TransDating: Part I

Sooooo…The Facebook, right?

Coming through for me the other (early) morning when I couldn’t sleep. I was scrolling through my newsfeed, I had probably cruised through the previous 36 hours worth of newsfeed-algorithm-worthy posts when I happened upon the “People You Might Know” feature.

Probably, this is where the ZuckerDrones are looking out for me, “thinking” this is what usually makes him throw his phone down in disgust so I could get back to sleep. Little do they (or DO they?!?) know that I usually at least look at the top recommendations before throwing my phone down in the aforementioned disgust.

Today, though, today…I’ve clearly got time. It’s 5-ish am, I’ve been scrolling for 45 minutes, “Why not see who the Facebook thinks I should know?” I think, before doing a deep dive.

I was a good 10 minutes into the PYMK section when I saw it.

Ok, given the name of this post, that was a poorly chosen pronoun due to the ease of exploitation that “it” allows. Well, exploit it for humor, we got no problems…we’re obviously chums for a reason. Exploit it for its vaguely gender-vague crime-worthiness and, well, you can fuck right off and then keep on humping.

Because, what I saw was a “who” that I crushed all the way out on while I was working at the airport.

One of the Fabulous Baker Girls has probably already used her super sleuthy skills to figure out who I’m talking about, she’s that good.

For the rest of you…this is a person I used to see a couple times a week because he managed a store out at PDX while I worked there. Still does, if the Facebook is to be believed.

And, believable or not, the Facebook was giving me the profile of a super sexy fella to scroll through as I debated “friending” him.

If he’d remember me or accept said friend request…TBD.

As I scrolled, I was rewarded with those validating pics young folks post…showcasing their natural gifts and/or the fruits of their gym labors.

Oh, right. I forgot there was also significant tattoo-age. They were all spelled correctly, so the attraction was preserved.

What it took me a few extra minutes of scrolling to realize was that the muscle definition and tattoos both served to draw the eye away from some very artfully concealed scars…of the double mastectomy variety.

Well, shit-fuck-damn.

I’ve always held young people unreasonably accountable to having a better physique than I, however…where gender reassignment is involved, I give a hall pass.

Does that seem fair?

Well, I don’t care. Ask your mother if life is supposed to be fair.

Back to me.

Trans-folk get a hall pass on body stuff because they are fighting an uphill battle. Whereas young cis men have hormones helping their physical accomplishments, trans-folk have what are likely the wrong hormones working against whatever correct hormones they may be pumping into their bodies. It results in a battle of science vs nature toward physically expressing their true selves.

I’m not judging that.

No way, no how.

Plus, in the case of this fine fella, and I’m sure many trans-men…should they put their minds to it, they could kick my ass twice before I knew the first ass whooping was happening. I’m smart enough to not make enemies, let alone enemies that could actually harm my favorite person.

But my trans hall pass has always expired where the appreciation of their physical accomplishments meets the reality of my Kinsey 6 sexuality. Top surgery and potentially hormone assisted physical accomplishments aside, at the end of the day I can’t get my old school homosexuality around the “beaver in my bed” scenario. I’m an ass man, through and through…but frontside foreplay is still a part of the routine, because…well, because it is.

Enter Anachronistic Xtopher.

It’s been a decade long entrance, in case you thought this was a fresh struggle.

You see, when I moved to Seattle back in ’06, I spent more than my fair share of time getting to know my new bevy of gay bars slash neighborhood watering holes. I really loved all of them. Little did I know that a lot of this euphoric experience was relative to me being fresh meat (at goddamned 40 years of age) in a relatively small dating pool’s bar scene.

Still, by ’08, I was well past that…the blush was off the proverbial lily.

It was then that I’d found myself out for a weeknight wee bit.

<Interior: The Cuff, upper bar…because they don’t bother opening the lower dance and patio bars on a goddamned Tuesday>

I’m swilling quietly, minding my own obliviousness at the end of the bar, when a brick shithouse of a dude in all his construction worker drag walks in, sits down by me and orders a beer.

Now, we all know where this is heading, because: title spoilers, but suspend your disbelief.

Jesus. Rough crowd.

I’m sitting there thinking, “Sure, on a four-sided bar, this is the only place to sit where you won’t have an unwelcome crowd form around you”.

It’s also a Tuesday, so crowds would be a no.

It’s also the side of the bar furthest the door.

Ergo: it’s also the only side of the bar that you have to pass all three of the other (service) sides of the bar to get to.

All of this conspires to convince me that this placement is intentional…for whatever reason.

Nevertheless, there was a beer or two of conversational foreplay before I trot out this gem, “How does it feel to be the best looking guy in this dump?”

“Well, it is a Tuesday…but still pretty damned ok”, he says, laughing.

