Mister Grocer’s

Philadelphia, PA – 1970

One chilly night I was in the VW minibus with my dad and my older sister. He decided to stop at a local convenience store on the way home on Rising Sun Avenue.

The shop was called Mister Grocers and it was an early convenience store. These types of stores would giveaway to later giants like 7-Eleven and Wawa. (Back then Wawa was a dairy farm. Incidentally, Wawa is the native American word for goose.)

I don’t remember why we stopped there but maybe he needed to pick up some cold cuts. My sister and I wandered around the store while he did what he had to do.

I came upon a rotating display rack full of little toys. The ones that caught my eye were these toy cars on little cards. I was checking them all out and they were really cute little cars. So for some reason unknown to me to this day, I stuck one in the pocket of my red baseball jacket.

It was the first time I had ever stolen anything. I don’t even know why I did it. I had plenty of little cars at home. It was almost as if this other power took over and compelled me to shoplift. It was definitely a compulsion. I think this may be a common thing in children that they eventually grow out of.

I remember sitting in the car on the way home and saying how I felt cold so I kept my hands stuffed in the pockets of my jacket. There was no reason for me to say that but I obviously wasn’t a good thief.

We made it home and I went up to my room to get ready for bed. I closed my bedroom door and took out the little car. I ripped open the package and looked at the toy. It was yellow, and not a color car I would have ever wanted, so maybe it was just the thrill of nicking it from the store. I have no idea. I placed the little car in a box among some other stuff in my room that sat on my radiator.

Gama Toys - Wikipedia

I went into the bathroom and got cleaned up for bed, and then headed back to my room. My mother was standing there holding the car and the ripped open package. Did I simply throw the package into the wicker wastebasket in my room? That’s very sloppy. I don’t remember. My room was full of all sorts of toys. How did my mom find this one thing that I just clipped tonight? ESP? I’ve never been able to solve this mystery.

The next thing I know, I’m sitting on the toilet seat and both of my parents are grilling me about where I got this little car. I lied and told them my friend Dave Archut gave it to me. Was this some kind of go-to lie I would use going forward? Probably not if it didn’t work.

It didn’t.

After a few minutes of intense interrogation, I cracked and told them that the package was already ripped in the store and I just took the little car from Mister Grocers.

It would have been awesome had it ended there with a stern scolding. But no… that would not be the order of the day. My mother and father left the room for a moment while I sat there having an anxiety attack on the toilet in my pajamas like a prisoner in the Gulag.

My mother returns with my jacket and slippers. It’s bedtime. We’re going in the wrong direction, mom. But apparently, we were going in the right direction. My father marched me downstairs and took me back out to the minibus and put me in it. I’m shivering as he proceeded to drive us back to Mister Grocers.

I’m terrified and nearly go into paralysis as we pull into the parking lot and there are two police cars parked there.

philadelphia police vehicles from 1969 | Police cars, Old police cars, Philadelphia

I see that, and I’m practically filling my pants in fear. My father tells me to go in with him and what I need to say to the clerk. We get out of the van and head into the store. I can’t believe the cops are on the case of the stolen car already! This is a serious offense. I’m in deep trouble. Grand theft auto? Juvenile Hall? Hard time?

My dad places the car in the ripped-open package in my hands. We walk up to the counter to the clerk behind the counter.

“Go ahead, son.”

“Sir, I took this. It doesn’t belong to me, and I’m sorry.”

Then my father tells me to go stand over there. Of course, I complied because there was no alternative but to obey. I was caught. Nabbed. No longer on the lam. My days of thievery were officially over.

He spoke with the man for a few minutes, and then we left. I don’t remember the conversation in the car on the way home, but I felt really bad but relieved I didn’t have to go with the police.

We never really spoke of it again, but it was a lesson well learned. My days of shoplifting and thinking I could get away with it had begun and ended on the same day.

Philadelphia, PA – 1978

I was 16 years old and shooting pool in my basement with a few of my buddies one evening. I’m sure my buddy Michael Mitchell was there, but I can’t remember who else. Maybe my friend from school Hugh Deissinger. (Yea, we had a pool table) I remember by then, my dad was working at a bank at the shore now and only came home on the weekends. Life was good, and it was a typical Friday night. My dad was cool with us listening to our records on his stereo, and the sounds of Aerosmith, Boston, Kansas, Foreigner, The Cars, ELO, and Peter Frampton filled the air.

