BikeTown Chronicles #2

Over the past week, I’ve been missing being active as my foot heals up. It’s provided me the opportunity to live actively vicariously through myself…my memories of being outside and active, at any rate.

It’s also gotten me thinking about the unfortunate side effects of getting back on my bike. Back in the saddle, if you will.

The muscle soreness, I look forward to. Achey knees, I’m able to tolerate…literally walking off the cumulative shock in the hours or days after a ride.

That saddle rash, though.

Short of getting a new seat, I’ve done what I can to minimize the occurrence of saddle rash. Wearing fewer layers of fabric to minimize chafe. Wearing the right layers, ie: padded undergear. Post-ride care, including a bag balm, because some remedies have to make you question whether the cost of the cure is worth the cause of the malady.

Kinda like the old chestnut about only sane people questioning their sanity. So when I ask if applying salve to my taint-ish region is a reasonable post exercise recovery…I have to be able to affirm my cycling adventures. It’s not as worth it as it would be if someone else were (gingerly) working the cream into my nether area.

Shush, Diezel.

But, since that’s not a fun part of my cost/benefit cycling analysis – and since today is the first day old leftie is feeling like a ride won’t send my recovery backwards – I move past the potential discomfort into other areas of my recent outdoor adventures.

So I’m co-opting or resurrecting this draft of my second BikeTown Chronicles with a few things further onto the plus side of cycling in order to motivate me back out onto the road this afternoon!

I had gotten to the point where I would remember gloves. Actually, I was pretty proud, I remembered them after my first ride. My forearm soreness was pretty severe after my ride, but in a weird way. I also experienced numbness during and after my ride. I remembered the gloves recommendation from one of The Fabulous Baker Girls, who is an avid cyclist. She swore the padding in the palms of the gloves would reduce, if not flat out alleviate, hand and wrist numbness during my ride.

The fact that I experienced numbness up my forearm after the ride reinforced the need for gloves. I put them inside my helmet so I wouldn’t forget them for my next ride. My hands and wrists still get a little numb during my rides, but not until I’m about 10 miles in. I have a mountain bike, with traditional straight handlebars. I’m sure there’s an alternative bar that would afford me the opportunity to reposition my hands during my rides so that I can reduce this numbness even further, similar to 10-speed handlebars. I just haven’t done any research into those options yet.

Cycling took an unexpectedly social turn on my third or fourth ride of the season when I ran into – more accurately, he “caught up” to me – Casey Adler toward the end of my Springwater Trail ride. How he recognized me from behind, in cycle gear – including a helmet, Mom! – is beyond me. I don’t consider myself to be that distinct looking as to be recognizable from either that angle or at that velocity.

It was a nice surprise, though. We rode the last couple of miles of the trail together, catching up.

Honestly, though, there was a moment where “catching up” turned into “catching my breath”, when I tapped out and told him he needed to talk for a while while I wheezed and listened.

I’m old, I own that!

I hadn’t been in a situation where I needed to be cognizant of sharing the path as we rode two abreast and chatted. I’m usually the grumpy guy muttering “excuse me” as I steer to avoid such people. I was proud of the fact that Casey and I took turns dropping back to avoid colliding with oncoming groups that were also riding side by side, albeit obliviously so. Hell, Casey was even aware enough to see a faster rider coming up behind us and sped up so we were riding single file again so Speed Cycler could pass.

Our social cycling ended abruptly when we realized that Casey was taking a street route – presumably – back to his place in NoPo while I was peeling off to take the Esplanade back toward my place.

After we separated, though, I focused on his casually motivational comment when I asked where he was coming from. He simply said that he’d taken the path out to Boring and was on his way back in. I was inspired because that’s a 50 mile ride for me, probably closer to 60 for him.

It was just two rides after this encounter that I managed – and promptly swore off of – my own half century ride. I know I’ve got another 50 mile ride in me…at some point. I just need to figure out how to incorporate them into my cycling routine, since they are time consuming and do have quite a physical toll.

My Health App and Strava finally synced on this ride, too!

Prior to this, for whatever reason, there had been about a half mile discrepancy. My Health app had been shorting me a half mile in ride and doubling the total mileage post-ride.

Weird.

Interestingly, it had been – and still is – waaaay overvaluing my caloric burn. It measures the energy in kcal units, which as my simple mind understands metrics – is 1000 calories. For the ride above, Strava estimates a 534 calorie burn, while my Health app insists on making that a 534 kcal burn.

