Wildwood Daze – Botto’s and the Office

North Wildwood, New Jersey – Late 1970s

Botto’s

One of our favorite hangouts growing up at the shore was the beloved Botto’s Arcade at 10th and Surf Avenue. It was 2 blocks from our house and was a meeting place for the local kids.

In the first half of the decade, it was a small market full of food staples, sundries, and beach stuff. It’s where we used to go to buy our kites and string. But because Russo’s Market at 9th and Ocean was such a juggernaut and go-to spot they sort of ran Joe Botto out of business. Just geographic competition. Botto, a retired Philly cop, was never happy about that, but shifted gears and turned it into an arcade much to the joy of the neighborhood youth.

Botto’s had everything we needed for an enjoyable afternoon or evening as an alternative to the beach and boardwalk. A phonebooth outside in case you had to drop a dime and make a call, and a soda machine full of ice-cold beverages stood out front. Joe’s wife normally worked during the day, giving out change for the machines inside and operating the bike rental part of the business.

The place was small, but just the right size for us kids. A regulation-sized, slate pool table in the center of the room, and a thunderous jukebox packed with 45’s of all the hits of the day parked against the front wall near the entrance. (It played A and B sides! This way, I could listen to Walk this Way and Uncle Salty!)

All around the perimeter of the room were pinball machines and video games. My favorite pinball machine, Flash was where I spent most of my time and quarters. They had some of the greats… Eight Ball Deluxe, Gorgar, Wizard, Playboy, El Dorado, and Joker Poker, to name a few.

But, they had all the classic video games of the day in there too. Space Invaders, Pac-Man, Super Breakout, and Asteroids.

Botto’s was a place where teenagers could hang out, play games, chat, flirt, shoot pool, drink soda and smoke cigarettes. The owners were cool, and there was never any trouble there. I’ve spent many a rainy day or health night in that arcade. The phrase “health night” came from my mother. She used to say to me, “You’re out every night! Take a health night!”

You never knew who you might run into while you were there, but it was always a solid meeting spot to hang and make plans for where you may be heading afterward. It was surrounded by motels so even though its core audience was kids from the neighborhood, they always got a few tourists in there as well.

Across the street was a place called Golf City. It was pretty much a waste of valuable real estate that was home to a miniature gold course. Fun for the little kids and they had a small arcade as well, but overall it was lame.

Botto’s was the cool kid’s place. I spent many wonderful times in Botto’s in my youth, but sadly it’s now long gone. What stands in its place now is an ice cream stand.

All that’s left to remind me of the original Botto’s in the brick face and the door and windows. So picture this place without the A-roof, the awning, the sign, the benches, the lights, and the rest of anything pink.

What’s left would be a pretty boring-looking spot. But, none of that was important. Botto’s was about what was inside. The people, the music, the games, and the laughter.

The Office

That’s not what it was called. It was a little game room on the third floor of The Flying Dutchman Motel.

Right there on the southwest corner of the 3rd floor!

The photo I used at the beginning of this post is the motel before they added the 3rd floor. But that’s what The Flying Dutchman looked like in the 70s.

We knew the owners and they were cool with us going up there to smoke cigarettes and spend our quarters on their vending machines in their game room.

The reason we called this little spot The Office, is because we used it not only as a place to hang out and play but to have meetings. If there was some local drama going down or some stories to be told, this was the place it all took place.

I remember trying to tell my older sister some convoluted story about some things that had gone down on Morey’s Pier or some other crazy news from the neighborhood one day. She was trying to understand what we planned to do about this matter and I simply said: “Office…now.”

We liked it because it was high up off the street. We had a view and also liked the games they had in there. Just two pinball machines and an old 1972 Pong machine. There’s a link I provided, but it was so basic it may have been the first video game ever invented. But a fun game! Pinball was still king, but video games were getting better with every coming season.

The biggest difference between this place and Botto’s was, this spot was quieter and more private. You could hang up there, sit at the card table they had set up in there, and just chat. It didn’t have the number of games and music that Botto’s had, but this was our spot. Most of all, it was unsupervised.

This is probably one of the most important aspects of this little game room.

I’ll let you in on a little secret. Pinball machines are designed so that you can’t rock them around too much or they’ll “Tilt.” What that means is, if you shake the machine too much or lift it up to slow the ball down or anything else to upset the machine while the ball is in play, it’ll light up, TILT, and the unit goes off and your ball drains down the hole. You’re done for being too rough with the unit and most of all trying to cheat.

But kids are creative, cunning, learning machines. You know that if the adults come up with some solution to thwart our fun or sustained play, we’ll probably work to come up with a solution to beat it.

So while the machine was on, we’d have one kid gently lift the lower front up off its legs and stack quarters under the legs, one or two at a time. This would flatten the play area on the board but not enough to TILT the machine. We’d get that baby up as high as possible. This would slow down the gameplay and go virtually unnoticed if someone walked in.

By applying this simple remedy, the game would be easier, you’d get a higher score and rack up more free games. That was the main goal. Free games! 

This also assisted with the legendary, “Back from the Dead.” What this meant was if you were in the middle of a game and the ball somehow got past your flippers, and towards the hole… if it was moving fast enough to bounce back out of the hole and back into play, it was always deemed a miracle, which was met with cheers from any onlookers. The ball literally came back from th dead!

