Once upon a time, in 1976 to be exact, I had opened my new law ofice, and, in celebration, threw a party in the Presidential Suite of the Sheraton Boston hotel. I was very proud and invited the world---and it came. The place was packed and smacked of that sometime elusive spark when everything goes right and the joint goes electrical. Trust me, it was one of those nights.
Booze and food and plenty of it--that was the key. I instructed the hotel captain that I never wanted to see an empty platter on the food table. "Keep it coming until the last guest leaves", was my order of the night. Shrimps, lobster, filet mignon and a never-ending flood of Chinese food. People who were there still remember and rave. Even now, as I write, my pulse quickens and palms get sweaty. You can't guarantee this atmosphere in advance, it just has to happen and, on this night, it did.
A little background:
I had met and hit it off with Paul Burke. Paul was a very successful movie and T.V. star. Among his hits were Naked City and Twelve O'Clock High. He starred in Valley Of The Dolls and the first production of The Thomas Crown Affair. He was stunningly handsome---I mean gorgeous---and he dug the grape, a denominator which sealed our friendship firmly and forever.
On one occasion, he asked me to fly to L.A. and represent him at a lawyers' meeting involving his agent. I took the earliest flight from Boston, enjoyed the first-class tickets which he had provided, and looked for him as I deplaned. No Paul. I decided to take the escalator up to the main terminal and as I was half way up when I saw him. He was coming down the "moving stairs" and we were about to pass each other. Passengers were gushing in adoration for he was blessed with that type of persona. He saw me and, putting one hand on the railing, vaulted into my side of traffic. What a move! Clark Kent would have been put to shame. He was magnificent.
The next time I saw him was at my party. I hadn't thought to invite him and to this day don't know how he found out about it---he just appeared---like a Greek God. As we embraced, it became rather obvious that he was one or two (hundred) sheets to the wind, but as an adorable rascal as ever.
I noticed that he had brought a friend who looked vaguely familiar. He was leaning against the wall, completely out of it, just staring straight ahead, saying nothing. He was gaunt, sported a goatee and shades which successfully hid eyes from the world. Who was he? I had seen this face before---but where?
As the evening wore on, with the pace of the revelry steadily increasing, I kept trying to place him and was fascinated by the fact that he hadn't moved from his station against the wall and was mumbling to no one except Paul. And, finally, a possibility hit me.
I owned an impressive record collection. I loved hip vocalists backed by a swinging orchestra. One of my albums was on the Columbia label and its title was "His Heart In His Hands". The face on the cover was the face of my mysterious guest still glued to the wall. It was a jazz vocalist widely respected by musicians who knew what was happening. The album was glorious and it portrayed the face of Bobby Scott. It was him! Or was it? Only one way to find out.
My favorite song on the LP was "If Ever I Would Leave You" from the musical Camelot. I walked up to my guest, extended my arms and sang, "oh no, not in springtime" which were the song's words and, without missing a beat, the stranger-no-more responded, "summer, winter or fall" which were the immediately subsequent lyrics. I screamed, "Bobby Scott!" and he yelled out, "a fan---I've found a fan!"
What a night we had! I was so proud of him as I introduced him to everybody. He ultimately gravitated to the piano and played---and sung--- 'til 3 am. We listened and became his captive, adoring audience.
An indelible memory, impervious to staleness.
It was magic.
It was my party.