Me: By Jimmy (Big Boy) Valente As Told to Garrison Keillor

Me: By Jimmy (Big Boy) Valente As Told to Garrison Keillor

by Garrison Keillor


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780670887965
Publisher: Viking Adult
Publication date: 03/01/1999
Pages: 176
Product dimensions: 5.76(w) x 7.78(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author


St. Paul, Minnesota

Date of Birth:

August 7, 1942

Place of Birth:

Anoka, Minnesota


B.A., University of Minnesota, 1966

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One


The day of my conception was a pellucid June afternoon in Minneapolis, 1951, and the location was a ten-foot oak table in the Founders Room at the Minikahda Club, where my parents had just nailed the Heffelfinger Cup clay-court mixed-doubles championship 6-4 6-2. They tossed down a couple gin slings and slipped upstairs and there, on a table where no Jews or Negroes and only one Norwegian had ever sat, they spread themselves out and created a new life. There is a photograph of the two of them taken a half hour or so before, in their tennis whites, holding a silver loving cup at courtside, my father's foot up on the rail of the judge's stand, my mother clutching a racquet to her bosom, and they look so gifted and radiant and incandescently happy, it's obvious why they did what they did and put me up for adoption. Their lives were too wonderful to make room for a child right then, especially since they were not married.

    He was a brokerage executive married to someone else and she was engaged to his best friend, the heir to a major grocery fortune, and they enjoyed their carnal moment together on the oak table and then dressed and my father washed his face and resumed his marriage.

    My mother was twenty. She was home for the summer from Mount Holyoke. Her father was the eldest son of a railroad tycoon, and they lived in a red-roofed Creole mansion overlooking Lake of the Isles and she golfed three times a week at Minikahda with the Dayton girls and swam and played tennis. She was slender, long-legged, boyish, and her blondhair was cut daringly short. She was a hell-raiser in general. My father, who perished while duck-hunting in 1953 when his waders filled with water, had observed her the week before dive stark naked into the club pool at 1 A.M., on a night when he sat at poolside in the dark, brooding and drinking. On a dare from her friends, my mother walked out of the ladies' dressing room and onto the deserted terrace, dropped her robe at the foot of the diving board, strode to the end of it, and did a perfect half-gainer into the water. My father stood and helped her up the ladder. She thanked him and found her robe and wrapped it around her. "Let's play tennis sometime," she said.

    She might have sought out an abortionist and had me pinched off, but she was in the midst of a terrifically entertaining summer and it was easier to ignore me: She was small and didn't look pregnant until her sixth month. In the fall she returned to Mount Holyoke for her senior year, where she majored in French and was a fencer and in the drama club, and in December, she and her two best friends took the train to New York to see Come Back, Little Sheba, and there, one night at the St. Regis Hotel, she looked at herself naked in a mirror and realized she had to confront the fact of my existence.

    She telephoned home in the morning and confessed.

    She wept. She pleaded for forgiveness. She lied. She told them she had been forced by a friend into having sex and that she could not divulge his name because she had promised not to. She told them that she loved her fiancé and could not bear the thought of causing him pain.

    Her family swung into action. A conference was called, emissaries were dispatched to the fiancé's family, negotiations were begun, and by the second week of January, a deal was struck whereby I would disappear, the wedding would take place in April, the groom would be indemnified by a sum of $200,000 for her loss of virginity, and the family would post bond of a half-million to assure her faithfulness for the first ten years of marriage.

    I was born in January 1952, in a third-floor maid's room at her family's mansion, in the midst of a Minnesota blizzard, born premature, a puny four-pounder, bald and bug-eyed, too enervated to wail, and was carried by the chauffeur to the black Chrysler and gently laid on the back seat and was driven through the drifted streets of Minneapolis to University Hospital, where I lay and baked in a glass drum for two months, a feeding tube stuck into the top of my skull, a free-floating object in the world, available to anyone for the asking.

    I knew none of this until November. A man can learn much about himself by getting elected governor. After November, the press went to work and dredged up the adoption papers and paid off a clerk at county welfare and tracked down my poor old mother and found her in an alcoholic daze at the Minneapolis Club and pumped her for details, and talked to her friends. The day before yesterday that vile guttersnipe Jeff Lundberg of the Minneapolis Star Tribune phoned to ask corroboration and comment on it.

    That is why I have rushed this book into print.

    I want to be the first to tell my own story.

    And I want it told 100 percent truthfully, minus those cruel lies that the press tosses in, such as the totally erroneous notion that I was named Josh.

1. I was never named Josh. I was once Clifford Oxnard and now I am Jimmy Big Boy. At no time was my name Josh. I am prepared to sue the knees off anyone who states otherwise.

2. I do not live in terror of a man known as The Rodent. He is a deeply troubled man and I am fully prepared for him whenever he should make an appearance.

3. I never promised the good people of Minnesota a one-thousand-dollar tax refund for every man, woman, and child. I only promised the refund if the money was actually there. It wasn't. Had I known the money wasn't there, I wouldn't have promised it. It's just that simple.

4. I do not wear a signal ring on my left hand and use it to receive messages from the planet Ballarat in the Creon galaxy, though I did once meet someone at the World's Largest Corncob near Walnut Grove, Minnesota, who said she was from there.

5. I do not earn $100,000 a year from the sale of Jimmy (Big Boy) beer. The money I earn is not from the sale of the beer but from the licensing of my name to American Beer Corp., which manufactures the beer. Furthermore, I have a licensing agreement for Governor Jimmy- and Love the Gov-brand action toys, board games, children's clothing, animated feature films, and a planned theme park south of Minneapolis, for which I will be paid a sum in the mid seven-figures plus royalties. There is nothing in the Constitution that prohibits a governor from licensing his name and likeness. If people don't like it, they can go get their own licensing agreements.

6. "Big Boy has a collection of German expressionist art in his home in Poplar Bluff worth an estimated $2.5 million." Not true. My success in wrestling permits me to maintain an excellent lifestyle but I do not collect German expressionism. Period.

7. I never said I would favor the legalization of steroid use by high school athletes and the sale of hard-core pornography in convenience stores. I only said I thought that we should look into it. There is a difference.

8. I have not "run away" from a match with my nemesis of International World Wrestling, the dreaded Mr. Mashimoto. Au contraire. I am actively pursuing it.

9. I have not ruled out a presidential try in 2000. In fact, I have decided to go ahead and start organizing my campaign. I will be in the race. You can count on it.

    These lies were invented by the malicious and despicable Jeff Lundberg of the Star Tribune, a hermaphroditic pinhead who needs someone to pick him up by the ears and shake some sense into him. I do not brake for Jeff Lundberg. If I were walking along a cliff and saw him hanging by one hand from the edge, I would get out a nail file and do his nails for him. If I saw him choking on a piece of meat, I would give him a reverse Heimlich.

    In this book, I will tell you the truth about Jimmy (Big Boy) Valente as only I can tell it. My childhood as an adopted kid. My reincarnation as a teenager. My Vietnam war experience in the elite Walrus unit of the U.S. Navy. My career as world heavyweight champion of professional wrestling. And my come-from-behind election as governor in 1998.

    You gotta love it.

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