So, we did that all the time up there.

Sometimes I would just go up there on my own and play pinball. I just wanted a little time alone to think and reflect on my life living at the seashore all summer. It was a brilliant and unforgettable few chapters from my young life.

Braces off, skin clear, and finally emerging from puberty!

Here’s a pic of me in 1978 on the 3rd-floor sun deck of The Flying Dutchman. The Office wasn’t just for pinball. It was also a great opportunity for me to meet the vacationing talent.

Pictured: Me with Ann and Gina Dougherty on the roof deck of the Flying Dutchman Motel -1978

Yea… tough times for Chaz in Wildwood!

If you liked this story, you’ll love my next book, Down The Shore, coming to a bookstore near you Memorial Day, 2023!

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I’m a ‘sugar baby’ who gets paid $500 per date – here’s what it’s really like to date sugar daddies and get cash, gifts, and 5-star hotel stays

  • A freelance writer in her early 30s is sharing her experience as a “sugar baby.”
  • The writer, who has been granted anonymity to protect her identity, said sugar daddies pay her upwards of $500 for a date with her.
  • She also receives gifts like shoes and clothing, trips across the US, and access to five-star hotels and fancy restaurants.
  • Read on for a firsthand look at what it’s like to be a sugar baby, from the way she vets potential sugar daddies to how she spots a scammer online.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Six months ago, I decided to become a sugar baby.

My reasoning was simple. I’d grown frustrated with dating men in my city — maybe I’d just had one too many Tinder dates end in mediocre conversation. My day job offers me control over my schedule, since I don’t work a traditional 9-to-5. I wanted to supplement my income and have some fun doing it, so I decided to try finding a sugar daddy.

For the uninitiated, “sugaring” is a form of dating in which one partner financially supports the other, often in the form of cash or gifts. As a woman in a major city with an appreciation for societal deviance, I figured the lifestyle might suit me well.

Whether it was exhaustion of millennial swiping, or maybe the thrill of experiencing life outside my usual means, I found myself creating a profile on the primary website for sugaring connections — SeekingArrangement.

In the half-year since then, I’ve met some highly interesting people — not to mention I’ve received thousands of dollars in cash, trips across the country, access to five-star hotels and restaurants, and expensive gifts like shoes and clothing I never could have ordinarily afforded.

Read on for a firsthand look at what it’s really like to be a sugar baby.

Before I found my first sugar daddy, I needed an idea of why I was sugaring

Syda Productions/Shutterstock

Like with regular dating, if you dive into the sugaring lifestyle without an idea of what you want, you’re likely to be disappointed.

Do you want a cash allowance, and do you have a set amount in mind? Is it certain bills you want covered? Do you want gifts, shopping, and travel? Having a clear idea of what kind of “sugar,” or exchange, you want for the relationship is key.

How about the actual dating part — do you like dating older men? Because sugar daddies tend to be older than the women they date. How much time do you want to spend with your sugar daddy? And does your current lifestyle give you the freedom to do so?

In my short time as a sugar baby so far, men have paid me $500 per date and bought me designer clothes, $400 dinners, and stays at 5-star hotels I could never afford on my own

Robert Kneschke / Shutterstock

In the six months since I became a sugar baby, I’ve started relationships with men who pay me $500 per date and have purchased me shoes and outfits from designers I could never afford on my own. I dined at restaurants where the bill was $400, and we’d still leave hungry. I spent weekends tucked away in five-star hotels, lazily ordering room service with cringeworthy markups.

While I enjoy expensive dinners and staying in fancy hotels, ultimately I was searching for a friendly relationship that provides a cash allowance. Some men don’t wish to provide an allowance, and I avoid meeting and dating those men, often called “experience daddies.”

It’s worth noting you should never become a sugar baby just for the money

AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

If you’re considering sugar dating solely for the money, it will be much more stressful, since it’ll become a second job.

Sugar dating amplifies the faults of regular, or “vanilla,” dating. You may receive messages from, go on first dates with, and be ghosted by far more men than in vanilla dating. And it’s a bad idea to depend on sugar as a primary source of income, because there’s never really any guarantee of stability.

Additionally, financial desperation makes you vulnerable to malicious men who have no intentions to provide sugar, or it might influence you to date men you otherwise wouldn’t consider having a relationship with.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

Buy my new book, Angel with a Broken Wing is now for sale on Amazon!

 

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

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This July 4th, Americans will spend more on beer, wine than fireworks

Americans will spend $1.6 billion on Fourth of July beer and wine, surpassing the amount they are expected to spend on fireworks, according to a new report from WalletHub.

And AAA found that a record 48.9 million Americans plan to travel over the holiday, a 4.1 percent increase from last year.

