressed.

But on the other hand, his pod was arriving the next day, so going out the night before moving day wasn’t the optimal situation, obviously.

But when I checked in the following Monday to see how his first day on the new job had gone, our texting led to me inviting him out to try what I call the best beer in Oregon, Barley Brown’s Pallet Jack IPA. You can only get it on tap and I know the one bar in the area that always has it on tap.

It isn’t Big Legrowlski.

It’s this dive bar that I’ve gone to off and on – more on now that it’s only about ten blocks from my place – for about 20 years. It’s called Kelly’s Olympian, and it’s pretty cool. There’s motorcycles suspended from the ceiling and neon gas station and repair shop signs hung on the walls. And they always have Pallet Jack. The one time they blew a keg while I was there, they had a back up keg to put on.

Anyway, he accepted the offer. Not only did he accept, he countered with meeting up the following day. I had been trying to veil my invitation to weeknight drinking with a drink – or two, as it happened – with the weekly cubicle dweller holiday known as Hump Day. But it’s not like I had anything else going on a Tuesday night, so game on!

Of course, Tuesday started five days of rain. The biblical type, too. Our first real inclement weather of the Fall season.

Talk about a harbinger.

But we each arrived, a little damper for the pedestrian transit. Turned out, he liked the beer…which didn’t surprise me a bit. We chatted comfortably for a couple hours and each enjoyed two Pallet Jacks.

Our conversation was alternately serious and fun, not a bad way to get acquainted. He talked about not assuming others’ intentions, but seeking to understand before reaching a conclusion. I really like this challenge. I call it a challenge because I also struggle to live that ideal. It’s hard. I’ve been a wise-cracking asshole for so long that it’s hard for me to let people prove themselves before judging their intent.

Actually, if the Myers-Briggs personality tests are to be believed, I’m a perceiver not a judger.

Following Myers-Briggs down their rabbit hole, I’m an EFNP.

Go ahead, look.

The long and short of it is that I’m a dating nightmare. Not to foreshadow, but that intuitive versus sensor bucket really works against me.

One of the other conversations we had came up when I mentioned that I’d been single following Rib for four years, roughly the same length we were together. I think he had assumed that it was a bad break up. I’d said something about still seeking a successful relationship. I clarified that Rib and I still enjoy a very nice friendship, a success in its own right. Then he said something that I found really interesting.

Why do people think of a relationship ending as a failure? If you tell someone you were in a rock band for twenty years, they’ll probably think that you were pretty successful musician. Why is it different for relationships?

Ok, that flipped a mental table. I really enjoyed that analogy.

Maybe we were talking about his parents or the Silver Fox, who were each divorced after decades of marriage. Memories get a little fuzzy midway through a second beer for me.

My only counterpoint was that maybe it’s in how it ends. Someone in a rock band for two decades is likely left with a moderate amount of wealth. If they truly were successful. People leaving a marriage after two decades are left with an intimacy vacuum.

At the very least.

Money doesn’t fill a void like that.

Still, I did enjoy the analogy.

We parted, in a drizzle. He hugged me and kissed my cheek – I’m not usually one for kissing on the first date. If we only end up friends, now I’ve kissed a friend, and that’s not a usual behavior of mine. So, the kiss on the cheek was an unexpected surprise.

He promised to send me his number on OKC so we could get together again and then said I didn’t have to walk him to his bus stop. He’d demurred on both of my offers to pick him up at his office for our date, so I was forming the opinion that he was either reserved or independent and wanting to find his own way versus being shown. I actually hadn’t intended to offer to walk him when I asked him where his stop was. I was trying to figure out if we were heading the same direction. When he told me where he was heading, I said I was heading the opposite way and said good night.

When I turned in for bed that night, I sent him a thank you message on OKC while resisting the urge to assume anything about how he didn’t use his 20 minute bus ride to send me his number. My message was really just a way to indicate that I’m not one of those dating game types that thinks waiting X days after a date is the cool way to date.

He responded pretty much immediately.

