Indigo Girls

“Well, that can’t be a coincidence”, I thought as a CD title caught my eye in my local Long Beach music store. The album in question was simply titled Indigo Girls. It was on sale, so being a newly-ish minted gay, I bought the CD in a show of solidarity.

My rationale?

Cyndi Lauper talks about it in her 1983 song She Bop…

“Well, I see them every night in tight blue jeans.

On the pages of Blue Boy magazine.”

Blue Boy magazine was a glossy tribute to twink pulchritude. A gay porn magazine, in other words.

Indigo is a shade of blue.

I’ve apparently been jaded forever. But just the right amount. Maybe it’s just in my head that a gender pronoun and shade of blue equals some gay code – indeed, to hear them tell it, they went shopping through the dictionary for words that resonated…indigo struck gold for them for whatever reason – but in my music store, this CD priced at $7 resonated with me.

I’ve been a fan ever since.

I’ve owned every album.

Committed more song lyrics to memory than I thought I had the capacity for.

Lost my shit in the theater when they showed up as extras in Boys On The Side…embarrassing my friends by frantically whispering, “That’s the Indigo Girls!” in the darkened theater.

Seen them in concert in a half dozen cities on two continents..

My favorite performances being their zoo concerts. I’ve seen five zoo shows here in Portland and two more at the zoo in Seattle. The crowds at the concerts used to skew heavily lesbian, given their sexual identities. Once Lilith Fair took the music world by storm and sent female singer/songwriter types on a never before seen trajectory of success, those crowds started to straighten out.

My concert attendance started to fall off then, too. Where I’d always loved the live music experience Indigo Girls concerts provided, it was also a safe environment for me as a gay man…to flirt. Safe, because other guys there were like minded, both in bed and in musical tastes. It was as good a starting point as any for selecting a mate, right?

Never happened.

Matter of fact, the closest I got to an Indigo Girls concert love connection was attending shows for a few years with Sacha. You’d have thought that the Valentines Day show we saw at the Aladdin Theater would have put me off their concerts, but I was a super fan and after that show where Sacha and I argued through the entire thing…well, I started going mostly alone or with girlfriends.

No, what put me off was the intrusion of straight men at the shows. I’d loved the strong female vibe I encountered at their live shows. It was such a safe feeling.

A generous space.

When I looked up at one concert and saw my handful of musically like minded gay men replaced with straight guys who were canoodling through the concert until fuck time…I was done.

Until

A few years back, IG got together with a symphony.

It was crazy.

Rib and I went down to Benaroya Hall in downtown Seattle and saw this show. Indigo Girls backed by the Seattle Symphony.

By “crazy”, I mean AWESOME.

Their music lends itself to the process. It’s always featured eclectic instruments, so switching to classic orchestral instruments wasn’t a huge stretch.

The Girls are storytellers, so watching their show always included an intimate glimpse into their music and personalities. My favorite story of this night was the story about the symphony performance itself.

The symphony had been practicing their set independently. The Indigo Girls, of course, had the material down. But they never practiced together until the day of the show!

The Indigo Girls roll into town – I am pretty sure this was before Amy married a girl from Seattle, so she wasn’t a randomly occurring celebrity in town yet – do a couple numbers with the orchestra and then peace out until showtime, hoping for the best.

Why is this anything important to know?

Well, Today I Learned on the Facebook that there was a symphony album coming out. Twenty-two songs, with a video of Galileo to kick it all off.

I.

Was.

Excited.

I watched the video a couple of times. It’s not their best live performance, but I can only take their word for it when they talk about the humbling experience of putting your voice in front of a giant machine like a symphony orchestra.

Viewed through that filter? This is incredible. If nothing else, it elevates the majesty of the stories their songs have always told.

From almost 1990 to almost 2020…these ladies have been and have made an enormous impact on my life. I jokingly say that at the end of my life, my relationship with my cell phone carrier will be the enduring relationship of my lifetime.

Compared to my musical relationship with Indigo Girls (they prefer no article in their band name) and Melissa Etheridge, the more accurate statement would be that the relationship with these two acts shaped the adult gay man that I became and one of the significant relationships of my life.

Interesting recipe, equal parts family, catholic school and music subculture equals…me. What an arc it’s been for us both.

And I can’t wait to hear this album!

Indigo Girls

TIL #2: Gross Out

Sacha’s mom used to call it The Rotten Food Store.

When I worked briefly in grocery, I heard one of my co-workers refer to it as The Gross Out. This one stuck with me.

It’s actually the Grocery Outlet, and when The Fox mentioned that Sallory shopped there I almost fell over.

The optics didn’t work for me: I’d always attributed shopping at The Gross Out as a poor person’s prerogative, I consider Sallory anything but.

I think I actually said, “What is she, suddenly poor?!?” while mentally picking myself up. Maybe it’s that she lives in a small town and there aren’t a lot of other options. Certainly no New Seasons or Whole Foods.

It was one of these “small town” options that she’d first found Stok at, and that was a good find so it wasn’t hard to find my rationale to trust this statement at face value.

But, still…The Gross Out?!?

I admit it, I struggled a little.

This was tough to get my mind around.

I mentioned it to her personally while we were having wine on one of her trips to the city.

Looking at me straight on, with all earnestness, she says to me, “You’ve got to go check out the wine selection. It’s unbelievable!”

My liver clicked into place.

She went on to tell me that her preferred Gross Out is on the coast in Lincoln City – if I’m recalling this right, because: wine – and that their wine manager was all about great tips on what was drinking well. Oh, and it’s all so cheap! She swore that Trader Joe’s had nothing on them.

I was intrigued and The Fox and I giddily planned a trip to our local.

“Go up and down every aisle, there’s some great buys”, Sallory insists.

