Boudoir Art

Alrighty.  Take Two, WordPress.

This morning I read a blog post by a writer I follow about an art show he’d recently attended.  He talked about the unwritten rules around art shows, how depending on the degree of friendquaintanceship with the artist, you may be socially obligated to buy.  He went on to mention that this particular artist’s creations were more bedroom fare than living room pieces, and I thought, “Yup.  Been there!”

I was reminded of a time…

Sacha had broken up with me and I’d come out of my breakup funk, but The Wallpaper had not yet moved in.

The Silver Fox and I were new friends.

Among other things he did to remain too busy, was sit on the board of a gay men and abused women’s health resource organization.  He was helping with an art auction and I went along with him.  

Something outside my norm, for sure.

He wasn’t certain of the outcome or attendance and asked me to make some bids in the silent auction to grease the wheels while he made his rounds, assuring me that I wouldn’t win anything this early but appreciating me helping to build some momentum.

Charities are so rigged.  Lol. 

Of course, I won four items.

Luckily, after saving my home post-Sacha by cleaning out one of my 401k accounts, I had a little scratch left.  Even after treating myself to this lil guy…

I still had the $2k to cover my competitive wheel greasing.  Here’s a couple of pieces I walked with that night:

The B&W was kind of a “meh” moment of bidding as I thought the starkness of the medium and actual barrenness of the scenery matched my emotional self pretty well at the time.  Since then, it’s become a unique piece among my other B&W art, most of the others being drawing or photos of buildings.  

Incidentally, the drawings I own were both done by former employees of mine, further demonstrating the social rules of art shows.  I picked these up back in 2015 when one of my employees at Green Zebra was opening her gallery.  Seriously, the only two pieces I was drawn to ended up being works by two of my other employees.  Crazy.

So, back to that first art show…in – what? – 2005?  No, I think it was 2004.  The second piece I won that night was actually a twin piece.  It’s the burnt orange dot pattern pictured above on the right.  I can’t say it was the only piece I was interested in winning, because it was actually half of a pair.  I loved the set and bid silently on both.  Unfortunately, a German couple was taken with the other half and bid only in it.  

Thanks to my competitive streak, the wheel greasing went a little wild as Otto von Ruining My Life kept trying to outbid me.  I thought I had him as I snuck up to bid again in the final minute.  He was a few feet away and facing the other direction as I scurried behind him and made my winning bid.

As they announced the clip boards were being picked up, I congratulated myself on my win.  When the volunteer got to the table with the twin set, Otto calmly turned, scribbled a bid, looked directly at me and then turned back around.

My inner congratulatory celebration turned in an instant to a slow motion scream of “Noooooooo!”

Fucking Germans.

But, at least I had won the piece with the best story.  Also a piece a normal person would never display conspicuously.

Naturally, I <ahem> hung it in my hallway in Seattle for a decade, ensuring everyone who visited my condo saw it.

So, here’s the story.

When I saw this piece, my first thought was, “Boy, that sure looks familiar…”

Turns out, it was painted from a profile pic on one of the earliest asocial media platforms, Adam4Adam.  That’s where I’d seen it.

Further, the artist was known as Father John, an actual priest.

That’s a pretty depraved story, right there.  But to further make owning this more personal to me, Father John and his long term partner – while now living in Portland – had been part of the model for the “A Gays” characters in Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City.  By far my favorite books.

I heard this story, looked at this dick and thought, “I’ve gotta have it!”  You all enjoy that A-level ententres-ing.

I guess I have one final art show tale.

When I was with Rib, one of his co-workers was an artist.  Aung was the epitome of struggling and working on finding her identity as an artist – and, as it turned out, a human.  We went to several of her – their – shows.  The pieces I bought ranged from “fun” like this Monty Python evoking piece.

To the piece I picked up at a “Rent Show”.

Hey, it fit perfectly in a blank space in my kitchen.  So there’s that.  Neither of these is displayed too prominently, if at all, these days.  But then there is my favorite piece by Aung.

Obviously, black and white pieces aside, I have a thing for pieces with bold colors.

I loved watching Aung mature as an artist.  Even more rewarding was visiting Rib’s flat after we’d broken up and seeing it filled with a bunch of Aung’s work that he’s bought at her “Moving Show” when she left Seattle.

He had learned the rules too well!

Boudoir Art

The Widow

There’s an old Sandra Bernhardt schtick about Grindr where she riffs on the gays being idiots for needing an app to find…let’s call it a date.  She says something along the lines of. “I don’t need an app to tell me there’s a hot guy three feet from me!”

And she’s kind of right about the ridiculousness and depth of our retardation if we need an app to introduce us to one another.  That’s partly why I call gay (let’s stick with this for now) dating apps asocial media.

But for once it actually seemed to work out as ridiculously as she described it.

I “met” a guy who lives on the next block.


He was in my neighborhood and was a cute lil Sparky, so I threw him a woof.  Immediately after which, I recalled from his profile how he said “messages work better than woofs” so I sent him a message culpa.