I pushed down the impulse to label his behavior and replied that I’d shoot him a text at a more reasonable hour and clicked off my nightstand lamp.

The next day we texted a lil bit.

The next day, I offered to take him out for a little bit riskier drink. The dive bar happy hour date had come in right at my $20 first date limit. Well, excluding gratuity. My second date idea was Portland City Grill in Portland’s tallest building – actually, there might be a taller structure now. Regardless, it has views like this

…from about 30 floors over Portland, which I think any newcomer would surely appreciate. That said, this ain’t no $20 date. He had said that he liked martinis, particularly, real martinis with vermouth, dirty and with onions instead of olives. A twist in the summer versus onions.

We laughed at how people who made martinis without even a trace of vermouth were just drinking vodka, but I made note of the order. I’m attentive like that, despite how I struggle with how ordering a date’s drink could be misconstrued and #metoo-ed.

Anyway, Portland City Grill’s cocktails are probably $12-15 each, so…yeah, this wasn’t a $20 date.

He suggested the following day, Friday. Yesterday. I agreed, which was followed up by him offering to wait til early next week to avoid the crowds I loathe so much. I found that kind, and attentive in its own right but committed to perseverance.

It was just one drink, after all. I wouldn’t mind two, but I was cognizant of the fact that he was both coming from work and had mentioned he was a lightweight. My intention was neither to pour him onto a bus nor end up with him at my place…so, probably just one drink.

I sent him a confirmation text at noon-ish the next day to make sure we were still on for that evening.

He responded immediately with

Can we please reschedule for Monday?

Turns out that some co-workers were going out after work and invited him along. Setting aside my grumpy old man-ness, I told him we could reschedule and to go get his networking on.

He read it immediately, but didn’t respond.

Why do people leave or turn on read receipts for their texts? Seriously, the only reasons I can think of are that they are clueless that they are on or it’s so you know they’re blowing you off.

Anyway, this is where being an intuitive type works against me: I’m prone to noticing patterns.

It was one thing to reschedule. It was another to not say “thanks for understanding” or even “sorry” when he did so.

I’d enjoyed meeting this guy. He and I were a good match according to the folks that wrote the OKStupid algorithm. He was fun to talk to, seemed to have some good life experiences under his belt and just engaging.

That said, I’d decided not to write this until today so that we’d have two dates under our belts and I’d have an idea how I felt about him. What direction I hoped this to go in. You see, algorithms aside, he’s an attractive guy…but hairy.

Generally, I’m attracted to smooth guys. I’m getting past guys that aren’t clean shaven, I live in hipster-ville, after all. But I haven’t really gotten into being attracted to guys with chest hair. And this fella is a hairy motherfucker. But, I am challenging myself to set aside that immediate spark qualifier that I’ve relied upon when meeting people. Look where it’s gotten me, after all.

Yet, here I am…Saturday. The day I intended to write this entry, if for no other reason than my December output has been meager. Only, I hadn’t successfully crossed my two date threshold.

Since it seemed like a pretty arbitrary goal – two dates – I decided to write this entry anyway. As I’m sitting at Nossa, sipping my coffee and tapping this out, I jump over to OKC to double-check a quote from our messages there.

He’s on.

Now, I can’t fully explain why this wrankled me so. I think it was because he’d never thanked or apologized to me for post-poning on me yesterday.

So, I just sent him a text message.

Your actions are giving me a “not interested” vibe.

I know that this is more than likely to offend someone, in the case that they aren’t interested and aren’t being clear. On the other hand, if it’s not intentional, it at least opens the door to conversation about how I ended up at that…perception.

Being a native Portlander, I take a lot of guff for our reputation for being passive-aggressive. I offset this through my actions, namely: being direct in my communication.

Of course he responds immediately.

Now he chooses to be in the moment. Surprising no one he says he had fun and would like to be my friend.

Oddly, he still didn’t apologize that I felt that way or take any accountability for how I’d gotten that hint. My least favorite language, right there: hint.

