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.
– 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.
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.
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. (in a tone that suggests he isn’t entire sure what that is…)
<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.
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.
It certainly seems to like doing that for others – why not me? We’ll see!