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Seething Cakes of Hatred

Making pancakes, as I learned at AP's birthday bash at the beach this weekend, is an unbelievably tedious chore. I don't know why I...

Thursday, December 30, 2004


I never say "dude" unless I am totally blown away by something. For example, one night in my college dorm room, my friends and I were hungry for pizza. But we didn't call Domino's in time to place an order for the final delivery of the night. So my roommate went down to the lobby and waited for the pizza guy to show up. Then he pretended to be a customer, paid for some random person's pizza, and brought it back to our room. "Dude!"

I haven't used that word much since college. Only special occasions call for a "Dude!"

"Dude, I just had two hours of phone sex" or "Dude, I was just offered money to write a play!"

But here goes...


Okay, that is pretty cool. Thanks for the nomination. This calls for shot of Maker's Mark. But, really, what doesn't?

I have to admit, I'm surprised I wasn't nominated for best cooking blog. I did post a fantastic recipe for Sweet Potato Pie, after all. I even shared my unique views on food here.

Why wasn't I nominated for most inspirational blog? I mean, let's just pause to consider my volunteerism.

I wasn't even considered for the blog whore award. I thought I'd made my whorish tendencies known to all.

I haven't checked out the finalists for Best Weight Loss/Fitness blog, but I've covered that subject as well.

No matter. I don't mean to complain. It just comes naturally. Being a finalist for Best LGBT Blog is cool even though I don't know what LGBT means. It is probably something to do with cars. I'm fairly confident my expertise in the area of auto maintenance earned me this nomination.

Voting starts on January 1. Ever since I fled the cult I was in, I've had a hard time recruiting, marketing, selling, etc. I hate to seem pushy. So I won't be "campaigning for votes". Okay, I will just make one small pitch. If you vote for me, I will make out with you.

Like I wouldn't do that anyway.

And thank you, Pony, for designing my site. Part of this honor is due to your talent. But I've already made out with you, so you've already received your prize.

You can vote by clicking this handy button:

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Hip, Hip, Hooray!

For Sandy, Amy, Pat, Susan, Marilyn, Torrey and Tara...

At this moment, I would like to honor the people who are always there for me. The people who take care of my heart and help me assemble pieces of furniture from IKEA - the Lesbians. Hooray for The Lesbians!

The Lesbians have never let me down. The day I broke up with CT, I called a lesbian to bail me out. Sandy came over in her truck and took me and my suitcase home with her. She handed me vodka shots while I cried and worried about what to do next. "I think you should live here for a while. There are only two rules. You have to be truly at home here, and you aren't allowed to pay rent." I lived with Sandy and Amy while I sorted out my anger and hurt towards CT. As therapy, Sandy and Amy put me to work building a deck with them.

I transferred my rage onto each stake I pounded into the hard rocky ground. I sweated and cursed and sweated some more. Sometimes I would be distracted by memories of the man I loved for seven years. At such moments, all the strength would leave my body, and I would start to feel the knife in my heart, which prevented me from pounding another nail. I would drop my hammer and flop myself onto the ground. Sandy and Amy would then stop hammering to go get me a beer, and breaktime (breakdowntime?) was declared. Drinking beer and crying in the sunny backyard became a crucial part of building the deck on those July afternoons. The day Sandy cut her hand was the day we realized that deck truly was built with blood, sweat and tears. I always felt safe with my two lesbian "sisters", Sandy and Amy.

When I moved into a house with Juju, who is not a lesbian but has had her share of girl crushes, I needed a bed. Who came through for me? Two lesbians, of course. Pat and Susan gave me their extra box springs and mattress. Sandy offered her truck to transport the mattress. Then she stayed and helped me put together the bed frame. If it weren't for lesbians, I would have nowhere to lay my head.

Ubergirl and Cowgirl came into my life the following year. They have been invaluable in caring for my heart and my wellbeing. They make me laugh, and show their friendship in countless ways. Ubergirl takes my car keys away from me when I've been deemed unfit to drive. She is the one who taught me to hand the keys over willingly and not rely on my own judgment when it comes to getting behind the wheel of a car after a night on the town. Ubergirl and Cowgirl got married this year, and they inspire me in ways they can't imagine. I want a family like theirs someday.

Auburn Pisces started out as "my lesbian friend at work", but she's become so much more. She is my sister and my daughter. She is my mother. She is my partner in crime. She is my bar buddy. She gives my phone number out to guys I'm afraid to approach, which is kinda "junior high", but how else are they gonna get my number? Certainly not from me. Auburn Pisces feels it is her duty to make sure the boy porn at the bar is hot enough for the bar patrons. She has no qualms about approaching the bartender to ask for more hardcore porn on the monitors when necessary. Auburn Pisces is my sounding board and my relationship counselor. I trust her with all my heart.

Hooray for The Lesbians! What would I do without them? The Lesbians never try to hook up with the guys I like. The Lesbians help me determine whether a guy is right for me or not based on factors other than his penis size. The Lesbians keep me supplied with lube (and I keep them supplied with condoms). Without The Lesbians, I'd never have discovered Melissa Etheridge, and Indigo Girls would be missing from my music collection. Were it not for The Lesbians, there would be no firewood for The Vortex chimenea. I'd have to buy my own tools instead of borrowing theirs. I would not know the importance of buying Bud Light in bottles, not cans. I would not know what a harness looks like. (Actually, I could do without that particular image, thank you very much.)

In a world without lesbians, I would never watch The Superbowl. I wouldn't have a bed or lawn chairs. I wouldn't have the influence of these wonderful, strong, beautiful women in my life. I am blessed beyond belief.

Hooray for The Lesbians!

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Tales of a Flat Broke Semi-Famous Playwright With Wax-Covered Glasses

The Cold Comedy Concoction opened on Christmas. The Oregonian did a nice feature on the show last Friday in the Arts & Entertainment section. I wrote one of the four plays performed in the show. Although I've written lots of short plays and sketches for theatre, I'm always performing in them. This time I had the opportunity to just sit back and watch.

