Johnny R. – 2009 to Present – Needle in the Groove – Part 2

I remember in the past we used to call the Gold club “The Death Star.” Johnny and I would be out at happy hour and we’d be walking around trying to figure out where to go next. After a few rounds we could start to feel the pull of the club. It was like a tractor beam that would just start pulling our little drunken rebel alliance feet over towards 15th and Chancellor. If you know anything about Star Wars, that’s what the Death Star did to the Millennium Falcon.

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After our hilarious experience at Locust Rendevous, we headed over to our favorite dive bar McGlinchey’s on 15th street. McGlinchey’s has cheap drinks and you can smoke in there. I’ve written about it before. (See: Johnny R. – 2009 to Present – Dive Bar Blues) It’s a den of scum and villainy. But we love the place. The surly staff, the crashing bottles as they are thrown into the trash, and the filthy bathrooms all add to it’s bygone era charm.

We get there and we look for a pair of seats. (Just writing about this place makes me want to have a cig right now) Normally when it’s cold there are a few empty seats near the door. We’re in luck and we’re not too close to the door. We walk up to the bar chairs, and they’re empty but there’s all these bags and clothes and one crutch lying on the bar rail. (Nothing surprises me at McGlinchey’s)

We ask the guys to our left if it’s their stuff and they say no. We ask the bartender if anybody is sitting here, and he says no. Then he turns to some old coger that’s sitting around the corner of the bar and tells him to move his stuff. Why the old guy dropped all his stuff over here and then went and sat over there, I’ll never know.

So he comes and hauls it over to his area and we sit down. We look over to our right and there’s an attractive brunette sitting by herself at the bar. That’s rare for a dump like this. She’s obviously doing what most people do nowadays. They have their faces in their phones. Of course some other old guy starts chatting her up. He seems harmless enough.

“You can see that girl is visibly uncomfortable.” says Johnny.

“Agreed.”

I order my usual. Their shitty house white wine with a side of ice, and Johnny gets a bud bottle. He grabs a few singles off the bar and heads to the jukebox. He always has a good sense of what to play, and soon the music is overtaken by eighties and nineties rock. He usually spends a solid fifteen minutes over there picking songs, so I start chatting with the bartender. He’s a tired looking middle-aged guy wearing a Star Wars t-shirt. I compliment him on his wardrobe choice. We start to discuss about how we both saw the original film in the theater back in 1977.

I started to write about that experience in detail but decided because it was so epic, that I’ll give it its own space in the future. It’s a great story, but this post is about today with Johnny, so it’ll have to wait. The bartender complains about all the stuff wrong with him now that he’s old, like arthritis and what not. I thankfully have none of those problems and I’m only one year younger that him! It’s probably because I have suffered so much emotional, mental and romantic pain in my life, maybe that was enough.

Johnny and I are chatting about our usual stuff. What’s going on with life and work, how he’s annoyed by his girlfriend, music, what shows we’re watching, etc. But one thing that he tells me has struck a chord. He tells me he has started writing his blog again! I really wanted him to do it, and he says he’s written three things so far, and wants to call it Tales from the Gutter. Which I think is a brilliant title. He’s just going to write about his life experiences and things that piss him off. I love it, and I can’t wait to read and be his first follower!

He asks about my blog and I tell him what’s been going on with it. He’s amazed that I’ve completed all of my Monday through Wednesday posts for the next five months.

“What? So, if you dropped dead today, your blog would continue to publish for the next five months?

“Exactly. It’s a written and scheduled.”

“You’re a prolific motherfucker.”

“That I am Johnny. Now let’s get over to the World Famous Gold Club and do what we came out here to do today.”

Eighties hair metal band, Ratt is playing on the jukebox as we walk out the door. We walk north on 15th Street until we get to Chancellor Street and bang a right. On the corner is an Applebee’s that no one I know ever goes to. I once picked up an order of chicken fingers for one of the strippers at the Gold Club. That’s what the Gold Club is; a gentleman’s club. Funny how they call strip joints gentleman’s clubs now. I have rarely seen any gentlemen in strip clubs. It’s usually a bunch of frat boys, douchebags, sad married guys, or creepy sad old men. There is a thrill to going on occasion. I never go alone. I actually don’t really care for such places. I know Johnny digs vice and I wanted the third time I included him in my blog to be interesting. But he knows that.

This side of Chancellor doesn’t even look like a street. It’s just the side of Applebee’s and then you walk a few more steps and at the end of what resembles a filthy alley lined with dumpsters you come upon the entrance to the little strip club. If you kept walking past it you would literally enter the parking garage of the Park Hyatt.

I remember in the past we used to call the club “The Death Star.” Johnny and I would be out at happy hour and we’d be walking around trying to figure out where to go next. After a few rounds we could start to feel the pull of the club. It was like a tractor beam that would just start pulling our little drunken rebel alliance feet over towards 15th and Chancellor. If you know anything about Star Wars, that’s what the Death Star did to the Millennium Falcon.

We enter and the place is pretty dead. It’s dark, but I like that. It’s like you step out of the sunlight of the outside and suddenly enter this other world of booze and flesh. Colored lights dance about the room, and the joint smells of stale beer, cheap perfume, and shame. On the stage is some fat white chick writhing around on the floor. Johnny likes a curvy gal, so he sort of digs her. We take a seat at the back-end of the bar against the wall. If I have to sit at the bar, this is my favorite spot. I can lean against the wall and watch the dancers from the side of the stage.

I order a cheap glass of chardonnay with a side of ice, and Johnny get his usual. The bartender is a cute little black girl that looks like she’s in a really shitty mood. I mean like: “Just kidnapped and put on Le Amistad, shitty mood.”

