Annabelle – Chapter 3 -First Date

What if I’m not falling for her at all? What if I’m simply in love with the idea of love, and not this woman?

It was a hot day in July of 2013. I remember that summer being especially humid. I didn’t want to get all sweaty before my date with Annabelle. So I took a taxi up to the Barnes Museum. But sadly, many of those cabs are still hot as hell in the summertime. I went inside, told them I was on the guest list and that I was waiting for my plus one.  The girl at the counter tells me it’s cooler downstairs. I head down to cool off and dry out. I was heavier back then, (36 waist!) so maybe that’s why I was sweating more. I get some water and have a seat.

I get a text from Annabelle that she has arrived. I tell her to just let them know who she is and they’ll let her in. She comes downstairs to get me. She is wearing her hair up, and has a black top and matching black slacks that just cover her knees. Is that called Capri pants? She is also wearing heels so she towers over me. I don’t care. I’m Phicklephilly. I cast a great shadow across this city. She goes to use the restroom, and I chill out looking at little models of what the building looked like when they were designing it. The are all in different stages under glass.  I’m looking at one of the tiny models very closely when she returns. She comes up behind me and I just feel her presence. I turn around and she is over me looking at what I’m looking at. I tell her it felt like I was being stalked by a raptor from Jurassic Park. She laughs and does this little impression of a raptor. I find this funny and ask her if she liked the film  Jurassic Park. (One of my favorite movies)

“I love Jurassic Park.”

“Okay….okay” I reply.

We go upstairs and into the main ballroom. They are having a little first Friday celebration. A live band plays some sweet jazz. For whatever reason we’re both starving. I get us high top with a pair of chairs, and tell her I’ll go fetch us some snacks and wine.

I head over to the bar and all they have is overpriced everything and some cheese and chips. It’s the Barnes for God’s sake. Can’t they afford any decent chow for the guests? I gather up two bags of chips some cheese and a couple of glasses of wine. I’m not even gone for five minutes, and some old codger has already swooped in and started talking to my date. This guy is easily twenty years older than me. I approach, drop the food on the table and hand Annabelle her wine.

“Really dude? I was gone all of five minutes. Get your own girl.” I joke.

We chat with the old guy. He seems charming and harmless. After a bit, Annabelle and I go over to tour the collection. Apparently, that wasn’t part of the passes I was given. I simply drop a name and they let us in. I had never seen the collection before so it was a real treat for me to see what a billion dollar art collection looked like.

The collection includes 181 paintings by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, 69 by Paul Cézanne, 59 by Henri Matisse, 46 by Pablo Picasso, 21 by Chaim Soutine, 18 by Henri Rousseau, 16 by Amedeo Modigliani, 11 by Edgar Degas, seven by Vincent van Gogh, and six by Georges Seurat. Other European and American masters in the collection include Giorgio de Chirico, Peter Paul Rubens, Titian, Paul Gauguin, El Greco, Francisco Goya, Édouard Manet, Jean Hugo, Claude Monet, Maurice Utrillo, William Glackens, Charles Demuth, Jules Pascin and Maurice Prendergast. It also holds a variety of African artworks; ancient Egyptian, Greek, and Roman art; and American and European furniture, decorative arts and metalwork. The museum also holds several significant works by cubist sculptor Jacques Lipchitz.

It was pretty amazing how one guy was able to collect this many fantastic, priceless pieces of art. We walk from room to room, looking at everything. At one point she says, “Out of everything in this room, which is your favorite?”  Then I would choose the one I liked the best. I would do the same to her. We did this enough times, until finally she asked me what was my favorite in the last room.

I simply pointed to her.

She smiled.

We then went downstairs to the rum tasting. We were all in a room and they gave us three different rums to try. The guy that was running the tasting really knew a lot about each rum and what made them different. But the weird part was, they were comparing the taste and look of the rum to different paintings in the collection. They had the images on a video screen on the wall. I’ve never seen this done, and I don’t even think it’s a real thing. But free rum is free rum. I remember the person talking about the mood of the paintings and the taste of the rum, and I was into it. there was a moment when my eyes drifted away from the host and onto Annabelle. I was looking at the painting and then my gaze passed over to Annabelle. I looked at her profile and neck. Was I falling for this girl? I took girls to events all of the time. What was it about this one? There’s nothing special about her really. It’s been two years since Michelle. I’m really taken with her. Has it just been too long since I’ve fallen in love that I just want that feeling again?

What if I’m not falling for her at all? What if I’m simply in love with the idea of love, and not this woman?

After the weird art/rum tasting we headed back upstairs. We probably shouldn’t have had all that wine and rum with so little food. I can handle it but it could be a bit painful for Annabelle tomorrow.

