Look, I’m *Very* Busy…

As in, very.

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

For.

The.

First.

Time.

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

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

Only one made the final cut.

Although, honorable mention for this close call…

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

<blank stare>

From Grimm!

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

Everthemess…

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

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

Shut up, it’s a pandemic.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Seriously, it was me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good memories.

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

And it only took a global pandemic.

Look, I’m *Very* Busy…

Valentimes Part Duex

You ever have one of those days?

Weeks? Months? Years?

Lives?

One of my favorite things to say back when I was giving 50-60 hours a week to the man was:

Today’s been one hell of a week.

Chrisism. Use it in good health.

I reworked it last year for quarantimes into “2020 has been a hell of a decade“, but it just didn’t hit as hard.

Anyway, 2021 has kind of started off distinguished only from 2020 by a singular event for me: the inauguration of an adult as president. Otherwise, SSDD.

Case in point, even though I declared my dating exploits over at the completion of the yearlong effort that led to Dating Into Oblivion (I swear that there’s a link to buy it somewhere on this blog page, should you be queerious), I still maintain a profile on Adam4Adam and occasionally recreate a profile on the human cesspool known as Grindr.

But, despite the Silver Fox’s assertion that I’m too hard on people, I maintain a standard when it comes to asocial media.

While that standard may look like me doing my damndest to die alone, I swear it’s really a filter that allows others to unintentionally self-select out of my dating pool.

Basically, everyone blocks me all of the damn time.

Por ejemplo, just last night, I had a guy launch into his schtick with me. For those of you wondering what a millennial gay considers a best foot:

Sup

No punctuation, no introduction.

Sup

I can reasonably assume that the string of vowels and consonants in his profile’s headline is his name, still…confirmation would be overly taxing? It looks both unpronounceable without a little guidance and vaguely Hawaiian.

Also, to his credit, there is blessedly, no butthole pic.

This is really what happens…do you think any reaction would be reasonably considered “too hard” on these friggin’ ass clowns?

Since Grindr is nice enough to alert users when someone looks at their profile, I cannot help but notice that Sup has not looked at mine.

So…I look at his, just to kill some time in case there’s somehow a backlog in what I’m sure is the very high tech and sophisticated alert system on this…mess of an app.

Uh-huh. We’re both tops – Google it – and he specifically calls out that interested parties should not be over 35.

Really, I guess I should be flattered that while my actual age is an anagram of 35…I am most decidedly not 35, but somehow made it through his filter.

Did you read my profile?

Impressively, he responds in the negative and enthusiastically says he will do so right now. Then logs out.

Fucking millennials.

My notifications are still showing me as invisible to The Gays, so I know he didn’t check me out and then – reasonably – run off into the woods.

Seventeen hours later he messages me back, seemingly having missed my anagrammatical eligibility to put Lil Xtopher somewhere I know he doesn’t want him.

I point out our disparate definitions of the term “right now” and…he blocks me.

Far be it for me to brag, but this happens multiple times a month. I know. Every month, I’m blessed to be able to demonstrate to people the benefit to themselves of not knowing me.

Namely, that without me in their lives, they can carry on blindly running full speed into pain walls that they themselves built. Heaven forbid, someone actually want to help another person become a better version of themselves. Or, y’know…a decent human being that contributes more to Gay Kulture than supporting their local STD clinic.

Remember…this is a Valentine’s Day post.

I really don’t know why I tease you by dangling that carrot shaped sex toy that – I hope – got mangled in the garbage disposal while awaiting its return to service.

That was graphic. Maybe now is a good time for a shot break.

This is my life, folks. And you wonder why I proChristinated my colonoscopy…

Except…every now and again someone seems to be looking out for me.

Now, a wise person – as I consider myself to be…shituationally – knows to take a fix up at about 1/1000 of its face value.

This is a brief tale about that one time a bar owner tried to set me up with the only other gay guy at the bar. And by “at the bar” I mean in the Pandemic Pivot of a Beer Garden that the owner of Big Legrowlski has managed to pull off. It’s really something. Five tents, broken into a group of two and three by a fire pit. Each tent has a physics defying heater mounted to the roof, meaning when I come out in December and January to support my local…I’m freezing my giggle berries off.

Anyway, last weekend, the bar owner comes over to keep me company for a second. He leads with a few seconds of small talk and then – in a fit of foreshadowing that makes me momentarily worried about the quality of his wife’s sex life – plunges into the real reason for his visit.

Hey, do you see that guy behind me?

Literally ever guy at the beer garden aside from he and I. I give him exasperated eyes.

To the left!

I look.

No mate, my left. Sorry. Sorry.

Cue up the Throwback Offenses!

Just as every Black person had likely heard a version of “I’m not normally into…but…”, every gay person has had a well intentioned abortion of a fix up from a well-intentioned straight friend who tries to fix up the only two gay people they know. Or, as in this case, the only two gay people in their general vicinity.

Argument against the existence of God: this phenomenon.

Somehow, this guy ends up joining us. Around my table, it’s: mine truly, the bar owner and then this…guy, and finally an empty seat in the clockwise position.

Buffers are important. Even when not needed.

I’d already told the bar owner “Hard pass” once we nailed down The Gay In Question. I’d even helpfully pointed out a few of the other guys at the fire pit that could eat crackers in my bed, just not this guy.

He was one of those classic “Is over 40, acts under 30″ gays.

How he ended up at my table – or why – was a short lived mystery. After being introduced by name by the bar owner but getting nothing in return (classic basic fag move) I also come to realize that this guy is a low talker.

It’s an exhausting – read: excruciating – 10 minutes. I should have just taken the hit and dragged Mumbles off to the giant elephant statue in the park for a blowie to get rid of him.

Glad, was I, that I did not.

As clumps of sand broke through my life force hourglass, I began to realize that Mumbles was into the bar owner.

The straight, father of two bar owner.

What an idiot.

Read the fucking tent, man.

Alas, this socially illiterate ‘mo starts playing grab ass with the bar owner’s nipples. That is something I will endure in a goddamned gay bar, but within normal societal watering holes, you keep that shit tight.

Not this clown college drop out.

Only minutes passed, I’m sure…but it felt like one hell of a week between meeting this guy and him crawling back into the sewer that birthed him. Small victories, though, I was still in possession of my table.

That’s enough for me. I might be perpetually single, but I can hold down a goddamned table in a beer garden in a rain storm.

You’d think that would be enough Dating Into Oblivion visitations for me for 2021, but no. Like a trooper – a. very. bored. trooper. – I maintain my usual divided attention at home while watching TV.

Shameless vs Words With Friends.

Then on the next episode, Shameless vs Adam4Adam.

Then on the next episode, Shameless vs Instagram and Facebook in a Battle Royale of short attention spans.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

The end result being that maybe I got my own date.

Slated to meet this coming (all over) Sunday at the Big Legrowlski. He seems nice, but if nothing else, this purple haired, four off-the-ears-facial-piercings guy in his 30s – I know, so many piercings for a guy that age…but at least he can commit! – will serve as a visual aid to the bar owner as to the type of guy he should drag before me in the future.

Crappy Valentimes, errybody! And, yes…I know that Part Deux preceded Part Un.

Part Un is…special. Maybe bring tissue. Or your label maker and a box to store your jadedness in.

Valentimes Part Duex

Yeah, This Tracks…

You know me…every day is just another opportunity for me to put my affairs – not that kind, Diezel – in order before I die alone.

Today was no exception.

