Monthly Archives: July 2014

Festicles, Testicles and Spectacles

It was Brewer’s Festival week, and for those of us with brewing-industry-related jobs, this means 5 days of manning a vendor booth and watching people get drunk and try to hook up… I mean, “sample lots of Oregon craft beer.”

There is a certain elegance to the drunk dance (two steps to the right, one step to the left, did she find that charming, or is she gonna hit him?).  The Festival is always packed full of crowds of “Bros” and women in precariously inappropriate shoes, which appear to be compatible mating groups. So, aside from the complement of leiderhosen-clad hipsters, the unicyclist bagpiper dressed like Darth Vader (a local personality), and the unending competition for “who wants to be America’s favorite marching band” (my favorite totally didn’t show up, btw), watching the Bro-Trixie two-step is the best show on the air from the confines of a festival vendor tent, with the exception, perhaps, of being next to the medical tent — this year they used real glasses (since, recycling), which made for an impressive display of gaping, bloody hand lacerations when the delicate glasses broke in the Bros’ meat-paws. (Curses to that damn same kilt-vendor, who got the choicest seats to the bloodbath, but did come by to kiss me hello every day, so I can’t be too mad.) Anyway, regardless of what was in our immediate fest-i-vision, we all snugged up in our tents with our pretzels and modestly-single glasses of beer and strapped in for the show each day. I’d like to say it was like “The Dating Game,” but it was frankly much more like “Let’s Make A Deal,” complete with a creepy old leches leering at the young-and-lovelies spilling out of the sundresses you can only wear for three weeks each Oregon summer.

It reminded me of certain universal hookup truths:  Long ago, when I worked in a TV studio, the build crew kept really weird hours (because, you know, the “talent” takes the stage during the hours that reasonable humans like to be awake and productive). Thus, when we finished up at about 1:30 a.m., our options for acquiring a placid after-work beer were fairly limited. We had the good fortune to be theatre monkeys in a city with a passel of 4 a.m. bars, i.e., bars that serve alcohol until 4 a.m. (or 3:40 at least), so we usually piled in a couple cabs and headed to one we called “Mistakes” (I’m sure it had a real name, but this one was so much more descriptively apropos.) Now, 4 a.m. bars are typically where the bar crowd goes after the regular bars throw their hammered asses out the doors at 2 a.m. When we arrive, sober, paint and sawdust-streaked, stinking of arc welding, we are 1) completely invisible, because apparently drunk people have “drunkdar” that allows them to home in on only the other drunk patrons, and 2) ready to be outrageously entertained by the free sideshow. Our favorite bet was “Is she going to go home with him…or puke on his shoes?” A dollar and bragging rights went to the winner, and we counted it as a win for “puke” if she urgently put her hand to her mouth and bolted. (For those of you keeping score, the odds were about even.) The show never disappointed. Our employer won Emmys, but for us, the real quality was in the after-hours entertainment.

We did notice that one real advantage of conducting the sex negotiations while drunk beyond the capacity for rational thought is that rejection is both far more brutally honest, and not nearly as crushing, as it would be sober. Actual exchange: “So…could I go home with you?” “No.” “Oh…” (the question hangs in the air, unasked, yet waiting for an explanation)… “Because I think you’ll suck.” ………….(YIKES!………….Response from the candidate?)………. “Oh. OK. Sorry.” Damn, alcohol is a kind drug sometimes.

The unfortunateness comes when you realize, sober, the next morning, that the wanker you casually gave head to in the bathroom (NEVER attempt to use a toilet innocently in a 4 a.m. bar, by the way) or energetically made out with at said drunken beer festival actually has your real phone number. You realize this, of course, when he texts you to ask for an actual date…and then texts you every few hours for the next intervening few days, at which point you ABSOLUTELY NEED TO GET OUT OF THIS DATE and have to come up with a good reason because you are a nice person and can’t just say “something’s come up” or stand him up like a coward and then lie about how your sister was in a terrible motorcar accident with a truckload of chickens and she’s allergic to poultry so you had to drive to Poughkeepsie to stab her with an Epi-pen and you’re really sorry you didn’t text.