“Day shift is looking a little rough there Johnny.”

The curvy gal approaches for tips for her dance. I always give a dollar. I don’t need to stuff it between their breasts or in their G-string. I just put it in their hand. I’m sure they get groped and felt up enough. She’s actually very sweet and friendly. Most of the girls usually are. But that’s part of their sales pitch. Their sole duty is to separate the patrons from their cash. But I believe this girl is genuinely sweet. She’s chatting with Johnny and  I glance down at her pale thigh and see that she is, or was a cutter. There is a set of  four short scars just bellow her bikini line.

Check it out here: http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/features/cutting-self-harm-signs-treatment#1

I’d write about cutting, but I don’t know much about it. Apparently it’s more common in girls than boys and they cut themselves to ease the pain of some sort of mental anguish. It’s really sad. Most of the women I’ve met that are or were cutters, suffered from anxiety and depression. So it stands to reason, if you’re an overweight girl who has had the misfortune to end up taking your clothes of in a club for money in front of dirty old men, there’s certainly something that drove you into this vocation.

I’m sure it wasn’t anything pleasant.

And you thought me and Johnny going to a strip joint was going to be fun and erotic. Well, I write what I see and what I feel.

There’s now an attractive Latina girl onstage. She’s kind of hot. After her song she comes over to us. That’s another reason to be at this end of the bar. We get them as soon as they come off stage. I actually find it sexy if an attractive girl is a little sweaty. Latina comes over to me and says hello. We do the fake name exchange. They obviously don’t use their real names.

Incidentally, in this blog all the names have been changed, and the photos are just stock pics I’ve gotten from the internet. Obviously to protect the identities of the people I write about. I tried to find attractive ones that resemble what they look like in real life. But why I’m saying all of this is, the reason I call my friend Johnny R. is because when we would be in the Gold Club he would always introduce himself as Johnny Rivers. Like the singer, who is probably best known for the song, Secret Agent Man. (Which I love! I always used it as my intro music when I used to do stand up.) There were other times he’d be hopped up on coke and Adderall and he would just yell out: “I’m Johnny Rivers!” really loudly in the bar. I always enjoyed that.

So we’re chatting with lovely Latina. Curvy Girl has gone off to make the rounds for more singles and possibly give a lap dance to some hapless gent. Latina has a good body and a nice face. I give her a dollar for her dance and so does Johnny. Both of her nipples are pierced. I suppose some people like this but I really don’t like piercings or tattoos. Does it look kind of hot on a stripper? I guess so, but it’s not my cup of tea. What are nipples for? Right. Where do nipples go? Right. I don’t want to feel any metal in my mouth at anytime. I wore fucking braces for three years. The only metal I want in my body is Heavy Metal! And that goes in my ears and into my heart! I don’t want to put my lips to some girls pert nipple and feel the click of cold steel against my central incisors.

So I guess we’re all clear that I’m not a fan of body modification in any form. Evolution made you beautiful. Leave it alone!

Johnny looks at her breasts. “Did that hurt?”

“No.” is Latina’s reply.

How can driving a sharp piece of metal through a part of your body that’s loaded with nerve endings and blood vessels not hurt?

Okay. No more metal nipple talk.

She goes on her way to make her rounds. Johnny decides he wants to get a lap dance from Curvy Girl. He feels that he can talk her into having sex with him or at least getting her to give him oral sex.

If you know anything about strip clubs, for the most part there is a huge “hands off” policy in place. If you touch any of the girls, you’ll usually be ejected. But not at the World Famous Gold Club! Johnny has had sex with like five different strippers from there over the years. It hasn’t happened in the last few years, but he hasn’t been in the city as much as he used to be.

That, and the place was raided a year or so ago for that very thing. Prostitution. But that’s the charm of this dirt hole. I never have to worry about that sort of thing because I don’t get lap dances. What’s the point of paying $20 per song while some hot nubile girl wiggles around on you and gets you all worked up for no payoff. Well, that’s true for most fellas but apparently not if your name is Mr. Johnny Rivers! He’s never paid for sex ant a strip club.

So he goes off with Curvy Girl to the back room. I’ll be interested to hear how that all goes in a little while. I look over at the stage and there is a really fit black girl sliding around the pole like a lovely ebony serpent. Her body, a lean vessel of sinew and muscle. Already she’s my favorite girl in the place. I know what I just said about lap dances, but I’m a leg man, and her legs are killer. She’s smoking hot.

She comes off the stage and right towards me. I love her! “Hi.” she says in a low sexy voice. Her body is absolutely slammin’. She looks me in eye, takes my hand, and places it on her left breast. Her nipple is like a rubber bullet pressing against my palm. (Just writing this is making me want to stop in there and see if she’s working tonight. Vice!) I gently squeeze her breast and she smiles. Then I release her.

“You’re beautiful! I’m a leg man, and man…if your legs aren’t spectacular.”

“Thank you.”

Johnny returns. “Oh, and what bit of ebony delish is this?” She says hello and gives us her stage name.

“You can touch my legs if you want to.”

I am smitten by this dark temptress. I couldn’t resist. I reach down and just run my hand up the back of her leg. Exquisite. I hand her a few more bucks.

“Do you want to get a private dance with me?”

“You’re the prettiest girl in here. Do you mind if I catch up with my friend, and think about it for a bit?”

“Sure thing. But if you get a dance with me I’ll make your dick hard.”

