Memoirs in a shopping cart

Dan Rodricks

January 30, 1991|By Dan Rodricks

Time: Thirty-five years after the death of Dan Rodricks.

Place: The ballroom of a dilapidated, fleabag hotel in crumbling Inner Harbor area.

Event: Potluck dinner and opening of Rodricks memoirs.

Host: Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, I'm Joseph Amalfitano Jr., chairman of the Rodricks Society, editor of Rodricksiana and your host for tonight's big event.

Unidentified guest: Hey, when do we eat!!

Host: Now, now, be patient, everyone. We have a lovely dinner for you. Here's Sara Tadson, dinner chairman, to tell us about tonight's feast. Sara . . .

Sara: Thanks, Joey. Tonight, we have a wonderful Spam and macaroni casserole donated by the Knights of Columbus of Arbutus; finger rolls stuffed with surplus American cheese donated by the Quayle administration; and a delicious Junior League punch donated by the Junior League. Also, for dessert, day-old sheet cakes from Muhly's.

Applause.

Host: Thank you, Sara. That sure does sound appetizing. . . . And now, the moment the whole literary world has been anxiously awaiting . . .

Unidentified guest: Let's do it!!!!

Host: As you all know, when he passed to the great beyond 35 years ago, Dan Rodricks was a has-been newspaper columnist and radio personality who wandered the streets of Baltimore talking to himself and screaming maniacally at Perrier trucks. But, he left behind his memoirs. It was his egotistical wish, as it was the famous H.L. Mencken's wish, to have his memoirs unsealed 35 years after he died. That way, of course, he would be guaranteed to haunt us from beyond the grave, to force upon us hundreds of thousands of words of self-indulgent prose, to make us once again ponder his life as a newspaperman and social and political critic, even if we had our fill of it. Death could not diminish his inflated sense of self. Rodricks packed away his memoirs, handwritten in crayon on yellow construction paper, into six old Greenspring Dairy crates. Tonight, as per his orders, we open those crates and get our first look at these long-unawaited memoirs. Will the sergeant-at-arms present the crates.

Sergeant-at-arms Big Little Joey Peske Jr. pushes shopping cart to front of ballroom. The cart is stacked with the dairy crates.

Host: Now I'd like to ask Big Little Joey to read the first page of each memoir from each of the six crates . . .

Unidentified guest: This is taking too long. When do we eat!!

Host: Pipe down now. Mr. Peske, read the first page . . .

Peske: The first page is dated June 12, 1979 . . . "Went to the neighborhood 7-Eleven for the monthly changing of Slurpee flavors. This month's choice: wild cherry. Had a Big Dog with it. Yummy-yummy."

Host: That's it?

Peske: That's all it says. The next one starts on June 31, 1981 . . . "Attended royal wedding of Charles and Diana in St. Paul's Cathedral, London. Dull. Boring. Sat in the press gallery three hours before ceremony for security reasons. Ceremony lasted close to two hours. Had to go something bad. I was starving, too. Went to Fleet Street. Had fish and chips served on clean newsprint. Yummy-yum-yum."

Host: Go to the next crate. Read the next entry.

Peske: "Friday, April 13, 1990 . . . "The tributes to our larger-than-life governor continue. Went to dedication of Victorian fountain on the lawn of Governor's Mansion, Annapolis. Gov. William Donald Schaefer was there. It was raining, but the governor said someone told him it was holy water coming down from the sky. Our governor is a very entertaining fellow, but his ego constantly needs nourishment. I wouldn't be surprised if we start dedicating every truck weigh-station and fire hydrant in his name. The fountain is pretty nice. After the dedication, we had lunch -- baked beans and fish sticks. Yummy yummy."

Unidentified guest: This is making me hungry!!

Peske: Next entry is from June 31, 1988 . . . "Today, I rotated my tires, then drove down to Little Italy and had lunch at Germano's Trattoria Petrucci. Had the grouper livornese. Stopped at Mugavero's and took home a tomato sandwich. Put it all on my Evening Sun expense account, too." . . . That's all that's in here. The rest is Mad magazines and old copies of the Racing Form. There's a bumper sticker that says, "I Shop At All Goodwill Stores."

Host: Well, then, there being no other business, let's eat!!

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