James and I have been friends for over 10 years. I met him one night with my then-girlfriend Michelle at a fashion show at the 23rd Street Armory. He worked for a local talent agency as a talent coordinator. We both loved movies and film in general and kept in touch on social media.
Then he went off to LA for a few years and I rarely spoke to him. But he came back a few years ago and we re-connected.
James has been a great friend and we’ve had some great times together. We both have busy schedules, but we hang out together at least once a month.
You can read about him here:
Recently, James broke up with his girlfriend of 7 years. He’s now 34 and has been out of the dating game for years. A lot has changed but some things stay the same. I’ve helped him with his online dating apps and offered whatever advice on navigating the treacherous waters of the dating world. He’s been doing well and going on lots of dates.
But like my friend Duncan, who after his divorce wanted to go to a gentleman’s club to blow off some steam, James was ready to do the same.
I wasn’t too keen on the idea because I associate those kinds of places with losers who can’t talk to women in the real world, cheaters, and unhappy married guys.
But he had never been to the supposed “best one in Philly” so he wanted toexDrive-In-girlfriend long-tim6 pm, every day go one night. I reluctantly agreed. I didn’t know exactly when we were supposed to do it, but I knew it was looming on the horizon.
We were supposed to hang out on Wednesday but I had to postpone because I was buried in commercial writing assignments. But the next week cleared and we locked down the next Wednesday to go out.
When the day arrived, James texted me to confirm and we were a go. But in his text he suggested I come to his house, and then we’d jump in a Lyft and head out for the night.
This never happens. He usually drives down into center city or takes a Lyft down here and we go out. This was a first. So I knew it had to mean one of two things.
- He wants me to come to his house so I can see how he’s fixed it up and redecorated since the exit of his girlfriend. Then make be a few delicious, potent cocktails to get a base coat on and save money. Then, we both hop in a Lyft and return to center city-girlfriend long-time reading Jamereading James6 pm, every day reading JamesDrive-In for a night of fun, frolic, and frivolity. OR…
- He wants me to come to his house, ply me with lethal cocktails and coerce me to go to the local gentleman’s club with him to see a bunch of strippers.
It was the latter.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. I had finished my last big writing assignment the day before so it was my first day off in over 3 weeks. I went to breakfast at Rachael’s Noshery and then went for a nice long walk to get some exercise.
5.6 miles later I came home and chilled out for an hour. I then proceeded to write about Lin and a few other subjects. You’d think after writing non-stop for 3 weeks I wouldn’t want to touch my keyboard. But it just felt good to write about things I wanted to write about. My blog!
We were set to hang out at 7 pm that night so I wrote for about 5 hours and knocked off around 6 pm. I had been to his house before so I knew just how to get there using public transportation. It was a nice mild day, and I gave myself plenty of time like I always do. My dad always taught me to leave early to avoid any unforeseen delays and I’ll always arrive relaxed at my destination.
So, I left my house and headed over to Broad Street. I walked up to Locust Street because I knew there was a train station there on the corner. I walked down the steps to the station, swiped my key card, and headed down to the platform. There was a train sitting there and I happily hopped in. Just to be sure, I asked someone on the train if this train stopped at Huntingdon and they said it was a local express train. So, it wouldn’t. They then told me to get off that train and wait for the regular one that comes on the track just on the other side of the platform. I thanked them and stepped off the train and waited on the platform.
Within minutes, the other train arrived. I hopped on and off I went. After a while, I was wondering when the train would come up out of the subway and become the elevated line. It seemed to be taking a long time. I looked out the window and saw that the train had stopped at the Fern Rock Station.
Where the heck was I? Had I missed my stop? What’s going on?
I asked another passenger and she tried to explain. The train was noisy and she struggled with her English and she was wearing a mask.
Thinking quickly, I exited the train to get my bearings. It was only 6:30 at this point so there was plenty of time to make any necessary adjustments.
I walked over to the ticket office and spoke with the nice lady working inside it behind the bulletproof glass. I couldn’t hear a word she was saying so she stuck her head out the door.
“Hi. I’ve lived in Philly for over 12 years and I think I got on the wrong train.”
“Where are you trying to go?”
“Huntingdon stop in south Kensington.”
“Oh… you’re way off.”
“Where am I?”
“You’re way far up into North Philly right now.”
“Oh. Can I just go upstairs and call a Lyft and leave from there?”
“Ain’t no Lyft coming to this part of town, honey.”
“Really? Why not?”
“It’s pretty busy up there.”
(Looks me up and down) “You shouldn’t go up there. It’s not a good kind of busy up there.”
“Ohhh… What do you recommend?”
“Go down that flight of stairs over there and get back on the southbound train. You were on the Broad Street Line. You need to take the train south down to 8th and Market and switch to the Blue Line and then go north to Kensington. You’re way west of anywhere you want to be right now and you do not want to go upstairs into that part of town.”
“Okay. Got it. Thank you!”
I scamper down the steps and wait for the southbound Broad Street Line train. What was I thinking…. or not thinking? I’ve lived in Philly for over a decade. I know where everything is and I’m an authority on public transit. Am I getting dotty in my old age? Has senility finally come to call?
No. I just had a brain fart and got on the wrong northbound train. I need to fix this, but I’m not going back to 8th and Market.
The train arrives and I’m the only caucasian on that train. I’m the minority and look a bit out of place, to say the least. I’m a little nervous but it’s 6:30, still light out and there are plenty of people around. I hatch my escape plan as the train roars south.
I’m listening to Rockbar on Sirius radio on my earbuds and it was almost a joke when the next song comes on. It’s Welcome to the Jungle by Gun’s ‘n Roses. Just as the train pulls into the Cecil B. Demille stop I hear Axl Rose scream into my ears…”Do you know where you are? You’re in the jungle, baby… You’re gonna DIE!!!!”
Oh, the cruel, yet the hilarious irony of this journey.
I hop off the train because I know this stop is the one above Girard Avenue and based on my geographic skills I figure I’m just slightly northwest of my destination. I climb the stairs and come out on the sunny sidewalk. Again, I am the minority and feel the weight of how out of place I am at this moment.
I call a Lyft and wait alone on the corner of Cecil B. Demille and Broad to wait for it.
Tune in tomorrow for Part 2 of this little saga…
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