One of the patterns this intuitive person tends to recognize is that pattern where people fail to accept responsibility for their actions. I’m responsible for my feelings, and try to be equally responsible for my actions…so expecting others to acknowledge their own actions and their fallout seems pretty fair to me. I’m also not one who is going to get all butt-hurt about someone makes me feel. I gave them the power to make me feel hurt, I can easily take it away.

Something, Felicia

What he didn’t know in his offer of friendship – genuine or simply another sentence in hintonese – was that I expect more of my friends than my lovers. Relationships come and go – successful, as he frames them, or not – but people I call friend are in my life indefinitely. We may not see each other every day or every week. I’ve some friends I only see once a year, but we know each other and when I see them, it seems like yesterday.

I told him his actions yesterday didn’t seem like he’d make a good friend for me. After explaining why, I said

If you’ve got the balls to not be offended by that, then the <ahem> ball is in your proverbial court.

He texted me back, but I’m not in any hurry to read it. So far today, his texts have shown that he’s more interested in preserving the perception that he’s a good guy versus actually – y’know – being one.

If he wants to show me he’s someone else versus another typical lost boy, he’ll put some effort into it.

In the meantime, this is me…not holding my breath.

Dating Into Oblivion: episode 9

Dating Into Oblivion #BonusTrack

The “Why Do I Even Try?” edition…

There’s a lot to unpack here.

A) I probably wouldn’t. I know this about myself, and I do feel like a piece of shit because of that knowledge.

2) This guy has lived down the block from me for almost 4 years and. just. hit. me. up.

Fuuuuuuuck that.

Just allow me my four limbed sense of outrage, here.

Here’s how my mind works: it’s not that I wanted this guy to hit on me, but knowing our close proximity over the years of me dropping into and then back off of this site, I just figured we shared a mutual disattraction. Knowing that suddenly isn’t the case made me feel like I was so unattractive to him that it took him this long to get desperate enough to talk to me.

Me being me, I mention this, of course. He gives me some noises about just noticing me and I reach for this:

…while wondering why he thinks I’d date a guy with no arms and what are obviously missing – or at the very least poorly operating – eyeballs.

He’s game. Or determined. I’ll give him that. For a guy with no arms, he can type. I get a flurry of messages before closing out and going back to my innocent chatter with my very supportive-of-my-inability-to-wrap-my-arms-around-dating-a-guy-with-no-arms bartendresses.

(Hey, you had to know that pun was coming)

Better use of my time: drinking beer with people in real life.

When I visit the site again a few days lonelier – er…later, I get a new flurry of messages from this no arms fella. So, for years he didn’t notice and now I can’t get away from him?

From scatoma to attenuated. Lucky me.

Then again, this is normally the caliber of lost boy that I get, so I don’t know why I’d complain

Not to be too graphic, but this guy led with an unsolicited pic – ladies, I know you’re forever suffering from unsolicited dick pics from guys who aren’t even senators…but there are worse body parts guys lead with, trust me – and then backpedaled to foreplay. Or what he calls foreplay.

I was having none of either.

The profile I’d created here clearly stated that I wasn’t there for one night stands – I can get those the old fashioned way, thank you very much – or guys in relationships. This guy boldly checked both boxes.

Does anyone really have time for people like this fella?

Plus, he was old. Like, younger than me, but barely. My thoughts on that would be, “not looking before you leap” is kind of a 20-something behavior that age trains you out of…and if I have to choose between an Oldie Hawn that still acts like a 20-something or an actual 20-something?

Yeah, I’ll take the 20-something every damn time.

I came away from this whole episode challenging myself to examine whether my instant reaction to disqualify someone as a date because of obvious handicaps was better, worse or the same as my response to someone who presents less obvious but likely more crippling social defects. Cuz I think I jump on those pretty quickly.

The net positive here is that I deleted my profile on this site. The ROI was becoming a moral bankruptcy.

Dating Into Oblivion #BonusTrack

No Regrets

Writing about my good old times at The Old and The New Old Lompocs yesterday reminded me of this little nugget of a story languishing in draft-land from waaaaay back.

