Bamboo Presse Fest


-- चार हजार एक सौ छप्पन --

For those of you who don't return to this blog until after the weekend is over, and want to be fully caught up on my life events since Friday afternoon, note that I already wrote a separate blog post yesterday, itself totaling about 2300 words, about Becca and Tyler's Reception Party on Saturday. Be sure to check it out if you want updates on family drama! Mind you, those updates are only tangentially related to the party itself, which was quite nice and I had a good time at. Even though I did complain a little about Becca's hosting abilities. I do feel like clarifying now that I don't necessarily blame Becca for not being the best at hosting a party. God knows she wasn't taught anything of that nature by her parents. I have a deep affection for Becca and wish her and Tyler every success and happiness in their marriage. Even if Shobhit thinks they're making a mistake by moving back to Spokane next spring. Shobhit could very well be wrong about that. He's wrong about a wide variety of things, after all.

Anyway! How about I fill you in on the rest of the weekend now? Like Happy Hour with Laney and Jessica on Friday!

There was something definitively disappointing about that as well -- nothing to do with Laney or Jessica -- and I'll get that out of the way first.

The location -- Bamboo Garden -- was my suggestion, because Laney and I used to go there a lot about a decade ago but I hadn't gone with her in five years -- as I noted in my August 11 post. The time, though, was pushed back from the usual 5:30 to 6:30, to accommodate Brian, who had told us at the SLGC Family Reunion picnic last month that he'd love to join us for Happy Hour sometime. Another old SLGC chorister, who did not make it to the picnic but posted a comment on my Facebook post for August Happy Hour, also told us she'd love to join us for Happy Hour sometime.

Laney started a Facebook Messenger thread, including myself, Brian, and Debi, on August 25 that our next Happy Hour was scheduled for September 8 at Bamboo Garden. Brian responded: "Cool!" Debi responded in kind: "Cool!" Brian followed up with, "We'll probably be a bit late from Redmond." Debi replied, "Ok." Naturally this would make Laney and me assume they were both planning to come. I noted that it was totally okay to schedule it later, so we settled on 6:00.

Laney wrote, Let's say 6om. And Debi I know we said you'd have to come to cap hill but Bamboo Garden is near Seattle Center so it's at least a little closer for you xo

Debi's response: I'll try. Followed with an emoji winking with its tongue out. Whatever that was supposed to mean, but presumably playful and without giving us any reason to doubt that she was actually planning to join us.

So then we get to Friday itself. At 10:54 am Brian messages the group, Extremely frustrated because work has suddenly scheduled a 'morale event' tonight. Can I join all of you next time?

First of all: a "morale event," scheduled at the last minute on a Friday evening that is apparently compulsory for employees to attend? Who the fuck does he work for? (*checks Facebook*) I guess he works for Ninetendo. Well, fuck Nintendo. As I responded via Messenger, So much for morale! I think you should tell your colleagues "My friends hate you." 😀

He wrote back, I should. 🙂

Now, I'm a bit more forgiving of Brian. I'm willing to extend the invitation to him again -- even though I said I didn't want to invite either of them again when Laney and Jessica were there on Friday. But I was annoyed at the time and, while I meant it in the moment, have changed my mind on that now. I'll give him one more chance.

Debi was a bit more annoying. After biking home from work, I walked to Laney's place on Capitol Hill, and rode with her to meet Jessica at Bamboo Garden. Figuring Debi was still joining us -- since she had yet to say she was not -- we told the wait staff that we needed a table for either four or five people, since we weren't sure if Debi was bringing her partner or not. They seated us at a table for six, where they had a four-top booth and a two-top table pressed against the end of it.

By about 6:25, Laney texted her. Deciding to be playful, she wrote, Are you coming? That's what she said

And Debi only wrote, LOL or something like that. Still didn't answer the question. So Laney asked again, and finally Debi told her she could never come down from the north end where she lives on a Friday because "I'd want to kill myself" -- in the traffic, I suppose? Whatever. I was especially annoyed by this because A) she never mentioned any such trepidation about driving into Seattle proper on a Friday when first told the date; B) our Happy Hours are almost exclusively on Fridays; C) she still said nothing about that when Laney messaged the reminder to all of us at 8:00 Friday morning; and D) I could see receipts on Messenger showing she saw our messages; common courtesy dictates she should let us know before we all got there and literally waited for half an hour to order, that she would not make it, and she did not, until being prompted twice.

So. I don't think we should invite her again. Don't ask to be invited to our regular outings if you're just going to jerk us around.

The amount of time I have spent on writing about this is way out of proportion with how much I actually care about it, by the way. I'm just ridiculously verbose in writing, that's all. I mean, I still don't want to invite her again. And I do think it was rude to lead us on to the point of us pointlessly wasting table space for her. But it's not like I'm losing sleep over it.

