Wildwood Daze – Spring of 1980 – New Beginnings

“Who’s this new gunslinger in town?”

Having Jesse the lead guitarist quit the band and literally taking all of the songs and solos with him, we were in a spot.

I walked home from school the next day and went up to Jim’s house where he lived with his 11 other siblings. (Yea. You read that correctly) I knock on his door and his hot sister Anita says he’s upstairs.

I go up and there’s Jim just lying on his bed. Not doing anything. Like he’s just depressed.

“Sup, man.”

“How are you?”

“I’m alright. How’s the band.”

“That’s what I came to see you about.”

“What?”

“Fuckin’ Jesse quit. Said he’d rather watch television.”

“No shit. Television?”

“Yea. I don’t know. But listen…I know I abandoned you and Chris a few months ago, and I’m glad that we’ve remained friends through that. I guess I’m just driven to make it.”

“No problem. We’re cool.”

“So the reason I’m here today is to ask you if you’d like to audition to be in my band. We need another guitarist.”

A familiar wry smile appears on Jim’s face. “Sure. Yea. Aren’t they a bunch of older dudes?

“Brian’s 21. Mark’s a year behind me at school.”

“Okay.”

“Alright. I’ll set it up.”

“Thanks, man.”

“We’re getting our band back together!”

 

______________________________________________________

 

I talk to the guys and tell them about Jim. The next night I have him meet us at our practice space. (The seasonal restaurant that Mark’s parents own at 19th and New York Aves. It’s closed for the winter.)

He comes in carrying his ’75 post CBS Fender Stratocaster in its respective flight case.

I introduce him to the guys and we discuss what needs to be done. Jim plays some songs. We all start to jam. We all know The Stones, Beatles, Cream, Clapton, Aerosmith, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Zeppelin, The Who, Tom Petty, etc.

I’ve been writing a bunch of material for the last year. I bring my song ‘Bombshell’ over from Renegade. So based on what we four know as musicians we’ll develop a set list. We all start to write down stuff we know, stuff we want to play as a band, what’s on the radio right now, and workout a practice schedule. The space is perfect for us to develop our sound in the next few months.

 

__________________________________________________________

 

By April, the weather’s getting warmer and we’re pretty tight as a band. Everybody gets along and there’s good energy. I hang out with Jim mostly because we were friends first. Sometimes I hang out with Mark and we just cruise around in his giant station wagon and smoke cigarettes and talk about life listening to music. Other time’s I’ll grab lunch with Brian or we’ll all hang out together as a band.

We set up a gig to play at Margaret Mace primary school. First grade through ninth grade. My sister will see me rock! I don’t think we’re playing for the whole school, but it’ll be just the middle school kids. Seventh, Eight, and Ninth graders. (Gotta start somewhere!)

“Guys. We gotta come up with a name for our band.”

“We seriously do.”

“Anybody got any ideas?”

Mark speaks: “How about Thunderbuck Jam?”

All: “How about NO!”

“Alright let’s all go home tonight after practice and come up with some names.”

 

So we’ve come full circle. I fucked up, but got in a good band. Now half of that band is me and Jim.  This is good. I feel like I’ve righted the wrongs of my past and now the band will be better than ever.

 

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Renegade – 1978 to 1979 – Chapter 6 – Creative Forces and Lies

The picture above was taken in a photo booth at the Roosevelt Mall in Northeast Philly on a Saturday. I don’t know why we took that photo. A sober band of guys just getting pizza and stopping at Sam Goody’s record store to pick up the Rolling Stone’s latest, Some Girls. (Which is brilliant!) I’m in the background looking stoned, Jerry looks like he has no teeth and Larry looks like a zit faced mutant with barbie doll hair (As cruel Jerry used to say)

I don’t know what the dollar bill signified. But it was a day in the life of Renegade. We were walking the mall as a band and we had swagger. We had a set list and really wanted to play somewhere. We wanted to start to gig because we were tight and ready.  I was overjoyed just to be a pert of this journey, and the guitar was coming along quickly. (natural musical ability from my mom’s side of the family and my daughter Lorelei has gotten the best of both worlds and has already eclipsed everyone with her talent.)

We got records and pizza and sodas and it was a lovely afternoon for the boys in renegade. i don’t know where Mike was. He didn’t really hang with us. I don’t remember why. Nothing bad, just different Charlie Watts life I guess.

We’re walking and we run in to my ex girlfriend Claire and some of her friends.  I’m praying I’ve had the foresight to write about Claire so you know who she is before this series comes out. But based on my track record I’ll get that done even though as I write this series. (See: Claire – 1978 – Loop Line Girl)

We run into these babes and no one has a clue. Claire and her St. Hubert Catholic school girl friends.

“Hey Claire.”

“Hey Chaz. How are you?” (She looks cute. We’re both 16 now)

“I’m good. This is my band, Renegade. Jerry and Larry this is Claire.”

