There has almost always been a dog in my life, and not on purpose. As an adult, I couldn’t justify taking responsibility for another life when I couldn’t control my own. And I’m too selfish. But, others have dogs, and like children, you can get the effect without signing on for life. I’ve always enjoyed other people’s dogs.
Growing up, we had an old Australian Shepherd that was the coolest, mellowest ol’ dude. He would run the fence along the backyard, chasing the neighbor’s car. (We often wondered what he would do if he actually caught it?) That, and not-so-gentle rebuffs of his companion dog’s homosexual advances, were the only times we saw him get his gruff on. Most of the time it was a big-dog grin and a hummingbird-like tail.
Major, the ‘gay companion’ to the elder statesman, became ‘that way’ after Dad “fixed” him. Major never reproduced after the boot and the knife; he showed no interest in females after that, either. Major was half pug, half Chihuahua, and if you’d spit on the ground he’d go lick it up. He was the coolest city dog a country boy could own.
Of course, you know about Sandy, beloved canine matriarch of our home the past few years. She served us well, and we miss her. But there’s a new lady of the house.
And she’s all country.
2016 has been one hell of a rough year, and it’s not over yet. Mrs Brady died last night. Damn. (Florence Henderson, not my Mrs Brady. She works at the weed store across from Rain’s.) I have lost friends, and mortal luminaries from the music and video world have gone to the great beyond.
So far, death has missed my immediate friends and family. Praise cheeses!
I am thankful, so thankful, for that. And a few other things.
When I get the combination just right, reality looks like this. Happy Fried Day, everybody!
I grew up in Sandy, Oregon, 25 miles from downtown Portland and about 50 miles to Mt Hood, elevation 978 feet. (Give or take. Dad always called it “a thousand feet.”) It was colder than sea level, but hardly arctic.
Growing up a fat kid, cold didn’t bother me. I never believed in that theory anyway; my skin is on the outside where the nerves are. But as I age and lose weight, it seems like I’m cold all the time.
It hasn’t been a problem the past couple years. Winters have been rainy but not cold, and I had Rain sleeping with me, so the body heat kept my room toasty. With her gone, it’s been cold around here more ways than one.
We have a super-efficient furnace installed by the Russians that lived here previously. It’s big, meant to heat a small business. We turn it on for ten-fifteen minutes and the whole house is good for hours. Except lately, when you turn the heater on, the gas builds up and creates a scary light show when it ignites. So Sister called a repairman, who claimed “it was just dirty. $118 please!” We have a call in to him, to come move the dirt around again so we can stop shivering.I know, we’re in for a long winter if this 40-degree stuff is getting to me. But we haven’t had much cold weather. It’s been two years since I’ve worn The Great Pumpkin, but I won’t be cold if I break that out. It’s rated at -30 degrees. I’ll smoke a big fat one and slip into my Tang-colored poofy jacket. Say hi if you see me.
I was worried it was me, getting sick or something, but my niece and sister are huddling under the covers, and have made a deal with Luna. She’s guarding them furiously from the bed, all snuggling and watching cartoons until work time.
I’ve been keeping my room as warm as possible, using 60-watt bulbs in the lamp, leaving the computer on, etc… I feel like Tony Soprano wandering the property in my bathrobe. (Blue trenchcoat, not pink shorty. Rain made that bathrobe disappear. Waah.) By the time I get showered and layered up, it’ll be too goddamn hot on the bus and I’ll have to peel down.
I’m not as cold as my homeless friends. I have a roof. I have a family to keep me warm on the inside. I have a goofy dog who loves us in that unconditional way that dogs have. Luna’s growing, looks like a black Hee Haw dog. She bays at the moon when left alone, she sounds like a fire truck. Django the wandering tomcat has been spending more time at home lately. Guess he’s been getting cold too. The mice and Guinea pigs are low maintenance; happy to see us when we bring carrots and peanut butter.
Time to make the doughnuts! I’ve been steady working Friday and Saturday nights at the Nightclub Store, and I imagine tonight will be busy. Busy with thieves, scammers and those pretending to shop just to get out of the rain for a few minutes. “Snap to it, let’s go! Beep beep beep, buy your shit and get on outta here!”
There I go, being cold again…
How was work? Oh, just another night in the funhouse.
This was life around the Nightclub Store. The evening started quietly, but halfway through lunch I heard the helicopters, and then the jeers. Yup, we’re doing it again.
I had my store key on a lanyard, and when the throng would pass I’d lock the door, picking and choosing who I’d let in. Flash grenades didn’t bother Festus, but he wisely chose to come in when the tear gas crept near. A couple regulars made coffee, and I released them when no one was near the door.
Sister came to the store to hang out, and rode home with me. Our commute was calm, and halfway home Bro-In-Law joined us. I had dinner and watched the above recap of my day.
I hope this isn’t happening every fucking night for the next four years.
Since the election, Trumpers have been walking around gloating, and the HRC camp (under-forty) are pissed and rioting in the streets. (“Voicing their opinion” as they call it.) Opinions are like assholes, and downtown has been full of opinions since the election.
I just wanna go home!
Election Day, 2016. I thought it would never get here. I am so sick of politics. (I said that yesterday, didn’t I?) I decided to get out of the house, and out of my head. I sparked up my usual morning doobie, and took a train ride. I decided I would drop by and see if Eva liked the swanky leather waste basket I’d scavenged from Sister’s hotel. As I rode, my phone buzzed.
