Wildwood Daze – Gone Fishing

Wildwood, New Jersey – The early 70s

Once my parents had acquired the house at the shore, they quickly fell into the lifestyle. Days at the beach for mom and the girls, and dad taking up surf fishing. I don’t know exactly when he started getting into fishing, but I remember what he normally did when approaching something new. He read several books on the subject and got to know people in the fishing community on the island.

I remember us going up to a tackle store on the corner of New Jersey Avenue and Juniper. We would hang out in the store and he’d chat with the owner, Charlie Glenn. Mr. Glenn was a master angler. Well known on the island as a guy who could”high hook” every other fisherman around. High hook meant if they were ever out fishing Mr. Glenn would usually catch something and everyone else would go home empty-handed.

His store was a classic seashore town bait and tackle shop. All sorts of rods, reels, lures and stuff to send you on your fishing adventures. I remember a sign he had hanging on the wall among the photos of fish he had caught. It read: “Early to bed. Early to rise. Fish like hell, and make up lies.” I always liked it for its clever play on words and the idea that men probably lied all of the time about what they caught and how big the fish was. (Or the big one that got away!)

My father invested in some good surf fishing gear. He purchased a big ten-foot rod with a Garcia reel. Unlike fishing in streams and off boats, you need a long rod to throw the bait beyond the waves to where the fish were. My dad’s goal was to hook and catch a big bluefish. Weakfish and Striped Bass were also popular types that the fisherman sought after.

Bluefish – These suckers get huge and fight like a fish twice their size.

Bluefish - Wikipedia

Weakfish – This guy is actually a sea trout, but his nickname comes from his tender mouth. It’s ‘weak’ so it’s hard to get a hook in him.

Maryland Fish Facts

Striped Bass – The name is pretty obvious.

Atlantic Striped Bass | NOAA Fisheries

My dad wanted to catch one of those big blues because they put up a hell of a fight if you got one on your hook. We started out using bait, like bits of squid, but quickly abandoned that. It was slimy, smelly, gross to handle, and just seemed boring. You’d see guys at the beach sitting in their chairs with their rods standing in spikes that were driven into the sand. They’d be puffing cigars and drinking beer and just waiting and hoping something would come along and hit their bait. Boring!

My dad got into lure fishing. Using steel lures like Hopkins and Castmasters that had reflective surfaces that resembled little fish that the bigger fished liked to dine upon. Those were my favorite!

But to catch the bigger fish, you needed to use a lure called a plug.

12 Great Lures for Chinook Salmon Fishing in Puget Sound - Riptidefish

They resembled the type of fish called mullet that the bigger fish went crazy over. My father gave me books to read on the subject of fishing in general. I could still tie the proper knots to secure the lure to the line if you asked me today.

The key to catching fish in my opinion was pretty simple.

Fish the areas where you think the fish may be feeding. That meant looking to see where the seabirds like gulls were feeding. If you saw the gulls diving down to the water and snatching up little fish, that usually meant there was something bigger beneath the surface driving the little fish to the surface. If you can cast your lure out there, you may get a hit.

It seemed the best fishing was in the fall. My dad would head down to the beach in his waders and cast his heart out trying to catch a big blue. I don’t think most people realize how strong these fish are. The line these fishermen are using is heavy monofilament. A steel leader is tied to it, and then that’s attached to the lure. You have to cast it out as far as you can, and then work that lure through the water so it looks like a little fish doing its thing to fool the bigger fish. It’s truly a skill to be learned.

My dad got me a seven-and-a-half-foot Fenwick glass on glass rod, that had incredible action. On it was a Penn reel. I loved that fishing pole. I had thrown the big ten-footers in the surf without much success, and to a skinny kid like me, they were just too heavy. My older sister had a beautiful blue fishing rod, and she was an avid fisherwoman along with my dad. She put the time and practice in on the beach with dad more than I did. With that dedication came a pretty good-sized weakfish she caught on her own. I was impressed and we have the pictures to prove it. I hadn’t caught anything during any of my fishing endeavors.

As time and practice went by my dad started catching a few bluefish. Which was cool, because he would bring them home, and we’d all dine on them. I think up till then the only fish I had eaten was in the form of fried fish sticks and crab cakes. They were all bought at the supermarket from the frozen food section!