It was a day that started out strangely well, considering a night of whack sleep. I’d fallen asleep for <30 minutes last night on the couch around 8, but was then completely wide awake. I didn’t take my new favorite weed syrup sleep aid before bed because I was meeting my parents at 10 this morning to go look at bathroom fixtures and entry lights for a few projects they have going on at Galby Acres and I didn’t want to oversleep.

Naturally, I woke up at 730. <eyeroll>

No matter, I had errands that I could run before meeting up with M&D at 10 and actually managed to overcome my usual morning torpor and get to it. Of course, my parents surprised me with an en auto breakfast – restaurants are closed to dine in customers here in Portland, so we got take out and ate in the car like hippies – and after we hit the kitchen/bath/lighting shop, they re-surprised me by letting me tag along to watch them car shop.

It was a good morning.

When they dropped me back home, mom admonished me to take the rest of the day off, like spending my morning with them had been some sort of chore. I fully intended to comply, but then decided to just pop out for a couple hours.

Mistake.

I was out for just under three hours and only had six rides. Most of my time was spent sitting on the 5 northbound since it was after 230, and even in a pandemic under lockdown orders, the idiots that live across the river in Washington – with its lower property taxes and no income tax – but come to town for our higher paying jobs and sales tax free shopping have found a way to make a three mile drive take 15+ minutes. I had one ride that took me to the second to last freeway exit before the state line and the next two hours were spent with me getting almost back to the city core before being called back to one of the last two exits before entering Vantucky.

Actually, my third ride was to pick up my second passenger, because he got nauseous being that close to Washington completed his errand quickly and I was still the closest driver. That was a first: a back to back repeat rider.

After yo-yoing between almost downtown and the state line for the next two rides, I decided to put my app on Home Mode and call it quits. Earnings were crap, since I’d spent most of my time sitting in traffic…and none of those apparently entitled bastards understood how gratuities work. Or their sense of entitlement made me driving 15-20 minutes to fetch them for a 6 minute ride seem equitable.

I’d roll my eyes, but they are still sprained from the last epic eyeroll…

I got one ride on the way home.

In true Portland style, this is my passenger’s avatar.

Well, that looks like it is gonna be an entertaining ride. If it was a cis-woman, I was prepared to be hyper aware of how easily she could snap me in half. But I suspected it was merely another queer youth expressing his gender-fluidity.

I was right.

Still, we had a nice and amiable chat during our 8 minutes together. I learned he was going to his boyfriend’s for an at home date night, which sounded super sweet. They started dating just after lockdown 1.0 and have been together a little over six months.

I don’t know why I was surprised to pull up to his boyfriend’s house and think “I’ve picked someone up here before…”

Imagine my surprise when my passenger replied.

Oops.

I vamped and said that I thought I’d given his BF a ride before. I immediately called up a mental picture of the guy – like a stoned out, slightly-too-old-for-it skater boy who was newly missing a front tooth when I picked him up. He awkwardly came out to me during our ride after bitching about how picking up an extra shift at work was better than hanging out at home with his bitch ex-wife, who he also worked with so it was not easy to manage time apart.

His words.

He talked a little about the guy he was seeing before I dropped him off at a dispensary a few blocks away.

Imagine my surprise as I sat in the driveway trying to decide whether to head left or right and a call came in, taking me to the left. A right and a couple of miles had me pulling up to my next ride…at the sister store for Mr Nice Guy.

Only me…

I think it’s because something weird like that would only happen to me, but it might also be because I’m one of the few who would notice that type of coincidence.

Still, if I dropped the woman I picked up at the second shop at the house where I’d just picked up my previous ride, I was fully prepared to laugh all the way home. Luckily, that did not happen.

Back to tonight, though, I tell the guy that I think I’d given his boyfriend a ride before and asked if he worked at a weed shop.

Me? No, I work at a pizza joint.

Okaaaay.

Clarifying I had meant his BF, while thinking that even with his tendency to capture makeover moments on film – he was not wearing any overt makeup tonight – that he should be able to do better than the guy inside that house, my young, gender-fluid passenger laughs awkwardly and gets out of the car.

Affording me the opportunity to see the Mr Nice Guy logo on the hoodie he was wearing.

Fuck my life.

Luckily, I’d ordered a beer delivery from Big Legrowlski whilst sitting in traffic on the 5 and it was presently waiting for me at home. A Pallet Jack or two oughta set me just right, allowing me to forget that a burnout type guy missing a front tooth can get a boyfriend and I’m sitting at home drinking alone with the ever disdainful Mistress Myrtle.

Because, with Myrtle around, you’re always alone. I hope she ends this game of cat and Xtopher she’s playing soon and puts me out of my misanthropy…

Yeah, This Tracks…

RIP: The Middle Ground

Y’know, for too brief a fleeting moment, I had some hope.

For democracy in America.

Hell, just for regular old, garden variety people in America.

I’ll wait while you gather yourselves together and pick your jaws up off the floor at my rampant optimism.

Don’t worry. It’s gone. As I sit here at the beer garden in front of my local – the Big Legrowlski – in the middle of what used to be a street called Couch, sipping a pint of the good stuff and being buzzed by what I surmise are a pair of albino gnats…it’s gone.

Dead.

(My thumb is making this Jackie Treehorn inspired glass PG)

Sadly, even in a year as dramatic and as filled with soapy plot twists as 2020, I’m not sure it’s coming back to life. Unlike Marlena Brady, I think that my hope for the middle ground in America is staying dead.

I was embarrassed after last Tuesday’s presidential debate.

As a Democrat.

As an American.

And even as an adult.

Overall, I was glad that Biden called out Trunt‘s bully behaviors and went so far as to tell him to shut up.

Hilary certainly could not have walked away from such a statement without being disqualified as a serious candidate and having her gender weaponized against her. But watching Trump use those same childish and distracting tactics in the 2020 debate that he did throughout his 2016 campaign made me wonder if democracy in America is merely a matter of he who shouts loudest, wins.

It’s hardly been a matter of statesmanship these last years.

While the debate was embarrassing and hard to watch, I walked away thinking that even with as little substantive dialogue as the debate served up, Biden was the clear winner simply for not being the biggest imbecile on stage.

It’s a low bar, to be sure. But Stupid Americans love their low bars.

Personally, I prefer lowbrow bars…but that’s every other day in my life. Today is about setting a better bar.

Then I remembered that these same Stupid Americans would be Trump’s base and that critical thinking and analytical skills don’t really mesh well with giant pick ups, gun racks and white supremacy.

Secretly – fearfully – I still look at polling returns with a degree of dubious optimism. A 14 point lead in the polls is nothing to sneeze at.

Still.

As recently as last night, I had some active hope. Hope that was eroding but at least wasn’t at imminent risk of being abducted by a local madman, possessed by the devil, marrying an unknown sibling or ending up stranded on a desert island after going down in a small plane into shark infested waters.

But that’s closer to the surreality that is American politics in 2020 than the poise and demeanor present in American politics prior to Donald J Trump bumbling into the DC swamp. Remember, that’s coming from a Portland native, and my town has a living former mayor who was famous for this before entering politics:

So I know something about non-traditional candidates, shall we say?

Here’s where my hope flashed bright before ultimately getting its last rites.

Of course it was from a passenger – gotta love the Lyft Life! And I swear, I don’t know why people vomit this shit out in my presence…well, maybe I could come up with something if I drank about it overanalyzed it long enough.

