It was Deano who walked up to me first when I was just sitting minding my own Ps and Qs (and maybe a few sleepy Zs) in my baby crib near the back of Musso and Frank Grill. This was old Hollywood as I like to call it. My mother had left me there unattended while she went across the street to watch television through a nearby shop window. She knew that at least one of the members of the Rat Pack would see this little baby and take care of it until she got done watching a 60’s-era television show that she loved.
“Who let this little tickly tot into my bar?” Dean Martin, the humorous member of the Rat Pack, said. “Goo goo ga ga, baby, it makes me want to sing.”
And then he did. I can still remember most of the lyrics despite it having happened over fifty years ago and me being a baby at the time.
Little baby boy at Musso and Frank
Too much of a little baby for whiskey and steak
His singing was the literal opposite of bad. It sounded so good to my little baby ears that I started shaking my diapered rump up and down to the lilt of his voice. And whether it was the singing or me making baby coos, I do not know, but that was when Frankie Sinatra popped his little head in over my crib and started making classic peek-a-boo faces at me. Frank Sinatra, the leader of the Rat Pack, was making peek-a-boo faces at yours truly and you better believe I was one happy baby sitting in a crib. This was Frank Sinatra at his peak in my opinion. He then joined in on the Deano original, adding his own classic improvised lines to the song.
Just having Frankie and Deano sing to me would have been enough, but before they both could even rhyme with Musso and Frank again, Sammy Davis Jr., the fun member of the Pack, joined them and started adding his singing voice to the mix. Now I was truly in baby heaven.
Frankie instantly started screaming with that smooth voice that we all know that he has. “We got ourselves a baby at a bar, gentlemen. I wish Joey Bishop the other member of the Rat Pack was here to see it.”
They all laughed.
“Joey has been acting like an absolute square ever since he started secretly dating our official den mother, Lauren Bacall,” Deano said. “I wish this baby could take over for him.”
Were my cute little ears actually hearing this? Deano Martin, the humble member of the Rat Pack, wanted me as a baby to join their infamous group?
“Deano, no,” Sammy Davis Jr. said. “This is just a little baby boy at Musso and Frank. Too much of a little baby for whiskey and steak. I don’t think he’d make a good member. I like to party and have fun with you guys sans baby.”
Frankie had stopped screaming with that drizzled-in-honey voice and he looked at Sammy Davis Jr. right in both of his eyes. “Well, maybe life isn’t all about having fun, Sammy Davis Jr. I know you’re the fun member of our Pack, but sometimes just hanging out with a baby can be its own kind of fun.”
“Frankie, baby, I’m sorry. You’re right,” Sammy Davis Jr. said. “I realize that there is joy that can come from being with babies.”
“I’d like to use your insight as a launching off point,” Deano said. “Seeing this little baby reminds me of the joy that being with family can bring as well. I have four children at this point in my life.”
“I also have children that I love at this point in my life,” Sammy Davis Jr. said.
Frank Sinatra, just years away from being the subject of that Gay Talese profile, started to cry. “Let’s stop fooling around with this silly Rat Pack lifestyle that we’re known for and spend time with our respective families. That is what I’ve learned from being with this baby.”
With my face right up against the bars of my crib, I watched as they gave each other a classic hug and then walk out of Musso and Frank together still in an embrace.
All of the singing and the crying and the hugging had taken about thirty minutes and that’s when my mother’s television show ended and she was able to take me and my crib back home. I never saw even one member of the Rat Pack again. I read in the newspaper the next day as a baby that the group had broken up to spend more time with their families. I don’t want to sit here as an old man and pretend that I’m fully responsible for the dissolution of the Pack, but it’s hard not to feel that way. I was the baby they saw at Musso and Frank that night. A little baby boy at Musso and Frank, too much of a little baby for whiskey and steak.