It worked and we began chatting.  I learned that he’d moved up here recently from SoCal and lived in the Elizabeth, which is one of my aspirational Pearl District homes.

Not my favorite, but with units priced starting at a cool half mil for us plebeian folk…darned affordable.

And, literally on the block right behind me.

One of the few people to ever earn the distinction of being blocked by me on an asocial media site was an old guy who lived in the Elizabeth.  Our units faced each other until the hotel on the backside of my block was built.  We used to chat online over our morning coffees and had a nice virtual friendship.  He was looking for more, I was looking for less so we were at a little impasse of interest levels.  

But still, we randomly chatted.

The third time he reminded me what I can expect my junk to look like in 15 years, I blocked him.  I felt for him, we are living the same plight.  Too old to catch the interest of a gay of our very own, too young to actually be dead.  But, I don’t want to see my friends naked, and him pulling this shit on me every month or so demonstrated an ulterior motive I didn’t want to deal with, so we never met.

But, boy-oh!  If only I could manage my attractions, I coulda been living in a dream house.

However, now I was chatting with a 31 year old unreasonably good looking guy that lived in the very same building.  

Quite a package deal!

Bonus points were given that after a week of chatting, I still didn’t know what his junk looked like.

And it was a week of talking about hobbies, and tacos and post coital ice cream and beer and wine and working out…but after that first day on the app, I never “saw” him in my neighborhood again.  He was always 2-3 miles away, which I randomly attributed to him being at work or at the gym – one of the only pics he’d sent me was him working out, and it wasn’t at either of the gyms in the Pearl so I assumed that he had a distant gym that he preferred.

I try to assume the best.

But I did have some misgivings, based not only on his phone’s inability to accurately place him where he said he physically was, but also because I really doubted that he could afford a place in the Elizabeth.  My suspicion was that he didn’t live in the Elizabeth, but maybe somewhere, oh…2-3 miles away.


He mentioned briefly that he had been engaged and his fiancé had died suddenly last year.  I didn’t pursue it via chat, but my mind briefly flashed back to my old neighbor and I began wondering what ever happened to him.

Actually, in my mind I had decided that was his fiancé and he’d died, leaving my condo to The Widow.

Nonetheless, despite those minor, niggling misgivings, I asked him out for a Friday drink.  I told him that I needed to be in bed – alone – by 8 for work the next day, but we could meet for a beer at 6 and I would introduce him to some of my favorite Oregon IPAs that he hadn’t met yet.

He declined.

Sure, in a sweet way, saying that he wanted more time together for our first meet up.  Ok, sure…how long does it take to drink a few beers and chat?  Two hours seemed like plenty, but I accepted his tentative alternate of Monday.

<ignores obvious warning whistles>

I just assumed that his current weekend was booked up, which I got used to while dating in Shittatle.

Here’s the funny part:

No, I swear, this is gonna kill ya.

Me, being playful me, texted him early on Friday and suggested he sneak out of work early and we could grab some happy hour since it was gorgeous out.  He replied, in what I assumed was a genuinely adult tone about how he’d just been sucked into a project that was gonna keep him late at work.

Oh, well…and I go about my day.  This does involve replying to random messages I’m getting on Scruff, mostly from people flying into town for the weekend who want to know if I’d like to give them a congratulatory fuck for arriving in Portland.


But, while responding to one such message, I happen to see The Widow is online…aaaaand 146 miles away.


I click on his profile, and sure enough:

Travel icon engaged, upcoming trip announced and, as I mentioned, he’s 146 miles away.

Oh, well.  I’m not upset by this.  I’m really more just curious as to why he wouldn’t say he’s going out of town.

Between my favorite sounding board, the Silver Fox – who insists I’m too hard on people, we decide that I should just let it lie until we meet on Monday.

“If he makes it back, I grumble.”

But I do.


He messages me at 6:20, “I’m off!”

That’s your long day?!?

I continue to let it lie until he messages me again later that night.  I’ve already popped my melatonin, as I do in order to be able to fall asleep at 8 pm.  I forget the context of the message, but my response is something along the lines of, “Let’s talk about it Monday.  Enjoy Seattle!”

Because I just couldn’t help myself.  I blame the melatonin.

He gets into this innocent act, thinking my response was meant for someone else.  When I explain my text, he insists he’s at home and basically dates me to meet up.

It’s about 7:45 now, so that’s a “no” from me, but I fall asleep wondering what would have happened if I’d called that bluff.

The next couple of days were spent with him asking to meet up again on Saturday and then immediately taking offense at some innocent pith I tossed out a few minutes later.  Same thing on Sunday, which ultimately ended with him asserting that he’s been trying to get me to meet up, but I won’t commit, so he’s walking away.

Good, I think and tell him, “In the last 48 hours, you’ve called me an asshole, a dick, passive aggressive and a few other pretty hostile things while continuing to alternate between asking me to get together and then manufacturing offense to get out of it, all while your phone thinks you’re in Seattle.  But, ok.  Bye.”