But freshly prepared seafood was delicious! My dad showed me every aspect of the fishing experience. How to hold the fish if you caught one, and how to carefully and mercifully remove the hook from the fish’s mouth.

The fish would be brought home and washed, scaled, and cut into filets. If he had a successful day and had caught more than his share, he’d share his bounty with the neighborhood. Everybody loves free food, especially when it’s absolutely fresh. Another cool thing my dad showed me, was to take the carcasses of the fish and bury them in the garden. So nothing was ever wasted from the catch. As the fish decomposed underground, they served as fertilizer. This yielded terrific, robust Jersey tomatoes. My father seemed to be very pleased with this whole cycle of life program he developed. I imagined him as the Indian warrior and me his little brave.

The filets were cooked in a pan or broiled with a bit of lemon, butter, and pepper. You can really taste the difference when you devour something that was alive and well a few hours ago. Sea to the table! (Just watch out for the bones!)

Dad finally caught a monster bluefish. He was so proud. It was three feet long and probably weighed over 20 lbs. A beast! He showed me photos he had taken.  He also showed me how during that battle to bring the fish to shore, it had beat up his tackle pretty bad. Steel leaders all chewed up and bent, and hooks nearly straightened. I was shocked at the raw power of these sea denizens as they fought their final battle on earth.

My dad became a hardcore fisherman. He and his buddies would get in his VW minibus and drive down the beach in the off-season. You needed a permit to do that, but it was awesome to take the van on the beach. He would drop the bed in the back and you could lay the fishing rods right in there. I remember going with my dad a few times, but I remember not catching anything and freezing my butt off in the van. But I was happy to spend time with my father, just the two of us.

One of the things you had to always watch when you were casting out your lure was to check that the line wasn’t tangled around the end of the pole. If it was and you didn’t notice the twist when you cast out, the line would snap and you basically threw away an eight-dollar steel lure. You’d watch your lure sail through the air and think for a second, “That was an amazing cast!” Then you’d see it disappear beneath the waves and watch as all you had left was a broken line twirling in the wind on the end of your rod. Fun!

I kept plugging away at the fishing without much luck. But one day I was down on the beach casting away with my dad and pro angler sister, and something happened.

“I got one!” I yelled as I felt the sudden tug on my line and the drag on the reel whir in my hand as the line went out of the reel. I had to think quickly and remember what my dad told me. Pull back on the rod, to seat the hook, and as I lower it, reel in like hell. I did this automatically as I did it over and over. I instinctively started to back away from the water hoping to haul out my catch. I saw him break the beach and I had him! I ran over and put my hand down on the small bluefish. I had finally caught one!

This was a father-son moment. An ancient art passed down through the generations. The father teaches his children how to catch and prepare their own food from the wild. It just felt like we were aligned with our ancestors that day on the beach.

Once I got it, I was back to casting away again. I think we caught 14 blues that afternoon. I went from zero to hero in one day! But that can happen in life. You feel like a failure, but if you keep at it, you’ll eventually find some success. This has followed me throughout my entire life.

Here are a few final words about fishing and fish in general.

I once found a three-foot sand shark on the beach one night. It was dead and some fisherman had cut a chunk out of it to use as bait. I found this cruel and unusual. Why not simply throw the elegant animal back in the sea if you didn’t want him? I had never seen a shark close up or ever touched one. Their hide is like sandpaper. Really cool. I decided to keep him. I dragged him home and hid him under the bush out front of our house. Of course, after a few days in the heat of summer, that boy was ripe! My mom was wondering what that horrible smell was coming from the front bush. I told her my shark story and she told me to drag that sucker back to the beach and dispose of it. So, I dragged “stinky” back to the dunes and left his carcass for the seagulls.

Once my dad, sister, and I were out on a little boat doing some fishing. I’ll tell the whole story about my experience in a future post, but this one is worth mentioning here. We’re fishing and dad drives the boat over to where he sees some birds working. I cast out a few times without luck. But at one point I accidentally hooked a seagull. I felt terrible. That’s not what I was out there to catch. My dad told me to gently reel him in and we’d figure something out. The eerie thing was, all of the birds stopped feeding. They all just started hovering and some floating in the water around the boat in some sort of Hitchcockian moment. My dad put on a pair of gloves and when the snagged bird was close, he gently removed the hook from the bird’s wing. He seemed unhurt and flew away to my relief.

