PHICKLEPHILLY 2 is Now for Sale on Amazon and Kindle!

“He found love… but can he keep it?”

“Love is a many splintered thing” – Andrew Eldritch

Here it is! The long awaited sequel to the best selling Phicklephilly! Thanks to everyone who bought the first book, and to all of my readers and subscribers on this blog!

Without all of you, none of this would be possible!

You can get it here!

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_2

When I started writing Phicklephilly back in May of 2016, I never realized how much it would grow and flourish as I went forward. It began as an earnest effort to start writing again. After a few false starts through the summer, I finally decided that if I was going to start writing again, I should stop talking about it and just do it. 

It began like most creative works. Slowly. Once I published my first post, I thought; how am I going to do this every Monday? I had no followers and no exposure anywhere. Instead of worrying about that, I decided to dig in and start to tell stories from my recent past. But since then it’s grown exponentially. It’s a dot com now and has hundreds of thousands of page views. I’ve monetized the site and secured advertisers that generate revenue to support my work. It’s been a lot of fun!

In the beginning, my inspiration was a server named Maria who worked at a local restaurant. I sort of had a crush on her but it never became anything. But it was enough to get me writing again. When I met her I had already been in Philly for almost ten years.

 My first relationship with Michelle had only lasted about three years before she left me. She was approaching age thirty and the alarms were going off in her head to get married and make babies. I had already been married and divorced years before that and had a daughter. I wasn’t going down that painful and expensive road again. The odd thing about my relationship with Michelle was, it was the first time I had a girlfriend that after we broke up, stayed friends with me. We were best friends. Isn’t that the key to all successful and loving relationships? 

Michelle reconnected with her former high school boyfriend. Normally that never works but I think this time it might. I think Michelle broke up with him, left Delaware and came to Philly because the guy wasn’t on the road to success. I think Michelle needed to explore the world a bit. She did that for a while and then met me. I was new and different and we had the time of our lives together in the city. But what neither of us realized was that was all we really were. A couple of people who loved the city and it’s nightlife. The drinks flowed and the laughter ensued. But once we got an apartment and moved in together it was the beginning of the end. We didn’t know it at the time, but domestic life never suited our relationship. We were best friends who liked the social excitement of going out, and being a deadly couple in the city. Once the adventure ended it was over. 

We tried it for a while, and did all of the things that couples do. Celebrate the holidays, birthdays, family stuff, and all of the other grinding aspects of domestic life. But we just got to a point where Michelle realized I wasn’t going to marry her and give her kids. We remained friends for several years after that until she moved to California in 2013 to be with her former boyfriend. He had become the man she had hoped he’d be many years ago. She married him, and at the time of this writing has a baby daughter. So it all worked out for her. She achieved the American dream.

I on the other hand started dating Annabelle in 2013. Annabelle is a failed actress and photographer. She makes her living shooting head shots and weddings. The reason things failed with Annabelle was our obvious age difference, and absolute opposite lifestyles. I was the corporate sales guy, and she lived in a world surrounded by theater people. It was like oil and water, and the only thing we shared was our mutual attraction to each other. Annabelle served as a temporary stand-in for my friend Michelle. The relationship lasted a tumultuous nine months and ended. It was fun in the beginning, but all romantic endeavors are. Once the reality sets in that you’re not a match, normally the relationship dissolves. Both of these relationships are well documented in the first Phicklephilly book.

Michelle is long gone, but her memory continues to haunt me of what could have been.

Near the end of the book I met Cherie. When I started writing the blog I realized I had to get back in the dating game. So I did what most people do. I went on Tinder, Bumble, OkCupid, and whatever else was available. I went on a bunch of crazy dates, but things clicked pretty early on with Cherie. 

I realized I had an ending to my first book. I had burned through a couple of relationships, and then met my love, Cherie. Everything was right in the world. She made me happy and we shared some wonderful times. Over the first couple of months we became close and Phicklephilly had a happy conclusion. It seemed like the perfect ending to a great story. I had reached my destination, and had found love in Philly!

Also, when I was with Michelle and Annabelle, I wasn’t writing. Their stories were told from memory, so it’s basically our greatest hits. But phicklephilly the blog was alive and well when I met Cherie. A rich history indeed!

But what happened after the end of the first book? We’re both in love with each other and things are going great. The story has to continue. I can’t just let the tale end there. There’s so much more to reveal. 

Please join me on my continuing journey.

 

You can get it here:

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_2

 

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

Listen to the Phicklephilly podcast LIVE on Spotify!

Instagram: @phicklephilly    Facebook: phicklephilly    Twitter: @phicklephilly

Michelle – Chapter – 23 – One More After This, And Then I’m Done

I don’t really go on social media anymore.

I don’t care about your lunches, or dinners or events or your social events

It means nothing to me. I used to post everything I was doing on my social media when I was working in advertising.

But no more. I live a private life and I’m happier than I’ve ever been.

Social media’s a sad symptom of our society that gives every moron on Earth a voice.

I’m tired of you all. I see you all for who you really are and the pool is so shallow I see nothing in any of you anymore.

But for a moment I saw something that caught my eye.

My former girlfriend Michelle was pregnant with a little girl due in June. (It already happened)

She’s finally reached all of her goals of having her health, a happy marriage with her husband and now a child is on the way.

Well done.

It’s good we’re no longer in touch.

My work is done and you have no longer any use for me.

Perfect.

I’ve lifted you to the place I have hoped for you.

I think we both agree that what you have now is what we both hoped for you all along.

Well done, Michelle.

We had a great time, but you’re needed where you are now. You made it, and now you have all of the things you want.

I am honored we had the time we had together. It was the best time of my life, but now you’ve found true happiness and all of the things you wanted.

God Bless you both and I wish you all only health, happiness and the wellness of your child.

Michelle, you finally got the perfect life you always wanted. You have the perfect marriage with the man you’re supposed to be with, finally! I’m so happy for you. You live in the place you’ve always wanted to be in and have the job you always dreamed of.

Perfect.

I hope your baby girl is born happy and healthy!

God bless you all!

You did the right thing.

 

I’ll be at the bar…

 

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

My new book, Phicklephilly 2 is coming soon on Amazon!

 

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

Listen to the Phicklephilly podcast LIVE on Spotify!

Instagram: @phicklephilly    Facebook: phicklephilly    Twitter: @phicklephilly

Scientists Claim Men With Dad Bods Are More Attractive To Women And Live Longer

While the plus-size and curves craze have taken over women’s perceptions of beauty on social media, men have quietly been staging their own physical attractiveness revolution. Introducing: the ‘dad bod’.