I feel bad when shit like that happens, especially with someone you’ve never met.  But what can ya do?  Given the evidence I witnessed and the behavior I experienced, I’m fine believing he was in Seattle – possibly at a Black Widow convention, maybe not – and just didn’t like being called out on it.

Haven’t heard from him since and still haven’t seen him around the ‘hood, so I’ll call this a lose/win situation.


The Widow

I Need A Haircut

I have briefly considered wearing my hair in a longer style recently.  I think this is just a further manifestation of my desire to avoid being perceived as sporting anything that could be lumped into the notion of “the gay haircut”.  To be sure, this has everything to do with my time in Seattle where every homo on The Hill seemed to have the same haircut…most, courtesy of Rudy’s Barbershop.

Don’t think there’s such a thing as a gay haircut?

Remember this bullshit from a few posts back?

Ugh.  The Hard Part.

A good name for my autobiography in progress, shit name for a hairstyle.

Totally gay.  Plus, it makes me respect gay guys a little less – yes, that is possible.  I imagine someone walking in and saying, “This is the style I want” and whipping out this guy’s pic.  Because, we should all take our style cues from the guy with facial tattoos…

I still won’t go to the Rudy’s in Portland, a) because Bishops is several bucks cheaper, but also b) because I usually get a more diverse choice of stylists there, making for a better experience for me.



Oh, and c) Bishops offers a beer while you wait, last I checked, Rudy’s didn’t.  Sure, it’s bullshit hipster beer like PBR or Montucky – same beer, by the way, just different marketing.  I kid you not.

I’ve gotten pretty good at timing my arrival at my local Bishop’s so that I’m the first one there.  In and out in record time.  The stylists are usually happy to see me, especially if it’s a slow starting day and there’s no line waiting to get in.

What can I say?  I tip like my father.

However, on my last trip…well, it was a trip.

First in the door, and no line had formed behind me.  I’m getting really good at not noticing that lines no longer form around me.  In this case, I easily convinced myself it wasn’t because I’m too old to be waiting for anything cool enough to queue up for.

It was Thursday morning at 10:50.

Normies were working.

I love my atypical weekend.


One of the two worker-people unlocks the door – she’s kinda non-descript and I decide I instantly want her cutting my boring hair instead of the girl with fluorescent pink braids.

Of course, this being my life, I got Pinky.

No big deal.  I can rally.  It’s only 25 minutes of my life, which is cumulatively the same amount of time I’ll probably spend having sex with other people between now and the end of my life.

Oh!  The end of my life in two or three decades!  Sorry to alarm you, mom!

I actually found myself checking myself on my earlier choice of stylists.  It doesn’t matter, really…I just think my dull head will bore someone as outwardly extravagant as Pinky.  Simultaneously, I’m mentally scrolling through the covert reasons for her  choices in self-expression.  I am decidedly a tee shirt and jeans guy, but still, I appreciate the effort people put into their appearance.

Even if I question the underlying motivations.

Total sidebar, as I’m writing about Pinky, I’m debating whether one of my DBE partners thought – or reflexively assumes – my comments about his garb this morning were slightly racist.

And whether maybe they were.  Or, at best were ignorant or insensitive.

I assure you that they were well intentioned, if not poorly informed.

But you gotta understand that my DBE is Snoop Dogg’s uncle as well as the father of a Women of WWE woman…when he dresses he makes this guylook like a tee shirt and jeans guy.

His outfit for today’s meeting was an exercise in monochromatic brocade paired with pointy toed patent leather shoes with hobnails (for lack of the appropriate cobbler jargon) around the sole at the front and topped off with a metal point with a skull shaped into it.

Those were some fucking shoes.

As a white guy, I don’t think I stood any better chance of commenting on them and not sounding ignorant or racist than Harvey Weinstein does of complimenting an actress’ gown and not sounding predatory.  So, fuck me.

So, Pinky starts in on the cut with some small talk about where I live and what I do.

Everything was fine until the second question, which was also about the same time I realized Pinky was trans…providing a shorthand answer to a few of  my initial questions on why someone would have that hair color.

And dye their eyebrows to match, by the way.

Regardless, it really popped against an alabaster skin tone that would make Casper look tanned.

It wasn’t that I do HR for a group of news & gift shops at PDX that caused the conversation to slide sideways.  It was the, “That sounds interesting” comment, rejoined with my, “Mostly, I just chase staffing issues all week” that committed our conversation to a slide that I didn’t even try to steer out of.

I have this longstanding rule about not pissing certain people off:

Your barista.  

Any waiter.

No need to risk a “sneezer”, right?

Barbers and stylists certainly qualify for this group of people not to piss off.

At this point, I start to realize I’m in a conversation that I’ll be lucky to escape from with just a pair of scissors stuck in my skull.  At worst, I’ll also be buried with a bad haircut.

You see, when she asked why staffing was such a problem, I didn’t leave it at a simple, “Hiring at the airport is just challenging”.  


