The Four Types of Love Addiction

“Romantic love is heavily associated with the same regions of the brain as drug addiction.”

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I feel like this is one of my most personal and powerful reveals. I’ve done extensive research on this subject over the past three years and here’s what I’ve discovered.

Romantic love is heavily associated with the same regions of the brain as drug addiction. Those who have it experience the same intensely pleasurable feelings, while those who are deprived of it experience the same crashing emotional lows and cravings. Consequently, it’s fair to say that love is an addiction. Whether it is positive or negative, though, depends on whether the love is reciprocated, appropriate and nontoxic.

Still, because everyone’s different, there are different types of negative love addiction. Humans can be loosely categorized into four major types, based on their overall patterns of thoughts and behaviors. Each of the four types tends to experience negative love addiction in a different way.

Romance Junkies

Romance junkies fall into the category of explorers, ruled largely by the dopamine system of the brain. Explorers are adrenaline junkies, hooked on thrills, adventures, and above all, novelty. In romance, this translates into an ongoing search for the dopamine rush affiliated with new relationships. When the infatuation phase gives way to the inevitable crash and burn, romance junkies are likely to go elsewhere seeking a new infatuation. (Totally me.)

Attachment Junkies

Builders, who are largely ruled by serotonin, are cautious, conventional, rigid rule-followers. They like to stick to plans and schedules, and take responsibility very seriously. Consequently, they tend to revere attachment above all other elements of a serious relationship. Their love addiction keeps them holding on long after a relationship has run its course.

Violence Junkies

People who fall into the directors category are largely ruled by testosterone. Although many directors never escalate into physical violence, they tend to be less empathetic and less socially skilled than their peers. Consequently, they tend to be action-oriented, using their physicality to express their emotions. They are likely to become violence junkies, addicted to chaos and turmoil in their relationships. When they are rejected, violence junkies may turn to stalking, physical attacks, or even impulsive suicide or homicide.

Despair Junkies

Negotiators are ruled primarily by estrogen and oxytocin. They tend to be agreeable, trusting, nurturing, and introspective, the caretakers in their relationships. Their addiction runs toward self-sacrifice, giving more than they should to heavily damaged partners. When they are rejected, despair junkies fall into rumination, obsessive thinking, and clinical depression. They tend to talk endlessly about the trauma, blame themselves, and try fruitlessly to figure out what they did wrong. Despair junkies are at higher risk for suicide in the wake of rejection.

Love addiction is complicated and highly personal, and every situation is different. Most people, regardless of type, manage to successfully navigate the pain associated with a breakup. Still, it is wise to be aware of your own type and those of your closest friends, and to watch out for each other in the weeks and months following a rejection. Taking proactive steps to ease the trauma can help to ensure that you do not fall into a dangerous pattern.

Which one are you? I’d love to hear some feedback from you.

 

 

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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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.

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Cherie – Chapter 10 – Hammer into Anvil

“What’s meant for you…won’t go by you.”

Since I began writing phicklephilly a year and a half ago, this is by far and away my favorite post. I started writing about all of the crazy women and relationships and dates I had gone on in my life. But I quickly realized if I was going to write a dating and relationship blog, then I’d better start dating again. If I hadn’t then I may have never have met lovely Cherie.

So if you’re out there swiping right to the point of having to ice down your thumbs, keep at it. Your next great love could be the very next swipe!

Saturday finally arrives. I woke up and got myself together. I did some last-minute manscaping, and started packing a bag. I went into my closet and grabbed a plastic bag that was hanging on a hook. In it is like tons of condoms. Well, not tons. Like 50.

I start going through them. It’s obviously been awhile since I acquired them because most of them are expired. Now if I had some pills that were expired and not by much I might take them. They’re probably still good. But who wants to take the risk with a condom? Only one little dude needs to get through. One.

I need to go to the drug store.