“Sup?”

“So you’re really in a band now?”

Jerry and Larry look at me incredulously

“Yea. This is a real band and we play rock.”

“I knew you weren’t in a band when we were going out.”

“You did?”

“Yea, cause you were always makin out with me and never had to go to practice so i know you were full of shit the whole time.”

“Oh… sorry about that, but this is a real band. I’m making music now.”

“Yea, whatever. maybe I’ll see you in Wildwood this summer. You broke my heart.”

Jerry and Larry shuffling uncomfortably. Their singer in a tight spot. They say nothing to defend the loser.

“Well it’s real now and I’m sorry and it’s nice to see you.”

“Later”

There is an easy recovery from a moment like this when you’re 16 years old. You can make your whole life a lie to try to be something you’re not when you’re young. No one could check anything back then there was no internet. Your word was everything I knew loser dudes that built there whole lives on lies back then. I had low self-esteem and was happy this pretty girl liked me and lied to her about a dream I wished about so hard for a long time. I wanted to be a rock star so bad i lied to everyone in my early teens i was a musician and I was just a loser piece of shit.

But when it became real it felt good. I actually didn’t need claire anymore because ia had sort of arrived as an srtist , a singer and a shitty guitar player.

It didn’t matter anymore. I was eating pizza at the mall with my band. We were a real entity. It was so beautiful, nothing else mattered. The women would come.  I was changing.

The boys would leave at dusk. I would have dinner with mom and the sisters and then dry the dishes with mom over the current hits on the radio. I loved that. Me and my mom singing Fame by David Bowie.

I would return to the cellar and plug my shitty Sears guitar into Jerry’s Stage amp and Univox Super Fuzz pedal and attempt to jam by myself and write a song.

I would listen to my records relentlessly and study chord and music books nad took all of my sisters piano books that had chord formations for guitar in all of the music.

I would play for hours and decided to write some songs. Punk was big then and we used to play Blitzkrieg Bop by the Ramones and I figured if these idiots could make a record using three chords so could i.

I wrote a three chord song about a local girl named Jill who was really cute but a dick tease and called the song Get Lost.

It was a punk song and I am proud of that work because it had a thudding verse and a bright chorus like most Ramones songs. You have to understand this is a a kid who finally picked up the guitar a month ago and was now composing. He started basic.

I wanted to write a song about a waitress I was in love with in Wildwood, named Therese, so I wrote  song about her too. i loved Farrah Fawcett, so she was next. I composed a song called Bombshell for Farrah. I don’t think anybody knew what my songs were about until my next band but things were definitely evolving in Renegade. I was happy that the band was open to creativity and writing our own songs.

I presented Get Lost and the band loved its punky Ramones simplicity, and my friends loved it because they knew Jill was a sweet kissing dick teaser. I actually remembering hearing Walk this Way by Aerssmith for the very first time when I was making out with this sweet 14 year old on the steps of my friend’s house and loving the song more than her.

Larry was inspired and wrote a theme song for the band. Renegade was a punk classic. It was angry and vicious. I loved what he did even though I eventually wanted to play heavy metal not this nonsense.  I knew I wanted to make very heavy and furious music that would match with my current music tastes.

Jerry wrote a song called Running Wild. It was a plodding rock song and I really liked it. I remember my mom could hear every song we did come up through the floor boards in the kitchen. I remember she would ask me at dinner why Jerry repeated the words Running Wild so many times at the end of the song. I told her I didn’t know and that’s just how the song faded out.

The next day I expressed my mother’s question and he just shrugged it off. But later that afternoon when we played it he said it over thirty times just to drive my mom nuts. We all had a good laugh over it and I’m surprised my mother didn’t just march downstairs and yank the guitar from his hands.

I had a friend named George who would come over my house and teach me riffs on guitar. He was really good and showed me the fundamentals of basic 12 bar blues and boogie woogie chords. I really liked George. He was a good friend. In exchange for the lessons I wrote a song for him to play for a girl he’d been dating. Her name was Meghan. He was totally in love with her. He liked the song I composed and you know what? It got his V Card punched!

Rock n Roll!!!

Judas Priest was coming up. Iron Maiden was on deck. I didn’t even know about these bands but I wanted to make hard rock and heavy metal. I had a lot of frustration and sadness in my existence and if you’re not going to hurt people you make heavy music to cull your frustration and disappointment that you live with everyday.

You’re band mates disappoint you with their conservatism and how they are trapped in traditional songs and norm. You want to go forward and make furious hard music that is angry and  sounds like your frustration of your whole life. I was happy in this band but I knew I had to eventually go harder.

But at least we had a band and created something. Now to get a gig somewhere!

 

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Tales of Rock – America

America is a rock band, formed in England in 1970 by multi-instrumentalists Dewey Bunnell, Dan Peek, and Gerry Beckley. The trio first met as sons of U.S. Air Force personnel stationed in London, where they began performing live.