She slinks away with feline grace. I want that ass, but I don’t do lap dances. I think it’s just a waste of money and gets you nothing in the end. I guess I could make this example: I like to drink. You buy a bottle of something for about $12 and drink it. Over the next few hours of doing whatever you’re doing, you get a buzz, relax, feel good, socialize, or just chill out and let go. So for $12 you can have a great night.

If I go to a casino, I spend $20 because I’m not a gambler and never have been. I burn through that $20 in under 15 minutes, and I’m done. I don’t get off. I don’t feel good, and I’m out $20. Now I know it doesn’t work that way for real gamblers. They get high on the action, not the winning or the losing. Just the action. You see, I need some sort of payoff. I need the reward and with booze I get it, and with gambling I don’t.”

I love women and sex. I have been addicted to the feeling of love, and not really been in love. I didn’t know it at the time, but that’s how it worked. You meet a woman, there is the spark of romance, and if there is chemistry the payoff is hot love and sex. Huge payoff. I think love is the best drug in the world. If we could have sex all the time and feel loved, we’d probably have a lot less problems. I think the greatest feeling one can have, it to love and be loved.

But hey, I digress. That’s why I can’t invest the $20 in the lap dance. I get the action and zero payoff. Now I’m sure Johnny has a whole different view on this issue. Because he likes to gamble, and as we know in the past he’s paid the $20 for the lapper, and gotten a blow job out of it or straight up banged the stripper bareback. Yea…bareback. Like I said. Johnny’s a gambler.

Let’s see if his little foray with curvy girl paid off.

“So, what happened back there with her?”

“I don’t know what’s going on. The last few times I’ve been here, the girls won’t do anything sexual.”

“Think you’re losing your touch?”

“No, it’s probably because the place has been busted so many times. Do you think I’m starting to look like a cop?”

“Well you are Irish Catholic and approaching middle age, sir.”

“Really? I’m not even forty yet, asshole.”

“Wanna blow this place?”

“That’s a lot of dudes. I think they’re here for the ladies, not to get sucked off by you.”

“Let’s go. I’ll call you an UBER.”

 

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday at 9am EST.

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Johnny R. – 2009 to Present – Needle in the Groove – Part 1

Another fun day with my friend who loves vice.

I love this day. I finally get to write about Johnny R. with a little vice because I planned it that way. Art imitates life.

I sleep in on Saturday, because it’s the only day I  am technically off from my two jobs. The real day off. That’s plenty of time for me, because I like to work.

Johnny texts me that he will roll into Suburban Station around 1pm. I have to get out of this bed. I am drifting in and out of the arms of Morpheus and listening to NPR. I have to go out and be with my dear friend.

His train is coming in and I am walking towards the station. He says he is busting for a piss and is going to Tir Na Nog. That’s the closest bar to the train station, and a beloved spot for him because they have a satellite dish and play all of the liverpool soccer games that he loves all the time. I don’t get it because I’m not a sports guy but he loves it. I know when Johnny says he’s heading to Tir to take a piss that means he’s going to be drinking 5 minutes after that, so I need to get there sooner than later.

I arrive and he looks great and we’re happy to see each other. Tir Na Nog is obviously an Irish bar on 16th street near Arch. It’s a good spot but normally is a sausage bar. Lot’s of dudes and sports fans. Never my cup of tea. I prefer hotel bars with pretty nubile waitresses eager to please me.

Johnny is sucking on a bud bottle and seems surly. He says he has no coke or adderall so he’s probably going to behave but be tired later on. I don’t mind. As long as I can spend time with my friend and we get our kicks, I know we’ll all be better for it and his wallet won’t hurt tomorrow. (Nor will his soul)

He tells me he hates the raven haired Irish female bartender that’s currently on shift. I love his rage about everything. I ask him why, and he tells me that he sat here with an empty bottle and she ignored him and went to talk to her friends at the end of the bar. Normally I would hate this too but I have a little surprise that I didn’t see coming for my friend Johnny.

Johhny: “I fuckin’ hate her. Shitty service.”

Me: “Hello Sheila! I haven’t seen you in a while. How you been?”

Sheila: ” Hey, great man, I’ll come by the new salon soon!”

Johnny looks at me incredulously.

Sheila: “Hey, this round is on me.”

Johnny: “How?”

Me: ” She tans at the salon so she doesn’t look so pale when she goes back to Ireland every year.”

Johnny: “Wow. Thank you.”

Me: (I point to me and then him) “Honey… vinegar. It’s all good dude.”

That was a huge savings and an elegant meeting spot for me and Johnny. It had history, soccer and free drinks in it!

We head down to Locust Rendezvous for some food, because all I’ve had in the way of food today was beer. We get there and the place is chill. We sit in our usual seats at the end of the bar and I order a Yards Pale and some chicken fingers. Johnny goes for the plain grilled and I of course go for the buffalo.

Locust Rendezvous is a clean little dive down at 15th and Locust. Local crowd. The food is good and cheap. The staff is consistent and sweet. They have a fantastic $5 burger lunch special there. Check it out if you’re ever in Philly. Worth it! We’re chatting and sipping our beers. Johnny with his Bud bottle as always. The food comes out and it looks great. Johnny complains that his chicken is tough but he bitches about everything. It’s actually endearing and one of the reasons I love him. It’s like hanging out with comedian Bill Burr.

Our day is unfolding beautifully, until he gets a piece of chicken lodged not in his throat but in his esophagus. He has a thing. It’s not serious but you know how deadly chicken and it’s bones can be to humans and dogs.

Johnny pauses. I turn. “Are you okay, dude?”

“I’m fine. Just a piece of chicken that needs to keep going to my stomach.”