Laney and Jessica and I all had plenty good times on our own anyway. I actually ordered something totally new for once -- mostly because I'd eaten so much at the lunch provided at work after the Town Hall office meeting, and I couldn't take a portion the size usually offered at Bamboo Garden. So I just ordered two sides, one of which was uncharacteristically sparse in contents (fried wontons) and the other quite tasty (three fairly large veggie chicken "nuggets" -- which were nearly the size of three-quarter corn dogs). I'd already had a few of the veggie potstickers appetizer Laney and Jessica ordered. Unlike me, they hadn't eaten much all day. Usually I'd have tried to be the same before eating at this restaurant in particular but, as I said, work had provided lunch. I can't turn down free food!

I had two Mai Tais, though. Bamboo Garden's drinks are so cheap they don't even need a Happy Hour menu. Laney and Jessica both had two Mai Tais each as well. No variance in any of our drinks that evening. We all found them quite tasty. They were $7.50 each, I think. Laney felt they were strong. I think they tasted strong, but they had no impact -- not even a slight buzz. To me that means they used cheap alcohol, which made it easier to taste. The flavors of the drinks overall were still good, and so, worth the price.

Once we were all done, Jessica went her separate way in her own car -- and was to fly back to Alaska for work the very next morning -- and Laney drove me for a quick stop at the office, so I could pick up the glassware I gave Becca and Tyler on Saturday as a wedding gift. Those two boxes had been sitting on my desk for a week and a half: two Wednesdays ago, Helen came to me with these mercantile department samples to ask if I wanted them. At first I was like, "We have more than enough glasses already." And then I said, "Wait! Those are perfect wedding gifts for my niece! I'll take all of them!" And then, just to really drive home how cheap we are, I wrapped them in leftover Christmas wrap. Becca seemed to love them, though; that's what matters.

Anyway. They were too bulky and heavy to carry home on my bike and I was waiting for an opportunity to pick them up while in a car. And the opportunity presented itself on Friday.

I've gotten so used to going to bed early and getting up for work at around 5:15 am that it's becoming increasingly common for me to zonk out well before even 10 pm, even on weekends -- no matter how hard I genuinely try to stay awake. I tried this on Friday, when both Shobhit and Ivan were at work. I often like to stay up even to say hi to Ivan after he gets home from work on weekends, and Shobhit is home. But Shobhit was himself scheduled to get off work that night at 10:45, which is right around the time Ivan usually gets home. I fell asleep that night at 10:18.

Shobhit later told me he'd been disappointed to get home and find me asleep because he wanted to go dancing. He so rarely actually wants to do that, how the fuck was I supposed to know? He never texted me with the idea or anything. I mean, I probably still would have resisted it. But at least I would have known. I did tell him on Saturday, "I think we've kind of outgrown that." I think that's very true, but it doesn't mean I won't ever do it again. It's just that going dancing always means being out really late, to a time I'm usually two hours into sleeping.

Part of Shobhit's thinking on Friday, I'm guessing, was that for once Saturday was a rare weekend day in which he had no work shifts, so he did not have to be up early. I was thinking we could try again next weekend, but he starts work at 7am on both Saturday and Sunday. Maybe we'll try again some other weekend soon, though, if his schedule allows for it. I'll have to pay closer attention to that.

-- चार हजार एक सौ छप्पन --


-- चार हजार एक सौ छप्पन --

As for yesterday, everything I did was either spontaneous or semi-spontaneous. I only met with Evan and Elden for Hawaii Fest at Seattle Center because Elden messaged me on early Saturday evening to ask if Shobhit and I were planning to go. It wasn't even on my radar; Shobhit would always be bored by it and never have the slightest interest. I would never even go on my own -- the appeal to me was just to hang out with them for a few hours.

I went to this same festival with Evan a couple of years ago, in 2015. We made leis. Unlike in 2015, I didn't take any photos at the event this year. We didn’t assemble leis, either. The line for that was ridiculously long. We did attend a workshop in which we learned the alphabet and several phrases in the native Hawaiian language, though. I headed for home pretty much right after that, as I wasn't interested in the shaved ice they wanted to go get.

Up until that point, we first ate lunch -- like last time, I got pretty much the only vegetarian option: yakisoba noodles with vegetables. I told Shobhit about that later and he said, "That sounds bland." I said, "Yeah, it was." There was a lot of Hawaiian food to be had, which pleased Evan (whose ethnic heritage is Japanese/Mexican, the Japanese side via generations living in Hawaii -- she still has family there) and Elden, but the vast majority of it is very, very meat-based. I still enjoyed hanging out with them, which was basically why I went: it gave me something to do on Sunday while Shobhit was at work.