“I was gonna offer to get your next beer, but as the second best looking guy in the bar, I realize that puts you in a tough place.”

“Drink up. I got this one, since you look smart enough to not waste your aspirations for bar dominations on a Tuesday night. But you’re definitely on the hook for the next one!”

“Thank god this isn’t a Wednesday”, I reply, thinking that this guy’s humor is right in line with mine. I’d love to have an equal in sass…not as easy as one might think since you have to factor overall disposition into the equation. I don’t mind an overly queeny sense of sass near as much as I’d run away from or flat out fail to appreciate a guy with hard up bro-sass.

That struggle? REAL.

Anyway, we chatted a bit about what afforded us the luxury of drinking on a Tuesday night in a bar people only cared about on the weekends. Some other stuff. He was a lot of fun to talk with, truth be told.

Comfortable.

Easy.

However, on beer four – my fifth, just to be completely honest – he disclosed that he was FTM (female to male, for the uninitiated). Now, sexually, my heretofore growing chub lost volume…for previously mentioned Kinsey 6 reasons.

Still

I was really enjoying this guy’s company. Obviously, having lived in Shittatle for two years and still finding myself drinking alone on a Tuesday night, I was in need of friends. If our schedules aligned to allow a regular social coalescence…that’s a good ROI on my Tuesday night of drinking.

Right?

Well, I never heard from him again, so fuck me. What are ya gonna do though? This person was – after two years in Seattle – literally within the first six people I’d given my number to.

He didn’t use it.

It’s been 10 years since that eye-opener of a night. But in a decade, I have realized that easily navigated complexities sometimes only end up being precursors to significantly more complex situations. Situations whose ramifications extend way further than the least crowded side of a four sided bar on the least crowded night of the week.

Well, when I put it that way, my ’08 encounter seems…easy. But, trust me…it wasn’t.

Not in the moment.

Reductively, it’s choosing between clams and sausage on the sexual menu. But in reality, clams vs sausage is an argument that a very, legitimately very small percentage of our population known as bisexual ever actually engages in. For the rest of us, that sexual argument is rarely ever brought front and center on a casual night of drinking. For me, dropping my pole in a decidedly gay watering hole for a drink generally results in “I got a drink” at best and “top or bottom?” in an unexpected better than best at the worst.

Having to navigate original plumbing in this fishing hole scenario made me think cats were my future.

Don’t worry, Myrtle has made me realize there’s no love to be found in a truly hopeless place.

Which is pretty much where I was earlier this year when I ended up chatting with Liz at my local caffeination station about proper gender pronoun usage. It was one of those conversations where I not only felt relief that I wasn’t the only person confused by what pronouns were socially acceptable for everyday polite usage, but also a conversation that left me thinking, “Nah, you should stay at home forever” once I realized that if a multi-unit coffee shop manager easily ten years my junior in goddamned Portland, Oregon can’t figure it out then I had – really – no hope.

Like, literally zero chance.

She was referencing customers – well, a specific customer – and in talking about them, acknowledged her confusion about correct pronoun usage.

Why?

Because she was using them – a pronoun heretofore used in a plural sense – to reference an individual. It made things…complex. And not just conversationally.

We each acknowledged the pronoun struggle by way of clarifying the actual object of her statements.

Why is this a big deal?

Well, let’s jump back to my awkward night at The Cuff. What if I happened to take my spontaneous drinking buddy’s bathroom break as a moment to confide in the bartender?

“Close me out, I think I’m gonna take him back to my place.”

Yeah, that’s how early 21st century conversation looked.

Ah, the simplicity of the aughts. We’re in the teens now, though.

Fuck simplicity.

Nowadays, I’d have to say, “Close me out, I’m taking them back to my place for a night cap.” Of course, I’m referencing an individual while using a plural pronoun…this is confusing!

Not to mention, unsafe.

Sure, we’re a decade back for this example. Nonetheless, what if this happened while I was talking to someone that the bartender knew to have a chain smoking boyfriend that never made it into the bar? I suddenly end up looking way cooler than I ever was in my original 40s. But I also end up probably equal parts likely to have an unplanned three way as I end up being rolled by an unexpected third or beaten up by a jealous, unknown boyfriend.

There’s a lot of downside to these vague, politically correct repurposing of existing pronouns.

But, by all means…let’s put personal safety aside for recreational contrariness of a sexual minority. Whatever happened to the pre-turn-of-the-century s/him for men veiled in feminine dress?

Was that so offensive, somehow?

My money is on the difficulty in creating the gender appropriate version of a pronoun for a woman out and about with her masculine flag flying. I’ve been semi-thinking about this for over a decade. What would that new pronoun be?

