California Dreamin’ – 1982 to 1984 – Lenore – She Who Comes Bearing Gifts

This girl I worked with asked if I would meet her friend for a date. I’m always apprehensive about these sort of things. But I had a great work relationship with my friend at work. So I took the friend’s number and called her. We chatted on the phone a few times. One topic of conversation was me always eating Pringles potato chips when we were on the phone. One of my bandmates worked at a supermarket, and we would clip a few items occasionally for his poor bandmates.  (this becomes relevant later). She seemed like someone I’d enjoy spending time with, so we decided to meet for dinner.

I was excited to meet. In hindsight, there were a few warning signs that this might not turn out well for me.

1. In one phone conversation, the topic of butt size came up, and she said something to the effect of, “don’t be scared by how big mine is.”

2. When discussing our dinner date, she said, “You have to promise me that no matter what, we’ll meet again after our date, even if it doesn’t work out, we can have drinks and laugh about it.”

3. When she was describing how I’d recognize her outside the restaurant, she said, “I drive a purple Camaro.”

Being young and naive, I didn’t think much of it all, and arrived at the restaurant that evening with an open mind. How soon things changed. After waiting outside a few minutes, up pulls a purple Camaro convertible. If you’ve ever seen the movie Friday, where Smokey gets set up with “Janet Jackson”, you know what comes next. Back then I weighed about 118 lbs. and am 5’9″. That’s a lean build. This girl had at least 50 lbs. on me, if not more. “HEYYYYY!!!” She greeted me, and I did my best not to look scared to death.

In addition to her purse, she was carrying a brown paper bag. I didn’t really want to know what might be inside. We went in and got seated at our table and after a minute or two of uneasy conversation, she said, “I brought you something.” Out comes the paper bag, from which she pulls out a Ken doll, dressed as Superman, with “Mr. Pringles” written on the cape. My face felt like it was on fire and I could feel everyone in the entire place staring at me.

After ordering dinner, I excused myself to go to the bathroom. On the way back to the table, I passed the front door and seriously considered making a run for it, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Defeated, I slowly walked back to the table and we had our dinner.

We had also planned to go to a comedy club afterwards. I intended to offer to drive us both there, but instead told her to follow me in her car. Again, I considered maybe trying to drive fast and lose her on the way, but figured my VW minibus couldn’t outrun her Camaro. Fearing getting heckled by the comedians all night, I found a table in a dark corner towards the back and the rest of the evening was fairly uneventful. After the show, we said our goodbyes and before I could turn to go, she grabbed me and, giving me a giant bear hug, whispered, “Make sure you call me.”

Needless to say, that was the last I ever saw of Camaro girl. I learned a lot about dating the “friend with the great personality” that night. But to be totally honest, I would have hung out with her again, but that whole “Mr. Pringles” thing really creeped me the fuck out.

 

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Kita – Chapter 22 – The Rising Tide – Part 2

“Just take some time for yourself. Befriend time. Because it takes time to heal.”

She hung out at the salon for three hours today! I love having her here. She’s such a pleasure to chat with and spend time with. She tells me how grateful she is that she has someone that can help her get through this mess.

“I hate men.”

“Excuse me?”

“I hate boys.”

“That’s better.”

“All of these boys are just awful!”

“Maybe this is the time for you to take a break from dating and just work on yourself and try to heal. Then when the pain passes, you’ll be ready to commit to a meaningful relationship with someone who’ll treat you with love and respect.”

“You’re right.”

“Just take some time for yourself. Befriend time. Because it takes time to heal.”

“Thank you. Hey, why don’t you ever send anyone into Room 5?”

“Go look.”

“I can go in there?”

“Yea.”

Kita walks over and opens the door. “Hey, there’s no tanning bed in here! What’s it for?”

“We were going to buy an additional stand up unit and put it in there but we found we didn’t really need it. So now it’s just storage for the most part.”

“Hey, what’s this?”

“What’s what?”

“C’mere.”

I walk around the counter and head over to room 5. “What’s…?”

“Close the door.”

I gotta watch the front.”

“This won’t take long.”

Then Kita came close to me and we kissed. I gently held her lovely face in my hands and kissed her ripe lips. Then, again. And again. She then hugged my tightly.

“You better go.”

I’m always a little shell shocked when I kiss this eastern beauty. I’m totally falling for her. I quickly get back to the counter and regain some of my composure. Some customers walk in and they’re none the wiser. Kita steps out of 5 smiling slyly, and quietly closing the door behind her. She pads across the floor like a cat and sits in the waiting area.

