California Dreamin’ – 1982 to 1984 – Merlin McFly’s

In June 1979, a bar “with a magical theme” opened in Santa Monica. It was called Merlin McFly’s and was notable for its décor: nine stained glass windows depicting Merlin, Aladdin, Houdini, a fire-eater (below) and other notable names from the history of magic and sorcery. It was part of a chain of bar/grills across California, the other “family members” – Maxwell, Maestro, Maggie, Sly and Sky – also offering imaginative décor (heavy on the stained glass windows of course) and definitely looking to entertain their customers.

I worked there in 1983, first as a food cashier for the kitchen. I’d take the food orders, ring up the sale and pass the ticket to the cooks. I later was trained as a cook, and for the first time in my life started cooking meals. Before I came to Cali, I lived with my parents so all of my meals were cooked by my parents or I ate out somewhere. Usually fast food.

But this is really where I learned to cook. I still consider myself the “king of the fire pit grill.”

I remember there were two managers. I think their names were John and Renee. I don’t know if either of them had spouses but I know for a fact they were doing plenty of coke up in the office and were totally banging each other.

Oh, there was this other guy that managed for a short time. He was a fat clown. I remember he went on a game show, called Dream House. You could win a house if you crushed all of the questions. he’s bragging to the whole staff about when he’s going on the show and tells us all to watch him win. We’re all like, whatever.

So the day comes and we all crowd around the TV set in the office. He’s on there looking all goofy and cocky and they ask him this question: “If you fed a cow cocoa beans she would give chocolate milk.”

Him: “I agree.”

And like that he was off the show. In and out. We ripped him apart when he returned to work.

There were roaming magicians in the restaurant and would come to your table while you ate or drank and would do close up magic for you and your guests. It was such  cool place to work.

The wait staff were all hot women, that were dressed all in black. Tight lycra low cut body suits. Stockings, either fishnets or nude. They all wore a black skirt that revealed one of their legs. (Of course it was my mission to work there) They all looked like magician’s assistants.

I remember this especially hot one. Heather was a tall blonde that everybody loved. She looked like my ex girlfriend Michelle but 24 years old and long blonde hair.  It was my birthday and Heather walked up to me and French kissed me sensuously on the lips. I was shocked and stunned and turned on all in the same moment. Everybody loved it and laughed as I limped back into the kitchen. Nothing ever happened but it’s just something Heather could get away with anytime she wanted. Like a tigress that couldn’t be caged ad lived by her own rules.

One night I was emptying the dirty fat from the fryer. This was done but attaching a nozzle to an opening on the lower part of the fryer. Then I would get a big metal pot. Huge. Two feet tall. Like a huge metal bucket with metal handles on the side. I’d stick the metal pot under the nozzle and then turn on the spigot. This was done a few nights a week. The oil would get dirty and you have to change it so your fried foods don’t come out all brown and gross. Those fries need to be crisp and golden!

So I’m letting all of this hot empty out of the fryer and into the big pot. It’s the end of the night and the kitchen is closing. So it’s after midnight. The fryer has been off for a bit so the 350 degree oil has cooled down a bit. Plus it’s dirty so it will cool faster because it’s not as pure as fresh fat.

As you know, metal is a great conductor. So when the oil enters the pot it heats up the metal. You have to put towels around the two handles on the side to carry the pot. When it’s full, you have to pick it up, and carry it through the slippery floored kitchen and therough the dishwashing section and out the back door to outside. This thing is very heavey, awkward to carry and is filled with hot oil. I hate this part of the job more than any other part.

I get the pot outside and I have to pour the hot contents into a big metal upright barrel. Usually that goes with out a hitch.

But not tonight. I leaned the big pot against it and started to pour it in the barrel when the barrel tipped towards me and the contents of the barrel splashed back into my face!

I’m freaking out. It’s burned my face and gone in my eyes and I call for help.

The good news is. It had rained earlier so there was a load of cool water down in the bottom of that barrel. So that cooled the oil down from whatever nightmarish temperature it was was when I carried it out here. So I was okay, but I couldn’t see because the oil had gotten in my eyes. One of the Mexican dishwashers came out to help me get inside.

The manager and one of the waitresses, Holly came over and sat with me. They cleaned me up and asked if I was okay. I could see just fine but my face was a bit red but I’d live. They asked if they could get me anything. (Thinking about it now I think they were afraid I’d sue or something) I told them I wanted a 151 and coke. Done. I was all better.

