I Had an Idea On My Way to a Tiny House Warming

107-ish weeks ago, I posted an entry about a party that I’d been invited to and to which, I had actually gone. What was unique about it was that it was an invite from someone outside my inner circle, so my comfort was not necessarily assured.

This party was part of the impetus for my writing project that year. I called it #TheYesGame and the goal was…well, fairly obvious.

Well, I’m proud (?) to say that yesterday, I said yes again! While I’m sure there were additional moments of success in The Yes Game in the intervening 107 weeks, I’m still a grumpy old man at heart. What that means is that my reply to an invitation is more likely to be “maybe” versus “fuck, yeah”.

Still, yesterday’s party in question wasn’t too risky compared to the Garden Party of 2016. Back then, I only knew the host, not any guests. As a matter of fact, I really only knew the host as a service provider…he was my hair guy. I was confused about whether he was inviting me as a date or simply a guest. My confusion was enhanced because I really wanted to coitus him like a white guy.

None of these factors was in play yesterday.

The hosts yesterday are known to me through my inner circle friends. I guess that makes them second ring friends, right outside my Chosen Family. So, I really like them. Additionally, without confirming with any of our mutual friends, I had a high degree of certainty that I’d run into someone I know at the party besides the hosts.

That didn’t happen, but just like in the Garden Party of ’16, I had a really good time!

In both cases, I was able to find people to chat with and just be sociable. Plus, I got to see the hosts’ new Tiny House, which was the whole purpose of their party.

One thing that was different and surprising this time around was the getting there. Proverbial wisdom suggests that it’s half of the actual fun, right?

Well, yesterday I had to choose a means of getting there. Since it was hotter than Hades yesterday, I chose Uber over the bus.

The hosts aren’t MAX adjacent, so I didn’t have the option of taking a train. On a really hot day, I can tolerate a train…buses, though are kind of ugh on a normal day.

Anyway, as I’m wont to do in most situations, I just started chatting with the driver. Well, it’s that or attaching my face to my phone for the duration.

It’s my experience that most Uber drivers drive part-time as a means of supplementing their income. Yesterday, I had an Uber Unicorn – a full-time driver!

He went on to say that if anyone ever did an Uber Driver Reality Series, he was going to be on it.

…and, my imagination was off to the races.

I started with suggesting that the series could follow a Real Housewives type format, but that my preference would be to have more of a Portlandia vibe to the production.

Sure, it would be cool to give these featured drivers a communal garage and/or living space. But that latter feature feels kinda Real World-y. The Pacific Northwest hadn’t really embraced those types of shows in the past, though.

Additionally, Uber’s vehicle standards is kind of elitist, but only inasmuch as they want to protect the value of the experience their service provides. That standard lends credence to more of a Real Housewives-type luxury. Again, not very PNW-y.

For those reasons of exclusion, my gut said a Portland based reality show would have to come from a more quirky concept.

So, we’re back to Portlandia.

Obviously we’re gonna have to design our own app. The benefit there is that you can work in the usage waiver for appearing on camera to the Terms and Conditions.

No blurry faces on my show!

The point of the app is the same, basically. My vehicle standards would just be appropriately Portland-ized. Less this

More this

Imagine finishing up with your date, a great dinner or show or what have you and opening up the Uber app only to find it’s surge pricing.

Screw that!

What better reason do you need to open up the Portland version and get a ride? Sure, you’ll be on TV – and probably a lil buzzed – but you won’t get gouged by da man.

Then this guy pulls up

That would make for an interesting ride home.

The next day you could ask yourself, “Did I not get any because I’m cheap or because I traumatized my date by making her get into that car?!?”

But the real twist on my program wouldn’t be weird cars. It would be alternative transportation.

Maybe even a power share vehicle…our own version of a fare split.

We are kinda famous for our weird means of getting around. Electric Scooter shares just launched in town. We’ve got BikeTown stations all over the place. Segue commuters are as common as our Segue Tour service.

The person skateboarding down the street is equally likely to be a 50-something as they are to be wearing a wedding dress. I’m just saying we take it to its next illogical incarnation with a ride share app that is distinctly us.

Of course, there’s only a couple of options for moderators that come to mind. It’s got to be either our controversial and quirky former mayor

Or this guy

Obviously.

Because, like I said earlier, getting there is half the fun!

So…anybody know Andy Cohen? Hook me up.

I Had an Idea On My Way to a Tiny House Warming

2018 Writing Self Challenge

I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions.

I mean, right?

But I was aware of the fact as I wrote Fitfy 49:49 that my 2017 theme was quickly winding down.  I’ll probably only post once more in that theme.

So, what now?

I thought about resurrecting The Yes Game from 2016.  It was a little underutilized in its time, but I worried slightly that it would open a Pandora’s Box of fuckery for me.  I have enough readers that know me personally that I could see people basically daring me to do things and invoking TYG if I blinked.

Like I need my friends throwing me foolishness like this to try to manipulate me.

Hashtag: try it

So, I’m leaning toward something fresh.

What are your thoughts on a theme that extrapolates on my $20 first date rule?  

Maybe I could commit to 12 entries over the year…I bet I could trick a dozen people into keeping their clothes on the first time we meet.  On the one hand, it kind of skews toward relationship failure in 2018, presuming I won’t have a lot of second or third dates this year.   

But on the other hand, you know I was going to write about them anyway, so it’s kind of a gimme.

Twenty-eighteen started with an ingrown toenail and what I’m imagining must be a hemorrhoid, why not embrace the pain and write about my datesasters?  I’ve kicked around a couple of theme names:

Dating Into Oblivion, which is a subtle play off “fading into oblivion”.  I think dating in what I’m going to consider a second run through my 40s – call it a reboot – could easily be seen to have a lovely view of an apocalypse.

Fruitless was my other thought on the theme.  Because: Gay + Old + Single = Fruitless

The last reason I’m liking this idea is because after taking a pass at NaNoWriMo last year, having 10-plus 2000 word essays on first dates sets me well upon my way toward that 50000 word NaNoWriMo goal.  I’m thinking 30000 words would leave just enough room to provide any potentially necessary debriefing about those elusive second dates.  Most likely debriefings in their own right, right?

Who’s got a thought on this?  

Bueller?  

Bueller?

2018 Writing Self Challenge

My First Sound Check

You’d think at my age, I’d have done just about everything I ever wanted to do at least once.

Not so, my friend.  Not so…

For instance, I’d never been to a sound check for a live show before.

Sure, as a baby queer in high school, I had been in choir and drama club, watching judgmentally as the unbeloved tech folk set up their lights and sound.

Yeah, when I was in college and exploring the fraternity option, I day drank shit keg beer and blurrily watched as Otis Day and the Knights phoned in their pre-show prep at the Pike House.  Hey, it was a kegger-cum-concert.  I was more interested in figuring out if I could pass in a fraternity at KSU without getting the shit kicked out of me and disappearing sometime mid-rush week at the time than in the pre-show goings on of that band from Animal House.  Naturally, my focus was stretched as I further divided my attention by lustily considering my potential frat brothers and fellow pledges…yeah, I was gonna end up dead.

Nonetheless, I ended up seeing Otis Day scream into the mic a few times prior to the show, but it wasn’t a super complex sound system we were dealing with.  It was the backyard deck of a frat house, after all.

So, when my bestie-neighbor from Seattle called me and invited me to a show that one of her bands was doing here in town, I was in.

D-Slice and I possibly share a single liver.  Or were both cloned from the same one…they’re doing that, you know.  There’s a reason I don’t look like my brothers and sister!

