This past weekend I spent time with some retiring coworkers; quite a bit of time with Laney and some with Jessica; a bit more time than expected with Ivan and with his new boyfriend Drew; and, of course, Shobhit. Actually "boyfriend" is apparently a bit of a borderline term for Ivan's new companion -- he was the one who used it first when talking about him on Facebook Messenger (to me, anyway; Drew may have used it first, and as Ivan said then, "He seems to think I am"), but when I was finally introduced to him on Saturday, Ivan seemed to conscientiously avoid the word in person: "This is Drew," he said, "the guy I'm casually dating." Is he trying to send a clearer signal now, I wonder? Anyway, more on that later. I actually need to start with the retirement party for Mimi, Marilyn and Sharon that we had at work on Friday.
For me, it was much more just about Mimi and Marilyn. Sharon, the Controller in Accounting, which is by far the dullest department, is retiring after 22 years at PCC. She's nice enough and I've had a few pleasant conversations with her, but that's about the extent of it. As a result, and this is really no judgment on her, I have pretty much no emotional investment in her.
Marilyn is retiring after 10 years at PCC. I wonder how old she is? I just realized I have no idea. She's clearly old enough to have had plenty of years at other careers before coming to PCC, apparently in 2007 -- at which time I'd been working here already for five. She's a Nutrition Educator with special knowledge of Health and Body Care products. We've been Facebook friends since 2013. I just figured out that she's not on the distribution list for my photo digests, and I bet she'd like to be. I think I'm going to add her. Over time she has twice made me homemade bath salts, which were wonderful. Anyway, her last day is not for another couple of weeks, but they still combined the party for all three. I have no idea when Sharon's last day was or will be.
I can tell you a lot more about Mimi -- even her age, 71, since I went to her 70th birthday party last fall. She's retiring after 39 years, and Friday was actually her last day. I've only been Facebook friends with her since 2015, but that was probably around the time she shared with me the tragic story of a gay uncle (I think it was an uncle) who had committed suicide. It was also the year she gave me that old photo of a naked man's butt. Looking at my Google Calendar history, I've been either going out for drinks after work with her (four times) since 2015, or having lunch with her during work days (five times) since February 2014. So I guess my budding friendship with her really began with that lunch in February 2014 -- at the time, I wrote, I just had lunch with Mimi, a woman from HR -- a first. We've exchanged emails about this and that over the past few weeks, here and there, and finally we decided to do lunch. It was really quite lovely. That was about all I wrote about her that day, since I'd just gotten back to work from that lunch and did not have a lot of time to write more. The photo she gave me was nearly a year later. In any case, I guess I've been at least semi-bonded with Mimi in one way or another for nearly four years now. I'm very fond of her and it was clear from the beginning she was fond of me -- but then, most people here are.
The photo above, as you may have surmised, is me with Mimi (on the left) and Marilyn (on the right). Because I had plans with Laney and Jessica at 6:00, I was only able to stay at the party for about an hour and 15 minutes. The party was scheduled from 4:00 to 7:00, so there's a lot that I missed -- but, at least I was there. I had mentioned to Mimi in a work IM chat that I wanted to get a picture with her and Marilyn before I left, to which she replied, "Of course." Actually I want to share the entire exchange because it amused me so much:
Mimi: Matthew, if [my husband] Steve isn't there by then and if you've not left yet, would you video tape the comments part of the party tonight?
Matthew: I will, BUT I only can if comments finish by 5:15 which is when I have to leave! Which may be cutting it tight, really. :(
Mimi: Thanks. If it's after that, I'm sure I can find someone else.
Matthew: I do want a picture with you and Marilyn before I go! (Mostly because I've already thought of a great caption. This is about me, right?)
Mimi: Of course, to both, though the first thing Steve said to me this morning was, "Happy National Mimi Day!"
Matthew: Haha -- and you have to share the day with Marilyn and Sharon, those bitches!
Mimi: [laughing devil face emoji]
This is what I love about Mimi: even though she kind of projects this air of wholesomeness -- in a very unusual way that's actually sincere -- I can still get away with talking like that with her. As she mentioned to Claudia over drinks on Thursday about when she early on recommended a movie to me called The Wackness, I got it from Netflix -- and cannot currently remember the movie at all; I can only tell you I gave it a three-out-of-five star rating on Netflix -- I apparently came back to her and said, "You've got kind of a dark side, don't you?"