We had this huge doorman named Ivan. When the employee meal went out I always gave him and extra load of whatever was on it. Extra chick, steak or whatever. I would call his name to come pick up his meal and he would always smile and drop a couple of joints next to the plate on the rack as he picked it up. It was like one fluid moment. Hand off plate, joints dropped, snatched, and slipped into my pocket. Thanks to Ivan there was never a shortage of weed.

I would do the same for a few of the girls that worked there and they would bring rum and cokes to me and the other chef. So even back then I knew how to get the hookup. Learned from the best…my Dad!

I’ll write in other posts about my celebrity meeting at this fun establishment.

The great thing about doing a bunch of different jobs in your life is, it gives you a different perspective on life and you really do learn a lot of skills in a variety of environments.

A Merlin McFly’s advertisement promised it was a place of “madness, magic and friendly spirits” and that their menu offered the delights of their “mystic burgers” and “wizard ribs”. “Fun is the password” said another in 1984, which had a hand-drawn picture of “P. Eye McFly” and report of the “The Great Restaurant Mystery”, an “investigation” into the McFly’s family tree and their restaurants.

By that time though, Merlin McFly’s was having some trouble. (I was gone by then so I missed all of the trouble.) There were local problems with drug dealing, the city of Santa Monica had an ancient licensing rule about “Dance Halls” that meant McFly’s theoretically had to impose a cover charge, and then there was the issue that hit many singles bars very hard: the rising awareness and fear of HIV and AIDS.

When the bar closed, there were dozens of calls when it was announced that the windows would be on sale – at a price of $325,000. Steve Spill at the nearby Magicopolis magic theater bought the windows a year or two later and then sold them to a collector who put them in a stained glass museum in Washington, DC.

Today, Sly McFly’s in Monterey is the only one left, and their website’s amusing “story” of aspiring race car driver Sly mentions how he finished second at the Trophy Race in Ulster – a connection to Finn McCool’s Irish Bar, which is owned by Belfast-born Geraldine Gilliland and is now at that spot on Main Street.

Geraldine wears funky glasses and has long, red hair, and originally started out working at a restaurant in her native Northern Ireland. She grew up during the early days of “The Troubles” – “I used to fall to the kitchen floor when the bombs started going off” – and like many others she moved away, eventually finding herself in Los Angeles:

“I found LA very exotic – they spoke a different language, even though it was English! It was very scary actually – I didn’t know anyone at all, (but) I fell in love with Santa Monica after I drove from New York. When I saw the beach I cashed in my Greyhound bus ticket and my return ticket to Ireland too.”

As soon as she arrived, she started working over the grill and has continued ever since. Gilliland’s Cafe opened its doors in 1984, and she began her own catering company soon after. It was an immediate success, providing Christmas puddings to Bloomingdales, Dean & Deluca and Balducci’s in New York, but it was her mix of California and Irish cuisines that really established Gerri’s reputation on a national scale.

The cantina-style Lula Cocina was next in 1991, and 1994 saw Jake and Annie’s American-Irish Café, which eventually become Finn McCool’s and officially opened under this name a few days before St. Patrick’s Day in 2002.

As for any ghosts or strange stories, Spill hadn’t ever heard anything about Merlin McFly’s, but Gilliland – who has now been here for nearly 20 years – had:

“There were ghosts in the bathrooms. It was said that every time you washed your hands and looked in the mirror, an apparition appeared.”

The bathrooms at Finn McCool’s are in the same place as they were when Merlin was weaving his spells, but after emailing John Forbes at Bonny Doon Art Glass I found out exactly where the ghosts came from:

“The bathrooms had special effects in them; the mirrors were one-way and when the lights in the bathroom dimmed, the light behind the mirror came on illuminating the figure of the “ghost”. It made for startling looks on people’s faces as they saw the ghost figure appearing in the mirror!”

There was no further archival evidence of any strange events or stories here, so it seems that since this ghostly story has an earthly explanation, you’re safe in the smallest room. Still, it’s kind of a shame that the “ghost” special effect isn’t there anymore.

Forbes also recalled the Merlin stained glass image:

“The back bar had a stained glass image of Merlin and at midnight lasers would turn on, shooting red beams across the room – it looked pretty cool as it pierced through the drifting smoke. Wow, that took me back! Merlin’s was a really fun project, a lot of creative energy.”

