Ann Marie- 2015 to Present – Rose Among Thorns

“Oh come on Jimmy, we all know why you always sit at the very end of the bar. Just so you can check out Ann Marie!”

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I did some work in the morning, and then was to meet up with Church for lunch. We met at one of my favorite Monday lunch spots in Rittenhouse. Can’t beat a $5 cheesesteak and fries or tots to kick off your week at Cavanaugh’s.  I get there and of course my girl Ann Marie says hello and immediately delivers to my table a water and diet coke. She always uses my name and provides outstanding hospitality. I always get the same thing when I go there on Mondays and she knows exactly what I want. It’s a little slow in this sports bar, so Ann Marie hops up in the chair across from me and we start chatting.

I ask her how her trip to California was with her Mother. Ann Marie is getting married in October so she and her mom and sister went out there to pick up a special Vietnamese wedding dress.

While traditional clothes of Vietnam have always been very diverse depending on the era and occasion, after the Nguyen Dynasty women began to wear elaborate Ao dai for their weddings. These dresses were modeled after the Áo mệnh phụ (royal Áo dài) of Nguyễn Dynasty court ladies. The style of the Nguyễn Dynasty has remained popular and is still used in current-day Vietnamese wedding attire. The difference between the Áo mệnh phụ and the typical Áo dài is the elaborateness of its design. The former is usually embroidered with imperial symbols such as the phoenix and includes an extravagant outer cloak. This gown is preferably in red or pink, and the bride usually wears a khan dong headdress. The groom wears a simpler male equivalent of the dress, often in the color blue.

Apparently she’s having a Vietnamese wedding and then a Catholic wedding after that. Then there is the reception of course. So basically Ann Marie’s wedding day is going to last from 11am till the last person stumbles out of the reception.

An engagement ceremony usually occurs half a year or so before the wedding. In the past, most marraiges were arranged by the parents or extended family, and while children were sometimes consulted, it was nearly always the parents’ final decision. It was not unusual for the bride and groom to meet for the first time at the day of their engagement. However, in the last few decades, Vietnamese women and men marry based on love rather than arranged marriages.

Preparation for the traditional Vietnamese wedding begins with choosing a date and time for the marriage ceremony. This is decided by a Buddhist monk, Spiritual leader, or fortune teller due to the spiritual nature of the occasion. This tradition may change if the family is Catholic. (Which our westernized Ann Marie is)

The wedding consists of an extensive set of ceremonies: asking permission to receive the bride, receiving the bride at her house, and bringing the bride to the groom’s house. Both Vietnamese and oversea-Vietnamese who desire to have a hybrid traditional Vietnamese and Western-style wedding will often incorporate the last two ceremonies with the Western-style wedding.

And then obviously at the end of the ceremonies, there is one reception for the two families and guests. Sounds like it’s going to be a big day for our girl.

“I told my bridesmaids to just keep me hydrated and energized to make it through a very long day!”

I’ve known Ann Marie for a few years now. We never hang out, I just know her from the sports bar. There are a million sports bars out there, but your staff is really what makes the difference. That goes for any business. There are bars I go to and I love the guy that works every Monday night, but I wouldn’t set foot in that place on a Wednesday if he’s not working.

Ann Marie’s great. It also doesn’t hurt that she’s really cute and fit. There’s a group of construction workers that come in and drink some afternoons and they only come in when Ann Marie is working. They love her like we do. There were days I would be sitting at my table in the back and I would be working on my laptop. I’d pop out for a smoke and one of the guys would be out there and we’d be chatting. Next thing you know he’s sending me a drink back to my table. Just good hard-working fellas.

I remember another time I was sitting at the bar and I was eating my sandwich. That same group of guys were there and they were drinking, laughing and busting on each other. The one guy says something like, “Oh come on Jimmy, we all know why you always sit at the very end of the bar. Just so you can check out Ann Marie!” Of course the guy laughs but doesn’t disagree with them.

I think to myself… “Fuck! That’s why I always used to sit at the end of the bar in the Spring and Summer, so I can check out Ann Marie’s legs. If you’ve been following this blog, you know I’m a leg man. Ann Marie may be petite but she has well turned legs.

Church arrives and we order our food. We go with the special. He goes with fries and I choose tots. This way, everybody wins. The place gets busier and Ann Marie is running around taking orders and serving at the bar.

