George – The Rugged Outdoorsman – Part 2

I was going through hundreds of files, artwork, stories, and comics about a month or so ago. I was searching for some ideas for a future book or screenplay. I was going through some old stand up routines and jokes a friend and I had written. But during that process I came across a stack of the little comics George and I used to draw and laugh at in high school.

It’s been over 40 years since I’d seen or talked to him. I was reading the comics and laughing, and thought… I wonder what ever happened to that guy?

So like anybody, I went on facebook and searched his name. A couple people came up, and I looked carefully at their photos. But this one guy, who didn’t look like my 16 year old friend from high school, got my attention. It was the eyes. He had those kind eyes.

It’s weird how after 40 years you can look at a person and even though we’ve all changed a bit, you can recognize them.

I decided to take a chance and sent him a message. “Did you go to Frankford high?”

A day passed. Then I got this response: “Do you not go by Chaz anymore?”

Holy moley! It’s him! I found him!

That was easy. We exchanged numbers and started texting. I brought him up to speed. Wildwood, Rock bands, Los Angeles, more rock, back to Jersey, then into banking. Got married in ’92, had a daughter in ’96. Divorced in 2001. Worked in banking for 20 years, and advertising for 10. It was a storied, colorful past with it’s ups and downs.

After college, George got married in 1983, and went to work for an aerospace company. And not just any aerospace company.

At General Dynamics Mission Systems, a business unit of General Dynamics, they develop mission critical C4ISR solutions across the land, sea, air, space and cyber domains, but that doesn’t tell their whole story. When downed pilots are isolated in enemy territory, their equipment gives them a lifeline to call home. When a student opens a textbook to learn about the universe, they’re looking at data and pictures sent using their technology. When the government needs to share crucial top-secret information, their products help them keep this information out of the wrong hands. When sailors need to locate underwater mines, their technology allows them to find explosives with unmanned underwater vehicles.

Wow! All I wanted to do out of high school was get my van detailed, run off to LA and play guitar. This guy has really made something out of himself! That’s like some top level stuff! It’s the only career he’s had since college!

And… he’s still married to the same gal! He also has two grown children in their twenties.

So, dramatically different histories. But the memories remain.

I took pictures of the comics we used to make and sent them to him. He got a good chuckle out of our work, and we decided to meet up.

George lives up in the Pocono mountains in Pennsylvania now. That’s not too far from Philly. Just a couple of hours. But his office is in Lancaster, PA.

I took a train up to Lancaster to meet him for lunch. It was nice to get out of the house during the pandemic. I always like going out on little journeys and missions around town when I can. Not being able to go to work, and sitting home all day writing has been a bit of a grind, so I’m always eager to get out of the house.

Now I was going to meet up with my long lost friend! I think the older I get the more I realize how important it is to stay connected from quality people from my past.  We have the shared experience that I just don’t have with all of my young lady friends here in the city. They’re great, but I really haven’t seen any of them in over six months.

This was a chance to reconnect with an old friend. (And old we are!) I always picture people the way they were when I knew them. Sometimes it’s a shock to see them years later. Everybody ages differently. But George looks basically the same and so do I. We’ve put on a few pounds and have developed ‘dad bods’ and a bit of grey, but we’re basically the same guys.

After a peaceful ride on the train I arrived at the train station in Lancaster. George was there to greet me, and we reunited both wearing our masks.

It was great to see him again after all this time.

I hopped into his SUV and we headed over to a local country club for lunch. We were actually allowed to dine inside. There were only two other tables of people in there at the time, and they kept us far apart.

George ordered a Manhattan and I did the same. We like the same things! A nice cold cocktail to kick off a lunch is always a good idea.

We chatted about our pasts and did our best to bring each other up to date. There’s so many more stories to tell, but we only had a couple of hours.

What I learned during that lunch is that George is a serious fisherman. He has been for many years. He writes articles for an sportsman magazine. (So yea, a published author like yours truly.) He has his own website dedicated to his fishing adventures, which is cool. It’s called Pocono Outdoors Guy!