I feel like I was slightly a pest about the picture, but whatever -- it was the only way to get it! I wasn't that bad; I only had to bring it up, like, three times. It's naturally a slight challenge to get two of the guests of honor together for a photo in the middle of a party. This was why I hoped to get the picture as early as possible, before the crowd was really thick. I very nearly managed it after waiting and waiting for Marilyn to stop chatting with one other lady I didn't know. Mimi happened to be standing right there too, and I would have gotten the photo right then -- but then Cate, the CEO, came up and started talking with Marilyn. So Mimi said she would go wander around the party for a bit since they were going to be a few minutes, and to come get her and Marilyn before I left.
And that's what I did. After grazing on the many snacks (including a sort of food windfall of Deli samples that happened to arrive independent of the party, giving me sandwich and quiche samples of far more substance after forgetting my lunch at home that day; I had several bits of that stuff in the Merchandising pantry area right before the party started) and having a hard cider, once there was only 15 minutes before I needed to go, I went to grab Marilyn, and she happily came with me to grab Mimi. Justin from IT was nearby and offered to take the photo with both my phone and Marilyn's. There was brief discussion of what we should use as the background, and we settled on the cows mural. After cropping the photo so we're all better framed, you can hardly see the cows anymore -- at least there's still the sense of a photo of a farm behind us. It wasn't until I emailed the photo to Mimi and Marilyn that Marilyn responded by pointing out, "oh my gosh! There's a cow sticking out of my butt! MOOOOOOO!" That cracked me up.
I often slightly struggle with who to list as people with whom I "socialized" at an event like this for the tallies on the next Social Review -- Claudia was there, for instance, but she's not going to get counted because we actually never had a chance to talk at the party. We literally had no interaction for the 75 minutes I was there. I'll include Sara J, though, because of the few minutes she talked to me right before I left -- she was lamenting my leaving because there was still so much of the party left to experience, including comments, and apparently Mimi was even going to lead everyone in some kind of dance. I'm kind of glad I missed that part, to be honest with you.
I'll obviously include Mimi and Marilyn. Scott? I haven't decided. I exchanged maybe two sentences with him when I saw him in the lounge area that has the large TV screen often tuned to sports, but now just had video of a burning yule log. He'd gone there to sit on the couch to eat his plate of food. I'm going to include Elin, though, since she was there, looking very matronly in her semi-formal jacket and skirt, and I came up to say hi to her just as I was leaving. "I have to leave but I wanted to come and say hi," I said. Elin will likely always be the one coworker who always means the most to me. She was, after all, the only one I was currently working with at the time who came to my wedding. (Shauna was the only other former coworker who was there.) We talked for a minute and then I left for my walk back to Capitol Hill.
Oh -- I definitely have to include Elizabeth, our VP of Finance and Strategy, honestly probably my favorite of all the staff who have been hired within the past five years or so. I think she's been here a couple of years now. In any case, I was meandering past her and she asked how what my Christmas plans were, and that quickly evolved into a very engaging conversation that must have lasted at least ten minutes or more. We talked about all sorts of stuff, including that she's from Boise, which she mentioned when I brought up going to visit Mom and Bill in Wallace, which she knew a little bit about. When she felt it was time to move on, she said, "This was nice," and I agreed with her.
There's just one other thing from the party I don't want to forget mentioning, as it was one of the most fascinating moments I've had in recent memory. Back in the late eighties, when Mimi was working at the Kirkland store, there was an armed robbery, and she was actually tied up, hands behind her back, by the robbers. I have always found this story endlessly fascinating, and Mimi has never had any problem retelling it. She has clearly long since moved on from any lasting trauma that resulted.
I only learned within the past week or so that another Scott, who has for years worked as the POS ("Point of Sale") person at the Issaquah store -- he notoriously sends email subject lines written in all caps, as though a product not scanning at registers is a scream-worthy emergency -- was also part of this robbery, and was actually tied up with Mimi.
I happened to walk past Mimi and Scott talking to each other at one point, and I overheard Mimi asking if he'd be "okay with talking about it" -- I assumed it was in reference to this story. I stopped to eavesdrop for a moment and was not at all subtle about it, but wound up having to move on for some reason. But several minutes later I was at a table with my plate of snacks, and Scott happened to walk by, and asked how I was doing. So I said, "I want to ask you about something. You were part of that same robbery that Mimi was part of?"
