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VD - The Literary Exhibitionist

-- चार हजार और तीस-नौ --

There's a rather wide range of attitude about Valentine's Day. A lot of single people resent it. Some of them pointedly reject it. Some coupled people pointedly reject it.

Some people, on the other hand, like me, have historically been relatively indifferent to it. The occasional valentine from friends, the higher chance than usual of some chocolate passed around at the office. What's to hate?

Shobhit and I have long marked the occasion of Valentine's Day in some way, but never do a particularly notable degree -- nothing like anniversaries or birthdays, for instance. For three of the six Valentine's Days we lived apart (2011, 2012, 2014), we had dinner together over video chat. We chose our return visit to New York in 2013 to be over Valentine's Day weekend; in 2015 and 2016 I was able to schedule my Los Angeles visits to coincide with it. In 2015 we actually had reservations at a nice restaurant in L.A. which insisted they had no such reservation, and so we wound up going out for a burger and a burrito. Special! Last year was more fun: we took a day trip to San Diego.

This year marked our first Valentine's Day in Seattle together since 2010. As it happens, this year we went to the very same place we went that year: Palomino. I had asked Shobhit last week, maybe the week before, if he wanted to make reservations somewhere for Valentine's Day. I suggested either Il Fornaio, the Italian restaurant at Pacific Place we've always liked, or Palomino. He clearly leaned toward the latter, although he wasn't yet sold on eating out at all. I made the reservation early last week just in case, keeping in mind we could just cancel if necessary.

But by Monday this week, he seemed perfectly down with planning to go to Palomino. He was even dressed up -- for him, anyway -- when I got home from work yesterday: blue pants that I don't think were technically slacks but were closer to it than jeans; a tucked-in blue and white checkered button-down shirt.

I had jeans on, as I always do, but felt no compulsion to change. I was wearing a shite polo shirt with subtle red Eastern-like patterns on it and a red collar, one of several shirts he once brought back for me from a work trip to Malaysia. Maybe some day he'll go on a trip like that again and I can go with him. I really need to start taking international trips for once in my life. I'm not getting any younger.

We took about half an hour to walk together down to the City Centre building, the three-story shopping mall at the bottom of which is a place where I have kind of a long history. I moved to Seattle in 1998, and at the time there was a two-screen movie theatre on the third floor that closed many years ago now. I saw Saving Private Ryan there. It's some medical place now. When Shobhit and I entered the building last night, it was through the American Eagle store on the northeast corner of the block, which many years ago was an FAO Schwarz -- the location of Barbara's first job after she moved to Seattle in 2000 to help Mike and me attempt to start up the Seattle Gay News. She continued to work there once a week even while she worked full time at the paper, and I believed she retained employment there until they closed the store in 2004. Shobhit and I both used the men's room up there on the third floor, where Palomino has always also been located, and I told him about how, back in my super-early Seattle days while I worked at the papers, and long before they put code locks on the bathroom doors, I used to go into that bathroom and steal huge rolls of toilet paper out of the toilet stalls. I needed to save money on something, I rationalized, and I figured it was a victimless crime. I remember Craig, who worked at the paper, looked down on me for that.

It's kind of amazing to me how much time has gone by now. Those years feel like ancient history. I started working at PCC a couple of years after all that, and as of this summer I've worked here for fifteen years.

Anyway! What always brings Shobhit and me back to Palomino is their "Potatoes Gorgonzola" dish -- pictured at the bottom of this entry. It's waffle fries with creamy gorgonzola cheese poured over them. They are fucking amazing. Maybe my favorite dish by anyone anywhere. I think it's typically on the Happy Hour menu, and there have been periods (including when we went there in 2010) when they did not offer it, so I was disappointed not to find it on any available menu when we sat down. We were even told they weren't doing Happy Hour at all last night. But, I asked the lovely and very attentive waitress about it and she said they could still do the dish for us. Hooray! Totally worth going out for.

I made the strategic decision -- which made Shobhit very happy -- of having cocktails at home before leaving, in lieu of ordering them at dinner. Actually I made myself a three-shot hot buttered rum and poured him the rest of his bottle of wine, not realizing he'd already had three glasses of it. He acted a bit tipsy at home, which concerned me, but that was totally gone by the time we got to the restaurant. Shobhit said on most bills there, alcohol alone likely makes up at least half the cost. I believe him. We shared that starter plate, a salad, and one of the pizzas. For the two of us together I paid $45, and that's including a tip that slightly exceeded 25%. That's a much better dinner check, admittedly, than the $54 I paid for myself alone at The Saint on Friday. But, that night I had three margaritas. I have no intention of spending like that again until . . . maybe the next time I go to Happy Hour with Laney.

Shobhit also wanted dessert, and we even considered the dessert menu at Palomino, but nothing on it particularly spoke to us. And besides, he wanted to go somewhere we could use a coupon. Of course. Well, Bluebird Creamery had a Chinook Book coupon in the app on my phone for 2 for 1. So I wound up with a scoop of peanut butter ice cream and he wound up with a scoop of Caffe Vita Coffee. We each got a flavor the other hates. He also never likes his ice cream very solid, and often even nukes it a little. I ate mine while we walked home, but he set his in the refrigerator, so by this morning it was just in its little paper cup, completely melted. He'll probably love that. Gross.

-- चार हजार और तीस-नौ --


-- चार हजार और तीस-नौ --

I had a spontaneous physical exam today!

Also, I made the mistake of asking the new doctor how old she is. When I saw her in October, I figured she was at least in her thirties. Today I said, "Do you mind if I ask how old you are?" And she told me. Thirty. Thirty! What the shit? They actually have doctors that young? Is she related to Doogie Howser? I suppose that's unlikely, since she's South Asian. Anyway, then I was like, "Oh my god. I almost regret asking that now." I mean, seriously. Jesus Christ. I thought doctors were supposed to be old!

