SUN STORIES – Tales From a Tanning Salon, Now Available on Amazon

Yes. It’s now available on Amazon.

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

I was working at a local media company here in Philadelphia. One of my advertising clients was a tanning salon. I became friendly with the owner. He was always complaining about his staff. I asked if I could start moonlighting there for some extra income.

He immediately hired me. One shift became two, then three, and within a month or so, I became full time. I was tired of working at the media company where I was currently employed. A publication that was no longer relevant in this city. Print was basically dead… but tanning salons were hanging by a thread.

But I enjoyed working there. It was a fun job. I met a lot of great people during my time there. But with every job, there’s always challenges… and temptations.

Sun Stories: Tales from a Tanning Salon, takes you on a sunny, and sometimes dark journey of my time working there. It’s filled with funny, unique, and sometimes cringe worthy tanning stories. But there were other forces at work there. What began as an easy part time gig, slowly evolved into a story filled with love, obsession, sex, and misadventure.

When I was editing Phicklephilly 2, I had a revelation. I realized that Phicklephilly 2 was all about the relationship I was in with my girlfriend, Cherie. The love affair, the passion, and the infidelity of that glorious celebration of two people coming together.

But, I looked at Sun Stories, and saw that it ran parallel to Phicklephilly 2. It was a complete documentation of my work life during that period. Phicklephilly 2 was about my relationship with Cherie, and Sun Stories was my work life.

They’re both happening at the same time. I have to release them together.

That’s my whole life between 2016 and 2018. It’s everything. I have to release them both.

Cherie. I loved her. But after Michelle and Annabelle, I was now armed with how to navigate my future relationships. Secure myself and see what happened. I’d never enter into another relationship without my armor on.

I was working at the media company that was the last cool paper in the city. When I think about going to that publication, I think of Ronnie James Dio. He once said that when he joined Black Sabbath to replace Ozzy Osbourne, he called it, the second coming… or going, of Black Sabbath.

That’s how it felt when I joined this dying publication. I loved all of the people I worked with there, but knew the paper was doomed. It’s greatest days had come and gone. I only did it because I was about to be fired from the start up where I was working. I had such high hopes for what I was going to build with that little start up. The money was great, and I’m forever grateful for that. But they never followed through with the investors to build it out into a national site.

That site is dead now.

It was heartbreaking for me to leave them, but I’m sure the owner was relieved he no longer had to pay me. Why did he never follow through? It makes no sense. I guess I’ll never know. We could have built something wonderful. I jumped to a local free publication and made a go of it. That old publication was in a state of flux, and the changes that unfolded for that sweet paper destroyed the very thing it once was. I worked hard at what I’m good at. Acquiring accounts and building the business.

But the writing was on the wall. They had brought in a fool to run the daily operations. He systematically destroyed the advertising department at the paper. Can you imagine that? The guy gets a job to grow a struggling business and all he knows how to do is ruin it.

He did that. All of the meetings. The Monday morning kickoff meeting. The Wednesday Sales Meeting. The Thursday One on One. He should be horse whipped. He broke the spirit of everybody who worked there.

There are no clients in any of your foolish meetings you silly asshole.

How could he be such a failure as a leader when he seem like such a nice guy?

Detritus.

My father passed away, and I was fed up. I was the only sales guy on the floor. Rocco was a fixture and an account rep. He can’t sell. The new manager brought in a couple of retards, and I could see there was no future there. The place was a rotten husk.

It kind of sucks, because back in the day, I LOVED that publication and the CITY PAPER. They were god to me. If you wanted to see what was up in Philly, they were the papers you grabbed. They were in honor boxes around the city. I would always read them every week. Everything I needed to know was in those sweet papers.

But, here I was working at this anachronism. It was over. My daughter will never touch a newspaper. It’s over. It’s been over since 2008. Print is dead.

Oh, but here we go…

Tanning is dead too.

I had a client who actually spent money with me to advertise his brand. I did my best for him. I believed in his products and services. I gave my all. I came up with creative ideas because I cared. I wrote killer copy for his ads. I did what I’m good at.

I liked it so much, I went to work there to escape the dungeon of selling print advertising in a paper whose epitaph had already been written.

But I had no idea it would open a flower I had never seen before.

This is the most lurid book I’ve ever written.

So let’s begin.

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

 

 

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

My new books, Phicklephilly 2 and Sun Stories, are now for sale on Amazon!

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

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Death in Paradise: Who is Josephine Jobert? Meet the Sergeant Florence Cassel Actress

 

Love her!

Death in Paradise: Who is Josephine Jobert? Meet the Sergeant Florence Cassel actress

Meet the actress who plays Sergeant Florence in the BBC hit series Death in Paradise.

Last updated: 17 January 2019 – 6.02pm

French actress Josephine Jobert, 31, is back as Sergeant Florence Cassel in the new series of Death In Paradise.

Ahead of this evening’s latest mystery – the death of a hotel billionaire’s fiancee falls from a balcony the day before her lavish wedding – we learn a little more about the TV star.

[Read more: Who is Ardal O’Hanlon – 5 facts about the Death in Paradise’s Jack Mooney]

Death in Paradise Josephine Jobert

Why do you think Death in Paradise has become such a big hit?

It’s a family show. It’s not violent. There’s no blood. There are so many series that I like to watch, but sometimes I’m like, ‘It’s too violent’. People beating each other, saying bad words, you have blood – it’s very, very dark. And with Death In Paradise, you have the British sense of humour.

Death in Paradise

This was your first English langauge role, wasn’t it?

