Dating Into Oblivion: episode 9

So, I met this guy.

Oh, wait…can you believe that it’s December and I’ve only managed 9 DIO entries on a goal of one per month?

I can.

And one is still in draft form. Maybe I’ll mothball it. Heck, maybe I’ll finish strong! January had four bachelors – even though they were all no shows, if I recall correctly – so I’m giving myself partial credit for that effort and saying that right now, I am at 12/12 on the year. Plus, there was my Halloweentime attempts at dating that resulted in multiple ghosts and/or false starts, so I’d put my attempts on the year closer to 14…

Still, just to goose actual in person failures – er, attempts maybe I’ll go ask out both of the cute baristas here at Nossa Familia and then go shopping for a New Years Eve outfit.

Just kidding, I’m not going out on NYE! Way too crowded. Way too many amateurs.

I ran across our latest potential late one evening late last month while swiping left on all of the jokers OKStupid thought would be good matches for me.

Sidenote: Seriously, OKC, “opposites attract” is an irony. Stop sending me emails about guys that managed to score a 60% compatibility using your algorithm. Either they were too lazy to answer enough questions to generate a legitimate compatibility score or we aren’t compatible. I don’t need to be reminded by you that I’m a tough sell. As a matter of fact, I think there is a bar one must clear to activate a profile on OKC, but it’s ridiculously low, like answer five questions. If you’re trying to set yourself apart from hookup sites and apps, maybe raise that to 50 and set it up so that they have to answer at least five questions from each of your ethics, dating, lifestyle, sex and other buckets before they can activate a profile.

Mkay?

Thnx.

Anyway, furthering my quest to prove or disprove my Rib Theory that getting a guy fresh off the boat in your town is a solid plan, I swiped right on this guy. He’d actually mentioned in the first line of his bio that he’d just moved to Portland.

For all you readers that closely monitor the ages of the (almost, in a completely unshocking double entendres) men that I date, he is also 33, which puts him squarely in the Damn Near Old Enough to Not Be My Son category. I actually can’t even wrap my head around a scenario where someone my age has a child his age, but I know that it’s biologically possible.

I actually enjoy the heaps of shit people give me for dating younger guys. Linda Belcher refers to my dates as being “from the half-off rack”, another pretty legit double entendres since they are much younger than me but also fairly scratched and dented. Another pointed out that this new guy was “one whole year” older than Rib and then drily complimented me on my growth…they failed to take into account that Rib was merely 24 when I met him, though. He’s 32 now, so really I think I earn a prop or two for starting in with someone a third older than him at the starting line.

Feel free to take a minute to regroup after that epic rationalization. I have a lot more experience with my crazy than you do, friends. Trust me, though, I know my mental contortions can result in dizziness. Possibly nausea.

Anyway, I decided to check out this guy’s bio to see what a 94% compatibility actually looked like. He actually answered a lot of questions. Hundreds. After ascertaining that we clicked enough minimal boxes to invest, I messaged him.

So, when you say “new to town”…how long have you *really* been here?

To my surprise, I woke up to a new message from him. He’d been in town six days…and I was off to the races. We traded messages on OKC for the rest of the week and on Friday night, he started putting out – not that way, Diezel – messages that I should ask him out.

So I did.

He declined.

Little psychopath.

Just kidding. He legit had a good reason, and a bad one.

The bad reason was just lame. Not that I cared. He’d been working on his bedroom at his new apartment and all of his going out clothes were back at his hotel. Again, not that I cared how he was dressed…this is Portland, after all. Plus, I’m probably the jeans and tee-shirt guy prototype, so really, I didn’t care how he was dressed.

But on the other hand, his pod was arriving the next day, so going out the night before moving day wasn’t the optimal situation, obviously.

But when I checked in the following Monday to see how his first day on the new job had gone, our texting led to me inviting him out to try what I call the best beer in Oregon, Barley Brown’s Pallet Jack IPA. You can only get it on tap and I know the one bar in the area that always has it on tap.

It isn’t Big Legrowlski.

It’s this dive bar that I’ve gone to off and on – more on now that it’s only about ten blocks from my place – for about 20 years. It’s called Kelly’s Olympian, and it’s pretty cool. There’s motorcycles suspended from the ceiling and neon gas station and repair shop signs hung on the walls. And they always have Pallet Jack. The one time they blew a keg while I was there, they had a back up keg to put on.

Anyway, he accepted the offer. Not only did he accept, he countered with meeting up the following day. I had been trying to veil my invitation to weeknight drinking with a drink – or two, as it happened – with the weekly cubicle dweller holiday known as Hump Day. But it’s not like I had anything else going on a Tuesday night, so game on!

Of course, Tuesday started five days of rain. The biblical type, too. Our first real inclement weather of the Fall season.

Talk about a harbinger.

But we each arrived, a little damper for the pedestrian transit. Turned out, he liked the beer…which didn’t surprise me a bit. We chatted comfortably for a couple hours and each enjoyed two Pallet Jacks.

Our conversation was alternately serious and fun, not a bad way to get acquainted. He talked about not assuming others’ intentions, but seeking to understand before reaching a conclusion. I really like this challenge. I call it a challenge because I also struggle to live that ideal. It’s hard. I’ve been a wise-cracking asshole for so long that it’s hard for me to let people prove themselves before judging their intent.

