I’ve been thinking about Oregon a lot lately. Mostly about how I hate what it’s become or to be fair, what I think it’s become. Perception is often worse than reality, so I’ll only know the truth when I see it in person over Labor Day. But there are things about the state that I do like and that believe are constants.
Everyone I know from the state is really funny. Granted people surround themselves with others who have similar senses of humor, but I still find Oregonians funnier than New Yorkers (whose humor lends towards snark, imagined witticisms or I guess the dying Jewish breed of yuks). They're not always intentionally funny, maybe I mean a solid appreciation for the absurd. I don't feel that NYC residents have time to appreciate foibles. I, too, have become harried and dismissive.
But sometimes I'm bounced back to a funnier time. For no reason whatsoever, a few weeks ago on my walk home from the subway I started thinking about the time that I and a bunch of public library workers took over someone's beach rental house (I don't know who it belonged to) in Manzanita (odd, because now my mom lives near there) on a Sunday even though I had to work Monday (not until evening). We got trashed, stayed up drinking into the wee hours (at least I did) and I got beat at Trivial Pursuit and began tormenting my gay boss by calling him a pussyfucker all night. Good times. No really. I don't socialize with coworkers out of the office now and I can't even imagine going out of town as a group. It has little to do with age, maturity or professionalism, it has to do with Oregon. Certainly, there's a set of New Yorkers who rent houses in the Hamptons, possibly with coworkers, in the summer but that's so not the same.
The strange thing was that a few hours after my mental reminiscing, I received an email that my guestbook had been signed. I didn't even know I still had a guestbook, talk about '90s. Thankfully, I remembered my login and had a message from one of these former Portland coworkers awaiting me.
I was relayed a tale that I’m still not sure is 100% accurate (if anyone from my ancient past actually still reads any of my blogs, don't hate me too much for spreading vague unsubstantiated rumors, I'm bored) but the long and short of it is that a few years ago the abovementioned former boss of mine got fat, developed a serious drinking problem, was gracefully being relinquished of his supervisory duties, then in a stupor fell down the stairs in his house where he wasn’t found for days, landed in the hospital and had (has?) amnesia. Just like in the movies.
Of course that sounds horrible and it would be it happened to a New Yorker, but if you knew this guy you would see the hilarity in the awfulness and it's just the type of fantastical fate he’d dream up for someone else’s demise. Being a glorious fuck up isn’t funny in NYC, and that makes me sad. I don’t know if I want to live in a world where public library supervisors taking a tumble and losing their memory (and livelihood) is a source of shame.
I have a college friend who has become a successful clothing designer. He earns a living but is by no means flush. He lives in one of those cheapish '70s American Property Management apartments with outdoor staircases (I've stayed in more than one with my mom and for some time her husband did maintenance for the company so I'm very familiar with the breed). But he's tricked the apartment out to match the era, his dial phone, 8-track playing console and furniture are all spot on. This would be stupid and pretentious in Brooklyn because you would still be paying $1,200+ for kitsch. In Portland it is making do with what's available and it is funny. I have had similar thoughts about what I could do with those '60s brick abominations with porches and driveways you see tucked in between brownstones. But even those are more than half a million dollars to buy. Not funny.
Hmm, I also had a friend who thought it would be fun to wear adult diapers and pee ourselves while eating at Yankee Pot Roast. And it was. I was just about to say that it was totally non-sexual, just for shits (or rather pisses) and giggles, but said friend did choose that evening to confess a crush on me. I have never really been into women and absolutely didn't see that coming, so it was awkward. But funny, nonetheless.
Also funny: just about everything my sister has written to me via email now that she’s settled into an RV space in Springfield, Oregon. See, if you were an Oregonian I wouldn’t even have to explain why the Eugene area is frightening. This is the realm of the Country Fair and hobbit houses (my sister and husband are in the region to learn about cob home building). Unless you enjoy the closeness of half-naked folks in Tevas (or meth addicts and carnies) this part of the country is not for you.
This is the description of their new digs: “It's at the very east end of town on 17 acres, which we share with the owner – who lives in a house, and a 19 year old Christian Goth couple who are living in an RV with no electric, water or sewage.”
Teenage Christian Goth couple? Say no more. I can’t wait to get out there this summer.