Yeah, this was my first time acting in English. Three years ago, I was terrified, but very excited. The lead actress, it was Sara Martins, she left the show and I was taking her place, so I was afraid because everybody’s looking at you like, ‘OK, so let’s see what you can do’.

Everybody’s judging you in a way, but the crew is fantastic. Learning my lines in French, it’s OK, I can learn pages and pages the day before, but in English you have to think about the accent. I just want people to understand what I’m saying, the rhythm, the stress on the words, you know? But now it’s my third year and I’m more comfortable and more confident.

You must find it tough to leave the island of Guadeloupe when filming ends?

Yes. It [the shoot], it’s a very long time, almost six months. It feels like we’re a little family. We don’t have the chance to go back home at night and see our family so, yeah, you get used to it. You make friends over there, so when you go back to Paris, it’s very different. I like Paris, but it’s a very stressful city. I prefer London.

Death in Paradise

You must know the island very well by now?

Yeah. It’s a small island. There’s plenty of things to do and to see, but during the weekend I just stay at home because I have a very nice villa with an amazing view. I’m not a party girl. I don’t drink. So during the weekends, I just stay home, learn my lines. My villa is my favourite place – and the gym. I go to the gym four times a week just to stay in good shape because I’m wearing lots of short shorts.

Actress Eva Green is your cousin…

Death in Paradise

That’s true. Her mother is my father’s sister and my father is white, my mother is black so that’s why we don’t look the same. I don’t know her very well. When we were children, we spent a lot of time together, but then I moved to Montreal when I was 12 for eight years with my mother and stepfather and when I came back to Paris, she was in London, already working a lot. I’m very proud of her.

Would you like to follow suit and play a Bond girl?

You know it’s funny you say that because it’s one of my goals. Everyone around me tells me, ‘You’d be a good James Bond girl’. Why not? I’ll tell my English agent!

There has been a lot in the press about lack of diversity in the industry. Have you encountered this?

Yeah, in France especially, it’s really difficult for black women and even more for mixed race women because they’re too white or too black. It’s not easy. That’s what I’m very proud of with Death In Paradise, that we have so many black actors. In France, it’s very, very difficult and nobody talks about it. It’s taboo. And lots of actors suffer because of that.

Death in Paradise is back for an eighth series! What can we expect this time round?

Death in Paradise series 8

It’s the best series since the very beginning, to me anyway! It’s very different from all the others. We have love, drama, action, new characters, amazing guest actors, as always, and it’s something I’m very proud of. Episodes five and six are especially more intense so I can’t wait for people to watch!

Where do we find Florence at the beginning of the series? Has anything changed since we last saw her?

At the beginning of the series we find out that she’s dating a lovely guy, Patrice, it’s a brand new relationship; the other characters don’t know anything about it. She’s a bit afraid to tell them because she’s not really sure yet that it’s going to be a serious relationship. Florence is taking her time and she’s waiting for the right moment. We’re going to learn a bit more about Florence this year, both within her private life and work life. She will still be that strong independent woman that she has always been despite being in a relationship, and that’s what I love about her storyline.

How long have they been together?

We don’t really know how long but it’s still new, maybe two or three months.

What does Patrice think about her job?

Patrice is really respectful and he knows that it is very important for her. Florence is very clear about the fact that it’s her career, she doesn’t want him to interfere so he needs to trust her; she knows what she’s doing. Florence wants to keep the professional, professional and the personal, personal. That’s why she’s still the same person as she’s always been.

What is the relationship like between Florence and Jack? They seem to really get on and work well together.

Florence and Jack get on so well! They are so cute together. We have a fun scene where we have a few drinks together, which I really enjoyed. I don’t drink and haven’t since I was younger so trying to remember what it feels like and act drunk was fun. Of course, we can’t drink on set so we used a mix of apple juice and water!

Can you tell us anything about the cases that feature this series?

There is one episode where there is murder in the zoo which was fun to film. There’s also one on a bus which is pretty cool and another where Patrice finds himself involved. There is an episode, where the island hosts a swimming competition and that was hilarious to shoot, running and jumping in the sea is always fun because it’s so hot in Guadeloupe!

Did you have a favourite episode to film?

It was definitely episodes five and six. I had so much fun! I remember waking up in the morning knowing I had a very intense scene to film and I was so excited. Tobi, Shyko, Ardal and I had so much fun filming this series, and the crew were great, we were filming something very different in those episodes and the set was amazing.

The scripts for each episode of Death in Paradise are full of twists and turns. Do you ever guess correctly who the murderer is without peeking at the end? Who is the best at working out who did it?

I don’t even try to, I just read the script, I want to be like the audience and follow the story as each episode develops. There was an episode last year featuring a miracle healer, I remember reading it and at the end I was like ‘no way!’ I was so shocked to find out who the killer was. It’s always full of twists so it’s very difficult to guess. I do live tweets when the show is on TV in the UK and there are not that many people who guess who the killer is. That’s one of the things that is so ingenious about the show.

Death in Paradise series 8

You’re no stranger to the Caribbean sunshine. What’s it like filming in such a beautiful place in the world?

It can be difficult. When I was 20 it was okay for me to just leave home for a month and be alone and do my own thing. Now I like to be near my family, my friends, my boyfriend. It’s a beautiful place but you do miss your family. It’s a beautiful island, with beautiful beaches. I have a lovely pool, an amazing view so I just swim in the pool, lay in the sun. I can’t complain!

What were the biggest challenges you all faced during the shoot?

