I am a twenty-something prairie boy who lives on the west coast. i love red wine, live jazz and spaghetti bolognese. i work full-time at an itailan restaurant and am in a part-time relationship with netflix. if you love to laugh and treat yourself to multiple night-caps this is the site for you.

 

 

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    Wednesday
    Sep032014

    a time to thrill: in search of rugged fox

    DISCLAIMER: This post is a touch more dramatic than usual. Promise will return to light fluff as Rugged Fox gets out of Tennessee and back in to Vancouver.

    “WHERE THE HELL WERE YOU??” my sister screamed at me as I walked back up to the rental car. “WE THOUGHT YOU WERE DEAD.”

    As much as I love jumping to a good climax, I suppose I should rewind an hour or so in order to explain how my life went from dry brunch to Unsolved Mysteries. Alright, as you may recall from such posts as the previous one, at the top of my agenda for the day was to find an outfit for the night’s major event: a classic Southern Style BBQ/cocktail reception.

    I did not mention this detail the last time because it was not relevant to my search for a Bloody Mary; but when the five us pulled up to park at the restaurant, I noticed a cute little consignment store that was right next door. As we piled out of the car, I trailed behind to peek in the shop window. My gay-male-sixth-sense was obviously tingling, because I knew this would be the place I would find my outfit.

    I ran to catch up with everyone and mentioned to my father that as soon as we finished brunch, I was going to pop in to have a quick shop. Fast-forward one verbal attack on a bubbly waitress later, and the men at the table (including me) stood up to leave. My sister agreed to stay on with my mother while she finished her fresh cup of coffee. Mama Fox was notorious for always ordering another cup of joe just as everyone at the table was ready to leave. On Friday nights at Pizza Hut as a teenager, I always dreaded whenever the coffee pot came around because it meant I was going to miss another episode of Boy Meets World.

    Outside the restaurant, I left my dad and Lachlan deep in conversation to make a b-line for the clothing store. Inside, I was welcomed by the chime of a bell and a warm smile on the shopkeeper’s face. Similar to my age, she was dressed in a retro 50’s style that I have always been fond of.  Her bright red lipstick worked in direct contrast to an open-collared white sleeve shirt that tucked in to a Houndstooh pencil skirt. Her feet were adorned in leather flats that matched the same shade as her lips.

     “Good morning,” I said. I had calmed down considerably after my incident in the restaurant.

    “Hi,” she replied taking a sip from her tea. “All the men’s clothes are in the back. I am happy to help if you need me.”

    Painted canvas white, a collection of vintage lamps propelled down from the high ceilings towering over the shop. Spartan in design, apart from a dresser here and there propping up jewellery, there were a series of clothing racks that were spaced out respectfully from one another. Each rack exploded with colour, pattern and history. You could tell that each garment was chosen with purpose and intention. Every stitch wove together a different piece of the city’s history.

    I made my way to the back and almost fainted when I came upon a small collection of denim overalls hanging down from a rack of plaid shirts. I hit the jackpot and thanked Meryl Streep for my good fortune. Next I proceeded to try on every piece of clothing that I laid my hands upon. I was not keeping close track of time but I did find it odd that my dad had not popped in to the store once to tell me to hurry up. I suppose I figured that he was still chatting, my mom was still sipping coffee and I had all the time in the world.

    I had no idea, of course, but while I tried on clothes a full-scale search was underway to recover my body.

    Checking out, I thanked the shopkeeper for her kindness and lifted up my paper bag stamped with the store’s name, Hoot + Louise. I walked outside pleased as punch with my new outfit and that is when everything turned sideways. I noticed my sister standing next to the car, and as I got closer realized something was terribly wrong. Before I could say a word, she began screaming at me.

    At first I thought this must have been a joke. In between gasps of her cigarette, she explained to me that everyone had been searching in back alleys for me for the last half hour. She had been tasked with staying at the car in the event I came back and was furious at me for putting her through this torture. I could not believe this was happening. This was certainly not a joke.

    “Why didn’t anybody call or text me?” I asked, scrambling to find my phone tucked deep in my bag Hunter. As the screen lit up, I realized I had spoken too soon. Ten missed calls and three text messages punctuated with a thousand question marks. 

