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Birth Week 2017, Day Nine - The Literary Exhibitionist
Birth Week 2017, Day Nine



So! My Birth Week Indian Feed dinner party last night had two delightful surprises, one minor disappointment, and one pretty terrible turn of events. It's too bad it had to end with that last one but whatever; we'll all live and move on, I guess.

The first of the delightful surprises was Ivan, who, although he did -- somewhat predictably -- avoid the bulk of the party, certainly when the most people were there, he actually offered to help both transfer food and supplies down to the community kitchen in the afternoon, and to transfer stuff back upstairs at the end. He went back upstairs right after we took our stuff down to start cooking at just before 12:30, but he came back to get some food, as we told him he could, around 3:45 or so, more than two hours before the official start of the part. He asked if anyone had come yet, as we thought Stephanie would be stopping by around 1:00, and Shauna was also a "maybe" -- but, in the end, with our parties at least, all "maybes" can reliably be considered "can't come." Stephanie did text with a frownie face that she wouldn't be able to make it after all.

So once Ivan finished eating and said he was going to go back upstairs and read for a while but would come back later, Shobhit and I both assumed he probably would not, even though I even said, "You promise you'll come back?" and he said yes. Shobhit and I both had to take several trips back up to the condo during the course of the day, and he was on the love seat reading when I took Gina and Beth up to see the condo, but when I went back up again while the party was in full swing, he wasn't even home.

And then, much to my surprise, he showed up again just after midnight, very surprised that any of us were still there (as was I, but I'll get to that momentarily), saying he had just gone to a heavy metal concert on Broadway! I guess he had run into an old friend from Evergreen State College while taking a walk on Broadway, and she convinced him to go with her to this show. "I'm a little drunk," he said. He later also noted that he'd had some pot. He did come in acting much more outgoing than he ever usually does. In any case, I was delighted to see him return, and he actually sat and visited quite a bit with the four of us who were still there at the time -- probably a much more manageable group size for him, come to think of it.

The other delightful surprise -- and this was a much bigger one, as it was so completely unexpected -- was when I received a text, just after 9:00, after most people had already left: Let me in, dude! It was Gabriel! YAAAY! There's no break in his continuous participation in my annual Birth Week after all! I mean, there's still a break in his having a dedicated activity another time of the week besides the end-of-the-week soiree, but I can live with that. At least I can still slip yesterday's photo set (which of course you can access by clicking any of the above photos) in with the "Birth Week: with Gabriel" collection of photo sets, which now represent every year from 2004 to the present. (Because, you know, that is so important.)

He apparently had a whole lot of other stuff going on yesterday, which is to be expected in his life, really, but even more so lately (to say there's a lot going on in his world would be an understatement, even for him), and he "swept them all under the rug," as he put it, so he could stop by. We would have packed up and finished for the evening within the next hour if not for his arrival, but I don't care. I just realized when looking at the time stamp on that text he sent me that he was there for more than three hours. I really, genuinely, deeply appreciated it.

Unfortunately, though, that also brings us to the more negative parts of the evening. The first, more minor one, was that Laney was the only person fully intending to come who ended up unable: she was not feeling well, and sent me an amusingly euphemistic text just after 3:00: I will spare you the details but a particular orifice has been very busy. She then sent me a few poop-related animated gifs (one of Rob Lowe looking in the mirror with the flashing caption STOP. POOPING.), so that was entertaining. I particularly liked this exchange, which I'll go ahead and make a record of for posterity:

I could just provide you with a chamber pot!

Or hook me up to some sort of poop tube

Like an inverted beer guzzler hat.

LOfuckingL. that's perfect.

I guess my point is, even with Laney canceling, most of the day was quite wonderful. It was great to see Danielle and her kids as always; Karen and Dave as always; Gina and Beth even arrived about 75 minutes early, as we told them they were welcome to, after having spent the day in Seattle doing other stuff. I even enjoyed having Sachin there. Here, why don't I share the official list off attendees this year?

1. Shobhit
2. Matthew
3. Ivan
4. Danielle
5. Morgan
6. Rylee
7. Karen
8. Dave
9. Gina
10. Beth
11. Sachin
12. Gabriel

Just under half of them are switched by comparison (replace Kornelija, Tess, Dad and Sherri, and Laney with Ivan, Morgan, Rylee, Karen and Dave), but that's the exact same number of attendees we had last year. This year only 10 were there at one time, though. By the time Ivan returned from his concert, there was only Shobhit, Sachin, Gabriel and myself still there. But Ivan immediately went to introduce himself and shake hands with Gabriel, having heard enough about him to start asking me about him every once in a while. They had heard plenty about each other and were now meeting for the first time.