Florence is a very secret character so I’ve never had to portray intense emotions such as anger or fear, or being deeply in love so for me the biggest challenge was to portray those emotions. It was great to dig deep inside and bring all those emotions out. It was a challenge but I loved it

Do you have any favourite moments from set that you can share with us?

It’s funny every day. It’s difficult to choose because anytime I’m with the cast on set we just have so much fun together, we laugh so hard it I sometimes have tears in my eyes!

What are you most looking forward to the audience seeing this series?

Two things; the first is the new officer Ruby Patterson, she is so much fun and the audience will love her. Shyko, who plays Ruby, is fantastic! She’s so adorable. I call her ‘mon petit bon bon’, which means my little candy because she’s so cute. The second is episodes five and six which is a double part episode.

Who is Florence Cassell?

Twenty seven year-old Florence Cassell has risen to the rank of Detective Sergeant pretty fast for someone still so young. But that’s because Florence is incredibly good at what she does. She’s dedicated, focused and has a great nose for sniffing out those with a guilty conscience. In short, she makes an excellent detective.

Having grown up in a house full of men (she has five older domineering brothers) she learnt from a young age that to stand out she had to learn to be assertive, to be strong-minded and, above all, to not be a pushover. And growing up in this environment explains why Florence is so good at spotting when someone is lying or hiding something. It’s because she’s seen it all before with her rascal brothers.

But aside from being such a good police officer, Florence is friendly, charming with a winningly mischievous sense of humour – qualities which have endeared her to Humphrey, for whom she has become a close friend as well as a valued colleague and someone he turns to for guidance as he navigates his love life and starts dating Martha.

Who is Joséphine Jobert

Originally born in Paris, Joséphine moved to Montreal at the age of 12 where she learned acting, dancing and singing, eventually returning to France to pursue an acting career. She comes from a family of artists. Her mother is Véronique Rouveyrollis, a photographer, musician, writer, performer and director and her father, Charles Jobert, is a director of photography. She is also cousin to Elsa Lunghini and Eva Green.

She gained notoriety playing Amel in the popular youth show Saint-Ex, nos Années Pension in 2008, and enjoyed 15 weeks in the French pop charts with a song from the show, which Joséphine sang.

Since then, she has continued her success playing long term character Alice Watson in Lightning which won the award for Best Youth Fiction Series at the TV Festival of La Rochelle and is one of France’s most widely exported series. She then landed the part of Roxanne in the popular French soap opera, Sous le Soleil de Saint-Tropez (2013-2014). She also appeared in The Judge Is A Woman, Cut!, Paroles and will feature in the next series of Villa Kariybes.

She joined the cast of Death In Paradise for the fourth series, in January 2015.

Death In Paradise series 8 airs Thursdays at 9pm on BBC One.

Missed an episode? Catch up on BT TV via the BBC iplayer app.

http://tv.bt.com/tv/tv-news/death-in-paradise-who-is-josephine-jobert-meet-the-sergeant-florence-cassel-actress-11364138050472

 

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Sarika – Back In The Widow’s Web

Surprise, surprise!

I left the salon after a meeting with Achilles about the fitness center. I wanted to hit Dan Dan, the Asian fusion restaurant and bar where my buddy, Chet works as bartender. I just wanted to unwind after a long day of work, and toss back a few chardonnays.

I was completely out of cigs, so I headed over to the nearest newsstand at 16th and Locust Street. I stood in line while a few people ahead of me were buying their lottery tickets. (Or as I call it, 401K for the poor) I realized I didn’t have enough cash so I got out of line and headed to the little store down on Spruce.

I get my smokes and I head back up 16th street. I get to the intersection at Locust street again, and who do I see crossing the street from me but Sarika! She’s smiling and waving.

I’m wondering how this is possible and it almost seems surreal. I know she looked up at me two weeks ago at Parc and then looked away. I just assumed she had read the blogs about her and she now hated me.

But here she is smiling and looking gorgeous as always. She apologizes for being all sweaty but she says she just came from a spin class at Flywheel across the street.

She still looks sexy as hell. Sweat beading on her forehead, her raven tresses askew and curling about her shoulders. I can see her nipples poking through her wet sports bra. I think this is how she would look after a session with me.

But I digress…

She’s lively and a bit out of breath. We catch up on what’s been happening in our lives. I talk about the fitness center and she goes on about how much she has had to travel lately for her job. She says she recently got a raise. She’s obviously killing it as an engineer/scientist. Brains and beauty.

I ask her if she’d like to join me at Dan Dan for a drink, but she said she’s too sweaty and gross to go anywhere. She just wants to go home.

She says she met a guy she likes. I think she said they met in Atlanta, but he lives in Florida. All of these long distance relationships. But when you think about it, in this day and age it’s not that bad. Sarika travels so much it’s nothing for her to hop on a plane and jet down to Florida for a few days. She can afford it and she’s accustomed to traveling.

I’m happy to hear that she’s doing well and not mad at me. I guess when she said she was reading my blog a few months ago she missed the stuff about her. Bullet dodged!

She says she has to go to Boston this weekend, but will be back next week. She’d like to meet up for a drink.

So I’m happy about this little twist. I’ll let sleeping dogs lie, and we’ll move forward from here.

Sarika is back!

 

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Sarika – Out Of The Web – Update

Just another pretty face…

I was just walking home from the salon. It’s been busy and Achilles asked that I help out Trish during her shift.

It’s was really warm out today. We’ve had a chilly Spring but this week the temperature really has finally risen.

So while walking home I decided to walk through Rittenhouse Square. I knew everybody would be out and I thought I’d see a bunch of beautiful women.

There were plenty all sitting outside at the three restaurants on the east side of the square. Rouge, Devon Seafood, and Parc.