When not on the water fishing, George can usually be found talking about fishing, sharing new tips, techniques, and new tackle with others through his Video Podcast (Weekend Round-Up) or his YouTube video series.

George will fish for just about anything that swims, Freshwater/Saltwater, 365 days a year. His favorite has to be Freshwater Landlocked Stripers as it is a local challenge in his own back yard. However, Smallmouth, Musky, Pike, Catfish, Salmon, Carp, Trout are always welcome targets.

After spending nearly 40 years in the aerospace industry as a senior executive, George decided to pursue his passion of videography in the great outdoors as Pennsylvania’s own “Pocono Outdoors Guy” and started “Lone Fish Studios” as a means to help others in need of these video and production services.

George Schauer is an accomplished videographer who partners with companies and organizations to grow their exposure through the creative use of video.

George knows what truly drives exposure on social media platforms.  Video, creative video! George states: “If a picture is worth a thousand words, video must be worth….well, you can guess”.

The Prequel S3:E5 Getting ready for some special guests... - YouTube

George has been on numerous outdoor TV shows (local, regional and national) and has taken that experience and put it to work helping create engaging video for companies.

Projects have included marketing, training, and safety videos, company event, tv commercials, and other social media content to increase awareness of their products/services and activities.

“I love working with people in the outdoor sports industry the most. Guides, tackle manufactures, distributors, lodge owners, etc. We all share the same passion, and I enjoy being able to help share their story to the world.  Increasing exposure they never thought possible through the use of creative video!”   

     ~ George Schauer

Simple, and to the point. There’s a gallery, fishing tips, sponsors, tackle, a fishing forecast, and video services. So cool, right?

Check it out! (Click the link below)

About

On top of all that, he also has a Youtube channel by the same name. It’s got all of these awesome videos of he and his friends doing what they’re great at…fishing! Boat, surf, deep sea, surf, river, lake, and even ice fishing! Yep!

The dude’s a pro! He even does a weekly live show from his own studio that runs every Sunday.

Here’s his Youtube channel:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCwfJ_Gga6mtccVnz8d8rI_g

So, this guy is legit and has really made something out of himself. Not just the aerospace guy, he’s the cool fishing and outdoor pro! What a great catch! (No pun intended.)

I’ve done some fishing in my lifetime, but it’s when I was young and out with my dad. Some solid surf fishing, and a bit of fishing off a little boat we once had at the shore.

Oh, and did I mention George has a really nice boat too?

George has done quite well for himself! We’ve taken different paths in life, but George has managed to keep a steady home and career for himself. But the best part is, he has all of these cool things going on in his personal life.  He’s found his passion and has turned it into a cottage industry!

I’m really proud of him and I’m happy we’re back in touch.

The lunch was wonderful, and it was so nice to just sit and reflect with an old friend for a few hours over a delicious snappy lunch!

But there’s more…

George has a head for audio and video. I had been digging through more of my old stuff in storage, and came across some old masters of some songs I recorded in the studio over 30 years ago. I think after seeing and hearing what my daughter was doing in the studio with her music, I reawakened the itch.

I was texting him about it and we jumped on a call. George, although an accomplished musician doesn’t really play much anymore. I told him what I had, and he said if I could somehow get it into an mp3 and send it to him, maybe he could help me get my songs on Youtube! He’s a genius when it comes to stuff like that and frankly, I’m clueless.

So, hopefully he can help me make that happen. I knew once I had that conversation with him, that the story had gone full circle. 40 years ago he gave me the breakthrough I needed to move forward as a musician. Now here is again, back in my life and now he has the know how to get 3 of my original compositions onto Youtube!

Oh yea, he rides motorcycles too. badass!

George, you are the man!

The links are here. Check out his stuff. It’s all awesome! (Phicklephilly approved!)

Thank you for being in my life, George. I’m honored to know you, sir.

I want to schedule another lunch with my old friend soon!

 

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My Father’s Chair

It was 1984. I worked in a video store in Northfield, New Jersey.