My date for the evening was the handsome and suave Pony. Wearing tight Italian jeans, he was the perfect arm candy for this semi-famous playwright. The buzz outside the theatre was frenetic, and I quickly realized just what a big deal this event was. The paparazzi snapped our photo as we entered the theatre. Actually, it was just a friend with a disposable camera. Actually, nobody took our picture.

But the play was fun, I laughed at all four of the shows, including my own, and the audience had a blast. My play is titled "Spud Toppers", and it's a parody of life as a temporary employee of a busy building management company. I wrote most of it while sitting in The Vortex. It was fun bouncing ideas off The Handsome Prince, and we both laughed a lot at the concept and the quirky characters that sprang from my mind. I had a great time writing it (unless you count the day I called Pony in tears telling him I couldn't write and that my script was crap). It was really important to me that Pony be there for opening night since he was such an encouragement to me during the writing process.

On another note, Christmas is over, and I'm glad. I didn't have money to spend for presents, so I felt a bit guilty about that. Two days before Christmas I had $1.09 in my checking account. Well, technically, I had negative 41 cents, but one charge for parking hadn't cleared yet. The Handsome Prince suggested I make presents for my friends. My only reply was, "you can make presents!?" I'm sorry, but I'd rather not give my friends homemade art made from macaroni and glitter glued to a paper plate. And we all know homemade baked goods are out of the question, unless you happen to like blackened "cajun" chocolate chip cookies.

It was a humbling Christmas. It's not easy for me to accept a gift without having something to give in return. But this year I had to do just that. The people who love me and gave me presents weren't doing it with the expectation of getting a gift in return. I know that.

Someday maybe I will write something or take on an acting role that makes me lots of money. If that ever happens, my friends and family will benefit from my success. But, please don't hold your breath, friends and family. I don't really dream of wealth or fame. My dreams, as most anyone who reads Hot Toddy's Toaster Oven knows, are more often dreams of love. So, unless I end up with a wealthy man, I'm not sure I'll ever be someone who has lots of money. I just don't put much energy into thinking or worrying about money. Actually, that's not entirely true. I kinda did some thinking about money that day my checking account had a balance of negative 41 cents.

The only other item of note is that I almost melted my eyeglasses this Christmas. I blew out a candle with such exuberance that the wax flew up into my face and covered my glasses. In order to get the wax off my glasses, I decided to put them in a microwave oven so the wax would melt off. After ten seconds of cooking in the microwave, my glasses started to pop and sizzle. Hearing the noise, I quickly took my glasses out of the oven. They were only slightly damaged. And still covered in wax.

That just goes to show that, even though I am a semi-famous playwright, I put my pants on one leg at a time and microwave my glasses just like everyone else does.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

A Belated Birthday Wish

It's time for the Toaster Oven to shut down for the holidays. I will be back on Monday, but if you really need to hear about more antics at CC Slaughters, you can go check out Auburn Pisces. She has a better memory than I do (surprise!) and has taken up the job of reporting the shenanigans I forget to tell you about.

Happy Holidays! And now, without further Ado Annie, an open letter to my blog:

Dear Hot Toddy's Toaster Oven,
I am writing to apologize for missing your birthday. December 1st came and went without even a nod of acknowledgment from me, your creator. I am a terrible person. I really suck. But you already know that.

Every weekday, I open you up, Toaster Oven, and I stick something into you just to see what happens. Sometimes I make a mushy, sappy, sickeningly sweet dessert entry, and somehow you bake it up into something palatable. Other days I throw ridiculous ingredients into you, you know, stuff like popcorn shrimp and malted milk balls. Or pop tarts marinated in whiskey. Then I expect you to somehow make a meal of my random combinations. You help give order to my thoughts, help me deal with attention deficit disorder, and did you ever notice there are no states that begin with the letter "I" except for Illinois, Iowa, and Idaho? And Indiana? And sometimes Iceland.

I love you, Hot Toddy's Toaster Oven. First of all, you bring boys to my yard. Thanks to you, I get laid sometimes. I don't know if I would have had a single date this year, had it not been for you. Maybe in the coming months I will try dating someone who doesn't blog or read blogs.

I'm just kidding. I won't do that.

Hot Toddy's Toaster Oven, you have helped me meet some amazing friends this past year. You have also taught me that I am in trouble if I start trying to list them here, because people will publicly berate me in my comments if I forget to mention them. Thanks for all you teach me, HTTO.

I especially enjoy the people you've helped me meet from Ireland and Australia, Hot Toddy's Toaster Oven. If you could possibly help me find friends in Sweden or France, I would like to have options for free lodging friends in those countries as well.

I know it is your belated birthday, HTTO, but I need to share something about our relationship that troubles me. Because of you, my friends no longer speak to me at parties. Sometimes I will try to tell a story over drinks and will be interrupted by a friend saying, "I know. I already read your blog about that". Then they turn away from me and seek out a conversation with someone who does not put every detail of his life on the Internet. Do you think we could work together, HTTO, and try to be a little more mysterious in the coming year?

I know! Let's make stuff up! How about if I get ahold of some penis pictures and post them here? I will tell people it's me, even though I've never been photographed that way unless it happened when I was in a drunken stupor and don't remember it.

I know some bloggers make up stories about fake hook-ups and pretend they are real. I should try to convince Toaster Oven readers that I get sex three or four or seven times a week. That would make reading Hot Toddy's Toaster Oven more exciting!

Perhaps I should use you to speak out more on the important issues of the day. I could get political! It could talk about how much I dislike the President, even though that is sort of like saying, "Projectile vomiting is irritating." I mean, everybody knows that fact, so it doesn't seem like there is much point in talking about it.