Actually, if the Myers-Briggs personality tests are to be believed, I’m a perceiver not a judger.

Following Myers-Briggs down their rabbit hole, I’m an EFNP.

Go ahead, look.

The long and short of it is that I’m a dating nightmare. Not to foreshadow, but that intuitive versus sensor bucket really works against me.

One of the other conversations we had came up when I mentioned that I’d been single following Rib for four years, roughly the same length we were together. I think he had assumed that it was a bad break up. I’d said something about still seeking a successful relationship. I clarified that Rib and I still enjoy a very nice friendship, a success in its own right. Then he said something that I found really interesting.

Why do people think of a relationship ending as a failure? If you tell someone you were in a rock band for twenty years, they’ll probably think that you were pretty successful musician. Why is it different for relationships?

Ok, that flipped a mental table. I really enjoyed that analogy.

Maybe we were talking about his parents or the Silver Fox, who were each divorced after decades of marriage. Memories get a little fuzzy midway through a second beer for me.

My only counterpoint was that maybe it’s in how it ends. Someone in a rock band for two decades is likely left with a moderate amount of wealth. If they truly were successful. People leaving a marriage after two decades are left with an intimacy vacuum.

At the very least.

Money doesn’t fill a void like that.

Still, I did enjoy the analogy.

We parted, in a drizzle. He hugged me and kissed my cheek – I’m not usually one for kissing on the first date. If we only end up friends, now I’ve kissed a friend, and that’s not a usual behavior of mine. So, the kiss on the cheek was an unexpected surprise.

He promised to send me his number on OKC so we could get together again and then said I didn’t have to walk him to his bus stop. He’d demurred on both of my offers to pick him up at his office for our date, so I was forming the opinion that he was either reserved or independent and wanting to find his own way versus being shown. I actually hadn’t intended to offer to walk him when I asked him where his stop was. I was trying to figure out if we were heading the same direction. When he told me where he was heading, I said I was heading the opposite way and said good night.

When I turned in for bed that night, I sent him a thank you message on OKC while resisting the urge to assume anything about how he didn’t use his 20 minute bus ride to send me his number. My message was really just a way to indicate that I’m not one of those dating game types that thinks waiting X days after a date is the cool way to date.

He responded pretty much immediately.

I pushed down the impulse to label his behavior and replied that I’d shoot him a text at a more reasonable hour and clicked off my nightstand lamp.

The next day we texted a lil bit.

The next day, I offered to take him out for a little bit riskier drink. The dive bar happy hour date had come in right at my $20 first date limit. Well, excluding gratuity. My second date idea was Portland City Grill in Portland’s tallest building – actually, there might be a taller structure now. Regardless, it has views like this

…from about 30 floors over Portland, which I think any newcomer would surely appreciate. That said, this ain’t no $20 date. He had said that he liked martinis, particularly, real martinis with vermouth, dirty and with onions instead of olives. A twist in the summer versus onions.

We laughed at how people who made martinis without even a trace of vermouth were just drinking vodka, but I made note of the order. I’m attentive like that, despite how I struggle with how ordering a date’s drink could be misconstrued and #metoo-ed.

Anyway, Portland City Grill’s cocktails are probably $12-15 each, so…yeah, this wasn’t a $20 date.

He suggested the following day, Friday. Yesterday. I agreed, which was followed up by him offering to wait til early next week to avoid the crowds I loathe so much. I found that kind, and attentive in its own right but committed to perseverance.

It was just one drink, after all. I wouldn’t mind two, but I was cognizant of the fact that he was both coming from work and had mentioned he was a lightweight. My intention was neither to pour him onto a bus nor end up with him at my place…so, probably just one drink.

I sent him a confirmation text at noon-ish the next day to make sure we were still on for that evening.

He responded immediately with

Can we please reschedule for Monday?

Turns out that some co-workers were going out after work and invited him along. Setting aside my grumpy old man-ness, I told him we could reschedule and to go get his networking on.

He read it immediately, but didn’t respond.

Why do people leave or turn on read receipts for their texts? Seriously, the only reasons I can think of are that they are clueless that they are on or it’s so you know they’re blowing you off.

Anyway, this is where being an intuitive type works against me: I’m prone to noticing patterns.

It was one thing to reschedule. It was another to not say “thanks for understanding” or even “sorry” when he did so.

I’d enjoyed meeting this guy. He and I were a good match according to the folks that wrote the OKStupid algorithm. He was fun to talk to, seemed to have some good life experiences under his belt and just engaging.

That said, I’d decided not to write this until today so that we’d have two dates under our belts and I’d have an idea how I felt about him. What direction I hoped this to go in. You see, algorithms aside, he’s an attractive guy…but hairy.

Generally, I’m attracted to smooth guys. I’m getting past guys that aren’t clean shaven, I live in hipster-ville, after all. But I haven’t really gotten into being attracted to guys with chest hair. And this fella is a hairy motherfucker. But, I am challenging myself to set aside that immediate spark qualifier that I’ve relied upon when meeting people. Look where it’s gotten me, after all.

Yet, here I am…Saturday. The day I intended to write this entry, if for no other reason than my December output has been meager. Only, I hadn’t successfully crossed my two date threshold.

Since it seemed like a pretty arbitrary goal – two dates – I decided to write this entry anyway. As I’m sitting at Nossa, sipping my coffee and tapping this out, I jump over to OKC to double-check a quote from our messages there.