So I’m strolling down the sidewalk checking out all of the pretty faces and well turned legs, and who do I see sitting with another girl and two young men?

Sarika!

I see her and she looks up at me and then averts her eyes back to who she is talking to.

She would never do that to me. She’s always nice to me and would call me over to say hello.

So this tells me one thing.

She’s read, phicklphilly!

Game over!

She’s cut me off because I laid it out there and told the truth about the lonely Black Widow.

The truth hurts.

But I’m not sad. She’s just another pretty face.

I have no use for her in my life.

What’s the point of having her around? So I can listen to her warble on about her dates and other failed relationships? I’m sure I didn’t hurt her feelings, because you must have feelings to have them hurt.

C’est la vie!

 

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Sun Stories – Corn Chips and String

Another day at the office…

I was working at the salon on a Sunday. Some times the weekends are when that odd things occur. It’s a courtesy day, and we’re only open from 11 to 4pm. I never know who is going to walk through our doors.

On this particular Sunday, a really beautiful, sexy brazilian woman walks in. She doesn’t even look like she needs to go tanning. Her skin is a rich caramel color. She has never been to the salon before. She completes the client consent form, and I put her in the system. I ask her what she’s trying to accomplish. Is she going to an event, or on vacation, or maybe just maintain her current color?

She tells me she wants to just get a bit darker, and only wants to buy one session because she has to fly to Boston tomorrow. I’m trying to figure what her deal is. She could be a model, or a stripper or a porn star on tour, or maybe she’s a high-class call girl. She could be none of those things, but it’s Sunday and my mind wanders to keep it interesting.

I ask her if she wants to do a stand up tanning unit or the lay down bed. She asks what is the strongest. For the best overall tan I recommend the stand up model. It surrounds you with fifty-two bulbs at two hundred and thirty watts of power. She accepts, and I swipe her credit card for seventeen dollars for the nine minute session. That’s the maximum time you can spend in that unit.

She goes into the room. There’s a five-minute prep time on the room for the client to prepare to tan. Undress, apply lotion, etc. When the five minutes expire, the unit automatically lights. I tell people who if they are ready sooner, they can simply step inside and press the start button.

Once she’s in the room, I set the timer and go about my business. It’s quiet this Sunday and not many people have come in. I frequently walk around the salon just to make sure there isn’t any detritus on the floor, or anything else is amiss.

I’m walking back from the beds in the back hallway and the brazilian babe sticks her head out the door of the room. It’s just off to the left of the front counter. The session must be finished. “How’d you make out?” I ask as I carefully approach. “I feel like I get nothing.” she says.

“Well, I put you in for the max time.”

She proceeds to open the door fully and she is wearing the equivalent of what appears to be three Doritos chips connected by a few pieces of twine. She’s lovely. The latina gives me a wry smile. I try to avert my eyes, but she places her hand on her hip, and repeats, “I feel like I get nothing. Can I go again?”

“I can’t really do that, Miss. Nine minutes is the max time we should send anyone in that unit.”

“But I get nothing.” Her green eyes glance about the salon. It’s empty. She proceeds to pull down the top two triangles of her tiny bikini revealing her ample, sunburst breasts to me. “See? Nothing.”

In my mind I’m thinking, “What would Achilles do? What would Achilles do??  What would Achilles do?!!”

“Um…do you have cash?” I chirp.

She turns away, her raven locks swirl as she reaches for a twenty-dollar bill on the table in the room. Her breasts swing as she turns.  There is no corn chip sized piece of fabric in the back, just a bit of string. She’s basically naked in front of me. She takes a step forward still exposed, and hands me the bill. I try to hold my gaze on her emerald eyes, but it’s a struggle.

“Okay so you do me again?” she purrs, giving me a sly smile.

“Y,yes… I’ll reset the unit to do you again…”

I go to the register and ring in another stand up session. I pull out the three dollars change from the twenty, and set it on the counter to give her when she comes out. I write a note in the system to have Achilles ask me about the Brazilian lady.

Her session ends. I hear the door open again. I slowly turn to the left. “You see? Much better this time!”

She’s completely naked. She looks the same color to me. But I now see her waxed vulva instead of the dorito sized piece of fabric that was once wedged neatly into the moist junction between her caramel thighs.

Giggling she slams the door.

A few minutes later she emerges from the room. Thankfully, this time fully clothed. (Thankfully? Who am I kidding?) She struts past the counter, grinning. “Thank you so much!”

“You’re welcome. Oh, miss! Your change?” I hold out the three singles.

“You nice man. You keep tip.” And she was gone.

I feel like I should have been the one doing the tipping…

 

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

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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)

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday at 9am EST.

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Rebecca – Chapter 5 – Cypress and the Oak

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

We headed down Chestnut Street to Mix. I love Mix. It’s just slightly outside of the Rittenhouse bubble. How can you not love a place that has a full bar and serves delicious reasonably priced brick oven pies? Sure Zavino is good down at 13th and Sansom, but I’m not going down there. Too crowded, and too expensive.

We get there and head to the back room. The front of the house looks like a regular pizza place, but you keep walking, and the back is a bar with tables. We grab a high top and look at the menus. It’s clear to me a great weight has been lifted from her shoulders. We order up and sip our beers.

Piping hot delicious pie comes out and all is right with the world.

“What’s better than pizza and beer?” She says, as we tap bottles and take a swig. “Free pizza and beer,” was my reply. She laughs and looks at me while taking a pull from her Corona. “Hey, how come you didn’t ‘Super Like’ me on Tinder?” She quips, smiling.