I was back from California. I failed as a musician in Los Angeles. The angel that rose up in Philly in 1979 as a singer, then a guitarist in Wildwood was cast asunder. It was over. I was back in Wildwood. The place I left in 1982 that I never wanted to return to I sadly came home to. I was back living in my parents house. The first of many failures in my short life. Like Icarus who flew too high, my wings melted and I fell back to the Earth.

Making the transition to being back at home with my parents was brutal. I remember at first I was welcome, but in time my father was filled with disdain for me. Why hadn’t I ever written a letter to my mother while I was away? I don’t know. Maybe I was too busy having the time of my life for a few years without any of you. I learned about life, and how to cook and look after myself. All the while struggling with severe anxiety and depression.

My father got me a job in a video store. It was one of his accounts at the bank. He knew the principals of Home Video Centers in Northfield and Vineland. It wasn’t a little mom and pop video store that used to exist back in the 80’s. It was a massive store, with 500 titles on VHS and Beta and all of the other things you needed to have your own home movie experience. (Does anybody remember rear projection big screen TVs? What an abortion of an idea that was.)

I was hired as a salesman. I remember when I got my first business cards. It felt good. But I used the name Chaz, and my father didn’t like that. I should have my proper name on my cards. Now it feels like my father might have been part Asian based on the amount of shame in my life growing up. (No offense to the Asian culture, but it is a patriarchal society, and honor and respect are paramount. Hence, much of their porn, like Germany is all about shame and humiliation) But I digress…

I liked the job and the people I worked with and for. We were all a bunch of young guys and girls working in a relatively new retail industry. We had the massive rental business, but also sold VCRs, TVs and video cameras. When I think about it now, the technology was so heavy and clunky back then. Massive machines that weighed a ton. Video cameras that almost seemed absurd, because of all of the gear you had to carry just to make a video of your family at some outing. When I think of all of the set up my father did a decade before all of that when I was a kid to shoot home movies on 8mm, super 8, and eventually 16mm, it boggles my mind.

Now it’s all in our phones. Not much bigger than a deck of cards in our pocket. You can do all of that and better now. Better technology but the content hasn’t really changed. You can just stream it now.

I remembered I saved up for my own VCR. I wanted to take movies home from work and watch them for free. I loved movies. My father taught me about film as a young lad. He even dabbled in making his own creative films for  awhile when I was a kid. I’ll tell those stories in a future post.

I loved movies, and having grown up in an age where you could only watch what was on TV at a specific time or go to a movie theater. So home video was king to me. Now I could take a movie home and watch it when I wanted.

So I purchased a used, refurbished Sanyo Betamax top loader VCR from my company for about $300 which was a fortune back then. Maybe it was $250 but who knows? But I thought it was cheap for what I got. I didn’t care. I was so happy to bring it home and attach it to my little 13 inch Sony TV in my bedroom and watch all the movies I was dying to see as a kid. They were all mine now! I had the keys to the kingdom.

There were two formats back then. Beta and VHS. Sony invented both formats. But Beta was the better format. Better picture and sound. They kept the superior format for themselves and sold it to who they wanted, mostly other Asian electronics companies. Sanyo, NEC, etc. They sold the VHS format off to I think RCA or Sylvania. I actually have no idea. But what happened was, more companies made the VHS systems. VHS machines were more accessible to the general public and the inferior system actually won as the victor of what people watched movies on. Beta died. It was sad to see the superior format lose to the inferior format. But there is simply strength in numbers. Those sort of statistics hold up today. If you have enough money and guys, you can crush you competitor. I’m sure Sony didn’t really care because they probably made all of their money back on patents. (And now look at them!)

Anyway, my dad would ask me about some of the films we had at the store. (video rentals) He would ask if we had specific films and wondered if I could maybe bring them home and we could watch them together.

I leapt at this idea, because for most of my life with my father things were strained. Here was an opportunity for us to hang out on neutral ground, and do something together that we both loved.

I don’t remember what the first film was that I brought home. Maybe 3 Days of the Condor, Straw Dogs, or Kelly’s Heroes. My dad would give me a list and I would let him know what was on tape. He would always pick them because he had a history of films in his head that surpassed my brief life. He would pick these amazing films that I would never have known about without him even thought of.  I worked in the store with 500 titles but there were so many great films now on tape that had been silent for years. Video tape brought them all back to life. It was an exciting time. The humble beginnings of all access, all the time, that we enjoy today.