I had to go on and talk about how it’s tough to have a group of long-term associates – read: older – in today’s hiring environment because many of my new hires are college students…or at least college aged.

See how that last part comes across as judgy?

Me, too.


But the reality is that the two demographics just. don’t. get. along.

So our conversation is now in a full-on slide and Pinky contributes that maybe it’s not that millennials – her word – weren’t so much flaky or lazy – also her words – as they were tired of being pawns in the big capitalism game that is America.

I totally allowed that point, agreeing with the current backlash of the younger generations toward the Boomer-favoring economy.

Maybe millennials are just tired of working to pad someone else’s balance sheet.

Once again…not taking advantage of a strategic opportunity to not re-engage, I posit that no one is required to actually participate in capitalism.  She questions my sincerity by demanding an answer to how one will survive in today’s America without working for The Man.

You know, I say, I don’t know.  Yours is about the fourth generation to struggle with that question and I really don’t know the answer.  You’re in Oregon, where craft beer and weed are the past and current alt-industries.  Look at all the craft brewers selling out to big beer in “distribution deals” and ask yourself if weed will follow a different path.


So, these alt-industries that basically have working class hero stamped in their DNA sell out.  Here’s what we think is the answer to capitalism run amok, selling out and caving to said capitalism.  The generations between you and I didn’t figure it out.

It’s up to your generation to do us one better.

– And this is fully where I should have muzzled my inner Julia Sugarbaker –

But until you do, you might try not biting the capitalist hand that’s feeding you, because that’s a little hypocritical, no?

Her mouth made the same perfect circle that both my eyes were making as she realized whatever she realized and I realized that I’d just broken one of my cardinal service people rules.

God help me.

Regardless of gender identification and politics, I’ve decided that I’ll probably go back to wearing my hair styled short again.  I think it was my writing about Egypt and seeing pictures of younger me, but whatever the impetus, I recently found myself entertaining the thought, “Maybe I could be one of those old guys with the IDGAF long hair…”

As grumpy as I am, I suspect that scenario plays out with me taking clippers to my head in frustration one evening.  Which, having likely worn out my welcome at Pinky’s Pelo Palace – er…Bishop’s – might be my follicular reality soon enough…

I Need A Haircut

The Short, Hot Mess

I’ve had pornography on my mind quite a lot over the last week or so, albeit in a non-traditionally male manner.

Last week I had a strange experience that made me think about several guys that I have dated in the past who were or ended up working in the adult entertainment industry.  Writing that really made made me think about the industry as a whole and how it impacted the people who work in it.

It was quite an unexpected result from that little walk down Chagrin Lane.

I alluded to someone that I’ve referred to as The Short Hot Mess for over a decade, but didn’t really flush out my experience with him, thinking that I had already created a draft that I could edit and finish him off.  The strange thing is that I’ve been stuck in a thought eddy about him but also about porn in and of itself.

Let’s tackle the namesake of this article first, eh? Continue reading “The Short, Hot Mess”

The Short, Hot Mess

Life’s Work Blog

I was in Seattle last week pulling some of my personal belongings out of my condo to feather my Portland nest.  In the interim between planning this trip and executing, the place sold, so there’s that.  However, I decided just to do the day run anyway and make the next few weeks of my Portland life a little more plush.

I drove up with The Silver Fox, leaving at 7:15 in the morning.  It was one of those fantastic middle-aged mornings, where I woke up at 4:30 to pee and couldn’t go back to sleep.  So I went to a 6:00 spin class and was 15 minutes late for our 7:00 departure.  We counted the number of times Hello by Adele came on XM Radio on the trip up as a way of passing the time.

Three, if you were curious.

The trip was fast.

A little rain.

A little traffic.

But we arrived just before 10:30, so I’d put that squarely in the “Making Good Time” column…even though it took us 30 minutes to get from SeaTac to Seattle proper – 15% of our travel time to cover 7% of our trip’s distance.

It helps that we didn’t stop to pee.

Unless you ask The Fox, then he might say that the 10 minute Rest Area detour would be worth it. Continue reading “Life’s Work Blog”

Life’s Work Blog

The Second Son

I set out late last week to write an entry about my ex in Seattle, who stubbornly – but in a good way – kept popping into my consciousness over the week.  The one relationship I’ve had that doesn’t make me look like an embittered old man and I choked.

Couldn’t do it.

It was surprisingly emotional for me, so it remains a draft that quasi-haunts me…Xtopher’s Rib.


Meanwhile, my number of blogs in draft status has crept back up to 23…just under 50% of my total posts, so I committed to myself to crack out a couple this week and get that number more in line.  One-third of my content in draft status just makes me feel like I have issues completing things.  I don’t need that, I have two partially completed novels to make me feel like a failure…they don’t need any help.  As a matter of fact, my blog is the reason I use for not working on my book ideas.

