A Tale Worth Repeating


At a hotel restaurant, I saw an attractive woman sitting alone at the next table.

Suddenly, she sneezed, and a glass eye comes flying out of her eye socket. It hurls by me and I snatched it from the air and handed it back to her.

“This is so embarrassing,” she said, as she popped her eye back into place. “I’m so sorry to disturb you. Let me pay for your dinner to make it up to you. May I join you?”

I nodded.

The woman was a stimulating conversationalist, a stunning, lovely woman, and I found that we had a lot in common.

I got her phone number and asked, “You’re the most charming woman I’ve ever encountered. Are you this nice to every man you meet?”

“No.” she replied. “You just happened to catch my eye.”


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Alcohol vs Marijuana

Having been an aficionado when it comes to alcohol and a person who now rarely drinks, I think I have a pretty good idea of the effects of alcohol. But in the last few years, I’ve begun to enjoy the benefits of marijuana.

They both have similarities but there are some distinct differences. When it comes to alcohol, it enters your system and sort of just rolls with how you’re feeling. If you’re happy, you get happier, if you’re sad it can sometimes cheer you up temporarily. Whatever emotion you’re feeling it kind of amplifies it. It enters your mind and you’re sort of seeing only one door. You kick it in and go through it.

But marijuana opens the mind. There are several doors you can go through. They’re all open. You can peek inside any room in your mind you want to and enter at your discretion and explore.

Alcohol loses the mind and tongue and sometimes you can power through anything and be somewhat creative. But after continued applications, you start to lose those abilities. It sledgehammers your talent and creative mind and you’re simply drunk. Not good.

On the other hand, if you smoke a little grass your mind opens up in several areas and you can come up with some cool stuff. Things are brighter, clearer, funnier, and just all-around better.

Alcohol is a depressant but in some people, it acts as a stimulant. Marijuana is a hallucinogen and reacts to the chemicals in your mind differently. Sometimes for the novice, it’s too much. You may become paranoid and that doesn’t feel good. If you are like me and suffer from anxiety and depression it will heighten your fears. But the cool thing about THC is it makes you uncomfortable with your thoughts sometimes, but when you think about it, it’s usually stuff you’re not dealing with or are afraid of in your sober life. When done correctly, you can identify what’s going on with you in your daily life, and on THC figure it out.

Alcohol just slaps a band-aid on it temporarily and makes all of your problems invisible. But as I said, it’s only temporary. The next day when you’re hungover, your issues are still there and you feel worse.

But if you take the positives from marijuana, and embrace that you really can have a lot of fun with them. Marijuana grows naturally in the wild and is simply dried and smoked in its natural state.

Booze is made from different elements but has to be fermented or distilled to make it alcoholic. So it’s something you have to manufacture to get high. Weed comes out of the ground ready to be used just the way it is. If I had to pick one over the other I would choose weed at this point. I used to love to drink lakes of chardonnay and oceans of vodka but no more. Booze is too hard on the body as you get older and can do a lot of damage to your organs. Weed, when done in moderation doesn’t hurt you at all. Your liver, kidneys, and brain are just fine.

I’m not saying to have a glass of wine here and there, but weed is SO much better for you than booze. I think edibles could have saved my father’s life in his final years. I offered but he declined. He had never faced his fears and mental issues to correct himself, and when he got into his 80s he started to lose it. He was in perfect health but his mind started to go. Not Alzheimer’s or any real ailment, just him sort of losing his will to live. It’s his life and he can do what he wants with it, but I think if he would have eaten some edibles, his appetite would have improved, (munchies!) and he would have slept better. I would have even done it with him to guide him through the mental process. I believe it could have extended his life and he wouldn’t have been such a handful that my older sister had to deal with.

I never liked weed and didn’t smoke it for years. From 1984 to 2013 I never touched the stuff. Didn’t like the way it made me feel and had zero interest. I instead drank my way through my life self medicating myself to bury the pain from my childhood and my life choices in general.

But once  I stepped away from booze, I found that a little toke now and then is not only pleasurable and feeds my creative mind, it’s way better for me.

Come on, has somebody high ever hit a cop? No. But plenty of drunk people have taken that risk. It’s just a better trip. I’m grateful that its finally become legal in so many places. Smoking weed makes people lazy, but I don’t think it’s a gateway drug or destroys families as alcohol does. Drunk people get out of control. Folks who are high just want to kick back, chill, listen to some music and eat some snacks.

Which one is better?

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You can check out my books here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

Tales of Rock – Hard Days Night and Beyond

I once heard Sting from the band The Police say, “When I saw Hard Days Night I wanted to be a rockstar. When I saw Jimi Hendrix  wanted to be a musician.”

That sounds dumb to me because when I saw Hard Days Night I wanted to be a rockstar, and when I saw and heard Jimi Hendrix I still wanted to be a rockstar. I knew if I could just figure out how to play the guitar one day I could be a rockstar. I never wanted to be a guitarist that could shred a bunch of notes on the neck like a typist, I just wanted to write good songs and be a rockstar and live that life.