But during this whole melee, my sister’s line got tangled and the bucktail lure she had been working sank to the bottom of the bay. While my father worked to untangle her line, I just tried to stay out of the way. Once the line was untangled and my sister could reel in her line from the murky depths, she pulls up the lure, and to our amazement, she’d hooked is a big Flounder!

Fishing Forecast: Flounder season is off to its best start in years - Daily Press

Yea, I try to catch fish and instead hook a bird. My sister is so awesome, she catches fish without even trying! High hooked us all that day!

These stories are just about us being a family and doing things together. Learning new skills and sharing fun-filled days.

In the end… what else is there in life?

 

If you like fishing and fishing stories, check out my buddy George’s site! He even has a show on YouTube!

His link is right here:

Home

I also wrote a piece about George in the Fall of 2020. You can check that out here:

George – The Rugged Outdoorsman – Part 1

George – The Rugged Outdoorsman – Part 2

 

 

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Sabrina – First Real Date

So our girl Sabrina is going to make good on her promise to take me out to dinner. I’m working at the salon on Sunday.

“Hey.”

“Hi.”

“How’s your day?”

“Quiet here at the salon.”

“I’m in the city. Do you want a quick bite to eat after 4? It’s okay if you’re tired or busy.”

“Yes. That’s what we planned.”

“Yes. Lol. So I’m around 16th st and Walnut. Tell me a place around there to meet you.

“The Café at 2011 Walnut Street, Right next to the Irish Pub.”

“Ok I’m there. See you soon. I’m inside the Irish Pub. Just meet me there.”

I get there and she’s standing near the front door. I see that The Café is closed and she says that she’s fine if we just sit in one of the booths in the back of the Irish Pub. I tell her we can go somewhere else if she’s not comfortable there. She says it’s fine.

I’ve been grazing all day at the salon and I’m not terribly hungry, but she suggests we get a few appetizers to share. I think that’s a splendid idea and we order up.

“You can have a drink if you want.”

“I’m not going to drink around you, Sabrina.”

Sabrina tells me all about her new marketing job down on the Delaware. She says that it’s like the job of her dreams. I’m really happy for her. Sabrina’s been through some rough times. She tells me that she feels my good energy and help brought her the luck to get this new job that has saved her from having a financial crisis.

We trade stories about work, life and people we both know. Especially her friend Jill. (See: Jill to Jezebel)

As promised, Sabrina pays the bill and I offer to pay the tip. I’m having a lovely night with her.

After our meal we head up to Gran Café L’ Aquila and order a flight of gelato. She loves it of course and her coffee is free because I get the hookup there. I had a great time with her and only spent $10 the whole night.

I walked her to her car. (No ticket. Well done Philly, Thanks!) I’m putting Sabrina in.

There was a homeless guy lurking by the car and he said that he and his wife live on the steps at 17th and Sansom. He says he loves us both on TV and watches our show all the time.

In that moment I think how Sabrina and I would make a couple of great TV hosts. Which is selfish to this guy’s plight. But I just want him to go away so I can say goodnight to my friend. His desperation is destroying my final moments with pretty Sabrina. He soils it and I tell her to text me when she gets home. But I just want to be away and home at this point. Actually I just want to be one block closer to Rittenhouse and smoking a cigarette.

Sabrina texts later that she’s home safe and thanks me for the night.

She’s lovely. I would totally date her. I could make her forget her ex.

 

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Annabelle – Chapter 14 – I Can’t Quit You Baby

Adults speak to one another and close the relationship. It’s wrong to put a person on a shelf like they are some sort of toy, and then think you can take them down and play with them whenever you’re confused or lonely. It’s just shitty behavior. The person you’re doing that to is a human being with feelings. You’re a rotten person if you think that sort of behavior is okay.

This is the most painful chapter I have ever written on phicklphilly. The pain and sadness Annabelle has caused me is immeasurable. But the saddest thing is she doesn’t even know it because she is so lost as a person. Just a fool running errands for others that are making fools art.