“This holiday builds on the strong travel demand seen for Memorial Day, and with schools now out of session across the country, families coast to coast are eager to travel,” Paula Twidale, vice president of AAA Travel, said in a news release.
For those living in Philadelphia or spending their holiday in the city, Visit Philadelphia compiled an Independence Day guide describing the annual Wawa Welcome America festival, which includes the Party on the Parkway, free or pay-as-you-wish entrance to 22 museums and attractions, and a birthday party at the Independence Visitor Center with Betsy Ross.
AAA warned travelers of delays near major cities, and the mix of commuters and holiday travelers on Wednesday was expected to make it the worst day for traffic. Delays nationwide are expected to increase about 9 percent, but around major cities, commutes could take up to four times as long.
“With record-level travelers hitting the road this holiday, drivers must be prepared for delays around our major metros,” said Trevor Reed, transportation analyst at INRIX Inc., a Washington-based transportation analytics company.
The Fourth of July celebrations include an expected $1 billion being spent on fireworks, $6.8 billion on food, and $5.4 million worth of imported American flags, according to the WalletHub report. And 150 million hot dogs are eaten each year.
Although more Americans (61 percent) plan to have a cookout than celebrate with fireworks (40 percent), Philadelphia city leaders still encourage residents to leave the fireworks to those trained to set them off.
Last year, five people died from fireworks-related injuries nationwide, according to a report from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
“While it can be tempting to get in on the action on July Fourth and other holidays, we always encourage Philadelphians to leave fireworks to the experts,” Mayor Jim Kenney said in a statement.
Most Americans do celebrate the nation’s Independence Day, but the National Retail Federation found in a separate report that total spending on food items is down about 5.5 percent from a high of $7.15 billion in 2017.
Still, Americans seem to be getting into the patriotic spirit. Two-thirds of Northeast Americans own an American flag and say they have themed-apparel, according to the report from the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics.
Americans seem to be spending more on Independence Day in the Northeast, too. The retailers group found that this region will spend an average of $78.40 on food, anywhere from about $7 to $12 more per person than the Midwest, West, and South.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

My new book, Angel with a Broken Wing is now for sale on Amazon!

 

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Rebecca – Chapter 17 – The Return – Part 2

I’m just happy she’s appeared with almost magical timing as my relationship with Cherie is being scattered by the white wings of destiny.

How’s your romantic life, Rebecca?

“Total shit. Nothing. I’m never good at that. I don’t want to get into it right now. It’ll just spoil the moment. Are you seeing anyone?”

Interesting how Rebecca deflects everything back to me. I haven’t seen or heard from her in two years. Every time I ask her a question, she pushes the dialogue back to me. Where has she been? What happened over the last two years in South America?

“I met a girl on Tinder a year and a half ago and it was good for a while, but it’s not so good now. I think the relationship may be riding off into the sunset.”

“Really? What’s she like?”

“Black girl. Pretty. Fit. 28 years old. Has a 7 year old son. Never married. Ex pays support but doesn’t spend much time with his son. White guy. Cherie worked at MacDonald’s for 10 years and is now in her senior year getting her BS in Psychology. She’s majoring in neuroscience and works at Children’s Hospital. She’s a great girl and going places, but like I said, it feels like she’s under so much pressure with work and her kid, I can feel it affecting our relationship.”

I paused. I thought about how much I’ve been struggling with Cherie lately. Everything. I thought how much I loved everything about Cherie and then how our relationship was failing. Why was I telling her all of this?

“It is what it is, Rebecca.”

“What does that mean, Chaz?”

I took a healthy sip from my cocktail. “I think the distance factor, plus we’re always apart and busy has put a lot of pressure on us.”

“Do you miss her?”

“I enjoy her company, but I never miss her when she’s gone. I know that sounds cold, but I enjoy my time alone. I really do. It’s hard now that I’ve gotten older to start the machine to be energetic and romantic. This place in my life… I like to interface with people and activate my energy, but having to be that… is somewhat difficult.”

“Do you mean sex?”

“No. That’s automatic and one of the very best parts of our relationship. It’s always good with Cherie.”

“Really?”

“Yea, It’s just the distance and schedules that’s killing this relationship. I’m not on the dopamine rush I once was with Michelle and Annabelle. (Type either of these names into the Search widget on the Homepage and you can read both their series. Read Michelle Before Annabelle) That was foolish behavior then, but happy just to be with Cherie… but ready for her to leave at any time.”

“I can only imagine what you think of me.”

“I haven’t seen you in a two years, but come on Rebecca, you have cred. We have a little history. We can hang. What are you asking?”

“Look… I’m sorry for all of the flake in the past, but I’m working in the city now. I’m at Penn Medicine. Can we at least hang occasionally?”

I don’t know. Are you up for all of that?”

“Do you still have the hookup at Square 1682?”

“Of course….”

“Can we just meet and chat over life and free chardonnay?”

“Oh course, because we’re getting killed here for drinks right now. I never go anywhere I  have to pay full price for anything.”

“Well I want to sit with you in your favorite bar and be in your life, Chaz.”

“Yea, but we still have tonight. I’m happy to see you.”

Rebecca flipped her hair and grasped my hands. I can smell the sweet faint fragrance of either her perfume or her hair. It’s intoxicating. Her gaze penetrates my soul.

Those emerald eyes.

“Chaz, I need you in my life. You’re so good.”

“I know stuff about life but I just want to go home and watch Netflix. I mean, not now, but that’s what I normally do because I’m so busy with work and I’ve compartmentalized my tiny social life.”

“I get that. Even in the last year I’ve realized what’s important in life. My health, surrounding myself with good friends and family, working to keep a roof over my head, and paying down my damn student loans.”