“Is there anything I can do?” I’m getting worried about my friend.

“”No. I just need to go to the bathroom.”

I’m concerned, but it’s his thing and he knows how to deal with it. Chicken is dense and you gotta take little bites.

I continue to drink my beer and rip into my delicious “moist” buffalo chicken fingers. After a few minutes he comes back and he’s fine. I’m relieved and he’s still pissed about his dry chicken. But that’s just Johnny. It didn’t kill you, so eat it brother.

I finish my meal and I know what’s going to happen. Since all I’ve consumed has been beers and buffalo chicken today and that has been breakfast and lunch, I need to go. It’s called middle age. You put something in your body and the system turns on and things start moving. I tell him I’ll be right back and I walk to the back of the bar to the men’s room. It’s funny because the bathrooms are labeled. “Nuts” and “No Nuts” and they have pictures of a boy and a girl squirrel. It’s pretty obvious what bathroom has been appointed to which sex, but I just wonder why they went with that theme here. It has nothing to do with the bar.

I really have to go. The machine is running and I need to deal with this. Forgive me readers for going here. Some of you may hate anything bathroom related, but I promise if you stay with this scene, you’ll enjoy it.

I go into the “Nuts” bathroom because I have a pair, and I tie my button down dress shirt in a knot at the bottom so it’s away from all of the action. Every time I do this I always think of Rod Stewart tying the bottom of his shirt and looking gay. Nothing against the gay community or Rod, (No pun intended) I love gay people but this move always makes me feel a little gay.

I drop my drawers and have a seat. It’s a tiny bathroom. Just one commode, a sink and that’s it. Just me, my phone and my thoughts. I’m cool. I’m having a good day with my pal who’s at the front of the bar probably sipping his beer and playing with his phone.

I finish and life is good. I feel relieved and I’m having a great day with my dear friend. Hopefully there’s more fun and deviltry to come. So I’m ready to get up and I look around. First casually, then frantically. There’s no toilet paper in the men’s room. Not a stitch. Not a square. Nothing! There is a little soggy wad next to the toilet on the floor in the corner. I’m not touching that!

What the fuck am I going to do? I can’t wipe!

I’m panicking now. I’m trapped in the Nuts room and I can’t leave.

Wait! I brought my phone in with me. I’ll call Johnny and tell him my situation and he’ll tell the bartender and someone will run back a roll to save me!

I pride myself in knowing where all of the liquor stores and clean bathrooms are in this fine city. I’ve done this my entire life. Sometimes I get tummy troubles and a man need to know where to get a clean restroom. This comes in really handy with the fairer sex. But I’m being held hostage by my dirty ass right now and I have failed myself as a good bathroom vigil.

I grab my phone and call him. You can’t text your friend at the bar when you are trapped in the bathroom. You have to call! He’ll pick up. I’m with him right now. I dial his number.

Ringing…

“Pick up…”

“Pick up…”

“Pick up Johnny….”

“Pick up you fucking asshole!”

(voicemail) “You have reached (phone number) Johnny is not available…”

“Are you fucking kidding me???”

How is everybody chained to their phones and you are literally sitting at the bar with me in the same bar and you are on your phone and I am calling you and you are not picking up you fucking asshole???

He never picks up.

I’m stranded in this bathroom. I want to kill him. I really want to kill him. I’m going to kill my friend next time I see him.

Necessity is the mother of invention. I have been in worst situations so I need to get creative and do what is necessary. I get up off the seat with my pants around my ankles and turn my butt toward the sink. I hop towards it and get to the sink. I grab the porcelain and hoist my ass up onto the sink. Apparently the sinks in Locust Rendezvous are strong enough to support the full weight of a grown man. I reach back behind me and turn the spigot on. The water is running now. Is it the hot water or the cold? Should I turn them both on?

I feel like a little kid now. Sitting on a another toilet with my little legs dangling in the air a foot of the ground because I’m small. I reach back to check the temperature of the water with my hand. The water feels ok, so I realize the inevitable. I lean forward and get my ass as close the water stream as close as possible to my sweet star fruit. I reach back and literally scrub my asshole with my bare hand under the fresh stream of water from the faucet.

How do they even open their bar on a Saturday and not even check the bathroom situation? At the beginning of my shift at the salon I run patrol on the whole place. Well I suppose this is how you earn the title, “Dive Bar.”

So I scrub my asshole clean until it squeaks. There isn’t even a way to dry my butt because they have an air dryer for your hands in there. And I am not going to be able to do the gymnastic to do a head stand on the sink and get my balloon knot up under that blower to dry off my turd cutter. (Yea, I’m using creative names to make it even funnier than this sad situation already is.)

I hop down when I’m done and am actually a little proud of myself for my resourcefulness and creativity in a bad situation. Urban survival techniques!

I thoroughly wash my hand with their soap. I use it copiously! Then I get to take advantage of their modern hand air dryer in the bathroom with NO TOILET PAPER! Because if they had any paper hand towels I would have totally ripped them up and wiped my sorry ass with them. If it clogged up the toilet I would have been fine with that because that’s your punishment for not doing your fucking job and checking the bar before your shift! Now you have a REAL mess to clean up, lazy! (I kidding…I wouldn’t really do that)

So I walk out of the bathroom and back to the bar with my super clean, still wet ass and I see Johnny just sitting there sipping his beer.

“You wouldn’t believe what just fucking happened to me in the bathroom!”

“The redhead blew you?”

“Really, dude? No! there was no toilet paper in there and I had to use the sink as a fucking bidet on my butthole!”

“(Nonchalantly) Oh…I saw that you called.”