He’s on.

Now, I can’t fully explain why this wrankled me so. I think it was because he’d never thanked or apologized to me for post-poning on me yesterday.

So, I just sent him a text message.

Your actions are giving me a “not interested” vibe.

I know that this is more than likely to offend someone, in the case that they aren’t interested and aren’t being clear. On the other hand, if it’s not intentional, it at least opens the door to conversation about how I ended up at that…perception.

Being a native Portlander, I take a lot of guff for our reputation for being passive-aggressive. I offset this through my actions, namely: being direct in my communication.

Of course he responds immediately.

Now he chooses to be in the moment. Surprising no one he says he had fun and would like to be my friend.

Oddly, he still didn’t apologize that I felt that way or take any accountability for how I’d gotten that hint. My least favorite language, right there: hint.

One of the patterns this intuitive person tends to recognize is that pattern where people fail to accept responsibility for their actions. I’m responsible for my feelings, and try to be equally responsible for my actions…so expecting others to acknowledge their own actions and their fallout seems pretty fair to me. I’m also not one who is going to get all butt-hurt about someone makes me feel. I gave them the power to make me feel hurt, I can easily take it away.

Something, Felicia

What he didn’t know in his offer of friendship – genuine or simply another sentence in hintonese – was that I expect more of my friends than my lovers. Relationships come and go – successful, as he frames them, or not – but people I call friend are in my life indefinitely. We may not see each other every day or every week. I’ve some friends I only see once a year, but we know each other and when I see them, it seems like yesterday.

I told him his actions yesterday didn’t seem like he’d make a good friend for me. After explaining why, I said

If you’ve got the balls to not be offended by that, then the <ahem> ball is in your proverbial court.

He texted me back, but I’m not in any hurry to read it. So far today, his texts have shown that he’s more interested in preserving the perception that he’s a good guy versus actually – y’know – being one.

If he wants to show me he’s someone else versus another typical lost boy, he’ll put some effort into it.

In the meantime, this is me…not holding my breath.

Dating Into Oblivion: episode 9

MNSC: Escalation Edition

16 hours ago, I was gifted-slash-bequeathed a 5L bottle of wine by the Silver Fox’s Son.

If you need some forced perspective hyperbole for scale, it’s blocking out my fridge in that picture…

Of course, I joked that I wasn’t sharing it. Secretly, I wondered when I would have occasion to polish it off.

Monday Night Supper Club has died. A victim of its own purpose.

Our foursome became a threesome when the one couple broke up.

Then a five-some, when the third embraced the meal’s mission and invited a couple into the mix.

Then a sixth was added, I think just to prevent the couple from being able to become a voting bloc. Or is it block? Who cares.

But then our numbers crushed us under the weight of scheduling – which I was the gateway for, with my stupid retail schedule. I can’t decide fully if I miss that or not. Anyway, we moved from Mondays to Saturdays to Fridays to delays for travel or moving house.

Our group spanned from the west side to northwest, initially. Then from the far east side of town to inner east side and northwest, The Fox and I being the stalwart downtowners that we are. Then we added in a mix of north Portland, just to prove that for all its reputation as a small town, Portland covers a fair amount of territory.

But back to that bottle. This morning, I was staring at it while I got some water from the tap.

“You…what the hell am I going to do with you?”

Returning to bed to read the early morning email deliveries, I cam across a recipe from Alex Delany and Bon Appetit, he likes to send me little ideas that he’s kicking around.Most of the time, I don’t do anything with them, because these Rent Week notions he has are usually something soup or stew oriented, and I’m saving that entire culinary oeuvre for my 60s.

But leeks? C’mon. Who could not? Truly one of the most undervalued alliums/roots there is, in my opinion.

Add in the scariest ingredient ever – wanna guess? I’ll wait…
Ooh, I’m sorry…we were looking for Anchovies!Good guess, though.

But leeks and anchovies? I’m in.

I text The Fox and ask what he’s doing for dinner.

Nothing.

Drinks with one of our bartendresses – which I’d forgotten to invite myself to, but rectified immediately – at 5:30 and then nothing.

Dinner was cooking!

So, I started procrastinating immediately. Naturally.

All I needed to do was go to the store and buy a lemon, three leeks and a tin of anchovies. Everything else was on hand: pasta, white wine and parm.

It’s a Rent Week recipe, it’s supposed to be simple. If you’re curious, here’s the recipe.

Actually, I think I’ll pick up some more parm while I’m out…can’t ever have not enough of that!

My procrastinating took the form of finishing my pizza from last night while watching a few episodes of West Wing.

Oops, missed my noon spin class.

As I was hefting my bulk off the couch to start finishing a blog entry from last year that I planned to post tomorrow, I get a text from the Filipina Fox, telling me her plans had changed and our 8:30 meet up was now a go for earlier if I was available.

Ok, before you start thinking that my life is super exciting and that I have 5:30 drinks, followed by a 6:30 dinner and then back out for 8:30 drinks…slow down. This was nothing but a calendar fail.

Not that I couldn’t stack shit like that, mind you. It’s just that I don’t want to.

Simple Solution: mea culpa for all I’m worth and invite the Filipina Fox to join.

What’s better than a meal with all my Foxes, after all?

Dinner with all my Foxes and the Filipina Fox’s hubster, that’s what.

