Cherie – Chapter 6 – Be Careful What You Wish For – Part II

“Show me where there was a hole in your pants.”

“You’re driving!”

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So she fires up the car after some more kissing and off we go to Dave and Buster’s. If you’ve never heard of it, it’s a big arcade down on the waterfront. It’s got a big restaurant area, a section with a bar, a billiard room, and in the back, this giant area with all sort of games where you can do just about anything. But you can also win a bunch of tickets and then turn them in for shitty prizes. The place is great for families and couples because there is tons of stuff to do and everybody loves it. We powered up our cards with points and went to town. She did really good on some games and I got 500 points on the Wheel of Fortune game.

I think our favorite game there, hands down was Jurassic Park. I love dinosaurs and all things Jurassic Park. Cherie loves games where we can team up and just shoot the shit out of stuff with automatic weapons. It was glorious. I read somewhere recently that if you do something exciting on a date, they will associate you with excitement. Bear this in mind. We are getting lost in the game, taking out raptors and T-Rex’s right and left. We kept re-upping with our cards, to keep the game going. We did this several times because we were having so much fun, until we realized that a couple of little boys were waiting to play. We hopped out and turned our weapons over to them! We both agreed we could have sat in that booth all day destroying Jurassic Park and it’s inhabitants all afternoon if we had the time and money.

We had earned a bunch of points but we were really there just for the fun, and never redeemed them for any of the junk they had in their little prize shop in the back. Maybe next time if we need a couple of plastic spiders or teddy bears or decoder rings.

So after two hours of games, we headed to the parking garage to fetch the car. At this point Cherie has been with me for over 4 hours. I check with her to see how she’s with time and all, and she’s fine. Being from Pottstown, She doesn’t know the city like I do, so I’m her co-pilot and navigator. We’re heading west on Spring Garden, and I have her throw a left on 19th street. I figure that’ll bring us right down into center city and we can get some sort of dinner. We get to Vine, and there’s a detour. Okay, I get it. Lot’s of construction going on in Philly. City is growing. That’s a good thing.

So now we’re heading west again. But we can’t turn left again anywhere. The Police have more streets blocked off. We get out to the Philadelphia Museum of Art and everything is still blocked off. There’s some sort of event going on out front of the PMA. Lots of people and little white tents. If Cherie had been on her own she would have been totally lost. We kept heading west unable to turn left and head back. I suggested we turn right and go north. We drove up a winding street out in Fairmount and I had her turn right on Poplar. That’s how far North we were.

Although we were basically driving around for an hour, I liked that Cherie described it as a road trip. I told her if she just stayed on Poplar and kept going, we’d get back to center city. We chatted about different things, work, school, family, etc. At some point I told her my ripped pants story. She laughed and asked where the hole had been in the other pants. We had been a little frisky earlier and there had been some suggestive flirty talk so things had changed a lot since 1:30 this afternoon.

I told her about this guy I used to know who always thought about things mathematically. So if you went on a date and you were out for say, 2 hours, that was just a date. But if it was longer, like say over 4 hours he would count that as 2 dates. Make sense? It did to him. She says, so technically we’re no longer on our 3rd date we’re on like our 5th. I laugh and say yes, according to my friend.

She goes, “show me where they were ripped.”

“You’re driving!”

We stop at a light and I take her hand, and slowly raise my left leg and place her hand there under my crotch. I know this is an extremely forward move, but it was playful and I think she really wanted to touch me. So I say, “right there.” She says, “okay” and rubs the spot gently. The light turns green and she has to focus on driving. We laugh about the whole silly hole thing. We basically spent the next 20 minutes looking for parking. Maybe it was  a half hour. But instead of it being stressful and annoying like you would think it would be, it was a lively road trip as she called it. We were just enjoying each others company and were having a good time. Cherie is so patient and laid back. It’s wonderful.

It’s dark now, and we finally find a spot for the Saab down at 23rd and Christiansen. She’s like, “are we really far away from everything? Because I don’t know the city.” I exclaim, “After that trip, I don’t even know where I live anymore!” We laugh and smooch and get out of the  car. I ask her if she’s hungry and she says yes. We’re walking north on 23rd street now. I see this guy walking carrying a pizza box. I tell her that whenever I see that it always makes me smile, want pizza, and maybe follow him. I ask her if she could go for some piping hot delicious pie. She says she can and I tell her I know just the place. They do brick oven and they even have a bar there.

We go into Mix Pizza at 21st and Chestnut. I’m a big fan of this place. She doesn’t want any weird kind of pizza even though they can make you any combination of sin you want on your oven baked pie. She’s so easy to get along with. We order an 18″ half pepperoni, half plain. My favorite. She gets a root beer and I get a diet coke. I look at the cocktail menu. She asks me if I want a drink and I tell her I don’t. I just don’t feel like drinking. Little does she know, she’s the drug I am currently on.

