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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    Tuesday
    Apr292014

    a time to thrill: dancing in september

    By the time my mom, dad and I finished the official tour of Graceland, it was early afternoon and the sun had reached its peak. As the three of us stood in line to get back on the shuttle bus to cross Elvis Presley Boulevard, I began to reflect on my experience inside his home. I must admit, I have never been too crazy about the King of Rock. If anyone was like a kid in a candy shop on this visit, it was my father who had lived sixty-two years in anticipation of setting foot inside the infamous Jungle room.

    the jungle roomWalking in the front door, I can safely say I never expected what lay inside. There is no question the man’s taste in interior design was second to none. Every room exploded with life; which was ironic considering each floor was shrouded in death. The overarching effect made touring his home feel like breaking in to an abandoned amusement park. You could hear the bass notes vibrate on the Grand Piano in the living room like the rumble of a roller coaster tumbling by.

    Once we returned to the main centre, we completed a tour of his two private jets as well as his vintage car collection. I don’t remember very many details about this part of the trip except for the fact that I kept getting lost in a maze of Gift Shops. Looking back now, I am quite shocked that I didn’t manage to come home with at least one sequined shot glass or a guitar-shaped key chain with my name on it. I suppose I was saving my dollar bills for more beer.

    Fast-forward three hours later, and our story picks up in downtown Memphis with the addition of two new characters: my sister and her Kiwi partner Lachlan. The two of them had flown all the way from Tokyo to attend my cousin’s wedding. After flying in to Atlanta, Georgia they braved the Deep South locked safely inside the four doors of a Toyota Corolla. In the spirit of dramatic family reunions, the five of us shed tears of joy in front of the reception desk at the Marriot Pinnacle. 

    When one quarter of your family lives in Asia and the other half lives on the Prairies, it is important to make every moment together count - and so we did. After a quick shower to wash the sweat off, we got back on the highway and headed straight for Beale Street: the official home of the blues. Walking passed Autozone Park and the famous Peabody Hotel, I grew more and more excited at the sound of live music drifting down the street. My dad had his turn on the Merry-Go-Round and now it was mine.

    big ass beerThere was no mistaking Beale Street when we arrived. Compared to the rest of Tennessee it was Sin City and I felt right at home. Dodging one drunk after another, I rejoiced in the fact there was not a Baptist Church in sight. The entire street was lit up with flashing lights and brought to life by street performers, crazy tourists and local musicians. The sidewalks boomed with the bass lines of multiple Blues tracks overlapping one another.

    It makes sense that the majority of my memories from the night are somewhat blurred; however I did take home one with me that is clear as gin and I will never forget.

    Two-hundred ounces of beer later and I ended up on the dance floor with my lovely mom and sister. I forget the name of the bar we ended up in; but I remember the decision to stay was made as soon as the band took the stage. The bass! The drums! The saxophone! The voice! Every note that left the stage was spilling over with soul. I am not a religious person but this House I could worship.

    It took an American double-vodka soda to get my sister on the dance floor, but once the elements united there was no turning back. “Do you remember?” the Earth, Wind & Fire classic began to play, “the twenty-first night of September?”  Arms swaying, heads bopping and feet jiving we danced until Marvin Gaye’s Sexual Healing came on; because then it just became awkward.

    To be continued.

    Monday
    Feb032014

    a time to thrill: i'm all shook up

     

    There are several positions that can make a gay man very uncomfortable; however, standing across from your mother in the front lobby of Graceland answering questions as to why you are still single has got to be the worst.  

    Now typically, big family events like weddings or reunions are a total breeze for me. All my aunts, uncles and small town cousins are much too nervous to ask me any questions about who I am sleeping with or what I am doing with my future. Unlike my heterosexual cousins, no one cares if I get married or work outside retail. Not to mention, the thought of me having children is just as far-fetched as me buying a house in Vancouver. So long as I have not contracted a virus or become addicted to methamphetamines, in the eyes of my extended family, I am doing just fine.

    Unfortunately, the only family figure I am not immune from on this subject is my mother, who has made it her personal mission to find me a husband.

    “Rugged, I just don’t understand how you haven’t met anyone in Vancouver yet,” Mama Fox said to me, “the city is practically swarming with attractive gay men."

    The two of us stood in the front entrance to Graceland waiting for my father to buy us tickets to get on the tour. Elvis played overhead on the speakers while videos of his gyrating pelvis flashed all over the t.v. screens.

    “Ugh!” I gasped, rolling my eyes and brushing the invisible hair back from my forehead. The last time I engaged with my mother on this subject the conversation got completely out of hand. Before I knew it, she was forcing me to Google pictures of Elton John’s and Neil Patrick Harris’ kids just to see what was possible.

    “You ain’t nothing but a hound-dog, cryin’ all the time.”

    “I told you mother, I am not blessed with the luxury of time right now to answer the texts of any gentlemen callers. I am married to my job. The restaurant cooks me lunch and dinner and slams me every Friday and Saturday night – what else could I ask for?”

    “I just don’t think you are putting yourself out there,” she said.

    It was clear that she and I were on completely different pages of the same People magazine.

    “What happened to the last boy you were seeing?” she carried on. "You know the one who worked at the flower shop... what was his name again?”

    Every time we discussed the tragedy called my love life, my mother insisted we look back at the last relationship I had in order to to figure out what I did wrong.

    “Mom! What are you trying do to me? If I wanted to drive all the way to Memphis to check in at the Heartbreak Hotel, I would have walked across the street by now.”

    I’m all shook up. Mmmm ooh yeah."

    I looked for my father who was still in line waiting to buy tickets. I willed for him to jump to the front so that he could come back and save me from this maternal sabotage. There was never any talk about sex or relationships when my dad was around. He didn’t ask, and I didn’t tell.

    “Sweetheart, it is clear to me this boy is obviously the reason why you have drowned yourself in work at the restaurant in a desperate attempt to mask your feelings of loneliness and prevent yourself from ever feeling rejection again. You are almost thirty years-old and it’s important that we talk about these things now so you can get your life back on track. Remind me, what was his name again? I swear, it’s on the tip of my tongue."

    I was trapped. There was no white flag I could raise and the only exit out was through the gift shop.

    “Derek,” I muttered reluctantly under my breath.

    “Derek…Yes, yes, of course, now remind me again what happened to him?”

    “He dumped me on the first day that it rained last year because he thought I drank too much.”

    Are you lonesome tonight?

    “Well call me crazy but maybe if you spent less time drinking and more time dating than you would have met a nice boy by now you could hold on to longer than six months.”

    By the grace of Meryl Streep, my father returned at that moment with our tickets, a souvenir guide book and three diet cokes . I was safe for at least the duration of the tour.

    “Dad?” I asked, twisting the bottle cap open.

    “Yes, Rugged,” he replied.

    “Do you think they serve alcohol on this tour?”