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


Well, in the end, I got what I wanted for my literal birthday, which this year was the final day of a 10-day stretch: to go to Golden Gardens Park, as I have done in one way or another during my Birth Week most years since 2003 (although it seems to have been only every odd numbered year since 2011), and also bring Ivan along with us.

Ivan almost got out of it, but this week in particular, he seems to have broken from character a bit -- given his ultimate decision to return to the dinner party late Saturday night, defying expectations; and my last-minute successful attempt at getting him to come along last night. He had expressed interest in joining us for Golden Gardens when I brought it up several days ago, but given how he did the same thing regarding the Tulip Festival, I figured there was a good chance he would back out. He even seemed open to it when the day's agenda came up late yesterday morning, but when I said if we wanted to go before there was a chance of rain then we would need to leave very soon, he said, "This evening. I'm not a morning person." (This was at 11 a.m., but indeed, that's the average time he gets up every morning.) He said he had an aerial performance show a friend of his was in that he was going to go see at 3:00, and I said I had to go get my hair done, so we all agreed we'd go in the evening.

My hair cut and color took three hours beteen 3:00 and 6:00 -- I'll get to that momentarily -- and when I got back, Ivan was not home. Shobhit said he had been back but had gone out to do some grocery shopping. "He didn't seem that interested" in going to the park, Shobhit said, and I let out a slight growl of disappointment.

When he got back home, though, I asked him directly, "Are you coming with us to the park?" He then asked how far away it was, and I said it was in Ballard. For some reason he thought it was further out of town and would be a 45-ish minute drive, which would have been the same kind of deterrent as had been the Tulip Festiva. I told him this was only a 15-20 minute drive (when I set the GPS it estimated 26 minutes, actually, but Shobhit drives like a bat out of hell so I think we did shave a few minutes off of that), and so he finally agreed, and once I got Shobhit to get dressed already (he was in his house outfit of shorts and a tank top), the three of us were off -- the first car trip anywhere that we've actually taken with Ivan.

Given the way he sometimes resists, I was really afraid he would not enjoy the outing as much as I would have liked him to, and in the end, his enjoyment seemed to surpass my expectations. Once we were at the park -- which we did not spend a lot of time at, which I had already told him more than once would be the case -- he said to me "Matthew, take my picture!" so many times that, for the first time ever, I had way more pictures of him than I even wanted to keep. He did this in three different spots, and all told I texted him six pictures; of those, I kept four -- only keeping the two taken at the final spot because I could not decide which I liked better. Between these and other shots he happened to be in, yesterday's photo set (which can be viewed in full on Flickr by clicking either of the photos above) includes seven pictures of him -- more than I've managed to get of him in the past six months.

Shobhit decided it was too chilly as we walked the beach and suggested we head back, and to my surprise, Ivan was like, "We just got here!" So, we walked a little bit more around the park, looking for a trail in the woods, which we would have found but for Shobhit's continued resistance. We compromised and left after maybe another ten minutes. Ivan seemed genuinely pleased to have finally seen Golden Gardens Park for the first time, though; he even updated his Facebook profile pic with one of the shots I texted him (and one of the ones I opted not to keep, incidentally; I liked a different one taken at that location better -- the two shots are barely different though).

We then drove back home and, after I dished myself some leftover Indian food from Saturday night to have for dinner, watched my library copy of The Witches of Eastwick, which Ivan had a couple of weeks ago suggested we watch.

In any case, it made me happy to have this as my official Birth Week activity with Ivan -- which I've now had three years in a row, I just realized; so now I have a "Birth Week: with Ivan" collection of sets to include with those with other select friends and family with whom I've spent multiple Birth Week days. There will likely be a fourth consecutive one with Ivan next year, but it may stop after that -- unless I can work a visit to Vancouver into my Birth Week in 2019. Hmm, maybe? Probably not, but it's a though. Anyway, to date: in 2015, I drove Ivan's leftover storage from when he lived with me in 2014 to him in Olympia and he gave me a tour of the Evergreen State College campus; in 2016 he was moved back to Seattle again and we had dinner at Poppy on Broadway before he came back to the condo to see Shanti (as he did many times after we hung out last year); and in 2017 he came with Shobhit and me out to Golden Gardens Park.