And here's where the fascinating part came in. I never pressed for specific details -- though I would have loved getting them -- but he was fairly forthcoming with the few questions I asked him. Still, he was clearly uncomfortable talking too much about it. This is something that happened thirty years ago, but, he said, "I can still remember it like it was yesterday." He mentioned having a gun pointed in his face, and it rather sounded like it was one of, if not the scariest experience of his life. He never outright said this, but it seemed clear to me it was not a memory he particularly liked reliving. And I can see how it could be that way for someone, even three decades after the fact. It just fascinated me how wildly differently he and Mimi have handled it, when it was the same thing that happened to both of them. Talking to Scott about it, I sensed a vulnerability that people don't often show in mixed company. I didn't ask him to tell the story in detail because I had a strong feeling he really didn't want me to. To me, it's a deeply fascinating little part of PCC history -- but, it didn't happen to me; I wasn't there. Hell, I was probably 11 years old and in Spokane when it happened.
As you might have guessed, I was unable to record any of the comments, all of which I had to miss because I left early. The other plans I had that evening had been made before this party was announced; otherwise I would have made the other plans for another evening. At this point the only other thing I can tell you about the party is that when I got back to my desk this morning, someone had taken my Christmas Troll's santa jacket off of him and put it on stress-toy squeeze cat I aslo have on my desk. They set the troll on top of the bottle of Kids Digest "chewable digestive enzymes" I'd left on my desk after asking Terry, the HBC Merchandiser, if she had anything for gas pains, which I was experiencing pretty intensely that afternoon. She found these and even though they were for kids, she said, "Just take two." They did help, a little bit. I wondered what whoever left that little display for me thought of that bottle being there, though I didn't exactly worry about it. I'm kind of dying to know who did that, though. Sara? Claudia? There are several people it could have been.
Anyway! From there it was on to the second of three things I had planned -- though the third was very tentative -- that evening: back to Neko Cat Café, this time with Laney and Jessica, on Capitol Hill. It took me about forty minutes to walk there. I had initially assumed Shobhit would join us, but he refused very early on. And when I was talking to Evan before the show we saw on Thursday, she said Elden hadn't been interested either: "We can pet the cat we have at home," he said. "That was pretty much Shobhit's attitude, too," I said. She was going to join us, and even had her own reservation booked, but had to message me Friday afternoon that she wasn't going to make it after all because she was feeling a little nauseated.
So, it was just Laney and Jessica and me. Unlike when I went with Ivan last month, I didn't pay any more than just the $10 for the hour in the cat room, though; what with all the food and drink I'd just had at the work party, I had no need to purchase anything else. Laney and Jessica both just bought a beer. Those had nice little paper cozies around them that read, "I [heart] Cat Hill" (instead of "Cap Hill).
What with the six photos I kept from when I went with Ivan, and the additional 13 taken this past Friday, I created a dedicated photo set on Flickr for the two visits to Neko Cat Café. There had only been seven cats in the room when Ivan and I went, within a week of their grand opening, because a couple had to be at vet visits as they weren't feeling well. This time their full group of nine cats was in attendance, and pretty much all of them were super sweet and friendly. And these are cats that endure new groups of people petting them and picking them up on the hour every hour, between 10 am and 9 pm every day.
I was thinking about this: they cap at 10 people per hour, at $10 per person, for 11 hours a day. If they get their full group of 10 every hour (which obviously doesn't happen: there were two reservations in our group alone for people who ultimately begged out), that's potentially $100 an hour for 11 hours, or $1,100 a day, for cat room visitors alone. That doesn't even account for the drinks and snacks they sell. Laney did seem to kind of feel bad about our last-minute cancellation (she thought Evan's reservation was what Shobhit's really was; Evan had made her own reservation and then just never showed up), and the guy behind the counter said it was fine, but they were still ironing out the process and considering instituting a rule of 24 hours advance notice for cancelation without forfeiting the fee. That actually seems reasonable to me, and Laney seemed to think so too.
