What's for Dinner?

I walked out a kitchen door and saw coming my way the man himself, fatter than in the old days, walking nonchalantly and flanked by six bodyguards in suits.

It was 20 years ago. We were working the day shift out of Homicide downtown....Oops!

It was 20 years ago. I was working the night shift at a convention center in Texas, in charge of dinner for 2,000 7-Eleven employees at their annual rah-rah Christmas party. Guest speaker: Jerry Lewis. The banquet was set up with a stage on the west end of the room. There were any number of ways Jerry Lewis could take the stage, so imagine my surprise when I walked out a kitchen door and saw coming my way the man himself, fatter than in the old days, walking nonchalantly and flanked by six bodyguards in suits—three wrestlers on the left and three wrestlers on the right.

I had a damp rag in my hand and just stood there watching Jerry Lewis stroll down the hall. And I gave him a little wave as he passed. He stopped and the meatballs stopped, looking left and right and right back at me.

Jerry Lewis, once upon a time the funniest man in the world (OK, so it's a small world when you're sixteen), lifted his chins and said, "What's for dinner, Chef?" Like he was gonna eat there? "Roast beef," I said. "Duchess potatoes." Jerry Lewis smiled. "Good boy," was all he said and walked on. And then the hall was empty, and I heard the clatter of sounds in the kitchen behind me and, down the way, the roar as Jerry Lewis walked onstage.

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