Sing What, Now?

I’ve always been amused at the way my mind will fill in the blanks with song lyrics. Understandably so, since musicians are not always the easiest folks to <ahem> understand.

Bob Dylan, anyone?

The Boss is no slouch, either, when it comes to swallowing a lyric.

Contemporary music doesn’t get a pass, either. Pick a rapper…any rapper. The fuck they sayin’?!?

So my mind gets caught up in the music, catches a few words here or there and fills in what I miss just to keep the vibe going and amuse myself in the process. And I’m not alone.

While Sacha and I were together, we took a weekend trip to Friday Harbor up in the San Juans for a colleague’s wedding. While we were there, we visited the local shops to enjoy the town between wedding events.

One of these shops was a ma & pa bookshop in what I think was a converted house. I could be remembering that wrong, but I do remember an upstairs and lots of books and crannies crammed with bookshelves.

It was in one of those upstairs nooks, with a window overlooking the harbor, that I found a book of musical malaprop. Hilarity ensued. It’s an enduring memory of my time with Sacha.

My favorite entry from that book?

Big Old Chet Had A Rhino

No, it’s not a folk song about an American expat in Africa, saving endangered species. It’s actually a song by The Steve Miller Band:

And it’s actually a song called Jet Airliner. The misunderstood lyric?

🎼🎼Oh…big, old jet airliner, don’t carry my too far away. Oooh-oh-oh…big, old jet airliner, cuz it’s here that I’ve got to stay.🎼🎼

Somehow this prompted Sacha to share a lyric that – if I recall correctly – he’d figured out, despite all of his friends misunderstanding it. Ironically, it happened to be a song by one of my personal favorites:

Voices Carry

It’s an album that got me through high school after my family moved halfway across the country. Suffice to say, I knew the lyrics front and back.

They were not the lyrics he knew, though. He’d have bet his eye teeth that the lyric was 🎼🎼Hush, hush even downtown voices carry🎼🎼.

Like that makes any sense. I mean, I guess it does – just not in the context of the song. I, on the other hand, knew that this was a song about a controlling and possibly abusive significant others.

🎼Hush, hush…keep it down, now…voices carry🎼🎼

Her boyfriend would abuse her and when she’d cry out, he’d add insult to injury by shushing her. He stripped her of not only her power as a woman, but also of her voice by insisting she keep quiet about what she endured.

Kind of an irony, given Sacha’s tendencies to keep me from mentioning him in my blog – masked identity or not. Two decades later, he’s still telling me to keep it down.

Putz.

On the other hand, I have my own moments of musical malaprop. And they amuse the heck out of me. Even when I think I’ve got it, I find out…I don’t got it.

Sometimes that’s a slow process. Last Friday, I was out doing my Friday night drive shift. I love driving Friday nights, I’ve no desire to pack my old ass into a crowded bar, so it’s a good alternative. I get people with lives plans to and from, experiencing a vicarious thrill in the process.

I also get to listen to my favorite radio show on my favorite station here in Portland, KINK. The program is four hours of 80s and 90s music from 8:00 to midnight, called Party Out Of Bounds – riffing on a line from a B-52s song. It’s honestly – no disrespect to my regular thing with Bubble Boy 2.0 – my favorite night of the week…because I have an emotional connection to the music, not so much with Bubble Boy. Well, ok, I have a connection…I’m not a sociopath. He, on the other hand, merely has an erection – and a figurative itch he can’t scratch on his own.

Even though it occasionally serves up a little personal schadenfreude…as it did the other night, it’s a rather pleasant way to spend an evening. Again, no disrespect to Bubble Boy.

Lump

Ever heard of a band called Presidents of the United States of America? They might be the best underrated band ever, or they might be a one album wonder. Who knows?

What I did know, though, was that it started out – as did I, at the top of my lungs – 🎼🎼Love sat alone in a boggy marsh🎼🎼

So imagine my chagrin to be driving along, alone between rides the other night and chancing to glance at my dash display to see this song wasn’t called “Love” as I had thought for too many decades…but “Lump”.

Ok, that’s just fucking nonsense. Made me want to switch to a rap station, where I wouldn’t understand a damn word and wouldn’t have cared. I was rocked to my 80s and 90s music fanatical core.

Alas…the prophet Google reinforced my musical ignorance.

Ok, my moment of idiocy was cushioned by the reality that the lyrics were utter drivel.

Seriously, though…sub “love” in for “lump” and there’s one line that’s weird. But as is, it’s all weird and I may never enjoy this song again without being seriously stoned.

I’ll stick with belting out 🎼🎼Is this love out of my head? I think so!🎼🎼 whenever I encounter this song – and let’s face it, every Friday night is a safe bet – versus replacing my superior, albeit incorrect, lyrics with that rock ‘n roll nonsense! If that makes me the musical equivalent of a Trumptard, so be it…

Time for you to play along at home…what are your musical malaprop secrets? Leave me some amusement in the comments!

Sing What, Now?

The Silence of the Ham

The Silver Fox was up last weekend. We went and ran some errands after coffee on…I want to say Saturday? I could be off a day or two, though. Time is a constant, my memory is not.