As a human, she’s top notch.  As a neighbor, she’s kinda like a Julie McCoy.  I first met her when our apartment-turned-condo opened and several of us first wave residents moved in simultaneously as the housing market verged on its infamous 2008 crash…effectively stranding us all in a partially sold 146 unit building.

I would bet that there were only about 60 units occupied during those early years.  If I had a better – less muddled – memory, I could be more specific.  Alas…

Yet, this small group of us housing market castaways bonded.

What began as drinks in the community room, or the laundry room – usually bemoaning the fact that the sales office promise of a roof top deck had not yet become a reality – between a few dozen regulars evolved into progressive parties, moving from one unit to another on a host floor.  D-Slice upped this game by going private.  She resurrected a past event of hers that she called Free Drink Friday from a former residence…perhaps a college dorm, who knows?  What I do know is that the rules were pretty simple:  she starts us off with a few bottles of wine, some beer and/or whatever randomly occurring bottles of liquor she has in her unit (shut up, Diezel) and maybe some light snacks or a pizza or two.  Attendees can BYOB if they are so inclined or just show up and suckle off the provided well.  The party would go until quiet hours kicked in or the booze ran out.

Easy-peasy.

D-Slice, being a kindred spirit – key word:  spirit – was not one to let quiet hours stand in the way of a good time.  A few of us cooler neighbors would stick around and bat clean up after everyone else left.  With the booze, not the actual clean up, fuck that.

During one of these late nights, as D-Slice and I were the sole stragglers, we realized the booze-fueled brilliance of our drunken wit and wisdom deserved an audience.  Just like that, the Podcast was born.

Not the actual podcast phenomenon.

I assure you, we are not responsible for the low key craze of data-plan-eating streaming talk shows, no.  Our Podcast was pretty much just code for us hanging out, drinking and chatting.  Occasionally, we’d invite another friend or neighbor and call them a special guest.  Others, one of us would call a special session Podcast to debrief a specific situation or, more likely, shituation.

More often than not, my favorite part of our Podcast was its inevitable end.  Not because I yearned for the finish…no, it was the finale itself.  What I came to call Flooraoke.

I’m sure you can figure it out.

But at some point, we’d add in some music to the mix of our easy conversation and as the evening wore on and we became slightly worse – or better, depending on your criteria – for the booze, the focus on the conversation would wane and the attention to the music would take center stage.  Center floor, at any rate.  I’m no singer, but D-Slice has put out a few independent CDs and been a part of several bands since I’ve known her.  As gravity pulled us toward its inevitable victory, I would end up slumped in a chair while D-Slice put up more of a fight and ended up heroically sprawled on the floor in her ignominy.

Then, the magic would happen.

Some song would just spark her fire and she was zoned and in her zone, singing toward a gloriously undignified slumber.  After a few songs, I would make my own way home to bed, warmed with the already slipping away memories of the past several hours.

It is an amazing memory, these Poscast sessions.

So, hitting her show in Portland was a no-brainer.

Initially, I’d been worried about the show keeping me up past my bedtime for my early morning work alarm.  Turns out, the disclaimer that I might not stay for the whole show was unnecessary.  It was an afternoon show with the Heart Shaped Boxes.

Nonetheless, my disclaimer about leaving early had set the pre-funk ball in motion.  No need to derail that plan simply because the show was starting earlier.  In true rock star fashion, we just started drinking earlier…which is how I came to be at her sound check.  

I hopped out of my Uber on the corner of the block that the bar she was performing at was in and walked back to the door.  There, I was met by a heavy metal David Cross type guy.

But, once inside, the bar proved to be a pretty small collection of nice staff members with properly spelled tattoos.  Not  a bad place to spend a Saturday afternoon.

I was introduced to the other Boxes, all of whom I knew from the Facebook, D-Slice had met them all through a rock camp for girls where they were all camp counselors.  

Ok, it’s cooler than that makes it sound.  It’s called Rain City Rock Camp, if you’re so inclined google them and maybe donate.

Other than the HSBs and the staff, the bar was empty, save for a lone young man with the long, straight hair and basic black jeans and tee metal dude dress code.  He was sitting on a table, facing the back of the bar, doing some finger work on his guitar to warm up.  I assumed he was with the opening act, and said as much to D-Slice.  She said she wasn’t sure, she hadn’t been involved in the booking, she just went where she was told to be when she was told to be there.

Not a bad gig.

It was then that she excused herself for her sound check work and the metal dude turned on his table so that he was facing me.  D-Slice said I should go say hi and buy him a beer before leaving me to sip on my own.  We both knew I wasn’t going anywhere.

I sipped and watched each band member go through the mic checks and other asundry settings as each coordinated not only how their equipment sounded but also gave feedback on how the rest of the band sounded to them…which is important, although I’d never given it a thought.  In retrospect, it probably explained a lot about some of the shittier live shows I’d been to.

Meanwhile, metal dude sat across the bar from me, giving me deadeye while mutely jamming on his tabletop perch.

Other patrons started filtering in for the show.  Prudently, I ordered another beer before it got crowded.

I was meeting other musicians that knew D-Slice from the time she’d spent collaborating with the Portland version of the girl’s rock camp.  Apparently, this show was a fundraiser for them.  

I briefly felt bad about getting my cover comped by D-Slice. It passed…I mean, really, how often do you get to say, “I’m with the band” when you’re me?

I was surprised to look across the bar and see one of my high school classmates.

I joke.

That fella belonged to one of D-Slice’s band mates, who is also in two bands. Her name is TRex, hence the mascot that travels with her.  This other band of hers, Shower Scum, did a tribute song to The Donald.  Don’t worry, I may have misused the word “tribute” since the song was called Fuck You! Needless to say, the song went over like gangbusters in Portland. 

There was lesbian couple in the audience.  Very chatty and sociable.  In true Portland fashion, they brought their toddler.  In even truer Portland fashion, one mother’s outfit matched his outfit…which was a very hipster take on Oshkosh B’gosh overalls.  

Initially, I’d judged the dykes tyke’s presence in a bar pretty harshly.  Then I remembered grade A lesbian parents were, of course, above my reproach.  My reminder came on the form of his accessories:  construction yellow ear protection.

How damned adorable is that?

I just sat there and watched him switch between toddling between his parents and bouncing on one of their hips or the other’s as I watched a couple of the acts before Heart Shaped Boxes.

The opener.

TRex’s second band.

The metal dude’s band:  featuring a chunky girl with the blue hair and an awkward drummer with the mis-matched Star Wars socks.  Both of whom were probably only in  the band because they were in love with the aforementioned long-haired rocker that turns out to be their lead singer…

Suddenly it hit me, this was a benefit for a girl’s rock camp.  

Sleep away camp for girls that like music.

It was a daytime show on a weekend.

The awkwardness of the metal dude’s deadeye stare and the googly-eyed quality of the stares he got from his band mates.

Shit.  This whole band was underage.

I ordered another beer and moved closer to the front door.

D-Slice and the rest of the HSBs did their set and it was good!  Really good.  I loved knowing the arc her performing had taken since her first solo CDs – all of which I still have.

After her set, D-Slice and I found some time to squirrel away to the sidewalk parklet seating for another beer and some undistracted conversation now that her work was done.  We caught up on current life events – hers was going better than mine – and relived some of our greatest Podcast hits.

It was too short, of course.  Her band mates were her transportation and they were anxious to get back to the airBnB for some R-n-R after the show.

