Rugged Fox is a gay blogger living in Vancouver, B.C. His interests include red wine, men, Netflix and spaghetti bolognese.

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    The Lady with the Little Bottle of Red Wine

    Part Five of "The Grindr Monologues." Rated UCF.

    (Not caught up yet? No sweat. Start with part one here.)

    The floor of the plane rumbled underneath my feet as Erin, passed out on my shoulder, began to snore. With the tray table down in front of me, I swiveled around the empty plastic cup in my right hand, and shot back the last ice-cube melted sips of a G&T. Breathing in a deep yoga breath, I came to peace with my sober fate for the duration of the flight and then with my right fingers, crushed the plastic cup into oblivion.

    It was only a matter of minutes before I started experiencing the first signs of withdrawal. In horror, I gazed down to notice my steady hands fly into a moderate state of turbulence. Rattling back and forth, I snapped the tray table shut when my finger nails began to furiously tap SOS in Morse Code. Locking down my hands underneath my legs, I brought myself to a brief moment of respite, before hearing an alarm set off in my ears as my brain opened up the floodgates of anxiety.

    Within seconds, I was plagued by uncertainty and fear regarding the answers to such pressing questions as: “Did I forget to pack my moisturizer?” and “What if Wentworth Miller takes out a restraining order against me?”

    Wesley, the gay male flight attendant who denied my prepaid credit in the first place, wheeled up to my row with a garbage cart. Drenched in sweat, I looked as if I should have been quarantined. Even whiter than usual, I felt like Marc Renton in Trainspotting when he locks himself inside a bedroom with canned soup and a garbage can in a failed attempt to kick heroin.

    With baby-blue non-latex gloves strapped tight around his fingers, Wesley reached down to remove the crumpled cup which was stuffed haphazardly into the pouch in front of me.

    “You don’t look so good,” he said with a genuine sound of concern. “Is everything okay?”

    “Oh great, great, yeah everything’s great!” I regurgitated each word before unlocking my hands to remove the sweat from my brow. Like a rich housewife in the first stages of divorce, armed with nothing but an embarrassing prenuptial agreement, it was imperative that I did not show any sign of weakness.

    Fortunately, he bought my story and continued on his heroic path to rid the back cabin of all garbage and recyclables. Closing my eyes, I pleaded with my brain to go to sleep when the faintest sound of a question washed up in my left ear. I turned my head left to see where the question mark was coming from when I discovered its source: the lady in the window seat.

    “Why didn’t you hook up with him?” she asked. This time I heard her crystal clear.

    Up until this part of the story, the lady two seats down from mine had remained without description. Focusing in on her profile, I jotted down mental notes as she began to take shape. In her mid-fifties to early sixties, she had shoulder length blonde hair that was frosted sterling silver. Also of major note were her golden earrings. Each ornament dropped down from Sapphire stones and splintered into diamonds that dangled like chandeliers on both sides of her neck.

    “Listen Ginger, please do not make me ask you again.”

    I pinched myself to make sure I was not hallucinating. Then I pinched myself again to double-check. Without warning, I shifted upright in my seat. Erin’s heavy head dropped from my shoulder and plunged onto her chest.

    “I’m sorry, but who are you?” I asked.

    “Irene, and that’s all you need to know for now.” I watched her carefully as she bent over and fumbled into a bright seafoam green Michael Kors bag at the base of her feet. “I was afraid it was going to come to this,” she mumbled.

    Like the sound of a cash register knocking fifty percent off, I exploded with glee when I heard the sound of two wine bottles clanking.

    “But how did you?” I stuttered. “Where did you-”

    “I will ask the questions for now,” she cut me off, unscrewing the caps on two little bottles of red wine. As she passed me a drink, I jotted down the rest of her profile. Teal was the colour of the cashmere sweater that trickled out from underneath a silk Hermes scarf. Brindle was the colour of her two eyes that popped out from underneath charcoal frames the same shape and size as mine. I checked and there was no wedding ring to speak of.

    I presented her with a cheers and then took a sip from salvation. Almost immediately my hands stop shaking and my forehead dried up.