Our closest outlet is in the Hollywood District and we walked in past racks of outdoor plants. That was unexpected.

Equally unexpected was the entire front quarter of the store being taken up by the wine department.

I’m barely exaggerating.

There’s were case stacks everywhere. It was an oenophilliacacious – yeah, that’s a made up word – sprawl. Signs everywhere pointed to what Manny was recommending or drinking.

Hopefully, this Manny fella was the wine manager and not some bum with cardstock and a nice marker.

The Fox and I scooped up bottles and bottles. In reality, I think I only nabbed a half case…testing the waters. But, hey…old vine Zins and Paso Robles Sauvignon for $5-15? I didn’t really feel like I could make a mistake here.

It was hard to resist.

TJ’s would always be there for cheap table wines if this failed to live up to the hype.

It, um…didn’t.

I left there – after walking up and down every aisle, as advised – with bags of pasta, frozen pizzas and veggies, some frozen meals that I thought would make a good lazy lunch, bags of food to stick my freezer and pantry. Oh, and wine!

All for $127…

I’m not going to lie, suddenly, I couldn’t wait to try some of these other whackadoodle stores that I’d written off years ago. If Gross Out could surprise me, what else was out there to blow my mind?

The next week, The Fox took me along to the Costco. There’s always a few things I need there, so I was glad to tag along. On the way out, he asked me if I would mind hitting the WinCo across the way.

Initially, I balked…then I remembered.

Let’s GO!

Oh, my hell.

La Croix was a buck less than anywhere near me.

Myrtle’s wet food was $.57/can and my normal market sells it for $.95/can.

I got to the checkout with a half cart of bounty thinking, “Welp, here goes another $100”. But it was all stuff that had a shelf life, either in the pantry or freezer.

I left feeling like I’d been living life wrong all these years.

When I was bragging to a co-worker a few days later, she immediately jumped in with her own news: she and her husband had just gone to Cash & Carry, the Costco and WinCo and stocked up for less than $300 for their family of three for the next three months.

Shut the front door.

Trader Joe’s will always be on my shopping rotation, there’s just too many tasty things that you can only get there. Including delicious Spanish wines on the cheap.

But I learned to root out a good value during this little adventure and can’t believe it took me so long to come to the damn table. Come to think of it, Mistress Myrtle is nearly out of food, so I’ll have to plan a trip in the next week-ish to see what’s new at The Gross Out and WinCo.

Listen to your elders…find a Gross Out and go!

TIL #2: Gross Out

TIL #3: Big Pours

Well, it’s been a long month for being literally the shortest month of the year.  But February is behind me, and I guess any February you can walk away from can’t have been that bad.

It was actually really, really awful.  Which has had some of my sister’s wisdom on my mind over the past couple of weeks.  So, today’s Golden Nugget is courtesy of my wise older – and only – sister.

We had been discussing wine, tangentially, while trading texts.  I was complaining about having to get a refill and she teased me about how she had trained my nephew to fetch, or something.

I was immediately jealous and found myself questioning my indirect and situational lack of progeny.  I teased my sister a little, but also praised developing a solid, gentlemanly skill like pouring wine at an early age.  I think the ‘Phew was 15 or 16 at the time.  And frankly, knowing a good pour is an important part of enjoying wine.

Here’s how to enjoy – truly, legitimately – wine:

Start with good wine.

Decant or aerate.

Serve in glassware that enhances the overall sensory experience.

Repeat step three.

Often.

A little known fact, or adhered to, as I’ve come to learn and experience – and practice – is that good wine glasses are made to hold a 3 ounce pour (I think it’s 3, might be 5…I’m old and get confused!) that allows the bowl to hold the wine and keep the bouquet from escaping so that you enjoy the wine and aroma as part of the same enhanced experience.

How precious, right?

Still, it’s a fact.

So, how do you know if you’ve got a good wine glass?  Here’s a fun tip:  filling your glass visually to the hip or curve of the bowl should be 3 ounces.  If you have a good wine glass, the bowl should be shaped so that you can lay the wine glass on its side and the 3 oz pour doesn’t spill out.

Try it.

Here’s another weird wine fact:  there are about five perfect pours in a bottle.  Five.  This is perfectly symbolic of my singlehood, reinforcing that there’s no one for me to share with.

My sister and her wisdom was, basically, “Fuck that” in teaching her boy to pour.  She taught him to pour with a heavy hand.  I was offended, me and my delicate sensibilities, but I got it.  There was no telling whether the boy would be around when she needed a refill versus playing a vidya game or just being out screwing around, like kids do.

Get it, sis.

Here’s the impact this wisdom has had on my life, I usually drink wine alone or with the Silver Fox.  Instead of arguing about the extra glass – which is mine, of course – we split the bottle into two servings each.

It works well.  Except on nights like the other night, where he says he can only have one glass.  You’d think that would throw off our delicate balance, until he comes out of the kitchen with a full glass.  The Fox is pretty low key, so when he does something so overtly hilarious, I really cherish it.

Personally?  Over the last couple of years, I’m down to three servings in a bottle.  

This works well for me.  Especially on nights where The Fox and I watch some TV and split a bottle.  He’ll leave after we finish our two glasses and a few shows so that I can, presumably, head to bed.

If I’m not ready for bed just yet, I’ll open a bottle and have another drink.

Sometimes I’ll even finish that second bottle.

But here’s where being me really pays off:

I had 2 glasses with the Silver Fox and 3 glasses by myself.

There are 5 glasses in a bottle of wine.

Despite what my recycling bin tries to tell me the next morning, I’ve had 1 bottle of wine.

Is it semantics or is it some antics?

With me, I think you know what you’re getting.

Never!

And, yes…this TIL was posted out of order.  The month called for this topic to move up the list.  TIL #2 will be along soon enough!

TIL #3: Big Pours