I live a lot in my mind. I have imaginary conversations with people real, imagined, dead or alive, often after reading something and being filled with curiosity, often while I should be going to sleep at night. In the spring of 2016, one such conversation with Bobby White went like this:
What happened after you interviewed Genevieve Grazi’s son? Does he not want to talk about his mother more? Does he have anything else he would be willing to share? You mentioned something about a box he wanted to show you. Man, it would be amazing if he had a box of photos and documents so that I (I mean we) could get a first hand glimpse into the life of an original So-Cal swing dancer and help preserve her legacy. Even if he had that, how do you begin to ask for it? Do you just call him up and say, “Oh hi, I’m a swing dancer and researcher, I was wondering if you could give me all of your mother’s stuff for my research.” No, no one would just trust a stranger with their family’s private documents. I would probably come across as a crazy person.
I had to know more about the enigmatic girl in the white dress. I kept waiting for more, expecting that one day I would wake up and the story would continue, spoon fed to me like a hungry infant. This impatient waiting continued throughout the summer of 2016.
Flash forward 6 months- I’m checking facebook before going out for the evening to a Camp Hollywood dance. I notice a post from Bobby White about his friend’s performance of “Singing in the Rain” last night and I wonder if he’s here… and if so, maybe he has copies of his book Practice Swing with him. Maybe I could get it autographed. Maybe I could run all the ideas I’ve been developing for the last six months by him. Maybe I won’t come across as a crazy person.
So I message him. He responds! He’s here! He has books to sell! When I get to the dance I spend the first hour of the night making lots of eye contact with strange men. I keep wondering if people look very different in real life than on video or in photos. When I do spot him, it’s just the top of his hair, but he’s instantly recognizable as himself. Bobby is kind and listens to my ideas. Then, things start to get surreal because he agrees to allow me to help him contact Genevieve’s son Jeffrey Sliakis and to try to meet up with him.
This is September, as the fall starts and winter approaches lives get busy and interviewing Jeffrey takes some time to organize. He is very enthusiastic though, and I can tell he is keen to talk with someone who is interested in his mother. We finally agree to a date and time in February 2017.
Will he have anything from the mysterious box with him?