Don’t get me wrong, I love railing against the state of Portland and America with my mostly liberal townsfolk cum passengers. Making a left leaning statement in Angela in Portland is practically guaranteed to be met with an echo chamber response. If it’s not, those aligned with the erroneously named right wing know enough in this town to not wait for Biden to advise-slash-implore them to do the <ahem> right thing. But I usually start off with innocuous Joey-fare versus dousing my passengers with a cauldron of intelligent political observational conversational content.

Last week, after picking up a guy at a bar on the Columbia River – and, sadly, this is my only opportunity to pick up guys at bars these days – that answer was:

Drunk!

That ride devolved into a back seat monologue about COVID being a hoax, a guarantee that come mid-November no one would be wearing masks and the old chestnut that only 6% of reported COVID deaths were actually from COVID and not underlying conditions.

I’m giving you a fair warning that I expect a pat on the back for my actual response:

The people who died from COVID *had* underlying conditions, they weren’t actively dying from those conditions, that’s why they are called co-morbidities and not Causes of Death.

What I didn’t add as I assessed my booze filled passenger in my rear view was:

Obesity is a co-morbidity you fat, stupid fuck.

Which is where that pat on the back was earned.

Seriously, this guy was 375 pounds of Captain Oblivious.

But he tipped the tipping scales with a nice fat one, even though I’m not sure that wasn’t just inebriation versus political contrition.

My hope collapsed like a Brad Pitt built house in New Orleans last night after picking up a guy at his work last night at about 11. I started off innocuously enough with:

My mom worked at that Freddy’s for several years.

I could have gone with something like “I lived right down the road from here growing up”, but chose the work connection. Also, I’m not entirely sure I’d call the present day incarnation of me “grown up”. Maybe groan up…

How that veered into him admitting he’s a Republican, I dunno. I do know, however, that his conversational blowout included him saying, “I understand a lot of the Democratic values like healthcare and living wages”. I sincerely praised him for being able to look past the labels and appreciate the good intent behind those values, regardless of political labels.

Seriously, I was buoyed by his perspective. It didn’t hurt that he said he despised Trump. Then he admitted he hadn’t voted in 2016 because of that. When I probed – shut up, Diezel – he said he just hated Hilary.

That’s where his blowout of a conversation veered off the road and dangerously into a tree that I’d call Chappaquiddick territory. Talk about political appropriation!

I’m not gonna lie, I told him – respectfully – that was both sexist and irresponsible.

He listened, though, as I went on to say that voting isn’t just a right, it’s a civic responsibility. It’s not Prom Queen, our job as voting age Americans isn’t to pick the candidate we like most, it’s to pick the candidate best suited to do the job.

If you want to vote for who reflects your values, do it on the local level…maybe that’s why there are more Representatives than Senators? To make sure each citizen of every state has a chance to connect personally on a political level. The President, though? He’s our Commander in Chief, sure, but he’s also our Diplomat in Chief. He – fuck, they – are our face to the world. Expecting them to mirror your personal values is literally a 1:330 million improbability chance.

That’s not a realistic expectation to place on one person. And sadly, with the obsolescence of the old political chestnut “There’s more that unites us than divides us”, it looks like realism in politics is going or has gone the way of the Dodo.

Ask me in 28 days.

As for last night?

As my passenger exited the car over the sound of someone figuratively hammering nails into a coffin, I reminded him that there’s three ways to vote for Trump:

  1. Vote for Trump
  2. Don’t vote
  3. Vote for a third party or write-in
  • And then said, “Vote for Biden, I won’t tell…and he might die or retire. Then we get a young President Harris that would more accurately represent the majority of the non-Boomer Americans like you and I!”
  • Oh, don’t even get me started on her. I like Biden way better than her!

  • Ok, well, that position made zero sense. It was like common sense dressed up as a nun for Halloween and said it was Nun Sense.
  • But as I drove away I had two thoughts:
  • First, that that was exactly why my hope for The Middle Ground was dying. We’d just had a 15 minute conversation about doing the right versus ideological thing and that was his parting shot. He hit the bullseye on the “missed the point” target.
  • Second, I made a winning wager with myself that he wouldn’t have the drunken shame of Fat Fucker to overtip. Being stupid is bad enough. Being stupid and cheap is quite another.
  • Then again, I type that on the heels of a headline about Trump walking away from stimulus talks until after the election – talk about holding a country hostage over a narrow purview…but I guess last night’s Republican learned it from the top.
  • Can the meteor hit Earth now, please?
  • RIP: The Middle Ground

    I Got Bursitis!

    Ok, it’s not the right “itis”, but still…ain’t nobody got time fo’ dat!

    Anyway, a day after a birthday bowling party where one of my favorite bartendresses, Owl X, turned 30, I woke up broken. It was a perfectly themed idea, since Owl X slings the good stuff at Big Legrowlski, Portland’s Big Lebowski themed beer bar.

    Bowling, of course, is a recurring theme of The Dude, Walter and shut-the-hell-up Donnie.

    They also have this poster hanging up there

    That made me wonder, as I hobbled around the next day, if Nixon was older than he looked during his White House bowling days.

    Nope.

    He took office at 56, which didn’t make me feel that great, being only five years behind Tricky Dick.

    Maybe his hips were just used to the abuse, since he was an avid bowler…

    That Silver Fox, always earning his best friend badge. Alas, it’s sadly just more likely that this 6th – possible 7th – decade of life President was more active in general than I have been lately.

    What’s most important to remember here is that I came in second in both games I played. This is impressive – or palliative, in my case – since any two of the combined ages of my team mates was still younger than me.

    The entire situation made me want a beer. That’s exactly what I did the following afternoon.

    Plus, Pallet Jack was back on tap.

    While I was there, another regular came in and we were talking about Owl X’s bowling birthday, since he couldn’t make it. Conveniently, he’s a doctor. Sure, it’s of the mind, but when it comes to my aches and pains, I’m open to embracing hypochondria as an explanation.

    I told him that now I was gonna need a new hip to go with what I’m sure is my impending need for a new shoulder and knee. I even went so far as to make a joke about maybe finding a deal on Groupon.

    Nah, it’s probably just trochlear bursitis.

    Like that’s nothing to worry about…

    I Got Bursitis!

    I Don’t Like Anyone

    Congratulations if you’ve made it to this point in my life and I like you.

    Or even worse (for you) I call you friend.

    Because I think the “like” department is either out of stock or never reopened after the Partial Government Shutdown.

    I started thinking about this a couple weekends ago, after back to back dinner parties. But yesterday, it really crystallized for this old grumpopotamus.

    I haven’t enjoyed the company of new people at all for at least a month!

    Friday, I had an interview with MudBay. Again. Having breakfast with my parents beforehand, they even seemed caught between optimism and incredulity that this interview process was still going on. To be fair, I started with one DM in November and then got switched to a second in January after nothing happened with the first.

    It was fine by me, DM #1 didn’t leave me feeling like she liked me as a candidate. This was after she just happened to be present when I did a drop in with a Store Manager that a former colleague recommended I talk to.

    DM #2 and I seemed to really jive during our chats. So I was excited about Friday, even though the pay is pretty meh. It’s still seeming like a company that 99% aligns with what I’m looking for in a company.

    So I show up out in BFE yesterday to have what I hoped was a final interview.

    DM #1 was unexpectedly in attendance.

    FFS.

    Our conversation this time – she did more of the talking between the two of them – seemed better. DM #2 swoops in at the end to say she’ll be calling all the people they speak to in this round by Wednesday to let them know their status. I would hope that means a yea/nay on the job offer front. Regardless, it was specific. That’s way better than the way DM #1 left me hanging after our surprise first meeting.