I’d like to say it was from a few months back, when I was working at the airport – PDX…maybe you’ve heard of it? It’s the best airport in the universe, at least according to travelers in the United States.

Six years running…no big deal.

They’ve got, like, carpet…and a clock.

Anyway, today – because this is my life and this is the way it always “just so happens” in my life – just so happens to be my 7 month anniversary of telling the company I worked for at PDX that it wasn’t me, it was them. So, this story probably starts a full year back.

Well, the draft starts a year back. The story itself? Yup, a century ago.

You see, when I wasn’t hanging out, wiling away my free time lusting over Richard, I was usually hanging out with my buddy No Regrets. Even then, I was a social prowler versus staying home. I didn’t even have a health hazard of a cat to keep me away from home. It’s kind of just how I’m built.

No Regrets was the manager of the store next to mine, so we became acquainted fairly easily. Eventually, we bonded over shared stories of I-5 shoplifting rings and after that, became friends.

Well, last year, I was in the B concourse store doing something – something that was likely Captain Can’t’s responsibility…but he, y’know…couldn’t – and who should happen by but my old pal!

Why do I call him No Regrets? Well, it’s a riff on his last name, mainly. But also, this guy was idling through or just out of so many programs when we met. These programs have a great benefit for participants – many, obviously – but for No Regrets, the main takeaway seemed to be overcoming the shame and stigma around his various struggles and being able to normalize the impulses he experienced in recovery.

Y’know, he had no regrets. Without the problems he’d overcome, he wouldn’t have become the fuller functioning person I met.

I know. Anyone in recovery hates how I just short handed that, but…here we are.

The result for me was bearing witness to private thoughts – or what many people would keep private – and stories of how he got to where he got before entering recovery. Oddly, they were rather entertaining, in a cautionary tale type of way. No Regrets’ story telling style was just rather engaging, too. He had a story teller’s voice.

Anyway, we chatted at the airport for a few, just caught up ever so briefly before he had to catch his plane. But that brief download was still so chockablock full of nostalgia for our time together a couple decades ago.

Because when I wasn’t at The Old Lompoc swilling beer, I was probably with No Regrets a few blocks away for some totally unneeded late night caffeine. Let’s see, if Lompoc was at 23rd and Savior, our hangout – CoffeeTime – was at…21st and Irving?

Yeah. 21st and Irving. I just remembered that my crashpad after moving back to PDX was right around the corner at 19th and Irving…that was a nice, warm welcome home! So when I say these hangouts were a few blocks away, 8 over, 2 up…yeah, not too far at all. Gotta love how small town-y Portland can feel!

One of his many Anons being the big A, we met at his favorite nighttime hangout. It was new to me and reminded me of the subterranean Catskeller below the student union in college, so many little twisty corners that created books for a small study table or old sofa for reading and chatting in semi-soon-to-be-necking privacy.

I loved it immediately.

Plus, there were a lot of cute, young, student body types. Guy Candy, if you will. Of course, one of No Regrets’ other Anons was S – Sex, if you didn’t get that one – he openly commented on the guy candy we were immersed in.

Look at that guy. You know he’s not wearing any underwear under his sweats, when he gets up again you can totally see his big dick flipping around.

Or,

Check out the size of those Chucks. You know that scrawny guy is packing a big, floppy dick.

A lot of his therapeutic appreciations involved genitals of the big, floppy type.

Like I complained. He amused me.

Anyway, it was here, at this time in my life – these late night chats with No Regrets – that I really learned to be self reflective. It was pre-Sacha – because he shut friendship with other gay guys down right quick – and I was new to town, not dating.

The way he talked about his struggles led me to ask questions like, “How does Sex Addiction work with dating?”

Poorly, mostly.

Was his humorous response to let me know I didn’t have to be scared to ask personal questions.

No, but seriously…not that well. But once you get into the program, they don’t want you dating anyone for at least the first year. No distractions. After the first steps are accomplished, the guideline is “If you can keep a plant alive for a year, you can date”.