I like these little kissing sessions we’ve shared. This is a virtuous woman that’s only been intimate with one dude and he’s history. The new guy’s messing up already and will probably screw up this once in a lifetime chance to be with this beautiful little chick. So the old lion will just lie quietly in the tall grass and wait for this little gazelle to get too close one day. But she’s a confused young girl who needs a mentor right now, not another predator.

I’m extremely patient.

Kita stays until closing just chatting away with me. She’s been here for three hours!

“Wanna come to Honeygrow with me?”

“Of course, Kita.”

We lock up and head over to the restaurant. Honeygrow is about thinking different when it comes to their approach, their style + their people. Founded by Justin Rosenberg in Philadelphia in 2012, Honeygrow brings people together over the highest quality, wholesome, simple foods. As a newly converted proponent of a plant-based diet and tired of the mediocrity in both food and experiences presented by many of the older + emerging fast dining options, Justin decided to leave the cubicle world, train in a fine-dining kitchen, and pursue a life that spoke to his passion: Creating awesome things through the lens of nourishing foods. People love Honeygrow in this city. The place is always mobbed during the day. This is where the young people of this city eat now. MacDonald’s Wendy’s, Taco Bell and Burger King are still around and churning out the hit’s but the healthy minded urban professional eat at places like this now. Hip City Vedge, Snap Kitchen, and Sweet Green are just some of the new cool, healthy places to grab a bite in Philly.

The city is changing and I’m getting older. But all these pretty girls that roll in and out of my life all stay the same age!

Kita is chattering on about how she’s so confused about Steve’s behavior. I feel it won’t be long for him. Poor fool has no idea what he’s passing up. To have the virtuous, clean love of this gorgeous, fit lady and eventually have the honor to make love with her. Idiot! He’s blowing it! He’s causing drama and problems where none were there before. I’ll just be here for her and listen.

We munch our salads and I realize this is the first time I’ve ever been in one of these places. It’s pretty nice! I should eat better.

Kita glances about quickly and takes my hand. Looking me in the eyes she says softly; “Thank you… for everything!”

I smile back gazing into her lovely almond eyes. “Of course, my dear.

 

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California Dreamin’ – 1982 to 1984 – Merlin McFly’s

In June 1979, a bar “with a magical theme” opened in Santa Monica. It was called Merlin McFly’s and was notable for its décor: nine stained glass windows depicting Merlin, Aladdin, Houdini, a fire-eater (below) and other notable names from the history of magic and sorcery. It was part of a chain of bar/grills across California, the other “family members” – Maxwell, Maestro, Maggie, Sly and Sky – also offering imaginative décor (heavy on the stained glass windows of course) and definitely looking to entertain their customers.

I worked there in 1983, first as a food cashier for the kitchen. I’d take the food orders, ring up the sale and pass the ticket to the cooks. I later was trained as a cook, and for the first time in my life started cooking meals. Before I came to Cali, I lived with my parents so all of my meals were cooked by my parents or I ate out somewhere. Usually fast food.

But this is really where I learned to cook. I still consider myself the “king of the fire pit grill.”

I remember there were two managers. I think their names were John and Renee. I don’t know if either of them had spouses but I know for a fact they were doing plenty of coke up in the office and were totally banging each other.

Oh, there was this other guy that managed for a short time. He was a fat clown. I remember he went on a game show, called Dream House. You could win a house if you crushed all of the questions. he’s bragging to the whole staff about when he’s going on the show and tells us all to watch him win. We’re all like, whatever.

So the day comes and we all crowd around the TV set in the office. He’s on there looking all goofy and cocky and they ask him this question: “If you fed a cow cocoa beans she would give chocolate milk.”

Him: “I agree.”

And like that he was off the show. In and out. We ripped him apart when he returned to work.

There were roaming magicians in the restaurant and would come to your table while you ate or drank and would do close up magic for you and your guests. It was such  cool place to work.

The wait staff were all hot women, that were dressed all in black. Tight lycra low cut body suits. Stockings, either fishnets or nude. They all wore a black skirt that revealed one of their legs. (Of course it was my mission to work there) They all looked like magician’s assistants.

