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

Bar of the God

The New Old Lompoc has closed.

The Filipina Fox – best wishes as you enter your fifth decade, love! – checked in on the Instagram at The New Old Lompoc up on Northwest 23rd Street last month with the caption that this was the last Miser Monday. I know that the Filipina Fox and her hubby aren’t moving away, so I figured maybe The New Old Lompoc was changing up their marketing and doing away with their popular $5 beer night.

Nope.

Closing.

Forever, it seemed.

This shiny new incarnation of one of my old haunts was shutting down. Overextended and unable to keep up with rising commercial costs in hipster Portland.

Sometimes I feel like life has passed so quickly, I can’t possibly be this old already. Others, like now, it’s as if I’ve lived through a couple of ice ages.

Back before the turn of the century, Trendy-Third, as it’s referred to, was kind of at the upper fringe of Portland’s Alphabet District. The Pearl District wasn’t even a real sub-neighborhood in Portland’s NW quadrant. Twenty-Third was a burgeoning street of retail shops and restaurants that ran from B – Burnside – down to about L – Lovejoy Streets. The hospital I was born in kind of broke things up from there with J – Johnson – to V – Vaughn – kind of becoming known as the ass-end of the street. There wasn’t much going on there other than the McMenamin’s Pub and a now relocated and replaced breakfast joint called Besaw’s that kind of helped start the idiotic Portland culture of standing in line for 45 minutes for a waffle.

But at Savior Street there was a dumpy old building that was home to my favorite dive bar, The Old Lompoc.

No new here.

My Black Sheep Bro and I used to hang out there on occasion. Other times, I’d take my best friend, Becky Boobalini…go ahead, guess how she got her nickname.

Still other times?

I’d go alone.

Why?

What made this dive bar so worth the near 30 block commute from my place on the waterfront?

The bartender, of course.

Richard was one of those guys that you look at and you can pretty much figure out: notba lot of words, no ambition, no plan, not a care in the fucking world.

I adored him.

Sometimes his motorcycle would break down and that was about the most emotion you ever got out of him. Then it was like his spouse of a half century was sick. They had quite a bond, this boy and his bike. I have no clue about motorcycles, aside from the time one of my college roommates tried to teach me to ride hers. But if he was talking about it while I was bellied up to the bar, I’d listen to his bad-ass boy talk about it all night.

He had shoulder length straight brown hair that never looked clean but was never on the verge of becoming dreads, either and a face that struggled to grow hair, but was always well beyond a simple stubble. He wore straight hipped, loose fitting blue jeans and biker boots every day. A mixture of black or white undershirts rounded out his uniform, and those shirts just never quite fit his frame perfectly. He was a little too tall for the shirt to cover his waist when he squatted or bent down. And when he raised his arms to brush his hair back I’d either get a peek at his stomach or a flash of underarm…sometimes both.

<swoon>

He was an Adonis from the wrong side of the tracks, to be sure.

Yeah, Richard was what the place had going for it. For me, anyway. Some of the other clientele looked like they were waiting for a fight or for a sucker to roll to walk in…which should have been me, but I’d already paid that toll at this point a half my life ago and wasn’t afraid of them. I’d wander in in my preppy work clothes after closing my store or meet Black Sheep Bro there to shoot some pool on my day off wearing a pastel polo that treated my waist like Richard’s tee shirt treated his.

I didn’t care.

Frankly, I think I established myself as both harmless and untouchable early on by being a much better tipper than the biker crowd. Back in the twilight of the 20th century, a buck a beer was a great tip. My party always did way better than that. So I personally thought that Richard had put the word out to leave me alone. It was either that or somehow Black Sheep Bro had put out the warning…but he’s not the type that can convincingly pull off menacing.

I think it was Richard.

Still another, more ridiculous than normal part of me is screaming at the back of my mind that Richard adored me back. Even as a young man, I had old man fantasies.

My early onset lech world came crumbling down when Richard mentioned one night that he was taking a job on the other side of the river. Turns out, that old bike of his was done for and he needed a place closer to home.

It’s called Bar of the Gods, over on Hawthorne.

“That tracks”, I’d said under my breath as I slowly nodded my head and pursed my lips at the impending loss of my Adonis of a bartender.

You’ll have to come over and check it out.

I convinced myself that he was – once again – hitting on me in that confusing low key manner of his. Pleats were still in, which was good, because when he talked like this…woo, sometimes I miss being in my mid 20s.

“I hang out at the Galaxy Room every now and then”, I told him. “I’ll definitely make a point of dropping in on you!”

But inside, I was dying…crying big pathetic sloppy tears of woe.

Yeah! That’s just up the street a ways. Come see me!

It was the end of an era. I still went to The Old Lompoc with friends, but never solo after that. I started going to Embers – a gay dance bar that happened to be the closest gay bar to my apartment – for my solo drinking. My friends weren’t that upset when they ended up tagging along, it was quite a fun place. It’s here that I met Sacha, so…thanks for that, Richard.

The Old Lompoc sold a while after Richard left. The new owners made some minor changes, including the yellow paint job shown above from its earlier neglected shade of white. They started brewing their own beer under The Old Lompoc label, and this was before small batch breweries took over as a legit industry in Oregon. I’m not sure if it was a brewing mishap or something else, but allegedly, The old Old Lompoc ended up burning down at one point. At least that’s the legend.

All I know is that when I moved back to town – heck…when work started bringing me down monthly in 2014, even – The Silver Fox and his then boyfriend, Casey Adler, would take me up there to the shiny new bar in the street space of a six floor apartment building for their Miser Monday. Same place in the block as the old clapboard building, but so different.

The old Old Lompoc never did Miser Monday. Then again, I doubt beer was more than $3.00 a pint back then, either.

It was nice, this new joint; good company and good beer…it just wasn’t the same as The original Old Lompoc. After Casey and The Silver Fox split up, the Filipina Fox and her hubby moved into the building that now housed the tavern and discovered it for themselves. My life was so horrible that the universe just wouldn’t let this place that was a source of comfort for me for so long fall out of my social orbit. And it kept putting important people in my life conveniently nearby so that I’d have company that mattered to me to share new experiences with there.

I can definitely muster some gratitude for my Foxes – who are both such important pieces of my life – being the tether that kept The Lompoc, in any incarnation, in my life. Alas, now, I’ll have to journey to Portland’s fifth quadrant of town to visit my Lompoc memories since that outpost is the closest I’ll be able to come to the real deal.