Let me tell you what it was like.

I would come home from work at the video store with a film. He had already set up the night we were going to watch it.

Now let me give you the lay of the land here.

We had this giant house at the shore. My dad had this cool space that was his upstairs in the front of the house. This was his man cave long before man caves were a thing. This space worked for him, because he could have his own little world in there.

This is a guy who worked his whole life to build a life for his family. He worked in a bank as a manager, had four kids; three daughters and one son. His wife never worked and was a full time homemaker. Yea, things were different back in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. But the man needed his space and he built the shore house to create his own little private space there. In our old house in Philly, the basement was his space.

He loved Christmas so much he would have his own tree up there in the apartment. Yes… he would buy two really good Frazier Fir trees and one would be the family Christmas tree downstairs and he would have his own tree up in his little lair. He even ran a string of mini lights down the hallway. So basically upstairs was always Christmas in our house. Not weird, just his happy thing.

So, I would come home and we’d set up our night. I would set up a little TV snack table next to his television. I would carry my VCR from my bedroom and wire it up to his TV.

Let me describe my dad’s cave. He had a living room. a bedroom with an attached bathroom and a kitchen with ocean views. Amazing space. He even had a Franklin stove in the corner of the living room. I always wondered why he had that, and then one time the power went off during a storm and he tossed some wood in that thing and it heated the whole second floor of the house. Genius.

So, we’ve got everything set up, and I would sit at his kitchen table and chat with him while he cooked a special dinner for the two of us. I would drink a beer and so would he. Normally we both liked light crisp lagers or pilsners. He would give me a little fresh bread to munch on but not too much because you never want to eat to much before dinner, because you never want to spoil your appetite!

The windows would be open and the fragrance from the sea would waft in. The air is just so fresh and cool by the sea. I love living in the city but there is nothing like it.

He would get a head of fresh lettuce and cut it up. Simple. That was the salad. just lettuce. He would mix and make his own Russian dressing. Thousand Island? Is that ketchup and mayo?  Whatever it was… it was delish. I was with my dad having a beer and noshing on french bread and for once… he wasn’t mad at me.

He had bought two fresh Delmonico steaks. Bone in. Apparently if the bone is in, the meat is sweeter and more savory, because the marrow in the bone lends itself to the flavor. There is nothing in the world like an amazing steak. My daughter is vegan and I respect that, but there is nothing on Earth like men ripping into grilled steak and devouring the fired flesh of those who would devour us if we weren’t such killers. Hell bent on being number one on the food chain to the point where we kill so much we are no longer in the food chain… but again, I digress…

He would have these inch and a half thick delicious steaks. He would put them in the broiler in his oven and cook them there. I know before he put them in he did something with some secret seasoning that include garlic and some other potions not revealed to me. While the steaks were cooking, and it didn’t take long, I would go quiet. I don’t like anyone talking to me when I’m cooking, so I knew my father needed silence to make his food art for us.

Halfway through, he would slide out the tray, and reach for two shots of Remy Martin cognac he had sitting on the counter. He would douse both steaks with a flash of brandy, and they would both ignite in flames as he pushed them back into the broiler. He told me that this would sear in the juices and glaze the outside or something. (It worked!)

I always wanted this part to go on longer than it ever did. I liked sitting peacefully in my father’s kitchen just chatting with him. We talked about everything. Work, life, music, films, girls, everything. Whatever was going on in the moment we would cover. But as some of you know, when it comes to steak, your window for chatter before dinner is always fleeting.

We would sit at his table and eat the steaks and the little brown bowls of salad. He said that we shouldn’t have a potato because he wanted the focus of the meal to be on the meat. He was completely right. They were some of the best steaks I’ve ever eaten. They were cooked to perfection, and I loved every bite. He always served an amazing cabernet with every meal. But more than that, my father and I were sharing one of the oldest rituals in history.

