Lily – Nice To Meet You? – Chapter 1

Oh, lovely Lily.  You came into the salon to tan. We have to be careful with you. We can’t just throw you into a 12 minute sun bed and over expose you. You’re unique and special. We need to be gentle with you.

Who are you lovely Lily? We’ll tan you for whatever reason you need to but you seem illusive and reserved.

I’m so happy I met you. I told you I write a blog and want to tell your story. I look forward to crushing wine or beer and cigarettes at McGlincheys with you.

I believe you could become a series in this blog. Your story is so unique I feel everyday I want to meet you for a drink.

I have no interest in exploiting you Lily. I just want to tell your story.

 

We were supposed to meet the week before, but she got really stressed out at work because her job is really demanding. She broke out in hives on her face and didn’t want to be seen in public. 

I get that. 

 

I wrote the above words about two months ago and I just confirmed with Lily that we are meeting for drinks tonight. I’ll finally get to know this enigmatic beauty. Technically it’s a Sun Story because I met her at the salon, but I’m getting to know her outside at a bar so I’m going to leave it as is.

I know she works in the medical field. But I feel like she’s into something else as well. So hopefully I’ll find out tonight.

I purposely didn’t order any food in for dinner tonight because I knew I’d be dining with Lily in a couple of hours. So I’m hungry.

I’m at the salon and I get a text from Lily an hour and a half before we’re supposed to meet that says the following:

“Would you be interested in a different restaurant? I actually just had Dan Dan on Sunday.”

I immediately text my buddy Roman over at Square 1682. “Are you at Square?”

“Damn right.”

I text Lily back. “Meet me at Square 1682.”

“Perfect.”

I’m happy about this change of venue. I didn’t really feel like going to Dan Dan anyway. Now I can see my favorite bartender in the city.

I get to Square at 8:15. Got to be punctual. Maybe she’s already there.

Roman is happy to see me and shakes my hand. He places a fresh glass of Chardonnay in front of me with a side of ice.

My man.

All good. I’m here early and looking forward to getting to know more about lovely Lily when she arrives. I’ll probably go with the burger and I may be able to crush it because I haven’t eaten since 2pm today.

“I liked the piece you did about McGlinchey’s in your blog. It was spot on.” (See: Why Philly Icon Bar McGlinchey’s May Never Be The Same) 

“Thank you, Roman!” I’m happy that he reads and subscribes to my blog. A busy beverage manager, bartender, husband and dad has time to check out my work.

I’m sipping my Chard and chilling at the bar. It’s a quiet night despite it being Restaurant Week here in Philly.

Restaurant Week happens twice a year I think. The spots that participate in it offer a few menu items for reduced rices. Three course meals for $35 each. That’s deadly for Philly.  You just can’t get that in this city at that price anywhere.

At 8:30 I text Lily that I’m at the bar.

I’m sipping and chatting with Roman and happy to be at my favorite bar in the city but only because of my favorite bartender. I don’t go out much anymore and it’s a treat to be here. I’m completely in my element here. The bar is elegant, dimly lit, and it almost feels like it’s date night here tonight. There are several couples coming and going at the bar.

I look to the end of the bar and hot latina server, Carla waves. I throw her the heart sign and she grabs it and presses it to her heart and smiles.

Ella is running around and waves as she cruises by me.

I’m home. I love this bar.

I haven’t heard back from Lily. I text her at 8:45: “Are you okay?”

I go out for a smoke. The cig tastes cool in the 30 degree night. I’m sure I’ll get a text from her cursing her UBER driver. It happens. My dear friend Alice is always classically late. I’m not worried. (See: Alice – The Cute Recruiter)

I go back in and Roman and I are chatting. I tell him I’m meeting a girl here tonight to interview her for the blog.

“Give her until 9pm. The half hour rule. Anything could have happened in this city.”

“I’ll call her at 9.”

“Good plan.”

I’m on my second glass of Chard and feeling fine. If nothing else, I’m in my favorite bar with my number one bartender. I’m only a few blocks from my house and it’s not freezing out.

I step away from the bar and go into the lobby of the hotel. I call Lily. It rings and rings and then her voicemail comes up. I leave a message:

“Hey Lily. Hope you’re okay. I’m at Square. Just checking to see if you’re alright. Call me back or text me.”

I go back to the bar. I know she said in a previous text that she would have to leave around 9:45 from our meeting. It is now 9:10. I tell Roman I want to close out.

I haven’t been stood up since the 90’s.

I’m not angry. There has to be a reason. This is a responsible woman with a real job.

I pay the bill and walk home.

I enter my apartment and am very happy to see my daughter Lorelei. (See: Lorelei – 1996 to Present – Father’s Day) She looks adorable. She has a new platinum pixie haircut. She looks like Tinkerbell.

I love that kid!

She’s watching The Dukes of Hazard on my flat screen on Netflix. The remake with Jessica Simpson. She says she’s never seen it. She liked Jessica when she was a kid. I was more than happy to buy her the poster for her room back in the day.

Image result for jessica simpson dukes of hazzard

 

The only reason for me to watch that retched film would be to see her with those slamin’ legs. The only way I could view that movie would be with the sound turned down and listening to Nine Inch Nails playing the song: “Closer.”