When I was young, I saw Hard Days Night on TV. I absolutely loved it. I fell in love with The Beatles and even though I preferred more aggressive rock music like Steppenwolf, I totally got what the greatest composers of the 20th century were doing with The Beatles. Paul was the driving force, but I liked John better because he was the cool one and the funnier of the two.

You couldn’t rent or download any movies back in the 70s. The technology simply didn’t exist. You had to tune into a specific channel on a certain night and time if you wanted to see anything. But I was probably 16 the second time I saw Hard Days Night. I loved it all over again and appreciated it even more as a landmark film that depicted the Beatles beautifully. They are all so young in it and you can see they’re really enjoying themselves after toiling away as a band in the clubs for over 8 years before they made it big.

I had a cassette tape recorder that my dad had given me and I set it for record on a little snack table next to the TV. I recorded the whole movie’s audio track that evening. Now I could go back and listen to the entire movie anytime I wanted. But like all of my Bill Cosby and George Carlin records I listened to, I learned all the dialogue and songs. So I could sit in art class at Frankford High and recite Beatles bits to my classmates. I would even do all of the accents and everything. It was a riot and I delighted my friends with my comedy bits.

I later owned the film on DVD but it just wasn’t the same as seeing it as a teenager and absorbing the magic of the movie in my mind. I recently watched the Peter Jackson film, Get Back on Disney+. I had heard about it and knew that it was something Peter had been working on for a long time. He took hours and hours of film and audio from the sessions from 1969 and created a concise picture of where the band was at the time. It’s in 3 parts because it’s so massive but it’s brilliant.

For the first time in my life, I felt like I was so close to the Beatles. The 4 guys as a band and as best friends. Working out the songs for Abbey Road and Let It Be in a recording space in the basement of the Apple Records building. It’s a long film and for most people, I think it’ll be boring, but for me, it’s absolutely captivating. You can actually see how the songs are created and composed right there live. It’s amazing to see John and Paul create these songs and you know that the song is gorgeous and finished, but they’re not quite there yet. For the composer or musician, this film is like opening a box that’s been buried for 50 years and it’s filled with diamonds and gold.

If you love The Beatles and the writing and composing process of geniuses, this is definitely worth a watch. The guys aren’t even 30 years old yet in this film and they’ve already changed the world.


It took me a week to finish it because I watched it like I do everything else I like. In little bite-sized bits.

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Holiday Odyssey – Part 10

Booster – December 30, 2021

I walk down to my local Walgreens and inquire about getting a booster shot. The nice pharmacist, Gabrielle tells me I have to go onto Walgreens’ website, find a location, and schedule my shot. This seems like a bit of a pain but I need to get it done now, especially with the emergence of the highly contagious strain of covid called omicron. But before I leave I decide to use my powers on Gabrielle and give her a push.

Me: So it’s all booked up for shots here today?

Her: Yes.

Me: When people make these appointments do they always keep them?

Her: No. Sometimes we get a few no-shows.

Me: How about I give you a call tonight and see if anybody canceled?

Her: Umm… okay. Here’s my card, Charles.

Me: I’ll see you later.

I go home and make an appointment for the first available which is a week from now. But around 7pm I call Gabrielle and see what was happening. She says she’s waiting to hear from a few people but I should call back at 8pm but no later than ten after. I’m fine with that.

At 8pm I call the store and ask for the pharmacy.

Me: Hey Gaby, it’s Charles again. How are we looking?

Her: Come on down and we’ll get you boosted.

Me: See you in 10 minutes!

Sweet! My fatal charm and powers of negotiation have triumphed again!

I head down there and fill out the form. In a few minutes, she takes me back into a little room that I didn’t even know existed in the back of the store. We walk in and she closed the door, and I open my shirt revealing my left arm for the shot.

Me: I didn’t even know this little room existed back here.

Her: Well we don’t want you to disturb the customers when you start screaming…

Me: Wait… what?

Her: I’m kidding! You’ve been through this before.

Me: I like medical professionals with a sense of humor. Good bedside manner, Gabby.

I barely feel it and in a minute it’s done. She tells me to stay in the store for at least 10 minutes, and if I feel okay I can leave. Of course, I’m fine and off I go. I’m glad that’s done!

Xmas with daughter

With everything that’s been going on, there’s been no time for my daughter and me to sit down and exchange gifts. She’s got some things for me and I for her, but we’ve both been so busy with other people. I’m sure we’ll get to it soon. We don’t care about tradition or doing something on a specific date so we’ll probably get to it sometime in January.

My life has become so much more peaceful in the last couple of years and I love it. I’m happy just to write, work, cook my dinner, and watch my shows on Netflix at night. I thought the holidays would be quiet this year but they’ve been action-packed. I’m so grateful for my good health, and all of my friends and family and I think it’s been a fine year!

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You can check out my books here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

Holiday Odyssey – Part 9

Duncan – Sunday, December 26, 2021

I finish work and text Duncan. I tell him to meet me at Rosy’s Taco Bar at 4 pm. It’s a great spot over on 23rd and Walnut just outside the Rittenhouse bubble. I know the GM through the hardware store and he’s given me the drink hookup last time I was there with my friend James. I figure Duncan will enjoy the place and it’s something different to do.

