Cherie – Chapter 11 – The Star in my Sky

Cherie has been getting over a cold. Actually it’s worse than that. I got a cold recently and I thought I gave it to her. But she says no. She claims she probably got it from one of the many kids she treats at Children’s Hospital. She’s already gone to the doctor and they put her on a steroid and antibiotics. Me, I have a really robust immune system. The last time I had a cold was in 2012. Like my father used to say: “You’re sick for two days and then you cough for two weeks. Then you’re done.”

I like this one too:

“It’s not the cough that carries you off, it’s the coffin they carry you off in.”Steven Tyler

I super cleaned my bathroom Saturday morning. It really needed it. My daughter thinks it looks great. I told her it will stay that way if we can just keep it that way. I bought all new mats and accessories so the place looks great. Next I’m going to do an overhaul on my bedroom for obvious reasons. Daughter is away on weekends now with her boyfriend. I really want to bring Cherie back to the bat cave. I need to see if the airbags in the headboard of my bed still work. (Kidding!)

Cherie arrived in Philly around 4pm. She got good parking down at 19th & South Street. Parking is always a hassle when she comes into town. I met her and we walked around the city. I think with me being sick and getting over my cold and her in the thick of it, our energy levels were way down.

At least we had our amazing Hammer into Anvil weekend which proves that we’re not only a good match romantically but sexually. (See: Last Monday’s post)

I took her to Devil’s Alley. It’s a good spot at 19th & Chestnut. She told me she likes wings and I told her they have these wings that are fantastic there. Not Buffalo, but a spicy dry rub wing. Whenever my friend from North Carolina comes to visit he always makes me take him there for those wings. I ordered a plate of them and Cherie loved them. We had a couple of sodas and that was it. It’s weird, I never drink or smoke around Cherie. I just don’t even want it. Also, I know in the past I complained about all of these women I was dating and how the wallets never came out. But Cherie is a lovely girl and a cheap date. She never wants anything fancy. She spent more on parking than I did on the wings. We’re just happy to be together.

We went back to her car and fed the meter. Then we headed up to the tanning salon to chill. I told Trish we were going to hang in the space next door. That’s the space where Achilles and I were going to open the spin bike gym. But the owner approved it then sold the building. So it’s still empty. Our collective illness was dragging us down. I ended up just lying on the sofa with Cherie on top of me. She was literally dozing off. I felt bad for her. After and hour or so we left and went back to her car.

We drove out to 23rd and Cherry Street and parked. We cuddled a bit and then she laid her head in my lap and continued to doze off. I was worried about her driving home so I told her we should wrap it up.

Between being sick and working as hard as she does I don’t know how she stays awake half the time. But she’s a strong woman and is making her way. A medical assistant at CHOP and working in a pediatrician’s office AND being a neuroscience major at Temple? That’s a lot. But at least I’m not dating failed actresses who have no idea where their going anymore. Maybe I’m finally growing up myself.

 

 

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Dina – 2011 to Present – Aggressive Diversity

I have been working a ton of hours lately. Work at the day gig, at night at the salon because we burned through some employees lately. I knew Summer was coming back soon but didn’t realize that her return was almost two months away. (See: Summer – 2017 to Present – Night Shift Girl and Outlaw) So rather than try to find someone, hire them, get them trained, figure out if the schedule works for them, I figured I’d just take all the night and weekend shifts and Achilles would hold down the fort during the day. Subsequently, I had no life for the last two months. I mean, I squeezed in a couple of lunches with friends and maybe two nights out with my buddy Church.

Just non stop work. But I like to work and be busy. It keeps me out of trouble, and once I do get a day off I’ll truly appreciate it.

Well that day has arrived and it is glorious. I go to the bank and get a check to give to my  friend and broker, Dina. (See: Dina – 2011 to Present – Lil’ JAP)  I then head over to one of my favorite lunch spots, Cavanaugh’s Rittenhouse. My favorite bartender doesn’t work on the day I go in anymore. I miss her. (See: Ann Marie – 2016 to Present – Rose Among Thorns) But the girl who took her place is really good. She’s a little blonde named Kelli.

I get there and go to the table where I always sit in the back. Normally it’s quiet in there when I go and gets even quieter as the afternoon rolls on. But right now there’s a ten top sitting right near me and apparently these people work for the Yelling and Loud Laughing Corporation. It’s a little annoying, but I’m sure they’ll quiet down when their chow comes out.

