For many years, Dean Martin was America’s favorite drunk. I’ll let you in on a little secret, though: he didn’t drink all that much.
According to the biography Memories are Made of This, written by his lovely daughter Deana Martin, the shtick was just that – an act. Truthfully, Dean’s drinking was rather tame. He’d sip on a glass or two of wine before going on stage, begin his act with ginger ale, have a single J&B on the rocks halfway through his act, and then head home before any of the parties began. After all, the avid golfer he was, Dean had to make his 6:00 am tee time.
In fact, there’s a famous anecdote that truly exemplifies Dean’s distaste for gratuitous partying. The story goes that one night after a show at the Sands Hotel in Vegas, Dino snuck away from a party with Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford, Joey Bishop, and many others. Before leaving, he leaned in to a friend and said, “Tell them you saw me here.” With that, he headed upstairs to his room to partake in his favorite pre-bed ritual: watching old spaghetti westerns.
About an hour into his movie, he heard a knock on the door. Upon answering, he was greeted by a bellboy who bluntly said, “Good evening, Mr. Martin. Your presence has been requested downstairs by Mr. Sinatra.”
Being the clever man he was, Dean pulled out a $100 bill, handed it to the bellboy and said, “Take this and tell Frank you couldn’t find me.”
The bellboy hesitated, before looking back at Dean Martin regretfully.
“I would, Mr. Martin, but Mr. Sinatra gave me $500 and told me you would say that.”
Such was the real life of Dean Martin – the drunk on stage, but the early-to-bed-early-to-riser in truth. He didn’t do it to deceive people; rather, he discovered the act was what people wanted. He never felt the need to “fake it” offstage, but was more than willing to “do the dance” when the lights were on.
That’s what I’m learning about living in this life. Principles are wonderful – necessary, in fact. But there is a time and a place to “do the dance.” I avoided blogging, tweeting, Instagramming (whatever the verb is) for years because it didn’t fit into my worldview. I believed that being present in a moment was impossible if you took a photograph to share with friends. It shattered the stillness of existence, broke the nowness of it all.
I still believe that, but I’m learning that when moments have passed, there’s nothing wrong with giving the world a glimpse of the images they want to see. Living is important, but bringing satisfaction to others can be a major part of life. In other words, you don’t have to sacrifice your true self and your values in order to socialize with the many loving folks who want to support you. Dean found a way, so why can’t I?
That’s why I have folded and joined social media. People want to see fun pictures of the coffees that inspire me to write, the bourbons that inspire me to croon, the typewriters that capture my thoughts, and the nature that stops me in my tracks – so I’ll oblige. I promise it won’t rule me, and I promise to laugh at myself any time I begin taking it too seriously. We all should laugh at ourselves as often as possible.
Eric Idle, of Monty Python fame, once sang of life, “You’ll see it’s all a show, keep ‘em laughing as you go. Just remember that the last laugh is on you.” It is a show. Might as well keep ‘em laughing as you go.
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