“That’s pretty much what your whole generation is going through now, but it’s good if you’re starting to see what’s really important in life. I’ve kind of cleared out the detritus in my life over the last few years. I cut off all the crazy women, and recently had to let go of some of the men friends I’ve collected in my life. I like to work as you know, but in order to meet my obligations, I need to work quite a bit. I don’t mind it at all, I love to be busy, but when I’m off from work I need to decompress and do what I want. It’s usually only one day off a week and for right now, that’s all I need.”

“I know, right? I’m usually on the phone all day and dealing with doctors and stressed out with patients, that by Friday I’m just ready to cut loose and go crazy, or collapse on my couch for the weekend!”

“Have you seen anyone romantically?”

I’ve been back for over six months now… I’ve been on some dates. Some longer than others.

“Oh… six months? So you’ve been back awhile.”

“Yea, I’m sorry. I just needed some time…”

That’s weird. She’s been back from South America for over six months and I hear nothing? What the hell? Gotta stay cool. Don’t want to blow this, but it doesn’t make sense.

“So, yea… dating?”

“Yea, and like I said, I’ve been in a few short relationships, but those guys turned out to be assholes. So they’re gone.”

“What happened?”

“The usual, Chaz. Hot guy, seems nice but ends up just being a clumsy oaf.”

“The classic toads every girl kisses before finding her prince in her late twenties.”

“Yea, but what if I kiss all these toads and there’s no prince at the end of the journey? My lips are dry, Charles.”

Most girls in their late twenties after being burned out from empty dating, settle on a guy they think is less worse than all of the other shit they’ve dated previously.”

“Really? Do you know anyone like that?”

“I do. So I know it can happen.”

But I’m only 23! Am I going to have to wait for years to find Mr. Right?”

“Don’t rush it, Rebecca. Let it happen naturally. You can waste your time swiping left and right on a bunch of leftover losers, or simply let love find you. You’re a beautiful young lady. Make good choices and good things will happen.”

Rebecca eyed me skeptically.

I did the same. Am I stepping back into something I don’t really want? I don’t want to be the mentor guy anymore. I can’t let Rebecca’s wiles pull me back into that role. The ear to listen. The shoulder to cry upon. The quiet port in the storm.

“I guess. Anyway I have an early meeting tomorrow morning. Do you mind if we call it a night?”

“Sounds good to me, dear. I sure don’t miss those days of meetings and deadlines anymore.”

“Yea. You’re lucky you don’t have to deal with that shit anymore.”

“Never going back.”

We get the check and Rebecca kicks in half. (Great girl!)

We step out into the dark alley of Ranstead street. We walk up to 20th and Market while she summons and UBER.

“I really appreciate you meeting up with me tonight, Chaz.” She grasps my hands in hers.

“It was my pleasure. It’s always great seeing you, and I’m glad you’re doing well and on the right track.”

A dark sedan pulls up to the curb. “Oh, here’s my UBER. Text me about Square 1682?”

“I will.”

“Promise?”

“I promise!”

Rebecca hops up on her tip toes and plants a swift, sticky kiss on my lips.

“Gotta go!” She giggles.

I watch as she gets in the back seat of the car. Her blue dress rides up her thighs and I briefly marvel at her caramel colored, well turned legs. The door shuts and she looks at me for a moment through the window. She gives me a knowing, sly smile and then waves, as the car pulls away from the curb and disappears in traffic down East Market.

She did that on purpose and knows I was checking out her gams.

I begin my walk home. It’s been an interesting night.

My mind still spinning from Rebecca’s sweet kiss.

I’m about a block from my house when I get the text.

“Home safe! Thank you for a wonderful evening. It was sooo good to see you again!”

“You too, dear.”

“Text me about Square! xoxo

 

God, I live a charmed life.

 

Oh shit! I forgot to set up a date with Kita!

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

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Rebecca – Chapter 16 – The Return – Part 1

“I look down into my vermilion Manhattan and contemplate my life. The brandied berry offers no quarter.”

I texted Rebecca back with a warm response. Not too much exuberance. Let her know I’ve been busy and that it was great to hear from her.

I had to be cautious. I’ve cut all of the crazy people that caused me pain out of my life.

Not that Rebecca had done that, but at this point I had to be careful.

I just have to be cautious now because I don’t want any drama in my life anymore. I only surround myself with good people.

Period.

“I know you’re busy, and I know I’ve been absent, but I would really like to catch up with you and see you even if it’s only for one drink.”

No matter what’s going on with Rebecca or any of the other women friends in my life, I can’t refuse if they reach out to me.

I’m overjoyed at my age that I get to spend time with these lovely ladies, and they trust and respect me enough to want to hang with me.

I’m honored.

“Where shall we meet?”

A day passes.

“Ranstead Room, Thursday night after 8pm.”

“Perfect. I’ll see you then. Looking forward to catching up.”

I have to keep it light.

Quite frankly, I’m counting the days. We have history. Our previous dates. Unrequited love. Lust. I don’t know. I don’t know what this is, or what she wants. But somehow I’m driven to meet her. For god’s sake… this girl’s been gone for two years!

I’m a beauty addict and I can’t resist the draw of a lovely girl. I could be in the worst mood, and if a pretty girl comes in the salon and chats with me, it all falls away.

