Michelle – Chapter 4 – Two Coins in the Fountain

The company  is going to move the entire online department to a high-rise in center city. It was all new, beautiful and modern. About a week before we were to move there I was in my apartment in Jersey and I got a call from my boss, Herbert. He said he had been fired. He was crying on the phone. There is no crying at work. That’s what your apartment is for. When he told me, I knew he was probably the most sad because he wouldn’t be able to see Michelle anymore.

They brought in this 6’7″ goon from somewhere to replace him. We’ll call him the Russian. At first he seemed really cool, but they all do in the beginning. This is important. If you ever get hired by one guy, and then they bring in another guy to replace him it’s never the same. He never has the same investment in any of you because he didn’t choose you. He simply inherited you. So watch out. When they seem cool and fun in the beginning they usually turn out to be insecure weak middle management types that won’t last. But right up to the moment they leave they will make your life a living hell. Believe me. I’ve seen this over and over again in my career. But the only thing you have going for you is that he doesn’t know you. So if you endear him early on, life can be sustainable for at least 6 months before it all turns to rage and grinding resentment.

The Russian trusted me and knew I had talent as a sales guy, so he asked that I take Michelle out on some four-legged calls to help acclimate her to selling advertising. I was way more than happy to do so. We would go out on calls around the city.  One day we ended up at Nineteen at the Bellevue. It’s this cool bar/restaurant at the top of the Bellvue Stratford. My dad used to hang there in the 70’s. How could I go wrong? Follow in dad’s footsteps. You can sit out on these little balconies. I didn’t even know it existed, but she did. She knew many cool spots around the city back then. I was happy to spend time with this beauty, and happy to learn more about the city. We ended up sitting out on one of those balconies looking over the city and sipping martinis.

This was so much better than scuttling down the hallway after her to the billing department like when I was first hired.

One time we were out on calls at the King of Prussia Mall, I wanted to pick up cologne and she wanted to get some perfume. But when they ran our cards we were both were declined for lack of funds. We were poor back then. Maybe we just spent too much money. I think I had my paycheck on me, and I ended up going to a check cashing place so we could go drink after work. I did that and it worked.

Michelle’s desk was near mine so we could always converse and see each other during work. We started leaving at the same time. I would walk her home. We would stop at the Whole Foods out in Fairmount and get some food. I would order salmon and broccoli rabe. I wanted to eat healthier so that I would lose weight. (I was heavier back then) I also wanted to show her I was trying to eat healthier. I don’t know why, I would get the food and heat it up in a microwave they had there. The salmon was okay, but I fucking hated eating that broccoli rabe. It was just chewy grossness. But I was happy just to spend time with Michelle.

Sometimes on a Friday, we’d stop and have drinks somewhere. Maybe at Tir na Nog. We would sit outside along the sidewalk on 16th street. The thing was, that was the route for many of our co-workers. They would walk back to the old building to the parking garage. So they’d walk by, and say hello, but I think they started to suspect that maybe there was something between us. I didn’t give a shit. We were just in the moment, drinking and having great conversations.

Sometimes we’d have lunch with the team, and other times just the two of us. There were times we’d have opportunities to go to things, and we’d stop somewhere for a drink and just end up blowing off the event entirely. Like networking events or even Philllies games. We didn’t care. We just liked being together and feeling the city.

I had even told her about a screenplay I was working on and sent her the first few scenes to read. I had based the female lead on her. Maybe she was to be my new muse. I just figured she’d never read it, but I emailed it to her anyway. I wanted to impress her that I was a sensitive artist. I wanted to let her know I was different than all of the ilk that just wanted to sleep with her. I really liked her as a person.

I started walking her home more and more after work. We’d stop at some cool spots, have a few drinks and then head back to Fairmount. Like I said, we’d stop and get something to eat and then I’d head back to the parking garage and go back to Jersey. I was spending a lot of time with her at work and out at night as well. However, I was growing a little annoyed when her phone would ring and it would be Delaware Dave. She broke up with him some time ago, and they were trying to give it another go. I noticed she would have to go to Delaware to visit him on the weekends. I didn’t like his control over her.

Why did he never come to the city? It seemed like she was making all of the sacrifices. I was having strong feelings for her and I was present. He would just call out of the blue at night when we were out and she always had to take the call. It was so annoying. Life would just stop, and she’d be arguing with him on the phone about who knows what. This happened on several occasions. Actually it happened a lot.