Sadly, I don’t see me burning a half million calories in a month of cycling, let alone a single day.

But like I said, maybe calories and kcals are interchangeable and I’m just an idiot on the subject.

Could totally be the case.

There are definitely a few things for me to remember as I psych myself up for a ride today. Negative factors that are beyond my control, unlike padded shorts and gloves.

The ride that prompted this entry originally occurred on Cinco de Mayo. I failed to connect the dots between the holiday and the fun zone idiots I encountered on my ride home along the waterfront. The path along the waterfront is mixed pedestrian, cyclist, skateboarder, roller blader, unicyclyer, jogger, segue rider and any other mode of transport you can imagine. It’s Portland! The city may as well put up bleachers on the path at Gov Tom McCall Park since the path runs between the river and the strip of grass that houses amusement park rides or tents during the many summertime waterfront events. This effectively renders the pathway unnavigable as lower functioning humans are stunned into a slack jawed, mouth breathing and quite stationary existence on the path as they contemplate whether or not to enter.

Sidenote: this is not happening anywhere near the actual entrance to the festival.

Since we are in the midst of Portland’s annual Rose Festival activities, the fun zone is in full swing. Luckily, there’s a path along both sides of the river. I just have to remember to take the right one on my way home!

Hey, did you know that Walkathons are still a thing? Apparently, most of them are in support of Rude People Pride since they seem to block the entire path…prompting me to admonish them to share as I weave and wobble through the crowd.

That said, a Monday ride is a ride free of Walkathons!

However

I need to be careful to time my ride so that I’m back before rush hour for Portland’s bike commuters. This is particularly important while there’s an event at Tom McCall Park since everyone funnels along the east side of the river to get home, bypassing the virtual bleachers on the west side of the river.

Generally speaking, I love catching the worker bee exodus of Portlander cyclists as they leave work for the day when I’m returning from a ride. It reminds me of what a great city Portland is to live in.

The only pinch point is the Steel Bridge.

This bridge was opened in 1912. One has to admit that at 106 years of age, it’s fared quite a bit better than more infamous technological marvels of that same year. Portland has also worked to integrate the bridge into its infrastructure plans to make sure it doesn’t cripple the city’s growth through the years.

Originally, this two-decked bridge carried vehicles on its upper span and train traffic along its lower span. When Portland introduced its commuters to light rail in the 80s, the upper span was repurposed to carry two lanes of car traffic and two lanes of light rail MAX trains. When the Eastbank Esplanade was created, the Steel and Hawthorne Bridges were selected to connect the east and west side waterfronts, each gaining a pedestrian and cycling path. For the Steel Bridge, that manifested in an addition to the lower deck. At about 5 feet wide, it’s half the width of the paths along the waterfront.

For all the ribbing Portland drivers get for being too polite, demonstrated nicely by Portlandia in its “No, You Go” sketch where two drivers at an intersection bent over backward to yield to the other, one of whom didn’t even have a stop sign or signal, the same cannot be said for its cyclist population. Especially bike commuters.

I’ve long suspected that being killed as a pedestrian by a cyclist would be the perfect manifestation of a Red Shirt worthy demise. Little did I realize that cyclists are trying to take one another out, too. During the Cinco de Mayo fun zone-slash-bike commuter rush hour, the Steel Bridge became something of a cycling Thunderdome. As I was crossing over in this last mile of my ~20 mile ride, the path was packed with slow-moving pedestrian and bike traffic.

I’m sure there was a very good motivator for what I experienced on the bridge this day, but all I can muster is either selfishness or straight up idiocy. We riders were all doing a slow pedal across the bridge as we navigated across with our walking counterparts. For whatever reason, an oncoming cyclist decided to pass a mother/father/stroller situation that was walking side by side across the bridge.

Mind you, at around 5 feet wide, this path is barely wide enough to accommodate three people across. This oncoming cyclist – in her irrefutable good judgment – decided rush hour was the day to make this a four person across path by bending the rules of physics.

She was partially successful, this typically stupid American. However, most of her success I attribute to me slow-crashing my bike into the hog wire railing of the pedestrian path. The commotion she caused didn’t cause her to slow down or rethink her judgment whatsoever. To her credit, it also didn’t cause her to speed up, so the chaos she created was maximized.

What a feckless cu…well, you get where that’s going.

