The Adventures of Coolie Coolstein: Episode 23

Birthdays. Some people decide not to work. Why? Because they were born. Isn’t that true every day. Well, somebody is having a birthday today. He (okay this is not an obscurely gendered being) is very close to our favorite coolienta, almost one with him. And on this day, he is grateful. For many things: that he is alive (as opposed to dead) for one big thing; that he now has a shop, that is up and running – not running exactly, more like: yo baby, I’m taking my time but I’m here.

On the way over, the birthday boy stopped in to hear the Grateful Dead. Yes, they are still singing. Are they still alive? That’s in question. A word was being passed among the audience, row by row: beginning in a slurred whisper and ending in an articulated shout: LOXEN, LOXEN.

It was originally a hybrid (there I go again) of lox and oxen. Of course, this would come up in conversation frequently. But, as things happen in the ever so precious real world, words are imbued with other meanings. “Loxen” was now the shorthand chant of the new druggies – those brave few who were staking out the turf which had been plowed under in the dreary nineties and had a housing development built on it in the aught’s (I’ve never know what to call those years).

A big breath of cleansing wind was delivered by Commentatress, who was always a ready supplier of hot air, and this particular slice of Gaia became a magnetic force for all those who wanted to tweak their reality. It quickly got too messy (the drug-filled masses are not known for tidying up) and before you knew it, there was Sylvie with a dust-buster. Just what everyone needed.

Let’s take a pause here and ask a pressing question:

I saw a woman pushing a baby carriage with dog inside. Does that mean the dog is disabled or the “owner” thinks it’s a baby? Could be both.

Let’s take another pause so I can share some things I overheard:

(Twenty-something woman talking to her similarly aged friend). “Not in my backyard! You think if I were to some day marry some unknown person, I’m gonna get married in a fucking tent in the backyard? No fucking way.”

(This is me overhearing myself, talking to my constant partner. Re: ad in Playbill for a cruise with various prominent celebs.} “Well, it’s a big deal if you’re a starfucker.”

But seriously, aren’t we all a little?

And that brings me round to Coolie. He has unwittingly become a star of sorts. So, he’s taken to selling tee shirts in his shop that say: “Who is Coolie Coolstein?” $45 each.

(If you want one, just ask.)


The Adventures of Coolie Coolstein: Episode 22

As a byproduct of her encounter with the big water, Blue had become much more curious. Why? Why? Why? she said before Coolie could get a sentence out. The time in FI had changed everyone.

C and company had left the Island – a big event, the transition was inevitably a traumatic one. But not only in a bad way. Coolie’s cool had taken a chill pill and was downright frigid – Brownstein called it frois, frois, frois – she was a linguist, you know. But saying things in threes was also a new shtick for the gang.

Brownstein couldn’t be improved upon, so she was pretty much the same force of nature as before. But Mickey the M. had picked up a few dozen IQ points. He had eaten a lot of jellyfish, it seems. Don’t try to understand why, you’ll only give your cerebrum a hernia .The ingestion of those primitive marine animals had an impact on an underlying accident of birth (something about the absence of peanut butter, MM’s usual and obscenely primary source of nourishment). There had been – not exactly a fall on the head…more like a purposeful drop (hmmm, yes). A major section of his brain had been cordoned off, and had been – for all of Mickey’s life – inaccessible.

Now, where was I. Oh, yes. Mickey was almost smart. Well, in the vicinity.

Shtewie – who we will meet again in unexpected circumstances (don’t you just love the foreshadowing) – returned to his life’s mission: watching the waves and catching the rays. After a few hours he turned over: caught the waves and watched the rays.

Back on the mainland, there was work to be done – in the shop. But there were questions of philosophy and cultural meaning to be answered. Much more important than earning a buck. Especially since Barbie Blue had just inherited a bunch of cash from a great aunt. It seems she had been the model for Mattel. And, may I say, who knew?

Coolie always tells the truth…as he knows it. There’s great variation in that but, still. He’s an honest guy. He’d been wondering about something and he had no one to ask. Until today. He was introduced to yet another special person. By Brownstein.

“Coolie Coolstein, I’d like you to meet my friend, The Commentator.” (Have you all leapfrogged over my next words to see the facile trick I’m employing here? Well, just go with it.)

“Commentator, this is a man among men, a man who has been and always will be, my friend. He’s cool even when clueless, which around here we call cluel.” Brownstein, that high flyer, was now speaking in tongues – which The Commentator enjoyed very much. Coolie, not so much.