Bar of the God

My Favorite Seattle Things

…all came to Portland last weekend. It was perfect.

Well, most of my favorite Seattle things. My ex, Rib, and his boyfriend were coincidentally in town in addition to the overdue but planned visit from my former Seattle neighbor and podcast co-host, D-Slice and her “new” girlfriend.

If DP and his boyfriend had come here instead of going to Greece and any of these folks had shown up carrying a Hot Mama’s pizza…that would have been perfect!

Surrealiously, who goes to Greece when you can visit Portland instead?

D-Slice had arranged an overnight visit a few weeks back, so I had taken the night off work – or what I’m calling work these days, but that’s another post – to spend some time with her. But, since I’m working graveyards, I wouldn’t get home until around 5 AM on the day of their visit.

No biggie, they were planning to arrive around 1 in the afternoon, so plenty of time for a nap before meeting up and then racing our way into the nearest gutter.

Enter, Rib.

He’d come to town, Rib-style a couple weeks ago with a text at around 8 PM saying that they were just finishing dinner in Olympia – about halfway between Portland and Shittatle – and decided to spend the night in Portland. I kind of envy that type of spontaneity, but since I was packing lunch and getting ready to hop on the bike for my evening commute, I had to tap out. This type of spur of the moment planning can also work against me since I prefer Happy Hour or afternoon drinking versus spending evenings out because bars are so people-y later. If I wasn’t due to work, I might have been finishing up around the time his text landed. <hiccup>

But, having been skunked two weeks ago, Rib gave me three days notice that he’d booked a trip with a 30 hour layover and would get in late Friday and leave early Sunday. His BF was gonna fly with him both ways. I think that’s a pretty fun piece of their relationship…kind of like spontaneously popping into town after dinner in Oly.

It makes me happy.

Anyway, Saturday morning rolls around and I get home from work, shower (very necessary), then debate just staying up for the day versus going to bed as the sun rises. With D-Slice and I, dinner and drinks can go a while. I was pretty sure I could go til 9 PM with no sleep, but not <gulp> closing time!

I popped a mellie and went to bed.

I awoke at 11 to a text from Rib. It was a picture of their Chicken Breakfast Sandwich, Chicken and Waffles and Cinnamon Roll breakfast at Tilt, right up the street from me.

Devil. Hate missing that!

Checking in, I learn they are at another Portland “in the know” experience.

Huber’s is famous for their dramatic table-side Spanish Coffees. Now they are iced, too! Well played, Huber’s…well played.

I missed two of those. But the boys were looking to meet up and get some US Open viewing in.

The request was rooftop bar. There’s only one (two, really…but one is too terribly bro-tastic to entertain) option in the Pearl, so I chased them that way while sucking down an iced coffee to shake off the lingering effects of my mellie before jumping into a pint.

They arrived just before I did, walked up to the rooftop, decided it was too douche-y and went back downstairs, heading out around the hostess station as I came in, went toward the stairs on the other side of the hostess station, got upstairs, groaned inwardly and then patted myself on my old man back for beating the youngsters to the bar.

Then I got their text.

Boo!

The important thing is that they validated my opinion of this bar. I’ve been there a dozen times in the 2-3 years it’s been open and never spent a dollar there because it’s just…so. ugh.

Back to the chase.

My whole life: chasing guys half my age.

<sigh>

I caught them a half block away and then amused myself be seeing how long I could follow them before they noticed me. Still texting them, of course.

We ended up back at Tilt because they have TVs.

And beer.

Two pitchers, some great conversation and one very upset Serena Williams later and we were caught up and ready for a D-Slice rendezvous.

It really was a nice couple of hours. Comfortably slipping between catching up, commenting on the match, chatting with the guys next to us and sniping at each other over beer choices – “anything but IPA!” – is a delightful afternoon, in my opinion.

But, why, Rib? Whyyyy would you get orders before heading to the bar only to come back with a pitcher of a craft version of Hamm’s?!?

Because he’s Rib. Naturally.

And because I’m me, he got a pitcher of IPA when I returned from the bar.

I was amazed that we had polished off two pitchers after their two Iced Spanish Coffees…oof.

But, in addition to the reminder of these young bucks’ alcohol tolerance, I’d been treated to an update of the new career as a flight attendant at the two-ish month mark. He’s been based in Salt Lake since graduating from flight attendant college, meaning he had to commute from Seattle to SLC for work. However, effective next month, he’ll be based in Seattle, so that’s a win.

There’s a vacation to Estonia next month, too. That reminds me of my relationship with Sacha. Collecting experiences and growing our world view together. It’s a priceless time in their lives and it excites me and gives me a nice nostalgic jolt.

Stories about the joys of owning a Tesla. Hilarious stories. OMG. I never realized the potential quirkiness of a car that runs like a smartphone! Just a quick for instance: the BF was telling me that he’d had to reboot his phone while driving and that had basically shut down the car’s computer for the minute it took to complete: no turn signals, no speedometer, no nothing…but you’re still driving.

Pass.

In addition to reinforcing my pedestrian lifestyle and dislike of the douche-y rooftop bars in the Pearl District, they also reconfirmed my condo-dwelling existence with a video of water bubbling up through their lawn from a burst water main. Poor kids. But, yeah…they are looking to sell the house and get into a condo or townhome situation. Thankfully, they have an Estonian getaway to look forward to after getting through their water main ordeal.

Anyway, there we were, heading off to meet up with the girls. It was a little intimidating – something I would have avoided 10 years ago…no, 20 – mixing new and old friends. Let alone my ex and my former neighbor’s new significant others. But I think that with the two newbies, there was enough history in their relationships to make meeting two to four new people comfortable. I refer to D-Slice’s GF as new, but she’s only new to me since they’ve been dating for a couple years now.

“Done with Voodoo Doughnuts, where should we meet?”

I’m heading to Big Legrowlski with the boys, you’re only a few blocks away!

“Of course, Big Legrowlski! Why did I even need to ask?”, D-Slice laughed in response.

We all had a couple of drinks at the BL and enjoyed a couple hours of lively, familiar chat together before the boys took off for their ritual Portland dinner experience at Katchka. They offered to take us along, but Russian food isn’t for everyone and it’s expensive – like last time I went it was ~$75 per person expensive – and then there’s the whole five people in a boutique restaurant makes for a crowded table…a pet peeve of mine is large groups forcing themselves into small venues. Plus, the girls and I needed some time for just us.

“I dunno, you just wanna grab a pizza, Galbs?”