So, hopefully the need for editing in this post is minimal, since I’m giving it less than that. You see, I have a 3 hour and 6 minute window for my ride before the bike commuter rush hour starts. I need to run.

Er…peddle.

BikeTown Chronicles #2

The Red Shirt Diaries #20

I get random texts from friends when something reminds them of me. That’s sweet, right? Until you factor in that what usually makes them think of me is usually something Siegfried and Roy would slowly back away from.

My friends know my feline relationship.

Read: peril.

I get asked every couple of months why I keep her if she’s that crazy-slash-mean-slash-bloodthirsty.

The answer is pretty easy, I chose her. That’s a commitment. It’s one that her first three homes failed to honor in the first 18 months of her life and part of why I think she’s so…weird.

The other part is just tortitude…torties are fairly famous for their antisocial behaviors.

Well, and then there’s the other other part: I think I can fix broken things.

That’s on me.

Still, she has mellowed over the last two and a half years.

Who can resist a lap nap with a sweet kitty? Even if it’s just a temporary state of sweetness.

My friends get this.

Hence the pictures.

I get a good chuckle out of them.

But, still…I won’t be surprised if I end up dying in a Myrtle Related Incident.

Whether it’s one of her ankle hunting strikes like the above near miss two years ago or a new, unexpected development remains to be seen.

Right meow, my money is on a bathroom mishap.

I moved into a new unit in my building at the first of the year. The old bathroom was shotgun style, long and deep…everything one after the other from the door.

Sink.

Tub.

Toilet.

The new situation is more of a side-by-side deal. Myrtle is usually sitting on the counter, sweetly when I finish showering. She’s like a stoner, staring in amazement at the swirling steam mixed with airborne cat hair riding the heatwaves my shower generates.

In my old bathroom, she did the same, but from the floor since the bathroom counter didn’t offer the same view of this kitty mesmerizing awesome phenomenon. Myrtle thinks it’s the best thing I’ve ever done…moving to give her a better view from her sink top perch.

Still, she catches me off guard: a month or so ago, I was removing some uninvited follicular guests by leaning over the counter toward the mirror. She usually rubs up against my belly and chest, adding hair to my shirt as I’m tweezing. This time, I was wrapped in a towel at my waist.

Little bitch bit my nipple.

I’m so not into that.

So, I try to be wary while being realistic. If Myrtle wants to be on the counter, she’s gonna be. Making an issue of it will just piss her off and she’ll still do it…just not while I’m around.

Cats, right?

So, here’s how that wariness manifested into a Red Shirt situation and I potentially end up dead:

Mistress Myrtle used to rub up against my ankles when I got out of my old shower. My friends all pretty much agree that she’s just reapplying her stank.

In the new place, she upgraded.

I was bent at the waist, drying my legs and Myrtle started rubbing her head on my towel dried hair. It rather caught me off guard and I jerked my head up, just missing the counter.

Here’s how this looks:

This has been a daily ritual ever since. I open the shower curtain and she’s sitting there waiting eagerly.

Personally, I think this is a hygiene upgrade for her. She’ll rub her head on mine and then scrub up against the slate style countertops.

It’s cute.

But about once a week, she’ll try to use her claws to tease my hair up into a better rubbing surface for her favorite cat.

Knowing that jerking upward will result in a bleeding scalp, I quickly duck in order to get away from the claws.

Yup.

More near misses, courtesy of the Mistress.

I really see this being some sort of Rube Goldberg type elaborate death.

Myrtle grabs my scalp with her claws.

I duck to avoid, smacking my head on the counter’s edge.

This causes me to jerk upright suddenly.

I lose my balance and overcorrect to remain on my feet.

…and fall backward into the tub.

Maybe the fall kills me, maybe it just paralyzes me and I end up laying there until I expire.

More than likely, I’m immobilized in the tub until Myrtle the Merciful decides ten minutes later that it’s a lost cause and she begins to eat my face.

No use letting a good meal spoil, right Myrt?

The Red Shirt Diaries #20

The Red Shirt Diaries #21

The Big One edition.

I just got back from a quick escape to the coast with The Fox.  This is an important point, only because we specifically discussed potential caffeination strategies simply because of the beach house’s remote location.

Coffee wasn’t going to come handily.  Either you have to make the dreaded drip at the house, prepare to trek into town for whatever offerings you find or take some with.  

It’s a worthwhile trade off for this view, though.