I think that – in a very weird turn of events in gay-phobic America in the second decade of a new millennia – that an inverse Crying Game scenario based on gender appropriate pronoun confusion would create a larger kerfluffle than Jaye Davidson could ever imagine.

That said

Of course I get a text from Diezel a few weeks ago asking if I’d ever date a FTM guy.

<eyeroll> “Why is life so hard?!?” – Me

Still, since I adore Diezel and also kinda try – as long as it doesn’t put me out too terribly much – to be a good friend, we chatted a bit about it. I knew this wasn’t one of those random questions, rather one borne of a specific circumstance – this wasn’t a random Monday Night Supper Club conversational topic like Intersectionality was – after all.

But our little chat took us through this whole decade-long arc of mine.

In mere moments…

The crux being, “What’s the point of plumbing, anyway?”

Honestly, for me, in about ten minutes…nothing. I think we get to a point where the sex is secondary to the connection.

Sexondary – Chrisism!

But as humans, as sexual beings…that secondary connection doesn’t happen until the sexual connection is either satisfied or mitigated. There’s a simple statement. Mitigating that sexual connection is simple…give it a few decades, then who cares?

BOTH OF YOU! That’s who. Since you’ve now both lived through a relationship where neither of you got your rocks off. Obviously, that scenario doesn’t necessarily or easily work. However, it might work if you’re in a post-sexual time of life.

Mind you, I’m <cough> in my sixth decade and my best friend is in his seventh…not sure when sexual compatibility moves to the back burner. But, goddamnit…I hope that this is a thing. Maybe these much maligned – at least in this blog – millennials will figure it out, this sexual conundrum.

<belly laugh interlude>

Better? Maybe you need another minute…

How’s it going? Oh, still wheezing?

Walk it off.

Focus on taking deep breaths through your nose, out through the mouth.

Sometimes Millennials figure things out!

Oh, gawd. It’s gotten worse!

I really feel like I should apologize. I’ll try and warn you before I say something like that next time.

Ultimately, I decided the friend request that motivated this whole blog-thought-exercise was a bad idea, since my desire to know him was initially sexually motivated. That seemed like a recipe for butt-hurted-ness…somehow.

So, for now? I’m leaving it with “I don’t know”. But I’m still thinking about it and trying to work my way through it correctly…

Stand by.

Lordy, I feel like this is gonna need a Part II…

TransDating: Part I

Otherwise It’s Just A Bunch of Thursdays Strung Together

So, a couple months back, I was re-watching Rumor Has It, the “sequel” to The Graduate starring Jennifer Aniston with Kevin Costner playing the “real life” version of the college student who was seduced by Shirley MacLaine’s “real life” Mrs Robinson.

Ok, that sentence made my brain hurt.

Just watch the movie if you’re at all curious. It’s worthwhile entertainment. Plus, I love overly complex Dramedy plots. This definitely fits that bill.

In the movie, Kevin Costner compares taking risks in life to fully living a life by dismissing a life without said risk as “just a bunch of Thursdays strung together”.

Ok…that’s a fair point.

However, coming from Costner’s middle-aged millionaire playboy, it is also a cautionary tale.

Take it from someone whose life is essentially a cascading series of Saturday night closing times…

I get the appeal of “taking off for Paris at a moment’s notice” or even just turning a spontaneous dinner into a night on the town and then getting a hotel room to end the night on a responsible and fun note. If you’re a millionaire playboy, I even get that dinner involving a private jet.

However, I think too much of our cultural focus as Americans is invested in the pursuit of those playboy millionaire and Mrs Robinson moments versus pursuing meaningful and lasting relationships. “Too much” being tantamount to losing focus on what a real adult relationship looks like.

So, while I can appreciate the spontaneous humor of a Dramedy like this sorta-sequel to The Graduate, I can also really own the fact that I’m the former (sans) millionaire playboy status sitting alone on his couch watching this movie alone while his murderous feline circles waiting for me to nod off so she can eat my lips. Viewed through that filter, I’d take fewer Saturday night closing times and a bunch more strung together Thursdays – although I’d prefer to spend those Thursdays with a friendlier feline.

Otherwise It’s Just A Bunch of Thursdays Strung Together

Indigo Girls

“Well, that can’t be a coincidence”, I thought as a CD title caught my eye in my local Long Beach music store. The album in question was simply titled Indigo Girls. It was on sale, so being a newly-ish minted gay, I bought the CD in a show of solidarity.

My rationale?

Cyndi Lauper talks about it in her 1983 song She Bop…

“Well, I see them every night in tight blue jeans.

On the pages of Blue Boy magazine.”

Blue Boy magazine was a glossy tribute to twink pulchritude. A gay porn magazine, in other words.

Indigo is a shade of blue.