Church and I are chatting after lunch and Ann Marie cruises by. “Can we get the check? I thought you were keeping me here.”

“I’m going to keep you here forever, dear.” She says with a wry smile.

That’s what I’m talking about. You come for the $5 cheesesteaks, you stay for that kind of hospitality and charm.

Update: Ann Marie has since left her post at Cavanaugh’s to pursue a career in Marketing. Oh well, hopefully her replacement can live up to the high bar set by Ann Marie. Oh, and if you’re reading this dear, You’re going to be a beautiful bride to a lucky gentleman.

 

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Duncan – 1997 to Present – Concentrated Dosage – Part 2 – Saturday

“We keep getting older, but they stay the same age.”

I wake up on Saturday morning, and after a day of drinking and activities on Friday, I’m a little banged up. Duncan and I were supposed to go to breakfast at 10am but that wasn’t going to happen.

I rolled over to the Ritz Carlton around 11am Saturday. Duncan was chilling in the lobby. We decided to head down to the movie theater. It was a little cold, but not too bad. Duncan was freezing because he lives in a warm climate and can’t take the cold winters of the Northeast anymore. (Fuckin’ wimp!)

Philly is an incredibly walkable city and we decide to walk all the way down to Columbus Blvd. to the movie theater. It’s right on the Delaware river. (Hence the name, Riverview Stadium) It probably took us about forty minutes to walk down there. The nice thing about walking around Philly is, it gives you time to look at all of the sights and just talk.

I love my time with Duncan this weekend. We’ve really reconnected as friends and as men. He’s been in my life for twenty years and I want to keep him there.

We get to the theater and there’s a line for tickets, but people are in line for everything playing and there. I decide to leave Duncan in line and try the kiosk, because there’s always that person that’s in front of you that is making it their life’s work just to by a couple of tickets to see a movie. That goes for everywhere I go in life. I’m always behind that person that is digging through a coin purse at Rite Aid, or making international transactions at an ATM, or just basically doesn’t ever have their shit together when it comes to doing anything in regard to a retail transaction. I’m sure we’ve all experienced this.

So I hit the ticket kiosk and swipe my card for two tickets to see Rouge One: A Star Wars Story, and I get them! I pull him out of line and we go in. Duncan’s happy that I came through in the clutch because we’re cutting showtime pretty close. The tickets were twenty something by I don’t care. I know what’s going to happen next, and I’m all set.

The theater is huge, and we take the escalator upstairs. We hit the snack bar and Duncan is on the case. He orders a bucket of popcorn. Mistake. No one can eat that much fucking popcorn. Then he gets our drinks. The girl upsells him to the large size because she says we can get free refills. Mistake. No one can drink that much fucking soda. Maybe a couple of dudes that just walked of the face of the Sun, but no human can hold that much liquid in their bodies in one sitting, but I admire her upsell. He gets a box of M&M peanuts for himself and I take the popcorn over to that machine that literally drenches the bucket in butter. It’s probably not even butter, but who cares, it’s delicious. I tell him I want a tray of soft pretzel bites with the spicy cheese sauce and we’re all set. The snacks came to somewhere around thirty-five dollars, and I’ve won. Duncan just bought me a deliciously gross breakfast and the tickets I bought were less that what he paid to feed our sorry hung over asses.

We get into the theater and there aren’t that many people in there. I like that. We take a pair of seats in the back and get situated. We watch a bunch of previews which I love. I’m starving and start ripping into my pretzel bites and the popcorn. The sodas are so enormous I feel like the sheer weight of them will pull the chairs over. My fingers are soaked with butter and I can’t even get a grip on the barrel sized cup in the built-in holder, so like a little kid, I have to go to the straw, rather than pick up the tankard of diet coke. As silly as this is, there is something nostalgic about being a kid at the movies and having all of these treats. It’s breakfast for a couple of men, who are about to watch a new Star Wars movie. We’ve loved them since their inception in 1977.  I’m happy, and I don’t even care that like always, I have dribbled the spicy cheese whiz down the front of me.

