Eat This NOW

Someone asked me last night for a recipe I use.  That never happens, and it felt nice.  To me, cooking is a great way to indulge creativity, do fun things and demonstrate you care for the people you cook for.

It’s so core.

Nurturing.

<glossing over the fact that I don’t cook much for myself>

Of course, it was my carbonara recipe, something I’ve never made the same was twice in my life.

I made it for my Monday Night Supper Club peeps a few months back and it was met with rave reviews.  

My response, “C’mon, guys…it’s just carbonara!”  I was amazed to hear that no one had had it.  Not even the Silver Fox, who I consider quite a cook and rather world-wise.  Secretly, I thought he was messing with me.  But then again, I made it for my family and they’d never had it before, either.

At this point, I began thinking that maybe they had had it and I was just making it wrong.  Hehe.

Then again, before 2006, I couldn’t say that I’d had it.

I walked into my kitchen classroom at the Sur la Table I was working at in Kirkland, WA and my store’s Resident Chef was creating.

He’s this guy, for context.

And he’s made quite a name for himself, just like I knew he would.  I’ve largely held a static level of accomplishment…but carbonara helps.

He slides me this plate and tells me to dig in.  I had a foodgasm.

“I figured you for a carbonara guy, Galby” he tells me, smiling.  “Pasta, bacon, eggs, cheese…what’s not to like?  It’s like breakfast in pasta”, he continues.

No shit.

I couldn’t respond, I was inhaling.

A few years later, I started playing around with it.  I tried googling a recipe and realized that there’s no one way to make this dish.

The core argument seems to be around whether you add frozen peas or if that’s a bastardization too far.

I like peas.  And I like a hint of color.

So I usually include them because I think it makes for a more appealing plate.  You’ll have to decide for yourself…it’s obviously both a deeply personal choice and a hornet’s nest.

So, aside from frozen peas, maybe, the shopping list is pretty simple:

One 1 lb box of spaghetti style pasta

Three large eggs – the yolks are another debate-slash-variable.

One third cup each of grated pecorino and reggiano cheese.

8 oz (or more!) of bacon or pancetta.

One shallot.

A few cloves of garlic…just a hint.

One third cup of heavy whipping cream – depending on the yolk situation.

I’m a big fan of the mis en place method of cooking, so that everything is ready to go when I start.  So, I’ll slice the bacon into 1/4″ strips, mince the garlic, dice the shallot, grate the cheeses and let my eggs come to room temp before I even boil my water.

But once everything is prepped and I put the water on?  The meal is basically done, so be ready to eat!

I think with the MNSC, I got to this point and then waited for everyone to arrive before continuing.

And, by “waited”, I mean, “opened a bottle of wine”.  Basically, I made this while I was buzzed.

So, the water’s on to boil.

I brown the bacon and then when it’s almost done, start spooning off the fat, then throw in the garlic and shallot to soften.

At some point while the bacon has been going, I’ve thrown in the pasta – and possibly the peas – and it should be about done as the bacon concoction finishes up.

While those two things were happening, I’ve cracked my eggs and either whisked the yolks (I’ve used anywhere from 0 to all 3 in my experiments) into them or taken just the whites and whisked the cream into them and added the cheese.  

Hold some cheese back for topping the dish, for God’s sake!

I recommend holding back about a third of a cup of pasta water, just in case you need to goose the sauce along.  More on that in a second.

Drain the pasta and then do one of three things:

Return it to the pot, add in the bacon/garlic/shallot situation, pour on the egg/cheese sauce and then stir!  You will hear people talk about the terror of ending up with pasta and scrambled eggs at this point…but it’s never happened to me.

Obviously, I recommend cooking with the wine technique.

My biggest stress is usually just getting the cheese evenly distributed.  It does tend to clump together.  

No, Dori…just keep stirring!

If you need help loosening this sauce up, add in some of that pasta water.  I find that the egg and yolk route tends to need this little trick more that the egg and cream method.  Nevertheless, it’s good to have on hand

Once you’ve got a good coating, transfer the finished dish to your serving bowl.

