Full Circle: Hollywood Nights
My mother loved fame, even if it was second-hand

My parents never went anywhere. They spent their money on other extravagances. Like the mortgage and the food.

So my mother lived vicariously through my adventures. She thought it was very impressive when I went on assignment to London or Paris or Milan. She would always ask if I saw any stars there. She was the celebrity expert in the family, my mother. After all, she did have a subscription to the National Enquirer.

“So who did you meet on this trip, Mr. Big Shot?” she asked.

“I had dinner with Bob Seger,” I said.

Her face wrinkled to a pucker. “Am I supposed to know who that is?”

“Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band,” I said. “Nine Tonight, Hollywood Nights.”

“Never heard of him. Is he one of your jitterbug friends?”

“Mom, jitterbug was the ’40s. This is the ’80s.”

She ignored me. “I know lots of famous people, too, you know. Jimmy Durante used to come into the club where I worked. And Julius LaRosa.”

“Julius LaRosa?”

“Yes, he was very famous. He was on the Arthur Godfrey radio show.”

“OK, and what other stars were on this show?”

“Well, there was Harry von Zell.”

“Harry von Zell?”

“Yes, he was the announcer on the Burns and Allen show.”

“He was the announcer for Burns and Allen, but he was on the Arthur Godfrey show?”

“Yes, with the McGuire Sisters, the singers. There was Dorothy, Christine and Phyllis. I liked Phyllis the best.”

“So, Harry von Zell sang with the McGuire Sisters?”

“You’re not listening. He didn’t sing. He was a sidekick. You know, like Ed McMahon. Now there’s a lush if I ever saw one.”

“What does this have to do with Bob Seger?”

“Who’s Bob Seger?”

“The guy I had dinner with.”

“So what did he buy you for dinner?”

“We split a pizza.”

“A lousy pizza? This guy’s a big jitterbugger and all he bought you was a pizza?”

“He likes pizza, I like pizza…”

“You should eat a full meal. With some Del Monte fruit cup.”

“You can’t order fruit cup in a restaurant.”

“You could ask. But let me get this straight. You flew to Los Angeles and all you did was have a pizza with this guy?”

“No, I did other stuff. I went to Susan St. James’ house and she cooked me dinner.”

“Susan St. James? From ‘McMillan and Wife?’”

“That’s the one. I’m putting her on the cover of the men’s fashion guide.”

“A cover girl yet. Oh, I love her. She’s so cute. I would love to meet her. But you…you would never take your poor mother on a trip.”

The thought of losing my job, my house and my car flashed through my head.

“Mom,” I said, “It’s business.”

“Business, my tuchas,” she said. “What your father does is business. He slaves at the store all day. Eating dinner with celebrities isn’t business. Who pays for all these dinners, Hugh Hoffman?”

“It’s Hefner, mom, Hugh Hefner.”

“Hefner, Schmefner. You tell him you want to bring your mother on your next trip.”

“Yeah, I’ll get right on that.”

“That’s a good boy. Now maybe I’ll get to meet him.”

“You want to meet Hugh Hefner?”

“No, dummy. Who cares about Hugh Hefner? I want to meet Julius LaRosa.”

October 2015
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