We watch the film and it’s glorious. Better than I expected. I’m a film guy, so I won’t reveal a thing, and you’ve all probably seen it. It’s a story that takes place before the original Star Wars movie. It’s a little slow in the beginning but way better than the ones made by George Lucas before this. So if I had to rate the Star Wars pictures I would rate them as follows:

Star Wars: Episode 4 – A New Hope

Star Wars: Episode 5 – The Empire Strikes Back

Star Wars: Episode 7 – The Force Awakens

Star Wars: Episode 6 – Return of the Jedi

Star Wars: Rogue One

I have left off the first 3 prequels Lucas made, because they basically suck. Here’s a classic example of an artist losing sight of his art and original vision. It’s fine. I don’t care. This happens over and over in music, film and art in general. I know the fans are screaming and go wild over the failure of the creators making sub par art and letting them down. It happens. You have to embrace and enjoy how their art made you feel in that moment when you first fell in love with what they did. If you expect the artist to keep making the same art and making you feel that initial rush again at the level you first felt it, it’s just not going to happen.

Look at the band Aerosmith. I LOVED Aerosmith in the seventies when I was growing up. My sister, Janice brought their first record home, because she was hanging out with a band that did their song Dream On. She wasn’t that into Aerosmith, but liked the band that was covering their work. I on the other hand as a fledgling rock guitarist fell in LOVE with Aersmith. It was 1975 and the song “Walk this Way” was playing on the radio from their third record, “Toys in the Attic”.  Their first album is great because like any band, they had their whole lives to write it. But then the studio pushes them for another record and it’s just not as good. The band is great, but the material just isn’t there. They work hard and tour and have a special talent so then they make ‘Toys in the Attic” and it’s a great record. They’re all poor and touring their asses off and doing shitloads of drugs. The lifestyle is changing them and killing them.

People love the song Walk this Way (A nearly perfect FM rock song) and a lot of people buy the “Toys in the Attic”

Then in 1976, Aerosmith puts out a record entitled “Rocks.” A black cover with just the name of the band and the word ‘Rocks’ and picture of five diamonds. It is absolutely one of the most perfect hard rock albums of the seventies. Every song is magnificent.

I love Aerosimth. I wore out the Rocks album. I listened to it everyday and learned how to play every song on that album on guitar. I wanted to be Joe Perry and Steven Tyler rolled into one skinny blonde kid with a guitar.

But you can’t expect them to keep making Toys in the Attic and Rocks every year so you can get your rocks off. Things happen in an artist’s life to change, alter, grow, or fail in some way. So you have Lucas trying his best to make something but the fire and hunger just isn’t there anymore. The heavy metal band Metallica are all wildly rich men. Do you think they can make the powerful angry music they once made? No way. Neither can Aerosmith or George Lucas. Just wrap yourself up in the memory that their art gave you in the beautiful moment of your life and leave it at that. Other people will rise up and take the helm and get you off in a different way.

I’m guilty of this too. Maybe my problem is I keep trying to go back and get that love rush I did when I was younger and I keep dating younger women. It always ends badly, because they want to go forward and get married and have kids and I’ve already done that. Maybe I just need to wrap myself up in my beautiful memories and be done with it.

But Disney has Star Wars now. I don’t listen to Aerosmith anymore except for the old stuff. Marvel Comics is making great films and Star Wars is definitely on the upswing creatively, because someone else is doing it. So for now, I’m going to stick with what Matthew Macoughy said in the film Dazed and Confused, “We keep getting older, but they stay the same age.”

I know it’s wrong, but I want to date a girl that makes me feel like the original Star Wars movie again.

Tune in tomorrow for the thrilling conclusion…

 

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Duncan – 1997 to Present – Concentrated Dosage – Part 1 – Friday

Duncan: “Dude. Can I crash at your place?”

Me: “Dude. My daughter Lorelei lives with me now. There’s no room.”

Duncan: “Cool. I’ll stay at the Ritz Carlton.”


Eight months ago Duncan scheduled for us to see the German heavy metal band UDO at the Trocadero here in Philly. Duncan lives in Charlotte, NC. Apparently, he likes to make plans far out into the future. I’ve known Duncan for twenty years now, and when he says he’s going to do something, he does it. Especially when it comes to seeing rock shows.

He loves UDO. His full name is Udo Dirkschneider (born 6 April 1952 in Wuppertal, Germany) is a German heavy metal singer who rose to fame with German heavy metal band Accept. After leaving Accept in 1987, he formed U.D.O., with whom he has enjoyed commercial success as well.