But, our decade long friendship had stood the test of being apart for a couple of years and fallen right back into that easy camaraderie that made it so precious to me.

I left the bar on that high, with a side of pride at not accidentally hitting on a teenaged boy.

Plus, it was a daytime show, so I was rested for work the next day.

And what the hell happens the following day on my way home from work?  A long-hair rocker dude sits down right next to me on the MAX.  I figure this is either the universe telling me something or at least dangling something different in front of me.  Maybe telling me not to be too closed minded when declaring the dating and mating seasons of my life closed?  I mean, really, D-Slice and I are unlikely friends.  She is a rocker, sleeve tattoo and all while I’m someone you’d easily mistake for an accountant.

Alright, universe, I’m listening.

Turns out, it was the exact same metal dude from the day before and the universe was just giving me the one fingered salute or trying to get my ass thrown in jail.

But, seriously…what are the odds?

My life, I gotta tell ya.

My First Sound Check

Mental Health Day

It’s amazing what a change of scenery can do for one’s peace of mind.  

A change of routine, even for a day.

It really proves the old adage about getting away from it all.

The Silver Fox asked me if I wanted to join him for a day at the Fox family beach house a few weeks back.  Just down and back in a day.  The house actually belongs to his former wife and current traveling companion, Sallory, but he still gets visitation rights when it’s not rented out.  

Or to punch out a honey-do list, as was the case here.  The house has just had its kitchen expanded and a yurt added to increase its capacity.  As if the view alone wasn’t enough of a selling point for potential renters.

But why limit the view to eight tightly-packed-in eyes?  Plus, the one bedroom beach house was perfectly fine when it was just mom, dad and two young sons.  Now that they’ve added a daughter-in-law and grand-toddler to the mix, I’m sure the yurt will make the beach house much more Fox family friendly.

Of course, I declined the invite.

He had planned his trip for a Wednesday.  My typical days off are Thursday and Friday, so the timing was a non-starter for me.  He suggested I just take the day off and I humored him with an “ok” and a chuckle; I think we both knew I wasn’t going to pursue that option.

I’ve never wanted to do drag.  I half-heartedly dressed up once for Halloween back in the 90s and got compared to a True Lies-era Jamie Lee Curtis, but past that, costumes were never my particular brand of escape.

Nevertheless.

I have a semi-roster of potential drag names in mind.  I mention this because in this instance my drag name would be Sarah Dippity.

Yes, in a rather serendipitous turn of events, my boss reminded me of a vendor sponsored golf tournament taking place soon and suggested that I take the Wednesday in question off in exchange for “working” through 18 holes on what would normally be my Friday off.  Now, a) I thought the thing had already come and gone without any follow-up and was fine with that; and, b) the tournament would involve my peer manager who has provided me with enough reason to afford him the absolute minimum amount of attention from my favorite person.  You could say that this golf outing exceeded that bare minimum threshold.  You could also say after his out of control demonstration of hostility toward me in early June – and subsequent absence of apology or even hint of remorse – that I was in no way considering getting within a golf club’s length of him.

One of the primary reasons I needed a mental health day, right there.

So, I told my boss that I would take Wednesday off and then (hu)man the shop while he and my festering wang of a peer went off and played golf.

I probably worded that a little differently, irl.

I excitedly agreed to the day trip with The Fox.  Well, excitedly with conditions: I got to drive.  I don’t drive myself and I’m a terrible passenger.  There’s a winning combination.  Why The Fox is my friend is sometimes so not obvious…but luckily for me, he is and off we went.

The first leg of the trip was Portland to Monmouth.  The first stop was at his youngest son’s house and then we moved on to Sallory’s home, which is located on a picturesque hilltop parcel of land.  

It’s a literal idyll, as was much of the drive between his son’s house and this majestic, old family home.  We took these back roads around fields, along the river, over small hills, through fields.  So serene, calm and beautiful!

Of course, I was manic.  The excitement of driving once again, being out of my routine, with my best friend and out of the city kinda overwhelmed me.  It was euphoric for me.

We had stopped at Costco for gas.  “Because it’s the cheapest price!” – a common consideration in fuel purchasing with The Silver Fox.  

I did my best not to do the Rain Man math on what the savings on that cheapest price equates to in real money.  Last time I’d done that – a total of $2.30, if you’re of a curious mind – I think I’d been kind of a buzz kill.  I mention this because I think the restraint I showed in not announcing the savings our pit stop at the Costco had generated along with the ebullience I was feeling just being out on this day trip left me defenseless against my own personality when I looked down at the dash after a few miles and side roads, only to realize that an idiot light had been engaged.

“Oh, god!  What’s that?!?”  Strangely not the last time I’d blurt that out on this road trip. I sure hope I remember to tell you about the spider!

Jolted away from his true best friend – er…I mean, his phone – The Fox looks up and does that crazy head thing that people do immediately after hearing the words, “Don’t look now, but…”

“What’s the small car over the big car with the squiggly lines between them mean?”

“What?”

I repeated myself.  Enunciating very clearly and speaking slowly as if it were the words themselves that he hadn’t understood.  I knew he was capable of deciphering my gibberish, but I hadn’t provided him sufficient context to really give an answer.

“Google it, quick!  Before we lose cell service.” I commanded, because: country back roads.

A few moments later, he waved something in front of my side-eye and giggled “George” at me.  My first thought was, stop showing me pictures of the damn dog and look up this light!”  In my mind, we were clearly in a crisis situation…not just impending doom but also me breaking his car.  Upon turning to face him, I realized he was showing me the Owner’s Manual for the car, complete with bite marks where his pooch had gotten hold of it.

Ok, maybe I’m his best human friend, third overall.  The top two spots are a toss up.  Hehe.

“It’s a traction control system of some sort”, he mumbled.

I was doing 60-65 on the back roads of Monmouth – which is saying something, since most of the non-back roads we traveled usually came with a brief history of the major thoroughfare that road used to be.

“Well, it seems to be kind of an anti-rollover system”, still distracted.

I semi-slammed on the brakes upon hearing that as we were moments away from a 60 degree turn and still pushing 60 MPH.  I’d prefer to have all anti-rollover assistance functioning properly under those conditions.

Thus began my erratic litany of pointing out each occurrence of potential disaster – I guess “occurrence” and “potential” don’t really go well together, alas – the possibly malfunctioning anti-rollover system would be helpful in avoiding.  You wouldn’t really think I’d have a lot of opportunities to exploit that system failure, but did you know that River Road used to be – I know I’ll get this wrong – the old hwy 99?  

Plus, it just follows the river, so it’s super curvy.

Plus, plus, it’s right on the river, so it’s sunk and warped over the many decades and was super bumpy.

I had many chances to amuse myself before we finally arrived at Sallory’s.

The old family home is beautiful in and of itself, but add in the decades of family history and it becomes so much more than a nice house with a breathtaking view.  Recently, The Fox mentioned the three generations of Sallory’s paternal ancestors’ portraits lining the stairwell walls and I couldn’t recall ever noticing them…I definitely needed to make a point of checking out this additional rich layer of family history this trip.

That moment in the stairwell turned patriarchal hall of fame paired nicely as a bookend to the momento of the more recent family that I encountered as I wandered the grounds.  I’d taken a moment to chase a loose chicken – being away from the city was clearly having a positive effect on my state of mind – I chased the chicken stiff-armed like a child, enjoying the mild alarm the chicken displayed as she ran just fast enough to stay ahead of my shuffle.  

Her alarm suggested she knew a chicken choker when she saw one.