Oh, what shall I do, Hot Toddy's Toaster Oven? Should I change you? Or should I just let the people I date influence the template of the blog and leave everything else as it is? I promise you, HTTO, one thing will never change. I will never ever turn off the comments feature. I am far too much of an attention whore to do something so foolish.

Happy Birthday, Hot Toddy's Toaster Oven. Hope you don't die soon!

Time to check comments.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Come Out, Wherever You Are

Last month, I started corresponding with a great guy. "Sage" has been reading Hot Toddy's Toaster Oven for a while now. He is in his early twenties, and he recently wrote to tell me - gulp - I was a good example to him of what a gay man should be.

I know, I know. Me. A good example. He's young though. He's still learning.

Sage wants to come out to his friends and family and plans on doing so very soon. With all my heart, I hope it goes well for him. And since I am such a horrible warning great example, I feel qualified to share some thoughts on the matter:

Sage, you are about to give yourself a wonderful Christmas present. The gift of being yourself is one that will benefit you for the rest of your life. I should warn you, the first time you tell an old friend or a family member that you are gay, you'll feel horrible. For about thirty seconds. Maybe less. But as you begin to hear yourself saying, "This is who I am," you will immediately start liking yourself more. You will find yourself regretting every second of your life that you let your shame bully you into silence. But, finally, you'll be able to start living and experiencing true happiness. That's why they call it being gay, after all.

As a gay person, you become used to lying. You become used to pretending. By doing that, you deny yourself hundreds of opportunities. You crush your own spirit. When you start telling the truth about yourself, you'll experience the thrill of openness and honesty. Your heart will beat stronger. You'll hold your head higher. You'll laugh heartily. It's better than sex, Sage. I can't wait for you to feel it.

Sage, the friendships you make from this point forward will be honest friendships. Can you imagine how wonderful it feels to hang out with a group of friends who really know you? Do you realize the fulfillment you'll receive when you finally tell a friend that you are gay and they reply, "It must have been so lonely. I wish you had told me sooner"? As you and that friend embrace, you'll wonder why you were so scared in the first place.

I'll be honest with you, Sage. Some people may reject you after you come out to them. I certainly hope you don't experience too much of that. But being rejected is not the worst thing that could happen. The worst thing that could happen is that you would lie to someone in order to keep them from rejecting you. When you lie to a parent or sibling or friend in order to keep them from despising you, well, that's cheating. No fair. They "love" someone who is pretending, and you "love" someone you don't really trust. Remember that no matter how others respond, you are telling the truth. Therefore, you win.

If friends leave you behind or if family members turn their backs, you will find others step in to fill the void. I promise you that new friends will take your hand and stand beside you. A strong family will surround you. It may or may not be the family you were born into, but this family will accept you and love you. They won't ask you to pretend.

Those that reject you will lose. That is not your battle to fight. It's their own (unnecessary) battle. All you are required to do in this life is to be authentic. Be who you are, and don't hurt people. Just love, Sage. And be your awesome gay self.

I'll be thinking of you and toasting you in Portland. Yeah, sure, I'd probably be drinking Maker's Mark anyway, but it's nice to have a really good reason to do so.


Monday, December 20, 2004

Where Do Beets Come From?

I try to be organized. Honest, I do. I invited lots of friends to opening night for the play I wrote. The problem is, I told everyone it opened on Christmas Eve. Turns out it opens Christmas Day. I can't remember who I invited for Christmas Eve. I just hope that whoever they are they read Hot Toddy's Toaster Oven so they know I made a mistake with the dates.

I can write a play, but I can't keep track of when it is being performed. I was on the Dean's List all four years of college. I graduated magna cum laude (which sounds dirty, but it isn't). I am a smart guy, for the most part. But certain simple concepts, such as figuring out which street Saks Fifth Avenue is on, escape me.

My dad had a favorite saying he used whenever I did foolish things: "I buy you books and buy you books. But all you do is eat the covers."

This weekend, THP was repairing the latch for our attic stairs. He asked me to hand him a caribiner. I stared at him blankly. Not wanting him to know I was so clueless, I began looking around the garage for anything that looked like it might be called a caribiner. I imagined that a caribiner must be similar in shape and size to a carburetor. So, I looked for things in the garage that might resemble a carburetor, but then I realized I don't know what a carburetor looks like. So I found a video of the movie Cabaret and handed it to THP telling him it was the closest thing I could find.

Last weekend we had a visit from THP's family. They are cattle ranchers and always fill our freezer with beef when they visit. My poor little veggie burgers can barely fit in the freezer because of all the frozen animal carcasses. I'm not a big fan of the free beef, but I like it when they bring us canned jams and fruits and vegetables. Recently, we got some beets from them. Beets are cool. A mason jar filled with beets looks a little bit like a lava lamp, doesn't it?

Anyway, I studied the can of beets, amazed that people have the ability to grow stuff and then can it. (Why don't they call it "jarring" instead of "canning". They use jars. Not cans.)

Anyway (again), the purple chunks of strangeness fascinated me. My childlike fascination, which is entirely inappropriate for a man of my age, took over.

"Hey, THP, what do beets come from?" I inquired.

"They grow in the ground," he replied.

"But do they start out as something else? Or are they always beets?" I asked.

"No. They are just beets."

I thought maybe beets started out as something else. You know what I mean. Like, the way pickles used to be cucumbers or the way grapes turn into raisins. I imagined beets might come from, I don't know - maybe radishes. You let the radishes grow really large and then pickle them and...Voila! Beets!!

You can buy me books and buy me books. But all I'll do is eat the covers.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Saks Fourth Avenue

Before I visited New York, I received a couple invitations from natives of that fair city to view Christmas window displays during my stay. I couldn't imagine why anybody would spend time looking at window displays, so I politely declined the invitations saying, "Get a life. You New Yorkers are so provincial. And you're whack."

This morning, the trimmed-down Al Roker (he's still a little bit fat) took viewers of The Today Show on a tour of New York City's Finest. Windows. I get it now. I apologize for my harsh judgment of the people who extended offers of window display viewing. Some of the department stores put on quite impressive displays.