Duncan loved the band, Accept back in the eighties. I only remember Accept from seeing their video, “Balls to the Wall” on MTV back then. Other than that one video and the image of UDO riding on a wrecking ball while seeing the song, that’s all I remember. But Duncan loves the songs of Accept. I only know that one. But that’s why he flew up here to hang out with me. I haven’t seen him in over a year.

We’re going to see UDO Saturday night.

Duncan is thrifty with his money. He will always spend money on things he likes or other people, but when it comes to himself he’s cheap. Normally in the past when he came to Philly he’d always stay at my place. A week before his arrival he texts me to check in.

Duncan: “Dude. Can I crash at your place?”

Me: “Dude. My daughter Lorelei lives with me now. There’s no room.”

Duncan: “Cool. I’ll stay at the Ritz Carlton.”

What? That’s Duncan. He’d love to crash at my place for free, but if that’s not happening he stays at one of the best hotels in the city. Crazy, right?

So Friday rolls around, his flight gets in and he settles into his hotel. I text him and tell him I’m on my way. I took the day off so I can hang with him. He loves my sacrifice. I get there, and he’s already sipping a cocktail at the bar. It’s eleven o’clock in the morning, but it is Friday, and it is Duncan. (Oh, and he did not bring the giant bottle of vodka that he was supposed to give me for Xmas. (See: The Case of the Missing Bottle of Vodka)

Like I’ve said before, Duncan is not much of a drinker but this is a special weekend, and I haven’t seen my buddy in over a year. He’s sipping a version of a White Russian but instead of two parts vodka he asks the to make it with rum. It really is a creamy delicious drink, but I prefer my booze hard and dry. I order a glass of champagne to kick off our day of fun.

After a couple of rounds, we decide we’re hungry and head out for some food. I decide to take him to a local sports bar in Rittenhouse. My friend Ann Marie works there and I know Duncan will love her. She’s Vietnamese and cute as a button.

We get there and we realize that we’re actually starved. We peruse the menu and start out with their sampler platter of all of their appetizers. I intro Ann Marie to Duncan, and she takes the rest of our order. I think Duncan orders another one of those drinks like he had at the Ritz, but they don’t make it so he describes it. Ann Marie says she’ll do her best to create something as close as possible. I go with their spin on a Manhattan. It’s not very good, but it’s spirit forward and that’s all I care about.

So we obviously destroy the sample platter which I hadn’t had before and was actually very good. We both ordered cheesesteaks. It’s philly. I have to feed Duncan all the fun philly foods.  I went with a side of fries and Duncan chose the tater tots. Who doesn’t love tater tots?

During lunch and more drinking we decide that we’re going to go down to Columbus Blvd., by the Delaware River and go play games and drink at Dave & Buster’s. I hope if you’re reading this you know what Dave & Buster’s is but if not I’ll explain. It’s a national chain of family and adult entertainment centers. It’s a huge building that has a restaurant and several bars, and in the back is all kinds of cool arcade games you can play. There’s tons of stuff to do.

Check it out: http://www.daveandbusters.com/

I call us an UBER and off we go from Rittenhouse to Penn’s Landing.

We head in, power up our playing cards, grab a couple of rum and cokes and hop into this zombie killing game. It’s actually scary. We didn’t want to hog the machine away from the kids that were there, so we jump out after awhile and go to my personal favorite, Jurassic Park. Pretty much the same thing. Me and Duncan, shoulder to shoulder, blowing away all of the dinosaurs that are pursuing us throughout the game. After that we hit up the Transformer game. It’s pretty much all of the same shit. Just dudes shooting, killing, and blowing up stuff. We laugh and play like children, but drink like men.

We burn through $40 of gaming each. I suppose we were there for a couple of hours. When we go outside I decide I want to smoke a little grass. I don’t smoke very often, and when I do it’s normally a little skinny joint with very little in it mixed with tobacco. I never did drugs, and never liked marijuana, but I like to drink. Certain substances work differently with each persons physiology. But a little weed at my age is nice. I offer some to Duncan. He used to be a HUGE pot smoker. But he gave it up. He says he did so much weed and drugs when he was younger, that he wants to hold onto what little he has left. He realizes now that when he would be drinking and getting high, it would change his personality. I like the drinking Duncan way better than the high Duncan.

I smoke up my skinny doob and he says he loves the smell, but just can’t do it anymore. I toss the roach and we’re on our way.