Ever wonder how Leonard DiCaprio and Vince Vaughn always end up with ridiculously hot women? Dad bod. How Rober De Niro continues to swoon and father children at the ripe age of 73? Dad bod. Yes, packing a little extra weight around the midriff has gone from being considered as something you need to sort out to incredibly sexy.

Image Source: Pinterest
Image Source: Pinterest

In fact, it’s so ‘in’ at the moment, that entire social media pages have dedicated themselves to promoting the dad bod.

It’s not just a trend, scientists have proven that having a bit of a beer belly can and does attract women. According to Richard Bribiescas, Professor of Anthropology at Yale University, older, slightly overweight men with children are the most attractive to women.

Now for the science part: Men who already have children suggest virility – the fact that they have children means they’re capable of reproducing, a factor that has kept our race going since the first human beings roamed the earth. The added weight gain after fatherhood occurs due to a decrease in testosterone levels. While this might sound like a bad thing, it actually strengthens the immune system, making men less susceptible to heart attacks in the future.

In his book ‘How Men Age: What Evolution Reveals About Male Health and Mortality’, Bribiescas states that being “macho makes you sick.”

“While men are on average larger and physically stronger than women, men have a considerable weakness.

 “We have a harder time fighting off infections and illness compared with women, and… men simply do not take care of themselves.

“[One] effect of lower testosterone levels is loss of muscle mass and increases in fat mass.

“This change in body composition not only causes men to shop for more comfortable trousers, but also facilitates increased survivorship and, hypothetically, a hormonal milieu that would more effectively promote and support paternal investment.”

It might sound crazy, but it does make a lot of sense. Fitness is no longer an evolutionary factor when it comes to the rules of attraction, because we don’t have to fight for meals anymore. What’s far more important for the survival of our species is for men to live longer and to be faithful partners who stick around.

So when it comes to New Year’s resolutions, forgetting renewing your gym membership and pile on a couple of extra pounds instead. More to love, that’s what we’re saying!

**We should probably point out that Leonard DiCaprio is also an avid humanitarian and environmental activist, which probably plays a major part in his overall attractiveness…**

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

My new book, Phicklephilly 2 is coming soon on Amazon!

 

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

Listen to the Phicklephilly podcast LIVE on Spotify!

Instagram: @phicklephilly    Facebook: phicklephilly    Twitter: @phicklephilly

7 Super-Romantic Labor Day Weekend Date Ideas For Fun Couples

Real couples dish on their romantic Labor Day weekend plans.

Labor Day weekend is coming up and it’s the perfect time to bond and re-kindle the fire with your partner.

We surveyed couples from all over the country to see how they would suggest spending this upcoming Labor Day Weekend, and the results made us totally jealous.

Here are our favorite romantic date night ideas for you and your significant other.

1. Book a spa day.

Dana and Jared of NYC said that one of their most romantic dates was when they booked a couple’s massage at the Mineral Springs resort, and spent the rest of the day enjoying drinks poolside on the roof deck. Dana’s favorite part of the mini getaway?

“It felt like we were taking a mini vacation without ever stepping on a plane!”

2. Take a trip to the Capitol.

Akanksha and Samarth recently drove out to Washington D.C. for the weekend and visited the sights.

“We went out in Georgetown at night, and then did some sight-seeing during the day,” Akanksha said. “The Smithsonian Museums are free on the weekends, so it helped us save some on the cost of the overall trip.”

3. Plan a mini honeymoon.

Newlyweds Maggie and Javier don’t have the office leeway to schedule their dream honeymoon yet, but that hasn’t stopped them from relishing in their newlywed bliss. They recently took a sightseeing cruise.

“We’re not doing a huge honeymoon yet, so we’re taking different day trips, and I have to say I enjoyed the cruise so much,” said Maggie. “The upstairs outdoor seating was the best!”

4. Attend a music festival.

Alyse and Dave have found that their favorite weekend excursions always include attending a music festival. “It’s how we take a break from our hectic and busy lives and take an entire day (or weekend — depending on the festival) and just enjoy each other and the music we both love,” said Alyse.

The couple is considering a trip to the three-day art festival called Bumbershoot in Seattle, Washington this weekend to enjoy some of their favorite artists.

5. Explore a new city together.

Sarah and Chris’s favorite trip together was a long weekend in Chris’s Missouri hometown, where they visited the famous St. Louis Gateway Arch and went on a Budweiser factory tour. “It was awesome to have a date night somewhere out of our normal comfort zone,” said Sarah. “Exploring a new city let us explore a new aspect of our relationship.”

6. Attend a ball game.

While eating ballpark franks and drinking draft beer out of plastic cups doesn’t exactly scream romance, it’s definitely a fun and authentic way to spend some time together, without all of the financial pressure that can accompany a weekend couple’s trip. Anna and Matt plan on attending a Red Sox game this Saturday and spend Sunday in Gloucester for some fried fresh seafood and beautiful beaches.

7. Cozy up at a bed and breakfast.

Even though Rie and Terry live down the shore, one of their favorite weekend trips was spent at a bed and breakfast … just one town over!

“Even though we know the area, and could just as easily have eaten at the restaurants or browsed the shops in a day trip, we would usually be worrying about what the kids were doing for dinner, or if anyone would be home to let the dogs out,” Rie said. “By making a weekend trip out of one of our favorite local places, we were able to just enjoy each other.”

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

My new book, Phicklephilly 2  is coming soon on Amazon!

 

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

Listen to the Phicklephilly podcast LIVE on Spotify!

Instagram: @phicklephilly    Facebook: phicklephilly    Twitter: @phicklephilly

Iris – Happy Birthday, Papa Squirrel

You can read Tuesday’s post about Iris here:

https://phicklephilly.com/?p=65472

I woke up on Sunday. It was my 58th birthday. I was alone.

I knew I’d be alone, because I was supposed to have dinner with my friend Sabrina but she was having car troubles and couldn’t get down here. I’ll be writing about her in an upcoming post. Sabrina has several chapters from a couple of years ago. You can search for her in the Search bar and you can read them all. Interesting stuff. But we’ll get to her next week.

My daughter had left me a card in a sealed envelope and a candle before she left for the weekend to go to a music festival with her boyfriend. She left the envelope on Thursday night before she left and I told her I wouldn’t open it until Sunday. I did wait and there was a lovely gift and sentiment from her. I’m surprised and grateful! Thank you Lorelei!

Before she left, she said that Iris had left something here and that she may swing by over the weekend to pick it up. She told me she had given my cell to Iris and I may be getting a call or a text, if or when she was going to come get the article.