After seeing the piece on window displays, I told The Handsome Prince about my regrets. "I should have gone to see the Christmas displays while I was in New York. I should have walked up and down the shopping street. Whichever street that is. You know. Like, where they have Saks Fifth Avenue and stuff," I said.

"Fifth Avenue," said The Handsome Prince without looking up from his coffee. It is sad that my life has come to this. THP has to tell me which street Saks Fifth Avenue is on.

In other Portland news, a large black dog was sitting in the middle of our street today. As I slowly steered my car around him, he looked at me with sad eyes, got up slowly, and lumbered over to the side of the road. He was dirty and looked lost. As if on cue, my eyes filled with tears and I started complaining to The Handsome Prince about that poor dog. "People should take care of animals. They shouldn't be left to fend for themselves," I told him.

It occurred to me later, that I am a hypocrite. If it had been a baby in swaddling clothes in the middle of the road, I would have just swerved around it. I'm not really into kids all that much.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Letting Go

Patty Griffin's song, "Let Him Fly" has a beautiful line about letting go of relationships when it's time for them to end. She sings, "You must always know how long to stay and when to go..."

I know how to let go when necessary. I've never been "dumped", and I have always been the one to say, "we need to end this". But each time I experience a breakup, I feel regret and pain burning like a knife in my heart. Sometimes it takes several months for me to lose that feeling of being in love. Long after the dust settles and the relationship is over, my eyes well up with tears as I think about the end of a romance.

I mentioned that I experienced a friend's betrayal when I was in New York a couple weeks ago. This person is like a brother to me. Like brothers, we sometimes act competitive. Unlike brothers, we are usually competing for the attention of boys. Time and time again I have seen it happen between us. A guy will flirt with me at the bar, and I'll find out a few days later this friend drove the boy to his car and kissed him goodnight. Once at a party I was sitting next to a cute Asian boy on the couch. I had my arm around him. Moments after I shifted and took my arm from around the boy, I looked over and saw this friend was now snuggling up to the Asian guy.

It is frustrating, but I try to let it go. I hate the fact that we always seem to be interested in the same people. But, I have always trusted him enough to share with him my deepest thoughts.

When we were in New York, I told him I was experiencing some sadness, and he seemed supportive. He knows I've had a rough year and have fallen on my face a couple of times. I've had a couple of heartbreaks, and my self-esteem has taken some blows. But I am not one to sit around feeling sorry for myself (unless I'm in The Vortex drinking whiskey), so I knew I needed to take action.

On the last day of my trip to New York, I called a blogger in NYC to initiate some one on one time with him. NYC Boy and I had some drinks together. Whether it was a date or not, I can't say. I found him attractive. We flirted. But we weren't defining it as a date. I was just hoping for a kiss goodnight at the end of the evening. Or somesuch nonsense. I told my friend, "I'm really excited to spend some time with this NYC Boy. He is really cute, and he seems like a great guy." My friend appeared to be happy for me and encouraged me to have a some fun.

After drinks and dinner and more drinks with this blogger on my last night in New York, I started to feel better. We had some things in common. I certainly wasn't looking to build any kind of romantic relationship. I've already tried the long distance blogger romance, and it doesn't work. But NYC Boy helped distract me from the heartache I was feeling. "This is really nice," I thought to myself. I felt content. I was able to forget about pain and just laugh and have fun.

At some point in the evening, and I'm not sure when, my friend must have taken an interest in NYC Boy. I walked into the bar to see them kissing. Without a word to either of them, I grabbed my coat and got into a cab. It was a disappointing way to end such a fantastic weekend. I regret very much that I didn't say goodbye to my friends in New York just because I was upset with a friend.

Of all the people in that bar in New York, I question why my "friend" needed to kiss the boy I was interested in. Were there not enough guys to go around? Was he jealous of my attentions towards someone else? I have no idea. But I'm tired of looking over my shoulder. I don't feel like I can trust him anymore.

Last night my friend and I argued, and I let him know how I felt about what he did. I told him it felt like being stabbed in the back. But it was only a dream. I woke up this morning feeling confused. Is it time to let go of this friend or not?

I know why it is so hard for me to let go of relationships. I once had to let go of every close friend in my life. Not many people have experienced that kind of loss.
Sean got up on his soapbox today and mentioned our shared past. I have mentioned my history with the International Church of Christ before. But I rarely go into detail, because it was a painful time I choose to forget. Suffice it to say, that group controlled my mind and heart.

One night, I secretly packed my car and left behind my spiritual family. Brothers, sisters, roommates, a girlfriend and all my very best friends. I didn't say goodbye. I fled in the middle of the night, because I knew staying with that group would destroy the little bit of myself that remained. The power these people had over me was astounding. One reprimand would have been all it took to change my mind and force me to stay. So, without a word to the people I was closest to, I disappeared.

For years afterwards, I had dreams about my friends in the church. In many of the dreams, they would cry and ask why I had cut them out of my life. In some of my dreams I would beg forgiveness from one of my "brothers" while he stared me down with an angry glare. The dreams stopped only after a therapist told me it was okay to miss these people. They had been my family, and I never had the chance to say goodbye to them. I often think about Scott, Criss, Oral, Terita, Jackie, Steve, Dana, Dan, Linda, Karen, Donna, Jill, Laura, Kyle, Jason, Jan, Van, Tommy, Karl, Shawn, Dean, Josh, Paul, Velma - - hundreds of people I knew and shared so much with. Literally hundreds.

When you leave a job, you usually have a farewell party. When someone you care about dies, you say goodbye at a funeral. But when you pack your car and run away from your family, there is no closure. After losing so many people at once, no wonder it is hard for me years later to end a friendship.