 

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Cherie – Chapter 1 – Love At First Swipe

“She has youth and beauty, and as I’m finding out about myself, I’m bored with anything else. She fits the criteria. Young. Attractive. Slender. She seems intelligent. Articulate. Good communication skills for the most part. Likes scary movies and thrillers. Getting her education. Works two jobs. What could go wrong?”

I was literally about to begin writing this, and I just got a text from Cherie, so I hope that means something. I’ve responded back with “You must be psychic! I was just thinking about you.” (I was thinking about her because I was just about to write the first half of this very chapter.)

We swiped right on each other on Tinder. Cherie is a 26-year-old attractive, fit, black woman whose zodiac sign is Scorpio. When we first connected I sent her a simple, hello. She got back to me and said she was doing well, but she sitting in a boring class. She’s apparently studying developmental neuroscience. Once the small talk and pleasantries were dismissed, I asked her my standard question. “What prompted you to swipe right on my profile?”

She expressed that she liked the things I wrote in my bio. She said she likes to laugh and dine out, and like me, she’s a good listener. That’s pretty standard fare so far. Everybody likes to laugh and go out to dinner.

I truly hope that she’s a good listener, because I like to talk.

Then she asked me the same question. I told her that she seemed like an intelligent person who wanted to do big things. I really just read her brief profile about her being a neuroscience and psychology major, that had high dreams and aspirations, and spun it back to her in my own words.

I’ve heard from several of the women I’ve spoken to on Tinder that many times when they connect with someone, there is this long period of texting. Sometimes it doesn’t materialize into anything. Since I’ve operated in the real world my whole life, I like to establish things soon, and try to get a meeting. Sound like I’m in sales? I am. Depending on the client you always want to close as soon as possible. Keeps your numbers up and your pipeline full. So I move right in and ask her if she’s like to meet up for a drink sometime.

She thanks me for the compliment and agrees she has big dreams. (I know, I read it on your profile.) She says that having a drink with me sounds like a great idea. That was fast. My next response was positive affirmation and my cell number. She says she’ll send me a text.

Now, that looks like it happened very quickly but it actually didn’t. I was living my life all day, and she was probably in and out of classes and whatever else. That brief and pointed exchange began at 9:45am and ended at 3:30pm. Five and a half hours later! Now I just had to wait to see if she was going to text me.

Within moments she did. We continued our conversation off Tinder. She went on to tell me that she works as a medical assistant at a hospital, and also works at a pediatric office! 2 jobs and school? Wow! I tell her briefly my stuff, and she goes on to say that she loves her jobs because she gets to help people, but they can be stressful. I then hit her with how I get my energy from people and enjoy bringing people together personally and professionally. She likes that, and reveals that she’s a shy person at first but then she opens up after a bit.

I try to get her out for a Wednesday night drink.

I don’t hear from her for the rest of the day. She finally gets back to me and apologizes for the silence. She had a very long day with school and work. She re-affirms that she’d like to meet me for a drink, but she works late on Wednesdays but the weekend is probably better. I tell her I’m free Saturday. She’s available in the afternoon. I lock it down for 2pm Saturday. I tell her I’ll pick the spot. She thinks that sounds great.

That was early in the week. A lot can happen in 5 days. So I ping her Wednesday just to keep the current going. We participate in some light banter about the weather and our days events.

I ask another one of my standards: “What do you like to do when you’re not working or studying?” She likes movies, dining out and dancing, etc. I tell her I’m a former musician and not much of a dancer, but love movies and dining out too. I want to know what kind of movies she likes because that would be a splendid second date.

She likes scary movies and thrillers. I tell her I like the same. (I actually like a myriad of film genres but for this exchange, liking the same thing she likes works) I follow with “Let’s go to the movies together soon!” See what I did there?  I’m actually setting up a second date with a woman I haven’t even met for the first time yet. I’m reading her responses. She’s smart. I don’t ask or suggest, I simply say: “Let’s go see a movie together soon.” She responds with, “That sounds like a great idea. Notice how she uses the word “Sounds?” She is a good listener like she said. It reminds me of a thing that my ex-girlfriend Michelle does when I talk to her. She stays attentive to what I’m saying and usually mirrors my words back to me in affirmation. I like that Cherie is doing the same thing. Michelle does that all the time. (See: Michelle – 2007 to Present – A Brand New Day) I love Michelle for that. and she doesn’t even know about her gift. (Ordoes she?)

Cherie says she hasn’t seen too many commercials for scary movies lately. I tell her I’ll look into it. She responds that she thinks that’s nice. I like her manners already. I just hope that if I take her to a scary movie she doesn’t start yelling things like: “Don’t go in there!” or “Get out the house, fool!”