We wander up South Street and so much time has passed it’s time for more chow. I bring him to Lorenzo’s. Lorenzo’s is one of the most famous pizza places in philly. They only serve plain slices, but they are HUGE. It’s what they’re known for. Duncan is blown away at the sheer size of these monster sized slices. But they’re just what we need at this point.

When we finish we make our way west on South street. We have so many fond memories of South street. We’ve been coming down here for twenty years when he visits. We stop in a few of the sex shops and look at some of the toys and gear for shits and giggles. Because I’m half in the bag and high, I can’t help but pick up the rubber dildos and hit Duncan in the face with them. Mostly around his mouth.

I remember talking to some crazy woman in one of the stores and she was going on and on about how she dominates her man. Whatever keeps the marriage alive!

We leave,and we’re walking along, and this guy that is walking towards us. He walks past us and we don’t think anything about it. We get to about 12th and South and suddenly we hear, Pop! Pop! Pop!

“Dude, that’s gunfire!”

Duncan looks back and sees the guy that passed us running in a different direction. We spring into action, and take off at a dead run. We run north on 12th street up to Pine. Once we round the corner, we slow down. We both look back and with no one there we just keep going. We head west and north zig zagging away from whatever that was behind us.

We decide we’ve had enough excitement for one day and head back to the Ritz for a final nightcap. Great thing was, every drink I had at the Ritz that weekend was paid for by Duncan!

Tomorrow we’ll be on to see UDO!

 

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Daphne – 2014 to Present – Lovely Hostess – Part Two

“Drop the Clutch and Go!”

I know a server over at Misconduct on JFK Blvd, named Brianna. She’s a sweet baby with raven curls, caramel skin and slender legs. One day I’m lunching over there with my buddy, Rocco. I see Brianna giving her phone number to a guy that appeared to be in his sixties. I’m astounded. I call her over and ask her what’s going on. “If you just gave that old dude your phone number and you’re going to meet him for coffee, I want to go shake that man’s hand, on a solid close.”

She says she knows him from another bar, and he’s really nice. He looks lonely. He also comes into Misconduct to see her. (Hell, I did the same thing when Maria worked there) He asked her to meet him for coffee.

“And you’re going to go have coffee with him?”

“Of course not. I get hit on all of the time in here. But he’s nice and I didn’t want to be rude.”

“I really respect this man’s initiative at his age. But what happens when this guy texts you to set up a time to have coffee?

“Nothing. I just never get back to him.”

So I get it now. No matter how nice they are to you and even if they give you their phone number they will simply ghost you.

I was a little miffed, but understood. The odd thing was, Daphne knew me as a regular. I would hang with Carly and Church there all of the time. I get the hook up from Roman the bartender. I know basically everyone that works there and she doesn’t even have to get back to me even as a common courtesy.

But what right do I have to her? None. She’s young and beautiful and holds all of the power. There is truly nothing I can do about it. Fucking crickets.

So a few weeks pass and I don’t see her. I figure maybe she went on another of her global trips or was busy with school. Then one night I was sitting at the end of the bar with Church, and I see her. She’s chatting close by with a few of her coworkers. I tell Church what happened. (Rather, what didn’t happen!) I tell him I’m going to say something to her. Church at this point thinks I am trying to get her to sleep with me, and he says, “Pump the brakes.”

I am who I am, and have become the person I am by doing the very opposite. If you tell me I can’t have something, I will find a way to have it. If you tell me it can’t be done, I will find a way to do it. My father used to say, that if I didn’t apply myself and get an education, I’d never amount to anything. I’d end up like the homeless guys in the Subway. He even once said that if I had a woman, he would be able to take her away from me, because I was nothing. He also said, “(My Name) always takes the path of least resistance.” I was older by then, and tired of taking his shit so I said, “You know what else always takes the path of least resistance?”

“What?” he says.

“Water. Water always finds the path of least resistance. You know that thing where all life on this Earth has emerged. You’ve seen the Grand Canyon, right Pop?”

He didn’t say anything after that. He just glared at me. It wasn’t worth continuing the conversation. I just had to consider the source. So if I’m thinking something, or wanting to do something that I believe in, don’t ever fucking tell me to “Pump the brakes.”

It’s a matter of principle now. I’m going to “Drop the clutch and go.”

Daphne approaches. “Hey…” she says using my name in that honey contralto. “What’s happening?”