“Go ahead Coolman, ask away. I know you have a burning question.”

The Commentator was a hybrid (of course – nothing and no one can be one of the simple folk): half wise woman from the neighborhood, half octogenarian savant from New Jersey – and male.. No one ever saw her (that was her gender of preference) enter or exit her building, so she was more than a bit of a mystery, but rumor had it that she was of a remarkably advanced age (in the triple digits), and that she had figured out how to negotiate with Mother Nature (who might have been her half sister). If Commentatress (that was the name she liked to be called) didn’t have the answers, she could – at the very least – move the discussion forward to the next really confusing place.

So, Coolie put his thoughtful hat on (it’s the same hat, different purpose). “What ever happened to the truth? Pride in that value? I mean – any random person you interact with these days will reflexively and summarily lie. How long will I be waiting? Multiply the answer by at least three to account for the imbedded lie. How was your day? All good. Really? Whose day is ever all good? How’s the family? Great. You mean it’s great that your 16-year-old daughter ran away with the plumber’s idiot son? And she has become anorexic? And your 14-year-old son shaved his head and is running with a terrorist-tinged gang? What is the benefit of the big lie? Are we truly comforted? Who believes any of the bullshit? And, therefore, how can it ease our minds? All we get is enhanced ignorance; an endarkened state.”

And thus spake Coolstein.

The woman in white, Commentatress, gave him something that was never meant to be a smile, but made Coolie instantly feel like he had become a neon sign that could be seen at a great distance.

“A rant every so often is good for the heart. And now, get ready – for the big insight.” Mickey Mental did something with his now slightly less than empty head and a small two-engine airplane appeared above them, skywriting about to begin.


(there was a brief space in the sky and a pause…)


So, that was that.


The Adventures of Coolie Coolstein: Episode 21

Let’s take an accounting of all the fascinating folk we have met so far:

Coolie Coolstein Himself – man about town, drug experimenter par excellence.

Sylvie – the Mama, or so she thinks.

Morris – best known for his cat-up-a-tree imitation.

Brownstein – girl wonder, dog of the year, superhero.

Barbie Blue – really pretty and, occasionally, really present.

Mickey Mental – wears his mishegos on the outside.

Mothership – the source of everything we have be schmoozing about.

Harris Tweed –so cool he’s fabulous.

Shtewie – the prince of tides.

Such a crew! Every desirable attribute seems to be present in this little population.

Well, guess what?


I can’t hear you…


Don’t yell.

Here goes: They are all Coolie.

Huh, you say? WTF, you say?

Yes. He is a conglomerate persona, with extensions (not hair) of spirit and body which allow him to inhabit and incorporate a large number (not infinite, more in the neighborhood of a googolplex – I really want to spell it “googleplex”) of seemingly separate entities.

But it’s just Coolie. It’s all Coolie all the time.
Are you fascinated or bored by this news? It matters not, because it is (let me hear you say it with me) what it is.

So, now what? No more stories, no more adventures? Why? Because to continue on would be to pretend that there is interaction when there is just existential juke (second definition of the verb form: to move in a zigzag fashion).

Why balk at what is always true? Now you just know it. I mean – it’s true all over, isn’t it? Can’t the case be made for everything being merely an illusion? Okay, I’ll stop now. But Coolie won’t.

You won’t remember all this in a half-hour. You are getting sleepy. You will forget. You have forgotten.

Forgotten what? Exactly.

The Electric Coolstein Acid Test…or COOLIE DOES ACID – on purpose

The Adventures of Coolie Coolstein: Episode 20

Seriously. Coolie can’t say no. There is a kind of wall that clangs into place and locks his jaw between the nnn sound and the ooo sound. So, it comes out as “enuh.”

He’s not nearly as game as others think; he can shake his head from side to side, but he tends to do that with a smile so people interpret it as really meaning “yes.” Okay enough about this.

Sure, he’d done mushrooms, smoked an enormous amount of weed, but acid was new.

Blue was on board as was Mickey Mental – who, as we know, was on a perpetual “trip.” Brownstein exempted herself: she would be the designated “reality” reference point. Really, she was amused by the pursuit of that which she had access to all the time. She could hear color and smell images and manipulate time like nobody’s business. And she saw God whenever she turned around and looked over her stubby tail. Her god was the conglomerate entity of mothership, of course – but God nonetheless.