I’ve apparently been jaded forever. But just the right amount. Maybe it’s just in my head that a gender pronoun and shade of blue equals some gay code – indeed, to hear them tell it, they went shopping through the dictionary for words that resonated…indigo struck gold for them for whatever reason – but in my music store, this CD priced at $7 resonated with me.

I’ve been a fan ever since.

I’ve owned every album.

Committed more song lyrics to memory than I thought I had the capacity for.

Lost my shit in the theater when they showed up as extras in Boys On The Side…embarrassing my friends by frantically whispering, “That’s the Indigo Girls!” in the darkened theater.

Seen them in concert in a half dozen cities on two continents..

My favorite performances being their zoo concerts. I’ve seen five zoo shows here in Portland and two more at the zoo in Seattle. The crowds at the concerts used to skew heavily lesbian, given their sexual identities. Once Lilith Fair took the music world by storm and sent female singer/songwriter types on a never before seen trajectory of success, those crowds started to straighten out.

My concert attendance started to fall off then, too. Where I’d always loved the live music experience Indigo Girls concerts provided, it was also a safe environment for me as a gay man…to flirt. Safe, because other guys there were like minded, both in bed and in musical tastes. It was as good a starting point as any for selecting a mate, right?

Never happened.

Matter of fact, the closest I got to an Indigo Girls concert love connection was attending shows for a few years with Sacha. You’d have thought that the Valentines Day show we saw at the Aladdin Theater would have put me off their concerts, but I was a super fan and after that show where Sacha and I argued through the entire thing…well, I started going mostly alone or with girlfriends.

No, what put me off was the intrusion of straight men at the shows. I’d loved the strong female vibe I encountered at their live shows. It was such a safe feeling.

A generous space.

When I looked up at one concert and saw my handful of musically like minded gay men replaced with straight guys who were canoodling through the concert until fuck time…I was done.

Until

A few years back, IG got together with a symphony.

It was crazy.

Rib and I went down to Benaroya Hall in downtown Seattle and saw this show. Indigo Girls backed by the Seattle Symphony.

By “crazy”, I mean AWESOME.

Their music lends itself to the process. It’s always featured eclectic instruments, so switching to classic orchestral instruments wasn’t a huge stretch.

The Girls are storytellers, so watching their show always included an intimate glimpse into their music and personalities. My favorite story of this night was the story about the symphony performance itself.

The symphony had been practicing their set independently. The Indigo Girls, of course, had the material down. But they never practiced together until the day of the show!

The Indigo Girls roll into town – I am pretty sure this was before Amy married a girl from Seattle, so she wasn’t a randomly occurring celebrity in town yet – do a couple numbers with the orchestra and then peace out until showtime, hoping for the best.

Why is this anything important to know?

Well, Today I Learned on the Facebook that there was a symphony album coming out. Twenty-two songs, with a video of Galileo to kick it all off.

I.

Was.

Excited.

I watched the video a couple of times. It’s not their best live performance, but I can only take their word for it when they talk about the humbling experience of putting your voice in front of a giant machine like a symphony orchestra.

Viewed through that filter? This is incredible. If nothing else, it elevates the majesty of the stories their songs have always told.

From almost 1990 to almost 2020…these ladies have been and have made an enormous impact on my life. I jokingly say that at the end of my life, my relationship with my cell phone carrier will be the enduring relationship of my lifetime.

Compared to my musical relationship with Indigo Girls (they prefer no article in their band name) and Melissa Etheridge, the more accurate statement would be that the relationship with these two acts shaped the adult gay man that I became and one of the significant relationships of my life.

Interesting recipe, equal parts family, catholic school and music subculture equals…me. What an arc it’s been for us both.

And I can’t wait to hear this album!

Indigo Girls

Why I’m Single #2

Despite what anyone says, I got no game when it comes to dating.

Zero.

When people try and tell me otherwise, I usually think something along the lines of, “Ain’t no game that I’m winning, at any rate”.

So, yesterday was a parental lunch day, which I always enjoy. Even though I see them whenever they come into town a few times a month for one appointment or another, it’s not often enough. It’s my own fault for refusing to join the family in the ‘burbs. But I just can’t see myself doing that without becoming a version of the pathetic, drunk, gay uncle of the family…mooching nightly meals off my parents and sister and overstaying my welcome in lieu of having a life of my own.

I’m not eccentric enough to pull that off.

The occasional lunch route is a much better way to go.

Plus, sometimes it evolves into a post-lunch excursion, which is also fun. My parents aren’t and weren’t hippies, so it’s ok to go with them to a secondary location.

We’ve gone on trips to the mall for exotic things like cell phone upgrades and eyeglasses. Yesterday it was to Globe Lighting since it was near The Dockside where we ate, although neither Mom-Donna nor I let Dad off the hook for making it not quite as near as it originally started out.

