Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Bubble Bath, Part 15

  Editor’s Note: We are dining at Pat’s King of Steaks in South Philly, munching on cheesesteaks. This is basically considered a sacred and profound experience by many…

  I pulled my head back from the trough and looked at Bubbles.

  She looked back, grinning. “Good, huh?”

  Oh, no. “Good” was simply far too benign a word to convey the truly orgasmic adventure I had just ridden. But my grease-numbed brain couldn’t even begin to think of a more appropriate adjective, so I contented myself with licking melted cheese off my sandwich wrapper. All of it, every speck. When I was finished with my thorough search and destroy mission, they could have re-used the wrapper and no one would have noticed a thing.

  Beside me, Terry made a small grunt, his eyes glassy. I’m fairly certain he had no idea what his name might be. Cher could have walked by right then, and he wouldn’t have even noticed.

  But all good things must be ripped from our lives eventually, so we were soon packing up and heading out. (Our departure was somewhat hastened by the hordes of people circling the building, impatiently waiting for a table to vacate.) We piled into the car, unable to fasten our seatbelts quite as snugly as on our previous excursions, and Bubbles pulled away from the curb. (The parking spot was instantly taken by a jeep bearing frat boys, all of whom leapt from the vehicle before it came to a stop, including the driver.)

  As we rolled away, Bubbles pointed out one of Pat’s competitors, a brightly-lit establishment named Geno’s, located on a nearby corner. She explained that some people preferred Geno’s over Pat’s. I didn’t see how they could. There was no way to improve on what we had just shoved in our mouths. Besides, if there actually was something out there in the world that actually tasted better, I didn’t think my taste buds could handle the overload. My mind would have snapped and I would have ended up living under a bridge and not bathing frequently. I didn’t relish the thought of explaining to occasional social workers that I was destitute because of an encounter with a cheesesteak.

  In any case, we found our way back to Bubbles’ House of Mirthly Delights, where we proceeded to consume alcoholic beverages, discuss very deep subjects that are even more profound when you have a buzz, and make fun of an infomercial where they were selling CD’s from some of country music’s pioneers. (The poorly-edited feature contained multiple shots of people performing at the Grand Ole Opry in those startling neon-and-sequins pantsuit outfits. If I hadn’t been drinking, I would have cried in fear.) A good time was had by all. Or at least me.

  The next morning brought an overcast sky and cooler temperatures. Bubbles was not particularly impressed with this development, but Terry and I were ecstatic. We had just come off a Texas summer with its notorious, soul-killing heat. We were quite happy to dash about with our nipples hardened from the slight chill. It’s the simple things, really.

  Not so simple? Deciding what we were going to do on that fine Sunday. Bubbles was still very much intent on dragging our asses to New York City. But we hadn’t seen the Liberty Bell. She wanted to go to Central Park. But we hadn’t seen the Liberty Bell. She wanted to take us to a bar in lower Manhattan where the bartenders only wore underwear. Slight pause while we reconsidered, then: But we still hadn’t seen the Liberty Bell.

  This was getting nowhere.

  Then Terry had an inspiring idea. Since it could rain at any moment, why not spend the day in Philly where we could zip back to Bubbles’ hacienda at any second, should it be necessary. Then we could spend the entire day tomorrow in NYC. Besides, if we go to the nearly-nudie bar when it’s cold, there could be critical shrinkage when it came to the floor show, and who wanted that?

  Fine. Bubbles reluctantly agreed to stay within the city limits of Philly, a place that she apparently hated with a surprising amount of passion and resentment. Perhaps someday we could psycho-analyze the root cause off all this negative emotion, but we really weren’t in the mood at the moment. So I kept Dr. Brian stuffed in his part-time box and we headed to downtown Philly and, basically, the birth of a nation.

  Now, to keep this from becoming a tome that can be quickly banned by the insipid Texas Textbook Selection committee because I still believe that our founding fathers really did exist, I’ll keep the historical commentary to a minimum. That Liberty Bell really is amazing, despite the fact that it’s not all that big. (And it’s not just a crack, it’s a big-ass gap that small children could practically run through.) There’s just something about actually seeing significant things that you’ve only read about. Do it whenever possible.

  North Church was fascinating. It’s really quite beautiful, especially for its time. Touching the actual pews where famous people sat hundreds of years ago is mostly thrilling and only slightly eerie. On the discomfiting side, didn’t really care for those flat gravestones IN the courtyard you have to navigate to gain access to the church. Not real crazy about walking on top of places where people are actually buried. I have no idea why they put those people there. Were these people really, really important, or were they very unpopular and thus planted in traffic zones?

  The Betsy Ross house was really surprising. For one, she and her family must have been really short. I was constantly bending over as I traipsed about. And what’s with the hundreds of staircases in that place? You couldn’t go in a straight line to any of the rooms, with all this trudging up and down through all the levels. It didn’t make any sense, especially since the house isn’t all that big. I don’t see how she had time to sew a flag, what with it taking 45 minutes just to get eggs from the cellar.

  And the fantastic architecture, everywhere you turned. It’s very trite of me to say that they don’t build things like they used to, but they don’t. In comparison, everything built today is just crap. My apologies to anyone offended by that statement, but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. I want my buildings to be full of character. I don’t want them to look like a big, nondescript box with windows.

  Eventually, we grew a bit weary of wandering around and touching history. It was headed toward late afternoon, and we were, after all, on vacation. Time for beverages. Preferably in abundance, but we would just have to see how it goes. One never knows what will happen in the Bubble Bath.

  We found a place that looked cute and charming from the outside. Bubbles led the way inside a set of double doors, then just as quickly did an about-face and shoved us back outside, sharing some alarming news. “They have football games on all the TV’s.”

  Oh my. Gay men don’t do sports bars very well. It’s in the handbook. (Yes, we have those renegade gays that actually thrive in the machismo of such places, but the membership board has a dark plan in place to deal with those people.)

  I looked from Bubbles to Terry to Bubbles to Terry to a strange man that belched while passing on the street to Bubbles to Terry. “We could give it a try.”

  Total silence.

  I prodded them forward. “Oh, come on. How bad can it be?”

  And thus we entered the Philadelphia sports bar. Full of men. With about 50 different football games blaring. In Philadelphia. On a Sunday afternoon, the zenith point of football madness. In Philadelphia. Without protection.

  Oh God.

Click Here to Read the Next Entry in This Series.

Click Here to read this story from the beginning.

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