I order my usual from Kelli. Cheesesteak, American, no onions, fries, no pickle, a diet coke when my food comes out. Just water for now. That’s my move!

This is my first day off in 53 days! So happy. I get my food and it’s perfect. Kelli doesn’t forget my diet coke as the sandwich arrives. On point. Ann Marie never did that. She always just came to my table with the soda and the water at the beginning. I like it this way better.

The big table leaves after a while and the bar is nice and quiet again. Bliss. I have my laptop and crack off a few new blog posts from my past. I’m having a lovely day so far. Kelli checks on me a few times. I like the attention I’m getting. Not as flirty as Ann Marie but better service.

I tell Kelli that when Ann Marie was here, around 3pm she’d make me some spirit forward cocktail. I don’t know what it was, but she cobbled together some sort of Old Fashioned. Kelli asks me what was in it and I tell her. She says it sounds more like a Manhattan. I tell her when she gets a chance sometime after 3pm I’d like to have that with a side of ice.

I continue typing away. Some time goes by and I glance at the clock on my laptop. 3:01. Kelli appears. “Are you ready for that drink now?”

Right on time. Within a few minutes she delivers what appears to be a perfect Manhattan, neat, in a martini glass, maraschino cherry, and a side of ice. Looks good to me.

I’m typing away and it takes me the full hour to drink it. I go out for a cigarette and when I come back, Kelli returns and asks me if I want anything else. I tell her that the drink was great and I would love another. The creative juices are flowing and the keyboard is smoking.

The second drink arrives and I know this one won’t last as long as the first one. It never does. More typing, more sipping and this guy is done in 45 minutes. God, it feels so good to finally have a day off. I’m not meeting Dina until 7pm. I’ll hang here until 5:30 and then head over to Square 1682 to see my favorite bartender, Roman. (See: Roman – 2012 to Present – Rock n’ Roll Bartender)

Feels like two months ago before all of these crazy hours happened. I tell Kelli I’m going to close out. I look at my bill. She gave me industry discount on both cocktails! Those drinks were made with Bulliet Bourbon. That’s a great brand! Kelli only charged me $5 per drink! They were first-rate, and Ann Marie never did that for me.

I tip her up to what all of this would have really cost and pay cash. Cash is king in this industry. She’s pleased and I’m overjoyed. Kelli’s my new #1 day off “It” girl! Sorry Ann Marie!

I head over to Square and set up my laptop and phone at the bar. They have receptacles to plug-in so I can power up my devices and still type and text while waiting for Dina to arrive.

Roman already has a glass of chardonnay with a side of ice at the ready before I even sit down. Come for the booze, stay for the hospitality. Roman is happy that the vacation season is over and the patrons are back at his bar. I’m chatting with him because I haven’t seen him in almost two months. Just our usual small talk, life, work, family, etc.

A while passes and I’m feeling happy. Dina arrives and we decide to get away from the bar and take a little table to chat. Little Dina looks adorable, or as she would say, “Adorbs.” Even though she’s only 4’11” she has the metabolism of a bee. So of course she’s starving. We order another round of wine, and she gets a bowl of mac n’ cheese. I will say this, the food at Square 1682 is good. But Misconduct makes better mac n’ cheese, as does Jones down at 5th and Chestnut. But Dina stuffs it in her little maw like it’s her last meal.

After about an hour of laughs and crazy stories I hand her the envelope from my bank. But before I do I say these words: “Aggressive Diversity.” She gets it and stuffs it in her purse. The bill comes and she grabs it and pays with her corporate card. This really has been a wonderful day, but it’s not over yet.

We stop over the salon, because it’s Summer’s first night back closing up the place. Dina gets to meet her, and check out the new fitness center. We get the place locked down without incident. But there’s one more critical stop we have to make. We walk up to Chestnut street. She says she’s picking up dinner for she and her husband. I go into the restaurant with her. I don’t know what she’s ordering I’m just people watching and chilling. After a few minutes they hand her this giant bag filled with boxes. Yea, we’re at Popeye’s Chicken! It’s a decadent secret of lil’ Dina’s. Girl loves her some fried chicken!

Apparently they look like they ordered one of everything, plus fries, biscuits…the works! How are they going to eat all of this food!? They’re just two people. Dina calls and Uber and I get a ride home with her. What a great day.  I love my broker/friend!

