The other day I stumbled across this Paul Lynde t-shirt and I couldn’t stop smiling.
Lemme tell you why:
When I was five-years-old I was obsessed with this bitchy, boozy, fucking fabulous center square on Hollywood Squares. No, I didn’t understand any of the double entendres or gay references or anything like that. I really don’t know what it was about him that I loved so much.
All I knew was that I wanted Paul to be my friend. I wanted to climb up into that center square and hang out with him; listening to him tell bawdy, incomprehensible jokes in that whiny, sarcastic voice, punctuated by a smoker’s laugh.
This obsession led to asking my mom for a Paul Lynde lunch box. I could picture my dream lunch box perfectly: Paul wearing a loud late-70’s shirt, grinning slyly, his name in bold, fat, raised orange font. Inside there would be a matching thermos.
However, there were two problems with this lunch box request:
1. My mom is from Finland and had no idea what a “lunch box” was.
2. Paul Lynde lunch boxes did not exist. I guess there wasn’t much of a market for them. Yeah. Imagine that. For reasons I never understood, swarms of little girls clamored for Snoopy and Scooby Doo while I was pining for Paul.
But my mom has always been a resourceful woman. While at the gynecologist’s office, she was rifling though an old Bon Appétit magazine. She stopped rifling when she came across this photo:
It was a pictorial on Paul Lynde’s gourmet life. Including his recipe for “Millionaire’s Salad.”
Mom stole the magazine in her big straw bag. A week later, she got a hold of an old cigar box. Then we spent an afternoon clipping out Paul Lynde pictures like this one and pasting them on this cigar box.
And that’s how I became the only little kid in Honolulu who took her lunch to school in a Paul Lynde lunch box, and why my sandwiches always smelled like cigars.
But I’ll tell you, of all the childhood toys and souvenirs I’ve lost over the years, my Paul Lynde lunch box is the one I miss the most.