Then, I saw on Facebook earlier today – while stalking a friend’s page – that I had missed National Sibling’s Week.  Well, even though I got you the same thing for NSW as I typically do for your birthdays – nothing – I wanted to apologize to Chuck and Lizard Breath for missing the opportunity to tell them that I love and appreciate them.

Every week, too.

Not just some random week that the internet made up.

Which brings us to the awkward fact that I have three siblings and one is estranged. Continue reading “The Second Son”

The Second Son


Man…dating seems to be foremost in my mind recently.

I’ve certainly been doing it, because of optimism or self-hate, I am not entirely sure.

I had lunch with the Little Buddy yesterday and she said something to the effect of “I hated dating and I hate interviewing, I’m not sure how you stand both”.  Remember, that’s an indirectly paraphrased quote.

She and I had both just come from interviews.

She got a call during lunch and said, “I bet that’s a job offer coming in” and blithely let the call roll to voicemail.

My hero of cool.

Sarah Barielles’ Brave just came on Sonos in the background, so I suppose that’s my cue.

FOMO – what is it?





Freaking Millennials.   It’s like they need an acronym for everything.

But that attitude is drastically different from my mindset – and I firmly believe that my mindset was representative of our culture’s at the time I matured in – growing up before the turn of the century.  We wanted it all and were a culture of conspicuous consumers, yet we found satisfaction in setting a goal and obtaining it.  It doesn’t seem so true about subsequent generations, and their dissatisfaction with what they have is bleeding backward into prior generations.

No one is satisfied.

People move house and trade-in vehicles like a runner changes shoes.

TV shows are cancelled after one episode.

Remember how popular small and toy breed dogs became after Paris Hilton got famous with her reality show?  Go to a shelter and check out the number of abandoned small breeds, even now, after all this time.

As far as that pertains to dating, why wouldn’t we throw away people, too.  A friend of mine summed it up beautifully one drunken evening when discussing his relationship with his partner of 20+ years versus my single existence:

“You meet someone in a bar and spend the night talking.  You go home together and they either never leave or you never hear from them again.”

An interesting if not highly figurative observation on his part.  Gay Wisdom?  Perhaps.  A cleverly turned phrase that one with faith in relationships can see gospel in like Catholics can believe in transubstantiation?  I’m sure that’s an easy argument.

But what about the other side of that argument?  What if instead of scuttling a potential truth with jaded jargon loaded arguments we debunk the assertion that it can’t be that simple?

What scuttles modern dating?

Personally, it seems that – anecdotally – even hookups are tough to get someone to commit to.  That being the case, how can anyone hope to get someone to show up for something that doesn’t have the same immediate reward an orgasm does?

So, hooking up and taking care of urgent biological imperatives in the moment over investing in more challenging spiritual needs is surely one possible explanation.  But, I’m sure there are many facets in something so complex as human interaction and relationship building.

Being a career retailer, I have never dreaded the proximity of competition opening near to my particular business.  Competition is generally credited as a positive and mutually beneficial phenomenon in business, but not so with dating.  It seems that the more apps available to shop for mates and the more people participating the more distracted the process becomes.


Consider these apps might be analogous to retail as an industry in this scenario, but if we cast people as the businesses, that leaves the question of currency.

What is the currency?


Oops.  Looks like we have based this experiment on the Greek economy since relationships seem to be suffering.  Our relationships are going bankrupt.  Urgently.

And it points well back to my original point about FOMO.  We have so many choices, that we make none, remaining stuck in the cycle of not deciding.

It’s like we’re all stuck in Seinfeld.  Remember how when he or Elaine or George or Kramer dated someone there was always something wrong?

close talker

He’s a close talker.

She’s a low talker.


For believing she got gonorrhea from sitting on a tractor seat in a bikini…one of my personal favorites.

Ok, maybe it’s not fair to lay this all at the feet of the Millennials.

But whatever seminal influence the Seinfeld cast and writers may or may not have inadvertently had in this current behavior, at least there were reasons these characters sabotaged their relationships.  Today, I think there is no more reason than simple distraction.

Before ever hearing the term FOMO I had my own name for this phenomenon.  I called guys who couldn’t commit the Queens of the Better Offer.  You’d go to bars and chat with people.  If it went well, you ask them out or for more immediate gratification, back to your place.  Then, I guess, if everything goes well, you rent a U-Haul.  The Queens of the Better Offer would delay accepting an invite, be it of a social or more carnal variety, and hold out for their perceived best opportunity in whatever particular bar they were in.  Frequently, these QotBO ended up finding themselves at the “Sidewalk Sale” after the bar closed and kicked everyone out.

You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here.

The QotBO were left with the option to go home alone or settle for someone who wasn’t worthy enough to invest their attention in in the hours leading up to closing time.

Wow.  I just had an a-ha moment to when my grumpy old man-ness began.  When guys would do that to me, I remember telling them that if they had left with me when I asked, they could be home sleeping already instead of just deigning to hit on me.




Back to the present shituation (<– Chrisism) and what have these current behaviors created for our culture, not just the gay culture, but within America as a whole?  People.  Lonely people.  Perhaps more entertained than ever before but also lonelier at the core than ever before as well…lonely people who are afraid of missing out, afraid of being alone.

