Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Next Installment -- DE-Mented: Crazy About De
OK, over the past week at some point I found the original (unedited) manuscript of my first book about De Kelley (DeFOREST KELLEY: A HARVEST OF MEMORIES, My Life and Times with a Remarkable Gentleman Actor). I'm going through it to glean the DE-mented, crazy stuff that was edited out due to lack of space and due to the fact that the book would debut just two years after his passing which, to many fans and me, was still within the period of mourning. (I was trying to keep the volume a bit more sedate and respectful than our association actually was, out of respect for his fans who would be reading it and coming to grips again with his passing toward the end of it.)
Y'all so enjoyed the Bunny Rabbit "Trekker Treat" story a few blogs ago that I'm encouraged to dig out "the rest of the story" and let you in on some more of the insanity. I think you'll appreciate De all the more for his wild sense of humor after this is all over!
Here you go. Enjoy!
The following adventure took place not long after the letter I sent De on page 20 of DeFOREST KELLEY: A HARVEST OF MEMORIES... in case you're keeping track.. very early on in the newly-budding association I was at that time developing with the Kelleys. By this time in the story, I had met them only once (May 4, 1968); had not yet gone to a second convention or re-met them in person and had dinner with them in Denver. In other words, I was still very much on the outer edges of fandom, but was writing to them and keeping them grinning...
So, with that little bit of background information, here we go. (Print it out and place it into the book after page 20, if you want.)
In November, I planned the next adventure. I would fly to Tampa, Florida for De's next convention, in January. Then my car broke down, and I was suddenly penniless again. I was livid... I was sad... I was DE-straught. But I was resolved not to let this "little" (ARGHHH!) tragedy kill me.
The week before the con, I went to the dentist for a check-up. The experience there provided all the ammunition needed for the next funny letter to the Kelleys.
I want to pass along to you some vital professional advice. It's revolutionary.
Up until today, I thought I had heard it all. But I was wrong.
Today I went in for my regular dental check-up. The dentist looked around in my oral cavity and couldn't find anything on my teeth worth complaining about, so he asked, "And do you also brush your tongue?"
If he hadn't had both hands and some sort of lethal-looking device shoved halfway down my throat, I would have laughed. Instead, I almost choked. When he let me up for air, I said, "You're joking, right?"
"Not at all."
He was serious! He said that people who brush their tongues taste food better. He said that bacteria found on the teeth are also on the tongue; it only made sense that they should receive similar treatment.
O.K. I accepted that; it sounded logical. But that led me to ask, "But -- how do you brush your tongue without gagging?"
He had an answer for that, too. He said, "Stick your tongue out and pant while you brush."
I was beginning to wonder if I had run into one of those dentists you're not supposed to trust as far as you can throw them. (I'm still not sure I didn't!) But now I am dutifully brushing my tongue, as well as my teeth. And it gags me every time, because I refuse to pant in a house where others live and where the walls are thin. I mean, can you IMAGINE?!
"What's she DOING in there?! (silence) (long pause) "I TOLD you we should have had her confined when she started talking to animals, but NO! YOU said she'd out-grow it! And now THIS!"
But the dentist is right: food DOES taste better! (Just what I need, is for food to taste better: I'm already 30 pounds overweight!)
I have been thinking about this conversation ever since. And I thought, "Well, I'll bet THIS is something Carolyn and De haven't been written to about before! It isn't easy coming up with a letter of the month to you that won't end up sounding like old hat, you know. I mean, don't you get tired of hearing how wonderful you are, how you have changed people's lives for the better... all that serious, mushy stuff? Isn't it REFRESHING to know you can always count on me to update you on oral hygiene and other medical and dental advances now and then?
Kris (pant, pant)
I sent that letter off on a Monday, the week before the Tampa convention weekend. I didn't figure they would even receive it until after the convention, so I wasn't expecting anything the day my Florida friend (with whom I was planning to visit and hobnob with at the convention while in Florida) called to give me the lowdown on what was happening back there on the east coast.
She floored me by saying, right off the bat, "Oh, Kris, the most awful thing happened..."
My throat fell into my shoes. "What?!" I cried.
She said, "My car broke down on my way to the convention, and I missed De's appearance completely!"
I was so upset by that, I started saying, "Oh, no! Oh, NO!" so much that she finally had to tell me to shut up so she could tell me the rest of her story. "But I DID get to see him AFTER his appearance."
"Oh, SUPER!" I said. "Where was he?"
"HE WAS IN THE BATHROOM, BRUSHING HIS TONGUE!"
I screamed, no doubt deafening her.
As it turned out, my friend had seen De and had ended up on the same shuttle flight between the Tampa and Fort Lauderdale conventions. De had invited her into first class to sit with him and Carolyn, and they had gotten to talking about this goofy letter I had sent them, so De had decided to have my friend play this silly joke on me. He had directed my friend to hang up on me as soon as she reached the punchline (so it would sink in that there was NO WAY she would even have known about the brushing-the-tongue letter without him having told her), but she couldn't bring herself to do that.
Now, remember, I still hadn't spent more than 15 minutes with the Kelleys over the course of 18 years. I couldn't believe that they would go out of their way like this to make me feel a part of the convention I was so heartbroken over not being able to attend.
My friend called me all weekend long to tell me what was happening. One night the Kelleys even came very close to calling me on the phone from a restaurant that they and my friend were at, except that the place was jam-packed and they were hidden back in a quiet alcove. De would have had to risk being spotted going to the phone, and that would have turned the whole evening into an unscheduled personal appearance, so reluctantly, he finally decided against the idea. He told her, "You'll have to tell Kris that, in this instance, it's the thought that counts!"
And, of course, it was everything. I'll never forget it.
The next convention was two months later, in Denver. My friend had joked with De at the Florida con, "Well, I drove all the way here to spend your birthday woth YOU, so now we will fly to Denver in March so you can spend our birthdays with US!" De asked, "Your birthdays are in March?" She said, "Uh-oh. Yeah..." De said, "I won't forget that, you know..."
We started fantasizing what De might mean by, "I won't forget your birthdays." At one point, I kidded, "Gee! Maybe we'll end up at dinner!" (I was sad because I had missed out on the dinner in Florida, so it was on my mind, big-time.) Then I added, "I'd even pay for it -- providing we go to McDonalds!" My friend lost it over that "plan of action."
The ridiculous scenario hit her like a ton of bricks, so both us us started writing goofy skits in which we wind up at McDonalds in Denver with De and Carolyn. The skits had De posing beneath the golden arches with both of the birthday girls until he was frozen like a popsicle in the icy temperatures; they had him sucking helium out of balloons and yelling, "He's dead, Jim!" in a falsetto; all sorts of crazy, riotous stuff.
My friend wrote to the Kelleys, telling them just enough about the skits to get the basics, and then sent a $5 book of McDonald's gift certificates to them, asking them if they might enclose them in a birthday card to me! De did better than that: On a post-it note emblazoned with "Trust Me: I'm a Doctor" he wrote "maybe you can use these in Denver!"
I haven't the faintest memory of anything else I received that year for my birthday, but I've never forgotten De's post-it note!
It was at the next convention, in Denver two months later, that I actually re-connected one-on-one in person again with the Kelleys... and they never let me go after that. But that's all in my first book about De. In case you haven't already read it, now would be a good time! There's a link to it in the first paragraph of this blog entry. Hint, hint...
You won't be sorry if you click on it and actually get the book. Check out the reviews at Amazon and other online bookstores...
If any of these blog posts give you a grin or anything else of value please tweet them! Thank you!