I head out to my favorite weekend breakfast spot. I have my usual. Scrambled eggs, bacon, and a toasted buttery bagel. I should probably go to the liquor store. I had up to Fine Wine and Good Spirits at 21st and Market street. I pick up a fifth of vodka. I figured, what if I want a cocktail later? I’m not paying hotel room service prices. I never drink or smoke around Cherie, but we’ll be together for a long time and I may want to chill with a beverage at some point. On the way back from the liquor store I stop at my dry cleaners and pick up my shirts. I drop everything off and go back out. I head down to the Walgreens at 18th and South. I grab a bottle of club soda and go to the counter.

“Give me ten condoms” Suddenly I hear giggling behind me in line. I turn around and see two teenage girls laughing. I turn back to the clerk and say: “Make it and even dozen.”

No. That didn’t happen. I just love doing that bit.

I went to the family planning aisle and looked at the variety of condoms. They have all kinds now. Ribbed. (For her pleasure) Couldn’t I turn those inside out and make them for my pleasure? Kidding. They have condoms that warm up when you use them. How cold are your genitals? If you’re about to have sex with someone, I would hope your naughty bits are hot. They also make ones that speed her up and slow you down. Okay. I decide on the Durex Real Feel non latex condom 3 pack. I don’t know about you but nobody likes condoms. In my experience latex condoms smell like, well, latex. Fresh rubber. I don’t like that smell. I have cracked open so many trojans in my life that the smell of latex alone could take the wind out of my proverbial sails. Plus if you really get going, who wants your bedroom to smell like burnt rubber? Might as well have sex under the bleachers at the local drag strip.

I only bought the three pack because I still had about eight unexpired condoms at the house. Then I thought, How many times are we actually going to have intercourse? I mean, the reason we got the hotel room is to finally get the sex out of our systems. Not out completely, mind you, just to relieve the tension that’s been building up over our last few dates. Maybe we’ll do it a few times. We’ll sleep. Go out. Get something to eat, etc. Just to be safe. I’m going to bring all of the unexpired condoms and use these new ones first. Cherie says she’s an animal, but the body has its limits. I’m not getting any younger, and it’s been two years since I was in a relationship and having sex on a regular basis. What if I freeze up and can’t perform at all? Nightmare.

I’ll be fine. I really like Cherie. She’s so sweet and easy-going, she’ll understand and be patient with me. I need to stop talking like this. Don’t want to psych myself out. I pick up a small bottle of mouthwash and pay for my stuff and leave.

I get back to the house and pack way too much stuff. I don’t travel anywhere. When was the last time I had to pack a bag and go to a hotel? I’m checking in at 3pm today, and I’ll be out of there at 10:30am tomorrow. How much clothes will I need? I’m really going there to take my clothes off not wear a bunch of outfits. I had like two pair of underwear. Three T-shirts, two pair of socks, just too much stuff. It was one night! I gather all of my toiletries and grab the vodka and the bottle of club and stuff it all in the bag.

I summon an UBER and head outside and stand by the curb. The car arrives, and I tell him to take me to the tanning salon. I have some time to kill before check in, and I figured I’d go chat with Trish.

I get to the salon and put my bag in the back. Trish asks where I’m going. I’ve known her for a long time so I can tell her what’s going on. I tell her how Carly hooked me up with the Club Quarters suite. I have only known Cherie for a little over a month and we’re going there with the sole intention of consummating our relationship. We chat and I realize that I’m just killing time before the 3pm check in. Cherie texts me that she’s on her way. She’s an hour away so I have time to get checked in.

Years ago, I could have simply brought her to my house, but since my daughter Lorelei lives with me now, I just can’t take a chance. Besides, if you really want to accomplish something, you should lock yourself away and get it done. No distractions. Like writing. I have to laugh when I see all of these people writing in coffee shops around the city. Is that to show off and let people know you’re a writer? Writing is a painstaking process. It takes time and it’s a lonely profession. But, I’m one of the few who likes to be alone.

I head over to the hotel. I go up to the front desk. I check in. “One or two key cards, sir?”

“Two.”

