California Dreamin’ – Ashley – 3 Strikes – Part 3

Wildwood, NJ – 1984

When I got back to Wildwood, NJ I would write letters and sometimes talk to Ashley on the phone. One night I had been drinking while I was on the phone with her and the conversation turned to sex.

Ashley became enraged, that I was gone from her life and all I wanted to do was talk about how great our sex had been. She yelled at me and told me she never wanted to speak to me again. She was peevish, ex-lover spurned with jealousy and rage.

I was fine with that. I was already seeing someone else by then.

Philadelphia, PA – 2008

25 years later, I’m living in Rittenhouse with my girlfriend, Michelle. One day I go on Facebook, and I have a friend request from Ashley! I was happily surprised to hear from her after so long. Facebook was still pretty new back then and people were reconnecting with all of their old friends from the past. Whether that’s a good idea or not, I don’t know. I’m going to say it’s a good thing. I’ve been able to chat with many of my old friends and it’s nice to see some of them after all of these years.

But after about a week or so, Ashley writes me a message that I’m not being a good Facebook friend and she’s cutting me off. I didn’t understand what that meant. I guess I was supposed to be more attentive on this social media platform. It seemed weird to me at the time, but after all that time I didn’t care. She just seemed crazy. Mental illness is an insidious thing. I’ve met enough crazy people here in Philly, and I just don’t care anymore.

Philadelphia, PA – 2020

Here we go again. We’re all in lockdown due to the global pandemic. Out of the blue, I get a message on Facebook from Ashley. Now it’s been 37 years since I laid eyes on her.

She and I would message each other on Facebook. It was nice to chat with her again after all of these years. We had a shared history from a long time ago when we were young and free in L.A. in the early 80s.

She had been to school and became a chef, married for over 30 years, had no children and had been living in Italy for many years. It was fun to catch up.

But after a short period, I started to notice a very angry tone in her messages. She seemed bitter and preachy about certain subjects. I’ve been around for a long time and have a wealth of life experience. I can pretty much read people through the written word as if I’m listening to them in person. It sounded like when she’d get mean in her messages, she was drunk.

I think she searched my blog looking for some heartfelt story about her and there just wasn’t any. I wrote about a bunch of wild things that happened to me and the boys when we got to LA but never got around to writing about her.

She gave me a really hard time about some of my posts. I felt violated and insulted by how corrosive her words were about my blog. So many cruel, words. It hurt, but I’m accustomed to trolls by now. I’m sure it was just her drunken bitterness coming forth from a life not lived. Just silly, juvenile, embarrassing behavior from a middle-aged woman.

It’s a shame when you find out a person has lived over half a century and hasn’t ever evolved as a person.

I have a low tolerance for drunk people even though I have a high tolerance for alcohol. (Not anymore, thank you) But she seemed drunk and rambled on in some of her messages. It felt uncomfortable and I felt bad for her. When I looked on her Instagram it was just a bunch of pictures of locations where she lived. She seems lonely. That’s the vibe I got. No kids, married for 30 years and has almost no info or photos of her husband.

I suppose what happened to her is that she’d sadly lived a life that’s been unfulfilled. She speaks and acts as though she hasn’t grown as a person or matured as an adult. She was still pissed about me leaving her back in 1983!

We spoke on the phone one morning and it was lovely. But she wanted to chat so much on Facebook messenger that it started to feel like too much. She said, “Promise me we can do this every week.”

Who says that? Promise me? I’m not making any promises to some 60-year-old woman who lives on the other side of the planet. I haven’t seen her in 37 years! Anything we ever were was finished a long time ago.

I also noticed how she would message me on Facebook, and if I didn’t respond, she would delete them all which seemed juvenile and weird. Sadly, Ashley’s never matured as a person and hasn’t evolved through the years. I can’t relate to any of that nonsense.

I think poor Ashley’s bored in her life and where she’s ended up, and has turned to alcohol for solace. But that never works. That’s just a band-aid covering up your real issues.

I spoke to my daughter about it and she said it all seemed kind of weird after all of this time.

I would have been happy to chat with her ocassionally on messenger. That would have been nice. But I don’t want to be in constant touch with someone and have them sending me clips of a bunch of music and songs I have zero interest in. It all seemed juvenile. I guess if you marry too young and don’t live a full life, you kind of get stuck behaving a certain way. I don’t know how her husband has put up with all of this childish behavior for so many years. I’d have divorced this woman/child years ago. But that’s his life, not mine. I don’t know the man.