I was going to go experience the final hour of this year's Figgy Pudding Caroling Competition downtown, which I've only been to maybe once before, after the cat café, but wound up changing my mind. Laney had already said she wouldn't want to, and wanted to even less now; this was her first outing since the sudden death of a good friend of hers, to cancer, from the small ensemble group from the Seattle Women's Chorus, and she was still pretty down about it. I actually wondered if she would even be able to keep the plans she'd made with me for the weekend, and I would have understood if she couldn't. But, she did. That said, Evan would have had to go back downtown to catch a bus anyway, so I thought maybe she could walk back to see some of the carolers with me. But, she wound up not coming at all. And, it was rainy. Every incentive I now had was just to go back home after Laney and Jessica and I were done with the cat café, and so that's what I did.
Shobhit decided to use the ripe bananas he had to make banana bread. The recipe he found was for "banana bars," but he skipped the icing part, and even though he baked them in casserole trays, it was basically still just banana bread. And quite a bit of it. He'd had himself a drink and I made myself one. We watched some Golden Girls on Hulu.
I saw Laney again just the next morning, at 11 am, as she came over to watch my Netflix copy of The Departed, my favorite movie of 2004, but which I had not seen since then. I can't remember how it came up but when Laney said she had never seen it, I was amazed, and suggested we watch it -- she grew up on Cape Cod, after all, and is very familiar with Boston. She said the city's racism was very well represented in the movie, and that the only actor whose Boston accent was forced was Jack Nicholson's.
Shobhit watched it with us, so -- Social Review point for him! The movie is a little more contrived in certain ways than initially recognized, but we all still found it to be a great film. I would still recommend it to anyone. Shobhit and I had made nachos for dinner the night before, and there was about half of it leftover, which we reheated and then brought down to eat basically for brunch during the movie. He and I had gone to get a couple of things at the Broadway Market QFC in the hour beforehand, and that's only a block from where Laney lives. I texted her to offer a ride back to our place, but she declined because she said this was going to be her walk for the day. She then walked back home again after the movie was over.
The rest of Saturday was a little bit more Ivan-centric, although before the movie I went to with him, I rode with Shobhit to the Lenscrafters in Bellevue since I had nothing else to do. It turned out I could have seen the 2:30 showing after all, but Ivan asked that we stick with the original plan of 4:45. When we got back, Ivan was on his phone laying on his bed in his room with the door open, and when Shobhit suggested he was chatting with his boyfriend, Ivan said the guy was actually having coffee at the coffee shop downstairs. He didn't want to go join him because "I don't want to get my feet wet." That was going to happen later anyway but whatever. I asked if he had invited him to join us for the movie and he said yes.
So, that is how I met Drew, the guy Ivan is "casually dating." 28-year-old teacher from Port Orchard. Shobhit and I both figured this meant Drew would be spending the night and we were right. The guy seemed nice enough to me, although I didn't have a whole lot of time to talk to him. We left to walk to The Egyptian maybe 10 minutes before the movie was to start, giving no time to visit before the movie started; they parted ways with me to go get dinner as soon as the movie ended.
I did find out, though, that Drew is the only one of the three of us who has ever seen The Room, the making of which is what The Disaster Artist, the movie we saw, is about. Drew seemed surprised that Ivan and I were even interested in it, but I know enough about The Room to know the story behind it must be interesting -- and it was.
Oh, and when we were all waiting for the elevator to go down to the ground floor of our condo building, Drew did ask us, "So how did you meet?" in a playfully interested tone. Ivan was just like, "On Craigslist." That leaves out a lot of context, doesn't it? I said, "We were roommates." Drew clearly recalled then that he'd been told this before, and then he said, "I forget a lot of things because I smoke a lot of pot. It's amazing I'm a teacher!" Ivan added, "He has a bong," as though that might be a surprising thing about a guy who smokes a lot of pot?
I've known Ivan for three years and this is the first time I have ever seen him actively dating someone -- however pointedly "not serious" it may be. I took a photo of them from behind, with their locked elbows, when we were walking to the theatre. Ivan has always had a tendency to bound ahead while walking, which Drew made more difficult when Ivan tried to drag him along doing that as they were holding hands. And they were pretty snuggly during the movie, constantly holding each other's hands or resting hands on the other's thigh, Ivan regularly leaning his head over into Drew's neck -- and at one point, even making out for a couple of minutes, their lip smacking so loud that I actually might have asked them to stop had it gone on much longer.