I remember this especially hot one. Heather was a tall blonde that everybody loved. She looked like my ex girlfriend Michelle but 24 years old and long blonde hair.  It was my birthday and Heather walked up to me and French kissed me sensuously on the lips. I was shocked and stunned and turned on all in the same moment. Everybody loved it and laughed as I limped back into the kitchen. Nothing ever happened but it’s just something Heather could get away with anytime she wanted. Like a tigress that couldn’t be caged ad lived by her own rules.

One night I was emptying the dirty fat from the fryer. This was done but attaching a nozzle to an opening on the lower part of the fryer. Then I would get a big metal pot. Huge. Two feet tall. Like a huge metal bucket with metal handles on the side. I’d stick the metal pot under the nozzle and then turn on the spigot. This was done a few nights a week. The oil would get dirty and you have to change it so your fried foods don’t come out all brown and gross. Those fries need to be crisp and golden!

So I’m letting all of this hot empty out of the fryer and into the big pot. It’s the end of the night and the kitchen is closing. So it’s after midnight. The fryer has been off for a bit so the 350 degree oil has cooled down a bit. Plus it’s dirty so it will cool faster because it’s not as pure as fresh fat.

As you know, metal is a great conductor. So when the oil enters the pot it heats up the metal. You have to put towels around the two handles on the side to carry the pot. When it’s full, you have to pick it up, and carry it through the slippery floored kitchen and therough the dishwashing section and out the back door to outside. This thing is very heavey, awkward to carry and is filled with hot oil. I hate this part of the job more than any other part.

I get the pot outside and I have to pour the hot contents into a big metal upright barrel. Usually that goes with out a hitch.

But not tonight. I leaned the big pot against it and started to pour it in the barrel when the barrel tipped towards me and the contents of the barrel splashed back into my face!

I’m freaking out. It’s burned my face and gone in my eyes and I call for help.

The good news is. It had rained earlier so there was a load of cool water down in the bottom of that barrel. So that cooled the oil down from whatever nightmarish temperature it was was when I carried it out here. So I was okay, but I couldn’t see because the oil had gotten in my eyes. One of the Mexican dishwashers came out to help me get inside.

The manager and one of the waitresses, Holly came over and sat with me. They cleaned me up and asked if I was okay. I could see just fine but my face was a bit red but I’d live. They asked if they could get me anything. (Thinking about it now I think they were afraid I’d sue or something) I told them I wanted a 151 and coke. Done. I was all better.

We had this huge doorman named Ivan. When the employee meal went out I always gave him and extra load of whatever was on it. Extra chick, steak or whatever. I would call his name to come pick up his meal and he would always smile and drop a couple of joints next to the plate on the rack as he picked it up. It was like one fluid moment. Hand off plate, joints dropped, snatched, and slipped into my pocket. Thanks to Ivan there was never a shortage of weed.

I would do the same for a few of the girls that worked there and they would bring rum and cokes to me and the other chef. So even back then I knew how to get the hookup. Learned from the best…my Dad!

I’ll write in other posts about my celebrity meeting at this fun establishment.

The great thing about doing a bunch of different jobs in your life is, it gives you a different perspective on life and you really do learn a lot of skills in a variety of environments.

A Merlin McFly’s advertisement promised it was a place of “madness, magic and friendly spirits” and that their menu offered the delights of their “mystic burgers” and “wizard ribs”. “Fun is the password” said another in 1984, which had a hand-drawn picture of “P. Eye McFly” and report of the “The Great Restaurant Mystery”, an “investigation” into the McFly’s family tree and their restaurants.

By that time though, Merlin McFly’s was having some trouble. (I was gone by then so I missed all of the trouble.) There were local problems with drug dealing, the city of Santa Monica had an ancient licensing rule about “Dance Halls” that meant McFly’s theoretically had to impose a cover charge, and then there was the issue that hit many singles bars very hard: the rising awareness and fear of HIV and AIDS.

When the bar closed, there were dozens of calls when it was announced that the windows would be on sale – at a price of $325,000. Steve Spill at the nearby Magicopolis magic theater bought the windows a year or two later and then sold them to a collector who put them in a stained glass museum in Washington, DC.

Today, Sly McFly’s in Monterey is the only one left, and their website’s amusing “story” of aspiring race car driver Sly mentions how he finished second at the Trophy Race in Ulster – a connection to Finn McCool’s Irish Bar, which is owned by Belfast-born Geraldine Gilliland and is now at that spot on Main Street.

