four more days of drinking and eating


-- चार हजार तीन सौ और पंचानवे --

I had social outings of one kind or another all three days over the weekend, every one of them involving Shobhit, so he's happy to know he gets three points on the next Social Review out of it.

The first, on Friday, was a bonus, "birthday" Happy Hour with Laney -- her actual birthday was Sunday (yesterday), but she already had other plans both Saturday and Sunday, and actually she also already had Friday marked on her calendar for me -- the longstanding plan of Fourth Friday watching Mad Men at her place. But, after countless months in which she has either been sick or had other plans and had to cancel, she has basically abandoned her interest in re-watching that entire series, even though we both have very much enjoyed it when we did watch. But, this month in particular, she wanted to do a bonus happy hour with me for her birthday weekend, and she specifically said she wanted Shobhit to join as well.

When we first discussed this plan for Friday, I decided to Google "best happy hour on Capitol Hill," and found a couple of links with lists that I sent to Laney. I thought this place on Pike between Born and Minor Avenues called Rumba and thought it looked most appealing, of all the cited places that we had not yet been to. Laney agreed, and so the plan was made.

I biked home from work, but within minutes Shobhit and I were walking back down to Rumba. They have a pretty nice Happy Hour menu, although to my surprise, the Daiquiri No. 1 was far better than the Pineapple Punch I first tried. Shobhit just had one of the daiquiris, but Laney and I each had three cocktails total -- a Pineapple Punch and then the daiquiri for me; two daiquiris for Laney, before Happy Hour ended at 6:00. Then she and I both had one more daiquiri at full price, agreeing that we really should have had the forethought to order our third one before 6:00. Next time!

Because I really would go back there again, both for the daiquiri and for the food. The Kale & Mushroom Baked Empanada was just all right; the Mushroom Taco was delicious. I had one of each; Shobhit and Laney both had two of the tacos.

Conversation that evening was interesting, as expected, albeit far different thanks to Shobhit's presence than it would have been otherwise. Seattle's massive homelessness problem came up in conversation, and Shobhit is convinced the only solution to it is either to buy one-way bus tickets for each of them to pawn onto some other city (which he is convinced is how a bunch of them wound up here, like some truly insane conspiracy theorist); or to offer rehabilitation services with a deadly timeline -- as in, if after, say, five years, our offered services cannot result in re-integration into employed society, then they should be euthanized. He actually suggested this with a straight face. Laney was understandably horrified, and actually said, "I will never vote for you for any office." (Neither will I, frankly.) Laney later tried to reassure him that she wasn't really horrified, and I think she felt she was realizing she doesn't necessarily need to take him seriously. I don't think that sort of bullshit idea should be taken seriously either, but it does say something about him that he would actually say it out loud to begin with. I love him dearly, I truly do, but when he talks like that, I know it would take a hell of a lot of time and effort to convince me he is fit for any public office -- if it's even possible at all. He actually has valid points when he talks about the cancer that humanity is on the entire planet -- that's actually true, but it's a point that loses sight of solutions that actually exist for managing the people who are here now, whether we like it or not. Shobhit wants to insist that there are no workable solutions to the homelessness problem (just as one example), without bothering to discover the array of viable ideas available from a simple Google search -- something he does constantly with ideas he is convinced in his own mind are the only possible ones.

Mind you, Shobhit does have a heart, particularly on an individual basis. I have seen it, and it's a big reason I am still with him. He also likes to make a game out of alienating people, which is also why I sometimes contemplate life without him. How much of a problem that really is depends on the constitution of the people he's talking to. Some people can't handle it at all. A couple of my friends, most notably Laney and Danielle, know to take a lot of the stupid shit he says with a grain of salt -- and, which is perhaps most importance, they know how to engage in discussion with him with a rational calm.

-- चार हजार तीन सौ और पंचानवे --

As it happens, Shobhit would have gotten a Social Review point for Friday whether he had joined us for Happy Hour or not. Laney specifically asked him to come, though. But, for some reason, I decided I was ready to go dancing again. I suggested to Shobhit that we do it, especially since we both have bathhouse memberships and on Fridays just showing that membership card gets us into The Cuff with no cover charge. Also, The Cuff is all of two blocks from home, which is fantastically convenient for two reasons: 1) we can have a drink at far less cost at home, right before heading over there; and 2) weather is no obstacle, and we can leave jackets at home and not have to worry about coat check.