“Oooh…I’m not sure I get the plant thing, but you’re…”

On my second plant.

He was only kidding, but this self-effacing wit definitely resonated with me. It was similar to my own style.

So one night, I whacked him over the head with the big, floppy part of a passerby and buried him in Forest Park.

I just love that place.

I joke.

If I recall the details of the program correctly, keeping a plant alive for a year served the dual purpose of putting someone else’s needs above your own and not letting your personal issues derail a relationship and actually being able to provide the essential support they need to thrive.

Dead plant = fail, right?

But it made sense. It got that it was a big leap from watering and fertilizing a plant to having a relationship, but the whole focus on knowing yourself before you get to know someone else and become a part of their well being was quite a takeaway from these talks.

Again, making enemies of any reader that is in any recovery program.

But thinking on these inadvertent nuggets of wisdom he brought to CoffeeTime helped me to formulate my own code when it came to dating. Namely: taking time between relationships.

I’d moved to Portland with only two relationships of any length under my belt – at 28…how pathetic, right? Let’s ignore the fact that I’ve only doubled that result in the next half-ish of my life, shall we? But I had a natural reluctance to just swing from one relationship to the next, as a monkey does with tree branches.

This helped me to define that habit or ritual of mine.

For the record, not all of his stories were about shoplifters or his life in Whatever Anonymous. Sometimes he’d tell stories about his completely strange family and growing up surrounded by mentally unwell or abusive people.

His brother was textbook crazy…I want to say schizophrenia+. But the poor kid was terrified from the inside everyday. It had to be hell being him and it didn’t sound like being around him was any picnic, either.

But, lemonade, right?

No Regrets told me about this conversation he’d had with his brother one day. He’d asked him how his day was. Surprisingly, the day had been relatively uneventful, which was a rare occasion for his brother.

Until I was walking home from the bus and the man across the street started shooting his Sex Rays at me.

…and then he just calmly continued on with telling the events of his day.

No Regrets sees my eyebrows shoot up and my mouth form a tight little circle. In response, he pulls his head down and to the left as he raises that shoulder to meet it in his version of a shrug, mimics my eyebrow rockets and half lets out a guffaw as if to say, “That’s bound to happen if you walk around long enough”.

Sex Rays?!?”, I demand.

Yup. I mean, what are ya gonna do? And it didn’t even register as more than a nuisance!

“Like a footnote in his day?”

Basically. I mean, this kid loses it over toilet paper being hung the wrong way,

“Shut up.”

but Sex Rays don’t bother him at all.

We chuckled at that for quite a while that night while I grilled him on details, knowing that he’d want to make sure his bro was truly ok. I wish I could remember the conversation better, suffice it to say, there was some frustration on his bother’s part, I just can’t remember it.

But we did get some miles out of that turned phrase. Instead of worrying about what was big and/or floppy, we’d say something like,

I’d like to shoot my Sex Rays at that!

Y’know, lighthearted nonsense.

Anyway, flash forward a year or two, Sacha is in the picture, No Regrets is out. We’d still managed occasional coffees while we worked next door to each other, but eventually, I got transferred across town and then he moved to NorCal and we completely lost touch in the pre-LinkedIn world we were trapped in.

Flash forward another few years and Sacha took off on me. I fell apart and then I fell back on the introspection I had learned from No Regrets and settled in to figuring out who I was as a single person again so that I didn’t subject a potential new mate to the damage of Sacha.

I’m sorry, not damage. Trauma? Scars? It’s just not quite right…ideally, anything that makes him sound the least bit responsible for his actions in a relationship makes him want to burn the world down, so let’s give his “At Least I Have A Friggin Glass” Google alert a treat and call it the Wrath of Sacha.

Anyway, I didn’t want to subject a new boyfriend to that particular STD, so I was single for a long damn time.

So long that I was living in Seattle the next time I found myself dating. Either work transferred me or I was single so long, the subduction zone I live in has crushed the distance between Portland and Seattle.

Who’s to really say for sure?

