Want To Meet The One? These Are The Top Places To Look

Knowing how to get a boyfriend, girlfriend, or partner, especially without the help of a dating app, might seem like an impossible task in the modern age. However, it’s not as difficult as you might imagine. According to a new study from Compare the Market, 45% of couples still meet either at a social gathering or through mutual friends, and only 7% meet on a dating app. Alas, there is hope!

So fear not, it’s definitely still possible to meet your dream boyfriend, girlfriend or partner, in real life. You just need to know where to find them. Sex and relationships expert for Lovehoney Annabelle Knight breaks down the best places to meet your next partner face-to-face.

Through your uniVERSITY or former school

Somebody you went to school, college or uni with can be a really compatible option for a long-term partner. If you’ve grown up together or come from the same area, then you’re likely to already have a tonne of things in common. Plus, Compare the Market found that 9% of people still meet their partner through education, so it’s definitely a good place to consider starting a relationship.

And even if you didn’t get together with your partner when you were actually at school, there’s still hope later in life. Plenty of us has some kind of missed connection from our uni, college, or school days, someone we wish we’d dated but never actually managed to make it work with. Keeping in touch with uni, college, or school groups and going to meet-ups and reunions can be a great way to get together with old friends, relive your youthful memories, and maybe even hook up with that person that you never got the chance to with at school.

Photo credit: Hinterhaus Productions - Getty Images
Photo credit: Hinterhaus Productions – Getty Images

Social media, obviously

Meeting a potential partner online doesn’t just have to happen through a dating app. There are plenty of ways to meet people through other forms of social media too, with 6% of people meeting their partner on socials, according to Compare the Market. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter can be great places to reconnect with people from your past, but they can also be somewhere to meet cool new people. Friends of friends can be easy to start a conversation with, as you already have somebody in common. Meanwhile, if you see someone you fancy on Insta, take the leap and slide into their DMs (respectfully, of course). What have you got to lose?

Plus, you don’t need to spend time getting to know someone when you do meet up IRL, cos you can find out everything you need to know online beforehand. Put those deep dive ‘research skills to good use…

However, age is also a massive factor when it comes to social media, with 14% of 18 to 24-year-olds meeting on socials, compared to 7% of 25 to 34-year-olds.If you do decide to opt for a dating app or site to find love (or just fun), the top place people surveyed by Compare the Market found a partner was Plenty of Fish, followed by Tinder and Match.com.

Volunteer

Donating your time for a cause you’re passionate about will help you to meet someone with similar values, and that can create cute shared experiences. But, obviously, don’t volunteer somewhere for the sake of getting a date. You should only do it if you want to broaden your network of friends, help an organization that means something to you, and learn. But, it’s through that network that you might potentially meet a new partner.

Photo credit: Juj Winn - Getty Images
Photo credit: Juj Winn – Getty Images

Get out of the house

As simple and basic as it sounds, staying at home is not going to get you that many dates. If you do genuinely want to meet someone, be proactive with your friends and suggest new places to go – galleries, museums, gigs, bars, etc. Basically anywhere that’ll shake you out of your comfort zone and introduce you to new people. If you’re able, try and do something new every week or month which will bring you into contact with new people, whether that’s joining a club or meet up, or a class for whatever hobby you’re into.

Going out the old-fashioned way is still the most common way to meet a boyfriend, girlfriend, or partner. As found by Compare the Market, 27% of couples meet at a social gathering like a party, pub or night out. So, don’t be afraid to get out there and start a conversation with somebody new.

Make eye contact

This is like swiping photos in real life. But the difference is the person is right in front of you and able to make a direct connection. You instinctively know who you are attracted to, and there’s nothing wrong in making that clear through eye contact when you are out. Just obviously be respectful of other people’s boundaries, and don’t creep any out – that goes without saying.

Use your friends

In the nicest way possible, use your pals. After all, they know your great qualities, likes, and dislikes. And, crucially, they know better than anyone if someone is a good fit for you. Plus, you know that any potential dates they put you in touch with already have a bangin’ group of pals. Compare the Market’s study found that 18% of people meet a partner through mutual friends, so don’t be afraid to let your mates know you’re up for introductions to new people – you never know where it could lead. Make sure you return the favor and do the same for your single pals too.

