When I Have Time

I'll read more, write more and make more sense


Oregon, USA
October 27
Medical Transcriptionist
Painter of furniture and canvas, typist for longwinded doctors. Mother and ex-wife.


JANUARY 26, 2011 10:59PM

Funnier Than Portlandia

Rate: 15 Flag
The Bagdad

Photos from flickr. 


IFC has a new show called Portlandia, and I have been discussing it with all of my out-of-state relatives, who almost all have lived here in Portland for a year or more at a time, my 2 sisters and my aunt.  I've seen it, and it's pretty funny.  The first skit with Fred Armiston and Carrie Brownstein when they are at a restaurant ordering chicken is my favorite I think.  It goes a little too far after all.  However, at the beginning they get the conversational tone just perfect.  The quiet monotone--nothing ruffles me--kind of thing.  But those type of people are soft targets, and easy to parody.  Here are some funnier things that I've seen happen or have had happen to me in my 25 years in Portland.

1.  A man playing violin in the park grabbed his violin case and took off running Groucho Marx style after my aunt tried to put money in his violin case.

2.  A man waiting at the bus stop had a plastic Safeway bag on top of his head and tied under his chin stuffed with other white bags, giving his head a dinosaur-like appearance.  His manner of dress and demeanor were that of an otherwise together individual.

3.  The night before the last Harry Potter book came out, Powell's Books downtown had a huge party with firedancers, refreshments, and people with movie-quality costumes.  My son and I went, and saw that some people had brought sleeping bags to spend the night in order to buy the book the moment the store opened.  While the party went on, a number of homeless with their grocery carts and sleeping bags waited for the party to end.  One homeless woman bedded down on a park bench before the festivities were over.  Some people drove by and yelled out of their car:  "Yaaaaay!  LORD OF THE RINGS!"  Maybe you had to be there.

4.  I was waiting for the bus once where the 85 and 88 buses go by.  There was a blind woman ahead of me and another man waiting as well.  The 85 came by, which I was waiting for, opened its doors and the blind woman said, "I'm waiting for the 88."  The bus closed its doors and drove away. I looked at the man in disbelief and said "what happened!?"  He said "she didn't want the 85 so he left."  I said, "I can't believe that."  His eyes flashed angrily as he said, "Well, it HAPPENED!"  Then he turned on his heel and strode away.

5.  I've gotten lots of free mochas because people order them and then don't claim them.  In some of the smaller coffee shops, they then say, "anybody want this coffee?"  They do that if they make a mistake too. 

6.  When I first moved here, my first job was with a place called Doctor's Transcription Service, now out of business.  I worked with an older woman, Vera, who had long gray hair and was very, very hippyish, for lack of a better word.  One day (in 1987, I had no idea back then) I brought in some leftover veal that my mother-in-law had ordered at a restaurant the night before but didn't want.  I told this woman what I had for lunch and she gave me a long detailed description of how veal is made and I've never eaten veal again.  She never raised her voice, but she got her point across.  Later, after I had left DTS, this same woman sued the company because other coworkers complained that she smelled of cat spray (which she did).

7.  When I was married and my children were young, my husband and I had a date night over on Hawthorne Street which is a trendy place, but used to be much more offbeat than it is now.  Anyway, our marriage stunk from the get-go, and we almost never spoke.  So we went to the movies at the Baghdad Theater, then were going to get a beer.  There are a lot of cute shops there and I wanted to window shop, but he was in a hurry.  So as I looked into the shop windows and he hurried on ahead, this woman with long gray hair and a long khaki skirt came up to me and said "Do you know him?" gesturing in the direction of my husband.  "Yes,"  I said.  "Be nice to him.  HE'S HUNGRY," she said.  I told her I would, and hurried to catch up to my husband. Jeez, was I ever that young?

8.  An absolute Greek God of a young man with curly black hair and big blue eyes was sitting outside of the Hawthorne Fred Meyer in a jacket and his underpants with a sign that read:  "Will Work for Pants."  His legs were beautifully muscled and hairy.  I gave him money, telling him I hoped he got some pants, but I was lying.

9. Quick one:  While walking through my old SE Portland neighborhood, a woman ran out her front door and up to me with some urgency.  She put a photo in front of my face and said: "Have you seen this cat?"  The cat situation in Portland is out of control.  My answer:  "I may have." 

There are other things like that, but I guess you had to be there.

I haven't seen the Portlandia video with Kyle MacLachlan, but am looking forward to it.  Portland has a very dark side to it too, but that would be a different show, I'm sure.

 This guy was mayor when I first moved here.  Seriously.



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Another kind of funny thing. Years ago I was going to meet my aunt to do some estate-saling, and was looking for the Trimet Bus Station. I saw a bus driver (who better would know) walking in the rain, and pulled over to ask her how to get to the station. She walked up to my car, opened the door, got in, and told me I could take her there. I did. No big whoop.
I think you and I are related.
rated with hugs
I think Portlandia is hilarious and so are your stories! I have never been in Portland, but the show features stories that I have seen in other cities, many, many, times. xox
Linda--Because we both like blue-eyed men with hairy muscular legs, or is it something else. Could be anything.

Robin--Yes, some things about Portland are universal and could happen anywhere. When Dole was running against Clinton, I once saw a bumper sticker that said "Dole for Pineapple," and wondered if that was just Portland, but I loved it. If you ever come to Portland, look me up--seriously--we'll have a blast.
Sounds a fascinating place to live and you have a great memory for detail.

When we visited the U.S. we experienced some really bizarre and funny things. I remember a guy in Las Vegas with a placard which read 'I just want a beer. Why lie?' I like your Greek God one better though.

