Liz – Bridal Blues

“How dare you stand me up?”

Probably one my worst two dates were with one girl in particular. This was a few years after my first marriage had ended. In this period I had been on lots of awkward dates, lots of lovely dates, but never had any where I really clicked with anyone.

Anyway, a friend suggested I should go out with a friend of hers. She was sure we’d be a great match, so she gave each other our email addresses.  She lived in a city around 70 miles away, (Seemed a bit far for me) so we emailed and called each other quite a few times over a couple of weeks and seemed to get along quite well, so we decided to meet up and go on our first date. She said that the coming weekend she had a friend’s birthday party to go to and suggested that I be her “plus one”. The party was being held at a restaurant in the city where she lived, and it was decided that I would meet her there.

I arrived, she texted me she was running late, but she was with the guest of honor, so it wouldn’t start until she arrived. Eventually she arrived, with the birthday girl…  my ex-wife!!!  Well, that was awkward! My ex and I hadn’t parted on good terms back then.  I suggested I should leave, but my date said she wanted me to stay. I remained polite, as did my ex, but it kinda put a damper on the evening. It turned out my date and my ex had been childhood friends, had fallen out of touch, and had encountered each other only a few months prior. Consequently my date knew nothing about us having been married. After the evening my ex briefly spoke with me, and wished my date and I well. My ex suggested we should get along well.  OK, so after the initial shock, the evening ended on a positive note. But I didn’t really get to know my date at all.

The next week, I was invited to another party with my date. This was pretty uneventful, and to be honest I can’t really remember any of it.

I was getting along well with this girl, but still hadn’t had any alone time with her, so the following weekend we decided to go out for lunch on the Saturday.

This is where things went sideways.

I was to pick her up, but she wouldn’t give me her address. She said her place was hard to find, so I should first go to a particular strip mall, call her once I was there, and then she’d give the directions to her place. So once I arrived there, instead of giving me directions, she told me to wait there and she would meet me there. OK, this was a big warning sign, but I went along with it.  I had to wait for nearly an hour, and got to the point where I decided I would leave if she didn’t show up by a certain time – she arrived just before the deadline.

She arrived, but had a friend with her. Apparently that’s why she was late. She hadn’t seen the friend in years, and she happened to drop in this morning, so she invited her along. This was supposed to be our first date with just the two of us, but apparently not. She seemed to have issues about being alone together, but maybe the story was true.

Anyway, I suggested we all jump in my car (My black Mazda Millenia), but she insisted we take her car, and I had to ride in the back. Her car was an old Mazda (the shitty 3 series) – it was a mess inside, had no air-conditioning, springs were coming out of the back seat, it was horrid. In retrospect, I should have told her not to bother right there, but I went along. She decided that we would go to a swanky restaurant in a resort town about 50 miles away, so off we went, with her and her friend in the front, and me in the back. Her and her friend talked the whole way, with absolutely no conversation including me. Not that I could have been included, the noise in the car was so bad, that I couldn’t hear anything they said anyway.

We got to the restaurant, and again her and her friend talked the whole time. I was only included in the conversation occasionally. I may as well have not been there. Well I was there for one thing – her and her friend left me to pick up the bill, for all 3 of us!

The return trip was a mirror of the trip down, except my mind was absolutely made up, that I wasn’t going to bother seeing this girl again.  So we get back to the strip mall (thank goodness my car was still there unharmed, as it was a sketchy area), and she says to me that we need to talk.

OK.

She starts by telling me that she really enjoys my company but that I’m too demanding on her time (what?), that I can’t expect to see her every weekend, and she thinks it best that we stop seeing each other. At this point I’m just agreeing with her, because I really didn’t want to see her again and if she’s breaking up (not that we had anything to break up from), then as far as I’m concerned she’s saving me the hassle. Inside I’m happy, outside I’m trying to look a bit disappointed but agreeing with her.  But, when she said we stop seeing each other, she hadn’t finished her sentence. She didn’t mean stop seeing each other completely, she meant stop seeing each other as regularly because…

Because she was planning our wedding for June the following year, so we had heaps of time to see each other before then.  To say I was dumbfounded is the understatement of the century. I didn’t know what to say, and didn’t say anything. I just got in my car and drove home in shock. We had been on 3 dates, had never spent any alone time together,  I didn’t even consider that we were “an item”, definitely not engaged.