My pop had an old wooden desk in the corner where he used to write out the bills and do his thing. That desk and its contents were completely off-limits to us kids because it was all dad/work stuff inside. We had no business touching anything in that desk. I remember going over to it to look for a pen or pencil to write something down that we were talking about.

I pulled open one of the drawers and there was the little toy car from my childhood crimewave days. I pulled it out and held it in my hands for the first time since the night I stole it. Did I have a moment of nostalgic wonder? No, I felt only revulsion for the object because of what it represented.

I told my friends the whole story that I just told you, and they all laughed. I felt better about the whole thing. My dad had paid for it that night back in 1970 to make things right. He righted my wrong with Mister Grocers but never let me have the stolen toy as part of my punishment. I get that, and it was the right thing to do. I didn’t deserve the spoils of my wicked handiwork.

He later told me that when we pulled up to the convenience store that night to return the stolen property, the police cars were there by pure chance. Just a couple of Philly’s finest grabbing a donut and a cup of coffee on the night shift. But he never said anything about it to me to further drive home his point. You steal stuff, the cops can come and haul you off to jail.

Well played, dad. Well played.

But what became of the little toy car?

That night that I accidentally found it and told the guys about it, was to be its final appearance. I took it from its package and placed it on the pool table. We then proceeded to blast billiard balls into it until it was smashed to bits.

I never said anything else about it and my dad never asked. I’m sure by then he’d forgotten about the little car in the drawer, but I’m sure not the incident.

Don’t take things that don’t belong to you!

 

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Back The Tracks – Part 1 – Forts

Philadelphia, PA – Early 1970s

As a kid, we all loved our toys. Toys were our stuff. Toys were exclusively for kids. Parents had no use for them. When I misbehaved my dad would take things away from me. No TV, or take away certain toys. To me, this made no sense. I loved TV and toys, but without either of them, I always found something else to do. I had just as much fun with found items or making stuff. I could be just as happy with nothing as long as I could go out and play in the big lot at the end of our street. It was full of rocks, weeds, and bushes.

At the far end of the lot was a solitary tree that we fashioned into somewhat of a treehouse. It was really just a few long two by fours we found and stretched across a few of the limbs to make the ledger boards. We drove a bunch of nails into the limbs and then placed any boards we could find for the floor. It didn’t have any sides. It was simply a platform about 20 feet off the ground. We found some shorter bits of wood and nailed them into the trunk so you had something to grab onto and put your feet on to climb up and down to the platform above. It stood at the edge of the lot at the top of an embankment that led down to the railroad tracks.

Sitting in the treehouse just felt good. You were with your friends and safe from anything approaching on the ground. It’s an ancient feeling that washes over you. I’m sure primitive man did the same thing to escape ground-dwelling predators. It also gave you an advantage over your enemies. We always kept a box of rocks up there in case we were ever invaded. No one’s going to attempt to take your fortress if you have potentially lethal projectiles. We never needed them, but it was comforting to know you had them, just in case.

In Carl Sagan’s book, The Dragons of Eden, he stated that there was a theory that when you’re in your bed at night and just about fall asleep, you sometimes feel that sudden jump. He thought that it was a primitive mechanism that was in place to stop us from falling out of the trees as early hominids. When you’re a kid, it seems to occur with greater frequency but could be a long lost survival safeguard. But as children, we just loved to climb up on things. Old instinct? Maybe.

We’d built many forts over the years when we were kids. We kind of liked having several places we could go to hang out whenever we were wandering in the woods across the railroad tracks. Numerous little campsites that were exclusively ours.

One day, we were back in the lot. There was a fence that went all the way around the Peerless Steel factory back there. There was the fence, and along it was a dirt path. If you walked about thirty feet along the fence, at the edge of a hill was suddenly a small fort built there. It had almost appeared that it had gone up overnight. We were a bunch of 9 and 10-year-old kids. It had four walls and a roof. On the ground were pieces of old carpet so you could sit down. It was better than anything we’d ever seen. We figured some bigger kids had constructed it. We knew that older boys would go back the tracks at night and drink beer and smoke weed. It was really the only place to hide in my neighborhood. It was a really nice community, but full of watchful eyes. So they must have constructed it at night. Of course, being the curious boys we were, we went inside and hung out.

