Christmas 2018 and Beyond – Part 3

The train goes back underground as we enter Camden NJ. That place is a den of scum and villainy that could have been a mini mirror to Philly but has failed in so many horrible ways. I’m actually glad in this moment my internet connection has gone black again as we enter Camden.

I think back on good and bad memories in Camden and will write about them at some point but that time isn’t here.

Camden is an awful place in New Jersey, but at some point I’ll tell you some stories from that once great seaport but for now I’m just passing through.

Happily locked in an extruded aluminum passenger car on PATCO.

 

The train once agin rises from the darkness of Camden’s tunnels and re-enters the sunshine on the this fine sunny day.

I look at all of the scenery and as the train roars east. I see all of the ghettos and shit neighborhoods below the elevated tracks. It hasn’t changed in over 40 years. I’m sitting here in a brand new train in a comfy chair, listening to Howard Stern and Christmas Carols and I’m shooting past absolute poverty below me.

What will Christmas morning be for the children in this neighborhood.

But I’m facing backwards. So I watch it all fall away from my view. By not sitting forward the sadness was never coming up… but going away from me.

See how this is working?

We roll into the Ferry Avenue stop. This is the stop where for years I would pick up and drop off of my daughter with my ex-wife.

I remember I would pick her up there and bring her to Philly when she was younger. But I also remember when I would ride the train with my little one and arrive at Ferry Ave to give her back on Sunday, I knew I wouldn’t see her for two weeks.

I was always sad on that quiet train ride back to Philly.

 

I feel all of that rush back into me but I’m not sad because I know at the end of the line, my daughter and her boyfriend will be picking me up and we’ll all go to Janice’s house for an amazing gathering.

The train rings and surges forward, and I watch as that sad memory fades as well and becomes joy.

Collingswood, Haddonfield, and all of the rest of the stations pass.

I can see my whole history living in New Jersey in my miserable marriage fall away from me. All vanishing down the gleaming rails.

All of it. I’ve lived in several of those towns and it’s good to see them all fall away from me and know that my daughter and I are no longer prisoners to the lie that is a domestic life so many hold dear.

I no longer have any feelings or emotions about any of that nonsense, but it’s nice to see South Jersey simply go away through a window on a train ride.

I could feel the cleanse of that moment and the exuberance of all of the wonderful people I was about to see, and where I was now in my life.

 

I finally arrive in Lindenwold. I don’t know this station. iI don’t care. I get off and head down the escalator and go outside. I’m listening to music and feel really good. The weather is surprisingly mild and I take a seat on a bench outside awaiting the arrival of Lorelei and her boyfriend.

I’m so happy and so filled with holiday bliss and energy I’m not even listening to Christmas music anymore. I’m listening to songs by a Swedish metal band called Angel Dust. I haven’t listened to any of that in 10 years! Maybe longer. I must be drinking deep on my dopamine.

I text my daughter that I have arrived and I think she’s a little stressed as so many young people are. She doesn’t want to keep her dad waiting. I tell her not to worry and to take her time and be safe.

I know this lovely day will unfold as it should.

I sit back on the metal bench and smile.

It’s been a while since  I simply sat in the sun.

I feel it on my face and it is as comforting as my mother’s hand in mine.

I don’t know why, but I was just in such in a beautiful moment of calm sitting on this bench out in the middle of nowhere in a place I’ve never been.

I knew my daughter was coming, but I loved this moment in the morning sunlight by myself.

I felt the sun’s energy on my face. I put out my hand and felt the sun in my hand.

Sun in my hand.

Happiness in my hand.

It’s within me and right here on my face and right here in my hand.

This is my holiday alone moment.

Just waiting but not impatient. Just calm. It’s so nice. It’s never been like this.

Sun in my hand.

No problems. Just Happy Christmas time.

Maybe for the first time ever.