So, at one point she sends me a message about how it’s been great talking to me and hopes I have a nice life. I saw it and didn’t respond. I could tell it was just an attempt to get my attention. But I simply don’t care. I feel nothing for this person.

There were a few more drunken messages that were later deleted. I’m assuming she writes a bunch of wild things when she’s half in the bag, and then the next morning when she’s sober, takes them down.

I figured she’d wait until the end of December of last year. If she hadn’t heard from me, she’d cut me off for the third time.

Had she just reached out to chat and behaved like an adult, we could have remained friends, but she hasn’t the ability to do that. I’m thinking possible bipolar and alcoholism at this point. But I’m not spending any time thinking about it at all. I’m too busy.

I was promoting some of my stuff on Facebook the other day, and I noticed the message chain from her was gone. I thought, “This is it.”

I searched for her on Facebook. She didn’t cut me off or block me, but she had unfriended me. So silly.

So, 3 strikes and it looks like I’m out.

But… like I always say. No matter what happens, good or bad… at least I got a story out of it…

 

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California Dreamin’ – Ashley – 3 Strikes – Part 2

Los Angeles, CA – 1983

One day I somehow acquired tickets to a David Bowie concert out in Anaheim. (It may have been the Glass Spider tour) We were on our way to the show when my van suddenly stalled. I had never had any problems with it before, but this was the worst thing that could have happened at the very worst time. I remember a truck full of Mexicans was kind enough to push my disabled vehicle off the highway.

We missed the show, but I got the van running again. Ashley was incredibly disappointed so I made it up to her. I took her to a nice dinner at an Italian restaurant. It was the very first time I tasted veal.

On another occasion, we were out partying in a bar somewhere and were on our way to her house. I was on the freeway when the cops pulled me over. They said I was swerving, but I know that I wasn’t. I think they saw the New Jersey tags on an old 1969 VW minibus and decided to stop me.

They took me through a sobriety test which I passed, but when I blew into the breathalyzer, I failed. I remember Ashley telling me that while this was happening, one of the officers was hitting on her. “What’s a nice pretty girl like you doing with a loser like him?” the cop said.

So, they arrested me and took me to jail. They photographed and fingerprinted me and tossed me in a cell with a couple of drunk guys. I remember sharing a cigarette with one of them. It was a rare bonding moment with another inmate. Odd thing was, I wasn’t even scared at all. I was only 21 years old when all of this happened.

I guess one of the cops took Ashley home and they left me in the can to chill. I got my one phone call and spoke with my roommate. I told him where I had some cash hidden in the apartment. He hopped in a cab and came to bail me out.

The cops told us where the van was impounded, but said not to get it and drive it because I could be stopped again. Which would make my current infraction even worse. We agreed and left the precinct.

We immediately went to the impound lot and got my van out. I drove my roommate and me home and we were fine.

Bad night.

I called my father and told him what happened. He was cool about it and was just glad I was okay. I had left a grand in my bank account back in Wildwood, NJ in case of emergency. This was that emergency.

I had to go to court, plead no contest, pay the fine, and attend classes. (All of it seemed like fee income for the city of LA and a waste of my time.) After all of the negative experiences in LA and the feeling that it didn’t matter where you were in the world, it really came down to who you were at that given time in your life.

No matter where you run to in this world… there you are. You make or break the place where you live. I was fed up with all of the phoniness of LA and didn’t see any point in staying out there anymore. I wasn’t going to become the next heavy metal god and was really feeling despondent about my life there. It had all become very mundane. (I’ll write about the deeper parts of this decision in some future post)

My roommate and I eventually decided to pack it in and return to New Jersey. I was tired of LA and missed my family and friends. I was just done with the whole scene out there.

Of course, Ashley was heartbroken that I was leaving, but I had to go. There was nothing I could do. I wasn’t staying out there. She was, and our relationship was over.

I guess that’s how I was back then. My whole existence was about survival and dealing with my anxiety and depression. But I thought nothing of just doing what I needed to do to survive. I know now that I broke some young hearts back then. I never intended to hurt anyone intentionally, I just kept moving. But I see now I was running in circles.