Whether it’s Monkey Daters – who never leave one romantic entanglement before having their next lined up, much like a monkey swinging from branch to branch in the wild – or people that are so busy being busy that they don’t have time to indulge dating someone seriously.  Or won’t risk it.  They’ve got their professional lives, their part time career of gym-going and then myriad distractions from their unnamed loneliness like volleyball leagues or the Gay Men’s Chorus.  Christ, even big brother or other volunteer programs are more of a security blanket protecting against the potential cold of loneliness than they are a legitimate charitable exercise.

But what’s one to do when he still has needs that dating would normally meet but the crippling indecisiveness and chronic overcommitting so prevalent – basic, if you will – amongst us all today makes impossible to achieve?

Here’s the vicious FOMO cycle.

Back to the apps.

Maybe not even to hook up, per se, but to just connect with someone else killing some free time before bed or during a lull at work.  Just to feel desirable enough because someone throws a Woof or an Oink or a Smile your way.  Or even a “Sup”…man, when someone actually uses a real – albeit lame and artless – word with you instead of just pushing a button to send an automated and presumably less risky Wink your way you really should make an effort to lock that down.  The online personal touch is so…touching.

So there’s that benefit of having a dating app.  Mutual acceptance of the situation, this misery your constructed happiness has created.  The camaraderie of people knowing they aren’t the only ones that are too busy leading a happy and incomplete life to have time to date or put effort into a relationship.

That’s a pretty jaded perspective of what the FOMO culture can create.  But I have observed this phenomenon in action.  Not the reality for everyone, of course.

There’s under-booked guys and people out there, too.  Normal people.  People who aren’t missing out on having it all by virtue of having too much.  People such as yours truly, who is really just a watcher to these mind-boggling behaviors and goings-on.  Sure, I see other normal guys out there.  We talk.  Other things happen.  Or don’t.  But I also see guys like I have described.  I call them precious, these QotBO.

But I see another type of guy, too.

The guy that is guys.

Guys who are looking for a third.  What is it about our FOMO culture that creates all these open relationships that I see now?

Too often.

You’ll be glad – or perhaps just unsurprised – to learn that I have a theory.

Not that Poly or Open Relationships aren’t viable pieces of the possible spectrum of human interaction and relationships…but they seem to be too large a piece of the pie nowadays.  People routinely barfing out the expected defenses of “If you haven’t tried it, you can’t knock it” and “It works for us”.

Does it, though?


Is this what “working” looks like?

Maybe you’re with the wrong person.  Perhaps your response to the FOMO culture was to settle.  A bird in the hand, after all…

I’ve seen Poly and Three-way Relationships disintegrate because there was still no commitment amongst the principles.  Great, now there’s three of you dating.  Why are each of you still looking for hook-ups on the side?  How much dick is enough?  Is not enough dick really the core issue?

For me, the logistics of a Three-way Relationship are non-starters.  Is it always everyone, all the time?  Can two be intimate without the third?  I learned from Big Love that schedules and calendars help.  That kind of takes away the genuineness that spontaneity creates, though.

“Sorry, I can’t drill you in the kitchen because tonight I have to be in someone else’s bed.”

Same with Open Relationships…sure, they just aren’t for me.  I’m traditional.  But how does that work?  I get some on the side while my boyfriend is at work and then he comes home feeling randy.  Well, guess what?  I’m a one-hit-wonder.  Matter of fact, I’m probably good for a few days now.  My days of having sex like I’m brushing my teeth – before bed, when I wake up and sometimes after lunch – are over.  I’ve entered my sexual camel stage, believe it or not.  But still, I think my case is extreme but not abnormal, even the most sexually active would probably lose their enthusiasm for repeated instances of bad timing.

Or their boyfriends would.

Either way, the problem probably just escalates until you have a relationship that crumbles or reaches a NSLP situation…non-sexual life partners.

From what I have gathered, there are lots of reasons for Open or Three-way relationships to work.  Some make me nod my head as I see the potential for the particular rationale; long distance creating an open situation, age-based open relationships to meet the needs of differing libidos.

I’ve also heard some real head-scratchers as far as reasons for opening a relationship up goes:  two bottoms or tops together?  WTH?

You’re not boyfriends if you’re not lovers; you’re friends.

This latter type of phenomenon made me realize that sometimes people respond to the FOMO culture we’re stuck in by not missing out on a relationship…even if it’s with the wrong person.  Those are more often than not the alternate relationships that I see fail.  But, mark my words, those people are the ones that will organize a Poly Pride Parade before admitting that their alternate relationship isn’t what needed acceptance, it was the fact that their relationship was unviable in the first place that needed to be recognized.

Not to switch topics too jarringly, but the other day I was talking about the good old gay days in Portland with a guy over a beer.

Yes, it was a date.  Shut up.

With a guy who didn’t know about the good old gay days because…

He is 25.  More shutting up, please.