I start looking around my little abode of humility and think it looks more like Myrtle’s home than mine and that maybe I should bother to clean up and de-fur the joint a little. Friendship only gets one so far in one’s good graces, if you ask me. Sending the Filipina Fox and her hubby home to their Citra Hop Cat with more Myrtle on them than they left home with of her is probably an politically poor idea, in feline politics, at least. I’d hate to get them in cat trouble.

But now, in addition to a little cleaning – very little…just dusting, wiping down the leather, mopping, washing my shower curtain liner, booking some chamber music and polishing my wood furnishings, no big deal, I’m not even cleaning my windows or making my bed – I was left curious as to whether I should double the recipe.

I normally cook a pound of pasta when I cook, otherwise it’s not worth it. Of course, I usually cook a pound of pasta for myself and make two meals of it. When I made carbonara for the six Supper Club boys, I made two pounds.

So, let’s enjoy me being crippled by that neurotic thought for a moment, entertaining and then rejecting the idea of making a fucking salad to go with dinner.

Forget that, I’ll just get bread.

And more wine…problem solved, right?

But then I remember my morning’s quandary.

Suddenly, I know what I’m doing with that gift from the Silver Fox’s son. I think he and his wife have held onto it for years – its a 2005, but I don’t think they’ve had it that long. I will have had it for less than 24 hours before dispatching it.

That.

Escalated.

Quickly.

Now, I only need a 5L decanter…

PS: For you judgy folk, you better believe I’m serving red wine with a white wine sauce!

MNSC: Escalation Edition

Putting the “Man” in Manifest

I was talking with one of my Bartendresses yesterday after she invited me down for a beer. She was bored. She manifested being super busy by inviting me down. By the time I got to the Big Legrowlski, she was busy with a group of four at a two-top table (yes, I instantly disliked them) who had all ordered food, a group of two at at four-top and me, who had pre-ordered tots, since they take 20 minutes in the bar’s air fryer. Right after I walked in, a group of three walked in and bellied up beside me, ordering food and then more food.
I had to wait for a break – aka, a second beer – to be able to talk to her. She had invited me down out of boredom, but I had – I told her – been thinking about a celebratory beer after crossing my 50k word count on my NaNoWriMo goal. I think she was equally excited and insisted I come down to celebrate with her. Naturally, she wanted to know what it was about.
This is something I have been struggling with: what’s my book about.
It’s a story about gay generations connecting.
My position is that this is something that gay culture is missing, that thread of community across time. AIDS didn’t help, to be sure. I usually shorthand the impact of AIDS on the gay community as having wiped out an entire generation of gay men, so…you know, that’s gonna take a toll. But, gays being gays, I don’t think we needed AIDS wiping us out to prevent this generational connection from happening. We’re ageist as a group, anyway. Twinks and VOGs (Very Old Gays) rarely coming together as a community, outside of a new iPhone release, anyway.
So, that’s one thing my book is about, but in a very top level description kind of way.
There’s a popular saying amongst writers or writing instructors: write what you know. Maybe that’s for writers that are too lazy to research or who lack the creativity to build a world from scratch. That certainly sounds like me…so I started there. The starting point that I chose was my main character picking up his life after a break up. That’s another way of describing my book.
But I did something after that point. Sure, I wove in anecdotes from my experiences and used friends as a basis for characters, but outside of those frameworks I made shit up. I created a story that was positive. A life for my main character where he is able to make an impact on the people in his life and learn and experience new things as he goes through his own life. It’s kind of an experiment in “what ifs” looking back at my own life after the starting point of this break up. It was a fun type of alt-nostalgia for me to write. Is that like alternative facts, KellyAnne?
Long and short of it, we talk about my ex briefly as a bridge into my book and then it’s over.
The Silver Fox and I grab coffee this morning, which is our usual, but Sundays are tough because the local cafe is closed. We generally default to Nossa Familia, but their seating is typically outside and I’m not keen on sitting outdoors in low 50-degree temps. So, we made our way to the SW quadrant and had a cup at Heart Coffee. Best things first: guy candy. Worth the trip for the man honeys alone. But, as we’re sitting there chatting by the cafe window – and we had a lot to catch up on after not seeing each other for a week over the holiday – my ex walks by with a couple other people. He approached from behind me and I suspect he saw me first because when I looked up from my cup, our eyes met. They didn’t lock, they just met. I did not roll my eyes away, because I’m a mature person. “Sacha just walked by”, I say, interrupting The Fox. In the coolest way possible, he wildly starts spinning his head like Linda Blair on speed while I say “Outside. Outside. Oh, they’re coming in. C’mon.”
They actually did not come in, but one of the two people with him happened to be a former co-worker of his and a mutual friend who was in town for a post-holiday visit. She did come in, just to say hi and give me a hug and it was lovely. I told her is was great to see her and that I appreciated her coming in. I told her to tell Sacha “hi” for me. I did not tell her to tell him “thank you for staying outside”.
So, I guess that’s what I get for using that part of my life as a starting point for my book. An opportunity to encounter the catalyst and not have a bad experience.
That was nice.
In reality, I expect nothing to happen with this novel now that it is written. I’ll proof is, but after that? If nothing happens, I will have accomplished what I set out to do. But in the back of my mind is the fantasy that my book does get published. And becomes a three part series. And gets optioned for a movie. Directed by Gus Van Sant. Ben Whishaw plays the young main character in movie one, Benedict Cumberbatch plays the middle aged lead in the second and then Ton Hanks steps into the role in the last movie. And Mike Meyers as Fat Bastard gets cast as my ex…who has only one minute of screen time in the first movie.
Y’know, just as a little mental amusement for myself.

