Dating Into Oblivion, ep1

Well, this little endeavor is off to a great start.  I hope you all enjoy this as much as I am so far.

To recap: my goal is to throw $20 at a date once a month and see what happens.

What could possibly go wrong?

It’s like I threw a party and no one came.

Don’t read too much into that last word.

And here’s the deal, I could see throwing a party and maybe no one shows up.

Once.

But today was the 4th time it’s happened.  Technically, the 3rd and 4th time.  That’s how quickly my faith collapsed inward, I scheduled two dates in one afternoon.

But it wasn’t always so grim.

It started off much worse.

My first attempt crept on me.  I went into a bar after seeing a movie one afternoon early this month.  

The bartender hit on me.

Flattering.  It wasn’t the first time, either, and it was appreciated.  But I didn’t dwell on the prior instance and just enjoyed the moment.  He went to the bother of finding me on the Facebook Messenger later that night…we aren’t friends on the Facebook, so I decided to be impressed by the minimal effort that required.

I really do have the bar set low.  Like, ground level.  It’s left me quite dumbstruck how hard guys make clearing a low bar look.

So, me and the bartender are talking about meeting up and I mention how interested I’d been in dating him since the first time I met him.

He goes silent-er.  Instead of multiple daily messages, it’s a response every other day and he’s steered clear of actually committing to a date/time.  Reading between the lines, I dial it back and say that if he’s looking for casual, it’s not really my thing but I’d give it a second thought with him.

Then it hits me.

“Oh my GOD.  You’re still MARRIED, aren’t you?!?”

The first time I met him, I’d been sitting at the bar at Hobo’s talking to Everybody’s Uncle Dave.  His group walks in and he tracks me as he walks by and bee lines it for the bathroom.  As is my usual lot in life, his friends pick the barstools immediately next to mine on this 40 foot long bar.

When he comes out of the can, instead of sitting on the other side of his friends, he hops into my lap.

He’s significantly attractive, so I cannot care.  He gives me his number quick and says we should get together.  

As I’m listening, it becomes obvious that this is his Stag Party and he’s getting friggin’ married.

Picture me standing up, him sliding onto his adorable butt on the ground and me leaving, because I think that’s what actually happened.

So, the second time around was about as elegant…he never replied.

Shake it off, Galby.

The second attempt moved from real life to something less analog, but still kinda quaint in the age of apps.  I’ve kept one asocial media website profile active for the last forever.

I was on said site and sent off a few smiles.  I keep it light, usually.  Im an older guy hitting on younger guys, if they don’t want to engage, I take the hint.

A nice looking guy bothered to strike up a conversation.  His profile had several private pics, which he kept locked.  I appreciated this, since if it’s meant to be something I see, it’ll be in person.  So many of these gay-tards (Chrisism) think they have no value past their sexual use that I usually know what someone’s junk looks like before I know their name…if I ever even get to know their name.

We talked for about ten days, discussing getting together and setting a date to meet.

This being my life, he cancelled because he got a job interview.  Priorities.  I get it.

Suddenly, his pics are unlocked.

I explain that I don’t want nor do I expect to see them and why.  Then he says he feels bad…but doesn’t lock them.

Several days go by.

I don’t visit the site often, but get an email every day that I have mail waiting.

Finally, I log in to make sure I didn’t miss something.

No mail.

And his pics are still open.  Since it looks like he’s never going to talk to me again – so dramatic – I take a look to see if his 28 year old physique matches his cute mug.

MY EYES!

It’s like the very reason I don’t have boudoir pics.  On a guy that has about 40% less reason to excuse said reason.

Why?!?  No, not “why?”  I think I’m actually jealous that this guy is so comfortable in his skin to have these pics.

My mind is fairly boggled.

But, I do never hear from him again.

Attempts three and four happened concurrently.  It wasn’t anything impressive or typically Portland, like a couple trying to date me.  These two opportunities simply presented about the same time.

Me, being old and prone to confusion, asked them both out on the same day, today…which happens to be my Saturday.

Attempt three is someone who responded to a personal ad I placed.  Talk about old school.  He replied, included a face pic and a couple unsolicited and unexpected but not unwelcome – see above – body pics.  It’s ok, technically, since his name was in his email address.

He seemed nice and charming and genuine.  We set up a date to meet – today – which happens to be both our day off.  His only day off since he works full time and is a student.

Shut up, he’s 38.

My red flags are two:

He works nights, I work days.  We might only have one day per week to get to know each other.  

My second hesitation was that he’s from Mexico.

Hey, it can be a turn on and red flag at the same time!