But I digress…

I’m in my room, sipping chardonnay and smoking a cig. I start writing this piece. The great thing about writing about your life is, even if it goes badly. You still get a story out of it.

Blog needs content. Feed the beast. Good or bad you still get a story out of it.

 

Wait! I just got a text from Lily!

 

What the hell happened? Tune in tomorrow!

 

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish everyday at 8am  & 12pm EST.

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Kaja – Monday… Sigh

I get a text on Sunday night. “Are we still on for Monday?” It’s Kaja. I just had lunch with her last Friday. (But she did close with the words, “When can I see you again?” with a hug and a kiss.)

I tell her I go to Cavanaugh’s Rittenhouse every Monday for lunch at 1pm. She agrees to meet me and it’s on. I get there around noon so I can do some work and edit the week’s blogs because I was so busy writing about her I forgot to do it. I really wanted to get her story down because it was so good. (See: Kaja – 2003 to Present – Out of the Blue)

She arrives at 12:45. I like that. To me, punctuality is imperative. She looks great as always. This is the most I’ve ever seen her in a small space of time. With Kaja it was always pop in, and then pop out for another two years. But what’s happened in the past year has changed everything for the better.

I hope for her sake it stays that way.

She tells me more about prison. She says the food you get the first few weeks is worse than they describe it in the movies. It’s small portions of gross looking and worse tasking grub you can imagine. So she was basically starving for a couple of weeks. Maybe that’s to weaken the prisoners at first.

After a few weeks you can apply for commissary. A prison commissary (commissary being a word taken out of context in such situations) or canteen is a store within a correctional facility, from which inmates may purchase products such as hygiene items, snacks, writing instruments, etc. Spices, including those packaged with instant ramen noodles, are a popular item due to the often bland nature of prison food. Typically inmates are not allowed to possess cash; instead, they make purchases through an account with funds from money contributed by friends, family members, etc., or earned as wages. Typically, prisons set a maximum limit of funds that can be spent by each inmate on commissary; in the U.S. federal system, it is $290 per month. It’s generally prohibited for inmates to trade items purchased on commissary. However, certain items tend to be used as currency. Cigarettes were a classic medium of exchange, but in the wake of prison tobacco bans, postage stamps have become a more common currency item, along with any inexpensive, popular item that has a round number price such as 25 or 50 cents. As prison budgets are cut in the USA, ramen has become a popular commodity to supplement food needs. Mylar foil packets of mackerel fish or “macks” are one such item. In 1930, the U.S. Department of Justice authorized and established a commissary at each federal institution. Some prison commissaries are staffed by government employees and inmates, while others have been completely privatized. Significant price markups are common in prison commissaries, although some prison systems set maximum markups; for instance, the Delaware Department of Correction has a 20% maximum markup. $100 million in purchases were made from Texas’ prison system alone in 2009. Prison commissary is a privilege that is often taken away for infractions.

She said once she had commissary she ate a bunch of food and a lot of it was carbs and sugary food. I think she just stuffed her sadness with chow. She said she ballooned up to 180 lbs. She’s 5’9″ so when she was a dancer she was 120 lbs. She says, “Too skinny.” I say, “Super hot.” But now she’s 140 lbs. and would like to lose a few more. I still think she looks good, but she’s right. She shouldn’t look like an Estonian matron by the time she’s 40.

She clarifies that she went in for two months and was released on bail. But had to go back in and serve seven more months for all the other infractions. I’m not clear on this but basically she did a total of nine months in the can.

She’s apparently living with this old guy who isn’t all there. I’m thinking she may have met him back in her stripper days. She doesn’t get into the details of how she knows him, but apparently he’s retired, bi-polar and not all there. He just sits around all day and chain smokes and watches TV. She hates it there because he’s nuts and she never knows what she’s coming home to. (That’s bi-polar for you!) Sadly, all of her clothes smell like filthy cigarette smoke.

 

Back in jail she was in a cell that was a  big room, three stone walls and the front is all bars. But she’s in there with 19 other women. It’s all bunks. So take 20 women that are in for different offenses, throw them together. They’re sad, they’re depressed, and they’re angry. Throw in some PMS…That’s a powder keg waiting to go off.

So she said there was all kinds of drama, fights, and even some romance. Classic women’s prison movie stuff.

We go on and off topic and I’m sure more will come out as we hang out. Like I said, I’m just glad she’s okay. We have a delicious lunch together and I tell her my Monday ritual here at Cav’s. She says she has some more things to do, and has to make a few call and will let me know if she can stick around. Either way is fine with me. As I get older I enjoy most people in small doses.

Kaja goes outside and makes a few calls.

I continue editing phicklephilly until she returns. I get the last one finished, just as she approaches the table. She is such and elegant woman with such good manners I wonder how she got into all of the trouble she has. But if she sticks around long enough, I may get the story. I’m okay even if I don’t.

Kaja tells me she has to go. Now worries. I’ll do some writing and sip a Manhattan in a few hours. She drops $25 on the bill and a hug later she’s gone.

