Sunday, July 03, 2005

FR: Philly D3: Don't Eat a Misteak

7/3. Today I set off (with a smile) to visit some tourist attractions. Of course I’m on foot and the miles are adding up and taking their toll. I’ve decided to come back to Philly on another trip when there are not so many tourists and I can explore these places in depth. So my wanderings today are half-hearted to say the least.

The super cute Kazakhstan girl calls me and I tell her a place to meet. This is her last day in Philly. I arrive late and I figure she has already left. Oops. So I leave. Half an hour later I get a message that she had gotten lost, but she is there at Penn’s Landing waiting. Turns out she had borrowed a cell phone from a stranger each time to call me. There’s an indicator of interest for you! So I go back, consuming another half an hour, and of course she isn’t there. So sad, man was I into this girl. And she was dedicated enough to hang with me on her last day in Philly to borrow phones and call me twice. Damn.

But I’m back at Penn’s Landing and there’s a cute curly haired chick writing something on a pad. She’s sitting on the edge of the river. I’m looking right at her paper, and I say, “My curiosity’s got the best of me…again.” Then I look up at her and out toward the river and say, “Is that Ride the Duck the actual vehicle I saw driving on the street? I had not idea they were actual boats!” Haha, misdirection. Anyway, Ride the Duck is a tour franchise that shows you the attractions on the streets, as a tour bus, and then they drive you into the water and tour the harbor, as a boat. They’re in many ay cities. And fucking annoying because they give all the tourists these duck-call noise makers and the guides will provoke everyone to make noise at certain people that they pass. So I segue into a story about getting quacked when I was streetside in Baltimore.

So this girl is engaged and I tell her my impressions of Philly threads and the cheese-steak story from Day 1 and we talk about Live 8. We end up conversing for maybe three hours. She’s a teacher in training with Teach America and is in Philly for five weeks. Then she’s moving to the Bronx to teach math. Her schedule is intense—they have to get up at five and sometimes are in class until 10PM. She’s been sitting there working on lesson plans. Lively girl. She’s half Mexican and half Greek. Lived in California and Texas. We share travel stories. She’s really into my trip, asking all the lifestyle-style questions. We have a good laugh when we find out that we both drive mini-vans.

I also tell her that I had been looking for this nearby sculpture garden and I entice her to head off and we find it together. Then we go for a drive in her van (Blue Wave) while I navigate and we breeze through downtown and Chinatown.

Finally, she suggests that we find South Philly and get a cheese-steak. She’s never had one before in her life! So we ask directions and get to the area. There they are: Pat’s (The King of Steaks) and Geno’s (The Best Steaks). Geno’s is blaring orange and green neon and a big light-up sandwich. Pat’s is a little more modest, with two huge signs. Before we walk up, we do an impromptu survey on three people who all say “go to Pat’s.” She gets the sandwich and ruins it with mustard. Meh. But the funniest part was whe we venture to the far side of Pat’s and discover their slogan: Don’t Eat a Misteak. Classic.

We’re holding hands and laughing. So she drives me to my wheel estate on South Street and I get her to come inside and look at some photos. I’m sitting on wifi, so I send her an email right there with a fun note and my phone number. Didn’t push anything physically because I know she has a 5AM responsibility and she still has homework. We talk about meeting again for the fireworks the next night. Solid.


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