Uh…definitely!

It’s all part of the podcast experience! Although, this podcast ended by 9 PM and without our signature podcast floor-aoke! I’m sure you can figure out that portmanteau…but comment if you need an explanation. I’m happy to provide in-person demonstrations, too.

We walked the few blocks between Big Legrowlski and Old Town Pizza – my all time favorite pizza joint.

We chatted the whole while. I love having people in my life – especially at this juncture in my life – that fit so comfortably. These people are my Chosen Family for a reason. Years can go by without a face to face meet up but you could not tell it from watching.

There was a “We’re vegetarians” hiccup at Old Town, but I rolled with it and in trusting their ordering skills ended up with a delightful pesto pizza that was so tasty. I’ll order it again, it’s perfectly reminiscent of Hot Mama’s Green Pizza (pictured up above). While they made the pizza order, I went to the adjacent bar and got drinks, meeting them upstairs.

We nibbled and sipped.

We talked about their new blended lives in D-Slice’s condo in Seattle.

I caught up on the band situation – D-Slice having pared her two band affiliation down to a single new band called Hourglasses. She sounds fulfilled in the new arrangement. Her GF also performs, which is how they originally met.

The surprising thing is that her GF is so stable. It’s a refreshing change over her last girlfriend who had closet mental issues…but, y’know, the crazy ones are awesome in bed.

Whuddyagunnado?

I fully expected a stable personality, no surprise there. But what did surprise me was how intelligent she was.

Well-spoken.

Confident.

Comfortable.

I was so utterly pleased for my friend. I expected her GF to be stable by comparison to her last attempt at dating, don’t get me wrong. Even though I personally don’t date because I have a knack for finding guys that are damaged – and sadly, crazy boys don’t bring it to bed like crazy girls do, in my experience – at worst and “will do” at best. I wasn’t projecting that gift of mine onto my friend. D-Slice looks to have found someone that clears that minimal bar of not being crazy by a wide friggin’ margin. Talking to her with my friend was an extension of that comfortable fit my Chosen Family and I share.

How friggin’ awesome is that?!?

As we were leaving Old Town, D-Slice pulled out her phone in the middle of the restaurant and reminded me of our podcast photo op tradition.

All of our podcasts are fantastic experiences. It’s a new and unusual sensation to both be leaving one so clear eyed and able to – y’know…walk.

I crammed a lot into my one day with these great people…I’m more than happy to have the next one not be as long in the making as this – I don’t think I’ve seen D-Slice since I was packing up my condo after renting it out for about 18 months when I moved from Seattle back to Portland. That was April of 2016!

I reckon the ball is in my court, though: the next podcast is gonna be in Seattle. It’s only fair.

My Favorite Seattle Things

Xtopher’s Rib

This here, ladies and gentlemen and all-gendered readers, is the oldest draft I presently own.

May 24, 2016…if you’re curious.

It’s been back on my mind because of my commitment to wrap up my open gay-jacent writing projects during Pride month. Also, Rib graduated Flight Attendant College last week and this was his first full week working as a Flight Attendant.

I sent him a text when I realized he had finished the 8 week course, which seemed to go on forever from where I witnessed it. I wonder what it felt like to him…although his occasional social media updates suggested he enjoyed his time there.

His response was, “Thanks, Dad!”

Classic Rib.

I should note that Rib actually provided his own blog identity after briefly wanting to change his name to Rib during Culinary School.

It is a name that has stuck with him, at least with my friends. The Silver Fox spied this restaurant on a trip through Spain and Portugal and demanded I forward it to Rib.

I initially started this post after I participated in a Writing Workshop that the original Fabulous Baker Sister had suggested to me.  It was my first such experience and I found that my ex had been a topic that came to mind during a couple of the assigned exercises.

Not knowing what to expect of the workshop, I arrived just the slightest bit anxious.  Also, the teensiest buzzed thanks to a spontaneous happy hour with my parents.  I love my mom and dad. The pre-funk helped me relax into the exercises.

I had been thinking about what – or if – to write about that experience.  It was really amazing.  There were four exercises we did and two of them had ended up involving the best of my ex boyfriends.  Later in this same week, he moved into his first home with his partner, so he’d kind of been center stage in my consciousness for several days around the week of the workshop.

Regardless of how readily he sprung to mind after the prompts given at the Writing Workshop, the blog entry kind of stalled.

Limbo.

Truth be told, I had actually started this draft the year before the date I quoted earlier…that was just the most recent edit.

The summer before, Rib and his boyfriend had come down for a spontaneous visit. I think it was near the end of Summer. They live in Seattle and had been to dinner at one of Rib’s former classmates from Culinary School. She lived in Olympia and when I got the call, he said that they had decided to pop down to Portland since they were so close.

Ok

Seriously, though, that type of spontaneity in a relationship is just fun.

They checked into their hotel and then popped over for a nightcap. We may have gone out for a Spanish Coffee at Huber’s that night because that’s what you do with out of town guests in Portland.

It was a fun evening, connecting with them as an actual couple, like adults. I admit that when we all lived in Seattle and ended up together, I’d recreationally by the boyfriend shots just because I knew how he suffered the next day.

To his credit, he was at least a willing sport, borderline good sport about it.

The day after their surprise visit, we went wine tasting in the valley. They had just bought a humongous orange Jeep. I was kind of jealous, never having really gotten over getting rid of my own Jeep at Sacha’s urging back in ’02. He hated it, granted it was a piece of shit…but the boys’ Jeep was certainly enviable.

We hit three different wineries and had a wonderful afternoon tasting at the different estates, two of which were simply breathtaking. I can’t believe I don’t have pics from that day at my fingertips…checkout my last post for a little insight as to how those might have gone missing.

Anyway, after the Writing Workshop, I was all jazzed up to share my Rib relationship story. Then I saw an article in the Huffington Post suggesting that people who were friends with their exes were either narcissists or psychopaths.

Great.

Here I was, 45-plus years on, feeling proud to finally have an ex that I was able to remain friends with. I’m off brand for friendship with Sacha. The Mulligan has the bad manners to die.

So, yeah, no pressure, Xtopher…but I felt Rib was my one last shot at exercising the concept of actually maintaining a post-relationship relationship with an ex.

You see, here’s the deal, Rib and I were never supposed to date, anyway.

We’d met in a bar one night when I wandered out for a solo beer in Seattle, as was my weekday ritual. There was this ginger nugget of a guy siting at the corner, right near where I ordered my beer.

