How to Make Friends

by Me!

As much as I may say that I don’t like anyone, I actually tend to make friends pretty easily. When I have a mind to.

Ok, even when I just can’t help myself.

I was reminded of this a few times over the last week, and it had me thinking that I might be leaving you all with the wrong impression of my favorite person.

My ruminations took me back, all the way to my first days in Seattle. As the Operations Manager at the downtown Macy’s it was indirectly my job to make sure the store actually opened every day. It was directly Loss Prevention’s job, but often the Dock Manager would help and if I was there, I did, too.

You see, we had seven banks of doors to open on the main level, each bank had three double doors. On the sixth floor, there was a single door coming off the sky bridge from the parking structure and on the basement floor, there was a bank of three double doors coming off the light rail and bus tunnel. We weren’t hurting for doors so much as we needed a friggin’ army to open them all at 9:00 each day. When I first offered to lend my key to the process, I got the distinct impression that these guys weren’t used to a lot of support from my predecessor.

That didn’t stop them from taking advantage of my FNG status (Fucking New Guy) and giving me some hazing as a thank you for my contribution.

This is how I came to be opening the southeast bank of doors on 4th Avenue each day.

My first customer every day – no matter how strategically I began opening the doors – was a very friendly and exuberant young disabled man. He was the exact opposite of a Walmart Greeter, inasmuch as he didn’t work for us and did not let that stop him one bit.

The first day I opened the southeast doors, I opened all of the inner vestibule doors and then as soon as I opened the first outer door, he was right inside, up in my stuff.

“What is your first name, please?”

I’m standing there with the door in my hand, trying to pivot backward, around and away from him, so that I can keep opening the remaining doors. He actually sidesteps his way with me, until my back is up against the backside of the door I just opened. People were just funneling in the only open door available as I looked down at this guy – who had to be all of 4’5″ and built like a little fireplug – who was completely blocking my access to anywhere but where I presently was.

He repeated himself.

“What is your first name, please?”

“Excuse me, I need to unlock those other doors, please”, I say as I futilely try to negotiate my way around him.

“And, what is your last name, please?”

Somehow, he seems to be perfectly fine assuming my name is “Excuse me, I need to unlock those other doors, please” and has moved on to getting to really know me by asking my last name. He also seems to be taking notes.

Over his head – without much effort, obviously – I see our LP Manager pushing through the doors behind my new friend to open the remaining two doors in my block.

He might be smiling just the teensiest bit. He’s definitely not trying too hard to disguise his laughter at my discomfiture.

This happened several times a week for the 15 months or so that I worked at that store. I have no idea who this kid was or where he came from, but every day…

“What is your first name, please?”

First thing in the morning. No matter where he was when I started opening doors, he used that compact mass of his to move into position so that he was the first person through the door when I twisted my key in the cylinder. I mean, as far as first customers go, I’ve definitely experienced worse.

The Macy’s Greeter situation all came back to me the other week when I passed a guy on a street corner that turned out to be a beggar. The Guy From Saigon. God, of course this has to happen right in front of my mother, but we had parked around the block to run into Penzey’s Spices for one of their coupon offerings and were on our way back to the car. I saw the guy, dirty, straggly hair and all weather jacket that had seen better days standing there in the middle of the corner so that people crossing the street on either side had to pass by him. Mom and I were just hoping to walk around the corner, but had to do so single file because of his positioning.

“I am from Saigon!”

His voice is like a hatchet, chopping through his greeting. Caught slightly off guard by his delivery, I absent-mindedly took his hand when he held it out.

“Can you give some money!”

Note, that was not a question. I was glad that I had boldly let mom go first, so she could keep going as I got this guy’s attention.

“You know, I only have plastic on me”, I apologized as my feet tried to keep moving, but he had not yet returned custody of my hand to me.

“That is ok. You can buy me some food!”

He’s now let go of my hand and is motioning toward the restaurant behind me, which is a Vietnamese restaurant that just doesn’t think Panda Express charges enough for their food.

“You know, that’s a big ask, and I’m gonna pass! Thanks, though!” I’m as cheery as possible to avoid accidentally triggering this guy.

That’s a lesson I accidentally learned about 30 years ago while walking through downtown with my dad. I’m not sure what downtown it was, to be honest. The timeframe should place us in Long Beach, but for some reason, I remember it as Old Town in Portland. Either way, this clearly homeless Native American guy jaywalks across the street and demands, “Give me a dollar!” with an open palm, while literally standing in the gutter.

“No!” I reply, indignantly while me father pulls me into the crosswalk and away from this unknown character. It was probably a good thing, too. I was really worked up over his poor manners. This was back in the days when minimum wage was around $2.35/hour, so this fella had some nerve in my hard working book.

Fortunately, The Guy From Saigon was more than happy to move on to other pedestrians trying to make their way to shops or cafes during their lunch breaks. for her part, mom only got the meagerest of pleasures out of the interaction. Her mom radar noticed me holding my hand away from my body before I realized I was doing it.

“I’ve got some hand sanitizer back in the car.”

Now, I’m not the biggest fan of hand sanitizer, but in this case, I was glad to have my Swiss Army Mom handy.

Because I live where I live, there’s no shortage of opportunities for me to make friends on the street as I make my way to my here’s and there’s on any given day. There is an outfit called Central City Concern that provides shelter and social services to the less fortunate in our city. Since their board wisely gobbled up real estate in Old Town before the Pearl District became a reality, they own about 25% of the buildings in the area. They put them to good use with short term micro studio housing as well as longer term shelters, flop houses and rehabilitation centers.

The end result is that I get a lot of chances to “meet” folks on the streets of the central city that are…concerning.

One such guy is a fella I call The Forgetful Guy.