America achieved significant popularity in the 1970s and was famous for the trio’s close vocal harmonies and light acoustic folk rock sound. This popularity was confirmed by a string of hit albums and singles, many of which found airplay on pop/soft rock stations.

The band came together shortly after the members’ graduation from high school, and a record deal with Warner Bros. Records followed. Their debut 1971 self-titled album America, produced the transatlantic hits “A Horse with No Name” and “I Need You“; Homecoming (1972) produced the single “Ventura Highway“; and Hat Trick (1973), a modest success on the charts which fared poorly in sales, produced one minor hit song “Muskrat Love“. 1974’s Holiday featured the hits “Tin Man” and “Lonely People“; and 1975’s Hearts generated the number one single “Sister Golden Hair” alongside “Daisy Jane“. History: America’s Greatest Hits, a compilation of hit singles, was released the same year and was certified multi-platinum in the United States and Australia. Peek left the group in 1977, and their commercial fortunes declined, despite a brief return to the top in 1982 with the single “You Can Do Magic“.

The group continues to record material and tour with regularity. Their 2007 album Here & Now was a collaboration with a new generation of musicians who credited the band as an influence. America won a Grammy Award for Best New Artist at the 15th Annual Grammy Awards. The group has also been inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame and has received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Cool piece of Trivia: All of their album titles begin with the letter “H” with exception to their first album, America, which is commonly referred to as their Horse With No Name LP, named for the number one hit from that album in 1972. The albums are:

 

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Tales of Rock – Red Hot Chili Peppers Lose Two Guitarists in a Row to Heroin

You can’t stop rock and roll…

Red Hot Chili Peppers’ drug story is uniquely repetitive. It basically goes like this: Their guitarist has an adverse reaction to success, gets addicted to heroin and disappears—they’ve been through this twice. First, in 1988, after releasing their third album, the band’s first to hit the Billboard chart, Peppers’ lead singer Anthony Kiedis and guitarist Hillel Slovak had developed serious drug addictions. Slovak died from this in June 1988 and Kiedis was too gone to attend his funeral. RHCP regrouped, but drummer Jack Irons quit, saying he couldn’t handle the level of tragedy surrounding the band.

The band eventually replaced Irons with Chad Smith and Slovak with guitarist John Frusciante, and went on to record and release the most successful albums of its career; Mother’s Milk and Blood Sugar Sex Magik. The latter album spawned four huge singles and launched the band on the charts, radio, MTV, television appearances and stadium tours. Frusciante wasn’t comfortable with this level of success and said so, and began behaving and even playing erratically. He and Kiedis stopped speaking, and he quit the band while touring Japan in 1993.

The Peppers, meanwhile, moved on; the Spinal Tap-esque nature of the band’s guitar slot continued as it played Lollapalooza with one guitarist, fired him and hired another, fired him and finally recruited Jane’s Addiction’s Dave Navarro to play Woodstock ’94 and record an album. Navarro left the band because, as he later joked to Kurt Loder, “I don’t make funny faces.” Surprisingly, Frusciante, newly and firmly sober, returned for three more albums with the band before departing again. As usual, RHCP got a new guitarist and kept at it.

 

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Tales of Rock – Led Zeppelin And Yes Almost Became A Supergroup Out Of Survivor’s Guilt

Will Zep and Yes form a Frankensteinian Supergroup?

I love music. I love all music. I love rock and metal especially. I have always loved the power and fury of that music as a musician and as a fan. I love talking about bands, music and trivia, and my stories with everyone I know. So I’ve decided to add a little Friday edition of a pet project I’ve been working on. I haven’t discussed it with anyone. I just want to do it. So it you show up on a Friday, you’ll get a short little twisted tale about the music industry.  I was in it a long time ago, and I welcome your likes, hates, comments and follows. I’d like to try this and keep it going with as many stories as I can remember. I will also pepper this series with people I have met in the industry. Right now I’m too busy building phicklephilly to do my personal rock and roll tales, but I assure you they will come. And they will come hard! But in the interim, please enjoy these stories as I provide them. I’ll do my very best to come up with a new tale each week!

I want to kick off your weekend with an obscure nugget that no one really knows about!

Most rock bands have a higher member turnover rate than your local McDonald’s. Sometimes they hire new members and soldier on, but other times they break up, either out of respect or because they can’t find enough warm bodies to shove into the back of a van. When both Yes and Led Zeppelin suffered this problem at about the same time, band members from both sides decided to do something radical: take the remaining members of both bands and form a new Frankensteinian supergroup.

Though a seminal band in the ’70s, Yes had fallen apart by the ’80s, mainly due to the departures of frontman Jon Anderson and keyboardist Rick Wakeman. One day, Yes bassist Chris Squire bumped into the legendary Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page at a Christmas party. Squire quickly found himself consoling a grieving Page over the death of his drummer John Bonham. Both of them missed the glory days, so he suggested that the remaining members of the two bands ought to come together and write an album. Page not only agreed, but went one step further and proposed that the collaboration would spawn a whole new band, called XYZ — which is short for Ex-Yes/Zeppelin, and a terrible name.