We chatted while I waited to be served, so I ended up sitting next to him. Rib was sitting around the corner of the bar and occasionally interjected during our conversation.

Sassy.

He eventually drove the other guy away. As I watched him leave, I realized that he was actually meeting the bartender, Rock, at the door and they left together.

Glad I could help pass the time. Hehe.

Then it was just Rib and me. He’d still blurt out random conversation as I sipped. Eventually, I realized that hidden by his hedgehog hairstyle were earbuds.

“You’re listening to your own music?!?”, I said realizing now why his additions to my earlier conversation had seemed so erratic, they had come as he overheard our conversation between songs.

Seems he didn’t appreciate the bar’s music. When I asked why he didn’t go to a bar that was more his style, he admitted that the bartender gave him free drinks here.

“The one that just left with the guy I was talking to?”

We chatted a little more, learning that he’d only been in town for a few weeks, having moved from SoCal. He liked it ok, but had not yet adjusted to how hilly it was, gesturing to his feet, where there was a large pair of high laced combat style boots.

Apparently, they were pretty heavy to lug around, especially after a few drinks. He admitted to having fallen just recently and blamed the terrain.

It was cute.

He ended up coming home with me that night – nothing happened, you pervs! I’d gotten him – with Rock’s help – a little too relaxed to safely haul his boots home.

Interestingly, and DP will tell me that he told me so, he never really left after that first night. DP’s relationship philosophy, as he’d described it to me once, was that you meet someone and take them home…they either never leave or you never see them again.

It’s admittedly jaded, but also truer than I’d like to admit.

However, while Rib was right up my alley as far as my tastes in guys go; I wasn’t ready to blindly accept DP’s sage dating advice at face value.

Over the coming days, I learned that Rib had chosen Seattle because his sister lived here and he’d wanted to get out of his mom’s house and onto his own two feet without totally forfeiting an actual safety net.

Made sense.

In SoCal, he’d gone to college for a while and then dropped out and moved back into his mom’s house. For the time before deciding to move, he’d been taking care of the family cats and cooking meals for his mom while she worked.

I asked what he was doing since getting to Seattle.

“Oh, y’know…taking care of my sister’s dog while she works and cooking dinner for her”

“Good thing you got out from under your mom’s skirts”, I joked.

Obviously, we weren’t a good match. I’m grumpy old me and he was just this endearing Lost Boy. I told him that and when he asked why, I told him that I expected a boyfriend to have a job.

Dating younger guys, I hardly expected them to have similar professional accomplishments, but I expected them to at least be working toward something.

Thinking that was that, I was surprised that he went out and got an interview at a local candy shop-slash-tourist trap.

Go, Rib!

Ok, that was kind of impressive and before you know it, we’re six months in.

It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. We’d have talks about serious stuff – how to continue his upward trajectory toward being an adult – that would end in big, slow rolling tears. It was strange to navigate those talks. They usually started with a Rib mini-tantrum, something like him hating his job.

He’d just blurt out, “I hate it! I’m quitting!”

I’d counter with something like what he hated about it and he’d yell “Everything!” or complain that he didn’t get paid enough for what they expected him to do. He’d eventually settle down and pull his knees up to his chin as he gained an understanding of what he was struggling with, arriving at the realization that he needed to be able to stick it out at a job he “hated” until he found something else.

He didn’t like it, but he understood it.

My rule of thumb when dating younger guys has always been “leave ’em better than you found ’em”. Rib surprised me by being pretty open to the perspective I had to offer – despite occasional tough conversations like I described above – when he encountered challenges, either at work or just in getting his feet under him in a new city.

Like I said, he’d grown frustrated with his job and somehow – I think through another co-worker – gotten hooked up as waitstaff for the private club behind my condo.

It was a challenging job jump because it was a pretty exclusive, high touch club. But he took to it.

He really got excited about the environment, from learning about high end wine to serving in a fine dining environment.

At some point in those first years we were together, education came up. I’m not sure how. Probably, I was a bossy jerk about him completing a degree.

Given his enthusiasm for cooking – for his mom, then his sister and now me – and food in general from his experience at the club, he was thinking about Culinary School.

It made sense, too. The boy was a complete geek whenever he came to my kitchen store. His passion and enthusiasm were obvious and my team loved seeing him pop into the shop to explore or take a class. Soon enough, we were having Thanksgiving dinners at the condo with his mom and aunts visiting from SoCal and the Santa Clara Pueblo in New Mexico.

Rib actually managed to complete his culinary degree debt free because of his Native American heritage. It was a big plus for him an took a lot of the stress out of his decision to finish his education.

His graduation was a big deal, as it should be. It was shortly after his Chef of the Day project. His mom came up from SoCal, his Seattle-sister was there, obviously, and my parents and sister drove up from Portland in what turned out to be the winter storm of the century. It had turned their three to four hour drive into a nine-plus hour affair.

Luckily, Rib went all out for his CoD and the menu included baby octopus. Prepared as obvious octopus. Everyone forgot the travel journey and seems to only remember that. But in having so much of our respective families present, it really felt like a family affair.

After graduation, he floundered. What he’d realized in college was that he didn’t want to be a cook.

Ok

When pressed during conversations about it, he’d articulate how he wanted to use his education to be able to design menus, but he was getting more and more interested in the front of the house experience he was picking up at the club.

His boss at the club ended up connecting him to a restaurant in Pike Place Market. It was fine dining and Rib was pretty excited about the change. It ended up being a good change for him. He was working part time hours and with the tips he earned he was making high $40k a year.

Waiting tables.

I was a little jealous!

This Lost Boy that I’d picked up in a bar a scant few years earlier that had had no job or inclination was now a college grad and making a respectable living for himself.

I was proud of him.

Even not realizing what was ahead for us.

Oooooh, foreshadowing!

So…right, even with all this growth, the boy still had quite a bratty streak in him. It was a constant in his personality and part of what I loved about him, but occasionally he’d take it too far.

Frequently, we’d be out with friends and – depending on the situation – he’d get bored because my friends did boring “old people” stuff and he wanted to dance and carry on or we’d do stuff with his friend and I was too much of an “Oldie Hawn”. We each enjoyed the others friends, but when he wasn’t into it, it could really get stressful.

It was on one of these nights out, us and DP, where I don’t remember what exactly was going on, but he wasn’t enjoying it.

Oddly, we were headed to his favorite late night food spot for some pozole, but he was still not having it. He was literally dragging his feet and bitching from a half a block behind us about how lame we were.

