It was Wednesday 10 a.m. And once again, we were meeting in the boiler room of the Susi Q Center. Our existence has been a well-kept secret. For want of a better name we are “The Obit Boosters.” Our mission is to enhance a person’s lifetime before the inevitable happens. Then there is no rush at deadline. I called the meeting to order. “Let’s pick up where we left off. Is the obit for Robert L. done?” “Nope. No can do,” reported Bernie, our best obit writer. “Why not?” I asked. Bernie sighed. “I can’t find anybody who will say anything nice about him. Everybody calls him ‘Schemeboat Bobbie.’ Apparently, he has a reputation for coming up with bad ideas.” Now it was my turn sighing. “Geez. We’ve never had a loser that we couldn’t make look better.” Bernie nodded. “Speaking of losers. Did you hear about the Village entrance?”
“Thirty years and the village entrance just won’t die,” said Bernie. “The city just approved another 20% increase to keep it on life support. The door is up to $8.4 million now.” Group dentures tsk-tsked in disapproval. “Wait a minute,” piped Al Rite, the Obit Booster’s biggest optimist. “Perseverance is a good thing.” In unison the group lamented, “Thirty years? It’s a case of close the village door after the taxpayer is out.”
“Let’s get back to Robert L’s obit,” I suggested. “Have you talked to high school classmates, teachers or guidance counselors to get a better read on him?” Bernie took a breath. “Well sure. That’s how I found out his nickname was Schemeboat Bobbie. He believed the future is in steam. For instance, before the 1982 high school championship water polo match, he heated the pool and created so much steam that the players had no choice but to take a page from field hockey and play field water polo instead. Looked ridiculous. Athletes in speedo bathing suits treading water that wasn’t there. And then there was his crockpot scheme. For his home-ec project, he steam proofed the school locker rooms and listed his classmates as steamed vegetables on the high school’s healthy menu.” The Obit Boosters shook their collective heads attempting to clear the steam coming out of our ears. I piped up, “Wait. Maybe he made good later. Tell us about Schemeboat’s professional life.”
“Let me google it,” said Bernie. “Oh-oh. Schemeboat is a professional consultant.” I perked up. “That’s hopeful. He must have hundreds of clients who will speak well of him.” “I don’t think so,” answered Bernie. “Schemeboat has only one client since high school.” Let me guess?” I said. “His parents?” Bernie sighed. “No, not his parents. Close to home, though. His only client is the village of Laguna Beach and the project is the village entrance.” Al Rite came to the rescue. “Don’t worry. Try this obit booster…”
“Robert L was very dedicated,” said his high school friend Don Quixote. “Whereas, I misspent my youth tilting at wind mills, Robert gathered steam and kept controlled pressure for 30 years to build an entrance his community could be proud of. And when he was done and it was time to go, Schemeboat showed himself the door. Rest in peace Robert “Schemeboat” LaPorte.
Crantz tells the Indy that he sometimes goes to Dana Point’s village entrance and dreams the impossible dream, “What would life be like if Laguna had one?”