I get there a little early and take a seat. My server is a 23 yr old chick who is cute and charming. Duncan arrives and joins me at the table. He’s also smitten with our charming server. It’s rare to get such great service and effervescence in hospitality staff anymore. The whole industry just seems a bit broken from covid.

Duncan insists we get nachos so I’m down. We both go with a couple of hot toddies to drink because it’s a little chilly out today. They serve them in a couple of mugs and they’re delicious.

Nachos always seem like too much food before the actual meal but I don’t care. (They were actually pretty good!) After that, we get a round of beers and I get the chicken tacos and Duncan gets some sort of corn-based platter.

Our conversation is lively as always and our server is absolutely wonderful. We tell her the only way we’d go to another place is if she were our server at each place. She laughs and tells us she’d come to hang with us if she didn’t have to work. Whether this is skilled hospitality or not, we appreciate the gesture. She tells us that in March she’d going to hike on the famous trail that goes from Mexico to Northern California. I’ve seen the film, Wild, with Reese Witherspoon which I found awful… but okay. It seems like a dangerous and arduous journey, but hey, do a lot of adventures while you’re young. I decide to follow her on Instagram so I can watch her make the trip.

After a couple of hours, we head out into the chilly December night. It’s Sunday, and covid is still doing its thing so with it being a holiday weekend, nobody’s really out. I was surprised to see how desolate the city looked. A lot of places were closed. Years ago, around the holidays and with everybody home, the bars would be swinging. But Duncan and I aren’t young anymore and neither of us drinks much so it was somewhat of a waste of time to walk around center city.

While strolling down 15th street, we’re accosted by these two young women. They tell us that their phones are dead, they’re from Jersey, they’ve been separated from their squad and they don’t know their way around the city. Years ago this would have been an opportunity for our two heroes, but now Duncan whips out a portable charger to help the girls and I start giving the directions with no thought of trying to get them to hang out with us. It never even entered either of our minds. We just wanted to help. I suppose we both now look like just a couple of clean-cut older gentlemen willing to help. Which I suppose we are.

They were both adorable. Duncan liked the little brunette and I the leggy blonde of course, but we didn’t even mention this to each other until we’d powered up their phones and sent them safely in the right direction. Just a couple of aging superheroes in our secret identities helping the fine citizens in the city.

We end up going to Marathon Grill over on 19th and Spruce. The place is dead and I’m still stuffed from Rosy’s Taco Bar. I get a glass of chardonnay and Duncan gets an iced tea and a chocolate chip cookie. Long gone are the two wild men that used to go to rock concerts like AC/DC. Judas Priest and Iron Maiden then hit the streets to get even drunker. Now we’re just two old friends chatting at a lonely table in a quiet diner.

This suits me just fine and I’m so glad Duncan came to Philly and spent some time with me. We’ve been pals for 25 years and have a rich history together.

And for that… I’m grateful.

The Guitar lady returns – December 27th

The contractor/musician lady comes into the hardware store again. She checks in with me to see if I’m still interested in hanging out with her and that I should text her. I apologize to her for not reaching out and tell her I’ll text her that night. A couple of the guys are there in the store and they hear this exchange after she leaves they tell me that it sounds like she likes me. Well, we’ll have to see what happens. Now that I think I may be positive for omicron I have to be careful. I’m not worried, I just don’t want to infect anyone else.

That night I text her when I get home from work. I hear nothing back from her. I mean, she seemed a little flakey in the store but who knows what’s going on with people over the holidays.

The next day I was off and decided to just give her a call. She answers and says she’s been under the weather since getting her flu shot and her booster on the same day! I can understand how those shots knock most people for a loop. I should probably get my booster soon! We chat a bit and she tells me she’ll text me later if she’s feeling better.

She does text me later but says she’s giving me a raincheck on playing guitar together or hanging out. I’m fine with it. She knows where I work and if she wants to get together she can come find me.

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You can check out my books here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

Holiday Odyssey – Part 8

Bonding through Hardware – December 24, 2021

I was at work talking to the general manager and he showed me this local website where you could buy books. He said the owner was a client of ours. If you purchased books through this website it kept the money local and helped out our client. He said it was a great resource for books. I asked him if maybe my books were on there. We put in my name and sure enough, there were all six of my published books! So cool. I love seeing my stuff everywhere.

He told me that the guy had a little bookstore down on Sout street. I told him I had walked by there several times and always wanted to go in. He said I should go visit him and talk to him about doing a book signing and/or he could carry my books in his store and maybe even display them in the front window, which would be awesome. I’d love to see my books in a storefront window in a bookstore here in Philly. I tell him that the next time I’m off I’m going to take a walk down there and chat with him.

I then get a text from my friend James who tells me that he woke up the other day feeling achy. He says he went and got a covid test and it came back positive. Oh no…

I text him back that I’m fine. He’s relieved and says he’s be bummed if I somehow caught it from him when we hung out the other night. I assure him that I’m fine.

