Dan Rattiner's Stories

A Perfectly Good Hour: Wandering on the Internet – From a School Closing to Angela Aames

The Hamptons’ only charter school announced last week it would be closing its doors when the school year ends—unless a petition started by parents of children at the school can change that decision—after 21 years trying to make it. It’s in Wainscott on Stephen Hands Path. Sorry to hear it was going. At the time I heard about this news I was sitting at home out on our front deck, watching the activity in Three Mile Harbor just across the street. I had nothing to do. But it got me thinking.

Education has changed quite a bit since I was a boy. Back then, in grammar school, there was a big pull-down map of the United States the teacher could lower in front of the blackboard. We were in third grade. All the states were in different colors, and we had to learn all the names of them. We also had to learn all the capitals of all the states. I bet I could remember at least 40 of the 50 capitals today. They don’t memorize those things today, I bet.

The capital of Ohio is Columbus. The capital of Vermont is Montpelier. In Maine the capital is, what IS the capital of Maine? I took out my iPhone and pressed the button for Siri.

“What’s the capital of Maine?” I asked her.

Augusta, she answered.

Damn, I thought. I closed Siri.

Well, how about California? I know California. It’s Sacramento. What about Utah? Salt Lake City. Texas is Austin. Louisiana is Baton Rouge. Baton Rouge is French. But what does it mean?

I asked Siri again. She answered that the population was 223,689. That was not the question I asked her. Tried a second time. Same result. I went to Yahoo. You can phrase things as a question on Yahoo. It’s good for that. Baton Rouge translates to the English “Red Stick.”

Florida, Jacksonville. No, Tallahassee.

North Dakota, Fargo. Idaho, Boise. Montana, I don’t know. I looked it up on Google. It’s Helena. How about South Dakota. No idea. Looked it up on Google. It’s Pierre.

I’m not doing very well. Anyway, Pierre is a tough one. I mean, what kind of tinker-toy town is Pierre, anyway?

What’s the population of Pierre? I asked Siri.

The population of Pierre, South Dakota is about 13,600, she replied.

“Name a famous person who came from Pierre, South Dakota,” I asked, using my most challenging tone of voice.

Hmmm, let me think, she said. “Here’s what I found on the web for ‘name a famous person who came from Pierre South Dakota.’”

The list of people named were all from South Dakota, but nobody was from Pierre. They were from Rapid City, Huron, Deadwood, Redfield, Sioux Falls. Mamie Van Doren was from South Dakota, born in Rowena. All the others I had never heard of. Not a one. Wait a minute. There was one from Pierre. The very first one on the list. Angela Aames was from there. Who was she? Her name was in blue so you could tap on it. She comes up in Wikipedia.

Angela Aames was an American actress known for her buxom blonde bombshell image, Wikipedia says. There’s a picture of her. She is indeed that. Big blue eyes. Red lips. Big white smile, cleavage and an ample bosom. Born in Pierre in 1956, she moved to Hollywood and went on to have a career in the movies and on TV.

She played Linda “Boom Boom” Bangs in the movie H. O. T. S., which came out in 1979. H. O. T. S. was a sorority. She was one of the girls. She was in Bachelor Party in 1984, Basic Training in 1985, and she made appearances on the TV show Cheers. She was Girl #1 on Mork & Mindy, she was Laurie Jeffers on The Love Boat and she had a role in Scarface, the movie. She also appeared as Penny, a fitness instructor, on The Dom DeLuise Show in 1987.

But then she died. What? It was 1988 and she died at the home of a friend in West Hills in the San Fernando Valley. Just 32 years old. And she was married. For one year at that time. This was the only time she’d married. She had just one year.

I wanted to know how she died. According to Wikipedia, the coroner’s report said she died of a weakened heart muscle, which was likely weakened by a virus. This report contradicted vicious rumors in the tabloids at the time that declared her death to be of a drug overdose. Not true, her friends said. Never did drugs.

What about her husband? Who was he? His name was Mark Haughland. I Googled him. The only thing about him I found was that he had achieved some fame for having married Angela Aames. There’s pictures of them together. It’s the early 1980s, the era of Charlie’s Angels, the era of Burt Reynolds and Smoky and the Bandit. Angela Aames is beautiful. Her husband is handsome with long sideburns and, I am sure, though it’s not in the picture, bellbottoms. But after his wife dies, he seems to have just galloped off into the sunset or something. There’s nothing else about him.

I Googled Angela Aames. There is a website dedicated to her memory. There are people today who are still crazy about Angela Aames. They make entries. The website is called “The Angela Aames Shrine.”

Welcome! This website is devoted to the late actress Angela Aames, one of the most beautiful and talented stars to ever grace the screen….and the people who knew her are unanimous in saying that she was one of the nicest human beings they ever met. It was a sad day in 1988…

So who was this guy Mark Haughland? I went to one of these sites where they will tell you where anybody is for free and just type in a name. I type him in and up comes Mark F. Haughland, 60 years old and living in San Pedro, California. There is a phone number. That’s got to be him, I think.

No, I can’t just call him up like that.

Maybe I can find out more about him in other ways. I Google him further, and I come up with a website called whosdatedwho.com, where it has the dating history, partner comparison, discussions and other things about, among others, Mark Haughland. “From what we know, Mark Haughland is single,” the site says. It reports one confirmed relationship. It’s Angela Aames. And there’s a sad little black sash across the upper right-hand corner of the screen, which reads PARTNER DIED in it. And that’s it.

Well. So much for that.

I wonder if I am on this site. I type in my name. I am.

And so another good hour has passed in hip, beautiful, fashionable, cultured East Hampton in the run-up to the exciting summer of 2016.

Me and Siri, and my dog, Bella, and my kids and grandkids and my wife are ready for anything. Just ask.

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