Zoot Allures

He rolled in a couple of weeks before my 14th birthday, late for the start of the school year. Son of a New Jersey Rabbi, four years older than myself and a permanent smile that implied goofy friendliness. Straight black hair that was short for the times and long by the school’s standards. A $50 cross-country bus ticket was part of the explanation.

Nine months later, the ticket cost $75 and a hundred miles later I unpacked the crumbs from two sheets of rolling paper, acquired for a dollar from an independent businessman at the Greyhound station, and put them in my cigarette.

I was there for the religious high school, he was there for the Yeshiva. The school was a Silicon Valley startup and needed warm bodies. He spoke of pot enhancing his spiritual experience. A mood enhancer, he never smoked it when feeling down.

This story also has a biker Rabbi. A handle-bar moustache and a black belt remnants of a well-spent youth.

The guitar and amp followed him west. Clapton his inspiration, Cream the best group ever and KOME the radio station to listen to.

“Hello all you cummers and cummees” was the DJ’s greeting to listeners. Zappa’s latest premièred on my birthday. Queueing the cassette, waiting for the last possible second before pressing Record. KOME marked my birthdays. One year later it was Lynyrd Skynyrd’s plane going down.

I only saw him roll once, a few weeks after his arrival, while packing. He showed me how to fold the paper.

On a lark, smoking in the boy’s room, tea in novelty papers printed to look like mini $100 bills, acquired downtown in a record store with bootleg records, and matchbooks that said legalize and tax it.  It smelled weedy; The overlords did not appreciate the prank.

Another of his lessons, the existence of bootlegs.

The biker Rabbi heard from the street that he’d bought weed – again.

One last lesson completing my initiation into adolescence. “Be wary of the reformed street-wise man.”

2 thoughts on “Zoot Allures”

  1. Nice memories, thanks for sharing — I knew there was something in that subject line Zoot Allures I remembered. Reminds me of a French Canadian friend and a phrase, ‘puff a couteau.’ It’s hard on the cutlery, not good for company.

    1. The friends that puffed usually didn’t have any sets of matching cutlery so having two couteaux at the back of the drawer didn’t create a hole in the set. I also knew some that were regulars at Denny’s.

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