Geraldine wears funky glasses and has long, red hair, and originally started out working at a restaurant in her native Northern Ireland. She grew up during the early days of “The Troubles” – “I used to fall to the kitchen floor when the bombs started going off” – and like many others she moved away, eventually finding herself in Los Angeles:

“I found LA very exotic – they spoke a different language, even though it was English! It was very scary actually – I didn’t know anyone at all, (but) I fell in love with Santa Monica after I drove from New York. When I saw the beach I cashed in my Greyhound bus ticket and my return ticket to Ireland too.”

As soon as she arrived, she started working over the grill and has continued ever since. Gilliland’s Cafe opened its doors in 1984, and she began her own catering company soon after. It was an immediate success, providing Christmas puddings to Bloomingdales, Dean & Deluca and Balducci’s in New York, but it was her mix of California and Irish cuisines that really established Gerri’s reputation on a national scale.

The cantina-style Lula Cocina was next in 1991, and 1994 saw Jake and Annie’s American-Irish Café, which eventually become Finn McCool’s and officially opened under this name a few days before St. Patrick’s Day in 2002.

As for any ghosts or strange stories, Spill hadn’t ever heard anything about Merlin McFly’s, but Gilliland – who has now been here for nearly 20 years – had:

“There were ghosts in the bathrooms. It was said that every time you washed your hands and looked in the mirror, an apparition appeared.”

The bathrooms at Finn McCool’s are in the same place as they were when Merlin was weaving his spells, but after emailing John Forbes at Bonny Doon Art Glass I found out exactly where the ghosts came from:

“The bathrooms had special effects in them; the mirrors were one-way and when the lights in the bathroom dimmed, the light behind the mirror came on illuminating the figure of the “ghost”. It made for startling looks on people’s faces as they saw the ghost figure appearing in the mirror!”

There was no further archival evidence of any strange events or stories here, so it seems that since this ghostly story has an earthly explanation, you’re safe in the smallest room. Still, it’s kind of a shame that the “ghost” special effect isn’t there anymore.

Forbes also recalled the Merlin stained glass image:

“The back bar had a stained glass image of Merlin and at midnight lasers would turn on, shooting red beams across the room – it looked pretty cool as it pierced through the drifting smoke. Wow, that took me back! Merlin’s was a really fun project, a lot of creative energy.”

 

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Kita – Chapter 16 – First Date – Part 4

The food comes and it’s amazing. I share some of my chicken with her because she says she loves chicken. I like sharing my food with her. There’s something intimate about that.

We discuss her ex a bit more. I make it clear to her why shouldn’t text him or reach out in any way. He doesn’t deserve it after the way he treated this little flower. We also discuss the new guy that’s she’s been dating, Steve. I can tell she knows he’s nice but the indelible stain of JR is still on her heart. She again says that they are in no way an item. I like that. This poor girl’s in a vulnerable state of mind. But I must keep my black wings tucked for now.

She’s excited to see her younger sister Jina on Saturday. She’s on the rowing team at her school and Kita is going to see her race on the Schuylkill River. She and her sister are both very close.

After dinner I tell her that we must get the flight of gelato. She agrees, and we check the menu and decide on what flavors we want to sample. The flight is a line of six long spoons and each one has a dollop of deliciousness on it.

We settle on the following: Pistachio, (of course!) Caffe, Cannolo, Fondente, Bacio, and Tiramisu. All amazing. I thought they were just going to bring out just the one plate and we’d share but our server rolls up with TWO plates of six spoons.

“Oh my gosh… I have to take a picture of this!” squeals Kita.

We take our forks and start to pick at each one. I love food like this. Just small portions, and each one has it’s own creamy unique flavor. Each mouthful makes you feel different than the one before. Like a Beatles album. This is clearly the encore to a wonderful meal with a beautiful young lady.

After dessert the bill comes and she wants to help. I love that she even asked. If you’ve been reading this blog you’ll know that I’ve been on dozens of dates and many of these women don’t even offer. I have no intention of letting Kita pay. I insist because I’m the one who asked her out to dinner and she’s the poor, Raman noodle eating college sophomore. That, and the fact that she’s a young, smoking hot baby.

Since I get the hookup there, the bill was only $60! Kita doesn’t drink, so that right there is a huge savings. Drinks can easily add $40 to your bill. Kita doesn’t know it but she’ll never have to pay when she’s out with me. I’m just honored to be in the presence of this girl. She could hang out with whoever she wants at her age, but tonight she chose me and I’m going to do whatever necessary to please her.