Annabelle had officially dumped me on Thursday, April 17th, 2014. She texted me a day after that, and we made arrangements for me to get what little stuff I had at her apartment. She was nice enough to tell me that she’d bring it down to me. It was just shirts and stuff so I was fine with it. I was happy I didn’t have to drag myself out to Northern Liberties to go get my shit because I hated going out there.

It was a sunny Saturday morning when she showed up and handed me a bag.  I thanked her and asked her how she was doing. She said a little sad and depressed. I told her I was too. (A bold-faced lie)

She asked me if I was hungry. I told her I was. She asked if I wanted to get something to eat. I told her I did.

It was an odd moment. She had broken up with me a few days ago and now here she was wanting to hang out with me. I didn’t mind. I eventually had a friendship with my ex before her and remain friends to this day. (See: Michelle – 2007 – Present – A Brand New Day)

It was a nice day in Spring so we walked up to DiBruno Brothers on 18th and Chestnut Streets. It’s a really nice food market and eatery. We both got some sort of salads and went upstairs to the dining room. There weren’t many people up there. Maybe just two other couples. I don’t remember what we talked about, but it was probably whatever shoot she was going on or what play she was working on.

When we were finished eating, she moved to the chair closest to me at the table. She started to kiss up on me. It was really nice. Normally we never did public displays of affection. But it was sexy and hot. It’s weird. Something’s not right about that.

But it felt good, and a day later we were eating at an Indian restaurant near my hospital and then went back to my apartment and made love. The sex was good like always and I actually said to her: “If this is what you breaking up with me feels like, you should break up with me every week!”

Be careful what you wish for. We’ve all heard that old adage. But I liked the new Annabelle. It was all the stuff I liked about her. Food, sex and spending a little time with a pretty young woman. But at that time back in the Spring of 2014, I didn’t know that I didn’t love Annabelle. I didn’t even like her. I just was in love with the idea of being in love with her. I had no idea what was happening to me at the time. Now I had the drug almost on my terms. I wouldn’t have to “put my time in at her shitty apartment”, or put up with the grinding frustration and disappointment of being in a relationship with her. All the responsibility was gone.

But if you go into a new love, (It had been 2 years since Michelle) you must go into that new relationship for the right reason. That’s why I always warn people not to “have sex on the 3rd date” and ask themselves, do they really have much in common with their partner. Like the same things, activities, shared some of the same friends, work and religious values can also come into play.

But your old pal Phicklephilly, plowed right into this relationship with this woman  25 years his junior, not thinking any of this through. All I wanted was to be romantic with a young woman and feel the rush of new love. I didn’t realize it but I had gotten hooked on a drug I had nothing in common with. The only thing Annabelle and I had was a common attraction to each other. She’d never been in love before and didn’t know how to love or what to do with her feelings. Me, I meet a friendly, tall, young blond bartender and I’m ready to go head over heels.

What a fool I was.

A week or so later, I met her at a bus station near 30th Street just to give her moral support for trip to New York to buy some lenses for camera she owned. I just wanted to make her feel calm before her trip, and it worked. You might think why wouldn’t you go with her, and spend the day?

Here’s the thing, if we could have just hooked up sexually and I didn’t have to do any grinding boring stuff I had zero interest in, the relationship could have worked. So there’s no way I wanted to go anywhere with her.

On another occasion, I met her at 30th Street Station for a quick-lunch, and I put her on a train to somewhere for a shoot. I remember her saying, “Let’s have sex tonight!”

I was fine with that at the time. We had dinner that night. It was like being back at the beginning when things were good. Then back to my apartment for passionate fun.

Here’s the problem with that. I was getting exactly what I wanted from her. I was getting the thing I liked about our relationship so for me it was perfect. I didn’t have to see her all the time and I was still being delivered the euphoric dopamine that I so craved. I had no idea how damaging this is to one’s psyche.

Then it started to become less and less. That’s when the withdrawal kicks in. I went from someone who was relieved when she ended it, and now I was really missing her. I was losing her for real now. But it wasn’t her I was losing, I just wasn’t getting my “fix” anymore. Normally I’m not like that, and I vow to never let that happen again. But I never realized the relationship was sick from the start and doomed from day one.