“What? I don’t ‘Super Like’ anybody.”

“Come on. You must have at least tried it once.”

“Don’t you only get a few of those? You can’t ‘Super Like’ everybody, or people would do it.”

“See? You know about it, so you must have done it at least once.”

“Okay. Maybe once. Now that you mention it, I may have ‘Super Liked’ somebody just to try it.”

“Do you remember who?”

“Maybe it was some really hot little Asian chick.”

“Oh, so you’re into Asian girls.”

“Who isn’t? They’re adorable and smart and nice.”

She laughs. “Did you ever date an Asian girl?”

“I did. When we first got to L.A. I did.”

“I thought you had a steady girlfriend out there?”

“I did. But it was before her. I was 19 years old. Back then the drinking age in New Jersey was 18 and I was legal, but in California it was 21 so I had to get my friend who was 21 to get all of our alcohol. So we were in a bar one night checking out some bands. He got the drinks and brought them to the table and I told him as thanks, I’d bring us some talent to the table.”

“Talent?” she inquired.

“You know what I mean. I went downstairs and met these two sisters. The Yukomatos. One was my buddy’s age and her little sister was my age. I told them we had a table upstairs and asked them to join us and they did. It was easy back then.

” So what happened? Did you guys sleep with the sisters? I think I like this story.”

“No. Well yes. My buddy slept with the older one eventually. I didn’t sleep with the little sister.”

“Why not?”

“She was in love with this older guy that she was banging.”

“Really? I like her already.”

“Oh thanks a lot, you’re happy I didn’t get any loving.”

“No. Think about why I like her…” She gives me that grin and those eyes.

“Ohhh…” I am smiling now. “So how did it all end up?”

“My buddy would ask me to leave our apartment some nights so he could throttle big sister. I remember he used to put a sock on the door knob to let everybody know it was off-limits.”

“Oh my God, that is so college.”

” Well he went to college, I didn’t, so I guess he had a move.”

“You never tried to get baby sister into bed?”

“No, she liked making out with me and stuff, but not much else. Just dating stuff, like going to record stores.”

“So nothing ever?”

“Well, we fooled around some, but she used to like this thing where I stuck my tongue in her ear for periods of time. It used to really drive her nuts. I’ve never met anyone since then that was into that.”

“So her heart belonged to some older guy, huh?”

“Yep. I think she said he was in his thirties or early forties. At the time I just couldn’t understand that. I mean, she had this young, lean rock guitarist, lion cub right in front of her. Me with my long blonde mane of hair and all.”

“Yea, but you were young and inexperienced. Maybe she wanted a man.”

“Well at the time I didn’t understand why she would want that. I was right there.”

“Well, I’m sure he had things that you couldn’t provide.”

“Oh, you mean like expensive dinners, and jewelry and stuff like that?”

” No. Maybe she wanted a gentleman that would take her to the museum, not just to impress her, but could actually appreciate the art, and talk about it. Maybe he took her to the ballet and the symphony. You don’t know. I’m sure she was attracted to you cause you were cute, but maybe she loved him, and that’s why she reserved that part of herself only for him. You might have just been her boy toy.”

“Probably. But I enjoyed being with her because she was cute and nice. I hadn’t ever kissed an Asian girl. I like things that are new and different.”

“Do you see the correlation here?” She says inquisitively.

“I do, Rebecca.”

Were these girls smart?”

“Of course, they were Asian. Their parents worked in pharmaceuticals. They lived out in Washington Hills. That’s a nice area. I’m surprised somebody didn’t call the cops when my 1969 Volkswagen mini bus rolled up, and a German and an Irishman jumped out and went into the house. Their parents were away a lot. Palm Springs and Vegas mostly. They had an intercom in their house. I didn’t even know what that was.”

“Why would someone have that?”

“It was a big house. They had money. I would get on the intercom and pretend to be their father to scare my buddy when he was upstairs in the bedroom fooling around with big sister. I would be like; “Dude! We have to get out of here! Their parents are home! Then I would do an impression of an angry Asian man hollering over the intercom that he was going to kill the dirty Irishman that was deflowering his daughter with his samurai sword.”

Rebecca lost her shit right there. She was laughing so hard she choked on her pizza. It reminded me of when I used to do funny bits at the dinner table with my Mom and sisters. I would actually try to get them to spit out their food, or even better make them laugh so hard they passed something through their noses.

“Oh my God, that is crazy. You’re so funny!” she said.

I have heard that so many times before from women. I would say it is my gift, but it is just the way my mind works. Sometimes people mistake light heartedness as immaturity or simplicity, but they’re all wrong. To be truly funny you have to see the sadness and pain of the world. It’s all time and irony. A mind that can laugh at tragedy. One who can make light of things that are painful or embarrassing is an open mind. One who can laugh at himself. It’s like all great theater. Joy and tragedy. I was so happy to make lovely Rebecca laugh. I haven’t felt this kind of joy since my ex girlfriend Michelle, when we used to talk about everything. And I mean Everything.

Rebecca was ripping into her slices. Baby was happy. She seemed liberated from tonight’s heartbreaking tale. I love to see a lady eat. I hope I can cook for her one day.

“Okay, so what ultimately happened to the Hiroshima twins?”

“Well my buddy went back to Belfast to study law to become a barrister and I kept in touch a little bit with the sisters.”

“That was the end of it?”