Ok, I couldn’t help that entendres…I threw it in strictly for Diezel’s prurient reading pleasure.  Plus, I’m not really one to abuse animals.  Living with Myrtle is the only defense I need there.

When I stopped, I found myself on an abandoned basketball court.  Touched only by time for the last decade or so.

A testament to the kids who had grown up here in this place with parents who cherish them.

We were just stopping long enough to pick up some items needed to re-stock the kitchen at the beach house and were surprised to find some homemade jam left out for us to take home as a thank you.  Freezer jam is my absolute favorite, so I was touched by the unexpected gesture.  

Sallory had recently confessed to me that The Fox had pretty much converted her to iced coffee drinks over hot, specifically cold brew, and understood that I had turned him on to it.  She then went on to tell me about this great cold brew she’d found at one of her local stores and how she’d convinced the other local store to carry it also.  It’s called Stok, and she loved it.  I told her I’d have to keep an eye out for it, since I trust her taste.

Funny, when I said that, I hadn’t thought that we would find a stash of six bottles in her garage fridge.  Maybe The Fox had, he used to live here, after all.

You know what goes great with freezer jam?

I’ll gotten gains, that’s what.

The car is loaded up.  The grounds are surveyed and revered.  It’s time to point the car toward hwy 20 and get going.  

The Fox asks if I need to use the bathroom before we leave, that’s a negatory.

Strangely.

“You sure, it’s about 90 minutes away”, he persists.  I’m oddly conflicted in my consistent negative response after the Monster I had before we left and the cold brew I had on the way down.

“Actually, I think I’d like to crack open one of those Stok bottles and have another cold brew”, I say.

“That does sound good!  But let’s grab some out of the fridge!” he declares as he emerges from the car with our two empties.

“Are you drinking the melted ice water out of my cup, through my straw?!?”, I demand. The Fox literally stops.  Disengages his lips from my straw slowly and sheepishly responds, “Yeah…oops?” as if it’s more question than answer.

“Do you have another straw?” I ask, channeling my best Chandler Bing.

“No.”

“Fine”, I grumble.  “I’ll just turn it around!  What gets into you?” I smirk at him as he heads into the garage.  I think one of the things I enjoy most about my relationship with The Fox is how my faux exasperation is met so perfectly by his unflappable and amused “who’s going to care in 100 years?” demeanor, which makes him nearly immune to my butt-hurtedness.

We’re driving again.

He’s telling me how they’ve been working on a bypass on hwy 20 that cuts about 15 minutes of old single zig-zaggy lane highway off our trip.  The new construction veers off the old highway and then rejoins it on the other side of the hill, taking you over the top of the coast range, through some of the clear cut forest.

It.

Was.

Beautiful.

I doubt that I’d been on this road within the current century, so every turn was new to me.  I could definitely – usually – tell the old highway from the new, still…it was like seeing it all for the first time.

The panorama of the ocean in the distance over the folds of mountain between us and it from the top of the pass.  Not to mention the briefest glimpses I got of the view 180 degrees behind me.  Well, not for the first time, I resisted slamming on the brakes to get a better look.

Oh!  The idiot light stayed off after I restarted the car when we left the Monmouth house.  So, one less thing to worry about!

I’m overcome by new natural beauty at each turn in the road.  My soul is swelling with new energy.  I can feel the peace of mind returning.

We get into town and it’s time to decide, once and for all, the answer to the question that has haunted the second leg of our drive:  Oscar’s for a burrito for lunch or Mo’s for some ubiquitous beach food?

I confess that I’m feeling some Mexican food, which The Fox says is fine.

We’re driving up the coast highway.  

Newport.

“Hey!  Was that THE Oscar’s we just passed by?!?”

The Fox looks up, “Oh, yeah! I guess we’re going to Mo’s!” and flashes me that sheepish look for not-the-final time on this trip.  Decision made.

Depot Bay.

Beverly Beach.

I’ve moved on from announcing potential rollover situations to declaring “I’ve been there” in a monotone as we pass places where – get this – I’ve been.  

No context.  

Just a simple, “Been there” as we pass by.

For his part, The Fox either ignores me or dismisses me with a “Wow.  You’ve gotten around” that lacks a certain curiosity.

Otter Rock.

I pass the gravel alley known as A Street that the beach house is on and park by Mo’s.  It’s lunch time and The Silver Fox treats me to fish tacos…which I have actually never had before.  I gobble them up while giving the trio of families traveling together the stink eye.  This place, as you can see from the picture, is tiny.  There’s four tables on each side of an aisle that allegedly each seat eight people.  They are occupying two of them and blocking the bathroom door with their sprawl.

Oh, now I have to pee.

Despite my urethral discomfort, when we leave, I bee line it for the railing overlooking the Devil’s Punchbowl.  The Fox bee lines it for the car.

I stop.  

“We’re not going to go look?” I ask dejectedly.

“Nah, I’ve seen it a hundred times” he replies.

I shrug.  I kinda have, too, but I still manage to inject my acquiescence with a qualifier, “It’s just been about a decade”, I mumble, getting in the car.

I mention this for no reason.

Really.

None at all.

Speaking of mentioning things…the beach house is occupied when we arrive.  This fact had been shared with me during the drive.

I mention that fact not because it bothers me…having been an airBnB host for a couple years, stayed in pensiones while traveling abroad and spent a couple of college semesters in dorms…I’ve shared space with strangers.  The house guests are a retired married couple.  Only the husband is home when we arrive and he is outside washing windows.

On his vacation.

People are funny.

He and The Fox are familiar with one another and chatting away.  He’s a bit hard of hearing, I decide, and is yelling in that way people do when they can’t hear themselves that well.  He’s explaining that he’s a putterer and when he sees something that needs to get done he just does it.  

Like the windows.

Or taking the top of those shrubs over there down a few inches to improve the view, he’s yelling.

This view.

Yup.  Nothing wrong with that!

I head out back to check out the new yurt.  Locked.  But I know I’ll get to see it later.  I turn to leave and am hit with this.

Whatever they charge for this place, it ain’t enough.

The Fox shows me my job.  I’m there to schlep stuff out of the bedroom closet and back into the kitchen.  It’s like four shelves of stuff.

Easy, I say.

“Well, there’s stuff in the shed, too!” The Fox says, promising to show me later when he shows me the yurt.

Told ya.

I’m about three shelves complete in the bedroom when the wife returns.

“Oh, I’ve just been out to The Devils Punchbowl for a walk!  It was magnificent!” she says.

She’s not un-right.

We’re introduced, and she finishes her story.

“There was a mother whale and her calf playing right off the shore!” she exclaims.

Thats the last time I see that look of his this trip.  Hopefully, it’s not my last chance to see a mother whale and her calf in my lifetime…from a safe distance.  I just look at The Fox and he looks at me like he’s busted as I think, “Seen that a hundred times?!?” knowing that he probably has and sparing his ears of the actual words.  Poor Fox.

“C’mon, I’ll show you the yurt and the shed” he says, changing the subject.

The shed is about four more shelves of kitchen stuff.  This is the easiest conscripted labor that I’ve been forced into in, like, ever.  I knock that work out in several trips and then finish up the closet.  It felt like it took about 20 minutes, and that includes the time I took to screw around taking pictures and staring at the view in – what was surely open mouthed – awe.

But my best friend made it easy on me, telling me to put the stuff on any flat surface I could find and he’d start putting it away.

Deal.

As I walked in with the last of the kitchen supplies, I announced that I was done, telling The Fox to have fun and that I would be outside if he needed me.