The Fox is a Stok fanatic, which is a pre-made cold brew that you can buy in the store.  So, he was taking a bottle of that to get him through and offered to take a second for me.  I told him that I would likely just grab some Monsters to get me by.  I used to have a daily habit, but weaned myself off when I moved back to Portland and found worthy cold brew that was accessible on the daily.

Still, I spent the next several days listening to facts about how bad Monsters are and how they were named as one of the 10 worst things you can buy at the grocery.

Our route home from the coast was atypical for The Fox.  Normally, he will stop off in the hinterlands of Portland at the Costcos and Wincos to stock up for Armageddon. However, this time we stopped by the Fox Family Homestead to pick up Sallory – who is off on another family world tour and in need of a lift into the city and the airport.

No better reason to change the usual routine than that!

So, the usual Costco stock up and Winco Stok up run was put off a day.  I was asked if I needed anything and really could only think of hamburger.  Later, as we all played a pick up game of Where I Hurt – it’s a mental poker game I play when a group of us complain about our respective maladies – and my losing hand consisted solely of nightly calf cramps, I added magnesium.

The Fox rolls up to my front door with the ground beef and magnesium later as well as some back up lasagnes and a flat of Monsters.

Enabler.

I can find a place in my pantry for those!

However, it did prompt this question about our usual coffee date this morning:

My Earthquake Kit.

Of course, the big one is nigh.  There’s scarcely a month that passes without at least one of the weekly rags publishing some sort of article about life after certain death.  Most recently, it was a Dr Know entry about whether houseboats were the next big housing craze in Portland – after RVs and ADUs – particularly as a potential way to survive and ride out the aftermath of The Big One.  The response, I will leave to your sleuthing.

Because

This morning’s quandary for the Red Shirt was, “Would I want to survive?”

Even with the Monsters The Fox provided and the cash stash my parents taught me to have, I imagine Portland will quickly de-volve into some sort of post-apocalyptic knock-off version of itself.

Zoo Bombers will run the looter gangs.

Vegans will become cannibals before the first aftershock.

Yard chickens will become prophets – because it is still Portland.

And, somehow, I think all the little things about humanity that bother me will survive…even becoming amplified.

My inner optimist wants to believe that survivors will band together to create a better tomorrow.  Focused on making a community out of the ruins of our hipster culture.  But realistically, I think sacrificing myself by running into my crumbling building to rescue my neighbor’s (completely fictional, but give it time) balcony chicken will be the better move.

“All hail the prophet Cluckerella!” will be my last words as I fling my neighbor’s (again, completely fictional) balcony chicken off the balcony to freedom from our collectively crumbling roost.

The Red Shirt Diaries #21

The Red Shirt Diaries #19

Portland’s Got Stabby edition.

I admit that walking through Old Town on dark or early mornings gives me more pause than I’d like to acknowledge.  It’s always been a little dodgy.  When I would drive into town back before the turn of the century – yes, we had cars back then – to go to the downtown bars, it was with the knowledge that there were strangely high odds that my windows could be punched out when I returned.

Luckily, I had a Jeep ragtop.  

Leaving the bars and heading back to my car, I could count on seeing a couple of cars that had been broken into along the way.

You could discourage this by locking up stuff in your trunk versus leaving it on the seat in plain sight.

No need to beg for it like a dumbass.

Over the decades since, Portland’s Old Town has gotten increasingly developed.  Mostly, or firstly, by Central City Concern…an organization that has used its property to provide affordable short or long term housing for the disenfranchised.

The disabled.

The recently out of rehab.

Some battered spouses.

And the mentally questionable.

In addition to providing low – like sometimes free low – housing, these places provide resources for the residents to get back on track.

For those willing.

Portland is famously liberal, pretty much single-handedly turning a would-be red state blue.  Low to no cost healthcare, a police force that is more tolerant of homelessness than it is our Little Beirut liberal protests…and they are pretty tolerant of those, outside of a few notable exceptions.

All of this has led other cities with less tolerant officials to sometimes remedy their own homeless problems – er, situations – with bus tickets to Portland.  The last report I read said we had about 30k homeless residents.

Most living or killing – sometimes literally – time in Old Town.

Not to lay this stabby streak on the homeless, they only get partial credit.  However, the dozen or so Urban Campers that I walk by during the pedestrian portion of my commute put me a little on edge when they rustle the wrong way.

Sue me.