I’m going to go ahead and apologize to everyone reading this in advance for that last bit.

It’s getting late. As a gentle reminder, I tell her she seems really cool, and that I’m really looking forward to meeting her on Saturday.

Crickets.

But at 7:30 the next morning I get a mirrored response. “Good Morning. Thanks you seem cool as well. I’m looking forward to meeting you.” I simply respond with a smiley face. Which brings us back to tonight when I began this chapter. As I finish this part she has responded. “Lol, I highly doubt I’m psychic but thanks. It’s a busy but productive day as well.”

The date is supposed to happen on Saturday. We’re supposed to meet for a drink. It’s Thursday and there is some small talk texts leading up to it. I want to keep the embers glowing until we meet. We chat about our days, and what shows we’re watching. I ask her if she is a beer, wine or a cocktail girl. This way I can gauge where we should meet. She says she’s a beer girl. Then she says she doesn’t really like alcohol and then says: “What about you?” I tell her I enjoy an occasional drink socially. (A bold-faced lie) I ask her if she’d rather meet for brunch instead of a drink on Saturday.

She chooses brunch. I ask her if she has any dietary concerns. She says no, but she is a really unhealthy but picky eater, and thanks me for asking and do I have any. I tell her I can eat anything. So I ask her if she has any preferences. She loves seafood and breakfast food. That sounds perfectly fine to me. I thought of several places I could take her, but went with my go to: Square 1682. The staff knows me. The food’s great, and the service is on point. She can have seafood or breakfast food and so can I.

Friday I text her a “Happy Friday” meme around 5pm. I tell her I look forward to meeting her at Square 1682 for brunch Saturday at 2pm.

She replies: “Where is that at?” I wanted to reply: “I keep forgetting that I am the only one on Earth with iPhone technology because I came from the future, and I also don’t end my sentences with prepositions!” Of course I don’t.

But I do say: “Here, let me google that for you.” And send her a screenshot of Square 1682’s webpage from my phone. She thanks me like nothing happened, because to her, technically nothing did. She closes with: “I’m looking forward to meeting you too.” (Redeemed)

So far just texting her, I like this chick. I’m really looking forward to meeting her Saturday. She seems really sweet. I just pray that she isn’t just meeting with me for free food and drinks. I mean, that could happen. It’s happened before. She is a student. But she has youth and beauty, and as I’m finding out about myself, I’m bored with anything else. She fits the criteria. Young. Attractive. Slender. She seems intelligent. Articulate. Good communication skills for the most part. Likes scary movies and thrillers. Getting her education. Works two jobs. What could go wrong?

 

 

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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Harper – 2014 to 2015 – Part 2 – Plane Explodes. No Survivors

Another tale of one man’s journey navigating his way through the dating scene in Philadelphia.

South Street

I once hung out with her on South Street. She bought little Indian finger bells to clear the aura or feng shui of a room she was working on. Then she bought a chair and had me carry it on my head across town back to her apartment. It really was the easiest way to transport it, but I looked like a wicker turtle walking around with that on my head. When I got to her place she gave me a glass of scotch. Then she asked me to turn a big rug in the living room. What am I, the hired hand?

She lived with two or three other people in this house in a crappy neighborhood. She said she used to have sex with her one roommate, but then he got a girlfriend and stopped banging her. So now she says she has to listen to them have sex in the next bedroom. She doesn’t like that. I think it’s funny that she thinks it’s ok to shit where you eat. We had a cig and then she took me up to her room.

For an “interior designer’ it was a bit messy. Her underwear on the floor and what not. She showed me that the room was broken into four “stations” and each one had different magic stones or crystals on the furniture in that space. It was supposed to give off different energies. Yea, just crazy shit. But I will tell you this… Crazy is only good in one room of the house and it’s not the kitchen. At least I got to take that kind of her crazy for a test drive that afternoon.

Seaport Museum

I was invited to an event at the Seaport Museum. I was with Harper on South Street. We were at a bar called Tattooed Mom’s. There was going to be tons of free food and booze at the event. It was if she wanted to get a few drinks into her before she went. Maybe she has social anxiety. But then she tells me she rode her bike to South Street. WTF? So I have to call an UBER, but one that is an SUV, because we have to pack her bike in the back of it. Then drive to her house. Then she has to get changed, so we can then get to the event. I was aggravated and pissed, but I still liked her.