Anyway, then we meandered around booths looking at merchandise and information. Here's the most interesting thing I learned: 1935 was the year of the first-ever trans-Pacific flight from San Francisco to Hawaii, and it took 21.5 hours. Holy shit! That's longer than it takes today even to get to Australia, on literally the opposite side of the planet. I cannot imagine staying on a plane for that long. How fast was that plane actually flying, I wonder? I mean, shit -- that's a route that now takes less than six hours. Oh, I guess I could just calculate it: San Francisco to Honolulu is 2,393 miles. So that's slightly over 111 miles per hour. Yeesh. We have cars that can go that fast. Planes now go four times as fast.

-- चार हजार एक सौ छप्पन --

I did not know I would be meeting Gabriel and Shell for drinks until I was literally walking home from Seattle Center, and Gabriel called me. They were on their way back from a soccer game Tess played in -- because she's so good she plays in a league pitted against teams all over Western Washington -- near Mount Vernon, and would soon be driving through Seattle on their way home. Shell really wanted to meet me.

Quick update! Gabriel is with a new woman now and her name is Shell, short for Michelle, but she spells the nickname like Shell Oil for some reason. She's a self-proclaimed hippie, is bursting with positive energy -- or at least she was yesterday -- and she recently got rid of her chickens. I'm going to call her his Female Companion. I don't know if they have decided yet if she is his girlfriend. Stop asking me questions! Leave me alone! Update over.

Quick aside: I have officiated two weddings, they were for two of my best friends (2005 and 2012), and I like to make them both about me by saying they both kicked off marriages that wound up unmitigated disasters. So maybe I should stop officiating weddings. I have the Dark Magic touch!

That's all I'm going to say about that. I've been quite conscientiously quiet about it for eight months because it otherwise has nothing to do with the life I detail here, so I intend to stick to that even now. But, I did have drinks with Gabriel and Shell, which brings her into my life officially, so here she is, being presented to you through my filter. That said, I still plan to be careful. Or more careful than I have been in the past, when it comes to writing about other people, but Gabriel especially. I've made a truly unprecedented effort on that front, this year in particular. I spent years taking him for granted in a way I did not take literally anyone else in my life for granted -- in a proudly open way, no less -- and it was a shitty thing to do.

Anyway! Shobhit remains a sticking point. When Gabriel first said they'd be coming through Seattle around 5:00, I was conflicted. Shobhit would have been pissed if I spent the entire evening away from him when he thought he was going to have the evening with me, and fairly understandably so. I said back in April I was going to need probably a lot of time before I wanted to be in the same presence as the two of them together again, and I still kind of feel that way. When I texted Shobhit, I noted that it was only for an hour, so not all evening. I still wasn't sure if Shobhit would have some kind of fit. He's been bitchy lately about my making plans with other people on days or evenings he's not working. He thinks I should prioritize him over all my friends. By and large I do, actually, but these things still have to be taken on a case by case basis, especially when I have to plan with friends far further in advance than I know Shobhit's work schedule. Sometimes, he just has to deal. That said, having to place that "just deal" attitude in the context of spending time with Gabriel was, let's say, potentially problematic.

Conversely: what if Shobhit decided he wanted to join us? Very unlikely, but still a possibility. With Shell there, it was far less likely any further clashing would occur between Gabriel and Shobhit. I decided if that happened, I would tell Shobhit he had to promise to be civil. And I would ask the same of Gabriel.

But then Gabriel texted me that they'd be getting there at 3:30. That was ninety minutes before Shobhit was even supposed to be home from work. Whew! Dodged a bullet there. This resulted in the most desired scenario for literally every one of us. Except maybe for Shell, who when we parted said "I want to meet your man," and I was like, "We'll see when that happens," or something to that effect.

We met at Café Presse, which was an easy walk from home -- and I left maybe half an hour after I'd returned from Seattle Center. Gabriel at first wanted me to pick a place with good cocktails, and I couldn't think of a place off the top of my head that was close to home. I then suggested Rhein Haus, and he countered with Café Presse, which is a block closer to my place from there. Works for me!

Our respective arrivals were perfectly timed. They were just out of their car and onto the sidewalk and saw me a quarter block away. Shell shouted, "Heyy!" as though we already knew each other but were seeing each other for the first time in a while. Surely she knows way more about me than I do about her, for now anyway. She said to me, "I've heard many wonderful things about you." I thought later, certainly she's heard some less than wonderful things too. That's not a dig on Gabriel; it's just a realistic expectation of anyone's honestly intimate portrait of me, and few people know me as well as Gabriel does. But, Shell was rightly too polite to say such a thing.

She was also one of the most immediately open and honest people I have ever met. I can't remember ever meeting anyone else with whom my first conversation covered both the current state of their own family and domestic issues, and a lighthearted discussion of genitals ("How do you feel about vaginas?" "I think they look like melted vinyl."). This woman took things to both surprisingly intimate and delightfully weird conversational places, in a matter of minutes. And none of it was forced, I should note -- it all came up organically.