Anyway, while we ran his errands, he was multi-tasking by also ignoring my input about paint colors for his bathroom.

Sidebar: He’d already decided on Cable Knit Sweater based off the name alone, since there is some inside joke about that between him, his not-estranged-enough ex-wife and (unbeknownst to them) Taylor Swift.

That being the case, I was entertaining myself. Alternately looking at plants and seagulling him with unwanted opinions about paint he was pretending to consider.

This child was more excited than the Silver Fox

Somewhere between me finding an unusual looking plant and a hand painted planter to kill it in, I shared a story with him about Facebook. Since he’s not on any social media and he wasn’t listening to my opinions, we were basically punishing each other for sport.

The Facebook Story:

An old friend of mine – not as old as the Silver Fox, but “old” as in I’ve known him longer than The Fox…which is really saying something! – had sent me a late night text pointing out my conspicuous absence from Facebook.

The reason I had gone quiet was my own fault. I’d forgotten a major life rule: Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.

Honorable mention…a Mark Twain quote: Never argue with an idiot, they’ll drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.

The idiots and stupid Americans people in question were from a Facebook group I’ve been a part of for a few years called DamnedPortlanders. Usually, they post about neighborhood free libraries or new mandalas that appear around neighborhood intersections or cute hidden gardens.

Not this time, though. This time it was about Local Restaurant Chains vs Minimum Wage – read it, it’s a descent into over-educated liberal insanity.

But knowing I was missed caused me to end my Facebook embargo. Then I went in, quit some groups – starting with DamnedPortlanders – and deleted about 15% of my friends. Most of whom were just folks I’d met once or twice while amusing myself at bars, folks I knew only on social media because they were friends of friends or, in about a half dozen cases, guy candy.

As I said, sharing this story was simply an exercise in pyrrhic entertainment…and he didn’t much care. But I got a little humble brag in in the telling, some people miss me when I’m not around.

Subtle, right?

The best part about all this? He decided he also liked the planter I’d discovered and decided to buy one…right before telling me that I couldn’t buy one because between our respective coffees, the gallon of paint and his hand painted planter, we didn’t have enough hands to carry it all home.

I mentally debated arguing – again, just for sport – but decided that this was his errands mission. I could make a separate trip for mine…but I’m telling him they were on sale after I do!

What makes this phenomenon remarkable is how many others are going through similar situations. Just the other morning, I awoke to an IM from a friend that she had deleted both of her blogs and didn’t want me to worry about her silence. It was just because she was tired of the petty backlash she suffered when mentioning friends in her blog posts.

She, like me, used nom de blog plume type masking when mentioning her friends. Unlike me and the epic brand hawk, Sacha, all of her friends seemed to mind – even though very few (if any) people would bother or care to decipher the monikers she used.

Sacha has his own special code name in my phone book…

I’m fortunate, I guess, that I only have Sacha to worry about when I write. It’s entertaining, in a way…watching him bend over backward to convince me that he’s not reading my blog. It’s always some vague “mutual friend” from Facebook that allegedly tells him about a post.

Fun fact: My WordPress hasn’t been tethered to my Facebook page since last August, so when I wrote about him about a month and a half ago and he jumped into a shrill textapalooza with both feet…well, if it walks like a Sacha and lies like a Sacha – it’s a Sacha.

Aside from those stories about overly precious friends and exes, though, I was glad to hear my friend Benjamina espouse the same instinct to cull. Maybe that’s something that being in lockdown for 15 months has instilled in us. After all, if we spent that long incommunicado when distractions were at an all time low and entertainment was at a premium, then I think the onus is on the “friend” to prove they should remain on that less and less important friends list. For my part, if someone was a legit part of my life – usually meaning they were a schoolmate or a past work colleague – they got a pass, even if we didn’t presently interact much on social media. I made a few exceptions for active friends of friends and blog buddies, otherwise I dropped the unfriend hammer. Most embarrassing for the folks who didn’t make the proverbial cut would be the nearly half-dozen friends on my list who have died over the years. They may not have survived life, but they survived the friends list cull of 2021…I don’t want to let go of the last physical tether I have to them.

I was a little more liberal or sparing on Instagram, by comparison. After all, that’s really more of a “follow your interests” environment by design.

Of course, that immediately bit me straight in the ass.

There’s a kid from Glasgow that I know from his blog here on WordPress. He’s self-published several pamphlets books, so we have a couple of similar interests…three, if sexual orientation counts as an interest. Although, at this point in my life, I’d call sexual orientation a disinterest of mine.

I’ve even bought one of his books. $10 for less than 75 pages…that tracks for what too many millennials expect as an ROI for their efforts: minimal effort, maximum return. Conversely, my books are all well over that page count – by magnitudes – and my target price range is $9.99-12.99. I want to deliver bang for my reader’s dollar. And that apostrophe was intentionally placed in the singular possessive, thank you.

He’s actually a late-20s guy, not a kid. Despite his childish behavior in what turned out to be our second to last interaction on social media.

Like I said, it was Instagram. He’s posted a pic to his story with the caption “Time to shave”. In looking at the pic – which was an extreme close up of his chin – I saw some white stubble. I thought it was cute, a soon to be expired twink calling himself out for having white whiskers and playfully responded with “Do I see some white on that stubble?” Then I went to bed, because the PNW and Glasgow are in very different time zones, right?!?