We leave the museum. It’s located in an area where it would be difficult to catch a taxi. I decide we should walk up to Spring Garden. We reach the corner and flag one down. We share the perfunctory hug. Dating’s funny. So much of it is tied to timing and ritual. I put her in the cab and ask her to text me that she has gotten home safely.

The cab rolls east into the night and as I walk back down into center city. As the city rises before me, I feel a little spring in my step.

 

 

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Kylie – Broken Wing – The Rittenhouse Cocktail & Fashion Event

“I see your screen is cracked. Is that in style now?”

A few years ago, when I sold advertising for a drinking website, I was asked to be a judge for the Rittenhouse Cocktail & Fashion event. It’s actually and event that is impossible to complete. How it works is this; They pick an evening in the Spring where about a dozen of the fashion shops stay open late.  Each one brings in an alcohol brand to make cocktails and serve them to the general public. People can sign up for this event and everybody pays for tickets and gets a little wristband.

The shops are scattered all over a seven square block radius between Broad street out to 20th street, and between Chestnut and Locust street.  Most people who sign up for the event just wander around and stop in places to check out their wares. While there, they can enjoy a nice cocktail made from some big liquor brand.

It’s a fun night if that’s all you planned on doing. Take a date, look at cool fashion, and drink your face off.

Here’s the problem you have when you’re a judge for the event. You show up, and they give you a list of all of the stores with a note pad to write down all of the names of the cocktails. But you also have to write down the ingredients, and then you have to rate the drink.

This would be a fun exercise if I had four hours to do it. But the event only lasts for two hours. I’ve done this event twice, and both times I couldn’t physically get through the event.

But I tried. Lord knows, I tried. Beautifully smashed.

The people working the tables are great. They’re really excited for you to taste their products and are very enthusiastic about discussing them with you. But, you can’t spend a great deal of time with each representative, because you have to get to the next spot. I would like to get the list of places at least a day before hand, and a list of what the brands are and the names of the drinks with their ingredients. Then I could maybe get through the twelve different locations and the drinks. But there is still the timeframe. It is a back-breaking exercise in speed tasting and running around center city. Could me and my ex-girlfriend Michelle (See: Michelle – 2007 to Present – A Brand New Day) pull off an event like that? Sure we could. Would we be destroyed at the end of it?

Damn straight.

So it was my first time as a judge for the event. This was back in 2012. I’m in one of the shops, about a third of the way through the event, when I’m approached by a somewhat cute brunette. She is dressed in a cool leather jacket and tight slacks. She looks very fashionable. Perfect for an event like this. She’s maybe thirty. What struck me most about her was her hair. She wore the rare “stacked bob.” You really don’t see many women rocking this style. Best thing about it is, it’s really unique. People will remember a chick with that cut. She also was carrying a nice camera and taking a lot of photos. She said she was covering the event for Philadelphia Weekly. (A piece of shit print publication, that no one reads anymore. It’s better utilized as a birdcage liner or wrapping your fish up in.)

“You look like you know where you’re going, mind if I tag along?”

I tell her sure, because I could use the company of an attractive photographer and tasting partner. I tell her that I’m a judge for the event. We exchange formalities and get moving. I’ve got the list and she’s helping find each place.

It made it way more fun to have a girl with me on this little journey.

We’re hitting each spot and getting to know each other along the way. The clock is ticking and I’m really trying to get through the whole show. By the end, we were literally running to the last couple of places. It was a fun challenge.

We missed a few along the way but as miracles would have it I actually remember the last cocktail I tasted. So I couldn’t have been that banged up. We were in Nicole Miller in the Bellevue Stratford on Broad street. The drink was a whiskey infused cocktail where the rim of the glass was made of Smores. You could actually bite the edge of the cup and eat it. It was called”Ghost of the Campfire” due to its sweet but smoky taste. To me, it was the clear winner.

Kylie and I had a great time together that night. We ended up walking over to Ocean Prime at 15th and Sansom. We sat at the bar and sipped one final drink. We chatted and exchanged business cards. I remember her phone screen was really cracked, which was the birth of this line, “I see your screen is cracked. Is that in style now?” I see so many busted screens these days.

Why won’t these people purchase cases for their phones? It’s essential for a bit of technology that none of us can no longer live without.

I kind of liked her and thought she was attractive so I was going to try to see her again. I could use some ruse about coming to an event with me. We parted ways and I told her I’d reach out to her in the near future.

I think I did on Facebook or text, but nothing ever came of it. I did see her maybe six months later when I was at an event in Old City. She shared studio space with another photographer down there. But I was inside a building when I saw that familiar stacked bob walking down 2nd street. By the time I would have gotten through the crowd and got outside, she would have been down the end of the block by then.

Little did I know at the time how Kylie would re-enter my life in the near future. I will write about her again, but she won’t make another appearance in this story for a while.