    “The reason why I didn’t hook up with DQ Man was … well it’s a long story. Truthfully, I’m not quite sure I’m ready to tell it.”

    “Well as far as I know, we’ve still got three Great Lakes to fly over and I am a fantastic listener.”

    For some reason, I felt as if I had met this lady before, or known her for my entire life. Unlike the much younger Erin, I could sense that she could see right through my incredibly attractive and fickle façade.

    “Well at the time, I wasn’t tested yet,” I admitted to her. “Prior to my adventure on Grindr, I had unprotected sex with a man who turned out to be HIV positive and I was too terrified to get my results back.”

    “Now we are finally getting somewhere,” Irene took a sip of her wine. “Carry on.”

    To be continued.


    free range gays

    The following post is RATED UCF (Uncle Curt Friendly). Alberta Rye is advised.

    [Okay. I know everyone is becoming, like, terribly anxious about part five of “The Grindr Monologues” series, and truth be told so am I. I have been staying up late each night drinking red wine, watching Schitt’s Creek and trying to find the appropriate angle from which to write. I promise as soon as I find it, we will return to our inflight entertainment; but for now I have another story to share with you.]

    As soon as I discovered the restaurant was shutting down for renovations on Easter weekend, I booked a plane ticket to Calgary to visit Granny Fox. Unlike Vancouver, where gays roam free, I knew I was going to have to watch my strut after touching down in Cowtown. And so for protection, I purchased a vintage pair of cowboy boots, and assembled the perfect designer outfit to shield myself from tire irons and men in big red trucks.

    Fortunately for me, I had nothing to worry about! As it turned out, with falling oil prices and economic turmoil, Albertans have much bigger problems to fear than a dandy ginger. And so, I did what any civilized man would do and struck the perfect balance between family visits and happy hour pints and 39 cent wings at the watering hole down the street. I am proud to announce that Rugged Fox placed 69th nationally at Tap Trivia at Donegal Irish Pub.

    On my last night before flying home, I had a lovely dinner with Granny Fox and my cousins at a quaint Italian restaurant in Kensington. While sipping Valpolicella Ripasso, I assured the Matriarch that even though I was not married and had zero children to show her pictures of, I was still managing to lead a very fruitful life on the Coast. All she said to me in return was, “you better publish a book before I’m dead kid, and if I were you I’d get on it. Now be a dear and pass the bruschetta. Chip chip.”

    Returning to Vancouver first thing the next morning, I managed to evade the temptation of the Molson Brewhouse in the airport terminal and arrived home surprisingly sober. Hopping in a cab at YVR, I kindly asked the driver to drop me off at the Vancouver General Hospital where I was already late for an eye appointment. After a routine check-up went sideways last week, I was booked to see an ophthalmologist in regards to a hole at the back of my eye.

    Once my pupils were successfully dilated and my eye scans were complete, I finally made it into the doctor’s office. Sheilding myself from the burning fluorescent lights, I came to full attention when the Eye Man walked in and shut the door behind him. Standing six-foot-two with da Vinci brown locks and biceps that rippled out from underneath a sea foam polo, Eye Man was not at all what I expected.

    “So what brings you here?” he sat down at his computer, scrolling through pictures of my eye balls.

    “I have a hole that needs to be filled,” I answered, uncrossing my cowboy boots like Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct.

    “You’re right, I can see it on the retina scan of your left eye. Well I’m sure I can help with that. Let’s take a closer look why don’t we.”

    With the flick of a switch, before I knew it, the lights were off and the chair had propelled me back before lifting me up into a horizontal position. Now, I could direct this next scene using a slew of sexual innuendos – like how when the Eye Man pressed his waist against my shoulders my pupils were not the only part of me enlarged – but I am not twenty-three anymore and must restrain myself. The truth is that even though he had both my balls in his hands (one more) the experience was not all that comfortable.

    “I am going to give you laser surgery,” he said, turning back on the lights and sitting down at his computer.

    “YOU ARE GOING TO GIVE ME WHAT?” I yelped, fumbling upright while the chair struggled to catch up.