We were supposed to get married! We were (my name) and Liz! We were “Chiz! My friends could refer to us as Chiz!”

Should I just move to another country at this point?

After I got home, I didn’t contact her, and she didn’t contact me, so I figured maybe she was just trying to shock me out of her life.

Some time had passed and I was happy, had started seeing someone else, and had pretty much forgotten about crazy “fiancee” lady.

Until some 6 months later, I was at a function and she happened to be there. I politely said hello, and her response was literally “Hi. Did you know there’s a ball on next Friday night at [venue], I’d love to go but I refuse to be asked out a week before. Oh, there’s [friend], bye”. I thought it was weird, but didn’t think any more of it.

That is until about 11pm the next Friday night, when the phone rang. “How dare you stand me up?”
“Huh?”
“I waited all night at the ball, but you didn’t show up.”
“I never said I was going.”
“You’re a terrible boyfriend for doing that to me, I’ve devoted 6 months of my life to you, and you can’t even take one night out for me. I don’t want to break up with you, but maybe we should.”
“Uh, yeah, maybe we should.”
In the middle of sobbing I was called every bad name under the sun, before she hung up.

That was more than a dozen years ago, and thankfully haven’t seen or heard from her since.

Recap: Date unwittingly invited me to my ex-wife’s birthday party. Third date she brought someone else along and expected me to pay for them all. When I thought she was breaking up from something that never was, she announced our wedding date. I considered it over, but six months later she rang me to break up because I stood her up for a date that I hadn’t agreed to go on.

 

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Ann Marie – 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!”

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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Sun Stories – Achilles – The Battle of Sharon

Achilles has been with his girlfriend Sharon for ten years. They broke up briefly a couple of times but for the most part have stayed together. He met her at one of the salons many years ago. Achilles like me, somehow ends up dating younger women. (Surprise, surprise) She’s like 20 years younger than he is. He’ll be 50 this year. So there’s that. Sharon lives with him at his house. She’s blonde and beautiful, and as you know, those commodities are rare treasures for guys our age. I know he loves her and she loves him. He takes her on great vacations around three or four times a year.

But here is the thing. Like I said before, Achilles is a simple man with simple needs. Wants to work out, eat right, and tinker with his car and his home projects and run his business. That’s it. But for the last year or so, she’s been working on him. She’s 31 so you can hear the tick-tock of motherhood on her mind. But here’s the thing, he has made it very clear that he doesn’t want to have anymore children. He already has two grown sons. So there are no surprises in this relationship. But I think she would like to marry him. And he would marry her. He even showed me a picture of an engagement ring a few months ago.

But for the last six months, she is always picking fights with him. He can’t for the life of him understand why. It’s all nonsense and contrary things that are trivial. I work with him practically everyday. What you see is what you get. She says things and then reverses herself about things. She accuses him of lying and all sorts of things. We can’t figure it out.

It seems like every time she behaves herself for a period of time, he starts to think about going shopping for an engagement ring. Then almost on cue, she starts up shit with him about a bunch of nonsense again. He’s to the point of ending it with her.

But for some reason I don’t think he will. They’ve been together for so long I don’t know how well he’d do without her. He’s a good-looking guy, and very fit so he wouldn’t have any trouble locking down some new talent. But it just wouldn’t be the same. Maybe he needs a fit gal who is just as low maintenance as he is on a daily basis. I just hope she’s not cheating on him. He’s a good guy who is loyal, and just wants to live a peaceful life without stress in his relationship. We’ll see what happens with my friend. Regardless, I’ll be there to lend an ear when he needs to vent about her.

Oh, and incidentally, Achilles recently paid me a rare compliment. He said, “I can’t get any better when it comes to staff than you and Trish.”

That meant a lot to me.

 

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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