Fabian Forte was in town for a few days, visiting with his son and daughter-in-law, Christian and Mercedes Forte, and with his two grandchildren. I joined Fabian and Christian for lunch at the estimable Waterboy, chef Rick Mahan's restaurant at 20th Street and Capitol Avenue in downtown.
You remember Fabian, right? He was one of the groomed-and-packaged teen idols of the late 1950s and 1960s to come out of Philadelphia, a star on "American Bandstand," the guy who rocked the worlds of hysterical teen girls.
"The singing sensation of the nation" had his share of hits ("Turn Me Loose," "Tiger") before signing a movie contract and moving to Los Angeles. His filmography is impressive - 30-plus movies, including "High Times" with Bing Crosby, "Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation" with Jimmy Stewart, "The Longest Day" with Henry Fonda, "North to Alaska" with John Wayne.
For the past 28 years, he and longtime pals and fellow teen idols Frankie Avalon and Bobby Rydell have toured their show, "Golden Boys," around the nation. Last summer they were in Reno for "Hot August Nights," but not this year.
"We used to do 90 shows a year," said Fabian, 70, digging into a gorgeous salmon fillet (pictured). "Now we play cemeteries - we don't have to worry about the sound system. No, really, we do 25 shows a year. It gets me out of the house."
"The house" is on 40 rural acres outside Philadelphia, shared with his wife, Andrea Patrick-Forte, 52, a former Miss Pennsylvania-USA.
"I've never been happier," Fabian said. "I ride my ATV and tractor and cut the grass. Where I grew up, there wasn't any grass.
"I'm looking forward to spring, when I can plant my garden - tomatoes, corn, you name it," he added. "I don't even water it and it grows. I just got a (gas-fueled) Weber grill and I'm waiting to get the searing thing going - lamb, fish, vegetables."
Christian and Mercedes Forte own Fabian's Italian Bistro in Fair Oaks. On one wall is an iconic black-and-white photo of Fabian at 15, looking 25, in a suit and well-oiled hair, taken by famed portrait photographer Richard Avedon.
"We named the restaurant after my dad as (an homage) to our family and heritage," Christian Forte said, finishing a bowl of seafood-filled squid-ink pasta (also pictured).
Last summer, Fabian was among the guests of honor at the San Francisco Bohemian Club's exclusive retreat in the luxurious Bohemian Grove campground in Monte Rio. Its membership consists of megastars in the arts, politics, business and media.
"For years they asked me to go, but I told them I don't camp," Fabian said with a laugh, then went on for 15 minutes to say how incredible the experience was.
We declined dessert, but I had one last question. Who is Fabian's favorite singer?
"Bob Seeger," he said without hesitation. "He's a rocker whose songwriting speaks to me. When you see him perform live, you want to shoot yourself because you know you'll never do anything like that."
Fabian paid the bill and we left. Rock on.