Such a primitive thing. A small tribe finds shelter in a place made by bigger more advanced beings. Empty beer cans and bottles littered the area. We would collect the bottles and cans and take them down the embankment to the railroad tracks below so we could set them up and play target practice with them. The trackbed was full of grey stones. So there was an endless supply of ammo to throw at the bottles and break them.

One afternoon we were sitting in the fort and a big kid appeared at the door. It startled us all and we were a bit intimidated by this formidable figure. He told us the fort belonged to him and his friends. We immediately told him we meant no harm and would vacate the premises immediately, but he sensed our fear and respect and told us to keep an eye on it for them. Of course, we accepted the job. We told him we’d clear all of the trash out so if there were any cops or railroad detectives around they wouldn’t find anything. When I think about it now, the older guy seemed like a man, but when you’re 10, a 16-year-old looks like an adult to you.

We played back in the lot and on the railroad tracks all the time. It was our place. No parents ever went back there. Think about how different things were back then. Today most children have organized play in sporting events and teams. They have video games that would have seemed like science fiction to us in the 70s. They wear all sorts of protective gear just to ride their bicycles. We had none of that. It was just your young hide against the elements. There were plenty of injuries back then. Who would let their kids today go play back in a vacant lot, wander through the woods, and play on railroad tracks? You’d be labeled a neglectful parent. But we loved it back there.

About a mile south, there was a church at the top of the hill where Levick Street crossed over the railroad tracks into Cheltenham. Behind its parking lot was a vacant lot. Sort of a landfill. It was just tons of broken rocks and cement that created a cliff on the edge of the woods. We moved some of the rocks and cleared a small enclosure we could get inside to call a fort. It was fun to dislodge giant stones that probably weighed 800 lbs. with our feet, and push them down the side of the hill. There was a certain triumph in being able to collectively move and object of such weight as kids. The joy of watching the boulder roll down the hill like it was all happening in a Road Runner cartoon. Once a space was cleared, we’d claim it as one of our many forts. The Rock Fort was born. We had found some boards and covered the small shelter so it had a roof. Of course, we’d carve out a hole in the dirt wall for the fireplace. My friend Michael had found an old rack from an oven in the trash and we shoved it in the wall over the fire pit. One morning my friend RJ, showed up with an open box of frozen Canadian bacon. I had never heard of that but I was willing to try it. We stuck the patties onto whittled sticks of wood and held them over the fire in our little fort until they sizzled. They were quite good actually, and we really felt like true mountain men that day. I wondered if RJ’s mother ever noticed them missing from her freezer.

Another style of fort we had back then was to dig a hole in the middle of the woods. We would carve out a space about eight feet square and maybe three feet deep. We’d take pieces of the roof from a broken dugout from the ballfields above the woods to make our roof. I liked the idea of the corrugated fiberglass. It was sturdy enough to stand on and any rain could be channeled and runoff during inclement weather. We’d find bits of old carpet from people’s trash and line the floor of the fort. As I said, it was only three feet deep, so you had to lie down in there. I used to love the idea of being in my little Bomb Shelter Fort. It felt safe in there. You could smell the soil in the air of the place. That rich dark clay smell of the earth around you. I would lie on my back in there with my friend and we’d read digest editions of the old EC Mad comics. These were in paperback and black and white reprints of the old comics before there was a Mad magazine.

We’d cover the corrugated roof with soil, rocks, and leaves so the fort was completely camouflaged. No one could see or find the place unless you knew where it was in the woods. It was actually comforting to have my back on the carpet knowing the only thing below me was the Earth itself. No wooden floor. No basement or foundation of a house. Just dirt. If I lifted the old bit of carpet under me and kept digging long enough, I’d hit China.

We had a bunch of forts back them. We always had the treehouse, that was ours, but sometimes we’d venture away down the path past the big kid’s fort, and just hang out behind a big mound of dirt on the side of the railroad tracks. There were plenty of trees and it was just a chill hiding spot.

We called that hangout spot The Dirt Fort. Beyond that about thirty feet away was a lower area that was a nice flat piece of land under a single big tree. We called it The Flat Fort, and let the girls have that space. Of course, they always want to do the cool stuff that boys came up with, so we sublet that bit of real estate to my sister and her friends.

These weren’t really forts per se, they were just little spots by the tracks we liked to hang out in.

