I finished work at the salon that Sunday, and headed over to Devil’s Alley. It’s a bar/restaurant at 20th and Chestnut. I’ve written about it before. It’s one of my go to spots in Rittenhouse. Southern cuisine, cool spot. Dining room on the ground floor, and the bar and the balcony seating upstairs. There are lots of cool light effects and plants. There’s actually a tree growing in the middle of the downstairs dining room.
They have the best spicy dry rub wings in the city. The food is great there and I’ve just learned that they do Happy Hour every day. Even Sundays! So I’ve come to the right spot for my first date with Kimiko.
I’m early of course. I head upstairs to the bar and order a vodka and tonic. The bartender Tim is charming and we chat a bit about work and how life is tough right now. Classic bar banter. I throw it back and order another just to take the edge off the day and this date.
I text her.
Me: I just arrived at Devil’s Alley.
K: One min.
Me: I’m at the bar upstairs.
Perfect. It’s 4:57 and she is right on time. Points for her punctuality.
The place is dead and I love that it’s quiet so we can chat and get to know each other when she and I dine together.
I hear the light click of heels coming up the metal stairs behind me. I turn and there before me is the girl from the profile on Bumble.
The angelic fine boned features of the face. Alive. Real. Her raven tresses tumble about her shoulders like ribbons of coal. The lovely almond eyes. The lean body. She’s wearing a black and white blouse, with a fitted short jacket over it paired with black clinging slacks and heels.
She’s absolutely perfect. We do the perfunctory awkward hug that doesn’t feel that bad at all. I catch a whiff of her lovely hair.
We grab a quiet table on the balcony. We sit and the bartender comes over and she gets a beer and I ask for another V&T. We exchange the usual greetings and pleasantries. She tells me she’s parked a few blocks away at 20th and Walnut.
We’re sipping our drinks and I tell the server we want to chat a bit but will be ordering food. I ask her how long she’s been on Bumble. She tells me only about two weeks. She’s been on two dates but it hasn’t yielded anything significant. One was just a no and the other didn’t look like his profile pics. That’s good, the shark has gotten this baby seal before she could disappear. I can tell by her expression and body language she’s telling the truth.
I decide to open and tell her about myself first. She’s fine with that. It’s time for Led Zeppelin to go onstage. I tell her I like to talk. She responds that she’s a good listener.
I give her the sales pitch. Single dad. Daughter, 22 lives with me. Former banker and advertising guy. Works at a tanning salon and investing in a fitness center in Rittenhouse. I talk about my family and where we’re from and a little bit of history. I tell her I want her to know who I am and I’m very honest and open. I want to put her at ease. It’s an easy play because it’s all true.
To a point.
We seem to be hitting on all cylinders. She jokingly brings up my profile. About how I make the statement, “If you don’t look like your profile pics, you’ll buy me drinks until you do.”
I assure her that she won’t be buying me any drinks tonight. (Smokin’ hot and better than her profile pics.)
She laughs and I see how sweet she is. She can tell I’m a gentleman, and that I’m old-fashioned and she likes that I like dating, romance and courtship. That puts her further at ease.
She tells me her story. It’s an old family. Older than mine but she’s the baby of the family. There are eight children! She was born in Hong Kong. (Funny how my girlfriend Cherie is in Japan right now and I’m with a Japanese girl. Oh, the irony of life!) A long time ago Great Britain ruled Hong Kong and Japan. But then they had to give all of the countries they ruled over back and Japan went under the rule of China. She said her family didn’t agree with Chinese rule and fled Hong Kong and came to the US long ago.
Her parents and extended family always worked in the restaurant business. Chinese restaurants of course. Asians are some of the greatest restauranteurs in the world. Think about it. They’re in every city in the civilized world and you never see them go out of business.
So that’s what they did when they came here. The whole family worked like dogs running a Chinese restaurant. Then they opened up another one, and then another. They did this to afford their future generations with a better life. That’s how it’s done. Just good hard-working, bright people. I admire them and their tireless work ethic. Good manners and discipline. All of the qualities instilled into my family by my parents.
She was married once and I tell her my history, but I keep it brief and light. Too early to get to deep in that on a first date. She was married for many years and it yielded two sons. They are both in medical school.
Do you see the pattern here? Come from a crappy place, get to America. Work your asses off so your kids and grand kids have the means to become anything they want. Something you could never have imagined doing. She is very proud of her boys. At this point we whip out the cell phones like people used to bring out the wallet photos of their kids in days of old.
“You’re daughter is gorgeous. Pretty as a model!”
“I do nice work, but the mold is broken and there’ll be no more.”
We order the spicy dry rub wings so she can try them. Because its happy hour you can get a little four plate. Perfect. She orders the chicken quesadilla and I go with the pulled pork sliders. I order for us both and ask her if that’s okay. She likes it and digs the manners and skills.
Ex girlfriend Annabelle didn’t like when I did that but she was a raging feminist, but she was just a fool who didn’t understand manners and chivalry because she never grew up with any good male role models. That’ll never happen to my daughter Lorelei.
It’s going well and I want to learn more about her. She met her husband here but they had a lot in common. Both from Hong Kong, and similar cultural and familial histories. They started dating and then married three months after that. She tells me that’s kind of stupid, but I tell her how I was married to my ex-wife after ten months of dating.
We share a laugh over that and there’s definitely a connection. Life happens. People make decisions and you just hope for the best. It was probably just everyone tired of the dating scene and you settle on what you hope is a good one and just go for it.
She looks at her watch.
“Do you have somewhere to be? I don’t want to keep you.”
“I have to put money in the meter.”
“That would be a brilliant out if you felt the date wasn’t going well. You could just not come back.”
She touches my arm, “Oh I would never do that! You’re funny. I’ll be right back!”
She apologizes and I tell her the Parking Authority in this city is vicious so she should go now.
Off she goes. I know she’ll be right back. She only put enough for two hours and if it hadn’t worked between us, she could have bolted. She’ll come back right?
She’s been sweet, and she touched my arm.
Kimiko is coming right back. I joke with the bartender how this could be her out.
Wait… What if she doesn’t come back?
Find out tomorrow on Phicklephilly!
Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish everyday.
Instagram: @phicklephilly Facebook: phicklephilly