James – Southgate

Phicklephilly is back and going out on the town again! I’m so happy to have some new things to write about!

We’ve been locked up for over four months. Covid and being quarantined has taken a toll on all of us. When this is over things will definitely be different. The way we work, socialize, and connect with each other.

Some of the restrictions have been lifted in our city. Food delivery’s been huge. But we can all agree we miss going out and having a drink and a bite with a friend. James and I usually try to get together at least once every other month when times are good, but that’s been impossible for the past four months.

I’ve enjoyed facetime and zoom calls during this challenging time. But it’s just not the same as real human interaction. I think one thing that this quarantine has taught us is that you find out who your real friends are. I was initially a little butt hurt when I didn’t hear from people I thought were my friends. I spoke with a close friend about this and explained to her my plight several months ago. She said, “Those people weren’t really your friends. They were simply your happy hour buddies.” She was right and that gave me clarity in regard to who I’d be spending my precious time with in the future. Those people were my ‘friends’ when I was taking them to big events where they could get dressed up and be seen. Surrounded by beautiful people, free drinks and free food. I really liked these people and thought we were friends, when in reality they just attached themselves to me like sea lampreys and basked in my light.

The lights went out back in March and I haven’t heard from any of them. Not even a “How you holding up?,” text. Nothing. When I thought back to my relationship with these so called friends, we never really hung out and did things that friends do together. I was just a free drink, fun event, and meal ticket for these folks. I know people who have worked in the hospitality industry and they agree. These people were their friends as long as they were being invited to cool events and pounding free drinks. Anyway, lesson learned and I won’t be hanging out with any of these vacuous, self-absorbed fools anymore. But I digress…

James and I have been friends for I think around seven years. I could check previous posts about this man, but I think we met for the first time back in 2013. I was with Michelle at a fashion event that he was running at the Armory here in Philly.

Found his first post:

James – Modeling Agency Mogul

You can begin Michelle’s 24 part series here:

Michelle – Chapter 1 – A Brand New Day

James and I have always loved movies. Great films as well as horrible turkeys. We just love all things movies. I consider him one of my best friends here in Philly and he’s joined the ranks of my enduring friends. He’s a cool, smart guy who runs his own talent agency.

So after four months in quarantine, we decided to throw down the gauntlet and meet up for one of our now famous, ‘Hollywood Happy Hours.’ Scheduling seems harder than ever with everything that’s going on, compounded by the restrictions put upon us by this pandemic.

I’m happy that things are happening again. I used to always have stories from my life and series going about all of the fun people in my life. (Especially all of my crazy dates!) I’ve found without being able to go out and make new stories, I turned inward and have been publishing stories from my past. I hope people enjoy them and I’d like to publish a book about them maybe next year. But things are opening up now, and I’m starting to get out again. I’m ready to return phicklephilly to its former glory as a place with fun new content from my present life.

James and I were set to meet on a Wednesday, but something happened with one of his cats and he had to rush him to the vet. $1000 later, and the cat is fine. We bumped our meeting until Thursday, but his girlfriend got rear ended in her car out in Manayunk and that caused a wrinkle in her bumper and our plans. But she insisted he still get together with me. (Thank you, Amy! Glad you’re okay.) After making sure she got home safe, he hopped in a Lyft and headed down to see me.

We met at a place about a block and a half from my house. It’s a Korean barbecue bar/restaurant, called Southgate.

https://www.southgatephilly.com/

It used to be a neighborhood dive called Tangiers. It was a beloved spot for the people of the Graduate Hospital neighborhood to hang. Cold beer, good burgers, wings and board games. You could always run into someone you knew there. But like many places here in center city… out with old and in with the new. I’d never been to Southgate because I was locked into going to my spots uptown like Square 1682 and Harp and Crown. Places where I knew the staff and got the hookup.

I love when James comes down here to Rittenhouse. I always feel like I should make more effort to go hang with him in his neck of the woods, but he says he likes to come down to center city. A place filled with cool stuff to do, and places to go, and beautiful people. I can’t understand the attraction!

Because of the pandemic, you can’t sit inside of any restaurant, but if they have outdoor seating they’re open for business. So I grab a table for two and my buddy arrives. It’s great to see him in the flesh! There he is! He lives! Within in minutes we’re settled and sipping refreshing cocktails. It was a nice evening and a welcome repose from the heatwave we’ve been in for the last month. We caught up on all things about life, his agency, phicklephilly, family, and published books. Did I mention movies? There was much discussion about all things film, past and present.

Our night started around 7pm and there’s some rule now where if you’re going to take a table you have to order food as well as drinks. I suppose the space is so limited they make their money from the food and they don’t want people taking up tables just to get hammered. I got the fried chicken; soy and spicy, and he ordered bao buns and the bibimbap. I’d never heard of either of them, but he seemed to like it. The food and drinks were delish and the staff was on point. We even had the honor of meeting the owner. A charming gentleman who came out to chat with us.

It got to be around 10pm, and Southgate was closing for the night. (Time always flies when we’re hanging out together because it’s always a lively event) We paid our checks and tipped mightily. (They need it!) We decided to head two blocks west on Lombard to another local spot called Lou Bird’s.

https://www.loubirds.net/

I’ve only been to Lou’s one time before. It was New Years Day about three years ago. I was with my friend Mary. You can check that out here:

Mary – Chapter 2 – New Years Day Brunch – Part One

Mary – Chapter 3 – New Years Day Brunch – Part Two

Since the troubles hit our fair city two months ago… race riots, protests, fires, looting and general despicable behavior by a few bad actors, I just haven’t had any desire to travel uptown to hang out. I’m tired of dealing with the homeless element, and just couldn’t look upon the destruction and sadness that has befallen our fair city. So I’ve been trying some of these places near my house with great success.

I had stopped at Lou Bird’s for the first time in so many years after I finished the final draft of Angel with a Broken Wing. This was back in mid June. I decided to celebrate by taking myself out for a cocktail made by someone other than myself. I sat at a little table by myself and lovely Sarah the server took very good care of me. I vowed after that day, that Lou Bird’s could become my new ‘spot.’

So we get there, and it’s dark but there are plenty of seats. They stayed open until 11pm so we had some more time. We found a table in the street, because they’ve roped off a section on 20th street to have more seating space. (genius!) I got a Manhattan and James had a beer. Sarah was there and she looked after our needs. I’m sure she’s even prettier without that mask! But within an hour, they started picking up the tables and it was time to go. James and I were left standing on the corner wondering what to do.

“I don’t feel like going home yet.”

“I don’t think anything else is still open now, James.”

“Can we go to your place and drink?”

“Boom.”