Mom and Dad need a new light for their foyer. Do people still call it a foyer? Anyway, it’s about a 20 foot high ceiling with a window situation up where the second floor would be if they’d built the second floor that far. This makes it a hard buy because you can’t look at a thumbnail on Amazon and click buy with any confidence.

We wandered in and neither parent dropped dead after Mom says, “Oh, that’s nice!” about the very first light on display, which earned a deadpan, “It’s $3700” from me.

To our credit, we also collectively moved deeper into the showroom, intrepid shoppers that we are.

We kibitzed around the first few vignettes seeing some fun ideas, knowing that most wouldn’t work for Mom and Dad’s situation, regardless of their appeal.

None of this is a “Why I’m Single”. Well, I dunno…”Hobbies Include Shopping w/Parents” could be, but it would be pretty far down in the list and more of an indictment of the person who deemed it a flaw, right?

We’ve been in the store about 10 minutes now and I turn to my Dad and say something like, “No one has come out from behind the desk to say hi to us yet, I’m kinda ready to go”. Honestly, it was probably way bitchier, closer to “They might sell one of those $3700 lights if they’d get off their butts and say hi to us” if I had to guess. I am my grandfather’s grandson.

As we got closer to the desk, one of the two guys hanging out behind it tosses out the failed salesperson greeting of, “Let me know if you have any questions” in a super friendly tone. Still my mental response as I’m transferring my focus from the adjacent display to the disembodied voice was, “That’s not how you do i…oh, hi sexy, tattooed ethnic salestwink!”

He adds that we should check out the open box section and I walk away with Mom grumbling something about how no one wanted to talk to us by the expensive light and “Now he’s pointing us toward the scratch and dents, what are we…poor looking?!?” while Dad went off in search of a loo. I think he was bored. Hehe.

We had a few questions, which SalesTwink answered in his really amazingly enthusiastic yet passive tone of voice, I was increasingly intrigued by this fella.

Not that it showed, I’m sure. <eye roll>

We did have a few questions about bulbs, drop lengths, what his chest piece tat looked like (maybe that one was just mine) and one specific question about chandeliers that were lowerable for easy maintenance. He cheerily answered them all, even though that last one included another indication that maybe we should know that Globe doesn’t take food stamps or bagged coin as payment when he said, “But it’s really expensive…like $1200”.

It’s like he thought we were looking at chandeliers for our two-story house with wheels.

I decided he was secretly crushing on me and throwing negs to draw me in.

Yeah, he wasn’t. Still, this homey don’t play that.

Ok, I totally do. But since this was all just an old man’s fantasy anyway, I played back.

When asking about a specific fixture, he came up with the notion to just write up a quote for me.

“Can I get your last name?” was followed by, “And your first name?”

I stressed that I was answering with my Dad’s first name. This actually made him look up at me and I swear that the look said, “C’mon buddy, help me out here!”

Nonetheless, when he asked specifically for my number I said, “Lemme look that up for you real quick”.

He “tried” a couple more times while I maintained our imaginary detente and tried to get a better look at his chest tattoo.

This behavior is a long way from from the days in Long Beach when I gave guys my bar name when they asked – Chase or Chance, depending on how I felt about the guy and whether he had one…and, yes, I am fairly pissed that my former bar names are now mainstream.

My favorite aloof bitch behavior of saying, “It’s in the book” when asked for my number was a real crowd pleaser among my friends and a real bucket of cold water for potential suitors.

Yeah, I was alive and still not dating when phone books were a thing.

The phone book response was always followed up with a pathetic “But I don’t know your name!” exclamation, which usually pissed me off because the guy was failing to realize he’d asked for my number before my name, making me feel like an object instead of a person. Not letting him off the hook for objectifying me, I’d reply, “That’s in the book, too” as I continued on with my evening.

Man, I’ve been grumpy forever.

Waaaaay before a social media apps afforded me the dubious privilege of knowing what a guy’s junk look like before he properly (virtually) introduces himself.

Anyway, this guy wasn’t doing that…he “tried” to get my name and number but I was enjoying pretending we were playing hard to get.

Maybe that’s the only game this Lost Boy knows how to win…

Anyhoo.

Not for nothing, we were able to whittle down the offerings to one definite maybe. We’ll see what happens.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go check Missed Connections

Why I’m Single #2

Let’s Bring It In

“C’mon, now. Give us a hug.” – Not Me

Ok, big news in the Silver Fox family from this past weekend: Number One Son has returned to Portland with his family after living away for just about ever. They weren’t far away, just a few hours of driving.

The Fox and Sallory, though are looking forward to having the grandbebe available in real life versus FaceTime, so it was quite an exciting weekend!

In related news, The Fox abandoned me for the weekend again to help with the move.