“I told Iris I was leaving Friday to go away with Neil, so she knows that if she didn’t come early I’d be gone and she could maybe get it this weekend from you.”

“I’ll be here. I’m not going anywhere.”

I went to my favorite breakfast spot and picked up my bacon, egg and cheese sandwich and headed back home. I just figured I’d spend another quiet day at home working on my next book, Below the Wheel.

Frankly, I was amazed at the outpouring of love in the form of texts and messages on social media. Family, friends, former band mates from two different bands, former co-workers… it was amazing. You know, you get older and are locked up for four months and you think you’re basically forgotten by everyone. But apparently not yet. I’m really grateful for all the birthday wishes I got from so many. Thank you! I was trying to write a piece about a bar band I loved as a teen and was interrupted so many times from well wishers I simply gave up writing it. (If you’re reading this, it’s already been published and it kicks ass!)

The Dead End Kids

At some point early in the afternoon I was doing what I do everyday. Typing away. It’s a grind, but these books aren’t going to write themselves. I got a text on Instagram from Iris. “I’m coming to Philly today. I left my wax there, so I might stop by to pick it up and say hello to my Faja!!”

“Please do. Lorelei told me she gave you my cell and that you may be swinging by.”

“Yay!”

There was some more chatter and somehow the subject of fruit came up. She went on to explain to me that banana flavoring is lost to world now. “The original bananas grown back in the day taste totally different than the GMO produced now.”

“Really? Like real bananas don’t taste like the bananas from 40 years ago?”

“We used to get our bananas from Central America and South America but there’s a certain type of disease that prevented them from shipping successfully so they grew something called a Cavendish which is a type of banana strain resistant to the Panama disease.”

“Mind. Blown.”

“When I learned this, my heart broke. All faith in humanity disappeared.”

“I love bananas, but now it’s got me thinking. Anyway, how are you getting to Philly?”

“I’m going to Uber. I got some credits.”

Wanna go somewhere and get food?”

“Yea!! I can just Uber to you and have my friend pick me up after you and I eat! She’s cleaning her place and whatnot since her man child left for a week to go to Texas for some stupid social media influencer garbage lol.”

“Okay. Sounds good. When are you coming?”

I’m ordering an Uber now!”

So some time later Iris arrives at the Squirrel House as planned. She got stuck outside at first because in the hot weather the front door swells and is hard to open. I run downstairs and let her in. I’m happy to see her.

When we get up to the apartment she drops the bag she packed, because I’m assuming she’s staying over at her friend Allie’s house for the next couple of days. We get ready and head out. Since it’s my birthday, I’m happy I have someone to celebrate it with. The last good birthday I had was when two of my friends set up a little party for me at the Ritz Carlton a few years ago.

Since this was our very first outing together I wanted it to be special, so I suggested we go to Parc for brunch. It’s one of the nicest restaurants in the city and everybody goes there to see and be seen. We get there and I ask the hostess what the wait is. They tell me an hour and a half. Screw that. I hate Parc anyway and all the people who go there. Iris heard some older woman make some sort of a sugar daddy comment. I didn’t hear it, But Iris told me. As we walked away from the place I told her about how Parc, Devon and especially Rouge, (Three restaurants in a row on Rittenhouse square) are all notorious for sugar babies and pros. I told her how an any given night you can see a guy 10 to 20 years older than me sitting at one of the outside tables with someone he obviously paid for. It’s kind of pathetic. Men with real game don’t need to pay for companionship. Companions find them and want their presence. (Thank you, father.)

We’re walking and I’m doing my nervous talking things and telling her some story about wherever we are. I think it was about on of my ex-girlfriends, Annabelle. We happened to be walking by what was once the bar where she worked and where I had met her. But I digress…

I suggest my new hangout, Lou Birds. Iris is down for that and off we go. We walk through the park and it’s a lovely day to be out. I’m happy my birthday has taken this unexpected yet pleasant turn.

We get there and there’s plenty of tables. She lets me pick and I go for the one all the way down on the end in the shade. Incidentally, it’s the table I sat at alone when I finished writing Angel with a Broken Wing. I had my celebratory Manhattan at that very table for the very first time after two and a half months of quarantine.

Our girl Jade the server swings by, (I guess Sarah had the day off) and brings to cups and a big bottle of water. I love that. Gotta stay hydrated on a hot day in August especially when you’re going to have a drink or two. She offers us a choice of several beverages but mentions they have a couple of frozen specials, so Iris goes with the Froze’ (Think, Rose’ wine slurpee) and I go with the lemon and vodka frozen drink.

A cool thing that has risen out of the pandemic is the elimination of paper menus. There is a barcode thingee stuck to the corner of the tabletop. Iris instructs me on how to simply open the camera on my phone, and hold it over the thing. The menu appears in my phone like magic! I think that’s so cool! Technology!

I haven’t had a burger in over five months, so I go with a bacon cheeseburger with fries. They even put an onion ring on that bad boy! Iris went with the lobster mac ‘n cheese. Good call, lady!

Delish! She let me try a spoonful of her mac and of course I let her take a queen sized bite out of my burger. The food’s great! That’s the first time I’ve ever eaten there. Well done, Lou Bird’s! Iris took all the food porn photos and a few selfies to document the event.

We loved our brunch and the conversation was lively. You never know how these things will go, but it was a lovely afternoon. We even ordered another round, and she tried the lemon vodka thing I had and she loved it!

So despite the warnings from my comrades who aren’t parents, I was right along. Something is only weird or wrong in the minds of others. I’ve never let other people’s hangups or fear direct my will. Why change now? If you’re not doing anything wrong and your heart’s pure, you have nothing to worry about. If somebody doesn’t like it or thinks it’s wrong, that’s their trip, not mine. I knew everything would be fine with me spending time with my adopted squirrel!

Iris is a lovely young woman and full of life. She has a great mind and a razor sharp sense of humor. I can see why my daughter loves her. Simply put… Iris rocks.

I paid the bill and was happy to do so. (She kicked in for the tip!) I was honored that Iris chose to spend the afternoon with me.

We headed back to the house and she got her stuff together. We just chilled for a bit to cool off in the A/C but she had to get going and meet with her friend, who was probably waiting for her.

I bid this fair maiden farewell and wished her safe passage on her next adventure. She made my birthday extra special and perfect. What began as a quiet day alone became an afternoon of fun, frolic and frivolity!

Thank you Iris for making my birthday great! See you soon.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

My new book, Angel with a Broken Wing is now for sale on Amazon!

 

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

Listen to the Phicklephilly podcast LIVE on Spotify!

