One Sunday afternoon, many years ago, I went over to Sausalito on the ferry from San Francisco. I went into the Bar With No Name and there was only one free seat at the bar. As I sat down, I realized that I was interjecting myself into the middle of a conversation between a fairly well dressed man in his forties and a couple about ten years younger separated from him by the barstool I had just taken. But they urged me to go ahead and sit down and promptly included me in their conversation.
As I remember it, the well dressed guy was the owner of the Trident, a well known Sausalito night club. And the woman, named Holly, had been a singer a few years ago and perhaps had even once sung at the Trident under a previous owner. I know she talked about having sung at Fort Mason, but I don't have any idea where in Fort Mason that would have been. At that time, I didn't know a thing about Fort Mason.
Anyway, she was earning her living doing data processing for some insurance company. The Trident owner, who was obviously quite taken with her, was talking about the possibility that he could give her a singing gig.
The guy who was with Holly, I was soon told, was her ex-husband. He was visiting San Francisco from San Diego with his wife for a few days. And he had taken the opportunity to pop over to Sausalito for this date with his ex-wife while his unsuspecting present wife was occupied going to church. (It must have been a little more complicated than that, because he had essentially the whole day free.)
The ex-husband said that what he was now doing in San Diego was working at Sea World, teaching elephants to water ski. Implausible as it sounds, this was apparently true. I had visions of the elephants standing on their hind legs on water skis, but eventually I realized they stood on all fours and undoubtedly used something other than regular water skis. I'm sure that it must have been a big attraction.
The ex-husband and Holly then proceeded to tell us the story of how they had originally met and got married. Namely, she had been working as a telephone operator and had connected him for a toll call. (This must have been before the days of direct dialing, or at least when it was less common.) He had been making arrangements with a friend to drive down to Tijuana and, for whatever reason, Holly was still listening in. So she broke into the conversation and said, ``Hey, if you're going to Tijuana, I want to come too,'' and in fact she did go along with him.
So he and Holly rode down to Tijuana in a camper shell on the back of a pickup, while his girl friend was riding in the cab or the truck with someone else. And for the whole trip down from San Francisco to Tijuana, as they told it, Holly and this guy she had just met by cutting in on his telephone call were in the back of the truck fucking.
They got married within, as I recall, a few weeks after getting back from Tijuana. And now, telling the story, they both enthusiastically agreed that they had been an impossible couple, liking each other a lot but incompatible in every possible way.
Eventually they finished telling this story and then they had to leave to go back to San Francisco, so that Holly's ex-husband could meet his ex-wife after church or whatever. We all walked down to the ferry dock. At first the Trident owner had said that he was going to ride the ferry back with us, but then he changed his mind.
So I rode back to San Francisco on the ferry with the two of them. I don't remember what we talked about on the way back, except for Holly pointing out Fort Mason to me. ``That's where I sang.'' What I do remember is that the husband disappeared for a considerable length of time to get us some beers, leaving Holly and me alone on the forward deck. I'm pretty sure now that this was to give me the opportunity to ask Holly for a date, but I didn't figure that out until later. At the time, it never occurred to me.
Back in San Francisco we got into the ex-husband's car. Holly was living somewhere like Twin Peaks. My hotel was downtown on Jones Street. The ex-husband talked about the possibility of the three of us getting together that evening, which I would have really liked to do, but Holly said that she had some curtains she needed to hang in her bathroom. It was certainly one of the lamest excuses I'd ever heard.
They let me out of the car on Market Street at Jones. And as I was climbing out from the back seat past Holly, she took my hand and held it for a long minute of affection. And then they drove off and I realized that I had missed an opportunity.
I didn't have any way of ever finding her again. But I remembered her for a long time afterwards, and obviously still occasionally remember her now.
February 5, 1995