While I’m sitting there I get an email from Cavanaugh’s. It said that “You really like us and we really, really like you so we’re giving a free drink of your choice on us.”  How brilliant is this small chain of sports bars? They must know I use their wifi every Monday and see that I’m a trackable regular. They sent me a reward for spending money there on a weekly basis. That’s the future of advertising!

I show the coupon to Karina and she says your drink is free. So when I walked out of Cav’s my bill was $10. Peanuts!  Karina is now my #1 favorite female bartender in the city. Killer hospitality!

I text Roman over at Square and ask him if he’s working, and if it’s busy. (See: Roman – 2012 to Present – Rock and Roll Bartender)

“I am and it’s not.”

I pack up and head over. Normally I would have just gone home but I want to charge up my devices and write some more pieces. I have so many right now. I thought I’d be dry by now and writing about my past more but there are a lot of things going on.

I get there and sit at the end of the bar. It’s quiet. I plug everything in and I’m typing away. Roman sets a glass of chardonnay down and a glass of monster ice cubes. I like ice in my wine. Old networking trick. Water it down, and nobody knows what it is you’re drinking. It waters it down and you can keep going without losing your shit like everybody around you.

Almost like a magnet, people I know start coming in. They’re stopping by and chatting and catching up. It’s lovely. Even a server I thought didn’t like me comes over to chat. She’s telling me how she has been with an older man for over five years because he really appreciates her and treats her well.  (Well done, sir! She’s 29!)

After an hour or so I crack off a couple of pieces and pack up. I had maybe three Chardonnay. My bill was $5.50.

Hookup city!

I pay cash, tip heavily, and head home. I’ve had a lovely day surrounded by good people. That’s my life now. I’m blessed to have gotten to this place.

I go home and chat with my buddy Church on the phone.  (See: Church – 2014 to Present – Brand Ambassador) Daughter Lorelei is over in Jersey at her boyfriend’s house. I have the place to myself tonight. I’m in the command center, (My chair and ottoman in front of my 50″ flat screen watching Netflix . I light a cig and pour myself another glass of Chardonnay.

UPDATE: Kaja is back to working as a stripper in New York City!

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day at 8am & 12pm EST.

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Kaja – Out of the Blue – Part 2

“Kaja says that she has to tell me something. But she needs a little courage. She orders a glass of chardonnay. What she’s about to tell me will shake me to my core…”

Kaja takes a healthy sip of her chardonnay.

“I just got out of prison two weeks ago.”

“What!”

She had been living in Delaware and went to jail for DUI charges in connection with a four-car crash along the 300 block of Spring Mill Road in Villanova back in December of 2016.

Lower Merion police said Kaja was intoxicated at the time of the collision. Police also identified her as being at fault for the crash.

One person was taken to an area hospital with leg and arm pain. Two of the cars had to be towed from the scene. Kaja’s minor child, who was also in the car at the time of the crash, was not injured.

She was arraigned and later released on bail. She had been charged with DUI, endangering the welfare of children, improper child restraint, speeding and other citations.

Police say this was her second DUI arrest in Lower Merion following a crash.

According to police, Kaja was arrested Oct. 22, 2007 for a head-on crash on Conshohocken State Road near Henry Lane. She later pleaded guilty to that offense. Police reported that she was given a sentence of three days to six months in the county prison. She was ordered to pay a fine and costs. She also sentenced to 2 years of probation.

I will note that this Kaja doesn’t fit the socially upwardly mobile mold of the two other Main Line DUI women that were busted for the same thing. Same area, similar age range, but Kaja is a repeat DUI offender.  At that time, she blew a 0.38 blood-alcohol content, nearly five times the legal limit.

Kaja was taken to Montgomery County Prison in lieu of $7,500 bail. According to an arrest warrant, an officer asked Kaja if she had been drinking and she stated, ‘Well, ya.’ Then, according to the warrant, when asked to submit to a field sobriety test, she responded by “stating she was ‘smashed’ and that she in no way should be operating a motor vehicle.”

One other driver in the crash was treated for injuries. Kaja’s 5-year-old son was not hurt, but police say he was not restrained in a child seat.

Court records show Kaja pleaded guilty to drunk driving and causing a serious injury crash following a 2007 accident.

She is the third mother charged with driving drunk and crashing her vehicle with her child in the backseat in the past four months in Lower Merion.

I will ask some of the same questions I asked before:

What has gone wrong here? How do families not know if someone is having issues? Do that many people really in this day and age routinely drive around comfortably numb? And who exactly let her get behind the wheel of a car? Who lets an intoxicated young mother get behind the wheel of a car with a child in the back seat?

Kaja is a repeat offender. With these new charges she went to jail. They reported that her ex husband has the child.  Except if she is a repeat offender, how is it she is allowed to drive anyone around, let alone drive herself?

I will say it again that to me this is an alarming issue. And with now multiple incidents (different women) to hit the news a couple of months apart, I will state again that I truly see this as an issue.

But if we’re honest, by varying degrees this is not a new issue. It’s just not one discussed in public as much as whispered down the lane.

Once again, I want to try to show these women compassion. But if I am brutally honest, with this one I am having a hard time doing so. Why? Because this woman seems to have “oops, done it again” and wow, when do you stop? When does the being a mother gene kick in?