The wife-in-residence chortled, caught off guard by my jovial abdication of assistance.  I’d forgotten that we had an audience, and she had a view of a kitchen with stacks and stacks of wares on flat surfaces that were no longer visible.  

The Fox was standing in the midst in open-mouthed shock at my announcement.  He hadn’t even finished wiping down the insides of the cabinet and drawers.

“A deal is a deal”, I declared, paying him back for the missed whale watching opportunity.

Of course, I helped him unpack and put away.

We were finished by mid-afternoon.

Suddenly, we looked around and there was really nothing to do.  I further realized that for the past several minutes, we had just been kibitzing and tweaking things…and I realized that our definitions of finished would take a back seat to Sallory’s final assessment so we could really just be done.

We still took a few minutes to play with the myriad light switches in the kitchen, realizing that there were lights everywhere in this new space with multiple controls…I say “realizing” meaning he’d turn one light off and I’d see a switch across the room that was “on” and turn it off, reactivating a light that he’d already turned off from across the room.

It was like a chase scene montage in a Scooby Doo cartoon.

Jinkies.

Back in the car, we admit that whichever route we take home we are going to hit the final and unavoidable obstacle in our drive – I5’s Terwilliger Curves – during the peak of rush hour.  The Fox gives it over to the fates of his electronic best friend’s wisdom and tells me we are going home via hwy 18, which will take us north through Lincoln City and the west into Portland.

A route that passes two casinos.

Give me strength.

To distract myself, I resume my monotonous travelogues, keeping The Silver Fox up to speed on places I’ve been.

I even sprinkle in some stories about the context of those visits, once even earning the coveted ✌🏽prize.  That’s an award I’d created for The Fox to stop him when he shared a story with me for the second time. I was very excited to have my old brain validated with this momentary trophy.

But I still finished my story.

We had a few hours to kill, after all.

As if a day with your best friend spent in beautiful, scenic locations needed to be better, we arrived back in town for an impromptu wine tasting being held at our neighborhood wine shop.  

Of course, we stopped in for a taste.

And then split a bottle.

And ordered some bruschetta from the Italian cafe a couple doors down…which their adorable waiter delivered to our sidewalk table in front of the wine shop.

After which, I went home and slept like a damned baby.

Mental Health Day

Dreams

I had a weird dream last night.

In it, I am pouring out a bottle of wine halfway through the first glass because I got invited out.  Such a waste.  But I remember, vividly, thinking “Well, doesn’t look like I’m going to get a chance to finish this off”.  Which may seem like a premature leap, since I had only opened the bottle about two ounces prior.

Not such a strange thought once you factor in the fact that I really don’t like to eat leftovers.  It’s just one of my quirks.

Takeout from a restaurant is one thing.  Taking home leftovers from a restaurant…probably just going to sit in my fridge until I toss them out.

My family loves to send food home with me after family dinners.  I have loads of plasticware I really should return to them…and I do try to make an effort to eat those leftovers, the symbolism of my family taking care of me with food.  So core.

My lunch yesterday at The People’s Pig, a local dive BBQ joint up in North Portland is a good example of this habit of mine.  My sandwich order ended up being a Pluto-sized BBQ pork sandwich with about two spuds worth of jo-jo potatoes on the side.  I got about three-quarters (closer to half, I’m sure) through the sandwich and tapped out.  When the purple haired and tattooed waitress suggested that there were takeout boxes available if I wanted to take the rest home with me, I told her to just give it to the homeless guy out back – there’s always a homeless guy around in PDX.  She looked a little offended, but I assured her I would be back.  More menu items to gorge myself on!  I just know myself well enough to know what is going to happen to that poor pig if it ends up in my fridge.

I think this soldier is to blame for the dream imagery, BTW.  He’s been sulking here on the countertop since Tuesday…

Probably not the most reassuring thing to have car keys chilling next to a half bottle of wine…but they aren’t mine, I swear!

Anyway, the meaning of the dream, from the little thought that I have put into it this morning seems to point toward not letting opportunities pass me by.  Particularly with friends, as this situation would indicate, but overall in life.

Remember The Yes Game?

Well, in this dream, I said yes to friends…even though I’m sure it could appear that I said no to wine.

Don’t worry, I drink enough.

Promise.

I think this dream was meant to remind me that I’ve a fairly solitary existence.

In part, I think this is a habit from my career.  I spend a lot of time being center stage at work.  One of my ex-boyfriends called it “Being on” in a pejorative kind of way, but he was right.  When I’m working, I’m on.

For my customers.

For my employees.

It’s my job.

The flip side of that personality coin – for me – is that I spend a lot of my off time doing things on my own.  Exercising.  Reading.  Movies.

I’ll hit a movie alone without a second thought.  Turns out, I like avoiding crowds when possible.  I love my weekday days off.  I can grab a matinee and shame eat popcorn in relative privacy with only the judgment of strangers in a dark room to weigh me down.  Plus, I hate sharing food.  Particularly finger-type foods.  But that’s a blog for another time…I hope I remember to write it!

Not that I think this dream was trying to suggest I learn to share.

When I exercise, I tend to do it solo – although it is a great date activity.  Alas…

Anyway, the reason behind this behavior is that when I want to exercise, I want to focus on it and get it done.  There are so many guys at the gym who use it like a social club.  I joke with the Fox that his jaw looks really pumped after he works out, since I frequently witness him standing around chewing the fat with his pals at the gym.

Becoming the Silver Fox does have it’s costs and responsibilities, it seems.

That said, when I work out and get stuck behind a Chatty Cathy, it kind of frustrates me.  But, there are other machines.  What frustrates me is that I find myself wishing that guys were as social at the clubs as they are when working out.  The difference there, of course, being that they don’t bring a gaggle of friends to the gym to insulate them like they do the bars.

Maybe the dream was trying to tell me to chill the fuck out and be flexible.

<eye roll>

Sometimes I sit at home with a bottle of wine – and recently, with Myrtle as a companion – and watch TV or read a book.  A young friend commented once that it made him sad when I said that.

Inside, I told him to go fuck himself.

Outside, I challenged him as to why he felt that way.  He responded that when he drank, he liked to go out and drink with friends or go to a bar and meet new people while he drank.

I get that.

I also get that that’s less the reality, even though it’s a good concept.

He’ll learn.

I spend plenty of time drinking in a bar.  I’ll hang out at CC Slaughters or Hobo’s fairly regularly, just to get out of the house for a few hours.  Sometimes, I will chat up the bartender or on a good night, find a social fellow patron.  Most nights that I go there aren’t good nights, though.  Frequently, I will read a book or – more recently – even work on a blog post as I sip (aggressively gulp) my drink.

Maybe you’re familiar with the old saying about gay men disappearing once they turn 3o?  Well, it’s not literal.  But for a variety of reasons, we do.  The lucky ones have met a boyfriend and settled down.

Talk about unicorns, though.

The more common phenomenon is that the gay culture is incredibly youth-obsessed and when a guy starts to show his age at 30, shedding the twink or otter or cub body he sported effortlessly in his 20s…he is passed over in favor of the Pretty Young Things that have come after him.

With the rise in usage of apps like Grindr and Scruff, the unicorn phenomenon I mentioned earlier has only gotten rarer since it seems gay men are settling down less frequently.  The smorgasbord menu those asocial media apps provide seem to be making “settling down” more synonymous with “settling” in the face of all the accessible “options”, incorrect as that interpretation may be.