“Why the fuck didn’t you pick up?”

“I just thought you accidentally butt dialed me.”

“Yea! My butt was crying out for help and you left it literally blowing in the wind!”

“Alright. I got lunch. Wanna go to McGlinchey’s?”

“Dude! I needed your hel… You got lunch?”

“Yea.”

“Okay. I’ll buy the first round at McGlinch…”

“I hate when you abbreviate everything.”

“It’s my thing. It’s what I do.”

“We know. Let’s go.”

We step out onto 15th street headed to the foulest bar in the city.

“Why couldn’t you have choked on that piece of chicken.”

“What?

“Love you….”

 

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday at 9am EST.

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Annabelle – NYC – Chapter 11

I heard this loud bang under the car like she had hit a pothole that was covered in snow.

The holidays were upon us, and we decided the limit to spend on each other was $200. I would have no problem blowing $200 on my girlfriend.

I went out and got her all kinds of clothes and underwear and a robe, and other goodies I know girls like. She got me a ring. (Which shocked her mother and sister because a ring represents so much in our culture. I love that ring, and still wear it to this day. It’s just a steel worry ring with black accents. It feels like rock and roll so I wear it on my left middle finger everyday. I should probably take it off but it’s my thing now.

She also wrote a nice card and inside it were 2 tickets to see a Shakespearean play in New York City! I was excited to see it. I can’t remember which one it was, but it was the real deal. British actors performing the play just like they had 400 years ago.

So the day arrives. (It was around New Years 2014) I go to her apartment, and she rents a zip car. I heard that we were supposed to maybe get some snow later, but for now the weather is fine.

The car is a compact, and maybe 10 years old. She sets the GPS and we’re on our way. About half way to NY, the GPS, craps out. It just dies and stops working all together.

“Oh no! How are we ever going to find our way to New York City now?” Annabelle exclaims.

“Don’t worry sweetie. I used to live in New York. We’ll just follow the signs like we used to in the olden times.”

She laughs but I can tell she sort of half believes me. Young people today have never used a map or have had to navigate anything. They have all of that in their phones now. You could put me in a car pointed in any direction on the east coast and I could find my way all the way to California without even using a map. But these kids today, without their phones are lost. But that’s a small price to pay for youth and beauty by my side.

I get us into the city and we park the car in a garage for the day. This really is a great present.  The show is not untill 8pm tonight so we’ve got the whole day.  We stop at a cool spot for lunch and beer.

Then we head downtown to the Museum of Sex. You heard me right. There is a museum for that shit in NYC. Annabelle is all about exploring new things, and it was my idea so we went. It actually wasn’t as good as I thought it would be. But they have a lot of interesting exhibits. The works of William Kent, the sex lives of animals, sexy toys and sculptures, a whole exhibit about Linda Lovelace. Some erotic video.

I remember this huge video screen in one room where it’s just a woman deep throating a guy’s cock. It just loops over and over. It’s pretty amazing to see that incredible feat on a 12 foot TV screen. But like I said, the place is not that great. I wrote both our names in a little heart and tagged it in the bathroom. I don’t normally ever do anything like that, but it just seemed appropriate to have our names immortalized together forever in the bathroom of the Museum of Sex.

Later we stopped at a cool cocktail bar and chatted with the locals. Then on to an art gallery. I always enjoy my time with Annabelle when it’s just the two of us. Whether we’re at a museum, or the zoo, or just eating a meal I cooked for her at home. It’s always good. Once you bring in her chaotic work life or insane theater stuff, it just ruins everything. If we could just see each other occasionally and focus on each other it would be great. I get bored hanging around her apartment with nothing to do when she’s editing pictures or whatever else. (Or sometimes not even home!) I’d rather be home sipping some wine and watching netflix.

We walk to the theater. We’ve got some time so we go in and find our seats. The theater is beautiful.

The play begins and the acting is first-rate. They are performing this version just as they did four centuries ago. The only illumination on stage is candlelight. There are literally wooden chandeliers with big white candles all around them. Some times they melt and even fall onto the stage!

During the intermission, Annabelle wants to get us some water and use the restroom. During the first half of the play there was a guy a few rows ahead of me that somehow looked familiar to me. But when the lights came up I take another look at him. His people have gotten up and left and he’s just standing around stretching like I am. I realize he’s actor Timothy Oliphant from Justified and Deadwood! He looks at me and I look at him. He’s much better looking in real life than he is on TV.

“Timothy?”

“Yea.”

I go over and shake his hand. “I love you on Justified! I’m watching season 3 right now!”

“What’s your name?”

I apologize and tell him my name. I was delighted Timothy Oliphant wanted to know my name! We chit-chat a little bit, and because we’re in New York City and at a Shakespearean performance it just didn’t feel cool asking to do a selfie with him. It was just a private moment between two strangers who happened to be in the same place at the same time. Except one of them is a famous actor.

Later when Anabelle returned I quietly told her what had just happened. She had no idea who he was because she doesn’t ever watch TV and isn’t in touch with current media at all. So it was lost on her. But I was excited. No big deal.

The show was wonderful and I am so grateful for this unique Christmas gift. It’s been a perfect Winter’s day with the woman I love.

After the show we headed back to the garage to get the car. It’s probably a bit after 11pm.

It had already started to snow.

Heavily.

We head out of the city. The snow was really coming down. I remember getting on interstate 95 South. We had gone some distance but were still way up in North Jersey.

I heard this loud bang under the car like she had hit a pothole that was covered in snow. The right front tire blew out. I looked at the mile markers. We were 10 miles away from the next rest area. I told Annabelle to put on the hazard lights and slowly move into the right lane. I knew the tire would soon shred, but at least it would be cushioned by the snow-covered ground, so it may not shred as quickly and we’d be driving on the bare rim.

