Gary Leon Zimmer, a former Internet gambling columnist for MediaSoft attempting my first effort at True Crime writing. I am ancient but fortunate to look roughly 15 years younger than I am.
Unfortunately, I feel my actual age . . .
I am a graduate of Yakima High School, the same high school that ‘coughed up’ internationally known short story writer, Ray Carver, now deceased.
Ray was the class of 56′ and I emerged one year later. Ray wrote, drank and smoked for the next thirty years. I played…drank and, yes, I did write, but not much until my late fifties and when I did write, my efforts were for my own amusement and those immediately surrounding me (pity my poor wife). I played, but I did not smoke, hence, I am still here and well . .Ray isn’t but his mark, minimalist short stories, has been compared to that of Russian short story writer, Anton Chekov.
He is the giant and I, as my short poem somewhere on another page herein states, I am belatedly attempting, prior to my last breath at some undetermined eventual launching pad to the spiritual side, to justify my many years upon the earth. Very likely, an attempt that will result in a door being labeled ‘The Results of the Life of Gary Zimmer, and, upon opening, one discovers vast emptiness except, of course, for my progeny, Kari and Mark, a couple of wonderful human beings that I look at with pride, listen to in awe, and constantly remind myself that they are largely the product of another exceptional person, their mother, my former wife, Charlene.
How did I spend all those years playing?
In April of 1970 in moments of collaborative insanity, with my friend from high school, the inimitable Robert V. Tumbleson, I started what was intended to be a business but hastily became a twenty-six year party. The name of the business will hint at an explanation for the word party.
Bob and I, both still married at the time, called it ‘Seattle Singles’. And shortly, we were . . . At first SS was a dating service, a product of the few months of my experience working as a salesperson for a computer dating company. Eventually, best friends virtually joined at the hip for the previous sixteen years, Bob and I viewed the future of Seattle Singles differently, and I bought him out for the princely sum of $500. Envisioning riches and fame and franchises all around the country, I emerged twenty-six years later with a smidgeon of equity in a one bedroom condo and about $495 less than the $500 I paid to Bob for his half.
So much for fame and fortune . . . Ahhhh….but the product of all those years of labor and, what turned out to be the grinding drudgery of Sunday volleyball (summer) and bowling (winter), trips to Reno, discussion groups, TGIF weekly gatherings at local watering holes, softball teams, the occasional wedding when members fell through the cracks and, blind in love, sought the services of a minister, and Saturday night parties . . . endless Saturday night parties . . fifty-two of them a year, all of them held in members homes or in some cabana at an apartment complex…Executive Estates, The San Juan Club, some health spa in Olympia…and the campouts, each of which robbed me of at least a year of my life! And so it went . . . What started as a business to make money became a business that simply recycled money.
I forgot to mention what actually led to the split with Bob, who went on to start other dating services in Portland, Phoenix and San Jose, dating services that actually made a profit. We ended our business relationship because Bob wanted to make money by raising prices! I wanted to get rich by making the masses of singles happy by charging low, low prices and thereby creating a stampede to the doors of Seattle Singles . . . I was to be the benevolent savior of the lonely who, according to my description, were not really lonely, just not in ideal circumstances, circumstances that I could readily change. And did! For low, low prices, mostly $50 six month memberships. But though the price was virtually a giveaway, the masses resisted. Members trickled in allowing me to pay the multitude of expenses . . . and accumulate a few bucks. . . very few.
But I was having fun, meeting literally uncountable numbers and, with the addition of group functions (all wholesome, and I emphasize that) me, the shy kid from the House in the Alley, the half-assed athlete, the kid with good looks but with a continent sized inferiority complex, became the man. Well, kind of. If someone spilled a drink at one of those parties, guess who went looking for a mop? But there were women! And, looking back from the present state of my own human ruins, I question why they, and there is no mistaking that pronoun, were so important to me. Numbers, numbers, constant overturn . . . could it have had something to do with the baggage of inferiority that I strapped to my back upon arising each morning?
My grandmother, the wise and wonderful Roxanne Bowse, and my mother, also wise and wonderful, Cappy (Zimmer, Edmonson, Baumgartner) both passed, taught me early on to.. make hay while the sun shines. Well, Grandma Bowse, and Cappy, the condo is paid for but there was no hay at the end of that singles rainbow . . . but what a great ride!!!
(Note: Ray’s death didn’t get much play in the Yakima Herald. Imagine that! His obituary was run in The London Times but his hometown where he grew up in an east side home without indoor plumbing, barely noticed? What a shame but, let’s face it, the town of Yakima somewhat centrally located in the State of Washington, is noted for little other than their prodigious growth of apples.)