I tell her the story about my friend at Misconduct, and tell her it’s okay, and I realize now that’s how it’s done in this business.  When a gentleman asks to meet with you, you simply ghost him.  She’s like… “What?”

I remind her about the text I sent her and how we were going to try to meet up on that Sunday. She pulls out her phone and holds it up to show me. “See the last text is from me, thanking you for bringing me the cough drops when I was sick a couple of months ago. I don’t know what Daphne you sent the text to, but it wasn’t me.”

I feel like a jackass, but an extremely happy jackass. We have a laugh about it and she tells me to try again. She has finals coming up and the holidays are busy, but we should try to get together.

I text her a few days later and wait. An hour or two later I have a response from Daphne. So we’ll see what happens.

 

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Daphne – 2014 to Present – Lovely Hostess – Part One

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

Daphne is a hostess at one of my favorite restaurants in the city. I have known her for a couple of years now. She is a slender blonde that is all of 23 years old. I love her face and figure, and especially her low buttery voice.

Obviously, I am not after Daphne. But she is a classic example of the type of girl who Phicklephilly falls in love with everyday. Kind of like how I loved Maria in the very first blog post. They just give off a certain energy that’s like catnip to me.

I would go to this place pretty regularly, and Daphne always seemed to be in a sour mood. Just all business with a pout on her face. She’s so beautiful, but she always was a sourpuss. I liked her but I stayed away from her. I figured a girl like her pretty much got hit on all the time. Probably every shift she worked . That has to get tiring. Maybe she had that attitude because if she’s too nice, these guys try to engage her and ask her out on dates. It’s hard when you’re the prettiest baby in the joint and you have to work the front line as a hostess. It’s like being in the infantry.

Maybe she was dealing with a health problem. Maybe just coming off a painful break up. Could be anything. But everybody was aware of her sullen attitude.

So I for the most did the opposite of what everybody else did. I paid attention to everyone on staff but Daphne. I was hoping she would start to wonder why out of all of the men that came into that place, I was the really friendly guy that talked to everyone but her. It’s just reverse psychology. My dad taught me how to run that program.

Then one day, Daphne disappeared. After a week or so of going there I simply stopped seeing her at the hostess stand. I asked my buddy Roman behind the bar what had happened. He said she went to Brazil for a few months to study abroad. So that was that.

When she returned, Daphne was a changed woman. I don’t know what happened while she was down there, but whatever it was, it worked. She was smiling, friendly and talkative. She would stop and say hello when I was at the bar. It was like she had been infused with a happy spirit. My father used to say that travel was very broadening. I have traveled some and have to agree. The world is a much bigger package than your little piece of real estate. She even gave me her number in case there was some cool event happening I could take her. What a turn around!

It appears she’s doing more than just hostessing now that she has returned. Serving and working as a bar back are also some of her duties now. She always smiles and says hello to me when I come in. We chat about what’s happening in our lives, but it’s always brief because she’s working. I like when she says my name in that lovely, low voice.

One night she was working and I stopped to say hello. She said she was sick. I back away and we both laugh. I told her she didn’t seem her usual effervescent self. I asked her the symptoms and she said throat was sore. We chatted a bit more and I told her that I hoped she felt better and went back to join my friends at the bar. But now I had an idea.

Later, when I went out to catch a smoke, I ran up to news stand up the street. I picked up another pack of smokes and a little something else.

A half an hour later me and my pals were leaving. Carly back to Manayunk, and Church back to King of Prussia. As I walked by Daphne sniffling at the hostess stand, I place a roll of sore throat lozenges on it. I smiled and said goodnight.

A month or so later, (like I said, I’m not really after little Daphne) I was sitting with some friends at the bar. She was at her hostess stand, and I look over and she smiles, and puts up her hands as if saying, “What’s up?”

I walk over to her and ask her if she’d like to meet me for a drink or lunch one day. She says, “Sure, text me.”

So I tell her, “How about Sunday after 4pm?”

“Text me.”

So I think it’s on if I can nail down a day and time. Which with her work and school schedule, will probably be impossible. I tell her I’ll text her this week.

I send her a text that Friday, and ask her if she’d like to meet me for a drink at Gran caffè L’Aquila, on Chestnut Street. It’s a really nice Italian restaurant that has been there for about three years. I figured she hadn’t been there, and I’d be happy to take her someplace a little fancy.

