Six Degrees, or Less

I missed you once again yesterday — or perhaps you missed me — because some days there are just not enough hours in the day. I even had a topic at hand, but I had to stab a cat (which is not the kitty carnage it suggests, but consists rather of injecting insulin) not mine, and then I had to be somewhere at quarter to 10, and . . . well, you didn’t hear from me yesterday. But here I am today.


kevin bacon 1019

It all comes down to Kevin Bacon. He doesn’t get talked about so much these days, and the only remnant of him in this house comes not from any of his movie appearances, but on at least one of Sandra Boynton’s CDs. Yes, Sandra Boynton the children’s author who draws fun cartoon animals, like a carp and a sheep and a horse and a bird and a moose to give you: We fish ewe a mare egrets moose (panda hippo gnu deer). Someone that clever clearly ought to write songs, which she has done, and then she went out and found celebrities, including the Bacon Brothers, to sing them.

But if you’ll recall, after the movie Six Degrees of Separation (not starring Kevin Bacon), some person out there decided that every actor could be tied to Kevin Bacon within six movies. Finding the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon was all the rage there for awhile, but that fun game seems to have faded.

However, the concept that people are more interconnected than we might think ought not to ever get old, and yesterday I was going to tie two seemingly disparate actions together for you: Kara was at a trade show, and my salsa sibling Wendy was coming to Gunnison.

Now it’s Saturday, and Kara has returned from what was likely the world’s smallest trade show (it’s the third or fourth time they’ve tried one in Denver, which is very nice for proximity, but it seems to get smaller each iteration, and this might be the point where it blips out of existence) and Wendy is here.

The connection still exists, although perhaps not as relevant as yesterday, and the connection’s name is Fred, who is always relevant, no matter what topic is at hand.

Long before she became my salsa sibling, Wendy and her husband Fred moved to Gunnison for Wendy’s new job as the night librarian at Western Then State Then College. Fred, whose name I had read before, reviewed science fiction books for the Denver Post every Sunday, but as glamorous as that sounds, it didn’t pay the bills, so he got a night job stocking shelves at Walmart. Until he came to work at Pat’s Screen Printing.

I believe he was the first person I hired, and while he started out printing, it soon turned out that talent was being wasted, because he was quite versed in bookkeeping. In one of those Kevin Bacon moments, he had worked in Boulder for an accountant who was the wife of one of my professors (the costume designer in the theatre department, a man I was astounded to learn had a wife, because he seemed very gay).

Fred came on board during the dark period of Pat’s cancer and subsequent death, and it may have been his suggestion, when neither of us knew what we were doing, that we go to a trade show and take one of the workshops being offered.

Pat’s didn’t have a dime to its name; in fact, Fred was supplementing his income teaching basic math at Western while I worked at the airport during the ski season. I used one of my free tickets to book a flight to Los Angeles so we only had to pay for Fred’s, and we each took responsibility for buying our own food, and there we were, in Long Beach in January, at what turns out to be the biggest screen-printing show of the year.

It was hands-down the most productive trade show I’ve ever been to, and educational, although Fred in particular was not overly impressed with our screen-printing teacher, who seemed to be a barfly using his newbie students to cadge drinks (the man was still working the shows a couple years back when I last attended one). We had to go all the way to LA to find a distributor we’d never heard of right in Denver, and we met a man from Delta (Colorado) who ended up doing some embroidery for us.

We saw giant machines that did everything but load the t-shirt (one man told me, “We’re working on that,” but as far as I know, 20 years later, you still have to hire a human being to load t-shirts) and learned how to use the soy-based chemicals Pat’s employee Analee had convinced Pat to buy before I arrived (we still use them) . . . it was an eye-opening show, and well worth the little but huge amount of money we spent to get there.

We didn’t really get to see Los Lobos with our free tickets, because the band didn’t even arrive at the venue until after 9, with no plan to start entertaining any time soon  — although they did walk right past us on their way in; and I got quite irritated at Fred, who dragged me into Acres of Books [Fred has corrected my earlier assertion that it was Poor Richard’s], a gigantic second-hand bookstore with a resident cat.

Fred, whose idea this was, came out of there with two small books, while I staggered back to our motel under the weight of a large armload that I then had to figure out how to get back to Gunnison along with all the screen printing information and catalogues I was loaded down with. (I think a lot of it ended up in Fred’s luggage.)

Going through all these early Pat’s growing pains together, you would think it would be Fred I bonded with, and while he is still a good friend I “see” each Thursday through the Miracle of the Internet, it was Wendy with whom I made a lifelong pact.

A really bad library director caused Wendy to look around at options, and she ended up taking a job at the University of Northern Colorado (no recent name changes) in Greeley, where she and Fred are to this day.

I was, and remain, heartbroken that my friends were abandoning me, but Wendy assured me the distance would only be physical. So we made a pact. Not in blood, which seemed a tad messy, perhaps painful and possibly over the top, but in salsa. At the W Cafe during a Thursday lunch. We are now, and forever more, salsa siblings, bonded together by a tomato-based product and our pledge to always be there for each other.

And now Wendy is here, on her “way” from Greeley to Santa Fe for a qi gong workshop. We had a lovely tomato-based dinner of chili made by Lynn, joined by the Gauss, who keep threatening to leave Gunnison but so far haven’t. Perhaps this morning Wendy will accompany Oz and I on our stroll around the neighborhood, and then we’ll send her on her way, secure in the knowledge that no matter how far she goes, she will always be here with me.

2 thoughts on “Six Degrees, or Less

  1. Poor Richard’s is in Colorado Springs. We were at Acres of Books in Long Beach. It is out of business but still has a Wikipedia page.


  2. And all these years I thought “salsa siblings” was the best ever dance partner….

    On Sat, Oct 12, 2019 at 9:05 AM Garbanzo Beans for Breakfast wrote:

    > TL Livermore posted: “I missed you once again yesterday — or perhaps you > missed me — because some days there are just not enough hours in the day. > I even had a topic at hand, but I had to stab a cat (which is not the kitty > carnage it suggests, but consists rather of injectin” >


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