My concern is that with English being his second language and so much of my persona being…snarkiness, a lot can get lost in translation,

I was impressed that he followed up to confirm this morning at 8:30.  I had an acupuncture appointment at 8:15, but replied at 9:30 when I got out.  

“Just give me a when and a where and I’m there”, I say.

At one o’clock, I’m still waiting.

I go scrolling through the Craigslist, killing time.  Also, maybe I need to be looking for February’s no-show.

I mean, date.

I click on an af that sounds up my alley.

There’s a few pics I recognize.

“Looking for today”…posted seven hours ago.

I’m having trouble getting my mind around someone who places this ad, emails me to confirm our date an hour later and then goes silent on me.

Obviously, he’s getting laid.

Only possible conclusion, right?  Setting aside my conviction that if he’s got…well, nevermind.  The point is, I call him on it.

He responds within minutes.

Full stop.  I’ve waited about four hours for you to give me a when and a where and when I tell you, “I get it, it’s your only day off for the week.  Take care of business” you suddenly have all the time in the world to respond?

Unfortunately, he chose to respond with, “You know how flakey gay guys are.  But I really want to see you!”

Yes, I do know how flakey gay guys are.  And I am not able to reconcile how four hours goes by without you picking a fucking time and coffee house while seven minutes elapsed between my j’accuse moment to his sudden reply.

Which brings us to my 4th attempt. 

This is a cute kid that I didn’t meet a couple of years ago when I moved back to town. 

I don’t drive + he lives in Vantucky = we never met.

But, we were already connected on the Facebook and when I joined the instagram last year, he was a suggested follow.  So, now there’s that.

Which is where I got into trouble.

But before that, last year, he got into a wreck that left him laid up for quite a while.  Long enough that he lost his entry level job at a quick serve restaurant and I’d been following his job search via status updates for a while.

I’m always – literally, if you know someone looking in Portland, OR let me know – hiring, so since we didn’t date I felt absolutely no awkwardness about extending an opportunity his way.

He

Never

Availed

Himself

Oh, well.

I thought about following up, but do I really want an employee I had to chase down to apply working for me?

No.

No, I don’t.

Some of the ones that voluntarily applied are enough of a probl…challenge.

So, I let it lie.

Then last week, we got into a DM on the Instagram that ended in him giving me his number.

We move to text and go at it like teenagers for a few days.  I can tell he’s no conversationalist, but get the vibe that he wants me to ask him out.

I do.

Thursday evening, about 6 or 7?

Sure.

I check in last night with a text, a 24 hour confirmation and hear nothing.

That was 22 hours ago and I don’t know if my thoughts are along the “Fucking millennials” or “Fucking fags” line.

Still…fucking something.

I do know that after a couple of years of not knowing him in real life, I feel as if I know what he wants or needs better than hizownself does.

He’s a Lost Boy.  That doesn’t make him a bad person, just lost.  Nothing more, nothing less.  But with potential in both directions, depending on whether he pulls his head out of his ass sooner, later or never.

I can say that my prior inclination to “raise” – for lack of a better word – a younger gay into a man is…not gone, but certainly sublimated.  I think it’s the job of a partner to help their SO become a better and better version of themselves.  I’m just aware that not every cute guy I come across with his act lying in shambles around his ankles isn’t automatically a perfect fit for me.

That’s a good realization.

There you have it. Episode 1 of Dating Into Oblivion.  Meanwhile, I’ve saved $80.  I’ve also enjoyed two and a half beers at Big Legrowlski while tapping this out.

And flirted with a probably straight guy over sci-if books.  So there’s that.

In theory, I’m quite an attractive option.

In reality…50 (minus 80-ish hours) and single, people.

Dating Into Oblivion, ep1

My E.O.G Game Is On!

I think I just level-upped my Early Onset Grumpiness.

Leveled Up?

I dunno which is righter.

No.  Wait.  I know neither is actually acceptable and just give up.

Anyhoo.  

The Silver Fox and I are sitting here in our neighborhood cafe, drinking our coffee and discussing Trump denying he used the phrase “shithole countries” the other day when something happened.

I’d seen this guy walk up with his dog – a young yellow lab, so I was attenuated on The Fox’s behalf since his dog share is also a lab.  The guy ties his dog up street side and comes into the cafe.

I give the guy a look that fails to register, but conveyed my, “You gonna leave your dog outside in the wet while you come in here and eat?”

Anyway, he ordered to go, as it turns out.  He’s standing there waiting for his sandwich and the next thing he or I know his dog is in the street greeting a passerby jaywalker.