I never hear anything from her but the deafening sound of crickets.

 

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Prova – 2015 to Present – Glow of the Sun – Many Happy Hours

“The girl with the lovely smile…”

Finally caught up with busy girl Prova! I had three appointments before my meeting with her that day. The first was with some clown from Brown Forman. I emailed him to confirm our lunch meeting and he responded with “I’d rather do this as a phone call.” So I cancelled that appointment. My second appointment was with the General Manager at The Hard Rock Cafe at 12th and Market. But VP Mike Pence was in town, and President Trump was coming the next day and staying at the Lowe’s Hotel right across the street.  The streets were all blocked, and when I got there the GM said he’s got the Secret Service here and could we do this another day? I see that this part of the city is a shit show so I tell him we’ll reschedule. Then my 3:30 meeting with hot redhead Cheyanne, (whom I’ve been meaning to write about but we can never get our schedules together) gets cancelled, because Cheyanne had been complaining about a migraine she’s been fighting all day. So that’s three down, and one more chance to go before I just give up and go home.

I check in with Prova and she is on her way. We decided to try some different places that we had previously discussed. (See Prova – 2015 to Present – Glow of the Sun) I meet her at Frankie Bradley’s. That bar formerly was a gay bar that was pretty much exclusively for lesbians. (It was called Sisters) But now it’s what I think is just a regular neighborhood bar. Based on some of the signage out front, I think they do a lot of drag shows there. Anyway, it’s a good spot to hang out. We catch up and have a couple of drinks. She tells me she had recently applied for a job there as a bartender. We get a hold of the manager and he comes over to chat. She tells him that she had applied, and he asks her to send him an email and reference her resume. So maybe our lady Prova will be working there soon. It seems like a nice place. We tell the bartender we’re trying some new bars, and he suggests Toast on Walnut. So after we pay our bill we go there.

Toast on Walnut is what the owners from “Sisters” made their new bar. So we walk in and there is a young lady at the door, who cards Prova. She doesn’t card me and I fret that I’m obviously over twenty-one. We all laugh and she asks to see my ID.

Inside it’s a nice bar. The bar itself is whitish blue and appears to be illuminated from within. I stick with the vodka and club and Prova sips a red wine. There aren’t many people in the place, but it’s early. The place is so new, it even smells new! Fresh wood and leather. We decide we’re only going to have one here, and then we’re going to go somewhere else. It’s a nice place but it just seems dead at the moment. So before we leave I tell Prova that I’m going to use the restroom. I walk back through all of the rainbow-colored lights, and walk into the bathroom.

Surprisingly, there is a dude in there using the urinal. But they aren’t your typical urinals. They’re not the vertical, rectangular boxes, with privacy barriers on the sides. These are just oval-shaped deep bowls sticking out of the walls, with no barriers. He’s shaking his dragon away in that little bowl, and I decide to use the stall. I just need a little privacy. I do what needs to be done and I come out of the stall, and see a woman with dark hair drying her hands at the sink.

It’s Prova!

Apparently, they must only have the one community restroom. I was shocked to see her at first.

“What are you doing in here?”

“I just wanted to wash my hands.”

“What if I’d been using one of those little urinal bowls over there when you walked in?”

“I don’t know.”

“You would have gotten a glimpse of what everybody in town is talking about!”

Honest mistake! But that was a close call I wasn’t expecting in a lesbian themed bar. We decide to head over to Boxers. That’s another gay bar on Walnut. It’s a sports bar. But all of the bartenders and staff, walk around with no shirts on. So even though it’s primarily a gay bar, there’s always something for the ladies to look at. All the guys are young and in great shape. I actually like going to boxers. I’ve been there twice. Both times with female friends. Think about it… If you’re a straight guy with female friends it’s the perfect spot. You’re able to watch sports, drink and eat. No assholes are going to mess with you or your friend, because gay dudes are nice. Your friend gets to take in the eye candy, and you do your thing. Everybody wins. We have gentleman’s clubs, at least it gives the ladies something to look at when their out with their male friends. I know most men don’t have female friends. But the men reading this should try. All women that like hanging out with you aren’t targets for you to try to bang. We’d all be better men if we had more female friends. Do it!