I awoke to see him having made two efforts at responding “Rude” and following them up with “And now it’s deleted”. Then I saw that he’d blocked me.

Ok…wow.

He’s been very vocal about his bouts of anxiety and depression, both on his Instagram and in his blog. As a matter of fact, weeks after the Instagram incident, he posted about exactly that and how COVID exacerbated those conditions for him. And oddly how he’d noticed people coming out of their COVID hibernations with slightly wonky social behaviors – like they’d forgotten how to people during lockdown.

Of course, I completely agreed with him. Which led to our last social media interaction here on WordPress. I just couldn’t help but use the story of how someone had blocked me on social media for incorrectly guessing why they’d post a pic captioned “Time to shave”.

Not only did that story go over his head…

…but he liked it. As in, he completely forgot the entire episode and even reading my comment didn’t trigger his memory that I was describing his own broken behavioral shittiness.

What the literal fuck? I was embarrassed for him. Being so incensed that he not only blocked me, but deleted a post from his own social media. If that wasn’t a memory that stuck in his mind hard enough to recall after being directly reminded of the situation, I’m left to wonder if he wasn’t that offended or if he’s that offended by so many people that he cannot recall who got the block hammer and for what manufactured reason.

He should take a page out of Rainman’s book and keep a list…

Yeah, I went there.

And, for the record, I unfollowed his blog. That was something that actually made me feel bad. For my part, I think if I’m living in a society that it’s incumbent upon me – and each of us – to do our part to lift others up…to help them be better people or have an easier time navigating this life we’re living.

Imagine if that was our collective goal. What a world that would be.

My hope in making this comment to this guy was that he’d read my account of what he’d done and what my intention had been in making my comment on his Instagram story and he’d have an a-ha moment and we could bury the proverbial hatchet.

I thought that the worst case scenario would be that he just blocked me from commenting on future post to his blog. Nowhere in my expected response was that he would be so oblivious as to not even get that my comment was directed at him…and that he’d actually like my comment.

I really didn’t know what to do with that level of cluelessness. Like I said, I unfollowed his blog. I know what they say about the irreparable nature of stupid, but I don’t think he’s stupid.

Naive.

Maybe a little lazy brained…but not stupid.

I had led that horse right up to the water’s edge – not much more I can do, if it dies of dehydration I’m not sticking around to beat its corpse.

In a barely interesting corollary, I’ve noticed a lot more bogus follower activities. Y’know…obviously fake accounts following me.

Mostly on Instagram, but there’s been a few on Facebook, too. And you’ve got to admit, some of their tactics are hits – like the new Instagram follower named progressivevote or the blog followers whose blog descriptions are “alcohol” or “beer”…they know the target audience. That Jane_Vera0116, though. Swing and a really big miss.

But maybe they are relying on the incipient loneliness the past year-plus of lockdowns has created. Or the desperation what I’m imagining to be the obvious unfriending and unfollowing on social media is creating in people who don’t know their value without the “likes” to back it up.

If COVID only made us worse to endure, I’m wondering if we shouldn’t just let the GOP have its way on labeling Climate Change as a hoax…because maybe we aren’t worth saving. Because just as unfixable as stupid is, saving someone or some species that can’t decide it wants to be saved is a fool’s errand for any Samaritans amongst us.

Maybe it’s time this victim of his own self-described savior complex just shuts up and watches the world burn.

Nah…I’m more optimistic than that! I’ll go buy that plant and see if it will stay alive and keep me company.

The Silence of the Ham

Code Words

Remember when Word Up was the Code Word?

Simpler times.

The last couple days, I’ve been thinking a lot about two other Code Words: Brand and Crazy.

This thought sentence exercise was completely inspired by an old friend who reached out for help on Wednesday. She needed help with a problem that I thought I’d successfully put behind me. A problem that began seventeen years ago and I thought I’d successfully, finally shut down a couple years ago:

Sacha.

I swear, this guy comes back more than the bad guy in a cheesy slasher flick. Only this time he was coming – I should say “allegedly”, but…no – for an old colleague-turned-friend.

She needed his address to serve him with a restraining order.

Apparently, the old boy has been harassing her. Not unreasonably, she’d like that to stop.

I was struck by the word she and the two people I reached out to both used to describe his “recent” behaviors: crazy. It also occurred to me how hard that adjective would hit him, since he’s so highly protective of his brand. Like, since before a person being a brand was popular. I once described his modus operandi as “It’s better to look good than to be good”, and, well…things haven’t gone too well for us over the past decade.

I thought I’d finally shaken him a couple years back when he reached out on Messenger with this little chestnut:

Can we have a mature conversation?

Any guesses how that landed?

My first thought was, “An opener like that suggests you certainly cannot”, but assuming that my most current information on the man held up, knew that bit of insight would immediately escalate things.

