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

Embers

I’m on a quasi alliterative titular jag, it seems.

Last night’s entry had lit in its title.

This morning/afternoon, I’m writing about embers.

Later today, I’ve got one tentatively titled woodwork that should post.

You didn’t really need to know that, but these are the things about my blog that I enjoy…so, I’m sharing.

It’s almost noon on Friday.  The first Friday in nearly 49 years that Portland won’t be celebrating the weekend at a dance bar called Embers.

It’s been going nearly as long as I’ve been around.  Sometimes strong.  Others…well, it was one of the bars that I referred to as being in a three-way tie for second worst gay bar in Portland.  

The worst, Casey’s has always in my mind held the best wishes for continued success by these three bars:

One of the contenders for second worst – The Fox and Hounds – sold a few months back and immediately launched a transformative campaign to alienate its base clientele by changing everything.  The campaign was known as “We’re not going to be making a lot of changes or anything”.

Embers shuttered it’s drag stage and dance floor at 2:30 this morning for the last time after announcing earlier this week that its owner had suffered a stroke and was no longer able to run the business.

So…CONGRATULATIONS, EaglePDX, on being the last second worst gay bar in Portland!

Oh, and Casey’s quietly closed a few months back, so…this is a really big day for you!

All that having been said, Embers holds an awkward place in my nostalgic old heart.  So much so, that I would still pop in every couple of weeks or so for a beer and some chat with the staff.  Usually, I was the only non-homeless person and non-somehow tenuously employed by the bar patron in the place.

This is my life, people.  Try not to cringe.

But back before making its run at the title for second worst gay bar in Portland, well…it was an IT bar for Portland.

I was forcibly relocated to the Great Plains before I could legally drink or patronize a night club in Portland.  Two facts that the Great Plains didn’t really give a fuck about, because my Catholic High School honor student buddies started taking me to one of the two (only) premiere (by default) night clubs (dive bars) in beautiful downtown (no comment) Atchison, Kansas to do homework (I shit you not) when I was 14.

Kiby’s East – there was no other Kiby’s – was where I learned to both harshly judge and appreciate a true shit-hole-in-the-wall bar.  When it’s 50% of your choices – 33%, if you seriously consider doing nothing to be an option – you make the most of it.

It was on the banks of the Missouri River.  On sultry summer nights, they’d open up the back doors to let the breeze cool the dance floor.

They had $1 pitchers of beer for what would pass as happy hour.  Perfectly affordable to us high schoolers whose after school jobs paid $2.35 an hour.

I once saw – while taking a study break on the mezzanine – a big muscly guy dancing by himself on the crowded dance floor.  Well, I say he was by himself, but over his wife beater clad shoulders he was wearing what I hoped was his pet boa constrictor cum dancing partner.  I watched as he flirted with it, lifting its head to his lips to kiss at it playfully as the snake’s tongue flickered at his lips.

Then, in an emotionally scarring PDA, he put the whole head of his snake in his mouth.  I’ve seen similar things happen at EaglePDX.  

Colloquially-speaking.

So, from boas constrictor to feather, I have a good idea of what makes a bar tragic or fabulous or something of the unremarkable in between variety.

Embers was all of these at some point over the 21 years that I’ve been whetting my whistle at its gold fish inhabited bar.

One of The Fabulous Baker Sisters put Embers on my social radar via MySpace after I moved back to PDX from SoCal in the winter of ‘96.  

When The Fourth Fabulous Baker Sister speaks, I listen.  Especially about booze, clubs or in this case, both.

My socializing quickly began to include Embers.

Occasionally, I would go there after work with my team to dance our asses off and blow off steam built up over the course of the week.  I would usually park my Jeep in front of the building I now live in and stagger back several hours later feeling invigorated and refreshed, baptized in the sweaty waters of a smoke machine filled dance floor.

The next day my chicken legs were rubber at work from too much dancing.  But those nights of group dancing with Margi, Candace, Jackie Jack Ass, Erica-Schmerica and Panzy are some of my most treasured 20-something memories.  Pansy being a couple decades our senior, but representing and showing us how it was done…even if toward the end of the night it was done on her back, waving her arms in the air on the dance floor after too many drinks and/or clove cigarettes.

Other times, I’d sit alone at the gold fish inhabited bar and drink.  Raven, one of the older drag performers would chat me up, hitting on my unreceptive ears as we watched Linda Lee obscenely tongue flick her way through performing a song whose words she was only vaguely acquainted with.  This was how I preferred to watch the show after the first time a drag queen hit on me here.  Jumping off the stage after her number and bee lining her way through the crowd of chairs right up to me to introduce herself.

That DQ was a sexy boy, turns out.  I should have set aside my own homophobia and accepted his advances.  Probably, it would have headed off some bad mojo I didn’t know was brewing for my future.

Every Pride Parade I attended in Portland passed by this Portland icon, overflowing the crowd into the street for the day, much like the scene from last night.

