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

What Could Possibl…

Yeah, ok…the hell with that question.

I’m torn about whether it will be my death certificate or my tombstone that says, “Well, that answers that question…”

I forwarded my acupuncture appointment reminder to voicemail earlier and when I went in to delete the message, saw that I actually had two. Now, this would hardly be the first time I’ve received two reminder calls, but that wasn’t the case today.

The second call was a follow up to a kick ass interview that I had last week. Just wanted to let me know that they went with an internal.

If you have been reading The Great Job Hunt series, you know how lovely I find those words.

So, instead of dwelling and falling into the same trap that I did last time I got the internal candidate rash, I decided to refocus on some funnier “What could possibly go wrong” moments and other recent examples of my quirk-centric existence.

A much better use of my energy.

It’s amazing to me how many of these humorous situations are actually crowd sourced while I’m with friends versus my solo adventures. But let’s start with one of those rarer gems, shall we?

Because, it just happened.

I was at the pharmacy picking up a refill before the weekend – because I’m not working, pretty much have every day to get this errand done but for some reason would rather wait until 4:45 on a Friday to do so.

Maybe it’s that I wanna trot my keg belly across town at the hottest part of the day. Perhaps since it’s a Friday, I figured there’d be some guycandy knocking off early along the way to reward me for completing this task.

Maybe it was both.

I had called ahead, but there were still a few minutes needed to finish up my refill. Taking a seat, I heard the door open behind me and was treated to my guy candy.

Dressed in a cropped mesh football-ish jersey and cut off denim shorts, I assumed he couldn’t be coming from work. He might be heading to work, I mused, since my pharmacy is near one of Portland’s two gay strip clubs.

I got a little distracted when leaned over the counter and pushed his butt out toward me, but I did vaguely hear him say he needed a refill over the rushing of my pulse. My first thought was absolutely unmentionable but my second thought was, “This guy looks like he could have starred in a gay remake of an 80s Whitesnake video.

I was abruptly ripped back to reality by eight numbers: 11171996.

11

17

1996

He’s 22.

Of course, I had to share this with my friend, Diezel. He would certainly enjoy my discomfiture.

He certainly didn’t disappoint.

I couldn’t resist throwing a little shade in my jealousy over the carefree existence young gays have thanks to science, hence my “whore” comment.

Naturally, he sat down three feet from me and began finessing the fringe on his shorts. Picking at a thread here, lifting a knee to the side of his head to get a look at the backside of his shorts.

Seriously, kid…I’m looking. Let’s not overdo it, shall we?

Nevertheless, this St Lucille Bluth meme just captured my inner grumpy old man so perfectly in the moment…me, being all bitter over what I know I can’t have.

It was quite delicious – and responsible – that this kid was picking up his PrEP prescription moments before the weekend began. All the while, teasing the defenseless old man. It’s 90 degrees, kid. I’m too dehydrated to drool, don’t take it personally.

Earlier today, Jortis took some time to take a swipe at my figurative chops on the Facebook. He had seen a video about how to tell if there are sharks in the water before you swim in it.

He thought to tag me, which made me chuckle. Still, I watched the video through my fingers, ready to throw my phone aside at the first sign of a shark attack.

The video proudly touts the simple secret of detecting a shark infested body of water using only a spoon.

Step 1) Use spoon to taste a sample of the water

That’s it.

If the water tastes like salt there’s sharks in it.

I’ll wait while you recover from that subtle shock.

I’m of the mind that just because sharks are rarely found in fresh or brackish waters it doesn’t mean theyaren’t ever found there. As a matter of fact, I think every time you go into fresh water without encountering a shark, it just makes it more likely that it might happen the next time.

Yes, rivers.

Yes, lakes.

Yes, yes, yes, swimming pools, jacuzzis and bath tubs.

Fears are supposed to be irrational!

Also, I failed Probabilities & Statistics. In my defense, I took it at 8 am while I was working swing shift from 11 PM to 7 AM at Hoag Hospital.

This galeophobia of mine has been responsible for some rather amusing moments for my friends recently. At my expense, naturally. Not that I mind. With all the shit I sling, I best be able to take some in return!

Interesting side note, galeophobia is derived from the Greek word for weasel or polecat. Have you all become at least virtually acquainted with my murderous feline?

Not to be outdone, Little Buddy can generally be relied upon to insert an “irrational fear of sharks” bon mot into any given situation. And they’re usually pretty friggin’ hilarious.

This floor decal, for instance

Surely, there’s a shower curtain available.

I’m not suggesting at all that she goes out of her way to find these nightmare triggers for me.

The Facebook, on the other hand, seems to understand her shopping and internet browsing habits. Recently, this suggestion popped up on her Facebook feed.

She’s a crazy-talented baker, too, so I’ve no doubt about what the next birthday cake she bakes me will look like!

Finally – and I’m not suggesting that Little Buddy or Jortis is some sort of catalyst here – but last week, we all went to Portland Center Stage to see the final show of Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill.