The band did actually get as far as writing and jamming out to a few songs, and even got a few demos under their belt, but as so frequently happens with young musicians, reality got in the way of their dream. First, Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant backed out of the collaboration because he thought the music was too “complicated.” Then, the managers of the respective groups started bickering over who should become head honcho of the new band. With that, the whole project simply petered out. Eventually, Squire did reunite with some of his former Yes bandmates (not Wakeman or Anderson, though) in a new band called Cinema, but nobody cared.

 

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Sarika – Song of the Black Widow

God, she’s beautiful. I couldn’t find a stock picture on the internet to capture the delightful beauty of this girl. She is so pretty. Indian. Exotic. The type of beauty you’d almost pay for to be seen with at an event. She is probably one of the most beautiful women I know in Philly. But she recently reached out to me to come hang at a happy hour and a brand new place in Rittenhouse, called Scarpetta. Smith and Wolensky’s is gone and now that place is here. It’s in the Rittenhouse Hotel. She also mentioned that she wants me to come up to her apartment and check out her new place at the Dorchester. I am so glad I have reconnected with her. This vacuous she-devil is such a good character for this work. I am a huge fan of lovely Sarika.

I got to Scarpetta around 5:30. They’ve done a nice job with the place. It’s dark and intimate. The bar looks the same but they’ve opened up the place a bit. There’s only the one bar, but they have a lounge in the back and there is a dining room upstairs. I look around for Sarika but I don’t see her. I’m chatting with the manager and then I look out the window and see her walking towards the building.

Sarika looks amazing as always. We grab a couple of drinks at the bar and sit in this cool little area by ourselves near the window. Rittenhouse Square looks beautiful. It’s all decorated for the holidays.There are strings of bulbs in the trees and the whole park twinkle with light. She is having some sort of light pink beverage that I didn’t catch the name of, and I’m having the old-fashioned. Normally, cocktails are around fifteen dollars, but during happy hour they’re half price. So that’s something I can live with for now.

I ask her what she’s been up to and she says she’s been going on a lot of dates. Turns out that weasel she wanted to bring to my eighty dollar a plate New Years party last year has been gone for a while. I remember she was so into that guy. Apparently they were together off and on for two years. She says she wasted her best years on him and now she’s old. She’s 28! Come on Sarika, you are still but a child. She said he was a jerk to her and probably never loved her. I get her laughing, and start thinking that the black widow isn’t so bad after all. She may be smart as a whip, but she’s still a young woman navigating her way through love and life. I even joke that she probably has a blood-red hour-glass tattooed on her belly.

I do love pretty things, and she is no exception.

I tell her she looks great as always. She has been in some sunny destinations lately, so her skin is a darker brown than normal. I like it. It makes her look even more mysterious and exotic. I mention it and she immediately asks if I think it looks ugly. She always says things like that. She is so smart but so immature at the same time. She’s also a bit of a chatterbox. I think most men can’t handle that and don’t like a girl who talks too much. I don’t mind it. I like a girl who has things to say and experiences to share. I love to talk and entertain a woman, so it’s nice when I have a chatty girl so I don’t have to do all of the work. Women like a good listener and I grew up with three sisters. But what I can’t stand is what Carol used to do. Just babbling on nonstop like a tire spinning in the snow. (See: Carol 5/2014 to 8/2016 – There’s No Fun In Dysfunction)

I once read that women speak up to 20,000 words a day, compared to men, who speak only 12,000. So when we get home…We’re done!

It is puzzling how a woman this strikingly beautiful can’t keep a man. But the more you’re around her the more it makes sense. She says she’s been finding men on an app called J Swipe. It’s like Tinder for Jews. I asked her why that app? She said Jewish men normally appreciate women more, have good jobs, and have money. Sounds like she’s hunting for a husband. I think one of the challenges Sarika is facing is that she may be viewed more as a conquest. A creature to be captured and checked off of some list, because she’s so beautifully exotic.

She said she went out with a guy on Monday and even had a date with a pilot after our happy hour. So I assume I won’t be getting a tour of that gorgeous apartment in her building tonight. Sarika has a very busy life. She travels a great deal for her job as a scientist. I know she was formerly an engineer, but now I guess she’s a scientist. She makes great money and spends her other free time hopping on planes and taking little trips. It sounds like a fun life with all of the dating, and jet setting vacations, but it almost seems like she doesn’t want to be alone in her apartment. She’s crazy dating now. It’s good that she’s getting out there and meeting people after two years wasted with weasel man. But again, I can see men wanting her because she’s so beautiful, but she’s kind of annoying to talk to for any length of time. So if they get the opportunity to sleep with her they may not stick around.

