My First Sound Check

You’d think at my age, I’d have done just about everything I ever wanted to do at least once.

Not so, my friend.  Not so…

For instance, I’d never been to a sound check for a live show before.

Sure, as a baby queer in high school, I had been in choir and drama club, watching judgmentally as the unbeloved tech folk set up their lights and sound.

Yeah, when I was in college and exploring the fraternity option, I day drank shit keg beer and blurrily watched as Otis Day and the Knights phoned in their pre-show prep at the Pike House.  Hey, it was a kegger-cum-concert.  I was more interested in figuring out if I could pass in a fraternity at KSU without getting the shit kicked out of me and disappearing sometime mid-rush week at the time than in the pre-show goings on of that band from Animal House.  Naturally, my focus was stretched as I further divided my attention by lustily considering my potential frat brothers and fellow pledges…yeah, I was gonna end up dead.

Nonetheless, I ended up seeing Otis Day scream into the mic a few times prior to the show, but it wasn’t a super complex sound system we were dealing with.  It was the backyard deck of a frat house, after all.

So, when my bestie-neighbor from Seattle called me and invited me to a show that one of her bands was doing here in town, I was in.

D-Slice and I possibly share a single liver.  Or were both cloned from the same one…they’re doing that, you know.  There’s a reason I don’t look like my brothers and sister!

As a human, she’s top notch.  As a neighbor, she’s kinda like a Julie McCoy.  I first met her when our apartment-turned-condo opened and several of us first wave residents moved in simultaneously as the housing market verged on its infamous 2008 crash…effectively stranding us all in a partially sold 146 unit building.

I would bet that there were only about 60 units occupied during those early years.  If I had a better – less muddled – memory, I could be more specific.  Alas…

Yet, this small group of us housing market castaways bonded.

What began as drinks in the community room, or the laundry room – usually bemoaning the fact that the sales office promise of a roof top deck had not yet become a reality – between a few dozen regulars evolved into progressive parties, moving from one unit to another on a host floor.  D-Slice upped this game by going private.  She resurrected a past event of hers that she called Free Drink Friday from a former residence…perhaps a college dorm, who knows?  What I do know is that the rules were pretty simple:  she starts us off with a few bottles of wine, some beer and/or whatever randomly occurring bottles of liquor she has in her unit (shut up, Diezel) and maybe some light snacks or a pizza or two.  Attendees can BYOB if they are so inclined or just show up and suckle off the provided well.  The party would go until quiet hours kicked in or the booze ran out.


D-Slice, being a kindred spirit – key word:  spirit – was not one to let quiet hours stand in the way of a good time.  A few of us cooler neighbors would stick around and bat clean up after everyone else left.  With the booze, not the actual clean up, fuck that.

During one of these late nights, as D-Slice and I were the sole stragglers, we realized the booze-fueled brilliance of our drunken wit and wisdom deserved an audience.  Just like that, the Podcast was born.

Not the actual podcast phenomenon.

I assure you, we are not responsible for the low key craze of data-plan-eating streaming talk shows, no.  Our Podcast was pretty much just code for us hanging out, drinking and chatting.  Occasionally, we’d invite another friend or neighbor and call them a special guest.  Others, one of us would call a special session Podcast to debrief a specific situation or, more likely, shituation.

More often than not, my favorite part of our Podcast was its inevitable end.  Not because I yearned for the finish…no, it was the finale itself.  What I came to call Flooraoke.

I’m sure you can figure it out.

But at some point, we’d add in some music to the mix of our easy conversation and as the evening wore on and we became slightly worse – or better, depending on your criteria – for the booze, the focus on the conversation would wane and the attention to the music would take center stage.  Center floor, at any rate.  I’m no singer, but D-Slice has put out a few independent CDs and been a part of several bands since I’ve known her.  As gravity pulled us toward its inevitable victory, I would end up slumped in a chair while D-Slice put up more of a fight and ended up heroically sprawled on the floor in her ignominy.

Then, the magic would happen.