We’d put on some cool classical dinner music. My dad was a master of classical music and opera. He owned so much of that and loved it so much. I think he heard his own passion, pain and triumph in that music.

A father and son breaking bread together. Like in times of old, the father sharing the day’s kill with his only son. He would tell me stories that were only for me. Tales that were only for men. Things and deeds that my sisters or my mother could never hear.

I felt so close to him then.

After dinner, we would retire to the living room. I would fire up the Sanyo top loader and the film would begin. I’d make whatever adjustments were necessary so that the film would play properly, and off we’d go. (Does anybody remember tracking?)

For the next two hours we’d disappear together into the film. A world we could both control. Two completely different guys that somehow got thrown together in this life, and we got along. We found our thing.

He had a really nice padded wooden rocking chair in the room. He liked to sit in a hard chair as he called it, because it felt better on his back. So, I got to sit in his comfy rocking chair to watch the movie with him. I loved it!

There were times we’d both feel so much emotion that we’d both tear up a little bit during a movie. Terms of Endearment worked on both of our hearts! There were times he would reach over and grab my hand as we both felt the pain of the characters in the film. It meant so much to me that I was this connected to my father in this moment. Brought together by a film we both loved. I know whatever was happening on the screen was a feeling we had both felt in our own lives.  Even though we were sometimes worlds apart, we connected in that moment.

After the wine, we would  dabble in a bit of the cognac, and he would offer me a bit of bittersweet chocolate from Rauhauser’s Candies in Ocean City. It was the best damn candy in the world. The butter cremes were like kissing the face of god.

I remember during Straw Dogs one night I thought the snifter of cognac would burst in my hand from the suspense. My dad could really pick the films that rocked!

My father said that those were some of his fondest memories of me. He said for a brief time when I was between women in my life we spent some wonderful, simple times together.

I think maybe at some point my dad realized I was really different than him. I was more like his wife and her side of the family. I know I disappointed my father so many times. I’ll never know what it was like for him to grow up in the world he was born into. A world he never made, or could control. I can’t imagine the grinding frustration of his life with so much responsibility, all in the name of maybe finding peace of mind. That, and trying to build a family the only way he knew how from the ashes of his own fractured childhood.

 

At the end of his life, I convinced him to let me set up a Netflix account for him. There were so many films I wanted to share with him. After some reservations, he finally let me. We had a few years there where he let me to pick all of the movies and shows for him to watch.

So I guess it went full circle.

I’m grateful for all of our conversations about all of those great movies.

I think my dad found peace of mind eventually when he settled things with my mom and they both got along.  But I know once she was gone he lost some of himself.

I’ve been thinking about him lately, and felt compelled to write this.

I like when my dad occasionally taps on the window of my mind and asks me to let him in. He’s always welcome.

 

Thanks for letting me sit in your chair, Dad.

 

 

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Andrea – 2014 – S&M Girl

“Hi Lorelei. Daddy’s just going to take this fat, drunk bitch back to his room and tie her up. Then you’re going to hear a lot of slapping and squishing sounds. You’re also going to hear Daddy say a bunch of really foul sexually degrading things to this woman, so you better put your ear buds in and crank that shit up.”

One night a couple of years ago, I was out with a friend of mine. We were having drinks outside at Misconduct at 15th & Locust. He was telling me a story about this girl he met on Tinder. Pure hookup. She comes over to his apartment. Sadly, she doesn’t look like her Tinder pics. Which is not good. That’s like seeing a photo of a car you want to buy in the Auto Trader and when you get to the lot to check out the car, it’s an older model and a little banged up and maybe even a bit more car than you saw in the photos.

But he was drunk and up for the foul deed. He said she was a thick girl but he went to town on her anyway. Like my tinder profile says: “If you don’t look like your photos, you’re going to buy me drinks until you do.” So he said it was good sex except for one thing. He didn’t like that she wanted him to spit on her and hit her. There’s nothing wrong with what two consenting adults do with each other behind closed doors. Especially if everyone’s on board with what’s happening. But he didn’t like it. Just not his thing.