I understand the drop of dopamine, and live for it to extinguish my ever-present anxiety and depression. No one knows what it’s like except those that have it, but it’s a real thing. Some of us have risen above it without medicine, because there wasn’t any when we were growing up in the 60’s and 70’s.

 

I’m sitting in the Ranstead Room. It’s a back alley bar that’s sort of a speakeasy in the city. I know Rebecca knows about it, or I would have guided her properly, but she’ll be here soon.

I’m at a booth.

Alone.

I have a very expensive, toxic cocktail before me. The room is always dark. Dark blues, and R&B fill the room. Tasteful paintings of nude women adorn the walls. The bar is illuminated by candles. The men’s room is adorned with a photo of a young, handsome Ron Jeremy. The music that plays is some sweet R&B from the 70’s. This place is Disney perfect for a cool retro speakeasy in 2020.

What am I doing here?

I just want to have a drink with my friend, I assure my lying self.

I miss Rebecca. I’ve been struggling with Cherie and her schedule. I’m not justifying, we’re fine, but it would be nice to meet with Rebecca for a minute and catch up.

What if she doesn’t show up?

I look down into my vermilion Manhattan and contemplate my life.

The brandied berry offers no quarter.

 

The air in the bar moves…

The door opens, and everything changes.

A young woman enters the bar. She’s 24. Her hair is brown and flows about her face like ribbons of dark chocolate. She’s wearing a one piece dark blue dress. It clings to her every curve. It ends at the beginning of her caramel thighs. She’s wearing heels that have ribbon straps that are tied around her ankles.

Her legs are spectacular.

I’m stunned.

She runs her fingers through her hair and throws it off to the side in a wave, as she strides toward me. Her skin is darker from the South American sun.

I’m speechless.

“Is this seat taken, sir?”

I’m losing my mind even after a potent cocktail at the sight of this exquisite beauty.

“Umm… It’s yours… Rebecca.”

Why does she always have this power over me?

Don’t question it, Be cool.

“Can I get a Cosmo?” she says as she eases into the booth like a cat. (Totally wrong drink to order in a place like this)

Rebecca looks so beautiful I want to bash by head on the table. But I must remain cool so I don’t lose my 50 years of experience.

God… She’s breathtaking.

She places her order and the drink arrives. “Did you bring me here to hide me, Chaz?”

I like that she called me Chaz.

“No. I just like this bar for its discretion.”

Rebecca takes my hands in hers. (dainty fingers tipped with manicured white polished nails)

“It’s good to see you again, Rebecca. You look amazing. It’s been so long. What’ve you been up to? I thought you were going away for three to six months, but you’ve been away for two years.”

“I know… I thought maybe you forgot about me.”

“Well, yea, I kinda did.”

“What?”

“I’m kidding! Come on… what was it like? I’m just happy you’re okay and you’re sitting right here now.”

“You look good too. Maybe a little older…”

“Stop. I’ll pretend I didn’t hear that,”

“No… I’m sorry. I just meant you looked good. Distinguished.”

“Alright. Decent save. So… what was it like down there?”

“It was amazing working with all of those people in South America. An eye opening experience. I’m sorry I was out of touch, but once I got down there I sort of lost touch with everything but the work.”

“Really? It was that immersive?”

“Yea. Like nothing I’ve ever experienced.”

“Well, I’d love to hear all about it!”

“Can we wait to get to all of that until next time?”

“Umm.. yea. No problem.” (odd)

“To be honest, I’ve been a bit lost, Charles.”

I like that she’s using the real name, too.

“That’s okay, I’ve been there too.”

Rebecca squeezed my hands, “I’m tired of that.”

“Yea, I mean… me too.”

“I’m really happy to see you. You’ve always been amazing to me.”

“Rebecca, I’m just happy to see you.”

“Yea, but you’ve always been different to me. You’re not like anybody I know.”

“I get that a lot. Because I don’t want anything. I just like being alone.”

“Me too, but I’m happy you agreed to meet me tonight.”

“How’s Lorelei?”

She’s great. Went from hostess, to food runner to server at Bar Bom Bon and is killing it. Still vegan and in a relationship with Kyle for the past 5 years. So, solid kid.” (While describing her my signature move is to whip out my phone and show the person I’m talking to a recent photo of her.)

‘That’s great. I’m glad she’s doing well. Wow, she’s so beautiful.”

Everybody says that about my daughter. It’s like they’re amazed that came through me.

“It’s great to see you after all of this time, Rebecca. I honestly didn’t think I’d ever see you again.”

“Why?”

I don’t know. I just felt that we were in two different worlds, and you’d moved on like so many others. We’ve lost a lot of the old crew.”

“Oh, thanks a lot, so I’m like ‘so many others’...”

“No. I just thought that young people get busy and they move on to career, relationships and family.”

Rebecca took a long pull on her drink. “Not all of us, Chaz. What are you up to?”

“I’m doing everything I can to never go back to the rat race. I work at the salon and will be managing a restaurant in Rittenhouse next month, so I think I may finally be able to escape corporate America’s prison. I just like to work, And there’s a way to do it if you’re just willing to work hard. Most people are too lazy for that. I think I’ve finally found a happy balance to my life.”

“How’s your social life?”