But I’m not fine. I feel a little achy myself, have a slight headache, and have a dry cough. I think I may have caught omicron from him, but I couldn’t tell him. I didn’t want to hurt his feelings. I tell myself I may be being a bit of a hypochondriac and I’m probably fine. But it’s probably just me being paranoid as well as in denial. I tell no one.

I think back to when this whole pandemic began back in January 2020. I was feeling achy, and tired, and felt the onset of a cold coming on. This is before anything happened in this country. I was working at the restaurant back then and some of my co-workers were wondering if I was okay. I told them I felt okay, just a little run down. I think that’s when I first contracted delta before anyone knew what it was. My immune system knocked it out in about 3 days and it never went any further.

By March 2020, I was laid off from work and the world was getting covid. I got vaccinated in April and again in May and never had any symptoms. My immune system has always been robust so I wasn’t even worried. But you can’t be too careful, especially at my age.

No here it was 7 months later and I was due for my booster and I was experiencing the very same symptoms. I’m vaccinated and I was feeling fine but something was up. I had been out a lot over the last two weeks and came in close contact with dozens of people over that time. I probably got omicron.

One of our employees tested positive and has been in quarantine for over a week. Christmas day comes and goes. My Christmas already happened on the 18th when I saw my whole family. That was magic. My daughter has been busy with work and family functions on the other side of the river so I haven’t spent any time with her so that’s good.

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

You can check out my books here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

Holiday Odyssey – Part 7

These are events that took place in 2021

The Artist and Duncan – December 22

I was standing behind the counter at the hardware store and this gentleman walks in and start chatting with me. He seems just sightly nuts but not dangerous. He keeps saying he used to be homeless but isn’t anymore. He asks if I’ll move my mask so he can see my face so he can sketch me. He whips out his pad and pencil and goes to town. He calls me pretty boy and says he’s met me before. He seems a little familiar but I’ve met many characters in this city over the years. He isn’t causing any sort of harm or disruption in the store so I let him go. My fellow employees are enjoying this exchange so we let him do his thing. He’s telling me his story about how he used to draw people at the supermarket to get food and change in exchange for his drawings to survive when he was homeless. Of course, this strikes a chord with me as an artist myself and can imagine how hard his life has been over the years. I’m glad he’s okay now.

He ends up doing a nice rendering of me and gives me the drawing. He purchased a few small items and spent around $10. I take the money and give him his change. I then reach into my wallet and pull out $20 and hand it to him in exchange for his drawing of me. He’s surprised and grateful. An artist should be paid for his work and I’m happy to give him the cash for his sweet gesture. He leaves the store and I haven’t seen him since. But somehow I feel like he’ll be back in the store again someday soon.

I’m supposed to meet with my friend of 25 years, Duncan. The last time I saw him was back in 2019 when the Eagles were in the playoffs. We saw each other in 2018 when they won the Superbowl, but the last time was in 2019. It seems like a long time ago now. But you know how it is with close friends. You can not see each other for years and once you’re back together it’s like you were never apart. I love Duncan and I’m so glad we’ve been able to sustain this relationship for so many years.

(You can go to the Search Bar on this site and enter “Duncan” to read our past adventures!)

Duncan is visiting with his family for the holidays and he’s made some time to see me during the trip. He wants to meet up tonight for a fancy dinner so I’m game for that. I make a reservation at The Love on the corner of 18th and Sansom. It’s a classy place in the heart of Rittenhouse and home to a quiet vibe and American cuisine. I know Duncan probably doesn’t want anything too wild or exotic and I feel this will be perfect. I’ve never been there but the menu looks good and I’ve heard good things.

I finish work and stop at home to freshen up before heading up to the restaurant. The funny thing is, when I get there the hostess recognizes me from the city. I’m flattered and glad to see that she’s doing well. We have a bit of history that is somewhat colorful so if you put the name “JILL” in the SEARCH bar you’ll find some pretty crazy tales. Some of it is downright scandalous. You’ve been warned!

I say hello and she tells me my party is already seated. All I asked for in my reservation with Open Table was that I wanted a quiet spot. They’ve given me that and I’m happy. I see Duncan and he is looking sharp. I’ve missed him! It’s been 2 years! He stands up and we embrace. There’s nothing like the hug of a dear old friend. I am stupid happy to see him!

I start with my signature Manhattan and Duncan not being much of a drinker goes for a Cuba Libre.

We chat a bit and our server rolls over to the table. Duncan is reading the wine list and wants to order the cheese plate as an appetizer. I’m not a huge fan but who am I to complain? It’s a nice restaurant and it’s what my friend wants.

Here’s a pic:

Duncan must have been hungry because he ripped into that cheese plate with a vengeance. I dipped the french bread into the brie and it was lovely. But what I found odd was that they made two little mice out of cheese. I think the most bizarre part of this was their choice of animal to make a cute cheese thing out of. Come on… think about it. What is the one thing you never want to be associated with a restaurant?

Yea… rodents.

They look cute and are made of cheese as the little card shows, but the idea is off-putting. I’ve worked in hospitality and mice are the one thing you never want anyone to see or associate with your restaurant. We got a laugh about it, but instinctively neither of us touched the little mice!