This was the first time we went dancing since the night before my 40th birthday -- roughly a year and a half ago. We didn't go dancing at all in 2017, the first full calendar year with no dancing at all since 2006! (Mind you, we never went to any dance clubs in 2015 either, but there was dancing at the 4th of July event at Grand Park in L.A., which basically turns into a dance club, particularly once it gets dark, until the fireworks start. That counts!) This is not the record length of time between dance-outings, though -- as it happens, 2006 was in the middle of a break of more than two years.

Where am I getting all this data, you may be wondering? (You probably aren't wondering at all, but you know I am going to tell you!) A little while back, I decided to create a log of every time I've gone dancing, at least since as far back as Shobhit and I got together. Because . . . well, because of course I did. This kind of weird data tracking is just what I do! (I have logs of all sorts of weird shit, including the number of people I've had sex with in any given calendar year since 2010.) Until today, I just had my "Dance Log" in an email draft on my Gmail account, as I do a ton of other logs (that's where I keep everything from which albums I've purchased or ripped each year, to my roommate history, to which active TV shows I watch and where they can be seen), but now I'd like to share it. So, I uploaded it to my Dropbox account. I have this log listed in reverse chronological order, just so that the most recent data is at the top of the page, since that's what I'm always most interested in seeing first. Here are the things I find most interesting about this specific 14-year history:

*That lull in 2006. Shobhit and I, having met in June 2004, went dancing six times that year, all of it within the second half of the year. Another six times in 2005 -- and then in 2006, the year I turned 30, nothing. I feel like it was a reflection of "new relationship energy" that waned after a couple of years. We settled into "old married couple" relatively quickly, I suppose, and largely lost interest.

*The re-explosion in 2010, which very much coincided with both out-of-town trips (San Francisco and Portland), and Shobhit's move to New York City, where the options for gay clubs are far more plentiful, and we went out far more often during the limited amounts of time we were together each month. Also, I went dancing with Shobhit only 8 of the 10 times I went dancing that year -- still 2 more times than either 2004 or 2005 -- the other two being with Gina and her two friends when they visited in late March, and then with Delan, my first roommate, once in July. The averages only slightly waned each year after that, down to 6 in 2011 (the year Shobhit moved to Los Angeles, in September), then 5 times each in the years 2012, 2013 and 2014.

*It was after that, that the frequency plummeted, even on yearly averages: the aforementioned one time in 2015 (4th of July at Grand Park); once in 2016; none in 2017; once again in 2018. And this time, I honestly think it's just aging: to a degree, I did think of that time we went dancing, the last day of my thirties, as kind of a "last hurrah." The most "happening" time at dance clubs is always after midnight, and that's when I have long preferred to be at home, in bed, and asleep.

I'm not sure what possessed me to decide I wanted to go dancing again last Friday, but I can tell you this: even heading over to The Cuff at 11pm turned out to be rather early; there were literally three other people on the dance floor when we arrived. We danced nonstop for over an hour, and even just past midnight, there were by then maybe eight or ten people on the dance floor. I kept thinking about the economics of this for the club itself: last call being at 2 a.m., they must get the bulk of their alcohol business within just those two hours. And I had no interest in being there until 2 a.m., even though it would have been more fun with a few more people there.

One thing I will say about The Cuff is it is far from youth obsessed. There probably were younger people coming after we left, but no matter what time of night I've ever been there, the crowd has been diverse, particularly in age. I never felt out of place there, no matter what age I was. It makes it maybe the most ideal gay dance club in Seattle for me to go to, which is convenient since it is also closest to home. I've gone there 12 times since 2004, and that doesn't even count the several times (never tracked like I have since 2004) I was there before even then. I haven't been to any other place even close to as many times.

The key difference with going there this time, last Friday, is how fucking exhausted I felt once we finally decided to come back home after an hour. It really felt like I'd just done a legitimate workout, my legs were killing me the way they do after an unusually long bike ride. If anything makes me feel old, that is it. After that, I feel a bit like it's unlikely I'll be going dancing again any time soon, or will ever do so very frequently again for the rest of my life.

To be honest I'm okay with that.

-- चार हजार तीन सौ और पंचानवे --


-- चार हजार तीन सौ और पंचानवे --

So Saturday was the party at Sachin's condo in Kent. It was his first home purchase, and basically served as a housewarming party. He's been living there since March, I think he said.

