Ten Years Gone

May 1, 2015 at 10:08 am (Sweet sticky things, Waxing Nostalgic)

Ten years ago today I went on my first and only Craigslist date.

Outie the CatFor the longest time we told the kids we “met at the mall.” Which is true, but we met at the mall after lonely hearts ads were answered on CL. May Day was full of protest; crowds marched the streets, the black-hooded dingleberries played on the freeway, people were maced, I believe. I didn’t know and didn’t care. My new friend and I were looking for a safe-feeling place to get to know each other. We cared not what the rest of the world was up to. Make love, not war! was the theme of the day.

That tryst turned into one of the most intense relationships of my life. I’ve never cried harder than when I was told it was ending, though ending the relationship was the right thing to do. I grew up a lot during that relationship, and I hope someday I can share that level of intimacy with someone else. I’ve considered her one of the true great loves of my life. You know who you are.

This was brought back with such force in part because of TriMet. They rerouted the #15 NW 23rd Ave bus, it temporarily stops where I get off downtown. As I headed to the Flower Shop, I saw the #15 and hopped on. I was curious.

“Have you been on this route long?” I asked the driver.

“About three days.”

“Is there still a market behind Montgomery Park?”

“I don’t recall seeing one.”

“Next to the car wash?”

He remained quiet, so I decided to ride along and see for myself.

I drifted back in time as we rode. I would take the bus from out in The Numbers of southeast Portland to behind tony Northwest and The Pearl. I could taste gin in my mouth, though it’s been almost four years. One of my most spectacular drinking benders came on this watch. Seven months, I think. I hadn’t met thatgirl yet, and Mizelle was still an attainable fantasy. We’d reconnected after her divorce, and became best friends during this time. As we passed Acapulco’s Gold, I hoisted an imaginary shot of tequila. That was the bar where I’d stop to get the drinking ball rolling, when it was time. I’d chug a tall can of Olde English on the walk to the bar, go inside for a quick double tequila, bartender’s choice, and hop the bus for my hourlong commute.

I had a similar routine on the way to work, which involved water bottles and Altoids. Not giving up all my secrets here, though. Smily emoticon.

As we passed Montgomery Park, looking out over industrial Northwest Portland, I saw the store. A familiar purplish sedan was parked out front. Like most of the time on weekends, the place looked deserted. I deboarded and entered the store.

“What? No bathrooms!” I was grinning.

“No, sorry,” the man said in a tone that wasn’t really sorry. He looked at me real hard.

“Grenn! It’s Charles.”

The bell went off, then confusion. “Big Charles?”

“Well, formerly Big Charles. Not to be confused with extra-Big Chuckles.” I weighed 450 pounds the last time we spoke.

He grinned and shook my hand. I called him Grenn because the only time he got phone calls at work were from an old Asian man with limited English skills. “Grenn! Grenn! Tock to Grenn!” His hair, what was left of it, was grey. Otherwise he hadn’t changed a bit.

Neither had the store. The same old sign offering cups of ice for 40 cents. Cigarettes were a buck cheaper than where I work. They sold Four Loko, $2.35 per can. (A bargain, if you’re into that sort of thing.) I resisted asking to use the bathroom again. The reunion was going pleasantly; no rocking of the boat.

I bid adieu and took the walk. No longer worried about legal or employment consequences, I puffed on my one-hitter as I walked the road behind Montgomery Park. The path seemed shorter, the hill not nearly so steep. It used to take fifteen minutes to walk, with three stops on the hill. I breezed the whole shebang in five minutes, while smoking a bowl. No wonder Grenn didn’t recognize me!

Ten years. Back then I looked like an overweight redneck. Now I look like Willie Nelson’s well-fed cousin. I’m pretty sure I weigh under two-hundred pounds. I saw my friend a while back, she had attained a similarly remarkable weight loss. I joked to her that “we lost a hundred pounds and started dating black people.” It seems to be working well for both of us.

Timbers StormAnd on the 13th of this month, I will have worked at Master P’s for ten years. The second time in my life I have spent ten years doing the same job. Some may call me lazy, but if you’d known me in my 20s, you would be amazed I’m still alive.

And looking good, if I do say so myself.

Storm Large is playing the Schnitz tonight. My old girlfriend has seen Storm naked. (Okay, so has most of Portland, if you were around during the Dante’s/Storm and the Balls years, but thatgirl shared a gym dressing room with Storm once upon a time.) Since we have both moved on nicely, and I have to work anyway, I will just wish both lovely ladies the best of May Days, and go on about my bidness.

Happy May Day, everybody.

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