Duncan says he’s into fine red wine now so I let him order whatever makes him happy. He gets an Italian red and looks at the price and says, “$100 for the bottle? That’s not too bad”. and orders it.

Okay. Whatever you want Duncan. I’m just happy to see you, dude.

I order the salmon and Duncan goes with the chicken. The dinner was sumptuous and the conversation lively. I’d be just as happy sitting in a sports bar or even a MacDonalds’s with my friend. This is another great night of an already surprisingly good holiday season!

The dinner is great and our server asks if we want dessert. Duncan says we do. I excuse myself to the restroom to hit my vape and take a break from all of the food. I just let him order whatever he wants. Normally I’d never eat like this now, but like  I said before… It’s the holidays and for these two weeks, all bets are off. I can get back into my disciplined life after the New Year.

When I return to the table there is some sort of magical blonde brownie and ice cream creation that is delectable. We devour that little desert like a couple of starving men. Just the idea of eating like this again is incredibly decadent to me but at this moment I love it!

The bill comes and of course, Duncan insists on paying. This has never been my intention but I’m surrounded by affluent friends. I can’t complain and I’m just happy they’re in my life for reasons money can’t buy. But it is all greatly appreciated.

We leave the restaurant and head east on Sansom. I figured we could stop at my old stomping ground Square 1682 just like old times. But it’s closed! I always have a backup plan for whenever when I’m out on the town in Philly, and tonight is no different. We keep moving and head over to Harp and Crown. Happily, they’re open but the place is pretty dead. We have no problem finding a seat at the bar and Duncan continues with his rum and cokes and I go with a glass of Chardonnay.

We chat a bit more and both get into fits of laughter reminiscing about our times working together at the bank back in the 90s and exchanging funny stories. The holidays are going so much better than I imagined they would this year. I’ve been living a very quiet life in basic solitude for the last year and a half and here I am with pretty much something to do and someone to see every other day for these last two weeks of the year!

With the recent surge in omicron cases (super contagious but not fatal) the city is pretty empty regarding nightlife. So after an hour or so they’re ready to close it up for the night. I put Duncan in a Lyft and send him back to his hotel. I think we’re both ready for a bit of rest before he has to go spend Christmas with his family. But we vow that we’ll meet up again on the Sunday after Christmas to hang out one more time before he returns home to North Carolina.

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

You can check out my books here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

Holiday Odyssey – Part 6

This series is a review of last year’s holiday season

Hollywood Happy Hour – December 21st, 2021

I get a text from James (talent agency friend) that the only night we can hang out before Christmas and exchange presents and have cocktails is tonight, so I’m down. I’m off on Tuesday, so tonight is perfect. I’m still riding the happy wave from seeing my family and recently getting a raise.

I work my shift at the store and then head home at 6 pm. I clean up and change into my usual cocktail character/nightlife guy. I head up to AKA Bar at the corner of 18th and Walnut at the edge of Rittenhouse Square Park.

I arrive and he’s already there sitting at a table by the window with a pile of wrapped presents. I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed because he’s so hard to buy for and so far I’ve only received in the mail one of the many gifts I got him this year. I left it at home because when we meet up we end up back at my house near the end of the night.

I’ve been sober with this new lifestyle for over 80 days, but it’s the holidays and I want to share some delicious well-crafted cocktails with my friend tonight. I’ll partake but also drink plenty of water.

I’m happy to have some one-on-one time with him after only seeing him briefly at his massive party aboard the Moshulu last week. We discuss the party, the people, and what the party could look like next year. He tells me he’s going on a cruise in about a week for his 35th birthday, and I think that’s great.

He sort of broke up with his girlfriend of 8 years last summer but they never really broke up. I would say they just took a break or something. They’re still together but she no longer lives with him. To me, it’s just extending the inevitable. They either break up for real and end it and maybe remain friends if that’s possible, or they decide to throw in the towel and just get married. I’m sure that’s what she wants but at this point, James doesn’t have any idea what he wants. It’s none of my business and I’m just happy to have him in my life. He’s a very successful businessman and his talent company hasn’t suffered through any changes in his personal life, so more power to him. He’ll figure it out.

The cocktails are great and the ones I pick are sumptuous. The secret to enjoying vice is to only partake in it in very small doses on rare occasions. You just enjoy it more. It’s so easy to want to have a drink at the end of every day but it quickly loses its luster. The key is moderation. All the things you love should be treats, not a daily obsession.

The place is quiet and we get a chance to talk. While we’re there, I get an email from my editor. I go to the bathroom to hit my vape and read the email. She asks me if I want a quick and dirty post that was due in 2 days. 1000 words, $100. It’s been a super lean month, so of course, I jump at the opportunity. That’s a huge positive.

We close out our tab and James insists on paying. “Company card, a business expense,” he says.

I’m getting hooked up this year. Everyone’s been so good to me. We decided we’d like to stay out a bit longer and need to get something to eat. I suggest Cavanaugh’s over on Sansom because the food’s good and they stay open until all hours of the night. A lot of the nicer restaurants close early these days but not the sports bars. They’re back to staying open until 2 am every night. I feel for the people who can still live and work in jobs like this. It’s a grinding profession.