It was then that I realized that for all of his growth, this was as far as he was going to grow with me. I sent him home and went to dinner with DP.

I don’t know what he did when he left, but he was home when I got there, sitting on the floor somewhere between a pout and guilt. I told him that his behavior was unacceptable.

He knew, he flashed a couple of those big, sad, trauma tears and I told him we should break up. I could see that he was maxed out on growth, having taken a big step in moving from SoCal to Seattle, but he hadn’t really given up the security of having someone else in his move from Mom to sister to me. My thinking was that until he had to really bear the burden of his own responsibilities, this was as close as he was going to come to becoming his own man.

It was a super hard conversation. Flashing through my mind as it was happening was another conversation. We’d run into a friend of mine at The Cuff and he was chiding me about Rib being so young. This was early in our relationship, they were just meeting for the first time. In response to his trading, I’d said, “What? He’ll be 30 before I turn 50!”

It earned me a laugh and an eye roll at the time, but in breaking up with Rib it was playing in my mind as I admitted to myself that this could be the last relationship of my life.

I know…so dramatic.

Still, I knew that Rib would eventually get bored stagnating in this almost state. He’d come to this same conclusion eventually, then he’d leave me. Whether it was six months or six years later, I was certain it would happen and then I’d resent him. I’d react indignantly and overemphasize the sacrifice of my leveraged happiness that I’d made by selfishly staying with him.

Y’know, like I did with Sacha.

It took me a long time to get over my anger at him for leaving me. Part of that was the way that he’d left me, the other part was jealousy that he’d had the balls to leave me when I’d stayed with him out of fear of being single at the time.

So, I knew what I was talking about in this situation.

We set up a timeline for finding him his own place and within a few weeks, he was looking at furniture and settling in. I sent a lot of good kitchen stuff with him that we’d accumulated over the years together, but I knew that he’d get better use out of it than me.

His sister – unhelpfully – set him up on a date about three weeks after he moved out. She’s a serial dater, so I wasn’t surprised. However, I thought he really needed time to get to know himself as an individual before really dating again.

That disagreement – and Rib’s subsequent sudden new boyfriend – caused me to lay down a six month embargo on contact.

I needed time to heal and adjust myself.

Well, not “adjust myself”…y’know, just get an answer to “Who is single Xtopher?”

At the end of that timeframe, we found ourselves drawn together on occasion. Sometimes randomly, running into each other at a bar, cue shots for the boyfriend! Others, I’d get a request for a solo lunch date and we’d talk about struggles: work, boyfriend, what have you.

The boys still come to town – not enough in my opinion – and I’m happy to let them treat me to a $300 dinner…has anyone seen my pride? Usually, though, I see them pop up on social media. It’s a pleasant vicarious surprise, seeing them post from Flushing Meadows or Australia as they attend an Open. A sudden trip to Germany with the fam for Oktoberfest.

I’m glad to see him thriving with his new boyfriend. Now, particularly seeing him become a flight attendant after trying to get into the program for three years. That was something that came up seemingly out of nowhere, but he didn’t let the first two experiences discourage him.

And now he’s done it.

Anyway, I can’t think of a better way to wrap up Pride month than completing a project about a person I was lucky enough to spend some time with and am privileged enough to still be a part of his life, albeit just as a friendly little narcissistic and/or psychopathic sliver.

Right, HuffPo?

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go be alone forever.

<dramatic sniff>

Xtopher’s Rib

My So-Called Sunny Disposition

A funny thing happened on the way to the cafe today.

I demotivated myself.

Again.

AKA: day two…

Earlier this week, I publicly announced my June writing goal of completing my gay themed drafts prior to the end of Pride Month. Yesterday, I gave myself a pass on the four drafts remaining. That pass cut the four to two, because two were really just situationally gay.

And one of those is a really daunting topic.

I don’t need that kind of pressure.

So, this morning, on the way to the cafe, I’m looking at the last two drafts and the last two days of June.

Both of these drafts are about exes. Exes that I still cared about when I ended the relationships.

Y’know, chipper shit.

This morning, my thought was, “Damn. This shit is heavy. If I write about this, I’m likely gonna be down for the day. Maybe I should just worry about one and forget the other…both drafts are at least a year old, anyway.”

This is no recipe for success, folks.

I grab my coffee and instead of sitting down and tapping something out on my phone, I start reading the blogs I follow. Occasionally, I see a theme that motivates me.

This was the case today as well. But then I got all Dad on myself and said no new entries until you finish a draft.

The writer equivalent of “no dessert until you finish your veggies”.

Then I saw this entry from Pace Mind Blog

and clicked on over to give it a read. I’m not gonna lie, he titled his post “Another Award” and it made me chuckle because as much as getting nominated by a fellow writer is motivating, however, it can feel a little

if you know what I mean.

There I was reading about how being nominated for this made him feel like he’s not putting negative content out there since the purpose of this award is to recognize people who inspire and spread positivity…my thought?

There’s no way in hell that I’m getting this nomination!

Imagine my surprise…

But, I’ll confess that it was a pleasant – albeit unexpected – surprise, so, thanks Pacey! Click on the link above to check out his blog. I enjoy living his Aussie life vicariously though his posts.

Naturally, I’m going to use this as a procrastinating device!

Nonono. I’ll write more later, this will just get my writing juices flowing…but first: rules!

Rules, Rules, Rules!

1. Thank the blogger who nominated you and link back to their blog ✅

2. Answer the questions the blogger asked you – keep reading

3. Nominate new blogs and write them new questions – patience, paduan

4. List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award in your post ✅

See? Already halfway done!

Ready? Here we go! And I really like Pacey’s questions, so I’m actually excited to answer!

1. Gay man to Gay man (and the world) favourite Ru Paul Queen?….Wait do you even watch drag race?

I’m way too grumpy for that stuff! And I’m a terrible gay, I know.

I have actually never even seen a full episode of RPDR, can you believe that?

I bet you can.

I have been present in a bar long enough to finish my drink after they started screening the current weekly episode. Does that count?

It’s a little trope-y, but my take on this is a little derivative of the old Groucho Marx quote about not wanting to be a member of any club that would have me as a member. Basically, every other gay person is losing their shit over it, so I want nothing to do with it.

It’s weird, since I do enjoy being around Drag Queens so much.

Upside? I had no desire or care to know what the hell the whole “Vanjie” thing was. I was amused at how crazy it seemed to be making people, though.