The stabbing seems to happen once a month or so anymore.  Most don’t reach my consciousness unless I happen upon them shortly after or during the investigation.

That’s a pretty sad realization, but in my defense, I don’t watch much news.

The ones that tend to hit my radar are the incidents involving my community like the local nightclub DJ who was stabbed and later died in what was presented in a manner that easily suggested a hookup gone wrong.

Thanks for that, Main Stream Media.

Of course, there was the MAX stabbing last year that had the whole city running cold for weeks afterward.  A man had been harassing two young women on a train, one wearing a hijab, when three cool portland types came to their defense and ended up stabbed for their efforts.  

Two died.

The three named murderer said, “That’s what you get for your liberalism” or something along those lines.

Great, our mentally ill population is woke.

No, the ones that get my attention aren’t those truly horrendous incidents or the white trash brawls and domestic disputes.

Those I notice are the true Portland-weird fashioned occurrences.

Like last weekend’s apparent workplace dispute…with a kukri.

Oh, good…you can pick this up on Amazon.  I wonder if there is free shipping.

Really, Portland?

Or this one.

Pink Bunny suit…let that sink in.

Pink

Bunny

Suit

Unless the victim was Ralphie from A Christmas Story or Donnie Darko or even Glenn Close, then I can’t even guess what the fuck this was all about.

It was a couple months before the Onesie Party

So, just…really, Portland?

Really?

But, at this point, I could reasonably see “Really?!?” being one of my last words as I’m chased by a samurai wielding bear dressed up as an Oops. I Did It Again Brittney Spears…

The Red Shirt Diaries #19

Birthday: Food

My birthday was a week ago.

There may be (there is) a cake and fork situation in my refrigerator.  Only just barely, now, though…

But that cake is just the icing on a fantastic birthday celebration.

This is my big landmark birthday and it fell on a weekend.  The perfect recipe for breaking those diet resolutions I never bothered to make.

So.

Much.

Food.

Plus a secret gold star that I survived…but might be too big a shock for people who know me to survive.

The food started on Saturday with a solid four dozen peanut butter cookies that a couple of my co-workers made.  They were taking up too much desk space so I pared them down by a good half dozen in the first half hour.  

A full third were gone by day’s end.

At which point, I had to run out to get ready for my surprise party.

God bless The Silver Fox, but when Little Buddy called dibs for Saturday night, I knew something was brewing.  For his part, he kept the bond of trust, never admitting there was a jig, up with which to be.

And I threw out some doozy theories in the week leading up to the big day.  Seriously, I had the whole thing being filmed by any surviving Zapruder.

Little Buddy had told me she was inviting The Fox, who then made his apologies in advance for missing the get together because he had tickets to a play with Sallory.

“Like you won’t be changing those plans!”, I taunted.

I went on through the week with scenarios like, “The big surprise will be when I show up and announce that I’m only 40”.  

The Fox invited me to join he and Sallory at the hotel bar next door – he and I are…regulars – and kept changing the time.  I teased him with accusatory questions like, “How long does Little Buddy need to sneak in and decorate my place?!?”

It’s not that big and there’s nowhere really to hide.  But if that was the plan…I’m fortunate to have folks who would be bothered to go out of their way  for me.

He insisted that wasn’t the case, but when he had casually suggested the day before that we stop and get his Key Buddy key made for my new place…well, c’mon.  You don’t have to be an Olympic caliber conclusion jumper to arrive at the too easily drawn…conclusion.

All my scenarios be damned, though.

I show up at Tanner Creek Tavern and it’s just The Fox and Sallory.

We have a beer, they ordered food because somehow they hadn’t changed their tickets. There is only one opening night!  Even at The Armory.

I’ve been wrong a lot in my life, so I rallied pretty easily.  Plus, Sallory had brought me a present!

Presents: that which I secretly love but publicly play it cool.

This was still a nice upgrade from last year, though, when The Fox had bothered to be out of the country for my birthday.  I just love busting his chops.  He could light me on fire and he’d still be the best friend I’ve ever known.

This year, Rib and his new boyfriend had taken a page out of The Fox’s birthday playbook and gone to watch the Australian Open live, which inconveniently occurs around my birthday.

So, there we are, us three.  Beer and wine raised to toast the eve.  I’m happy to have them for even a little while.

And while I’m enjoying a simple moment with dear friends, I find myself following four eyes across the bar, focused on black balloons parading from the door and headed in our general direction,

Ok, that one I did not see coming.