More tomorrow!

 

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California Dreamin’ – Ashley – 3 Strikes – Part 1

Santa Monica, CA – 1982

When I first got to Los Angeles in 1982, I got a job as a busboy at a local restaurant in Santa Monica called Cafe Casino. It was located in the Wilshire Pallisades building down by the beachfront. Someone had come up with the idea of serving French cuisine in a cafeteria model. People would enter the restaurant, grab a tray and get in line for their meal. They would point to the things they wanted, and there were a couple of girls that would serve them. It was like an expensive high school lunchroom experience. We had a fun crew of people working there and we had a good time.

I had become friends with one of the girls who worked there named Kellie Lawson. She was from Kenosha, Wisconsin. She was one of a million people who had migrated to Los Angeles to become an actor. Most people that you met out there back then all wanted the same thing. Every person in the service industry was waiting for the big break that would never come. Every waitress was either an actress, singer, model, or dancer. Most of the men you met were actors, musicians, or screenwriters. None of them working in the industry, but waiting…

Kelly had got on a greyhound bus to escape the grinding boredom of her hometown in an attempt to make it big in Hollywood. A classic scenario seen a thousand times out there. We had started dating and would frequently fool around at her apartment. We sort of grew out of touch after I left that job to work at Merlin McFly’s down near Venice.

One afternoon, we’re at the restaurant and the guys and I were hanging outside the dining room by the doors. The lunch rush was over and the two glass doors swung open. Who comes rolling in with his squad but Heisman Trophy champion, O.J. Simpson!

I knew him more from the Hertz commercials, but the other guys all cheered when the athlete entered the restaurant. He was a good-looking guy and said hello to us all. When I shook the hand of this man, who could realize that 10 years later he’d be famous for something else.

One of the girls who worked there that I befriended was a charming beauty named Joelle. She was a part-time model and her boyfriend worked at Disney studios.

Here’s her modeling photo card. Beautiful!

A lovely girl. She was not only beautiful but full of sass. She’d laugh at all my jokes and seemed to find me amusing. I liked working with her and having her as a friend back then.

One day, I came to work and she was standing there with another girl. She was 19 years old, cute, and Joelle told me she was her cousin from Philadelphia. I chatted with her and thought she was cool. Since I was originally from Philly we had a small connection.

She was new to California, and I told her we should hang out. She gave me her number and we made plans to do something together.

Eventually, we started dating and things became romantic. I had already been out there for over a year and was pretty jaded. But Ashley was new and was a fun, sweet girl to spend time with. Sometimes we’d just drive around LA in my van and end up down by the beach. We’d make out in the VW minibus and it was a romantic hot time.

We went on several dates. We went to see, ET: The Extraterrestrial, (I cried like a baby) The Dark Crystal, (A bunch of muppets with David Bowie), and Flashdance. (Chick-flick, but the great soundtrack.)

Sometimes we’d just hang out at my apartment, but many times I’d finish work and come visit her at her cousin’s house out in Culver City. It was fun to hang out in her room and watch TV and make out. We were just a couple of teenagers enjoying life and our youth together. We were a couple of kids on the loose in LA. She loved Richard Gere and I loved Farrah Fawcett.

One night I stayed over there late. We stayed up all night as young people do. When I came out to get in my van to go home, I saw that the driver’s side door was standing wide open.

My minibus had been broken into, and the thieves had stolen my entire stereo system. This was heartbreaking to me because I loved my van and listening to my tunes. They even took the boom box that I used to listen to on the beach back in Wildwood, NJ. I felt so violated by that incident, I was reluctant to go back to her neighborhood again. It was a planned professional job. They had hit several cars on the street that night.

The more Ashley and I spent time together the closer we became. She would stay over at my apartment in Mar Vista on the weekends. That eventually turned into our first intimate encounters. I don’t think I realized at the time that I was Ashley’s first.

But after that, it was really fun to be together, and fooling around became part of our relationship. It was a natural progression back then. You can only make out in my van for so long before the bigger things start happening.

One night while we were in my apartment fooling around someone broke into the apartment next door and robbed the place. My neighbor was in Greece at the time with her boyfriend so nobody was home. The thieves ransacked the place and I suppose stole anything valuable.  I later heard from one of my neighbord that they saw some guys listening next to my window to see if anybody was home. But I guess hearing our laughter they moved on to next door and ripped off my neighbor’s place instead of robbing us. Crazy!