Once at the Ritz Carlton it happened and we had problems. I remember being angry with her due to her indecision. Another time we were out at McCrossin’s, a bar near her apartment. I would just have to sit and wait for her to get done dealing with him. I was here. He was there. I was with her. He was sitting home bitching on the phone. Who is more important? I remember when she got off the phone she said “I just feel like throwing this phone across the street.”  Funny, how this would all play out in some form in the future. Like some black prophecy.

I even wrote her a little verse. I don’t know if she ever kept it, but I gave it to her one night sitting on the stoop outside her building. I was so in love with her.

But for the most part, our times together were lovely.  One night I was walking her home, and we’d had a few drinks. We were listening to her music from her ipod. We had come upon a fountain.  The Swann Memorial Fountain (also known as the Fountain of the Three Rivers) is a fountain sculpture located in the center of Logan Circle. It represents the three major streams in the area. The Delaware, Schuykill and Wissahickon creek. The fountain, by Alexander Stirling Calder designed with Architect Wilson Eyre memorializes Dr. Wilson Cary Swann, founder of the  Philadelphia Fountain Society. The Society had been planning a memorial fountain in honor of its late president and founder. After agreeing that the fountain would become city property, the society was granted the site in the center of Logan Circle.

It’s a beautiful fountain. Sometimes during the summer months, you’ll find many children playing in it to cool off. Michelle and I stopped to relax and chat. She stuck her feet into the water, and before I knew it she was listening to her music and dancing gently in the fountain. She was walking all around in it, avoiding the spouts all around her. It was enchanting to see this woman I loved dance in the illuminated fountain at night. Like I was witnessing a beautiful blonde mermaid that had just gotten her legs and was celebrating her new life on Earth.

So despite my growing frustration with her indecision in regard to her romantic life, I was still having a wonderful time with Michelle when things were good.

Michelle always said: “I have so much fun with you that when the day is over, I wish we could do it all over again.”

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every Monday at 9am EST.

I publish new Dating content every Monday at 9am EST. I publish Updates and bios and stories about Non-Dating related characters, such as male and female friends, on Wednesdays at 9am EST.

Michelle – Chapter 3 – Ignition

I never wonder how history can get to be blurred over time. Details are lost. Words forgotten. Deeds bent and twisted by time and sometimes other factors. The story of Michelle and I only lived in two places. In both of our heads. That’s it. Nowhere else in the world. There is her version. There is my version and somewhere in between there is the truth. But I will do my best to tell this compelling tale.

Michelle was still trying to get acclimated to the job and was coming along. We had been getting pretty close as pals. There was lots of laughs in our department and Michelle fit right in with our band of idiots. Like the rest of the company, everyone liked and respected her.

In our building we had our on lunchroom. Like the watering hole on the savannah, it would not be uncommon to see salespeople, writers, reporters, production people and even management all eating in the same place. Obviously they would all sit in their little cliques together like high school.

One day I asked Michelle if she’d like to join me for lunch up there. She agreed, which I was thrilled about. I could never have imagined in this moment how this day would ultimately end. We’d be moving to our new, modern workspace downtown, so this could be one of the last time anyone of us would be using this lunchroom.

Lunch was nice and people said hello as they passed. I was still relatively new to the company so many people didn’t know who the hell I was but everybody knew Michelle. I don’t remember what we even talked about and it doesn’t even matter. I was just happy to be out of our tiny office and sitting enjoying a simple meal together in public.

After lunch we went back to work as usual. The details are a little fuzzy because this was 8 years ago, but Michelle and several other staff members were all going across the street to a local go-to bar after work for a few drinks. I do remember it was a Thursday, because the next day was Friday and there were moving all of our stuff to the new space. We were to start at the new location the next Monday. I’ll never turn down the offer to have a drink, so when Michelle asked if I was going I said that I’d check it out. I had been there before but only with a co-worker for lunch.

I finished up my work and packed up the last of my stuff. It was probably around 5:30 when I walked over to the parking garage and dropped my computer bag into the trunk of my car. I walked across the street, and entered the establishment. Michelle was sitting at the bar chatting with this young, short jewish guy named Seth who worked in local digital sales. I knew him only in passing because we sold different products than his group. The local sales team were a young, hip, good-looking bunch that always appeared to have it better than the rest of us. I will say this, I liked him. He was hungry and a good sales guy. So he had my respect. I took a seat next to him and Michelle was on the other side of him.

I ordered a glass of wine and we all chatted. Talking about the move to downtown and just regular corporate stuff that happens at every happy hour around the world. At some point Michelle got up to chat with some ladies she was friends with by the jukebox. Seth and I continued to talk. Business, goals, women, bosses, etc. At one point I asked him how his love life was going. He said he had started dating a nice girl and it seemed to be going well. He asked me and I told him I had just moved back from New York and wasn’t seeing anyone. I asked him if he could have any woman who would it be. He looked me right in the eye and with a serious tone said; “Michelle.” I was like, “Really?” He said, “yea, I love her. She’s amazing.” I suppose I would get that answer from any short Jewish guy. A pretty tall blonde on his arm.