    I’ll call you when we’re ready to move forward with interviews!

    Too chipper.

    Also, I didn’t know this was an interview, so she didn’t have my resume to walk away.

    So she didn’t have my contact info.

    Or. My. Last. Name.

    I can find you in our applicant tracker!

    Too chipper.

    By first name? You said you got hundreds of applicants. From a job that posted in June of 2018…and it’s November.

    I can search by referral source, since you were referred by an employee!

    Too chipper.

    Plus, she should have said Muddy, since that’s what they call one another.

    Well, that might narrow down the applicants with my first name. Assuming she remembered it. Or the Muddy’s name that referred me…

    So, while I can at least appreciate that this conversation was a good one, I’m still a little rankled by the Shanghai Round Robin style interview.

    Mostly, because I don’t like people anymore, it seems.

    I actually got to have a spur of the moment lunch with Little Buddy a few days later while she was in my hood doing errand-type things. She was detoxing some family stuff with some fun adult lunch time.

    I’m glad I can be that person for someone!

    But, naturally, I ruined it by telling her I didn’t like the new people that came to her dinner party.

    Why not? They are amazing people! So accomplished.

    I dunno. The woman seemed intent on being the star of the party.

    Pish. She’s fine, she just didn’t know anyone but me. You know how we can be in a group.

    Fair point. But it all seemed like showing up to a wedding in a prettier dress than the bride to me.

    I’m pretty sure we left that at a neutral assessment that I am just crazy.

    Since it snowed here this week – with an anticipated 4″ on Friday – the wine event LB, 2.0, the Silver Fox and I were all going to Saturday got canceled.

    Of course.

    Naturally, the snow never materialized…

    My walk to f&b for coffee was completely un-treacherous. The Fox joined me and we couldn’t decide if there was an unusual amount of families passing by outside or if there was just too few not families out to dilute their presence.

    We were decidedly the only two people in the cafe for the most part until he left at 1:30. There was a couple of ladies who walked in and declared they had a half hour to kill and could they just hang out.

    It had started snowing. Big, fat flakes. But, still…no! Buy a goddamned coffee and wait. Sheesh. These ladies looked to be 60-ish.

    But the type of 60-ish that are entitled and well to do. Terrible combination. In my opinion, that question cost more in dignity that a $3 cup of coffee would have cost them.

    I’m probably just mad because I know the cafe is struggling. Their rent is going up and likely to cut their barely double digit profit margin in half, making it likely they’ll close.

    All because they’re in a convenient rendezvous area. And too nice to say

    Buy a goddamn $3 cup of Joe or GTFO. Ma’am.

    At two, I said goodbye to the staff and wandered next door to wash the taste of coffee out of my mouth with a Pallet Jack. Since I was in the area.

    There was a cute and nice couple at the bar when I walked in. They chuckled at the catch up conversation the bartendress and I had but settled up, decanted and left shortly after I sat down. That left me, the bartendress (I’ve gone so long without giving her a nickname that I’m afraid she’s just going to become The Bartendress Without A Name…I guess I could call her T’Bwana, thoughts? It’s an acronym portmanteaus!) and a couple at one of the two tables by the window.

    We continued our chatter while T’Bwana did her side work and tended the occasional need of the couple.

    A third couple came in with a Plus One from New Zealand. They were fun, but not from around here, so I was over them quickly. Another regular came in and sat at the table behind me, reading.

    Then.

    It.

    Happened.

    Eight people came in. Fine. Whatever. I’ve made my peace with this illogical occurrence. Party of eight walks into a bar of mostly two-top tables.

    What.

    Ever.

    I get it, you’re entitled, too. Maybe you’re looking for the old gals next door?

    What ticked me off was that they pulled the last two tables in the main bar together for a sit down. The entire room next door – The Rug Room – is empty!

    Oh, no…wait, I forgot!

    This whole tome, there’s been a couple in The Rug Room. They came in, ordered drinks and went into The Rug Room. T’Bwana went in to check on them a while after and came back in with that “I’m So Sure” head tilt girls do.

    What?

    Is it weird that there’s 8 tables and 15 chairs in there and those two are sitting cross legged on the floor?!?

    Kum-bay-yes! What the what?!?

    Regardless, plenty of room for this octet in The Rug Room is the point. Instead, they decide to become a black hole in the middle of the main bar.

    And they pulled the last two tables together crooked so there’s no good path around them that doesn’t involve a hop on one foot.

    Naturally, I finish my beer and leave.

    Loudly.

    I might have mentioned something to T’Bwana as I was settling up.

    So, I could make an anonymous call to the Fire Marshall for ya…I know you work for tips and can’t piss these oblivious bastards off.

    T’Bwana texted me later saying they’d left shortly after me.

    Huh.

    Ok, one last example of how I don’t like anyone…and it’s my favorite story from the last couple weeks, so I hope you hung on.

    This could only happen to me.

    The Silver Fox had a dinner party. Me, him and his new neighbor. His new neighbor is having trouble making friends. Now, normally I’d give this type of invite a wide berth, cuz it’s an obvious setup, right?

    Well, The Fox has me covered

    Don’t worry, you aren’t his type, he likes younger guys, too.

    Ouch.

    But he’s right. He’s seen a guy I flung with once getting off the elevator on their floor. Me, being the Devil. No. Devil’s Advocate, mention that maybe the NY transplant gay couple on his floor are Portland-ing it up with a random third?

    They’re in Palm Springs.

    Nertz.

    His assumption is solid.

    I meet this guy from LA and – more recently – down the hall and he is just so friggin’ so.

    Precious.

    I’m calling him Jimbo.

    A) because he’s from New Orleans, originally.

    B) he would hate that nickname. And,

    C) if you pronounce the “J” with a Spanish accent, you get “himbo” or a male bimbo, and he was!

    He monopolized the conversation with unamusing anecdotes about how precious he is.

    He has two houses in New Orleans.

    He wants to buy a house in France when he retires. But not alone! Why not? I’m sitting here with you and my best friend, and I’m feeling pretty alone!

    His BMW is hard to park in this little garage.

    He can’t believe that condos in this building are selling for a half mil more than his house in the Hollywood Hills. Thank god he rented that instead of selling!

    Why?

    Topping it off, he has a friend visiting from Seattle soon.

    Ok, that’s all your problem in meeting friends. No one compares to you. You’re fresh off the boat from the west coast city with the most superficial people, importing people from the west coast city that has yet to learn how to deal with its near instantaneous wealth and living in the chill city trapped between them.

    Yeah. That’s your problem.

    Shortly after we finished dinner – asparagus risotto and what must have been 24 ounce steaks! – he was talking about a shoe dilemma. He’d just mentioned he was a clothes horse.

    The Fox gamely interrupted with a question about Marie Kondo. I loved that.

    Of course, since Jimbo’s name isn’t Marie Kondo, he didn’t have time for the question and went back to his shoes. Apparently, they’re his faves but he needs to have them resoled and worked on.

    I haven’t tried the guy you recommended, but I just can’t find a good shoe guy up here.

    Welp, at least you’ve clearly overwhelmed yourself by turning over every stone.

    He went on to share his decision on his ultra first world problem…

    I have to go to LA in a few weeks for work. I’ll just take them to my old shoe guy. But I’m gonna tell him he has to get them done in a day.

    Because, obviously.

    One couldn’t trust this gifted shoe tradesman to be able to mail a shoebox. No, Jimbo needs his shoes now. This guy is so lucky to have a customer like Jimbo. I’ll bet he threw a party when she left town,

    The Fox gave his dog, George, a doggie downer before the guests arrived. It had kicked the hell in.

