The Wednesday before her 27th birthday arrives. The day before I had called my friend Keila, who is great at all things party and presents. I tell her my dilemma in regard to what I could get Cherie for her birthday. She offers some good suggestions.
I head to Starbucks. I get in line and ask the guy behind me what’s a good dollar amount for a gift card. He says go with $20 because Starbucks is expensive coffee. I get the card and then head to my next destination. I walk into the shops at Liberty Place. I know Cherie likes milk chocolate so I scope out a little something of that variety. The girl working is very nice and guides me to a little box of six different kinds of truffles. Looks perfect and I know Cherie will love it. Cherie isn’t expecting anything so it’ll make it even better when I surprise her. I ask the girl if she can wrap it up and she says she can put some fancy birthday ribbon on it. I pay for it and she puts it in a fancy Godiva gift bag with some nice tissue paper around it. She asks me if I want a little card and I agree. It’s blank, which I like. I always have to put my words in cards, none of that store-bought nonsense.
I move out to the center of the mall and sit at a quiet table. I have about 30 minutes to kill so I can get things set up. I write a little witty prose in the card and put her name on the envelope. I slide the Starbucks gift card under the ribbon. Now I’ve got a great little gift for my lady.
I head over to Misconduct restaurant at 18th and JFK Blvd. I’m early, and my favorite hostess is there. (See: Mary – Unexpected Table for Two) I tell her what I’m up to and she’s down. She says she’ll hold the gift under the hostess stand next to her purse and we’ll use a code phrase when I want her to bring it to the table. She also reserves my favorite table, #12.
Cherie is texting me that she’s leaving Temple University. I know it’s going to be a nightmare for her to get down here and park. Septa has recently gone on strike again, and that always causes a great deal of major problems for the city and it’s commuters. There’ll be heavier traffic, little parking on the streets, and full parking lots. I recently spoke with an UBER driver, assuming they would be killing it during the strike, but he said no. There are so many more cars on the streets because everybody has to drive in to the city, that they aren’t getting enough fares fast enough to break even. So even the alternative taxi services are screwed when Septa strikes.
Lunch is at 12:30 but I know that Cherie won’t make it until after 1:00pm with all of this nonsense going on. I’m sitting at my table, sipping my water, looking at my phone, and chatting with the staff. I have my little surprise gift hidden and I don’t care how long it takes her to get down here, I’m just happy I’m going to see her.
She’s texting me and getting frustrated. She doesn’t want to be late, but I assure her I understand and to just be safe. She finally finds parking and says she’ll be there shortly. The server jokes that she thinks I’ve been stood up, or this is all just a lie so I could come in and chat with her and the hostess.
“You work for tips, right?”
Cherie arrives. She looks lovely. Custom fit black leather jacket over what appears to be a burgundy top that is low-cut in the front. As she approaches the table, I stand. Her skirt is short and grey. She is wearing black leather ankle boots. That combination showcases her shapely legs. We hug, but avoid the PDA. (Public Display of Affection) She apologizes for being late and compliments me on my patience as always. I really don’t mind waiting for her. I know she comes from a great distance most of the time. Septa has screwed up the city, and finding parking in center city is brutal. It’s not that she’s recklessly late every time. There are just extenuating circumstances that she’s constantly up against to see me.
So baby gets a pass.
She orders some crazy Cowboy Burger that I’ve never ordered and I get my usual Chicken tenders and a little bowl of mac and cheese to share.
Lunch is lovely, and the conversation and laughter are lively. The staff is on point, and the food is great as always. We get the check, and I give them my card. When the server brings it back for me to sign, I give them the code phrase. “Can you tell me when tea time is?” I didn’t come up with this line, the hostess did. She comes over and places the Godiva bag down on the table. Cherie seems really surprised.
“Happy Birthday, Cher. I know you said you didn’t want anything but me for your birthday, but I had to get you a little something.”