He’s a shambler.

Just making his way from here to there, just like the rest of us, albeit without any real focus or urgency. It’s a nice day when his antipsychotics are all loaded up just so, he just meanders down the middle of the sidewalk around the Burnside/Broadway/Couch/8th block for hours at a time. I’m not sure where he goes when he’s not there, and when I see him anywhere else, it usually disorients me for a moment.

Then there’s those days where maybe he didn’t get his meds mixed just right or into his system on time. Or maybe his socks are wet. I don’t know.

What I do know is that those days he is just the most vocal, disturbing person to be around. And he’s pissed because on those days, he’s lost track of something.

“Where’s my LIGHTER?!?”

He mixes up the things that he’s lost from week to week or sighting to sighting – because in all fairness, he’s “on” more than he’s “off” – but when he is off, I try to give him about a block’s worth of buffer. It’s still an assault on my ears, though.

Couple weeks back – right around the time I met The Guy From Saigon with mom, I came up behind him on the Couch part of his circuit and when I was about 10 feet behind him, he just let it rip at some woman walking toward him.

“WHERE’S MY SMOKE?!?”

Holy mother of…that was a good effort.

I think I jumped higher than the woman his outburst was actually aimed at, but she went sideways and landed with one foot on the curb and the other in the street. I moved up to her real fast – which I think did nothing for her frazzled nerves in the moment – but I wanted to get myself between her and him.

Before you think I’m too brave – because, I’m too stupid, if anything – I know this guy well enough to place him when he’s around, but I couldn’t pick him out of a line up if I had to. What my quasi-familiarity provides me is the knowledge that he is a one-hit wonder when it comes to these outbursts.

One per customer, please.

Then it’s usually, nothing to see here, please move along, until he encounters a fresh victim.

So, that’s reassuring, I guess. The most impressive part of his walkabouts is that he never lifts his head. I’m sure it’s a physical disability that gives him this posture, but the impressive part is how attuned his peripheral vision is to people around him. Like I said, it’s one verbal assault per customer, and he’s done with you and on to spread his special brand of attention to the next lucky pedestrian. Which is way better than cornering some poor tourist who doesn’t know any better than to expect weirdness in general in Portland, but specifically on this particular block getting pinned against a wall or parked car and not able to get away from The Forgetful Guy. Lunch time is the only really bad time for him to be out and off his meds. Otherwise, there’s not too many people on this particular block. Thankfully.

Now…I have to take a moment to say that I’m really bummed, because when I thought about this Who’s Who of the Friendly-ish Portland Crazies, I made notes about my usuals and then made this note:

The Lincoln High (not) Grad.

“Hot second!”

And, for the life of me right now, I cannot recall the incident that prompted those notes. Clearly someone who was sharing his educational accomplishments-slash-shortcomings with passers by one day a couple of weeks ago while this blog notion was kicking around my brain. A guy who also happened to have quite a catchy verbal tic.

Alas.

I’ll keep my eyes and ears peeled for Mr Hot Second, but that I haven’t seen him in the last couple of weeks suggests that he might be a true transient and has moved on. Maybe he was just letting us all know that he was only gonna be around for a hot second when I saw him.

I think the Silver Fox would be disappointed if I didn’t mention The Richest Homeless Guy in Portland while I was talking about our (mostly) affable street folks.

The Richest Homeless Guy in Portland is a fella that we usually see when we head over toward Nossa Familia for a Sunday coffee or if we need to – need to – buy a lottery ticket. Safeway is one of two joints nearby where we can get a lottery ticket once it gains enough potential ROI to get on the Silver Fox’s radar. The other place is a murder mart called Pico Mart, but they close early and are dangerously close to the Bing Me! food cart, so when we go to Pico Mart for a lottery ticket, we feel ripped off if we can’t get a Bing at the same time.

So, Safeway it is, oftentimes.

And when we go, there he is, The Richest Homeless Guy in Portland, standing by at his station, ready to avail himself to the kindness of strangers.

Or Safeway customers as they exit the store onto NW 13th.

I nicknamed him The Richest Homeless Guy in Portland because he is a monolith of wool, every time I see him. Covered, no…wrapped from head to toe, face barely visible, in more blankets than you could imagine carrying. The first time I saw him, I thought to myself, “That homeless mo-fo is gonna trip over those blankets”, because the edges of his blankets drag the ground.

But he never has, as far as I know. And if he did…he’s well cushioned. And god help him, I don’t think I’ve ever heard him say a word. It may be because his mouth is partially covered by blankets, thereby muffling his words. But I really think he’s a quiet guy. All I see of him is eyes, nose, tufts of wayward hair and whichever hand is holding his sign. Otherwise, he’s just slowing moving through the streets of the Pearl District, either on his way to or from the Safeway like a statue of liberty wrapped in moving blankets.

And frankly, aside from an occasional outburst or two from The Forgetful Guy? These folks are all local flavor. Down right affable in the case of The Guy From Saigon and pretty much harmless if they are anything other than affable. It makes me feel…generally comfortable, if that’s the right expression. Not that we have homeless people wandering in our midst. But that they are at least mostly harmless fixtures in our community.

There’s panhandlers that make me feel ill at ease on every block, don’t get me wrong. Usually with a dog I trust more than I would trust them. These friends I’m talking about that I’ve made while living in the Pearl neighborhood? They’re good enough folks. And I’m glad that Portland has the social-ist network that they need for support in their day to day lives.

Because it can’t be easy for them, that’s for sure. That’s why I always try to give them some eye contact and a smile or nod when I encounter them.

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How to Make Friends

I Don’t Like Anyone

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DM #1 was unexpectedly in attendance.

FFS.