 

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Christmas – 2018 and Beyond – Part 2

I’m happy to see her fade from my view like all of the other beautiful women in my life. Like beautiful Christmas ornaments on the tree of my life. Some are gone. Some fallen and broken, some stolen by guests and strangers.

I had been talking last Sunday about how I had been searching for the Christmas spirit before my sister’s annual holiday party.

All of the Christmas carols, the lights in Rittenhouse, the hustle and bustle of the season. None of it gave me the surge I was expecting.

But if you read that post, (Christmas 2018) you’d know that the holiday season had been in me all along.

What a blissful feeling it is.

My life is so simple and elegant now. I finally get it. You don’t need a bunch of stuff and events to be happy.

Live simply, and simply live.

 

Before the event I stopped at the liquor store. Every year I have a ritual where I present my sister Janice’s husband with a quality bottle of liquor.

I figure, I come into his home, and eat and drink as much as I want and am surrounded with all of my favorite people in the world. So give the guy a good bottle of booze!

I pick it up the night before and settle in at home after work listening to Christmas music and writing. My favorite place to be most evenings.

I’m really looking forward to seeing my whole family tomorrow.

 

The next morning I get up and grab a healthy breakfast. In years past I always had a great deal of anxiety when I had to travel. Just an old ailment. Usually there were several moving parts to traveling to my sister’s party. There would be daughter Lorelei, my then girlfriend Michelle. We had to pull it all together and get to 30th Street Station.

It was always stressful for me. But the end result once we got to my sister’s was always so good.

I had to get all of the tickets at a machine I always struggled with at the station. I would sometimes go out there the day before and buy all of the tickets just to take the edge off.

I always got a large bottle of water and a package of crackers just to put something in my stomach. Just nerves and anxiety and travel.

All of that is long gone.

The plan has changed. NJ Transit is doing track work and not running. (Now what do I do?) I’m not getting any younger, and my lovely daughter Lorelei takes charge and I love it.

I get the text. “Dad. Take the 10:15 train at PATCO and take it to Lindenwold, NJ. You’ll get there a half hour later, and we’ll pick you up in the car and drive you to Janinice’s house.”

I love it.

I’m finally at a point in my life where I don’t have to figure everything out and manage everybody else.

After a nice breakfast, I head to the PATCO station at 16th and Locust. Normally for a solo mission to Absecon NJ on New Jersey Transit it used to run me $40 round trip.

I enter in my coordinates into the ticket purchasing machine at the station and it tells me it will be $6 round trip!

Six bucks! It’s a Christmas miracle!

I grab my ticket and hop on the train.

It’s been a while since I’ve set foot on PATCO. They’ve replaced all of the trains with newer models! Lovely train cars. I step into one of the cars and figure out if I want to sit forward or backward.

I know it may seem odd, but that’s part of the trip.

I go with my instincts and decide to sit at a window seat and actually decide for some unknown reason to sit backwards.

It was a great decision.

I don’t travel much and I don’t know why I chose this. Normally people like to face the way they are going and so do I. That’s just normal existence. Makes sense.

Underground in the subway at 16th and Locust there’s no wifi or cell contact. So I sit in silence waiting to go.

The bell rings and the train lurches forward. I’m just chilling in the darkness thinking about all of the wonderful people I’m going to see this afternoon.

This one day a year.

This one day in time.

A party that someday I will no longer be around to attend. Just like my parents before me.

The train is traveling east and then south. It will leave Philly underground and then rise from the depths of the subway and traverse the Ben Franklin Bridge which crosses the Delaware river into New Jersey.

I always took New Jersey Transit to get to my sister’s house. But like I said,  NJT is having construction done through January, so it’s down. I am taking PATCO for the first time to Lindenwold.

As the train roars up along the side of the Ben Franklin Bridge the view is spectacular. I watch my beloved city stand in the cold winter sun glistening under the blue blue sky on this Sunday before Christmas.

I love her.

I want to die in this city.