So we get back to the batcave and I grab some beverages. We decide of a couple of spiked seltzers, Bon & Viv make some great ones.

https://www.bonvivspikedseltzer.com/

We both do a shot of bourbon and sip our drinks. Our conversation once again turns to movies. I tell him how many bands and comedians are doing shows at old Drive In movie theaters. There are a few left still standing after so many years since the advent of home video in the eighties. Which leads me into tales of some of my adventures at the drive in movie theater that we used to go to 35 years ago in Rio Grande, New Jersey. It was amazing, and I have many memorable stories from that wonderful place. I had recently watched a terrific documentary about a drive in movie theater that’s still alive and well in Lehighton, PA. It’s about 75 miles northwest of Philly. You can find it on Amazon Prime, It’s called, ‘At the the Drive In.’

https://www.mahoningdit.com/

Since we both love film and the movie experience, James tells me he’s never been to a drive in and that we should go.

“We should go to one for your birthday.”

“I don’t know if there are any left around here. The one on in the documentary is really far away.”

“We’ll figure it out. I want to do this, Chaz.”

“Sounds like a plan.”

We wrap up the night, and I assumed it would be forgotten. I knew it’s something we both wanted to experience, but I was okay if it didn’t happen for my birthday. I never make a big deal about my birthday anymore. I just feel like I survived another trip around the sun and I’m grateful I still get to be in the world for another year!

He gets into his Lyft and another great night is on the books with my dear friend James. Things are opening up, so at least I’m getting out of the house and spending time with people I care about. I’m very fortunate to have them in my life. I love my alone time to create and reflect, but I get my energy from being around people.

We’ll see what happens…

 

 

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

My new book, Angel with a Broken Wing is now for sale on Amazon!

 

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

Listen to the Phicklephilly podcast LIVE on Spotify!

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How Can Restaurants Recover From Coronavirus?

Dining out has been one of the many social and economic casualties of the coronavirus contagion known as COVID-19. City and state governments all over the country have closed restaurant dining rooms, which were never really set up with social distancing in mind anyway. Only delivery and takeout orders are allowed for the foreseeable future.

Many restaurants have shifted to the new, hopefully short-lived reality. Many more have closed entirely. Whether they’re gone for now or gone for good remains to be seen. But for the time being most restaurant staffers find themselves unemployed, and people who might dine out under normal circumstances find themselves ordering in, if they can even find a place to take their order.

The restaurant industry is suffering, like most of the economy. But there will come a day when people will eat out again. And while the landscape will be drastically different, the experience may be strikingly familiar. Once the health crisis subsides, what will it take for restaurants to open their doors?

Jason Bowell is the assistant general manager at the Beatrice Inn, a traditional New York chophouse that prides itself on its innovative yet timeless meat dishes. Bowell has been managing restaurants for about a decade and worked in the restaurant business for the better part of three decades.

“The restaurants that are going to have not as much trouble getting back on their feet are going to be restaurants that are involved with larger chains,” says Bowell. “Restaurants that are able to pivot well enough to create a good enough online delivery business — delivery and takeout business — are at least going to weather the storm a little bit. And people that are savvy enough to understand how to work their way through getting relief from the government. There are loans being offered, especially for restaurants that are keeping people on staff as paid.”

A successful pivot, even if only to tread water in the short-term, is far from assured for most establishments. There are many factors at play.

“Places with high overhead, like large places that would normally really focus in on getting a lot of guests in and turning those guests over, they’ll be struggling pretty bad,” Bowell points out. “If your business model is based on having large groups of people in your place… your costs per square foot is going to be really hard to cover by doing delivery.”

Those costs could be anything from fixed costs like rent on the space to variable costs like electricity and other utilities. Variable costs, of course, drop with decreased usage. Restaurants sharply reduced their labor costs when governments closed dining rooms and eliminated it entirely if they opted for hibernation. After all, as Bowell points out, “the most important difference between a restaurant that’s going to succeed and one that’s not going to succeed is whether or not you can cover your current costs.”

While reducing or eliminating labor costs may bide time in the short-term, those tactics will also make re-opening that much harder when that time finally comes. “I don’t see the point of not employing people, being in business if you can. If you’re not, not only are you going to have a really hard time not completely folding while the restaurants are closed, but also getting yourself back up to speed when you’re actually allowed to start taking people again.”

Having a staff ready to go when the economy opens its doors again could be the difference between a strong comeback and a dismal end. “It’s about staff retention,” Bowell bluntly puts it. “If I retain my staff, I could probably be open in four or five days. And that’s just to make sure that we’re getting all of our product in and that we’re prepping everything and all the things we need to have ready to go for service are ready to go.”

Not retaining staff means using time for hiring and training that might otherwise be spent serving, and making money from, the public. Another potential hurdle is restocking restaurant kitchens with ingredients.

“You’re going to have a lot of people ordering a lot of stuff really quickly,” says Bowell. “And that’s going to cause issues getting product from point A to point B if you’re having huge, massive orders come across your board. Keep in mind, you make those orders for all that food, it’s all perishable. So it’s all about timing. Restaurants are going to have to wait until they’re stocked up, until they’re prepped and then take a day to open. It might be staggered when those restaurants are opening.”

The few restaurants that can stay open, retain staff and ramp up quickly, can expect banner days as all the pent-up demand fills the marketplace. Diners should expect a far different landscape, however, with fewer dining-out options. According to Bowell, “a lot of those places that shouldn’t have been open, that were on the cusp, are going to be closed. So all the restaurants that are still open are going to benefit from that for awhile.”

The in-house dining experience may largely return to what it was before the pandemic, and restaurant scenes everywhere will find some sort of post-coronavirus existence. But Bowell doesn’t see the world returning to the way it was. “I don’t think there’s ever a normal again after this, because this is really rewriting the way all restaurateurs think about their businesses. It’s going to be a different playing field. I think a lot of people learned a lot of lessons about how their businesses run during this thing. It’s going to change the way they run their businesses right now.”

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

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Servers Share The Worst First Date They’ve Ever Witnessed – Part 2

Why She Loved That Waitress

I was the person on a terrible first date.

It was unusual because he picked a very fancy location that was way out of town (like an hour drive), I normally prefer casual dates like walking in the park, or coffee but he insisted we go.

I arrived first and when I sat down I ordered a drink (strawberry lemonade I don’t drink alcohol) and was talking to the waitress saying I was waiting on a date, she was super nice to me and said “oh I hope it’s fun good luck!”

Once he arrived suddenly her mood shifted, she gave him an attitude when he ordered. He was trying to bully me into getting some alcohol but I was firm and said I would stick to my strawberry lemonade. Throughout the date he kept trying to order me vodka.