The best part up to this moment is when we were talking about next time. Next time. I’ve been in sales my whole life. Any good salesman knows that when you get the first meeting you always set up the second meeting before you leave. A, B, C… Always Be Closing! I don’t set a specific date for our next foray into food, but I do discuss how great the noodles and pot stickers are at Dan Dan over on 16th street. Plus, my buddy Norm will give us the hookup.

We gather our coats and thank everyone for everything and tell them how wonderful the entire experience has been. The general manager even came by to make sure we were happy. This could be my new go-to spot to romance ladies.

We get outside and we can feel the snap in the air of the October evening.

“Ooohh… I miss Florida!”

She calls for an Uber and we walk down to 16th street to catch it.

“Thank you so much for a lovely evening, Charles.”

We hug and I can smell the jasmine in her hair.

“Wait…” She takes my face in her tender hands. “Come closer.”

That’s the moment she kissed me on the lips. They are full and warm against mine. This takes me by surprise and my heart skips a beat or two. It’s not a sexual kiss. Just a firm thankful, pressing kiss and then slow release.

“Thank you, Charles.” Her lovely almond eyes glisten in the evening light. Her mouth curves into a mischievous grin. She seems to be enjoying the look of mute awe on my startled face.”

“See ya!”

She hops in the car and she’s off.

I’m stunned beyond words. Dopamine has dropped and the euphoria takes my spirit. I turn and do the slow motion Reservoir Dogs walk down 16th street as I light a cig and pull deeply upon it.

Wow. Just…Wow.

I text her. “Had a great time tonight! Text me when you get home safe.”

Fifteen minutes later I’m home in my chair.

“Thanks so much for dinner, Charles!!!! It was awesome and super good!! (Emoji with little hearts for eyes) I just made it back!”

I smile and take a sip of wine. Maiden voyage has been a success. The universe is unfolding as it should.

 

 

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Tales of Rock – The Rainbow Bar & Grill

I’ve got some interesting tales coming up in this series that occur here at the Rainbow, so I thought I’d supply you all with some background.

The Rainbow Bar and Grill is a bar and restaurant on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood, CaliforniaUnited States, adjacent to the border of Beverly Hills, California. Its address is 9015 Sunset Boulevard.

The bottom level of the building is the restaurant, The Rainbow Bar and Grill. Upstairs is an exclusive club called “Over the Rainbow”, which consists of a full bar, a dance floor, and a DJ booth. The restaurant is next to The Roxy Theatre and The Key Club.

The restaurant was founded in early 1972 by Elmer ValentineLou AdlerMario Maglieri and others,[1][2] opening on April 16, 1972, with a party for Elton John.[3] At the time, the word “rainbow” signified peace and freedom. It quickly became known as a hangout for celebrities of all types.[4] John Belushi ate his last meal[5](lentil soup) at table No. 16[citation needed]. For many years, the owner was Mario Maglieri.[4]

Before becoming the Rainbow, the restaurant was the Villa Nova restaurant, which was originally owned by film director Vincente Minnelli, at the time married to Judy GarlandJoe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe met at the restaurant on a blind date in 1952.[6]

The Rainbow became known as a hangout for rock musicians and their groupies. Notable regulars at the Rainbow in this period include Keith MoonAlice CooperMicky DolenzHarry NilssonJohn LennonRingo Starr, and Neil Diamond.[5] Elvis Presley was known to have occasionally visited the Rainbow[citation needed]. The group of musicians calling themselves the Hollywood Vampires made the Rainbow their home away from home in the mid-1970s. In the last two decades of his life, Motörhead frontman Lemmy was a daily fixture at the Rainbow whenever the band was not on tour, and often played a video poker machine at the end of the bar table.[7]

Los Angeles songwriter Warren Zevon referenced the scene at the Rainbow in the last verse of his 1976 song “Poor Poor Pitiful Me“.

The musical group Rainbow was named after this club.[8]

The track “Rainbow Bar & Grill” from the Cheech & Chong album Let’s Make a New Dope Deal takes place in the bar and restaurant.

Producer Kim Fowley used to hang out at the Rainbow, especially in 1975, when he formed the all-girl group The Runaways. Actress and musician Cheryl Smithwas given her pseudonym Rainbeaux Smith early in her career as a result of her frequenting the Rainbow; she briefly replaced Sandy West as drummer of The Runaways at the end of that band’s existence.[citation needed]

As musical trends on the Strip changed towards heavy metal in the 1980s, the Rainbow followed suit. Members of Mötley Crüe,[9] Poison, and Guns N’ Roses frequented the bar.[10] It was mentioned in a number of songs, such as “Sunset and Babylon” by W.A.S.P., “Vampire” by L.A. Guns and “Peach Kelli Pop” by Redd Kross, and featured in the videos of “November Rain“, “Estranged” and “Don’t Cry” by Guns N’ Roses and also, although briefly, “Rock Out” by Motörhead.