Sometimes, I would stop by with Black Sheep Bro, where without fail, my straight slightly younger brother would get hit on in a gay bar and I would not.  That’s fair, thanks, universe.  I chalk it up to my self-unrealized intimidating beauty.

Then there was the time I turned those tables and met a so-called straight boy whose friends had allegedly failed to show up for the evening.  I turned from the bar to face the dance floor after ordering a drink, the machine generated smoke parted and out walked Sacha.

The good old days…yeah.

Ten years later, I moved away.

Ten years later, I moved home.

Again.

Embers was still there.

Portland’s heralded gay strip – which Embers was never on – Stark Street, graphically nicknamed Vaseline Alley, had been broken up.  Now, instead of a street filled with gay bars and then Embers, way over there; Portland now had gay bars all over the inner part of the west side of town and Embers was sitting dead in the middle of them.

Literally, dead, as it came to pass.

Living now right across the Park Blocks from the bar, I’d go in there…and it just wasn’t the same.

Some familiar bartenders and staff.

The owner sitting at the end of the bar, being asocial.

Some drag queens.

But the crowd was hard to find.

An occasional crowd at a performance, but now the drag community – at least in these four walls – had become so insular as to be nearly exclusive.  It’s probably my own fault, rebuffing Raven’s advances and dissing that other boy in a dress so many years ago…this was my karma.

Latin night on Sundays.  That had a crowd! But the bar wasn’t so much a celebration of the Latin pop culture of Selena and Shakira as it was a horrifying celebration of a mariachis meets quincinera Latin culture.  Again, it felt strangely exclusive to my old white ass.

Which is too bad, because Latin men…<swoon>.  Looking at you, Wallpaper.

Pride was still an amazing experience here.  Sadly, that raucous party was just a single day in the year.

I stopped trying to catch the nostalgic night scenes from my 20s and 30s and would settle for stopping by for a happy hour drink.

I began walking on the far side of Broadway from the bar after running into a day-drunk friend stumbling out of Embers for the third time in the first six months after moving back to the hood.  Aaah, the glamor of a gay bar that opens at 11 am.

Also, running into bored daytime bartenders smoking on the street put me at too great a risk of becoming that stumbling day drunk person during my idle days.

But now that risk is gone, for better or for worse.

The neighborhood gossip mill has started in with the “here comes more ugly condos” trope, but it could be worse…the building’s decades long decay could just accelerate.

Surprisingly, the rumor mill hasn’t resurrected – as far as I know – the rumor that Silverado, one of the Vaseline Alley era bars, was moving from its exile in SW to take over the space, closer to the other gay bars.  Since it and Casey’s were the only gay bars in SW – technically, Vaseline Alley was in SW, but only by one block – now that rumor would make total sense.  This would leave Scandals as both the only gay bar of any significance in SW and the only gay bar left in the original gaybourhood…tightening the gay scene in Portland, once again.

That wouldn’t be so bad, in my opinion.

Alas, the news is reporting that the building’s owner is looking to sustain the space as part of the LGBTQI community, seeking investors from around the nation to invest some capital in the space and open a fresh gay club.

And that’s an outcome I can appreciate.

RIP Embers.  And thanks for the mEmberies.

Embers

Stupid Americans

Re-read the title of this post in a French accent.  That’s how I typed it.

Pretty much any European accent will work.

It’s a phrase that randomly trots through my head when confronted with how non-global our educational focus is as a country.

After all, how many languages do you speak?

I was confronted by this twice yesterday.  

Once, innocently on the Facebook when a friend shared a kindness of strangers travel story.  The first comment was “Threat all people with respect”.  

Obviously, meaning “treat”, right?

I got a good chuckle out of the concept of threatening someone with respect.  It was like that old dry rejoinder, “Don’t threaten me with a good time!”

Well, my comment was something about an awkward H.

The OP cautioned me that the comment was made by a French friend of hers.  That was perfect, really, since the first time I heard “Stupid Americans” go through my head was about an hour after getting off a plane in Paris.  Sacha had insisted I learn a few <ahem> key phrases on the plane. 

Whatever, it’ll help kill 10 hours…but you couldn’t insist on this before we got in the plane?  It’s not like I was gonna master French somewhere over the Atlantic.

“Puis-je avoir ma cle, sil vous plait?”, I vomited at the hotel’s front desk, attempting to ask for my – wait for it – key.

Get it?  Key phrases.

Ok.  Sorry.

“Speak English”, was the response that came with the key.

A derisively toned “Stupid Americans” is what I heard in my head.

So, now I’m trying to helpfully point out a typo to someone on Facebook that is communicating – in writing – in what is likely one of three of four languages she knows.

She gets points!

And here I am, still just a Stupid American.

Case in – ugh – point, while my original imagined occurrence of hearing “Stupid Americans” was while traveling in France, now I work in travel retail.

While giving a break at work yesterday, a young Spanish man (fans self…woo) approached me to ask how much a set of headphones cost.  He struggled.  I was just finishing up with a customer and another Manager was nearby talking to the Sales Associate returning from her break – who emigrated from Russia and frequently apologizes for her accent/English – so I asked them to help.

