From the book Interplay: Finding the Keys to Creativity
On a Mexican cruise with a legends show – passengers lifted to godhood. My rivals at the audition opt for white tuxedos and cartoon impressions, but the crowd is buying none of it. I’ve been swingin’ all night, and I know you, Francis. I know the lesser titles that light up the eyes of octogenarians: French Foreign Legion, Polka Dots and Moonbeams, There But For You Go I. I have drunk the milky swoop of Witchcraft sustenatos, the roguish, citified bark, the way you dare the orchestra on as you contemplate an entrance, the baritone elixir that makes opera singers weep. The rest is a roll of the natal dice: vocal cords that bear a passing resemblance, blue eyes, rhythm in the blood.
I report for the holy relics: the short-brimmed hat, the tux with the dangling bowtie, the understanding that My Way is not a song but a conversation with a thousand close friends, and make my entrance to a dark stage, an empty stool, a single spotlight. Pardon me if I have made use of you, if the citizens of this floating colony embrace me for tearing off a thread of your gigantic soul.
As the ship slumbers I report to a bar, order the requisite martini and begins this note of thanks. But a man is sitting at the corner like One For My Baby, eyeing a Cuban that he told his wife he wouldn’t smoke. When faux Frank appears at his side, he hands it over, thanks me for the tune and heads upstairs for his just reward, leaving me to light up and write of love, and jazz, the tang of a gin-soaked olive, the joyous curve of a swinging note, as the hours grow small and the dark Pacific reels past my window.
Photo: The author as Sinatra, on a Carnival Cruise to Mexico.