Gingerbread Village 2018


Yesterday marked my 13th annual viewing of the Gingerbread Village gingerbread houses at the Sheraton Hotel, which I started doing in 2006, and I haven't missed a year since.

Twice they held it in a different location than the Shertaon Hotel s lobby, both times over at City Centre: in 2006, it was because they were in the middle of constructing the second Sheraton Tower. Last year it was because they were renovating the lobby.

This year it's back at its traditional spot at the Sheraton Hotel, although they certainly did something new with it: it's in a separate room, although the line snakes around basically the same area -- except that this time, once you pass the Christmas Tree in its usual spot, the line's switchbacks are roped off to the left of the tree instead of to the right where it used to be; to the right, it's the newly renovated lounge area.

And in the past, the five giant gingerbread houses which all adhere to the year's theme have been behind the column that is begind that Christmas Tree. This year, for the first time ever, the line snakes around those switchbacks and then goes into what I presume is one of the hotel's conference room spaces.

This year's theme is "Welcome to Who-Ville," inspired by Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas. They even had the 2000 Jim Carey version of the movie playing -- with no sound -- for children to sit on the floor and watch while the rest of us snaked through that ridiculously long line.

Then, once finally in that room, all five of the gingerbread houses are presented with a black backdrop, and illumination, in some cases actual blinking lights. I have no idea is this is a new thing specific only to this year, or if they will do this type of thing every year from now on. I suspect the latter, given last year's lobby renovation turning the old spot for switchbacking lines into a new lounge area.

Anyway, Shobhit and I had gone walking all around on errands, with several stops along the way: Whole Foods for the day's 12 Days of Cheeses 50% off cheese sale; Target for some mouthwash; Pike Place Market and Victor Steinbrueck Park just because that's what we do whenever we're downtown; the Metro Tunnel so Shobhit could load $10 on his Orca Card at a kiosk; US Bank for Shobhit to make a deposit (or was it a withdrawl? -- who cares?); and then, finally, over to the Sheraton Hotel to see this year's Gingerbread Village.

The sign near where we got in line said it was a two hour wait from that spot. A guy working there said it was actually more like 90 minutes, which I think was bullshit he told people to keep them from giving up and leaving. I don't remember the line wait times being so insane when I went back in 2006, but maybe I'm just engaging in revisionist history in my mind. In any case, once we reached the sign that said the wait was two hours, just a few minutes later, I started the stopwatch app on my phone. And once we got to the room with the actual gingerbread houses in it, the stopwatch said 1 hour and 50 minutes. So much for 90 minutes!

I'm used to waiting for long times in lines, though, so whatever -- although I still maintain it would have been way better to get in line at 5:00 on Friday on my way home from work. But, Shobhit had some stuff to do after his shift ended in Northgate at 3:30, and he didn't want to rush downtown to meet me at 5:00. Had he done that, the wait time would probably have been half as long or less, but since we had other stuff to do downtown yesterday, he suggested we do it then.


Now, we also had tentative plans to meet with Gabriel for ZooLights in Tacoma last night -- something I recently discovered I have not done at Point Defiance Zoo, specifically, since 2004. The first idea was to do it on Thursday, and on Gabriel's end that fell through, so he suggested maybe Saturday. I was all down for that, and a tentative plan was made.

I was even deliberate in my language in the text I sent him yesterday morning. Instead of saying, Are we still on for ZooLights tonight? I asked, So what time are we meeting for ZooLights? That was at about a quarter till 11 a.m., and I did not hear from him, finally, until roughly 4 p.m. -- when Shobhit and I were in line for Gingerbread Village.

Gabriel actually called me, telling me he was on his way back from the ocean, where cell reception was spotty, and that was why it took so long for him to get back to me. His concern now, though, was that ZooLights would "be a shit show," given the evening forecast of heavy rain and wind -- the light displays would likely be falling apart. He suggested maybe we could just come down and visit at his place and he could make us dinner. I told Gabriel I was leaning toward taking that option, but I needed to talk to Shobhit and get back to him.

So this was where things got complicated. First off, there is the fact that Gabriel and Shobhit have not been in each other's presence since the awful argument they got into at my Birth Week Party in 2017. Things got so heated then that a) Gabriel avoided me for three months or so; and b) thereafter, I went out of my way to keep Gabriel and Shobhit away from each other, just to keep all three of us happier in the meantime.

Now, Gabriel was in a much darker place at the time; Shobhit wasn't exactly on his best behavior either. They say time heals all wounds, right? Gabriel himself told me not long ago on the phone how much it was bothering him that I was feeling compelled to keep them separated, and he was ready to remedy that. Shobhit has never explicitly said this himself, but in the end, his actions last night seemed to indicate that he was ready for it too.