Instead, you come up with something moderately embarrassing but credible, like, “I’m really sorry, but it’s shark week,” assuming he knows this means it’s that time of the month where there’s blood in the water and that is a TOTALLY valid reason you can’t meet up for a date where sexing might be on the menu, which is completely reasonable until one of your friends points out that it’s actually Shark Week on The Discovery Channel, and all of the sudden your legitimate excuse may be easily confused with you potentially bailing on the pleasure of drunk-fuck’s company to watch sharks enthusiastically snack on seal kebabs. Which may or may not be an acceptable reason to get out of a date, but certainly makes you seem like a real piece of chum.

(As an aside, I’ve actually effectively used “I’m moving to another state, indefinitely,” when I acquired a stage-4 clinger (hourly texts and discussions of moving in together following an overly-aggressive concert culminating in a terrifying array of visibly broken bones, which the gathered crowd promptly erased from our memories with copious amounts of scotch and subsequent copulatory pairings-off) quite fortuitously a week or so before I was, in fact, relocating 2500 miles away. This excuse is not a good choice as a lie, however, because in a city of 3.1 million people, you absolutely will run into that gentleman when you are alone in the ghetto and he turns up as the only cab you’ve seen in 45 minutes of hailing…promise.)

This year at the fest, although we did have to endure a 15-minute harangue about one Trixie’s woeful life (like, her friends want her to get them free stuff? and her dress is difficult to bend down in? and she is so regrettably heterosexual? and she HATES African food, why would they have a booth selling it?), numerous Bro come-ons which more confused than enticed us, and uncomfortable hugs from acquaintances who seemed to wish to be very much more than acquaintances, we left the festival with no regrets, no day-after problem texters, and nothing to apologize for at confession or create crafty excuses to avoid.

I’m calling it a total failure.





Hit Me Baby One More Time

Up until a few years ago, my mother sincerely believed that someone was beating me.

Now, this belief was ridiculous in countless ways (and I won’t even start on how crazy my mother is to begin with), but the most obvious was that if I was being beaten, my abuser was either 1) completely insane or 2) a comic-book evil genius, based on the abjectly random pattern of wound-infliction. As time has rolled on, we’ve all just come to accept that I’m completely graceless…in a danger-to-myself sort of way…and I’m pretty sure she’s reluctantly admitted that I have only myself to blame.

As I ice and elevate my latest round of ambulation-inhibiting bruises, scrapes and sprains — obtained while stepping off a curb to attempt to hail an approaching cab, resulting in a dramatic tumble right into the path of said oncoming vehicle (which wasn’t even a damn cab) — I can’t help but ruminate on my catalog my history of impressive clumsy injuries.

Lest you think that I somehow earn these injuries in “athletic” or sportsmanlike sort of ways, you would be the furthest thing from correct. Although, it is true, I cannot manage more than a few cumulative miles before surfing some pavement (motto: “10   .1 miles without a run-place accident”), most of the notable injuries have been more related to chasing tail than chasing a PR. At least 70% of them, anyway, including most of the really fantastically crippling ones.

To wit: this is the second time I have stepped off a curb while spending time in the company of the same handsome date (who only comes to town once or twice a year), both times resulting in a seriously sprained ankle as, apparently, the cosmic tariff for the privilege of enjoying the fruits of his loins. Co-existing nicely with the leading ailment at the moment, however, are the three-week remnants of the deep contusions ringing my left breast (suspiciously fingerprint-shaped), the achy bruised tailbone (slipped while camping, which of course involved tent sex), the healing abrasions on my left knee and elbow (caught a railroad track lip with my toe – oddly unrelated to the pursuit of tail, but only because I knew it was already assured for the evening), and the newest, rugburn on my elbows (heh heh).

By no means, however, do any of these injuries on their own hobble into the Hall of Shame honors. The cracked ribs as a result of over-enthusiastic sporking a few years back? Honorable mention at best. Top prize money still goes to the story that earned me my hash name:

A few years back, I was in Seattle for the weekend with a girlfriend. Things being what they are in the world of me, fast forward to Saturday evening and there I am in a hotel room, cowboy-style astride Friend’s Brother, hands calf-roped behind my back. Now, for anyone who thinks “Rodeo may not be the best choice for someone as clumsy as you,” you would be spot-on. Somewhere before my 8 seconds were up, I was bucked… straight into the very severe headboard, face-first and completely helpless to moderate the impact.