Putting the “Man” in Manifest

Maybe I Can’t Blame Lack Of Sleep…

I was talking to the Silver Fox over a beer last night at Big Legrowlski. It was kind of touch and go for us last week when he floated the notion of not drinking any more. I’m fine with not drinking any more, of course, it was the realization that he meant that maybe he should drink less.

Like zero.

He was trying to blame his acid reflux on beer and wine. I – unsurprisingly – was not having it.

Of course, my not sleep deprived brain got weird with it and made it into a song, a la Duran Duran’s song The Reflex.

The Reflux.

Flux.

Flux.

Flu-flu-flu-flu-flux.

I distracted myself from this ear worm with a story about my mother’s new contact info.

Yeah. I’m one of those guys. With just a hint of this guy, but only for comedic effect. Swearsies.

My contact info is separated out into three solid categories with a couple of fringe elements:

Nicknames: people I love

Names: friends I regularly associate with

Numbers: people I don’t know whether I like yet or not

These unsaved numbers used to just get a first name, but then I ended up with a whole bunch of people saved by first name only – and really, how many Mikes and Peters does one phone list need? Also, there were a lot of people with the surnames Scruff and Hookup.

So I did a clean sweep and deleted all those one name wonders. Haven’t missed them since. Now, I don’t save a contact until I know the person’s first and last name and they prove they aren’t a flake.

There are exceptions, of course.

The Fox taught me his best practice for eliminating phone clutter. Consider this a bonus Today I Learned: if someone calls from an unrecognized number and doesn’t leave a message, he blocks the number. I had been saving the number to a contact called Likely Scam. I just changed all that. Now I do as the Silver Fox do!

The other exception actually occurred last Thursday when I got a lot of attention – and a special freebie – from a very bored stripper. I was texting The Fox (and by texting, I mean accidentally waking up at 1:30) and this stripper came back from his set. In a fit of pay attention to me-ness, he took my phone out of my hands and then texted himself and created his own contact.

So, now I’ve got a stripper’s phone number. Again.

Oh, well.

He’ll either upgrade of get deleted.

And unless I’ve been sleep deprived my whole life, I can’t blame any of that nonsense on lack of sleep.

Because of evidence like this, which is years old.

Look, ma…no asocial media apps!

I dunno. Maybe I’m just weird. I am a native Portlander.

Maybe I Can’t Blame Lack Of Sleep…

Home From Hood River

There was a cook out at Syncline, a winery on the Washington side of the Gorge across from Hood River this past Sunday. The Silver Fox got me a +1 and we joined some friends for a foursome out.

I got to drive!

Turns out, not only had the owner of the winery managed perfect weather: clear, blue skies, no wind – which is a feat in the Gorge, and 55 degrees all afternoon; he’d also just been elected Winemaker of the Year by some winemaker’s association. So this was a good get for me.

The beauty on the way out as the deciduous tree leaves showed off their roadside golds and reds against the evergreen background of the pines and firs ahead was breathtaking, to be sure.

But on the way back, the sun was setting – at about 4:30, go figure – and the highway through the Gorge was dark, but the sunset! From edge to edge, the dusk blackened hillsides framed the beauty of the pink sunset!

Someone in the car wondered if the color was due to the California fires. We all decided it was not, and just waited for the next curve in the road to get a fresh view of Mother Nature just showing off.

Poor Sallory, she had gone over to the beach house, which has provided my text threads with her and The Fox with many a gorgeous sunset…it really is beautiful to look out at the sunset over the bluff the cottage sits on. But not this time.

I was busy being the DD, so I couldn’t get a picture, but you can trust me.

Now, here’s the deal. Our little foursome had a great conversation both out the Gorge and back in. The Silver Fox took a little disco nap on the way back, but it didn’t stop the rest of us.

After a few minutes of being lost in the sunset, I wondered aloud whether anyone thought old what’s-his-name that wrote The National Anthem/America the Beautiful had actually ever been west before writing it.

Of course, this devolved into several minutes of trivial arguments about who wrote the damn song.

John Philip Sousa?

No…that’s not right.

Is it?

No, no…that’s who it was, I know it!

I had to google it when I got home. Suffice it to say, I was under immense pressure as the owner of the youngest – and, most preserved, I should point out – brain to know the answer.

All that on top of driving! Something I rarely do…outside the bedroom.

Turns out, well…who had Francis Scott Key?

Bully! Partial credit for you!

It turns out, FSK’s poem became the lyrics for the music composed by John Stafford Smith.

Yeah, we weren’t in any danger of winning any Jeopardy prizes.

My point was, though, I’m throwing my typically and randomly insane question out to the car…wouldn’t you think that if Francis Scott Key had ever been to the west coast we would have gotten a better shout out? Yes, I am complaining about the west, specifically the Pacific Northwest, only getting a 50% stake in

From sea to shining sea!

I’m not dissing purple mountains majesty or amber waves of grain, but c’mon! If you’ve ever been here, you’ll know that we deserve better.

Again, you can trust me.