I guess she didn't know how to interpret my fairly deadpan tone while I was on speaker phone with them in the car as I walked home from Seattle Center. "He's not into it," Shell had apparently said. "That's how I always am," I assured her, and Gabriel said he basically said the same thing to her -- that I pretty much always sound that way. Now, granted, I was also slightly worried about Shobhit and the timing of my meeting for them for drinks while I was having that conversation. But had I not been, my tone likely would not have been noticeably any different.

Shobhit and I had leftovers at home from Becca and Tyler's reception party to eat for dinner, so I didn't order any food -- it was too early anyway. Shell told me to feel free to eat from the cheese platter she ordered, but I opted not to until we were leaving and it was clear what would have otherwise been left uneaten anyway. I wasn't crazy about the bread. Gabriel covered the bill, so I didn't have to pay for the one cocktail I had, which wasn't bad. I should take them out for drinks or dinner sometime. Gabriel has done this for me way more often than I ever have for him. Not that it's a contest!

We were there for less than an hour. Shell had a kid of her own she needed to get back to. I'm suddenly recalling the moment during this visit that Shell told me she "fell madly in love with" Gabriel. And something else literally occurred to me while I was writing this very paragraph about that, which I consider to be pretty significant, a detail worth paying attention to.

Gabriel has had many relationships over the time I've known him. I can think of at least four which, in the middle of their duration, were easily as important to him as any of the others ever were. Until now, in every case, it was Gabriel who told me about being madly in love with the woman. This was a first, though -- Shell beat him to it. This time it was the woman who told me how much Gabriel means to her. I refuse to make any declarations of expectations here -- or even have any specific expectations -- but, we're always free to hope. And I think of this as sign of hope.

There was a pretty momentous thing that happened when we all parted and said our goodbyes. Shell hugged me, tight and far longer than anyone normally would after meeting for the first time, but these are specific circumstances. It was a gesture rife with intent, and believe me, it was not lost on me. I felt like she cared about me deeply, simply because Gabriel does. And this is in no way meant as a disparaging reflection on anyone else Gabriel has been with, but that is also a clear distinction from how my own relationship with his wives or girlfriends have ever started before. To be fair, those stories were also each unique with their own beginnings that couldn't really have started this way if they wanted to. This is a woman who had developed an affection for me before we even met, and it's no small thing to note that this was after exclusively being presented through Gabriel's own filters.

And so, while we were hugging, she whispered in my ear, "He loves the shit out of you."

Holy shit. Jesus. I actually know that already, but it has never been expressed so explicitly, in such words. Gabriel would never say that himself -- at least not in those specific words. It was slightly jarring to hear.

I then went to give Gabriel a hug, and I said, "The feeling is mutual." My tone came out sounding exasperated, as though I were trying to say "Okay fine, I love him too!" I did not mean it to come out that way at all. Frankly I don't think anyone doubts my bottomless well of affection for him. Just consider the video I made in 2015 to commemorate our knowing each other for 20 years. Apparently the affection showed through, considering this comment: "I love your love!!! It shines. You guys shine." (Irony alert! That and the response "You said it perfectly!" were written by his two most recent exes. Although one of them wasn't an ex at the time.)

I'd really like to show Shell this video -- one of the few, I might add, I still have left on YouTube that play properly because they still haven't come at me for copyright infringement due to the music I used. I even tried to find her on Facebook so I could send her the link, but the two accounts I found among Gabriel's friends with the right names don't appear to be her, at least not clearly. Is she not on Facebook at all? What a weirdo! (Or maybe: I envy her.) Maybe he'll see this and show it to her?

In Gabriel's comment on my Facebook post of that video he also mentioned, "Tess loved it too. When we finished, she asked if you can make an 'Eight Years with Tess'?" So, I then posted the "DanTess" video three days later. That video got way more traction and appreciation, from both Gabriel himself and everyone else. Figures! That kid just had to outshine me! What a bunch of bullshit.

Anyway, Gabriel can then show Shell that video too. It's also still playing properly, which is a relief. She also works at the school where Gabriel teaches, and she actually bonded with Tess before she and Gabriel began to get close -- another good way for a relationship to start, actually.

So Gabriel and I disembraced and they went back to their car, and I walked home. Shobhit was back from work shortly thereafter, and we shared the leftovers from Becca and Tyler's party -- including sharing one last slice of their delicious wedding cake. I spent some time on the post about that party, and then I helped him finish the last half of the New York Times crossword. We watched maybe for episodes of BoJack Horseman and then one episode of The Golden Girls. I started to zonk out even earlier than I had been recently though, and I was actually in bed and sleeping by 9:32. Then I woke up at, like, 4:30 this morning and had a hard time continuing to sleep until finally getting out of bed at 5:20.

-- चार हजार एक सौ छप्पन --