The second option is to dump everything into your serving bowl and mix there, ya cocky bastards.  One less step.

Or…if you’re a real pro, like Joel is – seriously, watch his show Scraps or his YouTube channel – you add the strained pasta to the fry pan your bacon is in.
Scandal!

Mix the pasta and bacon around before adding in the egg and cheese mixture.  This allows the wet pasta to kinda deglaze the bacon fond adding a lot of flavor to the situation.  And some cool color to the pasta.

I usually make a double batch, so I don’t do this since my fry pan is too small for 2 lbs of pasta.

And I’m not a pro, like Joel.

Now, a single batch allegedly serves 4.  I think it serves one Xtopher, so if I have company, I double up.

Make this now.  You won’t be sorry, and 

You.

Are.

Welcome.

Eat This NOW

On The Road, Again.


(Plane not to scale)

More accurately, I should say that I’m in the air…again.

You all know how I love flying.

And covering my true emotions with humor.

Hell, I’m not even disappointed that my pithy tweet about my trip didn’t break the internet.


You see, my flight tonight from Atlanta to Portland is Delta #503, the area code for Portland being…503.

I’ll wait while you feel sorry for my friends that are routinely exposed you my rapier wit and its similarly pithy observations.

What can I say?  They obviously love me.

Speaking of love.  

I occasionally write about both travel and love.  Something I write about less often – maybe – is travel sex.

Why?

A couple of things:

1) Since the advent of so-called dating apps – mating apps or asocial media in Chrisenese – I’ve slow clapped for travelers who use hotel rooms as a shower to rinse clean any morality that would prevent one human for using another strictly for their own sexual gratification.  Because that’s an accomplishment.

Right.  Writing about this topic just manifests as this grumpy old man tilting at social windmills.

B) When Sacha left me, it was for a guy in Vancouver, WA – aka: Vantucky – and I (in)famously ejaculated, “You can’t even date within your own state?!?  How undateable are you?”  

So I guess I come by my contempt for the whole traveling sexual shenanigans thing somewhat honestly.

Plus, I think you gotta earn sex.  Put your time in at a bar getting to know someone.  Develop an attraction.  Find a desire that’s seated deeper than the profile pic they post of their abs from five years ago or – even worse – of their junk.

Hell, for that matter, just learn their name.

See?  I’m ranting.

But…because there’s always a but.

That doesn’t stop me from developing attractions from strangers when I travel.  I’m fairly gregarious by nature.  It was my default setting before I became grumpy.

Ever heard of the Stranger on a Plane Theory?

Basically, it’s a social phenomenon that predates social media, since now, clicking with someone nowadays usually involves some sort of social networking next step.

But the theory is usually one person’s therapy and their seatmate’s personal hell, since it affords and exploits the anonymity of travelers.

You’re never going to see them after all, right?  So complete honesty usually ensues and you basically cleanse yourself by barfing out all your deepest darkest to the poor bastard sitting next to you.

Luckily, I have WordPress.

And you.

Of course, I’m my reality – or surreality, as it likely is – I can indulge myself in some faux getting to know yous while traveling since…

I’m.

Never.

Gonna. 

See.

Them.

Again.

Right?

It’s kinda like a hybrid between having a connection with a co-worker, commonly known as a “work spouse” and this Stranger on a Plane thing.

Please allow me to introduce you to the Seminar Boyfriend Theory.

I wasn’t aware of this extension of my no-investment travel flirtations until a couple of days ago.

Mostly, because it hadn’t existed until then.

Sure, I’d met my current Work Wife at my company’s annual Seminar last November.

Simultaneously, I’d indulged myself in a little travel flirting with an impossibly young, straight averring (made up word warning!) and umappealingly cocky boy last year that I enjoyed spending time with, provided I didn’t take too seriously what came out of his mouth. Mostly this situation arose because each of our respective peer groups hung out with each other, so we were situationally thrown together.

Sure enough, once Seminar ended and he went back to the Great White North it was back to EOG-as-usual for me without a second thought.