It took Shobhit a little while to get to that point last night, though. I suspect that, in his mind, meeting at ZooLights would be a lot easier to deal with getting together with Gabriel again, at a place where tensions could not as easily flare up, and he could reasonably expect to get back home early. Because there was another factor, that being his work shift starting at 7 a.m. this morning. Switching the plan to going to Gabriel's apartment increased the chances that we would wind up out far later than he wanted to be, and so at first Shobhit kind of insisted that this was not a good idea.

So, I wound up texting Gabriel that maybe we should just try rescheduling ZooLights for next weekend. (This remains a tentative possibility, for the record.) Gabriel clearly really wanted us to come down, texting me back that we should just leave early and it was just a 45 minute drive. Now, to be clear even 45 minutes is no small aount of time if it's that long each way and we could only stay for one or two hours. Shobhit also needed to stop for gas at Costco, which meant the drive was going to take at least an hour.

I even texted Gabriel this, thinking for a short time that it was settled and we would not be driving down to Tacoma. But, once we finally got through the Gingerbread Houses -- the line for which I was not willing to abandon after already having waited 90 minutes -- Shobhit started asking again what we were definitely doing. Were we going tp Gabriel's or not? I said, "Is that still an option?" and Shobhit said it was.

So, I texted Gabriel again that I had convinced Shobhit after all; we hoped to leave by 5:30; and we caught a #11 bus home up to Capitol Hill on Pine Street. (Incidentally, that stop is across the street from the Paramount Theatre, we were there just as the matinee showing of The Lion King was letting out, and I later found out Gina, Beth and some friends of theirs were at that show, so we just barely missed crossing paths with them!)

I was able to text Gabriel at 5:26 we were on the road, and we should reach his apartment at roughly 6:30. He was still traveling back from dropping Tess off at Stephanie's after coming back from the ocean, but he eventually texted me he was about 10 minutes ahead of me and was going to the store real quick. When we reached his actual apartment, he said he had just gotten back himself and only just turned on the heat, so that was why it was so cold. I did keep my jacket on for a while.

So then we were at Gabriel's for about two hours. Gabriel made us Beyond Burger veggie burgers for dinner and they were delicious. And, mercifully, Gabriel and Shobhit got along swimmingly -- probably a fairly even mixture of it being for my sake from either of their perspectives, and just the limited amount of time we had not allowing for a whole lot of bullshit. (There was no bullshit at all, for the record.)

Now, I do want to give Shobhit some real credit here. First of all, when I thought we'd be going to ZooLights, I suggested at one point maybe I should ask Dad and Sherri about it, because often my family goes as well, and I am unable to go. Shobhit was the one who suggested I not do that, because if my family were also around, I would not have enough time to spend quality time with Gabriel. Also, I think when Shobhit finally acquiesced last night about going, it was at least partly because I was visibly bummed about not being able to go see Gabriel before Christmas, which I really looked forward to being able to to. I'm pretty sure his about-face about this was pretty much for my sake, and I do appreciate that.

Anyway, Gabriel filled us in on his weekend, his life, his job, all sorts of stuff, and Shobhit was very enagaged and asked questions that indicated that he cares. Gabriel even had a Christmas gift for me! He got me a book -- The Skeptic's Guide to the Unviverse: How to Know What's Really Real in a World Increasingly Full of Fake. I will read it, with interest (as I said to him as we were leaving), but once I finish the library book I have right now, which is, of course and as always, overdue. It was very nice of him, and I had no gift for him. I did almost buy him a gift the other day -- a book as well, as a matter of fact -- but then when I looked at it on Amazon I was unconvinced he would like it enough to justify getting it, so I didn't.

We spent the secod hour we were there watching the pilot episode of Killing Eve, which Gabriel has been raving about for weeks. And although I think it got Shobhit only moderately interested, I am definitely hooked, just as I expected I would be as well as Gabriel wanted me to be, and intend to watch more.

Once the episode ended, though, Shobhit drove us back home. He went to bed pretty early, but I was up ridiculously late last night because I went back to Steamworks for the first time in two months -- only to pay way too much for increased prices for a private room, only to get not much action out of it. But, whatever, that goes with the territory; it happens. On the upside, I got two receipt coupons for $5 on a weekday, because the guy accidentally charged me only for a locker and then had to charge me another $12 for the private room. So if I want to take advantage of both coupons, I have to return twice before January 18. I think I can do it!

I got back home at nearly 2 a.m.; it took me nearlu four hours to get off at Steamworks. Hopefully my next visit won't take so long. Current coupons say "any weekday" as opposed to only Monday or Tuesday, at least, so maybe I'll go back on a Thursday when it's "twink night", as that has worked well for me in the past.

Oh by the way I also got a picture of Gabriel's nearly perfect Christmas Tree.


[posted 4:58 pm]