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

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

Too chipper.

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

So she didn’t have my contact info.

Or. My. Last. Name.

I can find you in our applicant tracker!

Too chipper.

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

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

Too chipper.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why not? They are amazing people! So accomplished.

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

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

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

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

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

Of course.

Naturally, the snow never materialized…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then.

It.

Happened.

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

What.

Ever.

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

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

Oh, no…wait, I forgot!

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

What?

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

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

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

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

Naturally, I finish my beer and leave.

Loudly.

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

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

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

Huh.

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

This could only happen to me.

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

Well, The Fox has me covered

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

Ouch.

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

They’re in Palm Springs.

Nertz.

His assumption is solid.

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

Precious.

I’m calling him Jimbo.

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

B) he would hate that nickname. And,

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

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

He has two houses in New Orleans.

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

His BMW is hard to park in this little garage.

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

Why?

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

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

Yeah. That’s your problem.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Because, obviously.

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

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

Hard.

George was stoned out of his doggie brain.

And nuzzling my crotch while I scratched his butt.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then he did it again.

Oh, this. This!

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

Because, it really would only happen to me…

I Don’t Like Anyone

The Haircut Saga

If you can even begin to understand what it’s like to be me for just the shortest of moments, it won’t surprise you to hear that in November I left my barbershop thinking,

That’s it, I’m never coming back!

It was the second time since I considered recreationally growing my hair longer that I’ve walked into Bishop’s in the Pearl with the intent of getting cleaned up around the edges and walk out with a haircut that was basically ready for junior high school picture day.
My goal in my mission to recreationally grow out my hair – into what I call crazy old man hair – was something like a low key version of this:img_3453
What I really meant by stating my goal to grow out my hair was just to openly defy the current hair style conventions of that ridiculous hard part haircut. You know, this one…img_0516
Hard part? More like hard pass!
And I’ve had the same haircut, essentially, for the last 10-15 years, so something of a change was in order…just not what I considered to be the current incarnation of The Big Gay Haircut. Going longer was my only safe bet.
Except…
Not so fast, old Xtopher.
In late September, I walked into Bishop’s, told my gal what I wanted and walked out with this:
img_3454
Fine.
I grow it out a little, about seven weeks, and then go back toward the end of November for my holiday haircut in late November. Gotta make myself respectable for my visit to mom and dad! I make myself very clear that I only want it cleaned up over the ears, not blended all the way up since I want to grow it longer.
“Got it”, she says.

Flash forward twenty minutes…
img_3454

That’s it, I’m never coming back!

I leave thinking that I’ll give it until the end of January. Maybe if I need to cave for something important – like an interview – I will, but otherwise, it’s not like I’m doing anything with my time…so this can be my lil hobby.
Toward the end of January – my birthday – I ask the Silver Fox if I should be thinking about getting a haircut. I hadn’t heard from my family about birthday plans, so I was beginning to suspect something. If my family is planning something, I figure I should mow the shag a bit to look presentable.
“Your family isn’t planning anything”, he says.
Fine. No worries.
“But I’d get a haircut if I were you!” he laughs.
Of course, I reasonably assume that he’s taking a chance to return some of my snark and take it in stride.
He wasn’t.
img_1108
Great. Now he can keep a secret.
Not to worry, I think I pulled the shaggy look off…
img_1342
Notice how the longer hair distracts from my growing girth?
Anyway…lesson learned. I had said I was giving it until the end of January and here it was, the 21st. I figured I could see this through the final ten days and then hit Bishop’s and see if they’ve learned any new listening skills.
The Fox and I head up to Trader Joe’s later that week – he usually lets me tag along so that I don’t have to hoof it 20 blocks with my groceries – read: a half case of wine – which I certainly appreciate. On our way back, we pass right by Bishop’s and I’m looking in and thinking that it figures they aren’t crowded now, but just watch…when I want my hair cut it’ll be like the week before picture week. Then I see it.
Oops. Him.
This guy that I used to…socialize with, privately, if you get my drift, when I first moved back to Portland. He was a complete and utter mess. I’d cut ties with him by the end of that first year back in town.
Of course, the next year, he turns up at a happy hour with Linda Belcher. She had invited me down to Old Town to grab a couple drinks with her common-law husband, Bob’s Burgers, and some of his acupuncture co-horts.
This guy shows up. Mostly because this is my life and this is just what one should expect when one is me. Also because he was engaged to a classmate of Bob’s Burgers.
F.
M.
L.
I learn that he’s in the Hair Program at Paul Mitchell over across Burnside. I’m actually surprised that I don’t see him more often, since I pass by there every time I go to the bank or movies…surprised, but grateful.
A year or so later, I do finally end up seeing him outside. “Long program”, I think to myself, but I’m on the far side of the street, so he doesn’t see me.
Maybe another year later, I see him again and wonder if he’s teaching there, but just assume they are smart enough to not let that happen.
So, here I am, less than ten days away from a haircut and I see him on a smoke break outside. Finally working after taking the better part of three years to graduate from what I gather is a seven or eight month program. My friend, JOrtis is a teacher at the Aveda institute and I just figured, why not ask how long the program should take. I think he said months…but knowing this mess, I could see him spacing out a seven or eight week program with a few trips to rehab.
Nonetheless, it explains something about my last two trips into Bishop’s for a haircut.
Turns out my petulant departure in November contained some pretty true words.
So, here it is, the first week of February and I’m thinking, “Well, it’s not like I’m still not doing anything…oh, wait”, but I’m still not really putting any emphasis on my hair maintenance.
The Fox says that he’s getting used to it, which I somehow gamely twist into a compliment.
And…since this is my life we’re talking about, I get an in person interview.