Sidebar: if this is playing anywhere near you ever, I suggest you go see it.

Quite.

Amazing.

Anyhoo…after the show, we all cry-stumbled over to Powell’s because Jortis had a book he needed to pick up. None of us, save Jortis, knew what book he was after – and I’ve since forgotten…old – but I was surprised to find our party lost together in the sci-fi/fantasy room. This room is about a quarter of a city block, so don’t doubt me when I say we were lost together.

Plus, I had some door trouble as a result of being raised right. When I held the door for one of our foursome, eighty other people decided that Powell’s was the place to be and I got stuck at the entrance while watching the three people I was with get smaller and further and further spread out.

I caught up with LB in the Orange Room – or was it the Pink Room?

Nevertheless, there we were, waiting.

Maybe a little buzzed.

Definitely feeling the emotional weight of the show we’d just seen.

And it’s Little Buddy to our emotional rescue!

She somehow managed to catch a cluster of book titles that struck her as the perfect indicator that Jortis and I were in the right area. This is probably part of why I think it might have been the Pink Room…

Have you ever noticed how homoerotic fantasy fiction is?

I have.

Little Buddy definitely has.

Bones of the Earth?

This Side of Judgment?

How many titles in that pic have the word Queen in them?!?

Insanity.

Random insanity.

And this just happens to catch Little Buddy’s eye. I mean, c’mon! I have no question why LB is in my life, she’s prepaying her time in purgatory, obviously.

But, if I did…this moment is a perfect illustration.

For my part, not to be out-distracted, I noticed a book about 6″ – seriously, no double entendres intended – outside of the frame of the picture above.

I don’t know who this Belgarath the Sorcerer is, but his name is an anagram for my last name.

How.

Friggin’.

Random.

Ever since I’ve seen this, I’ve been trying to have a dream about Belgarath where we meet, fall in love, get married and then his name is Belgarath bal Gather.

(Like I’d tell you my real last name)

Anyway…hey, look! I distracted myself from my double-disappointing news day! I failed to mention that I’ve been summoned to Seattle next week for a preliminary round of We Hired An Internal, causing me to cancel a trip to The Gorge to christen LB and 2.0’s new wine country escape and Jortis’ birthday.

How’s that for crap timing?!?

But, like I said…channeling funny stories into my psyche in order to drive out the demons of bad news.

And it worked.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I also picked up a grocery bag of junk food earlier today as I wandered the aisles of my local RiteAid trying to figure out what it was I went in for.

Imma go comfort eat all of that.

Because, what could possibly go wrong?

It was dishwasher detergent, btw. And, no…I didn’t remember before I left.

What Could Possibl…

New Chrisism

Is it a bad sign that I’m chilling before a phone interview and decide five minutes before the call that I should find my headset, make sure it’s charged and, “oh, hey…why don’t I work on that draft from last week while I wait?”

Knowing that I’ll totally keep typing during the conversation.

Hoo, Boy.

Is that literally phoning it in or figurative since they’re calling me?

The thing that has been tickling my fingertips is the Chrisism I coined last week: Psychophant

Obviously, a portmanteau of psychotic and sycophant.

It was my response to reading the resignation letter from that nitwit Scott Pruitt. If you haven’t had the surreal displeasure, take a look.

My second thought was how BreitBarb is doing on her Trump administration bingo card…she must be getting close to a blackout card by now!

Ok, did you read it?

I’m really not sure I should be writing about resignation letters while I wait for a phone call about a potential job.

But, here I am…

Side note: the call just began

I really don’t have much to say about this resignation letter. It’s just so obsequious! Seriously, you’re quitting. Why do you care about your employer’s feelings?

You’re quitting because your family has been – allegedly – unfairly attacked. Did your employer defend you or try to correct the situation?

Nah…

As I recall, he’s more helpful in an inciting rage kind of way.

Of course, this tends to bother most of his employees recently in their attempts to dine peacefully at nice farm to table or Mexican restaurants.

I literally cannot bear the ironic idiocy of a Trumpster Fire employee trying to eat in a Mexican restaurant. That family pictured above that released Farah Fuckabee back into the dumpster and refused her service needs a medal. Of course, the voters using their brains as paperweights – are their brains even heavy enough to secure a piece of paper?!? – retaliated against the restaurant, causing it to close down for a period…all the while, administration employees stand on the sidelines.

But that poor psychophant Scottie P and his family have been so harassed by the media and protesters that he had no choice but to quit a job he was grossly unqualified for as head of the EPA.

Fine, he did plenty of damage in his too long a tenure.

So, quit.

Your work here is overdone.

On behalf of the media and protesters, you’re welcome, Scott. You don’t – or do – realize the size of the favor we’ve done you, your family and the planet…off of which I’d personally prefer to throw you.

What was really incomprehensible to me was the level of religious fervor he brought to the resignation.