 

 

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Sun Stories – Colleen – Fudge-O-Rama – Part Three

I couldn’t think of a fudge pun for part 3 of this little trilogy. If any of you reading this can think up a better title for this entry, please let me know and I’ll change the title!

The weekend grinds by. I work Friday night. I had to go see my sister at the shore house on Saturday and settle some estate stuff, which really didn’t feel like a day off. We’re trying to get this gym open and I’ve been working two jobs and this one for the las thirty days straight. My friends and all of the ladies in my life thinks I’ve left the living.

But I’m here. Just building a business in Rittenhouse. We will be successful but I’ve never worked this much physically but I love what we’re doing, so it in no way resembles the crushing feeling of busting your ass for some shitty corporation and having your talent squandered by morons everyday. Here at the salon, we rule. It’s a lovely place to work and I never want to go back to a cubicle agin.

Tuesday rolls around and I stop by the salon early because Achilles wants to talk business and vision. We both voted that our new fitness manager guy should go to Popeye’s chicken and get us lunch.

I really respect what he’s doing for us but I love that Achilles is clear on the pecking order in this company and having him go get us some fried chicken is a brash show of who is who in this business. I didn’t care, I just hate standing in line over there and it’s hard carrying all of those boxes and drinks back down to Walnut street.

It’s a subtle compliment from him to let me know that he and I are the main partners here. It’s Me and Achilles all day long, but we need him to manage, organize and run the gym. But we’re the loyal money partners in this business. I love the clarity and arrogance in that.

Later, we all munch our chicken and it’s good, but I think Popeye’s gives me tummy troubles, but a free lunch is what it is so that eases the pain.

Achilles leaves and I’m on shift doing what I do.

It was a quiet Tuesday and I expected that. But after 6pm we started to get a little rush. Some of my favorites were coming in and I love that. Pretty girls with lovely faces and legs to match. My dear friend Alice even stopped in to tan! (See: Alice – 2012 to Present – The Cute Recruiter)I loved seeing her and the lobby was alive with attractive chatty ladies.

Then during the melee Colleen arrived.

I was sending ladies to stand up units and lay downs left and right but I wanted her to know I saw her.

“Hey Col.”

I could she was carrying a large plastic bag. It was on. The deal was about to be closed. I could feel the juicy chocolate energy flowing through this facility.

Once I cleared the other girls from the room I turned my attention to lovely Colleen.

“Hello, dear. It’s so great to see you!” (she kept her word and came to the salon exactly when she said she would. We respect that here at the salon.)

“Here you go.”

There it is. The real deal. Two pounds of delicious freshly made fudge from The Original Fudge Kitchen in Cape May NJ!

Colleen has kept her word and this babydoll has just earned herself a month of All Access tanning for $35 buck! Well played!

Colleen is so amazing she even through in a bag of salt water taffy absolutely free. ( I love that she sweetened the deal)

She also gave me a little box of fudge as a thank you for brokering this complex tanning/candy deal.

Oh’ the benefits of being King!

Wow. That really captures my existence. Delicious candy. Cigarettes. A Chardonnay on the rocks, a shot of vodka in a Boston Red Sox glass, two pictures of my daughter Lorelei with the Father’s Day card she gave me, some pens, my glasses on a Rock Trivia book. I think I just smiled…

“Don’t refrigerate the fudge okay? Write Achilles a note about that. It’s important.”

At this point I’m so joyful, I’ll do whatever she says.

I write Achilles a note on the computer in the section where I let him know what’s going on in the salon on a daily basis. This is good fudge. Apparently you can freeze it, but you can’t refrigerate it. I don’t know.

I happilly take the pic above of the two pounds of delish and text it to Achilles and wait for a response…”

 

 

I show this to Colleen and she leaps into action….

 

We crack this pic off immediately as to not spoil the fruit of our rich bounty today. Sweet Colleen is instrumental in this communication.

Achilles response?

“Ok”

My response: ” I can’t believe you didn’t even notice my new manicure.”

Ten minute later…

“That’s also very nice, thank you for pointing it out to me.”

 

I’ll see him and the salon and the gym tomorrow and it’ll be business as usual as we continue to all work and build our model. But after working 30 days in a row because it’s what’s needed to be done to run a business there is always space for love, laughter and fudge!

Thank you, Colleen!

XOXO

 

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Sun Stories – Colleen – You Better Pack My Fudge – Part Two

“Does he like peanut butter?