Coolie was knocked on his keester by the first wave of the really good shit that Shtewie provided. The first thing that happened was that his “no” was rehabilitated. So, for about a week or a minute (depending on your perspective) he screamed at the top of his lungs (which sounded a lot like a mezzo-soprano): NOOOOOOOOOOOOO, and so on. You get the picture.

This would ultimately be a good thing for him, even if he no longer could righteously sing I’m Just a Girl Who Can’t Say No.

Blue was having visions of mutating past/present/future (she had been imprinted by her time with time-warp tea.) There was a little too much pepper in this stew (or should I say shtew?) for her taste and she ran into the ocean to wash some of it off. That worked.

Back to the cool one. He saw – in Braggadocio 72pt. font hanging from the branch of a tree above his head – YOU ARE THE ONE.

Why am I not the two? Or the three? Or the … he went on like this for a time. But then he got it. I am the one! Thank you chemical forces of enlightenment! I can let that puppy go out to play. “Speaking of puppies,” he said in a slow-mo but very even-toned manner, “What’s with Brown-girl?”

She was knitting. You think you’ve seen everything, but when you see a dog (or what looks like a dog) sitting on her haunches, with a ball of yarn held deftly between her back paws and two rather deadly looking knitting needles tucked under her front leg joints and held as if by magic (it was, in fact, by magic) between the toenails of her front paws…well, you might as well be the one on acid.

She was humming to herself – something from Les Miz – her favorite show (in French, of course – if you can hum in a language, that is). Coolie saw her aura: it was glen plaid, which he found surprising but comforting, but immediately called forth an image of Harris Tweed. Naturallyl

Just at that – what we, here, in the three-D universe, would call – moment, Shtewie’s trip took a turn for the worse. He leapt up about seven feet in the air, crying “bonsai.” No, not BANZAI! He was thinking of the little trees. It had become apparent, in his altered state, that they were the thieves of his mojo. When he landed (deftly, on the balls of his feet, I might add), he scanned his deck with his left eye (the glass one – which had started to work), and lunged to the left of Coolie, who backstopped him just in time to keep him from flying into the blueberry bushes. Our man now possessed the reflexes of a cat.

What transpired next, was so FUBAR that it could only have been driven by the undulating mind of Mickey Mental. He had been watching his friend, Coolie and his new idol, Shtew. He saw – this time it was in red velvet skywriting over the breaking waves where Blue was lolling – a voice. (We’re talking acid trip, remember?) It said/read: Run, don’t walk, to your nearest horizon. Everything will be okay.

Using a kind of mental strength that had never been and would never come again, he enrolled Cool and Shtew in joining him, and then Blue, in a swim to the end of the ocean. Brownstein, fortunately, dogpaddled behind them. While it is true that there were colors almost worth dying for, and the much-ballyhooed music of the deep, after a few dozen strokes the thrill was gone – as was all their energy.

Brownstein to the rescue. One by one she swam underneath her pals and, through her magnificent strength and goodwill, deposited them on the warm sand.

Coolie lifted his head and spoke for all: “Hey, B. Good stuff.”

How cool is our boy?


The Adventures of Coolie Coolstein: Episode 19

Happenstance. Does that explain anything? No. It’s just the way we string together some letters and sounds to stand for what we don’t understand. And Coolie was no exception. He didn’t understand much of anything. (We know that Brownstein probably did but she could be a withholding little bitch sometimes.)

Over some overly charcoaled hamburgers and an endless stream of alchoholic beverages, he listened without much comprehension to the tale of woe that Shtewie told. Of his days of being a star (of sorts) – the big macha on the Island, the hot guy that all the girls wanted to be with (now we’re going back a REALLY long time – but, as a wise man once said, there is no time in the mind).

“Where,” the Shtwew-man wailed, a real honest;to-god tear beginning to fall from his right eye (that’s the one that’s not glass), “did it all go?” “My yout’, my mojo?”

As damonrunyonesque as Shtewie might seem to you readers, he was really just a late-blooming beach bum gone to seed.

But, it is also true that a wink is as good as a nod to a blind horse, and to Coolie Coolstein and his minions, Shtew was legend.

Being literal to a fault, Blue asked how big and what color his mojo had been; she offered to search the beach for it.