But a funny thing happened in between relationships.

My one job moved me to Seattle and then ended altogether a year-ish later. I’d gone to work in a crashpad of a job at Bed, Bath and Beyond. About 18 months later, I was recruited away by a customer who worked for Sur la Table.

When I was talking to some of my team about where I was going to, one of my associates – who never said anything – chimes in with,

Oh, yeah…my uncle is a District Manager for them in California.

Foreshadowing

“Well, there’s a big manager’s meeting here in Seattle (the company’s corporate HQ) so maybe I’ll meet him!”

Yup.

His uncle was No friggin Regrets.

I’m on the left, obviously.

It had been ten years since we’d first met. But we fell into an amazing and immediately comfortable rapport.

Turns out that was a good thing, since a couple years later, he got promoted and became my boss’ boss. I liked him, her…I was gonna enjoy watching this. In his many Anon learning experiences, he’d become a fan of being his genuine self. My boss…a jackhammer couldn’t reach an authentic level in her.

She was so bad that when I was with her and she’d introduce me to someone, she’d always work in an, “Oh, I love your scarf!” type compliment. I’d just stand behind her and make these little gestures

So, that was therapeutic to watch, but eventually I got recruited away and at some point – after our company sold itself into a Venture Capital form of sex slavery – he got sacrificed and we lost touch again.

Let’s see…this started in ’96. We met up again in ’06 and this last airport meeting was either in late ’16 or ’17…I really think it was ’17, but now that I type that out, I really hope this draft was older than I think.

I think it was actually. It was waaaaay down there.

But it’s funny, regardless. People come into your life for a reason. You may never know what that reason is, or that reason might simply be some low grade companionship.

But every now and then – especially if you’re an introspective S.O.B. like me that can go down for days on the couch – you realize that people you met 20 years ago and lost touch with long ago are still informing your decisions today with the fingerprint they left on you.

OK, see? I tried to just organically wrap this up with something uplifting and I typed that “.” and my inner lech whispered, “Yeah, you tell us about the fingerprint that Sex Addict left on you…”

I swear, Hannibal Lecter must have been my nanny.

Now that I realize my mistake, I know I should have tried to throw my introspection about No Regrets back to my Highlander reference earlier…because

Nonetheless, fingerprint analogy notwithstanding, you just never know who you’re going to meet that going to give you strength or joy later in life. When they show up – mentally or physically – it’s a fantastic leveling device against the daily onslaught of crushing minutia. You gotta take a second to enjoy that and toss out a thank you to the mysterious universe that keeps these people drifting through your consciousness.

Actually, now that I think about it, maybe I should reach out and see where he landed after Sur la Table. Maybe this time I could intentionally hitch my work wagon to him.

Hmmm…standby.

No Regrets

Dating Into Oblivion ep7.1

A Ghost Story

After our first date, I broke it off with The Transplant.

I had come to realize that regardless of how stimulating our conversations had been during our time together, stimulating isn’t my default setting. Playful is.

We had been texting about our second date, which he’d sorta planned while visiting Seattle with a friend of his that was in from Chicago. He suggested the M.I.A. documentary, of which I’d never heard.

I knew she was/is a rapper and had even heard one of her songs, which featured some poppy gunshots. Not that I’m a big fan of mainstreaming violence, but rap incorporates violence into its art form regularly.

And I’m not one to claim an understanding of art by any means, so I keep my own counsel on that opinion.

Oops. Lookie!

Anyway, before he’d even returned from Seattle, he’d changed his mind about the movie.

No problem, we can do something else.

Truth be told, I was kind of relieved. Not sure I could muster sufficient enthusiasm for a rap documentary in a second date scenario.

“You pick something”, he says.

So bossy!

I playfully replied.

Ok, he was not having playful.

I actually spent the next dozen or so messages texting on eggshells. Deliberately not pointing out that he planned and vetoed the scuttled plan, so he should figure out a replacement. I planned the first date, after all. Anyway, this reservedness was in direct opposition to what he said he really appreciated about me on our first date: that I don’t behave like I’m in an interview, carefully measuring my words and maintaining a cautious demeanor.