“I’m not sure what he wants…”

Based on his gestures and non-verbals, her confusion was understandable.

Get ready for some misplaced maternal pride, Mom.

“Cuanto questo?” I said, gesturing to the headphones.  And, no, I’m not sure at all that I spelled that correctly.  Every finger on my body reached for the Q key while typing “cuanto”.

“Si!  Si, si, si.” he replied with relief.

“Son – uh – trente dolares”, I told him while trying to remember if I could pull the old “Trente faltan uno centavo” our of my hat to communicate $29.99 instead of just telling him $30 like you can say “Seis faltan cuarto minutos” to indicate it’s a quarter to six.

Or something like that.

I couldn’t remember for the life of me, so I just ended up handing a penny back to this confused, hot Spaniard.

I walked out of the store with the other Manager and she was praising me for doing a good job with that customer.

All I heard was, “Stupid American”.  

I also shared the thought running through my head about what that scene would have been like if our broken English Russian associate had been helping the pigeon English Spaniard.

It’s pretty funny in my head, but pretty sad in reality, since one of the people is living in a country that requires her to speak a foreign language every day in order to feed herself and I could barely translate $30 from English to Spanish after taking five years of the language in High School and College.

The other guy was basically me 20 years ago, bless his little corazon.

Fine.

30 years ago.

Or, as they say in Spanish…trente.

Stupid Americans

Sex vs Intimacy Blog

What’s out there once we put sex into the right context and give it the correct priority in our lives?

What is the right context?

This is actually my oldest (surviving) draft idea.  I created it after my first few dates after moving back to Portland.  This, along with another thought exercise I was engaged in during that same timeframe on the context of people’s subtext have been on my mind again recently as I explore my openness once again to a possible relationship.

I’m gonna try and get them both out soon.  This is an interesting time for me.  You all should enjoy it along with me…or at least get a peek into my head as I expose myself to other people.

I can’t say that this topic has been “off” my mind for two years, I usually scroll through my drafts once a week or so and this is the (current) last on the list.  By the by, that list is currently 17, down from 24 in early September.  I sure hope the quality doesn’t show between these dusty old drafts and my more spontaneous pieces about – oh, say…why I can’t go get a haircut.

Besides being naturally more attenuated to the chasm between sex and intimacy now that I’ve reinstalled a men’s alleged dating app, I’ve also recently learned – through the magic of the Facebook – that The Wallpaper has paired up.

Remember The Wallpaper?

He’s a real sweetheart.  We lived together for a bit after Sacha left me and my friends had encouraged me to not be alone so much.  Obviously, a newly minted 21 year old gay was exactly what they were thinking when they suggested that.

We lost touch after I moved to Shittatle and then randomly ran into each other in a bar here in Portland 10 years later, just before I officially moved back.

We’ve been promising to get together “sometime” ever since.

It’s never happened.  Mostly, I blame myself.  

Ok, maybe I should give a little backstory:

He’s called The Wallpaper because during one – or two or three – of our random evening FB Messenger chats, he sent me a pic of his tush – or two or three – which became the wallpaper pic for my phone’s lock screen.

It’s an insanely cute tush.

So, that probably gives you a little insight into the direction some of those Messenger conversations careened.  For the most part, they were innocent enough, but poorly timed, “let’s get some wine” conversations that never manifested.  The others…well, someone had an itch he needed help scratching.

I wasn’t not flattered.

But I was my open and honest self and told him that I wasn’t looking for anything casual…especially with someone I call a friend.  For me, sex and friendship are on two opposite sides of the intimacy line.

On the other side of the conversation, he wasn’t not looking to date – obviously, hehe – but he’d never dated an older guy before.

He was referring to me.

Or at least the 16-ish year age difference between us.  A legitimate hesitation on his part, as that difference is about 50% of his entire life.

I was his MoPed.  A lot of fun to ride, but he wouldn’t want his friend to see him on one.

Ironically, The Wallpaper has a motorcycle, so that MoPed analogy works on many levels.

I don’t know if he got what he wanted elsewhere in those instances, but I know he’s found what he needed in a boyfriend.  I can’t be anything but happy for him, good guys deserve good guys…that check the right boxes for them.  I’m excited to watch their journey from the relative distance of the Facebook.

But he’s unique in his situational need for sex.  He was tapping his pool of acquaintances – at least in my case – in his search for getting himself…tapped.  I wouldn’t do that, but I do understand the relative safety that provides over the insecurity of seeing someone’s picture on an app and going to a stranger’s house for a bit of the old naughty.

That’s a funny meme, but not so funny when contrasted with the real life story of the two guys who lured five men to their deaths back east over this past summer using…gay dating apps.  

Talk about asocial media.  They escalated the dysfunction of those social media apps by a magnitude or two.

In the end, I’m glad The Wallpaper has found the ultimate security of the sure thing a relationship provides.  Plus, it’s so much more fulfilling than an anonymous hook up.