I ask her if she’s ever had anchovies and she says they’re nasty. I agree. I go on to tell her this story about this girl I used to go out with when I was in California in the early eighties with my band. She loved anchovies. So we would order a pizza and her half would be anchovies and mine would be plain. But the horrible rub was this. The pizza is hot in the box when you get it. That nasty, salty anchovy juice would bleed over into two of MY slices. So technically she was getting 6 slices and I was getting only 2 slices of what I liked. It was gross. But I loved her so it didn’t really matter. She asked a little more about her. I told her I was 19 at the time and she was 18, and that I had met her through a girl I worked with at this restaurant. I also told her I relieved her of her virginity. I didn’t mention that she was black. She was my first black girlfriend. I don’t know why, but things are still new and I just didn’t want to get her gears turning that maybe black women are a fetish or a thing that I jump into once every decade or so. I know, it doesn’t make sense, but I have to be careful with this lady’s heart.

The pizza comes and we tear into it. It’s delicious. She picks up her slice and starts eating it but it’s hot. I tell her to be careful that the hot cheese doesn’t slide off and slam into her chin, burning her beyond recognition. We laugh about it. I of course am eating mine with a knife and fork. Cherie’s amused about this but says she likes that I am such a neat eater. Most men devour and attack food. I carefully dissect my food and then consume it. She doesn’t care and compliments me on being so sweet and such a gentleman. It’s nice to be appreciated. At the end of the meal we still have 4 slices left. When I go to Mix and I’m really hungry, I normally get the 12′ pie. I can crush that thing. I figured there were two of us and I didn’t know how much she would eat. But we’re basically done. I ask the guy to wrap it up. He says it’s still good for later. I agree.

I pay the bill and head back to the car, which is far away but it’s a nice clear night. I’m carrying this big pizza box as we walk south on 21st street. I have suddenly become the man I see on the street that I want to follow. I’m the guy with the pizza. I ask her if she wants to take it home and she says not really. I’m not really a leftovers guy, and don’t feel like carrying this huge box anymore. I want to hold hands with Cherie.

We get to 21st and Sansom and I tell her I want to make a quick stop. She’s fine with it. Just like she’s fine with everything. I may have never met a woman who is this easy-going in my entire life. I hang a left on Sansom. I tell her how much I like Sansom street. It’s just this little narrow street between Chestnut and Walnut but it has so many different cool places on it. The Ritz movie theater, Helium Comedy Club, performance spaces, bars, restaurants, record shops, a comic book store, a gay porn place, I mean everything. I should do a chapter about a tour that I take and go to every place on Sansom in a day.

We get to 19th street and walk past Cavanaugh’s bar. There’s an alcove that appears to be a loading dock for the back of maybe Boyds department store on Chestnut. There’s usually a few homeless people getting some shelter in there. I see a man, in ragged clothes with a pile of his stuff. He’s not one of these street grifter types we have here in Philly. This man is really homeless. I cross the street, with baby in tow, and approach him with the box in front of me. “Did somebody order a pizza, half pepperoni?” I say, offering the box to him. His eyes light up, and a smile appears on his weathered visage. He takes the box and thanks me. “You’re welcome. God bless you.” I say as we walk away. I look back and he is tearing into the pizza.

“You’re a good guy.” she says, rubbing my back with her hand. I smile and say, “Movies, arcade games, road trip, pizza, and feed the homeless? I’d say this has been an epic date.” Cherie agrees. We walk hand in hand all the way back to the car.

I know I’m writing about my personal life and the experiences I’m having with women in my life here in the City of Brotherly Love, but I’m not one to kiss and tell. I’m trying to keep this story classy. It was late. Somewhere around 10pm. We made out in the car for a bit. The radio never came on once. Not even when we were on our road trip. We were just enjoying our time together. A friend of mine had asked me recently that when I went on these dates with these women, did I miss them after the date was over? Was there a longing for them. I flatly told him, I sort of enjoyed my time with them, but for the most part I was relieved it was over. I could go back to the batcave, have a drink and a cig and get back to my quiet life. But this girl was different. It’s like we didn’t want the night to end. We would have just sat in her car and made out like a couple of teenagers. There was a point in the night when she just had that dreamy look in her eyes. I could see it and I know I had it too. That feeling is magic and hard to find at my age. But it was late, and she had to drive back to Pottstown. I wanted to be considerate of her time too. She drove me back to Rittenhouse and we said our good nights. More kisses.

We decided that because of our busy schedule this week we couldn’t do a lunch. But we did nail it down for next Saturday. So this is moving forward. I asked that she please text me when she got home to let me know that she arrived safely. She promised she would. I got out of her car, and went into my building.

Wow. That was a 10 hour date. May be a record this early in the game. Feels like a match.

I went into my apartment and turned on some lights. I went back downstairs, and she was gone. I stood on my stoop and lit a cigarette. It tasted glorious. I just wanted to be out in the fresh air and pull on that cig, basking in the afterglow of a perfect day with a lovely charming, woman. I’m having real feelings for this girl. Will it last? Who knows. I’m just going to enjoy this and let the universe unfold as it should. If it works out will she want to get married and have kids, and then it will end like the last three?

Probably. But for now, love is in the air and I breathe it in deeply, and blow it out in a cloud of smoke into the autumn evening.