2. Why so grumpy?

I wear this adjective like a mantle of pride.

Truth be told, though? I think I’m pretty happy.

I get grumpy when people are rude or even careless about their role in a society.

Just this morning, as I approached the cafe, I had to make a decision about manners. There was a woman approaching the door from the opposite direction. She was a little closer, but I naturally move a little faster than she due to my height.

In my mind, I see my grandmother, standing there waiting for me to open the door for her. I decide that even if I step up my pace a bit, best case is we’ll arrive at the door at the same time.

A) This will allow me to open the door for her, but it opens in the direction she is approaching from, so that would actually be an inconvenience for her.

B) It’s gonna look like I was trying to beat her to get into the cafe first.

So I end up hanging back.

Yes, I’m a little neurotic.

No, this isn’t sexist, I’d have had the exact same dilemma if there was a guy approaching the door.

She looks right at me as she opens the door just enough to squeeze through and let’s it close on me.

Ok

Inside, she peels off to the left instead of heading straight for the counter. I figure she’s looking for someone or staking out seating before she orders and continue on. Then she abruptly changes course toward the counter so I roll my eyes and slow down – again, trying to not appear like I’m jockeying for position in line.

She passes the counter and I realize she’d been looking for the restrooms as she tries the door and I think, “You’re gonna need a key”…which is conveniently available from the barista station. She grabbed it without acknowledging the staff standing nearby and went off down the hall.

Basically, all of this awkward dancing I did with this woman was so she could deuce out without buying anything. In and of itself, that bugs me – using a business’ bathroom without patronizing the business itself. However, the oblivious manner in which she interacted with myself and the barista just rankled me.

I’m actually trying to work on my reaction to people like this. I remind myself that I don’t know her situation and try to assuage my frustration and head off my judgment.

Still…can’t you even give a sheepish “Hi” to the barista who’s gonna end up cleaning the bathroom? I know you’re doing a pee-pee dance, we’ve all been there, can’t an American ego handle this scenario? After all, we all start off learning the same thing at pre-school story time:

So chill out.

3. Since you are looking for work, if you could do any job what would it be?

Oof. This is a great question! I’ve been in retail my entire adult life, see also: Why so grumpy

Not only is retail comfortable to me because I know the expectations so well, but I also love the social opportunity that the nature of the environment provides.

On top of that, the chaos the job provides is energizing. I can get to work each day with a mental list of what needs to be accomplished that day. My expectation is that that to-do list goes out the window the first time I pick up the phone or as soon as I open the door. Taking care of my customers’ needs and still accomplishing my deliverables for the day is a fun challenge.

Frustrating as it can be, it’s hard to imagine a job without that chaotic nature. It allows me to leave with a sense of satisfaction every day that is more rewarding than the validation payday provides every two weeks.

That said, I’ve tried to escape the retail grind a couple of times in my career. Nothing fulfills me the same way.

I think writing would.

I started this blog to develop my writer’s voice. I’ve learned that my inner writer has quite a foul mouth. It’s hard to monetize that as a copy writer without a filter, so that can limit paid writing opportunities.

As far as writing a novel?

Well, that doesn’t really pay that well, but I’d still like to do it. I’m just struggling with the reality that my style lends itself to more of a David Sedaris type monologist book and I’d rather emulate a serial type style like one of my writing heroes, Armistead Maupin.

It’ll happen…just not in a “this is my job” type of way.

4. Would you ever be someones sugar daddy? would you ever have a sugar daddy?

Right now, I could use a Sugar Daddy.

Certainly, I’ve played a role as a daddy-type in my dating life, it’s the nature of being attracted to younger guys.

However, admitting that I’m attracted to younger guys – despite their inadvertent behavioral attempts to make themselves supremely unattractive to me – rules out having a Sugar Daddy myself. For the same reason that I won’t be someone’s Sugar Daddy: respect.

When I’m dating someone, I need to be able to respect myself and my boyfriend as an equal partner in the relationship. Dating someone for what they can provide financially or for the lifestyle upgrade goes against my ethical grain.

I’m single because there aren’t a lot of guys out there that see me beyond that filter.

Also, because the last guy that could see me beyond that filter proved out the other potential of inter generational dating: staying with me was beginning to retard his development into a fully functional adult.

My golden rule for dating younger guys? Leave ’em better than I found ’em.

He’s actually the subject of one of the two drafts that I mentioned earlier, so you may be reading more about that situation soonly

5. Where in the world have you travelled? and where do you still want to travel to?

Last part first: Australia has been on my bucket list since before the turn of the century. I was actually planning a tenth anniversary trip with Sacha, but we crapped out at the six year mark. Since then, it’s lost its luster to some degree, but I’m planning to reclaim the trip on an individual basis at some point in the next decade!

I’ve been to a good chunk of Europe, but Spain and Portugal are still on my list. I’d like to go back to Italy for a month-long immersion, but I think that’s a post-60s trip. Oddly, the eastern parts of Europe have never really had much of a pull for me.

My first trip off the North American continent was to Northern Africa, mainly Egypt. I think there’s still some exploring to do in that region, but I definitely want to experience South Africa before I die. Or after, maybe disembodied travel is cheaper!

Now…the hard part, paying it forward. Who to nominate…

What makes this hard isn’t just a matter of who to nominate. Every blog I follow, I enjoy. Choosing would be easy through that filter. The tough thing is, who would appreciate it? I joke about these awards being “Everybody Gets a Trophy” affairs and call them Montessori Report Cards, but they do mean something to me…they motivate me to keep going when the goals I set for myself are difficult to achieve or when my own inertia is proving difficult to overcome.

That said, I think I’m passing the baton to Ben over at My Casual Trainwreck Life because – like this peer wreckognition type of award, reading his blog can motivate me. We’re a little similar and a little dis. I think he’s a better writer than I am, simply because he seems more disciplined in his style. That makes his writing slightly aspirational to me because it makes me think about how I write and whether I can or should look for the next evolution of my style.

Check him out.

Here are my questions for him, if he chooses to play along:

1) Give us a quick bio to introduce yourself to us. Mother’s maiden name, social security number…just the basics.

2) What’s your end game as a writer, do you have writing aspirations beyond the blog?

3) How do you motivate yourself to produce content?

4) Tell us an embarrassing story.

And…

5) I liked Pacey’s question about where I’ve traveled and where I still want to go, so I’m ripping that one off for you, too!

Thanks, again, Pacey for the nod.