“It’s good. Monday after work I went home and watched Netflix, Tuesday met with my friend and closed my favorite bar, Wednesday, had dinner with Church, and last night I took my employee out for gelato at one the best restaurants in the city. So, rockin’ while I keep all wheels on the ground. How’s your life been?”

 

Tune in tomorrow for the conclusion!

 

 

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25 Unexpected Valentine’s Day 2020 Date Ideas

On Valentine’s Day, the last thing you want to do is get stuck in a Netflix and takeout rut—or, worse, end up at a cheesy, overpriced, and decidedly unoriginal prix-fixe dinner. Whether you’re single, coupled up, or somewhere in between, ensure your V-Day is free of clichés with these non-boring ideas, below.

Have a Bonfire

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Stocksy

If you live in the suburbs, grab some marshmallows, chocolates, and s’mores, then spend the night cuddling up by the fire. Bonus points if you can make one on the beach.


Chocolate Tasting and Truffle Making

Instead of buying crappy chocolates from the drugstore, sign up for a masterclass in chocolate-making. If you’re in the tri-state area, spend the night learning directly from the pros of NYC’s Roni-Sue’s and bring home 12 delicious truffles to eat in bed.

Proceeds from the class will support the Waterkeeper Alliance, which “aims to preserve and protect water by connecting local Waterkeeper organizations worldwide and promoting outspoken, citizen-led advocacy. “


Dancing

Not at the club—we mean real dancing. You can take a class, hit a salsa club, or go see live music that makes you want to groove. For the former, we suggest something like the Valentine’s Day Dirty Dancing Party in Chicago.


A Ghost Tour

The convenient thing about ghosts is that they tend to hang around old cities everywhere. Bonus points if you find a spooky event that includes booze like Portland’s Haunted Brewery Crawl, which comes with beer samples and a guided tour. (Two awesome reasons to sign up.)


Ice Skating and Après Skate

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Getty Images

There’s a reason why couples are always hitting the rink in our favorite rom-coms—you’re pretty much guaranteed to get close to each other. Once you’ve had your fill of the ice, you can enjoy some hard-earned drinks. (Hot toddies, anyone?)


A Wine Bar Crawl

Instead of sticking to just one spot, hop from place-to-place and order different kinds of wine and tapas along the way. It’s waaay more interesting than a boring ol’ sit-down dinner. Of course, it doesn’t hurt stashing one away for later too.


A Scavenger Hunt

You can make up your own, complete with creative challenges, photo missions, and sexy prizes.


A Night at the Museum

A view of the interior walkways May 14,
STAN HONDAGetty Images

When museums stay open after hours, they tend to spice things up by throwing a party or holding a special event—especially on V-Day. Take an after-dark art tour for two like the one offered at the Guggenheim complete with chocolate truffles and champagne, accompanied by live music.


A Themed Dinner and Movie Night at Home

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Getty Images

Watching Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck fall in love in Roman Holiday is definitely more satisfying when accompanied by a big plate of homemade spaghetti and meatballs.


Go to a Basketball or Hockey Game

Use the night as an excuse to cheer on your favorite teams. For the more competitive couples, take a bet on the winning team and see who’s really buying dinner for the next week.

 

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Murder Mystery Weekend – Chapter 10

Barbara arrived last. That girl was constantly late. One day, she would be late for her own funeral. But, as she liked to say, she was ‘worth the wait’. I was in the garage when she pulled in, gathering the tools we would need tomorrow, for taking the dock out of the water and closing the boathouse. That meant I was the first to greet her.

She had changed her clothes before getting into the car, that much was for sure. There was no way that she could have gone out in public with what she was wearing – not without getting arrested for indecent exposure. She had on a short denim skirt that covered very, very little. On top, she was wearing a white shirt, knotted just under her magnificent breasts. Her lacy black bra showed through quite plainly.

I wouldn’t have been surprised if you told me that Barbara purchased her bras from a parachute manufacturer. She had extra-large hooters, and went to great pains to make sure that everyone knew it. The rest of her body was nothing special.

But Barbara’s face was like the Portrait of Dorian Gray: it revealed every vice and every sin that she had ever committed, considered, or even contemplated. She wore just that little extra bit of eye make-up, and her lipstick was always freshly applied. She was far from shy. I have to give her this much credit: Barbara was no home-wrecker. Guys in relationships were perfectly safe from her attentions. But single men – and, if the rumours had any truth to them, single women – were certainly fair game.

Teresa let Barb greet everyone and get settled in. Perhaps half an hour later, she called us all together. By then, most of us were on our second or third drink. Anticipation was growing, and tongues were beginning to wag more freely.

“Welcome, everyone!” said Teresa. “I want to thank our hostess, Eliza, for sharing her wonderful cottage and providing us with a place to play.”

– “You can pay me back tomorrow.” responded Eliza.

Teresa carried on. “The main floor of the house will be our main deck. The kitchen will be our communal galley.” She turned to point in the opposite direction. “The master bedroom – thanks again, Ee – will henceforth be the Captain’s cabin. As such, it is off limits to you scurvy dogs. Except for Lena, who will be sharing it with me.”

That led to a chorus of “Ooohs”, led by Ben and Barb.