Coworkers can also be a great route to finding love, as you likely already have the same interests and goals in life. Plus, the research found that 18% of people still meet their partner in the workplace. That person who caught your eye across the office? Don’t be afraid to start a conversation.

Photo credit: FG Trade - Getty Images
Photo credit: FG Trade – Getty Images
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Work out

Only 2% of people meet a partner in the gym, according to Compare the Market, but it can be an easy place to start a natural conversation. Just ask them to help spot you or to move some equipment. Plus, if you go to regular classes you’re probably going to see some friendly faces you can chat to.

But the gym isn’t the only workout location perfect for meeting a partner. Try joining a club or a team for whatever kind of exercise you like: triathlons, yoga, hockey, football, etc. Meeting weekly to work out and going for a drink afterward will mean you meet a whole new set of people – and therefore their friends… it’s all about widening your network.

Accept invites

Yes, of course, it can be intimidating to go to events on your own, but it’s normally possible to get a plus one and bring a friend. If not, try and get out of your comfort zone if you can and go on your own. It’s daunting but gets easier with practice. Plus, the chances are your friends who invite you to these events will have cool and interesting mates you’ve never met before. You can always ask them to intro you if you’re feeling shy or awkward.

How to turn dating into a relationship

Sadly, actually going to the right places to find your potential partner is just half the battle when it comes to starting a relationship. Compare the Market found that 33% of relationships started with casual dating, while 32% actually started as platonic friends. Meanwhile, 20% of relationships began through a series of formal dates, with just 9% evolving out of a purely physical relationship. So, next time you start daydreaming about your friend with benefits or f**k buddy turning into an actual thing, think again as it’s not super likely to happen.

 

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

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

A Great Adventure

Philadelphia, PA – 1977 – Spring

In 9th grade, I was a total loser. But even back then one of the few things I had going for me was my artistic ability. I found a friend at Fels Junior High named Robert Weichert. He was a quiet thoughtful boy. Good looking with amazing blonde curly hair like a young Robert Plant.

We were of like mind. We liked rock music and comic books. He would come over to my house and we would hang out in my room and listen to records and read comics together. I remember my times with Robert were amazing. He was one of the few people I had made a connection with. I remember laughing so hard with him that my stomach would hurt. Normally my stomach only hurt if I was having anxiety, some reaction to food, or I was being punched by some bully in school.

We both hated school and all of the animals we had to deal with in that zoo. Even the teachers.

Robert had a talent for writing and I had a talent for drawing. We would make up our own line of superheroes. He would write the little stories, and I would draw the comics. It was a perfect union of creativity that belonged only to us in our little teenage world.

I think his family was breaking up. He said he was going to take the name of the man who was now with his mother. I don’t remember many details but it must have been a rough time for him. The man’s last name was Ketterer and I noticed that Robert would write the name “Ket” on his record albums to identify them as his when he went to summer camp.

Boys didn’t really talk about feelings or family back then. We simply lived in the moment. If we were together laughing, reading comics, and listening to rock we were happy. It was these little moments of repose that were the only solace we had in the hellish existence in junior high school.

When I think about how my daily life was back then in 9th grade, I displayed all of the symptoms of someone who was profoundly depressed. A terrible student, and the thing my father always told me not to become… A victim. I was a victim every day. More like a target. Deal with the animals at school, and then come home and face the king of them all at home, when his car would pull up the driveway each night.

I was growing weary of being picked on and humiliated at school on a daily basis and also by some of the boys that hung up the corner from our house.

I remember gathering a couple of small empty green 7up bottles that I had taken out of our trash. I rinsed them out and filled them with paint thinner or some other accelerant we had in our basement. I tore up some rags and tied them around the necks of the bottles and capped them. I hid them under the sinks in the front of our basement. I was thinking if things got to a breaking point with this one specific kid that had it in for me, I would go to his house and throw those Molotov cocktails through his front windows.

It was a dark time. But I never acted on any of my ideas. But at least I felt a moment of comfort knowing that I could do something to end it once and for all. Instead of lashing out with words and hands, my depression was simply my rage turned inward on myself.

I think I eventually dumped them out, thinking if my mom found out that I was building firebombs in the basement she’d have me committed.