To make up for it, The Fox bought his son a “Welcome to the ‘Hood” beer at Big Legrowlski after they arrived in town.

Oh, and invited me along to say “Hi!”…that was the “making up for it” part.

Fortunately for me, this just happened to be the weekend that a couple of friends came into town for the weekend. That was well played, indeed, Universe.

What do these events have in common?

Beer.

Obviously.

Lots.

But, also, hugs.

Lots and unexpectedly lots of hugs.

I haven’t seen my visiting friends or The Fox’s son in person in years. But it was when I walked up to find Fox & Son outside the BL (as we call it), tossing back already in progress, that I started thinking about hugs as a communication device.

This is a big deal for me, since I don’t come from what I’d call a hug culture.

Well, apart from trees, that is.

I remember the family send off at my sister’s wedding as she and her husband took off for their honeymoon. We all stood in a receiving type line as she hugged her way to the car. It was all pretty standard rite of passage stuff until she gets to Black Sheep Bro and they hug. Gradually, he raises one leg and slowly wraps it around her hip. It was a pretty funny moment as well as a commentary on how little our family hugged, since he blurred the lines between platonic and intimate with his.

Although, I’m sure that meaning was hidden from him at the moment.

Regardless, we all got a good chuckle.

Maybe it’s just me and my shoddy memory. Then again, maybe my memory is correct this time around and my family was actually hug naive.

I don’t really care.

However, as an adult, I don’t really remember hugging to be part of a normal family greeting or farewell past the wedding hug until Sacha came into the pic. Then again, maybe we were re-traumatized by that wedding incident. Who knows?

Say what you will about Sacha – and if you ask him, I’m only ever barfing negative and embarrassing shit about him into the universe – but I remember hugging becoming a part of my family experience during his visits to our family gatherings.

It was kinda weird to see him hug my mom goodbye while I just chucked her on the shoulder with a casual, “Take care of yourself, Old Girl”. At first I managed no better than a one-armed side hug. Gradually, I was able to work my way up to a full frontal two-armed job because: growth.

So, when my Seattle friends arrived in town on Friday, it was the usual quick “gay friend w/a peck” greeting for us all and we were off. Honestly, not my favorite part of the gay culture, but given the expression I am happy bending to the cultural norms with my close friends who are so inclined. Casual acquaintances don’t get the same courtesy, they can make due with my normal not at all awkward typical greeting…

I didn’t think about those quick, off the cuff greetings that are the usual until I got to the BL yesterday and told Number One Son not to get up since he had his pup on his lap. He gave me an “oh, nonsense!” type response and got up to hug me.

That was when it dawned on me.

Well, 10 seconds later it dawned on me as I dropped my arms but couldn’t move away because I was still being hugged. The length of my embrace was just about the same amount of time it took to silently congratulate myself for not gay-smooch-greeting my best friend’s straight son – hey, nobody’s perfect. But that’s where I’m still newish to this whole hugging thing.

I’m assuming NOS was raised in a hugging environment. The Fox will confirm my suspicion soon enough. And it shows, because he’s got some serious hug game.

In my spare time while he wrapped things up, I started thinking about how sincere the greeting was. Not casual, like I’m used to with those carefree gay greetings where I find myself doling my casual greetings out only to significant people in my life.

Reread that.

How fucked up is that statement? Rationing out a throw away gesture to people I care about.

Now, back to NOS. As I’m standing there recanting my earlier silent congratulatory “attaboy” and chastising myself for blowing the appropriate hug duration. Then I relax into it and can feel the subtext of his hug.

It’s genuine.

Sincere.

Like I said, he had some good hug game and he’s happy to see me.

Me.

Miserable, old, grumpy Xtopher.

But that sharing of a physical connection as a greeting. Well, I started to ponder when that dropped out of our human or American cultural norm – I’m betting on the latter – and whether, no…how that impacted how we treat one another present day. I admit that I am one to harrumph at demonstrations of our discarding of social graces and niceties. I am also one to call myself out when maybe I’m part of the problem.

Potentially.

Now, I’m not suggesting that we spend 15 minutes hugging ourselves into and out of each family or social gathering, who has that kind of time? But let me tell you, after yesterday’s hug? I’m good for a while. I only wanted one beer as we sat chatting…but I fully admit that it could have been more a product of me being both cold – since we were sitting outside and it was 56 degrees – or my dinner nachos making me full.

But why not a combination of all three?

I like when something so seemingly innocent provides me the chance to think about how I interact with others and what I can learn from exposing myself – not like that – to other people.

It inspires me.

To be a better son.

And friend.

And person.