Waitress was being really weird and kept complimenting me and giving me free lemonades, refills every two minutes and basically giving him dirty looks and stayed close by always watching. The guy was being a prick about the situation and started acting rude, “I hope she’s not gonna charge for those.” He looked incredibly angry and uncomfortable.

I was starting to wonder why this waitress was being so mean so I went to the bathroom and waited to flag her down.

She told me he goes there every other weekend with a new girl and that the girls would walk out of there acting very drunk.

I did confront him and he admitted he gets girls drunk to sleep with him with pressure tactics. I took off right when he said that and the waitress took me to my car, I made sure to give all the cash I had as a tip.

I seriously love that waitress, and I’ll never forget her.

Blasted Racist

Not a server but a bartender. My girlfriend was serving an obvious first date and they were ordering an alarming amount of drinks with 30 minutes of sitting down, I ask my gf what was going and and she said the girl was doing all of the shots they ordered. I walked from behind the bar to the bathroom purely to check in on the situation and good lord this girl on the date was blasted and just dropping the f-bomb every other word.

Eventually the chick went outside to smoke and the dude B-lined to the bar and asked if he could give me money for the waitress and sneak out (actually gave $200 for a $70 tab so nice)…the girl came back in and ate the food they ordered then tried to order more drinks. Had to throw her out and she started calling me the n word. I’m very much a white dude. Bizarre night that my girl and I still talk about years later.

The Hipster King And His Moral Mountain

Oh yes! I’ve got the mother of all hipster dates!

So I was at Father’s Office, it’s kind of a trendy beer /hipster/ amazing food/ show that is wall to wall packed every night.My friends and I are enjoying what could possibly be the best burger ever made. I’m drinking a beer.

This place is set up kind of strange. You have 2 bars along the back wall, some tables in the middle for dinner and a ring of booths around the rest of the bar. Not a lot of room to move around or really have private space. It didn’t really bother me because I was having an orgasmic out of body experience with this burger.

Until in walks the king of all of the Los Angeles hipsters…

This guy had every article of hipster clothing on. That stupid Amish hat, the fruit pattern button up shirt sleeve shirt, the swacket (sweater-jacket), burgundy corduroy pants, and yes deck shoes. His face was adorned with your typical hipster add ons; the septum piercing, gauges, those awful Harry Potter glasses, patchy stubble and a 80’s porn star mustache. Bracelets clanking off his Apple watch he saunters in to the bar and plops himself in the booth behind me. My back is to his back, and I can feel the Mumford and Sons rolling out of his soul.

He orders some nonsense beer and begins to make “work” calls on his ridiculous watch… in a bar loud enough to bother my deaf uncle. So pretentious. His voice sounds like the Chipmunks smoked camel unfiltered’s and drank wild turkey. I am immediately in hate with this walking skidmark on the underwear of society.

That is until the crowds around the bar part and in walks the most incredibly attractive ordinary girl I’ve ever seen. I know that sounds confusing but just think about it. We’ve all seen someone like that before, nothing really special about them… But all of the normality is just perfect. She is wearing jeans with a black v-neck shirt. She is rocking some really nice Jimmy Choo’s (yes I know what those are don’t judge me) I can tell she just got done with work because she has that “I want to go home and make love to my bed” look.

She smiles at our table as she walks by and then very sensually slides into the booth with the hipster King. My friends and I give each other that “here comes the show” look. He introduces himself, she introduces herself it’s fairly normal conversation.

Then she asks what he does for work and the gates of hipster hell open. Apparently, he is the most accomplished man in the entire city of LA. He is a writer, a director, an actor, a vegan food expert, wine expert, tech genius who makes million dollar apps as a hobby, has a charity, and most importantly is involved in the weed industry. He says all of this in the most condescending tone possible; like she could never measure up to his incredible portfolio.

My table is struggling not to laugh as we listen to this modern day million dollar man tell this girl that he is probably a way better human being than she could ever hope to be. How he is totally down with black lives matter, how he donated buckets of money to Hillary Clinton’s campaign. His moral fiber is so strong that scientist are trying to use it to catch meteors.

Now at this point I can’t see her face, remember she is facing my back. But I have to see how she is reacting to this guy’s PR interview… so I very casually stand up to stretch… and as I put my arms out I turn my head to look at her. She has this look of confusion sprinkled with disgust and a little dash of just being done with this entire situation. I unfortunately catch her eye and we link telepathically. Her eyes are saying “Can you believe this?”

My eyes respond “I’d save you but I don’t want his words touching the air around me.”

I finish my stretch and sit back down. My friends are giggling like a bunch of girls drunk on box wine. He is rambling on about how corporate America is responsible for all the evils in the world. I hear a very loud sigh and she finally says:

“Look my friend set this up, I’m really tired from work and I don’t want to sit here and watch you build this moral high ground mountain that you’re apparently so intent on building. Have a great night best of luck.”

You could hear the air leaving this man child’s body as she got up and walked away. Disappearing into the crowd like a victorious warrior.

But that wasn’t the end!

He gathered his thoughts and started making calls on his watch as loudly as possible so everyone could hear how important he is. He sat at that table nursing that one beer for an entire hour. Just being an in-the-way person, a person so repugnant that the wait staff didn’t even come to his table. Oh and the cherry on top of the douche Sunday? He only tipped 10% on his bill.

Pokemon

Couple years ago, I was tending bar at a high-end steak joint. A pretty brunette walked in and sat down at the bar. After fixing her a cocktail, I asked if she’d like to see a dinner menu. She explained that she was waiting for a date.

A few moments later, the guy arrived carrying a large bag.

It was immediately obvious this date was their first. Their conversation was lurching from forced to downright painful when he reached into the bag and pulled out an album containing…

…his Pokemon card collection.

He set the book on the bar and thumbed through each page, thoroughly and lovingly describing every card, attempting to educate his date in the ways of Japanese pocket monsters. I’ll be fair to the guy – dude was passionate.

She feigned an emergency and called her friend to pick her up. He stayed and ate a plain hamburger at the bar. Both of these people were in their mid-30’s.

 

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

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California Dreamin’ – 1982 to 1984 – Merlin McFly’s

In June 1979, a bar “with a magical theme” opened in Santa Monica. It was called Merlin McFly’s and was notable for its décor: nine stained glass windows depicting Merlin, Aladdin, Houdini, a fire-eater (below) and other notable names from the history of magic and sorcery. It was part of a chain of bar/grills across California, the other “family members” – Maxwell, Maestro, Maggie, Sly and Sky – also offering imaginative décor (heavy on the stained glass windows of course) and definitely looking to entertain their customers.

