“Are you guys cleaning again?” It was the neighbor across the street. We rarely speak, just keep our heads down and pretend the other doesn’t exist. It’s the great Southeast Portland way. Everyone behaves like it’s prison.
“Yeah, we do it every ten years, whether it needs it or not.” I smiled and tossed another load of yard debris into the construction dumpster. Bro-in-law had just come to help. It was last day of spring cleaning before they take the dumpster away.
We’ve been buying the same house in Lents for fifteen years now. It’s better now than it was when we bought it, mostly. We’ve replaced bathroom floors, hell, we replaced the bathroom. We’ve been through a couple bug infestations, and I’ve had a couple of girlfriend infestations as well. Her stuff has been harder to get rid of than the bugs.
In order to buy the house, all the adults have to work part-time as much as allowed to make bills. My sister has been throwing newspapers and working in a stable for years until recently. A cancer scare and some time to breathe showed her (with my encouragement) that there are easier ways to get through life than working yourself to death for nothing. She loves working with horses, but their attached humans can be the worst, so I helped her get a job cleaning human stables. (She’s a hotel room attendant now, in one of the mid-range downtown hotels.) It’s showing her the prettier side of Portland, and she can pop in to the Waterfront Store on her way home and drop off the daily newspaper. The Oregonian no longer gives her a free delivery paper, but the hotel put her in charge of recycling the dailies comped to the rooms. I get better Oregonian service from the Hotel!
So Sis is tired, and bro-in-law works until Tuesday, so it’s up to me to get this springtime yard clean-up rolling…
Sitting amid the scaffolding adjacent to the building was a homeless kid that looked like Booger from Revenge of the Nerds. He got up as soon as I went inside, snagged the bottle and sniffed it. “Hmm!” He shrugged and took a swallow. Then another. He went back into hiding.
I went back outside, and walked over to him. “It’s just Coke and Sprite, in case you’re wondering what you’re drinking,” I said.
“Thanks for telling me. I’m actually glad it’s not beer. I’m hung over as fuck already.” His big, raggedy smile was contagious.
Then a familiar face walked past. My little sister! Through a series of coinkydinks, her first attempt at applying for a job since 1988 was a grand-slam home run. She is now working in the housekeeping section of a swanky downtown hotel, keeping hours similar to mine. I’ve been known to meet her buses at random times, and sneak her into the bowels of the Waterfront Building late at night, albeit just to use the bathroom.
Any mischief in the basement is reserved for Rain and brave co-workers.
A lot of hiring and firing has been happening at my work. I haven’t had to train yet, but I encounter new faces in odd places. One guy was my freight help on Wednesday. On Thursday I was called because he had “been arrested for jaywalking and being held in $15,000 bail.” As Master P said, “He needs to be more forthcoming on why a jaywalking ticket costs fifteen grand.”
There are two attractive female new-hires. I am behaving myself.
I am behaving myself.
It seems like I’m on holiday. Maybe it’s just scheduling quirks, or the fact that Rain has been gone and I’m finally starting to decompress. I pick up every shift offered, making the check fluffier. I was stressing, until I looked at a calendar and realized I’m two weeks ahead on my bills. (Barring death or dismemberment, and we don’t want any of that.) Gots to pace myself. Behave myself. Stay healthy.
Rain took me to the store last night, and spent $81 on stuff I need in the day-to-day. She plans like a prepper, watches the deals, and hooks me up with stuff I always need. Flonase! That shit is expensive! I have a full four-month supply ready for when my current one runs out.
Denture materials? She bought the 120-day supply of effervescent tablets, which is about nine months worth for me. Polident, not the generic stuff. Yes, Virginia, there is a difference. She looked at the Fixodent. When I told Rain, “I have enough glue” she got the giggles.
“I don’t know why I find that funny.” She dabbed at the corner of her eyes.
Three economy-sized bottles of 91% isopropyl alcohol. For bug control, bong-cleaning, and emergency flushing when the fucking cats peel out on top of my foot. Cat scratch fever, duh duh, duh.
Viva paper towels. Because some things are worth it. I don’t bitch when she demands Cottonelle toilet paper, as long as I have Viva for my jizz-rags. We live large when it comes to paper products.
Buy one, get one half-off. Hello, ibuprofen! I greet every day with 1,200 mgs of generic Advil, since 1990. I would be an old cripple without it. Thanks to my baby, I haven’t paid for pills (the legal kind) in a couple years. And I won’t have to, until at least September.
Angel got a new job. It sounds like my nephew might be working at the neighborhood Freddy’s. The weather is turning around, I feel the need for yardwork. (That feeling is enhanced by the notice from the city to clean a few things up. Oh-kay…)
But first, I have a couple of lunch shifts to cover. I’ll be missing the Cubs home-opener, but there are 150+ games to go. Maybe a matinee tomorrow? Who am I kidding? Days of the Cubs as daytime TV drama are long gone. MLB network has lots of games at random times, so I will adjust accordingly. I still dream of a Cubs-Mariners World Series.
Time to make the doughnuts…
Ready for some grits in your gravy? The Pearl Invasion has begun.Within the past month, both Rain and Dr T have moved from Southeast Portland to the swanky Pearl District. Rain moved into a refurbished apartment in Slabtown, and Dr T was relocated after his old neighborhood evicted everyone blue-collar and replaced single houses with apartments, condos and mixed-use buildings. Attempting to create a bunch of mini-Pearls, if you will.
We are right on schedule. My face is smooth as a baby’s butt until 5 PM, after which sandpaper-grading is required. And Rain has left the building. She’s been gone three nights, and I am happy about it.
I am also sad about it.
But mostly happy….