I hope I don’t live to see the full circle our culture comes to when the world is populated with lonely gay uncles attending family get togethers with no one special to accompany them.  It’s kind of what I feared becoming when I was a young kid…there were always flamboyant or quirky – frequently drunk and dressed in seersucker suits – vaguely gay uncle figures in my reading and TV viewing providing a tragic glimpse into what eventually became my existence.

Sans seersucker suit, mercifully.

Presently, I think the gays would be topping off their glass and staying in, eschewing the offer of time out with friends in this particular dream scenario.

But that’s not what this is about.

I think this dream for me was a reminder to do what I’m doing in the dream.

Say yes!

Even though my psyche knows I will likely not return to that unfinished dream wine, it’s reminding me that there is always going to be another bottle available.  So, go on…get out.  Don’t let an opportunity to spend time with friends or foster real relationships with new ones pass you by.

I also think it’s a way of allaying some of my simmering fears about selling my condo and exploring self-employment versus banging my head against the doors of people who don’t seem to want to work with me.  If I want to experience being one resume or profile amongst thousands that gets ignored or just a surface glance, only to ultimately be dismissed without any real reason…well, I can always keep trying to date.

There are recurring dreams that I have had my entire life that kind of make me stop and take a look at what’s going on in my life…reminders to not just proceed blindly without weighing the pros and cons a situation or person might offer.

One such dream I have had time and again over the years is of me playing darts with Larry Tate from Bewitched.

Seriously.

And you thought I looked so normal on the outside…

I don’t even play darts in real life.  I used to, for a short time – I think just because of this dream.  But, for some reason, my psyche landed on this figure to be my dream time sounding board.  Interesting since he was a pretty unsympathetic character on the show.  Nevertheless, there we are, tossing darts and talking shit out.

Less weird and surprising than that dream would be the reality that in my conscious life, the Silver Fox is my best friend.  So, in my waking life, I have a Larry Tate stand in as a sounding board.  The Fox, however…definitely a likable character, despite the occasional shit I give him!

The message that I think my psyche sends me here is to stop and consider a situation and not to get trapped in my own head while doing it.  In my life, I am fortunate to have several great friends that I consider confidants.  Certainly, my parents are always there for me, too.  As a matter of fact, they are traveling through the middle of next week and I’m eager to have them weigh in on what’s happening as I seek to become self employed.  I think it’s going to be a long week…but the take away is to use those resources I am lucky enough to have in my life.

The last dream I want to share is a recurring childhood basic weirdness dream.  In the dream, I am an infant and my dad has taken me to work with him.  He was supervising a crew of longshoremen – not his actual job, so where my kid-brain got this imagery is beyond me – as they pulled on some ropes that led into a gigantic warehouse.  The strain they were under and the effort they were putting into their task was obvious.

There was a preternatural quiet.

I was crawling around in some crazy yellow infant-wear carrying a white plasticized Easter-type basket.

Gay.

I wasn’t paying much mind to the work being done, but was super aware of the strain.  I could feel it.  Eventually, I noticed that a giant slab of stone was emerging from the warehouse.  Slowly.  The piece of rock was as big as the opening to the warehouse.

It was otherworldly looking.

Eventually, they got to about the three-quarter mark on their work.  The stone was literally as long as the warehouse.

This dream feels like it takes forever to unfold.

What happened next was deafening.  Over the sounds of their pulling, the deafening sound of a rock breaking apart overwhelms my ears.  I start to cry, but stop as the rumble is replaced by the song of a little girl’s music box.

My perspective pulls back and I see myself crawling over the rubble, dragging my basket behind as the dust settles.  I zoom back in and see myself collecting bits of debris into my basket.

Fingers.

I’ve had this dream since I was a kid.

It used to terrify me.  I’d wake up, literally shaking my head, unable to understand what the hell I had just experienced.  As I’ve grown older, I’ve learned to interpret this dream as a sign that I was putting a great deal of effort into something in my life.  Perhaps more effort into something than I should.  Eventually, it would either pay off or end in catastrophe.  This dream has served to make me stop and examine what is happening in my life and assess whether what I was focused on was going to end up being worth the effort I was pouring into it.  Ultimately, if it didn’t yield the expected return, then it was just my responsibility to pick up the pieces and carry on.  The symbolism of the men was interesting, given that I began having this dream before I became aware of my sexuality.

BTW…Broken Poet, anyone?  Where was this dream then?!?  LOL.

But the real moral here, or the most immediate one…never leave a bottle behind.

Dreams

Christopher Does Adulting.

Flippantly – and surprising to no one – I began 2016 determined to say “yes” to more opportunities that come my way, because:  What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

That’s what my recent big-boy thoughts have been about.

The week of my birthday was amazing and fun.  I also had a good week of reflection and job prospects.  The most promising was with Target, the outcome of which I recently chronicled in The Great Job Hunt:  Redux.

That said, the week after my birthday started out all sorts of rough when I learned that Monday that I wasn’t getting the position at Target.

Add to that, the couple of traveling nurses renting my condo in Seattle weren’t going to stay until October of this year, as they had previously committed.

Suddenly, the opportunities that had recently been pointing toward replenishing my coffers while also capitalizing on my self-sustaining Seattle condo endeavor had dried up.  It’s a bummer, too.  I have been holding onto the condo under advice from a couple of real estate pros in Seattle until a few things transpired in the market.  Those things are on the horizon and doubling down on payments, if not even tripling down once I didn’t need to use that rental income to pay my Portland rent, would have put me in a great equity position once the nurses moved on in October.  The benefit to holding onto it were substantial, along the lines of an additional $25k in equity, minimum.  That ain’t chump change.

Alas.

Days after that disappointing news cycle, a head hunter in Seattle reached out to me again about an opportunity there.  It was his second pass at me, I had actually thought or assumed that the position was filled.  Originally, I had opted-out due to the fact that relocating to Seattle would be overly complex since I had a place in Portland until November and my Seattle place was presently occupied.  The last thing I needed was a third residence.

But, the EVP of this company kept focusing back on me…so the recruiter put out a feeler.

It’s all about timing, some times.

I decided to make a quick day trip up to Seatown and have a talk with the guy.

It was a good talk.  I think I would work well with this fella.  The product…I think I have a lot of friends who would be excited about the merchandise, but for me, the satisfaction would be strictly people and numbers based.  Which is fine.  He told me that he wanted to see me again soon and have me (and the other final candidates) meet at least one other person involved in the hiring decision.

Interesting timing, just as I had been considering yielding to parental advice and selling the condo.  If for no other reason than it would provide solvency for a good chunk of time.  The nurses would vacate at the end of Feb; I could evacuate the furnishings, perhaps stage the place and get it cleaned up and on the market by the second week of March.  From what I hear of the movement in that market, I would probably complete escrow by the end of April and be breathing easily by May 1, if not sooner.

Depending on the timing.

Additionally, I got kind of good at investing and day trading during my time with Seattle Coffee Gear, so I could actually sell the condo and walk away with enough equity to generate some respectable income through investing until I had to put funds down on a new place here in Portland, should I choose to assume that risk-slash-frustration that accompanies investing.  I was thinking my house hunting could start in August and by the time I found a place and went through escrow, I would be nearing the end of my lease here in the Pearl.

Timing would or could work well.

Quick side note on the basis of my reluctance to sell in the first place.  It’s two-fold:

First, I’m looking for work, if that called me back to Seattle, my $1200 mortgage is way cheaper than renting in Seatown…studios can run $1500, easy.  One bedrooms?  You’d be lucky to find a nice one bedroom for $1800.  Even with the crazy 50% jump my HOAs took for 2016, my existing all in cost of shelter in Seattle was a deal.