Some song would just spark her fire and she was zoned and in her zone, singing toward a gloriously undignified slumber.  After a few songs, I would make my own way home to bed, warmed with the already slipping away memories of the past several hours.

It is an amazing memory, these Poscast sessions.

So, hitting her show in Portland was a no-brainer.

Initially, I’d been worried about the show keeping me up past my bedtime for my early morning work alarm.  Turns out, the disclaimer that I might not stay for the whole show was unnecessary.  It was an afternoon show with the Heart Shaped Boxes.

Nonetheless, my disclaimer about leaving early had set the pre-funk ball in motion.  No need to derail that plan simply because the show was starting earlier.  In true rock star fashion, we just started drinking earlier…which is how I came to be at her sound check.  

I hopped out of my Uber on the corner of the block that the bar she was performing at was in and walked back to the door.  There, I was met by a heavy metal David Cross type guy.

But, once inside, the bar proved to be a pretty small collection of nice staff members with properly spelled tattoos.  Not  a bad place to spend a Saturday afternoon.

I was introduced to the other Boxes, all of whom I knew from the Facebook, D-Slice had met them all through a rock camp for girls where they were all camp counselors.  

Ok, it’s cooler than that makes it sound.  It’s called Rain City Rock Camp, if you’re so inclined google them and maybe donate.

Other than the HSBs and the staff, the bar was empty, save for a lone young man with the long, straight hair and basic black jeans and tee metal dude dress code.  He was sitting on a table, facing the back of the bar, doing some finger work on his guitar to warm up.  I assumed he was with the opening act, and said as much to D-Slice.  She said she wasn’t sure, she hadn’t been involved in the booking, she just went where she was told to be when she was told to be there.

Not a bad gig.

It was then that she excused herself for her sound check work and the metal dude turned on his table so that he was facing me.  D-Slice said I should go say hi and buy him a beer before leaving me to sip on my own.  We both knew I wasn’t going anywhere.

I sipped and watched each band member go through the mic checks and other asundry settings as each coordinated not only how their equipment sounded but also gave feedback on how the rest of the band sounded to them…which is important, although I’d never given it a thought.  In retrospect, it probably explained a lot about some of the shittier live shows I’d been to.

Meanwhile, metal dude sat across the bar from me, giving me deadeye while mutely jamming on his tabletop perch.

Other patrons started filtering in for the show.  Prudently, I ordered another beer before it got crowded.

I was meeting other musicians that knew D-Slice from the time she’d spent collaborating with the Portland version of the girl’s rock camp.  Apparently, this show was a fundraiser for them.  

I briefly felt bad about getting my cover comped by D-Slice. It passed…I mean, really, how often do you get to say, “I’m with the band” when you’re me?

I was surprised to look across the bar and see one of my high school classmates.

I joke.

That fella belonged to one of D-Slice’s band mates, who is also in two bands. Her name is TRex, hence the mascot that travels with her.  This other band of hers, Shower Scum, did a tribute song to The Donald.  Don’t worry, I may have misused the word “tribute” since the song was called Fuck You! Needless to say, the song went over like gangbusters in Portland. 

There was lesbian couple in the audience.  Very chatty and sociable.  In true Portland fashion, they brought their toddler.  In even truer Portland fashion, one mother’s outfit matched his outfit…which was a very hipster take on Oshkosh B’gosh overalls.  

Initially, I’d judged the dykes tyke’s presence in a bar pretty harshly.  Then I remembered grade A lesbian parents were, of course, above my reproach.  My reminder came on the form of his accessories:  construction yellow ear protection.

How damned adorable is that?

I just sat there and watched him switch between toddling between his parents and bouncing on one of their hips or the other’s as I watched a couple of the acts before Heart Shaped Boxes.

The opener.

TRex’s second band.

The metal dude’s band:  featuring a chunky girl with the blue hair and an awkward drummer with the mis-matched Star Wars socks.  Both of whom were probably only in  the band because they were in love with the aforementioned long-haired rocker that turns out to be their lead singer…

Suddenly it hit me, this was a benefit for a girl’s rock camp.  