I worked there in 1983, first as a food cashier for the kitchen. I’d take the food orders, ring up the sales and pass the ticket to the cooks. I later was trained as a cook, and for the first time in my life started cooking meals. Before I came to Cali, I lived with my parents so all of my meals were cooked by my mom or I ate out somewhere. Usually fast food.

But this is really where I learned to cook. I still consider myself the “king of the fire pit grill.”

I remember there were two managers. I think their names were John and Renee. I don’t know if either of them had spouses but I know for a fact they were doing plenty of coke up in the office and were totally banging each other. (Caught on occasion ensures gainful employment)

Oh, there was this other guy that managed for a short time. He was a fat clown. I remember he went on a game show, called Dream House. You could win a house if you crushed all of the questions. He’s bragging to the whole staff about when he’s going on the show and tells us all to watch him win. We’re all like… whatever.

So the day comes, and we all crowd around the TV set in the office. He’s on there looking all goofy and cocky and they ask him this question: “If you fed a cow cocoa beans, she would give chocolate milk.”

Him: “I agree.”

And like that he was off the show. In and out. We ripped him apart when he returned to work.

There were roaming magicians in the restaurant and would come to your table while you ate or drank, and would do close up magic for you and your guests. It was such a cool place to work.

The wait staff were all hot women, that were dressed all in black. Tight lycra low cut body suits. Stockings, either fishnets or nude. They all wore a black skirts that revealed one of their legs. (Of course it was my mission to work there) They all looked like magician’s assistants.

I remember this especially hot one. Heather was a tall blonde that everybody loved. She looked like my ex girlfriend Michelle but 24 years old and long blonde hair.  It was my birthday and Heather walked up to me and French kissed me sensuously on the lips. I was shocked and stunned and turned on all in the same moment. Everybody loved it and laughed as I limped back into the kitchen. Nothing ever happened but it’s just something Heather could get away with anytime she wanted. Like a tigress that couldn’t be caged and lived by her own rules.

One night I was emptying the dirty fat from the fryer. This was done by attaching a nozzle to an opening on the lower part of the fryer. Then I would get a big metal pot. Huge. Two feet tall. Like a huge metal bucket with metal handles on the side. I’d stick the metal pot under the nozzle and then turn on the spigot. This was done a few nights a week. The oil would get dirty and you have to change it so your fried foods don’t come out all brown and gross. Those fries need to be crisp and golden!

So I’m letting all of this hot oil empty out of the fryer and into the big pot. It’s the end of the night and the kitchen is closing. It’s after midnight. The fryer has been off for a bit so the 350 degree oil has cooled down. Plus it’s dirty, so it will cool faster because it’s not as pure as fresh fat.

As you know, metal is a great conductor. So when the oil enters the pot it heats up the metal. You have to put towels around the two handles on the side to carry the pot. When it’s full, you have to pick it up, and carry it through the slippery floored kitchen and through the dish washing section and out the back door to outside. This thing is very heavy, awkward to carry, and is filled with hot oil. I hate this part of the job more than any other part.

I get the pot outside and I have to pour the hot contents into a big metal upright barrel. Usually that goes with out a hitch.

But not tonight. I leaned the big pot against it and started to pour it in the barrel when the barrel tipped towards me and the contents of the barrel splashed back into my face!

I’m freaking out. It’s burned my face and gone in my eyes, and I call for help.

The good news is. It had rained earlier so there was a load of cool water down in the bottom of that barrel. So that cooled the oil down from whatever nightmarish temperature it was was when I carried it out here. So I was okay, but I couldn’t see because the oil had gotten in my eyes. One of the Mexican dishwashers came out to help me get inside.

The manager and one of the waitresses, Holly came over and sat with me. They cleaned me up and asked if I was okay. I could see just fine but my face was a bit red but I’d live. They asked if they could get me anything. (Thinking about it now I think they were afraid I’d sue or something) I told them I wanted a 151 and coke. Done. I was all better.

We had this huge doorman named Mike. When the employee meal went out I always gave him and extra load of whatever was on it. Extra chicken, steak or whatever. I would call his name to come pick up his meal and he would always smile and drop a couple of joints next to the plate on the rack as he picked it up. It was like one fluid moment. Hand off plate, joints dropped, snatched, and slipped into my pocket. Thanks to Mike there was never a shortage of weed.

I would do the same for a few of the girls that worked there and they would bring rum and cokes to me and the other chef. So even back then I knew how to get the hookup. Learned from the best…my Dad!

I’ll write in other posts about my celebrity meeting at this fun establishment.

The great thing about doing a bunch of different jobs in your life is, it gives you a different perspective on life and you really do learn a lot of skills in a variety of environments.

A Merlin McFly’s advertisement promised it was a place of “madness, magic and friendly spirits” and that their menu offered the delights of their “mystic burgers” and “wizard ribs”. “Fun is the password” said another in 1984, which had a hand-drawn picture of “P. Eye McFly” and report of the “The Great Restaurant Mystery”, an “investigation” into the McFly’s family tree and their restaurants.

By that time though, Merlin McFly’s was having some trouble. (I was gone by then so I missed all of the trouble.) There were local problems with drug dealing, the city of Santa Monica had an ancient licensing rule about “Dance Halls” that meant McFly’s theoretically had to impose a cover charge, and then there was the issue that hit many singles bars very hard: the rising awareness and fear of HIV and AIDS.

When the bar closed, there were dozens of calls when it was announced that the windows would be on sale – at a price of $325,000. Steve Spill at the nearby Magicopolis magic theater bought the windows a year or two later and then sold them to a collector who put them in a stained glass museum in Washington, DC.

Today, Sly McFly’s in Monterey is the only one left, and their website’s amusing “story” of aspiring race car driver Sly mentions how he finished second at the Trophy Race in Ulster – a connection to Finn McCool’s Irish Bar, which is owned by Belfast-born Geraldine Gilliland and is now at that spot on Main Street.

Geraldine wears funky glasses and has long, red hair, and originally started out working at a restaurant in her native Northern Ireland. She grew up during the early days of “The Troubles” – “I used to fall to the kitchen floor when the bombs started going off” – and like many others she moved away, eventually finding herself in Los Angeles:

“I found LA very exotic – they spoke a different language, even though it was English! It was very scary actually – I didn’t know anyone at all, (but) I fell in love with Santa Monica after I drove from New York. When I saw the beach I cashed in my Greyhound bus ticket and my return ticket to Ireland too.”

As soon as she arrived, she started working over the grill and has continued ever since. Gilliland’s Cafe opened its doors in 1984, and she began her own catering company soon after. It was an immediate success, providing Christmas puddings to Bloomingdales, Dean & Deluca and Balducci’s in New York, but it was her mix of California and Irish cuisines that really established Gerri’s reputation on a national scale.

