So, the escape from New York is underway and we’re heading to The Mettlers in Philly, in the state of Pennsylvania, a supposed few hours away, for a night of lush food, wicked conversation and some Z’s in a comfy bed again, although in all honesty, we’d spent the last 5 nights in a comfy bed so it wasn’t as needed as it would be further on down the line.
With the Satellite Navigation in complete control, we laid out our trust in its Earth Orbiting Pollutant and listened intently for further instructions. Of course, when you ask your electronic co-driver to avoid the toll roads like the plague, how is it to know you mean ‘…can you avoid the toll roads like the plague’? But hey, that’s the cost of using technology that works by being shunted up into a space that’s owned by those who make money from me paying toll charges. Right? Anyway, 20 bucks later and we’re heading into the Streets of Philadelphia, in the pitch black, relying on a capitalist that makes Hal seem like an Avon Lady at your house showing ya mum the latest polyester lingerie whilst you’re in bed too young to know bored housewives are downstairs in their undies!
One of the worst and most embarrassing things for me in life is being invited to someone’s house for dinner who you really don’t know well or at all, getting there so late that the hosts have polished off their spoiled supper, that’d been microwaved twice cos you were half an hour away and then half an hour later, half an hour away. Worse still is eating said dinner whilst they watch you with contempt, scoffing down the best cut of meat that they gave you cos you were a special guest who’s about to tuck into a beetroot and phlegm soup starter! I find it infuriating when dinner guests of mine are late, mainly because the stress I undergo to make sure everything is ready on time never alleviates from the moment the decision making of what to cook is underway ‘til the first movement of fork to mouth is completed. And although most probably don’t undergo this nerve contorting spectacle when preparing something for someone else to masticate, there is, I’m sure, some minor inter-cranial chemical reaction that takes place due to at least intrigue of what this dinner guest is going to think of what has been lain before them. And it’s the respect of what all hosts go through, however minimal compared to myself, that makes me so agitated about being late for this culinary cornucopia. But turn up late we did, thanks in a small part to Cinnabon and in a gargantuan part to the hell that is getting through the New York traffic. Where else in the World do you pay a couple of bucks to get into but over 20 bucks to get out of? Answers on a cloud drive to Trixie, US of eh? But once we’d arrived at our impeccable hosts’ art-filled palace, we relaxed into a feast full of vegetarian delights, wonderful chattery and rather special eye candy’ry and without a trace of revengeful mouth snottery in sight, taste, smell, touch or sound!!!
Brett Mettler and Bonnie Mettler, the former a friend of my travel braud, the latter the foxy mother of said friend, are just about the greatest stranger-greety’ers you could wish to be greety’erd by. Warm, welcoming, witty and totally winteresting, they made us feel immediately at home by verbally covering an array of topics from how inept I am at art to how inept I am in relationships!! All bought on by yours truly looking for some kind of female perspective on me!! The food was lush but the conversation superseded it ten-fold and it was with previously incarcerated tongues that we waggled until the wee small hours, being interjected only by the arrival of the fascinating and avuncular Bill Mettler, a man that will add to the addition-unnecessary part of a conversation, if only due to the fact that he’s such a daddude! Seriously, these are the parents that every person dreams of!!! Why? Well, let me tell you what I think about parenting.
To me, if I can pinpoint one area of parenting that above all others is the most crucial in building a strong relationship with your child and nurturing a ‘decent, self-confident, well-rounded’ human being, its fundamental good communication. Whenever I see a young mother shouting at her child or a parent reacting aggressively or a person ignoring the questions of a curious child, I ask the Universe to ensure that this is a one off event and that every other time from that moment on, proper communication will ensue so that this child doesn’t grow up to be an infection on our future society.
I always think that you can tell how well rounded a person is by peeking at the relationship they have with their parents. And when the relationship is open and you notice that parent and child can converse freely without hierarchy or hesitation and with complete honesty and openness, you can bet 99 million times out of 99 million and one that all people are bloody lovely (as long as the parent doesn’t have an IQ of a Sun reader)!!!! And this wasn’t the time when the one time out of 99 million and one-th won out.
Bonnie, the matriarch if I may, is an artist of the upmost consummation, displaying her works in her house far too modestly for someone with such talent. I love the company of women of an older generation and this was no exception. I love the confidence that mature women have that those of us on our way to their years always lack. I always felt that its one of life’s little retributions that we don’t garner such confidence until its too late to really make it count in our favour to a greater extent. When I’m conversing freely with ladies of such a relaxed way, I find the information that is passed around so much more meaningful and less meaning-empty. And then Bill Mettler enters the fray and everything just gets that more radical. Bill Mettler, you see, is a professional story teller. That’s right, his job is to tell stories!! And hell, has he got the story-telling touch. I like telling stories but this man ‘IS’ telling stories!!!! Whether it’s the story of how they met, the story of how he cut down on burglaries on the neighbourhood by making his garden accessible to all and sundry or a story of how he came to be telling stories, this man is a dude in dad form (if he’s ya dad) and just a dude (if he aint). Clearly, as you can see, I was bowled over at how ace of base these people were, but more than that, I was bowled over by how open and cool their relationship with their daughter was. And their daughter is super fucking cool too!!! Man, they even telephoned their relatives all around the States telling them that we are heading their way and asking would they put us up and show us around if we rock up!! Man, these peeps are my new fave’s, fo’ Mcsho’.
Vanessa Chow said to me recently that writing is holding up a mirror to yourself and damn, writing about those people has highlighted personally how much I wish I had a parental unit like that!!!
Great people, great hearts, great times…
So, after more visits to chatmandoo the next morning, we left with new paints, a new map of the States and love in our hearts for our first foray onto the roads of America, where there was nothing between us and the adventures we wanted to have except a potentially knackered old vehicle and a Deliverance type ordeal…
We wanted to get to our first destination by sundown, which only afforded us a brief sneaky peek at downtown Philly. We were told to look out for murals as the city is adorned with them at every turn. I wanted to look out for somewhere to nosh on a famous Philly Cheesesteak Sandwich. So it was with a keen eye that I spotted this
and this, purchased at http://www.yelp.com/biz/sonnys-famous-steaks-philadelphia, supposedly home of a great Philly Cheese Steak sandwich
as well as some of this
And that was that. Philly done in 3 hours. And in all honesty, it seemed like there was a lot more to it then that. We saw some nice vintage shops and some cool buildings, if that tickles ya fancy. And its where Betsy Ross (perhaps) lived, the maker of the first American flag (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betsy_Ross)
But there seemed more to it than even that! Its called the City of Brotherhood and even though you cant judge a city by what it looks or feels like Downtown, it seemed a lot more multi-cultural and i felt more of a sense of equality between races there than i have done in most other places. If i ever come back to this part of the World again, i’d like to check out Philadelphia in more detail. Just with a li’l less cheese whizz on my sandwich next time, yeah?