Sleep away camp for girls that like music.

It was a daytime show on a weekend.

The awkwardness of the metal dude’s deadeye stare and the googly-eyed quality of the stares he got from his band mates.

Shit.  This whole band was underage.

I ordered another beer and moved closer to the front door.

D-Slice and the rest of the HSBs did their set and it was good!  Really good.  I loved knowing the arc her performing had taken since her first solo CDs – all of which I still have.

After her set, D-Slice and I found some time to squirrel away to the sidewalk parklet seating for another beer and some undistracted conversation now that her work was done.  We caught up on current life events – hers was going better than mine – and relived some of our greatest Podcast hits.

It was too short, of course.  Her band mates were her transportation and they were anxious to get back to the airBnB for some R-n-R after the show.

But, our decade long friendship had stood the test of being apart for a couple of years and fallen right back into that easy camaraderie that made it so precious to me.

I left the bar on that high, with a side of pride at not accidentally hitting on a teenaged boy.

Plus, it was a daytime show, so I was rested for work the next day.

And what the hell happens the following day on my way home from work?  A long-hair rocker dude sits down right next to me on the MAX.  I figure this is either the universe telling me something or at least dangling something different in front of me.  Maybe telling me not to be too closed minded when declaring the dating and mating seasons of my life closed?  I mean, really, D-Slice and I are unlikely friends.  She is a rocker, sleeve tattoo and all while I’m someone you’d easily mistake for an accountant.

Alright, universe, I’m listening.

Turns out, it was the exact same metal dude from the day before and the universe was just giving me the one fingered salute or trying to get my ass thrown in jail.

But, seriously…what are the odds?

My life, I gotta tell ya.

My First Sound Check

Adam Ant

I’m old.  I forget things.

Like that I bought tickets to this February concert back in September.

It popped up on my calendar as a reminder and I was all, “Yeah, I should have bought tickets to that.”  Then I corrected myself from the plural to the singular since I recently committed to focusing on – well, anything but dating for the foreseeable future.

But something was tickling the back of my brain and a few hours later, I went into the email account I use for buying stuff just to be sure.  And, sure enough…there was a flagged purchase confirmation for Adam Ant.


A few days later, there I was Uber-ing over to the Revolution Hall to meet up with Little Buddy and Vulture and their plus ones.  LB brought her daughter and Vulture brought his recently christened fiance.  There I am in all my single pride.  I arrived after they ordered, and I had left myself enough time to join them for a beer while they ate.  It was inadvertently shrewd planning on my part.  I was coming from work, so it was a tight run from the airport to home to the venue.  I think the space is nice…albeit a little tight for a restaurant attached to a concert hall.

Plus, can we please start getting away from all of this post industrial cum modern design?  Or at least start employing a little better sense of the end use of the space when we do use it?  I mean, is there no such thing as a post industrial carpet design?  This place with its polished concrete floor was noisy!  That can’t be good for the servers’ legs.

And, I know I’m getting off topic and careening toward my Early Onset Grumpiness tendencies at a reckless pace, but I only bring it up since I’m writing this after standing in line at Tilt to buy a pie on – wanna guess?  Polished concrete floor.

This follows my incredible dinner with The Silver Fox last night at Danwei Canting where we made it just in time for frigging family hour.  I actually looked across the table and said to The Fox, “This place could use a carpet.”  Of course, this was right after some kids at a corner table started screaming and startled another mother, causing her to knock over a – go figure – metal chair onto the…polished concrete floor.


But,I think that burst of grump will serve as a nice warm up to fully appreciate what happened upstairs while we were standing in line to get into the venue.

First of all, Little Buddy’s lovely daughter is by far the youngest person around – we’re talking by a couple of decades – including the kids taking tickets.

I’m chatting with Vulture, which according to LB, we do rather loudly and animatedly when we get together.  I hadn’t realized this, but we see each other virtually every day…an actual in-person audience with Vulture is not to be taken for granted!  Gotta make the most of it.

old-tattoosWe’re talking about tattoos.  I think I overheard someone else talking about it and I was off and running.  We discussed how they seem to be more of a body modification, like piercing, than the meaningful and thoughtful pieces of body art that were frequently still shocking to our generation…but they weren’t as overt, either.  I think the word I used was discreet.