As always, if you like what you see, let me know with a comment or just feel free to share on your own platform.

Cher-ing is caring, as they say!

My So-Called Sunny Disposition

TIL #6: Jenny Protocol

So, this is ideally a series about things I learn from my older friends as I am initiated into the Golden Oldies Club.

Silver Nuggets, as Little Buddy likes to call them.

But yesterday I had a chance to give back!

I was out to coffee with the Silver Fox and I told him I needed toothpaste, so we swung into the RiteAid so I could pick some up on the way back. He decided to impulse buy some flossers and we were off to the checkout.

Like many stores, the RiteAid has a loyalty program. You earn points for every dollar you spend and they repay you with a discount on your purchases, based on your level of spending.

Now, it’s totally not important, but I feel like I have this unreasonable point of pride around being in the “gold” reward level. All this really means is that I save 20% on my purchases.

And that I spend a lot of money at the RiteAid.

Getting old ain’t cheap, my prescriptions are expensive.

So, I go to the register with my toothpaste while The Fox skulks around being next in line. I save my $1.20-something and pay as The Fox joins me for his turn. The cashier asks if he’s a rewards member and he admits that he isn’t.

Like with social media, rewards programs go into The Fox’s “Fer Suckas” bucket and he steers clear of them.

He’s not opposed to a punch card, but nothing that requires an email or phone number.

Probably not a bad idea, given how grumpy I get deleting marketing emails from everyone in the Northern Hemisphere.

But

There’s a workaround.

Or two…

Take grocery stores. At the Safeway or Fred Meyers, for instance. Sacha and I were rewards members at both places. When he bailed, I continued to use the landline number at our house to get those discounts even though the programs were in his name.

There wasn’t a Safeway near me when I moved to Shittatle and there was only one distant Freddy’s. Interestingly, Fred Meyer is a Kroger subsidiary, but their reward programs aren’t linked so I just signed up for my own Kroger reward account.

Being back in Portland now, I go to the nearby Safeway to drop my recyclables every couple weeks and will pick up cat food and La Croix and whatever I might need for a dinner or two…I still plug in my old landline number from my Sacha days and badaboom-badabing…I get the club member pricing.

Sacha can have the fuel perk, I don’t need it.

He says I’m mean to him.

Pish.

On the other hand, that whole Kroger thing worked against me when I moved back to town, because their system doesn’t recognize my landline. Either it was inactive too long and auto-purged from the system or we used Sacha’s cell number for the membership. Hey, I’m lucky to remember my landline from 15 years ago, don’t expect me to remember my ex’s old phone number. It’s all I can do to ignore his texts versus blocking the number.

Regardless, in this instance I simply activated the Jenny Protocol.

Yup, when I go to a store where I don’t have a rewards account – assuming I don’t want one, either – I simply type in my local 503 area code followed by Jenny’s number…867-5309.

Works.

Every.

Damn.

Time.

So, there I was explaining this to The Fox in the RiteAid while the cashier stared at me in slack-jawed amazement. I was getting a good chuckle over it until I realized he just wanted me to put my number in to keep the line moving…

TIL #6: Jenny Protocol

The Great Job Hunt 3.1

PaMiDa Edition

I spend a lot of time reflecting on my past. Because: neurotic. But I also spend a lot of time recently wondering if this is what it’s like from here on out.

Reliving the glory days.

Although, humorous as my stories can be, surely one life shouldn’t provide so much schadenfreude. That being the case, perhaps gory days is a better way to describe my life of one bumbling mishap after another.

It really has been fun being me, so I hope there are new misadventures in store for me yet!

Maybe I’m just noticing my tendency to reflect more with my extra free time since quitting my job. When I go back to work, things might change.

Until then, maybe it’s an escape? Don’t bother asking what. Before I get into the fun stories from this PaMiDa outfit, I’ll tell ya what from what I require escape:

1) Honestly, I think I give a job search in retail management the attention it deserves. There aren’t a lot of appropriate jobs out there. As a matter of fact, many of the positions I’m interested in end up frustrating me. Sometimes the posts are for companies I’d like to work for that don’t actually have the opening for which they are advertising. Whether this is the unlikely scenario of looking to fill a job before “at willing” the person currently in the job or just a – more likely – way to pad their EEOC coffers, just in case. Since I have never gotten a call from someone that wanted to talk to me about a job I applied for six months earlier, I’m thinking that whole “keep your Application on file for future openings” schtick is a bunch of BS and don’t see the value of this practice…other than to tick me off.

Another frustrating thing about my current search is employers demonstrating their incompetence up front. That’s really kind of them, but frustrating since I see a position I’m qualified for with a company I’d like to work for and then I see something like this when I click on the link to apply

or, better yet, a link to a job in another city instead of a post for the specific city where this job search is occurring. I know it’s hard to believe, but I live in Portland, Oregon and would rather not move to Auburn-friggin’-Washington to work. Little known fact, the landfill in Auburn gives the place an aroma that makes me wish I was at a dinner party with rotting corpses, versus anywhere near that dump of a city.

One of the most aggravating things about being unemployed – even by choice – is seeing incompetent people with jobs that they do poorly.

2) Thinking about funny good times from “the old days” is an effective offset from the uglier parts of your past.

Case in pointing saw this as I was heading to bed the other night.

Sacha has never liked the idea that he gets mentioned in my blog occasionally.

At first, I was surprised he read the damn thing since we aren’t in contact these days. He insists that our mutual friends inform him about his occasional mentions. This kinda tracks, since he takes exception to entries he appears in in what I would consider a positive manner.

Because it’s not like our relationship was six years of bad times, I challenged his assertion to react based on what our mutual friends were allegedly telling him about his starring role in the blog with the idea that if they were feeding him negative information, maybe they weren’t as good a friend as he was thinking…cuz like I said, I don’t set out to write negatively about him. Today aside, virtually all of his mentions are from over a decade ago and from my perspective not terrible.

And he still cares…or our mutual friends do, as he’d have me believe.

But, I could see him having a reasonable objection to his original blog name since it was quasi unflattering…unless you actually read the blog post, then it’s just awkwardly cheeky. Still, to spare his ego – er, feelings – I shortened his blog name to Sacha as a sort of acronym for his original moniker.

Plus, Sacha is a lot easier on my fingertips.

He tried commenting early on in my blog some petulant BS, but he wasn’t a wordpresser, so publishing his comment would have ruined his anonymity by broadcasting his email – and, ergo his name – to any reader who cared to check my comment threads. I explained this to him in a text after he accused me of being “too scared” to post his comment but just got more bluster for my attempt to shield his identity from his own spin control.