You must always know how long to stay and when to go. When it comes to my friendship with this person, I'll admit that I don't know if it is time to go or not. Maybe we just need some time apart. A trial separation instead of a divorce? Maybe trust can be rebuilt. My instincts tell me to pack my car and sneak away in the middle of the night and just never talk to him again. Have I learned nothing from the past? Running away didn't work very well the last time I tried it. I've heard it said that the definition of insanity is "doing the same thing while expecting different results..."

Just as I suspected. I'm crazy.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Free Stuff

Don't you just love free stuff? Last night my friends and I were treated to a round of free drinks by my favorite bartender in Portland. I can't tell you that I have a crush on him, though, because Auburn Pisces gave the hunky bartender my blog URL last night. And my phone number.

After the free round of drinks, the manager of the bar sent over a free round of shots. It was like Christmas. Well, it was like Christmas with the Virgin Mary slamming apple pucker shots and Joseph stumbling around the manger with a bottle of Maker's Mark.

My Tuesday night decadence resulted in my being five hours late to work today. I don't feel any remorse about that. When I am on my deathbed someday, I promise I will not think to myself, "I wish I had been on time to work more often..."

Because I got such a late start, I don't have much time to write today. I need to make a feeble attempt at getting actual work done. But I won't leave you without entertainment. Here are some fun things you can do until I manage to write something of substance here.

I heard that, Rob.

If you haven't read Tuna Girl's holiday letter, you really need to go do that now.

Or you can go read the alleged drunk dial I made last night to Ugly Pony.

Or just go make reservations to see the play I wrote.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Hot Toddy's Dad

If you met my father, you would have a hard time believing that we share the same genes. Physically, I suppose, we are similar. At 6'6", I'm just two inches taller than he is. The similarities end there.

I called my parents in Texas this weekend. Auburn Pisces has encouraged me to speak with them more often. "Someday they will be gone. Enjoy them while you have them here," she tells me.

So, I called them, and it wasn't as painful as I feared. There are two reasons I rarely call my parents. First of all, I don't want to hurt my mother by discussing certain aspects of my life that disappoint her. She isn't comfortable talking about my sexuality or my politics or my spiritual beliefs. Weather is a very safe subject with her.

My father is also difficult for me to talk with, because he has no tact and is very critical. A couple years ago we were talking about my cousin, who spent time in jail and dealt with a serious drug habit. My father said, "Well, son, you have done a lot of things to disappoint me, but at least you were never on drugs." He meant it as a compliment. He tries. I know he does.

I was explaining to my housemates that the reason I always apologize if I forget to do the dishes or if my music might be too loud is that I grew up being reprimanded on a daily basis. I was scolded for eating too much or for NOT eating my bread crust or for having friends that were too loud. I was scolded for not turning my dirty socks right-side out when I put them in the laundry basket. Other people dealt with much worse things than that, I know. I have a friend whose father burned him with cigarettes, so I'm not saying I had it all that rough. But my father definitely contributed to my constant worry that I will inconvenience another person. It's almost as if I apologize for existing sometimes.

My father and I have so little in common:
1. My father has a confederate flag in the rear window of his pickup truck. The only flag I own is Swedish flag from my trip to that country.

2. My father's truck has a horn that plays "Dixie". I played baritone horn through high school and college.

3. My father's handle on the CB radio was "Cowboy". The first boy I kissed was dressed as a cowboy on Halloween. Ew. The Freudian implications of that statement are freaking me out. Let's move on.

4. My father can't stand Barbra Streisand. He says she screams when she sings. I am gay.

5. My father loves Anita Bryant because she kissed him on the cheek during a USO tour when he was in the Air Force. I am gay.

6. My father's two favorite meals are Creamed Chipped Beef on Toast (SOS) and Ribs. I am a vegetarian.

7. According to my mother, my dad supposedly has a great singing voice, but I have never heard him sing. My friends and I sing karaoke often, and I sometimes do musical theater.

8. When I was growing up, my father wouldn't go to church with us. Last time I went home to visit, he was disappointed that I didn't want to attend church with them now that he goes regularly.

9. When I was younger, my father sold glass pack mufflers to make extra money. Until recently, I thought my car had 6 Horsepower.

10. My father drinks PBR. So do I, when I can't afford Maker's Mark.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Sigh of Relief

Last night I went out with The Handsome Prince and his boyfriend, The Math Whiz. The three of us dwell together in our happy little home. Sometimes it is strange living with a couple. I am sort of like Dolly Pelliker. Do you know who that is? It's the character Cher played in the movie Silkwood. Cher lived with Meryl Streep and Kurt Russell. In the movie - not in real life. At least not to my knowledge. Not that Cher or Meryl or Kurt would ever call to tell me if they shacked up together. So I'm guessing. But that's not my point.

My point is, I am Cher. No, that's not right. My point is I live with two gorgeous, smart, funny boys who are in love with each other, which sometimes makes me odd man out. Sometimes I feel jealous when I hear them giggling in the room next to mine. I have envied their relationship and wanted one for myself. But that is changing.

Last night the three Vortex Boys hit a couple bars and had a really great time. I wanted to laugh and be goofy. I needed to blow off steam. I needed a sigh of relief after the way too much drama of the past few weeks. The Handsome Prince helped me to find my happy place again.

As you know, THP often insults me in a way that makes me laugh. I'm sort of a comedy masochist. I love when people make fun of me or tease me. Last night I was very happy to realize that my best friend's penchant for saying completely inappropriate things extends to random strangers as well.

One man we met was very interested in my height. I think he pictured me as a fun toy to have. Like a jungle gym. He was practically climbing up my chest. He was rather short, but he said that he never felt short around his family. "I am the tallest person in my family," said the short guy.

"Are they midgets?" asked The Handsome Prince. I don't know how short guy responded because I immediately ran to get paper and a pen so I could write that exchange down. I should have waited to see how it played out.