P.S. I did get that text from Cherie and hour later and she was safe and sound. We agreed the day was epic and amazing. I wished her only sweet dreams that night. Maybe I would dream of her too.

 

 

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Phicklephilly – 1962 to Present – Try Me

All you have in this world is your personality. That’s the very thing that carries you forth in this world. If you don’t have a good personality and good people skills, you better work hard and be on point. Because that’s all you have. But if you don’t develop a good personality, people won’t like you and you’ll fail. They won’t let you succeed but there will be those in power that have shitty personalities that will see your beautiful one and they will try to stomp you down, because you possess a power they do not. This will  happen more than less. But if you surround yourself with bad people, they will bask in your sunlight and drain the very light from you. They will be false people. The further you have to reach for them the easier it will be for them to pull you down.

Surround yourself with strong and good people. Hard working, honest people. They will give you power and embrace you and see your gifts. They’re difficult to find. But keep looking and follow your mind and your heart because sometimes your heart can deceive you. The heart becomes clouded with sex and beauty and promises of wonderful things.

Stay the course and try not to become jaded. Continue to develop your personality and keep your heart open and pure. Always be working to evolve, but always be open to love.

But there are those that don’t have your power that will come to you for help. Choose them wisely. Help them, but don’t give them solutions you already know will help them. Just be present. If they’re good and kind, give them your time and your words and experience. Don’t push them. Only they can find their own way on the right path. They may choose the wrong one, but just be there for then to listen and care for them if they are truly good. If they are bad, discard them because you cannot help them.

Work hard to know the difference. I know you’ll be frustrated with them in their life but think of your own. Wouldn’t someone you care for be frustrated with the choices that you’ve made?

Of course they would.

Be there for the sweet fragile souls that need you and are good people in their hearts. The good ones that are damaged by themselves, or weakness, or have been crushed by rotten people or circumstances.

Be that person. Be patient. My mother was a patient woman. She put up with a lot of bullshit and came from nothing. Stand for something. Don’t fall for everything.

Help others, but beware of the fleas and ticks, because they are many, and would love to find purchase on the glorious, luxurious coat that is your good nature and wisdom.

Go forth and love again!

 

 

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Tales of Rock – Elvis Almost Had An Album Produced By David Bowie

Dreams can still come true, especially when you’re David Bowie. In the winter of ’77, Bowie received a phone call from Elvis himself.

In 1997, country star and occasional actor Dwight Yoakam met David Bowie, and the pair got to talking about their mutual love for Elvis Presley, which, despite being a music legend, is generally not a person you expect to find yourself talking about while locked in conversation with David Bowie. As Yoakam tells it, Bowie related a story from 20 years prior, when Elvis had approached him to produce his upcoming album.

This happened in 1976, when Bowie had just released “Golden Years,” a song he’d originally intended to ask Elvis to record. But legend has it that when Bowie asked his then-wife Angie to deliver the request, Angie got so nervous about meeting the rock ‘n’ roll legend that she chickened out and never delivered the message.

However, dreams can still come true, especially when you’re David Bowie. In the winter of ’77, Bowie received a phone call from Elvis himself. He had heard Bowie’s latest hit, “Golden Years,” and was apparently so blown away by it he wanted the pop icon to produce his next album. However, because the universe was not satisfied by the current level of irony present in this interaction, Elvis died of a heart attack that same summer, and the two never got to work together.

However, many critics have speculated that the Duke’s last album, Black Star, was a tribute to Presley, who had a little-known song of the same name. So maybe they’ll do some kind of ghost collaboration, which would be an absolute treat to listen to.

 

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Train Show in York, PA – Saturday

I saw this one woman who was easily over 300 pounds. She was walking by and she didn’t even look human. How does one get like that? How does one maintain that kind of weight? What does that do to your skeleton? She looked like an unmoored zeppelin. Then there was this other fat guy that almost ran someone over as he sped by on his rascal. Speeding and on his cell phone? Security should have hopped on their battery carts and chased him down until they could pull him over and give him two tickets!

Saturday was the final day of the show. I pack up my gear and head to the elevator. I get in and hit the button for the lobby. I hear giggling approaching and a dainty hand grabs the door before it closes. Seven teenage girls that appear to be on some sort of sports team all squeeze into the elevator with me. They’re all attractive and fit so maybe this is a sign that today will be a good day.

Janice arrives a few moments later in the lobby and we check out. We head over to the fairgrounds and I’m relieved that this is the final day. I’ve made a couple of grand here already and hope to close out strong today.

We get to the hall and go to our tables. We grab some breakfast sandwiches and chat. Today the show ends around 4pm. I suppose it’s so people can break down all of their stuff and get home at a reasonable hour. It’s a massive show and I’m sure there will be folks here into the night. Speaking of “massive” I am appalled at how many people are overweight and out of shape at this show.

I saw this one woman who was easily over 300 pounds. She was walking by and she didn’t even look human. How does one get like that? How does one maintain that kind of weight? What does that do to your skeleton? She looked like an unmoored zeppelin. Then there was this other fat guy that almost ran someone over as he sped by on his rascal. Speeding and on his cell phone? Security should have hopped on their battery carts and chased him down until they could pull him over and give him two tickets!