He told me that he wasn’t comfortable with that situation. He said at that point no matter what he was into or what he would do, he couldn’t do that again.  It just wasn’t him. (He didn’t spit on her or hit her at all) At that time, back in the beginning of 2014, I had just come off a break up and told him to send Andrea pics of me. Because I was up for whatever she wanted dished out. The key here is when it comes to dominance, be firm…not mean. There’s a big difference. I would discipline and correct her if necessary. And remember, the submissive party is ALWAYS in control. They have the safe word and hold the power to cancel the fantasy at anytime. That’s the rules of S&M play.

Well, nothing came of it. Until earlier this year when she connected to me on LinkedIn. LinkedIn of all places! Can you imagine with all of the dating websites out there, LinkedIn brings me the crazy S&M chick? So we chatted and did some texting. She wanted me to text her all of the things I was going to do to her, so I did. I have a pretty good imagination. She said she was getting really turned on and that we should meet.

I set it up that we should meet at the Ranstead Room. It’s just a good spot normally to hideout with somebody. I get there and I’m just chilling with a drink. She arrives shortly thereafter. My friend was right about her. In her Tinder pics she looks really hot, but in real life she is a lot bigger, and what was with that low tranny voice? Not good. I just wasn’t feeling it. I would have to drink a LOT of cocktails for Andrea to start to resemble her profile pics on Tinder. So I figured what the hell, I was already here and the drinks were flowing. She wasn’t that hot but at least I was someplace where nobody knew me.

Then the manager from the restaurant where my daughter works suddenly comes through the door and walks right up to me and says hello using my name.

Now I’m made. He can see who I’m with and now everybody there knows my name.

Andrea starts telling me about her life. She hates her job and wants to leave Philly. (Probably a good idea for us all.) She was seeing some crazy drug dealer loser guy. He’s suicidal, and does tons of coke. It’s bad, and she’s not much better.  I always thought if you did a bunch of cocaine you were skinny. Certainly not the case here.

After awhile we’re getting pretty tipsy. We went outside for a cigarette. She was on me like a northern pike hitting the bait. So I’m making out with her and people are walking by on Ranstead and she just pulls her boobs out. She’s losing her shit. She wants to take me back behind the building and give me a blowjob.

Yea. Great. I’ll just go stand behind my daughter’s manager’s Mercedes-Benz and you can give me oral. What if he walks outside and sees that shit? That’s not going to be good for me or anybody. Now, if this was Los Angeles and it was 1982, yea I’d be down for that, but not now. That’s gross. Sure, I’m flattered that she’s turned on enough from my words and the alcohol to want to blow me in a filthy alley, but no. Just no. I don’t roll like that.

She’s drunk. We go back inside and we’re in the vestibule and all sorts of things are happening with lips and fingers. If somebody comes through either door, we’re going to jail. So after that brief encounter, we go back inside. I kind of want to go home. In the right environment, some S&M play could be fun with her, but I’m just not getting a good vibe from her in this moment. She’s calling me daddy and all that shit. She says she loves older men, etc. I tell her I have an early sales meeting in the morning that I have to travel to so we should wrap it up. (A bold-faced lie)

She wants to go back to my place and have sex. Great idea. I can see it now. Me walking through the door to my apartment with Andrea and my daughter sitting on the sofa.

“Hi Lorelei. Daddy’s just going to take this fat, drunk bitch back to his room and tie her up. Then you’re going to hear a lot of slapping and squishing sounds. You’re also going to hear Daddy say a bunch of really foul sexually degrading things to this woman, so you better put your ear buds in and crank that shit up.”

No. Not happening. We pay the bill, and we walk over to 18th Street. I hail her a taxi and send her on her way. I was actually relieved when she was gone.

If somebody I met and was in a relationship wanted to experiment with some things, I’d be down with that, but Andrea just isn’t that person.

Update! She appeared at the salon tonight for a tan before she goes to L.A!

She’s leaving Philly for good!

 

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Annabelle – Chapter 3 -First Date

What if I’m not falling for her at all? What if I’m simply in love with the idea of love, and not this woman?