The cantina-style Lula Cocina was next in 1991, and 1994 saw Jake and Annie’s American-Irish Café, which eventually become Finn McCool’s and officially opened under this name a few days before St. Patrick’s Day in 2002.

As for any ghosts or strange stories, Spill hadn’t ever heard anything about Merlin McFly’s, but Gilliland – who has now been here for nearly 20 years – had:

“There were ghosts in the bathrooms. It was said that every time you washed your hands and looked in the mirror, an apparition appeared.”

The bathrooms at Finn McCool’s are in the same place as they were when Merlin was weaving his spells, but after emailing John Forbes at Bonny Doon Art Glass I found out exactly where the ghosts came from:

“The bathrooms had special effects in them; the mirrors were one-way and when the lights in the bathroom dimmed, the light behind the mirror came on illuminating the figure of the “ghost”. It made for startling looks on people’s faces as they saw the ghost figure appearing in the mirror!”

There was no further archival evidence of any strange events or stories here, so it seems that since this ghostly story has an earthly explanation, you’re safe in the smallest room. Still, it’s kind of a shame that the “ghost” special effect isn’t there anymore.

Forbes also recalled the Merlin stained glass image:

“The back bar had a stained glass image of Merlin and at midnight lasers would turn on, shooting red beams across the room – it looked pretty cool as it pierced through the drifting smoke. Wow, that took me back! Merlin’s was a really fun project, a lot of creative energy.”

Here’s a pic of an original menu done by the great AWEST.

 

I’ll never forget my time at Merlin McFly’s!

 

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Cherie – Chapter 1 – Love At First Swipe

“She has youth and beauty, and as I’m finding out about myself, I’m bored with anything else. She fits the criteria. Young. Attractive. Slender. She seems intelligent. Articulate. Good communication skills for the most part. Likes scary movies and thrillers. Getting her education. Works two jobs. What could go wrong?”

I was literally about to begin writing this, and I just got a text from Cherie, so I hope that means something. I’ve responded back with “You must be psychic! I was just thinking about you.” (I was thinking about her because I was just about to write the first half of this very chapter.)

We swiped right on each other on Tinder. Cherie is a 26-year-old attractive, fit, black woman whose zodiac sign is Scorpio. When we first connected I sent her a simple, hello. She got back to me and said she was doing well, but she sitting in a boring class. She’s apparently studying developmental neuroscience. Once the small talk and pleasantries were dismissed, I asked her my standard question. “What prompted you to swipe right on my profile?”

She expressed that she liked the things I wrote in my bio. She said she likes to laugh and dine out, and like me, she’s a good listener. That’s pretty standard fare so far. Everybody likes to laugh and go out to dinner.

I truly hope that she’s a good listener, because I like to talk.

Then she asked me the same question. I told her that she seemed like an intelligent person who wanted to do big things. I really just read her brief profile about her being a neuroscience and psychology major, that had high dreams and aspirations, and spun it back to her in my own words.

I’ve heard from several of the women I’ve spoken to on Tinder that many times when they connect with someone, there is this long period of texting. Sometimes it doesn’t materialize into anything. Since I’ve operated in the real world my whole life, I like to establish things soon, and try to get a meeting. Sound like I’m in sales? I am. Depending on the client you always want to close as soon as possible. Keeps your numbers up and your pipeline full. So I move right in and ask her if she’s like to meet up for a drink sometime.

She thanks me for the compliment and agrees she has big dreams. (I know, I read it on your profile.) She says that having a drink with me sounds like a great idea. That was fast. My next response was positive affirmation and my cell number. She says she’ll send me a text.

Now, that looks like it happened very quickly but it actually didn’t. I was living my life all day, and she was probably in and out of classes and whatever else. That brief and pointed exchange began at 9:45am and ended at 3:30pm. Five and a half hours later! Now I just had to wait to see if she was going to text me.

Within moments she did. We continued our conversation off Tinder. She went on to tell me that she works as a medical assistant at a hospital, and also works at a pediatric office! 2 jobs and school? Wow! I tell her briefly my stuff, and she goes on to say that she loves her jobs because she gets to help people, but they can be stressful. I then hit her with how I get my energy from people and enjoy bringing people together personally and professionally. She likes that, and reveals that she’s a shy person at first but then she opens up after a bit.

I try to get her out for a Wednesday night drink.

I don’t hear from her for the rest of the day. She finally gets back to me and apologizes for the silence. She had a very long day with school and work. She re-affirms that she’d like to meet me for a drink, but she works late on Wednesdays but the weekend is probably better. I tell her I’m free Saturday. She’s available in the afternoon. I lock it down for 2pm Saturday. I tell her I’ll pick the spot. She thinks that sounds great.

That was early in the week. A lot can happen in 5 days. So I ping her Wednesday just to keep the current going. We participate in some light banter about the weather and our days events.

I ask another one of my standards: “What do you like to do when you’re not working or studying?” She likes movies, dining out and dancing, etc. I tell her I’m a former musician and not much of a dancer, but love movies and dining out too. I want to know what kind of movies she likes because that would be a splendid second date.

She likes scary movies and thrillers. I tell her I like the same. (I actually like a myriad of film genres but for this exchange, liking the same thing she likes works) I follow with “Let’s go to the movies together soon!” See what I did there?  I’m actually setting up a second date with a woman I haven’t even met for the first time yet. I’m reading her responses. She’s smart. I don’t ask or suggest, I simply say: “Let’s go see a movie together soon.” She responds with, “That sounds like a great idea. Notice how she uses the word “Sounds?” She is a good listener like she said. It reminds me of a thing that my ex-girlfriend Michelle does when I talk to her. She stays attentive to what I’m saying and usually mirrors my words back to me in affirmation. I like that Cherie is doing the same thing. Michelle does that all the time. (See: Michelle – 2007 to Present – A Brand New Day) I love Michelle for that. and she doesn’t even know about her gift. (Ordoes she?)

Cherie says she hasn’t seen too many commercials for scary movies lately. I tell her I’ll look into it. She responds that she thinks that’s nice. I like her manners already. I just hope that if I take her to a scary movie she doesn’t start yelling things like: “Don’t go in there!” or “Get out the house, fool!”

I’m going to go ahead and apologize to everyone reading this in advance for that last bit.

It’s getting late. As a gentle reminder, I tell her she seems really cool, and that I’m really looking forward to meeting her on Saturday.

Crickets.

