26 years

Filed under: — Joe @ 12:02 pm

R.I.P. Scott Daniel Ugoretz.

February 24, 1964-October 28, 1988.

It seems a strange thing to do on a sad anniversary, but tonight I’m taking my class to see Carmen at the Metropolitan Opera.  It was just the way the schedule worked out.  Last night talking to my parents on the phone I said that Scott would have enjoyed the opera, but then after getting off the phone I remembered that he and I went to the opera together several times as kids, and Carmen was one of the operas we saw.

I wonder if that was in my head somewhere when I made this reservation.  It was some kind of program for elementary school kids to be exposed to opera at the San Diego Civic Center.  I don’t remember how old we were–I think I was probably 8, so Scott would have been 7.  Or something like that.  I can actually picture the costumes and set, and remember talking to him about it afterwards.  In fact (and I’m not proud of this) we both agreed that the woman singing the title role was too fat.  And we actually wrote a letter to the opera saying so–that we couldn’t believe someone so fat was believable in the role of Carmen.  It’s embarrassing to remember that we were that shallow and immature and …but we were 7 and 8 years old.

We got a letter back from someone at the opera company (probably in the marketing and communications office) who told us (in quite a snotty tone) that they chose singers based on their singing ability, not their superficial physical attractiveness.  Even at the time, I remember that we felt chastened.

This was part of a time when we had these unlimited public passes.  We could travel anywhere in San Diego, and I remember trips to Balboa Park, to Fashion Valley mall, to the main library in downtown San Diego, and Horton Plaza–which at that time was extremely seedy.  Sailors, homeless people, prostitutes and petty criminals and vendors.  We traveled everywhere and I think that freedom (we had no money so mainly just went places to walk around and look around) made both of us comfortable in cities and new places–and we experienced something similar in our trip to Europe together, the last summer before he got sick and lost the person he was.

We were also big on writing letters then.  I remember in addition to the letter to the opera a letter to San Diego Rapid Transit praising our usual bus driver.  I remember his name was Floyd Chapman, and he was friendly and protective and funny.  The SDRT responded to us, too, and told us that they would tell Mr. Chapman and his supervisor about our letter.  We were so pleased to see his big smile and he shook our hands the next time we rode his bus.

Scott and I were close–partners in letters, in exploring, in talking and arguing.  For so many years.  On anniversaries like today, and in fact often still, I remember that closeness and the times we had together before he was gone.

I wish I could talk to him today.  And many days.


1 Comment »

  1. Joe, thank you for posting this. I was thinking about Scott as I often still do, and I’m not sure why this time I searched of him online. I can easily see Scott in your stories and think I even remember meeting up with you in Europe that summer after he graduated, wasn’t it in Paris or Barcelona? Anyhow, thanks.

    There are just so many, many memories. In junior high (he was still Scotty then) we had a little group who played racket ball after school, then it was that or tennis in high school, body surfing and skin diving, and poker, and whatever else. Once he cleaned up at poker and then gave everyone their money back.

    He had a sweetness that way, it was grounded and kind and good, even as he wouldn’t let you get away with being unrealistic or naive (as I often was back then). I kept learning from him. Before he was ill he was always a reality check for me. He was wiser and had better common sense.

    Do you remember the lodge-pole pine story? I don’t know why I remember it just now, I wasn’t even there when your mom allegedly asked the Indian guide during a vacation why they were called lodge poles. It was just one of those funny stories he could tell that would stick with you.

    We had some pretty good discussions. And we wrote letters. I haven’t done letters like that anyone in a long time.

    Sometimes I think I can imagine what his pre-illness self would say about this or that. I often wonder what he’d be like now, and if we’d still be friends. I really miss him. He was my best friend in junior high school and high school, and we were still good friends and visited each other in college.

    RIP Scott.

    Comment by Ben Backus — 12/19/2014 @ 1:12 pm

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