We get there and it’s not too crowded. It’s Monday night, but Cavs is always a good time. I’m hungry, it’s the holiday, and I’m with my dear friend so all bets are off regarding my diet. This will be a rare treat. James orders the french dip and I go with buffalo chicken nuggets and fries. This is glorious. I haven’t had a french fry since July. The food is amazing, (probably average but I can’t tell!) and we’re having a good time. I’m sipping a whiskey club and he’s enjoying an IPA. After an hour or so we decide to head back to my place.

We get there and James chats with my daughter for a bit and then we head back into my room. I always have a little chair and table set up for him so he can sit, have a drink, and have a snack. It’s time to break out the presents. I think next year we need to cut this back. It’s just too much. I’m going to tell him I’m going to change it to only one gift next year. It’s too hard to shop for everybody and it’s a lot of money going out on stuff. But I’m pleased with what he got me.

He got me these cute little fridge magnets that look like mini VHS boxes for movies. Adorable! He also got me this whiskey system where you have different flavored wood chips you burn and then place a glass over it until it goes out and then pour the booze into the glass, and it gives it a smokey flavor. Cool, but I don’t know when I’ll ever use it. Another cool thing he gave me this year was a unique candle. He knows I like candles, so he came up with something I never expected.

How amazing is that? A candle that when burned will recreate the smell of going to the local Blockbuster with my daughter on a Friday night to get some movies for the weekend! I can’t even believe someone came up with this idea for a candle, but why not? I can’t wait to burn this little guy!

He also got me this nice bottle of rye! I don’t drink that much anymore but I’ll add it to the collection for sure!

Resurgent Straight Rye Whiskey 750ml

I hope the gifts I got him are up to snuff like these amazing presents. But this is too much and too nice for me. We need to scale it back next year… big time! But I’m very grateful!

I hope he likes the stuff I got him. His birthday is also coming up any day now so it looks like it’s going to be a Xmas/birthday when I see him next time. He says he’s going away on a cruise soon, and won’t be back for a while but with the recent surge in omicron, I fear his cruise will be canceled.

We stayed up late chatting, and the time always flies by when I’m with James because our conversations are lively. He’s a great friend and I love spending time with him. Around 2 am he calls for a Lyft and off he goes. I hope I see him sooner than later in the new year!

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

You can check out my books here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

Holiday Odyssey – Part 5

This series is a review of last year’s holiday season

Family Party – December 18th, 2021

My daughter offered to drive me to my sister’s house for the annual holiday party. They have it every year and it’s always a lovely affair where I get to see what’s left of my family. I consider this party to be my Christmas day. It’s about family, food, fun, and just us being together, and it’s as close as I can get to how Christmas felt as a kid.

But if I let my lovely daughter and her boyfriend drive me down there I’ll lose control of the situation. I’m stuck to their schedule and they’re stuck with me. Like my father, I like to be on my schedule and run the whole program myself and not be beholden to anyone else. It’s the best way to do things.  I don’t want to have to wait for them to get themselves together, sit in the back of the car, wait while they make stops, get coffee, get lost, and be late. I’m not about any of those things. So I decline.

I get up early, shower, cook my breakfast, get dressed in my holiday finery, and head over to 30th street station on foot. It’s a warm cloudy day and I always enjoy a nice walk through the city.

I get there on my own time and get a chance to relax and wait in the massive terminal. The place isn’t too busy and the trains are all running on schedule. They always have an enormous Christmas tree decorated in the station and it looks lovely.

My train pulls into the terminal and I head down the stairs to the platform and board it. I find a nice quiet seat by myself and look out the window. The trip will take about an hour and a half from 30th street in Philly to the Absecon station down in South Jersey.

Normally my niece comes to the station and picks me up and takes me to the party, but this year I’ve made arrangements with my youngest sister to come and pick me up. I love this idea. We’ve been keeping in touch over the last year and have grown closer. I’m happy that she’s coming to get me because it’ll give us a chance to chat a bit before we get there.

I thought I might just listen to Christmas music on the train ride down, but I’ve heard all of those songs so many times I just can’t anymore. I decided to open my Netflix app and watch a few episodes of Seinfeld to pass the time. It worked! It’s a fast-paced, fun show and after about 3 episodes I was pulling into the Absecon station.

Of course, my sister is there in her Mercedes waiting for me as I disembark the train. I hop in her car and off we go. She tells me we have to make a stop and pick up a big tray of soft pretzel nuggets for the party. I’m fine with any part of this mission. We pull up and I hop out and put my mask on. I go in and give the nice lady the information and she hands me the tray. I charm her a bit and she tosses me a candy cane-shaped pretzel to munch in the car before the party. I thought that was sweet.

We get to the party and see the rest of my family. It’s always a joy. Two of my cousins arrive and I love seeing them as always. Last year we couldn’t have the party due to the pandemic but this year we’re all back. It’s been too long. The food is always the same and I love that kind of consistency. Hot roast beef and meatball sandwiches, little deli hoagies, tons of snacks, and delicious cookies abound. I sip club soda and make the rounds. It’s glorious. The time goes so fast. I love chatting with everyone and seeing how they’re all doing in their lives. Plus, my sisters always send me home with lots of goodies.