After breakfast I headed to the Men’s room because, well, middle age. You eat in the morning the digestive system kicks in. But my God, I’m in the stall and the place is full of dudes in the other stalls,  I kid you not. The place smelled horrible and it sounded like a high school marching band warming up in there. Or think of a guy with Parkinson’s disease trying to unload a set of drums from the back of a van. It was that bad in there! I got back to our table as fast as I could.

“Hey, Jan…What if we wrapped up a train in paper and simply called the package, Mystery Train?”

“You’re crazy. We’re not doing that.”

I have noticed something during this whole experience. On day one we were full of piss and vinegar thinking we had the greatest antique train collection around. We had price tags on everything and knew that dad’s stuff was all nice and worth every penny of what we were asking. But we’re at the biggest train show on the east coast right now. There are thousands and thousands of trains and collectors here. We sold a couple of things day one, but it’s a huge event and it takes a couple of days for people to see everything. These are toy train collectors. They know what stuff is worth. Yo, on the other hand, always think your stuff is worth top dollar. By day two I told Janice to remove the price tags.

“We can’t do that. Everything has to be marked.”

“Okay, then how about we just move the price tags to the bottom of the trains. The tags are still on them but they have to ask. That shows interest. It also opens the conversation and creates a dialogue so that I can sell them.”

I’ve worked in sales my whole life. It should work. Also by day two we started to feel a little desperate. Sure that train set is worth $1200 in its present condition. But to whom? My dad? He’s dead. We should probably negotiate the prices a bit.

“But…”

“Do you want to haul all of this shit back to the house with empty pockets or do you want to liquidate these assets?

“You’re right.”

“Let’s blow out some fucking trains!”

And blast them out we did. My father left us with one important rule when it came to selling trains: Sell only complete sets. (That means engine, tender and the cars.) But there was a moment on day two when we had a flurry of sales and after the dust settled we both looked at each other realizing we had broken up some sets and only sold engines and tenders and left behind a bunch of cars.

I raised my hands up to my face. “Janice…I think we just did some very bad things.”

“I know… We broke dad’s cardinal rule.”

But here’s the great part. We ended up breaking up some sets. But we actually sold off all the cars that had been left behind by the end of the show! So the “crimes against toys” that we committed had some how been righted by the gods!

I’m not going to collect trains. My daughter doesn’t want them. If someone offers me $350 for something that I don’t want and have absolutely no use for, they should have it. Maybe we think about not selling the trains but putting these beautiful toys into the hands and homes of the people who really will love them. Sounds like a wonderful Christmas story to me. That’s how we’ll live with ourselves for what we’ve done.

So we blow out more sets of trains today. We had one guy from New York walk away carrying four boxes full of our trains. My pockets were bulging with cash. We had guys we chatted with that were really wonderful people. We’d see them everyday. They loved trains and had lots of money. We discussed some post war O gauge stuff we had at the house. They were very interested in those pieces as well as the cabinets in the house my father had custom-built to house all of these beautiful sets of trains. These guys were serious collectors with houses full of goodies.

Put them in the hands of those who love them so that they can continue to live on and bring joy to people. They won’t be just all in a box somewhere like ashes in the ground. They will continue be immortal. Just like our father’s memory in all of our hearts and minds. He won’t ever really be gone until the black wings of death scatter our days.

We came here with 31 sets of trains and we’re only leaving with 13. That’s a pretty good haul. But the best part of this entire three-day odyssey was the time with my sister. She’s been wonderful and we’re really good travel buddies. It’s rare when you grow up together, then you both go off and live your lives. She goes off to college, and I go off to L.A. to play rock. She gets married and you get married. You live in different places and maybe only see each other once or twice a year at the holidays. You have your own lives and friends and children just like most people do. But then there is a death in the family. That tragedy brings you all back together. Well. I suppose I shouldn’t call it a tragedy. Death becomes us all.

But there is an event like this where you are called upon by your closest sibling to come to her aid thirty-five years later and you both get in a car and travel somewhere and sell a bunch of trains. You’re with that person all day for three days. You eat together, hang out, and laugh your asses off like you’re both back in high school again. Those three days with Janice in York were some of the very best days of 2017.

We say goodbye to Lenny and his lovely wife and I load what’s left of our stuff back into the SUV. We drive back to Philly, both a bit richer. Not by the Benjamins in our wallets but with love in our hearts.

Can’t wait to get home to my beloved city!

 

 

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Train Show in York, PA – Friday – Part 2

I’m thinking my sister Janice is like my dad at York and I’m more like his brother Jack. Jack was my uncle. They used to come here every year when they were both alive. Janice knows a lot about the trains and eats well. She’s brought her own healthy food and sandwiches, etc. I’m like Jack, eating trash food all day and drinking booze. Plus, I’m the funny one like my uncle was.

