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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Lin – What Would Simon Say?

I was walking back from the grocery store that’s about two blocks from my house the other day. I’m carrying two big paper bags when I suddenly see Lin with her little dog.

The dog immediately pulls on the leash and its back legs starts viciously barking at me as if I’m a criminal. Normally kids and animals like me because they can sense my inner kindness, but this pup is just being a jerk.

Typical yappy dog. Lin seems in a hurry to get where she’s going. “Hi, I’m just taking him to the park.”

“Nice seeing you. Have fun.”

And that was it. Now, I’m loaded down with groceries and she’s being pulled by a precocious pooch.

But I noticed something I hadn’t before. Both times I encountered her she was seated. But today she had on a pair of black bicycle shorts and some sort of white halter top on. (Those tight compacting shorts that hold everything in)

As she walked away I stole a glance back at her.

This is not the girl I saw in her Instagram photos. In her pics on social media, she’s raven-haired and fit. A petite, cutie. But this person walking away from me no longer fits that description.

She’s blonde and packed on quite a bit of weight. Her back is chubby and her legs are thick. This isn’t good. Could she be stuffing her feelings about her ex? Has she gotten back with him? He cheated on her and she dumped him. But now she’s a little chubette and I can’t imagine him wanting to come back to a worse version of the chick he already cheated on.

Then her next boyfriend in Fairmount suddenly cut her loose too. Something’s wrong here.

Maybe she just stuffed her face during Covid? No. That wouldn’t make sense. She’s a nurse. They were busier than ever during Covid. It must be the depression of being on her own and the loss of not one, but two boyfriends. What is with these Asian girls? No offense, but this reminds me a lot of when I knew Kita from the tanning salon a few years ago. Addicted to tanning, the super bleached blonde hair. Do these girls want to change themselves because they’re unhappy in their lives? They look perfectly great with their natural hair and skin color. It’s beautiful to me. I’m a huge fan and have been for over 40 years. I’ve had a couple of Asian girlfriends and liked the way they looked.

I don’t know, but I’m getting a bad vibe about this chick and I swore no more crazies back in 2019. There just seems to be a lot of things going on with this chick.

I saw her one more time the other day. I was about half a block away from her as she was entering the building next door. She was in the hallway with her yippie dog and fiddling with the lock on the front door. I know she didn’t see me earlier and as I walked by all I could see was that back fat.

I get that if you read this you’ll think I’m being shallow. Maybe I am. But I’m not pursuing this girl. It appears that in the short time that I’ve known her, (Two brief encounters) that she’s got some issues with several things. The sudden hair color changed, twice! The rapid weight gain. Drug use. The bounced rent check. The sudden need to get a tattoo.

Where are this girl’s friends and family? She’s got a good career, but it seems she’s making a lot of wrong and desperate moves. I’ve known too many mentally unstable people during my 15 years in this city.

So, sadly… I’m going to steer clear of this one.

Oh well, like I always say: Good or bad, at least I got a story out of it.

Simon Cowell GIFs | Tenor

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Lin – A Brief Repose

I went to Southgate bar and grill for opening happy hour, but Lin didn’t show. It would have been awesome if she’d have walked through the door, but no dice.

She probably forgot about it. No big deal.

I was complaining to my friend the other day about how I thought being a paid writer was a bit sexier than it is in reality. I pictured myself being like Hank Moody in the series, Californication. Just that cool guy, who hangs out, drinks, smokes, and parties his way around town. Bedding multiple, attractive ladies along the way.

But that’s fiction. Being a real writer who earns a living doing it is a solitary existence that takes patience and diligence daily. You can’t write 2500 words about ‘the tax advantages of solar power’ or  ‘Lead Routing for Today’s Salesforce’ if you’re hungover or messed up on drugs.

You have little free time because you’re stuck behind your keyboard for hours on end researching and writing about a bunch of stuff you know little about. But it pays the bills and keeps a roof over your head while you’re waiting for your next novel to become a bestseller.

There’s nothing glamourous about it and it’s a lonely existence. But I like writing and learning about new things. I also love the dopamine drop when you finally finish a long piece knowing you’ll be paid handsomely for it. But more likely than not several assignments are waiting urgently right behind the one you just finished that need to be done. You have deadlines that must be met. This kind of writing isn’t sleeping late, heading over to Cavanaugh’s for lunch and then writing your dating blog for the rest of the afternoon while you sip poorly made manhattans.

This is work and it’s a grind. But that’s what most jobs are. They’re not fun. That’s why they give you money to do them. These companies don’t have the talent on hand to write all of this stuff for their internal communications, websites, and their blogs. So they job it out to freelancers like me to get the job done quickly.

When I said at the top of this piece that I was complaining… I wasn’t complaining. I like having a job where I get to write all day. A year ago, I could be where I was working in some B-rate sports bar, dealing with a$$holes, drug addicts, mentally unstable whackos, alcoholics, illegal aliens, felons, and sex offenders. And that’s just the people I worked with!  (Sadly, I’m not exaggerating)

So, it’s just not as sexy as I thought it was like in the movies. But nothing is. Do you think being a cop is cool and fun? That’s a dangerous and sometimes boring job. It’s feast or famine most days.