Yes, of course we stopped.

Brother fetched ice to put on the black butterfly unfolding under my eyes and we tipped my head back like you’re not supposed to do to prevent blood from pouring out my nose (resulting in it merely trickling down my throat and pooling in my sinuses, definitely a better choice).

And yes, of course when it stopped, we finished. Duh.

The dirty epilogue, of course, was that at the time I was a horrible wretch of a miserable cheating bastard, and had to invent a plausible explanation for how I had spent a lovely weekend away with my girlfriend at the Korean spa and had somehow come home with a broken nose.

If you’ve ever been to the Korean spa, you know that it’s about as far from western ideas of “spa relaxation” as you can get. A small, ancient Korean woman with the strength of ten horses puts on gloves made of Brillo pads and scrubs every square inch of your surface until revolting clumps of dead skin pile up around you, then tosses great vats of soapy water over you until you are sputtering and near-drowned. (Quote from friend next to me: “She did my lips!” Me (touching own face): “Huh. She didn’t do my lips.” Friend: “Not…those lips…”) Then, the tiny goblin climbs on top of you, oils you up, and begins beating you with her little fists until you gasp in agony. You emerge looking like leprechauns have had a Riverdance-party all over your body, but your skin does feel smooth as a baby’s ass (likely owing to the fact that you’re short a few layers of it). In this context, it wasn’t all that unbelievable to extend the truth to explain that I slipped on the soap-soaked table while being ordered to “FLIP!” by the gnome and slid into the side rail/handle on the table. Given my track record for gracelessness, and accompanied by some excellent stage makeup, this story succeeded without even a raised eyebrow to 49 out of 50 listeners at the houseparty me and Blissfully Unaware Boyfriend hosted the following night.

At least I have understanding (or ignorant) friends and colleagues. A girlfriend of mine who is equivalently bumbling and also frequently incurs sex bruises-of-honor volunteered for a bit at a domestic crisis prevention program. Thankfully, she did have the good sense to notice on her way out the door that the handprint bruises around her neck and arms probably were not going to instill confidence in the high school students she was going to be advising about how to engage in healthy relationships (which is, of course, why anyone ever wears decorative scarves and cardigans). Me, I wear my sex-idiot badges of shame with pride, and keep excellent photo documentation of the bite-marks, scrapes, lacerations, bruises, swellings and scabs. You probably don’t want to see my scrapbooks…but if you’re lucky, you’ll leave a mark in them.


Summer Lovin’

Pop quiz: I’ve been falling down on the “writing funny stories about the loonies I date” gig because I’ve been a) busy with other nonsense, like learning certain Singapore side show tricks, 2) trapped under something heavy, or III) spending time with shockingly ordinary folks, which probably should be qualified by my very broad definition of “ordinary.”

You’re right, I freed myself from the death-lurch of the armoire.

Summer’s the best time for spending the evening doing not much except laying on a blanket by the river, half-assedly drinking a shandy and playing hypothetical games with your friends like “If we were having an orgy, which of our mutual friends would we invite?” (Obviously, some people aren’t welcome because of their personal hygiene, some because they would totally try to commandeer the proceedings, and some because based on the sound of their laughter, you’re pretty sure the police would send animal control to deal with the wild hyenas, which is the fastest way to end a good party.)

To interrupt my stupefied lollygagging in the park yesterday, as I became more and more hypnotized by the train plodding by, my friend casually wonders: “Did I ever tell you about the time I dated a hobo?” She reminisces about meeting this fellow from OK Cupid for a walk-date — who seemed relatively nice, and certainly well-traveled — and realizing he was a transient, based for the moment in her neighborhood, but having spent a number of years literally hopping trains
and criss-crossing the country. This made watching the chugging cars more fascinating: apparently there’s some kind of secret code marked on each train which lets other hobos know whether that train is good for surfin’ the glide.