    Hard.

    George was stoned out of his doggie brain.

    And nuzzling my crotch while I scratched his butt.

    The Fox got up to get dessert. I was so full, but…dessert!

    You know what, G? I’m so full! But I’m still eating my dessert! Yeas I am. Yes I am! I’m just gonna fart to make some room and blame you! Yes I am!

    A few minutes later, I pick up a decidedly not doggie scented fart coming from Jimbo’s end of the couch.

    Oh, FFS. Really? You’re a precious homosexual…could you please act like it?!?

    I debated telling him I was just joking about farting and blaming the dog. I may lack a certain – or any couth, but I have manners.

    I can hold a fart – usually – until I get home.

    Then he did it again.

    Oh, this. This!

    I really don’t like most people. But the ones I don’t like most are really amusing. For sure, not in the previous way that they think they are amusing, either. And the people I do like enjoy the shit that happens to me just as much as I do!

    Because, it really would only happen to me…

    I Don’t Like Anyone

    Feed Yourself

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

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

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

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

    Still, he stuck with me.

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

    Just.

    Saying.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    I was feeling like writing was a slog.

    Two more days…then your January challenge ends.

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

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

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

    Well, that was a lot of effort for nothing…

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

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

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

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

    He’s going to teach English in South Korea.

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

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

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

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

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

    I was jazzed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Satisfied.

    Fully satisfied.

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

    Joint…

    Cigar…

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

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

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

    Probably just in time.

    Now I’m a little peckish…

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

    Nice going, Hunter S. Thompson…

    GoPuff to the rescue!

    Twenty minutes later…

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

    I can make this work…

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

    I need to find a friggin’ job!

    Is it weird that I wanna write today?!?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    All because that trucker won our money!

    Maybe I’ll start my taxes…

    Feed Yourself

    Tappa-Kegga-Day

    That was what we called kegger night in college.Literally.

    Ok, maybe just too old for a birthday on a three day weekend. Because the MLK day/Xtopher’s birthday alignment means my birthday was celebrated for four damn days.

    Today is a day of rest.

    Also, I have a handyman here (not) fixing things.

    Having been busy yesterday, I just checked the Facebook for the first time since…maybe Saturday? Friday?!? Oh, the social media birthday love. It motivated me to share some of my weekend with you, which I wasn’t planning on.

    My brain is fatigued and more than slightly pickled, though…fatigued from three weeks of daily writing. Im thinking of hanging that initiative up this Friday or Saturday. My goal was daily blog posts for a month. Would the 1st-26th count?

    My original goal was to wear myself out writing so when I go in to try editing my book again, I make notes on what I want to edit. Last time I went in to try and edit, I started adding and fracked up my timeline.

    I figure wrap up my January writing initiative, take a few days to read a book a blog buddy sent over – I’m seriously burnt out on words enough that I’m barely reading the blogs I follow. When I sat down to his book, the only opinion I had was

    Nope. Cannot do.

    (I’m sorry, Phil, I’m working on it!)

    So, take a few days to read my friend’s work then get cracking on some damage control on my own.

    Anyhoo, I’m sure you’ve already figured out the pickling problem.

    Or, not-problem.

    The unexpected outpouring of well-wishes I encountered on the Facebook surprised me, as usual. It also kinda washed over me and extended my birthday feels another day.

    Friday and Saturday were pretty low key, drinks and shenanigans with my own version of Fox & Friends. Little Buddy shot me an invite, all spur of the moment, to go see a Power Point Improv show we’d discussed a while back. I couldn’t make it, prior engagement.

    Birthday weekend shenanigans…

    I debated not telling her it was birthday-related. I really am low key about my birthday. Swearsies.

    Saturday when I was out with the Silver Fox, I asked him

    My family has been quiet about my birthday. Are they up to something? If they are…I kinda feel like I should get a haircut.

    He assured me that they were not. Then he casually remarked that I might want to get a haircut, though.

    Jerk.

    Hehe. I assumed he was commenting about my overall shagginess.

    Resolutions for the new year?

    Not exactly my thing. But when I do make them, they are me all the way.

    1) Write and post a blog entry daily, which you all know.

    2) Not cut my hair.

    I’ve been trying to grow out a longer style for the last six months or so. Around June, I figured if I wasn’t going to work, maybe I should indulge my back of mind musings on having crazy old man hair.

    Why not?

    Only, the last few times I’ve gone in to get it cleaned up around the edges, I’ve ended up long on top, trimmed back to above the ears and looking like a Flock of Seagulls refugee.

    So, I gave basic hair maintenance two tries and then embargoed it til the end of January. When I make up my mind about these types of things, I always feel bad for my friends. They’re the ones that have to look at – no, endure the fallout.

    Anyway, I don’t care, my family isn’t planning anything, so I don’t give it much more thought. A little later, my mom texts me and invites me to brunch on my birthday.

    Perfect. Nice and low key, just the way I like it.

    For Sunday afternoon, The Fox and I had just planned on going to the hotel bar next door for a few beers. Then we were going to come back to my place and watch some Grace & Frankie. It was a perfect plan.

    When we meet up on the corner, he announces that Owl X had texted him that Pallet Jack was back at Big Legrowlski.

    Well, I guess we’re going to BL!

    I’m laughing and crossing Everett before I even finish the sentence.

    All things being equal, it’s Sunday afternoon. I know either bar will have some of my favorite staff working – all of whom definitely fall into the Guy Candy category. But Joey at Legrowlski is in his last couple of weekends before leaving the country to work overseas and has a habit of “accidentally” oversharing the most scintillating personal details. Unless the Tanner Creek boys are working in jock straps for my birthday, Pallet Jack and Joey win!

    We walk in and I’m immediately irked by the twosome sitting in the corner. They brought their dog in. I love the dogs that come with or walk by at The Fox and I sit outside sipping away the Summer.

    But not inside.

    I’m trading hellos with Joey while I hope the Rug Room isn’t too packed, cuz I don’t want to sit on the small bar side with a dog.

    Are you surprised?!?

    I’m debating how to answer:

    – Surprised you let a dog – other than me! – in?!?

    – Surprised that I don’t see Pallet Jack on the tap list?!?

    Don’t let anyone tell you that being a grumpy old man is easy.

    Decisions, decisions.

    The Fox is pulling me out of the way. I’m trying to look behind me to see whose way I’m in and he’s shoving me into the Rug Room.

    Surprise!

    My parents, siblings and brother in law are tucked around a pub table in one corner. Their table, I notice, is blocking the fire exit. The Fox is standing behind me, trying to get me into the group. They certainly know me.

    Little Buddy, 2.0 and JOrtis are sitting around a low table, looking pretty happy with themselves.

    Diezel and Linda Belcher are wrapped into the far corner, flanking some other guy. It’s kind of dark and the walls are all black in the Rug Room, but I really don’t know if I don’t remember him, can’t see him well enough to recognize honor if someone brought me a present.

    Nah…that would be weird.

    Not unwelcome…just weird.

    What I should have said is:

    Do you know what this could do to a man my age?!?

    Or,

    Surprised someone throws a surprise party for a something-ty-first birthday?!?

    But instead I just stood there with my mouth hanging slightly open.

    The Silver Fox is chuckling contentedly behind me and still nudging me, so I begin hugging my way into the room. As I’m finishing, people start shifting their comments toward birthday beers.