But that’s how he is. He says and asks things that are so textbook Covert Narcissist. He’ll drop a question like that – and whether or not you realize it, he’s already claimed victory. If you don’t notice the twist, you’re walking right into his trap because you let him put you on the defensive by accepting his premise that he had to prime you with his all-knowing-ness about your immaturity before starting a conversation. Really, you’re so lucky that he even deigns to talk to you at all…and now you’re on guard for any of your imaginary potentially offensive behaviors.

On the other hand, if you do notice his machinations, pointing them out will simply spring his trap immediately and it’s now a snappy screaming match that you can’t get a word edgewise into. So he wins, regardless.

That being my takeaway from past dealings with him, I simply stated that my life was fine with his absence.

All my discipline earned me in response was a “👍🏽” from the little sociopath. Every now and then I wonder if he was reaching out over something important or for his usual recreational hostilities. I worry it could have been about one of his parents.

Then again, he hadn’t let me know when his grandmother died, so maybe that was too much to expect. He had called me on Christmas Day, probably six or seven years ago now, to tell me that he had colon cancer. It was a big deal, since his uncle had died from exactly that while we were together.

The difference between those scenarios – his grandmother’s or parent’s health and his own – is exactly one variable: him.

The best thing about that Christmas Day phone call? It was a big box of nothing. He didn’t want any help, he didn’t call to make things right with us…he just called for the drama paycheck.

Seriously, 364 other days of the year he could have called. He chooses Christmas Day. Maybe it was a sign of what he’d sown in his life finally bearing fruit…but I think it’s that he was alone and feeling it.

No. I know better than that. There’s a difference between being merely alone and being lonely.

For so many, the latter is crippling. Especially if you don’t like your own company.

Anyway, that’s where the word crazy kept dropping in these last few days.

He has been kind of crazy since the whole cancer thing.

Well, I’m no doctor, so I don’t know if you can catch crazy from chemo. But I am more of a Sacha Subject Matter Expert than I want to be.

What my expertise tells me is that the crazy was there all along. But since he protected his brand so well – and, hats off to his foresight in the wake of the behavioral trajectory America in general, but Gay Kulture in particular have taken – the majority of the people who come into contact with him think this is a relatively new development.

And that’s how it is, now. Do your worst, and if someone calls you out, block ’em. Ironically, people do that and think things like, “I don’t need that kind of negativity in my life” when they are unknowingly doing the victims of their narcissistic bullshit a favor…despite the fact that neither realizes it in the moment.

But that’s what ya gotta do to protect your brand. Surround yourselves with patsies at best and enablers at worst. Fuck everyone else.

For the folks that are just reaching the whole “crazy” conclusion, you just weren’t there for the conversations that led me to tell him “It’s better to look good than to be good” years before his cancer scare. If he’s crazy now, it’s not because of cancer, it’s more that you’re just now noticing. Honestly, you’re probably noticing because if he’s beat cancer, he’s feeling less vulnerable to pesky little things like “Other People’s Opinions” than his rampant insecurities ever let him feel before, so he’s masking his shit behaviors less and less.

Just a guess.

Optimistically, I wonder if he ever thinks about that conversation.

Pragmatically…I know better than to think he’d reflect on his past actions – if a deathbed scenario didn’t leave him a better person, I’m sure it only emboldened the shoddy person that was already lurking there.

Anyway, onward and upward, that’s how you build a brand, damnit! My old friend is just the most recent collateral damage.

Maybe one day our American culture will get back to where Code Words were fun again versus socially acceptable land mines for silencing anyone who dares to hold a mirror up to someone’s actions.

That’s something to look forward to, I guess…until then, I’ll just keep doing nice little gestures – like holding a door open for the glaring person following too closely behind me – and hope my small part becomes catchier than that Cameo song at the top of this post.

Code Words

Look, I’m *Very* Busy…

As in, very.

Case in point, I just finished watching all six seasons of Grimm. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 120 forty-five minute episodes.

For.

The.

First.

Time.

I feel like I really fell down as a Portlander. I definitely fell down as an extra on the show.

When I started watching, I recollected that I’d been on the show 2-3 times. As my viewing progressed, I changed that tally to four.

Only one made the final cut.

Although, honorable mention for this close call…

Dishonorable mention for me gushing later about the cute guy in the scene with me – that I thought was also a background actor. It was David Guintoli – I’m sure I spelled that wrong – aka: the Grimm hizzownself. Side note, I also infamously gushed to the Silver Fox about this cute guy at the gym, a couple of times I think, before he told me in an incredulous tone that that was Sasha Roiz.

<blank stare>

From Grimm!

He completely missed my point, of course. I don’t usually like tall guys. This moment of attraction was growth for me!

Everthemess…

The other two “castings” I booked, I never made it out of the holding area. Whatevs, still got paid, suckas!

I didn’t spend a lot of time giving the show 100% of my attention. Like I said, very busy. I had social media to scroll, Words With Friends that needed dominating and, I dunno…I had to multitask to make sure I had time to drink and occasionally get stoned.

Shut up, it’s a pandemic.

But most of the time I was either falling in love with the scenery of my hometown or picking apart why they would use street names as a point of reference for the wrong part of town. Or why they wouldn’t consistently use real street names or manufactured names…that was a conundrum.

Plus, for the first several years, an abandoned US Customs Building in my neighborhood was used as the Police HQ.