    “There is only one risk involved,” he locked eye contact with me.

    “And that is?” I dabbed my eyes with a fresh tissue.

    “That I miss… But you have nothing to worry about because when I shoot, I never miss.”

    “Dear Meryl.”

    I was so weak in the knees I had to take a moment before getting up when he directed me back to a seat in the waiting room.

    Twenty-two laser beam shots later, I fumbled back to the reception desk brain-fried and half-blind where Eye Man dropped off my file and said, “I will see you in three months.” But what about joining me for Happy Hour in thirty minutes? I furrowed my eyebrows and squinted my eyelids in his direction but it was no use. He was already back in the office getting set to laser beam another highly-attractive an un-expecting young eligible man.

    Retrieving my suitcase from a corner closet, I found myself at the height of confusion. I was not on any drugs, but my mind and body were unaware of that. I wheeled outside and screamed when the brightest ray of sun hit me like a fireball. Hunching down like Quasimodo, I scrambled to put on my sunglasses and started walking up West 10th.

    I felt like I had just stepped out of a bar at last call – and had no idea what to do with myself. I debated hitting up the patio at Cactus for a beer but reasoned if I couldn’t see the waitress then I probably shouldn’t be drinking. Stopping for a moment to light a pity cigarette (I never smoke during the day – and yes I need to quit!) I took one puff in the middle of the sidewalk when I heard a familiar voice say, “Well lookee what we have here.”

    Out of all the people in the world that I could literally bump into at this moment, it just had to be my Gay Arch Nemesis. At the head of one of the top Beaujolais’ in town, this man was only ever meant to catch sight of me put together in my best oufits.

    This was a total disaster.

    “Oh my Gawd Dominic!” I puffed up my chest and used my gayest voice possible to forge emotions of joy and surprise. “It is so good to see you – what has it been like two years now? You look great!”

    It was true. From what vision I could muster, he did look great, which infuriated me to no end. I took another puff of the cigarette before stamping it out.

    “It is so good to see you too Rugged!” he said before tilting is head, “Is everything okay? You look tired.”

    TIRED?! HOW DARE HE! I was on fire like a 425 degree oven that had six minutes left to bake a delicious frozen pizza. Call me whatever cruel names you desire on this planet, but never refer to a gay man as looking ‘tired.’ I could barely keep it together.

    “Oh you know, I just flew in from Calgary this morning and popped in for a little laser eye surgery before returning home. DEAR MERYL BRING ON THE TIRE IRONS AND MEN IN BIG RED TRUCKS, ANYTHING TO SAVE ME FROM THIS TORTURE. I am kind of legally blind at the moment but you know, no bigs, sun is shining, patios are hopping.”

    “Where are you living right now?” he asked, looking up from his phone. I doubt he heard anything I just said.

    “Oh you know, that way!” I pointed blindly in the opposite direction of the mountains. “It’s humble, garden suite, 1200 square feet, insuite laundry and dryer … I live in a basement in East Vancouver underneath a four-year-old girl. Whereabouts are you?”

    “Mathieu and I just bought a house in Railtown. The two of us were just so over the West End and finally thought, hands in the air to heck with it! Let's move! It’s really quite a charming neighbourhood once you get passed all the crack addicts and prostitutes. Did I tell you we got engaged last fall?”

    He showed me the ring and I pretty much had to bring his hand up to my face to get a good look.

    “Congratulations! Is that Tungsten?” I asked.

    “Why yes it is. How did you know?”    

    “Well it’s not like I stay up till 3:00am each night Googling men’s wedding ring photos… (nervous laugh followed by awkward silence) My friend Bay Roberts has the same one. Anyways, I should be on my way but it was so nice to see you!”

    “Cocktails soon? You have to come see the new place!” 

    “Absolutely. 100%. For sure.”

    The two of us parted and rather than light another cigarette, I proceeded to call Mama and Papa Fox who accompanied me on the ninety-minute walk home.

    The moral of this story is call your parents, visit your grandma, and so long as you can see them coming, always run at the sight of any successful, attractive recently-engaged gay men.