    When the rest of my family returned, I found myself in just as much disbelief as they were. How on earth was it possible that everyone jumped to the conclusion that I was dead so fast? None of it made sense to me. Clutching his arms to his chest, my dad’s blood pressure was off the charts. I pleaded to him that I told him exactly where I was going but he would not hear it. My mom grabbed on to my arm like she did when I was a child and did not loosen her grip.

    I have obviously never been a parent before. At this point in life I am not sure whether fatherhood is in my cards. I always joke that I would love to raise a gay kid; except it was not until that moment that I became present to the anxiety my parents felt having raised one themselves. Crawling in to the backseat of the car, I flashed back to the look of trepidation on my parents’ faces the night I came out to them at The Keg.

    My nineteen year old self was much too naïve to know this then; but ten years later in downtown Memphis it finally dawned on me that my parents were never once afraid of me being gay – they were terrified about what might happen to me because of it.  I have never talked to them about that night at the steakhouse, or what thoughts were racing through their minds at the time.

    I can only assume that while I sat there filled with white wine and promise about leaving the closet, their imaginations jumped to images of: young men being dragged behind trucks, Tom Hanks covered in lesions across the screen from Denzel Washington, and my mom’s uncle who never married and took his life after a long battle with depression.

    Sandwiched in the middle of the back seat, I waited until we were across the Mississippi River before trying to lighten in the mood in the car.

    “Now that it is confirmed I am alive, does anyone want to see my new overalls?”

     my sister and new overalls

    Monday
    Jul212014

    a time to thrill: in search of a bloody mary

     

    The next morning, I was torn awake by the blazing Memphis sun. I looked up to the ceiling fan twirling above my head and for a second thought I was in the first scene of Apocalypse Now. I looked down to see the same clothes I was wearing last night and around the room to see the empty bottle remnants of an exclusive after-hours party. After dancing all night long on Beale Street I was determined not to let the party stop.

    I rolled over to check the time on my iPhone – 6:12am. “Shit,” I cursed. According to my last legible text records, I had passed out approximately two hours earlier. The only thing that could make this situation better would be a double Caesar or a SnapChat from Habibi. (Exposition: Habibi is this totally-hot straight boy from Van who occasionally sends selfies of his eight-pack in between shots of night-clubs and stray dogs.) I will give you this sentence to judge me before we carry on.

    I debated going back to sleep but I knew that I had a big day ahead of me and it was going to take me at least five hours to get out of bed. The most pressing item on the day’s agenda was to find an outfit for the wedding’s kick-off event: a classic Southern Barbecue/cocktail mixer happening later in the night. The invitation described the dress code as “country casual” which I envisioned as designer cowboy boots, Levi 401 jeans and a trendy plaid collar shirt that could work on a farm or at gay bar.

    So far, I had managed to put together zero items on my list which gave me a deadline of 12 hours to shop minus 1 hour to brunch, 3 hours to drive back to Nashville and 6 hours to check myself out in the mirror. I knew I had to get out of bed now or else I would be a bitch without a dress. Sitting up straight, I immediately regretted my decision to move.

    I was a population of one sixty kilometres south of Sober and two miles North of Still Totally Drunk.

    Like an eight-year-old boy in an IMAX theatre, I held my head between my legs until the feeling of doom stopped and the room came to a stand-still.

    There was no question I was going to have to proceed with caution when completing the six-foot trek to the washroom. Standing up, I began to recite my daily morning mantra, “one foot in front of the other, one foot in front of the other.” My mind was in the right place but unfortunately my basic motor skills were not. After falling in to the wall, I made the executive decision to complete the rest of the trip on all fours.

    Using the bathroom counter to hoist myself up, I reached over to flick the light switch and screamed bloody murder when it turned on. Natural light is painful enough for an alcoholic; but fluorescent light will turn a gay man in to dust. When my vision came back in to focus I assessed the damage of my night on Beale Street to be extreme. I could have blamed my blood-shot eyes and sawdust throat on the American art of free-pouring; but let’s be real, this is one of my favourite parts of visiting the States.

    Thankfully, there was a coffee machine in the washroom and so I didn’t have to get back down on my hands and knees. Fumbling to get the white coffee mug out of the plastic wrap, I filled the machine with water, inserted a Colombian pod, and pressed start. The sound of the water boiling and the coffee dripping soothed my troubled mind. Careful not to fall in the bathtub, I turned on the shower and peeled off my clothes. Once the coffee finished brewing, I took the mug in the shower and did not come out until I finished the last drop.