The photo where I’m just out of the frame, behind a column? Yeah, that was the interior of the precinct.

Except…by that season, the Customs House had been bought by this lil outfit called WeWork and the set had to be rebuilt over in the NW Industrial District. Pretty impressive that they could replicate the set do exactly that viewers were none the wiser. I actually drove by that old filming location out at Guilds Lake – there’s no lake, FYI – today while picking up a ride. I guess you can thank Lyft for finally getting this post onto the blogosphere.

I also drive by Nick and Juliette’s house several times a week. It’s weird to think that I never knew that was their “home” until just last month.

It’s funny how many scenes took place in my little part of Portland, the North Park Blocks. In addition to the Customs House, I noticed several other random scenes.

Sometimes the scene of a murdered person being discovered. Take, for instance, this “Who Wore It Best” moment.

Seriously, it was me.

…as evidenced by my unbathed/pre-spin class looks and the ability to stand alone in front of such an iconic piece of neon.

You shoulda seen me after that spin class, though. The Filipina Fox really kicked me keister for those 45 minutes.

Incidentally, that sign is gone now. The company – a shared office space, ironically, since it sits across the park from the Customs House/WeWork building – has closed up and took their sign with them.

Ergo, now I default to “playing” just to be safe.

Other times, it was just an apartment building lobby being repurposed as a storefront.

The shop behind Rosalee – Glyph, as it was known back then – is the infamous F&B cafe, where I like to go and write in the mornings during non-end of the world times. Right around the corner is the world famous (to me) Big Legrowlski.

Of course, this was also an opportunity to nostalgically appreciate old haunts that have been gentrified the fuck out of existence, as Portland grows. Places like the Overlook Restaurant.

Which is now – wait for it – an apartment building. But back in the days I called North Portland home, it was a place Sacha and I spent many a dinner with his parents.

Good memories.

The show turned out to be pretty good brain candy. I’m glad I finally made the time in my very busy schedule to watch it.

And it only took a global pandemic.

Look, I’m *Very* Busy…

Of Course, *I’m* The Bastard

I own it, but don’t think I wear that label with pride. If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you probably know my triggers and how to avoid them.

It’s not all that hard. Try to behave like a decent human being, try to be considerate of others, have a bit of integrity…pretty low bar shit.

It’s that try business that both makes these criteria easy and challenging. And a bit forgiving at the same time.

I never said I wasn’t complex – but still, when there’s wiggle room, how hard does one have to try to remain on the wrong side of grumpy old Xtopher?

And if you’re going to put any effort into a relationship with me…how bad at effort do you have to be to end up remaining on that side of me?

Enter – or re-enter in this case – Black Sheep Brother. If you haven’t read about him, try looking for the black story, er, back story. Seriously, I just did and failed.

Long story short, Black Sheep Bro bailed on the family because he needed some time away. This was maybe 2005-ish. I was still with Sacha, so maybe it was even earlier…2002? I know it was – well, never mind. Short story is already long.

I told him at the time – as he was my best friend. Wow, it just occurred to me that this was pre-Silver Fox! Anyway, he told me he needed a break and I warned him to not just disappear, “Do it right”, I told him, “That way re-entry won’t be a bitch. Or impossible.”

Flash forward to now.

Now.

After I acceded to family pressure to reach out to him after he got married, moved to Shittatle and had a kid. Since we both lived in Seattle, reaching out was the obvious choice – just ask my mom and sister! Hehe.

So I did it. That was three hours of my life I’m not getting back. During that talk, he finally told me “the reason” he needed a break. I apostrophenated – Chrisism – that because the reason defied reason. He said he was disappointed that mom hadn’t been more supportive when he got his DUI.

“I expected more from you”, he said she said.

“But your DUI was years ago”, I said.

“No, the other one”, he replied.

I know I failed to hide my reaction to that, but his excuse still smelled like bullshit. “I think that’s a parent’s job to say stuff like that”, I tried.

It all ended with him showing me he had a full deck of victim cards, but at least I tried.

Flash forward to 2013-ish and he’s moved to Texas with his wife and now two kids. To be near his wife’s family.

In their state of bliss, they both take turns drunk dialing me to talk about how awesome they are. The wife trying to back channel a relationship for BSB and his family, for their kids.

Black Sheep Bro slurring out conditions the family must accept in order to be rewarded with the presence of him and his progeny. Your basic shit show. Now, he’s laying out conditions like “As long as I don’t have to be around That Man“, which genuinely confused me. Of course, I asked, got no clarification and eventually started guessing. For my effort, I was rewarded with a “He knows what’s he did” when I guessed he’d been referring to our father.

For the record, I think both of my parents are pretty damn awesome, so he’s partying alone in this Blame Game.

I also pointed out that last time he laid the blame for his abandoning the family at mom’s feet. I also told him that conditional returns were not something I was going to condone.

Apparently, he doesn’t need that kind of negativity in his life. I’m a real buzz kill, I know.

But since then, I’ve not heard boo from him or his wife, even though I’ve been privy to the goings on because mom and his wife are friends on the Facebook. I’ve also managed to deflect suggestions from the family that I reach out to BSB for his fiftieth. That suggestion arose from his wife’s accurately interpreted vaguebooking that his marriage was ending.