“Well one night big sister calls me and says that there is some great band playing at Madam Wong’s East in Chinatown. So I go, and she and baby sister are there and the three of us are hanging out. I’m burning pretty clean that night because I’m driving. Now my buddy has been gone for months. Baby sister isn’t into me at all. I’m fine with that, she’s still with older guy. What if that dude was married the whole time and she’s just his side piece? That would be crazy, but I wouldn’t rule it out. So baby sister ends up leaving and I hang with older sister. She’s a great girl, and ex-girlfriend from one of my best friends in the world. We’re living it up and dancing, and having a great time at the show. I wish I remember who was playing. But if I can’t remember they couldn’t have been that great. I’m happy to be with her and then she tells me something. She says that when we initially met, she was really liking me. She wanted me but settled on my buddy when she saw I was into her hot younger sister. I ended up making out with her that night. There was some grabbing under the table but not much else. I wasn’t that into her but she was a sweet girl. I liked that fact that she was always into me though. We both had a great time and then she went home. I never saw either of them again.”

“It’s still a good story.”

“I guess. One of many. One of the more tame ones.”

“Oh really?”

“Well I was in a band.”

“Ok, rock star, but I still liked the idea that the younger sister was in love with the older gentleman. She knew what she liked.”

“I suppose.”

“Do you go on Tinder a lot?”

“Hardly ever now. I can’t really be bothered with it. It seems so superficial.” (Bold Faced Lie. I’m writing a dating blog!)

“Me either. I’m kinda done with it. You’ve been amazing tonite. Thank you so much for seeing me, and listening to all of my woes.  I feel so much better. I’m glad I let it out. I hope you’re not freaked out by it. I know you didn’t ‘Super Like’ me on Tinder but I’m glad we met just the same.”

“Well for the record, you didn’t ‘Super Like’ me either.” I laughed to make light of this nonsense.

“I know it’s all so silly.”

“Well if it’s any consolation, Rebecca, I’m not afraid to say that I super like you now and hope I can see you again soon. Youre smart and beautiful and I’ve really enjoyed our time together. The museum was amazing because of you, and tonight has been wonderful. I’m just happy to be with you. There. Complete vulnerability, okay?”

“I know we didn’t do the Fringe Festival but  I was just trying t think of stuff to do with you and then I went through my crap. Can we plan something soon?”

My heart is soaring. “Of course. Let’s text and or call. Whatever you want Rebecca. To be honest with you I dated an actress for a while and she liked all that Fringe stuff and I kind of hate it all. It’s fringe for a reason”

“I agree. Maybe we could go to the movies. I don’t care what we see. I trust you’ll pick and it’ll be good. I’m thinking buttery popcorn and candy.”

“I’ll find something good. Maybe I can email you a few previews and we can agree on something.”

“No. You pick. We’re both busy. We’ll make it work. Let’s do a Saturday matinée and then grab drinks afterward so we can chat about the film!”

How great is this? Did I rub a lamp and did this girl come out of it?  We crushed most of the pie. She says how she’s going to be fat from eating so much pizza, but I assure she won’t gain any weight if none of her girlfriends see her do it, so it doesn’t count. Like eating Snickers bars or drinking alone. Oh, wait, that second one is something else.

The bill comes and there is some pie left and we ask for a box. I say to her how it’s funny that the first part of our second date was her story, and then part two was somehow a tale from my past. She says how she would like to hear more of my stories and is fascinated by life and different experiences. She says she would love to travel, but it’s expensive. I tell her I just got my passport for the first time. She says she likes to go to the seashore and I hold back that there is a shore house in my family a block and a half from the beach in North Wildwood. Too early. I like to play some great songs, but don’t play the hits too early. Let’s see where this is going. If it somehow progresses, I’d love to take her to the shore. Just to take a break from the city, and commune with nature by the sea. Oh, who am I kidding? It’ll look like a hooker hotel room in Jersey City in the heat of the night.

I insist on paying. Rebecca giggles and tells me I have to pay because her credit card may be maxed our from her last transaction. “Totally worth it.” She says. It’s late. She has to work tomorrow and save lives. I have to write about this. We walk outside and Philadelphia is surprisingly quiet for once. I’ve had a lovely time with this treasure. The night is clear and the buildings are familiar. I have been on this odyssey for the last ten years and all I can think of is ‘Here we go again’. But I love the euphoria of this moment. The exhilaration of new love. I know that’s what it is. No one has said it. She may not even know what it is. She has had a measure of the pain and searing anguish of love with Derrick, but here it is again. She seems interested in me and may not know what kind of animal she has caught in her snare. But I’m willing to be caught and ready to go.

“I’ve had a wonderful night with you.” She says, taking my hands in hers. She looks up at me. Her eyes are dark and full of light. I don’t question what is happening. “Thank you so much for your time tonight. I can’t thank you enough. I feel like you fixed me. I have been wearing armor my whole life and when I take it off I always get hurt. I feel like I’m safe when I’m with you.” She lifts her hands slowly and gently touches my cheeks and kisses me gently. Her kisses are soft and sincere.

That’s the difference.

There’s no faking that. Ever.

 

Stay tuned for The Return of Rebecca, Part 3 in Two Weeks!

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday at 9am EST.

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Prova – Glow of the Sun

I met Prova at a networking event a year ago. We were drinking and chatting, and I gave her my business card. I meet so many people in my line of work, if we don’t stay in touch, I’ll probably forget all about them. That’s just how life is.

One night I was working late at my desk at my advertising gig. I either got a text or a call. I answered and it was Prova. She said that I probably didn’t remember her, but she was looking for a part-time job to supplement her real job.

Prova works as a broker for a large firm here in the city. She likes to stay busy and wanted a part-time gig. I’ve done that job. It’s stressful and tough. She asked if with all my connections, could I see if anyone was looking for a bartender. I told her I would check, and get back to her.