I get on about how I’m easing my way into the acceptability of tattoos on the neck, above the collar line.  I had this really nice guy that worked for me who showed up for his interview in a dress shirt and tie, just peeking over the edge of his collar was a tattoo that looked like it had been scrawled on in prison.  Not the best first impression for a judgy old bastard like me.  He interviewed really well.  I had asked him about the tattoo, and explained that tattoos weren’t frowned upon, but in order to maintain as credible an environment as possible – since we were selling high end espresso machines – would he accept wearing his collar closed.  He said he would…and then told me that his tattoo was his daughter’s name.

His daughter who had passed away as a toddler.

So, y’know…I felt like a real jerk.

I still went back and forth about whether he should get the job.  Ultimately, he was the best qualified of our candidates, so I gave him the position.

He disappeared a few months later.

pikachu-tattooAdd that experience to what I went through with The Broken Poet with his Pikachu neck tat and I think I come by my reluctance to accept overtly placed tattoos honestly.  There’s a lil example of what a Pikachu looks like, in case you need a refresher…no pics of the BP, sorry.  Although, the guy in that pic is a tasty lil nugget, eh?  I wonder what’s wrong with him.  By the way, can anyone tell me why people lose their shit over this Pikachu fella?  We’re talking about people who should be looking forward to being adults and being taken seriously…yet they won’t let go of this childish imagery.  I think it’s self sabotage, but I’d probably just bore you talking about that.  Plus, I think I’m already pretty far off topic.

Back to Vulture and I, chatting away about how out of control tattoos have gotten.  They seem to be less meaningful these days and more of a way of compensating for…I have no idea what.  I realize that I’m probably being listened to by people who are exceedingly tattooed as we stand there in line…nevertheless, I persist, moving into how when taken in the scheme of facial tattoos the neck tattoos look almost modest.


But nothing says “Bad Judgement” like a facial tattoo, I speculate as the line starts moving forward.

We get inside and find seats.  Vulture and I somehow separated.  Little Buddy tries to steer around the leaning over people to shout at each other above the music mess that could become, but we wouldn’t have it.  There’s just enough time to get a beer at the upstairs bar before the Opening Act comes on.  The crowd isn’t too densely populated.  There’s a few seats available and the mosh area in front just has a few stragglers standing around.  It’s an all girl band, which prompts me to take a moment to text D-Slice up in Seattle, since she is in an all girl Nirvana cover band.  They are a little hard for my taste, but it’s a good opening band, getting the crowd energized with songs like the one that I can only assume from the aggressive hand gestures is called “Fuck You”.  The guitarist looked like a wuzzle (copyright:  LB) of Sia and Myrtle Snow from American Horror Story:  Coven.  Her hair was probably 18 inches long, curly and radiating outward from her head.  It was pretty amazing to watch.

adam-antThe Opening Act finishes up and his Adam Ant-ness takes the stage.

Two words:  The Hat.

Here’s, also, a man that likes his tattoos.

He’s not been one to shy away from theatrical make up, either.

It all adds up to quite a stage presence.  Particularly for a man in his early 60s.  I typically can’t hear much of the words being sung at concerts, unless someone actually paid attention to what was going on at the sound check.  I get the gist of the songs being played, but mostly I just hear bass and percussion.

Still, I couldn’t not watch him perform.  He’s not a great dancer, his big move was stepping up onto a speaker at the front of the stage and bringing the other leg up into an exaggerated step class maneuver.  I mean, that’s nowhere near the jaw dropping bad moves you’re gonna see at a PAt Benetar concert, so he has that going for him.  It was just a magnetism about him that held my attention.

adam-ant-2Well, that and LB’s comment about how much he looked like the lovechild of Capt Jack Sparrow and – god, who did she say? – Edward Scissorhands, maybe?  Maybe it was just Johnny Depp.  But she was right.