Sarika is very intelligent and a nerd. I have taken her to Science after Hours at the Franklin Institute in the past. She loved it like a child. We went to see Jurassic World last summer, and Guardians of the Galaxy is her favorite movie. If my friend Duncan finds that up he’ll probably move up here from North Carolina. You would think guys would find that hot. A pretty girl who likes guy stuff and sci-fi, but it hasn’t worked. Maybe one of these many men that she is meeting for dates, will be rich and just marry her as a trophy wife. But sadly, people are funny about race in this country. They may want to sleep with a hot girl, but they may not want to bring and Indian woman back home to meet the family. I personally I have nothing against it. If you have been reading this blog, you know I love all different kinds of women. As Hank Moody says in the show Californication, “I got all your albums. I love you all and you and you included, Sarika.”

My buddy Church shows up at Scarpetta. I’m happy to see him. Once Sarika  goes on her date at One Tippling Place up the street, he and I can go to Square 1682 and have a drink. Church knows everybody in the restaurant and bar business in this town, so when he orders a drink and the server brings it over, she says, “This one is on Nathan.” He’s the GM there so Church got the hook up. I get another drink, but Sarika is only having the one so she doesn’t show up drunk for her date at 7:00.

While I was waiting at the bar to get my drink, Church chatted with Sarika. I was a little glad that it took the bartender a little time to get to me and make my drink. Normally I don’t like that, but I thought it would give Church a chance to talk to Sarika.

I get back to our little area by the window. We all chat a bit more. Sarika has to go soon, so she heads back to the ladies room. Church tells me she wouldn’t stop talking and it was driving him crazy. He’s been on edge lately, and listening to Sarika go on about something was annoying him. He said something to the effect, “I wanted to put a gun in my mouth.” He said she is so vacuous and self-absorbed and all she talked about was herself.

He once said that about another attractive girl who talked a lot. He was in a car with her and she was talking non stop and he said, “I wanted to leap right out of the car while it was going 70 miles per hour down the highway.”

Sarika returns, and I put her coat on for her. I tell her I will pay for the one drink she had. She tells me she’ll get me next time. I give her a kiss on the cheek good-bye and she’s off. I get the bill for my two old-fashioneds and her dainty drink. It should come to over $22 plus tax. I look at it and it’s only $15. So I got the hookup because I was with Church.

Dude certainly has the power.

I think next we’ll do a happy hour with my friend Carly.  So the night went well and again without incident.

So maybe my pretty little arachnid is finally growing up.

I love Sarika. She is beautiful, and I enjoy her company, if nobody else does, and I can’t wait to see her again.

(Oh… and if you’ve somehow found this and other stories Sarika, I’ll understand if you cut me off. The truth always hurts more than fiction)

 

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Rebecca – Chapter 4 – Cypress and the Oak

Another tale of one man’s journey through the dating scene in Philadelphia, searching for true love.

It had been a while since I had heard from Rebecca. She certainly made an amazing impression upon me on our first date. It didn’t make sense that she “ghosted” me after our very first meeting. It felt like it had been a couple of months, and all I heard was the deafening sound of crickets. I did text her twice in that time to meet up for a drink and just never heard back. This has happened before. I know this other little hottie that is always saying she wants to meet me for drink, but can never pull it together.

But then out of the blue she texted me. “Sooo sorry for being off the grid. Can we meet up for a drink soon?” I told her I could do Monday or Wednesday. She picked Monday. I liked that because it was sooner. I asked her if she had any preference. She said for me to pick the place. I wanted somewhere that was nice, but not some place where we’d stick out like a sore thumb. I had a few days to figure it out. I have to come up with a place where they knew me, but I’d have some privacy. I decide to meet her at 1 Tippling Place at 6:30 the next Monday. “Great! I always wanted to check that place out!” was her reply.

1 Tippling Place is a really cool, living room style cocktail bar. It’s located at 20th and Chestnut streets. The outside is really nondescript. Just a glass and steel door, next to a large window. If you blinked or sneezed while walking by you’d miss it. But inside there is all kinds of neat comfy furniture and coffee tables. The artwork is eclectic and the room as a whole is nicely appointed with interesting artifacts. The cocktails are first-rate. They really don’t serve any food. I mean they have some little hors d’oeuvre, but that’s about it. You go there for the quality drinks and the atmosphere. I also enjoy the snarky attitude of the lead bartender. When you first meet him you think he might be gay. Then in walks his smoking hot girlfriend. It’s one of my favorite bars in the city because it’s an original that has real character.

I arrive early. I always like to get to a place early to scope out the scene and get the lay of the land. I chat with the owner. She’s awesome. Normally she’s in and out during the day, and then leaves around 7pm. We’re pretty tight. I’ve even walked her home on occasion. I normally don’t order off the cocktail menu. I just tell the bartender that I want something dark and spirit forward. They make it and I drink it. It’s always good. I will say that the place is a little expensive. Most of the drinks cost between $12 and $14.