I remember going to my guidance counselor about this other kid that was torturing me for his own pleasure at school. The counselor knew this boy and his advice to me was to hit him back. The kid was a coward, and I should hit him back and he’d stop. That’s wonderful advice, sir. More violence. I am not a violent person. But back then I had a seething temper I later learned to control. When you’re 14 you’re at your absolute purest as a young killer. The hormones and chemicals firing in your brain make you act out. But I never did. But I knew if I ever did anything, it wouldn’t be a scuffle in the schoolyard where I could get my glasses broken and my teeth knocked out. I would simply end it with my attacker.

I knew I had to control that animal that lived inside my mind. I knew him very well and he was worse than any punk at school or the beast who lived down the hall. But I knew if I ever let him out, he’d do something that he could never take back.

You’d think I would have simply walked back to the lot at the end of our street and laid on the railroad tracks and wait for the train to take me.

But I’ve never had thoughts of suicide. Never. No matter how bad things ever got in my life I never wanted to do that. Nobody asks to come here. You should be able to leave when you want to. It’s your life. It’s really all you own. But you don’t really own it. Your soul inhabits a vessel that you rent until it expires and you’re gone.

I used to say that 9th grade was the worst year of my life. It was then, but I would have worse times in the future. But they all happened by my own device. My own bad decisions. Mostly on the people, I chose to have in my life.

But that’s not what this story is about.

At some point, Robert’s mother said she was going to take Robert out of school for one day to take him to Great Adventure. He wanted me to come with him. I had never been there but I had heard about it on TV. Wildwood had a bunch of amusement rides on the boardwalk, but Great Adventure was a big amusement park in New Jersey. I didn’t like the wild rides in Wildwood. Most of them were things that went up high, spun around, or went too fast. I wasn’t having any of that and preferred the more gentle attractions on the boardwalk like the Pirate Ship, Whacky Shack, or the Keystone Kops on Hunt’s Pier.

I have no idea how we got that trip approved. I was a horrible student basically flunking out of all of my subjects. Please tell me the last time you needed Algebra or Spanish in the last month. I remember my father giving me a small, sharp lecture on how he shouldn’t let me take a day off from school to go play in an amusement park with some friends.  Why should he let me go, or reward my poor performance in school by giving me a special day off to go play in a park?

I have no idea, but my parents let me go. I was having my usual low-level anxiety about getting in a strange car with Robert’s mom and his stepdad, but I sat in the back of their station wagon with Robert, and seeing him kept me calm. He was really sweet like that. He was my comrade. The writer and creator of our little comics. Deneb 6, Cestus, Midnightess, Prince Apollo, Captain Universe, Kid Universe, and the Prowler. I loved the Prowler. I designed a cool costume for that character in the comics we made.

Turns out his mom was a really nice lady and her husband was a good, chill guy. They looked like the type of folksy couple that would run a gift shop in some little village somewhere. I felt at ease with them as the car headed over the Tacony Palmyra Bridge into New Jersey.

We get to the park and Robert’s mom and stepdad are just lovely to be around. Just really cool people. They bought us both little bracelets that were all-day passes to the park. We could go on any ride as many times as we wanted, as long as we wore the bracelets.

Then the incredible happened. They cut us loose. They told us where to meet them and what times to check in, but they walked away.

It was a beautiful sunny day in a new world with my friend. His folks said they were going to probably get some food, and then go check out the wild animal safari. That’s where you drive your car through an animal preserve and look at wild animals. Monkeys jumping on your car, etc. I watched as his parents simply left us alone and we were two 14-year-old boys free to do whatever we wanted in the park. I was stunned and elated.

We walked around and explored the park. It was beautiful. Just me and one of my best friends, free for the afternoon in a wonderland. I don’t remember all of the things we saw and did, but I remember how I felt that one day with Robert. We were both free from school and everything else for a day.

We both loved girls at that point. What teenage boy doesn’t? There was plenty there, which surprised me because I thought they should all be in school. But I suppose most were tourists from somewhere else out with their families.

At some point, Robert asked me if I wanted to go on the log flume with him. I had never been on the log flume on Hunt’s Pier or any rollercoaster, due to my fear of everything.

But Robert gently coaxed me with his words.

“Come on, Chaz. It’ll be fun. Look, there’s a bunch of girls going on it. Maybe we can talk to them.”

“I’m afraid, Rob. I don’t go on rides like that. I’m scared I’ll get sick.”