Alcoholism is an awful disease. I have friends who have been “in the program” for years. Including now not so young moms. Some have been successful working their programs, others not so much.

I received a lot of off-line feedback from women who had experienced issues with alcohol and/or had been a child of one or more alcoholic parents. They thanked me for talking about it. And shared some heart wrenching stories of their own. I won’t betray those confidences, but I applaud them for being brave and dealing with it.

Some people with alcohol issues never hit the bottom to stop, some do. They have to want it. You have to want to get better.

So Kaja a young mother from the Main Line sat in jail for seven months unable to post bail. Somewhere, someone is undoubtedly trying to help her 5-year-old make sense of all of it. Can you imagine being that child? Accident, noise, mahem, sirens….mom being taken away in the back of a police car.

My heart aches for the children. The smallest and almost silent victims.

And no parent wants to judge another parent, but this is hard to wrap my head around. I guess at the end of the day I don’t get how you put the alcohol first, child last.

Here is hoping something good happens for this latest DUI incarceration. Kaja seemed like she was on a collision course of destruction given her past decisions and choices.

She could have killed quite a few people including herself and her child.

Her eyes are tearing up and I’m sitting there thinking about her in an orange jumpsuit sitting in jail for the last seven months. Sharing a big cell with a dozen other women sleeping in bunks. I think of the fear she must have had every day she was in there.

It was all over the news when it happened. But I don’t follow the news so I never saw it.

She’s only been out for two weeks! I’m shocked and amazed by this story. She said she’s gotten her Real Estate license and went to bartending school so she thinks she’ll do that. She’s living in an apartment in Manayunk, and her mother has been helping her financially.

Obviously she’s lost the privilege to drive for awhile. She’s also on probation and has to check in periodically with her parole officer.

I reached out to my friend Rocco, who works for Redfin Real Estate and told him that she has her license and if he could help her. He asked that she give him a call before he puts her in front of Human Resources.

I can ask around to see if she can get a bartending gig somewhere with my connections.

I pray that she’s come out on the other side of this having learned a valuable lesson.

Lunch is great and goes on until 2:30pm. We’ve really covered a lot of ground in our conversation. She even whipped out cash and paid her half of the bill. (Wow! Maybe she truly is reformed.)

“Why did you reach out to me, Kaja?”

“Because you’ve always been like a quiet port in the storm that was my life.”

“Thank you.”

“Why did you meet with for lunch today?”

“Two reasons. I’ve always been honest with you, dear. First, I always liked you. For the most part my time was always good with you. You were always sweet to me. Second, I do write a blog, and your life is certainly a doozy.” (I had told her previously about phicklephilly)

“Well just change my name.”

“I will not reveal your real identity in the blog, Kaja.”

“When can I see you again?”

I give her some days and times. She says maybe next Monday but we’ll figure it out through text as the day approaches.

Before we separate she hugs me and kisses me on the cheek. I do the same. Twelve years and here we are.

Tomorrow we’ll look at the law in PA about DUI. 

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish Monday through Friday at 8am & 12pm EST.

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Kaja – Out of the Blue – Part 1

I met Kaja back in 2003. She was 22 years old. She had called my office about getting some life insurance. Like most financial reps I went to meet with her at her apartment. I ring the bell and she comes to the door.

The young slender woman standing before me is what I have always described as an ethereal beauty. An exquisite fine boned, absolutely beautiful woman. She was born in Estonia where apparently all of the most beautiful people come from. At that moment she was probably one of most lovely women I had ever seen.

Kaja was very sweet and also had a little son. He was probably 4 or 5 years old so she must have had him young. Apparently things didn’t go with her baby daddy because they have to do pick up and drop offs at the local police precinct.

She also had a roommate who was a pretty dark-haired girl. I don’t remember her name. I think they worked together.

So I start the application process and of course the client has to be honest about all of their facts with their agent.

She goes on to tell me that she works as a dancer at Delilah’s Den. That’s the finest gentleman’s club in the city. She worked a few nights a week and earned around $15,000 a month! That’s crazy money for a 22-year-old girl.

It’s also a high risk business. So I didn’t know if I could get the policy approved. But I was good and I figured I’d find a way for this single mother. Oh, don’t ever say “I support single mothers” to a stripper when she’s working. You’ll get your ass kicked.

So everything went fine and we eventually closed the deal. I remember me bringing a little toy to her son and she gave me a book about Estonia. It was a nice business relationship. I liked that she was a very sweet and kind woman even though she worked in a tough industry. I liked that I knew her outside her business and never went to where she worked. Discretion with my clients is paramount.

Through the years we always kept in touch. We never really hung out together. It would be more like a visit. We would meet at her apartment for tea and just chat and catch up on what was going on in our lives. This would go on for years. But there were years I didn’t see or hear from her. Sometimes I thought each time would be the last.

I think she kept in touch with me because even though I wasn’t ever part of her chaotic world, she could trust me. She worked in an industry that makes the women who dance start to resent or even hate men. They meet a lot of married guys and even local public figures who act like total slobs and perverts. That can mess with your head.

