I went on-line searching for an old acquaintance. Actually, I had searched for him a couple of times over the past few years to no avail, but this time I hit pay dirt.
Back in the late 1960s I worked for (the now defunct) Trans World Airlines at the Indianapolis Airport. A fellow TWAer suggested I go with him to see a vocal trio that was playing the lounge at a nearby hotel. A nite or two later we did.
The trio consisted of one guy I'll call Dain and two girls I'll refer to as Jane and let's say Carmen, yeah, Carmen is good. (Obviously, those aren't their real names. I'd rather not go plowing willy-nilly into their lives.) Jane and Dain were married, uh, to each other. The trio was good. They sang covers of current popular songs - old standards, a little jazz, a little rock & roll. Jane played piano and Carmen sometimes played guitar. They all three sang well individually and had a good harmonic blend when singing together. I believe Jane, who was classically trained, created most of their arrangements.
Over the course of the next several weeks I went to the hotel lounge several times and began hanging out with them after their final sets. Dain and I became friends. To understand our relationship, suffice it to say that Dain was very much an "A" type personality while I was then and remain a "B" kind of guy. Dain was dynamic, pretty much always the mover and shaker of whatever was going on. He ran the show. We followed and fed off of him. Was I a sycophant? I prefer to think not, but I was certainly caught up in his aura.
Dain, Jane and Carmen had been students at a fundamentalist college out here in the midwest where I believe they met. Not surprisingly, Dain had been well on his way to becoming an evangelist minister. But somewhere along the line Dain, and I would assume with Jane and Carmen following his lead, became disillusioned by their studies and religion in general, and together they left school and their religious lives behind them. All claimed to no longer believe in god. In so doing, Dain related that his father had essentially disowned him. Jane's parents though less harsh, still were mightily troubled by their daughter's rejection of the church. I don't recall hearing how Carmen's parents weighed in on all this.
Shortly thereafter the three of them pooled their musical talents, formed their little trio and began playing clubs in the midwest. Somewhere along the line Dain determined that his new found goal was to become an actor, and the only place to do that was New York City. After several months the three of them pulled up stakes and moved to the Big Apple. I followed along a few weeks later.
I was a pretty malleable pudgy hunk of clay back then. I quit my job at TWA, drove east dragging a U-Haul trailer loaded with my junk and moved in with the three of them at the Seville Hotel at 29th and Madison where we lived for several months. To be kind, the Seville had seen better days but was relatively cheap, at least by New York standards. Dain enrolled in acting classes at HB Studios, a professional theatrical school run by Herbert Berghoff and his wife, Uta Hagan, both well established broadway actors. Subsequently I too enrolled at HB and quickly became hooked. The atmosphere at HB was intoxicating, especially to a midwestern hick like myself. Suffice it to say that I proved to be no threat to anyone's theatrical career. But Dain seemed to be on the fast track. He managed to get into Berghoff's class from the get go.
I won't go into all the gory details, but as time went on things deteriorated between all of us and ultimately we drifted apart. Dain had a brief affair with Carmen. Jane discovered it. Dain and Jane split only to later reconcile. Carmen began seeing a fellow who was a heroin addict and soon, may have become one herself, although I am not certain of that. She and I shared an apartment for several months and she was at times chatty about this and that. She did tell me she had done some heroin but was not addicted. I'm not sure if you can "sample" that stuff and just walk away.
Just to do the confessional thingy, I smoked some grass, dropped some acid and mescaline a few times over the course of my stay in New York, but I never got involved with anything heavier. As I noted in an earlier post, I haven't imbibed anything of a dubious legal nature over the last 30 years or so, other than repeated heavy doses of trans fats. The LDL swat team is surrounding the house even as I type.
Carmen decided that it was up to her to intervene on behalf of her boyfriend by moving both of them back to her family home in Illinois in the notion that she would be able to get the two of them "straight." In what was perhaps the most surreal scene I have ever witnessed Carmen's middle aged, midwestern, fundamentalist parents came to New York to assist with the move. Mom and Dad rented a truck and began loading Carmen's worldly goods onto it. Carmen and a girl friend of hers decided the best way to handle all of this was to drop acid making pretty much the whole job of loading a truck the most hilarious and alternately the saddest thing they'd ever done. Of course, her parents were clueless. During all of this Carmen's boyfriend was nowhere to be seen. Perhaps being a lifelong New Yorker, he was contemplating life in the heartland with some trepidation. I guess he showed up sometime or other, I don't remember.