The band had two drummers.  Actually, the stage was set up symmetrically with two drum kits at the back and then two guitarists flanking Adam And.  The band members were a melange of humanity and styles.  I had heard talk that one of the guitarists had died recently and that this might have been the replacement guy’s first show.

Patsy Stone from AbFab


On one side of the stage, you had Patsy Stone absolutely killing it fabulously on drums and Keith Urban on guitar trying too hard to look like a rock and roll guy.  On the other side of the stage you had the other guitarist…the replacement guy, who my Little Buddy took quite a liking to.  I couldn’t say I could blame her.  He was nice and sexy.  Your parents’ basic rock and roll boyfriend nightmare.  The fourth member of the band?  I honestly have no recollection of him.  It’s weird.  I totally remember how the stage right side of the situation was like caricatures of famous people playing instruments and the other side was much more normal looking…but the drummer is completely lost to my memory.  Obviously, I’m distracted thinking about the sexy guitar guy…oops.

Now, here’s the best part.  At least in my mind:

If you look closely at the picture of Adam above, you can just make out under his right eye, Adam Ant’s facial tats.

Because:  FML and my life is perpetually spent trying to answer the question “What could possibly go wrong?” in living color.

Adam Ant

The Broken Poet

I spent almost two months with a sweet, fucked up young man.  I know none of those things make him special in America today, but I do know that he’s broken in a way that really resonates with me and draws me to him.  I quite love him.

The Broken Poet.

One day, I sat on the bed to talk about how him not working on his needed repairs was affecting me/us.  It couldn’t go on.

It’s amazing what people hear versus what is said.  I’m a pretty gentle guy, but replaying what I said, applying a filter of his life experience…I know what he heard.

He left.  He stopped talking to me.  He ended up on a plane home.  He’s still there.  We’re texting…but I honestly don’t think he’ll be able to get to a place where he comes back.

Fuck me.

The day of “the talk” I slept three hours, from 6:00 -9:00 in the morning after he’d left.

The next day…five hours, from midnight to 5:00 am.

Day three…well, I’ve been up since 5:00 and it’s 2:15 now.  I committed to myself that clarity was key, not to drink away the pain.  Maybe just one – or three – would have helped.  Sleep that is respite versus restful still counts, right?

Breaking this down…what gets center stage:  The Poet or The Broken?

The Poet.  That’s who he is, at his core.  The Broken part?  That can change, it isn’t or doesn’t have to be what defines him permanently.

When he heals…he’ll still be the BP, but when he puts the Broken to bed, he will become the Beautiful Poet.

He has notebooks all over.  He carries several with him in his backpack.  Not one, not one with a back up.  Several.  The covers mean things to him.  He looks at notebooks at shops we pass.

Inside…blank pages await his muse of the moment.

He writes poems, obviously.

He writes songs.

He sings.

He plays myriad instruments, but I think guitar is his favorite.  Just guessing.  I would never ask someone to choose a favorite child any more than a favorite pet or his favorite instrument.

He doodles.

He draws.

Frankly, I think the singing and music is his most organic talent.  Some of his drawings are really good, to my untrained eye.  I appreciate them all, even though some I think are just ok.  His poetry is good, too, but I think he has a limitation in both his singing and his poetry reading:  self-confidence.  It’s less obvious in the music, because there’s more cover.  When you read poetry, it’s all you.  Mumbling gives away where the piece came from; pain.  I think a good poetry performance will have that pain in the piece, but it will also be read with peace (see what I did there?), clarity and confidence; read by a strong voice that can take you to the pain with its rhythm and dramatic emphasis versus displaying the pain with a fragile tone of voice that is barely picked up by mic. You never know, though…banish the pain to the past where it belongs and any of his disciplines could overtake the music.  Just because it is most natural to him, doesn’t mean it has to be the one that he is known for.

