Saturday, April 21, 2007

Friends and Superheroes: Flank

I'm being visited by an old old friend of mine. His nickname is Flank, as in Flank Steak. He got that name many moons ago because he was thin and cut and muscular. Interestingly, 10 years later, he's still thin and cut and muscular, the bastard.

Where do I start with Flank. We met in the restaurant business about... let me do the math here... 17 years ago? Ouch, yes I think that's right, 17 years ago. I worked the front of the house, bussing and waiting tables, and he was a cook. He became part of a small cadre of folks I hung out with, smartass cooks and smarmy waitstaff.

Not long after we met we ended up being roommates in Northwest Portland. At the time, it was before N.W. was even up-and-coming neighborhood. You could still get cheap rent there -- it wasn't yet the Rodeo drive/90210 yuppie scene it is today. I don't think there was a single boutique on the drag yet.

I'm beating around the bush -- dragging my heels about trying to describe Flank. The reason being, I am not quite sure how to approach the subject without getting either myself or him in trouble. I'll approach from the angle of rumor and heresay.

Some would say (Fox news fans will be familiar with that phrase) that Flank was a carousing young gay man when we met. He smoked like a chimney, was very into the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and was a member of the Army Reserves. This was right at the beginning of the "don't ask-don't tell" era of being gay in the military. I remember him calling me from a phone booth on base, I think in Texas, drunk. He was going off about this one cute guy in his unit, when I asked "Flank, are there folks in line for the phone?" "Yeah, why" "Well, can they hear you?" "OH SHIT, yeah they probably can," "How bout you tell me about the cute Korean dude when you get home in a week ok?"

I remember sitting at a sidewalk table right on 23rd street one morning, brunchtime. A couple of very swishy young gay men came mincing down the street. They batted their eyes and waved at Flank as he was sitting there with his cigarettes and coffee. Suddenly, he flips them off rather violently and yells "Fuck off!." Startled and not quite awake, I just sat and waited for his explanation. "God, I HATE fags..... -- ... I guess that's why I don't get long with myself so hot then, ha" he chuckled into his coffee cup.

Rumor has it Flank worked in ... "film" a bit in the day. No, not art film. When I asked him about what it was like to work in "the industry," he said "well, I show up on set -- and pretty much be myself for a few hours." Rightio then.

Flank's a dabbler. He dabbled in multiple martial arts, spiritual systems, philosophical viewpoints, and special diets (as long as they included chain smoking). Over the years I've heard him having interest in everything from Tibetan Buddhism to Hawaiian Shamanism.

A bi- or tri-yearly event for a certain period of his life would be him calling me from God-knows-where, out of the blue, after not having spoken together for months or even years. "Hey, it's Flank." "You get another security clearance?" "Yeah, I'm going for special forces." "Ok, and I suppose I'm on the security background check phone list correct?" "Correct -- remember: I've never done drugs, I'm not gay, I've never done porn." "Check." "Thanks bud, I can't wait to see what this level of clearance will give me access to." "Talk to you in a few years." "Right on." "Right on." -click-

Flank spent some time in Hawaii, not only to chase Asian boys which he can't get enough of, but also to deepen his shamanic studies. At this point, our contacts got even fewer and farther between. He's been good about calling every 2-4 years, just to check in. He digs The Wife, though he can't fathom for the life of him why someone would want to be monogamous.

The newest contact came through, of all things, the Paleo Arts discussion forums I frequenly troll, looking for info on bowmaking, hunting, flint knapping etc. Out of nowhere I get a Private Message, and it's Flank. "Hey, I'm going to be in Portland in 2 weeks, I'd like to see you." How the hell he found me through the Paleo Arts boards I'll never know, but we got set up for him to stay here and now he's here. He's visiting family, which is always a strain (conservative religious types), and staying with us.

Turns out his newest thing is living in Lost Wages Nevada and basically gambling for a living. He's had some jobs here and there, but gambling has been a large part of his income for a while now. A way to test out his intuition in real-world circumstances. He told me a little about his philosophy -- not so much a "system" as a gambling worldview. He sets a goal to make 10% profit, and when he hits that % he stops for the day. He got pretty dam consistent, it seems, and is only now getting a "real" job because he wants to enter nursing school and buy a sailboat to live on. For that, he'll need credit. For some reason he's fixated on Key West now -- no idea why.

There's an intro to one of the mythological superheroes of my past, I'll present more thumbnail biographies into this blog in the future.


Shocho said...

Amazing. Very super indeed.

Bpaul said...

... not your average bear. LOL.

Tate said...
This comment has been removed by the author.