I was telling him about how virtually all of the gay bars in Portland used to be on a three block stretch of Stark Street, commonly referred to as Vaseline Alley.  Starting where Stark breaks off of Burnside you had The Eagle, Silverado’s was on the next block which has been completely taken over by the McMenamin’s businesses – I’m not sure why there is a Army Surplus Jeep in the basement that used to be a sex club called Club Portland, but that’s what I hear happened.  On the next block you had Three Sister’s, lovingly called Six Tits, where you could see straight guys strip for gay guy’s discretionary tip money while their girlfriends watched.  And then the big finish of Boxxes, Brig and Panorama across from the original locations for CC Slaughters and Scandals just below 10th Street.  Scandals is the only gay bar left on the street now.  Everything else has scattered to make way for boutique hotels, upscale shops and overpriced hipster cafes and bars.

It’s progress.

Unforgivable in some people’s minds, but for me…completely the opposite.  Half of the displaced bars simply ceased to exist.  The remaining scattered to different quadrants of town from SW to NW to North Portland – affectionately called Portland’s Fifth Quadrant, because Portland does like to be weird.  Or be bad at math and cartography stuff.

What others see as gentrification gone wild I see as diversifying our brand.  We spread the gays out, diluted their entertainment options and kind of forced gays to suddenly have to pick a favorite to invest in since they couldn’t just hopscotch down the road hitting each of the bars in turn.  I think it actually strengthened the community as well as the businesses themselves, which is good for us all.

Capitol Hill in Seattle faces the same fate as gentrification from overpaid, over-imported and overwhelmingly heterosexual tech employees move to the areas adjacent to their new jobs in Seattle’s downtown core and South Lake Union neighborhoods.  The public (gay) outcry was legitimate but probably short sighted.  The gay enclave of Cap Hill needed to be broken up.  We were kind of bullies in our roles as Queen of the Hill.  To each other.  It was a live action version of what I see on line and in app behavior:  you could be talking to someone in a bar or even on a date and not be able to avoid the feeling that they were looking over your shoulder or around the corner to see who was on the horizon.  It’s the Sidewalk Sale all over again.

Talk about someone kissing you with their eyes open.

Just like Portland gays had to make deliberate attempts and decisions in their nightlife after the demise of Vaseline Alley, I see opportunities for the gays of Seattle to come back more into touch with actual one-on-one dating and relationships once they are scattered across the neighboring communities and have less distraction to take their attention off of what’s right in front of them.

So, maybe we’ll grow out of this FOMO culture organically.  At least as it largely impacts relationships within my particular subculture.  But the gays have long been relied upon to be trend setters.  So goes the evolution of dating and relationships with the gays, so follows the country.

We’ll see.

I still think intentional behaviors are better than reactionary behaviors, but that might be asking too much.  Maybe we all need to suffer together in order to grow.  Safety in numbers.  Maybe the solution isn’t so much a Norma Rae type moment where one voice can make a movement – ok, I could have used Gandhi there, not sure why I defaulted to Sally Field – rather, more of a Darwinism type moment where we have to fight to ensure the life and culture that we love survives and what is actually important to us thrives.  Let me tell you, as the Cap Hill enclave has broken up, I have seen more announcements of relationships and marriages than I have announcements of relationships ending.  That’s a positive change from past behavior.  No one in Seattle is going to get in a car for a hook-up.  No piece of ass is worth that traffic nightmare, they will lock down what they have.  Nearby.

Stand by.  You know I’ll be here observing and won’t be shy about vomiting my opinions onto the poor, unsuspecting world-wide web.


Dying Young

I woke up to news on Facebook that an acquaintance in Seattle had died.

Now, when I say acquaintance, I mean that I could pick him out as a familiar face in a bar and frequently saw him tagged in social media posts.  We really were not friends, so news of his death only impacted me inasmuch as it affected friends of mine and generated some thoughts on the life and legacy of my favorite person.  I couldn’t tell you if he had a boyfriend – or more likely in Seattle, was part of a thruple or just had many FWBs – or what his favorite food was.  I know he worked at Boeing and I know he was a softball player.  That’s it.

He was 7 months younger than me.

In typical Chris-fashion, my deeper thoughts were interrupted by what might be considered inappropriate laugher.  The Facebook post listed his life as 8/29/68- 10/7/15 instead of today’s actual date, 11/7/15.  I wasn’t all grammar-nazi about the error, but I did freak out thinking, “Fuck!  It’s my sister’s birthday!”  Then, when I realized that I had already forgotten her birthday a month ago, recognized the error and chuckled at my reaction.

Oh, one more thing I know about him, apparently every one of my Facebook friends in Seattle was his friend.

It seems he experienced cardiac arrest last Sunday, which resulted in a coma.

Since then, I’ve seen enough vaguebook posts to know something was wrong and certainly not looking like it was going to be right again.