I’m happy to see her fade from my view like all of the other beautiful women in my life. Like beautiful Christmas ornaments on the tree of my life. Some are gone. Some fallen and broken, some stolen by guests and strangers.

I know I’ll be back around dusk to see her again. I’ll feel the snap in the air and the flash of her holiday season as her heart beats in every household, restaurant and chest of every Philadelphian in my city.

 

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Andrea – 2014 – S&M Girl

“Hi Lorelei. Daddy’s just going to take this fat, drunk bitch back to his room and tie her up. Then you’re going to hear a lot of slapping and squishing sounds. You’re also going to hear Daddy say a bunch of really foul sexually degrading things to this woman, so you better put your ear buds in and crank that shit up.”

One night a couple of years ago, I was out with a friend of mine. We were having drinks outside at Misconduct at 15th & Locust. He was telling me a story about this girl he met on Tinder. Pure hookup. She comes over to his apartment. Sadly, she doesn’t look like her Tinder pics. Which is not good. That’s like seeing a photo of a car you want to buy in the Auto Trader and when you get to the lot to check out the car, it’s an older model and a little banged up and maybe even a bit more car than you saw in the photos.

But he was drunk and up for the foul deed. He said she was a thick girl but he went to town on her anyway. Like my tinder profile says: “If you don’t look like your photos, you’re going to buy me drinks until you do.” So he said it was good sex except for one thing. He didn’t like that she wanted him to spit on her and hit her. There’s nothing wrong with what two consenting adults do with each other behind closed doors. Especially if everyone’s on board with what’s happening. But he didn’t like it. Just not his thing.

He told me that he wasn’t comfortable with that situation. He said at that point no matter what he was into or what he would do, he couldn’t do that again.  It just wasn’t him. (He didn’t spit on her or hit her at all) At that time, back in the beginning of 2014, I had just come off a break up and told him to send Andrea pics of me. Because I was up for whatever she wanted dished out. The key here is when it comes to dominance, be firm…not mean. There’s a big difference. I would discipline and correct her if necessary. And remember, the submissive party is ALWAYS in control. They have the safe word and hold the power to cancel the fantasy at anytime. That’s the rules of S&M play.

Well, nothing came of it. Until earlier this year when she connected to me on LinkedIn. LinkedIn of all places! Can you imagine with all of the dating websites out there, LinkedIn brings me the crazy S&M chick? So we chatted and did some texting. She wanted me to text her all of the things I was going to do to her, so I did. I have a pretty good imagination. She said she was getting really turned on and that we should meet.

I set it up that we should meet at the Ranstead Room. It’s just a good spot normally to hideout with somebody. I get there and I’m just chilling with a drink. She arrives shortly thereafter. My friend was right about her. In her Tinder pics she looks really hot, but in real life she is a lot bigger, and what was with that low tranny voice? Not good. I just wasn’t feeling it. I would have to drink a LOT of cocktails for Andrea to start to resemble her profile pics on Tinder. So I figured what the hell, I was already here and the drinks were flowing. She wasn’t that hot but at least I was someplace where nobody knew me.

Then the manager from the restaurant where my daughter works suddenly comes through the door and walks right up to me and says hello using my name.

Now I’m made. He can see who I’m with and now everybody there knows my name.

Andrea starts telling me about her life. She hates her job and wants to leave Philly. (Probably a good idea for us all.) She was seeing some crazy drug dealer loser guy. He’s suicidal, and does tons of coke. It’s bad, and she’s not much better.  I always thought if you did a bunch of cocaine you were skinny. Certainly not the case here.

After awhile we’re getting pretty tipsy. We went outside for a cigarette. She was on me like a northern pike hitting the bait. So I’m making out with her and people are walking by on Ranstead and she just pulls her boobs out. She’s losing her shit. She wants to take me back behind the building and give me a blowjob.