This was a harrowing experience. Total white out of a snowstorm, 90 miles from home, 10 miles from a rest stop, and tractor trailers roaring by our tiny battered car. I was trying to hold my shit together, imagining either the car becoming disabled and we’re stranded on the highway during a snowstorm in the middle of the night, or a giant truck simply smashing into us and killing us both.

That 10 mile drive was one of the longest of my life. We couldn’t go very fast because of the tire and the snow. I was feeling a lot of fear. I have to say, Annabelle kept the car on course and kept her cool during the harrowing drive.

After what seemed like an hour we finally limped into the rest area where there was a garage and some mechanics on duty. I was never so happy to see those guys!

They were all amazed we made it in there in one piece. I was so relieved just to be in the warm garage, off the highway and out of that car.

Annabelle called Zipcar, and told them what happened. They asked that she pay for a new tire on her credit card and they would reimburse her.

So we took some pictures of the damaged wheel and posted them on Facebook. While writing this I remembered I may still have those pics in Annabelle’s pic file on my Facebook. I don’t really go on Facebook anymore because I no longer care to share with the world what I’m up to and have no interest in what you had for lunch today.

I found the pics! Here they are. Shredded!

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It was around 2am by now, but we were both wide with adrenaline from our crazy trip.

The guys got the new wheel on and we were on our way. But the snow was getting worse as we pushed on back to Philly.

After what seemed like the rest of the night, we finally rolled into the city around 4am. Annabelle dropped me off at my house and I kissed her goodnight. I trudged through the snow up to my building and went inside.

Annabelle later texted me that she had dropped off the car and had gotten back to her apartment safely. I was so thankful it all worked out and proud of how Annabelle had handled the whole situation.

What a night!

 

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

Annabelle – Chapter 2 – Guy Walks Into A Bar…

“I wish I could go to cool events.”

I had met Annabelle a year earlier while she was tending bar at that crappy tavern at the Warwick hotel. That was the Saturday I was waiting for Michelle to meet me for brunch after her hair appointment. (See Michelle – 2007 to Present – A Brand New Day)

I was with Lorelei and I took her to get her nails done. I had been at a First Friday event the night before and was a little banged up. First Friday is just what it sounds like. It’s mostly celebrated down in Old City. The businesses down there showcase work by local artists and serve free wine, beer and cider. The company I worked for normally had these huge parties at our office the first friday of the month, once a quarter. So it was a shit show and oceans of booze.

The place she goes to get her nails done is right across from the tavern at the Warwick. I haven’t set foot in the place in over a year. I walk in to get a beer to take the edge off my hangover. Who’s standing behind the bar but Annabelle. I remembered her name and say hello to her. She greets me using my name as well. I was surprised and impressed. I must have made a favorable impression on her a year ago.

I am once again the only person in the place. I order a Corona, put some cash on the bar and start chatting with her. I tell her I am no longer with the publication where I formerly worked for five years. I am working for a start-up that shows people where to go drink around the city. I do advertising sales for them. Because of my job I get to go to a lot of cool events for free around the city. I also tell her Michelle was leaving town to go live in San Francisco, with her former ex-boyfriend. They had rekindled their relationship and were giving it a serious go.

“I wish I could go to cool events.” she says.

“I’d be happy to bring you along to one! Let me see what I have coming up.”

Annabelle was under the impression that I was married to Michelle, and that Lorelei was our daughter. She said she remembered me friending her on Facebook a year ago after we met and me reaching out to her. She never responded because she thought I was in a relationship with Michelle. But I told her that Michelle and I were just friends when we walked into the bar last year and had been done since 2010. It was now 2013, and so much had changed. It was June and Michelle would be leaving around November.

We had a really great conversation and I felt energized. She was still doing her photography business, but still did the bartending gig to support it. She had worked at this spot for years. Annabelle didn’t like working in the restaurant business. She said she hated it. I would later find out why.

Annabelle cracked open another beer. She tells me she lives up in Northern Liberties. She had a mock studio in her loft apartment there. I don’t really ever go to Northern Liberties. Just not a fan of the area. I like being in the center of things. That’s why I’m in Rittenhouse. She says she rides her bicycle down here a few days a week to work here.

I ask her if she’s been to the Barnes Museum yet. She says no. I knew the answer would be no, that’s why I asked her. It was still relatively new to center city, and tickets were expensive. I knew she didn’t have that kind of paper. I mentioned that there was a rum tasting event that’s coming up in a couple of weeks. I knew the marketing director over there and knew I could get us in to see the collection and get some free drinks.

“That would be cool!”

I looked at my phone. Lorelei was done, and needed Daddy to come across the street and pay for her new manicure. “I gotta go. Daughter needs me for my wallet.”

As I’m walking out, I tell her I’ll send her a calendar invite for July 5th and if her night’s clear, I’ll take her.

“Sounds good!” she smiles.

I step out into the warm Spring afternoon and bolt across the street. There may be something here. Met her a year ago. Made the connection. Reconnected just now. Locked down a potential night out with her. We’ll see what happens. If nothing comes up, I’ll be checking out a billion dollar art collection, sipping rum with a tall pretty girl.

 

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Kylie – 2012 to 2016 -Broken Wing – The Rittenhouse Cocktail & Fashion Event

“I see your screen is cracked. Is that in style now?”