So, I can add Number One Son to the too short roster of truly great huggers in my life. It’s good to have him in town. I’m looking forward to seeing how The Fox adjusts to having family close by, I know his people mean a lot to him and the poor guy is usually stuck with this grumpy old bastard.

I apologize for the lack of media for your viewing pleasure in this post. I had a couple of fun hug gifs to enhance the theme, but WordPress was being wonky and would let me add them in.

And people wonder why I’m grumpy…now I need another hug.

Let’s Bring It In

Dating Into Oblivion, ep 4

I was reminded yesterday that sometimes dating is good.

We have all heard – and probably lived- the nightmare stories of dates that go awry.  The types where you walk away from the shituation thinking, “At least I’m not that person” or even, “I’m too good for them”.

This is not one of those stories.

This is one of those dating stories that reinforces ones worth.

I know, right?  Not the blog you thought you’d find words with that kind of pep, eh?

First, an admission: DIO episode 3 is conspicuously MIA.  It happened.  Also, it happened in the usual way, a one hit wonder that ended up more along the lines of Mating Into Oblivion, so I wasn’t in any big hurry to blog another notch into my bedpost.

Look at me, all humble.

Second, episode 4 is largely the same except I walked away from the encounter appreciative instead of further embittered.

Disclaimer:  That was not an admission of my specific bitterness, I still maintain that my grumpiness is just a reasonable response to the realness of our world and that I’m secretly happy…just judicious about where I expend my happy capital.

So…Felipe.

Aaah, Felipe.

We first met a few years ago – maybe just two – when I was looking at a potential business to buy down by Portland State University.  I was wandering around the South Park Blocks, contemplating.  

We literally bumped into one another.

One thing led to another and, well…that was the first time I’d had sex in student housing in a while.  I might have been MIA myself for most of the rest of the afternoon.   I felt a little like Shirley Valentine without ever having left my own town.

Naturally, nothing happened. Me, being my charming self, said “We’re never going to see each other again after today, are we?” as we lay they chatting away the golden hours.

Not showers, Diezel.

It was a good chuckle and reminded us to make the most of our fleeting opportunity.

Of course, this being my life, my snarkiness ended up just being foreshadowing in disguise.

Flash forward to the following summer.  I spot an attractive young man while walking home through my Park Blocks – the North end version – from work.  He’s wandering without purpose, distractedly sipping one of those fancy iced teas from his reusable Starbucks cup.

I’m appreciating the guy candy and simultaneously judging his coffee shop choices.  He turns and catches me and we both recognize each other.

“Well, that was awkward”, he smiles.

“Aren’t you in the wrong Park Blocks, little boy?”, I tease in return.

“We don’t like to be called ‘boy’”, he says.

“Ouch!”

“But I wouldn’t mind being your sex slave again”, he says, locking his arm in mine.

“You never got to see my apartment, did you?  How rude of me.”

We go upstairs and I put his Starbucks cup in the fridge and open a bottle of wine.  We drink a little, shower and productively waste the rest of the day.  

This isn’t a bad ritual.

The next morning, as I’m putting off showering as long as possible, I find his Starbucks cup in my fridge, rinse it out and put it away in case he ever uses my phone number.

He hadn’t given me his.

Yesterday, he did.

Getting out of the elevator, he moved to go into my old unit.

“A few things have changed, I told him”, guiding him toward my new unit.

“Anything else change that I should know about?”

“Only the obvious”, I say, patting my belly.

“More to hold onto”, he laughs.

As we’re heading into my new bedroom, he fingers the bracelet on the doorknob that the star of DIO episode 3 left behind and comments that it doesn’t seem to be my style.

“I can’t just wait around for you to text”, I tell him.  “It’s called a leave behind, and it used to be a thing”, I tell him as I shut the door.

Later, as we’re dressing – no time to waste today, I have dinner plans – he tells me that he’s kind of surprised that I managed to show him something new again.

“Experience has to happen with age, this isn’t The Matrix”, I joke.

I’m just watching him dress and can’t help but express my awe at how well he’s maintained his physique as a student.

He shows some obvious pride and brushes it off with a quick, “I really don’t even exercise, this is just from swimming.”

Our eyes lock in a dare-stare as he awaits my comment.  Channeling my inner Lucille Bluth, I withhold.

“Well, it works.”

He tells me that I really shouldn’t be self conscious and I assure him that I’m still grieving over my retirement from running.

“It’s just been one injury after another since I turned…46?  No, it was the year before.”

“You are not that old!”

“It was 46”, I decide, “And that was several years ago.  My doctor told me ‘No more running for you.  Do something else, like swimming!’”, I tell him.

“Except I never learned how”, I admit.

He laughs and then goes there.

“I thought all you people knew how to swim!”, he laughs at me.

“Oh, did you want to take your Starbucks cup from last time with you?”

“Ouch.”

