Monday, June 13, 2005


Road Trip Report #6: PHILADELPHIA

Yesterday, if a nuclear bomb had gone off somewhere outside Philadelphia, it would have wiped out, at a stroke, some of the most brilliant magazine writers and editors in the business. And me.

Some 200 of them--and me--were gathered to hang out, network, swap stories, and drink.

I came to see the girls.

My son, when he was just a lil guy, used to call them "The Work Ladies." There are many women in the business who are childless by choice and have no interest in or affection for children whatsoever. I did not work with those kinds of women. I worked with women who lived to see my son (quite the cutie as a toddler). And they were generally pretty glad to see me too. I was the only male editor on staff, a true thorn among roses. When I started working there, it was the biggest magazine I had ever worked on, and it was a good one. The staff was a well-oiled machine. They always got the issue out on time and it was always good. Like National Magazine Award good.

What made the magazine special, though, was that the staff really liked each other. The Work Ladies were all good friends. They all lunched together, hung out with each other's families, helped each other through assorted personal crises. They were a pretty tight group by the time I came along, but they welcomed me into the fold as one of their own. Pretty soon I was going to lunch with the rest of the girls and it was always a hoot. The three years I spent with them were three of the best in my life, professional and personal.

So as much as I enjoyed my macho road trip, I was that much more overjoyed to see the girls at this party. The magazine we all worked for is still around, but we’ve all gone on to bigger and better things, and it was fun to catch up, compare notes, and show off pictures of our children.

The Kid was a little agog. "You know her?" he asked, indicating the VP of Editorial for the Big Midwestern Publisher, who I had just finished pouring a beer for (I was sticking with Coke, thanks). Ever the networker, The Kid ended up following me around while I introduced him to the VP, as well as my old boss, now Editor-in-Chief of Her Own Magazine. "You should give this guy some freelance work," I told her as she shook hands with The Kid. "He likes surfing the Web for porn, just like you do." This was a reference to an in-joke with my old boss, but of course The Kid didn't know it. Neither did JC, who laughed so hard when he overheard this exchange that beer came jetting out of his nostrils.

I also got to see my pal D. She was my counterpart at my last job. I was the senior editor in charge of departments; she was the senior for features. Although our titles were the same, D was vastly more experienced in magazines and just a wiser person all around. I did--and do--look up to her with an admiration I can't easily put into words. That she's also a fucking hoot to be around only sweetens the pot (I'm not alone in my opinion. Howard Stern loves her and has been trying to get her back on his show for some time now).

As the afternoon wore on, I got a lot of ribbing from the guys, who made a big deal of the fact that I was mobbed by a gang of smart, beautiful women, and who kept coming over to ask if they could "tear me away from my girlfriends." (And since it's just us, I can tell you here that I totally loved very minute of it.) It was all very amusing. But then at one point, when JC and I were hunkered over a cooler together, he gave me a look. "Seriously," he said. "What's going on?"

"What do you mean?" I asked.

"Are you banging all these women on the side or what? Because they're all giggling like there's some big secret. And they're using way too many code words in normal conversation. Like, what's The Brownie? Who's HLS?"

And then it dawned on me: He was talking about the blog.

D has known about the blog forever. And so do several of the girls. But they also know it's a bit of a closet thing. So we had been talking about it without talking about it. And JC, the former investigative reporter, had picked up on the vibe.

My pals (except for C-Dog) do not know about it. If it had come up in conversation, I would have said something. But it didn't, so I didn't. I felt a wee twinge of guilt for not saying anything. Especially since JC had firmly drawn his own conclusions. I hesitated in answering his questions, so he just nodded in self-confirmation. "So that's it then. You're banging 'em."

"Please!" I said, looking over at the girls, who were waving me back to the table. "They're like my sisters."

JC looked over at them with a bit of a leer.

"If I had sisters that hot, I'd be banging em too."

From Somewhere on the Road

Your buddies sound like a great group of guys. Key to a good road trip: characters. All of you are characters, which makes for great stories.
I would agree with JC.

Damn some people have all the luck.
You're enjoying every second of this, aren't you? (I would too, wink).
But, you know you're going to catch hell when they find out, right?
I agree with your strategy though - it's worth it to see JC squirm like a little green eyed gremlin. A little envy does the self esteem good.
You dropped so many freakin clues in this post, it's like 6 degrees of separation. My brain is too tired to do the work to figure it out though. Shane?
That just was awesome. Great party I bet too, beautiful women, good friends and old friends... PLUS BEER!!, man what a good time that was .. I bet.!!
Great post!!
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