She would text me on facebook or call me on the phone and we would meet somewhere. One time we met and just strolled around Rittenhouse park. Then I wouldn’t see her for a year or so. It’s been a unique friendship. But someone you really make a solid connection with you don’t need to see all the time. I haven’t seen my friend James in a few years but when I do, It’ll be like when we were like teenagers. I don’t need to talk to someone or see someone all the time. If I like you and you text me that you want to meet up, I’ll set it up.

That’s how it’s been over the last twelve years for Kaja and me. I know she’s had her ups and downs but so have I.

I remember once she reached out to me and we met up for brunch at Square 1682. She drank Long Island ice teas and was getting buzzed. I unfortunately had to pay for everything. After brunch we are walking down the street and she wants to go to a gentleman’s club. I get us an UBER. We end up going to Cheerleaders strip club down on Delaware Avenue. She’s pushing strippers at me and giving me a hand massage. I’m drinking wine and she’s getting annoyed that her boyfriend is texting her.

She tells me that her boyfriend is coming to the club. I’m not worried because once jealous boyfriends meet me they see that I’m not a threat. So he shows up and he’s just your run of the mill douche bag. But he’s actually nice to me and is telling me about his business and buying me drinks.

I go to the bathroom and when I come out they are gone. They just stranded me down there. I really thought this was a dick move, but he’s weak and she’s drunk. I’m a big boy and I get a taxi back to Rittenhouse. I chalk it up to the alcohol and figure I won’t see her again. No big deal. It is what it is. I’ve been duped and used by worse people.

A year or so goes by and I get a text on Facebook messenger.

It’s Kaja.

“Good morning, friend! How have you been? It would be nice to catch up.”

“I’m good! How are you? I’d love to catch up.”

“I’m good, thanks! When can you pencil me in?”

“Next Monday? Do you still have the same number?”

(Provides a new phone number. I notice as I enter into my phone it’s the 3rd one she’s had in a few years.)

Now we’re texting and we set up a lunch for that Friday at noon at Misconduct at 18th and JFK blvd. That’s one of my go to spots. I text my friend Mary the hostess that I’d like to reserve table 12. (See: Mary – 2016 to Present – Unexpected table for two)

Thursday I get a text from Kaja asking if we are still on for Friday. I assure her that we are.

I get there on Friday, fifteen minutes before noon. I get a call from Kaja that she’s running about fifteen minutes late. No worries. Then she calls again and tells me she’s arrived and is looking for me. I get up from my table and walk to the hostess stand. I tell her where I am and I don’t see her.

“Do they have more than one location?”

“Yes. I’m at the one at 18th and JFK.” (I texted her this exact location the other day)

“Oh. The UBER driver took me to the wrong one. Is it within walking distance or should I cab it?”

“Take a taxi. It’ll take too long to walk here.”

“I pride myself on being punctual. I’m so sorry I’m late.”

“No worries, Kaja. Just get here safely.”

Ten minutes go by and she arrives. It feels like a long time since I’d last seen her. She’s as beautiful as ever. Those luminous blue eyes still dazzle me. She hugs me and we take our seats at my table. We’ve got time and we’re going to be here for the next two and a half hours. I tell her all the stuff I’m doing and we order our food. I of course get my go to chicken tenders and she goes with the mac n cheese with chicken and peppers.

Kaja says that she has to tell me something. But she needs a little courage. She orders a glass of chardonnay. What she’s about to tell me will shake me to my core…

Tune in again tomorrow for the thrilling conclusion!

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day at 8am & 12pm EST.

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Mary, Mia, Daphne, Alexa, & Carly. We Call It Wednesday

The reason the stock photo for this entry has several women in it is because I encountered so many lovely ladies today.

Wednesday I decide to eat lunch at Misconduct at 18th and JFK. I love the chicken tenders and my friend Mary works there. (See: Mary – 2016 to Present – Unexpected Table For Two) I take a small table by the door. It’s right against the wall across from the hostess stand so I can chat with Mary.

We catch up on what’s been happening in our lives and the tenders are delicious as always. The lunch rush is over around 2:30 and I’ve got my eye on the table in the corner. There are two guys there and they’re finishing up. Hot Mia is still going to be my server. She’s a cute little Latina girl who’s new.

The guys leave and I move over there. Now my back is to the wall in the corner and I can see the whole restaurant and bar. I can also plug in my laptop and phone and charge up for a bit while I work on some accounts.

3pm rolls around and Mia asks if I want anything else. I ask her for a Manhattan straight up with a side of ice. She delivers and it’s beautiful. I sip it and type away. I like restaurants at this time of day. It’s that lull between lunch and happy hour and I can chill in the quiet.

One of the servers that I’ve known since the Maria days, (See: Maria – 2016 to Present – Amor En Vano) Brianna comes over and gives me a hug. She’s a delicious baby with raven curls that tumble to her shoulders. A slender legged caramel skinned delight. (See: Daphne – 2015 to Present – Lovely Hostess – Part 2) 

It’s getting close to 4:30 and I have to meet up with my friend, Carla. (Another friend I’ve never written a post about, but she did appear in the Epilogue of the Annabelle series)

I’ve chosen for us to meet at Tir Na Nog, the Irish pub over at 16th and Arch. My friend Johnny R. likes going there, because they get all of the international soccer games on their TVs.  (See: Johnny R. – 2011 to Present -Needle in the Groove) I’m not a huge fan of the place because it gets noisy, it’s busy, and it’s usually a sausagefest. I’m not a sports fan either so it’s a no for me.