I considered myself fortunate to have been able to beg off that chore since I had an outdated number.

Until.

Present day…I get a text from my sis asking if I’d also received a friend request from BSB like her and our youngest brother.

I hadn’t actually. I chalked this up to our last conversation and noted my surprise that he’d not blacked it out. But I also was only manufacturing any offense I presented because over the years I’ve been friended and unfriended by both him and his wife multiple times and received vague attempts at reaching out from Facebook profiles with fake names and no pictures – all claiming to be Black Sheep Bro.

If I wanted to chat with faceless blank profiles, I’d spend my time on Grindr.

But of course, my friend request came in a day or two after everyone else’s. And goddamnit, I wrestled with it – even while entertaining myself that he’d cared enough about me to do something petty like ask for my friendship last.

Me being me, though, I found a way to be actually – and in my mind, rightfully – bothered. I was offended that after all the water under the bridge we’ve had, he just sends a friend request.

That’s all.

No nothing else.

I didn’t know what to do with that. For a while, I leaned toward just accepting it without comment. How passive-aggressive of me. Realistically, I rationalized, this will probably result in him de-friending me yet again, so why not?

But, then around midnight last night, I decided to demand an explanation.

Via Messenger, because two can play the Drunk Dial game – I’m just playing the 2020 version.

Really? Just showing up after all these years and all your vitriol with a “Hey, y’all!”?

You’re not Paula Deen, yo.

Why? Because your wife left you? Now we’re worthy of your attention?

Tell me why you aren’t sticking it where you and I both know I should tell you to. What’s changed? How have you *suddenly* grown? Because all I want when I see this is to groan…I feel bad for you. But not badly enough to sign up for the same BS behaviors you’ve delivered in the past.

And, y’know what? I genuinely felt that he owed me – us, as a family – some goddamned context. To just blithely send out friend requests on the Facebook without it left me vacillating between he felt entitled to our forgiveness and/or that he felt his actions weren’t in need of forgiveness.

Neither option carried any generous feelings with me.

I have to say, his response presented me with a third option that I’d not considered: that he didn’t know how to ask for forgiveness.

In retrospect, it was a fairly obvious option. But the rest of his response left me a little dubious that his rationale wasn’t entitlement all along.

And how would you have me reach out after all these years? I would follow the example you set…if there were one. Yeah I turned to a long lost family relationship in a time of personal adversity. But don’t recall asking you for shit. You’re still the sanctimonious prick aren’t you. And real angry about it apparently. You wanna tee off on someone else just for making an effort? Try a therapist or your ugly cat.

How cute.

Deflection.

Name calling.

Smells like a Trump supporter-level argument to me.

But, to clarify, he’s trying to equate my living in distant parts of the country with his actively departing the family after dropping a blame bomb on mom. Then dad. The reality there, which he’ll not acknowledge since it’s a fact – and we know how Trump Supporter Logic works with facts – is that I still called and took calls from the family. I still came home for holidays.

I was coming to terms with being gay. He was having a mental breakdown in the heart of a well-known river in Egypt.

I think there’s a big difference there.

And he wraps up his indictment argument by shaming me for kicking him while he’s making an effort.

Trying, if you will. And I won’t, as it turns out. If the level of effort he’s willing to put into this after almost two decades is to tap a button that says “Send Friend Request”, then that’s far too little and way too late. Here’s a parting gift for you, Black Sheep Bro, pardon me while I spray liberally.

It makes me sad. And I’m sure it will or could result in awkward family gatherings down the road. But I’ve traveled those roads before, so I know the terrain. One of the things that I said in my texts with my sister was this:

I feel bad for her and dad. Never having been a parent, I can’t imagine how that parental “never give up” thing must feel. Like on one level it’s, “Oh, here we go again” and on the other, “But he’s our son”…so they can’t not sign up for the potential hurt once again. Just in case it pays off this time.

It’s like me and dating, I called it the Lottery of Love.

Maybe this time

I’ve got a good supply of forgiveness. It’s just not endless – even for my brother. If he wants back into my life, it’s not gonna be with spin like saying his relationship with the family is “long lost”.

He abandoned us.

For me, I’ll sprinkle some of my forgiveness on the situation when he’s accountable for his actions. No more “She knows what she did” or “That man” or being offended that I don’t let him piss on my leg yet again while telling me it’s raining.

He’s still my brother, that won’t change. But I’m fine with the present state of our relationship – which he forced upon me – until he does.

If that means I’m the bastard, so be it.

Of Course, *I’m* The Bastard

Feed Yourself

That’s a quote from the Silver Fox on our way back from coffee this morning.

I was serving him some OCD verbal vomit about my life, work, writing. He’d accidentally triggered me about 20 minutes earlier when we were grocery shopping. I had read a recipe for ribolitta while waking up this morning and when given the options, he’d decided what I should do.

I really want to try this recipe…but maybe I should make the Black Bean Goodness that I didn’t make last night.”

He decided on the ribolitta so after coffee, we went across Lovejoy to the Safeway for the incredibly simple ingredients. We both realized quickly that he would not benefit from his decision since the recipe has kale and he doesn’t.