“My friend thinks she’s dating a furry,” another pipes up, to the immediate swiveling of heads and barrage of questions. A furry? In New York City, in the summer? Is there some kind of “furry-lite” which involves all of the titillation of the furry-suit, without any of the ball-sweat? Does he have a separate closet for his furry-suits? Does he hand-wash them or take them to the dry cleaners, and if the latter, what is he charged for – a coat? A suit, 2 piece? How long do you have to leave the suit on during the actually sexy parts? Do you take it with you when you travel/camp/etc.? How soon before it starts to smell like wet dog?

Which, of course, brought us to the sticky considerations of summer lovin’. Summer is that beautiful season of festivals, campouts, and casual summer hookups with completely random strangers, like that one guy who sells kilts who somehow showed up at every festival you attended for a week (it’s like the universe was telling you to buy a kilt, then check out what’s up it – how could you resist?) or that girl who can’t seem to keep her clothes on around water, or fire, or any other element. Once you’ve identified a target, there remains the dilemma of practicalities.

Of course, there are those festival-hounds who bring their entire campers along to the events, which is definitely more private and more comfortable for, say, filling entirely with naked people for three days, if that’s what you’re into while eating a pound of mushrooms. But for those of us mortals who haven’t yet achieved this level of terrestrial nirvana, the more achievable sex in an REI half-dome poses some challenges to the campground social order.

Choosing your tent location is essential: find the biggest, hairiest, loudest snorer…and plop your dome right next door. You can wear earplugs for the sleeping – Mr. Chainsaw will ensure that you’ve got some white-noise cover for your shenanigans at any point during the night. If you don’t have a steady snorer nearby, you’ll have to choose neighbors who seem like they will be drunk and rowdy, and be more opportunistic: the moment they fire up the karaoke machine means you’ve got at least 10 minutes until someone complains enough to either smash its speakers or summon the park warden.

Of course, the danger of cozying up so close to the village of smashed singers will be if one of them comes to cozy up to you, as inevitably happens in every large city of virtually-identical tents; if you’re luckiest, the pass-out mistaken-tent face-plant will come while your tent is unoccupied, but you should be prepared with bear spray for the unluckier (and more likely) chance that Stagger Lee will call your dome home while you’re already in its depths.

Once you’ve snuck into your little rectangle of real estate with your Mr.-or-Ms.-Right-Now past the rowdy crowds, there will be little room for error. Do remember that turning on your tent light will result in treating all of your camp to a kabuki-style shadow-puppet show of your casual hookup (making tomorrow’s walk of shame all that much less plausibly deniable). Do remember that the pockets on the ceiling should be equipped with condoms and wetwipes. Do remember that a pack towel and water should be easily accessible – you might not think anything of wiping off your naughty bits with that extra shirt now, but regret will set in when you forgetfully put it on later and earn a future filled with Krusty the Klown jokes at your expense. Do remember that closing the tent flaps is a terrible Catch – .22: closed you will suffocate from heat in about 3 minutes, open you are quite literally on display to the entire gathered crowds (then again, if you’re a hit, they might share their popcorn). DON’T put sharp or pointy things in the ceiling pockets, in which you will hopelessly entangle your face or fleshy parts. DON’T decide that you’re going to experiment with the Kama Sutra, lest you deflate both your sleeping pads and your enthusiasm. DON’T try for the marathon – this is what quickies were made for. DON’T forget that the walls of your tent are merely privacy screens, not sound barriers, and your neighbors can hear not only the squicking sounds your sweaty parts banging together are making, but also whatever heavy breathing you’ve gotten up to — making this NOT the time to indulge in your vocal boy-scout fantasy.

Or, fuck it. Crawl into your tent mid-afternoon and not-subtly close the drapes to the assembled crowd. Wake up first in the morning and let your freak flag fly. If you’re lucky, like our impressive neighbors this weekend, as your ladyfriend gets to the high solo, she’ll be accompanied by the squawks of a wild animal joining in the chorus (in this case, a wild peacock – no kidding). If you’re going to wake up the neighbors, do it with style, confidence and aplomb (or a plume!). And, as was recently pointed out to me, the motto of the Boy Scouts is not actually “Be Prepared,” but “Do A Good Turn Daily.” So get out there and start doing your turns! Summer is short…sweat on as many strangers as possible.

Happy trails, campers! Ride some rails and get some tail.