It was a hot day in July of 2013. I remember that summer being especially humid. I didn’t want to get all sweaty before my date with Annabelle. So I took a taxi up to the Barnes Museum. But sadly, many of those cabs are still hot as hell in the summertime. I went inside, told them I was on the guest list and that I was waiting for my plus one.  The girl at the counter tells me it’s cooler downstairs. I head down to cool off and dry out. I was heavier back then, (36 waist!) so maybe that’s why I was sweating more. I get some water and have a seat.

I get a text from Annabelle that she has arrived. I tell her to just let them know who she is and they’ll let her in. She comes downstairs to get me. She is wearing her hair up, and has a black top and matching black slacks that just cover her knees. Is that called Capri pants? She is also wearing heels so she towers over me. I don’t care. I’m Phicklephilly. I cast a great shadow across this city. She goes to use the restroom, and I chill out looking at little models of what the building looked like when they were designing it. The are all in different stages under glass.  I’m looking at one of the tiny models very closely when she returns. She comes up behind me and I just feel her presence. I turn around and she is over me looking at what I’m looking at. I tell her it felt like I was being stalked by a raptor from Jurassic Park. She laughs and does this little impression of a raptor. I find this funny and ask her if she liked the film  Jurassic Park. (One of my favorite movies)

“I love Jurassic Park.”

“Okay….okay” I reply.

We go upstairs and into the main ballroom. They are having a little first Friday celebration. A live band plays some sweet jazz. For whatever reason we’re both starving. I get us high top with a pair of chairs, and tell her I’ll go fetch us some snacks and wine.

I head over to the bar and all they have is overpriced everything and some cheese and chips. It’s the Barnes for God’s sake. Can’t they afford any decent chow for the guests? I gather up two bags of chips some cheese and a couple of glasses of wine. I’m not even gone for five minutes, and some old codger has already swooped in and started talking to my date. This guy is easily twenty years older than me. I approach, drop the food on the table and hand Annabelle her wine.

“Really dude? I was gone all of five minutes. Get your own girl.” I joke.

We chat with the old guy. He seems charming and harmless. After a bit, Annabelle and I go over to tour the collection. Apparently, that wasn’t part of the passes I was given. I simply drop a name and they let us in. I had never seen the collection before so it was a real treat for me to see what a billion dollar art collection looked like.

The collection includes 181 paintings by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, 69 by Paul Cézanne, 59 by Henri Matisse, 46 by Pablo Picasso, 21 by Chaim Soutine, 18 by Henri Rousseau, 16 by Amedeo Modigliani, 11 by Edgar Degas, seven by Vincent van Gogh, and six by Georges Seurat. Other European and American masters in the collection include Giorgio de Chirico, Peter Paul Rubens, Titian, Paul Gauguin, El Greco, Francisco Goya, Édouard Manet, Jean Hugo, Claude Monet, Maurice Utrillo, William Glackens, Charles Demuth, Jules Pascin and Maurice Prendergast. It also holds a variety of African artworks; ancient Egyptian, Greek, and Roman art; and American and European furniture, decorative arts and metalwork. The museum also holds several significant works by cubist sculptor Jacques Lipchitz.

It was pretty amazing how one guy was able to collect this many fantastic, priceless pieces of art. We walk from room to room, looking at everything. At one point she says, “Out of everything in this room, which is your favorite?”  Then I would choose the one I liked the best. I would do the same to her. We did this enough times, until finally she asked me what was my favorite in the last room.

I simply pointed to her.

She smiled.

We then went downstairs to the rum tasting. We were all in a room and they gave us three different rums to try. The guy that was running the tasting really knew a lot about each rum and what made them different. But the weird part was, they were comparing the taste and look of the rum to different paintings in the collection. They had the images on a video screen on the wall. I’ve never seen this done, and I don’t even think it’s a real thing. But free rum is free rum. I remember the person talking about the mood of the paintings and the taste of the rum, and I was into it. there was a moment when my eyes drifted away from the host and onto Annabelle. I was looking at the painting and then my gaze passed over to Annabelle. I looked at her profile and neck. Was I falling for this girl? I took girls to events all of the time. What was it about this one? There’s nothing special about her really. It’s been two years since Michelle. I’m really taken with her. Has it just been too long since I’ve fallen in love that I just want that feeling again?