The lobby’s really nice. There is a flat screen TVs on the walls. There’s an area where you can get coffee and tea 24 hours a day.  Plenty of spots to just hang out. The hotel is even connected to Davio’s, the Italian restaurant next door. Somehow, I know I won’t be using any of these facilities. Cherie texts me that she’s in the city, and headed to the parking garage. I dash up to the room. 1107. I walk up and down the hallway, but have trouble finding it. Then I realize that it’s near the elevators.

The room is a sort of isolated from the other rooms on the floor. I enter the room and drop my bag. To my left and back is the bathroom. Small but nicely appointed. Big shower. (Noted) There’s a kitchenette beyond that. Won’t be cooking anything in there. (Well, not that kind of cooking) There’s a small table with two chairs. Above it is a flat screen TV mounted to the wall. Then off to the right is the bed. It’s a good-sized bed. I draw back the curtains to reveal a nice eastern view on this sunny Saturday afternoon.

Cherie is texting me that she’s parking. I grab my card key and head back to the lobby and out. I walk up to the Windham Hotel. The parking garage is there. I go into Two Liberty and into the little shopping center inside. I know just where she’ll come up from the garage. I walk to the elevators, and just as I get there, the doors open and Cherie appears.

I take her bag, and we head back to the Club Quarters. It’s 3:15pm. We go into the room and I give her a key card. There’s little bottles in a rack in the hallway that you can fill with purified water, so I fill up a pair for us. She’s exploring the room. I return and she jumps onto the bed. I join her. We kick off our shoes and I hold her in my arms, kissing her ripe lips.

Lips I have sorely missed since Wednesday.

I was having some fear and nerves. I hadn’t been intimate with someone I really cared about since April 2014. (See: Annabelle) Cherie was very sweet and soothing. That’s one of the things I really dig about this lady. She just has a great laid back vibe that keeps me relaxed and cool. We really wanted to begin, so she just started to undress. She was down to her burgundy matching bra and panties with white lace trim in no time. (Wowza!)

I have struggled with what I was going to write at this point. If this ever becomes a book or a TV series on HBO, I suppose they can spell it out. I just don’t want to describe our lovemaking  in graphic detail. It would be fun, but Phicklephilly isn’t a pornographic piece. But I will say this. Cherie was patient and loving. But once we got going. There was no stopping us. It was wonderful. It was pretty much all we did all afternoon. The sun went down and so did I. The curtains closed and her thighs opened. Around 9pm we had a pizza delivered to the room. We didn’t sleep much that night. Great thing was… It was daylight savings, so I got to spend an extra free hour with Cherie. We should make this an annual event. We turn the clocks back an hour and we check into a hotel and destroy each other for 20 hours.  I definitely gave her lots of presents for her birthday.

We got a few hours sleep. We had to be out of there by 10:30 at the latest because I had to open the salon at 11am on Sunday. We woke up around 8:30 I think. We proceeded to do one more for the road. I love morning sex. There’s just something hot and turgid about it.

I have to say. Cherie is one of the most sexual women I have ever met. I’m not going to reveal any intimate details, but it was probably not only the best sex I’ve had since 2002, it was the most times in one session. Just spectacular. I call that kind of sex “Chuck Yeager Sex.” Chuck Yeager was the type of pilot that tested planes not to see how fast they could go. He tested them to see what the plane could withstand. That’s what it was like with Cherie. Just like my Pop used to say, “Anything worth doing, is worth overdoing.”

A-fucking-men.

We shared the spacious shower. She said she liked really hot showers, I told her I didn’t. She purposely kept the water not too hot for me. She looks beautiful. The water beading on her glistening brown body was lovely. I stood in the back like the man always has to when you take a shower with a girl. I washed her back while I was standing there. She told me to get up front under the water and get washed up. So I did, and washed my hair and then I was done. I hopped out. “Great now I can crank the hot water.” she said. I laughed and thanked her for not scalding my tender hide. I toweled off and got dressed. She came out a short time later. “I’m a little ashy” she said. “Will you rub some cream on my legs?” So I leaped at that opportunity. (Those shapely supple legs!) She did the rest of her, and finished dressing.