No matter, though. When the west coast breaks off and liberates Red America – I mean, abandons it to its own devices – we can join British Columbia and write a Cascadia national anthem that will do our west coast beauty justice.

But if Cali comes along, we’re gonna have to deal with Fresno feeling left out…that poor place will go from being the armpit of California to being the sphincter of Cascadia.

Can’t win ’em all!

Home From Hood River

Bar of the God

The New Old Lompoc has closed.

The Filipina Fox – best wishes as you enter your fifth decade, love! – checked in on the Instagram at The New Old Lompoc up on Northwest 23rd Street last month with the caption that this was the last Miser Monday. I know that the Filipina Fox and her hubby aren’t moving away, so I figured maybe The New Old Lompoc was changing up their marketing and doing away with their popular $5 beer night.

Nope.

Closing.

Forever, it seemed.

This shiny new incarnation of one of my old haunts was shutting down. Overextended and unable to keep up with rising commercial costs in hipster Portland.

Sometimes I feel like life has passed so quickly, I can’t possibly be this old already. Others, like now, it’s as if I’ve lived through a couple of ice ages.

Back before the turn of the century, Trendy-Third, as it’s referred to, was kind of at the upper fringe of Portland’s Alphabet District. The Pearl District wasn’t even a real sub-neighborhood in Portland’s NW quadrant. Twenty-Third was a burgeoning street of retail shops and restaurants that ran from B – Burnside – down to about L – Lovejoy Streets. The hospital I was born in kind of broke things up from there with J – Johnson – to V – Vaughn – kind of becoming known as the ass-end of the street. There wasn’t much going on there other than the McMenamin’s Pub and a now relocated and replaced breakfast joint called Besaw’s that kind of helped start the idiotic Portland culture of standing in line for 45 minutes for a waffle.

But at Savior Street there was a dumpy old building that was home to my favorite dive bar, The Old Lompoc.

No new here.

My Black Sheep Bro and I used to hang out there on occasion. Other times, I’d take my best friend, Becky Boobalini…go ahead, guess how she got her nickname.

Still other times?

I’d go alone.

Why?

What made this dive bar so worth the near 30 block commute from my place on the waterfront?

The bartender, of course.

Richard was one of those guys that you look at and you can pretty much figure out: notba lot of words, no ambition, no plan, not a care in the fucking world.

I adored him.

Sometimes his motorcycle would break down and that was about the most emotion you ever got out of him. Then it was like his spouse of a half century was sick. They had quite a bond, this boy and his bike. I have no clue about motorcycles, aside from the time one of my college roommates tried to teach me to ride hers. But if he was talking about it while I was bellied up to the bar, I’d listen to his bad-ass boy talk about it all night.

He had shoulder length straight brown hair that never looked clean but was never on the verge of becoming dreads, either and a face that struggled to grow hair, but was always well beyond a simple stubble. He wore straight hipped, loose fitting blue jeans and biker boots every day. A mixture of black or white undershirts rounded out his uniform, and those shirts just never quite fit his frame perfectly. He was a little too tall for the shirt to cover his waist when he squatted or bent down. And when he raised his arms to brush his hair back I’d either get a peek at his stomach or a flash of underarm…sometimes both.

<swoon>

He was an Adonis from the wrong side of the tracks, to be sure.

Yeah, Richard was what the place had going for it. For me, anyway. Some of the other clientele looked like they were waiting for a fight or for a sucker to roll to walk in…which should have been me, but I’d already paid that toll at this point a half my life ago and wasn’t afraid of them. I’d wander in in my preppy work clothes after closing my store or meet Black Sheep Bro there to shoot some pool on my day off wearing a pastel polo that treated my waist like Richard’s tee shirt treated his.

I didn’t care.

Frankly, I think I established myself as both harmless and untouchable early on by being a much better tipper than the biker crowd. Back in the twilight of the 20th century, a buck a beer was a great tip. My party always did way better than that. So I personally thought that Richard had put the word out to leave me alone. It was either that or somehow Black Sheep Bro had put out the warning…but he’s not the type that can convincingly pull off menacing.

I think it was Richard.

Still another, more ridiculous than normal part of me is screaming at the back of my mind that Richard adored me back. Even as a young man, I had old man fantasies.

My early onset lech world came crumbling down when Richard mentioned one night that he was taking a job on the other side of the river. Turns out, that old bike of his was done for and he needed a place closer to home.

It’s called Bar of the Gods, over on Hawthorne.

“That tracks”, I’d said under my breath as I slowly nodded my head and pursed my lips at the impending loss of my Adonis of a bartender.

You’ll have to come over and check it out.

I convinced myself that he was – once again – hitting on me in that confusing low key manner of his. Pleats were still in, which was good, because when he talked like this…woo, sometimes I miss being in my mid 20s.

“I hang out at the Galaxy Room every now and then”, I told him. “I’ll definitely make a point of dropping in on you!”

But inside, I was dying…crying big pathetic sloppy tears of woe.

Yeah! That’s just up the street a ways. Come see me!

It was the end of an era. I still went to The Old Lompoc with friends, but never solo after that. I started going to Embers – a gay dance bar that happened to be the closest gay bar to my apartment – for my solo drinking. My friends weren’t that upset when they ended up tagging along, it was quite a fun place. It’s here that I met Sacha, so…thanks for that, Richard.