Ok, sure…I say “sure thing” knowing that couples have to put some work into syncing up their respective sex drives and/or schedules when it comes to <ahem> coming.  But it’s less work than trolling for random dick or ass on these timesuck dating apps.  I’d rather think that successfully hooking up in one of those situations is like playing the Lottery of Lust.

Does he appeal to you.

Are you sexually compatible.

Is he even available.

While relationship sex might be an equal – if not decidedly different – amount of effort, in the meantime, you have genuine intimacy.  

That’s amazingly valuable, in my opinion.  And undervalued these days.  It’s not that there’s not some degree of intimacy in a hook up, it’s just illegitimate intimacy.  Well, that’s kinda judgy sounding.  It’s at least forced.

Intimate strangers.

Is that a thing?

Should it be?

Maybe it’s my religious upbringing, but I don’t think it should be.  Actually, I think it’s more that I doubt it actually is.

Maybe that missing intimacy is what’s actually creating this culture of Lost Boys that is running amok in gay America.

Is being held by a stranger – whether strictly as a cuddle date (don’t get me started on that bullshit) or after a hookup – a real enough intimate contact to meet our messy human emotional needs?

I know people are loathe to consider themselves needy, but I think intimacy is as important to people as food and water.  It’s probably just as crazy to deny that reality as it is to deny our need for shelter.

Yet people do.

People replace intimacy with sex and settle for whatever false intimacy they can get while cuddling afterward while not acknowledging that they don’t even know if they know this guy’s actual name.

Or pretending they aren’t judging the cleanliness of his bedroom and wondering if he washes his sheets regularly.

Because that’s intimate.

Well, anyway…at least another human is touching you.  Maybe even telling you that you were “good”.

If not intimate, at least it’s validating…

Ok, I have to go be grumpy now.

Sex vs Intimacy Blog

Celebrity Sighting

A couple months back, I was looking at one of my associate’s phones while she gushed about Carnie Wilson and Enrico Colantoni having come through her store at PDX.  What had really set her gushing was that Carnie had apparently come back through a few weeks after her selfie-session and remembered my associate.

I could see that being kinda exciting for one of us Normies.

Then Fred Armisen wandered through her store being his low-key, awkward self.  He left without making eye contact, buying anything or being recognized by my star struck employee.

Cue inward laughter.

Seriously, how did she recognize someone as obscure as Enrico Colantoni and not one of the stars of the show named for and filmed in the town she lives in?

Oh, well.

I didn’t have the heart to tell her.

But, championship timing, Universe.  Really, well done! 

Later that week, my parents took me out to lunch to enjoy the last hurrah of Summer.  Well, it could have been the last hurrah.  Turns out, it wasn’t.  In these parts, though, Summer is kinda like a virgin’s erection:  it could finish up without warning.

So, there we were, Mom, Dad, me.  Their dog, Buddy…sitting outside enjoying lunch.

I always enjoy my lunch visits with the parentals.  Even more so when Gus Van Sant is sitting over their shoulders.

It got me thinking about the game Black Sheep Bro and I would play when we went out drinking with our respective mates of the moment.  He was living with one of my employees from Linens ‘N Things – Jackie Jackass – and I was with <gulp> Sacha.

JJ was the one who introduced the game.  She was also – is! – this amazingly vivacious person.  There is basically sunlight pouring out of her eyes.  She also has an amazing ability to connect with people and bond groups of fairly disparate backgrounds.

Me, because of our mutual workplace connection.

Sacha, through their shared creative passion.

Black Sheep Bro…I don’t know what it was. Maybe she has a thing for guys with small johnsons who don’t take too long.  Who knows?

Since Jax suggested it, we were all pretty much game for the game.  She has a gift for making everything sound like a good time.

If she suggested a theme park based on awkward medical procedures, I’ve no doubt that she’d find investors.  

“Let’s get another Colonoscopy!”  Can you imagine the souvenir shop?

And then – poof! – we were playing Celebrity Sighting.

Simple rules:  do nothing but what you’d normally do, in our case that’s chat incessantly and drink obsessively, and when someone with the slightest resemblance to a celebrity crosses your field of vision, mutter “celebrity sighting” and state your case.  I think this is where I developed my ability to resist looking around like a crazy person when someone says, “Don’t look now…”

<Glares at Silver Fox>

Anyway, we had an uproariously good time with this little game.

Everything from <insert ethnicity here> Yul Brynner whenever a bald guy with any minimal degree of sex appeal walked by to Paddignton Bear if someone crossed our paths wearing a yellow hat or blue wool coat.

The more ADHD you are, the more successful you will be at this game.

Oh, and there’s no score keeping.  Your efforts either earn you a “No way, not even close!” type comment or your entry was the best one ever.  

There was really no in between.

And it seemed so familiar.  I didn’t discount the possibility that Jackie Jackass had been exposed to this through some other channel, nor did I find it outside the realm of possibility that she just made it up and living in LA had made it all feel familiar.

How can you ever really know?

