It is kind of odd going forward with my book about Leonard Pennario now that the man himself has passed on. Sometimes it makes me sad. But other times there is a lot of humor about it. I have found that whenever you suffer a major death, you find a peculiar mix of laughter and tears. That is the situation here.
I just got off the phone with one of Leonard's old friends. That is what I am doing over the next few weeks, calling the people who were close to him over the years. What I can't get over is how varied these people are. Leonard stayed single his whole life and traveled constantly and loved parties. Ergo, tons of friends. It is fun to talk to them because it brings him alive to me again.
We wind up laughing together a lot on the phone, remembering this brilliant, absurd personality.
And one thing that I find myself laughing about when I am off the phone is the nature of these people, of Leonard's friends. They are not the kind of people who would normally appear in my humdrum Buffalo life. They are like royalty compared with me. One beautiful, graceful woman, a very close friend of his, invited me to come to Los Angeles and go with her and her family to the beach club there. That is a very exclusive place I would never ordinarily wind up anywhere near. (How is that for grammar? Can you tell I'm in a hurry?)
She said I could not write about Leonard Pennario without going to this beautiful Republican beach club, because I guess he practically lived there.
Then there was this woman I just got off the phone with today. Now in her 70s, she sent me a picture of her and Leonard from years ago, both of them blindingly beautiful. She has this lovely German accent. A lot of women who knew Leonard very well had these accents, I am noticing. I don't know why he ever bothered with me, with my flat Buffalo A's.
Anyway, she and I both established that our families were from Bavaria. We conducted part of the interview in German. And today she invited me to come with her to visit her family's ancestral vineyard near Baden-Baden, in the Black Forest, where my father's family was from. She gave me the Internet address of this winery. It is beautiful! Rolling hills, green fields, an incredibly beautiful place. The family crest was there too.
She asked if I would come with her. Answer: Ja! Jawohl! I think I would enjoy life there. There would not be boom cars and I would not have to listen to people yelling: "OMIGOD YOUR BUTT IS HANGING OUT!" Or "I AIN'T GOT NO BRAKES!" as Ward talked about yesterday. Ward, want to come with me to the Black Forest?
I always said that working on this book was like stepping into a movie. And oddly enough, even with Leonard gone, it still is.
Alas, now, at least for today, I have to resume my normal Buffalo life. Back down to earth.
But with luck in the future you will be able to look for me here:
Ah, Mary... Bavaria and the Alps are about the most heavenly place I've seen on Earth! The Romantische Strasse (Romantic Rd.) to Fuessen is Bavaria at its most picturesque. I was there in Sept. 2004 (Ya,Oktoberfest!) and can't wait to go back. Too bad it's sooo expensive. I dropped about $5K for two weeks!
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