Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Autograph

By Paul Dugan, Groovy Reflections Team Member

Many years ago I worked as a small town disc jockey at a radio station in northern New England. It was a very small station; the studio was smack in the middle of a corn field, and yes, we did the agriculture reports. My shift was from 5:30 to midnight, after which the relief shift came in.

The “relief shift” in this case was a Harley riding, earthy, feminist preacher named Agnes . Agnes was great, certainly not a stereotypical preacher, not your typical feminist and even less a stereotypical Harley rider, since she topped all of about five feet and on a good day 100 pounds. We became good friends, visiting each others homes and having cookouts (in some parts of the country also called barbeques). Agnes had two daughters, one still at home, while the other, Daphne, was in Hollywood trying to break into acting.

It seems things had been going well for Daphne and after a couple minor roles in “B” movies, she had landed a staring role in an upcoming movie. I was treated to updates on Daphne and Hollywood life in general through Agnes.

Then one day when Agnes' Harley roared into the cornfield. She came into the studio and it was plain to see something was wrong. I asked what was the matter, fearing the worst. You could tell she'd been crying and I wasn't sure if I was ready, but hey, she was a friend, and as somebody far wiser than I once said “The only way to have a friend, is to be one”, it was time “to be one”.

But even I wasn't prepared for the answer. Agnes said that Daphne's movie was premiering in Washington D.C, in two weeks and the studio wanted to fly Agnes down for the event, put her up at a five star hotel for the weekend with a limo to take her to and from the premier! Now, I don't know about you but I was having trouble figuring out the problem and said so? Agnes said “I need that weekend off from work and management said I could have it but my job won't be here when I get back and I really need my job!”

I couldn't believe it! How could what seemed a great place to work do such a thing to another employee? I couldn't let it happen; but what could I do? In the food chain I was only one step above Agnes, my demands wouldn't go any further than hers, so I did the only thing I could think of; I said “No problem”!

Gotta admit, I didn't think preachers knew those words! But when I calmed her down enough to listen to me, I explained I would simply pull double shifts for the weekend, she'd be covered, and there wasn't much management could do about it, if I didn't put in for extra pay.

You could see the light go on again in her eyes, and if I never see happy again, I know I saw it that night in that Momma/Preacher lady's eyes. Agnes asked what she could do in return. She wanted to repay me somehow, for what for me, a no brainer. I told her that when she saw her daughter to ask her to personally autograph one of those fancy studio photos for me and then when she got famous I could claim I knew her!

Well, she went and when she came back she brought me a manilla envelope and I can tell you right now that Daphne has a sense of humor! This beautiful young lady and actress, that has since gone on to a fantastic career in the movies and television, sent me an autographed photo that I still have to this very day and will cherish always. The inscription, very simply reads:


Thanks for the wonderful weekend in Washington!

Love Daphne

I love the look on people's faces when they read that! Me, I'm a gentleman; so I smile and say nothing!

I'm happy to report that Agnes had a wonderful weekend and shortly after her return, got things in order, and did a lovely refrain of Johnny Paycheck all over management. She decided to move to Hollywood and be closer to her daughter, so she hopped on her Harley and headed out on a cross country trek that we probably all wish we could do at one time or another.

While I was sad to see her go perhaps the way she was treated by management made me look at my future, and while it was probably a year or so later and I didn't hop on a Harley and ride into the sunset, I eventually did pursue other options and moved on to other opportunities.

I never heard from Agnes again but if you've ever seen the picture of the beautiful actress Daphne Zuniga hanging on my wall, with that special dedication, now you know what it really means!

By Paul Dugan, guest Groovy Reflections blogger

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Graduate

By Paul Dugan, Groovy Reflections Team Member

During, my senior year of high school, Dustin Hoffman was starring in his first movie.

I spent most of my free time engaged in my favorite sport, hanging out at the mall and checking out all the girls, who were busy making sure they were being checked out. It's not a complicated sport but it does have rules, however, that's for another story.

One evening, while perched on “our” bench, two of my friends mentioned they had seen the new movie The Graduate at the cinema across the parking lot and how great it was and they wanted to go see it again. Knowing full well if we left, we'd never get this prime seat back, so I was reluctant plus the movie didn't sound all that great. From what I could tell, no cities were destroyed; there was apparently no blood, I mean, what was all the hoopla?

My friends were not to be denied they begged, they pleaded, but I was firm I did not want to go, they said “we'll pay”. So, I went!

Needless to say I loved it; the best movie I'd ever seen. In fact, I was telling another friend the very same thing the next day. He said it sounded great and let's go see it. I told him I just saw it and really didn't want to go see it again. He begged, he pleaded, and he offered to pay. Again, I went, and it was just as good as the first time.

You'd think I'd learn my lesson but I never claimed to be the brightest bulb on the tree. A couple days later when I picked my steady girl up, I told her about it, you guessed it, she wanted to go. I was pretty sure she wasn't paying for this one.  While I still enjoyed the movie, it probably was more the company than the movie, I mean, three times in one week.

As happens in life our romance was not destined to be and we broke up a couple of weeks later. After allowing the heartbreak to heal an appropriate amount of time; I'm sure it was at least ten days, I asked another girl that I'd met at work out, and she accepted. When I picked her up and asked where she'd like to could see this coming from a quarter mile away couldn't you? So off I went for the FOURTH time in less than a month. I'm pretty sure Dustin Hoffman owes me big time for his career.
Well, that relationship didn't last either and off I went to college. About a year later I'd come home for a weekend and the folks had installed one of those redwood, above ground pools, that were all the rage back then. I was doing my best Dustin Hoffman imitation, on a float in the pool with my cool shades on, when a shadow passed over me. It was Mom. She said “I want you to meet my new friend; this is Mrs. Robinson.”

I'm pretty sure I set a new speed record getting out of that pool and high tailing it back to college!  Mom was pretty upset with me for embarrassing her and to this day I couldn't tell what her friend even looked like; all I knew was, I was taking no chances.

Flash forward, 2010. I have a copy of that movie on DVD and still watch it now and then. It’s funny the different perspective I have now. When I see it, I realize that was me, I just didn't know it then. Oh, I don't mean the whole older woman thing, but the going thru the motions, not having any idea of what you were doing or where you were going in life, like you were just being pushed along by a current too strong to resist.

And my dating life? Well, eventually, I finally did have a relationship that lasted. We raised a family and have been blessed with grandchildren. I still feel the current but I aged enough to know I can move out of the middle of the stream where it's not so fast and enjoy life on the river. I'd kind of like to think maybe Benjamin finally found his way out of the middle of the river too.

By Paul Dugan, guest Groovy Reflections blogger