Of course, when I saw the movie Kiss, Kiss. Bang, Bang I immediately thought “Native American Joe Pesci” was comic genius.

I didn’t immediately assume that Jax had riffed on the game from this movie, either.  The movie came out well after she introduced us to her version of this game.

Plus, if we made a celebrity behavioral mannerisms version of this game, she’s easily a frenetic personality match for the movie’s star, Robert Downey, Jr. so if she had stolen it from the movie…meh.  Whatever.  That didn’t happen.

The game has just been around.

Shortly thereafter, I saw this Facebook post and was reminded of the time I was getting my haircut at my Stephen’s Salon in Long Beach.  As I’m leaving, I’m walking backwards-ish talking to my stylist as I leave and turn around and run right into the wall known as Dolph Lundgren.

I have too many similar run-into stories like that to credibly deny that I’m not a celebrity hazard.  I bet the union distributes “How to Avoid Galby Injuries” pamphlets like my employers distribute flyers about avoiding Slips, Trips and Falls.

When I was working at FAO Schwarz in the Beverly Center, I came out of the stockroom, finishing a conversation over my shoulder while going through the door.  Stepping on Sally Field as I exited.

She’s so tiny.

Strangely, another time heading into Stephen’s Salon, I was running late and weaving through the courtyard crowd.  Unfortunately for her, Chaka Khan ended up being an unseen obstacle in my path.  Fortunately for me, I didn’t knock her over.

Not all the way, at any rate.  She’s kinda built like a weeble, as it turns out.

My first serious normal boyfriend took me on a date to a comedy show.  It turned out to be a filming of a VH-1 comedy show called Stand Up Spotlight, starting one Ms Rosie O’Donnell.

I don’t remember much about the show, itself…it was – god – almost 30 years ago!

I have to go be old now.  Bye.

I guess that means that I’ve had this t-shirt hanging in my closet for close to 30 years, then.

Now I’m depressed.  That whole time of my life was so sweet and innocent.  I hadn’t yet learned how to be jaded and embittered about my past.  And the few years prior had been a collectively hellacious learning experience.

Ok…more better memories.

I ran into Gordon Sumner – better known as Sting – many times while I lived in LA.  Of course, I’d seen him perform live a couple dozen times, so running into him was somewhat organic.  Have you ever heard the urban legend about the guy that fell off of his bench while eating ice cream in Palm Springs and landed on Sting?  

That wasn’t me.  I doubt it really happened. Total urban legend.

Sacha and I went to Europe a few times during our relationship.  On one trip, I think it was Amsterdam-Paris-Monte Carlo but my memory gets our trip legs confused, but one of us popped off with a Macy Gray non-sequitur that had us both Holy-Shit-Best One Ever-ing.

Except

It was her.

That morphed into us seeing posters for her shows in every town we visited, vis-a-vis, Macy Gray stalked us through Europe.

Ok, jumping around in time, now…

For no reason, D-Slice invited me to go see Elvira, Mistress of the Dark one year after we had both moved into the same adult dorm.  The invite was for no apparent reason, that is.  The reason to go see Elvira is obvious: she’s awesome with a side of awesome.

She was screening her campy self-titled movie, which has the added bonus of containing one of my favorite movie lines ever.

Let me set the scene:

She’s helping her all-American boyfriend (she has an all-American BF, there’s hope for me yet) set the marquee at his movie house.  She’s up on a ladder and reaches down to get a letter from him, hitting her head on the marquee as she stands back up and falling off the ladder.

Classic Slip, Trip, Fall scenario, right there.

Anyway, she falls in dramatic, B-movie slow motion before being heroically caught in the arms of her boyfriend…

BF:  (concerned) How’s your head?

Elvira:  (discombobulated) I haven’t had any complaints.

<and…scene>

I’ve got this blog-entry placeholder just called Thomas.  It’s about a guy I worked with at Linens ‘N Things in Houston.  Maybe I’ll put some legs on that before my Staycation ends.  Who knows?

Anyhoo…also during my time in Houston being a busy worker bee for LNT, I was lucky enough to run – not literally, for once – into Mary Lou Retton while she shopped.  Good lord.  Have you ever heard the idiom/career advice about finding a career that matches your personality?  Yeah, MLR did that, for sure.  What a dynamic personality that lil dynamo had.

Plus, she makes Sally Field look like a giantess.

Speaking of giants – and monsters – Barbara Bush, Sr shopped at that same store.  The first time she was in, while everyone else hid behind drapery displays peeking out at her as she <gasp!> shopped just like a Normie, I got to reluctantly assist her with a tablecloth.

Me:  What size cloth do you need?

BB:  90”.

Me:  Ok, here you go, sweet cheeks.  (That last part is just editorial)

BB:  No, that’s not big enough!  I want it hang to the ground!

Don’t we all, sister?  But that’s not really practical now, is it?

Me:  Ok, well that’s gonna be a custom size, you know.  This cloth will only have about a 12” drop, depending on the actual diameter of the table.  

