Love is a wonderful thing, my friends. As I reflect on my colorful and unconventional life, I must say that I’ve been blessed to have shared intimacies with an extraordinarily large number of the rich and famous. I’m not sure what it is that draws these handsome, virile, talented men to me like flies to a donut shop, but I’ve never regretted a single affair. I can recall so many– among them Jay Silverheels, Mel Torme, Richard Deacon (aka Mel Cooley), and Dick Wilson, who insisted that, at all times, I refer to him as “Mr. Whipple.” In return, he called me Charmin, and he squeezed me constantly. He was a little kinky that way, but I adored him. Call me romantic, call me irresponsible. I don’t care. I’m a fool for love.
Many of these relationships have led to heartbreak. I was left at the altar by Gene Gene, the Dancing Machine. Liberace avoided committment by trying to convince me that he was gay (believe me, that sequined stud was as heterosexual as Rock Hudson and Tab Hunter combined). Marty Feldman had a heart attack during our strenuous lovemaking. But I’d never change a thing. I recovered quickly from the demise of each liaison, knowing that the next passion-inflamed lover would soon be knocking upon my door.
There was one romance that I never completely recovered from though, one man who swept me off my feet like an O-Cedar broom at a witches convention and changed my life forever. That man was Buddy Hackett.
Buddy. Just saying his name fills me with heartache and sorrow. Heartache for what that bastard he did to me. Sorrow because of what could have been.
I’ll never forget the first words he said to me: “Two triple pastramis on rye, light mustard. Extra pickles on the side.”
I heard the voice, but at first I couldn’t figure out where that sexy sound was coming from. Then I noticed the top of a mop of shiny black hair, and a dark pair of hungry eyes peeking over the counter top. As he stood on tiptoe placing his order, I almost fainted. I knew in an instant that those eyes weren’t just hungry for deli food. Oh no, they were undressing me like he would soon be unwrapping the delectable sandwiches that I was preparing for him.
Buddy. I was so overcome with the intense heat between us, that all I could do was hand him his change. He pressed a quarter into my palm, and said meaningfully, “Here’s a little something for you, sweetcheeks.” As the door closed on his fat behind, I never thought I’d see him again. Oh, how wrong I was.
Later that afternoon, I stood in front of the deli wearing a wooden sandwich board that said, “Eat at Lindy’s!” We employees took turns standing in front of the building during slow times, which allowed us to smoke cigarettes and down a few beers while we drummed up business.
As I was chugging the last few sips of my Pabst Blue Ribbon, a gleaming black limo pulled up alongside me. A tinted window was lowered and I heard a sexy voice say, “Board?” The sheer wit of that little pun made beer shoot out of my nose. It was of course, Buddy. He’d returned to woo me.
“Um…yes, as a matter of fact, I am,” I replied.
He opened the door and I stepped inside. We sped away from my career at Lindy’s and into the glitzy world of Buddy Hackett.
How can I describe him? He was raw sensuality, machismo wrapped in the body of a miniature sumo wrestler. He showered me with jewels and furs, and servants fed us Jordan Almonds and Necco Wafers as we sat in his darkened screening room watching The Love Bug over and over again. Seeing himself on screen, riding around in that little talking VW seemed to ignite his sexual urges like nothing I’d ever experienced. Looking back, I realize that he was fantasizing about that car during our lovemaking, but that only heightened the eroticism of it all.
I often had to pinch myself. I was Buddy Hackett’s mistress! My days became a haze of shopping expeditions and luncheons with the girlfriends of Gavin MacLeod, Nipsy Russell, Nancy Kulp and other fabulous stars. Buddy and I traveled to comedy clubs across the country where he performed his act. We shook the walls of every Howard Johnson’s from the Catskills to L.A. with our passionate lovemaking, then we’d shower and dress and travel to wherever he was appearing that night. He was often late, I guiltily admit. Once we arrived at the venue, I’d watch proudly from a reserved corner table, drinking Cold Duck and eating calamari as he wowed the crowds over and over again. Never had I been so enraptured.
Of course, it couldn’t last. Buddy was too much of a man for one woman. I mean this literally and figuratively.
One night, I entered the bedroom of his mansion, and I knew something was different. He looked the same, a rotund, dwarf-sized, hirsute Cary Grant in his silk robe and slippers, sexily draped across the zebra skin bedspread like a Playgirl centerfold, but my intuition told me that something was amiss. And then I saw it. On the nightstand, beside the Tiffany bed lamp was a nail file. A nail file that wasn’t mine.
“Come to Papa,” Buddy said, in that sexy, distinctive voice. Of course, when he said it, it sounded sort of like, “Come to Phlawpa,” which usually aroused me even more. But this time was different.
I looked at him lying there, and I knew it was over. My face was burning with anger, and grief filled my heart.
“Who is she, Buddy?” I asked quietly, holding the nail file in front of him.
At first he denied it, and said that he’d bought the nail file for me, that the claw marks on his back had drawn so much blood that he’d become anemic. But he knew he couldn’t fool me. A woman knows these things.
“Yes, there’s someone else,” he finally confessed. “I’ve been seeing Madge.”
I was incredulous. “Madge?? On the Palmolive commercials?“
“One and the same,” he answered, a little too smugly.
I started crying. “What’s she got that I haven’t got?” I asked.
“A stiff, puffy hairdo and a ballsy persona,” he answered.
He then went on to describe in detail how skilled she was in the art of love. She was a tigress, that Madge. A skillful seductress who rendered powerless every man in her path. He described her heart-shaped bed, and her extra large bathtub. She ran him bubble baths and sponged his hairy back. He claimed that it was the most relaxing experience he’d ever had.
“Mild?” I asked.
“Oh, more than just mild,” he replied.
And with that, it was all over. I packed the furs, the jewels, a live Maine lobster and the stuffed animals that he’d given me, but I left my heart behind.
I licked my wounds by moving on to the next man. Dave Madden, the guy who played Reuben Kincaid, the manager on “The Partridge Family.” He’d been pursuing me for months, and we soon began a torrid affair.
Dave took me to dinner at The Four Seasons one night, and as we sat gazing at each other over our candlelit dinner, I noticed another couple sitting a short distance away. It was Buddy and that harlot, Madge. She was wearing her manicurist’s uniform, and her rock hard hair was a perfect little mushroom cloud. I thought that I was over it, but I must say seeing them in that intimate setting, she buffing Buddy’s fingernails as he drank his wine, just infuriated me.
I picked up my bowl of lobster bisque and made my way to their table. In a flash, I dumped my soup on Madge’s head. Great globs of lobstery goo poured down her starched white uniform.
“You’re soaking in it,” I said to the slut who stole my man. As the other patrons gasped, I gathered my dignity, along with my coat and purse, and walked out the door, Dave following close behind.
I never saw Buddy again. He’s up in that Great Comedy Club in the Sky now, but I’ll never forget him. Nine months after we split up, I secretly gave birth to his love child. I named her Buddina Hackettina McQueen (Tina for short), and she is the light of my life. She now works at the same deli where I met her father. Wearing the now-faded Lindy’s sandwich board, she endlessly walks the sidewalk as she chugs her beer, waiting for the love of her life to magically appear.
Her father would have been so proud.
Here’s a story about another one of my great love affairs, this one with Mr. Rogers.
<i>Originally published February 19, 2008.