Delphine

I met Delphine the summer before I started at Hill Junior High School, the second middle school I attended in Novato. I fell in love with her instantly. Now don’t get all worked up that a gay boy (which I very much was) could fall in love with a girl. This was in a phase in our lives that was almost pre-sexual, if such a thing exists. I know children are sexual beings, but that doesn’t mean they have the urges to explore it constantly. I just didn’t think in those terms with Delphine. I knew what I was, but really didn’t quite know what I wanted. And I genuinely liked girls, so I don’t think puppy love is right, I’d say instant best friend.

I don’t remember how we met. She lived with her grandparents in the same apartment complex that my mother, her boyfriend Willie, my sister Yvonne, and I lived. Her mother was absent, and strange, I only met her once. Delphine and I became friends very quickly. I remember her grandparents hated me, well, more accurately, they hated what I represented. I don’t remember saying as much as hello in the few moments I met them. I never heard anything about a father, which might account for their stifling over-protectiveness. They wouldn’t allow her to see me, and she could never let them know we hung out together. It was like forbidden love! High drama.

We often played word games, practiced dancing (the peak of the disco era!), or just hung out and played stupid teenage flirty games. When school started we were practically inseparable. And then one day, I honestly can’t remember when it happened, she stopped talking to me. I think now that our relationship scared her, I think she was scared by what she thought was my desire for something she couldn’t reciprocate, the cruel irony!

It seemed that literally overnight she changed. She dressed like a completely different person, the catholic school girl was gone (yes she had been), and the tom boy rock chick emerged! She went from playing bass clarinet, and Cello, to playing bass guitar, and not only would she not hang out with me any longer, she shunned me completely. I remember being desolate for days. My mother, in desperation I assume, gave me a small dish garden of hers to give to Delphine as a peace-offering. I honestly just wanted to be her friend. I had no desire for more, and I had sensed for some time that she didn’t either. Not because she wasn’t attracted to me, but because she wasn’t attracted to men. But I think I scared her away. Trying to get her to talk didn’t help. I took the small token to her apartment, and, not wanting to be seen by her grandparents, I knocked, and hurried around the corner to listen.

They answered, I heard somebody swear, and shut the door. Damn it all, they hadn’t seen it. I knocked again, and scurried again. Ditto. They completely missed the damn planter sitting right in front of the freakin’ door, cursed loudly, and slammed it. I was terrified. Somehow I had ended up in some weird game of Ring And Run. In desperation I went to the door, picked up the dish, and knocked. I didn’t run. A split second later the door was flung open! As I jumped back a little old man jumped out and yelled “What do you want!?!”

Scared the living shit out of me! It wasn’t until this very moment that I actually clued in to the fact that I was in fact playing Ring And Run! And with the grandparents who hated me for Christ’s sake. I quickly told him who I was, who the gift was for, and no, I hadn’t seen anyone running away when I arrived. No lie involved! He didn’t call her to the door, and I was too scared to ask. I barely had a chance to speak to her ever again..

She changed dramatically in almost every way, going from straight A’s , to practically failing. Delphine confessed to me at one point that she wouldn’t answer in class anymore because people thought she was weirdly smart, which of course she was. It was obvious to me that drugs were involved, but she never seemed so bad that it was obvious to anybody else. We hung out for part of a day right before my mother and I left Novato for Vallejo. She obviously didn’t really want to be there. It was so uncomfortable. I never spoke to her again.

I tried to find her over the years. I wanted to come out to her, and hoped it would allow me back into her life. I tried early social connection sites like classmates.com. I tried googling her often. I even contemplated joining a “people search” site to see if I could find a number for her. Nothing. When Facebook came into heavy use I knew eventually she would join. Delphine is a rare enough name that I figured eventually I’d find her. And eventually I did! She was listed (very cryptically) as the base-guitar player for a band named The Nuns under a pseudonym, Delphine Volino (Neid). It didn’t list very much info, but on later research I’ve learned that The Nuns were one of the very first punk bands originating in San Francisco and Marin. They were extremely important in introducing the punk music scene, and were highly regarded, though not immensely successful.