Instagram: @phicklephilly    Facebook: phicklephilly    Twitter: @phicklephilly

Dating experts offer tips for lovelorn singles over 50

Carol Greenfield, 68, has had her share of bad app dates. She misses meeting people in person: Chemistry, she says, is hard to capture on a screen.

Over 50, single and ready to mingle? Here are some online dating tips, profile pointers and meetup guidelines from experts who know how to get seniors back into the matchmaking game.

Don’t fudge your profile photos

“Authentic dating profiles get the best results, and in midlife, no one expects a six-pack or perfect body,” says Julie Spira, a relationship expert with senior dating app OurTime. So opt for pics taken in 2019 that capture how you’d actually show up for a first date: in nice clothing, at your current weight and without a filter erasing your crow’s feet. A full-length body shot is essential, Spira adds — people will pass if they think you’re hiding something. And limit yourself to one group shot.

Don’t play it coy

“It used to be that once you connected with someone, you waited three days to get in touch again because you didn’t want to seem overly interested,” says Spira. “Technology has made that obsolete. If you don’t respond in three hours, your hot lead for romance is going to go cold.”

Raise your age cutoff

Many 50-plus singles vainly reject the idea of dating older, severely limiting their potential mates. Psychologist Chloe Carmichael recommends that people be open to dating those who are as much as five years their senior. That way, she says, you can greatly expand your dating pool without creating major age gaps.

Keep it brief

Most older singles have had rich life experiences, but the “About Me” section isn’t the place for your long-winded memoir, says Spira. Aim for three to five sentences that focus on your present life, possibly with a funny quote or a few emojis to quickly convey hobbies and passions.

Steer clear of TMI

Your matches are sure to ask about your relationship history, but that’s not an invitation to divulge your ex’s five-year affair with the dog walker. Be ready with a simple, blame-free sentence. For example, “The marriage ended a few years ago because we ultimately developed some trust issues, and I’ll be happy to tell you more down the line.”

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

My new book, Angel with a Broken Wing is now for sale on Amazon!

 

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

Listen to the Phicklephilly podcast LIVE on Spotify!

Instagram: @phicklephilly    Facebook: phicklephilly    Twitter: @phicklephilly

Iris – Quarantine Girl

Iris is one of my daughter’s friends. She’s 26 years old. I think she may be one of her best friends, because when she comes over they have such a fun time. They stay up to all hours laughing, drinking, smoking, talking and listening to music. It’s a grand old time here at the squirrel house as they call it.

The term squirrel house came out of something my daughter used to say when she was little. I was working in New York at the time but kept an apartment in Haddonfield, NJ for awhile. This was back in 2004, so Lorelei would have been around 8 years old. I had two sofas, and the smaller one was hers over by the window. When she would lie on it and look out the window all she could see was trees, so she said it felt like we were living in a tree house. It was a cozy apartment and she said we were like little squirrels living in their house in the trees.

So now in 2020 when it rains and we’re safely tucked away in our apartment in Rittenhouse, we call it the Squirrel House. It’s a sweet memory for us both. Her friend Iris is incredibly perceptive and has a great memory. She’s has a great ability when it comes to recall. She’ll hear something once and be able to talk about it. She heard about the squirrel house reference and now refers to me as Papa Squirrel. Probably one of the kinder titles I’ve earned over the years. She sometimes calls me Faja, and I’m assuming that’s father in another language.

I’ve known her for several years, but in the last year or so she and Lorelei have become close. During quarantine I’ve had zero social life except for a few zoom calls here and there. It’s nice to have people over. It’s great to hear my daughter laughing and enjoying time with her good friend. I’ve had the opportunity to hang out with them a little bit over the last few months, and have really gotten to know Iris.

Iris is adopted, and never had a father, or a real father figure in her life. I think this has led to a few bad decisions when it came to vocation and romantic partner choices. But she’s a resilient soul and my daughter really likes her. Lorelei’s a good judge of character and wouldn’t keep her around if she didn’t like her.

Iris has expressed that I’m the closest thing she’s ever had to a dad. I found that hard to believe because I don’t see her that often. But I suppose in the time she’s been here it’s felt like that to her. Maybe she sees how Lorelei and I interact as father and daughter. Lor’s mother was pretty strict, inflexible and set in her ways. I remember that because I was married to that woman for 8 years. It was rough. It was even harder on Lorelei living with her for 18 years. But when she turned 18 she left New Jersey and moved in with me. It was her choice to get out from under the oppressive thumb of her mother. Lorelei finished out her senior year in high school, commuting from Philly each morning by herself. Lor has lived with me for over 5 years now and we couldn’t be happier. I’ve always treated her like an adult, and she respects me and the house. She’s a good kid, and I’m really proud of her.

Iris has expressed on a few occasions that she wished she could rent me as a dad to hang out with. I liked the idea, because she’s a nice kid and I could be a father figure to her. Just somebody to talk to when she’s struggling with something that she can’t share with her adoptive mother or any of her friends. Never having a father takes an enormous toll on all children. Especially young women. Guys can sort of make it without their dads. We just need that older dude to kick us in the ass sometimes and teach us some skills, manners and keep us in line. But girls suffer because their father is the first man they ever meet. They’ll meet several, but their father is the very first. If you’re a good father your daughter will go out in the world knowing what a good man acts like. A father instills in them the tools and nurturing a young woman needs to meet some the challenges of the world. Good information, time, and love are all paramount to her development.

Here’s piece I wrote for Father’s Day.

Why A Strong Father-Daughter Relationship Is So Important For Girls’ Self Esteem

One night when Lorelei was out training for a part time gig, I woke up from my nap. (Yea, I take naps now during the pandemic. Writing books is exhausting! lol) I came out to the living room and Iris was still there. She had stayed over the night before but normally she’d be gone. But she told me where Lorelei was and that she was staying over that night as well. Like I said, I’m happy to have people over and if Lorelei’s happy, I’m happy. Iris is always welcome in our home. (We’ve even given her keys)

I fixed myself a drink and sat with her. We chatted and it was really the first time we had ever hung out together. Just the two of us. Normally I stay in my room when she’s over because I don’t want to be the hovering dad encroaching on my daughter’s time with her friend. But this time we just chatted about a lot of things.

It came up that she wished there was some way we could hang out sometimes. I was all for it, but we both had concerns about the dynamic of the relationship. How would Lorelei feel about it all? It all seemed like a slippery slope built on other people’s expectations and social norms. I think that was the biggest part of it. Iris is in Philly often not just to hang with Lor, but she has other friends in town. So she’s around quite often. I thought it would be nice for both of us. I could take her out to eat or to a museum or whatever. We could talk and I could provide some semblance of what it might be like for her to have an older male figure in her life that cared about her. She’s never really had that. But we didn’t know if Lorelei would share. And most of all we didn’t want it to be awkward or weird. I’m sure it wouldn’t be because I’m not awkward or weird and it would just be wrong for it to be anything else. I wanted to spend time with her, and she with me. She had expressed it before and said she had often thought about it.