I learned via LinkedIn a few months back that he’d left the company, so no repeat performances there.  All well and fine by me, I’d planned with my Work Wife to bring a couple of bottles of wine to match her contribution and that was my liver’s meal plan for the trip.

No boys required.

No hanging out in sports bars I had no interest in just because some exec had an open tab.  Nope.  I planned to spend this year’s free time – what little there is at Seminar – in the hotel gym and sleeping.

Until, of course, I met…

You know, I almost typed his actual name.  I don’t know why I don’t.  It’s not like my blog is Page 6 or anything.  Although, I do have a couple of pretty impressive sleuths amongst my loyal readers.  But his name is probably the Indian equivalent of John Smith.

I’ve been holding a low-grade mental debate about posting a pic of us that he took earlier today, but am conflicted about that breach of his anonymity.

That settles it.  Sometimes you just have to type through a problem.

Anonymity filter prevails.

You’ll just have to take my word for how cute this year’s Seminar Boyfriend is.

<fans face>

And as if this 5’9″ Indian descended Canadian needed to be any cuter than sparkly eyes, radiant smile and sexy (from what I could glean) physique…he is also smart and has the most endearing Indian accent and tone of voice.

I didn’t dedicate too much mental anguish to the gut wrenching does he/doesn’t he insecurities that eat away at me in normal dating and flirting environments.

I just enjoyed his company.  

When he got distracted by something or someone else, I went on my way.  After all, I knew I was neglecting my Work Wife, and I knew that she knew it, too.  But, I think she was enjoying my display of what minimal game I have…she texted me a photo of the two of us eating dinner together at carnival night with the caption, “Your first couple photo”.

It was just the two of us, leaned in close to one another at a table for ten.

So, this phenomenon evolved in a completely random and unbelievable manner:  he came up to me.

It was dinner Monday night: Food Truck Night.

Outside in the side parking lot of our hotel.  

Remember, I’d accidentally left my jacket in a store back at PDX on Sunday morning, and everyone was showing up in jackets for this outdoor evening event.

We started chatting while waiting to be released to our foodie playground for the evening.  He had also chosen to go sans jacket, being from Edmonton this would be comfortable for him.

Although, in an unexpected spurt of smacktalk, he expressed concern for my comfort.

How could I not adore him instantly?

I assured him, I would be relatively comfortable in Atlanta’s balmy 54 degree evening.  But!  I added, if it got below 50 I’d either need a hearty booze jacket or be quickly re-examining my situation.

There were five food trucks.  My priority was the chicken and waffle truck.  Work Wife and Seminar Boyfriend followed suit.

After deciding what I wanted – duh – I offered to go get drinks for us while they ordered.  This was also the finals for the Food & Beverage division’s cocktail contest.

We had three options to vote for.

Work Wife chose the coconutty option while Seminar Boyfriend opted for the same bourbon concoction I was going for…and just like that we had our wedding menu:

Chicken & Waffles w/Manhattans (basically, and not that it matters)

I came back with the drinks and we chatted while waiting for our food.  He pointed out a couple of times which room was his…he’d left his lights on and his shades open.

I see.

No confusing messages here.

We couldn’t find a table, Work Wife had squeezed into an empty seat at another of Seminar’s ubiquitous ten seater round tables.  Preferring privacy – obviously – we ended up standing and eating our C&W while simultaneously balancing our paper food truck baskets atop our cocktails.

He wasn’t planning to go all Xtopher on the food carts like I was.  He did want to try more than one, though and said he wasn’t going to finish his portion, but would wait for me to go back.  By the time I conceded victory, he’d already finished his.

The boy can eat!

I switched course and shoved the last of my waffle in my mouth and we went for round two:  burritos!

We enjoyed our burritos with diet cokes while lurking near a pub table we expected to be abandoned soon.  We were rewarded about halfway through and shortly after, our new digs were crashed by a friend of mine from Seminar last year – who I learned the next day is his boss, a business development guy I met a couple of times during an RFP at PDX and a regional HR Manager…all of whom were Canadians.

Surrounded.