Delphine replaced their former guitarist in 1986, and was described as young and gifted. Delphine would have been 21, and she was most assuredly gifted, she made me love classical music after I heard her play the cello and bass clarinet, bass guitar would be fabulous as well I’m sure. Unfortunately, in what feels like a stupid cliché, she died of a drug overdose shortly after The Nuns finished recording their final album.

I was shocked, but thought that, though extremely unlikely (young bass player, drugs, named Delphine, in Marin county), the odds were ridiculous. it seemed it must be her, but still, there’s always hope. I contacted the only person I could find info on, the lead singer Jennifer Miro. I sent an email asking if she remembered Delphine? Did she know of her history? Was this Delphine the same girl who went to middle school in Novato?

After sending it I forgot. Moved on, wondered occasionally, but only briefly. So, many months later, when I got a reply, I was in shock. And her answer didn’t settle my nerves. Yes, she was sure it was her. She knew her very well, in fact she was looking at a picture of her as she wrote the email, and how she and the whole band missed her every day. I have no proof, but I think she confirmed not only her identity, but other questions I had as well. But I still wasn’t really convinced. You can’t think of a friend as dead on circumstantial evidence. Denial and hope are too strong. And then while researching The Nuns again, I found a video. The only scrap of video showing Delphine Volino (Neid). After all those years and months, I was now positive it was her. Though the picture was grainy, I recognized her body language instantly. I cried, finally. In all the years I searched, I always knew I would connect with her again. I grieve for her life and tragic ending, and for the lost chance to tell her how much she meant to me.

It turns out Jennifer Miro’s (Anderson) email would reach me just 7 months before she too would pass away. She died quietly of liver and breast cancer in January of 2012. I don’t know anyone else that would have known Delphine. Still…I can’t think of our story as finished.

Warning: I neither endorse, nor promote, this video. The quality is pretty bad, and I personally watch it with the sound off (though I’m sure there are many people who would enjoy it). If you watch for the bass player you can see Delphine, and I must say she really rocks that bass guitar!

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OC Ho!!

A doctor told me recently that I had reached “that age”. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’ve certainly noticed the grey in my beard and the receding hair-line. But I mean, for 47 I think I’m pretty awesome. I don’t think of myself as “that age”, what does it mean? There’s a magical age where we start to fall apart? OK, I had a bad back incident not too long ago, which is when the doctor told me I was “that age”, but I’ve hurt my back before, that doesn’t make me “that age”. I work all day long in my salon, behind the chair, and I rarely take breaks. I’m not “that age”, and I don’t think I will be for some time. And my obsession with the idea of grandchildren is not an age thing.

I really do seem to be a little preoccupied with the idea lately. It’s not that I think my son and his new FIANCE´ Jennette are at that stage. Yes I said FIANCE´, and I want to give a shout out to them right now! Congratulations William and Jennette!

