I met Bronni Bakke in 1986, I think. I have an appalling memory, for various reasons, but I think that’s right. We were in a production of Brigadoon together at a fancy children’s theatre in San Jose. She was all bubbles and sparkle. Totally beautiful, funny, very raunchy. Also one of the only people who called me on every casual lie that came out of my mouth. I can still hear her, “Dion, you’re lying”. And of course I’d protest I wasn’t, but be secretly relieved to be caught.
She was one of those girls that you either loved or hated. I frikkin' adored her. As I dealt with my own ridiculously ripe body and raging hormones, it was great to have someone who felt exactly as I did. Horny, full of lust and completely unembarrassed to admit all she wanted was to make out with some hot guy somewhere, and no, it had nothing to do with true love. Although maybe it did, come to think of it.
In that arrogant and self centered way you have as a kid,I saw Bronni as a perfect contrast to my dark, broody, nasty baby punk. I mean I WANTED to be the ball of sunshine that everyone loved, but that REALLY wasn’t going to happen. Guys would hold the door open for Bronni and then let the door slam in my face as I walked the requisite ten paces behind her. It was a good social experiment. If there was a guy who for some reason noticed me when I was around her— well then I knew he had to be a gross jerk and god forbid I would have anything to do with him.
I remember picking her up to hang out, and finding her with some guy. Then she’d either ask me to chauffeur while they made out in the back, or he would drive while I sat sleepily by myself in the back seat, thinking about the insane boy I loved, (Who Bron did not approve of at all, for he was unforgivably weird. And probably gay.)
We got in a lot of trouble. Beth J., another impossibly cool chick I could never hope to be like, Bronni and I got into more trouble together than should be possible for three teenage girls. Each one of our mothers thought the other was a rotten influence. And guess what? They were right.
So many boys! Rick the Dick, that was fun. She made up a memorably cruel and ripping rap about Rick, who as it turned out was not only ungenerous, but— ungenerous. You get my drift. She liked them preppy, or she liked them dangerous. None of them ever made a huge impression on me except as an appendage to her.
She was obsessed with Marilyn Monroe, her room was covered in Marylin posters and she had either a mean little dog or a mean little cat named after her.
I actually know very little about her.
Bronni was in my life for a fairly short amount of time. You know, though, through the intensity of being a teenager it felt like a forever friendship.
The things I know, or think I know:
Bronni adored her father Hans, who was sweet tempered and played the accordion.
She had a difficult relationship with her mom.
She came to Hollywood and worked in the industry as a performer and as a casting director.
She was a Marilyn Monroe impersonator, a very good one. She also impersonated Britney Spears, and I bet she was hilarious.
She— and this is fucking difficult— she and I didn’t really talk in Hollywood because I hated the guys she dated. So we never saw each other. Because I was a shitty friend and that is the truth.
She had breast cancer, and according to Beth she called it Tit Rot.
She died. At 46-47. Of said Tit Rot.
And, as far as I know there has been no funeral and no obituary and I don’t even know if there is someone left to claim her body.
And I am sad I was a shitty friend to her, and she was so beautiful and so complicated.
I just prowled through Facebook, and I realize I gave her the wrong god dammed phone number the last time we chatted, in 2012.
Again, you see things like this through your own selfish needs and wants, and I feel like I could’ve given her so much. And now she’s gone and I can’t apologize or cry with her or let her yell at me for my crap.
Goodbye Bronni. Golden child. Norma Jeane. Rest in Fabulousness.