Screw it. This interview process started in November. If they ask, I’ll tell them that I am not getting a haircut until they offer me a job out of protest.

So, if The Great Job Hunt finally comes through and I get the job, I’ll trim this shituation up, otherwise, this is what they get. Until then…img_3453

Whatever I decide to do with this shaggy mane, the…let’s say lucky barber will have plenty of material to work with!

The Haircut Saga

Who’s the Heckler?

This one’s for you, I reckon.

For everyone who isn’t you…here’s a lil pic for some backstory.

Now, I love people flipping me a dose of shit. It’s far easier for it to happen here – in the comfort of my own phone – than to trek all the way up to the Oregon Zoo and stand impatiently in front of the monkey exhibit. So, I’m smiling at what I assume is intended as good natured chop busting.

Still, since I don’t normally interact with someone with the handle Someone, I am curious about who Someone could be. Literally, anyone!

Naturally, last night around midnight when I saw this – alone in my bed while Mistress Myrtle stalked around the perimeter to plan her next attack – my mind was primed to go to a dark place. In doing a little – very little – slogging around the WordPress, I found that there’s no profile attached to this handle. Which is weird for WordPress.

It’s just like that time Sacha made a…Noooo. He wouldn’t…this isn’t his style…

So, I told him – this Someone person – that March was the next time I could go 30/30, took a Mellie and pulled a pillow over my face.

But after a restful night of sleep, a tasty smoothie for breakfast and otherwise wildly productive morning…I’m feeling creative. So I beta-read a quarter of a friend’s novel – my second run through – and still felt a little mojo percolating. I’d told myself that January was to wear me out on writing so I could set a goal of editing and formatting my own book in February before seeking out next steps in March.

Having any mojo left after January actually feels good!

Really good.

But I came out of it ready to work on what I’d written. I’ve made notes on what I want to do next and have a couple other pipeline ideas written down, too. I think this is what focus looks like for me.

Still, I want to post a few blog entries throughout this month, too. I’d committed to structuring my editing efforts into a Monday through Friday discipline, so perhaps I can blog on weekends?

We’ll see.

Both what I experienced last night at dinner and this morning on my way to coffee reinforced that I need to blog. Both occasions presented me with amusing “What could possibly go wrong?” anecdotes. Maybe they were more “This would only happen to me“, now that I think about it.

Obviously, I need to record those, either way…last night’s is too long for this particular post. My draft backlog is down to seven after January, so this seems like a perfect time to add one.

The Silver Fox and I made coffee plans for this morning before I left last night. As usual, it’s basically our usual plan, which is always as tentative as it is usual.

So, I confirmed this morning that I was up for it. In a rare turn of events, he wasn’t! That gave me an excuse to put on a hoodie and get back into bed with my smoothie and read more.

Fine.

After I showered and got myself ready for a dinner party at Little Buddy’s place this afternoon, I decided to strike out for some coffee anyway. I only had two “coffee dates” last week and figured I should start this week off strong.

The world doesn’t need an under caffeinated Xtopher…we’ve already got millennials.

Buh-dun-dunt…zing!

I dress for dinner, check the weather – we’re supposed to get snow tonight! – to make sure I choose an appropriate jacket and head out toward Nossa Familia.

I can handle 45 degrees in my mid-weight jacket. Tomorrow, though, I’ll finally have a chance to pull out my heavy jacket. Despite MomDonna’s protests that my go-to coat isn’t heavy enough for the weather, I don’t get out my heavy coat until the temps are in the 30s. I don’t want to pull my big down jacket out when it’s in the 40s, only to become truly miserable when the temps become inhospitable to human existence.

You gotta have a plan in this world, and that is mine.

I’m not kidding, that’s pretty much it in it’s entirety.

I know.

I get two blocks into my ten block coffee commute and it starts drizzling. Fine, it’s Portland. I look up and decide the clouds were just a little too heavy and decided to let off a little water weight.

Two blocks later, it’s hailing.

I debate ducking in to the RiteAid for an umbrella but still think that this is just a weird fluke. The clouds just don’t look rainy enough. Like, surely they don’t have anything more than this in them.

A block later, I’m ducking into a dry spot under the balcony of an apartment building.

It’s absolutely pissing.

I debate going home. Meanwhile, the troll in the back of my head is whispering “Caffeine” in a sing-songy voice.

I wait it out.

By the time I get to the next block, it has suddenly started pouring again and the hail has gotten larger. I’m right by my gym and I’m dripping wet.

I’ll be damned if I’m going in there!

I trudge on.

Quickly.

The rain stops as suddenly as it began two blocks away from Nossa. I give myself a good shake and mentally amend my usual iced latte order to a hottie as I enter the final stretch. Strangely, everyone passing by around me looks mysteriously not drenched.

Weird.

The good thing about a little downpour is that when I opened the door to Nossa, no line.

On the other hand…walking into the cafe, I’m all

Fortunately, I know my barista husband is in Antigua with the Nossa Familia familia on an annual educational excursion they award to employees. What I get today is just my back-up barista husband and some openly straight married guy.

So, I’m just sitting here sipping my hot latte and rocking the wet cat look I’m sporting.

Now, c’mon, Someone let me know who you are…as long as it’s not in some weird “better sleep with your lights on” way!

Who’s the Heckler?

Feed Yourself

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

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

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

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

Still, he stuck with me.

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

Just.

Saying.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I was feeling like writing was a slog.

Two more days…then your January challenge ends.

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

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

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

Well, that was a lot of effort for nothing…

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

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

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

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

He’s going to teach English in South Korea.

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

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

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

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

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

I was jazzed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Satisfied.

Fully satisfied.

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

Joint…

Cigar…

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

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

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

Probably just in time.