Screw that. Eventually a facade drops and then people learn how you really act. I don’t play dating games like that – hey, it’s Why I’m Single #12! – I go into dates dressed like I dress and acting like I act.

So, basically I come across as a teenager who has recently had a stroke.

(Not that kind, Diezel)

Anyway, I think in those dozen texts, I wrangled some form of “apology” for calling him bossy – an attitude which I would appreciate, for the record. I did not enjoy the direction this interaction had taken, and the best he could muster in response was “I’m not offended”. As a stand alone, with no additional words providing context, that just reads like a petulant, “Fine“.

Lemme think about it, I’ll walk by a couple of venues on my way home and see if there’s any groups neither of us have heard of playing…we can have an adventure!

He seemed to like that idea, so I figured an adventure date could help reset the conversation or clearly define his lack of playfulness. Nevertheless, after failing to shake the disease of the prior night’s texts, I decided to pull the rip cord. Here’s how that went.

Yeah, yeah…I didn’t even save him as a contact, I know. My rule is that I don’t save contacts until I know a person’s last name. How many generic Matts does my phone book need?

Matt, BTW was his given name. He and his brother were raised in something of a Christian Cult setting.

After leaving/escaping, he and his brother had both changed their names to non-biblically influenced monikers.

Like adults.

But at least the name he chose for himself simply made him sound like a Seattle-phile or an aggressive fish enthusiast. His brother chose Aphid.

Adults, these days…

But his response at least pointed back toward the reasonable and well-considered person I’d first met. So…date number two was back to Go-Status.

I wasn’t feeling particularly plucky on the big day, which happened to be a Friday night. Turns out that he’d had a rough day at work – an ongoing recent theme as he worked toward getting a new restaurant (not of his) up and running. It is – as is he, if you recall – vegan. Turns out vegans had been incensed by both the restaurant’s name and their use of honey on the menu.

You have to remember that some people are just happy being unhappy.

Was about all I could muster, advice-wise. My inner voice was screaming that a hamburger might improve their collective disposition, but I’m pretty confident that wasn’t a welcome observation.

I surely had no expertise with opening a vegan restaurant. I barely have experience with vegetables.

Show of hands, how many of my friends thought that exact thought right before they read it? A lot, right?

Nevertheless, I also cautioned him that the restaurant could capitulate to a bunch of cranks before it even opened its doors and I guarantee that those people would either:

1) Still never even show up

Or,

2) Find something else to bitch about.

Hey, I may not know vegans from vegetables, but I do know a thing or two about sons of bitches.

So, there we were, committed to a date, but neither feeling like going out. We decided on a movie and wine/whine at my place. I reminded him that my TV was in my living room and not my bedroom and he reiterated that he was not interested in just hooking up.

Game on. No…foreshadowing!

When he arrived, we went over to the Brodega across the street for some wine and vegan approved snacks. This she-she neighborhood market would surely have some, high prices on weird foods? I don’t call it a brodega for nothing. We ended up with some fancy chocolate bars – including some from Theo’s, which I decided to not tell him he could have just visited in Seattle. This is how vegan excommunication begins…using honey in your restaurant and eating chocolate.

Vegans are like religious folk: picking and choosing what dogma they will/won’t follow. I found it promising, while also making a note that he’d really traded one cult for another…

We leave the store…and run smack dab into the Silver Fox, who was “out walking his dog”.

How many times did you walk poor George around this block?!?

The Fox swore that when he’d left Big Legrowlski under the auspices of needing to let George out to pee, the bartendresses had made him swear he’d bring George by so they could see him. Feasible enough, but the Brodega still wasn’t on his way home.

I introduced The Fox and The Transplant, who in true introvert form was already walking away as he said hi.