But… hot Alexa works there as a bartender tonight! (See: Alexa – 2016 to Present – The New Hookup) She’s the girl that comes into the salon and told me to come in when she’s working and she would give me free drinks and I would just tip her. I need more hookups around the city. I have four now. So let’s see if she follows through.

I get my bill at Misconduct and the Manhattans were only $7 a piece. That’s cheap.

I get to Tir Na Nog and the bar is packed and noisy. I hate this place. I find a seat at the end of the bar next to the wall. Alexa sees me.

“Hey there! you came in! What can I get you?”

“Manhattan, please.”

“What kind of whiskey do you want?”

“I don’t care.”

“I’ll give you Bulliet.”

“Nice! Thanks!”

She brings it and it has a cherry and a rind of lemon in it. I can’t say anything because I didn’t tell her how I like it, I just hope it’s free. Carla arrives and I’m happy to see her. It’s probably been a year. She orders a beer and I introduce her to Alexa.

We catch up and I give her all the news. She’s the marketing director for a major restaurant chain here in the city. It’s a big job and keeps her plenty busy. If I hadn’t reached out to her I probably wouldn’t have heard from her again. Maybe?

I notice she is very chatty. Almost too much. I like Carly and she is one of the normal women I know. That’s why I kept her around. I’ve cut out all of the crazies from my life. I tell her everything that’s going on with me and she says I seem more calm than I’ve ever been. She’s right.

I tell Alexa we are moving to Dan Dan (A Suezuan and Taiwanese place down the street) My friend Norm works there as a bartender and he says it’s always happy hour prices when I go there. I love the hook ups! I’ve had two Manhattans and Carla has had two beers. I ask Alexa how we proceed. Normally the bill should be $36 plus tip, so you’re looking at $44 all told.

“You’re all set.”

I throw down a twenty-dollar bill and Alexa smiles and grabs it.

“That’s it. We’re good. Thank you.”

And that was it. $40 worth of drinks for $20 and Alexa gets a $20 tip instead of a $7 tip. Hookups work as long as she doesn’t get caught. I think I like Tir na Nog again.

We’re both happy to be off and out of that place. We walk south on 16th and rush hour is in full force in the city. We get to Dan dan and Norm is there. He’s been away in Italy for 10 days and we’re happy he’s back. I think that’s a trend in the service industry. They work and make a chunk of money and then go travel somewhere to break from the stressful life of that industry. I think it’s pretty cool.

Carla and I order up some delicious noodles and pot stickers with some wine. It’s the perfect ending to a fun day surrounded by good people.

 

Oh… here’s a little bonus dating advice video I like. Enjoy!

 

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day at 8am & 12pm EST.

Instagram: @phicklephilly                 Facebook: phicklephilly

Innocence Lost

Early Grade School

I grew up on a street called Magee Street. It was a picturesque neighborhood of classic 50’s and 60’s lifestyle. All the dads kissed their wives goodbye in the morning and went off to work. All the wives stayed home and got the kids ready for school and then settled into housework and running errands. Most of the kids went to Lawndale school which was a public school and all of the Catholic kids went off to Presentation in nearby Lawncrest.

I remember being in the car with my dad one day and a kid named Mark Simpson was being pulled around in a wagon by his sister Linda. Only thing was, he had a cast on his leg.

“I always see that kid running out in the street all the time.”

“Well he’s not running now.”

“He got hit by a car. That’s why his leg is broken. He better watch out or he’ll get killed one day.”

I listened to my father’s words and watched in silence as Linda pulled her little brother down the street until they vanished from sight.

We lived in a time of basic rules. Say Thank you. Respect your elders. Stay off of other people’s property. Look both ways before you cross the street.

We also lived in a time of no bicycle helmets. No one wore seat belts. (Some cars didn’t even have them.) No sunscreen. No organized sports for everybody. Children ran free to go anywhere unsupervised. Just be home in time for dinner. I played by the railroad tracks. We’d ride our bikes miles from our homes. We had no cell phones. We developed keen senses of direction and distance. Everyday we thought of new ways to have fun by putting ourselves in some sort of isolated danger.

But we were fine. Young people live by the “I” words. They don’t know it, but they do. Immune. Indestructible. Impotent. When you’re young you think you’ll live forever.

Grade School

I think I was in 4th Grade when I became a Safety.  You wear a little white belt like the kid in the picture above. You also get a nice shiny silver badge to pin on it. (My sharpest memory of being a Safety was when I was doing poorly in school and my father said he should rip that belt off me and beat me with it. Fucking piece of shit thing to say to a child. But he was a rage machine back then.

Your job is to stand on your designated corner and put your arms out and block the little kids from crossing the street until it’s safe. I don’t even know how I became a Safety. Maybe someone just elects you. Maybe they didn’t have enough kids who wanted the job. But each morning and afternoon, you’d go to your assigned corner and protect the little kids.

I remember one time I was holding a soft pretzel in my hand and I put my hands out to stop the little kids. As I was waiting for the traffic to clear one little kid on my right took a bite out of the pretzel in my hand in front of his face. Too cute!