And when Ivan walked in, Sachin, Shobhit and Gabriel -- but especially Shobhit and Gabriel -- were engaged in their worst argument to date (and that's actually a high bar). Ivan was thoroughly amused by it from the moment he walked in, and you can see him to the right in the bottom photo above, still being amused by it. But he was still dishing himself some more helpings of Shobhit's Indian food at the kitchen island counter when he asked me what had started the argument, and it was while I was attempting to relay this to Ivan (it was a stupid question Shobhit knew better than to ask, to which Gabriel responded excessively, to put it diplomatically), that the two of them devolved into the basest, inariticulate refuge of even the most intellectual of people when reaching the limits of their exasperation: "Fuck you!" "Fuck you!" Sachin finally felt compelled to attempt keeping the peace; I even had to some, "You guys, come on."

To say it was ridiculous would be an understatement. The details of the argument, however justifiably offended anyone might have been, don't even matter. I didn't even think until this morning how unfortunate it was for my party to end in this way; in the moment I just wanted to find some way to move on from it. But after this, I'm not even sure there can be the kind of moving on that we've all managed before. Gabriel has more of a point than I realized in the moment when he said -- several times -- that Shobhit was "poking." The question he had posed, which set Gabriel off, came at the end of an unrelated argument in which Shobhit was failing to make any convincing points, getting frustrated by that fact, and doubling down with increasingly bizarre turns of perspective in his typically irrational state of anger. And I see now that when he did that, supposedly changing the subject but asking something that set Gabriel off, however conscious he might of been that he was doing it, he was still being inciteful.

I use the word "inciteful" because that's what Ivan had said, of himself actually, when talking to Gabriel about wanting to visit "Yugoslavia." When Gabriel that's not what it's called anymore, Ivan replied, "That's what I call it." And when Gabriel said he shouldn't call it that to anyone living there, he said, "I'm very incieful." Which was precisely what he took open delight in doing when he sat down and re-posed the same question Shobhit had, worded slightly differently, hoping to stir up shit again. For his part, Gabriel seemed amused by this, and during another portion of the conversation even told Ivan the two of them should get drinks sometime. Without me. (That'll never happen.)

In any case, even when Shobhit and I were finally alone again and I told him he should have known better than to act that way with Gabriel, especially with everything going on with him right now, he actually agreed: "I know." The real problem isn't that he knows, though, it's that he doesn't fucking care. Gabriel and I talked a little between ourselves between times Shobhit was going back and forth up to the condo while cleaning up, and it was at this time that Gabriel made more explicit than ever before that Shobhit is affecting things between Gabriel and me. He didn't say this outright, but did infer that Shobhit is why Gabriel often doesn't want to hang out.

And here's one issue in which I am stuck in the middle, and I fear the only solution is to keep Gabriel and Shobhit apart from now on, if not forever than for some time, maybe even years. I'm sick of the shit they get into. I wasn't listening very well because it was when I was trying to talk to Ivan, but I think Gabriel accused Shobhit of being a bully. And you know what? After what I also wrote recently about Shobhit engaging in textbook abusive behavior, I can't logically say that Gabriel is wrong. I'm not sure how conscious Gabriel is of how accurately one might say the same about him, however. Just because you're usually right doesn't mean you can't be a bully about it.

That said, much as I think of both of them as instigators, I do think Shobhit was the most guilty of it last night. He poked an emotional hornet's nest with a stick like a fucking idiot, and I'm still thinking about it and bothered by it today. And where do you draw the line with this shit? I think about it regularly. I clearly haven't drawn the line very close since I honestly am still perfectly content with my life, specifically with Shobhit, most of the time. And there must be something to the fact that just about all of my other friends manage to get along with Shobhit just fine. No matter what, though, I won't let Shobhit get in the way of any of my friendships, but especially not Gabriel's, and I don't give a shit how poorly they get along. Maybe next year I'll just drive or bus down to Tacoma and hang out with Gabriel without Shobhit. Maybe that'll just be how it has to be with most things from now on. I feel like they reached a threshold last night, a possible point of no turning back, and it saddens me (I mean, for Christ's sake, Gabriel was at our wedding and a huge part of making it the success it was). But it's not something I can't figure out some way to deal with. And perhaps the best way is in some context where the two of them just no longer have to deal with each other at all. I know I'm sick of this shit, and the two of them are surely even more sick of it than I am.

In spite of it all, I'm still glad he came to my Birth Week Indian Feed. God knows if he ever will again, but that's a bridge for another day, I guess. Gabriel's arrival was the best surprise I got yesterday, and at the very beginning, there was almost even harmony between him and Shobhit, who actually said to him of his showing up, "It probably made his day." And it did.

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positive energy please