I sell an orange 256 to a really nice guy named Forrest for $400. He’ been a return client and we love that.  Bo cruises over to look at our trains again. He works his shit again and says we’ve already sold everything he wanted. The odd thing is a guy named Vince came over and bought all those trains that Bo had his eye on. Now I’m thinking Vince was one of Bo’s minions and Bo got exactly what he wanted at the price he wanted it for. He takes me over to show me his 10 tables of stuff. It all looks pretty lame to me but I don’t really know what half the stuff is worth I’m looking at.

Back at our table I’m thinking my sister Janice is like my dad at York and I’m more like his brother Jack. Jack was my uncle. They used to come here every year when they were both alive. Janice knows a lot about the trains and eats well. She’s brought her own healthy food and sandwiches, etc. I’m like Jack, eating trash food all day and drinking booze. Plus, I’m the funny one like my uncle was.

One irony was I met a guy who is with his son from Long Island. It’s the son that like pre-war O guage and it’s the son that got his dad into trains and found out about this annual show here at York. I’m not saying there’s hope for the train collecting market. It’s that a kid got his pop into trains and not the other way around.

I go outside to smoke a cig I meet a black woman and light her cig for her. Her name’s Barbara, and she tells me she works all of the events at this place all summer just for fun and extra cash. She said she likes that when there are concerts out here she gets to see all of the acts for free.  She also goes on to say she gets a widow’s pension of $2000 a month.

“I’m sorry.”

“Worth it for all he put me through.”

Then I run into Forrest and his father and son. Three generations standing right in front of me. I tell him how it must be good luck that I keep running into him, because he keeps buying stuff from us. He tells me a story about how he was once in Korea and he saw a beautiful model sailboat in the window of a shop. He went in and inquired about the ship. The merchant told him $100. He told him thanks anyway, but he had to catch a train and go to the airport. But there is an old korean superstition that if the first sale of the week is on Monday, you’ll have good luck the rest of the week. So the guy is chasing him all around the store trying to sell the boat to him.

“No. It won’t fit on the plane. I have to catch a train. No, thanks.”

“Ok. $20.”

Cut to: Forrest sitting on the plane back to the US with a big model sailboat on his lap.

Forrest also collects fans. Actual plug-in fans to keep a room cool. Those kinds of fans. He shows me photos in his phone of his fan collection.

“You should say to people, Hey, wanna see a picture of my Fan Club?”

We all laugh and head back inside. He looks at the Hiawatha. “$500? I’ll sleep on it.”

He also looked at a little silver streamlined train, and walked away from it. “I’ll sleep on it.”

Later his son came back and bought it himself! We gave him a junior collector discount. We love these guys and find out that they’re staying at the same hotel we are. They go off and tour the show some more.

But then we later realize as we’re shutting down our table that we forgot to give Forrest the boxes that go with the trains he bought from us. But that gives me an excuse to go to the front desk and talk to hot Angelica again!

When we do finally get back to the hotel, I scamper up to the front desk and tell Angelica my plight with the boxes. She tells me she’ll call Forrest and let them know we left them for him.

I head up to my room for a cocktail and some Nat Geo on the tube.

An hour later Janice is at my door ready to go to dinner. Tonight we decide to dine out at this little hick diner at the foot of the hill. I love a good diner and Jan tells me this is where dad and Jack would always eat, so it must be good. I earned more in sales today than Janice so the rule we made up is, winner buys dinner. So I order a steak and we have a lovely and lively dinner.

Later on I’m up in my room having a nightcap and decide that after this episode of dateline, I’m going downstairs for one smoke and then off to bed. Downstairs I walk through the lobby and out the front door. I smoke my cig and there’s just one drunk guy out there. He doesn’t say much because he is more than half in the bag. I walk back in and check out the snack bar.

“Hey!”

It’s Angelica! We start chit chatting and I’m loving her. She’s going to school to be a police officer. I’d love her to snap the cuffs on my and take me in for some rough interrogation. She could strip search me anytime. But I digress. She also tells me her fiance wants to open a fitness center. I tell her about the salon and how we’re putting a gym in it. She likes that story and then I go into the real reason we’re here in York. She finds the story touching and listens intently. I tell her she has been one of the high points of this trip for me. (Not really, but what can I say, I’m charming.)

“Take my picture so you’ll remember me.”

Done.

What a sweet beauty right? You are looking at the hottest girl I’ve seen in this God forsaken town the entire time I’ve been here. Now I can go back upstairs to more dateline, a drink and then off to bed. It’s been another wonderful day.

 

 

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Train Show in York, PA – Friday – Part 1

I’m selling off your favorite stuff, dude. The jokes you used to make about me at your funeral blowing out your 260E Pre War O Gauge set on Ebay is happening! This isn’t vengeance. I’m helping my sister because I work in a sales job that allows me a flexible schedule. Janice needs this stuff away because we don’t know what to do with it. We miss you. We miss your voice, and your smile. We miss mom too. Let’s not leave her out of this.

