Andrew’s first humor book, in the tradition of Groucho Marx and Christopher Cerf. The Trilogy Trilogy consists of The Unbehoven, A Tale of the Old West, featuring Nat Brogan’s showdown with the notorious gunslinger Kid Baby; Laughter Ours, comprised of “Better Bad Puns,” “Because I’m Neurotic” and “Sweating the Big Stuff;” and the epic Mem Wars of Andrew Calhoun by Andy Goodman, outlining Andrew’s career as a folksinging serial killer, “Marriage and Family,” and “Life Today.”
I was born without a middle initial. My parents had to give me one— well, a middle name, really, from which the initial was derived.
Lord, I was born a ramblin’ man. Well actually first I was a mewling and puking man. Then I was a crawling man. At last I took my first step, and my sister shouted, “Look! He’s RAMBLING!! He’s RAMBLING!!!”
My mother was still nursing me at age 3: it was a no-wean situation.
I traveled with my family when I was young, doing road theatre productions. My first roles were simply to be terrified of monsters; I was taught to yell “Eek!” and dash off stage. Times got rough and at one point Dad wanted to abandon me, but Mom convinced him that I was helping the family to eke out a living.
At that impressionable age, I didn’t always know the difference between theatre and reality, and some of the stage monsters continue to haunt my dreaming and waking life to this day. My therapist diagnosed my condition as post-dramatic stress syndrome.
We were a three-generation theatrical family, beginning with my Grandpa, who wasn’t so keen on me going into the life. He was a hard-boiled veteran who had lost his shirt in the Battle of Dungarees, under the command of General Anesthesia. He enjoyed the military and applied for a job as minor-domo, but was discharged for medical reasons because he couldn’t pass mustard.
So he got married and started a family. My grandmother and he had all their kids at once.
The first three quadruplets were delivered naturally, but a C-section became necessary when the last was not fourth coming.
They had been alerted that they might be having triplets, and had spent their last dime to purchase a triambulator from the Sears Catalog. My uncle Warren was odd man out, and he would be tied to the back by his feet and towed, banging along behind the others. No one knew there was anything wrong with this at the time, which accounts for all the descriptions of tow-headed boys in the literature of the day.
In the early days of the film industry, Hollywood was a cut-throat, dangerous place. Grandpa left because many of his thespian compadres were murdered by rivals. He had wearied of all the character actor assassination and innuendo.
A couple years after he lost his teeth, Grandpa took up tap dancing. He said he figured he was already getting pretty good at the old soft chew.
Grandpa died before I was able to ask him why we called him “Chicken Oscar.” I never asked my folks if they ever asked him either.
Maybe the following story will shed some light on this.
One of my formative experiences came when we were living in a housing project in Union, New Jersey, which was infested with rats. My father told me to respect the rats and leave them alone. But when no one was around, I would mock the rats and stick out my tongue at them. Eventually, one of them gave me quite the dressing down, calling me an “insufferable jackanapes.” And that’s the last time I gave a rat sass about anything whatsoever.
Book design and computer graphics by Mary Lewis