“What’s this? You’re so sweet!” She exclaims. She’s looking at the candy and Starbucks card, but then goes for the little card with her name on it. Opening it quickly she reads it, and starts smiling. It reads:
“Cherie, You’re hot like coffee, but sweet like chocolate” Love, Me XO”
“Thank you so much. You didn’t have to do this.” She’s holding the little card. “I like this…”
We leave the restaurant. We’ve been there for about two hours. Her car is parked all the way down at 20th and Bainbridge. A little bit of a hike from Misconduct. She made better time than I thought. We get to the Saab and hop in. Her skirt is riding up a little. Her thighs are tantalizing. Some kissing ensues. But like I said, it’s still light out, and people are walking by, some with strollers. Her window is open, so if I’m smooching her, and I see someone with kids or a stroller approaching in the rearview mirror, I start talking about church or some bible reference. Hoping they see that we are just good christians having a heartfelt conversation about God. But once they are past, I’m back at her.
We both realize, this whole making out in the car is an invitation to the C-Blockers. We know where this relationship is heading like a speeding train. It’s inevitable. Then I get an idea. I tell her to drive. We go a few blocks east and I have her hang a left.
“When you see a parking spot anywhere up here just hop in it.” We find one right in front of a restaurant. Perfect.
“Where are we going?”
“You’ll see. Trust me. You’ll like it.”
It’s getting dark now. I take her to the tanning salon. We walk up the stairs, but instead of going in, we throw a left and open a door to the space in the front of the building that’s unlocked and un-rented This is the spot where Achilles and I were going to open our spin bike gym. It should have been open for three months by now, but the owner decided to sell the building. That put everything on hold. Sadly, the space still remains empty. The one whole wall is glass from floor to ceiling. Great view of the night street below. People are bustling by and the street is filled with angry motorists, blowing their horns and gridlocked because of the Septa strike. The space is quiet and if feels safe above the street. I kill the ceiling fans, and throw the switch to turn off the overhead lights. Now the space is dark. There’s a leather love seat by the window. I push it across the hardwood floor to the back corner. There’s no way anyone can see us from the street. I text my co-worker and friend, Trish, (See: Trish – The She Wolf) who is next door working at the salon that I am in the empty space out front. I decide it’s better if I stop over with Cherie, and make an appearance.
We go next door. Trish is happy to see us. I introduce Cherie to Trish, and I can see they are hitting it off. I tell Trish that we don’t want to sit in a bar somewhere, so we’re just going to be next door enjoying the view and chilling. We go back to our leather love seat next door. I lock the door behind us. So no one can see us coming to the salon and no one can see us from the street.
The romance ensues. It’s such a great space. if someone said to me a year ago, that I’d be not only working at this salon, but I’d be next door in the space where I was supposed to open a spin bike gym, making out with a beautiful young woman, I’d think they were nuts. But here we were. It all felt so illicit. I knew we weren’t doing anything wrong. The space is empty, it’s 7pm at night, no one can see us, and my buddy Trish knows we’re there.
I have vowed to try to keep these stories PG-13, but the limits are slowly being pushed into R rated territory. I don’t know how I can continue to write this story about Cherie, without including some sort of 18+ warning. But maybe I can share a few things that were said over the next hour or so. (Or I will at least embellish so you get it.)
Cherie: “I like your new jeans. Have you tested the zipper enough?”
Me: What? Ohhhhh…. Who are you, Monica Lewinski?
Me: “Okay, so the top you’re wearing is just a one piece jumpsuit? Do you have to take the whole thing down to use the restroom?”
Cherie: “No. There are two snaps right here at the bottom, see?” *Snap! *Snap!
Me: “So from the eyebrows down…no hair?”
Cherie: “Oh my God… You’re incredible. That feels amazing!
You get the picture. It was just a little preview for the coming days, so to speak. It was like we had been shopping for a car for the last few dates. We took a couple out for a little test drive that night, and were ready to make a purchase the next time we we’re together. It was simply inevitable. We literally couldn’t take it anymore. The great thing was. She’s not much of a drinker, so after all of our dates, I have never had one drop of alcohol or smoked a cigarette around her. I don’t mind, because when I’m with Cherie, I want for nothing but her and her alone. It feels great.
So after that bit of third base activity, we decide to get out of there. I walk her to her car and kiss her goodnight. I’m only a few blocks from my house so I head home. It feels nice to walk in the cool October night and reflect on our passion. Cherie said she wants me for her birthday and I want to grant her wish. I just need to figure where and how I can make that happen.
Cherie and I have reached critical mass and something has to be done.
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