Yea. Great. I’ll just go stand behind my daughter’s manager’s Mercedes-Benz and you can give me oral. What if he walks outside and sees that shit? That’s not going to be good for me or anybody. Now, if this was Los Angeles and it was 1982, yea I’d be down for that, but not now. That’s gross. Sure, I’m flattered that she’s turned on enough from my words and the alcohol to want to blow me in a filthy alley, but no. Just no. I don’t roll like that.

She’s drunk. We go back inside and we’re in the vestibule and all sorts of things are happening with lips and fingers. If somebody comes through either door, we’re going to jail. So after that brief encounter, we go back inside. I kind of want to go home. In the right environment, some S&M play could be fun with her, but I’m just not getting a good vibe from her in this moment. She’s calling me daddy and all that shit. She says she loves older men, etc. I tell her I have an early sales meeting in the morning that I have to travel to so we should wrap it up. (A bold-faced lie)

She wants to go back to my place and have sex. Great idea. I can see it now. Me walking through the door to my apartment with Andrea and my daughter sitting on the sofa.

“Hi Lorelei. Daddy’s just going to take this fat, drunk bitch back to his room and tie her up. Then you’re going to hear a lot of slapping and squishing sounds. You’re also going to hear Daddy say a bunch of really foul sexually degrading things to this woman, so you better put your ear buds in and crank that shit up.”

No. Not happening. We pay the bill, and we walk over to 18th Street. I hail her a taxi and send her on her way. I was actually relieved when she was gone.

If somebody I met and was in a relationship wanted to experiment with some things, I’d be down with that, but Andrea just isn’t that person.

Update! She appeared at the salon tonight for a tan before she goes to L.A!

She’s leaving Philly for good!

 

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

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Church – 2012 to Present – Angel’s Envy – Part 2

“Did you touch them?”
 
“Yea.”
 
“You’re killing us, Liam!”
 