I look at my watch. 6:20. Hope she isn’t late.

Hope she shows up.

Five minutes later the door opens. It was like one of those moments in those 80’s teen comedies, when everything moves in slow motion and they play some cool song. Rebecca enters the bar. I take a deep breath. Her dark hair is up, which always looks so sexy on the right woman. Her ripe lips an exquisite pout. She is wearing a burgundy cocktail dress. It comes to mid-thigh. She is wearing black sheer stockings and elegant black high heels. She looks amazing. I’m blinking my eyes trying to focus on this vision.

I immediately stand to greet her. She hugs me, and I am more intoxicated by her beauty and lovely fragrance than any cocktail that could be crafted at this bar. “Rebecca,” is all I could say. “Shall we get a table?” she replies. I nod, and guide her to a quiet table in the corner so we can chat. “You look lovely. I feel under dressed ” I say. “Well I haven’t seen you in a while and I like to dress up.” she responds.

We order a round of drinks. I have my usual dark power, and she goes with something equally strong. Interesting. That’s either a good thing or a bad thing. Maybe she likes a heady drink or maybe she needs a bit of courage. We chat about what we’ve been up to and she’s telling me about work, and some of the challenges she obviously faces in the medical industry. Then she says, “I suppose you’re wondering why you haven’t heard back from me in a while, and I am sorry about that.” I tell her it’s okay and I’m just happy that she is here tonight.

“Remember how I told you that I went out with that man who was older than me and I didn’t feel any chemistry after four dates?” “Didn’t that guy get married? He didn’t try to…?” “No…no. Nothing like that. I just wanted to preface what I was about to tell you, that it doesn’t feel that way with you.” she says. Now I’m getting a little worried and a little confused. “Do you mean you do feel chemistry with me or you don’t?” I ask, feeling a slight searing heat in my heart. This could go be a short date.  She smiles and takes my hand. “I do like you. It feels different just being around you. You’re not like anybody else I know.” I visually sigh in relief and she reads my expression. I need to be cool. “Don’t worry, I’ve thought a lot about where my life is and it sometimes can be confusing.” I reassure her that whatever she is concerned about I understand, and will listen.

Women don’t want men to solve their problems. Men are all about solutions. They like to fix things. Women are more about their feelings. That’s why men define themselves on what they do, and women define themselves on who they know. The way to a woman’s heart is really quite simple. Don’t tell her what she should do, or how she should do. Just listen. I’m just happy at that moment that I am the one who is present to listen to whatever it is she needs to get off her chest.  I just hope she can’t hear my heart beating.

Rebecca takes a sip from her drink, not breaking her gaze with me. Looking into me with those brilliant emeralds. “Two years ago I met this guy on Tinder named Derrick. He was around my age. As you know guys my age basically suck for the most part. They don’t know what they want or who they are yet. But he ‘Super Liked’ me on Tinder. And… I did the same on his profile so I thought it was kismet. I know now I only did that because he was really cute and not much else. Isn’t that why most people swipe right for the most part anyway?”

“I suppose. But I’d like to think that some of us are more thoughtful when it comes to matters of the heart.” I reply. (Bold faced lie.) She seemed smart in her profile, but I know I swiped right because she was smoking hot.

“I know right?” she exclaims. “Thank you! But I guess I was dumb and just being superficial. So we exchanged numbers. It all happened so fast. We met up, and it was fun. He seemed kind of full of himself and his band. But he was good really good-looking. He invited me to come out and see his band play and we’d hang out after their set. So I get dressed up and go to the bar where their playing. Derrick was the lead singer. I was kind of hoping he’d take me on a proper date, but I thought that would happen after we got to know each other. I suppose it’s not a bad way to meet someone for the first time. You’re in a bar surrounded with people so it’s not like you’re meeting a stranger in some isolated place. I also prepared myself for the fact that he was the singer in the band and usually they are surrounded by willing girls. I mean, you told me you used to play guitar in a band in L.A. Weren’t you always around a bunch of girls?”

“Sure. There were a lot of girls and guys at our shows. We played hard rock, so our audience skewed more male than female. But I had a steady girlfriend at the time. I was committed to my relationship with her.” (Bold faced lie)

“Well you’re one of the rare ones.” (I wonder if she can see the devil horns sticking out of my head?) Anyway, so I’m at the their show. I didn’t want to go to a bar alone, so I took my roommate Amber with me. We had an agreement that if things went well with Derrick she’d either hook up with someone there or UBER it home. I mean it wasn’t a real date so I don’t think there was anything wrong with bringing my friend with me as backup.”

“What kind of music did they play?” I ask, hoping to get insight about the boy through his musical tastes.

“It wasn’t emo, but it sort of sounded like that. I guess it was more post hardcore.”

This guy already sounds like a douche, I thought. She takes another sip and this time her eyes are down. I can see this is hard for her. “Okay. Please go on. I’m listening.”

