For years, we misinterpreted Wayne Dolcefino.mmmmm We watched with amusement as the overamped reporter practically vibrated while revealing the scandal du jour (HISD cafeteria employees steal milk!). We laughed about his reputation as a lady's man. And for weeks, we watched his libel trial on Court-TV -- more riveting even than O.J.'s. (O.J. didn't rate cameo appearances by Bob Lanier and Marvin Zindler.)
Like the jurors in that trial, we thought Wayne was a bit full of himself. But as events unfolded, we began to pity him. Only days after those jurors ruled in favor of Sylvester Turner -- the man who would have been mayor, he claimed, but for a Dolcefino story -- Wayne was again laid low. On October 19, as Friday night gave way to Saturday morning, he and a female companion were mugged outside his Montrose townhouse.
Mentally, we filed the incident as a weird little coda to the Turner trial. But not much later, under the unpromising headline "Legal files impasse is broken," the Houston Chronicle showed the mugging in a new light.
It turned out that Wayne's companion -- the woman who, like Wayne, was pistol-whipped and relieved of her wallet -- was one Candace Caminati, a former paralegal for megabucks breast-implant lawyer John O'Quinn. The O'Quinn connection is significant: Caminati has apparently cooperated with the State Bar, which is investigating O'Quinn. Her lawyer, Tom Alexander -- O'Quinn's archnemesis -- speculated that O'Quinn was somehow behind the thuggery, that it was intended to intimidate Caminati. (O'Quinn's lawyer, of course, pooh-poohed the notion.)
The mind boggled. Wayne, we realized, was a player in at least two of Houston's longest-playing news stories: the fall of Sylvester Turner and the Bar's battle with John O'Quinn.
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And then we realized that the truth was even bigger than that.
We understood, finally, that Wayne was right: He really is the center of the universe. What we (and the jurors) had interpreted as arrogance was merely his acceptance of that fact.
In the office, we began playing "Six Degrees of Dolcefino," based on the premise that no one is more than six handshakes (or hoofshakes) from Wayne. The fun, of course, lies in discovering the connection.
We called Dolcefino. We asked about his wallet (he got it back, minus the driver's license). We asked about Ms. Caminati (a potential source, he says, but he wasn't investigating O'Quinn). And we mentioned our little game.
"We've managed to connect you to the Queen of England," we said.
"The Queen?" he replied casually. "Oh yeah -- I went out with her."
With Wayne, the hard part is figuring out what you absolutely can't believe.
-- Lisa Gray