    When I returned to the bedroom, the birds outside were chirping, the sky was bright blue and I was ready to greet the day. I put on a change of clothes, sprayed a mist of Burberry Brit, and woke up three hours later to the 7th call from my mother.

    “Rugged,” she exclaimed over the phone. It was clear from her tone that she was not a happy Mama Fox. Sometimes too much White Zinfandel can make her quite hard to work with. “I have been trying to call you for the last of hour. Do you have any clue what time it is?”

    “Huh?” I replied. It appeared that in exchange for control of my legs, I had lost all conversational skills.

    “It is 10:47AM which gives you approximately ten minutes to get your ass out of bed and downstairs. Your father is already waiting in the lobby with Lachlan and Sister Fox. We are going for brunch.” 

    “Bloody Mary?” my voice perked up with promise.

    “Only if you make it down within -”

    I was too busy packing to carry on the conversation.

    After we checked out, I was tasked with finding the best brunch in all of downtown Memphis. After consulting with Google, I verified with TripAdvisor that Arcade Restaurant was the place to be and so I set the GPS to South Main Street and we were on our way.

    Unbeknownst to me, Arcade Restaurant turned out to be Memphis’ oldest restaurant and the setting for a number of movies including my personal favourite, The Client. Built in 1919 (and clearly not redecorated since 1959) the diner/café turned out to be an experience in and of it self. The walls were painted stop light red and covered in old movie posters and memorabilia from the last century. Random shelves hung up here and there featured vintage coke bottles and mustard jars from the past. The real attraction, however, was the 3,000lb steel Milkshake machine that, against all odds, still managed to churn out vanilla and chocolate.

    After a brief wait at the door, the five of us were sat. Exchanging my sunglasses for actual prescription, it became clear to me how much we all resembled death. If there was ever a time for a memorable family mug-shot it was right now. All I needed was two ounces of vodka and a celery stick to really sort myself out. The rest of the family required an intravenous coffee drip.

    Two minutes later, the bubbliest waitress in the history of bubbly waitresses showed up at our table.

    “Hi y’all, how’ll we are all doing today? My name is Betty-Mae and I will be taking care of ya’ll’s so you’se got nothing to worry about.”

    Maybe it was just the hangover reeling but this girl came across like an Energizer bunny on crack. I could see the look of pain on my beloved family members faces at the pitch of her high voice and knew I had to do something to slow her drum down. Luckily, I was classically trained in customer service combat and knew exactly what to do.

    “Heeeeeeeeeyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy,” I said in my gayest voice possible matching her energy and then some. If you can’t beat em then join em. “Two words ok pop-tart? Bloody Mary. Kiss, kiss, love you forever, k thanks bye.”

    “Actually,” she paused. “We uh…”

    I sensed something was terribly wrong and felt the blood begin to drain from my face.

    “You uh … " I waited out each ellipse. "The answer is yes I would like a double thank you very much.”

    “I am so sorry hun but we don’t serve booze here, but I can get you a virgin one, with an extra piece of celery!”

    I was in a state of shock, followed promptly by a state of anger.

    “An extra piece of celery? ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?” I threw my glasses on the table in disbelief and raised my menu as if to attack her with the breakfast specials.

    “Rugged Alexander Fox!” my mother shrieked as my father ripped the menu out of my hand. Before I could say another word, my sister had muzzled me with her right hand.

    “I am so sorry!” my sister exclaimed to poor Betty-Mae. “My brother is an addict and a homosexual” she whispered in a hushed tone before raising her voice to a normal decibel level. “We are doing everything we can to support him but as you can imagine sometimes it can be incredibly difficult. Whenever you have time, and I mean, w-h-e-n-e-v-e-r, we will take a round of coffees and water for the table.”

    My sister didn’t release her grip on my mouth until Betty-Mae was far gone.

    “An addict and a homosexual?” I repeated back to her. "That is what you came up with?" 

    She shrugged her shoulders in response and I, in turn, let my eyebrows drop. 

    “Fair enough,” I said.

    As you can imagine, I was kept on a pretty tight leash for the rest of the meal. When the bill arrived, I slipped another $40 in the bill-fold on top of the 20% tip that my dad had already left. In restaurants, apologies carry zero value. Money is the only gesture you can make that carries any kind of meaning. In truth, I really was quite sorry. I was sorry and still in search of a Bloody Mary.

    to be continued.