Why did I have so much fun last night? I think it is because, as THP observed, I have experienced a change in my heart recently. On Saturday, THP and I had some time together in The Vortex. Our conversation was deeply meaningful to me. He shared some brutally honest words with me, but delivered them in love.

THP actually listed parts of my character that he finds "radiant" or "beautiful", but he admitted that one of my traits keeps me from being the best person I can be. He says he wishes he could take away that one part of me, because it tarnishes me. I did not feel defensive. I knew he was saying these things to help me, and I knew he was hoping with all his heart that I would be receptive.

I was very receptive to him. Something he said really sunk in. I now understand a little more about myself. I understand a lot more about how my friends perceive me. I don't know how he did it, but somehow THP made me understand how much my friends love me. Most of my friends frequently tell me they love me. But I'm not sure I've ever truly realized how much they love me. I think I get it now. My friends think I am the best thing since toaster ovens. They think I walk on water. They think I hung the moon and all those other things people think and sing about in country songs. My life is full and complete.

The Vortex is a magical place. Conversations in that space are often profound. Tears and laughter fill The Vortex. The Vortex welcomes all and encourages free thinking and deep conversations. As I sat under the newly installed Vortex Disco Ball, I started to really understand what people mean when they say I don't need a relationship. I am starting to understand that I am complete and whole. I am enough for myself. If love comes along for me, I will embrace it. But I am truly tired of embracing everyone who crosses my path in the hopes that they are The One.

I listened to THP and tried my hardest to open my mind to the possibility that I could actually become different. That I could change that part of my character. When your best friend tells you what they find unappealing in your character, I think you should listen hard. Best friends are the people who love you unconditionally and will be honest with you when you need to hear the tough words nobody else will say to you.

This weekend, maybe for the first time ever, I got it. I understood. And I went to bed Saturday night and slept the most peaceful sleep I've had in months. I woke up Sunday feeling lighter. I went through my day with a calm and happy feeling of surrender. What will be will be. Last night, THP said he felt a shift in me that was amazing. He said I suddenly seem very "zen" about everything. I'm sure there will be moments very unzen behavior in my future, but I do believe he's right. I think I'm starting to get it.

I think, from now on, instead of wanting to be Meryl Streep sharing her bed with Kurt Russell, I'll just be happy being Cher.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Last Hurrah

Do you ever break up with someone and then go through a depressed period where you stop working out? Then do you eat really crappy rich comfort food and drink a lot of alcohol? I do that, apparently.

I reached the point today where I decided, "enough is enough." I'm uncomfortable in my skin. I am feeling lethargic. So, I'm going to stop wallowing and moaning and eating and indulging. Tomorrow I am going back to the gym. Saturday is a great day for me to get back to working out, because the gym I go to is usually quiet on Saturdays. I like to lift and run without distractions. And we all know how distracted I get.

Tonight I am going out with AuburnPisces and The Math Whiz. I have decided to have one last hurrah. I'm going to indulge and binge like Fat Linda Ronstadt.

Here's the plan for tonight:
1. Rent a scooter to transport me around the bar.
2. Lean against the wall at CC Slaughters and eat a caramel apple while skinny young circuit boys stare in horror.
3. Wipe the caramel off my chin with the back of my hand. Then wipe the caramel onto my sweatsuit.
4. Dance while holding a bucket of KFC and licking my fingers.
5. Pull up a chair in front of the popcorn machine at Embers and dig in!
6. Ignore the bartender when he yells, "Sir, you have to take your head out of there. Other people eat that popcorn too!"
7. Gnaw on a turkey leg while cruising boys.
8. Smuggle in a box of Ritz Crackers and a can of spray cheese and eat it at the bar.
9. Ask Tim, the beefy hunk bartender, if he can make me a malted milkshake.
10. End the night with a visit to Old Country Buffet.

Maybe if I go "whole hog" tonight, I will be so disgusted with myself that I'll never want to overindulge again.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

An Open Letter to The Woman in NYC Who Reads While Walking

I was going to continue my narration of my trip to New York City. But Tuna Girl called me out on my inability to remember facts. It seems I completely mixed up the events of Friday and Saturday in New York. I forgot to mention people I met, which I was trying hard to avoid. Michael Vernon also pointed out that I did not eat a tostada on Friday night. I left the tostada sitting out all night on the end table in his living room. I actually ate the tostada on Saturday night (after Michael refrigerated it for me).

My mind doesn't function normally. I can't recall the events of this weekend, but I will always remember that my friend in college once told me her high school colors were Roman Blue, Burnt-Orange and Silver-Grey.

Because I massacred the story, I'm going to stop telling it and just post this letter to someone I met this weekend:

Dear Woman in NYC Who Reads While Walking:
While I only spent a few moments in your presence, I want you to know that that time was hell for me. As I tried to exit the subway, I made the mistake of following you through the turnstile. How was your book? It seemed enthralling, given the fact that you could not tear your eyes away from the page to watch where you were walking. I had the displeasure of following you up the stairs onto the street, because I couldn't get past you.

I'm not sure you'll remember me, since you didn't look up from the page. I was the guy behind you carrying very heavy bags after a six-hour flight from Portland. I was also very hungry and needed a drink or five. Is any of this ringing a bell?

I didn't see what you were reading, but based on your fascination with the book, I can only assume it was a page-turner with lots of steamy sex scenes. I am glad you appreciate literature, but I'm disappointed in your disregard for your fellow man. You live in a city that is far too crowded for selfish behavior. If you lived in Portland, Oregon, I'll bet you would be one of those people who drive while applying make-up and talking on her cell phone. I hate you, Woman in NYC Who Reads While Walking.

In the subway station, you traipsed up the stairs like a zombie. I am a person who prefers to hurry up stairs and get the whole unpleasantness over with, especially when I am carrying heavy bags. But you prolonged the agony of those stairs and forced me to shuffle slowly behind you. For that reason, WINYCWRWW, I want you to know that I hope something bad happens to you while you are reading someday.

