Andrew came a-courting one day. He had been introduced to my daughter, Susie by my son Max, her brother.
Max and Andrew were best friends. Just out of college, Max worked as a busboy at a high-end restaurant called 72 Market Street. Andrew was a waiter (higher status) at a nearby diner called Hal’s. Susie brought him home to seek her father’s approval.
My wife, the actress Alley Mills, and I had them to dinner. Andrew sat at the table in front of a window. Holding forth, he waved his arms to emphasize some point or other, leaned back on his chair and crashed right through the window. Poor guy; humiliated but fine.
We loved him on the spot, and the love grew as he married Susie (in our back yard outside the re-glazed window) and they presented us, over the years, with four adored grand-children.
Andrew grew in stature and became one of the most important men in America. But to me he remained the young man who swept my daughter off her feet.
Years ago, when my wife was starring on TV in The Wonder Years, she had been invited to toss out the first ball in Wrigley Field in Chicago. There’s a picture of her doing so on our piano, in her Cubs shirt, winding up for the throw.
Andrew, an inveterate baseball fan, stood gazing at that photo every time he came to our house. “Wow,” he’d mutter, “what a sex fantasy: my father-in-law sleeping with the mother from The Wonder Years!”
We were not the only ones who loved Andrew. The field included, what’s the word I’m searching for? EVERYONE who got to know him, including people who despised his politics.
The New Yorker announced that it was going to publish a major piece on him and sent a female journalist to L.A.. I feared a hatchet job. After hanging out with him for ten days, she wrote a love letter.
As his fame spread, well known political people came into his life. Invariably, he would bring them to our place in Venice. (Still seeking his father-in-law’s approval?)
“Tell them the joke,” he’d urge. I had told him a joke once which he loved. “It’s existential!” he’d cry, and laugh himself silly every time I told it.
“They don’t want to hear the joke,” I’d object. “No one thinks it’s as funny as you do.”
“They do want to, they do!” he’d insist. Each time I’d have to tell the joke to some celebrity and Andrew would howl with a laugh so infectious that the guest would wind up doubled over too.
Here’s the joke:
An old guy picks up a hooker.
He takes her up an alley. He drops his pants.
The hooker says, “I gotta have the money first.”
He pays her; she runs away.
He stands there.
He says, “Well…it shouldn’t be a total loss, I’ll take a shit.”
If Andrew were here, you’d be laughing. I told the joke at Andrew’s funeral, managing to hold back my tears.
I know I’ll see him again, when my time on this earth is up. If I make it past the Pearly Gates, he’ll be waiting for me.
“This is my friend God,” he’ll say. “Tell him the joke.”