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Black Lamb


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As good as it gets?

November 1st, 2006


My favorite line about drinking came from an episode of The Andy Williams Show, a variety program of forty or so years ago. One of Andy’s guest this particular week was Phil Harris, who was a renowned carouser, and in one sketch Andy proposed to Phil that they drop in for a visit with Pat Boone, who was a renowned straight arrow. They did, and Pat offered refreshment, and offer that Phil eagely accepted. manwithmartini.pngSo Pat got behind the bar and asked Phil, “Vanilla, chocolate, or strawberry?” Phil recoiled as if confronted by a dyspeptic wolverine and looked pleadingly at Andy, who said, “Well, Phil, you know Pat doesn’t drink.” And Phil said, “Doesn’t drink? Doesn’t drink?!… Can you imagine waking up in the morning and knowing that’s as good as you’re going to feel all day?”

I must admit that I belong to Mr. Harris’s camp rather than Mr. Boone’s. I do love that martini — or two — before dinner. One of the disadvantages of doing a play, as opposed to a movie or a TV show, is that I can’t indulge. Even a glass of wine or a beer will affect my timing; probably not enough for an audience, or perhaps even other cast members, to notice, but I can tell. I’ve been there and done that, and afterwards I felt that I’d cheated the people. Happily, there are now a couple of quite good non-alcoholic beers, and that first post-performance scotch and water tastes just wonderful.

And, yes, I’m also a smoker. A carton lasts me about two weeks, which I wouldn’t call excessive: of course most people (including all my various doctors) disagree rather strongly. But I like it, and I do try not to bother anyone else with my smoking, and since I live alone I’m usually successful in that. Michael Bloomberg, the mayor of the city which is my primary residence, would like nothing better than to outlaw the habit altogether; I don’t agree. Certainly it is hazardous to one’s health, but so, for example, is riding a motorcycle, and I haven’t noticed anyone trying to ban that.

Parenthetically: it’s my personal opinion that anyone who rides a motorcycle is out of his tiny mind.

I have an old friend named Conrad Fowkes, the long-time treasurer of Actors’ Equity Association and a fine actor in his own right. Connie is a remarkable man in many ways, not least of which is his self-discipline with regard to smoking. He has precisely one (1) cigarette a day, with his pre-prandial vodka and tonic. I don’t think even my various doctors would have a problem with that. •

Posted by: The Editors
Category: All Smoking & Drinking Issue, Bogert | Link to this Entry


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