“You’ll be okay. I’ll be right there next to you. No pressure. But we’ll have fun. It’ll be over before you know it.”

“Okay.”

I was terrified, and probably trembling as we approached the gate. The fear crept in. The worst part was when you committed and got in line. Once you were far enough in on the line there was no turning back. I didn’t want to wreck my friend’s day by running away and being embarrassed.

We finally got to the front of the line. The attendant steadied the log/boat and we got in.

“Just breathe, Chaz. Trust me.”

I did trust Rob. We were close. We shared a lot. I needed to steady myself and survive this scary ordeal. I knew I shouldn’t have done this! I’m probably going to puke!

The boat floated along for short a time and then grabbed the rubber rotating conveyor belt that carried it up the first hill. It was a small one so I held on tightly. I could hear Rob’s voice. He was calming me, but only a little. I was on high alert. I was in danger. But Robe was there. I’ll be okay. I’ll be okay, right? I won’t die. Look at all of these other people. They’re all happy and I’m terrified. They’re all having fun and right now I am living in the opposite. My whole psyche is upside down in this life. Why am I like this? Why can’t I be like everybody else?

We reach the top and the boat slides down the small hill with a splash!

I didn’t die. That was okay, and I’m nervously laughing in relief. That wasn’t so bad.

Then the next climb is a bit higher. Another hill. Again… up and then down. Splash! I somehow have survived again. It’s a miracle. The boat’s cruising along and two girls are sitting right in the seat in front of us. They’re giggling and looking back at us and… smiling.

I must be strong. The boat climbs an even higher hill. But for some reason, I’m not dying. Rob’s smiling and reassuring me. I can’t look like a loser in front of these cute girls. We’re low in the boat and I focus my eyes on the inside of the small craft. We’re pretty high up and I can’t look out, because I’ll die. But the way these little log boats are constructed we’re low in the seats to keep the center of gravity down.

The boat is at the top now.  But it doesn’t go right down a hill. It goes along on a straight line around the top. It’s making a turn now. I glance over. I can see the hill over to my left. That’s the hill we’re going to go down. We’re so high up. I’m scared but I have to hold it together, for Rob and for myself.

We get to the crest of the hill and down we go. I can hear the screams of delight from the girls in front of us, and as we land with an enormous splash I feel a sudden rush of relief wash over me (Along with a lot of water!)

That’s it. I did it. I went on my first thrill ride and I didn’t puke or die. It’s a gosh-darned miracle.

We exit the ride and are pretty wet, along with everybody else. It feels good. I experienced what exhilaration felt like for the very first time. I’m not athletic and don’t do any sports or anything risky, so my fear turned into relief and excitement. It felt good. I didn’t know it back then, but the dopamine was dropping. What a wonderful relief. What a wonderful feeling. The girls even talked to us a little bit after the ride. It was nice. For the first time, I didn’t feel like a leper mutant.

“See, Chaz. You did it. It was great, right?”

“Yea… yea… It was pretty cool. I was panting and feeling joy and relief.

I liked that feeling.

“Do you want to walk around a little bit?”

“No Rob. Let’s get back in line.”

We rode that log flume probably a dozen times that day. I was frightened, but I was with Rob. We did it together. I felt safe with him and liked the high I got from the ride. I had somehow turned my fear into excitement. I learned something about myself that day.

Nothing is ever as bad as you think it is, as long as you don’t let the fear in.

You can take that fear and turn it into something else. I was a long way from conquering my anxiety or my depression, but it was a step, albeit a small one.

But it was a step. The only thing holding me in my prison cell was me holding onto the bars. If I would just let go, the bars would fall away and I could walk right out.

It’s not that simple, but I learned that if you want to conquer something in your life, simply take a step. Any step. Just take the step. Then slowly walk toward the things you fear. Keep doing it over and over, and after a few years or decades in my case, you’ll rewire your mind to carry forth into tomorrow.

My life changed that afternoon in a small way. I thankfully graduated from 9th grade and went to the seashore for the summer. The summer of 1977 was the first great summer of my young life. Everything changed and I was on my way.

I rode every rollercoaster in Wilwood that summer.

The Supersonic on Sportland Pier, The Jumbo Jet on Morey’s Pier, The Flyer on Hunt’s Pier, The Wild Mouse on Marine Pier, and the glorious Queen’s Rollercoaster on Marine Pier West.