Clearly, it was time to retreat to the bento truck for some dumplings, after which I made my goodnights.(Over Boise, I know you were wondering)

The next day, we passed at breakfast but it was a busy day of merchandising breakouts, so we had to hit the ground running.  I noticed at lunch that he had changed his clothes and sent him an email through our Seminar app, teasing him about it.

He didn’t reply.

Oh, well.

When I passed him later at the elevators during a break, he offered up an in person account.

Oh, fine.  Be confusing.  Read the message and don’t reply.

Anyway, on with the day.  After we were released for the day, I decided to get in some cardio at the hotel gym.  A nice follow up to Monday’s lifting.

I probably won’t be able to walk when I get off the plane.
Once I’d showered, I got my funk going with the glass of wine that Work Wife had tried to distract me from the gym with while I dressed for Carnival Night.

Corn dogs and funnel cakes, I’m coming for you.

Naturally, I was a little buzzed off 3 ounces of wine on an empty, post-workout stomach.

Also, naturally – this is my life we’re talking about here – I ran into Seminar Boyfriend, first damn thing.

This is how the (not) infamous “first couple” pic came into being.  Little did Work Wife know – or did she? – that Seminar Boyfriend had snapped a covert pic of me filling my plate with carnie food and posted it to the app with the caption, “Xtopher living his dream!” in a totally non-fat shaming way.

If he only knew.

We played carnival games together, taking turns and holding one another’s drinks.  It was super sweet and just an empirically enjoyable evening.

I believe he made his goodnights first this night…yes! he did.  That’s how I ended up talking to his boss.

Until midnight as we caught up on the events that transpired with last year’s Seminar Boyfriend – he was a mess – and drank wine.

Yes, I did not mention that both Seminar Boyfriends turned out to work for the same woman.

Again, this is my life we’re talking about here.  I’m used to weird coincidences.

Well, there’s more to tell of this cute little alt-reality I’ve been enjoying in my head, but the plane is landing.

I’ll just leave you with this, it remained fun, friendly and sweet…regardless of whether it had one side or two.

Oh, and I did get a little hug at the airport before he took off for the Great White North again.

That iced my cake, and I couldn’t hope for a better ending than that.

On The Road, Again.

Dry Week: Update

I talk a lot about being a procrastinator. 

“I put the ‘pro’ in procrastinate”, I say.

The flip side of that personality is spontaneity.  As in, “Hey, me…let’s do a Dry Week!” without considering the implications.

Like, I decided this on a Saturday night.  Without considering that while Saturday is my Monday, that would mean I have an entire work week ahead of me versus beginning my Dry Week on my Friday or Saturday and ending on my weekend so I can celebrate my success.  Now I’ve got five days in and a work week behind me…and I want to detox with a drink.

Alas.

Who knows?  Maybe it’ll be a Moist Week.

Another unseen ramification of a spontaneous Dry Week is pain.  One never really considers the slight medicinal effect of alcohol.  After a rough day of schlepping around Portland International, I can relax sore muscles with a beer or two or a glass of wine.

Additionally, I’ve had a visit from this recurring mouth pain.  I consider it an indicator of a cold or allergy episode.  Or my one wonky wisdom tooth coming out of dormancy.  So, maybe I’m getting sick and my sinuses are putting pressure on my upper jaw; maybe my teeth are doing the Macarena; or maybe I just don’t have my usual painkiller on board.

Makes a decent argument for situational medicinal marijuana, though.  I know I’ve got a honey stick around here somewhere.

The final side effect of not having a sufficiently elevated B.A.C I’ve encountered this week has been the niggling – and surprisingly spontaneous- urge to join up for NaNoWriMo.

National.

Novel.

Writing.

Month.

It’s every November, the challenge is to write a minimum 50,000 word novel in 30 days.

Ok, first, when I write, I describe my process as Hemingway-ing.  Having this thought in a Dry week ought to be enough of a disqualifier for the idea.

Second, I’ve got my company’s annual seminar this month, so that’s five days of work functions from dawn to drunk, effectively making my ~1675 daily word average a straight up 2000 words in order to meet the challenge.

