Once showed me
The blow-up woman
In his closet.
She didn’t look like a woman,
Not that I had seen many at the time.
She was a balloon with holes.
An object you could morally objectify.
The good Doctor had gotten a PhD
From a diploma mill
Before diploma mills
Were mainstream colleges.
Earlier, the good Doctor had graduated from Columbia,
Where in the golden days
He played basketball
And majored in partying.
There George chose his life work–
I stress “chose”–
Because he had many other options–
To become a professional partier.
Professional in those days meant professional,
Really pro, not pseudo-pro as it does so often today.
And George was a pro’s pro.
He was invited to be the life of the party up and down both coasts.
And he was always the heart of the party
Even though he was circumspect,
Never loud or ebullient,
Just drinking with a wink in his eye.
In his prep to become pro
George had drunk so much
He ruined his stomach
And had none when I met him.
He could only eat and drink
A little at a time.
And yet he drunk everyone else under the table
And always looked like he had just begun.
The rich and famous invited him to their parties
Even when they didn’t know him well,
Because a party without the good Doctor
Was like a Cubs game without the immortal Ernie Banks.
Ernie Banks famously said one morning,
During batting practice
At Wrigley Field for the thousandth time,
“What a good day to play baseball”.
The good Doctor often said–
Well in fact he said it every day–
“What a good day for a party”,
Or, really, parties.
The good Doctor
Left everyone wasted
And then went on
To the next party.
It was his duty.
He was a pro.
He had a reputation to uphold.
And more important, he had God’s good work to do.
When the good Doctor was there,
And the low
Were all equal, leveled in his presence.
The good Doctor
Quiet and calm
Old but ageless
Drew everyone inexorably to him.
They came up to him to engage in cocktail party chatter,
Just for a moment,
With an entirely unprepossessing man,
And then couldn’t leave.
They were drunk;
The doctor, long into his cups, was stone sober drunk.
They begged for kindness and mercy.
He heard their confessions like a priest.
The good Doctor had nothing,
No job or honors,
No riches or pretensions.
Yet he was the master.
Good and bad men
Mean and gentle women
Bent to his charm
Knowing the doctor was always in.
The rich and powerful
The famous and the feared
The worthy and the guilty
Became just simple humans.
He accepted them all.
He eased their fears and doubts.
There were no airs to be put on in front of a man
Who sucked self-deception right out of the air
George had chosen to be nothing but a good partier,
And he was the best there ever was.
Others thought themselves important
Until they met him, drink in hand, wink in his eye,
The good Doctor.