It was Southie, texting. “Hey, you want some extra hours closing the West End Store tonight?”
Ack! A whole night of drunken, entitled uber-liberals telling me how we’re all gonna die if Trump wins? No thank you.
“I can’t, I have plans later.” Then I called him, and told him what I always do: “If you can’t find anyone, call me and I’ll see what I can do.”
A little while later, he buzzed back. “How about 5:45-9:45?”
I pondered. I had just enough taffy in me to make that an entertaining night, and I’d have the majority of my usual late night. Why not?
“Sure, I can do that.”
I whistled while I walked, nodding hi to everyone, top o’ the mornin’, etc… I cruised into the Nightclub Store. “Ah, that’s why I’m closing the West End. They’ve got you down here!”
Cooter, a transplant from the new store, was in my spot on my usual day off. He replied, “No, I’m closing the West End. You’re at the Mothership six to ten.”
“No way, I’d never agree to that. It says right here, ‘5:45 to 9:45 at the Mothersh-‘ SHIT! No fuckin’ way!” I’d been reading without my glasses, and overlooked this little detail.
I typed furiously to Southie. “I thought I was agreeing to work the West End, your store. This is fucked up!”
“What difference does it make?”
“The Mothership is hot and nasty, and not in a good way!”
“You got me there.”
A minute passed, and he typed, “I’ll see what I can do.”
“Don’t bother, I’ll do it. But you owe me!”
“Hoodie.” Quickly followed with, “Eastcoast Bail Bonds?” I’d salvaged one of his hoodies from the dumpster. It was a birthday present from his daughter, and I’ve been wearing it a lot.
“I’ll bring it back! Washed!”
“You’re right, I owe you.”
I looked at Eva, who was alternating between slack-jawed and hysterics. “Charlie Brown, I think I just had an orgqaz-z-zmmm. I have never seen you get mad before. Pardon me while I savor this moment.”
“I’m only mad because I didn’t read the message properly. It’s my own goddamned fault.”
“Well, I’m still savoring, Charlie Brown.”
I rode home long enough to pick up my work shirt and vapor pens. I’m phoning it in, and having as much fun as possible.
It sounded good in theory, but the Mothership kept me hopping up to the moment Antknee appeared, suavely dragging on a menthol cigarette and organizing his bitch-face. We’re both used to the laid-back stores; a dad-voice is helpful. Unfortunately for Antknee, he looks like a bookish version of Shaggy from Scooby Doo. He looks anything but intimidating, but he takes no shit from the denizens of the night. I respect him for that.
As I rode home, depressed texts from Dr T, gloating texts from Festus. I popped in on the phoneless Rain, long enough to kiss her good night and remind her to go to court in the morning. She hasn’t been booked, so I guess she made it.
And I am back to work, holding court at the Waterfront Store. Master P, a diehard Limbaugh-loving Trump supporter, will be drunk with power. I must keep an optimistic thought.
So should we all.
It’s been a long, miserable year. I’m sick of politics. I’ve seen far too many favorite people die. Laws have changed, some for the better, some not so much. It’s like the deck has been shuffled. I have the same amount of a stake, but the game has been changed.
Drugs in general have gotten harder to come by, and I’m trying to stay away from anything stronger than ibuprofen. I have my days, but I’ve been mostly good. But I *do* depend on my little green friend to get me through the day, and I don’t know what I would do without my medical card.
But there’s a chance I’m gonna find out…
Work has been, well, work. Lots of personnel changes, new managers, new stores. My recent floating between stores is morphing into having a home base. Until further notice, I will be spending time at the Nightclub Store, under the newly-promoted Eva Braun. Store managers don’t have a hard time bossing me around, even though I’m the one who trained them. They keep on me, but they are respectful. In return, I respect my bosses and their position. I couldn’t do what they do. Product vendors would drive me to a nearby tower with a high-powered rifle.
I have enough trouble dealing with the public. And the public is KWAAAZY!
It was the best-kept secret in the history of Master P’s stores. It wasn’t until the day before the actual announcement that I learned the location of the new store. It’s in the West End, on the tip of the Pink Zone in what used to be called Vaseline Alley. Yup, we are now running a convenience store in the middle of Portland’s version of the Castro District.
Oh, there’s more to the location than that. Once the home of all things homo, the Pink Zone has spread across the city, leaving only Scandal’s and a couple other low-key establishments. In a tribute to Portland’s acceptance of the different, they aren’t thought of so much as gay bars, but just good old-fashioned neighborhood bars. It’s about time.
The West End was once an extension of skid row, filled with chicken-wire hotels and dive bars. The mentally ill would wander the streets, spilling out of said cheap hotels. I spent a lot of time in that neighborhood when Meg and I were close. Over the years, the loonies wandered away, the bums moved to the Eastbank Esplanade, and Fred Armisen bought an apartment in a giant eco-building on 12th & Washington. Soon the yuppie storefronts came along. (“Cacao!” anyone? $9 for hot chocolate.) Between the Portlandia BS and the filming of Grimm, the neighborhood was recognized as another gem in the oyster. (“Fuck you, neighboring Pearl!”)
All of a sudden, everyone in the neighborhood is rich, and a cheeseburger costs $15. Ask my ex-wife, who took me to Lardo. I bet she’s still complaining.
With all the DINKs (double income, no kids) milling about, Master P saw an opportunity and ran with it…