“I guess. I don’t know. Keep it pretty traditional. We’ll all be safer that way.”

Colleen comes in around 7pm. It’s raining here in Philly. Summer storms are passing through to quell the humidity. She’s dressed in a black bodysuit and looks lovely. We’re chatting and she is absolutely charming as always. She wants to go to the huge windows that overlook Walnut Street to watch as the populace run from the storm. Standing with her in the dark overlooking the night street is lovely. The music from the salon sets the soundtrack as we giggle as umbrellas blow out and couples find shelter. I want to kiss her in this moment. Not as a romantic gesture, but because she seems so present and real. Like an old friend.

We get back to counter and she gives me $35 cash. She promises profusely that she will fulfill the remaining aspect of this unique deal.

“I’m a woman of my word. You know that. What kind of flavors does he like? I’ll do whatever’s necessary.”

Achilles tastes are simple. Keep it to vanilla and chocolate for now. I don’t him weirded out by any exotic flavors.”

“Does he like peanut butter?

“I guess. I don’t know. Keep it pretty traditional. We’ll all be safer that way.”

“Okay. I’ve been at this a long time. I’ll make him up a nice couple of batches.”

“You wanna tan?”

“I’d love to tan.”

“Well based on your word, and the $35 cash I just dropped in the safe I think we should let you tan. But… because you’ve been so wonderful and I like you, I’m going to have to tan you under the house account tonight because technically your account hasn’t been loaded yet. So I’m taking a risk here without any fudge and I’ll let you tan tonight.”

“Yes! Thank you so much! I have to go to Jersey this weekend, and then I’ll be at the Fudge Kitchen on Monday and I’ll deliver on Tuesday.”

“I trust you. Colleen, you’ve tanned for years in shitty little 15 minute beds that really are inefficient and take forever to give you the bronze glow you so rightfully deserve. Since you’ve been so wonderful, I’m going to tan you under the house account. Although this deal will secure that you’ll have the All Access plan, I’m going to do something a little extra for you tonight because I can.”

“I don’t even know what these other beds will do.”

“They’ll tan you faster and better than those old clams you’ve been lying in for the past three years. But tonight, you get a little something special just to ensure that you know we’ve taken your offer very seriously.”

“Wha…”

“Come with me Colleen.”

I take her to room number one. That’s where the Megasun Alpha 6800 lives. It’s a premium bed held exclusively for premium members. This is a state of the art tanning unit.

I call it the Tropical Starship.

600 watts of UV in the face tanners. (More A than B) 180 watts in the tubes. P2 vitamin D lamps throughout that glow pink. A plug so you can hook up your phone and listen to your music in there. Air conditioning, including vents that blow toward your face to keep you cool. Three levels of tanning. Basic, Mediterranean, and Caribbean. Dark, darker and darkest. And the best part of all? Aqua misters that spray you with mist every three minutes to keep you feeling cool and sexy through the entire journey. The Alpha is THE experience.

New, this bed costs $35,000. More than your fucking car.

I walk her through what this baby will do and Colleen is nearly orgasmic. She promises again and again to keep her word on the fudge.

“See that you do.” I send her into her session.

Let’s see if she keeps up her end of the bargain.

 

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Sun Stories – Colleen – Oh Fudge! – Part One

“I think you should let her pay $35 and the rest in fresh fudge.”

“Fuck no. It’s $65 a month. Wait…did you say fudge?”

The game is afoot.

This pretty Irish girl came into the salon the other day. I sort of remembered from our previous location. I looked her up in the system and the memory came back to me.

“I remember you Colleen! We had some great conversations at the old place.”

“Yea, the new place looks great! I was wondering what happened to you guys and then I went online and saw your new address.”

“I haven’t seen you since last year. I know you were living in Jersey.”

“I got a job here in the city and bought a house in South Philly.”

“Congrats! Good for you!”

Shannon is a lovely, tall girl. There has a certain confidence and honor in her personality. Just old fasshioned goodness. I find that very attractive. She has a very social personality and a hard work ethic. Somebody like my sister April. Strong. A leader.

“Yea, so I want to tan and I know you are the only salon in the city that had the basic beds because I’m cash poor because I just bought a house.”

“Oooh… We didn’t bring the basic beds with us down here.”

“What?”

“Yea, we just didn’t have room for them.”

“It was like $35 for a month of tanning wasn’t it?”