Now I’m a little peckish…

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

Nice going, Hunter S. Thompson…

GoPuff to the rescue!

Twenty minutes later…

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

I can make this work…

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

I need to find a friggin’ job!

Is it weird that I wanna write today?!?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All because that trucker won our money!

Maybe I’ll start my taxes…

Feed Yourself

The Portland Challenge

Someone called me out the other day when I blithely mentioned Portland’s weirdness factor. As if to say that every town is weird or something.

Sure. I’ll grant that point.

But with Portland, it’s a matter of magnitude.

We, the weird People:

There’s a homeless guy in a wheelchair that I see from time to time boxing with a newspaper machine. And bitching it out…I think that one of them needs out of that relationship.

Last summer, I saw a fella walking down the street using his prosthetic leg as a cane. I’m pretty sure prosthetic limbs are easier to install than IKEA furniture is to build, but this guy wasn’t having that. Maybe it was uncomfortable to wear the prosthetic because of the heat. It’s not like a shoe, where when it’s hot you can wear sandals. This might have been his work around. Lest you get the idea that I was too polite to snap a pic, worry not…my camera phone reactions are just too slow.

But maybe I’m a little too polite…

We are (were) voted the kinkiest city in America back in 2017. 2016? I dunno, it’s been a while since I’ve heard mention of it in the press. I don’t think it’s like the census and only done once a decade, so I’m sure someone has given us a run for the title since then. A “Hold my beer” moment, if you will. Then again, it’s not like I’m seeing less kink/fetish-type behaviors. There’s still (way too many, IMO) open relationships…like every time I meet a nice guy. Don’t forget Naked Pool Night, either – more on that later. I really can’t tell if that’s a kink or just plain old weird. To me.

Our homeless population. Nothing to brag about, but they are a semi- community unto themselves: from supporting one another in little gab-fests to flat out fucking in parks to the weekly potluck in the middle of one of our swankiest neighborhoods…mine.

Depending on who’s statistics you use, there could be ~16k to a high of 25k homeless people in Portland. Again, depending on the source, that could be anywhere from 3-7% of the population. Wanna have your mind blown? Portland’s black population is 6.3%. Basically, our homeless population is either half of or slightly more than that of its black residents.

We’re 72% white here in Portland…maybe that’s how we ended up so damn kinky. Overcompensating.

If these homeless folks ever organized, they’d be one hell of a voting block. But keep that quiet. The sad reality of mental illness in the homeless community being the sad reality that it is could work against us and Portland doesn’t need its own homeless version of Trump. It would probably end up being the newspaper machine that I always see that wheelchair guy boxing…

With the weird Places:

Have you ever seen a grown man naked? Well, have ya?!?

Then you’ve clearly never had a beer at a Portland bar. I think being able to have a stripper within three feet of your drink is in the top five reasons Portland is weird. To be fair, there’s only two gay male strip clubs, although you’re bound to encounter randomly occurring go-go boys at some of the others. However, our straight strip clubs, well, it’s almost like 7-eleven can’t find a good corner location here. That’s how many strip bars we have. It hits pretty close to home, too. One of the Silver Fox’s neighbors owns several. I think it’s about five. That’s a lot of breast meat.

But, then again, the frequency in which one encounters random naked non-strippers is weirder to me than naked dancers. Call me crazy.

One of Portland’s more regrettable – wait…forgettable? Meh, take your pick – gay bars is The Eagle.

Eagle PDX? I forget. This bar used to be at the top of Vaseline Alley. I’m pretty sure it lost its lease, but whatever the cause, it shut down. Eventually, it relocated to North Portland…for no obvious good reason. During that transition, our Portland bar lost its affiliation with Eagle International and that’s why there’s name confusion.

Anyway, it’s a gay bar that caters to the leather community, so it draws its own clientele but also has drop-ins that one would call mainstream. I dunno…maybe there’s an occasional neighbor that walks in thinking, “Ooh, a beer!”, but I’m pretty sure that would be a one time (mis)adventure.

Especially if they wandered in on Naked Pool Night.

I know it’s on a Thursday, or possibly Thursdays. Not sure which, but the first time I found myself there for – no…on – Naked Pool Night, I quickly added “pool” to the list of activities that should not be done nude. It joined frisbee and volleyball, if you were wondering. Sorry, Roger!

And, finally, the weird Things:

How about the largest entry into the annual World Naked Bike Ride. Yup, right here in good old PDX! Our event has grown to over 10k participants. That’s a lot, even if you convert it to the metric system!

But our weirdness isn’t all about homeless folk and naked peeps. (See what I did there?)

We are the only city to host Red Bull’s Flugtag Festival three times. I’m not sure of the first year we hosted, but we also had them in 2015 and lastly in 2017.

Looks like kind of a big deal, right? That second pic is from 2017. Sadly, that will be our last time hosting. The crowd gathered on the river in small watercraft (ie: paddle boards, canoes and improvised floats) proved too frustrating to the captain of our local booze cruiser, The Portland Spirit. Tired of waiting, he proceeded to pilot his ship through the assembled flotilla. But he blew his horn several times before doing so. Apparently, our politeness at intersections does not extend to our waterways…

But what is it, you ask?

Well, it’s a party, don’t get me wrong. But it’s dressed up as a modern day soap box derby. The challenge is to create a self-propelled flying machine and then you’re judged on how far you get, but also flair!

Mostly, it’s an exercise in gravity.

But it’s ok…it’s held on the river, so as long as you can tread water, you’re ok. Probably.