Friday begins with me sitting in the lobby. Asians are gone. They must have found rooms for them all. Today is key. We’re here on day two and we need to hit it hard today.  Janice is on point as always and rolls into the lobby on time. It’s 8:30 and we need to get to the fairgrounds by 9:00am. Gotta get it done today. It’s critical. We don’t want to haul these trains back home with nothing to show for it but grinding failure. I know we’re both worried, but today’s a new day, and the sales guy in me is positive as usual. We’ll do what we have to do to move the product.

We hop in the SUV and head to the show. I hate this part of the country. Just lines of strip malls and zero culture. This place must have been something at one time.

Read more here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/York,_Pennsylvania

Apparently they have some decent history but I didn’t like that “Unchallenged Ku Klux Klan rallies” part. If for some reason I was banished to this purgatory I know within a month I would stuff a pistol in my mouth and eat a bullet just so I wouldn’t miss.

I love my father, but the audience that collects toy trains is for the most part a sick looking bunch. But he and his brither were true elegant collectors of the art and nostalgia that is toy trains. They would rip on all of these monsters just as hard as me and my sister are going to today and tomorrow.

We get to the hall before 9am and pull the sheets off the trains on our tables. But here’s the worst part. Before the show officially starts, everybody has to stop what they’re doing, and they make some announcements. Then they play the National Anthem. But they did that shit yesterday. It was painful enough to stand there with my hat off and my hand over my heart surrounded by these God-fearing, flag waving sheep and play along. but today they played this horrible sanctimonious defecation:

 

I just want to get a breakfast sandwich and start my fucking day here. But here I am standing around a bunch of redneck, inbred, nigger hating, Trump loving, fat, ignorant, fucking imbeciles and I have to act like I love America with the rest of you shits and all the shitty racist kids you’re going to make. This is a song that is just a huge pile of lies and when I put that gun in my mouth and pull the trigger the only thing that would make me happy that when the bullet exits my head taking everything with it that I am, that somehow by some miracle Lee Greenwood is standing behind me, and it hits him square in the fucking forehead for writing this steaming pile of feces.

I hate this place. My mission is to separate the targets from their cash, move the product and go.

I love this country, don’t get me wrong. But it’s a fucking toy show, not a Presidential Inauguration! Oh wait, that was a fucking joke too.

So that puppet show ends and I can finally get a shitty breakfast sandwich. I know by now I may have lost some followers but I don’t really don’t give a shit, but that’s what’s up people. It’s awful here. I don’t belong here. But we’re on a mission and I am the right person for this job. It needs to be done. Love and guilt and nostalgia aside, we don’t want to load 31 sets of trains back in the car and go home. We need to sell some stuff today.

I’m hanging at the table with Janice. It’s early. Will we get some nibbles? 9:30 comes and Jan sells a train. Small fish. $50. Then a dude comes by 15 minutes later and wants her O Gauge Comet. He says he’s been looking for it for 10 years. It’s a lovely little toy that looks like it’s been restored. The whole set is wrapped in newspaper and bagged up and sent to another family for $450. I watch as the man carries away a piece of my father’s history without his permission, but I know this puppy is going to a loving family and today that is all that matters. He’ll surprise his family and friends with this lovely little toy train and have a story to tell, and for this moment as my sister and I stand by and watch dad’s beautiful birds fly away, we can only smile. It’s going to a good home. It’ll run around the Christmas tree for the first time in forever. That’s what it was made for. To chug and puff and delight those around it.

Take it home, Sir.

I think of my father. All of his teachings and words, and ideas and all that is good, bad and wonderful inside of me as I stand here blowing out his train collection. I don’t know what Janice is feeling, but I know we’re both troubled. But we’re having a great time while doing it.

When do you get to hang out with your sister at middle age and go to what basically is a flea market and go sell a bunch of stuff for thousands of dollars? It’s surreal and elegant in the same moment. But as siblings, we’re close. Closer than we realized. Our lives have taken different directions, but like I always say, you can’t stop rock and roll, and Janice and I have a very rich history. Our family is strong and honest. We don’t need to be together all of the time to be close. This proves we were raised right. We can all be apart for long periods of time but when we come together we are money. That’s good parenting. All of my best friends are that way. I can not see them for years and when we hang, it’s right back to when we were kids again. That’s the real deal. Everybody wants that but not every family can achieve it. Some don’t even know what it is.

I’ve been around families and they don’t get it. You notice it mosly at the dinner table. The contrived conversation. It just never feels real. I noticed this when I was married to my ex. The whole conversation just sounded like a scripted dialogue over a shitty movie. What that means is that Dad is hiding something and you have all of these kids and the whole marriage is a sham. Yea. My In laws. I knew it. My Dad knew it. We discussed it but never told anybody. But that’s my ex in laws. Fuck them for now. Their great but their not in this story.

I can stand between three tables of my dad’s favorite stuff and make my sister laugh. I feel like that’s why I’m here more than to sell these lost antiquities. I could say I know how much she loved my father but that would be a fucking lie. Because no one on Earth will even know that.  That belongs to them. I don’t know that. My Mother doesn’t even get it. I understand all of the moving parts of this family because I have always stood on the outside. So the clarity is automatic. Funny… cast out but you get to see everything. I’m the only boy so Dad is going to tell me all of the shit he did and make me swear I never tell my sisters, but by telling me that shit it’s out there. You were a great dad but we all have feet of clay. We’re all even in the end. I’m going to end up where you are. Tell me everything. I’m you’re son. I love you. You have given me SO much. More than you can imagine. You’re the greatest man I’ve ever met and you used to hit me.