So we finally get to The Seaport Museum. We’re late and you know how much I hate lateness. I get a drink and as I literally walk outside to smoke a cigarette, these dudes bum smokes from me. But before I can lie and say I left them inside, fucking Harper says, sure! Then looks at me for the cigs. I fucking hate that. I’m taking it on the chin for $10 a pack now. That shit isn’t cheap. These guys are around her age and she immediately starts chatting them up like I’m not even there. You treat her really well and she just goes and starts flirting with other guys. She’s awful.

I go inside to get away from these turds and to get another refill because I need it. I run into my pal Johnny R. and I’m happy to see him. He can see I’m stressed about getting down here and her behavior. We get some drinks and chat a bit. He’s with his girlfriend and another couple so he has to hang back with them. I run into another friend and he can see I’m stressed but the booze is helping like always. Knocking the edge right off.

I see another girl who is equally nuts that I know, and I just avoid her and get back to Harper. (See: Kylie – 2014 to 2015 – Broken Wing) She’s done chatting with the smoke bums and gives them her business cards. I know they’re just going to call her to try to bang her. But I can’t worry about that. I think I had such a good buzz on that night I almost bought her a painting she liked. I was not thinking clearly back then.

I once took her to Matyson (One of my favorite restaurants that sadly isn’t around anymore) and she acted like a drunk asshole. Spilling champagne, etc.

Horrible Night

One night we went to a nice wine bar called Tria near Washington Square. I knew the waiter so I got the hookup. She was somewhat well-behaved there but it seems the more she drinks, the crazier she becomes.

After that we went to Indeblue in mid-town. It’s a cool Indian bar. All I remember was her putting stupid cocktail napkins on her head and having me take her picture with the bartender, Awful. Then she wants to stop for one more drink at Fergie’s pub. We go in there and she makes everybody at the bar move down so we can sit down. She proceeds to make fun of the bartender, saying how she thinks he’s mentally dim-witted. She starts chatting with some older dude on the other side of her and then said she was leaving. She asked if I was going to leave as well, and I told her I was staying. She left and I was already chatting with a pretty black girl to my right.

Once she came over to do tarot cards with me and started rearranging the furniture in my house. Oh, and drank non-stop. Insane! Who does shit like that?

I heard from a good friend of mine that on one of her interior design gigs, she rolled a chair into a closet and onto a $5,000 wedding dress. That was after she just dropped her keys onto the client’s Steinway piano when she came in. She didn’t get the job.

I can’t talk about this idiot anymore. It’s making me angry just writing about this lunatic.

This could all be chalked up to a few things. Mental illness mixed with alcohol and drugs.

 

 

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Antonia – Possibly a Mob Front?

“The square shaped balding man burst through the kitchen door with two glasses of water for us, and in a very loud and deep voice, he explained that it was his birthday, and we would eat what he felt like making us.”

Well, this one time I took my friend Antonia to dinner at (what seemed to be) a front for some type of illicit activity.

She had just moved to a new area, and we wanted to check out the local shops and restaurants. While we were wandering, we stumbled into a tiny Italian place. Back home, the small hole-in-the-wall restaurants always have the best food, so we were excited to give it a shot. Big curtains were covering the entry windows, so we had no idea what was inside until we trudged through the door.

Inside, we were met with emptiness and silence. We both immediately thought the place was closed, and I spun around and searched for the store hours posted somewhere on the door. While I was looking, we heard a heavy THUD as a young woman barked “I’ll be right with you!”

She appeared, greeted us confusingly, and asked us ‘what she could do for us’. Which, looking back, is probably a red flag. But we were naive and hungry, so we said we were there for dinner. She looked puzzled but motioned us to follow her to a booth right by the entrance.

She then disappeared into the back, and we heard a muffled conversation between our hostess and a man. The consensus was basically they were not prepared for us or didn’t know how to proceed. I asked my date if she wanted to split, but she insisted we stay for the story.

The square shaped balding man burst through the kitchen door with two glasses of water for us, and in a very loud and deep voice, he explained that it was his birthday, and we would eat what he felt like making us. We whole-heartedly agreed.

We waited around thirty minutes, and he again returned with three large bowls of spaghetti and meat sauce. He placed two bowls in front of us, and one next to me for himself. He sat with us and ate. We had light and awkward conversation with him during, and he kept asking us jokingly if we were cops or with the health board. He was incredibly nervous about us, so my date kept cracking corny puns or awful jokes because he would forcibly laugh at anything designed with humor. We talked about our lives, the cities we’ve lived in, our pets (he had a teacup Chihuahua named Princess) and his wife.