Anthony Kiedis of the Red Hot Chili Peppers noted in his book Scar Tissue that he often sat with his father, Blackie Dammett, at the club along with various members of bands such as Led Zeppelin. Often the waitresses and bartenders were groupies as well as those who frequented the establishment. In Pamela Des Barres‘ book Let’s Spend the Night Together, the author commented that as a barfly in the early 1980s she met a number of celebrities including Billy Idol.[11]

In June of 2016, the Rainbow started having live music every Wednesday night from 10pm until closing. Various musicians would host the live jam every week. Local acts, as well as different well known musicians would show up to perform random classic rock cover songs every week. During this time, there were many jam band gatherings being established on Sunset Boulevard around the area. Viper Roomand The Whisky a Go Go also joined the Rainbow by allowing musicians to host jams on various week nights as well.

On January 18, 2017 the Rainbow was inducted into the Hall of Heavy Metal History (created by Pat Gesualdo and Joe Dell) for introducing the world to new Heavy Metal acts. [12]

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Sabrina – Good Morning

Sweet, lovely Sabrina text me this morning. It was a simple, “Good Morning.”

“Hi Sabrina!”

“Did I wake you? I need some positivity this morning.”

“No. What’s up, dear?”

“Just stressed about my job. The boss is never happy. I’m stressed about my ex. He’s pushing me to do things before I want to do them. I just feel like shit.”

“Can you meet for lunch today?”

Yes, I’m sure I can. What time and where?”

I had to work at the salon later, so I suggested noon at Locust Rendezvous. But she wanted to do a little later and not a bar that looks like a tavern. More of a lunch spot. (I should have realized this, based on her past with addiction and recovery.) I just wanted the $5 burger they have there. I secede and suggest Rachael’s at 12:30. She likes that idea much better. Racheal’s is my weekend breakfast spot. I love the food and the prices.

I get there and she appears shortly thereafter. She looks lovely as ever. We go up to the counter and order then return to our table. The place is quiet and this is the first time we’ve ever met outside of the salon. Technically our first date if that’s what this is.

Am I attracted to Sabrina? Of course. Do I care that she’s used heroin for 7 years and has been clean 8 months? No. I want her to be well and live a happy sober life. Do I care that she lived in a halfway house with Jill because she had to be sent there? Nope. She’s a nice lady that had a shitty marriage and got addicted to drugs. But she’s clean now and I like being around her. If I get bored or annoyed with her I’ll cool it. I’ve written about all of the crazy women that I used to hang out with and date in this forum. I only surround myself with good people now. I’ve cut off all of those people and I’m much happier and more calm for it. Jill, Kaja and Sabrina are all nice women that just made some bad choices, but I believe it’s never too late to change for the better. When I was with the crazies they were still in crazy mode. These good women have come out on the other side and hopefully for good.

At this point in my life I like spending time with people who are calm and nice. No more drama. I’ve had enough for two lifetimes. So many of the people who now live in the past and out of my head are just shitty people. I blame their lifestyle choices and their parents. I also love to work and my alone time, so I dig a lunch or a happy hour but beyond that…see ya!

Sabrina and I have a wonderful lunch. We’re chatting for the first time outside of the salon and we can really get to know each other. She’s telling me about her life and what’s been happening, but I don’t need all the details. We just glide across the surface. Marriage, divorce, kids, work. Just first date stuff for people who have ‘seen some things.’ Normally you should never talk about any of your ex’s on a first date, but I discover that she’s still married to her husband. I don’t care. They’re separated so they can date if that’s what they’ve agreed. Not my concern. She’s living in the house and he’s moved out. She’s gotten out of the halfway house because I’m assuming she did her time and stayed clean. Her husband is a contractor and she was a stay at home mom for 12 years. Oh, she has two kids. They live with Dad and she gets to see them on Saturdays. From what she’s told me he sounds like he’s being a dick, slacking on the house payments and utilities, and saying he doesn’t have any money. But Sabrina has access to all of the accounts. He’s not good at any of that, so she still has all the passwords. She can see that he’s spending hundreds of dollars out at the bars. So it’s all a pretty typical divorce mess.