With the table he was tethered to.

Now, I saw the guy come into the cafe sans puppy and assumed he had been lashed to one of Portland’s many bike racks.

No, our brainiac tied the dog to a table that is just a lightweight metal legged, wood slat top situation.  Patio furniture, basically.

The dog is enthusiastically greeting this jaywalking lady who is trying to pick the tabletop up out of the street and the dog has completely entangled himself in the leash and tablelegs.  Not that that is dampening the pup’s enthusiasm at all.

The owner finally arrives and handles the dog situation.  

I wonder if the dog knows the woman, explaining the overwhelming excitement of the animal toward her.

She’s now picking up hardware out of the street so cars don’t get screws stuck in their tires.  After she’s collected the attaching screws and whatnot, she carries on her way.

The guy comes in, picks up his sandwich and leaves.

I give him a hard stare as he walks by my window, which he adroitly ignores.

I walk up to our Substitute Barista and ask if the guy said anything to her about the table.  She’d missed the entire thing, helping customers.  Two of whom are standing right by me waiting for food and had seen the entire thing.

Neither of them confirm my account, so Substitute Barista and I go outside to assess.

The guy had set the detached top back on the legs and left the hardware sitting on the window ledge adjacent.

Substitute Barista declares that situation unsafe and I suggest taking the table into the cafe’s storage area.  She agrees, I grab the top and she grabs the legs.  She’s still talking about how could people do something like that.  One of the other witnesses is leaving as we’re coming back into the cafe and holds the door, saying, “Nice timing!” at her helpfulness.

I glare at her in disbelief, still she’s said nothing.

I go back to The Fox and pick up on our conversation, “It’s nice to see the GOP acknowledging that they are likely to lose their majority in Congress.  I just wish they would realize it’s not because incumbents are retiring or resigning so much as it’s their actions that will cause them to lose their majority.”

We went on to discuss the Trumpster Fire’s use of the phrase “shithole countries” some more, specifically how NPR had actually quoted the phrase and not bothered bleeping it.

The point I was making was how the mainstream media and congress have largely stood by and not specifically called out Trump for his bad behavior.  This is how he is able to continually get away with his devolving statesmanship.

No one speaks up.

Much like the two customers standing immediately by the dog owner today.  I watched what happened, stood up, crossed the cafe and narced on the guy who damaged someone else’s property and said nothing.

And why should he, given the example of our country’s leadership?

Well, I saw something and I said something.  

Then I said, “I hope that guy is a regular and you get a chance to call him out.”

Not that I want Substitute Barista involved in a confrontation, but I do think someone should be able to respectfully and safely say, “Hey, that wasn’t cool.”

When the guy walked back by with his dog as I wrote this, I debated going outside and saying something to him.  The Fox kind of talked me out of it, which is good since I may fail the “respectfully” part of the conversation…but I glared at him real good.

My E.O.G Game Is On!

Eat This NOW

Someone asked me last night for a recipe I use.  That never happens, and it felt nice.  To me, cooking is a great way to indulge creativity, do fun things and demonstrate you care for the people you cook for.

It’s so core.

Nurturing.

<glossing over the fact that I don’t cook much for myself>

Of course, it was my carbonara recipe, something I’ve never made the same was twice in my life.

I made it for my Monday Night Supper Club peeps a few months back and it was met with rave reviews.  

My response, “C’mon, guys…it’s just carbonara!”  I was amazed to hear that no one had had it.  Not even the Silver Fox, who I consider quite a cook and rather world-wise.  Secretly, I thought he was messing with me.  But then again, I made it for my family and they’d never had it before, either.

At this point, I began thinking that maybe they had had it and I was just making it wrong.  Hehe.

Then again, before 2006, I couldn’t say that I’d had it.

I walked into my kitchen classroom at the Sur la Table I was working at in Kirkland, WA and my store’s Resident Chef was creating.

He’s this guy, for context.

And he’s made quite a name for himself, just like I knew he would.  I’ve largely held a static level of accomplishment…but carbonara helps.

He slides me this plate and tells me to dig in.  I had a foodgasm.

“I figured you for a carbonara guy, Galby” he tells me, smiling.  “Pasta, bacon, eggs, cheese…what’s not to like?  It’s like breakfast in pasta”, he continues.

No shit.

I couldn’t respond, I was inhaling.

A few years later, I started playing around with it.  I tried googling a recipe and realized that there’s no one way to make this dish.

The core argument seems to be around whether you add frozen peas or if that’s a bastardization too far.

I like peas.  And I like a hint of color.

