I’ve had some interesting dates in my life, but none was as scary and weirdly funny as my dinner at a place called Virgilio’s in Philadelphia. It was owned by a mobster named Phil “The Chicken Man” Testa, who was immortalized in a Bruce Springsteen song.
Virgilio’s was a small Italian restaurant tucked away on a small side street in the city. The guy I was dating was not Italian, and he was totally fascinated with the Mafia. Yep, lucky me. It was the kind of place where you were asked to check your guns at the door by the two behemoths who let you in.
So we get seated in the middle of the room. Now, if you don’t know anything about the Mob, sitting in the middle of the room is the LAST place you want to sit. You want a table by the wall, and every man in the place was facing the door. You see where I’m going with this?
Our lovely waitress, Nancy, comes by to take our order. Date was so thrilled, he ordered a bottle of champagne. As the cork is being removed, it popped with such force, it made a loud noise – I mean LOUD.
Men dove under tables, behemoths came charging in, guns drawn, and out of the back room comes Chicken Man himself, with what looked like a Thompson submachine gun. I froze, Nancy burst into tears, and Date looked like he was enjoying this a little too much.
“What the fuck is going on?” Chicken Man bellows. Nancy tearfully holds up the bottle of champagne. “I’m sorry, Mr. Testa. It just exploded.” He looked, nodded, and returned to his meeting in the back.
Have I mentioned at this point I’ve lost my appetite and couldn’t wait to get out of there? But nooooo….Date was grinning from ear to ear, like the kid who got the Golden Ticket in Willy Wonka.
Men climb out from under tables, tuck their napkins back in, and go back to their meals, while the wives looked on nonplussed. Was I the only person in this place who just about wet her pants?
Needless to say, it was the last time I went out with him….and two weeks later, Chicken Man was blown up by a bomb placed in his front door.