He told me more than once yesterday that he had a present for me, which rather surprised me; I was not expecting any presents from anyone, least of all Ivan. He mentioned this in the late morning after he saw that Shanti had left him a card and a present, and then said, "But I'll give it to you later." He wouldn't even open the card from Shanti yet, here being his typically eccentric self: "I'm busy right now. I'm having my coffee." Um, okay. He finally opened the card after we got home from the park, to see it was just Shanti's paw prints. "She must have enjoyed that," he said.

I thought about the gift he said he had for me again during the movie and decided to bring it up, wondering if he forgot about it: "I thought you said you had a present for me?" He said, "I do. I'll give it to you later."

I think he deliberately waited until I was about to go to bed. I had just gone to upload the last of my Birth Week photos when Ivan called out from behind my barely-open bedroom door (which is how I usually keep it, to allow the cats to come and go): "Matthew, don't you want your birthday present?"

So I came to the bedroom door, and there he gave me what was, contextually speaking, maybe the strangest birthday present I have ever gotten. Because this is Ivan, I never expected whatever he gave me to be a big deal or especially meaningful, and I suppose this still isn't -- but it certainly was strange and memorable.

He was holding a small brown paper sack with curved paper-wire handles, and when I looked inside it, this was my thought process: Is that . . . is that underwear?

Indeed it was. "It's sexy underwear!" he said. Three pair: one briefs and the other two (long my preferred type) boxer briefs.

I then spent the next few minutes giggling self-consciously. "Thanks, I guess?" I said, chuckling (which he was doing too). "I'm a little embarrassed." I can't remember now exactly how he put it, but he made vague reference to the bathhouse (without using the actual word), as though they might come in handy there. This after he said, "I was shopping a few weeks ago at Under U for Men and I thought of you." I didn't think to mention underwear doesn't exactly get seen a lot at bathhouses. I did say, though, "I'll think of you every time I wear them." That's literally true, actually.

One of the pair -- the one I am wearing today, as I write this, if you must know -- has a front pouch made of mesh so it's somewhat see-through. The other two are solid fabric, although the other pair of boxer briefs, with a rather busy print design I would never choose for myself but I'll still wear them, is made of a really nice fabric. Oh, and another interesting tidbit: they were all three size small. Hmm. Ivan thinks I wear a small? Mediums have always fit me far better. Maybe this is body dysmorphia: people think I'm smaller than I think I am. Or maybe people who are much taller than I am, as Ivan is. I don't know what size he wears; I've never asked or sifted through his laundry.

There are so many ways to see this whole exchange as odd, though. I hardly knew what to make of it. I've mentioned more than once that he has Asperger's, or at the very least is on the spectrum, meaning he's not neurotypical, and thus he thinks in very different ways from other people. This can be the only explanation for how, even after the time last year I finally confessed to him what a huge, dumb crush I had on him when he lived with me in 2014 (it caused me legitimate distress at the time; by this time though we had developed a much more meaningful and platonic friendship, although he also knows I still think he's gorgeous), he still really wanted to move back in with me. I'm honestly not sure how well I could handle that if the tables were turned. He even wanted to move in with the full knowledge of Shobhit set to move back home within a month, and even now I feel like he genuinely enjoys living with both of us.

And I wonder how many people would assume such a gift was in any way flirty? Because in this specific context with Ivan, it really wasn't. It was just . . . odd, and a genuine, if amusing, shock. I think he even said something along the lines of not knowing what else to give me for my birthday, and when I said, "You didn't have to give me anything," he replied, "Well yes I did, it's your birthday!" This is so radically different from how he approaches things like birthdays usually, even that sentiment was a surprise, coming from him. He has strange ways of expressing it, but I've come to feel like he genuinely cares about me (and he doesn't seem to have any other friends with the same sense of loyalty that I have), which is nice since I've cared very much about him from almost the beginning.