Little Buddy.

2.0.

Breitbarb.

The good and getting better friend…he really will need a blog name at some point.

All parading toward our table.

Well, that can’t be a coincidence.

Wires having been crossed, I was expelled from the bar and left to cool my heels in the hotel lobby so our table could be staged with all the required fiftieth birthday party accoutrements.

You know, I’m lucky to have people I love in my life who also tolerate me.  Less surprising to me, but perhaps me alone, is that there’s a bar in my life that doesn’t mind setting aside a table for my friends to mark my pickled ass’ birthday.

On a damned Saturday.

In downtown Portland.

On the Onesie Pub Crawl weekend.

Whatever.  I was here first.

When I returned from my lobby exile, the Filipina Fox and her husband had joined the birthday melee.  So had a new instant friend that I’d met at LB’s and 2.0’s wedding last summer (more on that in a later blog, promise) and her younger, better looking and more Asian blooded version of my doppelgänger boyfriend.  Little Buddy had rallied quite a bar busting group for this lil surprise shindig.  

I was pleased.

So, Little Buddy had made this cake.

It was glorious, but also a shituation, as I learned.

She had been aiming to do a cake-homage to both my Star Trek fandom and my Red Shirt Diaries blog theme.  The red fondant hadn’t cooperated and she’d scratched it and taken it back to the drawing board for a slam dunk of subtlety that bumped the overt Enterprise shaped 30th birthday cake to second place in the Best Ever Cake category,

Sorry, not sorry, Sacha.

It was a Tribble Cake.

I mean, I ate a bunch of those tribbles and a healthy slice of cake.

And a second beer, duh.

Happy as I was, I learned that this party was portable.  There was a table waiting for us at Nostrana.

It’s a tres she-she Italian restaurant that I’d never been to.  I’ve eaten several times at the Pearl District sibling restaurant, but that’s just a front for $50 pizza.  Nostrana is a mother lode restaurant.

We ate the pants off that place.

Remember, I was full from beer and cake.  

Let that stop me, I did not.

2.0 started us off with a charcuterie plate that featured typical sliced cheeses and cured meats as well as a few terrine options and fucking lengua.

Yeah, that’s beef tongue.

It.

Is.

So.

Good.

Little Buddy corralled the Som for some wine.

We were also downing bread like Dr Atkins was heading our way in slo-mo with a scale.

Then.

Then…the pasta main course.

The plan had been to take my Michael Douglas ass out to a bar after dinner but the trifecta of the Onesie Bar Crawl, 2.0 comfort considerations (in a gay bar) and my grumpy old man refusal to pay cover to be ignored in a bar landed us back at my place drinking The Fox’s wine.

It was perfect.

But the weekend wasn’t yet done with my belly.

Sunday morning was brunch with The Fox. No doubt penance for not canceling his opening night plans the night before.

No.

Check that…obviously he shouldn’t have made those plans in the first place.

Obviously!

I mean… he knows how extra I pretend to not be.  It’s like we had never even met.

But a one on one brunch with my NSLP – Non Sexual Life Partner – was beautiful.  What a delightful way to usher in day one of my 50th.

It’s surreal to type that.

Post brunch plans included a pre-family dinner nap…and I kind of needed it.  One big meal left in my weekend and I was already ready for my food coma.

We were eight for dinner.  I definitely didn’t get too hungry for dinner with eight.  But I nearly ate my weight with those eight.  If only our table had been at 8:00, that could have been a seizure inducing alliteration.

Alas, my family all traveled the 20-30 miles into town to join me at the newest Pok Pok. This is a Portland “It” restaurant from years past.  I’d never been, so they had opened a new place “ten” blocks from my place to tempt me.  I’ve been meaning to get there for months since they opened.

This was the perfect excuse.

I think we split nine entrees between the eight of us.  They recommend an entree for two people to share, so we were a little over that ratio given our census.  But best safe versus sorry, right?  Plus, I think I forgot a few in my tally.

Here’s my gold star moment:

My whole life, I’ve been a picky eater.  My list of “No’s” for food looks – and probably is – longer than any single person’s list of disqualifies for potential mates.

And yet, I don’t starve.

Because in my years I have learned to think of others, I made sure that our order included the mushroom salad for my mother, who may have single-handedly in life made mushroom farming a viable vocation.  

Seriously.  She loses it for mushrooms.