But at 7:30 the next morning I get a mirrored response. “Good Morning. Thanks you seem cool as well. I’m looking forward to meeting you.” I simply respond with a smiley face. Which brings us back to tonight when I began this chapter. As I finish this part she has responded. “Lol, I highly doubt I’m psychic but thanks. It’s a busy but productive day as well.”

The date is supposed to happen on Saturday. We’re supposed to meet for a drink. It’s Thursday and there is some small talk texts leading up to it. I want to keep the embers glowing until we meet. We chat about our days, and what shows we’re watching. I ask her if she is a beer, wine or a cocktail girl. This way I can gauge where we should meet. She says she’s a beer girl. Then she says she doesn’t really like alcohol and then says: “What about you?” I tell her I enjoy an occasional drink socially. (A bold-faced lie) I ask her if she’d rather meet for brunch instead of a drink on Saturday.

She chooses brunch. I ask her if she has any dietary concerns. She says no, but she is a really unhealthy but picky eater, and thanks me for asking and do I have any. I tell her I can eat anything. So I ask her if she has any preferences. She loves seafood and breakfast food. That sounds perfectly fine to me. I thought of several places I could take her, but went with my go to: Square 1682. The staff knows me. The food’s great, and the service is on point. She can have seafood or breakfast food and so can I.

Friday I text her a “Happy Friday” meme around 5pm. I tell her I look forward to meeting her at Square 1682 for brunch Saturday at 2pm.

She replies: “Where is that at?” I wanted to reply: “I keep forgetting that I am the only one on Earth with iPhone technology because I came from the future, and I also don’t end my sentences with prepositions!” Of course I don’t.

But I do say: “Here, let me google that for you.” And send her a screenshot of Square 1682’s webpage from my phone. She thanks me like nothing happened, because to her, technically nothing did. She closes with: “I’m looking forward to meeting you too.” (Redeemed)

So far just texting her, I like this chick. I’m really looking forward to meeting her Saturday. She seems really sweet. I just pray that she isn’t just meeting with me for free food and drinks. I mean, that could happen. It’s happened before. She is a student. But she has youth and beauty, and as I’m finding out about myself, I’m bored with anything else. She fits the criteria. Young. Attractive. Slender. She seems intelligent. Articulate. Good communication skills for the most part. Likes scary movies and thrillers. Getting her education. Works two jobs. What could go wrong?

 

 

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Antonia – Possibly a Mob Front?

“The square shaped balding man burst through the kitchen door with two glasses of water for us, and in a very loud and deep voice, he explained that it was his birthday, and we would eat what he felt like making us.”

Well, this one time I took my friend Antonia to dinner at (what seemed to be) a front for some type of illicit activity.

She had just moved to a new area, and we wanted to check out the local shops and restaurants. While we were wandering, we stumbled into a tiny Italian place. Back home, the small hole-in-the-wall restaurants always have the best food, so we were excited to give it a shot. Big curtains were covering the entry windows, so we had no idea what was inside until we trudged through the door.

Inside, we were met with emptiness and silence. We both immediately thought the place was closed, and I spun around and searched for the store hours posted somewhere on the door. While I was looking, we heard a heavy THUD as a young woman barked “I’ll be right with you!”

She appeared, greeted us confusingly, and asked us ‘what she could do for us’. Which, looking back, is probably a red flag. But we were naive and hungry, so we said we were there for dinner. She looked puzzled but motioned us to follow her to a booth right by the entrance.

She then disappeared into the back, and we heard a muffled conversation between our hostess and a man. The consensus was basically they were not prepared for us or didn’t know how to proceed. I asked my date if she wanted to split, but she insisted we stay for the story.

The square shaped balding man burst through the kitchen door with two glasses of water for us, and in a very loud and deep voice, he explained that it was his birthday, and we would eat what he felt like making us. We whole-heartedly agreed.

We waited around thirty minutes, and he again returned with three large bowls of spaghetti and meat sauce. He placed two bowls in front of us, and one next to me for himself. He sat with us and ate. We had light and awkward conversation with him during, and he kept asking us jokingly if we were cops or with the health board. He was incredibly nervous about us, so my date kept cracking corny puns or awful jokes because he would forcibly laugh at anything designed with humor. We talked about our lives, the cities we’ve lived in, our pets (he had a teacup Chihuahua named Princess) and his wife.

He decided we were good people and didn’t charge us for the meal. We wished him a happy birthday, he hugged us, and we went on our way. Easily the best spaghetti I’ve ever had in my life. The restaurant, unfortunately, no longer exists.

 

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Marisa – Part III – Lost in the Translation

One man’s quest to find love in this city

Marisa gets back to me in regard to my arrival at the restaurant. The lunch is set for 1pm.

Let the madness unfold here…

12:45

Me: I’m at the restaurant and our reservation is for 1pm

12:51

Her: Hey Ok, I’m gonna be there.

Me: Ok. (smiley face and thumbs up)

(She’s lost.)

1:00

Her: Hold on.

Me: Ok

1:22

Her: Hey where is actually. the hotel.

(Hotel? What? Why doesn’t she know where the place is? I’ve given her the name and address three times.)

Me: 18th and JFK Blvd. Right on the corner.

1:23

Her: the restaurant

Does she have a flip phone?

Me: Where are you? Yes. (Name of restaurant)

Her: Ok. Sorry. Walking. Cause. I’m.

Me: Ok. Where are you now? I’ve been waiting here for half an hour.

1:27

Her: I was lost. I’m sorry. I’m walking now.

Me: Where are you now? Ok

Her: I went the other side.

On the other side? The other side of what? The city? The Earth? Has she died and gone over to the other side and is texting me from beyond the grave?

It’s been forty-five minutes now. I have asked her three times now what her present location is, and she hasn’t responded with and answer. Where the fuck is she? I can walk from Penn’s Landing back to Rittenhouse in forty minutes.

Me: Ok. Where are you now?

1:35

Her: Near by

(Nearby what???? I hate lateness. As I said above, that was drilled into my soul by my father.)

Me: Near what? What is the cross street of your present location? ???

(I hear nothing but the familiar roar of frustrating crickets.)

I should fucking leave. On top of all, of this there are two assholes that have been sitting at MY table for over an hour and a half. They finished eating a half hour ago and are just dawdling.

I hate everyone now.

Except Mary. She doesn’t know this is a date with a young Filipino delish that looks like it’s not happening.

I haven’t heard anything from her. It’s been an hour that I’ve been waiting and texting this idiot.

Marisa stood me up.

It’s now nearly 2pm and I have been here for over an hour. I tell Mary I’m just going to leave and tell Marisa I have other appointments and I can’t wait around anymore. Mary agrees. I tell her I am very busy, but I miss her and want to see her. She is her usual self and feels the same. The thing with Mary is; she has never been married, no kids, so she isn’t romantically minded. She actually is unable to be lovey and flirty at all. She explained this to me on one of our dates. I understand. This tells me that I can either remove her armor or simply be the man who opens her up.