This made me both sad and annoyed.  I’m sympathetic enough to feel my friends’ loss.  I’m me, though, so my inner grumpy, old man made occasional appearances over the course of a very difficult week for my friends as the posts kept rolling in on my feed and I judged whether the posts I was reading were coming from a true friend of his or a Kardashian-friend of his who was trying to get attention or look like a better friend than they were in reality for him.

The Kesha song Die Young just came on.  My Sonos is either super attuned to my moods or psychotic.  Obviously the only possibilities.

This phenomenon I have witnessed over the last week gives me mixed feelings.

On the one hand, this fella clearly had a lot of friends and acquaintances who are remembering him and have shared memories of him on Facebook and sent good wishes his way over the last week of his life.  Lots of great pictures shared.  His electronic, two-dimensional life looked like a full existence.  His organs are being donated and his legacy grows.  The comments I see trend toward the “this is just like him, always helping others” type of thing.

Sidebar: organ donation…ugh.  Back in my school days, I worked night shift at a hospital and witnessed a few people whose lives had ended prematurely having their organs harvested.  Man, I support the concept…but seeing the actual process was an eye-opener, figuratively and literally, since corneas are part of the harvest.  Corneas, liver, heart, kidneys, skin, long bones.  Man…it was those last two that really got me.  It makes total sense, skin for people in need of grafts.  Long bones for people in need of marrow – but seeing those long leg bones replace by broomsticks to maintain the structural integrity of the body was, well…ugh-inducing.  I guess now we are even harvesting tissue from the mouth, based on the recent oral surgery experiences of some friends and family.

Back to the hands.

So, on the other hand, this phenomenon is also is a potential example of the social culture in Seattle that bothered me when I lived there.  Well, let’s call it the best possible example of it, the worst possible example being the Seattle Freeze.  So many friends and acquaintances seems like an embarrassment of social wealth…but what I frequently experienced living there was a lot of social connections but not a lot of true depth in the relationships which made me view a lot of the people I encountered in Seattle as paupers.

Sonos update:  We Found Love just came on.  Seriously?  I’m talking about superficial connections with no depth and a song that includes the line (over and over, I might add, grumpily) “We found love in a hopeless place” plays.  That’s it.  My Sonos is controlled by Hannibal Lecter.

Maybe I wasn’t patient enough in Seattle.  I like to bemoan the fact that I came away from Seattle with a lot of acquaintances and connections with co-workers, but not a lot of significant connections.  Y’know…friends.  Maybe those take more time to develop?  Then I remember that I lived there 9 years and wonder, how the fuck much longer was I supposed to give to this process?  It’s all shituational.  His experience was different than mine, just like mine was different than each of the other 600,000 people that live in the core of Seattle.

All of the actual factuals versus my grumpy aspersions aside, I have to acknowledge that I am touched by the legacy this man leaves behind.

Not just the organ donations and Seattle socialites emoting all over Facebook for the past week.

There was a toast organized in his honor last night when the decision was made to remove his life support.  It was at a local Seattle bar, but encouraged people who couldn’t attend to raise a glass wherever they happened to be.  It seemed to include a Fireball stipulation, so I am assuming that was his shot of choice.  It was at 9:00, because his softball number – and I presume, favorite number – was 9, which he wore for years if not decades of play on many different teams.

The social outpouring I had the honor of being on the fringe of last night was amazing.

People at the bar in Seattle.

People at home in Seattle after a long day.

People in adjacent cities and states that knew him.

People on vacation in Mexico.

People living in Australia and New Zealand.

People who hated Fireball and choked one down for his memory or continued strength to fight for a little more life.

People who were alone last night.

People who interrupted their dinners out with friends for a shot of Fireball.

People who just literally couldn’t even with the whole Fireball concept and raised an alternate salute.

Fat kids, skinny kids, kids that climb on rocks.

That outpouring of emotion and support for a life prematurely winding down proves his pudding in my eyes.  Anyone can emote on social media, send a generic “hugs” statement or the equivalent for someone’s struggle before moving on with their scrolling.  But to stop and make an effort to honor one’s life in such a visible manner really demonstrates the impact that this one person had – physically and emotionally – on so many other people.

Even though my life was never touched by his life, I have to admit that my life was certainly touched by his death.

Like I said, I’ve seen organ harvests before and witnessing that event left me with a hollow feeling about a life ending a vital organ at a time.

This experience provided me with the missing degrees of that life choice.  The people whose “gift of life” I had seen previously were complete strangers to me, as were the recipients of their final generosity.  This time, I still won’t know the recipients of his organs – just as they will not know him.  But this time, know people who knew him.  I know many of them well enough to know they lost someone important, someone who was as genuine as the outpouring of emotion on Facebook suggests.

Someone who’s life was not a platitude, but an existence who’s absence will create more than a social vacuum in the lives of people I value.  For that, I’m honoring him not with a shot, rather, here on my humble little blog so that I – and maybe a few other people – can find the reminder or inspiration to make our lives matter by living a life of happiness and substance for those around us daily because you really never know how long you have.

Dying Young