So we agreed that at some point we’d breach the subject with Lorelei, but weren’t sure how or when we would do that. So I decided to run the notion by a few of my male friends.

I spoke with my best friend Duncan about it. His response was: “Dude, she’s in her twenties, smokes weed, has tattoos, has had questionable jobs, and no father figure. How are you just not going to fall into that?”

Okay. Bad Idea. Duncan is a divorced bachelor. He has no game. Never been a dad, and has shitty role models as parents. He’s a driven businessman and totally the wrong person to ask. I should stick to conversations about rock music, comic books, and Star Wars with him. So that was a waste of time.

I spoke with my friend Johnny R. If you’ve been reading this blog you know him already. If not, simply go to the search bar on this site and type, ‘Johnny R’. he’s the king of vice in this city. A great. smart guy who’s been in a stable relationship with the same woman for over 10 years, and has had only two different jobs in that entire time. Sounds tame, right? Johnny R. loves tobacco, alcohol, gambling, adderall, cocaine, strippers and hookers. Like I said…king of vice. But a great guy! None of that affects his relationship with me. But I ran the idea of spending some father/daughter time with Iris.

“Dude. Do you think you’re entertaining these ideas because you’ve been in quarantine for five months and the pool of female companionship has shrunken down to a puddle in your life? Do you really want to do this, or are you just desperate to hang out with a woman who isn’t someone you’re related to? I know you’re accustomed to being surrounded by women all the time. You have a very active social life. You write a dating and relationship blog full of your exploits. Do you think because you’ve been locked down, you’re just happy to hang out with Iris? Come on… she’s 26 years old. But most of all, she’s your daughter’s friend. It’s wrong. Think of your daughter. What will she think?”

Johnny makes some good points here, but like my friend Duncan, they come from similar places. Both not married. Never had any children. Having kids changes a man. It makes you a better, morale man in this world. If you haven’t ever been a parent you just don’t know what it’s like. So I did appreciate his opinions and he made some great points, but I think I’m barking up the wrong tree talking to these guys.

I have three sisters. I grew up living with women. Most of my male friends don’t understand how I can be friends with so many women in this city. Most men think any connection with someone of the opposite sex is a means to an end. Them trying to bed her. That’s never been the case with me. There is the romantic candidates and those endeavors play out accordingly, but most of the women in my life are simply friends. They like the idea that they can hang out with an older gentleman that isn’t trying to get into their pants.

One of my female friends once said to a mixed group of people, “Charles is the type of man we all wished the men in our lives spoke about us when we weren’t around.”

I think that sums it up. Most of my readers here on phicklephilly are women. If I were a wolf they’d know it, and steer clear of my blog. I can’t let other people’s ideas and perceptions cloud this subject. They aren’t me and are nothing like me. It’s always good to get a second opinion, but I think in the end, people are going to do what they’re going to do.

I even ran it by James at the Drive In last week. He knows about Iris. I told him about what was happening and he told me to do nothing. I love James, but he’s neither a husband nor a father. Normally he’s asking me for advice but I thought I’d run it by him. I respect his words, and decided to listen to him. I’m not going to pursue it.

But then opportunity knocked.

 

To Be Continued on Thursday…

 

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

My new book, Angel with a Broken Wing is now for sale on Amazon!

 

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

Listen to the Phicklephilly podcast LIVE on Spotify!

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James – At The Drive In

A few days before my birthday, I get a text from James. “What are you doing tomorrow at 6pm?”

Of course I’m doing nothing but working on my new book, Below the Wheel. Just like everyday. “I’m free, dude. What’s going on?”

“Just be ready.”

I think I know what’s going to happen tomorrow. I’m super excited.

It was the Thursday before my birthday. James rolls up to my house at 6pm. I hop in the car and we’re off to parts unknown. (Known!) He drives his Kia Soul over the Walt Whitman bridge over to Jersey. Traffic is light and we’re making great time. It’s another rare, cool night during this heatwave. We drive down to Vineland, NJ. He’s got his navigation on and we get to our destination in no time. Plus, we’re always chatting up a storm so time flies by.  We’re both hungry and we decide to stop at a Wawa that’s nearby. We ordered some sandwiches, snacks and drinks and were back in the car in no time. We head down a long road and come upon this.

The Delsea Drive In is still a thing! OMG! I haven’t been to a drive in movie in 35 years!

https://www.delseadrive-in.com/

James had gone online, found the place, bought tickets, and a food pass. If you buy a food pass that gives you the right to bring in your own food from outside. Back in the 80’s when I used to go to the drive in in Rio Grande, NJ we never brought our own food in, but we certainly brought beer in! Like myself, James is a great planner. Behind my seat in the car is a cooler loaded with beer and spiked seltzers. (Yes!) I didn’t know what to expect but we pulled in and handed the necessary paperwork to the nice lady manning the ticket booth, and we drove on in.

It was early, and the show wouldn’t start until it got dark. We had some time to get parked in a good spot and get the lay of the land. It’s a great drive in movie theater. There are two screens playing different movies. Screen 1 is movies geared to grown ups and screen 2 is for families and kids. Which is great because then you know going into it, all of the noisy kids would be a hundred yards away at a different park facing the other way.

We devour our sandwiches, and are happy to have arrived safely without incident. There were a few vehicles around but they weren’t near us. Of course there were a lot of rules. Everybody must wear masks, if you want anything from the snack bar you have to order it online using your phone, and then go get in line to pick it up. Also, if you brought beach chairs you have to set them up in front of your vehicle, not next to your vehicle. Social distancing, people!

I tell James that I brought a small flask of bourbon and some party favors. (weed) Neither of us drank any whiskey or smoked pot deciding we weren’t there to get messed up. Especially since he was driving. I just brought it in case he wanted a little nip or a puff or two just to enhance the experience. But we decided against it. Didn’t need it. My daughter Lorelei had rolled a custom fatty for him, and I ended up giving it to him as a gift at the end of the night for…later!

I noticed that most of the vehicles that were there were sport utility vehicles. I forgot how popular they were. There are more sedans in the city, but in rural Jersey, it seems like everybody drives SUVs. I also noticed that most people backed their SUV’s or pick up trucks into their spots. They’d open the back hatch and sit on the edge of the bed, or sit in the bed of their pick up trucks. It was mostly groups of young people, couples, or parents with teenage kids.