When we first sat down, I said, "You guys are adorable." Ivan was just like, "Are we?" Seeing them like that made me surprisingly wistful, I have to say. It brought back memories of when Shobhit and I were first together, back when we were both far more conscientious about being nice to each other. Ivan and Drew have gotten together four times now (their first date was after Ivan and I went to the cat café last month) and I'm sure they still haven't had any spats just yet. In retrospect, I suppose that's the irony of "New Relationship Energy" -- you're getting along famously the first several dates, but those are also marked by fears regarding the unknown future together. I still don't particularly ever want to go through those specific fears again. Shobhit and I may have since had many epic conflicts, but our relationship is still marked by a comfort, familiarity, and security that I find far preferable.
That said, I still look at Ivan at this stage with somebody and I find myself very happy for him -- he's had relationships before, unlike me before Shobhit, but it's still been something like four years, and he's currently four years older than I was when Shobhit and I first met. On Sunday I messaged him that photo I took and wrote, "I'm so happy to finally see you with some real joy in your life." He later responded in a way that suggested he wanted to downplay it: he doesn't think he'll fall in love with him (there's plenty of time for life to surprise him about that, actually), "but we have fun." So I said, "Even having fun doesn't change what I said. Joy comes in many forms and I know it when I see it" -- and Ivan has several times over the years talked to me about how much time he spends contemplating the dissatisfactory direction of his life. So even if this is temporary, I'm happy for him. Sex is one thing, but even having someone just to snuggle with for a while is not nothing. Even I know now that that alone makes a big difference.
When the movie ended, we weren't even out of the lobby before Ivan said, "We're going to go get some grub. Goodbye!" I almost wish I would have told him I totally get it if he wants me to scram but could we wait to get out of the building, at least? But I just said goodbye, even though we were all still walking the same direction for at least half a block after we got outside. So, I just opened my umbrella and walked ahead of them. I stopped at Mud Bay on Broadway to get cat treats, then went home and wrote my review.
Once that was done, somewhat to my surprise, Ivan actually suggested we all do something together that evening -- I really was kind of expecting Ivan and Drew to stick to themselves for the rest of the night. But, right after Shobhit and I started another episode of The Golden Girls, Ivan messaged me, Well would you like to watch something? I said, Sure!, and we settled on my DVD copy of Scrooged, which I had earlier mentioned was my favorite Christmas movie, and Ivan said he'd never seen it.
So, once the Golden Girls episode was over, I messaged him that we were ready, and Ivan and Drew came out of his bedroom, him with his requisite white blanket he likes to bundle up in when watching TV or movies in the living room. He and Drew sat snuggled together on the love seat, most of the time all of their limbs either wrapped around each other or intertwined in some combination or another. I only realized later that this was actually kind of a new experience: two gay couples watching a movie in our living room, both snuggled together -- Shobhit was largely in my lap as well, although he spent more time commenting on how awful he thought the movie was. Oh, shut up! I admitted later that it doesn't play as well today than it did in 1988, but I still love it. Anyway, when it comes to the snuggling, Ivan and Drew were clearly reveling in it; Shobhit has just always been that way, never abated; and I was a little closer to Ugh. Shobhit's neediness has often felt a little oppressive to me, but okay -- this time it didn't, really. Even we were comfortable for the most part, and to Shobhit's credit, he hasn't been that annoying lately. Or maybe it's to my credit that I haven't allowed myself to get annoyed.
So here's where I wonder: would I count this as "socializing" under normal cirumstances? It's ultimately neither here nor there because between the movie in the condo complex theatre with Laney, and then the movie at the Egyptian with Ivan and Drew, all three of them would get a Social Review point for the day anyway. But what if those other things hadn't happened, and the day had only the four of us watching the movie in our living room that evening? If Drew had not been there, I would not have counted that -- because, as my self-imposed rule states, someone I'm living with (a husband, or a roommate) has far too unfair an advantage for me to count every time we simply sit and watch something in our living room together. For either of them to get a Social Review point for doing something at home, we all have to take part in doing something at home with another guest. Which, obviously, Drew was -- but even he kind of embodies an in-between territory, given his built-in presence as the guy dating Ivan, and now staying overnight for the second time. He doesn't live with us, but under other circumstances he could become someone who kind of might as well be; it's only their respective schedules and his living across Puget Sound that precludes that from happening.
