A boyhood friend emailed me last week to say his wife had died. I write to Bobby now and then, but not enough really. I’m going to write more often.
During the last few months I’ve been working on young men with horrible back hair. All these guy tell me how this affliction limits their social life: swimming, beach, girls … the whole deal.
I get it; I had the same affliction. But one time, my hair might have “saved me.”
I grew up in Santa Barbara with some great kids: Bobby was one of these. In our teens, somebody gave him an old “Chinese Junk” and we would spend hours working on that total wreck down at the harbor. We were, of course, going to sail around the world.
Later, Bobby got into music and I got into surfing. He disappeared now and then. One day, he re-appeared and wanted me to visit this “amazing spiritual group out in the desert.” Gosh, I REALLY wanted to go, but I thought that maybe I would have to take my shirt off (lots of “skinny dipping” in those days). Maybe they might give me drugs (late 1960s) and I would get goofy and there I would be … “the wolf man.” I didn’t go.
A few months later, I briefly meet the leader of the “spiritual group” during his brief stay in Santa Barbara. His name was “Charlie.” I didn’t have any impression … just some guy. Again, I never got too involved with any (in my opinion) “Hippie” group or took any drugs ever … all of this because I was fearful of “losing control” and eventually being ridiculed for my “disgusting” body hair.
Several months later, I was watching television and learned of the “Tate/LaBianca” murders. If you hadn’t guessed it by now, that “spiritual group in the desert” was the Manson family. Bobby Beausoleil was “my Bobby.” Sadly, Bobby was involved, and he’s still in prison. (Tons of information on the internet.) I sometimes think: “what it.”
Bobby’s mom, Arlene, and my mom were lifelong friends too (until their deaths … almost the same time). Because of this connection, I was always able to keep tabs on my boyhood friend. He was, and is, a brilliant talent (art and music); I mean near genius. I knew Bobby and I’m absolutely convinced it was all about drugs and a “demonic” influence that turned that sweet young kid into a “crazed murderer.” I wish he could be released from prison.
I sometimes think: that might have been me? Maybe my affliction saved me? I think about that now and then. I think I was “saved by my hair?”