I get on my mobile and exit through the doors to Market Street and begin to wander down to cennercity (pronounced as all one word, not Cen-Ter City, as non-Philadelphians say). In Philadelphia, for those who don't know, the higher the number street you are on tells you how many blocks you are from the Delaware River. So that means that ThirtiethStreet Station is thirty blocks from the river. Most of the big buildings are in the twenties, the older part of the city is around Two Street (not Second Street, that's another no-no) to Broad Street (which is really fourteenth street), where all the "colonial" action took place. City Hall is at Broad and Market Streets, right in the middle. Honestly, I just chose my path at random because, I hadn't a clue as to where I was going, whom I would meet up with or what I was going to do. I rung up Shannon, Gary, Kennie, Helen Back, others. Gary was on his way to South Jersey, go figure, so he was out. Shannon had to work. Kennie and Helen and the others got voicemail messages (which I am still waiting to hear back from them all). As I was chatting with Miss Patti, there's a beep informing me that I have a message waiting for myself. I dial in, enter my password, press one and then there's Gary. "I changed my plans, where are you?"
I freak! Woohoo! A huge smile breaks across my face, which is impossible because I am walking around like a happy idiot already and to grin any wider would surely do some serious physical damage. I ring him back, we coordinate and I sit in the little courtyard of some financial building watching and waiting, looking at the trees, the buildings, the people, racing to and fro. It's amazing to be here, here and now. "I am so happy I did this!", I think to myself and know by the expressions on the faces of the passersby that I look like some happy lunatic off his meds and dumped out of the loony-bin to fend for himself.
Gary is waiting for me at Twentieth and I'm on Nineteenth so I backtrack one block, see his red Mustang across the street and hop in, feeling like some cosmopolitan gent on the town. We dash back to his place in University City (up in the Forties) and to his pad so he can freshen up and...well...show off his flat. As well he should. It's so cute, well appointed, and thoroughly bachelor-padded-out that any gay man worth his hair products would kill to have. Even in this rather collegiate location. University City is so named for all the schools of learning that are crammed into the area. Okay, it's not Society Hill but, it's fabulous all the same. I am a bit envious, he reminds me of me back in the stone age of nineteen ninety when I lived in Philly and rubbed it in everyone's face. Okay, I am stone-cold jealous and I love it! I am so bloody proud of my little eye-doctor-to-be and he knows it. We talk about his new "friend" and my new "friend" and just laugh and have a cock...tail and I sit and marvel at the former Studio Six barback who made good in the big city. We decide to take the subway to center city (cennercity, remember?) and have lunch somewhere in the Gayborhood, which is what we call the area that's predominately frequented by us homosexuals (all around Thirteenth Street). We laugh and talk all the way, barging through the college kids, the homeless, the professors that scatter like cockroaches when the see the bright lights of Mortimer and Gary shining their way, marching on like twin gods of merriment and friendship. The day just couldn't get any better.
We exit the subway down around City Hall and trek through the streets, he's intent on finding the perfect little bistro for both of us to have lunch in. There are many in the city but, I know he really wants to find some place special, and so do I. This is an occasion and Mother Nature has given us a gift of this beautiful day and we don't want to waste it at McDonalds. Finally, a friend recommends the. perfect. spot. and we dash there, passing through my old neighborhood (Ninth and Pine Streets, on the edge of Old City) and I regaled/bored him with stories of this place and that, where this one lived and what used to be there. We suddenly were at the. perfect. spot. It used to be a quaint little ice cream place but now it's a tres chic little bistro called Mixto that serves Cuban and Colombian food. A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. is one word that comes to mind. The prices are way worth it, the food is to die for and the decor, queer heaven. I ordered my selections in Spanish and I saw the waiter's face when I did, he was duly impressed. After twenty-nine (natch!) years of having Latin friends, you learn how to pronounce a thing or two. We drank our martini (for him) and margarita (for me) and he gave me the full accounting of his new beau.
By the time he was done, I was in love with him!
Then we chatted about my...situation. And we joked about my...situation. And he warned me to be careful about my...situation. Actually, as we were conversing, I was calculating, thinking, deciding and plotting the entire time. Gary was a good sounding board and I made up my mind about what I need to do. I didn't tell him that and I won't write it here until it's done.
We finished up and walked about the city some more but, I realized that time was getting away from me. I had to meet my mother at the school board building (Broad and Spring Garden) and he needed to get on with his...obligation in South Jersey. We ran to the subway station, hopped on and were whisked away back to University City area and then back to his flat. He drove me once again in the Mustang (what a pick-up car if there ever was one) and we were at a dead halt. Midtown traffic, off peak and unusual but, not budging. My mobile rang that I had another voicemail and before I listened to it, I told Gary it was my mother saying, "Where are you!?!!" and I let him hear it. He laughed so hard and remarked that now he knows where I get it from because I said it in the same exact way, tone of voice, inflection, cadence, all without listening to the message beforehand. I am my mother's son.
We finally made it across town, Gary was apologizing the entire way, needlessly, and I made him get out of the car when we got there to meet the formidable mother of the one and only me, who's quite formidable myself. He asked if she had me at sixteen.
What a charmer!!!
She told me later, "I let him kiss me for that comment."
Let. Him. Kiss. Me.
Now you know. 'Nuff said.
I grabbed my mother's things, gave Gary a huge hug and kiss and bid him Happy Thanksgiving and off I went with my mommie.
And yes, she's still my mommie, no matter how bloody old I am!
Thanksgiving was great and I will post those photos tomorrow.
I am a life long resident of this little island on the east coast of New Jersey and I am the walking representation of Atlantic City. Which doesn't say much for the city. I'm a professional party guest.