    It’s not that they are out of Pallet Jack, it’s that in order to ensure they have Peej for the party, they’ve been sitting on a keg for the past two weeks! Owl X and I had even discussed it the prior week as I was leaving, neither palleted nor jacked and she said, “See you soon!”

    You got any Pallet Jack on order?”

    “Maybe. I’m not sure. Brendan” – the owner and Dude enthusiast – “said he wanted to keep it on tap always, so probably?”

    Sneaky.

    Joey takes me into the walk-in and I’m resisting saying anything about Three Minutes in Heaven. Somehow we manage to get about five people into the walk-in to document the transition. Several of us are lecturing Joey on how tapping a keg used to be a lot harder than what he talked me through…when we were your age.

    I’d actually seen the new tap mechanisms back in my grocery working days a few Great-Job-Hunts-ago.

    The Fox was talking about Rent Parties that we would have in college. Get a keg for $35 and invite your friends over for a $5 all-you-can-drink night!

    I was telling Joey how we would have to manually pump the taps at those keg nights.

    My sister was angling for a good pic. Hint: I no longer have a “good side”!

    But here ya go…

    Birthday Boy with his birthday beer!

    A little later someone rectified the situation on the tap list, too.

    That eventually – after we got booted from the rug room three hours later so the band could set up – evolved into having a Secret Tap “for the regulars”. A few of them stopped by over the course of the afternoon and evening and shared a pint with the party. Owl X had been a little late arriving and missed the tap moment, but she found the light controls and smoke machine! Karaoke was briefly discussed and abandoned.

    I think we’d held the festivities – and the bar side – hostage with our sheer number of people for another hour before people started heading off into the cloudy evening. No Blood Wolf Moon viewing here in Portland!

    Diezel and his date – the stranger was his. I mean, geez, D, it’s my birthday…you gotta let me unwrap something! – had another birthday party to go to and we’re the first to leave. I got to chat with them a while and I have to say, I’m glad Diezel may have found himself a good old keeper.

    Not to jinx anything. Since I’m not involved, I think it’s safe…

    Little Buddy took her guys and headed off toward the ‘Couv. She has a kiddo at home to think of feeding. I forgot to ask how the Power Point Improv was, but in retrospect, I think it may have even been a red herring!

    My family was the next to go, but almost the last to leave besides The Fox, Owl X and I. Mom was “taking one for the team” as my sister put it and acting as the family DD. Still, having her driving after dark on a cloudy night was a little hard for me to be 100% comfortable with.

    On the other hand, I hadn’t been drunk with my siblings since…I dunno. Maybe my sister’s wedding? But I don’t think we were out of control for that. My brother rarely has a beer, let alone what we decided was four for him that night. My sister shocked me by jumping in head first with her first beer. Since Peej was not yet available, she had a Notorious Triple IPA…just an 11.2% alcohol by volume concoction.

    Hats off, sis!

    My dad took a break from his canned water of choice (Coors Light, which I heard they were giving away in Flint for hydration, j/s dad!) and enjoyed some of Oregon’s Finest.

    Tastes a little apricot-y.

    My favorite moment of the night!

    I’d said the exact same words to Little Buddy the first time her, 2.0 and I had gotten together for beers. LB and I were working together again, her and 2.0 had just decided to give the dating thing another go and I’d been convinced to try an IPA. I’d notoriously hated them for 20 years, opting instead for Ambers and Reds.

    They were surprised by my statement.

    Well, it’s definitely got a stone fruit note to it.

    They humored me. Well, maybe they agreed that I had a weird mouth and I agreed to ignore their assessment.

    “It must just be a weird palate thing with your family”, Little Buddy said.

    This is why we’re friends.

    Joey’s shift had ended and my other favorite bartendress had reported for duty, sneaking a crowler of the good stuff into my goodie bag.

    Linda Belcher was the last non-regular to leave. Although, since she passes the bar on her way rom her office to the bus stop, she’s known to wander in looking for me on occasion.

    Sometimes she sees me and joins me.

    Other times I’m not there.

    Still others, she doesn’t see me.

    I think I enjoy the times she sees me and joins me most, but those times she doesn’t see me are pretty friggin hilarious.

    We got to sit in the Rug Room and chat a little. The band was really good, just a him & her type duo. Not too loud, so we could enjoy both the music and some talk. Her husband – Bob Belcher of Bob’s Burger fame, obviously – is in Nepal for several months and I’ve been meaning to check in on Linda Belcher for a couple weeks…just…life.

    There were some folks I’d have loved to see present. Some – like Filipina Fox and her husband – were out of town for the weekend. Others, the Silver Fox just couldn’t contact because he didn’t have their contact info. He’s not on social media, so he couldn’t use Messenger as a tool to reach out to my other known associates.

    The biggest shocker wasn’t how well he pulled this off – starting with hiding the keg weeks ago. No, it was that he kept it a secret. That’s truly impressive. He’s always accidentally giving away the twist in a movie or show. I think the years that we’ve been friends have caused some of my sneakiness to accidentally rub off on him.

    I woke myself up on my actual birthday morning because I’d been smiling so hard in my sleep that I think I couldn’t actually be unconscious and simultaneously that happy.

    There’s worse ways to wake up.

    We finally got to watch some Grace & Frankie last night. I know you were worried.

    Birthday breakfast.

    Birthday lunch.

    And then the bottle of wine The Fox got me last year at my birthday to round out the birthday proper while we binged on Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin’s old-age misadventures.

    I was exhausted after four days of friendly camaraderie and about a month’s worth of alcohol in that same timeframe.

    My low key day today brought all the feels back just by opening Facebook. I’ve been doing a good job of only checking in once a day. Actually, I’ll miss days now and then.

    Yesterday was one of those days.

    That big old birthday smile came back. For some, maybe it’s not a big deal…but to me, having over 100 folks take time out of their day to wish me well is a big deal.

    Touching.

    Even Portland’s former mayor dropped me a note.

    Replying to these messages is what made me think to blog about my birthday in detail. Plus, this gave me a chance to prove that I didn’t drink too much!

    I remembered!

    It started out about like this blog…

    Then got sweet…

    I didn’t even know I had birthday wishes! Outside of the lottery win that refused to comply…

    Actually, there was a little WTF moment when I started responding. Check out the background…

    Hmmm. <unfriend>? Actually, it fits my personality. Well, not the “god” part. But, it’s the thought, right?

    And speaking of my personality. One of The Fabulous Baker Sisters has to weigh in!

    And, I’m case you worried, we had more than a few Myrtle mentions…

    So, here’s to another year of surviving Myrtle’s Gulag, life and the occasional happy surprise.

    Thanks for reading, every one of you!

    Tappa-Kegga-Day

    The Most Awkward Three-Way Ever

    This just in from the Department of Awkward!

    Ok, maybe it was a few weeks back…

    It was the Second Last Hurrah before my diet began*. I was on my way to a solo movie and Chipotle date to carpet bomb my remaining cravings into submission. The First Last Hurrah had been some Pallet Jacks with the Silver Fox at the Big Legrowlski. They were nice and tasty, but three got the better of my judgment and after watching a couple episodes of Lucifer on Netflix, the devil got the best of me and I went to check out the new location of Portland’s oldest gay strip club.

    Did ya follow that?

    Silverado got booted off of Vaseline Alley – aka: Stark Street – quite a few years ago and made an inexplicable move from NW Portland to SW Portland. We’re talking a move of about 10 blocks, but suddenly their only gay bar neighbor was Casey’s, one of three tied for the worst gay bar in Portland**.

