I've made it on my own. Pulled myself up, as it were, by my own bootstraps. Climbed the ladder of success, so to speak, rung by rung.
My commission as a man of distinction came in yesterday's mail, in a plain wrapper.
It was a letter from New York author Paul Denis, who, if I say so myself, is on speaking terms with the biggest and best of them. Or, rather, us.
"Dear Paul," it began (he's nice, but a bit of a name-dropper). "I'm working on another book — this time a book of celebrities' favorite recipes for desserts and drinks — and I would like you to send me a recipe for a drink or a dessert for inclusion in the book . . . "
I suppose you realize what this can mean.
If Denis has any decent sensitivity about the feelings of his contributors, nobody will get top billing. The celebrities will be listed in alphabetical order so that nobody's feelings will be injured.
At least, that's the way I'd do it, because, down deep, I desperately want everybody to love me.
Assuming that Author Denis is equally insecure, I will very likely land in between Jeff Chandler's apple strudel, Perry Como's cappuccino, Mickey Cohen's split and Bonnie Prince Charlie's recipe for a pint warmed with a hot poker.
While the prospect makes me giddy, I still retain enough equilibrium to realize that this is a challenge. If I'm going to travel in such company, I have to keep up a front.
I can't acknowledge for literary posterity, as an example, that my tastes in desserts are simple to the point of being dull. Cherries Jubilee may be an epicurean delight, but to me they're just a fire hazard.
"A little pate de foie gras is a nice dessert. But frankly, I don't have it often because it just doesn't set well with me after a heavy dinner.
I've a nodding acquaintance with all these fancy French desserts (I think a demitasse is pleasant if washed down with a good cup of hot coffee), but let's — at least, among ourselves — be honest.
What I really like best in the whole world, I like tapioca.
However, in this age of gustatory snobbery, I'm afraid tapioca has had it. Even such a down-to-earth domestic scientist as Jack Bailey no longer includes a recipe for it in his cookbooks.
Since a recipe for tapioca will only hold me back socially, I suppose I'll have to make my entry in the field of drink.
Therefore, modestly, I'll submit an alcoholic invention of mine. You see, I have this little laboratory that I set up at home. Every night, I kind of kid around with my Bunsen burner, beakers and test tubes, mixing various liquid elements and testing their effects on myself.
Actually, chemistry is not my line. It's just a hobby. I'm a newspaperman.
Anyway, through trial and error, I came up with this mixture which, after testing on friends, seems to have a definite therapeutic value. And it's so simple, I'm amazed nobody's ever come up with it before.
All I do, I pour four test tubes of gin and one test tube of dry vermouth into a beaker full of ice. Then l agitate it slowly, taking an occasional sip for purposes of scientific control, all the while crooning to myself, "When Your Hair Has Turned to Silver" (I Will Love You Just the Same).
Then I pour it into individual Dixie cups, each containing an olive on a toothpick.
That's what I'd like to submit to Denis. Only trouble is, I can't think of a clever name for it.