My neighbor moved out shortly after that and I moved into her apartment. It was bigger and installed a waterbed I had gotten from a chef I worked with at McFlys who had back problems. That waterbed only cost me $120 and was awesome! It was so cool having a waterbed. I remember one night the thermostat in the unit went off and the whole side of my body was cold when I woke up. I thought I was half dead! I had a lot of wild times on that waterbed.

More tomorrow!

 

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An Evening With James – Part 1

James and I have been friends for over 10 years. I met him one night with my then-girlfriend Michelle at a fashion show at the 23rd Street Armory. He worked for a local talent agency as a talent coordinator. We both loved movies and film in general and kept in touch on social media.

Then he went off to LA for a few years and I rarely spoke to him. But he came back a few years ago and we re-connected.

James has been a great friend and we’ve had some great times together. We both have busy schedules, but we hang out together at least once a month.

You can read about him here:

James – Modeling Agency Mogul

James – Southgate

James – At The Drive In

Recently, James broke up with his girlfriend of 7 years. He’s now 34 and has been out of the dating game for years. A lot has changed but some things stay the same. I’ve helped him with his online dating apps and offered whatever advice on navigating the treacherous waters of the dating world. He’s been doing well and going on lots of dates.

But like my friend Duncan, who after his divorce wanted to go to a gentleman’s club to blow off some steam, James was ready to do the same.

I wasn’t too keen on the idea because I associate those kinds of places with losers who can’t talk to women in the real world, cheaters, and unhappy married guys.

But he had never been to the supposed “best one in Philly” so he wanted toexDrive-In-girlfriend long-tim6 pm, every day go one night. I reluctantly agreed. I didn’t know exactly when we were supposed to do it, but I knew it was looming on the horizon.

We were supposed to hang out on Wednesday but I had to postpone because I was buried in commercial writing assignments. But the next week cleared and we locked down the next Wednesday to go out.

When the day arrived, James texted me to confirm and we were a go. But in his text he suggested I come to his house, and then we’d jump in a Lyft and head out for the night.

This never happens. He usually drives down into center city or takes a Lyft down here and we go out. This was a first. So I knew it had to mean one of two things.

  1. He wants me to come to his house so I can see how he’s fixed it up and redecorated since the exit of his girlfriend. Then make be a few delicious, potent cocktails to get a base coat on and save money. Then, we both hop in a Lyft and return to center city-girlfriend long-time reading Jamereading James6 pm, every day reading JamesDrive-In for a night of fun, frolic, and frivolity. OR…
  2. He wants me to come to his house, ply me with lethal cocktails and coerce me to go to the local gentleman’s club with him to see a bunch of strippers.

It was the latter.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. I had finished my last big writing assignment the day before so it was my first day off in over 3 weeks. I went to breakfast at Rachael’s Noshery and then went for a nice long walk to get some exercise.

5.6 miles later I came home and chilled out for an hour. I then proceeded to write about Lin and a few other subjects. You’d think after writing non-stop for 3 weeks I wouldn’t want to touch my keyboard. But it just felt good to write about things I wanted to write about. My blog!

We were set to hang out at 7 pm that night so I wrote for about 5 hours and knocked off around 6 pm. I had been to his house before so I knew just how to get there using public transportation. It was a nice mild day, and I gave myself plenty of time like I always do. My dad always taught me to leave early to avoid any unforeseen delays and I’ll always arrive relaxed at my destination.

So, I left my house and headed over to Broad Street. I walked up to Locust Street because I knew there was a train station there on the corner. I walked down the steps to the station, swiped my key card, and headed down to the platform. There was a train sitting there and I happily hopped in. Just to be sure, I asked someone on the train if this train stopped at Huntingdon and they said it was a local express train. So, it wouldn’t. They then told me to get off that train and wait for the regular one that comes on the track just on the other side of the platform. I thanked them and stepped off the train and waited on the platform.

Within minutes, the other train arrived. I hopped on and off I went. After a while, I was wondering when the train would come up out of the subway and become the elevated line. It seemed to be taking a long time. I looked out the window and saw that the train had stopped at the Fern Rock Station.