I was simply lamenting with someone of like mind who shares this same vocation. She has so much more experience than I do when it comes to this sort of work. (She was the editor for a news agency in Philly for years, so she knows her stuff) I respect her and like her as a person and I’m so fortunate to have her in my life. She’s opened not only a new profession where I can use my talent and earn a living but a whole new chapter in the book that’s my life. So I may complain but I’m still enjoying it!

So, I was coming back from my daily trip to my go-to breakfast nook, Rachael’s in Rittenhouse. They know what I like and make me the same thing every day so I don’t have to even order when I go in. I say hello, grab a seat and they bring me my breakfast. During this long period of non-stop writing assignments it’s been a happy little break I get each morning to get some fresh air, see some people, eat a delicious meal, and then back home to work.

I was still ruminating about how my life as a paid writer was nothing like Hank Moody’s but I just thought about the money.

But I walked on the west side of 19th street today because there was some construction going on on the other side. I was walking by Metropolitan Bakery and I hear a familiar voice.

“Hello, Charles.”

Sitting there outside at one of the little tables sipping her coffee was lovely, Lin!

It’s as if the gods had heard me complaining about my boring writer’s life and decided to throw me a bone to cheer me up. They wanted to show me that I can still have a little joy in the daily grind of cranking out article after article.

She gestures to the seat across from her, “Sit.”

I happily sit down and the dopamine is flowing through me. This is great! It’s just what I needed today. Two days ago I was so frustrated with a client’s demands that I wanted to pack it in. (Not really) And now, I was chatting with my neighbor. It was a tiny miracle. Just incredible luck and timing. The lift I need in my day to carry on.

“Your hair looks different. You look great.”

“Yea I got it trimmed and they frosted it.”

“Well, it looks nice.”

We chatted a bit and she stated that her schedule is usually pretty crazy. I asked her what she was doing after coffee, and she said she was going to walk up to the bookstore (Shakespeare & Co.) on Walnut Street. But then she had to go home and go to bed.

“To bed?”

“Yea, I’m working from 6 pm to 6 am for the next few days. It’s brutal.”

And here I was crying about writing industrial articles for money from 9 am to 9 pm every day from the comfort of my air-conditioned house. I told her I wished I could walk up there with her and stroll around the bookstore and look at literature, but I had to get home and write. (People like other people that are busy. Remember what I always say on this blog: “We always want that which retreats from us.”)

However, there were a few flags. Not red, but flags. She recently met me. I’ve only seen her twice. But a few things are going on here. In the last photo on her Instagram, she has her natural hair color. Black. When I met her it was sort of blonde. That’s new. A week or so later at this encounter her hair is cut in a shorter style and frosted.

Not a big deal I suppose, but she mentions that she’s getting her first tattoo and raised her arm to show me where.

She also mentions to me that she recently met up with her ex. Not “a month ago guy up in Fairmount”, but “4-year guy” who cheated on her and they split up. That’s never good. I asked her if she thinks he was trying to get back with her, and she said yes. So, he cheated because he was bored or tired of her, and now that hasn’t worked out for him and he wants his girlfriend back. This is all just pride and young person nonsense. Why did she agree to meet with him? She’s young, she was hurt when he cheated. She dumped him, and now she regrets it. She’s not happy with herself. Rudderless for the moment. The different hair. Blonde of all things. Now a tattoo. Chatting with the ex.

The flags are turning red.

She goes on to tell me she recently bounced her rent check. She’s only lived next door for a little over a month. She said the landlord charged her $20 for the bounced check fee and an additional $100 fine for the infraction. That seemed harsh. Incidentally, we both share the same landlord. I’ve never had a problem in the 11 years I’ve lived here.

This girl is a registered nurse! She’s got to be making good money working all of these hours she says she’s working. Maybe she’s just being reckless with her money. Maybe spending too much on stuff to stuff her empty heart filled with nothing but regret and sadness? Who knows.

She also mentioned that she recently acquired some mushrooms. So now she’s smoking weed and using psychedelics? Does anybody want to know that their nurse is a casual user? I don’t know if they can even do that. Don’t they get regularly tested? This girl is all over the place. Even in the short time I’ve known her, this seems like an overshare and a lot for me to download.

Red flags are now waving at me in the wind.

We chatted a little more and I pulled out my phone and typed in her name into the directory. Then I handed it to her. She put her digits into my phone and that was it.

I told her I was sorry we couldn’t hang out at the bookstore but we definitely should at some point. She agreed and kept saying, “text me. Yea, just text me. Our schedules are crazy. I’ll be around. Text me”.

So that’s a good sign. Now I have her number. I probably won’t text her for a week, because I have to focus on finishing these articles. I don’t want to get distracted by an attractive young lady. I have to get these done. But by Wednesday of next week, I’ll probably send her my contact info and send her a friendly little text to say hello.

Will I hear back from her? Maybe. I don’t know what her life or schedule is like. I may never hear from her. What if she gave me the wrong number? Nah, that would just be rude. I can’t think like that. But I’m going to text her once I’m done with all of these assignments.

I said goodbye to her and she went one way and I went the other. But I returned home energized and refreshed knowing that I had gotten to see my neighbor again and got her number. It was the better move and felt easy.

So I’ll hit her up next week.

As I said at the end of the last post about Lin, we’ll have to see what happens. But I’m already getting a vibe from this chick that she’s a bit confused and doesn’t know what she’s doing.

She may not make it to the “hang-out with Chaz” stage.

 

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

You can check out my books here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

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