One day there was a group of us down in the Flat Fort. I think it was me, my sister Janice, Margie, her brother Michael and my friend RJ. (I think!) We were all just hanging out chatting when this man wandered up. He looked like he was maybe in his twenties. He was skinny and had a t-shirt on and a pair of shorts and sneakers. We greeted the stranger, and he asked us if we had seen anyone else around the area. We told him we hadn’t. The first thing I noticed about him was how his eyes darted about when he spoke. Nobody I knew did that when they spoke. He stated that he was looking for his friends with whom he was out jogging. I was thinking who would go jogging back here by the railroad tracks? Bad place to twist an ankle on all of the irregular ground. He asked again if we had seen any of his friends because they were wearing shorts like his. Then he proceeded to pull down his pants. He had what appeared to be underwear on, but left his shorts down around his thighs and kept talking. We were all getting pretty weirded out at this point and told him again we hadn’t seen anybody else back here. We had him terribly outnumbered, so he pulled up his shorts and moved on.

We all immediately left the area and went straight home and told our parents. I’m glad the incident didn’t go any further and the guy just seemed odd and maybe just what he did in front of us was enough to satisfy his whatever. But after that, the mothers forbade the girls from going down there anymore. Just the boys. Kinda sucked because we didn’t mind having them around that much. But it’s funny how just the girls had to stay away. Like young boys couldn’t get molested too? I’m just glad nothing happened.

There was one other similar incident once when my friend Michael and I were just hanging out on the corner of Magee and Hasbrook Aves. I don’t remember how old we were but we were pretty young. We were both sitting in a wagon. It was right on the corner near our houses. Some guy rolled up on a motorcycle and stopped to chat with us. He seemed cool and we liked his bike. I don’t remember what we were all chatting about but at one point he asked us if we wanted him to pull down his pants. We immediately knew that was weird and got the heck out of there. He rode off but we went and told Michael’s dad about it. We never saw that perv again either.

Can’t be too careful out there, kids.

Part 2 of Back the Tracks will publish next Thursday.

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

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Michelle – Chapter 24 – Last Goodbye

“When I saw Michelle for the first time, I thought, That’s the saddest girl I’ve ever seen….
and the most beautiful.”

I think this is my final entry in the long running Michelle series. 

Because she’s long gone.

I wish only health and happiness to her and her family.

 

“Do you think I can have one more kiss? I’ll find closure on your lips, and then I’ll go.”

“Maybe one more lunch and one more dinner and drinks?”

“I’ll be full and happy, and then we can part.”

“But in between meals, maybe we can lie in bed one more time.”

“One more prolonged moment where time suspends indefinitely as you rest your pretty head against me.”

You always said, “At the end of the day, I wish I could start all over and have it again with you.”

My hope is if we had “one mores,” they’d equal a lifetime, and I’ll never have to get to the part where I let you go.

But that’s not real, is it?

There are no more, “One mores.”

I met you when everything was new and exciting here in Philly, and the possibilities of the world seemed endless.

And they still are.

For you and for me.

But not us.

Somewhere between then and now, here and there, I guess we didn’t grow apart, you grew up.

I look at your beautiful face. I’m trying to memorize every lovely detail. Because I know I’ll never see you again.

When something breaks, if the pieces are large enough, you can fix it.

Unfortunately, sometimes things don’t break, they shatter.

But when you let the light in, shattered glass will glitter.

And in those moments, when all the pieces of what we were catch the sun… I’ll remember just how wonderful it was.

And just how beautiful it will always be.

Because it was us.

And we were magic.

 

 

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

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Chinese Chicken Salad

“Because of him I learned that if you’re funny, the kids on the corner won’t beat you up or pick on you anymore. Why kill the lowly jester? He makes us laugh. He entertains us. Let him live another day.”

Lawndale, Philadelphia – Mid 1970’s

When I was a kid I remember hearing my first Bill Cosby record. I don’t remember what it was called. I think it was my friend R.J who brought it over my house. But we may have listened to it on a little record player out in my garage. They were recordings of his stand up routines. When we were kids there were few places to access audio entertainment. The radio was one of the main sources, and any records our parents and older brothers and sisters listened to. That’s how we got our music back then. It was the Sixties and Seventies and resources were limited.

I think I only knew Bill Cosby from an animated show called Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids that was on TV on Saturday mornings. It was a cute show about this massive fat kid and his friends. There was always a heartfelt lesson at the end of each show. Bill Cosby even hosted the animated series. I watched it every Saturday around lunchtime.