We gathered our things from  the room and headed down to the lobby. We had a solid hour before I had to open the salon. So we checked out and headed over to the Midtown Diner. It felt good to be there. It was the classic scene. You give me great sex and then I take you out to breakfast. I had scrambled eggs, bacon and toast. Cherie had the Hungry Man platter, which is a little bit of everything. (Baby was hungry!) It was delicious and I was feeling great energy. I was a very satisfied lion.

After breakfast I walked her back to the elevator at Two Liberty. She thanked me for everything and for making her birthday magical. I kissed her goodbye and she stepped into the elevator and was gone.

Oh…one last detail.

Last night I told her I loved her.

She said it back.

 

 

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

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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.

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Cherie – Chapter 9 – Misconduct on your Birthday

“You’re hot like coffee, but sweet like chocolate”

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?”

She laughs.

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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Cherie – Chapter 8 – Lion and the Scorpion – Part II

Two weeks ago this story left off with the following cliffhanger:

…But here’s the best part of all of that. She works in a pediatrician’s office as one of her two jobs. She says she loves children. She wants to be a doctor that practices pediatric neurosis when she finishes her education. That’s awesome. So I’m assuming, young woman, loves kids, already has one would probably want another one or two to round out the dinner table. Based on these stories you know that my last 3 relationships all ended for that reason. I’ve already been married. I have a child. I have paid over $120,000 in tax-free money to someone who is not a nice person and hurts those around her. My ex-wife has already burned through her second marriage and has another kid. But I digress.

Oh sure, I could get married and have another kid and live happily ever after. Sure that could happen. But based on my track record, it’s a sucker bet. If I did that and somehow fucked it up again. My child support payments would be coming out of my Social Security checks. No. Just place the gun in my mouth and gently curl your finger so that everything I ever was ends up on the wall behind me.

So I pull the trigger on this lovely, seemingly perfect romance. Because this way I don’t have to say my last 4 relationships ended for the same reason. I can still say 3, because this beautiful flower that has grown between Cherie myself in the last few weeks will be stomped into the earth under the hob nail boot of reality. Doomed from the start. Destroyed before it could ever flourish.

“Do you want more children, Cherie?”

“No. I don’t want anymore children. I told you that on our first date.”

How the fuck could I have missed this incredibly earth shattering piece of information? This is incredible news. Groundbreaking stuff. If she really doesn’t want kids, we could actually sustain a long-term relationship.

Maybe.

She knows my situation. Well, I’ll just play it cool and try to fly level. We’ll see where this goes. I won’t lose my mind and rush into anything. My last girlfriend has been gone for two years. Cherie’s been split from her son’s father for two years as well. Maybe the stars have aligned. She’s really laid back. Getting her education. Working two jobs in her field of endeavor. I’m not going to think about all of this. I’m just going to enjoy our time together. Let the universe unfold as it should.

We decide to get something to eat. She’s come all the way down here. I should at least feed the girl. We walk South on 22nd street. Down to Sansom. We head East and I look through the window at Cavanaugh’s. Too noisy on a Saturday night. We round the corner at 18th and I peek in Wrap Shack. Looks too crowded. Then I get an idea. She once said she liked breakfast for dinner. I know just where to take her.

We hit the Midtown Diner up the street. It’s dead. Which I think is odd, but then I speak to the hostess. She says this is the calm before the storm. They watch all of the people walking South to the bars, and then around 11:30 to 2am they all come back. Then the place gets busy again.

This 24 hour diner has been here a long time. It’s a Philly classic. All of the waitresses are old. They’ve all worked there for many years. That says a lot about a place.  The servers are the kind of old dolls that call everyone “Hon.” The whole dining room is empty. We can pick any booth we want. We take a seat and check out the menus.

“Remember that black lace top I wore on our second date?” Cherie asks.

“How can I forget? I reprimanded you for dressing like that for school.” I respond.

“Well, I had a T-shirt in my car. I wore that top for you. I was all covered with mosquito bites and covered up, but I wanted to show you my body. I changed into the T-shirt before I went to class.”