One evening I rode every rollercoaster on the island!

Life can be like a rollercoaster. There’s all that anxiety and fear as you climb the hill of your life. You slowly reach the top and you’re terrified. It’s too high. I’m going to die. Then the coaster zooms down the first hill and the fear turns into excitement. Every hill after that is never as thrilling as that first one. That long difficult climb to the top to face your fears is now behind you. Once the ride is over and the coaster roars into the station, you can only think about one thing.

I can’t wait to do that again.

Rob and I lost touch after Junior High because he went to a different high school than me. But I’ll never forget that boy, and that special day we got to play hooky from school and go on a great adventure together.

 

 

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

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

Angel with a Broken Wing – Chapter 2

My new book, Below the Wheel, drops on June 22. Here’s a little taste from last year’s novel, Angel with a Broken Wing.

 

TWO

The next evening, Christian relaxed on the couch watching the news on television. He glanced at his watch.

“Six-thirty? Whoa! I got class tonight.”

He leaped off the sofa, grabbed his textbook off the kitchen table, and headed out the door. He had some difficulty getting the Pinto started, but after several tries, the engine of the old ‘Gas Crisis Classic’ finally turned over.

“Going to work all day and then school at night is brutal. I should have done this right out of high school when I had the time. “I’ll be thirty-five this summer. It’ll take me forever to get my degree.”

The Pinto hesitated and bucked as he pulled into the parking lot of Gloucester County Community College. 

“This car’s a piece of junk! Didn’t they used to say that if you got hit from behind in a Pinto, the thing blew up?”

“The Flinto!”

He parked the car and began the long walk to the main building. He shivered as the frigid February wind whipped across the parking lot. It seemed to go right through his jacket and rattle his bones. 

He got to the door and a blast of warm air poured forth as he opened it, and dashed inside.

The hallway was filled with the sound of students chattering and running to class. It felt like high school to Christian. High school without the lockers.

He suddenly felt old as he trudged past the groups of twenty-year-olds that congregated outside the classrooms. He couldn’t help but notice the abundance of baggy pants, bad haircuts, tattoos, and body piercings.

“What the hell has happened to our culture?”

Christian finally arrived at his classroom and tried the door. 

Locked. He then noticed a note taped to the inside of the window on the door.

PSYCH CLASS CANCELLED DUE TO DEATH IN THE FAMILY

“Yea… Join the club, man. This sucks.”

He turned and headed back down the brightly lit corridor. The walls were lined with bulletin boards displaying upcoming student activities. Activities Christian would never attend. He was nearly to the door when a particular sign caught his eye. It was covered with brightly colored advertisements regarding travel. He stopped for a moment to read the board.

GO ON YOUR DREAM ADVENTURE! TRAVEL TO BEAUTIFUL COLORADO WITH US THIS SUMMER!

“Is it really that good? It can’t be as nice as the pictures. I suppose it’s good for the kids to get involved in something positive.”

“I wish I could go away…”

He continued to read the notes and signs on the board.

DIG UP DINOSAUR BONES!

HELP FEED THE CHILDREN!

BE A BIG BROTHER!

ROOMMATE WANTED!

NEED A RIDE!

“Need a ride?”

It was a small 3×5 card tacked to the corner of the board. Christian pulled it free from the thumbtacks that held it to the corkboard and read it carefully.

I NEED A RIDE!!! GOING WEST, POSSIBLY CALIFORNIA. WILL SHARE EXPENSES. IF INTERESTED, PLEASE CALL (609)555-2602) ASK FOR T.R. JEROP. 

SERIOUS INQUIRIES ONLY!!!

He read the card again, turning it over in his hand. He glanced up and down the hallway, and not seeing anyone, stuffed the card in his pocket. He walked towards the nearest exit. He stood in the warm vestibule and lit a cigarette before stepping back out into the bitter cold.

“What am I doing?” He made his way along the tree-lined promenade that led to the parking lot. “I should just put the damn thing back. I’m not going anywhere. Maybe I’m just jealous that this free spirit is going somewhere and I’m not. I don’t have the time, or the money to go anywhere. I’ve met so many people that would love to win the lottery and just fly away. This Jerop guy… he’s probably twenty years old, not a care in the world, nothing to tie him down. He just wants to see the country and cruise to the golden coast this summer. Must be nice. I gotta find some way to change my life. Jeezus it’s friggin’ cold out!”