“But, Blue, we can’t be sure that mojo is a beach-person. Maybe mojo prefers the mountains (even though that’s hard to conceive of).” There was a reason these two were a couple…Coolie bought into an abundance of Blue’s off-the-grid thinking.

“Are we looking for the mojo burial ground, or is it the ‘free-at-last’ mojo sanctuary?” Now Coolie was really getting into it.

“I used to believe in happenstance, myself, but that was when I had mojo to spare. I was a pretty cavalier dude.” (Yes. Shtew said “dude” – the seventies are alive in his mind.)

“I think the search for my mojo should be a spiritual journey. Wanna drop some acid?”

Of course, Coolie couldn’t say “no.”


The Adventures of Coolie Coolstein: Episode 18

There was now new meaning to the swirl. A molten circle of brown, barbie blue, orange and red, and a cool aqua burbled on the sand right near the ocean. Holy metamorphosis! Now what? If your credibility is strained…get a grip! ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN AT ANY TIME. Haven’t you bought into that yet?

Sorry, I’m a bit on edge too. It’s not as if Coolie tells me in advance what is going to happen. No. I find out as the words show up on this page.

The rain had stopped and the sun worshipers were returning. A voice was heard: it was Shtewie Gesteinigt-aber-Klar, a man who had arrived in Fair Harbor in 1971 and never left. He had seen it all…but not this.

“Step back, everybody, give the ocean some room to breathe.“ From a prone position on the very best lounge chair money could buy, Shtew barely spoke above a whisper – but was heeded with the level of respect he had earned. His skin was a ripe kalamata-purple; many admired it. After the circle formerly known as Coolie and friends was given new breathing room, a low hum (which a few who had been there once before recognized as a harmonic convergence) began. Next the tide rolled in – not in a scary way, but with a certain balletic grace – and crashed fragrantly over the circle.

When it ebbed, which took a surprising few minutes (and there were muted sounds of crackling and whooshing, riffing under the main melody of seasound) forms appeared – shapeless at first, but then, goddamnit, recognizable as the four caballeros. Fish and other ocean life clung to them; they were drenched but inexplicably grinning. Actualy, no one had ever seen four people look happier than these shmegeggies.

Shtewie spoke (for all the onlookers): “Come close, so I don’t hafta get up.“

With Coolie reassembling his swagger and looking unnervingly none the worse, and Blue tossing her new seaweed-infused dreadlocks, and Mickey Mental with his eyes permanently popped open wide and slightly crossed, and good old Brownstein hopping across the sand on her right front paw (because she could), the newly reintegrated foursome conga-lined it over to their new pal and honorary team member.

“So, nu, what happened to you?“

“We took a ride on the big wheel. And then we were the wheel. And then – well, you’ll understand: first there was a mountain then there was no mountain then there was.“

“Aha. That’s just what I thought. Barbeque at 7:30. First house from the beach on Walnut.“

Just another paranormal day in the Coolstein universe.


The Adventures of Coolie Coolstein: Episode 17

Dressed spiffily in his blue blazer and special hat (part top/part cap/part je ne sais quois), Cool and his little gang – her high blueness, the mental one, and the dog for all seasons (aka  – Blue, Mickey, and Brownstein) jumped on the already embarking (no – not you, Brown) ferry. On their way to Fair Harbor in Fire Island.

Fair Harbor – that sounds like the most perfect place on earth, dontcha think?”

Blue was already in the zone of fuzzbrain, draped over the railing, one-ing it with the big water. She said, “Haaaaah….” Or something like that.

“As I was saying, my old friend Mick, aren’t you all giggly about our visit to the sand and sea?”

“Whoo-ey, am I ever.” MM did his I can’t wait to see the ocean dance, which was just a tad less disturbing than his happy dance.

As you might already have noticed, when the surf called, the shop closed. Such a work ethic – Morris would be proud (if by proud you mean he’d like to slap his coolish son silly).

The canine ‘stein was the most observant of the three. She conveyed her shock at the widespread coolness of their fellow seafarers. There was a fine assortment of young and old and some really hard to place interim category; all exuding a steady state of I’m so chill I don’t even need to run a comb through my hair or cut my toenails.

“This might be your new spiritual home, my cool young friend. Mothership would feel right at home on this vessel of chillosity.” She spoke this aloud facing the wind, so no one could actually hear her. It mattered not.