– “Not like that.” said Teresa. There is a bathroom off the master bedroom, if the need is urgent. Otherwise, there is a very large bathroom upstairs, and another downstairs. Upstairs will now be known as the upper deck, and that is where most of you will be bunking. There are four bedrooms: Eliza and Claire get the first, Barb and Sheila share the second. Gentlemen, you are at the end of the hall. Ben and Craig will share, and Leo bunks with Eric.”

Leo looked at me, mildly concerned. He was a fussy sleeper, and did not know Eric well.

– “Teresa – sorry.” I interrupted. “I thought you had me rooming with Eric.”

– “I drew lots among the guys, Colin – and you lost. You’ll be camping in the den, right over there. I brought along an air mattress and a sleeping bag.” The den was on the other side of the stairs from the master bedroom.

Teresa then led us downstairs. “This area will be known as the hold.” she said. There was a bathroom, and a very large games room, featuring a pool table and a ping pong table (or table tennis, if you prefer). Further off, there was a storage room, and a laundry room.

That is where Teresa led us. “This room is off limits.” she said, indicating the laundry room. “It is the brig. This is where the dread pirate Redbeard is imprisoned. As Captain Fairwind, I will have the only key. Redbeard will not be leaving this room until we arrive in Barbados – for his hanging.”

“As for outside – for our purposes, everything between the house and the dock is considered part of the ship. That includes the deck, leading outside from the kitchen, the garage, the patio, and the boathouse. Your cars are not considered part of the ship. If you need to go back to your car, you are out of character there.”

“I have a copy here of your character sketch and the introduction, in case you’ve misplaced yours. These envelopes also contain some new instructions, as well as any items or money that you may be carrying.”

“We’re ready to begin. I want everyone to go and put on their costume. Then get yourself a drink, and we will gather on the main deck. Claire – here’s your envelope. Eliza …”

I was last – Teresa was sticking to the order she had posted in the kitchen. She handed me my envelope, with that lovely half-smile on her face, and whispered: “Good luck.”

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Murder Mystery Weekend – Chapter 9

It was the first time up here for all three, so Eliza eventually took them on a quick tour of the outside of the house. I went inside to change into jeans and a t-shirt. I found everybody gathering in the kitchen. The guys had brought food, which had to be unpacked, and no one objected when Leo suggested a round of drinks.

I did notice one thing: there was a piece of paper taped to the kitchen wall. On it were listed the names of everyone who was participating in our weekend. Curiously, they were numbered. I was struck by that, and by the order we were in.

1- CLAIRE

2- ELIZA

3- LEO

4- CRAIG

5- BARBARA

6- BEN

7- ERIC

8- SHEILA

9- LENA

10- COLIN (me)

Curious – why had Teresa left herself off the list? Why was I last? Teresa had not compiled this list when she first told me about her idea; if she had, Sheila and Eric would have been the last two names. Teresa didn’t do things ‘by accident’. There was a clue here.

Sheila arrived next. I went out to greet her with Eliza.

– “You found it OK?” asked Eliza.

– “GPS got me close, but your directions were spot on.” replied Sheila. I should mention at this point that Sheila has the deepest, gruffest voice I have ever heard from a female. People usually do a double-take the first time they hear her speak, and then they still turn their heads the second time they hear her. Her voice is also raspy, which is part natural, and partly the consequence of years of heavy smoking.

Sheila has short, punky hair, which she likes to style in spikes, or absurd waves. She also likes to dye it; today’s color was green. It’s a bit funny, considering that she’s a high school English teacher. Apparently the School Board doesn’t object to spiked purple or orange hair, or to tattoos either – Sheila has seven of them, two of which I have not seen.

She’s handsome, rather than pretty. She sounds like a man, and could probably pass for one. Her face is all sharp angles, and she is completely flat-chested. She has no hips to speak of, and she prefers loose, shapeless clothing, so I couldn’t tell you anything about her ass. She shops in second-hand clothing stores, and finds unusual bargains.

It may sound odd, but I had a crush on Sheila through most of first year (before I met Teresa). See, Sheila is a sweetheart, as generous as she is smart. She also has amazing green eyes, and a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’, as the French would say. I can’t explain it.

– “Nobody’s dressed up yet?” she asked.

– “Not until everyone’s here.” I told her. “Teresa has plans, but she won’t tell anyone anything.”

– “This is going to be such fun!” said Sheila. “Thank you for hosting us, Eliza.”

– “My pleasure.” said Ee. “Let me show you around.”

 

https://lapetitemort17.wordpress.com/?p=266

 

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Murder Mystery Weekend – Chapter 7

The days crawled by. I saw just about everybody on the list in September, individually or in small groups. But it proved impossible to find an occasion when all 11 of us were free.

Finally, Thanksgiving weekend loomed. Leo and I both skipped off that Friday. We packed our overnight bags and the costumes in the backseat, along with some food supplies Teresa had asked us to pick up.

Then we went shopping for the booze. Everybody had given us their requests. We got six cases of beer (two-fours, in Canadian slang), and three cases of wine. I wasn’t sure that we had enough wine. Then we added a case of liquor. Most of it was rum, or flavoured rum, but there was also vodka, tequila, scotch, and even a bottle of peppermint schnapps (Leo was on a schnapps kick).

– “Schnapps?” I asked him. “For pirates?”

– “It won’t go to waste.” he said. “Just imagine that we’re sailing past some German island.”