Seriously…

I count what I consider to be eight separate incidents of religious reference in those three unctuous paragraphs.

You seem to be piling it on rather heavily, Scott. And I don’t even consider you to be at significant risk of needing a pardon in the too many remaining days/weeks/months of il Cheetos’ reign.

But, I guess from your perspective, it’s better safe than sorry.

Me? Instead of dwelling on it, imma focus on who’s next and go check the news for what I hope is Meuller’s latest indictments.

Oh, and guess who paid half attention and just got invited to Seattle for a face to face interview next week?

So, now I gotta go buy a BoltBus ticket and cancel plans…

New Chrisism

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

TIL #4: Tech Cheat

So, I’m sitting here at Big Legrowlski – alone, again…naturally – trying to figure out how to make a story on the Instagram. Well, making a story in and of itself isn’t terribly difficult. It’s the extras: adding additional pics to it and enhancing it with text…oy.

And links?

Fugeddabowdit.

It’s one of many situations that make me scream – sometimes in my head, sometimes in real, live technicolor – “I need a twenty-something!

Notice that I didn’t say “one of many recent situations”…gentle readers, this has been going on since I exited my own 20s.

Mind you, I’ve only vomited out about 5000 words into the WordPress Abyss today, why not keep going. FYI, that’s a lot of words and there was plenty of emotional heavy lifting between brain and keyboard…so, yeah. A little millennial vs old timer levity was required!

This phenomenon I mention…it is not one that I alone seem to struggle with, either. Witness this random post from a friend on the Facebook.

Not that I don’t enjoy my friends’ equal discomfiture, here in the techno-wilderness.

On the flip side, it’s nice to encounter situations that let you know that – somehow – it goes both ways.

Surrealiously…it takes 5 million years to make a goddamn rock. You’re only a millennial so where’s the disconnect? Sending a FAX should still be current events.

Situationally speaking, of course.

So, between those two generational extremes…what is it that I’m learning today, exactly?

Jesus, not to get myself into any situation that somehow evolves into me brokering peace in the Middle East, but I’ve learned today that this isn’t just a grumpy old Xtopher peccadillo, this tech frustration.

It really does go both ways.

Here I am, the perfect example of that statement: sometimes screaming to be helped by an assuredly more tech-comfortable younger person, other times the actual younger person being asked to help the Silver Fox figure out why his phone shows a music app running on his phone that he swears he’s never installed.

I’ve learned that, regardless of one’s chronological accomplishments on this galactic rock, technology is the great leveling device. You might think you’ve got your shit dialed in and your figurative water fowl aligned…you just haven’t met your technological undoing yet.

It might be the next it app that proves a boondoggle for your supposed savviness. Then again, it could be the old school alarm system at your kids’ house that keeps you huddled on their porch in a rainstorm as you wait for them after failing to gain entry, defeated by a keypad and four-digit passcode.

One never knows, do one?

In an abundance of flip sides leading up to this entry, I’ve also learned not to downplay expertise from surprising resources. I have this blog-buddy, Phil, that read of one of my storage issues with Apple.

Having grown weary of their too-frequent “Storage Almost Full” push notifications that really seemed to just be a squeeze play for an extra $.99/month from poor old Xtopher, I tossed off a whiny blog post.

What does the universe provide me in return?

A recommendation from Phil in my comments that I simply get a flash drive, onto which I could save my photos, music and anything else that congests my cloud storage situation. That would leave my cloud space free for apps and other shit…shit literally being “I don’t know what”.

Phil and I have bonded over many things: humor, beer storage, saddle rash. We’ve clashed over more important, serious issues along the lines of writing – in a strictly helpful, mentor-y manner. We’re not arguing Oxford Comma here, folks.

Phil is a grandparent.

Setting aside the reality that I could be, too, in a bizarrely alternate reality, Phil has subtly led me to believe that he’s got a few more laps around the sun than I have managed.

And here he is throwing me tech pro tips.

I’m sitting on my couch, reading this comment of his and resisting the urge to look over my shoulder at the Apple G4 Tower that I’ve had since the early aughts that has all of my music stored on it – stuff I transferred from CD into the drive after getting tired of dusting my CD cases.

A drive I moved from Portland to Seattle and back again – five households in all – to preserve my music library.

“Oh…just get an external drive?” – Me

Jesus.

I need a twenty year old. Stat!

TIL #4: Tech Cheat

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

Indigo Girls

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

My rationale?

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

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

On the pages of Blue Boy magazine.”

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

Indigo is a shade of blue.

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

I’ve been a fan ever since.

I’ve owned every album.

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

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

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

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

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

Never happened.

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

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

A generous space.

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

Until

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

It was crazy.

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

By “crazy”, I mean AWESOME.

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

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

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

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

Why is this anything important to know?

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

I.

Was.

Excited.

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

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

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

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

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

And I can’t wait to hear this album!

Indigo Girls