Sure, I can bust out a 3500 word blog entry or two per month, but my other entries tend to be in the 1200-1500 word range.

And I don’t write every damn day!

This past month, I think I wrote 14/31 days for 16 or 17 posts.  It was my biggest volume month ever.

What the hell is sober Xtopher thinking?!?

Someone wrestle me to the ground and make me shotgun a keg.

Dry Week: Update

Fitfy 49:39

Missed these little check-ins from the final year of my fifth decade?

Fret not, they’ve not been pushed far from the front of my mind…they are only a trip past my bathroom mirror away, as a matter of fact.  But, this final week of the third quarter of this trip around the sun for me seemed like a good time to check-in again.

First some obvious accountabilities:  exercise and diet.

Exercise:

I’ve quit my gym.  That may not seem like anything but a big step backward, but I think it’s not.  Sure, this was initially a financial decision, the money I spent on gym membership could be better spent on wine, after all!  

I kid.

What I came to realize, though, was that at this time in my life, lifting weights was problematic.  More of a tether or a crutch for my old fitness mindset of recreating or restructuring my physical self…making it into something it’s not.

I have some 4-25 lb dumbbells at home that I can use for a variety of toning exercises when the mood hits.  Overall, that’s what I want to rediscover: tone.  My arms were as thick as my neck in my 30s – don’t get excited, I’ve been called pencil neck before. My chest and ankle measurements might make you wonder if my “father” was, in fact named Frankenstein.

What happens to that forced physique when you stop feeding it iron plates is not pretty.  Over the past three months, as I’ve changed my exercise regimen up – mostly changed it to “rest” – is that those muscles have softened.  My chest does not have as much in common with a 35 year old man as it maybe does with a 50 year old woman.

And that’s ok…for now.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want either of those racks.  But it’s a stop on the way to slimming down.

So, what’s this new regimen?

It’s more intense cardio based, as far as structured exercise goes.  Spin class.  God bless RevoCycle and the Filipina Fox for getting me back into spin!  I really love it…it’s prohibitively expensive, so I’ve been on a little break for the last few weeks, but the time commitment vs results impact is exactly what I want as I try to return to a slimmer silhouette overall.

The remainder of what I’ve been doing outside of mini weight workouts at home and spin class is lifestyle exercises.  Things designed not to get me out of the house and into the gym, but rather to get me out of the house and outside.

Hiking, mostly.  I live in the Pacific Northwest…God’s Country.  I have 40 miles of trails in Forest Park, a quick two mile urban hike away.  I live on Park Ave – between 8th and 9th St in Portland’s Alphabet District.  My stretch of Park is between Everett and Flanders – do not  stalk me…you’d be gravely disappointed.  Forest Park has an entrance at about 28th and Thurman.  That’s 14 blocks over and 19 blocks up.  

Easy.

Until you see this, anyway.

We all need a little touch up now and then, eh?  That’s what this year-long theme is about!  But I found an alternate entrance a few blocks further up the hill and have had myself a couple of nice 10 mike hikes over the last few weeks.  It rained almost all of last week, but today on my weekend agenda…yeah!  More hiking!  

Now

Diet:

Ugh.

Remember, what I didn’t want to do was overcorrect here and go radical self-deprivation by only allowing myself chicken and broccoli for dinner.  That usually leads to chicken and broccoli for most lunches, too.  And that leads to Unhappy Xtopher.

Also, I didn’t want to not drink.

I wanted to eat real food, have real junk food and get my drink on when I wanted to.  Be that when hanging out with friends or doing a little self-soothing after work.

I’d say the one thing my diet is missing right now is protein.  In eschewing chicken, I’ve become cognizant of the fact that I’m not chewing enough of anything that used to be alive.  Almonds, peanut butter, lunch meats and tuna ain’t cutting it.

Non-Dad-Bod Xtopher needs some red meat.

Shut up, Diezel.

Other than too much pasta in my diet, I’ve been happy with my intake.  Oddly, I’ve found myself craving kale lately.  I should definitely give into that, I bet my body is feeling less nostalgic than it’s actually trying to tell me it needs something.