    It seemed like a bad move.

    But, they made a go of it. Even after their adjacent lousy gay bar neighbor went tits up. That persistent success is saying something, considering I usually wanted to wear a HazMat suit when I went there, yet here were these brave (read: desperate) young, gay men stripping.

    Then, last year, they lost their lease. I can’t imagine – based on the above description of Cootieville – that the landlord thought they’d be able to get more for the property. But, that’s Portland real estate.

    I figured I owed the new digs – three blocks from my place – a peek. Ironically, 20-ish years ago, this building was the first incarnation of Casey’s. I’ll let you all hashtag that ironic occurrence on your own.

    So, the new space had a pedigree…I’m just not saying it was a good one.

    The First Last Hurrah

    Like I said, boredom and a few beers got the better of my judgment, so I took a lil stroll to check out the new place. It was clean. For another refreshing change of pace, it has bathrooms a respectable woman would at least hover in. They might even sit…

    I didn’t recognize the bartender and wondered if some/all of the staff had been left behind in the old place. After ordering a beer, I took in the other half-dozen late night patrons, all gathered around the bar.

    I took my beer and surveyed the rest of the ground floor. Big kitchen – that’s an upgrade. Some weird private tables tucked into structural grottos. They aren’t private as in private dances, as far as I could tell, they were actual 4-tops.

    Besides, the only other thing upstairs was a karaoke set up. I flashed a quick look at those bellied up to the bar to make sure none of them had any aspirations. I think if I wanted bad entertainment, I could have stayed home, right?

    I decided to check out the lower level, but only because it was 9:30-ish and the shows didn’t start until 10. It was small and had a low ceiling and a tiny stage. Definitely different than the old joint, where there was a huge stage that usually had two guys dancing and climbing around the large structural support pole. It was an atypical pole dancing set up. Guys usually did a mid-dance workout on it.

    There’d be no workouts on this little stage.

    There was a second bar downstairs, though. Someone knows their audience.

    Yawn.

    I’d taken a couple of sips of my beer and decided it was not the IPA that I’d asked for – at best it was a mass market lager. I went back upstairs and asked the bartender to redraw it for me. Hoping he just pulled the wrong beer.

    My neighbor at the bar decided to get chatty while the underwear clad bartender demonstrated his displeasure at my request with his pace.

    My new friend asked where I lived and – I don’t know why – I suggestively whispered that I lived right around the corner. Then I asked where he lived as the bartender placed my new beer in front of me.

    Oh, I live out in southeast. I was just over here for dinner with friends.

    “Don’t drink to much!”, I offered cheerfully before grabbing my drink and spinning away from the bar.

    I half-suspected that the bartender had served me a spitter, he looked pretty smug when he put it in front of me. I tipped him anyway, but I wasn’t about to sip it in front if him.

    I ended up at the lottery machines by the door, having likely alienated the “crowd” and the staff. I didn’t have a ton of cash on me or in reality, but I figured I could lose $20 while I drank my beer with my back to the bar.

    I won $50.

    Fine.

    I’ll play this down to $50 and call it a night.

    At $52 and change, I won a little under $100. I was slightly annoyed because my beer still tasted like shit.

    Fine. I’ll play it down to $100, then.

    Overall, I like problems like this…and then the lottery went down. Machine by machine…they were just powering down, heading right toward me.

    I scrabbled to quit my game and cash out. Unfortunately, the blackout hit my machine before I could…fortunately, it auto-printed a cash out ticket.

    I went to the bar and sat down with my beer.

    How is it?

    I was surprised the bartender cared, but he’d been nearby dropping off a cocktail for a new arrival a couple barstools away. I just wrinkled my nose and shook my head.

    Well, what do you want me to do about it?!?

    I was surprised by the escalation in his voice. I waved my cash out ticket at him and asked if his side of the lottery was working. He said no, so I pushed my beer across the bar, said, “Tell someone, that’s what I want you to do about it because I think your lines are crossed”, and left.

    Sheesh. If he’s gonna be a snowflake…

    The Second Last Hurrah

    Of course this would happen to me. I’m all greased up and ready to start a diet the following day and the universe conspires to make me go back to a bar to pick up a lottery win. I debated waiting, but it was over $100 and, frankly, it would come in handy.

    Because this is an old school Portland dive, they open early. I think it’s 9 AM, if you can believe that! 11 AM, at the latest. I booted around the house until noon, knowing that if I went, I’d probably have a beer…assuming they had bottles, that is.

    But I really didn’t want a beer.

    I kind of started obsessing about drinking a beer.

    But I really didn’t want a beer!

    I think it was a distraction technique, but I figured if I was on my way somewhere when I stopped in for my money, I couldn’t hang around.

    Since I was picking up cash, I decided to be on my way to a movie. Great. Now I had a plan. The movie was at 4:15, so I’d leave at 3:45, cash in my ticket and be at the theater by 4:05.

    What could possibly go wrong?!?

    Well, plenty…this is my life, here.

    I started thinking about popcorn. The voice in my head was whispering that I had extra money, go mad!

    No, my last meal should be something halfway good. If I was going to limp into a diet, movie theater popcorn wasn’t going to be the last thing I ate.

    I’m not even sure where the voice in my head came up with that idea.

    I was writing, so I didn’t want to tank my momentum by going out for lunch. I decided to make a post movie stop at Chipotle on my way home.

    That’s a fair compromise.

    I’m starving when I get to Silverado. I walk in and am greeted with an overly chipper

    Well, hello there, Handsome!

    Great. It’s the bartender that always hits on me.

    Every.

    Damn.

    Time.

    I’d first met him at another bar, when we were both on the drinking side. He was with friends and he’d left them to come sit by me. Well, on me, actually. On a barstool.

    How we didn’t end up on the floor, I dunno.

    He ends up giving me his number and going back to his friends. Over the next few days, we text, but can’t schedule a meet up.

    He’s the busy one. When I point that out and thank him for the attention, he throws

    It’ll be easier next week, there’s just so much to do before the wedding.

    Knowing nothing of a wedding, I ask who’s getting married.

    Me, silly! Didn’t I tell you?

    “Must’ve slipped your mind. But I’m glad it came out, I’m not what’s missing in your relationship.”

    Now, you’d think that would send a pretty clear message. For whatever reason, I don’t see him for over a year after this. The next time I walk into his bar, though, he scampers out from behind the bar and gives me a big hug.

    He’s wearing a jock strap.

    For the love of…I’m only a man!

    You never call! Where have you been?!? We need to get together!

    I have a couple beers and then leave, thinking nothing of it, really. Bartenders hitting on me has lost its luster.

    You left without saying goodbye!

    I usually pay cash in bars. I didn’t reintroduce myself and only remembered his name when another patron used it to get his attention.

    He remembered my name from two years ago and hadn’t purged me from his contacts list?!?

    Alright, I can indulge this attention. When he asked why we never got together originally, I reminded him that he’d gotten married and said…something vague about being sorry it didn’t work out.

    Oh, we’re still married! We’re just open. It’s no big deal.

    How do you remember my name but not that I’m not willing to be someone’s side piece? I remind him.

    You’re gonna pass this up just because I’m married?

    He asked playfully, but as I was replying I get this…nope, never mind, it’s too graphic a pic to post.

    I replied that I was, indeed, able to resist and bid him farewell.

    But, phew. The only thing this kid has going against him is that he’s married.

    The mere memory deserves another phew!

    Nowadays when I see him, he greets me and calls me Handsome, but doesn’t overtly hit on me any more.