Meanwhile I was trying to find a place or places to take my meager belongings. I was forced to give up the apartment as the rent was too high for me alone. So I moved back into the glorious Seville; just me and my little Dachshund, Doodle. Yeah, Doodle. Want to make something of it?!!
By late the following summer Carmen was long gone. Dain was doing summer stock in Massachusetts, if memory serves. I don't recall what Jane was doing at that point working somewhere, I presume, paying rent. In the meantime I had fallen rather too hard for a girl from Massapequa Park, but my ardor was unrequited. I was pretty much alone, and I must admit, rather a pathetic mess. It was time for me to get out of Dodge, or, er New York.
A couple of years later, shortly after Jo and I were married, we drove to New York as a kind of belated honeymoon and stayed with Dain and Jane at their apartment in Purchase, NY in tony Westchester County. Frankly, I can't remember specifically what Dain was doing at that juncture, but I'm pretty sure he was still clambering up Thespis' ladder. Jane had taken an accompanist job at a community college in Purchase. Jo and I stayed for a few days. As I recall the infamous Boris Spasky/Bobby Fisher chess match was ongoing.
That was the last time I saw Dain or Jane. We exchanged a few cards and letters over the next year or so, perhaps a phone call or two, but as so often happens, communications between us dwindled and ultimately ceased. I haven't seen or heard from any of them since. Until today I didn't know if any of them were still drawing breath.
I found Dain online today.
During our early days, first in Indy, then in New York, through any number of all night, sometimes drug enhanced gab fests with Dain, Jane, Carmen and others who occasionally came and went, my atheism took form. I remember one evening just as I was leaving their apartment, which overlooked Abbington Square in the West Village, I turned back and asked Jane if she believed in god. She thought for a minute, smiled, and quietly said no. I left, going back across town to my tiny rent controlled hovel in the East Village with the aforementioned and mighty Doodle in tow thinking about just where I stood godwise. I decided during that walk that I too, no longer believed. I felt as if a great weight had lifted off my shoulders.
Well, that was then. This is now. Dain, as it happens, is now a christian minister in Hollywood. In Hollywood for crap sake! He is a member of the "Pastoral Posse" (???) at his church. Talk about a slap upside the head?
How do I feel about this? Betrayed? Mmmm, that might be a bit strong. Sorely dissappointed? Yeah, I'd say so. I guess I always assumed Dain was my secret partner in crime.
Of course, Dain made his own choices as he had a perfect right to do. It was and is his life, after all. But as memory serves, he was so adamant, so sure of his sight back then. During that time in New York he reiterated time and again that to believe in god was ludicrous. Given what I've come to understand about people in the intervening years, while I am certainly chagrinned, I am not altogether surprised by Dain's reversion to religion. I think Dain always believed he was destined, if you will to be great at something. Perhaps things didn't go as he anticipated. Or, actually, maybe they did. I don't know.
Nor do I know if he now gets up and preaches the gospel. If he does, I'm sure he's very good. He has great stage presence. His voice, a mellifluous baritone, commands attention. His position with the church is noted as being related to spiritually inspired theatrical and film production. In a short bio on the church web site Dain states that his "occupation" is "actor, director, playwright," so he has apparently remained active in that world.
I'm still sorting this out. Dain certainly had no responsibility to me. He believed then, what he believed. Things change. Dain was (is) an intelligent guy; on the whole, much moreso than I. But he somehow thought his way back to the church. I can't account for that.
My atheism has remained steadfast and developed on its own over the last several years. The Dain/Jane/ Carmen trifecta started the ball rolling for me. But now I don't require them or anyone to validate what I believe today. Still, this revelation has shaken me to a degree. It is rather comically ironic, I guess. My wife thinks its hysterical.
I sent an email to Dain. I am curious to see if he remembers me, and if he will choose to respond. Perhaps he won't care to take a stroll down his long past secular byways.
I can take comfort in one thing, though. Dain's bio includes a photo. Dain is bald. I am not. Ha, ha. (Say it like the tough kids do who always beat up Bart on The Simpsons, you know, kinda nasally, but triumphant.)
Just thought I'd add a little postscript here. Dain does indeed preach the gospel. I found a podcast of a few of his recent sermons. He is indeed quite good. He uses his natural flare for the dramatic and his prodigious theatrical training coupled with his disarming charm to great effect in delivering his message.
Note that while I admire the delivery, I don't embrace the message. I suppose all this does reveal something about me, though. While I have actively sought him (among others) out from my deep dark past, I think it probable that I haven't so much as crossed his mind since Jo and I pulled out of his driveway in Purchase in the summer of 1972.