Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Rich and Famous

Richie Rich
When I was very young I wanted to be very rich and very famous. I used to pour through my Richie Rich Comic Books and fantasize about everyday items made of gold: combs, toothbrushes, and entire bathrooms. I loved the glitzy Liberace quality to Richie’s life. I also wanted to have blonde hair like him and have a butler who would make my life so much easier. I preferred my beagle, Murray  to Richie’s dog , Dollar- who was a Dalmatian with dollar signs instead of spots.
  In the 70s, I had an addiction to television and would rush home after school to watch seven hours of re-runs of kooky late sixties sitcoms. In order to fully enjoy the shows I always had a large stack of Saltines and a jar of crunchy peanut butter with a very large glass of NestlĂ©’s Quik to wash it down. (Don’t worry. It never spoiled my dinner.)  I would relentlessly stir the powder into the milk, experimenting with degrees of chocolatey goodness while getting annoyed with why Mary Ann didn’t dress more like Ginger, and when would Granny hire a chef and a maid at the Clampett Estate. 
Eva Gabor
One sitcom character who I related to particularly well was Lisa –Eva Gabor from Green Acres.  While I didn’t exactly have allergies to Hay, nor had I ever really seen a Penthouse view, I did indeed want to escape the beautiful green mountains of Vermont for the excitement of New York City.  It was quite a shock when I was 18years old, on a school trip to find that the glamorous Big Apple was a little rotten looking. Back in the 80s NYC weren’t too clean and it smelled just as bad as it looked.
You have to put into context that I was raised on very clean and very pure Vermont air-and anytime we went to a fairly well  sized  North Eastern metropolis my nasal passages would take a beating. Boston, Portland, New Haven-and Montreal  all of em were big ole stinky cities. Obviously I needed a high rise and a Chanel pocket spritzer.
I wanted to be a city boy in the worst way and I looked down my little nose at simple clean country living. I’d glare resentfully at my parents when they didn’t seem to understand that I obviously deserved the finer things in life….whatever they were. My father would just look at mother and would deny his paternity with, " You wanted to raise the last one." My Mother would stare into space and wondered what she did to deserve me. Why did I want so much? I figured out that I was just going to have to do it myself. I would become a world famous movie star and have a pretty kidney shaped aqua swimming pool and a gold toilet that I had earned from my zillion dollar contracts with 20th Century Fox and then later MGM.
Here I am 30 something years later. I live in an illegal mildewed in-law in the foggiest part of San Francisco.  I don’t own a car and I shop at Cost Co and  Ross….sometimes Marshalls.  In short I am monetarily challenged. I am only famous in the U-list sense of the word. I got a long climb to be a D-list celeb. Maybe if you are Gay and watch a lot of San Francisco local theater would you even have an idea the size of my “fame”.
Dene - 20 years ago KIDDING
Well I scotched all chances of fame and riches when I met Francis Ford Coppola. Maybe “met” isn’t the right word? I was in my 20s and was quite sure I knew everything that there was to know about …everything. I was conquering the West Coast by storm with my acerbic East Coast nature and sense of punctuality.  I had landed a job at a Gourmet Food store in the Castro known for being able to procure anything form an Ostrich egg to a rack of Yak. I had just moved out of my apartment between 17th and 18th on Guerrero leaving my passive aggressive anarchist fifty something female roommate and moved into my new apartment between 19th and 20th on Guerrero with my hip, cool, seriously, funny 20 something Gay male roommate. Together we were a young Gay male Laverne and Shirley and we were gonna do it our way- yes our way –makin our dreams come true.  The world was my oyster and I was ready to slurp it’s salty slipperiness right up! The new roommate’s name was (and is) Dene-pronounced Dean.
Dene  is  fun fun fun  and he knew all the right people. He had scored us tickets to a radio show performance of Bram Stoker’s Dracula-as conceived by Francis Ford Coppola. ( The same script to be later made into a movie with an anemic Wynona Ryder and a particularly unsexy Gary Oldman)  This was all held at the world famous Hungry I Club on Broadway…. 
My error that night –as it was most nights back then-was having a warm up cocktail, or two. I can’t recall if we dashed into a bar there in North Beach or we tipped a few back in the Castro.  Regardless, we arrived to the Radio show  quite toasted, particularly yours truly. It seems FFC was offering tastings of his new wine from his new vineyard. How fortuitous and simultaneously tragic that I had just completed a course in Wine Tasting!!  A skittish little blonde let us in the Club and a sumptuous obscenely food laden table with a huge center piece of FFC wine lay directly ahead of us. I dashed toward it and filled my glass.  I glanced over at Dene who was piling a plate with shrimp and tomatoes topped with Mozzarella di bufala. 
Bigger Yuck
“ OH!” I choked and grimaced as I took a sip. “Dreadful! It has so many tannins in it that it is virtually UNPOTABLE !!! “  My volume increased and the skittish little blonde hovered shaking like a chihuahua nearby. “What was Coppola  THINKING? Quick where’s a white cloth napkin?” Somewhere in the back of my brain I felt someone was directly behind me as I snatched one from a nearby stack. Others were beginning to stare.  “ Here! Look at this. LOOK AT THIS!! There are NO gradations in color! “ I bellowed as I held the napkin to the wine glass. “ This indicates a complete lack of sophistication in it’s readiness” Whatever babble I had learned in wine class was getting put through the PA verbal meat grinder and getting ground into complete nonsense.
 Everyone around us seemed a little tense. Dene and I snickered at my silliness and then he decided to go find us a place to sit and watch the Radio show. I wondered if the great man Coppola was about somewhere. I gobbled another phyllo triangle and turned on my heel to walk right into the belly of this wall of a Bear standing far too close behind me. He was tall and wide with a salt and pepper beard and glasses. He stared down at me clearly annoyed. It infuriated me that HE was annoyed .  “LOOK WHERE YOU ARE GOING! You lummox!!” I barked. I spat out a few more choice expletives as I brushed phyllo pastry off my brand new shirt I had bought from HEADLINES. (It was a must for affordable fashion in the early 90s .)
I found Dene and  we sat down to watch these overzealous, excruciatingly earnest young actors perform the story of Dracula –for radio. It was too much for Dene and I to handle.  We giggled and pointed and eventually looked at each other and communicated in stage whispers that this was the worst thing we had ever been to and we had to leave. We assumed that they were all simply forsaking a decent job of acting just to get Coppola’s attention. “He’s probably not even here!” I slurred. Dene looked at me confused for a second.

