I worked in a mailroom with an actor who had been a stand-in for many of the close-harmony groups of the 1950s – The Four Freshmen, The Four Lads, The Four Aces, The Four Preps, The Four This, The Four That. People didn’t know what those singers looked like so it was easy to slip in a sub. His closet had been stuffed with plaid sports coats and college letter-sweaters. He had also been a busy jingle-singer on the radio. In the 1940s and ’50s, radio programs would broadcast live from New York then wait three hours for the time change and perform again for the West Coast. During those three-hour breaks, bored singers drank. He was bored. He drank away his wife, his voice, his career. He was twice my age and, like me, working for the minimum wage.
“Please, God,” I prayed, “shoot me before I become him.”