Speaking of alternative transportation, it is a big part of our commuter culture. Sometimes, though, I feel like we are just going out of our way to be weird about alternative transportation. I love the mass transit, personally. I have been a bike commuter. But we just reached an agreement that will allow for a second, longer test of the e-scooter program that plagued most and thrilled a few last summer, too. So we have emerging alternatives. Far be it from us to rest on our laurels.

Then there’s this guy

There was a minute a couple years back where you could encounter those hover boards on our sidewalks…I don’t see them much any more. That leaves more room for skateboards, longboards and that motorized one wheeled version – I think that’s still considered a skateboard. But it is a toss up as to whether our skateboarders opt for the sidewalk or prefer a traffic lane. To me, it’s equally nerve wracking.

I’ll accept that we may have stolen Austin’s “Keep Austin Weird” slogan – see how I phrased that? I’ll accept it but I’m not guaranteeing it’s true…

That said, you’ve got to love how we made it our own.

Some of that success was just attracting specific groups of people that are collectively weird. I think our little slice of the west coast was a safe haven for any and all weirdos between LA and Seattle.

But then we’ve got our unique individuals that propel us further into the weirdness stratosphere than any group of people could.

…because your weirdness needs it’s own Facebook page. I know I’ve got a better pic of Brian Kidd – aka: The Unipiper – but you can’t beat the Keep Portland Weird mural in the background.

And our weird people do things! This is former two-term mayor Bud Clark.

Before becoming mayor, he owned the Goose Hollow Inn, a shitty little dive bar. Actually, he started the bar in 1967 in an area that would later be named after the bar itself. Prior to the bar opening, this neighborhood was just part of the SW quadrant of the city. Eventually, it grew up and became known as the Goose Hollow neighborhood.

But that’s not what he’s most famous for, in my opinion. He’s also this guy!

Plus, just about every time you put a microphone in front of him, his first words were whoop.

Whoop whoop!

That’s our mayor.

Speaking of mayors – and not that being gay is weird, but another of our former mayors is Sam Adams. He’s notable for being the first openly gay mayor in the 30 most populous cities in the country. Sadly, he’s also notable for the alleged sex scandal with an intern that was under 18. This prompted the joke:

Why is Portland a cool city to live in?

Because it’s the only city in the country where an 18 year old can get a Sam Adams.

Ba-dun-dun…tsss!

But we’re Portland, as long as you’re recycling, composting, raising urban chickens and not assuming anyone’s gender…you’re welcome to join us. After all, the Fonz can’t have all the fun!

The Portland Challenge

Tappa-Kegga-Day

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

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

Today is a day of rest.

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

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

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

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

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

Nope. Cannot do.

(I’m sorry, Phil, I’m working on it!)

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

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

Or, not-problem.

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

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

Birthday weekend shenanigans…

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

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

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

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

Jerk.

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

Resolutions for the new year?

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

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

2) Not cut my hair.

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

Why not?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Well, I guess we’re going to BL!

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

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

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

But not inside.

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

Are you surprised?!?

I’m debating how to answer:

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

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

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

Decisions, decisions.

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

Surprise!

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

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

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

Nah…that would be weird.

Not unwelcome…just weird.

What I should have said is:

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

Or,

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

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

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

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

You got any Pallet Jack on order?”

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

Sneaky.

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

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

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

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

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

But here ya go…

Birthday Boy with his birthday beer!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hats off, sis!

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

Tastes a little apricot-y.

My favorite moment of the night!

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

They were surprised by my statement.

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

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

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

This is why we’re friends.

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

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

Sometimes she sees me and joins me.

Other times I’m not there.

Still others, she doesn’t see me.

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

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

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

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

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

There’s worse ways to wake up.

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

Birthday breakfast.

Birthday lunch.

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

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

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

Yesterday was one of those days.

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

Touching.

Even Portland’s former mayor dropped me a note.

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

I remembered!

It started out about like this blog…

Then got sweet…

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading, every one of you!

Tappa-Kegga-Day

TIL #9: Picking Your Battles

Having a strategy is a good thing. It sure beats careening around from one day to the next. But I’m not talking about those long game strategies: school, career, relationships, kids…picket fences along the way as you will.

No, I’m talking about those short game strategies that ice your life cake.

Think of these smaller strategies as if they are putting in a game of golf. You may get on the green in three on a par 5 hole, but if your short game is weak – or worse yet, sucks – you’ll be lucky to make it off the green with a par, probably a bogie.

But if you’ve got a good short game, maybe you come in with an eagle, at 1 under.

Now, Oldie Hawns have been openly indulging in this short strategy for decades – much to the enjoyment of more recent generations.

Namely, the early bird special. Dinner at 4:00? Trading cocktail hour for a food happy hour…that’s a good strategy. Home in time for a Wheel of Fortune binge before bed time.

Right

See? That’s what we do instead of learn from the professional lifers, we make fun of the situation.

Maybe it’s cute.

Witty.

Maybe they’re sitting there watching Wheel making fun of us stiffs that are still struggling with a homeward commute while they have a Dove Bar for dessert at 6:00. Yeah, who’s the sucker?

But, as most of us are living that Synchronicity nightmare while our shrinking senior citizens are settling up at Old Town Buffet – trapped like lemmings in our shining metal boxes – it’s not a great example of a viable short game strategy, right?

Well, here’s a few better ideas. Some I’ve learned by watching, others by doing, and others by trial and error.

Sidenote: now that I’ve gotten all wound up, each of the ideas I wanted to talk about…<pffft!> Gone. Let’s see if I can mind palace my way to the end of this entry…

Of course, the Silver Fox has inadvertently mentored me. He recently had an unusual experience at the doctors office. He had a 10:00 appointment and figured he’d be home for coffee at around 10:40, not 10:45…10:40. The man has routine down.