“So they end their set and we’re hanging out. Me, my friend Amber, Derrick, and his lead guitarist, Simon. We’re drinking and laughing and having a good time. We’re at this table all the way off to the back. I’m sitting next to Derrick and Amber is across from me with Simon in a booth. Amber likes to party. Simon is ordering shots and beers and we’re all getting pretty buzzed. I feel like I’m really liking Derrick. He’s going about how important the music is and all of that stuff, but I don’t care I just think he’s hot. Next thing I know Amber is all over Simon. I look at Derrick and he’s on me. We’re just making out like crazy. Normally I’m not like that but I think it was the drinking that made it easy. Plus I wanted him cause he was so good-looking. It was fun.”

At this point I’m wondering where all of this is going. We order another round.

“So we decide we want to go someplace else. We leave the bar and start walking. Simon pulls out a couple of joints and we’re all smoking. Just smoking weed walking down the street. We didn’t care. We’re all giggling and Derrick has his arm around me. We end up some really dark bar. I don’t even remember where it was. We’re drinking and we’re all pretty messed up. The place is full of people. We’re in the back. Derrick is like, Do you ever go skiing? and I’m like, yea, I have been but I’m not that great at it, but I have good balance. Then he pulls out this little bag with white powder in it. I assume it’s cocaine. I go, Oh… skiing. I had never done coke before, but I know Amber has and she says it’s great. So they look around all paranoid and shit, and literally start spooning it out. Derrick does a hit and then offers me a bump. I just do it. I don’t know why. Amber’s like, “gimme some!” Then she and Simon do some. I couldn’t believe it. Doing coke in a bar? It felt cold in my nose, and I could feel this clear euphoria. It almost felt sobering to do it. But different. Higher. Intense. I can see why people love it so much. You were in a band in California. You must have done it right?”

“I saw what drugs did to my peers. I was more of a beer and whiskey guy. I smoked weed occasionally but never really liked it. A little drugs an alcohol can loosen the mind to create, but I knew people who did loads of drugs and it literally sledgehammered their talent and destroyed them. So no. I steered clear of coke.” (White lie) Get it?

“Oh well that’s good. But anyway, I know I’ve been blabbing on about this. Long story short, these guys come back to our place and we end up fooling around with them. It was crazy. I guess we were all just caught up in the moment. I think we stayed up most of the night. Well, Derrick and I ended up being boyfriend and girlfriend after that. It felt like he really loved me. I loved him.” She takes a sip and a deep breath, looking off into the distance, as if trying to visualize a faded past. An image that vanished in her rearview mirror long ago.

“What happened?” I say, concerned.

“We went out for about a year. It was intense. We moved in with each other. Amber had gone off to school anyway so it was perfect timing. Things were great at first. But they always are in the beginning. We always did things together and went places together and partied together like a really great couple. I know he was focused on his music and really wanting to make it. But there were a lot of times when he wasn’t around. Times I wouldn’t hear from him and couldn’t get in touch with him. A girl starts to wonder what’s going on. I even started spying on him. Going to places they were playing. He wouldn’t see me, but I wanted to know what he was up to. I wanted to trust him, but you know when you get that weird feeling in your gut that something’s wrong. Well, his behavior had become more and more erratic. I know he was doing drugs but I just wasn’t into it like he was. We just weren’t connecting like we did in the beginning. Like maybe he was just tired of me.”

“Sometimes he would even get really mad about things that didn’t make any sense. Well, one night I followed him after he left me to do a show, and I saw him making out with this redhead at a bar. He wasn’t even playing with his band that night.  She was like all emo or whatever with tattoos and shit. I was devastated. I just jumped on the train and went home.”

“I’m sorry I’m telling you all of this.”

I could see that her eyes were wet with the beginnings of tears. “It’s okay. You can tell me. I’m here.” I took her dainty hands in mine. She sniffed and nodded, holding back the tears.

“That night he had the gall to come home and try to do it with me. I pushed him away. He got all mad at me and I told him what I saw. He denied it at first, but I told him I followed him and saw him. He got really mad and started throwing stuff around. He broke this little snow globe he gave me in the beginning. At that moment I didn’t even care about the globe. He had already broken something far more precious than that stupid thing.”

Okay, now I was getting upset. “My God, Rebecca. I’m so sorry.” Tears rolled down her cheeks. She took a healthy sip of her drink. I wiped the tears from her face with my thumb. She hugged me. “It’s okay. It’s okay. It’s not your fault, Rebecca. You didn’t do anything wrong.”

She sniffed and I offered her a cocktail napkin. (Note to self: Start carrying a clean handkerchief in your lapel pocket.) She wiped her face, and her nose. ‘I’m sorry. I’m sorry.”