The Old Lompoc sold a while after Richard left. The new owners made some minor changes, including the yellow paint job shown above from its earlier neglected shade of white. They started brewing their own beer under The Old Lompoc label, and this was before small batch breweries took over as a legit industry in Oregon. I’m not sure if it was a brewing mishap or something else, but allegedly, The old Old Lompoc ended up burning down at one point. At least that’s the legend.

All I know is that when I moved back to town – heck…when work started bringing me down monthly in 2014, even – The Silver Fox and his then boyfriend, Casey Adler, would take me up there to the shiny new bar in the street space of a six floor apartment building for their Miser Monday. Same place in the block as the old clapboard building, but so different.

The old Old Lompoc never did Miser Monday. Then again, I doubt beer was more than $3.00 a pint back then, either.

It was nice, this new joint; good company and good beer…it just wasn’t the same as The original Old Lompoc. After Casey and The Silver Fox split up, the Filipina Fox and her hubby moved into the building that now housed the tavern and discovered it for themselves. My life was so horrible that the universe just wouldn’t let this place that was a source of comfort for me for so long fall out of my social orbit. And it kept putting important people in my life conveniently nearby so that I’d have company that mattered to me to share new experiences with there.

I can definitely muster some gratitude for my Foxes – who are both such important pieces of my life – being the tether that kept The Lompoc, in any incarnation, in my life. Alas, now, I’ll have to journey to Portland’s fifth quadrant of town to visit my Lompoc memories since that outpost is the closest I’ll be able to come to the real deal.

Bar of the God

Dating Into Oblivion ep7.1

A Ghost Story

After our first date, I broke it off with The Transplant.

I had come to realize that regardless of how stimulating our conversations had been during our time together, stimulating isn’t my default setting. Playful is.

We had been texting about our second date, which he’d sorta planned while visiting Seattle with a friend of his that was in from Chicago. He suggested the M.I.A. documentary, of which I’d never heard.

I knew she was/is a rapper and had even heard one of her songs, which featured some poppy gunshots. Not that I’m a big fan of mainstreaming violence, but rap incorporates violence into its art form regularly.

And I’m not one to claim an understanding of art by any means, so I keep my own counsel on that opinion.

Oops. Lookie!

Anyway, before he’d even returned from Seattle, he’d changed his mind about the movie.

No problem, we can do something else.

Truth be told, I was kind of relieved. Not sure I could muster sufficient enthusiasm for a rap documentary in a second date scenario.

“You pick something”, he says.

So bossy!

I playfully replied.

Ok, he was not having playful.

I actually spent the next dozen or so messages texting on eggshells. Deliberately not pointing out that he planned and vetoed the scuttled plan, so he should figure out a replacement. I planned the first date, after all. Anyway, this reservedness was in direct opposition to what he said he really appreciated about me on our first date: that I don’t behave like I’m in an interview, carefully measuring my words and maintaining a cautious demeanor.

Screw that. Eventually a facade drops and then people learn how you really act. I don’t play dating games like that – hey, it’s Why I’m Single #12! – I go into dates dressed like I dress and acting like I act.

So, basically I come across as a teenager who has recently had a stroke.

(Not that kind, Diezel)

Anyway, I think in those dozen texts, I wrangled some form of “apology” for calling him bossy – an attitude which I would appreciate, for the record. I did not enjoy the direction this interaction had taken, and the best he could muster in response was “I’m not offended”. As a stand alone, with no additional words providing context, that just reads like a petulant, “Fine“.

Lemme think about it, I’ll walk by a couple of venues on my way home and see if there’s any groups neither of us have heard of playing…we can have an adventure!

He seemed to like that idea, so I figured an adventure date could help reset the conversation or clearly define his lack of playfulness. Nevertheless, after failing to shake the disease of the prior night’s texts, I decided to pull the rip cord. Here’s how that went.

Yeah, yeah…I didn’t even save him as a contact, I know. My rule is that I don’t save contacts until I know a person’s last name. How many generic Matts does my phone book need?

Matt, BTW was his given name. He and his brother were raised in something of a Christian Cult setting.

After leaving/escaping, he and his brother had both changed their names to non-biblically influenced monikers.

Like adults.

But at least the name he chose for himself simply made him sound like a Seattle-phile or an aggressive fish enthusiast. His brother chose Aphid.

Adults, these days…

But his response at least pointed back toward the reasonable and well-considered person I’d first met. So…date number two was back to Go-Status.

I wasn’t feeling particularly plucky on the big day, which happened to be a Friday night. Turns out that he’d had a rough day at work – an ongoing recent theme as he worked toward getting a new restaurant (not of his) up and running. It is – as is he, if you recall – vegan. Turns out vegans had been incensed by both the restaurant’s name and their use of honey on the menu.

You have to remember that some people are just happy being unhappy.

Was about all I could muster, advice-wise. My inner voice was screaming that a hamburger might improve their collective disposition, but I’m pretty confident that wasn’t a welcome observation.

I surely had no expertise with opening a vegan restaurant. I barely have experience with vegetables.

Show of hands, how many of my friends thought that exact thought right before they read it? A lot, right?

Nevertheless, I also cautioned him that the restaurant could capitulate to a bunch of cranks before it even opened its doors and I guarantee that those people would either:

1) Still never even show up

Or,

2) Find something else to bitch about.

Hey, I may not know vegans from vegetables, but I do know a thing or two about sons of bitches.

