Ho’s Festival

June 5, 2007 at 11:15 am (Waxing Nostalgic)

It’s Fleet Week in the Rose City. Saw my first batch of sailors last night; shore patrol getting used to the hot spots by arriving a couple of days early. (The boats arrive Wednesday and Thursday.) The sailors are well-behaved, in public anyway, and this particular SP was quite nice; he tipped me fifty cents.

Seeing the suits takes me back. Cue lap dissolve into time warp…

I came of age in the late ’70s-early ’80s, and by 1984, I’d been to several Rose Festivals. I lived in the downtown area, and this was pre-admission days, so I would spent all my free time at the waterfront, watching the ground for money, ogling girls, usual stuff. Every time I saw a sailor, I would think of my friend, Blondie.

I met her as part of a double date. A blind double date. She and I were the dumpy best friends of this coke-addled couple who needed chaperoning one night. After drinks at the Red Lion, they sat up all night doing coke and debating whether it was moral to ‘do it’ on the first date, while Blondie and I had ventured off to my room for bong hits and window watching. (This was on 24th and Sandy. We were on hooker surveillance…) After a few minutes, we were all over each other, and stayed friends for years after.

Blondie was a lot of fun. She looked like Blondie the cartoon character, or maybe an ample-bottomed Courtney Love. She was always game for anything I could dream up. It was agreed up front that we weren’t mutually exclusive to anyone. Although, when an Italian guy named Tony was in town, she wasn’t available. He was big and scary, and paid most of her rent. (Hmm. This sounds familiar…) The rest of the time, if I called first, I always had a place to crash, and usually some form of carnal entertainment.

The other time she was busy? When the sailors came to town.

She’d be unavailable that week, and I got used to the routine. Besides, there were always distractions during Rose Festival. So I found other things to do.

The summer of 1984, I lived at the Kingston Hotel on Burnside, drove an ice cream scooter, and drank like Andy Capp. One day, I decided to spend the whole day in a bar, The Coyote Club on NW 21st and Marshall? Lovejoy? It’s a Starbucks now, I think. In those days, one could get large pitchers for $2, so I went in at 7 AM, and stayed until closing, at 2:30 AM. More on this adventure another time, but, as you can guess, I had one of the most vicious hangovers ever.

The next morning, about 11 AM, I get a call on the hallway payphone. It’s Blondie. “Hey, I’ve got a hot tub reserved in half an hour, and a rent-a-car. Can you be ready?” I popped a beer, dressed my shaky, sweaty ass and met her on the sidewalk.

We cruised to the Hawthorne area, found the hot tub place, and took full advantage of it. The hot tub was magic for sweating out the booze, among other things. Then we went back to her place and did it again. When I awoke in the early evening, she was ready to take me home. When I asked what she was doing after, she said she was off to find more sailors.

“I hope you don’t mind me using you like that. There were four guys before you, and none of them knew how to finish me off, thank you by the way.” She smiled and added, “I may set a personal record today.”

Gulp. I was the fifth guy that day? I’m as slutty as the next guy, but that made me nervous. (Thank the gods for a hot tub, eh?) I started reevaluating our relationship at that point. While I liked her a lot, I had been STD-free until then, and wished to keep it that way. (At that time, AIDS wasn’t known about, and herpes was a death sentence.) While we would hook up a few more times over the years, I saw her last in 1987. I hope time has been nice to her.

Tomorrow the fun begins again. (Sailors and the girls who love them; my situation is much different these days.) I will be downtown, watching it unfold. There is always an influx of hookers during this time of year, and they always end up in my neighborhood.
Advice? Some of those hookers carry badges. The rest? They’re probably carrying other things. What should you be carrying? Protection, if you’re out trolling.

Always strap on a helmet when riding a strange bicycle…

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