In the State of Pennsylvania, if she stayed home for all of her twenties (She’s 32) The court will have to take that into account. He was the sole breadwinner while she had to forgo her career to raise the kids so dad is going to have to pay her alimony. So that’s good for her. He’ll also have to cash her out on the house, and divide up the assets. So it would really benefit her to begin divorce proceedings.

Recently the company she works for have cut the hours of some of the staff. Because some of their outdoor bars and beer gardens have closed for the season. This and her husband are really stressing her out. I’m afraid if she gets really stressed she could use again and then she’s back in a drug fueled world of shit.

“What are you looking to do?”

“I was thinking I could maybe get a job as a server.”

She knows that I have the hook up with a lot of the bars and restaurants around the city. She also knows that I’ve helped people get jobs. So she asks for my help.

“What are you doing tomorrow, Sabrina?”

“What are you thinking?” She smiles.

“I get my business cards for all of the bars and restaurants in the city. We get lunch at Misconduct. Then we go through the cards and I reach out to places we think are appropriate for you to work as a server.”

“I love Misconduct! I’ve only been there once! Yes! If you could do that and help me that would be wonderful!”

“I’ll do what I can.”

“Thank you!”

The sandwiches they served us were enormous. Delicious and fresh, but gigantic. I guess the average person that goes there and orders a sandwich wants to stuff their head with a king sized wad of meat. I want a sandwich like the ones my mom used to make. Something that has reasonable portions and I can get my mouth around to bite it. Not rip into a pile of meat like a jackal. I see that she could only eat half of her hot Rueben and I’m in the same situation with my roast beef. There is a half a sandwich left and it’s as big as one sandwich. I grab us a couple of to-go shells and we put our sandwiches in them and head out.

We walk east on Sansom and we’re chatting and come upon a homeless woman lying on a piece of cardboard on the sidewalk.

I bend down. “Would you like this fresh sandwich? It’s really good.”

The poor woman turns on her side and starts opening the container. “Thank you.”

We continue walking down the street.

“You’re my kind of guy.”

“That’s a woman lying in the street. I had to do it.”

“I could cry. I can feel my heart.”

We agree again on tomorrow and I tell her to take a deep breath and just know it will all work out. She hugs me and thanks me for everything.

I watch as she walks north on 18th street and admired her beauty. Wow. First date. She reached out to me and made it happen. Got to know each other and good energy flowed. Second date is tomorrow and maybe I can help her find a part-time job. Fed a homeless person and impressed her.

Sometimes all it takes to get the ball rolling are the words:

“Good Morning.”

 

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Kimiko – Chapter 3 – The Devil Made Me Do It – Part 1

I finished work at the salon that Sunday, and headed over to Devil’s Alley. It’s a bar/restaurant at 20th and Chestnut. I’ve written about it before. It’s one of my go to spots in Rittenhouse. Southern cuisine, cool spot. Dining room on the ground floor, and the bar and the balcony seating upstairs. There are lots of cool light effects and plants. There’s actually a tree growing in the middle of the downstairs dining room.

They have the best spicy dry rub wings in the city. The food is great there and I’ve just learned that they do Happy Hour every day. Even Sundays! So I’ve come to the right spot for my first date with Kimiko.

I’m early of course. I head upstairs to the bar and order a vodka and tonic. The bartender Tim is charming and we chat a bit about work and how life is tough right now. Classic bar banter. I throw it back and order another just to take the edge off the day and this date.

I text her.

Me: I just arrived at Devil’s Alley.

K: One min.

Me: I’m at the bar upstairs.

Perfect. It’s 4:57 and she is right on time. Points for her punctuality.

The place is dead and I love that it’s quiet so we can chat and get to know each other when she and I dine together.

I hear the light click of heels coming up the metal stairs behind me. I turn and there before me is the girl from the profile on Bumble.

But better.

The angelic fine boned features of the face. Alive. Real. Her raven tresses tumble about her shoulders like ribbons of coal. The lovely almond eyes. The lean body. She’s wearing a black and white blouse, with a fitted short jacket over it paired with black clinging slacks and heels.

She’s absolutely perfect. We do the perfunctory awkward hug that doesn’t feel that bad at all. I catch a whiff of her lovely hair.

We grab a quiet table on the balcony. We sit and the bartender comes over and she gets a beer and I ask for another V&T. We exchange the usual greetings and pleasantries. She tells me she’s parked a few blocks away at 20th and Walnut.

