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Casket a Dead Giveaway

November 12, 1987|David Nelson

SAN DIEGO — Restaurateur Paul Dobson professed himself utterly untroubled by the casket--and its occupant--that briefly rested just outside the door of his fashionable Broadway Circle watering hole early Saturday evening.

"It doesn't bother me," said Dobson. "I just thought it was someone who had to wait too long for his reservation."

The erstwhile cadaver, actually a mannequin (clad in black tie, it clutched an artificial red rose and wore an "It Oughtta Be Ottilie" button in its lapel), symbolized the 11 former members of the Bachelor Club who this year fell prey to the siren song of matrimony.

True to custom, the club mourned fallen members Saturday at its 64th annual Burial Dance, held in the Georgia Room of the U.S. Grant Hotel and preceded by a solemn cocktail hour at Dobson's.

The idea of the burial dance goes back well before such prominent former Bachelor Club members as Kim Fletcher, Gordon Luce, Philip Klauber and Togo Hazard ever gave a thought to the ties that bind. It is meant as a clever, if pointed, salute; but in truth, one must question to what degree the club opposes marriage, since a record 20% of the membership stood at the altar in 1987.

Dave Snyder, the club's incoming president and burial dance chairman, arrived at Dobson's well before the coffin. He said that fallen members are referred to as "The Dearly Departed," and added, "So many fell this year, including three club legends. We'll miss them." (Snyder admitted that the tone of the evening is tongue-in-cheek, though, and is meant very much to honor the new brides. "They've done a lot to improve our lives," he said.)

Seven of the 11 newly married members turned out for the event, and all of them, by club tradition, brought along their wives (interestingly enough, most wives and dates wore black to comply with the make-believe tone of the evening, for which the dress code dictated "black tie with tears.")

Shortly after the group had assembled at Dobson's, a group of six pallbearers (five club members and a fatigue-clad helper recruited off the street) solemnly crossed Broadway and marched to the restaurant, leaving the coffin outside while the bearers went in for drinks.

"This is a first for Dobson's," said head waiter Jesse Simon, who also predicted, quite correctly, that interesting traffic complications would arise when the group returned to the hotel.

After a brief intermission, the whole crowd came out to retrace their steps to the Grant, this time led by a trumpet and drum that played "Auld Lang Syne" and, more cheerfully, "When the Saints Go Marching In." To say that the casket-led procession prompted extravagant gawking on the part of the public would be to put the situation gently.

At the hotel, the coffin and its inhabitant were deposited beneath a mannequin dressed as a bride, whose salient feature was the rolling pin she waved in a pronounced manner. And if the point still were lost upon anyone, headstones bearing the names of the departed were arranged outside the entrance to the room.

The seven fallen club members in attendance were Mike Fink, Glen Goodman, Matt Hervey, Chris Jenson, Biff Leonard and Brian Scanlon; Scanlon and his bride flew out from their new home in New Jersey to attend the event.

In addition to Snyder, the Bachelor Club board includes Jon Cavan, Jeff Platt, Rich Flannery, Mark Wolford, Mike Horung, Glen Englund, Eric Luna and Chris Rhoades.

Some 470 guests turned out at Sea World for Saturday's presentation of "An Evening With . . . ," the annual fund-raiser given by the UCSDMedical Center Auxiliary.

The yearly classic has presented such fascinating speakers as adventurers Jacques Cousteau and Sir Edmund Hillary. Cocktails in the Penguin Encounter--a thick glass wall separated the guests from the resident penguins, who surely would have liked to sample the skewered scallop hors d'oeuvres--preceded a formal, multicourse dinner in the Nautilus Pavilion.

A warm, clever performance by Sea World's City Streets performers opened a dinner that began with Malayan-style pasta salad and continued with veal medallions, breast of duck and flan in chocolate sauce. After the meal, Kirk Peterson, UC San Diego Medical Center's cardiology chief--whose new program for the study of electrophysiology will benefit from the evening's $90,000 net proceeds-- addressed the crowd.

"We don't need to go to Times Square to see America walking past us," said Peterson to emphasize the full spectrum of the community served by the medical center. "We see every station of life daily in the wards at UCSD."

Moynihan at Podium

There was, of course, a featured speaker. U.S. Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-N.Y.), a tall man with a head of blindingly white hair, held sway at the podium for quite some time, discussing poverty and AIDS.

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