Cookie Bob was just as well known for his penchant for juicy gossip as he was for his pot laden cookies. He was one of The City's most successful weed dealers. His cluttered studio in the Castro was better than the bars, stuffed to the brim every Friday and Saturday night, the standard joke being How did he fit so many people in there? Music blaring Part Time Lover by Stevie Wonder or Freeway of Love by Aretha Franklin or This is My Night by Chakha Khan.
Bob was fat, funny, nerdy and annoying-- not handsome really--- but an open friendly face, a pal type of guy, watery green eyes, shiny purple shirt, jeans too tight, a guilty cat-with-feathers smile. He insisted on teaching me how to walk in heels. We all thought he'd be around forever, telling bullshit stories about the cute-lad-with-curly-red-hair that broke his heart, all the famous people he sold weed to and snorted coke with, all the leather-clad rock stars he had sex with back in his skinnier days, all the dance contests he supposedly won, all the fancy bars he got kicked out of, all the fast cars and faster motorcycles he rode back-in-the-day honey.
He was eating a BLT in Without Reservations on Castro Street, drinking an iced tea, looking out the window at all the gorgeous young men, the day was beautiful and he was happy and he was there and then he wasn't there. I couldn’t grasp it. Cookie Bob was a San Francisco fixture. He was my weed dealing mentor. Remember Kid. No minors. No hard drugs. No street people. Remember Kid. Never talk to the cops. Never never never. Remember Kid. Get cash up front. Never front anyone any dope. Remember Kid. Yuppies make the best customers. They got plenty a money and they’re too frightened to make trouble.
Maybe he'll come back for his birthday. So if he shows up, then what? We'll find some new hot cute guys, bake some cookies, pop open the cheap champagne, put on the dance music? Cookie Bob was chubby but still good on the dance floor, honey he couldn’t sing but he could lip sync all night long to He’s So Shy by the Pointer Sisters or Let’s Get Serious by Jermaine Jackson or I’m Coming Out by Diana Ross.
Maybe he scored some money and OD'd on coke. Bob loved coke almost as much as he loved his cookies. Watch the hard drugs, Kid. They’ll get you every time.
Maybe someone murdered him? Maybe he got mugged in the Tenderloin, looking for some rough trade. They knocked him down and he hit his head and he died. So, for his funeral, we'll find some new hot cute guys, bake some cookies, pop open the cheap champagne, put on the dance music?
Maybe someone busted into his place with guns, robbed him of all his weed and money, then tied him up and dumped him in the San Francisco Bay. (But all his weed was still in his apartment, along with dozens of cookie-filled Tupperware containers, and his sock drawer was stuffed with cash-filled clean striped socks, crumpled ones and fives and tens and twenties.)
Maybe he killed himself. Maybe he found out he had AIDs and he didn't want to suffer, like so many friends, J.T. and Little Keith and Lucas and Paco.
Maybe he knew too much. He saw something. He saw a North Beach gangster shoot somebody. He witnessed a drug shoot-out in the Mission. Maybe he’s in the Witness Protection Program, disguised as a Midwestern suburbanite, working the night shift at McDonald’s or Wendy’s.
Maybe he embezzled a bunch of money from somewhere. But as far as any of us ever knew, Cookie Bob never had a straight job. Who would he embezzle from?
Maybe he has amnesia. He doesn't even know he's Cookie Bob. Maybe he's hopping freights, bumming from Portland to Seattle to Bakersfield to who-knows-where? Crashing in weekly Skid Row rooms, eating at the Salvation Army, calling himself Dishwasher Dave or Hard Luck Tom or Boxcar Bill.
Maybe he took the BART to San Jose and got lost. Cookie Bob never left The City. He couldn't stand the outside world.
Maybe he went home. But where was home? Did he grow up in Iowa or Indiana or Illinois? Was there a family somewhere? A family besides his make-shift San Francisco family of older gays and young bleached blond hustlers and fag hags and weed dealers and weed buyers and coke heads and coke whores and dance partners and bar owners? Cookie Bob never mentioned his past. No one ever asked. Life began and ended in the Castro District.
Maybe he's playing a sad, sick stupid practical joke on all of us. Maybe he's waiting for the right moment to pop out and yell, "Gotcha! Fools! Let's bake some cookies! Girlfriend, let’s dance!” And he’ll grab me and give me a sloppy wet-lipped cheap champagne-flavored Cookie Bob smooch and say Come on honey and we’ll twirl around the room and dance to Prince , I Wanna be Your Lover.
Friday and Saturday nights at Cookie Bob's. Better than the bars, some say. Better than the bars.
© Copyright 2016 by Sara Jacobelli