Light snow began to fall as Christian got into the Pinto and drove home.

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

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

A Trip to the Orthodontist – Part 1

Wildwood, NJ – Summer – 1974

We spent our summers in Wildwood, since 1970 when my dad bought a house there. On Wednesday nights the old school at 10th and Central Avenues would show cartoons in the playground.

The kids would play on the swings and jungle gyms, etc. I was climbing on the monkey bars and some random girl who appeared to be a little older than me started making fun of my oversized, protruding central incisors.

“Hey, bucky. Look at his buck teeth.”

This would be the first of many times I would be verbally abused in my life as a kid.

While watching the lame cartoons on a small movie screen while a projector ran, I told my mother about it. She said she understood that kids can be mean. My older sister already had braces to fix her naturally crossed front teeth that came in exactly like my father’s. Funny, my father had such a big personality and presence I never really noticed his crossed teeth. It was just how he looked and I never thought it detracted from his looks. He was probably more self-conscious about losing his hair in his twenties. But that’s why he probably never smiled in photographs and thought it was dumb. Because he was self-conscious about his teeth. He could have paid to have his teeth fixed but he spent thousands of dollars in the 70s paying for his kid’s teeth to be straightened. All four kids!

Anyway, I needed help, and when we got back to Philadelphia in the Fall, and I got braces. I remember the whole process as barbaric and bordering on medieval. I suppose technology was so primitive back then. I think dentistry only began to really evolve in the 80s.

I remember when I was 6 I needed to get some fillings in my teeth for cavities. It was a grueling experience. I could smell my teeth burning as the drill vaporized the enamel on my molars. It was such a long and painful process it almost felt as though the dentist was pedaling the machine to make the drill spin.

But braces were going to be a long and painful process. First, I had to go to the dentist and have FOUR perfectly good teeth pulled from my jaw to make room for my teeth to be pulled back by the future braces. I was with my mother, and we had to take the bus to the dentist’s office. They put a mask over my nose and mouth and gave me sleeping gas so they could mutilate me while I was unconscious. I know this was all so I wouldn’t have buck teeth anymore but I didn’t like the idea of any of this. It just didn’t make sense to me. I wondered why they had to take four things from me that were perfectly healthy and functioning just to give me a pretty smile. It didn’t make sense to try to alter my whole mouth and jaws to straighten my teeth. Why rip out good healthy teeth? Why not come up with a different process? Examine some other options. I used to think about things like this, even at 11 years old. What if they could somehow, simply widen my bridge? Figure out a way to widen my mouth so that the front teeth moved back as the bridge expanded. But, when you’re a kid, you don’t question because you’re basically an inmate to your parents and teachers. Adults know best. Sadly, we all know now that simply isn’t true. I knew this could have some long-term effect on my body in general.

But they ripped out four teeth and in an hour or so, the process was over. My mother and I got back on the bus and headed home. I remember when we got off the bus I threw up in the grass at the side of the road. The gas they had given me had made me terribly nauseous.

So then I got braces. The office was up on Castor Avenue in Northeast Philly. Far from the house by today’s standards, but back then we walked everywhere. Everything was in walking or biking distance if you had the time. I was old enough to know where it was and how to get there, so I could go on my own to fulfill my quarterly appointments.

The man that did the work on my sister and me was named Dr. Beiler. I don’t know if he was a good orthodontist or not, but he didn’t seem all that great. But what did I know about dentistry? I do remember him having halitosis though. I used to think if anybody should have healthy oral hygiene, it would be a guy that specialized in matters of the mouth. That’s his job!

I remember he would have two fingers in my mouth and then ask me a question while he walked around the head of the chair. So I would try to answer him, while I choked on his fat fingers that stirred in my mouth while he walked around the chair. It was awkward and dumb.

But what could I do? It was a necessary evil so the kids would have one less thing to make fun of me about my physical appearance. I remember them giving me a little packet of soft wax when I first got the braces. You were to rip off a tiny bit of the wax and put it over the front clasps of braces where they ran the wires through. They were square and had sharp edges, so it hurt the inside of your upper lip. The wax was used to cover them until your inner lip toughened up to adapt to the metal in your mouth.

Metal mouth, tinsel teeth, chrome dome were just some of the delightful taunts from the children in school.