A few years ago, when I sold advertising for a drinking website, I was asked to be a judge for the Rittenhouse Cocktail & Fashion event. It’s actually and event that is impossible to complete. How it works is this; They pick an evening in the Spring where about a dozen of the fashion shops stay open late.  Each one brings in an alcohol brand to make cocktails and serve them to the general public. People can sign up for this event and everybody pays for tickets and gets a little wristband.

The shops are scattered all over a seven square block radius between Broad street out to 20th street, and between Chestnut and Locust street.  Most people who sign up for the event just wander around and stop in places to check out their wares. While there, they can enjoy a nice cocktail made from some big liquor brand.

It’s a fun night if that’s all you planned on doing. Take a date, look at cool fashion, and drink your face off.

Here’s the problem you have when you’re a judge for the event. You show up, and they give you a list of all of the stores with a note pad to write down all of the names of the cocktails. But you also have to write down the ingredients, and then you have to rate the drink.

This would be a fun exercise if I had four hours to do it. But the event only lasts for two hours. I’ve done this event twice, and both times I couldn’t physically get through the event.

But I tried. Lord knows, I tried. Beautifully smashed.

The people working the tables are great. They’re really excited for you to taste their products and are very enthusiastic about discussing them with you. But, you can’t spend a great deal of time with each representative, because you have to get to the next spot. I would like to get the list of places at least a day before hand, and a list of what the brands are and the names of the drinks with their ingredients. Then I could maybe get through the twelve different locations and the drinks. But there is still the timeframe. It is a back-breaking exercise in speed tasting and running around center city. Could me and my ex-girlfriend Michelle (See: Michelle – 2007 to Present – A Brand New Day) pull off an event like that? Sure we could. Would we be destroyed at the end of it?

Damn straight.

So it was my first time as a judge for the event. This was back in 2012. I’m in one of the shops, about a third of the way through the event, when I’m approached by a somewhat cute brunette. She is dressed in a cool leather jacket and tight slacks. She looks very fashionable. Perfect for an event like this. She’s maybe thirty. What struck me most about her was her hair. She wore the rare “stacked bob.” You really don’t see many women rocking this style. Best thing about it is, it’s really unique. People will remember a chick with that cut. She also was carrying a nice camera and taking a lot of photos. She said she was covering the event for Philadelphia Weekly. (A piece of shit print publication, that no one reads anymore. It’s better utilized as a birdcage liner or wrapping your fish up in.)

“You look like you know where you’re going, mind if I tag along?”

I tell her sure, because I could use the company of an attractive photographer and tasting partner. I tell her that I’m a judge for the event. We exchange formalities and get moving. I’ve got the list and she’s helping find each place.

It made it way more fun to have a girl with me on this little journey.

We’re hitting each spot and getting to know each other along the way. The clock is ticking and I’m really trying to get through the whole show. By the end, we were literally running to the last couple of places. It was a fun challenge.

We missed a few along the way but as miracles would have it I actually remember the last cocktail I tasted. So I couldn’t have been that banged up. We were in Nicole Miller in the Bellevue Stratford on Broad street. The drink was a whiskey infused cocktail where the rim of the glass was made of Smores. You could actually bite the edge of the cup and eat it. It was called”Ghost of the Campfire” due to its sweet but smoky taste. To me, it was the clear winner.

Kylie and I had a great time together that night. We ended up walking over to Ocean Prime at 15th and Sansom. We sat at the bar and sipped one final drink. We chatted and exchanged business cards. I remember her phone screen was really cracked, which was the birth of this line, “I see your screen is cracked. Is that in style now?” I see so many busted screens these days.

Why won’t these people purchase cases for their phones? It’s essential for a bit of technology that none of us can no longer live without.

I kind of liked her and thought she was attractive so I was going to try to see her again. I could use some ruse about coming to an event with me. We parted ways and I told her I’d reach out to her in the near future.

I think I did on Facebook or text, but nothing ever came of it. I did see her maybe six months later when I was at an event in Old City. She shared studio space with another photographer down there. But I was inside a building when I saw that familiar stacked bob walking down 2nd street. By the time I would have gotten through the crowd and got outside, she would have been down the end of the block by then.

Little did I know at the time how Kylie would re-enter my life in the near future. I will write about her again, but she won’t make another appearance in this story for a while.

Oh, and she has world-class legs…

 

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Annabelle – Chapter 1 – Nice to Meet You

I get the bill. “The second one was on me.”

The title for the Annabelle series was going to be: “The Final Elegant Arc” but in light of what I’ve learned in the last year, I can no longer call it that. So I’m not going to call it anything.

My life has its moments of elegance and moments of pain, but it is far from final.

I was meeting ex-girlfriend Michelle (See: Michelle – 2007 to Present – Nice to Meet You) for brunch on a Saturday. She was getting her hair done in the morning and then we would do our usual Saturday ritual. I was early as usual and her hair appointment was running long. (That kind of amazing beauty takes time. Just happy we’re still friends!)

I stepped into one of the shittiest hotel bars I’ve ever been in. Just because it was a block from the hair salon. The Warwick Hotel is a beautiful place on 17th and Locust. They have a restaurant a coffee shop and a bar connected to the hotel. Prime Rib is a nice spot on Locust and Tavern 17 is at 17th and Chancellor. I’ve been to this bar many times before when friends would visit the city and stay at the Warwick. The drinks suck, the service blows, the management turns over on a semi-annual basis and the way the place is laid out is in a way where you can’t see anything. There are all of these large pillars or supports that are everywhere through the bar area, and you can’t see what’s going on at the bar. The bartender may not see you and you’ll have to wait.  You can’t find your friend, etc. It’s just a suck bar.