One of my favorite mom/son bonding stories is of our family table growing up.  At our pre-Chuck family dinner table on La Cour, I had a side of our six top table to myself.  My sporty siblings sat across from me and I sat next to my mother on my side of the table, obvious gay son dinner table placement, right?

Me being the petsnickety culinarian and my mother making her food budget pennies scream to feed her Galby Five, there were a lot of what I would call lesser filler ingredients.

Onions.

The Peppers Bell.

Mushrooms.

My awesome mom would sit next to me and eat these Xtopher-only deemed lesser ingredients off my plate.  Right out of their individual and separate piles I’d created for each at the perimeter of my plate.

Talk about a Niles Crane worthy OCD moment.

Talk about symbiosis!

Obviously, I stipulated that this Xtopher anathema of a mushroom salad be placed at the end of the table nearest Mom-Donna, furthest from me.  You know that bitch mushroom salad ended up getting passed to everyone and ended up at my corner.

It was my personal hell.

Me, being both a newly minted legitimately grumpy old man and a dick, I quietly engaged in the dinner table conversation with my family while quietly – and for attention only – eating off the mushroom salad plate.

No,

One.

Noticed.

Goddamnit.

I even casually and without irony said things like, “I think there are mushrooms in this” and yet…nothing.

I’d only had a glass of wine and a complimentary glass of champers at Thelonious Wines before dinner and a cocktail with, so I wasn’t even buzzed when I made the decision to choke down some mushroom salad, defiantly.

And no one noticed.

So I went home and ate some of Little Buddy’s bday cake…planting a fork in it for future and what turned out to be frequent use!

I’m still full a week later.

And that’s my birthday.

Of course, with so many people I hold dear in my life turning out to celebrate, my grinchy old heart might just be so full that it’s pushing down on my stomach, making me feel that I’ve over eaten.  

Toss up, eh?

For your amusement, the song Pandora barfed out as I’m wrapping this up was Knocking On Heaven’s Door by Bob Dylan…you can’t make this shit up.  It’s my life!

Birthday: Food

The Red Shirt Diaries #18

I’m back from coffee with the Silver Fox, our normal Thursday/Friday ritual, where I announced undramatically that I thought I had colon cancer.  It’s a legit back-of-mind concern as I enter the year of the colonoscopy, but The Fox downplayed my announcement.

Oddly, cancer came up again later when I mentioned my stomach had been a little wonky since our beer date last night.  We were at our favorite watering hole, The Big Legrowlski, enjoying a new IPA option from our collective favorite brewery, Barley Brown.  It was an unfiltered IPA called Feast From the Yeast, or something thereabouts.

Anywho, that yeast was doing a number on me.  In addition to feeling tipsy after just a few sips, my stomach just began feeling fluttery as I quaffed.  Not a general flutter, a focused flutter, which is what made it weird.  

Of course, I didn’t let that stop me from enjoying a second pint!

But when I told The Fox about my 14 hour strong stomach flutter, he put me at ease by diagnosing me with pancreatic cancer.  It’s like we were playing hypochondriac poker.

Fortunately, the acid from the two cups of coffee pretty much killed – and then escorted out – whatever it was that was funking up my gut.

Instead of thinking about how cancer or heart disease will probably be my ultimate undoing, I thought I would share another of my less-likely-lethal ends while I sat here uncomfortably on my couch with Mistress Myrtle, who is in an uncharacteristically cuddly mood.

Sacha once corrected my comment about one of my irrational fears by telling me that all fears are irrational.  I disagree, I think my fear of heights and falling a distance is a healthy fear.  Darwin would be proud.

My fear of sharks is irrational.

Fully.

It’s not that I’m a frequent diver off the Australian Great Barrier Reef or South African Coast or even off Hawaii…then, perhaps, a fear of sharks would be quasi-reasonable.

I’m afraid of a shark attack in any body of water.

Ocean.

River.

Swimming pool.

Jacuzzi.

Bathtub.

Irrational.

I blame the Jaws movies.  Well, watching them at an impressionable age, at least.

Seriously, how cute is this?

So, after seeing those films, I became aware of a reluctance to put my head underwater in a swimming pool.  It was a discomfort that remained a fairly stagnant dis-ease as I rarely swam.

However, after Sacha left me and I came out of my post-breakup funk and dipped my toe back into the dating pool, I met this guy who called himself frigginfantastic online and we went on a few dates.  He lived on Hayden Island here in Portland and invited me to go kayaking with him on the Columbia River.