Aaaw

Aren’t they adorable? But no, seriously, it’s not about them. It’s just that I was always worried that I wouldn’t want grandkids, and then something clicked a few years back, and now I think I do.
I was always the disciplinarian in our household. Two fathers, a mother, and a step-father, and I get to be “the bad one”. But grandkids are different. I get to spoil the hell out of them. And yes, you bet your ass I intend to. I don’t care what kind of condition they’re in when I return them, as long as they have the biggest smile on their face the next they see me. They’re not my responsibility to fix. I get to love them unconditionally, and spoil them rotten.
Honestly though, I have no idea if William and Jennette even want kids. And it’s not my business, and I would never ever expect somebody to make a decision they didn’t want. It’s not really about them anyway. It’s just that I think that was the real sign that I HAVE reached “that age”. It was the final link that finally made me accept the truth; I am “that age”, and suddenly I’m OK with it. As a matter of fact, I think “that age” suits me quite well. Another great part of being “that age” is celebrating my sons engagement the end of last year.
Pete and I had decided to visit William and Jennette in December to see the show William is working on at the moment. He’s running the lights for Teatro Zinzani
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We rented a motor home in Newark because they had a size we wanted to try. It’s not much larger than a full size pickup truck, so we figured it would be easier to navigate around LA, and we were right. It was a nice size. We didn’t feel too crowded with the dogs (they were inside as much as we were, so that’s important).
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It had a decent bathroom, the bed was a good size, and the refrigerator nice. We liked it well enough, but, well, we just needed a little more space. The only real problem we encountered was the heat, or more pointedly the lack of. And for some reason Southern California decided to plunge into the ice age while we were there. Who expects to take long-sleeved shirts, jackets, and rain gear for a trip to Southern California? No heat was a problem, luckily Cruise America bought us a space heater. Can’t fault them for customer service, I’ve wanted one for our master bathroom for years, so there’s that. For some strange reason I had hives every night, very weird, but after I got some Benadryl it was all good.
Pete and I have a blast motor-homing (we don’t really camp, I don’t like dirt in my bed, and we both like having a real bed and refrigerator). We have nice meals, Pete almost always makes Chicken and Dumplings during the trip. We play cards, and just enjoy being disconnected (to a certain point). We’ve taken trips to Oregon in a camper with just a bed, icebox, and camp stove, to Montana in a rather unfashionably shabby second-hand motor home; it smelled like bacon…in a bad way, Yosemite with three feet of snow in our favorite camper, and so many miscellaneous trips to various family gatherings I’ve lost count, but Pete and I think this may have been one of our top three, and luckily our best with Buddha.
On this trip we visited the coast and whale watched,
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let the dogs go wild on Morro Rock Beach,
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watched Elephant Seals sleep, fight, and fight off unwanted advances,
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visited Hearst Castle, visited Pete’s sister Judy, her boyfriend Ron, and our wonderful nephew Ben and his husband Tim, had an absolutely perfect lunch at The Boathouse at Hendry’s Beach after walking the beach with the dogs, hung out at Heisler Beach
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and had nachos, guacamole, and margaritas at La Brisas,
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went to see the Hobbit at Downtown Disney (I loved it, and even at three hours, I think I want to see it again in 3D), and had the absolute best time hanging out with William and Jennette at Disneyland and having dinner at the brand new Carthay Restaurant in California Adventure to celebrate their engagement!
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Teatro Zinzanni is hoping to move back to San Francisco sometime in the next year, and it was so amazingly fantastic that we will be seeing it there again. I think it will be even more fabulous with a San Francisco audience, though it will be sad to not see William in the booth. The food was really good, and the show was filled with the perfect balance of gee-wiz, humor, and kick-ass amazing vocals, so that even at three plus hours, it never felt long. The food was served during intermission, which gave time for bathroom breaks, stretching, dining, and browsing the circus store. There was even a seventh-inning stretch, in the form of a slow dance (somewhat mandatory it seemed), I think it’s the first time Pete and I have danced in front of straight people. Not that we dance that much anyway. Somehow it felt safe, and even though I am not really a social person, the other guests at our table were fabulous as well! We sat next to Shante´ (a white Orange County girl believe it or not), Brian (her asian husband), Byron (not much personality, all I know is good-looking white dude), and his wife what’s-her-name (we just wanted her to shut the f up about the silk screening business so there was no way I was going to remember her name).
We took two leisurely  days to drive back up the coast. One of our stops was a beautiful little walk to Nojoqui waterfall near Solvang. Aly was in heaven of course, but what makes me the happiest about the trip in retrospect is the fact that it was our last trip with Buddha. Our little Buddhaman loved this hike. He trekked along as if he hadn’t a care in the world, and wasn’t blind in the least. It’s how I try to remember him.
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By the way, can anybody tell me what the hell this is? I found it in the bathroom at a beach we stayed at near Santa Barbara called Refugio State Beach Park, and yes, this is life size…sweet dreams.
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This is a little SMALLER than life-size.