The Broken. This is who he is situationally.  The larvae or the caterpillar.  Not the butterfly of a man and artist he will become.  It doesn’t mean he must become, some breaks don’t heal.  I hope his do, but these aren’t like literal scabs that will heal over time, even if you keep picking at them and end up with a scar.  His wounds are to the psyche, figurative scabs.  That shit ain’t easy, brother.  I know it.

He was raised by grandparents after he was found to have been runner up in a two entrant pageant between him and booze.  His parents took off for a night on the town instead of staying with him.

His grandparents were weak and strong.  A role model of a father figure in his strong, opinionated “dad” who did the right things.  A docile grandmother for a mother figure that was a generation beyond raising a kid in the 90’s.  Not hers.  She was in her mid to late 60’s, if my math is right.  Her favorite response to his need for guidance was a variant of, “I don’t know what to tell you…”  That didn’t help when her husband preceded her in death a few years back when our Poet was barely in his 20’s.

He was raised away from his siblings, but close to his cousins – one of whom he refers to as his “sister”.

Let’s see, a quick recap just to make sure you are following this, because I barely did and – frankly – probably recall it incorrectly.

Mom = Grandma

Dad = Grandpa

Sister = Cousin, but not in the incest-y, white trash way.

What else?  Oh yeah…his Godmother is his Aunt.  His Mom/Grandma’s daughter.  This took me longest to get.  And she is a piece of work, to hear him tell the stories.

His actual mother was Mexican and his father is Native American, but two tribes:  Laguna and Acoma.  I’m not sure how he knows where he belongs.  Maybe he doesn’t yet and that’s – not to skip ahead – how he came into my life in Portland.

His mother died, estranged from him.  His father is still estranged from him.  A drunk.  An addict.  Befriending his kids to score their weed or booze or whatever harder substances they might be able to part with, y’know…for dad!

His Grandparents really were the positive models in his life.  But the remainder of the family, one of three families in his hometown of less than 300 people, live the idiom of tearing down others to make themselves look good.  That goddamned godmother.

Oh, the cracks that causes.

Speaking of crack.  I don’t know what drugs he used after he finally left home for the big city 90 minutes away – or I do and am not saying, I can be cagey – but he did use them.  And the people he used them with, used him in return.  The roommate/trustafarian that had a few friends she would invite over who only had eyes for our vulnerable poet.

More cracks.

The therapist that definitely knew better.


The man who took him away from it all!  Got him out of his home state and into my favorite People’s Republic…Portland.


And then started beating him.


And then started passing him around to strangers with drugs.  Sometimes participating as a third, other times as a spectator.  Sometimes, our clever young poet would go to the bathroom to “freshen up” and just not come out until it was over.  I’m not expounding on what “passing him around” means, but looking back, expounding was an accidental yet interesting choice of words.


I first met him on a hook up site – sorry mom, trust me…I hate it more.  We chatted.  I liked him.  His words were fully loaded.  He was with the man who took him away from it all…they – he, I’m sure – were trying to work it out.

Cool, I don’t play the side piece, I respect myself and know what I want and my worth.  I told him I could be friends, but nothing more until he broke it off.  They worked on it.

After a few weeks of silence, same app – no, wait…I gave him my phone number, he was texting me – ‘Sup?

Not much, how’s the BF?

We’re good.  Decided to open up our relationship.

Still not interested.  You happy about that?

It’s not my thing.

You don’t have to be happy about it.  Or do it.

I know.

You should dump him.  Not that I can tell you what to do.  I can still be your friend if you want a tour guide to PDX.

We’re going to get our place today.  Hopefully, now that I have TWO jobs!

The pride in that statement – however devoid of a direct answer it was – again, the words were overflowing with the pride he felt at having a dollar value to place on his contribution to the relationship.  Where had they been living, I wondered.  Aloud, apparently, because I know now that the answer was “In the man who took him away from it all’s car”.  I’d like to revisit my statement about dumping that zero.

This rough gem needed to get with a hero – your favorite obscure blogger.

I restated my “no side piece” rule and reaffirmed my offer of friendship…no go.

Months go by.

Good old Facebook and their People You May Know feature.  I get an IM from the Broken Poet, your basic “You might not remember me” self-intro.