We went back to my place and watched The Kindergarten Teacher, which is as great as you’ve heard…and if you haven’t heard, it’s great! We actually stopped the movie a couple times for pee breaks and also just to talk about the movie. It was really nice to have a fresh movie watching companion. The Fox and I watch shows together, but more often than not our movie breaks are to discuss (one sidedly) the show’s Game of Thrones connections or whether that actor was in this or that or is dead.

There’s nothing wrong with that. The Transplant is 24, though. His mid-movie talk breaks were more aspirational.

Big Thoughts.

High Art Concepts.

It was fun. Inspirational, to be honest. I haven’t indulged my brain like that since my college days of late night studying in the Catskeller, taking breaks to conversationally dissect what we’d just reviewed.

It was quite the mental stretch for me, and it was invigorating.

After the movie, which took three-plus hours to get through, he suggested a change of scene. He asked when the hotel bar next door closed, since I’d kind of raved about it earlier.

Midnight…so, 45-ish minutes. Do you want something else to eat? Drink?

“Not really, just a change of venue”, he replied.

I was kind of relieved, because I wasn’t yet in the frame of mind to take him to my normal haunts. We decided just to walk and see what happened.

What happened was we walked the waterfront and Eastbank Esplanade.

At midnight.

On a Friday. Well, Saturday.

We got back to my place at around 2:45 and at the door to my building, I tried to say goodnight. Apparently, he wasn’t done yet. We’d been holding hands for about four miles as we walked and talked, so I figured I could safely invest a little more time to continue the conversation.

Being 24, The Transplant can put on a good show of maturity, but at the end of the day – or very early the next morning, in this case – that maturity is going to be tested when it comes time to make your actions and words line up.

At around 3:30, I joked that he was going to have to pay for parking soon, by way of closing the chapter on date two. He told me that he’d taken an Uber over.

Then why are we drinking water?!?

I poured us each a glass of wine. Shortly thereafter, he invited himself to stay the night.

Maybe I was special enough that he’d deemed me worthy of escalating this to mating into oblivion status. I told him I thought that was premature, we hadn’t even kissed yet.

“It’s just sleeping“, he teased, suddenly fluent in playfulness.

Yeah, but spooning leads to forking,

I advised, continuing with,

That’s not something I’m not interested in, but I don’t want it to be unintentional.

We talked a bit more, about big stuff. Sexual health and history – I said big stuff, not hot stuff – and he still seemed up for it. I told him I didn’t have condoms, for both good and obvious reasons and he told me he had some in his bag. He also mentioned he’d brought the lube he likes.

Not looking for a hook up my ass.

His ass.

Not looking for a hook up but brings his own lube on a date? It secretly made me wonder about the veracity of his claim to be able to recite all of his sexual partners’ names – all of which started with a J, allegedly – on one hand.

I don’t seriously doubt his integrity, I think the kid just had an itch he wanted scratched.

Sooo, I added a C to that string of Js and at 6 AM we laid down for some well earned rest.

At 10:30, he was dressed and out the door to shop for his costume for a Halloween party that evening. Around 3 we texted for a bit on how that was going. My last text being something about how I’m glad he was finding what he needed because the Saturday before Halloween could be slim picking for costume stuff.

I’m assuming he just needed to cut a couple of eye holes in a white sheet since I haven’t heard from him since.

And y’know what’s the worst when shituations – wow, the Chrisisms are just cascading out in this post – occur? I’m past worrying about what I may or may not have done to deserve this. I do indulge in a few thoughts of things that he might have felt insecure about driving his actions…

Wink, wink.

But ultimately, my frustrated parent gene kicks in and I find myself wondering if he got hurt or taken advantage of that night…or worse. I know it’s unlikely, but it’s not a concern I can control. And Portland’s weirdos aren’t all lovable, harmless old curmudgeons.

Being 24, maybe his ego needed to be the dumper versus the dumpee…but he put a lot of effort into that charade, were that the case.

Regardless, after learning that a young fella I used to recreate with on occasion died – two years ago, obviously we weren’t close…just situationally joined on a temporary basis every now and again – a month after I saw him last, well…I just hope this particular ghost story remains theoretical.

Dating Into Oblivion ep7.1