What if I’m not falling for her at all? What if I’m simply in love with the idea of love, and not this woman?

After the weird art/rum tasting we headed back upstairs. We probably shouldn’t have had all that wine and rum with so little food. I can handle it but it could be a bit painful for Annabelle tomorrow.

We leave the museum. It’s located in an area where it would be difficult to catch a taxi. I decide we should walk up to Spring Garden. We reach the corner and flag one down. We share the perfunctory hug. Dating’s funny. So much of it is tied to timing and ritual. I put her in the cab and ask her to text me that she has gotten home safely.

The cab rolls east into the night and as I walk back down into center city. As the city rises before me, I feel a little spring in my step.

 

 

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My Family – Lorelei – Life with Lorelei

She’ll always be the apple of my eye.

One of the joys of my life is my daughter Lorelei. She lives with me here in Philly and it’s great. She is twenty now, and has lived with me for almost two years now. She has a very sweet and chill disposition. Lor is very unobtrusive. She works as a food runner and hostess at a restaurant here in the city. She seems to like it well enough. They serve some vegan cuisine and she likes that because she’s vegan herself. This is a choice she has made on her own.

She usually is home from Monday or Tuesday night until Thursday or Friday. Then she’s gone. She goes and stays at her boyfriend’s mom’s house the rest of the time. Mostly weekends. Which gives me a break. Not that I don’t want her there, but I still enjoy my solitary life and it’s nice to just be at one with the bat cave and Netflix.

She has been into something called flow arts lately. Actually, she’s been doing it for a while. I got her a hula hoop that lights up with LED and strobe lights in it. She has gotten really good at it and does it at concerts and festivals she and her guy attend. They’ve been together two years now and they seem happy. They like to do all of the same things, so that’s good. He’s a good kid and he’s good to her. I approve.

She also recently got a flow wand. This is a little more complex. It’s about a foot and a half long. It has strobe and LED’s in it as well. It’s on a string that is threaded through a hole in the upper third of the wand. She swings it around and it appears to be floating. The way the lights are programmed, when it’s swinging vertically around her it leaves these trails of images in the darkness. Like Pikachu, or flames, or signs of the zodiac. It’s really cool! She’s had it for a little over a month and has become very proficient with the wand. Recently, she was even in a music video performing her hooping. You can actually watch that video at the bottom of this blog.

Sometimes, she’ll come home and we’ll just chat. It’s really nice. How many dads get the opportunity to sit down and just shoot the shit in a real way with their daughters? There’s none of the sanctimonious “How was your day?” crap. What we talk about is real. Life. Work. Family. Life challenges. Friends. etc. It’s a rare thing, but I get to do it at least once every other week. What kid even wants to be around their parents at that age? So I feel lucky. We have a solid honest connection. I know I’m doing the best I can as a father, and she chooses to be here with me. She won’t always be with me. But at least I have this time with her.

Lorelei recently changed up her hairstyle. It’s long on the top, but shaved on the sides.

Sort of like this, but longer on the top.

Image result for blonde hair long on top shaved sides

Well, she’ll pull the long hair up onto the top of her head in a hair tie. Then she’ll ask me to come in with my electric beard trimmer, and shave the sides. I have a good eye and a steady hand, so I’m sort of her part-time barber. I’ll go along the sides and shave it all down so that it’s even. “We’re like a Latino family, Daddy. Doin’ each others hair.” She says, I laugh. I wonder where she got her sense of humor?

There are just some simple moments that happen on a weekly basis. Trish brought up a wooden chest for Lorelei to put her clothes into. (See: Trish – 2012 to Present – The She Wolf) She was dressed really hot, so maybe she had just come from a date. I’m in my office in the back room typing away. Music is on, and the next thing you know Lorelei and Trish are in my room. Trish is digging into my candy, Lorelei is hooping and looking at herself in the mirror. We’re all laughing and talking. It’s great. I’ve got a roof over my head, my daughter is happy and healthy, and I’m pals with my neighbor.

Life is good.

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