A month went by, and I was on that tour boat on the Delaware river with my colleague when she texted me that she wanted to meet up for dinner. I really wanted to see her, but had to do that, “don’t get right back to her” move. But when I did she got right back to me and we set it up. She wanted to go to dinner and then stop and Chris’ Jazz club after. I was down for that. Of course I wanted to see her.

We planned to meet over at Pennsylvania 6, which was a French and Southern fusion type place. I knew she’d like it.

I was actually sipping a Ketel One vodka martini straight up with a twist as I waited for her at the bar. My hands were shaking I was so nervous. Yes, this was happening to the experienced old lion. She came in and noticed it. I don’t know what I said to cover.

We had a lovely dinner and were very sweet to one another. When the meal was over, I asked her if she was still down for Chris’ Jazz. She stated that she was tired from the wine and could we just go back to my place and relax on the couch and chill in the AC. I was fine with that because I didn’t feel like hanging out at the Chris’ Jazz anyway.

We went straight to my bedroom and had sex, and she spent the night.

The dopamine drops again. We took a selfie in bed together the next morning. We went to breakfast and then I put her in a cab and off she went. She asked that I send her the selfies from earlier and I did. (It was just our two faces on the pillow. Nothing racy)

A few weeks went by.

Her Uncle came to visit one week and they were at Chris’ Jazz and I was at some food and booze festival half in the bag and she texted that she was missing me. I jumped in an UBER and hung out with them for a bit, then he left and I went back to her place. The usual acts ensued. I was so drunk that night, if she had asked me to come rob a bank with her I would have gone.

This sort of nonsense went on through the summer. But the in between times were the worst. Because she stopped planning things with me that led to sex, it was just random, drunken hook ups. The relationship was slowly being picked apart. It was like I’d get a little better hang with another chick, and then Annabelle could just swoop in whenever the mood struck her and she’d rip open the sutures of my healing love junkie heart.

All of my friends were telling me it was wrong and that I should cut her off. But I just couldn’t get off the smack.

One time I ended up drunk with her in Northern Liberties and we ended up taking a selfie of just our shadows on the ground. Ironic now how that was really all that was left of us. We both just fell into her bed and went to sleep.

The next morning I wanted to get frisky with her and when I tried to she said, “I can’t. I’ve been with someone, and I found out they were having sex with someone else. So if I have something I don’t want to give it to you.”

Well that was nice of her, but I still wish I could have had sex with her that morning as hungover as I was. I love morning sex. It just makes the rest of your day better. But you can see how reckless her life decisions are.

So I was a safe rebound after whoever she had been seeing cheated on her. I left and did the long walk of shame back to Rittenhouse.

We did meet for a really nice seafood dinner out at Doc MacGrogan’s in University City that September. I took a bus down to Old City, and then called an UBER and went to her apartment in Northern Libs. Picked her up and then had the UBER take us to the restaurant. She was once again exposed to what it’s like to be treated like a lady by a gentleman.

The dinner was nice and they were my client at the time, so I got the hookup. During dinner we talked about us. She said she missed me. I asked her if she wanted to try again. She said that she did but wanted to go slowly. I would have been okay with that with how turned around in my head I was at the time. But after I wrote it all down in these 15 chapters did I realize how wrong all of this behavior was. Adults don’t do that to each other.

I thought after dinner it would be back to the batcave for some frolicking and frivolity. I didn’t even get to ask if she wanted to come over. She feigned a headache and I got dropped off at my apartment and she went on home. She always pulled the “fake headache” move whenever she decided she didn’t want to do something. Lame, juvenile behavior.

After that she simply “ghosted” me. For those of you reading this that don’t know what that means, it’s when someone in your life simply vanishes. They don’t call or text. It all suddenly stops. Nothing. Just gone. This went on for months. I wasn’t going to contact her. She did this. I needed to heal. Adults speak to one another and close the relationship. It’s wrong to put a person on a shelf like they are just some sort of toy, and then think you can take them down and play with them whenever you’re confused or lonely. It’s just shitty behavior. The person you’re doing that to is a human being with feelings.  You’re a rotten person if you think that sort of behavior is okay.

It was a lonely, vacuous, depressing time for me, heading into winter. The darkness of depression closed around me like a black cloak.

Months passed, and I was at a toy drive to help kids in the hospital during the holidays. Me and my buddy Church do it every year for Children’s Hospital.