Church and I step out into the warm afternoon sun. We sadly run into this little troll from the Trestle Inn that loves us both. She literally looks like she has troll or hobbit in her family. She’s awful. We hug her and it’s absolute torture for me and my comrade, but we have to be nice.
Church brings the car around and Liam and I get in. Church is doing his usual rage driving and Liam starts talking.
There is a hip crazy waitress that works at Sofitel. We all love her. She’s a tall brown-haired beauty. She has damage, but who cares, she’s pretty. Church is cranking Ozzy in the car and we’re all feeling good.
Liam goes on to tell us that he’s been to this waitress’ house to drink and she always breaks her tits out. We love and admire this lovely woman and can’t imagine her doing this.
When you go to a bar and love and respect the staff, and you suddenly hear something like this, it’s like seeing nudity in People magazine on the counter at Rite aid. When you hear about your friend and server breaking her tits out with her co workers at a party it creates all sorts of new thoughts in your mind..
We’re driving Liam to work and Church and my brains are exploding because all we can think about how his co workers tits swinging free and somehow we are there. We really like her and find it hard to believe she does shit like that. But the more we think about her and her past, we sort of pull it together.
“Did you touch them?”
“Yea.”
“You’re killing us, Liam!”
We drop off Liam at Sofitel. Church and I are laughing as he searches for a parking spot. He’s the king of finding spots in the city. I don’t know anyone that can always manage to find a great space, usually right near wherever we want to hang out.
Church decides we’re going to crash the Angel’s Envy cocktail party at Dandelion. I’m already buzzed, so I’m down for anything. We walk in and tell the hostesses we’re with the Angel’s Envy party. Without even asking who we are or if we’re on the list they tell us to head upstairs.
Upstairs at Dandelion is nice. London’s culinary revolution cames to Philadelphia with this unique gastropub. Cozy rooms and intimate bars create a storied, Old World aura, while updated seasonal takes on British food make up the menu.
The event is being held in what’s referred to as “The Dog Room.” The whole room and bar is all done up with everything canine. Pictures of dogs, and little figurines on the shelves. Even the brass rail that surrounds the front of the bar is held in place by a row of brass bulldog heads chomping down on the rail. I always said they should hide one cat in there somewhere, and if you can find it among the dozens of dogs in there, maybe you get a free drink.
Now this is a party. The owner of the brand is there, and everybody is plowing delicious food and sipping bourbon cocktails. Church is chatting with his buddy the local rep for PA.  I take a bite out of a delicious slider and take a photo of it in my hand. I send the pic to Prova and tell her she’s missing free food and drinks. I tell her to grab an UBER and get down here.
Crickets.
The owner of Angel’s Envy makes a little speech, and they pour shots of the bourbon for everyone to do a toast. Church is on the wagon, and his buddy is working, so they literally pour their shots into my glass. So when we do the toast I pound down 3 shots of bourbon in one gulp.
I run into a few people I know in the industry and chat with some attractive ladies that are also present. So since 3pm this afternoon we’ve been having a wonderful day.
So after the happy hour/party we head over to Sofitel for some quiet frivolity. The bartender that went with us to Karma earlier is there with Liam. He talks shit on Prova saying she had “an agenda” to take us to Karma. Like she had ulterior motives. I don’t like how this clown was invited to a free bourbon tasting. Ate the food, drank the cocktails, and then disappears from Karma and doesn’t even finish his drink. He just scampers off to work. Then talks smack on one of my dear friends.
But all is forgiven because I can’t control the hearts and minds of others and I’m friends with Prova, not him. I hang out with her, I drink at the bar where he works and we really come to see Liam and some of the girls that host and serve there.
(But Prova has already texted me back and says she is on her way down.)
But he tells an interesting story. He said when he was younger he was riding in the car with his family. They were in the car on their way to New York. His dad has Philly’s local rock station on. The song Iron Man by Black Sabbath came on the radio. He had never heard it before and he instantly loved it. He asks his father who sings that song. His pop says some guy named, Ozzy.
So one day when he’s 12 years old, they stop in a music store. He can’t find the song on any of Ozzy’s records. He ends up walking up to this old hippie, and asks him about the song. The hippie takes him to the section where Black Sabbath’s CD’s are located. He pulls out the album entitled Paranoid and hands it to him.
He had some birthday money from his grandparents so he bought the album and has loved Sabbath ever since.
I really liked that little story. You’ve been redeemed!
Prova shows up half in the bag. On Church’s orders he tells her to get some food. I’m happy we’re all together. Good hospitality and good people make for a lovely day!
I go out for a smoke. I run into my favorite homeless guy outside. He always tells me a joke, so I give him a dollar or two to get him something to eat.
I tell him I may start to write for One Step Away, the homeless publication here in Philly. I’m feeling drunk and get a little misty about it. He senses it and moves on to get his hamburger at McDonald’s. I watch him shuffle off down the street and around the corner. I stub out my cigarette, and walk back into the warmth of the beautiful hotel Sofitel. My friends are there and so is a crisp glass of chardonnay and free bar snacks.
My thoughts return to my homeless guy. But I smile and chat with Prova and the gang and take a sip of wine.

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

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Phicklephilly – 1962 to Present

I’m 55 today!

I was going to post Part 3 of the move to the new space for our tanning salon today. It’s 10:25pm on Tuesday and I publish tomorrow at 8am. You all know that. Normally I write pretty far ahead in the future but decided to write something tonight for tomorrow and just drop it.

I can push Part 3 to tomorrow or next week and that would be great. (It’s a slow week at phicklephilly (Summer in Philly)

So I’ll write for tomorrow August 9th, which as you read this, is right now.

Today is my birthday.

I’ve never been happier in my life. This vessel still has all of its original parts but a few are missing. The car is a little banged up from the journey, but based on recent reviews by the fairer sex , it still runs great.

It’s still on the road and I’m happy that the old Pontiac GTO still turns over each morning. We’ve had many challenges in the last year, but life is still beautiful every day.

I still fall in love everyday, and my health is good. I feel good and am happy to be alive for another year.