“It was a great deal. I’m sorry.”

“What do you have now that’s a monthly package?”

“The All Access for $64.95.”

“65 bucks? You’re killing me. I really want to tan, but I’m just not in a position to lay out $65 a month right now.”

“I feel like you’re going to leave and I’m not going to see you again.”

“I just can’t right now.”

“Do you still work part-time at the Fudge Kitchen in Cape May?”

“I do. Best employee they’ve ever had. Why?”

“My partner, Achilles loves to eat. But his weakness is sweets. I literally can’t leave any candy here because he’ll eat it all like a piranha.”

“So what are you proposing?”

I take a risk here. “What if I ask him if you can pay your old rate of $35 a month but you get the All Access package that goes for $65 but you make up the difference in delicious fresh fudge?”

“I can do that. If you can make that deal with your partner, I swear to god I will bring you $35 tomorrow and I can get you the fudge by Tuesday.”

“Let me see what I can do.”

Shannon leaves and I promise to keep in touch with her. If this doesn’t fly, I know I’ll probably never see her again, and I really like her.

______________________________________________________________________________________

I decide to have a conversation with my partner, Achilles.

“So this girl Colleen came in the other night. She’s come here for years and has always tanned in the basic beds. But we don’t have them anymore. She recently moved to the city and got a great job at a law office and bought a house.”

“Is there a point to this story W?” (Achilles calls me by the first letter of my last name. He also doesn’t like long-winded stories or small talk. He’s a ‘get to the fucking point’ kind of guy)

“I think you should let her pay $35 and the rest in fresh fudge.”

“Fuck no. It’s $65 a month.     Wait…did you say fudge?”

The game is afoot.

“Yea, she’s doing well now but cash poor because of her new house, but she’s worked at the Fudge Kitchen in Cape May, NJ since she was a kid and keeps her hand in there to pick up a couple of bucks here and there when she can. She says she can make up the rest of the payment in delicious fresh fudge.”

He looks at me. He’s working it out. I watch his eyes.

“Thirty five cash money and two pounds of fudge.”

“Excellent! I’ll call her and tell her! Thank you! She’ll be so happy, and we’ll have retained a client! You can eat the fudge or share it or even give it away if you want!”

“Don’t be fucking giving away my fudge already W! That shit’s mine.”

“Okay…okay… I’ll broker the deal.”

“Worst case senario, she pays $35 cash and doesn’t come through with the fudge… No tanning package and I’m $35 richer. The dye is cast.”

Ruthless motherfucker, but that’s why I love him.

This is beautiful. I’ve been a million dollar producer in the banking industry and in advertising for the last twenty-five years and now I’m retaining clients using nothing but sumptuous treats.

I call Colleen from the house phone and leave a message.

“Hi Col, it’s Charles from the salon. I have some good news. Give me a call back.”

I’m working and tanning the ladies like I always do when the phone rings. I give her the details.

“Really? He went for it? I’ll be in tonight!”

Let’s see if Colleen holds up her end of this extraordinary bargain…

 

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Johnny R. – Saturday Afternoon

“How’d it go?”

“She blew me.”

Yea, this fucker’s back. He’s writing a blog now.

Check it out: insidemypsyche.blogspot.com

I walked up to Tir Na Nog, the Irish pub up on 16th Street between JFK and Arch streets. I’m really not a fan of that bar. It’s a total sausage fest. Lots of soccer and dudes. The beer is never cold enough and the place is noisy.

But, it’s right next to Suburban Station and Johnny can just cruise right in there when he gets off the train. Also I know the bartender on duty and she always gives me my first one for free!

Johnny arrives and gets his usual bud bottle. We both agree, after this drink we want to go somewhere else because this place is lame. I pay the bill and we’re off.

We end up going to a spot we used to frequent when we both worked at the Inquirer years ago. Happy Rooster is the name of the bar on 16th and Sansom. There are a couple of tables outside on the Sansom street side of the building. I used to love to sit there and drink wine with Johnny and smoke cigarettes. We would sit there and check out all of the lovely talent as they walked by. It was a good spot.

The exact table is available and we hop in it. I get my usual chardonnay with a side of ice and Johnny pounds ice cold bud bottles. I love sitting here with Johnny. Just sippin’, smokin’ and jokin’. It’s a good people watching spot that’s always shady and off the main path of busy 16th Street.