(I do Tommy too, the one who lived with me between the first and current times Ivan did, but I finally gave up on Tommy. I think I actually know what his deal is -- social anxiety -- but instead of being honest about that, he's given me the runaround via text too many times. Sometimes I think anxiety disorders also make people legitimately narcissistic, as though their own feelings render anyone else's meaningless. I've wanted so bad to text him certain snide things like "You win. I give up." -- but there's really nothing I could say to him now that would not almost certainly make him feel even worse about himself than he already does, and I still don't want to do that. So, I'm just basically ghosting him, which functionally seems to be what he wants anyway. I tried -- and with him, I tried very hard -- but you can only keep trying for so long. Right now the extent of our communication is pretty much seeing each other's tweets. I even gave up on trying to get his mail to him, and simply stuck all five envelopes back in the outgoing box with the note, No longer at this address. It's too bad; I really wanted to keep in touch with him.)

So anyway, that was how my day ended yesterday: getting a gift of sexy underwear from my roommate. I suppose that might seem normal among plenty of other gay men, but it was a new one for me. I later noted the gift to Shobhit, wondering if Ivan had told him already what he was giving me -- he hadn't -- and Shobhit was moderately amused for about two seconds and then didn't even seem to care about it one way or another.

Getting back to earlier in the day, before I left the first time to Rudy's Barbershop on Pine, I watched the third episode of The Handmaid's Tale on Hulu with Ivan. The premiere date last Wednesday, strangely, included a dump of three episodes at once but not the entire series, which from now on will have episode releases on Wednesdays. Ivan and I are very much enjoying it; Shobhit doesn't like it at all, I guess because there's no accounting for taste, as my mom used to say.

I then went to Rudy's, stupidly forgetting that I should call ahead (that's the closest they get to allowing for reservations), and when I said to the guy at the counter, "I'd like a cut and color," he cut me off in the middle and thus did not hear the "color" part. So even after I sat down with the lady I thought would be doing my hair after no wait at all, she had to consult with that same guy regarding her schedule, and he could have avoided all of this had he not interrupted me to begin with. They asked me to come back at 3:00. So I went back home, had about an hour to get some lunch and watch the premiere episode of the third season of the Amazon series Catastrophe with Shobhit, and then walked back to Rudy's again, taking a detour to the library to pick up The Witches of Eastwick. I was really afraid of being late but I walked super fast and actually arrived at 3:01.

And I guess I forgot why I stopped doing foils several years ago to begin with: it takes too long and it costs too much. I told the lady I wanted to make my hair as light (blond) as I can with it blending well with the roots as it grows out with no cuts or color treatment for six months, and I think she was so successful at doing that, the color hardly looks any different now. Maybe it'll be easier to see once my roots do start growing out again, but for now, I posted a post-haircut photo yesterday on which Angele commented, "I love your natural look!" I'll give the hairdresser that much: it does look natural. But it also isn't noticeably different, and I spent two hours on getting it colored alone.

And then I got the haircut. She asked me at one point if I wanted it shorter, and maybe I should have stopped where she was. Most of them don't cut as much as I actually want them to; this time it's slightly shorter than I really wanted -- but I guess it's a good reset for when the former trend might happen again. It will grow, after all, and I'll let it for the next six months. That's another bit of irony, however: she spent all that time coloring my hair before cutting it, which I never understand. Why color hair from which half is going to get cut off and thrown away? I so don't get that, but that's how they usually do it.

I'm still debating whether to color it again in October. We'll see. I'm definitely done with foils. I'll just try an all-over color that is close enough to my natural color that the roots line hopefully isn't too striking as it grows out. Or, maybe, as I did last year, I just will go on not coloring it at all. Shobhit always wants me to go legitimately blonde but the only way I can do that and maintain an acceptable look is if I get my roots touched up every six weeks. I suppose I could compromise and just do it every three months. Either way it's a lot more money than the massive amount I saved last year by not coloring it at all.

Yesterday, as it was, had a color treatment costing $130; a haircut costing $34; and then a tip of another $30 to make a total of $194. That's a lot of money for a hair treatment that, in the end, looks at first glance like nothing more than a haircut.



(The top two photos in this entry, by the way, click through to the Birth Week, Day 10 photo set, but these two at the bottom click through to my "History of Matthew's Hair" photo set.)

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