Things haven’t changed much in regard to the drive in movie experience. The metal poles are still in the ground that once held the little drive in movie speakers you’d affix to your car window to hear the film’s audio track. The old metal weather resistant speakers are long gone. Now the metal poles only serve as markers as to where to park in this elegant anachronism.

Baby Boomer Memory Lane: Those Drive-In Movie Speakers

You now tune your FM radio to 90.5 and the sound comes through that way. It’s actually so much better because James has a thunderous sound system in his car. Thank you technology!

Darkness began to descend on the drive in. I was excited to feel what I once felt as a youth at the drive in. It was a cool night, so we sat with the windows down. There were happily no bugs. Mosquitoes can ruin any night out in the country. But as i sat there in his car I let myself lean into the experience. It was quiet. People were chill and the place wasn’t that crowded. More vehicles entered the park as showtime approached.

It was exhilarating to sit comfortably in the safety of my friend’s car. The place is surrounded by woods, so all you can see is night sky and trees all around you. Living in the city I am surrounded by glass, stone and steel all the time. Everyday I am surrounded by the city’s sounds and presence. But here was so different, especially after being locked in quarantine for four months. Now I was parked quietly in a park surrounded by nature. All I could hear were the sound of crickets, then the chirp of frogs and the occasional call of a bird. It was lovely and peaceful.

When the movie started, James handed me a cold one from the cooler. As I sipped my beer and puffed on my Juul, I felt a sense of bliss wash over me. That feeling is rare, but I love that feeling. I think we all do. When you’re someplace different, but you feel safe, with your friend and a movie about to start on a giant screen in the woods. It’s a wonderful feeling. Bliss.

It didn’t even matter at this point what movie was playing. Oh, drive in movies always show double features which I dig. I feel like I’m getting more of the thing I love. I wanted to get some bad drive in movie food, but the idea of ordering online and having to stand in line outside to wait for it just didn’t seem like a good idea to me. Besides, my belly was full from our Wawa dinner.

The first film was called The Rental, and was typical drive in movie trash. The second one was called, She Dies Tomorrow, which felt like a student art film. Both trash, but that’s what’s expected at the Drive in. I want bad cinema. Something light, scary and fun. It’s easy to follow and it’s all part of the experience. There’s even an intermission between each picture so you can get out, stretch your legs and hit the head. It brought back so many great memories from my past adventures. But I was so happy to be making new ones with my friend, James. Someone who would appreciate the drive in experience and enjoy it as much as me.

Snack bar and projection booth on the second floor.

Playing on the other screen was Shrek and the new Doctor Doolittle, starring Robert Downey Jr. James saw it before and he told me it is unwatchable! Ha ha.

It was a great night and brought back so many great memories. It wasn’t my actual birthday yet, but it certainly felt like it. I’m so grateful to have James in my life. He’s a good friend and knows what i like. I’m so glad I could revisit this lost piece of Americana with him. I get the memories and he gets a new experience that we got to build together.

Thank you James! You made my birthday awesome!

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

My new book, Angel with a Broken Wing is now for sale on Amazon!

 

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

Listen to the Phicklephilly podcast LIVE on Spotify!

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Tobacco Road – 1977-1996 and 2008-2018

I started smoking cigarettes when I was around 14 years old. I was going on 15 but it was just something kids did back in the 70’s. Everybody smoked cigarettes. It was so widely accepted despite the health warnings. Everybody I knew smoked cigarettes. Back then you could buy a pack of smokes for $0.51 a pack at Rite Aid. That’s super cheap! A whole pack of cigs for half a buck? Incredible!

The odd thing was, at our young age, my friends and I always had a story ready if we were ever questioned by any of the shopkeepers in any of the stores where we bought them. The story was always, “Oh, these are for my mom.”

But no one ever asked us who the cigarettes were for. Ever. We had no problem buying cigarettes anywhere we ever went.

I remember my ‘straight A’ student sister Janice taught me how to inhale.

When you start fooling around with smoking, your young lungs aren’t accustomed to breathing in toxic smoke. So you just puff them to look cool. But to get the full benefits, taste, and rush of smoking, you have to inhale the smoke. So one night my sister Janice showed me and my friend Anthony how to do it. We were standing down by the bulkhead at 8th and JFK blvd. in North Wildwood. She said, “take a small puff and then suck the smoke into your lungs like you’re being startled.” You suck it in really fast and in it goes. You get the full taste and then blow it out.

What I didn’t know is that once you do that, the nicotine enters your bloodstream and gives you that little rush that smoking cigarettes brings.

That is also the first day of your addiction to cigarettes.

I smoked and enjoyed cigarettes for the next 20 years.

Then my daughter Lorelei was born and I decided to quit smoking for health reasons. I didn’t want to sniff her baby head and have the smell of cigarettes present. But I was in my 30’s then and firmly addicted to smoking with a 20 year habit. So I bought the nicoderm patch. The patch is a sticker you place on your arm and it releases nicotine into your system without smoking.

Dosage & Steps | NicoDerm CQ

It was tough but I slowly got myself off cigarettes. It probably cost me $600 in patches but it eventually worked. I was free of smoking but as one ex-smoker once said to me, my blood was hungry for cigarettes for over 2 years after quitting.

But like anything else, if you stop doing it, it eventually fades from your life and you no longer want it.

 

Jump forward 10 years, and I was divorced for over 8 years and I started dating Michelle.   https://phicklephilly.com/2016/10/31/my-michelle-2007-present-part-1/

I loved Michelle. Probably more than I’ve ever loved anyone else in my life. We would be out at night touring the city and pounding cocktails.

Michelle smoked cigarettes and sometimes she’d have problems lighting them in the evening breeze. Having been a long time smoker, I could get a cigarette lit in a sandstorm with one match left on the beaches of Wildwood. I’d help her.

Me getting her Parliament lit and handing it off to her went from that to me taking one sweet puff.

Michelle worried I’d get re-addicted to cigarettes doing that. I assured her I wouldn’t. I told her, “I’ll only get hooked if I start buying them again, and that’s not going to happen.”

But back in 2008 I was madly in love with her and my life in general with her. It wasn’t long before I was picking up a pack of Marlboro lights on a regular basis.

I didn’t care. I felt alive with her and really loved the taste of cigarettes again. There’s nothing better than a cold cocktail and a delicious cigarette. It’s like sex.

But like everything awesome, if you do it often enough you begin to tire of it.

 

Jump to 2018.

Michelle was long gone and all that remained was my addiction to tobacco.