Then they give you a bag of tiny rubber bands you have to wear. top… front to back. Top to bottom, and another pair from front to back on the bottom. So at any given time, you’d have six rubber bands in your mouth. It was like some sort of oral slingshot!

I once yawned in science class and a rubber band shot out of my mouth and hit the blackboard next to my teacher’s head.

It was a tough four years, but it paid off.

To be continued tomorrow!

 

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

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

Truancy – Part 2

Philadelphia, PA – Spring, 1977

We followed Martin’s Mill Road out towards Cheltenham. It was interesting to watch all of the N buses pass us by. We knew there were kids in there on their way to Fels and hoped no one who knew us would see us. Just paranoid I suppose. We crossed the bridge over into Cheltenham where I knew there was a train station. I only knew about it because that’s the station where my mom always took us to go downtown.

We went inside and all bought tickets to center city. We then went out to the platform outside to wait for the train. It would be along soon, so we discussed some of the things we wanted to do while we were downtown. We also concocted a story if anybody we ran into asked us why we weren’t in school.

The train arrived and we boarded and found some seats. None of us had ever gone into the city on our own, so we were pretty clueless as to what to do when we got there. The only time any of us had ever been into town was with our parents or on some sort of school trip.

We did end up chatting with a nice couple while we rode the train. We concocted a story that we were going into the city to meet with our parents. We were all cousins and our folks were staying in the city at the Ritz Carlton, and we were coming from our grandmothers. Just some made-up nonsense like that. I don’t know if the couple bought it, but they were nice and we figured if we could fool them, we could fool anybody.

The train soon pulled into Reading Terminal. This is way before it became a farmer’s market and a literal orgy of food and tourist destination.

Home

Today all of the incoming and outgoing trains use Suburban Station at 15th and JFK Blvd. But back in the 70s Reading Terminal was the spot. I remember it being a smelly bum pit of a place. As I walked through the station with my friends, I remembered something my father used to say. He’d tell me I needed to pay attention and do well in school so I didn’t end up like one of the guys in Reading Terminal. Which meant a bum.

Here I was cutting school and going against all that was proper. We didn’t care. We were living in the moment.

We decided we wanted to go visit Billy Penn. His statue stands atop City Hall and was once the tallest building in Philadelphia a long time ago.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philadelphia_City_Hall

The skyline back then was far different than the one you see on the homepage of this blog.

We went over to city hall and the admission to go to the top was free! They probably charge for it now but back then you could just get in line and head up to the top. We piled in the elevator with a bunch of other tourists and up we went. It was cool to walk around at the foot of the giant statue atop City Hall. I noticed they had a couple of those coin-op binocular-type machines up there to get a closer look, but we were happy to just be all the way up there with no parents and teachers in sight.

“If I drop a penny from this height and it hits somebody in the head, will it kill them?”

“I don’t think so Dave, but just in case, don’t do it, okay?”

I knew from my love of all things science that a penny wouldn’t have the weight or the velocity to hurt a person if it fell on their head from a great height. But I couldn’t risk us getting in trouble while we were cutting school.

Later, we were just walking around the city and stuffing our heads with soft pretzels. We got to 16th and Chestnut, we saw that there were these older girls standing on the corner handing stuff out. Everybody likes free goodies so we walked up to them. They proceeded to hand each of us little four packs of Merit cigarettes. It must have been a new light brand they were trying to introduce, so what better way than to randomly pass out little packs of smokes to a bunch of teenagers.

It was like the wild west back then. We all bought and smoked cigs and no one ever asked me who the cigarettes were for. EVER. We were always ready to say, “They’re for my mom.” but no one ever asked. They just sold us cigarettes in every store we ever went into. You could get a pack of cigs for .51 cents a pack at Rite Aid! So cheap!

We immediately opened the packs and started smoking the Merits. But when we got to the next corner, we saw a group of different girls doing the same thing. So we went up to them too. We realized that they were on every corner of that whole block so we just walked around the block a few times until we’d gotten around 20 packs of smokes. Yes!

We headed out the Ben Franklin Parkway towards the museum district. We noticed that there was some construction going on at the Academy of Natural Sciences. We all loved that museum because it was one of the fun ones. It had dinosaurs and stuff in it so we had to get in there. We saw that there was a door open on the side and workmen were coming in and out of there. So we waited until no one was looking, slipped under a bunch of ropes and barriers, and got in there.