I remembered him.

Turns out, being beaten up and sitting on a toilet playing games on his phone while his fiance had sex with a stranger in the next room for drugs wasn’t the romantic life you’d imagine.  He dumped him.  Free agent now and looked me up.

<warning bells>

Too soon, too soon!

What could possibly go wrong?

He lived in Tigard.

Ok, sure…but no body is perfect.

We meet.

Good lord.  So cute.  Tattoos.  Sleeveless Tee – on a first date…what is this, Seattle?  Those bitches don’t dress for anything.  Hehe.  Eyes.  Perfect half moons when he laughs or smiles.  God.   Neck tattoo.  Tastefully small ear gauges.  He’s a shorty.  Thin.  Shy.  Neck tattoo?  Fuck.  Really?  Well, bad judgment is bad judgment.  The tattoo might be on his neck for life, but at least he got rid of the other poor decision – his ex.  Plus, it’s video game characters, just like his sleeve.  Cute!

Oh, and he quit drugs cold turkey because he saw that it was what got him into this mess in the first place.

Smart.  Or smarter now, anyway.  I’ve been there.

We walked around town all afternoon.  I showed him around.  Poorly.  I got lost.  I’m old, I get confused!

That’s all.

We have other dates that are similar.

Those tattoos enable my favorite date for no other reason – old school video games!  He is more than impressed and has a blast.

We stay up late talking.  Throwing him in an Uber at 3:00 in the morning so he can make his SBUX shift at 5:30.

Eating each other’s stories as we get to know each other.

My friends begin meeting him.  They.  All.  Adore. Him.

Sometimes we just sit and he flips through his journals…whichever he happens to have in his bag that day.

We go to an open mic night that he saw a flier for.  It’s awesome.  Some good people doing what they’re good at or passionate about.  Some other good people doing what they’re passionate about but not yet good at.

Everyone sings.

Save the BP.

He mumbles his way through the only spoken piece of the evening.  People love it, even though it was hard to hear him and they might have been terrified to hear him announce proudly that it was a four act piece.  He wrote it in an hour before we left for the event.  We Ubered over to SE and sat in an idyllic side yard at a hostel.  Watching.  Listening.  Canoodling.  Waiting.

Amazing.  You wouldn’t know that you were close in to downtown in a big small city.

Afterward, we walked around looking for food.  We closed McMenamin’s on a fucking Tuesday.  This was when I really told him my story.

Keep going, he kept encouraging.

I talked for three hours.

After we got the boot from McMenamin’s, we started heading for home.  He was broke.  I had just started a new job and definitely preferred to watch my pennies versus revisit the well of white entitlement I am fortunate to sun my broke ass near…so we walked.  Maybe we catch a bus, maybe we don’t.  It took us two hours to walk 60 blocks.  Cue up some Clapton, cuz it was already after midnight!

Keep going.

I had an excursion planned to go with my storytelling.  And I can talk for 60 blocks.

I got lost along the way – hey, we covered this! – but I finally, super coolly, led him to the Portland Building downtown as I talked about my favorite topic.  Holding his hand, I planted my feet so he spun in front of me.  I turned him around and hugged him from behind.  Talking in his ear.

I leaned us back.

His eyes exploded open as they focused on Portlandia leaning down to us from 30 feet up…her silent plea to pull her finger looming.

I think I might have farted.

I definitely teared up at the amazement in his eyes.  The energy pouring out of him.

I opened myself to him more than I had any of the other guys I’ve dated.  Mostly because I’ve only seriously dated four other guys.  They all lengthened my story slightly.  Most of them rather negatively:  Beat me, insanely jealous, cheated on me.  But also because most of my dates are guys putting in time until it’s time to bone.  Jerks.   It should be noted that there is a champ in my dating history, so I can pat myself on the back over that.  I thought he was my last one.  This Broken Poet was challenging that assumption.

Is it bad that there was just a flash of lightning, a clap of thunder, followed by a Morrissey song coming on my iTunes and then a deluge outside my window?