I’m selling off your favorite stuff, dude. The jokes you used to make about me at your funeral blowing out your 260E Pre War O Gauge set on Ebay is happening! This isn’t vengeance. I’m helping my sister because I work in a sales job that allows me a flexible schedule. Janice needs this stuff away because we don’t know what to do with it. We miss you. We miss your voice, and your smile. We miss mom too. Let’s not leave her out of this.

Remember the old 8mm film from before we were born that you guys made? It was an elegant home movie of mom pulling a box out from under the bed at Christmas and just pulling endless goodies out of it.  You guys were loving and playful back then. I like that couple. That’s a great film. I love that you had the movie camera and you did something cool with it. You were always a cool filmmaker. I’ll write about all of that at another time but I love that you made a fun surprise christmas movie with your wife. You loved her. I loved her. I miss her. She was amazing. She was tough and patient and tolerant and a good mom to me and my sisters.

But my sister and I am here in a place I would never want to go to voluntarily moving your most beloved possessions and you don’t even have a voice to help us do it. I know you want us to do it. But we could sure use your help, dad. This is your history. Your mythology. Janice and I are systematically dismantling and getting rid of all of your favorite stuff. I’m sorry, dad.

We loved you. We miss you. It’s hard for the senior members to go and do this to your stuff. I wouldn’t like it. If my daughter Lorelei let my 1979 Ibanez Iceman go for $200 I may rise from the grave and come after her in the afterlife. (I know she’s afraid of ghosts) But we have to deal with this.

But dad… This is just stuff.  You loved your trains. But the best part of your life was just what you said it was. Meeting Mom. Your kids and your books. You always told me that. Over and over again.

I know you suffered. I know you better than anybody. You love Jan, but I’m your son and I know I get all of the good and bad. I’m fine with that. I’ve had plenty of my own. I love you forever and forgive you as I hope my own daughter will forgive me for my feet of clay.

I was writing this tome to document an adventure that I got to have with my sister I never saw this coming. It’s a welcome surprise. I was praying the trip to York wouldn’t just be a transaction. I just want to understand more and go forward and be a better person.

Dad, don’t worry. We’re fine. I forgive you and you’re dead so I can’t worry if you forgive me. I just hope that you weren’t too disappointed in me. I tried my best and always tried to be true to myself.  I know I’ve made mistakes in my life when it came to matters of the heart. mine cost me $125K in child support, but at least you always told me your stuff and I really know you and what happened in your life to make you who you are.

I know you know that I’m more like mom’s side of the family. I appreciate all that you’ve done for me and I’m going to go forward in life and follow your message. The one you never got to fulfill.

“Go through life and hurt as little people as possible.”

Living it. Your grand-daughter Lorelei is away from her mother and has lived with me since half way through her senior year. She just got a raise at her job.

I know you liked Michelle. She moved to San Francisco and married her high school sweetheart.

“That never works.”

“You can’t say that, Dad. You’re dead.”

“Yea, I know, but that shit never works.”

 

 

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

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Train Show in York, PA – Thursday – Part 3

It doesn’t matter what we ate or drank, it’s the time spent together and the words exchanged and the feelings felt and the shared experience of this one of a kind journey that will mark me forever.

So here we are on day one of this journey and we haven’t sold anything yet. We know our product is good but we haven’t had any offers yet.  But I’ve noticed that every time I leave the table to go to the bathroom or get something to eat or smoke a cig, a bunch of old dudes swarm our tables.

“Janice, I notice whenever I leave the table, a bunch of old guys come prowling around looking at the trains and chatting with you.”

“So?”

“Well maybe tomorrow we raise the hem on your skirt, or maybe put on a little lipstick, or open another button…”

“Are you pimping me out?”

“Do you want to sell these trains, or have to pack them all up and cart them back to the shore house?”

By this time she is laughing hysterically to the point of crying. I’ve always been able to make my family laugh and today is no different.

I’m learning more about toy trains than I ever knew before. One guy told me that the new toy trains have loads of electronics in them, so they’re nearly impossible to repair if something fails in the unit. In the old days, you could open the toy and repair the mechanics in a simple way.

During the afternoon this black guy stops by and checks out our trains. He’s especially taken by this set of Marx we have. It’s really a cute set of trains. It’s all in the original box. It even has the transformer and track. He tells me about when he was growing up the only toy trains his parents could afford were Marx. The Lionel and American Flyer were too expensive.

Now I get it. That’s why there are hardly any black people here at the this gigantic train show. African-Americans couldn’t afford train sets for their kids because they were too expensive. And when these toys were built black people didn’t have the opportunities they do now. They couldn’t justify spending $50 on a toy for their kid when they could get him five decent toys for them for that price. The Marx train sets were more affordable back then so that’s what they bought.