Ultimately, I think, I'd award the points regardless. I could make convincing enough arguments (to myself, the only person who really gives a shit) either way, but I'd land on the side of awarding the points just to appease Shobhit, who takes any chance he can get to increase his points. (That said, he could have gotten a point by coming to Neko Cat Café on Friday, but I guess he didn't think a point was worth ten bucks.) His numbers are going to be much lower than usual this time around as it is, with his 25-day trip he took to India.
After the movie was over, Ivan and Drew went out for drinks, and were gone a much shorter amount of time than I expected -- maybe an hour. As they were leaving, and Shobhit was chatting with them about what they were doing, I overheard from the bedroom Drew somewhat tentatively say we were welcome to join us, then almost immediately said something like, "No? Okay" -- and I got the sense that Ivan had maybe shaken his head or something to indicate he prefer they go alone. Neither Shobhit nor I were really interested in going out for drinks anyway, so there! I was already getting ready for bed.
No Social Review point for Shobhit on Sunday, though, even though we pretty much spent all of that day together, just the two of us -- well, once he got off work at 1:00, anyway. I spent much of the morning wrapping Christmas presents, which took a surprisingly long time. I didn't get out of bed until close to 8:00, and got in the shower maybe around 9:00, getting done around 10:00, which means I spent roughly two hours out in the living room gift wrapping 12 calendars.
Ivan and Drew didn't even come out of his bedroom until about 11:40, so I saw them for just a few minutes before we all left -- they headed out right around noon, just ten minutes or so before I left myself. Ivan crept up on me and I didn't see him standing there until he was right by me, scaring the shit out of me as he has now countless times. "I don't know why you always manage to do that," I said, and he said, "I tiptoe."
I got all the calendars wrapped just in time before it was time for me to leave. When Ivan and Drew left, Drew, who is a very nice guy, said "Take care" and Ivan said "Goodbye!" Then I walked the twenty minutes or so down to Convention Place Station to catch the #41 bus to Northgate, delayed slightly due to traffic, which got me at the store at 1 p.m. on the dot, right when Shobhit got off work.
And then we spent the next two hours shopping: groceries and gas at Costco; produce at the Asian grocery store in the International District. Ivan later told us he and Drew had gone to that neighborhood for lunch, I just realized; we may very well have been in the same neighborhood at the same time. Shobhit and I got home at about 3:00 and just spent the rest of the day at home. Shobhit, clearly assuming Ivan would be away until late, took off his pants and hung out on the couch in his underwear, something I really wish he wouldn't do. I used to complain about one of his roommates in New York doing that constantly when I was around, and I hated it; I don't get why Shobhit would do it now, when we don't know when our roommate might be home. (Shobhit also complained that the Christmas lights would make it easier to see him from outside, which is ridiculous, as is his unprecedented complaint this year that the lights, which I have used every single fucking year we've been together for fourteen Christmases now, are somehow "too bright" -- he turns them off when I'm not at home, even though I like them to be seen from the street whether I'm at home or not.) He did grab a blanket of his own for a while, so at least he was under that for much of the time, but he was on the couch in his underwear when Ivan got home somewhat surprisingly early (now without Drew), only a few hours after we did. I honestly think Ivan is relatively indifferent to Shobhit to it, but it still makes me uncomfortable -- a point that absolutely should matter to Shobhit but never does. Or maybe it shouldn't, I don't know. It still seems to me like simple common courtesy to, you know, have pants on. When we know we're going to be alone I don't care -- in fact we'll both happy hang out nude in that case, and we used to a lot before Shobhit moved away and before I started having roommates -- but if someone else either is or may be around, I hate it.
I was finally feeling slight Golden Girls burnout and wanted to find a movie to watch last night. I found Inglourious Basterds, which I had seen Shobhit considering on Netflix the day before. He had never seen it and I assured him it was excellent. Even after that opening scene, Shobhit actually said, "That was a beautiful scene." Just to clarify, he meant "beautiful" just in terms of how perfectly written and executed it is, not that it's especially "pretty" to look at.
We took a break in the middle of the movie to make a light dinner of a pretty delicious, if too heavy on the salt, quesadilla.
[posted 12:33 pm]