I get a text from Annabelle out of the blue. It sent a shock wave of anxiety searing throughout my mind and body.

After months of silence, I get this text:

“Hey! I’m in New Orleans and I’ve been thinking about you everyday. I even had a dream about you!”

Searing pain and fear. I’m trying to move on with my life.

“I’m working a Toy Drive for the holidays. Can I call you when I get home?”

“Sure!”

I proceeded to try to numb the pain of this reopening of the wound by plowing Cutty Sark Prohibition based cocktails down my gullet. Church calls it “The Babymaker” because it’s 100 proof and makes you do crazy shit.

Maybe it was just the fuel I needed that cold winter’s eve.

Later when I got home, I called her I chatted as nicely as I could and then told her that I couldn’t keep doing this. I couldn’t live like this.

“So we’re not dating anymore?”

“No, Annabelle. We’re done. We’re done. I can’t keep talking about this. It’s all too painful to go on.”

I wrapped up the conversation quietly, and hung up. Then I proceeded to unfriend and block her on my Facebook, Instagram and finally block this selfish person in my phone.

That was the end of it.

 

You too, Michelle….

 

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Crazy Dating Stories: Cyra – Revenge Reeks For Mr. Not-So-Hidden Agenda

He drove me to a different bar and insisted I sit down and “drink the taste out of my mouth”.

I met Cyra on wordpress. That’s the platform you’re reading phicklephilly on. She’s also a writer and has her own blog about adolescent behavioral science. Yea. A little heavier subject that my dating blog! We were chatting the other day and she asked if she could give me one of her dating stories for my blog. I’m always looking for good content and love a crazy dating story, so I jumped at the chance.

Take it away, Cyra.

 

I did a summer internship at a museum years ago when I was in college.

After the term ended and I went back to school, I got a call from one of the researchers I worked with over the summer. He wanted to meet and have dinner because he was going to be in the city.

I was really happy about it because I considered this guy a colleague and thought it was really nice of him to want to keep in touch with me. He was about 15 years older than me, but that didn’t matter because this was a dinner between friends. So I thought.

So the day came and he picked me up. He was driving a rented sports car, a little flashy for a guy on a conference trip but ok. He was dressed like a man going for a night at the clubs as well. And I had dressed pretty conservatively.

He suggested we see a movie and I was a little surprised but agreed. He took me to an “alternative” theater downtown and I sat through 90 minutes of borderline softcore. I could barely look at him when we finally left.

He didn’t seem to notice or care that I was embarrassed and uncomfortable. He just said “Let’s get something to eat.” and led me to the car. I thought dinner would be us chatting about our work and what’s new in our lives.

He insisted we have drinks before dinner and kept getting the waiter to top up my wine during the meal. He didn’t want to talk about work, he kept trying to talk about the people we worked with. As in who was doing who. I tried to be polite and listened to him talk. He kept trying to toast things to get me to drink more. It was really awful.

The alcohol and the food didn’t mix well. I finally told him I really wasn’t feeling well and had to leave. As we were leaving the restaurant I felt the need to vomit! I had no control. Thankfully I was able to sort of hide behind the restaurant and spew my guts. I was there for about half an hour.

By the end of it I was feeling better but still really weak and woozy.

I assumed that the “date” was over. Now he’d drive me home and leave, disgusted by what had happened. I didn’t care. I was just looking forward to going home.

Instead he drove me to a different bar and insisted I sit down and “drink the taste out of my mouth”.

I knew it was time to leave. I told him I was going to go into the bar and call a cab if he didn’t drive me home immediately. He asked me to come to his hotel room with him instead.

I started to leave but he finally relented and drove me home. Unfortunately, when we got there he tried again to persuade me to go to his hotel room. I was still feeling ill and he delayed me a little too long. I puked all over the floor of the rental car. It smelled like stale alcohol and sour milk.

He started shouting obscenities at me and I finished heaving on the front step of my building. He tore out of the parking lot and almost hit a parked car.

I was really angry and upset when I got home. So I called the police and reported his car as a drunk driver. He was picked up and charged because he was drunk and his car was full of alcohol-soaked puke.
I heard he lost his job over it too. So it was worth it.

 

Wow. Don’t mess with Cyra!

 

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