As we made our way to the back, the skittish blond was near the coat room. We presented our tickets. She stood there appearing bewildered. I felt it was necessary for the wall to hold me up due to the tannin laden wine I had ingested. ( It was free- hello?)  She stood and blinked at us. “We’d like to go.” Dene repeated to her. “Go? “  What the hell? “ YES! GO! “  Her eyes grew wide as she shrank back from us  and dashed off to get the coats. She  muttered something about not counting on the fact that someone would actually LEAVE before the end of the show. Soon we were weaving down Broadway toward Kearney. Dene collapsed in laughter –uproarious un contained all consuming laughter. “What’s sho funny?” I asked as I tried to focus in on his shaking form.  He gasped out, “ I can’t believe you did that!”
“Did wha?” I asked and swayed
“ Called Francis Ford Coppola a Lummox after insulting his wine!!”  he giggled
….and that’s why I am not Rich or Famous…really.... that’s the reason.


  1. You are hilarious-! I love this story-! Tee hee-!

  2. Oh Paul Andrew, Paul Andrew:
    “Dreadful! It has so many tannins in it that it is virtually UNPOTABLE !!!"

    Each time I read this, I hear your voice. Of course the emphasis would be put on the "DREAD" in dreadful and the "POT" of unpotable.

    Bob, you long lost love left in Vermont