He decided we were good people and didn’t charge us for the meal. We wished him a happy birthday, he hugged us, and we went on our way. Easily the best spaghetti I’ve ever had in my life. The restaurant, unfortunately, no longer exists.

 

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Marisa – Part III – Lost in the Translation

One man’s quest to find love in this city

Marisa gets back to me in regard to my arrival at the restaurant. The lunch is set for 1pm.

Let the madness unfold here…

12:45

Me: I’m at the restaurant and our reservation is for 1pm

12:51

Her: Hey Ok, I’m gonna be there.

Me: Ok. (smiley face and thumbs up)

(She’s lost.)

1:00

Her: Hold on.

Me: Ok

1:22

Her: Hey where is actually. the hotel.

(Hotel? What? Why doesn’t she know where the place is? I’ve given her the name and address three times.)

Me: 18th and JFK Blvd. Right on the corner.

1:23

Her: the restaurant

Does she have a flip phone?

Me: Where are you? Yes. (Name of restaurant)

Her: Ok. Sorry. Walking. Cause. I’m.

Me: Ok. Where are you now? I’ve been waiting here for half an hour.

1:27

Her: I was lost. I’m sorry. I’m walking now.

Me: Where are you now? Ok

Her: I went the other side.

On the other side? The other side of what? The city? The Earth? Has she died and gone over to the other side and is texting me from beyond the grave?

It’s been forty-five minutes now. I have asked her three times now what her present location is, and she hasn’t responded with and answer. Where the fuck is she? I can walk from Penn’s Landing back to Rittenhouse in forty minutes.

Me: Ok. Where are you now?

1:35

Her: Near by

(Nearby what???? I hate lateness. As I said above, that was drilled into my soul by my father.)

Me: Near what? What is the cross street of your present location? ???

(I hear nothing but the familiar roar of frustrating crickets.)

I should fucking leave. On top of all, of this there are two assholes that have been sitting at MY table for over an hour and a half. They finished eating a half hour ago and are just dawdling.

I hate everyone now.

Except Mary. She doesn’t know this is a date with a young Filipino delish that looks like it’s not happening.

I haven’t heard anything from her. It’s been an hour that I’ve been waiting and texting this idiot.

Marisa stood me up.

It’s now nearly 2pm and I have been here for over an hour. I tell Mary I’m just going to leave and tell Marisa I have other appointments and I can’t wait around anymore. Mary agrees. I tell her I am very busy, but I miss her and want to see her. She is her usual self and feels the same. The thing with Mary is; she has never been married, no kids, so she isn’t romantically minded. She actually is unable to be lovey and flirty at all. She explained this to me on one of our dates. I understand. This tells me that I can either remove her armor or simply be the man who opens her up.

“I’m not a player” she says.

I ask her to explain. Mary says that she’s not used to being in the game anymore. “It takes me a long time to warm up.”

“There are other ways to warm you up, Mary.” I smile, and look away.

It’s all very interesting to me how I am now. I want her, but if I never saw her again, I’d be just fine. I see me in her apartment, watching movies with her and us kissing, and then me taking her. This is new to me. I normally have spent my life with younger women. Maybe now that I’m spending time with some of these older women, the scale has shifted, and now I’m the jewel.

I tell her that we should go to Doobies (awesome dive bar) and get some cheap drinks and food and catch up. She agrees. I tell her I’ve never left a restaurant because of a delayed or failed client. She says, “Tell them you were here and had to go meet other clients. It’ll put you in a position of strength. They were late or cancelled, and you were here on time. You were on point. They blew it. Now they owe you.”

Mary’s great.

I leave and head over to 17th and Market. I was supposed to have eaten lunch an hour ago. I head for my favorite hot dog street cart. I’m done with this chick. I order a grilled dog from the cart. I go for the brown mustard of course. I don’t need a bag. I’m going to ram that burnt crispy dog into my open maw like a baby Caiman.

I decide before my two afternoon appointments that have now been compromised by this silly, scatterbrained girl, I’ll stop over at the salon and commiserate with my partner, Achilles. I get there and rage out on how frustrated I am with these idiots. He agrees and comes back full force. We’re a good team.

Then this text comes in when I am at the salon. Remember, I got there at 12:45 for our 1pm lunch. It is now 2pm.

