Philly Part II: Brandon Jones Travels Through Time

Photos © 2009 Brandon Jones

When our heroes woke up they found themselves to be … slightly hungover! It appeared that the adult concoctions brewed by Barkeep Jones were a little stronger than advertised. But, after a Katie bagel run and super-long showers in a Philly shower, we were all feeling well enough to go check out the area surrounding the Jones’ apartment.

Just a block away was Rittenhouse Square – a small park that reminded me of JMU’s quad as it was filled with people laying on blankets, people playing guitars, and people reading. Oh, and there were crazy people giving out “free hugs” to try and initiate some wacko religious conversation. Everyone out in the sun enjoying the nice weather. We continued to walk, stopping only to take the obligatory photo beneath the Philly version of the Love sculpture in John F. Kennedy Plaza.

As scenic as these stops were they were mere obstacles in the road towards a need that demanded to be satisfied: this gentleman required sustenance!! Squire Jones led us to Reading Terminal Market – essentailly a giant warehouse filled to capacity with mini restaurants and vendors. It’s a lot like Faneuil Hall except larger and way more of a swap meet feel. The place was super crowded both with people and restaurants, loud, and presented a real smorgasbord of different foods. It was the perfect place to find my much needed, hangover-curing food.

Brandon, Katie and I selected rib sandwiches dished out by some Pennsylvania Dutch servers, while Cassandra – usually frozen at the sight of a mere menu – was completely overwhelmed at the sheer selection in this establishment. She wandered off by herself for a while, ultimately coming back with some type of fried clam dish. The food was good in a trashy kind of way and there was only one real story of note: Katie got up to hunt for a bottle of ketchup, finally finding one several restaurants over from where we were sitting. Right when she put it down on the table to use, a man who had followed her for her entire trip back to us said he had to make sure it ended up back at his restaurant. Katie used a little … only to find out it was hot sauce 🙁

We regrouped back at palatial Jones Manor and then set off for Citizens Bank Park, home of the Philadelphia Phillies. Baseball-phile, Brandon, had secured four tickets to a game versus the San Diego Padres. Or at least he thought he did! We took an uneventful ride on the Philadelphia subway (whose Subway maps looks way more complicated than New York’s) and walked along an open road decorated with giant sports sculptures. I avoided the blatant homo eroticism in the aforementioned artwork and headed towards the entrance of the stadium.

Legendary announcer Harry Kalas had just died the previous week and there was a fan-created memorial being held directly outside the entrance. It was a bizarre sight, but another interesting look at the Philadelphia culture (I love cities that have a personality … unlike, say, the Northern Virginia area). Brandon divvied up the tickets and we approached the crack team of stadium security guards.

I gave my ticket to an old man who was manning the ticket scanner. The machine was connected to a turnstile very much like the DC Metro system – where you push the ticket in, wait for a green light to appear, take the ticket out and walk through the turnstile. The first scan didn’t work. The second didn’t either. So the man started doing all these crazy origami folds to my ticket in an attempt to get it to scan. Suddenly I felt a tap on my shoulder. It was Brandon – his chinflap at half mast.

“Uh … I accidentally got tickets to tomorrow’s game.”

One embarrassing second passed … and then Jones sprang into action! He located the ticket sales windows where we were informed there were still seats available for purchase. The tickets we all had could also be recycled into tickets for different games (I think Brandon eventually turned them into pairs to 2 games against the Nationals or something … blah who cares it’s baseball). Although the price for these new tickets was somewhat higher, the seats were amazing; we were just to the right of home plate and maybe 20 rows back. We all gorged on ballpark food, enjoyed the antics of a riled Philly crowd, and cringed at the pervasive layer of cuteness provided by it being a Kids Game special.

When the game was over (Phillies lost, by the by) we returned to Brandon’s photo pad and watched a Tivo-ed Game 1 between the Mavericks and the Spurs. I don’t know how I lucked out with that one … I guess Brandon’s Tivo just must have realized it was superior programming and decided to record it by itself. I certainly didn’t demand it be recorded. Nor did I then annoyingly create a situation where Brandon had to rewind to the very beginning without me experiencing any spoilers. But the Mavs amazingly won and I was in such a good mood that we introduced Brandon to “jowling.”

We were physically, mentally, emotionally and now, jowl-ingly exhausted and began the preparations for sleeping. However, just as I was about to finally slip into unconsciousness my heart began to pump with extreme anxiousness. I suddenly realized that in less than 12 hours I was to meet Toine and his new girlfriend, Joy. I had spent the entire day distracting myself from this very idea with food, games and jowls, but I knew I would have to face the truth in mere hours. I fell into a fitful sleep.

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