Still, he stuck with me.

He stopped a few times at counters that interested him along the way. I left him behind because that’s what happens to me when he takes me to the Costco. It’s a lot easier to catch up-slash-find someone in a Safeway.

Just.

Saying.

Anyway, while I’m checking out, giving Sacha some gas points – if he’s still using the same rewards account we used when we were together – The Fox asked if we need lottery tickets.

I picked some up yesterday, so we’re fine.

Actually, we’d gone to buy them together and he bought them. But the point was, we had ’em.

“You know some trucker in New Jersey won Powerball?”

That was a ticket from a few weeks back. Or months? So we’re ok.

The Fox doesn’t like to play Powerball for less than $100 million. Any less than that and it’s just throwing money away, I suppose. Hehe.

I’d read the story of the trucker. Thinking of it now got me simmering. Halfway home, out it came. All over the Silver Fox.

The same thing had happened last Thursday night. But I just let it simmer in my head until Friday. That afternoon, I realized I was feeling completely weighed down by the pressure.

Thursday, I had wanted to go to the gym. Didn’t.

I was feeling like writing was a slog.

Two more days…then your January challenge ends.

Friday, I woke up with the same…congestion. Mental funkiness. Then I checked email.

I got a “Thanks, but…” from a position I was kind of excited about with Le Creuset. I’d had three interviews. It was a strange process. They seemed to go top backward instead of bottom up, like normal. Usually, for a Store Manager job, I’d expect to interview with the District Manager I’d report to, then if I was a go forward candidate I’d be passed up the chain for a corporate round robin interview.

With LC, I started with a director level, then a regional, then the DM and got spun out of the process there before the final round.

Well, that was a lot of effort for nothing…

I debated responding, but worried I’d come off as petty. That idea got tabled, and that decision became part of the mental funk.

By mid-afternoon, I didn’t think I could rally. Texts from The Fox about a party that was still FIVE HOURS away had me shrinking into the couch, further and further, until I just told him I didn’t think I could do it.

How am I becoming an introvert at this point in my life?!?

Yesterday morning, though, I’d woken up feeling good! It excited me. I didn’t feel great, but I didn’t feel neutral, either. Or even worse. I suggested to The Fox that we venture out for a Bing Mi before dropping in to the Big Legrowlski to say goodbye to one of the bartenders.

He’s going to teach English in South Korea.

The Fox was hip to the suggestion. Who wouldn’t be?

Mmm. So much, fuck yeah in these crepe sandwiches! We took our food from the food carts to the BL and had a beer – ok, I had two, Mr Reasonable had one – and ate while we chatted Joey up.

We were the only two customers in the joint. On my second beer (an 11.2% ABV called Notorious) I wondered aloud what was wrong with people.

It’s 1:30 on a Saturday afternoon. Why aren’t people out having beer?!?

Anyway, had they been, I’m sure I would have complained about that, too. By the time we left at 2:00, I was recharged. I went home and tapped out my final January Challenge blog and felt accomplished afterward.

I was jazzed.

It’s a wonder what harmlessly flirting with a straight bartender can do for the spirits.

We had gone from Big Legrowlski to Penzey’s Spices on the way home. It’s a whole two blocks out of our way, but they had a gift with purchase coupon for a chili spice I wanted.

In my post-writing high, I was contemplating making some Black Bean Goodness and adding in some of my new chili seasoning.

Filipina Fox to the rescue! She was at BL having a beer and wanted a sounding board to download the work she was doing for her start up fitness business.

I actually whined a little. Believe it or not, I didn’t want another beer. I was reluctant to drink any more and then do any knife work in the kitchen.

But I went and talked anyway. I’m pretty sure that everyone was low key surprised that I walked in and then out 30 minutes later without consuming anything…

Here’s the real surprise, after all that restraint, I still didn’t cook last night. I felt full.

Satisfied.

Fully satisfied.

I watched a movie and smoked half a joint that I’d been gifted a while back. When I pinched it out, I amused the absolute hell out of myself wondering if I should just pinch it out or also blow though it like I learned to do with cigars.

Joint…

Cigar…

Cigars seemed pretty durable comparatively. I decided not to risk it.

I’d hate to end up with a prolapsed joint.

Imagining that or a shower of ground weed flitting through my kitchen is what absolutely gave me the giggles. I put the joint away.

Probably just in time.

Now I’m a little peckish…

I’d been watching Veep on Amazon. I knew I shouldn’t be cooking, though. And that I didn’t have any snacky food. Looking at the clock I saw it was 9:45. Everything was closed.

Nice going, Hunter S. Thompson…

GoPuff to the rescue!

Twenty minutes later…

I realized I’m no good at ordering frozen pizza online. I thought I’d chosen a full sized za, but got a snack size. Not to worry, they threw in a lunch-sized bag of Fritos.

I can make this work…

I slept like a damn champ last night! Flash forward a couple hours and four espresso shots later and this well rested and over-caffeinated grumpopotamus was peppering The Fox with indecisiveness. He’d already enabled ribolitta even though I’d not made my Black Bean Goodness – can we agree that I’m short handing that as BBG going forward? – and now I was just dumping on him.