Wow. I had no idea. I need to pay close attention to this one. She was into me by our second date at El Rey. That little minx. She’s playing footsie with me under the table. She reaches under the table and rubs my leg. I’m trying to concentrate on the menu but it’s useless. This is how she is when she’s sober. I’m sober too. I don’t even think about drinking or smoking when I’m with her. Cherie is the drug I’m on. Just like the song by Roxy Music.

But don’t you know, this couple comes in shortly after and sits in the booth right next to us. I mean right next to us. I turn my head to the right, and they’re right there! C-Blocked again!

Everything is liquid between us and everybody is doing everything they can to stop us from attacking each other. We actually feel a little angry about this. I just laugh and tell her that humans are for the most part social animals. They can’t help but be near each other. We discuss moving to the back, but decide against it. We’d look rude. It’s not that important. We’ll have plenty of time together. The game is afoot and I love it.

“Cherie. Your birthday’s Thursday. What are you doing for your birthday?”

“Nothing. I have to work. I don’t really care about my birthday.”

“Don’t you want anything?”  I know it’s early in the game, but I’m trying to be nice.

“You know what I want?”

“What?”

“I want you. I want to be with you. You know… in that way.”

Okay…. Okay…. This lady knows what she wants. I’m almost find it a bit intimidating but arousing. Man… This is going to be good. I need to plan something soon.

I’m attracted to Cherie, and think she’s a great girl. I love making her laugh and she also has a great sense of humor. I like when she just looks at me with her dark dreamy eyes. I feel so lucky. At my age, to have a lovely girl like this attracted to me is wonderful. I’m not experiencing the intoxicating rush I felt with my last girlfriend, Annabelle, but I feel safer this time around. (See:Annabelle – Nice To Meet You) Cherie knows who she is and what she wants. She’s already been a parent for six years. She’s grounded and responsible. I’m actually relieved that I’m falling for this woman, and I’m not on an emotional rollercoaster like I was with the highly unstable Annabelle. I’m not wondering what she’ll do next, or what crazy decision she’ll make about her life. That poor impulsive fool.

This feels much better. I’m happy that Cherie’s in my life. I’m not a spiritual person, but this feels like some sort of blessing.

The waitress approaches. “Hey there. It’s been awhile since you two have been in here.”

I’m thinking, it certainly has been awhile, since we’ve never been there together. But her sentiment is sweet. Maybe it’s just me that looks familiar. Or that my daughter has mysteriously become a black woman. We order some food and are chatting. Already deciding that we’d like to meetup on Wednesday for lunch. I know just where I’m going to take her. We’re also planning on seeing each other on Saturday too. This is getting serious. Technically, this is only our fourth date, but we’ve had very long dates. It just flows naturally.

My friend Carly said she may be able to hook me up with a room at the Club Quarters for Saturday. She said that if the hotel isn’t 95% full, they’ll hook me up with a room for $50. Which is incredible. If not, Carly said she can still hook me up with a room for $129, which still isn’t bad. Think about what I’m getting. Spend the night with a beautiful young woman? Totally worth whatever it costs. I could also take her down to the shore house. But that’s a hike, and I have to be back Sunday morning to run that salon. So simply for the sake of geography and time, Club Quarters works for me. I’ve already cleared it with my sister that no one will be at the shore house just in case. I won’t have to get a zip car. We’ll cruise down in the Saab.

I think about how frustrating and confounding my courtship was with Michelle, and also with Annabelle. All the back and forth. Flip flopping with their choices. Not really knowing what they wanted. Cherie is direct and clear on what she likes and what she wants. It just makes for a happier more calm relationship.

We finish eating and those C-Blocking losers next to us have already left, so we have a little personal time before the bill comes. Remember how I used to complain about all those senior citizens I was dating and how the wallets never came out? This is so different from that. Cherie drives an hour to come down here to see me. Pays $25 to put her car in a lot. Doesn’t want anything. The bill is only $17. I’ve been with her for seven hours. $17 is what the whole date cost me.

We walk back to the lot at 23rd and Cherry. Isn’t that cop still sitting in his SUV in the same exact spot? It’s been hours!  What is he on, stake out?  We decide to just leave. She drives down to around 21st and Lombard and finds a quiet spot. People are walking by in Halloween costumes. It’s fun to watch. We’re talking and more kissing ensues. It’s really nice.