I called her back in a couple of days, and told her a couple of places where she should apply, and drop my name. Within a week, she circled back to me, and told me that she had landed both gigs! One at a bar and one at a beer garden. She was very grateful, and we decided to meet up for lunch.

We met at Smith’s over on 19th. She’s a beautiful, spiritual Indian woman. She has lovely thick ribbons of raven hair, and killer dimples that light up her smile. Just great energy with which I can connect. She filled me in on all of the details of her life, and I did the same.

We’ve kept in touch, and met for food and drinks several times since then.

That was about five months ago and much has changed since then. I met up with her again recently at a local pub in Rittenhouse. We went on a Monday and that is 1/2 off cheese steak day. Which is clutch. You can get a cheese steak and fries for around five bucks. So we did that, and my favorite bartender there served us. Normally I don’t have any interest in eating dessert but for some reason that day I wanted it. We settled on Smores chocolate meltdown with ice cream. Just an absolutely decadent treat. Fantastic. I don’t take pictures of my food and put it on social media, but I did this time. Best part was, we had two cheese steaks, fries, she had a beer, I had a soda and we destroyed that dessert all for $17.00.  My favorite bartender told me the dessert was on her. She’s and adorable Vietnamese girl. Her name is Anna Marie. Maybe I’ll write about her sometime.

Prova loves her bartending gig and still does it a few nights a week. She has since left the beer garden, (It’s only open in the summer anyway) but has taken another job as a shot girl for a national liquor brand. She does that a few nights a week as well, and they pay her $30 and hour! She loves this new aspect to her life. She has decided to slowly hand off her client base and eventually leave the brokerage house, where she still works during the day. Would I date her? Absolutely. She’s a beautiful, smart woman. But I wouldn’t want to screw up our friendship. Plus, there has been talk of her attending church on a regular basis. If you’ve been keeping up with this blog, you’ll know I prefer my women with a “Touch of Evil.”

She has also recently moved out of her parents house in the burbs, and got a posh apartment with a roommate down on the waterfront. She loves her roommate, and says she’s a great person with which to share a place. I’m really happy for her.

Prova was telling me a funny story about a friend of a friend, that happened down in the Gayborhood. (All around 13th & Sansom) She said we should head down there one night and have a drink, and meet some fun people. I’m down for that. Who knows what kind of new stories I can get out of that night?

 

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Michelle – Chapter 7 – New York City – Saturday

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

After the magic of the Wishing Stone, things seemed to move forward in my direction. The right direction! Michelle’s 28th birthday was rapidly approaching at the end of May. People were all asking the perfunctory: “What are you doing for your birthday?” Where it’s like, great… Now I have to come up with something. But she was telling people that she’d like to maybe go to New York City for the long weekend. She knew I had lived and worked in Manhattan for the last couple of years before I came back to Philly. We were chatting about it. I asked her what she was planning. She wasn’t sure but was definitely thinking of getting out-of-town, and NYC seemed like a good spot.

Based on how volatile things had been leading up to this moment, I had my reservations about us going away together. There had been so much back and forth with us, and as much as I would love actually spending time with Michelle on a weekend day, it just seemed like for some reason it just wouldn’t happen.

It was a Friday, and her birthday was on Sunday. I had picked up a little gift bag of goodies for her and hid it under her desk while she was away from it. She was very surprised when she found it. It wasn’t anything really valuable. Just stuff she liked. I probably had a couple of packs of Parliaments in there, her favorite Orbit gum, maybe some granola bars. Just little stuff. It was sitting on her desk, and we were chatting, and that little weasel that I told you about in Michelle’s first chapter comes over. He’s like: “Oh gum, can I have some?” Michelle is like, sure. But the best part for me was knowing the following:

  1. This guy is so far in the friendzone that he might as well be a blood relative of hers.
  2. He doesn’t know the gift bag with the gum is a present from me, or that it’s even her birthday.
  3. I enjoyed watching him really struggle with the cellophane to open the gum.
  4. She’s going to NYC with me and no one at our company knows we’re an item.

Weasel realizes it’s her birthday, asks her what her plans are for the weekend. She tells him she’s going to NYC. He asks with whom? She says, “A friend,” and smiles.

The afternoon went by and I don’t remember if I walked her home, but I probably did. Either way, on Saturday I was back in Jersey awaiting her call. She wanted to get some rest and leave for New York later in the afternoon. But based on the past events I prepared myself for her to bail. I was out that day with my friend Vicky. We stopped at Marshall’s or Ross because I wanted to pick up some new shirts. I was telling her the whole tale of what I had been through with Michelle. We were in the car ready to leave the parking lot when my flip phone rang. I answered it. It was Michelle. I was expecting the worst. She said if I could come by her place around 3:30pm she’s be ready to go to NYC.

For some reason I was astounded. I told her I’d be there, and went home to pack. Vicky was very happy for me. I put some things in a bag and fired up my ’94 Taurus wagon.

I got to her building and text her. She came down with her bags. I couldn’t believe this was really happening. It was like a dream come true. Here I was seeing Michelle for the first time on a weekend. We were going to New York!  She gets in the car and asks if we can stop at the Starbucks down the street so she can get a coffee or a tea. I pull around and she goes in and gets it. I was a little annoyed because we were already getting such a late start. I wanted to get on the road, and now we were making a stop already. But it was probably just my anxiety about the whole trip in general. Since I had just come back from NYC a year ago, it was an easy drive.

