“See What the Boys in the Back Room will Have”

Jazz musician Eddie Condon drank—a lot. His wife worried about his health, and so she gave him a list of jazz musicians—friends of theirs—who had died of liver trouble due to alcoholism. Mr. Condon studied the list and handed it back to her, saying, “There’s a drummer missing.” He did get seriously ill and ended up in the hospital. He was too ill to eat, and he was unable to take nourishment intravenously. One other route to get nourishment into his body was available, but Mr. Condon resisted using it because, he said, it lacked dignity. His doctor talked him into it by saying, “It’ll make you feel better. It’ll be like having a drink.” Mr. Condon rolled over onto his stomach and said, “See what the boys in the back room will have.” While ill, Mr. Condon received a blood transfusion and said, “This must be Fats Waller’s blood. I’m getting high.”

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