Time went by and everyone was throwing back their drinks. People drink a lot in the advertising and financial world. It’s just part of the business. We were all pretty buzzed and everyone was laughing and the place was getting loud. Seth said he had to leave soon, and it looked like Michelle and I were going to stick around a little longer. I thought I’d shake the place up and see if I could get everyone’s attention and maybe annoy them at the same time. It was my turn to feed the jukebox, so I had a plan. I played something popular that everyone liked and then I programmed in Dio’s Holy Diver being performed by Killswitch Engage. I love heavy metal and I’m sure nobody ever places that kind of music in a place like that. But then I programmed a bunch of other songs that were part of my plan.

Seth says his goodbye’s and now it’s just Michelle and I and we’re chatting away and slugging our cheap wine. Frank Sinatra comes on the jukebox. Michelle exclaims that she likes his music and asks if I played those songs. I told her it was indeed me. She smiled.

We continued to talk and tell stories, I told her I  lived in Pennsauken, NJ and how I would ultimately find a place in the city . I always felt like the type of person that should live in a metropolis. I had spent most of my life living in the suburbs wherever I was and hated it. But after getting a taste of city life while in NY I knew where I belonged. Michelle lived in a high-rise apartment building in Fairmount. It was only about six blocks away so she liked walking to work. She had a roommate, who she used to model with a few year ago and they had remained friends and decided to get a place.  She said the apartment had a great southern view of the city.

Then she asked me if I wanted to check out her view. We had been drinking for a couple of hours and were both “tipsy”. I’m being gentle here. It’s like when the police say: “Tipsy driving is still drunk driving.” That’s how tipsy we were.

We literally were outside and she was having a cigarette and we had our wine glasses in our hands, and the next thing I knew we were walking towards her house still caring our glasses of wine and drinking from them. She whips out her iPod, (I had only seen one before in my life. I still had a flip phone back then!) She puts one ear bud in my ear and the other in hers and she’s playing songs for me. It was the first of many surreal episodes I would encounter with Michelle. I asked her wouldn’t the bar be angry if people walked out with full glasses and took them? She said it happened all the time. At that point I didn’t give a shit, I was just happy to be with her. Lunch and then drinks in the same day was a big deal to me. I did notice that if you don’t have both ear buds in your ears the sound quality just isn’t there. But the music was chill and sort of dreamy.

I don’t remember entering her building, nor do I remember going up in the elevator, or entering her apartment. Apparently her roommate was away for the weekend. All I remember is kissing her and her saying my breath was bad. I don’t know why she said that or even why  I remember that, but it didn’t stop me from drunkenly making out with her. I remember some other things happening, but we did not have sex that night. I can’t remember anything else or where  I even slept that night or when the night ended.

I woke up I think on the floor the next morning and was pretty hung over. The beautiful thing was we didn’t have to go into work that day, which was clutch. I remember looking everywhere for my glasses. For the life of me I was looking all over for them and just couldn’t find them. It’s even harder to find your glasses when you’re not wearing your glasses! I did finally locate them. They were under a chair out on her balcony. It had rained during the night and they were all wet but thankfully, undamaged. No idea…

We awkwardly pulled ourselves together, and I’m sure she was probably feeling bad about what transpired, especially because she was working hard to get back together with Delaware Dave. I think we agreed that it was just a case of drunken slipsies (That’s what my Dad calls it) I apologized for the infraction but deep down didn’t regret having it happen.

We said our awkward goodbyes and I told her I would talk to her later. She said she had to go into the office and pick up a few things but that was all. So I did my first Philadelphia walk of shame back to the parking garage under cloudy skies. When I got home I realized I had forgotten to pack the AC adapter to my computer. It was still plugged in the wall under my cubical at the old office. I called Michelle and asked if she could get it for me. She was pretty hung over and she agreed to slip in and out, and get her stuff and grab my adapter for me. Well at least she doesn’t hate me, I thought.

I was so tired and banged up from the events of the night before, I just drove back to Jersey and took a nap at home. It was officially the weekend, and we would all be reporting to the new location Monday morning. I had a lot to think about, but only time would tell what the coming days would bring for us all.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every Monday at 9am EST.

I publish new Dating content every Monday at 9am EST. I publish Updates and bios and stories about related characters, such as male and female friends and acquaintances on Wednesdays at 9am EST.