Bill was a beloved figure in the entertainment industry. A comic who always worked clean and never blue. His stand up routine consisted of these long story pieces that were vivid and absolutely hilarious. We kids loved them. He had so many cool tales about his childhood. Chicken Heart, Ice Cream, and a trilogy about Noah and God. Just fantastic. Fun entertainment fit for everyone’s ears.

Other comics in the industry looked at Bill like he was a deity. A guy that could get up on stage for a solid hour or two and just kill with his delivery and stories. A wholesome man that was loved by millions. He was the first African American entertainer to ever star in a dramatic series in the history of television. A national treasure. America’s dad.

The First African American to Co-Star in a Dramatic TV Series

I remember for Christmas I would always get a Bill Cosby record. I remember getting, The Best of Bill Cosby, Wonderfulness, Bill Cosby Is a Very Funny Fellow, Right? and Why Is There Air? Just to name a few. All brilliant. Loved them all!

But as you get a little older, your tastes change. And this story is not about Bill Cosby.

One day my friend Jimmy Hunsinger came over and he had a George Carlin record. He was also a comedian. We had never heard of him before. I think we were all around the ages of fourteen through sixteen.

I remember Jimmy had a record by George called FM & AM. We popped it on the little green and white record player in the garage and let it roll. We had never heard anything like it. This comic talked like we did. He said a lot of curse words. Back then, most boys that age all spit, smoked cigarettes, giggled at anything remotely sexual, and cursed like sailors.

Carlin’s bits were absolutely stunning. He quickly became my favorite comic. His material was so irreverent and funny, you just lost your mind laughing at his bits. He wasn’t afraid to use the ‘whole language’ as I say.

I quickly absorbed all of his skits and could perform them verbatim. I remember the gang of big kids that hung up the corner would ask me to do his comedy for them. I would stand there and perform Divorce Game like a young George Carlin impersonator.

Because of George I learned that if you’re funny, the kids on the corner won’t beat you up or pick on you anymore. Why kill the lowly jester? He makes us laugh. He entertains us. Let him live another day.

It really worked!

I saw the power of comedy in George Carlin. Not just that he was hilarious and brilliant, but he knew how to use words and his wits to make things that were normal, really funny. He had a gift for seeing the world a bit differently than everyone else and was fearless in his delivery of the truth. Just an incredible, unique mind.

I acquired his record albums, FM & AM, Occupation: Foole, and Class Clown. All brilliant works. Writing this makes me want to go find all of those recordings and listen to them again. I bet I’ll be able to perform those bits right along with George because his words are so ingrained in my mind. (All on YouTube, no doubt)

 

Let’s jump forward to 1983. Santa Monica, California.

Now I’m twenty-one years old. I’m working at a place down by the beach on Main street called Merlin Mcfly’s. I have a previous post about it. It’s part of the California Dreamin’ series. You can read it here:

https://phicklephilly.com/tag/merlin-mcflys/

I started out working there as a cashier. I’d gotten a job there thanks to my buddy, Frank Roberts. He had worked there until he returned to his home in Belfast, Ireland. When he left I simply took his place. I would work from 4pm until midnight at the front of the kitchen ringing up food sales. I remember it was a big old upright cash register, where you would push big buttons and ring up the sales.

The Cash Register

I was making $4 an hour plus tips. When I say “tips” I mean a big jar I set on the counter with a sign on it. I would charm tips out of the customers. They would be split between me and the two cooks I worked with in the kitchen. If we each walked away with an additional five or ten dollars a night we were in good shape. That would buy cigarettes and beer.

But before Frank left the states, he told me about a thing he used to do that he learned from someone who worked there. He called it, The Moves. The moves were performed on a couple of cash food sales a night. Instead of ringing up the sale, you’d punch it in, then clear it, then simply hit the CASH button, and the register would open. This way, that particular sale was never recorded on the internal tape inside the machine. You’d take the customer’s cash, put it in the drawer and give him the appropriate change. At the end of the night when you were upstairs counting your drawer, there would be some ‘extra’ cash in there. Your drawer would be over by maybe twenty dollars. I would take that overage and split it among the two cooks. They never questioned their portion of the tips I gave them. But it was a way to skim a little extra cash out of the company and help out the hard working guys. It sounds bad, but at the time we were earning so little, a few extra bucks a night wouldn’t hurt anybody. We never got greedy, so we’d only take a little each night. This went on for some time.