BB:  (getting agitated) I told you…it’s a 90” table!

Jesus.  She has a literal 90” dining table.

Me:  Oh, well…like I said, that’s gonna be a custom job.  Normal people don’t have tables that big.

Let alone, somewhere to put them.  I’d bet the dining rooms in most homes aren’t even 8’ across.  I’d also bet most wallets wouldn’t afford a 120” diameter tablecloth, nor the table it would go on, let alone the house that has a big enough room for it.

But that didn’t stop this Houston Home Girl from being butt hurt and side-eying me like I didn’t know what she was talking about as she walked off.

At least I didn’t knock her over.

Accidentally.

The next time she came in, I was busy doing busy manager stuff and didn’t see her until she was checking out,  I walked by the register just as my associate was gushing, “Mrs Bush, I just want you to know that my husband and I would take a bullet for you!”

Barf.

Like a bullet would dare even try to mess with Babs.

She saw me walking by as she ripped the check from her book and gave me an impressively withering look.  She’d been working on her side-eye game in her retirement,

That same associate later bought the Former First Lady’s check as a memento.

What the actual fuck is it about celebrities?

I think I prefer Jackie Jackass’ game much more than real life celebrity experiences.  Luckily, Portland provides plenty of opportunities to play Celebrity Sighting.

Even if I’m only playing with myself these days.  You’re welcome, Diezel.

There’s this David Ogden Stiers lookalike that rides his Segway through the Pearl.

The Fox and I see him during our morning coffee excursions and occasionally later in the day while we hang out at Thelonius Wines.  He’s a character, I can tell by the way he corners on that Segway like he just doesn’t give a fuck.

“What are you gonna do, Mail-Truck-I-Just-Cut-Off, hit me?”  If he had a free hand, I’m sure it would be sporting a one-fingered salute.

It’s a nice surprise to see my David Ogden Stiers Celebrity Sighting while we sip wine. The proprietress and The Fox like talking all things Game of Thrones during her downtime.  The Silver Fox is just happy to talk to someone that likes the show and understands what the hell he’s talking about.  He also loves that she casually let slip that she used to go to Bonetown with one of the stars.  

While that led an extra layer of amusement to this screenshot that I’d sent to The Fox

I’m still just not a fan of the show, and without my wreckless segway commuting David Ogden Stiers doppelgänger, I’m stuck with only a skateboarding Captain Jack Sparrow to entertain myself with during their conversations.

Now, that’s quite a Celebrity Sighting in itself, but if I spend too long thinking about him, I can easily talk myself into believing the person behind the celebrity caricature could easily have some of the less amusing pirate traits…

So, I don’t.

Ok, I’ve gotta go.  There’s a t-shirt I need to put up for sale on eBay…

Celebrity Sighting

Staycation

Admittedly, this is not as exciting or fulfilling as my August vacation with the family.  To be honest, this vacation is the result of my testing the new vacation request system at work so I knew how it worked.

But, The Boss approved it…so, Bob’s your uncle.

Speaking of uncles, mine flew in on Wednesday from Houston.  Coming to Oregon from Texas for some dry weather, I reckon.  I didn’t get to see him when he landed because I had a meeting that ran long.  I’m not entirely sure when I will see him, actually!  Mom-Donna threw out a few weekend ideas for get togethers, but I had commitments both days and had to pass.

Of course, both things fell through, because this is my life…where the Galby Effect originated.

So, here I sit.  Balancing bursts of housebitch activity on this vacation Saturday with bouts of couch surfing…and now WordPressing.

Couch Surfing round 1 was Miss Congeniality.

I’ve got Miss Congeniality queued up and ready to watch, but I’m not quite ready to commit to that…yet.

Which means, a lil vacay update for you all instead of finishing one of my two dozen blog drafts.  

It’s my vacation…rhymes with procrastination.

Let’s not pretend that’s a surprising development.

Let’s see.  My vacation started after a six day stretch at work, which ended only an hour later than I projected.  Good thing, too.  That gave me just enough time to get home, change and let The Silver Fox cajole me into an inaugural vacation beer before the hotel tour I had arranged to see the guest facilities of the new hotel next door.

I’d see the bar, that’s for sure.  Besides serving one of the best Oregon beers – Breakside IPA – Turner Creek Tavern also offers up some pretty tasty morsels.

Some of them are even on the menu,

But after watching my view over the last 18 months go from this

To this

To this

And, finally…this

I felt like a view from their rooftop patio was in order.

Plus, The Fox has a great nephew that is going to PSU and he’d love to have the boy’s parents stay so close by when they visit.

You could say that our recent twice weekly and now this tour was recon.

It was a good start to my work break.  It’ll be my last break until probably March/April next year.  I’m hoarding the last two weeks and rolling them over into 2018.  I’m not sure I’ll stay in my present job later than that – it’s frustratingly dysfunctional and I simply don’t earn enough money to secure my financial present and future on my salary.  So, if I leave within that timeframe, I’ll have four or five weeks of vacation time – and hopefully a bonus – to take with me when I leave.