So, there we were, committed to a date, but neither feeling like going out. We decided on a movie and wine/whine at my place. I reminded him that my TV was in my living room and not my bedroom and he reiterated that he was not interested in just hooking up.

Game on. No…foreshadowing!

When he arrived, we went over to the Brodega across the street for some wine and vegan approved snacks. This she-she neighborhood market would surely have some, high prices on weird foods? I don’t call it a brodega for nothing. We ended up with some fancy chocolate bars – including some from Theo’s, which I decided to not tell him he could have just visited in Seattle. This is how vegan excommunication begins…using honey in your restaurant and eating chocolate.

Vegans are like religious folk: picking and choosing what dogma they will/won’t follow. I found it promising, while also making a note that he’d really traded one cult for another…

We leave the store…and run smack dab into the Silver Fox, who was “out walking his dog”.

How many times did you walk poor George around this block?!?

The Fox swore that when he’d left Big Legrowlski under the auspices of needing to let George out to pee, the bartendresses had made him swear he’d bring George by so they could see him. Feasible enough, but the Brodega still wasn’t on his way home.

I introduced The Fox and The Transplant, who in true introvert form was already walking away as he said hi.

We went back to my place and watched The Kindergarten Teacher, which is as great as you’ve heard…and if you haven’t heard, it’s great! We actually stopped the movie a couple times for pee breaks and also just to talk about the movie. It was really nice to have a fresh movie watching companion. The Fox and I watch shows together, but more often than not our movie breaks are to discuss (one sidedly) the show’s Game of Thrones connections or whether that actor was in this or that or is dead.

There’s nothing wrong with that. The Transplant is 24, though. His mid-movie talk breaks were more aspirational.

Big Thoughts.

High Art Concepts.

It was fun. Inspirational, to be honest. I haven’t indulged my brain like that since my college days of late night studying in the Catskeller, taking breaks to conversationally dissect what we’d just reviewed.

It was quite the mental stretch for me, and it was invigorating.

After the movie, which took three-plus hours to get through, he suggested a change of scene. He asked when the hotel bar next door closed, since I’d kind of raved about it earlier.

Midnight…so, 45-ish minutes. Do you want something else to eat? Drink?

“Not really, just a change of venue”, he replied.

I was kind of relieved, because I wasn’t yet in the frame of mind to take him to my normal haunts. We decided just to walk and see what happened.

What happened was we walked the waterfront and Eastbank Esplanade.

At midnight.

On a Friday. Well, Saturday.

We got back to my place at around 2:45 and at the door to my building, I tried to say goodnight. Apparently, he wasn’t done yet. We’d been holding hands for about four miles as we walked and talked, so I figured I could safely invest a little more time to continue the conversation.

Being 24, The Transplant can put on a good show of maturity, but at the end of the day – or very early the next morning, in this case – that maturity is going to be tested when it comes time to make your actions and words line up.

At around 3:30, I joked that he was going to have to pay for parking soon, by way of closing the chapter on date two. He told me that he’d taken an Uber over.

Then why are we drinking water?!?

I poured us each a glass of wine. Shortly thereafter, he invited himself to stay the night.

Maybe I was special enough that he’d deemed me worthy of escalating this to mating into oblivion status. I told him I thought that was premature, we hadn’t even kissed yet.

“It’s just sleeping“, he teased, suddenly fluent in playfulness.

Yeah, but spooning leads to forking,

I advised, continuing with,

That’s not something I’m not interested in, but I don’t want it to be unintentional.

We talked a bit more, about big stuff. Sexual health and history – I said big stuff, not hot stuff – and he still seemed up for it. I told him I didn’t have condoms, for both good and obvious reasons and he told me he had some in his bag. He also mentioned he’d brought the lube he likes.

Not looking for a hook up my ass.

His ass.

Not looking for a hook up but brings his own lube on a date? It secretly made me wonder about the veracity of his claim to be able to recite all of his sexual partners’ names – all of which started with a J, allegedly – on one hand.

I don’t seriously doubt his integrity, I think the kid just had an itch he wanted scratched.

Sooo, I added a C to that string of Js and at 6 AM we laid down for some well earned rest.

At 10:30, he was dressed and out the door to shop for his costume for a Halloween party that evening. Around 3 we texted for a bit on how that was going. My last text being something about how I’m glad he was finding what he needed because the Saturday before Halloween could be slim picking for costume stuff.

I’m assuming he just needed to cut a couple of eye holes in a white sheet since I haven’t heard from him since.

And y’know what’s the worst when shituations – wow, the Chrisisms are just cascading out in this post – occur? I’m past worrying about what I may or may not have done to deserve this. I do indulge in a few thoughts of things that he might have felt insecure about driving his actions…

Wink, wink.

But ultimately, my frustrated parent gene kicks in and I find myself wondering if he got hurt or taken advantage of that night…or worse. I know it’s unlikely, but it’s not a concern I can control. And Portland’s weirdos aren’t all lovable, harmless old curmudgeons.

Being 24, maybe his ego needed to be the dumper versus the dumpee…but he put a lot of effort into that charade, were that the case.

Regardless, after learning that a young fella I used to recreate with on occasion died – two years ago, obviously we weren’t close…just situationally joined on a temporary basis every now and again – a month after I saw him last, well…I just hope this particular ghost story remains theoretical.

Dating Into Oblivion ep7.1