Mark Simpson and I worked the same corners. We weren’t really friends, but he lived up the street from me. I think my sister Janice maybe sometimes hung out with Linda, but I’m not sure. I think Mark may have been a grade behind me. On cold mornings his mother would whip up a few thermoses of hot chocolate for the Safetys. We’d finish up getting all of the kids to school and then all head into an office in the school and sip hot cocoa together. A little warm repose and reward for keeping the little ones safe on their way to and from school.

Fels Junior High

I was in 8th grade. I remember walking down the hallway early one morning. The school was oddly quiet. My friend Jimmy Hunsinger comes around the corner and says the following words:

“Did you hear? Mark Simpson was coming home from chess club, and ran out in the street around a bus and got hit by a car.”

“Oh my God. Is he okay?”

“He’s dead.”

‘What?”

I just stood there frozen. My face, a grimace of mute protest.

You cannot process that kind of information when you’re a 12-year-old boy. Your friends can’t die. Kids don’t die. There must be some kind of mistake. What kind of horrible lie is this?

But it was true. He ran out in the street around a stopped bus, and a car coming by the bus on the left side took him out. Apparently the trauma to his head was so forceful that he was hemorrhaging from his brain and he died on the way to the hospital.

Word quickly spread throughout the school and the neighborhood.

I remember my friend Michael and I went to his funeral service. (Closed casket) Everyone was dressed up in suits and ties and girls were in their Sunday best. This kid named Paul Berger was standing to my left in the pew, and he was playing with the zipper on his jacket because he was obviously bored. I told him to knock it off and be still out of respect to our fallen comrade.

After the service the family came to us and thanked us for coming. I just remember Mark’s sister’s face was almost unrecognizable to me because of how scrunched up it was from crying nonstop. Her face soaked with tears as she hugged us both. We here alive and had been through a few scrapes of our own but nothing compared to this nightmare.

Later we went to the Simpson’s home to pay our respects. This is some grown up shit here. Death puts everything into perspective. Especially when a child dies.

What Michael and I found odd was that nobody really looked broken or sad there. It was like a forced family reunion over grim circumstances. Everybody was eating and drinking. Mrs. Simpson asked us if we wanted to go up to Mark’s room. I had never been in Mark’s room let alone this house before. Like I said, we didn’t really hang out together.

He had a typical young boy’s room. It was neat and clean with all sort of boy memorabilia about the room. It felt weird to be looking at his stuff and touch his things. I picked up a little model car he had made. I thought they should give all of this stuff away to other kids because Mark will never come home again.

But of course I didn’t say anything about it.

As darkness fell over the neighborhood in those days, the clouds soon clear and people go on with their lives. Kids playing and going to school and just normal everyday events happen. Life goes on. The world continues to turn and some of us are not in it anymore. Some day that day will come for me and everyone I know. But we all hope it comes in old age and asleep in our beds when death comes to scatter our days. Not as a child.

I suppose the biggest ironies of this story are: My dad’s black prophecy about Mark getting hit and killed by a car. Him being a Safety and protecting other little kids from getting hit my cars, and then darting out into the street and taken by that very thing.

 

 

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

Instagram: @phicklephilly    Facebook: phicklephilly

Church – Dedication and Inspiration

You’ve been through so much, but you’ve always been there for me.”

 ded·i·ca·tion
ˌdedəˈkāSH(ə)n/
noun
 
  1. the quality of being dedicated or committed to a task or purpose.
    “his dedication to his duties”
  2. commitmentapplicationdiligenceindustryresolveenthusiasmzeal, consciencentiousness, perseverancepersistencetenacitydrivestaying power;

I’ve been writing phicklephilly for over a year and a half now. I’m happy to be writing and creating again after 10 years of silence.

I thank the lovely lady that inspired it despite the extenuating circumstances. (See: My ABOUT page.)

Its been an amazing and cathartic journey, and I’ve really discovered for the first time in my life that if you write it down, you can come to terms with it. No matter what it is.

Well, it works for me.

I was hanging out with my buddy Church last Monday. That’s sort of our move each week. He drives into the city, finds parking, (Because he is the KING of finding parking) stops by the salon, then we head out for food and some social time.

I look forward to it every week.

We cover everything.

His work.

Mine.

Our lives.

Frustration.

Women.

Our goals, and whatever else we need to discuss.

Our #1 bartender in the city, Roman is at the helm making sure we’re happy at his bar. (See: Roman – Rock and Roll Bartender)

Church and I are chatting and swiping on online dating sites and laughing about the challenges of modern dating.

I’m pounding expensive Chardonnay for free and Church is sipping his beverage and devouring delicious calamari.

We’re talking about an encounter he had earlier, where he had the opportunity to spend some time with an attractive young lady for a bit.

Of course I’m full of praise and happy that he’s had a nice afternoon with a member of the opposite sex. (I saw her pics and she’s lovely)

I think this comes at a critical moment because when you read Monday’s post, you’ll see that after a year and a half of going on so many dates I’ve at last reached critical mass with a lovely lady that I’ve been dating for a while. (See: Cherie – Love at First Swipe)

Church and I are talking, exchanging ideas, and having our usual Monday night meeting when it suddenly hits me…

Phicklephilly needs to be more than just a collection of past and present relationship stories, Tales of Rock, and crazy dating encounters.