Interesting.

There are a lot of characters at York. This one particularly notorious one is a guy named Bo. He’s really rich and has tons of trains. He’s got like ten tables here at the show! He plays it like he doesn’t know stuff but he’s super shrewd and can’t be trusted. He comes over and looks at all of our trains and sees what he likes but acts like he’s unwilling to pay that much for any given train set. He’s knows exactly what they’re worth. He’s been in the business of train collecting for decades. My dad didn’t like him and neither does Janice. I think they just didn’t trust the guy. He just seems full of himself. Sort of a blowhard.

He starts telling me how much he liked my father and all to get into my good graces. He starts telling me a story about a friend who in 1975 bought a beautiful lithograph for $700. He later sold it for $2500 a few years later, but I guess missed owning it so he bought it back for $2700. Then Bo buys it from him for $3200 and decides to hold onto it for a while. Then many years later he sells it to some Wall Street broker, for $25,000!

I reckon he’s a guy who when he isn’t talking about himself, and trying to swindle trains away from hapless sellers, he likes to tell stories that involve money.

He continues to tell me he arrived earlier in the week and hung out with some of his friends. He said apparently one of his cronies, a guy that was around 70 had a stent near his heart. Apparently Bo doesn’t know what a stent is because he’s describing it to me and he’s getting it completely wrong.

The guy didn’t tell anybody he had a stent, and he went to dinner with Bo and the boys on Monday and after that the stent collapses and the dude dropped dead. Not really a good opening story when you meet someone for the first time.

Bo goes back to whatever hole he slivered out of, or maybe just back to his 10 tables full of trains. Some other guy (One of the good guys) comes over and puts his arm around Janice and says “Bo won’t try to steal from you, but he can be a ruthless wheeler-dealer. So beware.”

Janice knows Bo is a snake in the grass that will find a way to get what he wants at this show, but we’ll do what we can to fend him off.

Like I said before, there are several other halls on site that are full of dealers and trains, but for some reason they all close at 5pm, but the one we’re in stays open until 6pm. So once 5pm arrives, our hall is flooded with people from the other halls.

We get a sudden flurry of activity and start blowing out sets of trains. The blood scent is in the air, and people are giving us fistfuls of cold hard cash. It’s the strong close we desperately needed at the end of a somewhat abysmal first day out here.

We wrap it all up at 6pm and drive back to the hotel. I notice there’s a hot Puerto Rican girl working the front desk. All of the people who I’ve seen here looks so awful and old and fat, that she is a site for my sore phicklephilly eyes. She’s the first attractive woman I’ve seen all day. (Except for my sister because I know she’s going to read this!)

We check in and I see our hotel has a bar and grill so that’s clutch. We go to our respective rooms and we agree to freshen up and meet in an hour for dinner. Being on my feet and selling has taken a toll on me and I need to just chill for a bit.

My room is beautiful. Cool air conditioning is on and the room is tight. King sized bed, clean bathroom, and flat screen TV. I get a bucket of ice down the hall and fix myself a vodka club. I don’t have cable and don’t watch TV really, so I enjoy watching Nat Geo for an hour while I unwind and sip.

In a while I change and head downstairs to dinner with sis. We hit the hotel dining room. Food was okay. Janice said her asparagus were cold. We had some really great conversations about dad. It was all very heartfelt and I know the only person in the world that could fulfill this mission with me is my closest blood relative sitting across from me. I really admire Jan so much. More than she knows. She’s been through so much pain in this final odyssey, and hopefully this will give us all some more closure in the wake of our father’s death.  As guilty as we both feel selling off his beloved collectibles, we know they were HIS trains. He loved them. We kept what we loved, but there is just so much, it’s just a part of the estate that should be put in the hands of the living who love these trains. So maybe these toys actually get a second life.

It doesn’t matter what we ate or drank, it’s the time spent together and the words exchanged and the feelings felt and the shared experience of this one of a kind journey that will mark me forever.

After dinner we step outside of the hotel lobby and I have a smoke. Some Kenny Rogers type dude is just standing out there playing guitar. Where the hell am I? I miss the city. I can’t be away from Philly for very long. I need to get through this and get back to my city soon.

What was strange, was when we first came out here we noticed that the lobby was full of about 60 Asian people. I have no idea where they came from or why they were all camped out in the lobby. Maybe there was some other convention going on in town, but there was a busload of them in the lobby.

Jan heads up to her room for the night. I tell her I’m going to linger at the snack bar to check it out. I see the latin beauty is still working. She smiles at me and says hello. I need this. I don’t give a shit about the snacks. She’s a snack to me. I interact with lovely women everyday in Philly. In this wasteland of ugly I need a little fix before bed.

I introduce myself and she tells me her name is Angelica. (Of course it is. She’s an angel!) She says she’s only been working at the hotel for four days! I tell her that it was a wonderful hire on the part of the hotel. Angelica is like an ice-cold beer on a hot day in this godforsaken place.

At this point I wish she could give me some room service.

After some small talk with baby, I retire to my room because I’m a gentleman.

Tomorrow is another day of selling!

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

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