Except

His normal routine is to snag the first appointment after the office opens. Of course, because he’s a slave to what I call Fox Time, he’s usually – I imagine – sitting in his car 15 minutes before the doors are unlocked.

His claim: get in and out before they have a chance to fall behind.

I get that, I do. It makes sense…except as a worker bee, I don’t want to get up an hour early so I can go to the doctor before work, I want to build in a short day with an afternoon appointment! If it takes longer than expected, so much the better…I don’t feel so guilty about not going back to work, right?

But here he is, one of my favorite retirees: up and at it early when he has literally all the time in the world.

It is a sound strategy, though. He surprised me by not having an early appointment the other day. When I tried to get to our cafe on Fox Time, it backfired on us both. I sent him a pic of my coffee at 10:45 and he replied that he was still in the waiting room…45 minutes after his appointment time!

Proving his point…

One of my favorite strategies is Thursday night movie releases in DT Portland. Turns out, downtown theaters are empty on a “school” night!

Getting a jump on blockbuster weekends, the studios usually do a 7-ish and 10-ish Thursday night showing. That’s their strategy to boost release weekend ticket sales without cutting all the way back to Wednesday releases, like they used to.

Me, loving large crowds like I don’t, used to wait until Monday or Tuesday after the release and just avoid water coolers until I saw whatever I wanted to see. Now, I can be the first to see a new movie and there’s maybe two dozen people in the theater with me.

Captain Marvel.

Avengers: Endgame

Spiderman: Far From Home

You know where I’ll be on the Thursday night before their official release! It’s worth missing out on half price popcorn Tuesdays.

Hell, who am I kidding? I’ll probably see two shows those weeks…I’d hate to miss a sale.

However, if I were a patient person that didn’t have any hint of FOMO, I’d just wait a few weeks and catch the flick on a Tuesday as it’s box office stay wound down, right? Nah…you know I’ll double dip if it’s any good. I’ll probably see Captain Marvel on Tuesday before I see Avengers; likewise a second fix of Avengers before I get my Peter Parker European Vacation on Thursday.

I tell you one thing, if Marvel didn’t manage a Chevy Chase/Beverly d’Angelo cameo, I will be slightly bummed.

The dwindling crowds at movie theaters as a movie’s run winds down is one thing. I’ve learned through trial and error, though, that the same does not follow for theater.

Closing night/day performances at Portland Center Stage are just packed…definitely not my favorite thing. But theater dates with Little Buddy and JOrtis are my thing, so it’s a tough call.

Nah, it’s not really.

Theater with some of my favorite peeps is a no brainer. Especially when they cry earlier and more than me.

I know that theater is packed because they have a finite run. Movie theaters don’t have a Leaving Soon campaign. Movies will just start showing less frequently, going from a showing every hour to a showing every three hours and then two shows a day…and then <poof!> they are just gone.

And these last play performances really feel different. It’s like the last chance for actors to deliver in these roles and they tend to leave everything on the stage.

Which makes the waterworks with me and my theater compatriots even more dramatic. We joke about having theater scarves to blot our eyes. Maybe we’ve just figured out why scarves are such an accessory at the theater.

Oh, gawd…what if my friends and I are slow?!?

Probably PCS just needs to change the filters in their HVAC system so shit stops blowing in our eyes…

So, what are your strategic life hacks? Sharing is caring…unless it’s an STD, that is.

TIL #9: Picking Your Battles

Today I Learned #13

Flashback Edition

Since I’m procrastinating finishing up a draft or two during my Publish Every Day January initiative, and just killing time before an interview…here’s some food for thought. More like food for grossing you out, but I’m not here to add idioms to our lexicon.

Oh, wait…Chrisisms.

But this isn’t that type of thing.

When I was in college, I guess I learned some things. However, 25 years later, what do I remember? I studied history, yet every time the Silver Fox starts a story with, “You were a History Major…” my mind utterly blanks.

Here’s what I remember from college:

1) 1066. That was the year of the last Norman invasion of England.

2) How to ride a motorcycle. Or, not. Let’s say that I learned that it was not a skill I naturally possessed.

3) Household toilets have a 6 foot spray radius.

Those last two things were both courtesy of one of my college roommates, Cindy.

She was pretty tough. A compact and stout girl a couple years older than me, but that didn’t stop me from calling her Cynthia just to annoy her. Come to think of it, the number of times she put me on the floor for being a wiseacre might have something to do with why I remember so little of what I learned in college.

Also, alcohol.

Anyway, yeah…just remember, water droplets are dispersed into the air every time you do this

without closing your toilet lid.

Cindy was a design major, so she shared this with me when she was studying bathrooms. Ever since, I’ve accepted that I’ve been brushing my teeth with poop in most of the places I’ve lived.

But, you know how I am…my mind doesn’t stop there.

I’m also aware that I store my towels and spare crapping paper on the shelves over my toilet. Even if I closed the lid every time I used the bathroom (I don’t) there’s no way that my guests will.

Basically, I just live with the knowledge that every time I bathe, I’m massaging poo splatter all over my clean body and whenever I use TP to blow my nose, I’m shoving shit into my nostrils.

Probably explains why my nose hair grows so well…fertilizer.

Today I Learned #13

Today I Learned #12

Calculated Risks

I don’t want anyone to mistake this entry for something serious.

Like wine.

I mean, I take wine seriously enough to not abuse it. I mean, waste it…I’m sure anything I do that could be described as wine abuse is actually closer to self-abuse or self-medication, depending on the circumstance.

That said, I feel like we should discuss decanting.

Sidebar: Autocorrect just changed “decanting” into “decaying” and I literally decant even.