Anyhoo.

A few days before my vacation started, I’d told The Fox that I had been thinking maybe I should date again.

If you ask him, he might tell you I was trying to kill him by saying that to him.  But, it’s about time.

After Sacha left me on our “seventh” anniversary (it was our sixth) I was alone for six years before meeting Rib.  He and I were together for four.  I released him back into the wilds of Capital Hill three and a half years ago, so…math.

Math says that it’s time.  My process is complete.

Actually, when I broke up with Rib, I did so with full cognizance of the fact that it might have been a reasonable assumption that he’d be my last boyfriend.  I’m gonna be 50 in a few months.

Maybe – definitely – I was past my gay expiration date.

But that’s another blog.

Maybe.

Having said the words out loud, I wasn’t surprised to find myself attracted to the guy giving us the hotel tour.  What did kind of surprise me was that in my thank you email, I gave him my phone number and offered to take him out for a beer.

That also afforded me the opportunity to creep myself out, since I’d basically hit on him at work…breaking my dating rule about hitting on guys in their work place.  Obviously, that’s what Missed Connections are for!  

Sure, it was just an email and a fairly innocuous one, at that.  It’s not like I told him I wanted to put my Tab D into his Slot B. 

It’s just a beer.

And he’s new in town and said he loved IPAs.

Speaking of dating rules – well, this is more relationship advice – get one that’s new in town.  Especially small towns like Shittatle and PDX.  Less cross-pollination.

Unless his boyfriend followed him to Oregon.  But I’m pretty sure that only happened to him because he and I would eventually cross paths, share an attraction and this is my life.

Of course he’s going to be in anunfilfilling relationship.  Because that’s what could possibly go wrong.

But, we’ll still have a beer.

It’s not like I have anything else to do this weekend since I’m on vacation, my weekend plans fell through and The Fox is out of town.

I can’t watch Netflix the entire weekend!

But, I can go do my recycling and then hit the sofa for round two of couch surfing for today.

I am going to potato my couch so hard…

Staycation

Farewell, Summer

Yesterday was the first day of Fall.  It certainly showed here in the PNW, too, all cool, gray and drizzly.

Wonderful!

Another reminder of how pecadelicious – Chrisism- my body is.  With my AC set at 70 in the Summer, I’m comfortable.  With my heat set at 70 in the winter, I’m freezing.

However, I was reminded as I noted the change of seasons that I never shared my vacation story, and it’s been a month.

It’s funny, I’m about to step into my sixth decade – ok, stumble or possibly stagger – but I can still be the bratty kid that complains to my parents that we haven’t had a family vacation forever.

I really rather rely on my elder and only sister for this type of stuff.  Her three younger brothers are borderline loners – at best.  Once Mom-Donna officially retires from her holding-the-family-together duties, the mantle will be hers to wear.  Mom has tried a few slow steps back from her matriarchal role, but still steps back in with statements of the, “I’d like to host one more holiday while I still can” type.  

She’s such a Prince Philip sometimes.

The result of my mild tantrum, nevertheless, was the parental gift of a summertime family vacation this past Christmas.

Finally, after a long break we were getting the Galby clan back together again in Central Oregon’s high desert retreat, Sunriver.

It’s always fun.

Always.

We’re together under one roof again, yet still free to pursue whatever we want throughout the day, coming together each night for dinner as a group.  Everyone takes a night of cooking duties, which is enjoyable for everyone.  Dad’s night – being the patriarch – is hosting dinner out at a restaurant.  The ‘Phew, as the youngest on the other hand, dips into his hard earned Birthday and possibly allowance fundage to treat us all to pizza delivery on the night of our arrival.

It’s a good ritual.  Plus, it provides me a chance to cook for people, which seldom happens outside of MNSC.

It just occurred to me that the last couple of family get togethers in the desert have proved near – or actually – fatal.

The last trip out for a Christmas getaway a couple years back was interrupted by a Christmas phone call from my ex, Sacha to tell me he had colon cancer…a story for another time.  Maybe.

That Christmas holiday was – more importantly to me – also marred with our family’s collective concern for dad, who had recently had a coronary procedure after which he wasn’t feeling well.

The trip before that was Rib’s first family vacation.  This was maybe five years ago?  Before the pizza even arrived, we were booking a flight for him to ABQ to attend his grandmother’ funeral.  Enviably, as I tap this out in a coffee house, he is with his new beau and family at Munich’s Oktoberfest.​

​I love that this video he sent me of his family vacation was so timely as I reminisced about mine.

Beyond those recent vacation danger moments, I’d say our other vacations were reasonably trauma free.  

Well

There was the Bike Ride Incident and The Nose Hair Situation, both of which I blame exclusively on my Black Sheep Brother.  Only one of which is near funny.  Black Sheep Bro and I went trail riding with the ‘Phew, I think he was still aged in single digits at the time.  We were having a blast leading him through the trails with a vague goal of finding a path to the ever elusive Benham Falls when he just barely nicked a fallen log that had been cut through to preserve the bike trail’s passability.