Should I end up returning for a job, that is.

Second, when I originally moved to Seattle, I never looked at it as a permanent relocation.  It was a means to an end when my job moved up there and my choice was to be unemployed during the Bush years with 10% of the rest of Oregon keeping me company in the bread line or be employed in a new city.  I chose the latter, obviously, but considered moving back to Portland a foregone conclusion, therefore also considered keeping my house here.  After discussing it with my family, I decided to do the easy thing and sell it.  Macy’s was paying the realtor fees, so it was an easy as well as cheap plan.  Unless you consider the fact that I am back now and that house has doubled in value thanks to Portland’s housing market.

Bubble.

Whatever.

The point is, my condo in Seattle has equity for a couple of reasons; specifically, I put a good downpayment on it and I’ve been there for eight years now.  The value on it as of Fall 2014 was about $50k more than I bought it for, so most of what I was pulling out in equity was more what I had put into it via my downpayment and the basic principle reduction of paying extra payments over the years.  Not a great return on my investment.  Holding onto it for another year or two wasn’t going to see it’s value magically double, but it would – according to my advisors – likely see that extra $25k in equity manifest.  At a minimum.

At a minimum.

No more comforting words than those when considering a return on your investment, eh?

The other consideration here was my growing frustration level with relying on others for my income, I’d definitely gotten burned by incompetence a couple of times over the last few years.  Also, I was definitely growing weary of interviewing with people that I suspected wouldn’t hire me simply because my resume was longer than theirs.  A secondary use for that equity would allow me to strongly consider starting my own business.  I’ve kicked it around for 15 years now.  Part fantasy about being my own boss, sure…but why not work on making it a reality?  I know after the last couple of years, that retirement in it’s strictest sense is not for me.  Being my own boss with a semi-turnkey business would be a good alternative to that and still get me out of corporate retail by the time I was 50, so a good potential win-win.

Of course, I would need to meet with a CPA prior to pulling the yes-trigger on this, just to make sure I was set up to use part of my capital gains for funding a business endeavor.  So there was that X factor.  Feel free to chime in with advice if you know anything about this…really!

Perhaps most flattering in this thought process was revisiting a conversation I had had last year with the Filipina Fox and her hubby.  They had mentioned stepping out of the housing market and using their downpayment money to augment my startup funding.  They also had familial connections that would potentially participate in the start up financials.  I can’t tell you how simultaneously rewarding and terrifying it is to have someone give over that level of trust to you.  It was humbling and awesome at the same time.

So, I also had partners if I said yes.

Yes to Oregon.

Yes to small business ownership.

Yes to those partners.

Yes to selling my condo in Seattle.

And all I had to do was put a period at the end of the “No more Seattle” sentence.

What was my hesitation?

Having thought about that question for a few days, I’m not sure there is an actual hesitation.  It’s more likely just a matter of wading through this present limbo regarding the open job opportunity there.

It’s coming back to timing.

But this time, I’ve no vague apathy.  I’m impatient to make a decision.  The invite for the second/final interview came and I’m set up for another day trip this coming week.  I would imagine that the EVP wants to get a job offer out before he leaves for vacation the following Monday.  He’s gone for two weeks, so his return to the business and my presumed start date would be right around March 1st.

The timing worked for lodging in Seattle.

If he said yes to me.

If I said yes to him.

And I said yes to Seattle again.

There’s a lot of comfort in being a part of someone else’s risk and having that support, to be sure.  However, now that feels like I’m saying no to myself.  Which kind of conflicts me.  So, Neurotic Xtopher gets to work and starts mentally spinning plates, each one a different variable in this big decision.

Then I get a call from a company here in Portland that is interested in interviewing me for a position.

Another plate.

But I’m just going to try and keep them all spinning until the end of this month.  I figure, the real drop dead date here is February 28th.  That’s when the nurses move out.  A lot can happen between now and then.

Interviews on Tuesday in Seattle next week and Thursday here in PDX.  I’ll figure out what the next steps are for each shortly thereafter.

Dusting off my business plan and giving it some tweaks.  Doing some research into particulars of timing and execution.

Determining the validity of using part of the proceeds from my condo sale to fund a business…

My big hope in this…inning of the yes game?  That I get the job in Portland.

Then the condo gets sold.  Most definitely a yes there.

I say yes to buying a new place here in Portland sometime this year.  I think the Silver Fox secretly wants me to buy a two bedroom so he can move into my place in his dotage, whenever that might be.  Hehehe.  That’s a maybe yes, but I owe him big so it’s something to consider.  Plus, he has the coffee maker I want, so there’s that added bonus.

I look at whether saying yes to this business start up is the best idea.  Is it viable?  Yeah, it is.  Would starting a new job, buying a new house and starting a small business all in the same year be hellacious?  Absolutely yes.  But, theoretically, I would have partners.  Definitely, I would have my friends and family around to support me in this effort.  Plus, it’s a nice busy offset after being decidedly underemployed for nearly the last couple of years.

Maybe those Seattle plates spin.

Maybe they fall.

If they do fall, there’s a whole set of new plates here in Portland that I can get spinning in short order.  Yes?

We’ll see what the end of the month brings.

 

Christopher Does Adulting.

Adventures in Yes

The birthday yes.

Not “Yaaaaassss!!”, just a simple exercise in counter-curmudgeonliness.

I had a full day of amazing celebrating with friends and family stacked up with well wishing socializing tighter than the evening commuter push over O’Hare on a Friday night…until my evening date cancelled.

Two things:

– First, maybe don’t schedule a date on your birthday with someone you haven’t known for three months.  It’s a recipe for disaster.  Well, it’s a recipe for normal flaky gay behaviors, but it happened on my birthday so I’m taking some license with the hyperbole.  Sue me.

– Second, he didn’t know it was my birthday.  That means there was no pressure to crumble beneath.  I was actually quite torn about withholding that information from him…obviously, my gut instinct served me far better than my neurosis.

The thing that pissed me off most about this was just your basic run of the mill Narcissistic Death bullshit.  I was the guy you could count on to get some Thanksgiving ass.  Before apps.  When we had to do it in real time.  Or any holiday.

Now it’s just snowing in my bedroom.

And uphill.

So…what’s an EOG gay to do with a few free hours on his birthday.

Hello, Scruff.  You dirty, disappointing bitch.

One thing leads to another and it’s suddenly 9 pm…which I suppose is late for my gay twilight years.  But I’ve begun this interesting chat conversation with a recent – as in one week prior – Portland transplant from France.  Is it wrong to nickname him The Frog?  I hope not, because it’s just happened.

He’s been out and about shopping-slash-exploring in his new city.  Hopping on and off public transportation in order to do so, like a good European.  Chatting with people he encounters around town or on the bus – as inadvisable as that sounds, I actually encourage it…conditionally.  Some of that exploring was situational, some accidental as he hopped on a wrong bus or train here or there.  He tells me that he’s going to pass through downtown to make a connection to his place in the South Waterfront and suggests a meet up for a drink.  Turns out he loves cider and I had told him about Cider Bite earlier in our conversation.

Of course, I pass.

It’s, like, late.

Or something.

But, time wears on and he and I keep chatting and I remember my commitment to say yes more often.

And “Say Something” by A Great Big World had just come on my Sonos, so I said “Yes” and met him at his stop in Old Town.