“I’m not a player” she says.

I ask her to explain. Mary says that she’s not used to being in the game anymore. “It takes me a long time to warm up.”

“There are other ways to warm you up, Mary.” I smile, and look away.

It’s all very interesting to me how I am now. I want her, but if I never saw her again, I’d be just fine. I see me in her apartment, watching movies with her and us kissing, and then me taking her. This is new to me. I normally have spent my life with younger women. Maybe now that I’m spending time with some of these older women, the scale has shifted, and now I’m the jewel.

I tell her that we should go to Doobies (awesome dive bar) and get some cheap drinks and food and catch up. She agrees. I tell her I’ve never left a restaurant because of a delayed or failed client. She says, “Tell them you were here and had to go meet other clients. It’ll put you in a position of strength. They were late or cancelled, and you were here on time. You were on point. They blew it. Now they owe you.”

Mary’s great.

I leave and head over to 17th and Market. I was supposed to have eaten lunch an hour ago. I head for my favorite hot dog street cart. I’m done with this chick. I order a grilled dog from the cart. I go for the brown mustard of course. I don’t need a bag. I’m going to ram that burnt crispy dog into my open maw like a baby Caiman.

I decide before my two afternoon appointments that have now been compromised by this silly, scatterbrained girl, I’ll stop over at the salon and commiserate with my partner, Achilles. I get there and rage out on how frustrated I am with these idiots. He agrees and comes back full force. We’re a good team.

Then this text comes in when I am at the salon. Remember, I got there at 12:45 for our 1pm lunch. It is now 2pm.

1:55

Her: Hey I’m here a cross. What is the restaurant. Name. I’m calling you. I’m here. Hi. Are you still here. Are you. Still here.

2:03

Me: I left

Her: Pls. Reply. Still here.

Me: Are you really there?

2:05

Her: Yes. Misconduct tavern. ? I’m here. Where are you

Me: Ok. On my way.

I jump in a taxi and head back to the restaurant. At this point I’m just doing it for the blog.

Her: I cannot.

Me: Cannot what?

Her: Use. The phone. To call now. I cannot. I was using. Someone. Phone. Ok.

2:08

Me: I’ll be there in 2 minutes

Her: K. I’m in restroo

I walk back into the restaurant

Me: Ok. I’m at the table.

Her: Ok

Goddammit.

 

Tune in tomorrow for the crazy conclusion!

 

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Clarice – Chapter 2 – New Years Eve Brunch

Another tale of one man’s journey navigating his way through the dating scene in Philadelphia.

On our first date, Clarice had said she wanted to go to see Rogue One with me. I agreed. We were to meet that Saturday and check it out.

I was on my way to somewhere, and I stopped at the salon. I was chatting with Trish. People were asking about the holiday hours that were posted at the counter. “You’re covering my shift this Saturday, right?”  She said.

I was caught completely off guard.

“Yea, remember you said you’d work for me this saturday, because I’m going home Friday to see my aunt and uncle and my parents for the holiday.”

I’m looking at my phone in my calendar. I don’t see it. I put everything in my calendar for just this reason.

“I’m supposed to see Rogue One…” Obviously not the answer Trish was looking for.

“I don’t see it in my calendar. Was I drunk when we made this plan?”

“I don’t know when you’re drunk!”

“Are you saying I’m drunk all the time?”

“No!” Trish looks like she’s about to cry. “I guess I can see my aunt and uncle next year…”

“Settle down. hang on. I’m going to make a phone call.”

I step out of the salon and go into the empty space next door. (It hasn’t been rented for three years) I call Clarice. Great thing is, being an older person she actually answers her phone. I explain my dilemma, and how I’ve got a friend and co-worker ready to squirt some tears in the salon. Clarice is completely understanding. I actually was happy to pick up the hours. I can go see Rogue One anytime. It would probably have been packed anyway.

I want to see her again, so I reach out to her a week later. I lock her down for brunch on New Years Eve. I’ve never been a fan of New Years anything, so it’s nice if I can do something during the day and then go home by nightfall. That’s when all of the amateur animals come out.

Saturday rolls around and I head to Jones. It’s a Stephen Starr restaurant at 8th and Chestnut. I forgot how noisy of a place it was. Hard surfaces and a high ceiling. They serve a lot of comfort food, and the place is decked out in 1970’s decor. It’s one in the afternoon and the place is swinging. I check my coat and wait for her. She appears on time. You know I like that.

She looks really good. Hair looks amazing. Those flowing raven tresses. Leather jacket, jeans and boots. Hot.

“Wow this place is busy. Are we even going to be able to get a table?” she says.

“We do when I have a reservation.”

The hostess takes us to our table. I’m happy to be here. I haven’t set foot in this place in over three years. We’re chatting and looking at the menus. I really dig their mac and cheese. So I suggest we share a bowl of that with a side of siracha. She agrees.

The server comes back. Clarice goes with a glass of prosecco, and I do a Yards Pale Ale. I put in for the mac n’ cheese, and let her order first. She’s not ready, but asks me to go first. I tell her I’ll speak slowly to give her more time. I go with the puffy french toast.

“That’s what I was going to order! I’ll have that too.” she says

“Should I order something else?”

“You should, so we can share.” Her again with the controlling. (This is eventually probably going to be a problem)

Am I imagining this? Am I being over sensitive? I’ll allow it. I decide to go with the Quiche. Because  I love quiche and I’m a real man. I looked at it before and it was my second choice after the french toast. At least it’ll be healthier.

“That was my second choice!” she quips. (Hmm…)

It’s noisy but I’m happy to see her and I’m having a lovely day. The weather is great and we’re right on the edge a new year. The mac n’ cheese arrives. It’s bubbling fresh in the bowl. Looks delish!

We rip into that, and it’s just as good as I remember. Brunch arrives a little premature, but it’s 1:30 and I haven’t eaten yet today so I’m in the mood for food. Everything looks and tastes great and we’re sharing.

After a while the place empties out somewhat and it’s a bit more quiet. we’re discussing the holidays and family, etc. For some reason I can really tickle this lady. I just start talking about stuff and she laughs her head off.

I ask her how her other dates went. She said she checked in with the Delaware guy on Wednesday about that evening, and he said he was boarding a plane. He didn’t reach out to cancel. He was just going to bail. She obviously took offense and didn’t respond. He texted her again on Saturday and she just ignored it. The friday guy she cancelled. It was supposed to be his third date with her, but when he was saying things like he wanted to come to her house and cuddle she was put off. Maybe the fool thought the third date rule somehow applied to this thoroughbred.