    Anyway, he’s getting my cash for me and I’m waiting at the bar when someone beside me says

    Well, look what the cat dragged in!

    Sitting right next to me is The Stripper. I think I only missed the fact that it was him because he was sitting like a customer at the bar, wearing clothes and everything!

    I swore that I wrote about him in one of my Dating Into Oblivion posts, but can’t find it now.

    Here’s the shorthand:

    I may be over bartender’s hitting on me at this point in my life. Believe it or not, though, I still fell for the same trick last year when a stripper grabbed my phone and texted himself, then saved the number.

    That’s my real name. Gotta go dance, but you better call me!

    He’d been chatting with me for about an hour, refusing both my offer of a drink and deflecting the attention of other guys. He had introduced himself as Jett and was surprisingly articulate. This, partnered with not accepting my offer to buy him an overpriced stripper’s drink – which is usually just something like cranberry juice and soda for $8 – made me think maybe.

    Maybe he actually liked me.

    Maybe he wasn’t just trying to lure me down for $20 lap dances on his slow nights…

    He was, I guess. He never committed to my offers to get together. To his credit, he never asked me to come see him, either. Nonetheless, after a couple of weeks, I stopped replying.

    I slow blinked and muttered something under my breath and then turned to say hi.

    I could feel my cheeks flushing red.

    Are you sticking around? I’ve got a double today, starting in about 15 minutes!

    “Nope. Just stopped in on my way to a movie to cash that in”, I say, nodding at The Bartender.

    You should let me show you around before you go!

    He’s super friendly, which I want to think is just him being nice. The Bartender comes back and starts counting my winnings to me and I can feel pressure building up behind my eyes.

    “I was down there last night. Small.”

    Yeah, I bet you can touch the ceiling! It’s small, but I like it.

    And I swear to god, with those last words, he looked right at my crotch.

    I feel like I’m thirty seconds from completely unspooling between these two sexy, frustrating men. I make my goodbyes, barely even able to imagine touching the ceiling downstairs while Jett touches the floor.

    Pushing my way into the waning daylight, I hit the bricks thinking, “Fuck it, I’m getting popcorn!”

    Seriously, only I could get stuck between two feuding flirts and come away feeling like I’d done something wrong.

    But movie theater popcorn and Chipotle made me feel much better about it.

    * It didn’t

    ** All polling data is based on my own experiences and extremely subjective. That doesn’t make it inaccurate…

    The Most Awkward Three-Way Ever

    The Stoner Cafe

    Longtime readers will recognize the name of this entry as what I named the vending machines in the basement of what my friend D-Slice called The Adult Dorm. We were neighbors there when I lived in Seattle.

    The vending machines were on the basement level for five or so years after the building went condo. Maybe this was a construction leftover. However, since this was also the laundry level from when the building was apartments, something tells me they had been there quite some time before the construction guys arrived to rehab the building.

    Also, there were Zagnuts in it.

    Eventually, the machines were removed. This was actually a fairly sad realization for many residents, I learned. I had thought I was the only loser that frequented them, reinventing the walk of shame as I took my 14 floor elevator ride with a handful of change.

    At least it was usually well after most of the residents’ bedtime, so I was usually able to do so undetected.

    This nostalgia is top of mind again for me recently. Not because I sit around thinking about my glory days, no. Rather, because I have seemingly found a way to reinvent this phenomenon…if a vending machine can be considered a phenomenon.

    Call it The Stoner Cafe 2.0.

    Check that homepage out!

    An aptly named app for my nostalgia, to be sure. The Stoner Cafe and this GoPuff app both wink at the reputation marijuana has for inciting the munchies.

    Now, I’m not a big user when it comes to pot. Tried it in college, didn’t see the point. Tried it again when I moved from Seattle back to Portland, frankly, I’ve found that I can take it or leave it.

    As I continue to struggle with an IPA induced increasing waistline, I wish I could actually “take it” – shut up, Diezel – in order to replace my beer penchant with zero calorie pot in order to unwind.

    Alas…

    The last time I used any marijuana product was 2016, and that was CBD derivative edibles rather than the THC counterparts. The THC being the intoxicating component of weed.

    But that doesn’t mean I don’t get my own form of the munchies. Usually, this is my brain struggling to stave off boredom, versus any legitimate hunger. My mom pointed out this habit of mine to eat when I’m bored back before I even hit a double digit age. So it’s been around a while.

    Knowing that about myself, I usually try to apply some discipline – believe it, or more likely, not – when purchasing junk food. I might pick up corn chips if I can fool myself into thinking I’ll make a nacho. If I go to the Costco, I’ll buy a big bag of snackage…because who can resist a good deal?!? Otherwise, I try to make my junk food consumption inconvenient so that I have to really want it.

    Ergo, I’ll make myself get up and go to the store.

    But a few months ago – maybe around Halloween – I discovered GoPuff. Seriously, did you see that pic of the homepage of the app? It’s like a convenience store on my phone.

    I’d seen ads for this app while playing Words With Friends. I didn’t think too much of it at first, just a nuisance to be endured like all the other ads we put up with in our online lives.

    Then one night, I was up…couldn’t sleep. There was no food in the house. Not even cheese, which usually goes a long way with me as a snack.

    Or a meal.

    I was trying to be good and hadn’t ordered a pizza or used Postmates to get some Thai delivered. I thought that if I could just make it past the restaurant’s closing time, I’d be out of danger.

    My brain had other OCD thoughts in mind though. Once 11 PM hit, my cravings ramped up. Significantly.

    Fine.

    Amazon Prime to the rescue.

    Nope. My earliest delivery option was the next morning.

    Then I remembered…GoPuff.

    Problem solved!

    Salt & Vinegar chips. Check.

    Pringles. Check.

    Ice Cream. Check!

    Monster for the morning? Check. Times two.

    Frozen Pizza. Why not?

    Oh, I can order beer and wine on this app, too? Don’t mind if I do!

    Unlike Amazon Prime, there’s no extra charge for ASAP delivery. Again, consider the target audience. That means that I didn’t have to wait two hours for delivery.

    On top of that, the prices are pretty solid. Somewhere between grocery store and convenience store. I didn’t have to feel guilty over anything but what was in my cart because I wasn’t overpaying.

    This is on my mind today, of course, since I’ve been procrastinating a post-holiday diet. My white elephant gift was labeled

    To: Fatty

    From: Santa Claus

    So, yeah…that’s great. It was also a Nutri Bullet blender and my sister helpfully pointed out that they juice great. What is that, a hint? Luckily, I’m meaner to myself than any helpful life tip could ever be.

    I just needed to get to a point where I could do some self-care without any temptations. Er, distractions. I thought that would be last week, but then the Silver Fox suggested a Golden Globe viewing party and offered up three bottles of wine.

    “It’s a long show!” he offered when I countered with two bottles. Fair point.

    So, Monday, then!

    Then I get a text from my ex, Rib. He’s got a 30 hour layover on Tuesday and we should hang out.

    Yes. We definitely should hang out!

    So…Wednesday?

    Well, if I’m gonna shut The Fox’s drinking buddy down for the better part of a week…we should have a last hurrah day.

    Thursday, it is!

    I’m sitting here, writing this and eating the leftovers of my Pringles as a text lands from The Fox

    BL at 3:30?

    BL being Big Legrowlski…where our favorite beer, Pallet Jack from Barley Brown’s, is back on tap.

    Junk food successfully consumed, a Pallet Jack send off, now I’m ready.

    The Stoner Cafe