I’ve been on this lifestyle diet for over 5 months now but during the two weeks at Christmas and New Year, all bets are off. I don’t gorge myself on treats, but I will partake and get back into my disciplined lifestyle after the new year.

The party started at noon and runs until about 5 pm when people start to head out. My daughter and her boyfriend arrived around 2 pm. two hours late! Thank goodness I didn’t go with them!

The time flies by through the afternoon and it’s time to go. So I grab a bag of cookies, which consist of homemade chocolate chips and sugar cookies that my middle sister bakes every year. I’ll ration these amazing treats over the next few months and probably be still eating them as a rare snack through March. No one can believe that I can make treats last so long. Discipline, baby!

My little sister drives me to the train station and I wait for the train. I can see that she’s waiting in the parking lot to see that I get on okay, which I like. The train roars into the station as a light rain begins to fall. I board, and off I go. Back to episodes of Seinfeld to pass the time and I’m back in 30th street station before I know it. It’s not a cold day so I’m comfortable walking home to my house. I pack away my cookies to keep them fresh and pour myself 2 ounces of whiskey and reflect on my lovely day with my incredible family.

Holiday Surprises Abound – December 20, 2021

The writing assignments have been incredibly light for December. Normally they’ve been averaging around $800 a month. But at this point, I’m only at $80 which is my lowest month ever. I could use the money around Christmas but I’m not going to worry about it. I’m fine financially and have liquid funds I can pull from if necessary. I did have some concerns this month… Taking the 18th off to see my family, and losing Christmas day and New Year’s Day. That’s 3 days of no work and lost income. That’s a bit of a hit. Losing three days of income and only earning $80 in writing money was giving me some stress this holiday season. But I knew I’d be alright, and told myself not to worry about it.

I go to work on Monday and the minute I walk into the store the general manager tells me the owner is downstairs and wants to see me. I’m like… uh oh. what’s up now? I head downstairs to his office.

He’s sitting there and I take a seat. The conversation went something like this.

Him: “I know you’re normally off on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but Adam is off these next 2 weeks. Can you work the next two Thursdays to help cover his hours?”

Me: “Sure. I’d be happy to. That makes up for the hours I’ll lose on Christmas and New Year’s.”

Him: “Great. Oh, and I’m paying you for Christmas and New Year even though we’re closed.”

Me: “Oh really? Awesome. Thank you!”

Him: “You took the 18th off to go see your family right?”

Me: “Yes. I put it on the calendar and cleared it with the GM.”

Him: “I know. I’ve decided to pay you for that day too.”

Me: “Really? Thank you so much. This is great!”

Him: “Well, you’ve been here for 5 months now and you’re doing a great job. I appreciate that and I believe in investing in this place and the people who work here.”

Me: “I think that’s great, sir. I’m really happy here.”

Him: “I’m giving you a raise. It won’t be effective until the second pay period in January. Is that okay?”

Me: “That’s perfectly fine sir. Thank you!” (It was a substantial raise and I won’t have to rely too heavily on the writing stuff to meet my monthly obligations)

This is great news. Things are going well right now. I work part-time at a job that’s only a block and a half away from my house and now I’m getting a fat raise. I nearly skipped back upstairs and to the front of the store. Things are looking good for 2022!

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

You can check out my books here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

Holiday Odyssey – Part 4

This series is a review of last year’s holiday season

Moshulu party December 16th, 2021

Two days later my friend James, who owns the modeling and talent agency was having his annual holiday party at the Moshulu down on the waterfront. He wasn’t able to have it in 2020 for obvious reasons. But the day was upon us and I invited a bunch of people. This is a lovely event. You’re on the deck of a huge ship, they’ve enclosed it so it’s nice and warm despite the temperatures outside, it’s attended by dozens of hot actresses and models and it’s an open bar for 5 hours.

I’ve gone every year he’s held the party. It’s always been a good time and my daughter attended a few years ago. She didn’t want to go this year due to covid concerns. But I invited the usual cast of characters from my past here in center city. I was going to walk down there from my house which would have been 2 miles because it was an unseasonably warm evening. But I had worked at the store that day and figured it would be easier if I hopped in a Lyft.

There’s never any food at the event and they never check to see if you’ve bought a ticket or if anybody is vaccinated. A little concerning, but we’ll hope for the best. I cooked my dinner, dined at home like any other night, and then suited up and headed down. I knew I wasn’t going to be plowing cocktails into myself because I just don’t do that anymore, and I had to work the next day.

As I arrive in the Lyft I can see that there’s another party already there but they’re all exiting the boat to make way for the next event. My first thought was, “what happened? is it canceled already due to the recent surge of the omicron, or are they being thrown out for some other reason?” But it was just some other company’s holiday party wrapping up.

I move through the crowd wearing my mask and walk up the gangplank to enter the ship carrying my $20 unwrapped toy for some underprivileged child. The minute I tell the staff I’m here for the party a lady hands me a plastic cup of champagne and tells me to head upstairs.