Love that mayor. I wish we had one like that.
I got many giggles out of this. I especially like the guy with the Safeway bag(s) on his head.
That's Bud Clark in the raincoat. He was also owner/bartender at one of the coolest pubs ever up the hill by the zoo. You could barely get a seat, the food was great, conversations were intellectually stimulating and you had to watch out for darts whizzing by thrown by somebody who obviously had arrived earlier than you.
My favorite poster on exposing oneself to art and perfect Portland. As I remember, the mayor rose from the Goose Hollow bar to lead us. He had a great sense of humor.
Seems like Portland overflows with coffee as well as our ever-on fountains.
Love the vignettes. Thanks.
Linda C, I have never been to Las Vegas but my ex and my kids love it. I'm certain you saw some bizarre things there. The pantless man in my story looked like a more rugged version of Seth in Cold Comfort Farm. He is very easy to remember. And our mayor, who was funny, was also a very good mayor.

Jeanette, that man was weird because there are a lot of kooky looking people in Portland, but this man looked perfectly normal except for the bags on his head and from a distance you couldn't see that they were bags. It was just bizarre. Glad you giggled.

yes, Bud Clark. Never went to his bar, but wish I had. He was a good guy.

O'Stephanie, Thanks. Maybe ever-flowing fountains of coffee will be coming to Portland soon. I now make mochas out of Trader Joe's instant coffee and cocoa. Cheaper and pretty good. I think I may leave Portland before I become one of those roaming long-haired old ladies. I do think Portland's a little rough after a certain age.
My dad has lived in Portland since 1963 and I was born there in 1964 but moved to Texas for 10 years then I lived in Seattle area 15 years before hitchhiking around the country. In the 80s and 90s I was often in Portland.

I loved Powell's Book Store and the huge red brick stadium area downtown called Pioneer Square.

I live in Georgia now, as far from Portland as Moscow to Madrid. To my daughters Portland is a magical fairy land in my tales.
Oh Surazeus, you are far from home. I love Pioneer Courthouse Square, it's gorgeous at Christmas time. They are building something around there too. I like going to the Fox Tower theater nearby there for the independent movies too. Portland has a better downtown than Seattle, IMO.

You are about as far from Portland as you can get, and it's funny. My sister lives in Marietta now and was telling a native Georgian friend that her older sister lived in Portland, Oregon. The friend asked, "How does one end up in Portland, Oregon?" My question to you: How does a native Oregonian end up in Georgia? We miss you.
I just scanned this because of the title, but will come back and read it. I was raised in Portland and lived there until a year ago. Still miss it, but am enjoying the southwest sunshine now. I sill have Bud Clark's "Expose Yourself to Art" Poster. He was a real character - a bar owner with no political experience, but turned out to be one of Portland's best mayor's ever! Everyone just wanted to get rid of the awful mayor we had at the time. Bud took a Political Science class at PSU during his first term in office and every year he had a mayor's ball called The Bud Ball. Remember his "Whoop Whoop" call as he rode is bike to work at city hall, or when he paddled his canoe down the river enroute to his innaguaration? Well, the night I got married a friend saw Bud coming out of the restroom at the hotel we were staying at. She asked him to call our room. He did. I answered the phone to "Whoop Whoop!" and knew exactly who it was!
Just read the whole piece. It made me laugh...so Portland!
JOPS--Your story of your amethyst ring is so sweet. I love amethyst. Fred Meyer is where I went to have my wedding and engagement rings cut off because my fingers had got so fat since I got married. I don't like Powells as much as I used to, but that's true for just about everything these days. Thanks for coming by and commenting.

Proud--Well, I can see why you would want to go to the SW but still miss Portland. In the winter it sometimes gets so dark you just want to stay in bed all day. I am thinking of moving to southern Oregon, Eugene or Springfield, or maybe just Salem. That's very cool about Bud Clark calling your hotel room on your honeymoon. He was a very cool guy, and thanks for all the background on him, most of it I didn't know. Thanks for coming by and commenting.
I lived in the "original Portland (ME)" for 22 years. Some of these stories could have happened there. The blind woman waiting for the bus was quite a story.
I've always wanted to visit the Seattle WA/Portland OR area of the US. Banana slugs are the only thing keeping me away. This little piece makes me feel I might be right at home there.
Haha! I had no idea Portland was so crazy! You had me cracking up, especially about cat spray lady (though I do agree with her about veal) and the no pants guy! Thanks for some great stories and for making me want to go to Portland asap!
OE--I do medical editing for a small hospital in Maine, and yes, some strange things do happen there. The blind lady at the bus thing infuriated me beyond what was warranted. If I'd had a stack of Fiestaware--!

Jayne Awesome--Don't be afraid of the banana slugs. You can make chowder out of them. They sell it at the Made In Oregon store. They only come out in the rain anyway.

Alysa--Yes, she was right about the veal (how can anyone do that?!), but she did smell very bad and had lots of unfixed cats. A dichotomy, a paradox, (maybe not exactly), like Portland, like the world.
I haven't seen the show yet, but this post is great. Exactly right. Bud Clark, the guy flashing the sculpture, put on the Mayor's Ball every year to pay for his campaign debts. I saw some great bands there. PDX is full of worthy stories.
Haha, I love the picture at the end. Nice touch :)
Loved all your stories. Great post :)
I've got to go to Portland. Because, well, I really wish I had been there. ;)
Thanks for kind comment on my post - I'm glad you took the time. I am new to OS, just finding my way around, and it's very nice to "meet" you.