Where the heck was I? Had I missed my stop? What’s going on?

I asked another passenger and she tried to explain. The train was noisy and she struggled with her English and she was wearing a mask.

Thinking quickly, I exited the train to get my bearings. It was only 6:30 at this point so there was plenty of time to make any necessary adjustments.

I walked over to the ticket office and spoke with the nice lady working inside it behind the bulletproof glass. I couldn’t hear a word she was saying so she stuck her head out the door.

“Hi. I’ve lived in Philly for over 12 years and I think I got on the wrong train.”

“Where are you trying to go?”

“Huntingdon stop in south Kensington.”

“Oh… you’re way off.”

“Where am I?”

“You’re way far up into North Philly right now.”

“Oh. Can I just go upstairs and call a Lyft and leave from there?”

“Ain’t no Lyft coming to this part of town, honey.”

“Really? Why not?”

“It’s pretty busy up there.”

“Busy?”

(Looks me up and down) “You shouldn’t go up there. It’s not a good kind of busy up there.”

“Ohhh… What do you recommend?”

“Go down that flight of stairs over there and get back on the southbound train. You were on the Broad Street Line. You need to take the train south down to 8th and Market and switch to the Blue Line and then go north to Kensington. You’re way west of anywhere you want to be right now and you do not want to go upstairs into that part of town.”

“Okay. Got it. Thank you!”

I scamper down the steps and wait for the southbound Broad Street Line train. What was I thinking…. or not thinking? I’ve lived in Philly for over a decade. I know where everything is and I’m an authority on public transit. Am I getting dotty in my old age? Has senility finally come to call?

No. I just had a brain fart and got on the wrong northbound train. I need to fix this, but I’m not going back to 8th and Market.

The train arrives and I’m the only caucasian on that train. I’m the minority and look a bit out of place, to say the least. I’m a little nervous but it’s 6:30, still light out and there are plenty of people around. I hatch my escape plan as the train roars south.

I’m listening to Rockbar on Sirius radio on my earbuds and it was almost a joke when the next song comes on. It’s Welcome to the Jungle by Gun’s ‘n Roses. Just as the train pulls into the Cecil B. Demille stop I hear Axl Rose scream into my ears…”Do you know where you are? You’re in the jungle, baby… You’re gonna DIE!!!!”

Oh, the cruel, yet the hilarious irony of this journey.

I hop off the train because I know this stop is the one above Girard Avenue and based on my geographic skills I figure I’m just slightly northwest of my destination. I climb the stairs and come out on the sunny sidewalk. Again, I am the minority and feel the weight of how out of place I am at this moment.

I call a Lyft and wait alone on the corner of Cecil B. Demille and Broad to wait for it.

Tune in tomorrow for Part 2 of this little saga…

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Tales of Rock – Nick Cannon And Mariah Carey Did It To Her Music

At some point in their lives (16-24), most people will make a sex mixtape — a collection of songs to set the mood during lovemaking. Nick Cannon and Mariah Carey had a playlist like that, only theirs was nothing but a loop of Carey’s song about how real heroes never go soft halfway through.

In 2012, during an interview with chain-smoking grandmother Howard Stern, Cannon revealed that when the then-couple had lovin’ on their minds, there was nothing that got the bodily fluids pouring like queuing up a couple of her tracks and going to town on each other. Their favorite Carey anthem? Her soft and sweeping “Hero.” Maybe it’s because of encouraging lyrics like And then a hero comes along, with the strength to carry on. Or maybe it’s because Cannon doesn’t have any music of his own worth listening to while you’re trying to bump uglies. Either way, this should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with Mariah Carey, who insisted on giving birth while listening to a recorded live performance of her own song, “Fantasy,” so she could hear her fans clapping for her.

But unlike most of us, Cannon was getting off on his wife’s singing long before they were married. In the same interview, he also told the world that he jerked it to the very same song, which might be the most loyal version of masturbation anyone has ever admitted to. After their divorce, Cannon admitted that sharing those tidbits had gotten him into trouble with Carey. Maybe telling the world that he needed two Mariah Careys to whisper in his ears might have contributed to their split. At least he has her music to keep him company at night.

Wanna be a better guitarist? Click this link to learn the secret!

https://beginnerguitarhq.com/guitar-exercises/

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