Nah.  C’mon.

I know I’m in love after three weeks.

We still haven’t had sex.

No, not even a blowy.  Sheesh, I can’t believe you asked that.

He asked me to take it slow.  I can do that.  It’s way easier for me, you’re 25, your balls are like grenades.  I’m a camel by comparison.

I cook for him.

He gives me something special.  It was great…even on the hottest day of the year.  You can blame us for that – we put off heat.

We never really figure out the sex after that.

Our intimacy is off the charts.

Hand holding.


Locking eyes.

Kissing and locking eyes…

Showering together.

The cuddling when he slept.  Wow.  Always touching.

We took a road trip to Seattle.

He got a new job he loved.

He got accepted into the Art Institute for a short summer semester.

We talked about getting a place for us that was bigger than my little studio once I got a job.

He had gone from doped out, abused fiance to this guy with his shit together in less than six months.

My work life was crap.

But I was winning the love life.  This was everything I wanted in a boyfriend.  The fearless investment of emotion.  The open vulnerability.


Fuuuuck.  It’s hard for me to handle.  You know how you get hangry when you wait too long to eat?  Yeah, I was hungry.

I tried.

Sexually it was getting less frequent.

Our average was fine for me – had we been going into year two or three…but we were in month two.  We should have been all over each other like…condoms on bananas in a renegade high school Sex Ed class.

I should have been worried I couldn’t physically keep up with a man that much my junior.


There were nights I couldn’t sleep.

I’d kiss him goodnight and feel his energy beneath the skin of my lips.

The flick of our tongues created in me the same inspired eyes he had seeing Portlandia loom above him at 2:00 in the morning.

He touched me and it ignited my imagination.

I sobbed a couple of evenings as he slept.  He cuddled, my shoulders heaved with heavy breath and heart.

Not being able to physically express my feelings to someone so perfectly in tune with myself was killing the perfection while doing nothing to resolve the erection.

Editing my behaviors to avoid making him uncomfortable and bringing his ex to the front of his mind was preserving the moment, but eroding the lifetime of our relationship.

We had unfinished business.


He had been in therapy when we met but stopped going when he switched jobs and the benefit ended.  Twenty-five year olds apparently switch jobs a lot nowadays.

He needed to go back and knew it, but wasn’t doing it.

I woke him up one of my sleepless mornings to talk about it.  By the end of that day, I’d fixed things so well, he left and I didn’t hear from him again until 12 hours later when he told me – texted me – that he was getting on a plane for home.

He chose home over me.

That fucked up burg of 300 where he has one ally and 298 people waiting for him to fuck up and when he doesn’t they trot out some of his greatest hits.

That’s better than staying here with me where he has resources to get help, as well as love and support…






Regardless of when, I wonder if expecting things of someone who had only been expected to fuck up his entire life was always destined to fuck up our relationship.

And I only expected him to get the help he needed to be 100% happy and present in our relationship.  But that only sounds simple.  I know how it would look to me as a 25 year old.  I was only half way through my self-healing at that age.  I didn’t have the resources kids do now.  I didn’t want him to suffer through a decade of compensating for the pain in his past to get to a time when the pain he caused himself had taught him his self worth.  When youths in my day didn’t kill themselves, it wasn’t because they ignored the resources available to themselves, it was because they fucking bucked up and drank their way – er – powered their way through the pain until they came out on the other side.  Put on a brave face, buck-o!

Today, there’s agencies to choose from.  Not one, you can pick where you get help.  But I made the error of pointing out the lack of urgency in a time where I was having my own urgency crisis.

It’s not that I needed to fuck someone; I needed to meet a deeper, more spiritual need that he couldn’t get comfortable with and our relationship was incomplete without.

I ended up fucking us up.

Probably for good.

So, here I am, gentle reader…at your disposal.  This needs editing, some finesse.  But it’s 4:45 now, I think this will have to do.

Who has two thumbs, three beers, barely 10 hours of sleep over the last three days and just got his therapy on?  This blog-poseur.

The Broken Poet