I don't want you to die or anything. But it would give me great pleasure to know that maybe you'll fall into one of those openings on the sidewalk. You know, like Samantha did in Sex and the City. I'm talking about those openings where vendors unload produce and stuff. I don't know what they're called. I just call them Vendor Holes. I'm sure you know the proper terminology since you are such an avid reader and probably have an extensive vocabulary.

If you don't fall in a vendor hole, I seriously hope you run into someone in New York City who will scream at you and berate you in that special way that New Yorkers have of expressing themselves.

Hot Toddy

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Friday in New York

Now that I have analyzed my trip to death, I can lighten up and have some fun. Okay, okay, there's no need to applaud. All right, I know I was a bit pensive yesterday but - - please sit down. Stop cheering. I said stop.

Let me give you some details about my visit to The Big Regular Coffee and Egg and Cheese on a Roll City. (A much better name than Big Apple, don't you think?)

Even before I left Portland, I knew I was going to have a great day. I called Auburn Pisces and told her so. She had done a ritual for me, which resulted in a smooth, comfortable, speedy trip. I just hope no lambs were killed in the performance of this ritual.

I got to New York right on schedule and found Posh with no problems. Sitting out front of Posh was, gulp, Famous Author Rob Byrnes. But before I greeted FARB, I greeted his friend. I thought his friend was Famous Country Boy in NYC Michael Vernon. "Hi, it's ME," I told the man who wasn't FCBINYC. His expression clearly said, "who cares." Rob hugged me and introduced me to his friend Mark. Oh, no wonder the man wasn't thrilled to meet me. He just doesn't know who I am. Cause if he did, he would have done backflips just like FARB did.

I had a nice joke ready when I got there, because I felt a lot of pressure to make FARB laugh. I succeeded, but just barely. After my opening line he waited for more. I suddenly realized I was completely unprepared. I had come armed with only one joke. He wanted a twenty-minute set! I searched for The Traveling Spotlight, who is a stand-up comic by trade. But he was nowhere to be found. So I muttered something stupid about lambs and posed for a picture. Aaron, of 100,000,000,000 Words, was the photographer. I knew from the second I met him that he was a kind soul. Most Libras are.

I went inside and was bombarded with drinks. Lemon drops from PatCH. Maker's Mark (only a quarter shot before the bar ran out) from the REAL Famous Country Boy In New York City Michael Vernon. Vodka tonics from someone and more fovdka tnsics from shomeone elssss and giiiin from who the hell cares and....you get the idea. I got to meet Greg, who I just loved. He's not a blogger. No link for you. Maybe someday, if we're lucky, we'll get to read his blog. I already tried to find it using the name Greg gave me, but no luck. I was hoping for a sneak preview.

I got to see and talk to a television star from the 70s. If you can guess who it was, raise your hand and shout, "Ooh! Ooh! Ooh!!" Famous Boyfriend Brady made me laugh so hard my stomach hurt. He was trying to get me hooked up with an ex-cop who had a sling and a bottle of Maker's Mark waiting back at his place. I really wanted to go with him. So, I tried to find The Traveling Spotlight to ask his advice, but he was nowhere to be found. Instead I opted to sit at the bar and listen to Rob Byrnes speak for hours and hours about his creative process. I finally couldn't take it anymore and went to spend some time alone. But, once again, Aaron found me and snapped another photo.

Everything became blurry, and by the time Crash showed up, I was a kissing fool. I'm not posting the pictures, but if you are resourceful you probably already found them. I've found the evidence in more than one place.

I posed for a Blogger Butts calendar. Wayne has those shots over at the Ocean Bloggie. What else did I do?

I'll tell you what I didn't do! I didn't call my friend, Lynda, like I promised. I expected a reprimand from her. Instead she said, "Honey, I know you are a gay man visiting New York City. I know I am not a priority." Such an understanding friend. I proved her wrong and made her my Saturday priority all day long.

Friday, on my way to the home of my host, FCBINYC, I got lost in Spanish Harlem. I ate a burrito or a tostada or something. I wished I weren't all alone. Cold. Carrying bags. A shy petite boy in New York. I tried to call The Traveling Spotlight for help, but he was nowhere to be found.

Then I spied it. A little lamb at the end of the block. With her little hoof, she motioned that I should follow her. She led me to FCBINYC's apartment. I let myself in, pushed FCBINYC off the couch where he had passed out and onto the floor. Then I snuggled down to bed thinking about all the fun to be had on Saturday! Then I had some dreams about eating that lamb.

Photos courtesy of - Aaron Edwards, 1000 Words

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

New York City Casino

Filters are for coffee makers. Not Toaster Ovens. Writing about my trip to New York is turning out to be much harder than I thought it would be. Because thoughts are flooding through my brain right now, and the only way I know how to organize my thoughts and feelings is to write about them. But, for me, writing requires honesty. So I'm not going to lie about this weekend. I won't make everything sound perfect, because it wasn't. I did, however, come up with a creative and completely original thought that summarizes my experiences in New York.

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.

Isn't that good? I should write a novel.

Yes, I drank a lot in New York. (Even though Posh didn't even have enough Makers Mark for a full shot) I partied. I laughed. I loved. I have lots of stories to tell, and I will do my best to recount them all here at Hot Toddy's Toaster Oven. That may take a few days.

The most important thing that happened this weekend is that I learned some lessons. For a flighty airhead, I sure do a lot of thinking. Even when I'm out drinking and joking around, my eyes are always observing and my mind is always working. It's both a blessing and a curse. Sometimes, even while laughing at a bar, I'm hurting inside. That which does not kill us, makes us funnier bloggers.

So, even while Michael Vernon was taking great care of me and Famous Author Rob Byrnes was making fun of me and Famous Boyfriend Brady was making me laugh (HARD), I was thinking and learning.