Thanks to everyone around for me for that.

Like my parents before me, I’m not big on birthdays or Father’s Day. Birthdays are for kids and I never want my daughter to be beholden to me in any way. I never want my love to ever say the words, “Wait, I have to get a card for my dad.” I know she loves me and I love her forever. We know that’s a reality without words, cards or gifts.

Of course I’ll always hook her up on her Bday because she’s my little girl, but she’s already given me the greatest gift anyone could ever give me. She’s growing into a smart. decent woman in this world. Tomorrow belongs to her, not me. Because I’ll be gone someday.

(I just hope she doesn’t hold me to sending her and her friends to see Britney Spears in Vegas on her 21st birthday! That shit’s expensive!)

She’s happy, healthy, and in a good relationship with a boy I like and respect. I’m always proud of her and her choices. She lives with me and I’m always glad to see her but her life is her own. We have are time together and it’s always meaningful.

I left a failing publication selling advertising last year. I don’t want to sit in a cubicle under flourescent lights anymore and go to three meetings a week and work for fools that know less about themselves, the job, and life itself than I do.

I started working part-time at a tanning salon. The owner and I became close and built a partnership. Now we’re going into business together. Where in the hell would I ever have an opportunity like this in Philly? Be an equity partner in a fitness center in Rittenhouse on Walnut street? It’s like a dream come true.

I started this blog last year and it’ll be a year old in September. I began with one post every Monday. Then added Wednesdays. Then Tuesdays. Then Fridays. In 2018 I’ll publish five days a week.

This year I’ve written Phicklephilly, the book. I’m editing it now, and it should be available on Amazon by Christmas. I’ll begin work on the TV series in the Fall and look forward to pitching it to Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, and YoutubeRed in 2018. (Or anyone that will listen!)

I buried my parents this year. Thanks to my beloved sisters for holding it all together. Especially Janice.

My dear friends Church and Carly are planning a birthday party today for me at the Ritz Carlton tonight. It won’t start until 8:30 because I’ll be jacked up at the salon/gym until then. (Ugh! Day 17 in a row!)

He put a big invite out there on Facebook. I’m not big on social media anymore, but it’s the thought that Church wanted to do something to celebrate my day that means the most to me. I mean, it would be nice if all of my followers on WordPress showed up but I’ll have you all there in spirit. I’ve always craved creation. I love making things. Art, music, stories. I have so many more things to tell.

It gives me great joy each day to know that I’m writing again after a dozen years of creative darkness. Phicklephilly is my outlet to tell my story and create again. I’m so grateful to my family, friends, dates, (lovers and ex-lovers!) for inspiring me to write again.

I have so much to be thankful for in life. This has been an incredible year and a time of great flux for all of us. I’m going to continue to work hard on my family, friends, business and my art. I want you all to know I’m still here for all of you in your time of need. My ears and heart are always open 24/7.

There is a peace and balance in my life now that I’ve never felt before.

Thank you one and all for your love, friendship, guidance and support.

The party is tonight, so I guess there may be a Part Two to this post if I’m not to hung over!

XXOO

Phicklephilly

P.S. Layne Staley, Kurt Cobain, Chris Cornell, and most of all Jeff Buckley are gone, but I’m still missing you guys here on Earth so I’m going to keep living as long as I can.

But you’re all still alive in me!

 

 

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Tales of Rock – David Bowie Thinks Witches Are Stealing His Semen

In fall 1975, David Bowie went into the studio in Los Angeles and made Station To Station, one of the best albums of his career. It saw him transition from playing conventional if fantastic rock and roll to recording a series of genre-bending masterpieces that set a template for ’80s pop and whose influence is still being felt decades later. Pretty impressive, considering he was doing so much coke at the time he later couldn’t remember recording the album at all.