(Don’t worry fans and followers, I’m glad you continue to read and comment on my little adventures. All of that crazy shit will continue to happen. Don’t worry. There are so many more tales to tell!)

Buy things are getting real.

I’ve always thrown out the occasional Wednesday dating advice column, but I never took it seriously.  I looked at it as something else I could offer to help people, but it was never a serious part of this blog.

To be honest, my goal from the beginning was to write for myself and get everything out of my head. But trying to come up with quality, entertaining content on a consistent basis became job 1 for me as I moved forward on my journey as a writer.

This thunder-clap arrived last Monday night when I was on my third Chard with Church. 

It’s my duty as a writer not just to dedicate my time to telling MY story and documenting MY journey in life, but to offer some help and advice to my readers about dating and relationships in general based on my rich experience.

What to do?

The phicklephilly calendar is packed with content. How will I do it? How can I bring quality dating and relationship advice to my audience on a consistent basis?

I thought on this long and hard, until I reached a solution.

I’ve been showcasing my friend JAD’s blog every Saturday for the past year on phicklephilly. I love JAD’s work and she writes brilliant, heartfelt stories from her life. If I can meet her one day I would be truly honored.

But I’m out of space and I have to do this.

Here she is:

The date with no name!!

Read her stuff. It’s really wonderful. Follow her work.

But starting this Saturday, I will offer dating advice on a consistent basis.

EVERY DAY at NOON. (For the next 90 days, then we’ll settle into advice on Saturdays only)

You read that right. I’m going to bring fresh dating and relationship advice every day on phicklephilly.

I loved promoting JAD’s blog on my platform and I hope it’s garnered her more followers. (It’s certainly kept my weekend traffic up. (Thank you JAD! xoxo)

But since my Monday night with Church I’ve been brainstorming and creating every kind of dating advice my brain can muster.

My friend Church has once again been an inspiration to me. 

I wanted to keep JAD’s stories on here running every Saturday through 2020, but I need the space. I hope she understands and we’ll still be friends, but I have to do this.

I will continue to bring you all stories of my journey through dating, romance and love in Philadelphia.

Please join me on my journey into my musical career in the coming months.

My first band in Philly, then Wildwood, New Jersey and then Los Angeles. (Shit’s gonna get crazy. Crimes will be committed, others will be blamed)

There will always be Sun Stories about the salon and there are some coming up that will blow your mind!

I’ll always pepper my content with crazy dating stories from my past just to keep the content hot.

Phicklephilly has been such an incredible catharsis for me spiritually, emotionally and mentally. (Writing down your feelings really works, right?)

 

Thank you all again, and most of all to my dear friend Church. (read his stories on here. They’re SO good!)

Thank you for being in my life. I love you, man.

You’ve been through so much, but you’ve always been there for me.

I’ll always be there for you. (Just a text away!)

So from now on when you see me post at noon… That’s dedicated to you, Church. I always want to be helping.

I’ve been scrambling all week with phicklephilly. You think you have everything all laid out and scheduled, and then inspiration hits.

All of my cushy Saturday content has been covered for the last year is now gone. I am now faced with creating new Dating and Relationship content for every day going forward.

I did it, not knowing that it would tear a huge hole in the hull of my weekly posts.

What was once a full month of stories I could cruise and edit and work on new stories, has now become a nightmare. I’ve been writing new material and retooling phicklephilly for the past week since Monday. (I’ve always been an over achiever due to my low self-esteem, so let’s hope I can meet this workload with out the wheels coming off phicklephilly.)

I’ll tell you what… Realistically, I’ll attempt to do this every day for the next three months. If I see that it’s working, I’ll soldier forth, but if not I’ll relinquish dating and relationship advice to every Saturday. 

Fair enough?

This has all happened during our busy season at the salon and me with help of my staff are slaying it like bosses!

 

Monday will always be love and relationships. Sweet Cherie owns that for now. (As long as she stays in my life!) (See: Cherie- Love at first Swipe)

Tuesday through Thursday will be the usual content of crazy dates, Sun Stories, and my usual whimsy and obsessions)

Friday in 2018 will be owned by some very revealing, personal experiences, and my musical history. These stories have been an absolute joy for me to tell, and I hope you enjoy them with me.

Friday in 2019 will be the road map from my first band and how that shaped me, to the odyssey  to California to play rock in Hollywood in the early eighties.

Saturday will be dating advice at 8am starting in July.

I’ll keep it consistent in regard to the dating and relationship foundation of this blog, (That’s the phicklephilly brand) but I’m expanding as a writer. (Sadly, you’ll have to hear about my family. Kidding, Janice!)

There’s going to be stories that may seem unsettling at times, but they must be told.

I’m not going to hold anything back. 

That’s why I came here.

Finally.

And so did all of you.

Thank you.

Stay tuned!

Church…

Please embrace these three videos because they fucking rock.

Better days are coming!

See you Monday night, my friend!

 

 

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day at 8am & 12pm EST.

Facebook: phicklephilly                  Instagram@phicklephilly