As you can probably guess, geography and history weren’t Leo’s strong suits.

– “You psyched?” he asked me.

– “Just a little.” I admitted.

While he was rearranging things in the backseat, I saw that Leo had packed a box of 12 condoms in his overnight bag.

– “Somebody’s optimistic.” I commented.

– “Hey – Be Prepared. That’s my motto.”

– “You have about 100 mottos, Leo.” I said.

– “You can never have enough mottos.” he replied.

– “That’s 101.”

I didn’t kid him too much about the condoms. After all, I had packed a dozen of my own. I was hoping for an epic weekend, too.

 

 

https://lapetitemort17.wordpress.com/?p=262

 

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Murder Mystery Weekend – Chapter 6

I met the three of them downtown. We exchanged hugs and greetings.

– “Ee,” I said, “it’s really nice of you to host us all for the long weekend.”

– “Are you kidding?” she replied. “You guys are doing me a favour. I can’t close the cottage by myself. As for the murder mystery, Teresa is doing all of the work.”

– “It’s going to be so much fun!” enthused Claire. Was she looking at me when she said that?

– “Epic.” said Leo. “C’mon, wingman – let’s get this show on the road.”

It was fun. Leo found his costume quickly, because he knew exactly what he wanted: Jack Sparrow. I tried to talk him out of it, but for once, Leo was right. He looked like Johnny Depp’s shorter and uglier brother, but he did bear a bit of a resemblance to Keith Richards. He also insisted on every accessory he could find, stuck in his belt, tucked into his sash, or somehow dangling from his coat. He looked like some kind of pirate Christmas tree.

The overall effect was quite comical, but the more I looked at it, the more I began to think that it might work. The girls laughed, of course. But then Eliza said: “You look great!”. Leo turned to me with a look of pure triumph, and preened like a peacock.

With his gear stowed away, we could then turn to a more enjoyable pastime: watching the two girls try on costumes. Eliza didn’t think she could pull off a pirate, and they didn’t have much in her size anyway. But then she had an idea.

– “What if I went as a tavern wench? A tempting trollop, or something like that?”

– “A tempting trollop?” I echoed. “Did you just say that?”

– “Shut up Colin. You know what I meant.” She punched my arm playfully.

Eliza tried on a couple of costumes, each of which featured low-cut tops. I’m not ashamed to say that Leo and I both stood up to get a better view.

She found a pair of high-heeled leather boots, and a brightly-patterned skirt, with a fluffy petticoat. Then she uncovered a broad leather belt, and a supple leather vest. It was probably a couple of sizes too big for her, but she needed room for her oversize chest, and the belt held it all together. The piece de resistance, though, was the frilly white shirt. It left her shoulders bare, and revealed a considerable expanse of her bosom.

Leo and I were too afraid to say anything. She looked … scorching hot. Did I mention that costumes were an aphrodisiac? If this had really been the 17th century, I would have wanted to take her into a back room, bend her over, flip up her skirts, and fuck her from behind like a madman. Forget the 17th century – I wanted to do that now. I glanced at Leo. From the look on his face, he was having similar thoughts.

Claire saved us. “Oh, Ee – that’s it. That one.” Her neighing laugh broke the spell. The girls went for a closer look in a mirror.

“Ho-ly shit.” whispered Leo.

– “Amen, brother.” I whispered back.

Luckily for me, Eliza kept her provocative costume on while Claire continued to go in and out of the change room. Lucky, because Leo’s attention was occupied while his sister put on a show. And what a show. The little minx kept trying on more and more revealing combinations.

Claire found a scarlet head scarf, and a huge pair of hoop earrings. She really liked a dark red skirt with black trim, and liked it even better when she pulled up one side and tucked it into her little belt. This revealed one leg to the knee, but the other leg was uncovered to mid-thigh. If you’re old enough to remember Cyd Charisse, you can imagine what Claire looked like.

She added a little black bustier with laces that looked like crossed bones, attached to skull-shaped buttons. She found another shirt like Eliza’s, with short, puffy sleeves, that left her shoulders and upper chest bare. She wasn’t showing much cleavage, but the little bustier lifted her boobs and thrust them forward. That’s when I noticed the magic of the shirt she wore. It did nothing to hide her breasts. Instead, it simply accentuated their shape.

Claire looked incredible. Just looking at her made me think of sex. I would have to rethink my costume, if I was going to have an erection most of the weekend.

– “Jesus, Claire!” said her brother. “How much skin you gonna show?”

She struck a pose, with one hand on her hip. “I didn’t hear you complain about Ee’s costume.” she said.

Eliza and I moved a bit further away, to let the siblings have one of their traditional arguments.

– “Is this too revealing? What do you think, Colin?” Eliza asked me, indicating her costume.

– “Ee, you look fantastic.” I answered. “Very, very sexy. A tempting trollop indeed.”

– “What about you? What are you going to get?”

– “Already did.” I told her. “It’s at home.”

– “Aww.” she said. “You get to see ours, but we don’t get to see yours?”

– “You will.”

If Eliza and Claire were going to look like this, I could only imagine what the four other women would be wearing. I was going to be rock hard the whole weekend.

 

 

https://lapetitemort17.wordpress.com/?p=260

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

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