1:55

Her: Hey I’m here a cross. What is the restaurant. Name. I’m calling you. I’m here. Hi. Are you still here. Are you. Still here.

2:03

Me: I left

Her: Pls. Reply. Still here.

Me: Are you really there?

2:05

Her: Yes. Misconduct tavern. ? I’m here. Where are you

Me: Ok. On my way.

I jump in a taxi and head back to the restaurant. At this point I’m just doing it for the blog.

Her: I cannot.

Me: Cannot what?

Her: Use. The phone. To call now. I cannot. I was using. Someone. Phone. Ok.

2:08

Me: I’ll be there in 2 minutes

Her: K. I’m in restroo

I walk back into the restaurant

Me: Ok. I’m at the table.

Her: Ok

Goddammit.

 

Tune in tomorrow for the crazy conclusion!

 

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

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Clarice – Chapter 2 – New Years Eve Brunch

Another tale of one man’s journey navigating his way through the dating scene in Philadelphia.

On our first date, Clarice had said she wanted to go to see Rogue One with me. I agreed. We were to meet that Saturday and check it out.

I was on my way to somewhere, and I stopped at the salon. I was chatting with Trish. People were asking about the holiday hours that were posted at the counter. “You’re covering my shift this Saturday, right?”  She said.

I was caught completely off guard.

“Yea, remember you said you’d work for me this saturday, because I’m going home Friday to see my aunt and uncle and my parents for the holiday.”

I’m looking at my phone in my calendar. I don’t see it. I put everything in my calendar for just this reason.

“I’m supposed to see Rogue One…” Obviously not the answer Trish was looking for.

“I don’t see it in my calendar. Was I drunk when we made this plan?”

“I don’t know when you’re drunk!”

“Are you saying I’m drunk all the time?”

“No!” Trish looks like she’s about to cry. “I guess I can see my aunt and uncle next year…”

“Settle down. hang on. I’m going to make a phone call.”

I step out of the salon and go into the empty space next door. (It hasn’t been rented for three years) I call Clarice. Great thing is, being an older person she actually answers her phone. I explain my dilemma, and how I’ve got a friend and co-worker ready to squirt some tears in the salon. Clarice is completely understanding. I actually was happy to pick up the hours. I can go see Rogue One anytime. It would probably have been packed anyway.

I want to see her again, so I reach out to her a week later. I lock her down for brunch on New Years Eve. I’ve never been a fan of New Years anything, so it’s nice if I can do something during the day and then go home by nightfall. That’s when all of the amateur animals come out.

Saturday rolls around and I head to Jones. It’s a Stephen Starr restaurant at 8th and Chestnut. I forgot how noisy of a place it was. Hard surfaces and a high ceiling. They serve a lot of comfort food, and the place is decked out in 1970’s decor. It’s one in the afternoon and the place is swinging. I check my coat and wait for her. She appears on time. You know I like that.

She looks really good. Hair looks amazing. Those flowing raven tresses. Leather jacket, jeans and boots. Hot.

“Wow this place is busy. Are we even going to be able to get a table?” she says.

“We do when I have a reservation.”

The hostess takes us to our table. I’m happy to be here. I haven’t set foot in this place in over three years. We’re chatting and looking at the menus. I really dig their mac and cheese. So I suggest we share a bowl of that with a side of siracha. She agrees.

The server comes back. Clarice goes with a glass of prosecco, and I do a Yards Pale Ale. I put in for the mac n’ cheese, and let her order first. She’s not ready, but asks me to go first. I tell her I’ll speak slowly to give her more time. I go with the puffy french toast.

“That’s what I was going to order! I’ll have that too.” she says

“Should I order something else?”

“You should, so we can share.” Her again with the controlling. (This is eventually probably going to be a problem)

Am I imagining this? Am I being over sensitive? I’ll allow it. I decide to go with the Quiche. Because  I love quiche and I’m a real man. I looked at it before and it was my second choice after the french toast. At least it’ll be healthier.

“That was my second choice!” she quips. (Hmm…)

It’s noisy but I’m happy to see her and I’m having a lovely day. The weather is great and we’re right on the edge a new year. The mac n’ cheese arrives. It’s bubbling fresh in the bowl. Looks delish!

We rip into that, and it’s just as good as I remember. Brunch arrives a little premature, but it’s 1:30 and I haven’t eaten yet today so I’m in the mood for food. Everything looks and tastes great and we’re sharing.

After a while the place empties out somewhat and it’s a bit more quiet. we’re discussing the holidays and family, etc. For some reason I can really tickle this lady. I just start talking about stuff and she laughs her head off.