This was . . . interesting. Sachin is, let's say, a singular individual. Maybe a personality type that, for some at least, takes some getting used to. I don't often think about it, because I've known him for as long as I've known Shobhit; they had been friends at least a year, having met at work at Microsoft, when Shobhit and I first met. Sachin actually said a couple of things on Saturday about us that I found surprisingly sweet: he referred to the both of us as "my oldest friends," and even told Shobhit he was "like a brother." I'm not sure how drunk he was when he said the second thing, but he did get pretty drunk by the end of the evening -- in a way that I did not see coming. He seemed the same as usual all evening, and then near the end of it, out of nowhere at least to my perceptions, he said, several times, "I am so drunk!" He never slurred his words, but I did see him kind of wobbling a couple of times. How much did he actually drink, I wonder? I have no idea. Shobhit bought a small bottle of Kettel One vodka that we brought, with which I used to make two Screw Drivers. Both had relatively heavy pours, but in a small glass packed with ice. About halfway through the second one, I had only a barely perceptible buzz.

Shobhit and I arrived first, at Sachin's suggestion. Sachin's mother is staying with him for an extended period, and she cooked a bunch of stuff for the party, all of it delicious. Okay, I'm not the biggest fan of idli; I'm not big on the spongy consistency. Sachin insisted it would be the best I've ever tasted. I liked it fine. When Sachin's mom heard I'm not the biggest fan of idli, though, she also fried up homemade dosas, largely just for me. Those were fantastic, as were the cubed cilantro bites she fried up as appetizers.

Sachin is also subletting a room to a roommate, a black guy from South Carolina named Travis. Sachin had commented on two other get-togethers he'd had and invited Travis to participate in and he apparently didn't; I have no idea how much Sachin may have harped on him about it, but Travis made a clear effort to mingle at this party. He struck me as kind of shy, certainly reserved, but a nice enough guy. Shobhit thinks Sachin's mom, coming from a culture where the act of sharing living space with strangers is mystifying to people, may be uncomfortable with him. I never got that vibe from her, but whatever. She actually seemed surprisingly worldly and cool to me -- certainly more than Shobhit's comparatively ultra-conservative mother.

So, in addition to Sachin and his mother; Shobhit and me; and the roommate, there were five other guests at the party, making a total of ten present. Three of them I was never formally introduced to, nor did I go out of my way to introduce myself to them -- they seemed largely content to socialize with each other anyway. One was a guy named Ram who works with Sachin and was apparently his only coworker invited. I have no idea who the other two were. Then there were Jordan and Daniel, Jordan being the mortgage Loan Officer Sachin had worked with to get this condo, and Daniel her boyfriend of all of one month. They're both 29 but soon to be 30, but both had an instant rapport with both Shobhit and me -- Jordan and Shobhit had met before, as Shobhit had accompanied Sachin on so much of his home search.

Jordan seemed very cool, if bizarrely dismissive of mortgage brokers when I asked for clarification -- because, for many years, Laney was a mortgage broker. She didn't use this language, but she might as well have called mortgage brokers "low-rent loan officers" with little to no independence or grasp on purchasing mortgages. I found it condescending enough to make me offended on Laney's behalf, but given that we just met, opted not to comment on how weirdly dismissive she sounded. She really sounded like she thought "loan officer" was an objectively superior job, and I just basically thought -- yeah okay, whatever. Laney made a perfectly decent living at being a mortgage broker and is far from a moron or a peon.

Beyond that, though, I did enjoy talking to Jordan. She asked me about my hobbies and when I brought up movies we had lots to talk about, although to be perfectly honest, in retrospect, I found myself silently judging her for her movie and TV tastes probably in a similar way to her judgment of mortgage brokers. (Battlestar Galactica, okay -- that's a great show. But Lost? We did both agree on the quality of 30 Rock, at least. She also was weirdly resistant to my insistence that Coraline was not directed by Tim Burton. And I know from Tim Burton movies.)