We’re sipping our drinks and I tell the server we want to chat a bit but will be ordering food. I ask her how long she’s been on Bumble. She tells me only about two weeks. She’s been on two dates but it hasn’t yielded anything significant. One was just a no and the other didn’t look like his profile pics. That’s good, the shark has gotten this baby seal before she could disappear. I can tell by her expression and body language she’s telling the truth.

I decide to open and tell her about myself first. She’s fine with that. It’s time for Led Zeppelin to go onstage. I tell her I like to talk. She responds that she’s a good listener.

I give her the sales pitch. Single dad. Daughter, 22 lives with me. Former banker and advertising guy. Works at a tanning salon and investing in a fitness center in Rittenhouse. I talk about my family and where we’re from and a little bit of history. I tell her I want her to know who I am and I’m very honest and open. I want to put her at ease. It’s an easy play because it’s all true.

To a point.

We seem to be hitting on all cylinders. She jokingly brings up my profile. About how I make the statement, “If you don’t look like your profile pics, you’ll buy me drinks until you do.”

I assure her that she won’t be buying me any drinks tonight. (Smokin’ hot and better than her profile pics.)

She laughs and I see how sweet she is. She can tell I’m a gentleman, and that I’m old-fashioned and she likes that I like dating, romance and courtship. That puts her further at ease.

She tells me her story. It’s an old family. Older than mine but she’s the baby of the family. There are eight children! She was born in Hong Kong. (Funny how my girlfriend Cherie is in Japan right now and I’m with a Japanese girl. Oh, the irony of life!) A long time ago Great Britain ruled Hong Kong and Japan. But then they had to give all of the countries they ruled over back and Japan went under the rule of China. She said her family didn’t agree with Chinese rule and fled Hong Kong and came to the US long ago.

Her parents and extended family always worked in the restaurant business. Chinese restaurants of course. Asians are some of the greatest restauranteurs in the world. Think about it. They’re in every city in the civilized world and you never see them go out of business.

So that’s what they did when they came here. The whole family worked like dogs running a Chinese restaurant. Then they opened up another one, and then another. They did this to afford their future generations with a better life. That’s how it’s done. Just good hard-working, bright people. I admire them and their tireless work ethic. Good manners and discipline. All of the qualities instilled into my family by my parents.

She was married once and I tell her my history, but I keep it brief and light. Too early to get to deep in that on a first date. She was married for many years and it yielded two sons. They are both in medical school.

Do you see the pattern here? Come from a crappy place, get to America. Work your asses off so your kids and grand kids have the means to become anything they want. Something you could never have imagined doing. She is very proud of her boys. At this point we whip out the cell phones like people used to bring out the wallet photos of their kids in days of old.

“You’re daughter is gorgeous. Pretty as a model!”

“I do nice work, but the mold is broken and there’ll be no more.”

We order the spicy dry rub wings so she can try them. Because its happy hour you can get a little four plate. Perfect. She orders the chicken quesadilla and I go with the pulled pork sliders. I order for us both and ask her if that’s okay. She likes it and digs the manners and skills.

Ex girlfriend Annabelle didn’t like when I did that but she was a raging feminist, but she was just a fool who didn’t understand manners and chivalry because she never grew up with any good male role models. That’ll never happen to my daughter Lorelei.

It’s going well and I want to learn more about her. She met her husband here but they had a lot in common. Both from Hong Kong, and similar cultural and familial histories. They started dating and then married three months after that. She tells me that’s kind of stupid, but I tell her how I was married to my ex-wife after ten months of dating.

We share a laugh over that and there’s definitely a connection. Life happens. People make decisions and you just hope for the best. It was probably just everyone tired of the dating scene and you settle on what you hope is a good one and just go for it.

She looks at her watch.

“Do you have somewhere to be? I don’t want to keep you.”

“I have to put money in the meter.”

“That would be a brilliant out if you felt the date wasn’t going well. You could just not come back.”

She touches my arm, “Oh I would never do that! You’re funny. I’ll be right back!”

She apologizes and I tell her the Parking Authority in this city is vicious so she should go now.

Off she goes. I know she’ll be right back. She only put enough for two hours and if it hadn’t worked between us, she could have bolted. She’ll come back right?

She’s been sweet, and she touched my arm.

Kimiko is coming right back. I joke with the bartender how this could be her out.

 

Wait… What if she doesn’t come back?

 

Find out tomorrow on Phicklephilly!

 

 

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

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