I went.

It was cool.

And disgusting.

Sitting in a kayak, you’re only a few inches from the filth that floats atop the river’s surface.  Discarded styrofoam from a decade ago, plastic, that gross foam and natural debris like twigs and leaves all combing to create a stinky, frothy, disgusting barrier that is quite un-see-through-able.

That lack of visibility awakened my fear of being caught off guard and general vulnerability.  I vascilated mentally between being grabbed by Jason from Friday the 13th and pulled under or just being attacked by a shark.

This was not too long after a news story of a confused shark swimming upriver, so…y’know, top of mind.

Not too long after this, The Fox and I became friends.  We took a trip to his family beach house about a year after meeting and spent a night there as well as at his ex-wife’s house about an hour inland.  I remember standing on the bluff at the beach, watching the surfers bob idly on their boards, waiting for a rideable wave.  Their feet dangling off their boards into the water…I shudder just thinking about it, a shark grabbing their lower leg.

When we got to Sallory’s place the next night, I was confronted by a more tangible challenge to this runaway fear of mine: a drink in the hot tub.  

At night.

The view of the night sky in this rural part of Oregon was awe-inspiring.  Leaning my head back against the side of the tub allowed me to enjoy the celestial view while also completely freaking out about my entire body being underwater and a potential target.  Mentally, I envisioned being bitten in half by a mammoth great white, legs and shoulders being all that was left, bobbing in the hot, frothy, bloody hot tub waters.

I felt the same discomfort last year sitting in my gym’s jacuzzi.  Because I’m obviously deranged.

The apex of this personal terror came during a vacation with Rib.  We’d rented a yurt on an island in the San Juans.  He was all jazzed about renting sea kayaks and paddling out to a nearby island, oblivious to his own mortality like only a 26 year old can be.

Irrational fear of sharks plus kayaking in legit Orca territory equals fuck me.  My heart was pounding so hard the entire time that I’m quite surprised that I didn’t end up with fractured actual ribs.

But, survive, I did.  Fear:  confronted.

Speaking of actual fractures, this was a couple of years before I fractured my tibia running.  The first occurrence.  My doctor decreed that I was retired from running and suggested a less stressful form of exercise, like swimming.

Yeah…no.

The Red Shirt Diaries #18

The Red Shirt Diaries: #17

My dinner last night included a found bottle of Pinot from Patricia Green Cellars.

Let’s call it a Continental Dinner in honor of a fallen Oregon winemaker.

Literally fallen, incidentally, which made her early death hit home with me even a tisch more.  She was discovered dead in her remote cabin and early CoD is thought to be from injuries sustained after falling down.

Finding the bottle was serendipitous.

My fear of falling down alone came to the front of my mind about 15 years ago when a co-worker sustained injuries that kept her off work and on light duty after falling in her bathtub.

My grandmother died after spending several days stuck between her commode and shower.  There’s no way to class that shituation up, so laugh, cry…your choice.  Even though she was found alive, the damage was done for her.

As if I needed to somehow have this fear hit closer to home, then there’s Myrtle…aka: the worlds most dangerous feline.

Twice, she has already tripped me.  The first time was a near miss…my temple having passed within millimeters of the corner of my hallway table on its way to landing on my face.

The second occurrence…well, I was ready for her.  Somehow, I managed to fall backward after tripping over her, twisting midair and landing on my front – now half-fake – tooth.

Mistress Myrtle has taken her game to a more ninja level than her previous two stealth attacks.  She’s not too strictly attach to the trip, willing to settle for a slip…as long as itvresults in a fall, it seems.

To that end, she’s taken to peeing in my shower over the last six months.

As her captive caretaker, I know she started forsaking her box after a UTI, associating the box with pain.  That makes me feel sad for her, poor lil kitty.

Until I run the shower and almost slip on the slimy reconstituted cat pee she left there.  Lemme tell ya, people think of cat per as an odor.  

Not always so, Jabroni.

If I miss it because it’s not stinky, there’s quite a next level dance off in my shower as I struggle to not die naked and wet in my shower after falling.

Don’t worry…I know Myrtle will be there to make that ignominious death so much worse by eating my lips, fingertips and any other soft tissues she can get too.

<shudder>

So, if the evitable happens, please know that  my wake must include Culture Club’s I’ll Tumble For Ya and as many other falling down references as possible.

The Red Shirt Diaries: #17