My alcohol consumption is steady, I know you were worried.

I find that my drinking has become less…binge-y and more consistent.  Neither in a bad way.  When I was drinking before, I’d drink for several hours, ignoring the fact that I was setting records with how many drinks I could consume in an hour.

I’ve gone from drinking 2-3 drinks an hour for several hours to drinking 2-4 drinks a night.  Maybe I drink 5-6 nights a week versus 3-4 nights a week, but I’m not waking up groggy after and I find myself deciding to have another beer versus just giving into habit or simply being handed one by an attentive bartender.

All this came to the front of my mind during last week’s acupuncture appointment.  My Needle Man had been diagnostically probing my abdomen and when he was done, instead of quickly pulling my shirt back down and making a comment about covering my shame, I began absent-mindedly playing my belly like a drum.  He smirked at me and when I realized what I’d been doing, smiled sheepishly and apologized.

He made a comment about enjoying seeing such self-acceptance in today’s body shaming culture.  Someone just innocently enjoying their body without realizing it – literally, in my case, he said – was refreshing.

I told him that I planned on enjoying my body in not so innocent ways later, which gave us both a chuckle.  That may sound a bit depraved to you, but we talk about my sex life almost as often as we talk about my digestion.

If we’re gonna talk shit, nothings off the table.  Plus, there’s a couple of treatments he does that have a great reproductive side effect.  It may not be strictly necessary in my case, but that doesn’t mean it still can’t be appreciated!

The conversation eventually led to – well, directly led to – how self-acceptance was kind of the theme of 2017 for me.  I described how nothing I did physically replaced running in my life, how I could run in the rain but cycling and hiking in the rain were no-goes for me.

“Why don’t you run anymore?”

So, I gave him the back story and then short-handed it to “bone density issues in my lower legs”.

I’ll short-hand his response to “There’s a needle for that”.

Me:  Do not get my hopes up.

Not at all, he told me, cautioning me that it will take time and be something I have to build up to, but there’s probably no reason I shouldn’t count on running again.

So, as I enter the last quarter of this Fitfy (mis)adventure, I find myself looking forward to an unexpected and welcome gift for my 50th birthday…an evening jog to close out my work day.

It’s just what I wanted.

Fitfy 49:39

Celebrity Sighting

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

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

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

Cue inward laughter.

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

Oh, well.

I didn’t have the heart to tell her.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Me, because of our mutual workplace connection.

Sacha, through their shared creative passion.

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

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

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

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

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

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

<Glares at Silver Fox>

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

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

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

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

There was really no in between.

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

How can you ever really know?

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

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

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

The game has just been around.

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

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

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

She’s so tiny.

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

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

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

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

I have to go be old now.  Bye.

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

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

Ok…more better memories.

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

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

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

Except

It was her.

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

Ok, jumping around in time, now…

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

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

Let me set the scene:

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

Classic Slip, Trip, Fall scenario, right there.

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

BF:  (concerned) How’s your head?

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

<and…scene>

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

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

Plus, she makes Sally Field look like a giantess.

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

Me:  What size cloth do you need?

BB:  90”.

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus.  She has a literal 90” dining table.

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

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

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

At least I didn’t knock her over.

Accidentally.

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

Barf.

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

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

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

What the actual fuck is it about celebrities?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, I don’t.

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

Celebrity Sighting

Farewell, Summer

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

Wonderful!

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

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

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

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

She’s such a Prince Philip sometimes.

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

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

It’s always fun.

Always.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Well

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

He.

Went.

Flying.Poor kid.  Right into a tree.

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

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

Things have changed since then.

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

And a case of wine.

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

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

Great minds…meet the Galby clan!

We made it all fit.

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

And a huge watermelon The Silver Fox had gifted us.

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

Five.  Five a night, tops.

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

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

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

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

I told you…loners.

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, enjoy, my friend and chosen family member!

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

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

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

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

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

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

In addition to being there, also the food!

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

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

Not a bad Christmas gift, parentals…thank you!

Farewell, Summer

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