Oh, and she has world-class legs…

 

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Sun Stories – Achilles Heel

Has Sharon finally found Achilles heel?

Achilles has had his share of challenges with his girlfriend Sharon off and on for the last ten years. There were times he wanted to just pack it in and end it. But Sharon has stood the test of time. Achilles’ only weakness.

He finished his shift at the salon, and rode his motorcycle home, just like any other Friday afternoon.

He went home and set the table in the dining room. Then he started cooking up a really nice dinner. He made the salad, grilled the veggies, cooked the steaks to perfection. He’s Greek. They can do everything.

The table was set. Candles glowed in the dimly lit room. Romantic music played softly in the background. Sharon would be home any minute. Achilles gently laid a bouquet of flowers at her place on the table.

She came through the door, to see him standing next to the table smiling. She paused, and then saw the flowers at her place.

“What did you do?” she said accusingly, as if he had done all of this because he done something bad.

Sharon approached the table. Achilles continued to smile. Beyond the flowers was a small black velvet box.

She gasped.

“Open it…” he said calmly.

With trembling hands, Sharon picked up the tiny vessel. Glancing up at him as she slowly opened the box, revealing a beautiful diamond engagement ring.

He proposed.

She said yes.

And they lived happily ever after. (Fingers crossed!)

Yea… Achilles is getting married!

 

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Marigold – Good German Stock

I’ve known her since she was 21 and now she’s a mom!

I met Marigold when she was only 21 years old. That was back in 97 when she worked for me as a teller in my bank branch at 10th and Snyder Aves. in South Philly. They would sometimes send her to another branch to help out, so I didn’t see her all of the time. She always seemed smarter and sharper than her peers. I really liked her. (Tall blonde. Good legs.)

We would sometimes go to lunch and it was always nice to spend time with her outside of the bank. Marigold eventually left retail banking for a better job. I remember she always dated high-end wealthy or affluent men. She wasn’t a gold digger or anything like that, just knew how to date a better class of men than most girls her age.

We kept in touch and would occasionally meet up for lunch or drinks to catch up. At one point I was living in New Jersey and she was living in the Fairmount area for Philly. I was married back then. Years later I was working in Philadelphia, and she had moved to New York. So that kept us apart except for the random visit. I later moved to New York for work and she was then living in Newark, NJ with her boyfriend of several years. That was just a few train stops beyond where I was living at the time. So we got to hang out every once in a while.

I remember attending her bachelorette party. I was the only guy invited. Just me surrounded by a bunch of women. It was awesome! She and her fiance married at city hall but then had a big reception down in the Bowery of NYC. I took my then girlfriend Jackie, who was a second generation girl from Haiti. She was a lawyer on Wall Street. She wanted to get married and have children so badly, I think she scared me off. Lorelei was enough kid for one lifetime for me.

I eventually moved back to Philly and took a job at a local digital publication. I didn’t see Marigold as much as I would have liked to, but we always managed to get together at least once or twice a year. Then she moved out to Lexington, Kentucky. Her husband is a professor at the University of Kentucky, so out they went. he’s a great guy. Everybody loves Don.  Men and women alike. He’s so cool that he’s never minded me hanging out with his wife. Cassandra works as a financial broker, so technically she can work anywhere. I have known Marigold twenty years now, and I’m sure hasn’t been a fan of living out in the midwest. She’s a city cat like me and probably misses living in a metropolis. I would bet that at some point they’ll come back.

She has a little son who is now six years old and two daughters that are about two and a half. They are fraternal twins. They all have white blonde hair and look like the perfect little Aryan family. They’re all really cute. I think the son could have used a bit more discipline to keep his behavior in check, but he’s not my child. I know for a while about a year ago, cassandra was losing her shit having three little kids to take care of everyday. That was real challenge for her. I think it aged her.

I was down at our shore house a few years ago to see my father and she visited with her son. She wanted to meet my father that I always spoke of fondly to her. She wanted to see his train collection and also wanted her son to see it. It’s pretty spectacular. I’m glad she finally got to meet my dad. Her life with her father had always been a challenge. I believe he was bi polar and struggled with alcohol. I remember even in her twenties she was taking care of him. Writing out his checks to pay his bills, etc. that must have been a lot for a young girl to bear. I may have fucked up some things in my life, but I was always capable of taking care of my daughter. Girls need strong dads. I may not be the strongest father, but I was consistent with Lorelei. I also wasn’t a crazy asshole like her mother, so that’s part of the reason Lor has decided to live with me.

I am writing this because I am about to go see her and her daughter tonight. She’s visiting Philly for a couple of days to see everybody, and this must be my night.  I will finish this piece upon my return.