But I thought the number 17 would bring me luck. 17 is my family’s lucky recurring number. It is very prevelant in my father’s life and I thought there could be something there. Recently my friend Trish (See: Trish – 2011 to Present – The She Wolf) asked what my birthday was. I told her 8/9/62. She said,  “What’s 8 plus 9?” I responded…17.

I walk in a little hung over from the night before. The website I worked for at the time had a huge party the night before and we were all a little shattered from it. I walk in Tavern 17 around 1pm on that fateful Saturday. It’s empty and dark. Which for once I was happy about. Behind the bar was a very tall, fresh faced, slender blonde working the bar.

I swagger up to the bar and ask for a Corona. I introduced myself and run my usual program on her. “What’s your name, what do you like to do when you’re not working here?” She tells me her name, and says she’s a photographer as her full-time gig. The Corona is crisp and deliciously ice-cold. It’s actually just what I needed.

Something tall and golden that is no longer Michelle.

Annabelle seems nice and I’m making her laugh with my fatal charm. She’s 5’ll”. Taller and leaner than Michelle. We exchange business cards. I tell her I’ll check out her website. (Michelle is still way prettier though! Michelle reads this blog!)

I text Michelle and let her know where I am. I’m having a beer and she can just come here when she’s finished.

I crush the first Corona just to knock the edge off the day. Annabelle pops the cap from another and places it front of me. It’s just as good as the first. There is no one else in this shitty bar at this time of day, and she’s happy to have someone with which to chat.

She says she does a lot of head shots for local actors in the city. Annabelle is very connected with the local theater community here in Philly. She also does some wedding work as well. I’m assuming that pays pretty good. I can’t put and age on her but she looks to be about 24 or 25.

I’m feeling better now. Chatting with this tall blonde is good and the cold beer has reactivated the alcohol still in my system, giving me a gentle but effervescent buzz.

The door squeaks and the sunny afternoon light pours into the bar. Michelle enters the bar. “Oh, and here comes another charming and lovely blonde.” I say on cue. I introduce the two ladies and we have a laugh. “Your hair looks great, Michelle”

I get the bill. “The second one was on me.”

“Thank you, Annabelle!” I tip up to what the bill would have been and gather my stuff. We say goodbye to Annabelle and head out of Tavern 17 into the afternoon to have some delicious brunch and drinks.

Then we’d probably head back to my apartment and watch Netflix, sip wine, and smoke cigarettes. I’d be in my chair and she’d recline on my sofa.

I later checked out Annabelle’s website and reached out to her on Facebook, but nothing ever came of it. I didn’t ask her out on a date or anything. I may have asked if she ever wanted to meet for lunch or something. My usual gentle M.O.

But like I said, crickets.

When you meet someone like that, and it’s brief, there is a good chance they will quickly fade from your memory. I met tons of people back in 2012. I had a job that was 50% socializing. I didn’t forget Annabelle, but I wouldn’t see her again until a year later in 2013.

And it would be a whole new ballgame.

 

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Brooke – 2013 to Present – Legs for Days

Brooke was on point with the drinks. She even stuck around and hung out with us.

When I worked for the online start-up, back in 2013, there was a kid that worked in the office who was always playing crazy music. It was mostly all shit. I can’t believe I’m about to say this but it was also played too loud every day. (Yea, I’m getting old)

There were only two artists he ever played that I could stomach. One of them was a band called Tame Impala. I liked them because their singer sounded a bit like John Lennon. They were in town to open for the flaming lips at Festival Pier. So me and the kid decide we want to go. Somehow I got the hookup, probably through Keila when she worked at Live Nation. We were in the VIP section, which is nice because you can see the stage, it’s fenced in, you’re away from the animals, and you have your own clean bathrooms, and your own bar.

We grabbed a bite of over priced food before the show. Actually, the opening act was playing. It was Sean Ono Lennon. How sad is that? Your father is 1/2 of the two greatest composers of modern music in the 20th century. Let that sink in for a moment.

John Lennon is your father. Your half-brother Julian looks and sounds like dad, but your mom is Yoko Ono. No. Sorry. You’re just a filthy rich kid. Your dad was in the Beatles, and your shitty band is opening for the band that is opening for the Flaming Lips at Festival Pier in Philly. Sorry kid. Give up.

So we’re back at VIP and I need some wine. There is a very tall lean brunette that is serving me. She cracks a bottle for me. She fills my cup with ice and then pours the wine in on top of it. This is how I like my chardonnay. So I won’t have to keep coming back to the bar, she says she’ll just keep coming out to me in the section and keep my cup filled. I liked her already  because she was tall, beautiful and charming. Now I’m falling in love.

Tame Impala were good. I dig some of their music. It was a good show. Brooke was on point with the drinks. She even stuck around and hung out with us. I remember telling her about my girlfriend and just raving about how much I loved her. I was telling her about all of the romantic moments I created to celebrate how much I loved her. Brooke loved this and I feel like I made a memorable impression upon her.

I’ve run into her since then at different gatherings. I remember a bunch of us were all sitting around at Rouge. (Not a fan. Rittenhouse douche/snob watering hole) It was me, Keila, Alice, Brooke, a couple other girls and I think one or two guys  I didn’t know. At one point Brooke gets everyone’s attention and says: “(My name) speaks about women the way wish any of the men we know spoke about us when we weren’t around.”

That’s one of the nicest compliments I have ever had the honor of receiving. I’ll be taking her to Keila’s farewell party from the IT recruitment firm this week, So I’ll write more then.

Note: Brooke’s story continues in tomorrow’s post: (Church – Birthday Boy)

 

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