According to David Buckley, the author of the book “Strange Fascination: David Bowie: The Definitive Story,” Bowie’s diet at the time consisted of cocaine, peppers and milk, and he lived in “a state of psychic terror.” Interviews published in Playboy and Rolling Stone depicted Bowie surrounding himself with burning black candles and Egyptian artifacts and believing that bodies were floating past his window, witches were stealing his semen and that the Rolling Stones were sending him secret messages. He lived in fear of Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page, owing to his supposed practice of witchcraft. In Station To Station‘s title track, Bowie yelped, “It’s not the side effects of the cocaine; I’m thinking that it must be love,” which was definitely the wrong diagnosis.

If Bowie wanted to clean up after this album, he made the wrong move by decamping to Berlin with Iggy Pop. Still, the trio of albums he recorded during this period—Low, Heroes and Lodger—honed his legacy. This trilogy along with Station To Station was cherry-picked to create a perfect soundtrack for Christiane F. We Children from Bahnhof Zoo, a German film released in 1981 that captured the harrowing lives of teenage junkies in West Berlin.

Check it out. I saw it at a midnight showing in LA in 1982. It’s great!

 

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Carly – New Years Eve 2016

“Awww… Sheila. Always a bridesmaid. Never a bride.” I thought to myself.

Carly asked me if I’d help her set up for New Years Eve at the restaurant where she works. I hate New Years, but I love her, so I agreed to help. She needed me there around 4:30 on Saturday so that worked.

I had just come from brunch with hot senior citizen, Clarice at Jones. (See: Clarice – 2016 to Present – The CEO – New Years Eve Brunch) I walked into the restaurant and took the elevator to the second floor. I told the bartenders that I was here to help Carly set up. They didn’t know if she was in the building or not. I texted her to let her know I was at the bar. Surprising, she got right back to me. “Stuck in traffic, should be there in twenty minutes.”

No skin off my nose. I had Cory make me a vodka martini straight up with a twist. What the hell, it was New Years Eve.

I had a great day, albeit expensive. I was still glowing a bit from my romantic time with Clarice. I took a photo of the cocktail in front of me and sent it to Carly just so she wouldn’t rush, and also know that I was in good hands. I ask Cory for a cocktail napkin, and wipe my mouth. I drop it onto the bar, as he hands me my drink.

Cory: “How’s bad is your life?”

Me: “What?”

Cory: (points to napkin marked with lipstick)

Me: “Ohhh…” I smile.

Cory: “Happy New Year.”

I was playing with my phone, and sipping my drink.  Just enjoying the sights and sounds of the restaurant, still decorated beautifully for the holidays. Some time passed, but I figured we had plenty of time. New Years probably wouldn’t get going until after 9pm. It was only around 5pm at this point. She said the whole job would only take a couple of hours.

Carly texted me again, saying she was looking for parking and that traffic was nuts in the city. It’s New Years Eve in Philly. Of course it’s going to be crazy. I ordered another martini.

I was chatting with the bartenders while they prepared for the impending onslaught of revelers. Twenty minutes later, I get another text. “Come up to the penthouse. We’re on the 14th floor.” I drain the last of my martini and ask for the check. Cory waves me off. “Your good.” I thank him, wish him a HNY and throw down a ten. I head to the elevators in the back by the Club Quarters. There is a mob of people there that look like they’re dressed up for a wedding.

The attendant has to insert a special key card to allow access to the penthouse. I’m sausaged into the elevator with a gaggle of  hot bridemaids. (I’ve been in worse situations)

We reach the penthouse and the place is a flurry of activity. “Who are all these people, and where is Carly?” One of the staff points to a door, leading upstairs. I head up and there is Carly and her husband.

“What are we doing and who are all of those people down there?”

Carly tosses me a 187 ml of champagne and says there’s been a change of plan. We’re now setting up for a New Years wedding and have two hours to do everything.

“They’re getting married here and the reception is here?”

“Yep.”

“Sounds good to me. Let’s do this.” I chug the tiny teaser and start grabbing boxes.