But things had changed. Cigarettes were now $10 a pack and I found myself growing tired of smoking in general.

I was older. Better in touch with who I was and what I wanted. I found that I really don’t have an addictive personality. I have more of a compulsive personality.

I would buy a pack of cigarettes and only enjoy maybe 2 of them. My favorite was the one after work. The celebratory smoke of finishing the day. An addict craves their drug of choice all the time. I was sick of smoking but still doing it. My mind wanted to give it up I was sure, but I needed to bring the body over with my thought process. And in that lies the true challenge.

I was tired of the smell, the dirt, the ashes, the health risks, and most of all taking it on the chin for $10 bucks a pack!

The only part of smoking I liked was the actual act of smoking. Holding it in my hand, puffing on it, watching the smoke blow from my lips. Not the actual need to smoke. I no longer had that. No addiction, just an annoying holdover from my past life. Something I no longer enjoyed, but just did out of ritual and habit.

(This factor will play out in another vice I would soon address.)

But what to do? I knew this chapter in my life had to end as I continued to evolve through my 50s.

I was moonlighting at the tanning salon one night and was cleaning one of the rooms. People are always leaving things behind in the rooms. I’ve found all kinds of things. Money, jewelry, drugs, underwear, etc. But this time I found a small, grey colored metal stick with a tiny light on it sitting on the table. I had no idea what it was and just figured it was some sort of wifi gadget for a computer.

But I was wrong.

The girl who had left the object behind came back asking for it. I gave it to her.

“What is that?”

“It’s called a Juul. You smoke it. Like a vape pen.”

I had heard of people vapeing but it all seemed weird to me.

“You can smoke that like a cigarette and nothing’s burning or making ashes?”

“Yea. You can charge it on your laptop, and you have these little pods you stick into it. They have different flavors and there’s nothing burning, no ashes, no smell, no real smoke, no carbon monoxide. It’s awesome. I love it.”

“Is there nicotine in that thing?”

Image result for juul

“Yea, but only 5%. Which isn’t much, but it’s so much better for you than smoking dirty cigarettes.”

I was sold. The next day, I went to my local 7-Eleven and bought the starter pack of Juul. The unit, a charger, and 4 pods with different flavors. Virginia Tobacco, Cool Mint, Creme Brulee’, and Berry.

I charged the unit up at work that night and liked the results. I’ve been smoke free since May 2018 and have never looked back. I don’t smoke my Juul that much, and have zero desire to have a cigarette. When I see someone smoking a cig now, it looks dirty to me and wonder how someone could enjoy such a primitive filthy habit.

Ahh, the reformed smokers are the worst!

I’m so happy cigarettes are gone from my life for good.

I know what you’re all thinking… Oh, you’re still getting nicotine from that thing.

They make nicotine free pods now, so you can simulate smoking with no ill effects.

Image result for cyclone pods

 

So now I can still enjoy the celebratory smoke after work with no addiction or health issues. I feel great and enjoy my Juul very much.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

My new book, Angel with a Broken Wing is now for sale on Amazon!

 

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

Listen to the Phicklephilly podcast LIVE on Spotify!

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Chinese Chicken Salad

“Because of him I learned that if you’re funny, the kids on the corner won’t beat you up or pick on you anymore. Why kill the lowly jester? He makes us laugh. He entertains us. Let him live another day.”

Lawndale, Philadelphia – Mid 1970’s

When I was a kid I remember hearing my first Bill Cosby record. I don’t remember what it was called. I think it was my friend R.J who brought it over my house. But we may have listened to it on a little record player out in my garage. They were recordings of his stand up routines. When we were kids there were few places to access audio entertainment. The radio was one of the main sources, and any records our parents and older brothers and sisters listened to. That’s how we got our music back then. It was the Sixties and Seventies and resources were limited.

I think I only knew Bill Cosby from an animated show called Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids that was on TV on Saturday mornings. It was a cute show about this massive fat kid and his friends. There was always a heartfelt lesson at the end of each show. Bill Cosby even hosted the animated series. I watched it every Saturday around lunchtime.

Bill was a beloved figure in the entertainment industry. A comic who always worked clean and never blue. His stand up routine consisted of these long story pieces that were vivid and absolutely hilarious. We kids loved them. He had so many cool tales about his childhood. Chicken Heart, Ice Cream, and a trilogy about Noah and God. Just fantastic. Fun entertainment fit for everyone’s ears.

Other comics in the industry looked at Bill like he was a deity. A guy that could get up on stage for a solid hour or two and just kill with his delivery and stories. A wholesome man that was loved by millions. He was the first African American entertainer to ever star in a dramatic series in the history of television. A national treasure. America’s dad.

The First African American to Co-Star in a Dramatic TV Series

I remember for Christmas I would always get a Bill Cosby record. I remember getting, The Best of Bill Cosby, Wonderfulness, Bill Cosby Is a Very Funny Fellow, Right? and Why Is There Air? Just to name a few. All brilliant. Loved them all!

But as you get a little older, your tastes change. And this story is not about Bill Cosby.

One day my friend Jimmy Hunsinger came over and he had a George Carlin record. He was also a comedian. We had never heard of him before. I think we were all around the ages of fourteen through sixteen.

I remember Jimmy had a record by George called FM & AM. We popped it on the little green and white record player in the garage and let it roll. We had never heard anything like it. This comic talked like we did. He said a lot of curse words. Back then, most boys that age all spit, smoked cigarettes, giggled at anything remotely sexual, and cursed like sailors.

Carlin’s bits were absolutely stunning. He quickly became my favorite comic. His material was so irreverent and funny, you just lost your mind laughing at his bits. He wasn’t afraid to use the ‘whole language’ as I say.

I quickly absorbed all of his skits and could perform them verbatim. I remember the gang of big kids that hung up the corner would ask me to do his comedy for them. I would stand there and perform Divorce Game like a young George Carlin impersonator.

Because of George I learned that if you’re funny, the kids on the corner won’t beat you up or pick on you anymore. Why kill the lowly jester? He makes us laugh. He entertains us. Let him live another day.

It really worked!

I saw the power of comedy in George Carlin. Not just that he was hilarious and brilliant, but he knew how to use words and his wits to make things that were normal, really funny. He had a gift for seeing the world a bit differently than everyone else and was fearless in his delivery of the truth. Just an incredible, unique mind.

I acquired his record albums, FM & AM, Occupation: Foole, and Class Clown. All brilliant works. Writing this makes me want to go find all of those recordings and listen to them again. I bet I’ll be able to perform those bits right along with George because his words are so ingrained in my mind. (All on YouTube, no doubt)

 

Let’s jump forward to 1983. Santa Monica, California.

