Adventures in Marketing — Week 419

Gave away a “Cheesesteak” and a café journal to the daughter of a college friend and her transgender son who were in town from Seattle checking out UCB as a potential college. (He has also been accepted at USF, UC San Diego, Occidental, and a couple schools in DC.) I related how I ended up in Berkeley and recounted a drunken, rowdy night 60-plus years ago, when the father/grandfather and I bonded, and I heard of the son’s political and artistic interests. It was a rich morning.

In other news…
1.) This same friend and I have been exchanging noteworthy birthday presents for years. Most recently, I gave him a coyote skull and he gave me a custom made bowling league t-shirt. The front showed a large, lavishly and gruesomely depicted skull in handsome black-and-white. On the back, above a ball scattering pins are the words “AUTHORS STRIKE.” One sleeve bears an American flag (perhaps more provocative in Berkeley than the skull). Where the breast pocket would be is a smaller skull and cross bones (or, rather, cross pins) and, above them, my name. Now some back story.
One of the café regulars is a 94-year-old, old lefty originally from NYC, a former fitness instructor and dancer, who was left a widow a year or two ago. She is very sweet and very chatty but hard of hearing and slipping a little. Recently, whenever Bob Dylan comes up in conversation (or when she notices my book), she will say, “I knew his first girlfriend,” which really means she was friendly with the parents of Suze Rotolo, the girl on the cover of “Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan,” and she will add, “Her mother told her he wouldn’t amount to anything.” I will then reply, “You knew his second girl friend. His first girl friend was Echo Holmstrom from Hibbing, Minnesota.” She will not hear me or she will hear me but not absorb what I have said, and we will have this same exchange again and again and again.
The other day, I wore my new shirt to the café. When she saw my name, she said, “I knew him. Bob Lev-en,” giving it the New York pronunciation.
“Li-vin,” I said, making it, like me, from Philadelphia.
“I knew his first girl friend,” she said.
Sweet – but sad.