I kind of like that after she went out with me, everybody else either screwed up or dropped off. My Led Zeppelin prophecy came true!

I should probably get to the 300 pound gorilla in the room. The bill comes. Granted, she had two proseccos and I had three beers. The drinks are what kill you. The bill was like seventy-three dollars. My eyes are watering. I look at it and I’m like, wow. Oh well, its New Years. I don’t make a big fuss over it publicly because that makes me look like a cheap skate and we all know that I am more than generous. I let the moment steam a bit, just in case there is help on the way…

Come on… just reach into your bag and offer the tip. Just the tip, baby…. You can do it. It’s going to be 2017. Equal rights for women. Please…….?

Nope. Not a fucking dime from the CEO boss lady.

Killing me.

We leave and enjoy a leisurely stroll down Chestnut Street. We’re headed west back towards center city. I have to go meet my friend Carly around 4:30, to help her set up for New Years Eve at the restaurant where she works. Clarice says she can hop on the next train back to Upper Darby anytime.

We reach Broad Street. I mention to her that they’ve remodeled the whole “rotunda” (bar area) of the Ritz Carlton across the street. “Wanna pop in and check it out?” Clarice is down for that. Maybe they’re handing out free drinks. I know she’d like that!

We head inside and the place looks gorgeous. It’s all decorated for the holidays and they have reconfigured the space. All of the furniture is new, and there is more private spaces around the room. The bar has been completely redone. they moved it outward from the wall and now you can sit all the way around it. Plus there are little booth seats against the back wall now. I need to come back here for happy hour again soon. Maybe with someone else though.

Just sayin’.

As we enter the main room there is a pretty black girl holding a tray of champagne. I can’t believe it. Free drinks. “Happy New Year.” She smiles. Clarice and I each grab a glass and look for a seat. We see several areas that have “Reserved” signs on them. We walk by several empty areas that are like that. “Oh that one is reserved too.” I say. as we’re walking by a seated couple. “They’re all reserved, she says with obvious disappointment in her voice. Clarice speaks: “Fuck this. Let’s goes sit over there.”

“We can’t. This is the Ritz Carlton, we can’t just do that.” I reply.

Wow. What a change in attitude since my days with Michelle. We take off our coats and get comfortable on the pillow covered sofas in our little enclosure.

“Fuck it. I’m doing it. If whoever this is reserved for shows up, we’ll apologize for not seeing the sign and leave.”

“But I can clearly see the sign right there on the table, Clarice.”

With a backward swipe of her hand she knocks the sign off the table. “C’mere.” She says as she grabs me and kisses me passionately. Now we got a show. She’s taking the sting right of that bill from Jones.

“I thought you said no PDA?”

“This is private enough.” She pulls me in for more kisses. She’s a hot lady. Maybe this is what Valerie and June were missing. That youthful fire that this sixty-one year old still possesses. She was in show biz for years so I know how these carny folk are all horny, but it’s a good thing.

“You know what I’d like to do that I’ve never done?” She purrs.

“What?”

“I wanna go to a strip club.”

“Noted. I’ll take you to Delilah’s one day.”

I need to write that down in the notepad of my phone as ‘Things to do with Clarice’. We’re just hanging on the sofa and nobody is saying anything. I’ve really got her laughing. We’re having a good time sipping our free champagne. I do realize that I have to go meet with Carly, so we finish our bubbly and head out. Of course I help her with her coat.

We walk a few blocks and I’ve got to keep heading west, and she’s got to go north to jump on the subway. I thank her for the day and she smooches me again. I do like Clarice. I’m attracted to her, and want to see her again.

Maybe one day when we’re someday watching Season Two of Phicklephilly on Netflix, I’ll look back on these moments and laugh. But right now this research is costing me a small fortune. I think I’ll find true love when I meet a woman that doesn’t want anything from me.

Maybe she’ll  just want me for me.

 

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Roman – Rock and Roll Bartender

I introduced myself and gave him my card. (I’m in sales. Automatic behavior) I’m sure he didn’t give a shit.

I started hanging at Square 1682 because of Carly. (See: Carly – 2012 to Present – The Mad Baker) It was our time to commiserate and share stories and just enjoy each other’s company. But along the way you start to love the staff too. Roman was my first.

I was sitting at the bar one night waiting for Carly. I started chatting with the bartender on board. He was 30’s, dark hair, a little long, medium build and a no-nonsense kind of guy. Not a big conversationist, but an attentive barman.

I introduced myself and gave him my card. (I’m in sales. Automatic behavior) I’m sure he didn’t give a shit. I told him his lastname was unique and I only knew two girls in my life with that last name. I knew them in my senior year of high school at Wildwood High School.

I was in American lit, and there was this girl Lisa with the same unique last name as this fine bartender. I would be reading Bell for Adano and checking out her lovely shapely stockinged legs and I knew she knew I was looking at her but she knew I would never have her. I was just a guitar player in a band. But… I was a straight A student in English and American lit, because I love words.

I told him about Lisa in my American Literature class in Wildwood back in 1980, and her younger sister Maria, and he said they were his aunts! God, I’m old. But I love this amazing connection! Lisa was in my class and a delicious brunette and her sister Maria was a blonde that was in my lead guitarist’s math class. Amazing. James was totally into her too.

So this guy who lives in Jersey and comes over on the PATCO everyday to work as a bartender is connected to a very old history of mine. Instant respect.

Roman is also a musician. He works the bar, and has been doing more work in the office when it comes to ordering product for the bar. But there is more…

This is a Kimpton hotel. Every night in every Kimpton hotel in the world at 5pm they serve free wine and cider in the lobby to all of the guests. Have I been a slob and drank my face off for free at those happy hours with my friends, of course. I have brought guests and everything. No one has ever said anything to me. I have drunk oceans of free wine at the expense of the Kimpton family. They either don’t notice or have accepted me as a regular. Regardless I’ve done it but I don’t do it anymore because it’s a bit of a weasel move.

On Thursday nights Roman plays guitar live in the lobby for everybody for an hour set. It’s really good. I work at the salon on thursday nights so I have not been able to see him perform in over a year and I really miss it. He is fantastic. The guests are sitting around chatting, stuffing their heads with delicious greasy truffle popcorn and slugging wine and Roman is singing his heart out. I have shot video of him performing Elton John and sent them to Michelle (See: Michelle – 2007 to Present – A Brand New Day) so she can enjoy the power too.

Roman’s a good guy. Married. Nice pretty wife, and they just welcomed a happy baby boy into the world. So, rock n’ roll.

I love when life works!

 

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