I ask her how her other dates went. She said she checked in with the Delaware guy on Wednesday about that evening, and he said he was boarding a plane. He didn’t reach out to cancel. He was just going to bail. She obviously took offense and didn’t respond. He texted her again on Saturday and she just ignored it. The friday guy she cancelled. It was supposed to be his third date with her, but when he was saying things like he wanted to come to her house and cuddle she was put off. Maybe the fool thought the third date rule somehow applied to this thoroughbred.

I kind of like that after she went out with me, everybody else either screwed up or dropped off. My Led Zeppelin prophecy came true!

I should probably get to the 300 pound gorilla in the room. The bill comes. Granted, she had two proseccos and I had three beers. The drinks are what kill you. The bill was like seventy-three dollars. My eyes are watering. I look at it and I’m like, wow. Oh well, its New Years. I don’t make a big fuss over it publicly because that makes me look like a cheap skate and we all know that I am more than generous. I let the moment steam a bit, just in case there is help on the way…

Come on… just reach into your bag and offer the tip. Just the tip, baby…. You can do it. It’s going to be 2017. Equal rights for women. Please…….?

Nope. Not a fucking dime from the CEO boss lady.

Killing me.

We leave and enjoy a leisurely stroll down Chestnut Street. We’re headed west back towards center city. I have to go meet my friend Carly around 4:30, to help her set up for New Years Eve at the restaurant where she works. Clarice says she can hop on the next train back to Upper Darby anytime.

We reach Broad Street. I mention to her that they’ve remodeled the whole “rotunda” (bar area) of the Ritz Carlton across the street. “Wanna pop in and check it out?” Clarice is down for that. Maybe they’re handing out free drinks. I know she’d like that!

We head inside and the place looks gorgeous. It’s all decorated for the holidays and they have reconfigured the space. All of the furniture is new, and there is more private spaces around the room. The bar has been completely redone. they moved it outward from the wall and now you can sit all the way around it. Plus there are little booth seats against the back wall now. I need to come back here for happy hour again soon. Maybe with someone else though.

Just sayin’.

As we enter the main room there is a pretty black girl holding a tray of champagne. I can’t believe it. Free drinks. “Happy New Year.” She smiles. Clarice and I each grab a glass and look for a seat. We see several areas that have “Reserved” signs on them. We walk by several empty areas that are like that. “Oh that one is reserved too.” I say. as we’re walking by a seated couple. “They’re all reserved, she says with obvious disappointment in her voice. Clarice speaks: “Fuck this. Let’s goes sit over there.”

“We can’t. This is the Ritz Carlton, we can’t just do that.” I reply.

Wow. What a change in attitude since my days with Michelle. We take off our coats and get comfortable on the pillow covered sofas in our little enclosure.

“Fuck it. I’m doing it. If whoever this is reserved for shows up, we’ll apologize for not seeing the sign and leave.”

“But I can clearly see the sign right there on the table, Clarice.”

With a backward swipe of her hand she knocks the sign off the table. “C’mere.” She says as she grabs me and kisses me passionately. Now we got a show. She’s taking the sting right of that bill from Jones.

“I thought you said no PDA?”

“This is private enough.” She pulls me in for more kisses. She’s a hot lady. Maybe this is what Valerie and June were missing. That youthful fire that this sixty-one year old still possesses. She was in show biz for years so I know how these carny folk are all horny, but it’s a good thing.

“You know what I’d like to do that I’ve never done?” She purrs.

“What?”

“I wanna go to a strip club.”

“Noted. I’ll take you to Delilah’s one day.”

I need to write that down in the notepad of my phone as ‘Things to do with Clarice’. We’re just hanging on the sofa and nobody is saying anything. I’ve really got her laughing. We’re having a good time sipping our free champagne. I do realize that I have to go meet with Carly, so we finish our bubbly and head out. Of course I help her with her coat.

We walk a few blocks and I’ve got to keep heading west, and she’s got to go north to jump on the subway. I thank her for the day and she smooches me again. I do like Clarice. I’m attracted to her, and want to see her again.

Maybe one day when we’re someday watching Season Two of Phicklephilly on Netflix, I’ll look back on these moments and laugh. But right now this research is costing me a small fortune. I think I’ll find true love when I meet a woman that doesn’t want anything from me.

Maybe she’ll  just want me for me.

 

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

Instagram: @phicklephilly    Facebook: phicklephilly