I mentioned this when I got to work today and Kibby was just like, "Get used to it." I suppose she has a point. Still, being younger than I am is one thing. But by eleven years? This woman is barely out of her twenties, for fuck's sake. She's younger than Ivan! She's older than Tommy, but only barely.

I learned something rather interesting about our old doctor, the one who dropped all of his patients to take a different position at the hospital. Apparently he actually wasn't quite following guidelines now being implemented, which Shobhit and I were getting kind of annoyed by. For the first time I was given a sheet of paper on which to write what I wanted to talk about, and I just wrote, "Why I have to make an appointment for this." All I needed was a renewal of my Truvada prescription, which my last doctor said I could just email him for. And this new doctor was very forthright and honest about it and I found it very satisfactory how she explained. In fact, I said to her, "Well, I do prefer you actually follow recommended guidelines. That makes sense to me."

Not only that, but I would say today she kind of went above and beyond for me -- not once, but twice. In the first case, because I had made it fairly clear I didn't like the idea of having to make a doctor's appointment every three months, she said that because I always use condoms she does not consider me "high risk." I suspect this depends on how different people define "high risk." I always figured I fell into that category from a statistical perspective just because I spent so much time having sex with other people roughly once every month. (TMI? I'm a slut, get over it. Not nearly as much -- or at all, actually -- lately since Shobhit has moved back, but I have no interest in re-committing to monogamy.) But, she suggested I make an appointment with the Infectious Diseases department to discuss whether I'd be right for switching to "post-exposure prophylaxis," which would mean taking the Truvada pill only after sexual encounters, rather than every single morning as I have been.

Well, this is new. All this time I had been conditioned to believe it was imperative the pill be taken every single day or else there was the risk of it not working. So, whether I was sexually active or not, I've been taking it daily for the better part of two years. I took this information seriously. I had no idea there was even an option for using it like a "morning after pill for gay men," as Shobhit put it. I mean, I get the medication at no cost through Aetna Specialty Pharmacy, but cutting down how often I have to take it by an exponential degree would still massively reduce inconveniences -- both of having to remember to take it daily (which Shobhit struggles with) and of having to have an in-person doctor appointment in order to get the prescription renewed every three months. I quite like this idea.

Now, for all I know, the people at Infectious Diseases may have a differing definition of "high risk" than my doctor does, and say I should still take it daily. But it's obviously worth finding out.

And then! I asked the nurse (or whatever she was) who checked me in when my last actual physical was, and she said . . . last February. Oh, shit! I have often had to postpone annual physical appointments because I did not call in early enough to make the appointment, and this year I had totally forgotten about it. I told the doctor that if I had been thinking, I would have made this appointment my physical. So then she said, "I have some extra time, do you just want to do it now?" That would be fantastic!

So that's what we did. After the routine STD swabs in two of my orifices (I'll let you guess which ones, it can be a fun game!), we proceeded to the routine physical stuff. Nothing out of the ordinary, it seems I'm just about as healthy as can be. She didn't even think I needed my cholesterol checked. It didn't take much time at all, and it saved me having to make another appointment. I've decided I kind of love this doctor. Even if she is too young. I guess in another ten years she won't be.

After that I had to go two floors down to floor 6 for the blood work and to leave a urine sample. All pretty routine for me too, at this point, including my having to tell them I needed to be reclined and not see any of the needles or tubes of blood. So: no passing out today, yay!

By the way, this doctor's appointment was actually supposed to have been yesterday morning. I got to work, and Scott read aloud an Outlook alert: "Matthew arriving in ten minutes." I said, "...Shit! God damn it!" I then had to call Virginia Mason to reschedule, and by some miracle they had an opening this morning at 7:30. I put an extra reminder on my phone so it would keep appearing on my screen, and I didn't even mark it as complete until today's appointment was done and over with.

Maybe one of these days I should tell my doctor I think I may be suffering from early-onset dementia.

-- चार हजार और तीस-नौ --

This was new: I just got a free lunch from one of our brokers, just because I happened to be in the kitchen to take my Amy's Cheese Pizza in a Pocket out of the oven, when the reps for Organic Valley were in there making grilled bacon and cheese sandwiches for Scott and Noah and Kevin. I was offered one without bacon, and, well, how could I refuse that? So much for a low-calorie lunch! (To my amazement, although my weight was indeed up this morning after all I consumed last night, it was still by less than a pound. Not sure that will carry over to tomorrow.)

I still ate my pizza pocket, because I had just baked it. And I could have declined the grilled cheese, but . . . well, I'm not insane. I did only eat half the sandwich, though. So there's that.

I sat to eat alongside Scott and Noah, which I almost never do. I usually eat at my desk. But, I was waiting for the sandwich to grill. So I ate the half of it that I ate there too. We all sat on the high chairs at the counter on the other side of the counter-island. I asked Noah, "So why is this happening? How come they're all here making lunch for everyone?" Noah said, "Because this is what they do, and they are beautiful people."

The woman from Presence Marketing, her name is Ayn -- pronounced like "Anne" -- and she was full of compliments when introducing me to the others. She even asked to take a picture of me because one of her assistants, Tonja, with whom I converse via email frequently about promotions, doesn't know what I look like. You know me, I'm happy to pose for any photo. Now I expect a picture of Tonja too, though.

I had an email exchange from another woman at a different brokerage this morning who was also rather effusive about something she was happy with that I had done for her. So I wrote back:

You should totally send me more booze!

Not just because I am amazing and wonderful (and also modest), but because I am shameless. :D :D :D

Admit it it’s why you love me.

And what did she tell me? "Goodies are on the way!"

Seriously it's too easy.

-- चार हजार और तीस-नौ --



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positive energy please