There was a chef that worked during the day, named Smedley. Her real name was Brenda but for some reason everybody called her Smedley. I never found out why. I do remember she made all the soups. So pound for pound, she was the best chef employed there at the time. Her sister Lisa had recently come out from New York and needed a job. Management approached me and asked if I wanted to become a cook. I came from a world where my mommy made all of my meals for the first 20 years of my life. I couldn’t cook a damn thing. But they told me it was $5 an hour, so I leapt at the opportunity to increase my earning power by a dollar at this fine establishment. Lisa became the new kitchen cashier and ‘the moves’ went away. Too risky.

Lisa became known as ‘Lis’ the Piece’ because she was a provocative and sexually aggressive girl. She fit nicely into our rock n’ roll world. I have fond memories of my time with Lisa. There’ll be a future post about her and it’ll be quite lurid. But let me focus on the story at hand.

In the kitchen, I worked what is called the cold side, as opposed to the hot side of the kitchen. The more experienced cooks always worked the hot side. Which was primarily the grill. Burgers, chicken and steak. The cold side was less glamorous and actually a bit more complicated than the hot side. I was in charge of making all of the salads, sandwiches, anything fried, and other assorted tasks. (French brie in the microwave topped with toasted almond slices!) I remember one night after work I met this girl at a party in Venice. She said I smelled like fried food. I told her I had just come from working in the kitchen at Merlin’s and she laughed and said, “You’re cute and I love chicken strips.”

I think that’s the first, and last time smelling like delicious appetizers ever worked in favor of anyone’s romantic endeavors.

Working in that kitchen actually taught me how to become a proficient cook. It’s a talent I’ve carried with me my entire life. I’m grateful for the experience, but vow to never work in the hospitality industry ever again. It’s brutal work.

The great thing about working in the kitchen was, you could eat whatever you wanted on the menu. The rest of the staff had to eat the employee meal, and if they wanted anything better had to pay extra for it. So being a poor musician in LA, I knew that at least I would get one nutritious hot meal every day. Which is sustaining for a young lad.

I remember we had this really big guy that was a doorman. His name was Mike. Picture a good looking, muscular guy that was easily 6’6″. I think he did gigs as a stunt man. He would come up and usually order the same thing… the Chinese chicken salad. But he would say, “Can you throw a little extra chicken on that?” Of course I would always oblige, because when he came to pick it up he would grab the big wooden bowl, and drop a couple of joints on the shelf. I would stuff them in my pocket and smile. The same would go for certain cocktail waitresses we liked. They’d get a little extra something and bring us a coke spiked with rum. It’s just what we did back then to help each other. Trade and barter. I’m sure as you’re reading this, someone is pulling some sort of a move in a restaurant at this very moment.

Chinese Chicken Salad - Damn Delicious

One night, I was just working my shift and one of my favorite waitresses, a honey blonde named Colleen, came to me with some news.

“Do you know who’s sitting over in that booth?”

“I can’t really see from here.”

“George Carlin!” she whispered.

My heart began to flutter and I got really nervous and excited. Fame is a strange and unnatural thing. You experience the same dopamine drop meeting your favorite celebrity as you do when you’re about to see someone you’re falling in love with. But you don’t know the celebrity. It’s an odd feeling, but exhilarating nonetheless.

“What did he order, Colleen?”

“He got the Chinese chicken salad.”

Oh my god, he’s my favorite comedian of all time. I love him! Is he finished eating?”

“Yea. They’re just sitting there chatting.”

“Do you think I could go over and meet him?”

“Give it a shot, Chaz.”

Thinking quickly, I grabbed a guest check and a pen and headed over to the booth where my idol was sitting with his wife and another couple. I cautiously approached the table.

“Hello, sir. Excuse me. How did you like your salad?”

“It was great.”

“I made that for you.”

“Well, it was terrific, thank you.”

“Mr. Carlin, I love all of your work. I have all of your albums. I used to perform your bits like Divorce Game and Hal Sleet, The Hippy Dippy Weatherman for the big kids up the corner so they wouldn’t kick my ass. May I have your autograph, sir?”

“Of course! What’s your name?”

“Chaz.” (hands him the guest check and pen.)

He signs it and hands it back to me with a smile.

“Thank you Mr. Carlin. It’s been so nice to meet you.”

“You too, Chaz. Next time make it George.”

“Okay, George!”