He.

Went.

Flying.Poor kid.  Right into a tree.

Little fucker scared the hell out of me and BSB before walking it off.

Talk about a dodged bullet.  I thought for sure my only nephew – at the time – was going to spend the rest of his Halloweens dressed as Stephen Hawking.

Things have changed since then.

I’d sent my bike home with mom and dad the week before after they came to town for a lunch date.  Er, doctor’s appointment.  When they picked me up, all I had to do was show up on the curb with my suitcase.

And a case of wine.

That’s a good change, in my opinion!  My sister had put in a request for some of that good stuff I’m always going out to Hood River for, so I took two bottles each from two of my favorite wineries out there.  I was reserving those for my night of cooking.  But since it’s also Summer, I rounded out my case with eight bottles of Rose.

My parents clucked their tongues at my “extra” baggage.  Not only because their car was also full of their bags, food for the week and doggie travel needs, but also because they had also brought a case of wine.

Great minds…meet the Galby clan!

We made it all fit.

Plus, a growler I’d gotten at 2.0 and Little Buddy’s wedding the day before.

And a huge watermelon The Silver Fox had gifted us.

As we made off on our way, I rationalized two cases of wine being barely enough if even four of the six legal drinkers partook with any regularity.  Really, that’s an easy three bottles a night, closer to four.

Five.  Five a night, tops.

As I mentioned, we all still take our bikes, but only my sister’s family unit rode together.  I put in daily rides, except for arrival and departure days.  It was good.  I’d spent the prior couple of weeks in spin class to trim up a bit.  But nothing prepared my ass for 15-20 mile rides in the saddle of a real bike.  My butt was less bun, more hamburger by the time I left.  But a nice 60+ mile four day stretch was good for me.  

After a successful jump start in spin, with minimal discomfort to my never-healing knee, I had aspirations of riding to the top of the Cinder Dome of the mega-volcano Newberry Crater.  Once the hills hit “straight up” status, my knee straight up refused.

Oh, well.  I still got plenty of exercise and just enough sun, even without the view from the top of the dome.

For my brother’s part, he pedaled to the store one evening, only to return grumpy or confused.  Hard to say.  He was all disturbed at how everyone he passed greeted him.  

I told you…loners.

Anyway, I’d noticed it on my rides. too.  It hadn’t bothered me, though.  I enjoy the social nicety of greeting passersby.  I was more interested in the range of greeting; from the apex vocal salutation to this:which was kind of a very minimal entry.  It was also an indictment for the homogenized environment we were spending the week in.  The darkest skin in this high desert mecca was simply overexposed and under sun screened.

This was the first time we didn’t – not a single one of us, let alone the group – spend time laying about at the pool.  There was a sister’s family rafting trip and a brother and nephew kayaking excursion, otherwise it was fairly pedestrian adventures.  Shopping in Sunriver or heading into Bend for some…shopping.

My sister and brother-in-law took the ‘Phew to look at COCC – that’s for you, Diezel.  He was considering Central Oregon Community Colkege for his first two years, but came back ambivalent.

I cannot believe I’m days away from having an 18 year old nephew!

While they were doing campus tours, the rest of us took off for the High Desert Museum.  Quite a way to spend an afternoon, with some self-improvement undertones.  It’s a nice mix of self-guided educational exhibits and nature path wanderings.

There were way more pics taken than I can comfortably squeeze into my humble blog post, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t throw something in just for Diezel’s enjoyment, so he knows he’s never too far from my thoughts.

So, enjoy, my friend and chosen family member!

Just to shake it up, no humans died or had close calls this time around.  But Buddy, my parent’s dog decided to give us all a scare, with a late day trip to the vet.  The local Sunriver vet wasn’t equipped to handle his situation and escalated him to Bend, 20 miles away.  This resulted in a doped up doggie and my parents enjoying my carbonara reheated.

But, in spite of the changes, the important things remain…

Each of us, being there, for one.  It was touch and go for me.  Mom and dad had picked a seemingly random week in August, the month that usually works for all of us.  Little did we know that we’d signed on for the biggest travel debacle in Oregon highway history: the 2017 eclipse.  

With the increase in tourists traveling in and me working at the airport, I was fairly certain I’d be asked to cancel my vacation.  The request was just to be back for the two days prior as people landed and one million tourists and 27,000 rental cars hit the road.

I was more than willing to fly back instead of risk the road trip…ODOT was tactfully suggesting that people take not only plenty of water for their travel, but also relief vessels, if you get my drift.

I don’t want to be that close to my family.  Hello, Alaska Airlines!

In addition to being there, also the food!

I think cooking for people is the simplest way to show love.  It’s demonstratively caring for them by providing sustenance.  Sharing stories and time over the table.  Figuratively or literally breaking bread together…there is – to me – no better way to illustrate family.

And every night, there we were…gathered at the table celebrating our bond.

Not a bad Christmas gift, parentals…thank you!

Farewell, Summer