Now I’m twenty-one years old. I’m working at a place down by the beach on Main street called Merlin Mcfly’s. I have a previous post about it. It’s part of the California Dreamin’ series. You can read it here:

https://phicklephilly.com/tag/merlin-mcflys/

I started out working there as a cashier. I’d gotten a job there thanks to my buddy, Frank Roberts. He had worked there until he returned to his home in Belfast, Ireland. When he left I simply took his place. I would work from 4pm until midnight at the front of the kitchen ringing up food sales. I remember it was a big old upright cash register, where you would push big buttons and ring up the sales.

The Cash Register

I was making $4 an hour plus tips. When I say “tips” I mean a big jar I set on the counter with a sign on it. I would charm tips out of the customers. They would be split between me and the two cooks I worked with in the kitchen. If we each walked away with an additional five or ten dollars a night we were in good shape. That would buy cigarettes and beer.

But before Frank left the states, he told me about a thing he used to do that he learned from someone who worked there. He called it, The Moves. The moves were performed on a couple of cash food sales a night. Instead of ringing up the sale, you’d punch it in, then clear it, then simply hit the CASH button, and the register would open. This way, that particular sale was never recorded on the internal tape inside the machine. You’d take the customer’s cash, put it in the drawer and give him the appropriate change. At the end of the night when you were upstairs counting your drawer, there would be some ‘extra’ cash in there. Your drawer would be over by maybe twenty dollars. I would take that overage and split it among the two cooks. They never questioned their portion of the tips I gave them. But it was a way to skim a little extra cash out of the company and help out the hard working guys. It sounds bad, but at the time we were earning so little, a few extra bucks a night wouldn’t hurt anybody. We never got greedy, so we’d only take a little each night. This went on for some time.

There was a chef that worked during the day, named Smedley. Her real name was Brenda but for some reason everybody called her Smedley. I never found out why. I do remember she made all the soups. So pound for pound, she was the best chef employed there at the time. Her sister Lisa had recently come out from New York and needed a job. Management approached me and asked if I wanted to become a cook. I came from a world where my mommy made all of my meals for the first 20 years of my life. I couldn’t cook a damn thing. But they told me it was $5 an hour, so I leapt at the opportunity to increase my earning power by a dollar at this fine establishment. Lisa became the new kitchen cashier and ‘the moves’ went away. Too risky.

Lisa became known as ‘Lis’ the Piece’ because she was a provocative and sexually aggressive girl. She fit nicely into our rock n’ roll world. I have fond memories of my time with Lisa. There’ll be a future post about her and it’ll be quite lurid. But let me focus on the story at hand.

In the kitchen, I worked what is called the cold side, as opposed to the hot side of the kitchen. The more experienced cooks always worked the hot side. Which was primarily the grill. Burgers, chicken and steak. The cold side was less glamorous and actually a bit more complicated than the hot side. I was in charge of making all of the salads, sandwiches, anything fried, and other assorted tasks. (French brie in the microwave topped with toasted almond slices!) I remember one night after work I met this girl at a party in Venice. She said I smelled like fried food. I told her I had just come from working in the kitchen at Merlin’s and she laughed and said, “You’re cute and I love chicken strips.”

I think that’s the first, and last time smelling like delicious appetizers ever worked in favor of anyone’s romantic endeavors.

Working in that kitchen actually taught me how to become a proficient cook. It’s a talent I’ve carried with me my entire life. I’m grateful for the experience, but vow to never work in the hospitality industry ever again. It’s brutal work.

The great thing about working in the kitchen was, you could eat whatever you wanted on the menu. The rest of the staff had to eat the employee meal, and if they wanted anything better had to pay extra for it. So being a poor musician in LA, I knew that at least I would get one nutritious hot meal every day. Which is sustaining for a young lad.

I remember we had this really big guy that was a doorman. His name was Mike. Picture a good looking, muscular guy that was easily 6’6″. I think he did gigs as a stunt man. He would come up and usually order the same thing… the Chinese chicken salad. But he would say, “Can you throw a little extra chicken on that?” Of course I would always oblige, because when he came to pick it up he would grab the big wooden bowl, and drop a couple of joints on the shelf. I would stuff them in my pocket and smile. The same would go for certain cocktail waitresses we liked. They’d get a little extra something and bring us a coke spiked with rum. It’s just what we did back then to help each other. Trade and barter. I’m sure as you’re reading this, someone is pulling some sort of a move in a restaurant at this very moment.

Chinese Chicken Salad - Damn Delicious

One night, I was just working my shift and one of my favorite waitresses, a honey blonde named Colleen, came to me with some news.

“Do you know who’s sitting over in that booth?”

“I can’t really see from here.”

“George Carlin!” she whispered.

My heart began to flutter and I got really nervous and excited. Fame is a strange and unnatural thing. You experience the same dopamine drop meeting your favorite celebrity as you do when you’re about to see someone you’re falling in love with. But you don’t know the celebrity. It’s an odd feeling, but exhilarating nonetheless.

“What did he order, Colleen?”

“He got the Chinese chicken salad.”

Oh my god, he’s my favorite comedian of all time. I love him! Is he finished eating?”

“Yea. They’re just sitting there chatting.”

“Do you think I could go over and meet him?”

“Give it a shot, Chaz.”

Thinking quickly, I grabbed a guest check and a pen and headed over to the booth where my idol was sitting with his wife and another couple. I cautiously approached the table.

“Hello, sir. Excuse me. How did you like your salad?”

“It was great.”

“I made that for you.”

“Well, it was terrific, thank you.”

“Mr. Carlin, I love all of your work. I have all of your albums. I used to perform your bits like Divorce Game and Hal Sleet, The Hippy Dippy Weatherman for the big kids up the corner so they wouldn’t kick my ass. May I have your autograph, sir?”

“Of course! What’s your name?”

“Chaz.” (hands him the guest check and pen.)

He signs it and hands it back to me with a smile.

“Thank you Mr. Carlin. It’s been so nice to meet you.”

“You too, Chaz. Next time make it George.”

“Okay, George!”

And that was it. I walked back to the kitchen clutching the signed guest check like it was the Rosetta Stone. It was a magical moment in my life and I’ll never forget it.

Sometimes when someone tells me an extraordinary story, I always wonder about the validity of the details.

That’s simply not the case here.

 

That sacred artifact still hangs on my living room wall to this day. I’ll never part with it.

Thank you George Carlin for all of the joy and laughter you’ve brought to me and the world. You’ll never be forgotten.

Take it away, George…

 

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