It’s getting late, and I know she has to make the hour drive back to Pottstown. It’s really great that she comes to me. She said her personality is that of a pleaser. That’s funny. Me too. I certainly am looking forward to pleasing her at some point.

She drives me back to my place and we say our good nights. I ask her to please text me when she safely arrives home. She says she will. I go upstairs and fix myself a vodka club on the rocks and light a cigarette. It feels good to be home in my chair after a wonderful evening with Cherie. I think about our lunch date coming up on Wednesday. I’ll call the hostess ahead of time and reserve my favorite table. I know Cherie has made it clear what she wants for her birthday, but that’s inevitable. I’m going to give that gift to her a lot. That really seems like a gift for me. Again, I cannot believe my good fortune here.

I feel like I should get her a little something, and give it to her on Wednesday. I’ll think on this. Talk to my female friends. I can’t go with jewelry, it’s too early. Huge mistake. That sets the bar too high if we make it to Christmas. God, then there’s Valentine’s Day after that. I’m getting ahead of myself. I’ve got a few days to plot what I’ll do. Something small and sweet.

My phone pings and she is home safe.

I wish her sweet dreams.

 

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The Phoenix – Part 3

Tell My Mother, tell My Father, I’ve done the best I can.

I stood at the grave of my parents with my sisters and my daughter.

Yes. I have something to say.

I read the Eulogy I had written.

I knew my sister Janice thought I wouldn’t deliver based on my track record.

 

Hello all. Thank you for coming.

To quote an artist I love: “Your bodies may be gone but we’re going to carry you in. In our minds, and in our hearts, and our souls. And maybe we’ll get lucky and we’ll all meet again.”

Over the last few weeks our hearts and minds have been filled with visions of you both.

Although your vessels are gone, you are both so much alive in us all. In our thoughts, our words and our deeds. You’ve achieved immortality in your children… and their children.

And we all have the wonderful children to prove it.

Just like all of the home movies we still have. We can watch them anytime we want. I watched some the other night. You were both so alive that I could almost touch you both.

But only almost. And I won’t be able to anymore.

I want you both to know that every time we did anything, we saw you both in front of us. Your appreciation and love accompanied us every step down the road, and our lives were always shaped by your teachings and values.

Others greater than I will eulogize you both, but none of them will ever have the sweet pleasure that my sisters and I have had to feel the gentle touch of your hands in ours.

To merit your words and warm embrace that was reserved… only for us.

To see your smiles and hear your laughter, told us so much.

But those are no longer. Only in our memories.

There is so much to say about this wonderful family that has come to Earth through both of you. We will share our stories as long as we all can draw breath.

I once asked you both, “What was the key to a happy life?”

Mother you said, “Do everything in moderation. Moderation is the key to a happy life.”

I turned to my father and said, “Dad?”

He replied, “Anything worth doing is worth overdoing.”

Well, we always went big, and our family is rich in history… and most of all… love.

Anyway, rather than go into every wonderful Christmas we ever had, or the summers at the shore, or how my mother was the greatest person I ever met, or how my Dad taught me how to ride a bicycle, or drive a car, or taught me how to read, or taught me how to catch a fish, or how to talk to girls, or art, or music or everything that is essential to living in this world and being a better person, and moving us all forward as a family.

You’ve both done all of that and so much more.

More than any words can ever describe.

Thank you.

 

I’m not done yet…

My sisters and I are left with no alternative.

Janice. April. Gabrielle.

And my only daughter… Lorelei.

We will say goodbye to you, Mother and Father. And we will ask that you rest in peace.

I know you will think about us all down here and miss us.

We will always love you both so very much, and we will never, ever forget you.

You both are all of us.

And we are you.

 

I will leave you all with this:

“Life is fleeting and fragile. Enjoy yourself.”

Thank you.

 

That’s it. That’s the eulogy I wrote for my parents.

I read that at their burial.

I always felt like I failed them both my entire life. But I always loved them.

 

 

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