I reach the top of the stairs and walk down a narrow hallway. I’m met by a gentleman who collects the gifts. I’m happy to hand the bag off to him and he takes it into a secure room. It seemed a bit off at first because the last time I was at this party all the gifts were out on a table where you could see them. But I later found out the reason they didn’t do that this year was because two years ago at the last Mosulu party, somebody stole some presents. Can you imagine that? What kind of scumbag steals Christmas presents meant for underprivileged children? But I try not to think about that to keep my mood positive.

The deck’s open because the weather’s been kind this evening. This is great because the year I went with my daughter back in 2018, it was cold out. Brutally cold. But here I was standing at the bar sipping a little pinot grigio packed with ice in a plastic cup.

I start chatting with a young guy who’s an actor. We’re talking and it comes up that I’m a writer and he says he’s written a screenplay. I ask him to tell me what it was about. From what he told me it’s a mix between Hot Tub Time Machine and Back to the Future. It sounds like a fun idea for a comedy but a bit of a retread, and I don’t think he’s thought through all of the details of the story. But he’s fun to talk to and it’s nice to be out at a holiday event. Some of his friends show up and I meet them, but I eventually move off because I’m bored.

I meet up with my friend James and he’s looking dapper as always. I never hang out with him at this party because he’s the CEO and is so busy hosting I don’t want to steal his time from others. I can hang out with him whenever I want. I get another glass of wine and head over to the bar. There is always a large group of people who go to events and then just park themselves at the bar. I mean… every time. Rather than get your free drink, tip the staff and move away so other people can order, they just clog the whole area like human cholesterol. So I move over to the side of the bar which is free of people and I can sip my wine and assess the situation.

I see James’ on-again-off-again girlfriend but she doesn’t see me. I also see her hot sister who I kind of love in a Phicklephilly way but decide to just hang over here and chill. To my left appears a smoking hot, raven-haired Ukrainian woman. Of course, we begin to chat because whenever I’m at these parties I always run the program.

I learn that she’s a photographer and loves art. She travels all of the time and I wonder how she affords that. We discuss photography, the industry, and art for a while but I find myself getting a little bored.

No one I know has arrived yet or maybe they’re not going to show due to the recent surge in the virus. Probably a smart move. I wonder about it as I head to the back of the room occasionally to hit my vape. The crowd seems a bit light this year.

I get a text from my friend Alice and she asks if it’s still on. I tell her that it is. She tells me she’s heading down. Well, at least there will be one person I know here. I’ve run into her a few times in the last 6 months so I figured I’d invite her even though it was radio silence from her for the last year and a half during the pandemic.

I realized that many of the pretty people I hung out with over the period from 2012 to 2019 weren’t really my friends, they were simply happy hour buddies. Once all the fun events, free drinks, and snacks dried up they scattered like dried leaves on an autumn day.

Alice is a sweet girl who loves her grandpop, her nephew, her mom, and going to church. I met her when she was 22 when she got me the gig at the happy hour website and now she’s 30 years old. So we have some history. She’s a good person with a good heart who’s driven to succeed and build her business. She hadn’t found love in her 20s but it’ll probably happen in her 30s. I know she’s no stranger to dating but hasn’t been able to land and keep a man.

A little time goes by and she texts me again to say that she’s arrived. Now, this party is filled with beautiful people. Actors, models, and industry people. It’s a glamorous event. Everybody looks sharp and it’s a fun party. I think of Alice as a conservative church-going lady, but I’m sure she’ll know that it’s a formal event and she’ll wear something nice.

She appears and begins to approach me. I see a nice red blazer and matching slacks. seems holiday and party appropriate. But then I realize something else I wasn’t expecting.

Yea… she has no bra or even a blouse of any kind on.

I know Alice is always late to everything which confounds my mind but was she in such a hurry to get to the event tonight that she forgot to put on a shirt?

I’m kidding, but it was a bold move on her part. No one at the party was dressed like this. Of course, it garnered her a huge amount of attention from men and women but it was all in good fun. It was nice to see her and fun to hang with her after all of this time.

I vowed that I would only stay until 11 pm, but I ended up staying a bit later. I think Alice ended up hanging out with a guy who she already knew that was at the party. He looked like Clark Kent. I didn’t care. I was just there to see my friend and have a few free wines and get some photos.

I had an okay time but sadly most of the people I invited stayed away that night. I feel like the party has become a bit much for James, and he said he may just do 2 smaller parties next year. One in NYC and one in Philly and be done with it. I think it’s just become too costly and overblown as an event. Plus, attendance was way down this year.

I got home safely and was fine to work the next day because I ate before the event and took it easy on the wine all night. I knew I would be fine because I just don’t party like I used to. I’m getting too old for any of this nonsense anyway. I know I shouldn’t be like Ebenezer talking like this, but I probably don’t belong to these sorts of things anymore. It all just seems like a super spreader event anyway.

But the holidays are still rolling forward and I’ll be at my next event in a couple of days.

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

You can check out my books here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

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