My bartender showed up at the table. “Is everything okay?” he asked. “Yes…yes. She’s just suffering a loss.” I replied. “I’ll bring you another round, yes?” I glance at her. “She smiles and blinking her eyes, nods in affirmation. He quickly returned. “These are on me guys.”

My man at Tippling is always on point.

“Okay, so that was over a year ago, right?”

“Yes. He took his stuff and left me. I was crushed. Destroyed. I cried for months. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t eat. I drank so I could get some sleep. When I would wake up in the morning, I’d  just go to the bathroom and dry heave over the sink.”

I could see she was struggling. “So did something happen recently?”

Heavy sigh. “Yes. He reached out to me on social media. I had blocked him from Facebook and in my phone, but I was on Instagram and he got to me that way. I had a panic attack when I saw his name.”

“Let me guess. This happened sometime after you and I went to the Museum.”

“Yea. I know it’s so stupid. He said how he missed me and how he was wrong and had grown so much. And like the idiot, I unblocked him in my phone. We met up and as crazy as it seems I was actually happy to see him. He looked a little older and a little more haggard, but it was still my Derrick. We were at a bar up in Northern Liberties. Things felt different. Time had passed. Too much time. I had grown and healed. But old habits die-hard. I just wanted to take a look at him. He said he was really sorry for what he had done. He said it hadn’t worked out with the redheaded slut. She actually ended up cheating on him with some drummer in a band that opened for them. I was actually kind of glad to hear that. But I’m sure he didn’t feel the loss that I had experienced. I had scar tissue on my heart from what he did to me. But I couldn’t let him tear open the sutures and open my old wounds. I work in a hospital emergency room. That shit hurts!”

Rebecca actually laughed at that moment. It had been the first time the whole night. That sound was like magic to my ears. I smiled a knowing smile. Because she didn’t know that I have been down that road twice in my life, and it’s a nightmare.

Love is a many splintered thing.

“So yea, that was a two months ago. I told him that I’m glad he was doing well, but I had moved on after a year and that I was in a relationship with a really nice guy in financial services.” She laughed again. “I could see he was disappointed, but I couldn’t let myself go through that shit again. It was a small chapter in my life and I had to draw the curtains on that dead body. He had me, and he squandered it. I think in that moment he realized that it was really over for good. It was hard to do, but I told him I had to get home to Cole, my investment banker boyfriend. He hugged me, and I knew I would never smell him again. it was like pulling the plug on a fatally injured patient.”

“So that was it?” I took a sip of my rye infused medicine.

“Yea. I went home and put on and episode of Stranger Things and ate an entire pint of Ben and Jerry’s and had a good cry. So… that’s why I disappeared for a while. I just needed to think about some things and move forward with my life. So, I’m glad you met up with me tonight. I’m sure you never expected our second date to be this confessional. I really appreciate you listening to all of that, but it felt really good to get it out. I was like a little tree blowing back and forth in the wind, but now I feel more calm. Like the storm is finally over and I’m safe.”

“Well, I’m glad you trusted me enough after one date to see me again and confide in me, Rebecca. Like my profile says, I’m a good listener.”

“Yea…Thank you.” Taking my hand again in hers. “You’re like a strong tree. Good roots  with unwavering branches.”

“Yea, and my bark is worse than my bite!” I snapped. She cracked up. Rebecca was back.

“You’re awesome.” she said as she again hugged me tightly. Oh, that lovely slender neck and her fragrance was sobering.

We had our intimate moment and then paused.

“Are you hungry?”

“I’m starving!” she laughed.

“There’s a great bar called Mix that is one block from here that has delicious 12 inch brick oven pizzas.”

“That sounds like the greatest idea I have heard all day! Do you think I’m over dressed or pizza?”

“I’m sure you’ll pass they’re rigid dress code, Rebecca.”

And with that she pulled from her hair the thing that was holding it in place, and those rich ribbons of dark chocolate tumbled over her lovely shoulders.

It’s hard to believe that this story could get any better at this point, but it does. The bill came and my guy placed it on the table. I reached for it to access the catastrophic damage to my bank account that 6 drinks at 1 Tippling Place would cost me… plus tip.

But Rebecca was faster, and she grabbed it first. “Uh uh. This is on me.”

I was in shock. My face, a mask of disbelief and mute protest. “Are you sure?” She looked at the bill. “Yep.” She whipped out her credit card and stuck it in the flap, as she nodded to the bartender.

I instinctively reached for my wallet. “Can I at least help with the tip?”

“Put your wallet way.” She said firmly, giving me a wry smile.

“Will you at least let me buy a lady some pizza?”

She ran her fingers through her hair, fluffing her dark locks. “I’ll think about it.”

The bill returned. She signed it and handed it back. ” Come along, Sir. I’m hungry.”

I liked that she called me Sir. I also like that she took my hand, and led me out of there. When we were outside she locked arms with me. I was in heaven. We’re on our way to eat delicious pizza.

 

Tune in for The Return of Rebecca, Part 2 in Two Weeks!

 

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