There was a very odd moment during the party when moments of clear awkwardness between two separate pairings of people sort of converged at once. Shobhit whispered in my ear that he thought Jordan and Daniel were having some kind of tift. Maybe they were and maybe they weren't, but at one point they had removed themselves to the back patio; soon after, Jordan had gone into the bathroom and Daniel was lightly knocking on the door from outside of it. During this, Sachin was being weirdly confrontational with Travis, the roommate, regarding whether Travis was a friend or "just a tenant." I think Sachin took issue with Travis trying to be "just a tenant." I'm not sure this was the most appropriate time to be having this conversation -- or how much Sachin had to drink by this point -- but whatever. And it was near the end of this semi-tense conversation veering close to debate between Sachin and Travis, that Jordan and Daniel returned together, sat down, and were basically like, "What did we miss?" Um . . .

Honestly, the only real reason I bring any of this up is because I find it noteworthy that so much awkwardness and/or tension was happening at a small party, and . . . Shobhit and I had nothing to do with any of it! We were both basically silent observers. Although there was a little tension later between Sachin and Shobhit, because Shobhit, true to his nature, starting putting his nose too far into Sachin's business, particularly about his drinking. He sort of went into "mom mode," telling him to take some Aleve, drink some water, don't drink any more, etc. This was in the middle of most party guests leaving, and Sachin had to look Shobhit hard in the eyes and quietly but sternly tell him, "Shut up. Shut. Up." And then Shobhit backed off.

These details are really not representative of the evening on the whole, mind you. It was a pleasant evening out and I had a good time. I learned interesting details about Daniel's background, and once I brought it up, we all came to the consensus that he looks remarkably like John Legend. I had to clarify that I did not say John Lennon, which was what Shobhit first thought he heard. Uh, no. John Legend does not look anything like John Lennon.

-- चार हजार तीन सौ और पंचानवे --

Shobhit and I went out for brunch on both Saturday and Sunday, both times using coupons. Saturday was to a place in Fremont called "Silence Heart Nest," about as stereotypical a "hippie" Fremont joint as it could get. Lots of stuff on the walls about meditation, and the hostess a middle-aged gray-haired white lady wearing a sari. Our waiter was this really mellow guy with a braided rat tail.

We were using a 2-for-1 entrée coupon on the last day before it expired, which was part of the packet of coupons we got for joining Vegetarians of Washington at VegFest in April. All the rest of the coupons already expired, many of them before we managed even to try to use them. The food was decent, but not great enough for us to go out of our way to go back there any time and pay full price. They'll do fine continuing to fit perfectly in the local Fremont culture, though.

And yesterday we went to Grand Central Bakery and Café on Eastlake, to use the last two of my latest batch of "Free Sack Lunch" coupons I got from a broker at work. We both got a free sandwich, a free bag of chips, and a free cookie out of it. Shobhit did spend some money -- he got a loaf of bread. Okay, so yes, he also used the last of a bread punch card so there would also be a free loaf of bread now that he was purchasing his tenth one.

And that was how Shobhit got his Social Review point for Sunday. We drove back home and we watched my Netflix DVD copy of Orlando, which I had never seen. It was . . . interesting. I can now say I've seen it, I guess. I otherwise spent the day watching a little bit of TV and reading some of my library book.

-- चार हजार तीन सौ और पंचानवे --

And lastly, I just got back from lunch with Karen at the Six-Seven Reataurant at the Edgewater Hotel, a rather rare Monday lunch with her because she was feeling under the weather last Thursday and so we postponed it today. That's why I started making a sandwich at home this morning and realized as soon as I had spread mayo on two slices of bread that I have lunch plans today. I thought about finishing making the sandwich and bringing it anyway, just saving it until tomorrow, but figured that would leave the bread too soggy after a full 24 hours. I decided I'll just have a sandwich for dinner tonight instead.

Now that they no longer have the specials menu, the new normal is to split the gryo sandwich -- which is far less expensive than the truffle macaroni and cheese. The latter tended to cost me $20 just for my half, once the tip was added; this sandwich, on the other hand, only costs me $9.60 with the tip. Far more reasonable (although I must reiterate, that macaroni was so amazing, it was always worth the price).

Karen had just narrowly avoided a car accident on the way here -- her third near miss in ten days, she said -- so we talked about that first. And then about my library book, which I had brought with me since I did not have my bike to ride (I took the bus because of rain in the forecast, and yet again, once I got to work, rain was no longer in the forecast for the rest of the day . . . whatever!). And other, comparatively innocuous stuff too. Now I'm back at the office, you're all updated on my weekend, and I need to get back to work.

-- चार हजार तीन सौ और पंचानवे --


[posted 1:22 pm]