Chapter 1 The fool in the straw boater pushed the large baby carriage across the stage, crooning Baby Face. During the second verse, I popped my head out of the carriage, smiling and dribbling like an imbecile, bopping in time to the music. Inwardly I was seething. Most nights before surfacing, I would pull the bonnet I wore over my eyes, so I couldn't see the audience, who always laughed as soon as the "infant" appeared. The singer never noticed. He was too wrapped up in his song to pay attention to the mute, who was little more than a prop in his big number. More than once I asked the fellow pushing my carriage why he didn't simply substitute me for a doll. "Don't be silly," was his stock reply. "You know we can't afford luxuries like that." I thought this would be an excellent anecdote to introduce the reader to Wayne Cornelius Butkus III, my professional partner for more years than I care to remember. It sums up the man perfectly: vain, egotistical, selfish and arrogant. And those were his good qualities. Don't get me started on what I really thought about that chicken-voiced yodeller whose one and only friend was his hand mirror. Oh sure, he plucked me from obscurity and gave me a break in the music business. But it was a long, hard climb with more downs than ups. I had to deal with his raging ego, insurmountable "accidents" that sabotaged our act again and again, and watch as my "mentor" would take a song I wrote and either toss it in the trash immediately because it "wasn't commercial enough," or forced to listen, in one of the rare instances when he did like something (sort of) and proceed to massacre and mangle it into an unintelligible, ear-bleeding mess. Whew. That was a long sentence, wasn't it? It seems I can't even write about Wayne without him seemingly guiding my hands, taking over and going on and on about...oh, shut up Wayne! This is my autobiography. Write your own. Oh, I forgot. You have. Five volumes and counting. Now you see? I'm doing it again. I just inadvertently plugged Wayne's memoirs. Argh. Okay. Let me think of someone other than Wayne Butkus for a moment. Let's see...oh! Think of the time I was at the Grammies, sitting next to Leif Garrett on one side and Shaun Cassidy on the other. Ooh! Talk about a hunk sandwich! I leaned over to Shaun to ask him if I could run my hands through his hair, blushing like a schoolgirl. He smiled and leaned towards me. I remember my trembling hand reaching out, about to touch Joe Hardy's perfectly-coiffed head, when Wayne, wearing a disgusting lime-green leisure suit tapped Shaun on the shoulder and snarled, "out of my seat, bucko." Wayne had been in the lavatory, and Shaun was gentlemanly enough to come over and tell me how much he appreciated my solo effort, "The Lonely Willow." Do you remember that blast from the past? See the lonely willow/Swaying in the breeze/Those aren't rain, but teardrops/Won't you climb me please? Okay, it wasn't In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida or Stairway, but it sold reasonably. Guess some folks liked it. But I'm getting off track again. I was about to touch Shaun Cassidy's head when Wayne came back from the toilet, and rudely ejected him from his seat. Literally. Wayne grabbed a handful of shirt, lifted Shaun to his feet and shoved him away. I sunk so low in my chair, I thought I would end up somewhere deep in the bowels of the earth. Wayne sat down, shaking his head. "Can you believe the security in this place?" he asked me. "Letting the custodians steal a star's seat when he's gone for two minutes, relieving himself." Actually, it was more like twenty minutes, Wayne no doubt gazing at his visage in the multiple mirrors. Now how did a story about the Grammies turn into yet another story about Wayne? Must I go back to my childhood? I'm pretty sure Wayne Cornelius Butkus III wasn't part of my life then. Or perhaps he was. Perhaps he was the bratty little fair-haired kid who lived down the street, riding his tricycle in front of my house for hours on end. I never did catch that kid's name, as he looked too snooty to play with. Plus, he always wore a sailor's suit, which made him look like Donald Duck.