So I usually include them because I think it makes for a more appealing plate.  You’ll have to decide for yourself…it’s obviously both a deeply personal choice and a hornet’s nest.

So, aside from frozen peas, maybe, the shopping list is pretty simple:

One 1 lb box of spaghetti style pasta

Three large eggs – the yolks are another debate-slash-variable.

One third cup each of grated pecorino and reggiano cheese.

8 oz (or more!) of bacon or pancetta.

One shallot.

A few cloves of garlic…just a hint.

One third cup of heavy whipping cream – depending on the yolk situation.

I’m a big fan of the mis en place method of cooking, so that everything is ready to go when I start.  So, I’ll slice the bacon into 1/4″ strips, mince the garlic, dice the shallot, grate the cheeses and let my eggs come to room temp before I even boil my water.

But once everything is prepped and I put the water on?  The meal is basically done, so be ready to eat!

I think with the MNSC, I got to this point and then waited for everyone to arrive before continuing.

And, by “waited”, I mean, “opened a bottle of wine”.  Basically, I made this while I was buzzed.

So, the water’s on to boil.

I brown the bacon and then when it’s almost done, start spooning off the fat, then throw in the garlic and shallot to soften.

At some point while the bacon has been going, I’ve thrown in the pasta – and possibly the peas – and it should be about done as the bacon concoction finishes up.

While those two things were happening, I’ve cracked my eggs and either whisked the yolks (I’ve used anywhere from 0 to all 3 in my experiments) into them or taken just the whites and whisked the cream into them and added the cheese.  

Hold some cheese back for topping the dish, for God’s sake!

I recommend holding back about a third of a cup of pasta water, just in case you need to goose the sauce along.  More on that in a second.

Drain the pasta and then do one of three things:

Return it to the pot, add in the bacon/garlic/shallot situation, pour on the egg/cheese sauce and then stir!  You will hear people talk about the terror of ending up with pasta and scrambled eggs at this point…but it’s never happened to me.

Obviously, I recommend cooking with the wine technique.

My biggest stress is usually just getting the cheese evenly distributed.  It does tend to clump together.  

No, Dori…just keep stirring!

If you need help loosening this sauce up, add in some of that pasta water.  I find that the egg and yolk route tends to need this little trick more that the egg and cream method.  Nevertheless, it’s good to have on hand

Once you’ve got a good coating, transfer the finished dish to your serving bowl.

The second option is to dump everything into your serving bowl and mix there, ya cocky bastards.  One less step.

Or…if you’re a real pro, like Joel is – seriously, watch his show Scraps or his YouTube channel – you add the strained pasta to the fry pan your bacon is in.
Scandal!

Mix the pasta and bacon around before adding in the egg and cheese mixture.  This allows the wet pasta to kinda deglaze the bacon fond adding a lot of flavor to the situation.  And some cool color to the pasta.

I usually make a double batch, so I don’t do this since my fry pan is too small for 2 lbs of pasta.

And I’m not a pro, like Joel.

Now, a single batch allegedly serves 4.  I think it serves one Xtopher, so if I have company, I double up.

Make this now.  You won’t be sorry, and 

You.

Are.

Welcome.

Eat This NOW

Fitfy 49:49

Well, I guess this would be my golden post? 49 weeks into my 49th year…

Some different things have been going on lately, too.  It’s been kinda nice to experience these last few weeks of the Galby existence.

I’ve been pretty consistent about exercise recently, pulling off a steady three workouts per week.  My shoulder tried to register its complaint initially, but slow and steady got me through my ramp up without actually re-injuring myself.

A while back, I also commented that I needed to start getting my legs more involved in my workouts.  I wasn’t sure how to effectively integrate this opportunity into my home-based exercise regimen, until it hit me:  stairs.

Talk about two bird(leg)s with one stone.  I’m running 30 flights of stairs three times a week as part of my regimen.  30 flights up, 30 flights down.

Running.

That carrot my acupuncturist dangled a while has actually inspired me to find a way to re-incorporate my favorite form of exercise back into my routine.  Little warning twinges from my foot and knee reminded me to take it easy at first.  Warming up to the fresh movements after a three year absence with 10 flights initially allowed my grumpy old joints to get accustomed to the idea of this repetitive motion again.  Taking the stairs has actually been less stressful than plain old road running.

At the end of the day, I’m feeling great about this addition to my routine.  It provides that ballistic movement to my exercise once again.  I finish my workouts feeling like I’ve accomplished something.  Not just getting sweaty, but also shaking off some of the mental drama of my day.  Stuff that would have carried through with me to bedtime is just gone.