We traded a couple of texts on my way to meeting him, he told me that he was in a black jacket.  Helpful information, that.  I warned him that I was in a too lightweight jacket for the weather and that I hadn’t shaved in a week and hadn’t showered for an evening out.  He tells me that he’ll keep an eye out for a homeless person approaching him.  Sassy.

He was a tall one, wasn’t expecting that for some reason.

And it was raining, I mentioned that, right?

And I had loaned my umbrella to the Fox for his trip to Cuba, just in case.  He’s a planner.

I hadn’t planned on rain during his vacation, it seems.  Nor do I own a jacket like the Frog was wearing…one with a hood and also happens to be waterproof.  Soggy, I got.

It’s getting on to closing time at Cider Bite, so we hoof lively and make our way there.  The home of 24 taps of delicious cider-y goodness.  I arrive, dripping.  Planting the Frog at the bar, I introduce him to one of the boys that owns the place before sneaking off to the loo to give myself a good toweling off.  I’m calling a 33 year old bar owner a “boy”, FML – incidentally, said “boy” promptly gives me a side eye dripping with “a little young for you” judgment.  Knowing I have zero romantical type designs on the Frog, I don’t give it a second thought, past enjoying that he thought that maybe I could.

Bless his heart.

We go on to chat and make some fun small talk as we sip.  We discuss the origins of the ciders with the owner.  All very interesting info to the newb.  Most tend to be Pacific Northwest by design, but there happen to be a few from the east coast that you simply have to have if you’re gonna open a cider bar and please the masses by passing their low-bar street cred criteria.  Woodchuck cider lurches into the conversation.  I explain that it’s from the New England area of the east coast.  He asks where and I tell him it’s right by New Hampshire, making my hands into the parallelogramish shape of the state for him and only add to his confusion.  Trying to clear that up, I proceed to make it worse by saying that it’s south of Maine, north of Boston like it’s a question.

This all earns me the teasing of a European because I don’t know my own country’s geography like the back of my hand.  Defensively, I counter that it’s not like I thought that Portugal was in South America, but can’t fault him for putting a dunce cap on America as a whole.

He saves my unhurt ego by telling me that some people he has met in America think that France is in Australia.  Sweet Jesus, people are dumb.

I also learned that the prior day – 1/20 – had been his birthday, so that was fun.  

We’ve tried a couple of ciders and it’s time to head out as the guys close up for the night.

Deciding it’s never a bad time to not end fun conversation and also always a good time for food, we head over to Hobo’s for some later-night grub.  It’s a great choice, because:  food.  But also because it’s a good introduction to a neighborhood with a little cluster of gay bars that a newbie gay will undoubtedly frequent, but a bar that we can easily still talk comfortably in.

Also, not to put too fine a point on it, but there’s food.

I know he’ll find CCs on his own, so I figure this is a better choice.  I introduce him to Uncle Dave, who is frequently behind the bar at Hobo’s.  My friend, frequent bartender, occasional caretaker and always good guy.

I have some chicken wings – I’m always ordering the tenders and Uncle Dave is always serving me the wings.  Silly man.  The Frog has a burger.  Having just introduced the him as a recent transplant from France, I’m not surprised he wants to try a burger.  I am surprised at the rapid-fire-fucking-with that Uncle Dave engages him in around his order…I try to stop it as my stomach turns over, but an enthusiastic immigrant is running amok, enabled by a bartender suddenly turned auctioneer:

I’ll have the Hobo’s Burger

You want cheese on that?

Yes!

Bacon?

Yes.

Guac?

Yes.  (in a tone that suggests he isn’t entire sure what that is…)

Egg?

Ok.

Jalepenos?

Yes.

<barfs in mouth>

Fries or a salad?

I say something about how ridiculous a salad would be on top of that order and suggest the French Fries then laughingly comment that he’s not going to be able to lift that monster of a burger and then order us a couple of hard root beers.  Uncle Dave skulks off to the kitchen to start our order and if he’s not chuckling about what he just did to this poor kid…well, I would have been.

We talk more about what he wants to do for work.  He’s a trained in environmental ecology and I congratulate him on picking Portland.  That leads to how the hell he chose PDX in the first place.  Turns out that it’s really just a marriage between convenience and flight of fancy.  He knew he wanted to live in the US and on the West Coast but between here and SF this was where his father had a tenuous network connection to help get him started out.  A colleague whose niece or daughter or something – it’s France, I really wanted it to be “former mistress” – lived here and needed a roommate, voila!

His burger comes and I tease him about what his eyes did when Uncle Dave put the plate in front of him.  Uncle Dave lays down on the floor to rest after carrying the burger out.  I kid, but he deserved to wear himself out after trying to kill this kid with a hamburger.  Hehehehe.

I ask him how he settled on Joe for his Americanized name.  He explains that it’s just JO, short for Jean Olivier…his first name.  I explain to him why that might be awkward.  He seems aloof and/or indifferent.  He tells me his middle name, another hyphenated tongue twister for my American pallate.  Then his last name, which I am sure is the French equivalent of “Smith”, but I’m distracted by the overwhelming number of syllables in his complete name.

Oy.

Glad he chose JO.

Having finished my 6 wings, I go to the bar for another root beer as he chokes down the last of the first half of his burger.  This second half might take a minute to finish.

Uncle Dave starts off with some conspiratorial muttering about how cute the guy is and whether I’m intending anything he’ll want to hear about later.  God bless everyone who thinks I’ve got the kind of game it takes to be the object of any random 20-something’s affections.  When I am, I consider it a viable reason that I won’t win the lottery.

Like any reason for not winning the lottery needs to be realistic.

I mean, I had just “lost” $1.5 billion (potential) dollars in the Powerball…but, no.

He had told me his bus schedule home when we were chatting earlier, and it occurs to me that we have about 20 minutes to get him on a bus.  See?  I’m not even maneuvering toward getting him to spend the night at my nearby place.

He chews and stuffs faster.  I’m actually a little worried about how much he is consuming.  He’s visibly struggling to swallow and I think his forehead is beginning to glisten with a light sheen of the meatsweats.

Undeterred, he paces out his last bite just in time to get our change and head out to the bus stop.

Into the rain.  Portland’s weathery breach, once again.

I walk him down to his bus stop, not just to make sure he gets there but also to ensure that the bus actually arrives.  Midnight buses in Portland have screwed me more than once.

So, we stand there and wait.

In Portland’s sliver of a remaining skid row.

In the rain.  Did I mention it was raining?  Oh, I did?  How about my lightweight jacket?

Naturally, the bus is late.  I spend the time showing him what apps I use for transit and discuss Uber with him as a back up to have handy.  I’m wiping down my phone frequently, since any bus shelter in this neighborhood would ultimately just be shelter.

His bus finally arrives and we part, committing to another meet up soon.

Flash forward a week and we’ve chatted a few times.  He actually scored a job over the last few days.  I’m jealous…but it was a good story.  Some random stranger he said “hi” to on the street during his explorations.  That guy’s company was looking for a French-speaking reviewer of some sort.  You can’t fight the universe on random encounters.  He’s disappointed that it isn’t in his field of study, but that is actually not surprising for my American sensibilities.  No one seems to work in their field of study any more.

Still, this whole story about his job just kind of falling into his lap reminded me of why I started my Yes Game in the first place.

He’s a good guy.  Maybe I’ll make him take me out for a congratulatory cider when he gets his first paycheck.  I mean, I didn’t even mention the Coneheads…obviously, I have to see him again!

And all because I allowed myself a birthday yes…I wonder what else this game will yield.

More friends?

A job?

It certainly seems to like doing that for others – why not me?  We’ll see!

Adventures in Yes