His comment the other day was breathtaking. It takes a special kind of bastard to kick a guy when he’s down – he was commenting on my entry about basically being punished at my last job for being a whistleblower – but add to that the extra layer of bother he went to by creating a wordpress profile just to be able to make a petty, vitriolic comment “anonymously”.

And that’s all I’m saying about that, because I try to keep my stories about him and our relationship about that time in my life. I know nothing about his present day life, aside from these occasional and unwelcomed glimpses of his present day efforts at charm.

I dunno…maybe if I’d changed his blog name to Huge Dick, he’d have been happier. He was generally pretty proud of being a show-er. Maybe that hint at flattery would have blinded him to the double entendres. Or maybe apologizing for his original moniker – Sucks At Cheating Ex – since he seemingly didn’t get the cheeky entendres behind that name.

<ahem>

Let me try that now…Sacha, you don’t suck at cheating.

What kind of sociopath is proud of that skill? If any of us are going to cheat, I would hope we suck at it just to speed shit along.

I guess I did have a little more to say about that…

However, onto the fun stuff!

I was originally wanting to share some memories of one of my first jobs.

That was the point of this entry, although a little context had seemed appropriate to demonstrate the allure of my visit to Memory Ln.

I had had jobs before, picking berries in the summer, delivering papers, shagging balls – shut up, Diezel – at a driving range – still shut up, Diezel – but my first real job was at a place called PaMiDa.

I started working here shortly after my family moved to Atchison, Kansas. PaMiDa is/was a big box discount retailer, much like Target or Walmart and it was close enough to home at the time to walk to, a perfect commute for me in my sophomore – no, wait…junior? – year of high school, since I didn’t always have wheels at my disposal.

Legend had it that the owner had named the outfit after his three kids, Pat, Mike and Dan…Dave? It’s been 35 years, I forget.

My department manager there was a nice enough curmudgeonly greaseball of a guy named Doug.

(Hidden irony)

Hygiene was not high on his daily to do list. I could usually depend on seeing him in the same short sleeve button down shirt with pit stains and ring around the collar, black clip on tie and his red PaMiDa vest lurking around the department. I say lurking, but he was usually making the rounds, creating a to do list for us as he monitored the goings on with his trademark heavy lidded, shifty gaze. For his caricature-making hygiene and habits, he was a pretty fair and respectful supervisor. I have learned through many years of trials and tribulations that there are worse bosses.

Atchison wasn’t the least diverse of towns, but it certainly wasn’t in any danger of being called a melting pot. I had one black co-worker, Sheila, who lived on the other side of Division St, if you get my drift.

I loved her!

She had one of these full body laughs that no one could not enjoy. She was the jocular offset personality to Doug’s outward schlub. I was glad she was in my department but simultaneously sad, since it meant we usually worked opposite shifts and I didn’t get to see her much.

Which is why she was probably caught off guard when I walked around the corner of the aisle she was working in to find her muttering to herself. I’d heard Doug’s voice and needed him for some reason or another.

Sheila, for her part, did not. At least that’s how it seemed since she was muttering something about how he should get his “day old sex smelling ass” out of her face as he left from the other end of the aisle.

That’s certainly a graphic statement.

She turned to me as I asked her what she’d said, thinking she was talking to me. I was a teenager, I assumed everything was about me.

(And still may…)

When she realized she was caught, she laughed one of her longer full body laughs. It was so loud that I think it may still be echoing though the building. She nearly fell off the ladder she was working on as she tried to dismount it, still laughing. She supported herself on my shoulder, holding herself up as she doubled over…still laughing.

As she began to regain control, she wiped away tears, apologized for speaking her thoughts aloud and said, “I’m so embarrassed. If I was white, I’d be red right now!” in a demonstration of self-effacing reverse racist humor that made me laugh nervously at the time.

Now? I think it’s hilarious. I wish I’d understood the humor as well at the time so I could have enjoyed the moment less awkwardly with her, but two people laughing uncontrollably at our department manager’s expense would have just drawn unnecessary attention.

Oh, Shiela…

While I am pretty sure that the store manager interviewed and hired me, Doug introduced me to him during my store tour on the first day of work. It was something along the mumbled lines of, “This is Mr Stickler, the store manager…” as we were speeding by on our little tour.

Stickler.

I was young enough – and naive enough – to accept what my ears told my brain at face value. Therefore, despite what my eyes screamed at me on the daily, I spent the next three months greeting and responding to him with a “Good morning” or “Hi!” or a simple, “Yes, sir”, Mr Stickler.

Much to the terror or utter amusement of my co-workers and head scratching chagrin of my store manager, Mr Strickler.

Missed it by one very important letter.

Nonetheless, fate placed him right in front of me to enjoy the look on my embarrassed teenage face when that omitted “r” finally clicked into place for me.

I was white, so I was red!

Fate being a bitch, this had to occur right after my closest encounter with a tornado. Of course, that obviously turned out ok for me, but had the tornado happened after my embarrassing realization, I might have hoped for a more shituationally merciful outcome.

Of course, I’m happy with the way things turned out…near miss with a funnel cloud. At the time, i has seen several tornadoes. However, I’d never really seen a funnel cloud or understood its connection to a tornado, so this was quite the educational moment for me…

I was covering a break at the front registers and was staring hypnotically at the parking lot out of the 60-feet of plate glass windows when the associate returned. Following my gaze skyward to the gray and black clouds coalescing into a shallow swirl over our store parking lot, she advised that probably we should move away from the window. This happened just about the time the city’s tornado warning sirens went off and other associates ran to the front from their respective departments.

We mostly ended up watching the slow moving swirl pass over our parking lot like a bunch of Darwin Award honorable mentions. We were ready to duck behind the cash wraps, should the funnel look like it was going to touch down. For all the good that would do.

At some point in my senior year, Mr Strickler quit. He had apparently bought the…I wanna say, Taco Time franchise across the street from us and was working there as an owner/operator. I didn’t understand going from working in a store like PaMiDa to fast food, even if you were the owner.

At the time, PaMiDa was the best job in the world! Definitely gets a good bit of credit for me starting down my retail career path. Of course, at the time I was gonna go to college and then law school, so the wrap lawyers had in the 80s for being basic shit-heel people didn’t hurt the eventual lure of retail’s sense of immediate career gratification…

The Great Job Hunt 3.1