Once again.

This is the part of running that I missed most. The piece that retiring from running most significantly impacted me, the mental benefit of this physical fitness.

I’ve missed it so.  

Happy Galby.

Seriously.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m still the grumpy guy I’ve always been, but I find my grumpiness has more perspective now.  

Or, again.  

Whatever.  

That’s helpful, like I said, less important stuff doesn’t remain with me.  I’m clearer about what actually bugs me and can focus better on more significant frustrations…hopefully in order to actually be able to effect change.

All while quitting soda and significantly curbing my caffeine intake.

And no one died.

It happened quite by accident.

I was out of soda and it was cold, so I remained out of soda.  

People were getting sick around me at work, so I started hydrating at work instead of grabbing a soda or coffee to drink absentmindedly.  

After a few days, I didn’t want soda.  I found myself at the grocery grabbing some bullshit hipster bubble water to satisfy my carbonation craving instead of grabbing a Diet Coke.  Bad news for Coke stockholders, good news for me.

Before I knew it, I was five days in without coffee or soda.  On my days off, of course I indulged in my weekly coffee time with the Silver Fox.  Walking away from that with the thought, “Two days a week for coffee ain’t bad”, which was all the impetus the universe needed to dangle temptation in front of my nose.

It came in the offer of coffee from a co-worker.  I love the message that I take away from offers like these, that I’m not an entirely evil boss.  If someone that reports to me wants to take me out for coffee?  I take that as a good sign.

Way better than someone that reports to me simply wanting to take me out.

Of course, I accepted – albeit with the admonishment to not spend their hard earned money on me.  Hey, that’s still only coffee three days a week.  It’s an average I’ve been able to stick to, too.  At most, three times a week.  It makes coffee a reward versus a ritual.  That’s a good thing, in my book.

Also, sorry to you people with money in coffee stock.

But wait…there’s even more!

I was eating well, too. Don’t worry, that couldn’t possibly last.  But it’s – once again – pretty much due to me being out of food and it being cold.

For those of you keeping track, the cold has officially dealt me a triple whammy:

1) no soda

2) ran out of healthy food

3) you should see my Double Oh C recycling.  “Out Of Control” is the Chrisenese to English translation you were looking for there, BTW.

But I’ve come off of that week-plus of solid healthy eating with a sense of moderation when approaching things like hamburgers or pizza.  That ain’t bad.

All this led up to two solid days of exertion when I moved last week.

Alone.

Naturally.

My family were all out of town at the ‘Phew’s basketball thingy.

The Fox was helping his some move, and also being sick.

So I just did it.

I am a SNOB, after all…Society if Native Oregon Born.  Home of Nike, so I just do it, naturally.

Hush, Diezel.

Bed?  Moved.

Sofa?  Moved.

Bookcases?  Moved – or sold.  The new place is slightly smaller.

Dresser?  Moved.

Ok, that last one was a bitch.  But, just done.

After all that, I expected to hurt.

For a while.

But I just didn’t.

I’ll chalk that up to doing a lot of little good things for myself consistently.  And that’s what this year has largely been about.  That and accepting my present physical situation for what it is and fixing what I reasonably can while accepting – forgiving – what I can’t.

Honestly, there’s still room to fix or improve.  And I will.

But The Brazilian made another guest appearance in my life the other night, and when he complimented my butt…I didn’t correct him!

“Alex, I’ll take Self Acceptance for priceless, please” – Me!

I can live with this.

Fitfy 49:49

Boudoir Art

Alrighty.  Take Two, WordPress.

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

I was reminded of a time…

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

The Silver Fox and I were new friends.

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

Something outside my norm, for sure.

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

Charities are so rigged.  Lol. 

Of course, I won four items.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fucking Germans.

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

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

So, here’s the story.

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

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

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

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

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

I guess I have one final art show tale.

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

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

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

Obviously, I have a thing for pieces with bold colors.

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

He had learned the rules too well!

Boudoir Art

The 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 Widow

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

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

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

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

Allegedly.

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

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

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

And, literally on the block right behind me.

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

But still, we randomly chatted.

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

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

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

Quite a package deal!

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

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

I try to assume the best.

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

Whatever. 

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

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

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

He declined.

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

<ignores obvious warning whistles>

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

Here’s the funny part:

No, I swear, this is gonna kill ya.

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

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

No.

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

Shittatle.

I click on his profile, and sure enough:

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

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

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

“If he makes it back, I grumble.”

But I do.

Until.

He messages me at 6:20, “I’m off!”

That’s your long day?!?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Next!?!

The Widow