It’s super expensive to stay in NYC. I knew of a nice motel where we could stay across the river in Jersey City. It’s a really quaint, clean little place. We get there and go into the lobby to inquire about a room.

They say they are booked all weekend.

“Is there another hotel in the area?” I ask. “Sure. Go north on this road a ways and it’s up on the right. It’s called the Skyline Motel.”

“Great, thanks!” We drive over and come upon something we didn’t expect. The Skyline Motel is an old place on Tonnelle Avenue. We pull into the parking lot and walk up to the lobby. But you can’t go in because it’s just an Indian guy behind a bullet proof glass like a teller window at a bank in a bad neighborhood.

“Long or short stay?” He says. Okay. When a proprietor of any motel or hotel asks that question it only means one thing. I’ll translate that for you. “Do you want the room for an hour to bang the person you’re with, or will you be staying the night with us?” We paid and he gave us the keys to the room. We went upstairs. I swear, we walked past this skinny hooker at the payphone putting her shoes on. This place was one of “those places” The whole vibe of the place was sketchy. But it was the only hotel in the area, and we would just go with it. Michelle didn’t seem to care.

Actually, the room was really clean. The bed was clean. The bathroom was all new and looked great as well. Good hotel in a shitty area. Oh, there was a mirror on the ceiling over the bed. We drop our gear and secure the room. A few minutes later we’re in a taxi to the Path train. Once there we we walk through Journal Square. When I lived up there, I used to call it Mos Eisley. Because at night, Journal Square was a den of scum and villainy.

We hop on the train into the city. It only takes about 20 minutes to get there. We get off at 32nd and Sixth on the edge of Korea town. We walk a few blocks. Manhattan is enormous. It truly is an amazing city. I love Philly more, but New York is one of the greatest cities in the world. We step into a pub and have a few drinks and some food. We’re happy and having a fun day so far. We walk up to Rockefeller Center. It’s Memorial Day weekend, so the weather is warm, and the city is a little quieter because people go away for the holiday.

We’re having a drink outside. We start chatting with this older couple that are pretty much doing what we’re doing. Just hanging, and enjoying the evening in the city. We’re just having a great time, and at some point they leave. A short time later, we look down and we see that they have forgotten a bag with some things in it. We look inside and there are some tourist looking stuff, but there is also some medicines. It’s something the man probably needs. Michelle and I in true fashion, spring into action. We may be two crazy kids on the loose in NYC, but now we’re on a mission. It’s actually a good thing that it was 2008. That’s 9 years ago. Because there is actually a AAA hotel guide in there. I flip through it and the Waldorf Astoria is circled in pen. Can you beat that?

We head over to the hotel. I’ve never set foot in there. It’s beautiful. I see all of these bottles of Dom Perignon around the lobby as if there were some sort of event there that night. I think if there is a way I can clip one of those bottles out of here I will. Michelle and I used to sometimes steal stuff back then. Nothing big, like cars or anything, but stuff like glassware from bars. I don’t even know why. We walk up to the front desk and tell them what happened, and ask if the people we met are staying there. We tell them we’re not trying anything funny, just trying to help. They take the bag and call upstairs. The people are staying there! The guy is surprised and relieved. I don’t even think he realizes that he had lost his stuff. He tells us he’s coming down. A few moments pass and he appears. We hand over the bag and he looks inside. “Well I can’t go without that! Thank you so much. Let me buy you both a drink.”

All we heard were the words: “buy” and “drink.”

He bought us both a glass of chardonnay. I think we had two rounds.  He paid for the first round and then we paid for the second. We bid him farewell, and he went back up to the room. Philly is expensive, but New York is super expensive. I think it was $14 a glass. Maybe more. Regardless, we were relieved that he bought the first round or we would have had a $56 bill plus tip. You’re looking at $60 for 2 drinks each. Nightmare!

On our way out, Michelle is admiring the bottles of Dom around the lobby. I tell her I had thoughts of trying to steal one, but I didn’t. “Do you know why I didn’t steal one?” I ask. “Because it would be wrong, and bad karma after our good deed tonight?” She says. “That’s a great answer, Michelle. It really is. But it’s wrong.” How so?” she asks. “I didn’t steal a bottle because it would have been wrong. I looked closely at those bottles on the way in. I didn’t clip one because they are all empty.”

We laugh on the way out and are feeling energized from helping someone, while being a couple in NY. I have no idea what time it is because I am so caught up in the moment. We stop at another bar. I know there are plenty of bars in NY that stay open until 4am. We’re having drinks and a great time. An hour or so later, we stumble out of the bar and back to the PATH train. We hop the train back to Jersey City. As the train rises out of the tunnel and climbs the bridge across the river, the car is filled with golden sunlight.

“We stayed out all night!” Michelle exclaims. “Great night though.” I say.

We hop in a taxi in Journal Square (Mos Eisley) and have him drive us back to the Skyline Motel. Maybe it’s too early for the hookers and junkies to be out yet. We get there quickly. Michelle suggests we pay for tomorrow night right now, because she wants to sleep through 11am checkout today. We pay the man behind the bulletproof glass and head up to our room. The great thing is, the curtains are really thick. I pull them closed, and it is once again night in the room. We get out of our clothes, but I don’t think in front of each other. She changes in the bathroom. We’re exhausted.

Sometimes we do good things. Sometimes we do bad things. Today was good. I’m just happy to be with Michelle. I can’t believe my good fortune in meeting her.

We crawl under the sheets and fall asleep.

Michelle always said: “I have so much fun with you that when the day is over, I wish we could do it ll over again.”

Tune in two weeks from now for the thrilling conclusion to Michelle – NYC – Sunday

 

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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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