Thursday, March 06, 2008

Getting Away From Me

If, in the world of blogging, one day equals 5 years, my trip to Portland now happened nearly a quarter century ago, and therefore is possibly the most boring thing I could write about.

So, I will- ah fuck it. Okay, just one story.

Before I go to the show I've found out about from the wicked cool girl in the wicked cool zine store beside the amazingly wicked cool cafe, the show which is, I find out, when I get there in my flashy glasses, tight jeans, tight shirt, neckerchief and lipstick combo, a scrappy punk show at a scrappy cafe full of scrappy punk kids and I look, not old, but certainly way out of my way - before the show I decide to go for dinner at a nice vegetarian restaurant called Farm Cafe.

Let me tell you something about Portland. There are queers everywhere.

I walk in, and there's a waiting list an hour long for a table. No worries, I brought a book, and there'll be a seat coming up at the bar in a few minutes, if that will suit. And because I'm in a part of town that's far away from my hotel and is just empty enough to put the edge of a scare into me, and because if I don't eat here, I'm fucked to know where I'm going to eat any time real soon, and because I've got two and some hours to kill before what is going to be a great show but an unsettling experience, it will suit, and well, thank you.

The people occupying my place are two girls, office-butch and your regular femme type, the butch running her hand up the femme's thigh, bare under a light skirt. The three men beside them are Gay gay, plaid-wearing tattooed indie rockers, which is odd for someone who comes from a town where the two categories rarely meet in one person. The two women on the other side of them aren't on a date, but look like dyke to me. Cra-zy. You just don't walk into a random restaurant in Ottawa and find it stacked to the rafters with queer.

But a mixed crowd, the bar be damned. The people who came in after me, for example, were not queer. They were, however, on a date. A blind date. Set up by Rachel. Rachel who must have been good friends with the guy. Because only a good friend would have thought this guy "should get out there." If the Russian - with her hot body, her lovely accent, and her Masters in Economics - ever speaks to either Rachel or the guy who didn't stop talking about how horrible his ex-girlfriend and her children were for the forty minutes they stood behind me, both Rachel and Mr. Bitter will be lucky people indeed.

I feel this guy's pain. We've all been there. It's shitty. Your tendrils are all torn and broken, bleeding sap, but you've got these phantom tendrils that still feel, and what they feel like is still wound all up in this other person. Then there's this other person in front of you, who doesn't even really remind you of your ex, but they're taking up the space that your real tendrils had grown into, so the sensation travels strong up your phantoms, into your brain, and what comes out is a litany of heartbreak disguised as complaints. It feels bad from every fucking side.

But jesus, I mean, come on. You gotta know that might happen going in, and do your best to guard against it. At one point, while eating my Giant Hedgehog Fungus, alternating between picking the unmentioned breading off, loving the taste, and being slightly nauseated by the texture, which was close to animal, but a little too squeaky, and so uncannily like animal, more like something that does, but shouldn't actually, exist, in between these moments I tried to make eye contact with her. Our gaze did meet, briefly, and although I was desperately telegraphing her the message "Go to the bathroom and I will point out, very politely, that you did not, in fact, sign up to go on a date with his ex-girlfriend," either my signals were not strong enough or her receptors were on the fritz. But the gay gay guys and the two bartenders caught the edge of it, and a shared glance bounced around between us.

Eventually, The Economist and Mr. Bitter got a table, and I ignored my categorical queasiness and concentrated on the delightful woodsy taste of the fungus, and daydreamed about finding some cute something or other at the show where I would be thrilled to find my people in Portland and they would be just as thrilled that I'd shown up.

Yes, about that. At least I didn't talk about my ex for forty minutes at the show. I'm just saying.

1 comment:

Aggie said...

Brilliant fungus-eating eavesdropping. I loved reading this!