And that was it. I walked back to the kitchen clutching the signed guest check like it was the Rosetta Stone. It was a magical moment in my life and I’ll never forget it.

Sometimes when someone tells me an extraordinary story, I always wonder about the validity of the details.

That’s simply not the case here.

 

That sacred artifact still hangs on my living room wall to this day. I’ll never part with it.

Thank you George Carlin for all of the joy and laughter you’ve brought to me and the world. You’ll never be forgotten.

Take it away, George…

 

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8 Things To Do When You First Meet Someone If You Want Them To Remember You Forever

We all strive to be memorable. But leaving a lasting impression on someone we’ve just met isn’t always easy.

It also isn’t impossible.

As it turns out, with the right words and actions almost anyone can create a captivating presence.

To help you figure out how to do this, we looked at the answers posted on Quora in response to the question, “How do I become more memorable when meeting someone for the first time?”

Here were some of our favorite tips for making yourself memorable when you first meet someone new.

It’s easy to stand there and let other people carry on the conversation, but you will never stick out in people’s minds if you just listen, writes Julian Reisinger, dating expert and founder of Lovelifesolved.com.

Don’t let the fear of looking like a fool keep you from speaking up and asking questions, telling your own stories, and sharing your own opinions. Go for it, and make a lasting impression.

Be blunt, slightly controversial, and completely honest.

Most people avoid saying anything controversial — especially when meeting someone for the first time — because they want to play it safe to ensure everyone likes them.

But if you really want to be memorable, you may want to make a statement … without insulting anyone or saying something offensive, of course.

“People remember extremes, not mediocrity,” writes Reisinger.

He recommends speaking up and stating your opinion firmly and clearly, even if it makes some people slightly uncomfortable or mad. This will make you more interesting — and thus more memorable.

Be a little bit unusual.

Breaking out of the cultural norm is an easy way to stick out, Reisinger writes, but try to stick out in a positive way.

For example, he suggests coming up with humorous and unusual answers to the typical introductory questions such as, “How are you?” or “What do you do?”

While coming up with scripted answers may seem like a pain, he points out that you will have to answer these questions thousands of times throughout your life anyway, so it’s well worth the effort.

Use confident body language.

Rob Riker says confident body language does more than make you look good — it makes you more memorable.

To do this, the founder of The Social Winner blog suggests having a firm handshake, standing up straight, and maintaining eye contact both while listening and speaking.

If you aren’t talking with anyone for a few minutes, then he says you should look out in front of you, rather than at the ground. “You are engaging with the world, not hiding from it,” he writes.

He also says you should “own the space around you.” This means not sitting on the edge of a bench so other people have more room than you or acting embarrassed if your arm touches someone else’s arm. “Take what’s yours without being a jerk,” he concludes.

Trigger emotions.

This piece of advice from Reisinger stems from author and poet Maya Angelou’s famous quote: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

In order to leave a deep impression on someone, you need to make them feel something … preferably something good.

How do you do that in a casual conversation? Reisinger suggests showing vulnerability, making them laugh, making a mistake and apologizing for it, stroking someone’s ego, telling stories, being helpful, or discussing a topic in a heated manner could all do the trick.

Be an engaged listener.

We mentioned earlier than you should talk, and not just sit back and listen the whole time. But when you are listening, be attentive and engaged.

“The most popular and memorable people in the world are those who give us their undivided and full attention,” says journalist Becky Blanton.

This is harder than it seems. Most people are constantly thinking of what to say next and looking for a break in the conversation for when they can jump in and say it.

Like Reisinger, Blanton says we remember how people make us feel and when you truly listen to someone, you will make them feel important — and they’ll remember that.

Smile.

“When first meeting someone, you want to be smiling,” writes Riker. “This shows that you are happy, in a good mood, enjoying life and happy to meet them. Smiling also triggers the other person’s mirror neurons which produce the feeling that their own smile would provide — a happy feeling!

Use their name.

“A really effective way to be ‘memorable’ to the other person is to use their name in conversation,” writes Kara Ronin, a social skills expert and Udemy instructor.

It tells them you were paying attention and that you care.

“Our name is intrinsically linked to us,” she explains. “Whenever we hear somebody use our name we immediately think, ‘Oh, he/she must really like me because they remember what my name is.’ Of course, you don’t want to use their name with a tone of voice that suggests you’re reprimanding them.”

 

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