Downstairs we tell everybody that if they aren’t immediate family they have to leave until the wedding starts at 7pm. Holy shit! We have one hour! I’m arranging chairs in the main room. Then placing these tall glass vases next to some of the chairs.

I dump big pearls into the vase. Then I pour water in it. Then I place a tall, thick candle down in it. I then scatter white rose petals around the base. I replicate this nine more times.

Everybody is doing something. We have an efficient team of people who work at the restaurant and have to do this stuff on a monthly and sometimes weekly basis. Even a couple of the bridesmaids were jumping in to help. There was the fun ethnic one who was really into helping and working with us and the photographer. Then there was the skinny hot one who did very little but complained a lot.

“Awww… Sheila. Always a bridesmaid.  Never a bride.” I thought to myself.

We get everything set up, and then have to get out of there because they’re going to do the ceremony. Just think, it only takes twenty minutes to get legally bound to someone. If it doesn’t work out and you have kids you’re stuck for the next twenty years in an emotional and financial hell of your own doing. (meaning: If you’re the man)

At one point I was out on this deck that many people don’t know about near the roof. There’s a guy out there in a tux, probably well into his sixties. He’s heavyset, and coughing while he’s lighting a cigarette. Built to last.

I start chatting with him. He’s the father of the bride. Turns out he’s a lifelong cross-country truck driver that delivers for BJ’s Wholesale. We share a moment. I congratulate him on his daughter getting married. I even had a chance to speak with her later. She said she met her husband at a bar in Ocean City, MD called Secrets. Sounds like a good place to meet your soul mate.

So me, Carly, her husband, and a few other people go up to the roof with another 187 ml each to catch a smoke. The view is great. When would I ever get to see this view? I love new views of my city. I take a few pics for Instagram. Carly is passing around the Mary Jane vape pen (marijuana) and that just adds to the fun.

Later we head back down stairs to get ready to set up for the reception in an hour. There’s a bar set up in the back room. I see a box of soft pretzels somebody brought in. I grab one and stuff it in my mouth. (Or as I call it: Drinking armor) Carly hands me a box of stuff, and says, “Make this and then make me five more.”

“On it.” It’s a glass vase about fifteen inches tall. I have to place it on a round mirror. Then place two little candles around it near the base. Put a few strings of pearls hanging out of the vase. Stuff a sponge in the opening. Then stuff white and black feathers, some with gold trim into the sponge all around it. It’s actually a fun project. I then replicate it five more times.

I bring out a tray of cigars and cutters. They are in a small room off the balcony. This way people can go out there and smoke cigars. I thought that was a good idea. So these crazy kids get married, leave for an hour, then come back to rock out to their Great Gatsby themed reception until midnight when it turns into an epic New Years Eve Party. I think it’s pretty cool, but setting all of this stuff up and all of the money and work that goes into this massive party all seems like a waste to me, but what the hell, I’ve had my time. I’m rootin’ for these kids.

Carly lets us know it’s time to go. The bride is thanking us all profusely. I was happy to spend time with one of my favorite people and do something nice for someone’s special day. It was great. The bride tells us we can have whatever is left over upstairs, as she stuffs four cigars in my coat pocket. We go upstairs to get our stuff and I walk out with a half a dozen 187 ml bottles. I like that it has the name of the bride and groom on every bottle.

I say goodbye to Carly and her husband, and thank them for the fun evening. I’ll be home by 9pm and asleep by 11pm at the latest, before 2017 even happens. I haven’t missed a thing.

Update: Carly has left her job as Events Director at the restaurant where she works. She wants to focus on the legalization of marijuana in Philly. She lives in Manayunk which is only a 15 minute car ride from center city, but when you live in the bubble of Rittenhouse like I do, she may a well be on another planet.

I miss her terribly and our Monday night cocktails and conversations. I saw her recently, but it’s just not the same. Hopefully I can see one of my favorite people in the world again soon.

 

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