Meeting the friends

So last weekend I went down to Portland with N. It was an opportunity to meet her friends, i.e. get sized up by strangers in a different city.

So far she’s met only two of mine. She encountered Wingy for the first time at 5 a.m. when she picked us up at the Vancouver International Airport arriving back from Toronto. No one was at their best, although Wingy was still networking like a madman. (This is true. He is a machine; we’re walking towards our respective cars with a local musician, Dan Mangan, and his girlfriend, and Wingy’s trying to find out what friends she and he share. He’s a walking Facebook.) And before launching ourselves across the border and onto the I-5 we went for dinner at my former wingman’s, which was pleasant and notable mostly for the top-notch quality of the prawns and wine. 

Meanwhile, I’ve met N.’s roommate, a nice enough guy but a drummer, and also friends of hers from work (i.e. scientists!) at a dinner party at her place a couple Saturdays ago. They were nice, if French, and the girl whose birthday it was has a gap in her front teeth, so she’s alright people.

But Portland was another matter; here I would be among friends she knew in another life, and under scrutiny by her own Homeland Security Department.

I think I acquited myself well enough. I was thrown for a loop almost immediately when the first friend, comic-book artist Craigy T., immediately asked a) if we’re dating and b) how we met. When I told him how I started chatting N. up at the post office he asked, “How do you do that without coming off as creepy? Maybe you could give me some tips”, a backhanded compliment if ever there was one. Who knows, maybe I did come across as creepy (N. says I didn’t, but I probably have since). Anyway, I spent the rest of the afternoon wondering, “Am I creepy?”

This happened shortly after our arrival in Portland, outside in a park on a beautiful and hot late June afternoon. The occasion was a wedding reception for N.’s friends Cassie and Bryan, whom I got to know a little better later that night at Valentine’s, a downtown drinking establishment, and then again at brunch the next day at Meriwether’s (if memory serves). The two are about to embark on a two-and-a-half month road trip across this glorious country of theirs, and then resume their studies and restaurant jobs. Both are nice people, as are Randy and Rorie, who also came to brunch.

As for the impression I made, I can only guess; N. assures me her inbox was full of rave reviews for me following our trip, but I wonder. I was pretty drunk Sunday night, at our last dinner before leaving. For instance, although I was “on” (or so I believed at the time) when meeting N.’s friend Rachel for drinks at the hotel lounge, by the time the three of us staggered over to the Farm (local produce, cooked in spectacularly tasty ways) to meet up with N.’s other friend Jeff and his girlfriend Erin I was at least three shots of bourbon to the wind. Still, that didn’t stop me from thinking I was the funniest drunk at the table, which was probably not true but prompted me to ramble on about whatever popped into my head, little of which I can remember though I think, the hypocrisy of Hollywood movies was one of my soapbox subjects. (I do remember thinking, “Someone tell me to shut up, please.”)

Anyway, that was one gauntlet passed through with more or less flying colours, and now N. just has to meet some more of my rogues gallery of acquaintances. But before that happens, I’ll be turning this blog into a series of dispatches from Winnipeg, my hometown, where I’m currently visiting family and old friends–including the dreaded Malloy. Stay tuned.

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