I was riding the MAX with Rain a whie back, and an older black gentleman caught my eye after I caught him checking her out. ‘Twas no big thing, I nodded at him in that “Yes, she IS hot, isn’t she?” way. He motioned me close. “I have Viagras for sale. Give that woman what she needs…” He held out two tiny blue pills.
“Nah, I’m good, but thank you sir.” I was as old as he was, but I looked better. And he was trying to sell me Altoids. See, the tiny wintergreen ones look just like boner pills.
So the other day when we were on the bus, and Rain asked me for an Altoid, I smiled mischievously.
“Nothing,” I said. Still grinning.
“Oh, come on!”
I reached into my pocket, pulled out my traveling medicine chest, and gave her two Altoids. And then I told her why I was laughing…
It was my day off, and I was ready to be up and out of the house. The library trip is a nice ride. I insist on using the downtown Central Library, even though there are closer ones. There are none closer to my heart, or my work, and it gave me an excuse to check in at The Mothership.
I could see the lack of line from three blocks away. This bodes well. I was cruising on the last of my pain pills, and hadn’t been eating. A Memphis Mafia sounded wonderful, but spending $5 at Winco sounded more prudent. Fuck it. Rain had been talking about how she’d been craving a super-sized glazed doughnut. I might drop a full $10 and it will be dinner for us both.
The line had been non-existent from three blocks away, but by the time I arrived there were fifteen people crowded around the entrance, lining up through the exit door. A friendly panhandler pointed this out to people, and I ended up behind three hot girls with exotic haircuts. I eavesdropped as they discussed what to buy. After musing about how the cashier had just described the ingredients of a Cock-and-Balls to an eight-year-old, I offered suggestions to the one closest to me, a black girl with one side of her head shaved. We discussed Rappers Delights, Memphis Mafias, and all the other options. They were still debating when I was called to the counter.
“I’d like a Memphis Mafia and a giant glazed doughnut, please?”
“Oh, I’m sorry. We’re out of Memphis Mafias.”
Shit. Time to invoke the Voodoo Diet rule.
As I gathered my cash, I had a flash of brilliance. “Do you have any buckets?”
“Let me check…” She went to the back. I turned and looked at the line, it was halfway down the block. My timing could not have been better if I’d really wanted a doughnut.
She returned with a five-gallon bucket. Inside were roughly 30-50 slightly mashed-up doughnuts. “Large ones are $10.” I gave her two fives and headed out the door.
“Hey, what’s that?” I heard a guy yell behind me. “Is that normal?” I had fantasies of being a weed mogul coming for his weekly payoff, a bucketful of black market doughnuts. Dad’s voice told me to put a spring in my step. Dad’s been in line fifteen-twenty minutes, and needs a Coor’s Light. If he knew how much his family and friends were about to cost him, he’d really hate me.
I made my way past the Dirt Urchins, who knew what was in the bucket. “Spare one of those, brah?” My negative grunts brought some snotty comments, to which I did not respond. I’m not giving them first pick, and I certainly don’t want their grubby hands picking through.
I stopped by the Mothership, offering a share to Festus, who took ONE. “Dude, take a couple.” He showed remarkable restraint. I took my bucket and made for the bus.
I took the back corner of the bus, not wanting to advertise my carbohydrate-filled bounty. As we pulled up to the main time point downtown, I saw Rain getting on the bus. It was rush hour, and seats were hard to come by. She took one near the handicapped section.
I texted, “I’m sure if you asked nicely the bald dude next to me would move over.”
Nothing. Her phone was in her purse.
So I pulled out the MP3 and cued Slipknot, about the time she pulled out her phone. Mine rang, it was her. “Hello?”
“Hi babe,” she said. “I’m on the bus.”
“Me too,” I said.
“I’m at Burgerville, you must be on the one in front of me.”
“So am I. I think you’re on the one in front of me.”
She turned her head, and we made eye contact. Yes, the bald guy would move over and make room.
“Ooh, you got doughnuts!” She said it low. I popped the lid, and what was on top? A giant glazed doughnut. “And you got one of my doughnuts? I love you, Charlie Chan.”
We sat in the back of the bus and ate about half the bucket on the way home. Upon arrival, I picked through and took a few of my almost-favorites, and left the bucket in the kitchen for scavenging. The kids and my bro-in-law should take care of the rest.
I think I’m good on doughnuts for a while.
I’ve been hating on fireworks for years. I guess it’s becoming my nature to be a cranky old man, due to time constraints and all, but I have good reasons for not liking 4th of July. I’m as patriotic as the next guy, I just don’t want to breathe chunks of air, or have my house burnt down.
So what did I do last night? Attend a fireworks display.
When a lovely lady asks me this, I’m usually tripping all over myself saying yes. And when the lovely lady is a relative, you try extra hard to say yes with as much enthusiasm as possible. (Authentic, of course.) But when “no” is a better answer, or “a qualified yes” perhaps, well… That’s when proper word usage is important.
You see, TJ called not only in the middle of bug extermination week; Saturday was the fifth anniversary of the day Rain and I first hooked up…
After visiting Angel, it was time for responsibility. I don’t avoid responsibility. I try to make it work for me. To make it fun. That’s pretty much my life’s mission, to make fun out of misery. So why should visiting a hospital be any different?
Rain had been in the hospital for a couple days. I hadn’t heard from her, but that’s not uncommon when she loses her phone. (Which also isn’t uncommon; she loses an average of two phones a month.) When she called and left a room number, I figured I should investigate. The hospital is in the swanky part of town, it’s a hot gorgeous day, girl-watching should be at a premium.
Plus, I can peek into my girlfriend’s medical chart and see what’s really going on…