Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Not Now, Frank!

Don Rickles with David Ritz, Rickles' Book. New York & London: Simon & Schuster, 2007, pp. 3-5.

The Sands was swanky, the hottest spot in town. Frank Sinatra was headlining at the Sands. In those days, the place had strolling violinists and hors d'oeuvres in the lounge. We sat in a corner and I ordered champagne. (You can bet it wasn't Dom Perignon.) You could hear the clinking of glasses. You could see this was class. My date could see that Sinatra and his entourage had just arrived and were seated in a roped-off section.

"My God," she said. "There's Frank Sinatra! Do you know him?"

"Do I know him? We're like brothers."

"I don't believe you."

"Wait here, hon," I said, trying to sound suave. "I'll be right back."

I got up and approached Frank's party. He was with Dinah Shore and some other celebrities. His security boys took one look at me and turned to the boss. "It's Rickles," they said.

Frank was hitting his favorite, Jack Daniels, pretty good.

"Bullethead!" said Frank. That was his term of endearment for me. "Bullethead," he repeated, "how you doing?"

"Can I talk to you for a second, Frank?"

"Sure."

I leaned over and whispered, "Frank, I need your help. I'm with this gal and I could impress her big-time if you'd come over and just say, 'Hello, Don.' That's it, Frank. Two words, 'Hello, Don,' and everything will be beautiful."

"For you, Bullethead, I'll do it."

"Gee, thanks, Frank, you're a pal."

I walked back to the table and, filled with confidence, raised my glass of champagne to toast the lady. "You are something special," I told her. "You have real class." I thought she bought it.

Meanwhile, I was praying, God, let this thing happen.

It didn't happen right away. A minute passed. Then five. Then ten. My heart was beating fast. My right leg was vibrating. Finally, Frank got up and made his move. Slowly he walked over to our table.

My date was beaming. I was beaming. Frank was beaming.

"Don," he said. "How the hell are you?"

I took a deep breath, counted off a beat, turned to him and, in my loudest voice, said, "NOT NOW, FRANK -- CAN'T YOU SEE I'M WITH SOMEBODY!"