I got to their hotel at 5pm. They are staying at the Courtyard at Marriott. It’s a nice hotel right near City Hall. Originally that building was built in 1926 as a government annex to City Hall for over 60 years. In 1990 it was acquired and renovated by Marriott. The marble floors and three chandeliers in the main lobby are all original. It is the largest Courtyard Marriott in the world.

Just thought I’d give you a little Philly history there.

I go up to her room, and her little daughter is on the carpet playing with her maryjane shoes. She’s so cute and social. I know it’s been a stressful drive up from DC today for Marigold. They were down there visiting with Don’s family for the holidays. Marigold is happy that she only has the one child to look after for the next couple of days. She is relieved that her husband and his family will get to spend time with her son and other daughter. Three little kids are a handful, but getting a break and only having to look after one is much needed on her part.

I hand Marigold a skinny joint. She’s delighted. She hardly ever smokes weed so she says she only needs a tiny bit to get lit. She excuses herself and heads to the bathroom to toke up. I’m just chilling on the couch sipping a glass of wine. I tell her to run the fan in the bathroom to draw out the smoke. I hear the fan go on followed by coughing.

Moments later, Marigold reappears, smiling. “Thanks, I needed that. Do my eyes look stoned?”

I assure her she looks fine. We get her little one in the stroller and head downstairs in the elevator. I’ve decided to take them to Zavino at 13th and Sansom. It’s a small place but we’re in a nice little booth in the back. I had called ahead to hold a table and they were very accommodating. They take the stroller and hang it in the back.

We settle into our seats and order some wine. I know they all love pizza and that’s why I brought them here. It’s really good brick oven pie here. They have this location and a bigger one out in University City. Their happy hour is pretty solid. We got two pies (they’re small) eight bucks a piece and the wine was only five bucks a glass. For a nice place like this in midtown village, that’s a good deal.

We had a nice dinner without incident. Her daughter was well-behaved. The food was great and the service on point. I was happy to see Marigold and share this moment of repose with her. When we finished, she insisted on paying the bill. I left the tip. I walked her back to the hotel and we called it a night. It was a great two hours to catch up with my old friend. She said she couldn’t wait to snuggle up with her little one, smoke a little more grass and fall into the arms of Morpheus.

I love Marigold like a sister.

 

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Brooke – 2013 to Present – Legs for Days

Brooke was on point with the drinks. She even stuck around and hung out with us.

When I worked for the online start-up, back in 2013, there was a kid that worked in the office who was always playing crazy music. It was mostly all shit. I can’t believe I’m about to say this but it was also played too loud every day. (Yea, I’m getting old)

There were only two artists he ever played that I could stomach. One of them was a band called Tame Impala. I liked them because their singer sounded a bit like John Lennon. They were in town to open for the flaming lips at Festival Pier. So me and the kid decide we want to go. Somehow I got the hookup, probably through Keila when she worked at Live Nation. We were in the VIP section, which is nice because you can see the stage, it’s fenced in, you’re away from the animals, and you have your own clean bathrooms, and your own bar.

We grabbed a bite of over priced food before the show. Actually, the opening act was playing. It was Sean Ono Lennon. How sad is that? Your father is 1/2 of the two greatest composers of modern music in the 20th century. Let that sink in for a moment.

John Lennon is your father. Your half-brother Julian looks and sounds like dad, but your mom is Yoko Ono. No. Sorry. You’re just a filthy rich kid. Your dad was in the Beatles, and your shitty band is opening for the band that is opening for the Flaming Lips at Festival Pier in Philly. Sorry kid. Give up.

So we’re back at VIP and I need some wine. There is a very tall lean brunette that is serving me. She cracks a bottle for me. She fills my cup with ice and then pours the wine in on top of it. This is how I like my chardonnay. So I won’t have to keep coming back to the bar, she says she’ll just keep coming out to me in the section and keep my cup filled. I liked her already  because she was tall, beautiful and charming. Now I’m falling in love.

Tame Impala were good. I dig some of their music. It was a good show. Brooke was on point with the drinks. She even stuck around and hung out with us. I remember telling her about my girlfriend and just raving about how much I loved her. I was telling her about all of the romantic moments I created to celebrate how much I loved her. Brooke loved this and I feel like I made a memorable impression upon her.

I’ve run into her since then at different gatherings. I remember a bunch of us were all sitting around at Rouge. (Not a fan. Rittenhouse douche/snob watering hole) It was me, Keila, Alice, Brooke, a couple other girls and I think one or two guys  I didn’t know. At one point Brooke gets everyone’s attention and says: “(My name) speaks about women the way wish any of the men we know spoke about us when we weren’t around.”

That’s one of the nicest compliments I have ever had the honor of receiving. I’ll be taking her to Keila’s farewell party from the IT recruitment firm this week, So I’ll write more then.

Note: Brooke’s story continues in tomorrow’s post: (Church – Birthday Boy)

 

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