We’d all been there before on class trips, but when you sneak in and do the museum with your friends it’s just better. You don’t have to stay with your partner, pay attention, stay in line, go over here.. .etc. You just wander.

We had a lovely time in there for a couple of hours looking at all of the exhibits. We checked out some brochures near the exit and noticed something called the Cultural Loop Bus. We decided to hop on that out front of the museum. That bus went straight to the Philadelphia Zoo.

We spent the afternoon looking at all of the animals and enjoyed a nice lunch of hot dogs, french fries, and sodas in the Children’s petting zoo. I remembered going there with my parents as a child. But this sort of thing is always better with your friends. Just absolute freedom. We even rode the monorail!

Remember these? If you had this key, you could put it in the lock on these little green metal boxes they had at each habitat and it would play an audio message about the animals. A brilliant idea for kids!

I think that was the first time I really thought about what the zoo was. When I was little it appeared to be the greatest pet shop in the world where none of the animals were for sale. But when I really thought about it, it seemed more like an animal prison. Here we were a couple of teenage boys who had broken free for a day to go on an adventure, and these animals had been kidnapped from wherever they really lived and dropped off in here. A place where humans can gawk at them while they waste the rest of their lives in cages and glass enclosures. I could suddenly relate to the sad-looking gorilla or the majestic tiger just lying on the equivalent of a bathroom floor behind a piece of tempered glass. It seemed like a horrible, cruel existence. Just knowing you will never escape. Your whole life just the same day over and over again. Not the majestic place in the jungle or the savannah. Just another inmate. It looked very much like Fels Junior High at that moment.

“Wouldn’t it be cool if we could unlock all of the cages and let all of the animals just run away?”

“That would be awesome, Dave but we’d probably get beaten by our parents and end up in juvenile hall.”

We left the zoo and hopped back on the bus. Once we’re back in the city we found our way back to Reading Terminal. But there were so many trains there. Which one should we get on to get back home? We had no idea.

But then I remembered my mom always said that we needed to get on the Fox Chase train to get back home when we were in town with her. I’m glad I remembered that because we would have ended up getting lost. We got on that train and off we went. I knew we were on the right route because when they called out the Olney stop, I noticed that the train was on a tilt. My mother had also pointed that out to me on one of our trips into town.

We got off at the Cheltenham stop and made our way back to Rising Sun Avenue to get our stuff from out of the bushes of that big house. Happily, all of our stuff was still safely stashed and we collected it. We said our goodbyes and all agreed it had been a great day off from school.

I walked home wearing my bookbag with my umbrella in hand.

“How was school today, Chaz?”

“Good. Happy it’s the weekend.”

“You can put your umbrella in the closet. I’m glad it didn’t rain today.”

Me too, mom. Me too.”

“Go wash up for dinner.”

So I got away with cutting school.

Sort of…

I went to school on Monday but had forgotten to bring the absence note my sister had forged for me. It was still in my desk drawer. But when I got to homeroom, I found out that my teacher had also been absent on Friday. Which meant there was probably a substitute there that day. Maybe no role was taken. Because my teacher never said anything about my absence. So not only was I in the clear, I still had the note that I could use the NEXT time I cut school. Sweet!

A couple of weeks went by without incident. But one day my mom was cleaning my room or looking for contraband and found the note in my desk. She called me out on it.

“What are you planning on doing? Did you get one of your little chippies to write this for you? It’s actually pretty good. They did a good job replicating my handwriting.”

Little chippies? I didn’t have any little chippies. Everyone hated me at school, especially the girls.

I told her she was right, and the note was something one of the chippies made for me if I ever wanted to cut school. I said I was sorry and that I’d never cut school. She confiscated the note and tore it up. Of course, I would never give up my older sister. That would have had catastrophic repercussions on my future in Frankford High next year.

So, technically I pulled it off.

Funny… you’d think a bunch of teenage boys who would cut school would take the opportunity to get into some deviltry. Maybe drink beer, shoplift or smoke pot somewhere. But we didn’t do things like that back then. Beer was for older people and pot was drugs and they were illegal.

We took a Friday off in April and went to the city. We did some sightseeing, went to a museum, and the zoo. Just normal, fun kid stuff.

 

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