I grab the cup as he retrieves his jacket and he gives me a little kiss goodbye, “I cannot believe how old you are.  I oughta card you to make sure you aren’t telling me lies!”

As I’m heading to the shower, I smile and think, “Same time next year, Felipe.”

And I can’t help but feel improved by my casual familiarity with this young man.  His playful yet naive judgments remind me that sometimes what we perceive as our own faults aren’t even visible to others…and sometimes those judgments are just acceptance wrapped up in their own disguise.

Dating Into Oblivion, ep 4

Thanks For The Self Love, Simon!

This was the worst movie.

But more on that later, and if you haven’t seen it…fair warning: Here there be spoilers.  Possibly.

In all honesty, this movie was delightful.  I quite enjoyed it.

I am quite a sucker for a coming of age story.  This one didn’t disappoint.  I had warned the Silver Fox when he expressed interest in seeing it together that I was going to be a sappy, emotional mess – I cried at Rocky – but he still wanted to see it with me.

Instead of my regular Regal theater, though, he wanted to go to the Living Room theater, which is actually closer.  Still, I considered making it a wedge issue so I could go cry into my popcorn alone, but let it lie.

Then there was timing.  He has a busy day of appointments and it’s my day off.  When I broached the subject of timing, he declared he was in as long as it started around noon.

So that happened.

There were struggles.  

An ideal family.

Teen angst and awkwardness.

All wrapped around this so personal topic of coming out.

Having been down the path where Simon strode, I felt a connection to him right away.  It was more personal by proxy than straight up vicarious.  Unlike Call Me By Your Name, where I felt more like a voyeur, this movie pulled me into it.  I felt those struggles, the awkwardness and the support.

And I felt the connection, the so tenuous bond between two gay teens as they tried to define themselves publicly by labeling what they wanted to do privately.  It all started when a boy code named Blue posted an anonymous coming out letter to the high school’s message board.

Simon takes this opportunity to reach out, also anonymously via email.

Humorously, these email exchanges spark Simon’s inner Colombo and his days are suddenly filled with both his usual straight subterfuge and now his secret mission to figure out who Blue is based on any incidental clues he could discern from their emails.  The faceless actor playing Blue morphs into whichever classmate Simon pegs as the potential Blue.

It’s optimistic agony to watch.

On the side is the accidental story of Martin, who happens upon Simon’s emails on a school computer after he forgets to log off.

“It’s cool, my brother’s gay”, Martin says before blackmailing Simon into manipulating one of his friends into going out with him.

Martin, you little piece of shit.

And Simon does it.  Poor, terrified kid.  To be threatened with outing in the crucible of high school…such heartlessness.

But, lessons are learned!

Don’t make assumptions.

Stand up for what’s right.

Be true to yourself.

Don’t sell out the people you love.

Of course, Simon has to lose it all before he learns these lessons.

Martin, an excruciatingly awkward personality…grating, as he is, courageously flames out with a grand gesture to his crush that turns into a very crushing, public failure.

Of course, to draw attention from his very public humiliation, he uncorageously posts all of Simon’s emails anonymously on the school’s message board.

Then, all the kids do what kids do and get selfish for a while, circling their wagons around Camp Me. Y’know, like American adults do…

Simon digs deep and finds his character, giving Jennifer Garner a beautiful Mom Moment.  Nothing on Michael Stulbarg’s Dad Moment in CMBYN, but lovely in its own distinct way,  Where Elio’s Dad is sensitive but stoic in Csll Me By Your Name, Simon’s Mom is more raw, you can feel her pain at the helplessness she experiences in protecting her son from this process.

After all is said and done, Simon, and the audience and the high school get the big, Blue reveal.

If this were my life, it would have been the epitome of the beautiful on the inside, fat and pimply on the outside – this is why I’m single – guy.  

But, no.  

This is Hollyweird.

Simon gets his impossibly romantic albeit excruciating An Affair to Remember/Sleepless in Seattle moment to wrap up the storyline.

Blue turns out to be the black, Jewish – and gay, as it turns out – classmate:  the triple threat guy that we all wanted him to be in the first place.

It was tres romantic.

Yes, I slow cried several times.  Thank gawd…this face doesn’t need ugly crying in public!  I’m single enough as it is.

Why was a movie I obviously enjoyed and connected to the worst movie?

A) because I said so.

B) the barely pubescent villain anonymously outs Simon after telling us he has a gay brother…what a pig-fucker.

And,

C) Simon and Blue finally meet and (hopefully) consummate their virtual affair 17 days before graduation?

No, unacceptable.

My inner romantic won’t allow for the reality that Simon and The Triple Threat will only have summer break plus 17 days before being torn apart by college.

It’s terrible.

Thanks For The Self Love, Simon!