One of the highlights of the weekend was spending time with my friend, Lynda, who is an actor in New York. I met Lynda at church camp when we were 14 years old. She has been my constant and faithful friend for over two decades. We had brunch together. She showed me around her neighborhood, and we stared at the handsome Greek men together. We shared secrets and confided crushes. We laughed about mistakes we've both made. We, of course, talked about sex. On Saturday night, I had the opportunity to see her perform at The Producers Club. The rewards I reap from being her friend are immeasurable. Investing in Lynda is like putting a wrinkled dollar bill in the slot machine and winning the jackpot.

This weekend I realized that every friendship we make and every relationship we attempt to form requires that we gamble with our hearts. I am a man who bids high. Sometimes I bid too high, and I put all my chips on someone. And, very often, that bid breaks me and leaves me bankrupt. I met some bloggers this weekend who paid off in a big way. These are the people I will keep in touch with. I'll continue placing my bets on them and investing myself in them. They will know how much I appreciate them, because I will tell them. If I attempted to name all the people who warmed my heart this weekend, I fear I would inadvertently leave someone out.

I made a few foolish bets this weekend. Most of these bets were small and relatively safe and involved something simple like hoping for a smile or a kiss from somebody. A couple of my bets were much bigger and more significant. When the big bets didn't pay off, I was crushed. I hoped for a great conversation with someone I've cared about deeply, but instead felt ignored. I felt betrayed by someone I mistakenly believed had my best interests at heart. There was one point this weekend where I felt that I shouldn't place another bet again as long as I live. I hate to lose bets. It hurts, and it costs me a lot.

But now that I'm back home, I've realized that I am too much of a gambling man to stop betting on people. On Sunday night in New York, I stood in the piano bar next to my friend Lynda. With our arms around each other, we listened to the guys in the bar singing along with the music. My eyes welled up with tears. I leaned over to Lynda and whispered in her ear, "My dear friend, you have been on this road with me for a long time. From church camp to a gay piano bar in New York City, you've been with me all the way."

She whispered back, "And I will be with you for many more years", and we hugged. Then I ran over to Famous Author Rob Byrnes to show him the tears in my eyes. He had been hoping to see me cry all weekend, and I finally was able to give him what he wanted.

It sure is good to be home. In spite of going for broke this weekend, it turns out I still have plenty of chips left, and I'm planning on gambling all of them. I hope this lucky streak continues, because the wins far outnumber the losses.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Last Will and Testament

How can I say this gently? I hope this won't upset you, but we need to talk about the possibility that I will die a tragic death in a fiery plane crash on the way to New York. I don't say this to scare you. I just want you to be prepared for the possibility that I will perish in a terrifying burst of flames and be instantaneously reduced to a pile of ashes.

So, I have drafted my last will and testament and will post it here. I checked with Blogger about the legality of posting a will on the Internet, and the customer service representative, Nick, said, "That's cool, dude." Now, don't be selfish and just scroll down looking for your name to see if I left you anything. I promise, everyone who reads this will get something to remind you of me long after I've been burned to a crisp.

Last Will and Testament of Hot Toddy's Toaster Oven

In the event of my untimely demise, I, Hot Toddy's Toaster Oven, being of sound mind hereby bequeath all my worldy and otherwordly possessions as follows:

To Nick, "Blogger's Hottest Customer Service Representative", I leave my entire collection of porn. Except for the film, Jizz Jocks, which shall be given to The Handsome Prince.

In addition to Jizz Jocks, I also leave my Shania Twain CDs as well as my Sunset Boulevard and Little Shop of Horrors songbooks to The Handsome Prince.

To AuburnPisces, I bequeath all of my manufactured reasons for being late to work so that she may begin adding to her repertoire of excuses.

I hereby bequeath to Crunchy the putty on my desk. He knows why.

Famous Author Rob Byrnes gets nothing. Nothing I tell you. He is a disgrace to me and has slandered me all over the Internet. He may, however, take back one personal item from the Famous Author Rob Byrnes shrine I built in my closet.

Jaden gets all my Orlando Bloom collages and can have the rest of my Bonnie Bell 7-Up Lipsmacker. She also inherits all of my friendship bracelet supplies as long as she agrees not to smoke the hemp.

I leave all of my Patty Griffin CDs to Jeff, because he really appreciates her the way I do.

To Jesse, I leave my collection of Absolutely Fabulous tapes and DVDs. Cheers, Sweetie Darling.

To Juju, I bequeath all of my photographs and the secret notebooks (The Jezebel Diaries) we kept when we were housemates together. Please burn the one where I wrote that one thing about The Handsome Prince.

To Metro, whose blog has not been updated since May (but I'm not judging you), I leave my entire collection of Japanese products and kitsch. The Handsome Prince will thank you for removing them from his home.

To Michael Vernon, I leave all of my whiskey and tobacco products. Kentucky forever!

To Ms. Karma, I leave all the spare change in my car and office desk as well as the five or six bucks in my savings account. I'm sorry the money you gave me when I needed it didn't come back to you ten-fold. But, let's be honest. We both knew that wasn't gonna happen.

To Pua, I leave all my clothing. Maybe she can make scarves out of it or something.

To Pony, I leave any chair of his choosing from The Vortex. He also gets to keep that big chunk of my heart that he stole.

To The Executive, I bequeath all of my readers. According to you, you probably own all of them anyway or at least own a share in their real estate. You are the first and only Yum Yum brother to embark on this blog journey with me and are the only Yum Yum who really understands how much fun it is to blog.

As a reward for listening to my ramblings about love, I hereby leave my entire collection of love letters from old boyfriends to Tuna Girl. She's the only one who would probably be interested in reading them anyway.

In the event of my death, I would like to be cremated (if the fiery airplane crash didn't properly take care of that) and have my ashes divided among all of Hot Toddy's Toaster Oven readers. I insist that Ribeye handle the mailing of said ashes.

If you would like to be Executor of my estate, please contact me via e-mail or comments.