He starts telling me this story about this girl that works in the deli downstairs in the lobby of the building where he works. His firm does data capture. That’s the systems behind processing credit cards at any business. He works in the finance department. He became friendly with her when he’s down there getting a sandwich or whatever.

He suggested the company he works for take a look at their credit card statements and maybe they could get them a lower rate. They agree and apparently they got their business. She’s very grateful because her mother owns the store and he’s helping their family save money.

One day when he was in the back with her and checking the system, she hugged him, and then kissed him. It was a little more than a friendly thank you peck on the cheek. It was a full on kiss. Johnny tells me that she’s unhappy in her relationship.

“Her boyfriend shoots squirrels.”

Sounds like some redneck, hillbilly behavior. Johnny’s not going to pursue anything with her, and besides, it’s too close to work. What if something happens and then things don’t work out? Awkward!

We’re there for about 45 minutes and Johnny tells me he needs to eat. I know if he doesn’t eat, he’ll get really drunk. No one wants that.

“Just like a slice of pizza or a hot dog.”

“Well Underdogs on 17th Street, went under. Hot Diggity Dogs on South Street died. But there is a new place over at 11th and Walnut that’s supposed to be good.”

“Let’s hit it.”

So we walk down to Walnut Street and head east. It’s a lovely Saturday in the city, and everyone is out, eating, drinking or shopping.

When we arrive I see that this new place is in the spot where the seafood restaurant Joe Pesce was located. (Yea it was really called that.) Nice place that just didn’t make it. It’s a big space, they sure as hell better sell a bunch of hot dogs.

The place looks great. A good spot for everybody who likes hot dogs. But the best part of all is that it has a bar! We sit down and tell the bartender it’s our first time but we heard good things.  She hands us a couple of menus and we order a pair of beers. They have at least 40 different kinds of dogs on the menu, and many of the meats are exotic.  I kind of just want a chili dog and some chips. I forget what Johnny ordered, but when the food came out, this glorious wiener was placed before me.

 

Check it out:

http://www.destinationdogs.com/

I rarely post anything on my personal Instagram, and I don’t like when people post pictures of babies and food. But I just couldn’t resist, and you can see why. They were a little stingy with the chips (Which they make in-house and are delicious) but the dog was amazing! I never expected that. Huge dog that almost seems that it’s been pressed into that buttery bread. It was maybe the best hot dog I’ve ever eaten, just because it was so fancy and delicious!

The food’s good, the beer is flowing and when we go out side for a smoke break, Johnny says it feels like he’s getting a second wind and wants to go to the Gold Club. He borrows $80 from me to do stuff there. I ask him why he just doesn’t get a separate  (or secret) account for all of his little dalliances, and he says he will. (He’s been saying it for years)

So I give him the cash and off we go. I only go to this place with him. I really have little interest in gentleman’s clubs. I’ve talked about them before. I just don’t see the appeal. It’s just a bunch of hot crazy chicks half-naked trying to separate you from your money. Period. The places are usually populated by either young drunk guys that just want to see some naked girls, or bored married guys, and other losers. Maybe some of the guys are just lonely, and don’t have access to real women. I know Johnny goes because he just has a taste for vice. He just does. Driven by his desires.

We get to the Gold Club and he’s chatting with this fat stripper. He likes his girls curvy. This beautiful athletic black girl comes over to me. I’ve seen her before and her legs are spectacular.

She can see Johnny is busy with the other girl so she cruises right up to me and starts chatting. She tells me she can take me in the back room, and we can do whatever I desire. I know this chick is hooking here, and I tell her I’ll think about it after I go out for a smoke.

The thick girl is now on stage and I tell Johnny that the thing he needs, that black girl will do. He’s happy about that even though he says she’s not his type. Not the black part, he likes his babes curvy. He goes to talk to her and I tell him I’m going out for a smoke.

I go outside and burn one. While out there I run into a guy who knows me from somewhere. Maybe here? But I know so many people in this city, I don’t remember where I know him from. So we’re having a nice exchange. Maybe he’s a doorman here. That’s probably it.

I know Johnny won’t be long and I’m sure he’s already half in the bag. I text him that when he’s done doing whatever it is that he’s doing, that I’m outside. Within a few minutes he appears.  I say goodbye to my doorman friend and we walk down Chancellor towards 16th street. (This section of Chancellor really adds up to just a filthy, rat infested alley full of dumpsters)

“How’d it go?”

