The company is going to move the entire online department to a high-rise in center city. It was all new, beautiful and modern. About a week before we were to move there I was in my apartment in Jersey and I got a call from my boss, Herbert. He said he had been fired. He was crying on the phone. There is no crying at work. That’s what your apartment is for. When he told me, I knew he was probably the most sad because he wouldn’t be able to see Michelle anymore.
They brought in this 6’7″ goon from somewhere to replace him. We’ll call him the Russian. At first he seemed really cool, but they all do in the beginning. This is important. If you ever get hired by one guy, and then they bring in another guy to replace him it’s never the same. He never has the same investment in any of you because he didn’t choose you. He simply inherited you. So watch out. When they seem cool and fun in the beginning they usually turn out to be insecure weak middle management types that won’t last. But right up to the moment they leave they will make your life a living hell. Believe me. I’ve seen this over and over again in my career. But the only thing you have going for you is that he doesn’t know you. So if you endear him early on, life can be sustainable for at least 6 months before it all turns to rage and grinding resentment.
The Russian trusted me and knew I had talent as a sales guy, so he asked that I take Michelle out on some four-legged calls to help acclimate her to selling advertising. I was way more than happy to do so. We would go out on calls around the city. One day we ended up at Nineteen at the Bellevue. It’s this cool bar/restaurant at the top of the Bellvue Stratford. My dad used to hang there in the 70’s. How could I go wrong? Follow in dad’s footsteps. You can sit out on these little balconies. I didn’t even know it existed, but she did. She knew many cool spots around the city back then. I was happy to spend time with this beauty, and happy to learn more about the city. We ended up sitting out on one of those balconies looking over the city and sipping martinis.
This was so much better than scuttling down the hallway after her to the billing department like when I was first hired.
One time we were out on calls at the King of Prussia Mall, I wanted to pick up cologne and she wanted to get some perfume. But when they ran our cards we were both were declined for lack of funds. We were poor back then. Maybe we just spent too much money. I think I had my paycheck on me, and I ended up going to a check cashing place so we could go drink after work. I did that and it worked.
Michelle’s desk was near mine so we could always converse and see each other during work. We started leaving at the same time. I would walk her home. We would stop at the Whole Foods out in Fairmount and get some food. I would order salmon and broccoli rabe. I wanted to eat healthier so that I would lose weight. (I was heavier back then) I also wanted to show her I was trying to eat healthier. I don’t know why, I would get the food and heat it up in a microwave they had there. The salmon was okay, but I fucking hated eating that broccoli rabe. It was just chewy grossness. But I was happy just to spend time with Michelle.
Sometimes on a Friday, we’d stop and have drinks somewhere. Maybe at Tir na Nog. We would sit outside along the sidewalk on 16th street. The thing was, that was the route for many of our co-workers. They would walk back to the old building to the parking garage. So they’d walk by, and say hello, but I think they started to suspect that maybe there was something between us. I didn’t give a shit. We were just in the moment, drinking and having great conversations.
Sometimes we’d have lunch with the team, and other times just the two of us. There were times we’d have opportunities to go to things, and we’d stop somewhere for a drink and just end up blowing off the event entirely. Like networking events or even Philllies games. We didn’t care. We just liked being together and feeling the city.
I had even told her about a screenplay I was working on and sent her the first few scenes to read. I had based the female lead on her. Maybe she was to be my new muse. I just figured she’d never read it, but I emailed it to her anyway. I wanted to impress her that I was a sensitive artist. I wanted to let her know I was different than all of the ilk that just wanted to sleep with her. I really liked her as a person.
I started walking her home more and more after work. We’d stop at some cool spots, have a few drinks and then head back to Fairmount. Like I said, we’d stop and get something to eat and then I’d head back to the parking garage and go back to Jersey. I was spending a lot of time with her at work and out at night as well. However, I was growing a little annoyed when her phone would ring and it would be Delaware Dave. She broke up with him some time ago, and they were trying to give it another go. I noticed she would have to go to Delaware to visit him on the weekends. I didn’t like his control over her.
Why did he never come to the city? It seemed like she was making all of the sacrifices. I was having strong feelings for her and I was present. He would just call out of the blue at night when we were out and she always had to take the call. It was so annoying. Life would just stop, and she’d be arguing with him on the phone about who knows what. This happened on several occasions. Actually it happened a lot.
Once at the Ritz Carlton it happened and we had problems. I remember being angry with her due to her indecision. Another time we were out at McCrossin’s, a bar near her apartment. I would just have to sit and wait for her to get done dealing with him. I was here. He was there. I was with her. He was sitting home bitching on the phone. Who is more important? I remember when she got off the phone she said “I just feel like throwing this phone across the street.” Funny, how this would all play out in some form in the future. Like some black prophecy.
I even wrote her a little verse. I don’t know if she ever kept it, but I gave it to her one night sitting on the stoop outside her building. I was so in love with her.
But for the most part, our times together were lovely. One night I was walking her home, and we’d had a few drinks. We were listening to her music from her ipod. We had come upon a fountain. The Swann Memorial Fountain (also known as the Fountain of the Three Rivers) is a fountain sculpture located in the center of Logan Circle. It represents the three major streams in the area. The Delaware, Schuykill and Wissahickon creek. The fountain, by Alexander Stirling Calder designed with Architect Wilson Eyre memorializes Dr. Wilson Cary Swann, founder of the Philadelphia Fountain Society. The Society had been planning a memorial fountain in honor of its late president and founder. After agreeing that the fountain would become city property, the society was granted the site in the center of Logan Circle.
It’s a beautiful fountain. Sometimes during the summer months, you’ll find many children playing in it to cool off. Michelle and I stopped to relax and chat. She stuck her feet into the water, and before I knew it she was listening to her music and dancing gently in the fountain. She was walking all around in it, avoiding the spouts all around her. It was enchanting to see this woman I loved dance in the illuminated fountain at night. Like I was witnessing a beautiful blonde mermaid that had just gotten her legs and was celebrating her new life on Earth.
So despite my growing frustration with her indecision in regard to her romantic life, I was still having a wonderful time with Michelle when things were good.
Michelle always said: “I have so much fun with you that when the day is over, I wish we could do it all over again.”
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