I need to find a friggin’ job!

Is it weird that I wanna write today?!?

The thing is, I’m choosing companies I want to work for, but by the time they tell me that they chose someone else, I don’t wanna work for them anymore.

Should I write? I need to finish my novel and just find a publisher. It would be best if someone would option my book. Takes care of the job thing, that does.

The Fox, walking next to me with the patience of Job, is just letting me wear myself out.

But I just want to write another novel now. I don’t want to edit, I don’t care if I get published…I just wanna keep writing!

“You need to feed yourself”, he chimes in when I finally take a breath. I hold up the bag of groceries I’m carrying suggestively.

“Your spirit”, he clarifies. I point him toward the post office so I can check my box.

We part, with me insisting he check out a three year old SNL clip that I found last night. Then I come home, unload my groceries and debate whether to just begin cooking immediately.

All because that trucker won our money!

Maybe I’ll start my taxes…

Feed Yourself

Putting the “Man” in Manifest

I was talking with one of my Bartendresses yesterday after she invited me down for a beer. She was bored. She manifested being super busy by inviting me down. By the time I got to the Big Legrowlski, she was busy with a group of four at a two-top table (yes, I instantly disliked them) who had all ordered food, a group of two at at four-top and me, who had pre-ordered tots, since they take 20 minutes in the bar’s air fryer. Right after I walked in, a group of three walked in and bellied up beside me, ordering food and then more food.
I had to wait for a break – aka, a second beer – to be able to talk to her. She had invited me down out of boredom, but I had – I told her – been thinking about a celebratory beer after crossing my 50k word count on my NaNoWriMo goal. I think she was equally excited and insisted I come down to celebrate with her. Naturally, she wanted to know what it was about.
This is something I have been struggling with: what’s my book about.
It’s a story about gay generations connecting.
My position is that this is something that gay culture is missing, that thread of community across time. AIDS didn’t help, to be sure. I usually shorthand the impact of AIDS on the gay community as having wiped out an entire generation of gay men, so…you know, that’s gonna take a toll. But, gays being gays, I don’t think we needed AIDS wiping us out to prevent this generational connection from happening. We’re ageist as a group, anyway. Twinks and VOGs (Very Old Gays) rarely coming together as a community, outside of a new iPhone release, anyway.
So, that’s one thing my book is about, but in a very top level description kind of way.
There’s a popular saying amongst writers or writing instructors: write what you know. Maybe that’s for writers that are too lazy to research or who lack the creativity to build a world from scratch. That certainly sounds like me…so I started there. The starting point that I chose was my main character picking up his life after a break up. That’s another way of describing my book.
But I did something after that point. Sure, I wove in anecdotes from my experiences and used friends as a basis for characters, but outside of those frameworks I made shit up. I created a story that was positive. A life for my main character where he is able to make an impact on the people in his life and learn and experience new things as he goes through his own life. It’s kind of an experiment in “what ifs” looking back at my own life after the starting point of this break up. It was a fun type of alt-nostalgia for me to write. Is that like alternative facts, KellyAnne?
Long and short of it, we talk about my ex briefly as a bridge into my book and then it’s over.
The Silver Fox and I grab coffee this morning, which is our usual, but Sundays are tough because the local cafe is closed. We generally default to Nossa Familia, but their seating is typically outside and I’m not keen on sitting outdoors in low 50-degree temps. So, we made our way to the SW quadrant and had a cup at Heart Coffee. Best things first: guy candy. Worth the trip for the man honeys alone. But, as we’re sitting there chatting by the cafe window – and we had a lot to catch up on after not seeing each other for a week over the holiday – my ex walks by with a couple other people. He approached from behind me and I suspect he saw me first because when I looked up from my cup, our eyes met. They didn’t lock, they just met. I did not roll my eyes away, because I’m a mature person. “Sacha just walked by”, I say, interrupting The Fox. In the coolest way possible, he wildly starts spinning his head like Linda Blair on speed while I say “Outside. Outside. Oh, they’re coming in. C’mon.”
They actually did not come in, but one of the two people with him happened to be a former co-worker of his and a mutual friend who was in town for a post-holiday visit. She did come in, just to say hi and give me a hug and it was lovely. I told her is was great to see her and that I appreciated her coming in. I told her to tell Sacha “hi” for me. I did not tell her to tell him “thank you for staying outside”.
So, I guess that’s what I get for using that part of my life as a starting point for my book. An opportunity to encounter the catalyst and not have a bad experience.
That was nice.
In reality, I expect nothing to happen with this novel now that it is written. I’ll proof is, but after that? If nothing happens, I will have accomplished what I set out to do. But in the back of my mind is the fantasy that my book does get published. And becomes a three part series. And gets optioned for a movie. Directed by Gus Van Sant. Ben Whishaw plays the young main character in movie one, Benedict Cumberbatch plays the middle aged lead in the second and then Ton Hanks steps into the role in the last movie. And Mike Meyers as Fat Bastard gets cast as my ex…who has only one minute of screen time in the first movie.
Y’know, just as a little mental amusement for myself.

Putting the “Man” in Manifest

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