“She blew me.”

“Protection?”

“I never wear a rubber.”

“You’re crazy.”

“I’m Johnny Rivers!”

And off he goes in a taxi.

 

 

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Why Philly Icon McGlinchey’s Bar May Never Be The Same

McGlinchey’s is a bar I frequent with my friend Johnny R. Thought I’d share this piece with you.

Recently, a radical upgrade was unveiled at McGlinchey’s Bar: The infinite towel, that baby-blue loop of fabric and bacteria used to dry the hands of the thousands who were brave enough — or drunk enough — not to care, has been replaced with single-use paper towels. The bathroom, which wouldn’t be an incongruous setting for the climactic scene in a horror film, was left otherwise undisturbed.

That is to say, change comes incrementally to McGlinchey’s, a cash-only, dirt-cheap dive that has been owned by the same family since 1952 and that processed the arrival of a citywide smoking ban in 2008 with a shrug and a fresh ashtray. (The bar was granted an exemption because such a small portion of its revenue is from food.) McGlinchey’s, and its upstairs companion, Tops Bar, remain among the last great bastions for Center City smokers who find puffing outside on a street corner beneath their dignity.

“There’s less smokers every year,” said Sheldon Sokol, 68, the co-owner. “Eventually, we’ll have to go no smoking, because the smokers will all die off.”

He doesn’t smoke or drink himself. (“It’s bad for your innards,” he said.)

For now, McGlinchey’s remains as smoggy as ever.
“It’s going to be a two-shower night,” a friend grumbled as we made our way through the haze one recent evening. But it was a loving gripe: For him and others, McGlinchey’s is steeped in Philly nostalgia.

“It’s sort of been a place of quiet contemplation for depressives and alchies, which I was part of for a while,” he said. Maybe it’s the churchlike afternoon light filtering softly through the geometric stained-glass windows, or the smoke-darkened duck-hunter mural (an old billboard that was recently, clumsily repainted) looming like some devotional artwork, or the sense of communion provided by the wraparound bar. It’s the ideal place for drinking alone together.

We chose a vinyl-upholstered booth, and a waitress with pink hair and a fanny pack for a cash register brought us glass mugs of beer. The idiosyncratic price points, like $2.55 for a Yuengling, always seem to result in a pile of change on the table. (According to Sokol, prices were initially geared so you could easily tip a quarter a drink. They’ve limited the increases to a small percentage each year, so as not to anger his price-conscious customers.)
The waitress also put in our food order — which meant she had to go into the kitchen and microwave the chili dogs herself. “It tastes like SpaghettiOs on a hot dog,” a friend said. This was taken as an endorsement.

McGlinchey’s is the kind of place that accumulates tobacco stains. And lore. It provided the backdrop for the haunting series of portraits by photographer Sarah Stolfa that were collected in the 2009 book The Regulars. The jukebox, once heavy on the Cure, Bowie, the Smiths, had its own Facebook page, until it was usurped by TouchTunes.

 

McGlinchey’s Bar and Tops Bar 
259 S. 15th St., 215-735-1259, mcglincheys.com.
When to go: When you’re too broke to afford drinks anywhere else. When you want to be with other people. When you want to be alone. McGlinchey’s is open 10:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. Monday through Saturday; noon to 2 a.m. Sunday. Tops Bar is open 7 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
Bring: Beer snobs, smokers, Ms. Pac-Man aficionados, and anyone you don’t need to try too hard to impress.
What to order: There’s a surprisingly strong selection of craft beers here, including local favorites like Flying Fish IPA and Philadelphia Brewing’s Kenzinger. The $3.95 citywide special is a Yuengling and a shot of Heaven Hill. Or go high-end: You can get the Glenlivet 15-year-old for $6.95.
Bathroom situation: Richly graffiitied and dimly lighted. The men’s room, I’m told, requires a spotter (or a zeal for exhibitionism) as there is neither a lock nor a stall door. If you can, use the bathroom at Tops.
Sounds like: What have you wrought, TouchTunes? A world in which, on a single evening, the soundtrack ricocheted between No Doubt, Kraftwerk, Talking Heads, and, yes, Enya, at a noisy 98 decibels. Upstairs, at Tops, it was a much calmer 82 decibels, dominated by a rattling air conditioner.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day at 8am EST.
Instagram: @phicklephilly       Facebook: phicklephilly