Decanting a sure thing bottle is convenient for aerating the wine and opening it up do the acidic notes can mellow versus overwhelming the rest of the flavors when you…sip. So I’ve generally made a habit of decanting a bottle anytime I have company over, but switching to a by-glass aerator if that second bottle tries to get popular.

My logic? Maybe that second bottle doesn’t get finished, right?

What? I’ve heard of that happening…

Here’s what I’ve learned.

Wine is much like friends vs dating later in life.

You get to know the quality peeps in your life that deserve and have earned decanting rights. Then there are the new unknowns that are best taken on a by-glass basis.

As I’ve managed to overcome my desire for a relationship and remain a Singleton this past year, I’ve engaged in a little thought exercise. I examined my urge to open or order what I consider great bottles of wine on a first date. Was I simply indulging my tastes and myself as I did something I’m not super comfortable doing?

Sidenote: Roller Coasters should have wine stands at the beginning of the line.

Or, was I trying to show off?

Ugh.

I’m going to skip over the grisly details. Suffice it to say, hearing an attractive man say that my wine was really good as he leaves are perhaps the least validating final words to hear from someone.

In case that needed to be mentioned.

The last time someone came over for wine in a dating capacity, I legitimately caught myself thinking – as I reached up for my decanter – “Am I prepared to try and switch bottles because ‘This doesn’t taste right, let’s try something else’ if this guy doesn’t seem worth the rest of the bottle?” More importantly, am I cool enough to pull off that switch to a bottle of TJ’s finest?!?

But, like I said, this isn’t a post about wine.

Exclusively

It’s about any variety of risks we take. Moreover, it’s about how our own opinions of those risks change over time. And how we assess and prioritize those opinions.

A fairly blue case study – oh, I should write about Gee sometime – to illustrate my point:

Yesterday, I had a solo lunch date with dad. Mom had gone shopping with my sister and his usual Friday lunch with his own dad was rescheduled for a doctor’s appointment.

Usually when mom, dad and I go to lunch, I can bank on each of them making use of the facility’s facilities. Occasionally it’s all three of us, which affords my dad and I the opportunity for a rather humorous take on what frequently happens at Portland intersections.

Yesterday, as our departure from the restaurant became imminent, I caved and asked dad if he wanted you use the restroom before we left.

He passed.

I raised my eyebrows.

When we got to my place, I asked if he wanted to come up and talk for a while longer. I wasn’t sure if he wanted to more kill time while my mom and sister were out. He said no, so we sat in the car and chatted a while before I got out of the car and chatted more while standing at the door.

When he drove off, I crossed the street, fobbed into my building and then tapped my toe impatiently while waiting for the world’s slowest elevator to return to the main floor.

Then I did a full on pee-pee dance in the elevator as we made our glacial ascent to the building’s fourth floor.

Seriously…it is so slow. I’m tempted right now to go take a ride and count off the “thousands” it takes to climb from the Ground floor to 3. Sadly, I have to meet friends in two hours and nine minutes, so I’m afraid there isn’t time.

By the time we reached my floor, I was straining so hard to keep my bladder sealed that I accidentally let a fart fly.

That felt better!

But I consciously tightened everything up again as I prepared to engage my legs and leave the lift. My concern? Was that just gas or was it a…warning?!?

I farted out a few letters of the alphabet on the way to my door and while I was fumbling to get my door unlocked. Fortunately, neither of the other two residents on my floor chose that time to leave their units!

There I was, sitting victorious upon my throne. The contents of my bladder successfully vanquished, I reflected upon the Battle of the Bladder.

Were my check-ins with dad legitimate concern or projection on my part?

I want to say legitimate concern, since he drives about 35 miles home after he visits.

But the reality was that this was my second elevator dance of the week, so…

Either I need to move to a building with a faster elevator – or, better yet, a turbo lift! – or I need to stop projecting and openly check-in with my own plumbing to calculate risk vs transit time between cans.

So far, I’m not there. I have only gotten as far as calculating the height of a curb as it relates to chances of a fart in my body’s state of misadventures. Maybe it’s time to up that game.

Bet you wished this had only been about wine now, right?

Wine and poop. I’m a real enigma, aren’t I?

Maybe this whole Calculated Risks thing is more about food and drink, now that I think about it. The last example that popped into my head was about coffee. While that folds nicely into the bathroom urgency risk, it’s more about heartburn!

I’ve long maintained that I only need one good cup of coffee to satisfy my craving.

And the occasional need for a jump start.

The end of that saying of mine is that I’ll drink diner coffee all morning and still not feel satisfied. But I will end up with a banger of a case of heartburn. But I understood the risk and how my body worked.

Now, since I haven’t been working, I’ve sat at f&b for a second cup of their cold brew while chatting-ish with the Silver Fox. As my unemployment has dragged on, though, I’ve had to re-examine that habit.

The cold brew at f&b is brewed using the Japanese method for iced coffee.

Cold brew, iced coffee, Japanese iced coffee; three very different things. At least inasmuch as acidity is concerned.

Cold brew has very little acid, meaning I can drink it all day. That it’s made with good, medium roast beans means I really can sip it all day, but feel satisfied after a single cup.

Iced coffee, Japanese brew method or not, medium roast bean or not…has all the regular acidity of coffee.

When I have that second cup, I’m weighing the risk factors. Usually, with The Fox, the calculations come out in his – and mine, by extension – favor. When I’m alone, I’ll stop at one cup, go somewhere else or skip it altogether.

The cost/benefit calculated risk exercise I go through when it comes to the debate over taking a shower and getting presentable just to go out for a cup of coffee are a little…embarrassing.

How about some interaction? Surely, I’m not the only one that does this type of calculating…although, maybe I’m the only one that admits to it.

Tell me in the comments, what are your Calculated Risks?

Today I Learned #12