We order up some pizza and nachos and go to town on that. We were both hungry so we destroyed most of it. We enjoyed a few drinks there and chatted with the friendly staff. They used to have these drink cards that they would hand out. Every time you bought a drink they gave you a card and the next one was super cheap. So it kept you at the bar longer. It was a great deal! But I asked about it when I was there and the guys told me they can only do that in their NYC location now. When asked why, they said that it’s unlawful in Pennsylvania to encourage people to drink more. Technically it’s not, but it does keep you drinking more and for a longer period of time. PA has a lot of liquor laws because it’s controlled by the Alcohol and Liquor Control Board, which is a state-run agency.

Satisfied with our excursion into the Gayborhood, we decided to have a nightcap at the bar where she works. We hung out at a table and she had a beer and I stick with the vodka and club I had been drinking all night. Some of her co-workers would stop by the table and chit-chat. It was great. There is one guy there, I forget his name, but he’s really funny to talk to. I think he’s Prova’s favorite there.

Prova is a lovely, smart woman who I am glad to have as a friend. I like spending time with her. She continues on her spiritual journey of self discovery in the hospitality industry. I will do whatever I can to help her. Because that’s what we all should do.

Incidentally, it was the longest time I ever hung out with Prova.

Five hours!!!

 

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

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Mary – 2014 to Present – Chapter 5 – Sunday, Funday

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

I text Mary and ask her if she wants to have a drink with me on a rainy Sunday after four when I finish up at the salon. She agrees. She wants to hear the crazy story about Marisa because it all happened at the restaurant where Mary works as a hostess. (See Marisa – 2017 to Present – The Friendly Hostess) 

Mary and I like to hang out and drink, but we’re trying to keep our costs down. I suggest Doobies. She’s down for that. We meet at 22nd and Walnut. Umbrellas open we walk south to 22nd and Lombard.

Doobies is a bar that’s been in the neighborhood for a long time. It’s sort of a dive, but the food is good, and the drinks are cheap. There are all sorts of artifacts on the walls like any other dive. But the big theme there is David Bowie. There are pictures of him throughout the bar, and plenty of Bowie on the jukebox. Oh, and they only take cash.

We arrive, and the place appears to be closed. But it’s 4:30 on a Sunday, and the door is unlocked. We go inside to get out of the rain. I see a phone on the bar, and I call out hello a few times. Then some guy comes up out of trap door in the floor behind the bar. I greet him, and he says that she’s not here yet. I don’t know who “she” is, but it said they open at 2pm on Sundays. He says she normally gets there around 5pm.

Mary doesn’t feel like waiting around for a half hour. We thank him, and I tell her I have another plan. We go to South street, and walk over to 21st. Ten Stone is a bar there. A bit nicer than Doobies, but on a rainy day, we’ll settle. It’s a little noisy, because some young people are playing pool and darts in the next room. But it’s not too bad. It’s a nice crowd and the server is friendly.

Mary goes with red wine. Good choice on a chilly, rainy day. I go with some sort of hoppy beer and a shot of whiskey. It’s just been that sort of week. Just the stress of working at the institute, dealing with Marisa the other day, and just everything else that is exhausting me lately.

I tell her all of my stories and after a while I’m feeling much better. I don’t know if it was me telling Mary what my week was like, or the whiskey knocking the edges off. Probably a little of both.

The table where we were siting was small. It was a high top against a wall. We were having a great time laughing and talking, and I was a little worried about Mary’s wine glass.

Have you ever been out at a restaurant, and you just get that vibe, or that premonition that you feel like something’s going to get dropped, knocked over or spilled?

Well I got that feeling early on, and didn’t Mary knock over her wine? I knew that thing was going over. It splashed on her shirt, but didn’t completely empty the glass. She actually got one last mouthful out of that glass, before heading to the restroom to clean up.

She seemed a little buzzed. She got buzzed like this before that Pollyanna holiday party, two weeks ago. I needed to take charge of this situation. So while she was in the bathroom, I paid the bill, and called her an UBER. Normally I would be crying about having to pay the bill, but I dig Mary, and she always pays when we go out. Maybe she’s tired or drinking on an empty stomach. She comes out, and it looks like she got the wine stain out before it could set.

I put her in the UBER and send her home. I tell her to text me when she gets home, so I know she arrived safely. The rain has stopped and I’m close to home so I just walk. I light a cig, and reflect on the evening’s events.

I get home and I have a text from Mary, saying she’s home. Another Sunday down.

 

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