Time stopped – without the use of any tea or other experiential manager. And next, there were feet – hardened on the sidewalks of Manhattan, tipping and slipping on sand. Once again, she with the many legs forged their path, acting for all the world to see like the regular pooch she was not. But this was the Beach, and no one reacted except for the six or seven people who got sand kicked on them. They did the Fair Harbor version of irate – they brushed it off.

Right then (and when else, may I ask?) a clap of thunder took charge, followed by some juicy fat drops of rain. While the regular beachfolk quickly folded their umbrellas and batoutofhelled it to dry ground, Coolie a Co. laughed happily (and a bit crazily), joined hands or paws (depending…), and began to dance in a circle. With cries of Mutha! and e plurbus unim! and hamana-hamana-hamana! They spun faster and faster until…yes – you probably saw this coming, or not… until they were molten??!!!

Is this the end? Of Coolie Coolstein and Blue and Mickey Mental and BROWNSTEIN????

Nah. I’ll think of something.


LITTLE SHOP OF COOLNESS or COOLIE DOES RETAIL with an assist from the cosmos.

The Adventures of Coolie Coolstein: Episode 16

It was – inevitably – the next day.

Coolie had the swirl inside his mind; it was The Plan. He was now in the company of just his singular self and a bluer-than-ever Blue (and an evanescent and honorable swatch of presence from the mental one.) Brownstein caught the last train to the coast.

So El Coolio Gato spent the first part of this auspicious day trying to figure out who was the father, who was the son and who was the holy toast. He didn’t believe in ghosts. He thought he might have to be his own father, and of course, the son too. But the holy toast, that was tricky.

With his cool refurbished, like Peter Pan’s shadow after Wendy got through with it…our man about to be about town set forth to implement PART I of The Plan. He did need a boost of sorts from mothership. Time-warp-tea was to be served and sold at the mythic Shop. Since it took so long to bake it, he feared he would never have the recipe again. (Once, in another time, another place, he had been a big time-warp-tea brewer.)

Oh, mother

Blue batted her eyes in anticipatory delight. She was a fan of the gleebing entities (when she thought that surprising word she saw purple. An appropriate shade, a little too pale to be royal. But deep enough purple to conjure Dean Martin. And he, it turned out, was the holy toast. Slurred but never shaken.

Ah, the digressions – which are just exactly what every path looks like. Which is the point, as mothership reminded Coolstein – when they/it/she/none of the above showed up as wished for. What Coolie heard was…

The scroll of past present future that comes with each sip of the tea is unpredictable, in no particular order (random number selection coming in handy here). It’s a non-linear, this-is-your-life  – with shots of idiot’s delight joy mixed in with guts turned inside out for a too-long moment. You never know. But the folks will jump on this ride like the bareback riders they are. Just take two parts Miles, add one part Dino, one part Puffin breath, all the shade you can gather in one hand, and then add water. It has to be New York City tap water, of course.

And then, just as the after-image of the alien creators vanished with a little big bang, Blue took Coolie’s hand.

“Your shop is waiting. I think you’ll be cool with the location.”

If he wasn’t so damn cool, our boy would be in a state of shock that might have sent him back for another round of feet soup. But he just rolled with it. Blue has been working on the Plan? Even before dogface and I had figured it out? How is that possible? Oh, I remember. Nothing is as it seems.

While he was musing, they had arrived at a tiny space on St. Marks Place. A cooling wind was blowing and he could read some of the morphing tendrils of its energy: Hendriks, Hoffman, Warhol, Basquiat, Haring.

“We seem to be in the right place,” said the proprietor of C’s Shop. Blue’s eyes were full of stars when she smiled.

Where have all the Coolsteins gone?

The Adventures of Coolie Coolstein: Episode 15

Coolie is on vacation in the south of France. No. I’m kidding. His allergies have acted up and he’s laying low, waiting for the summer sun to reinvigorate him. Blue visits every day – like a good girlfriend. And Mickey Mental – well, he’s just nuts. So nothing he does is predictable. Yesterday he somehow got up on the roof of Coolie’s building and shinnied down or something and knocked on the kitchen window. Sylvie just about had a coronary.

Aside from that unfortunate episode, Sylvie is kvelling because she can make chicken soup for her boy. She doesn’t really get the difference between a cold and an allergy. Since Coolie never eats her soup anyway (it tastes like feet), she is unperturbed by the full bowls that get spilled out.

This has been going on for just 48 hours, but Coolie is starting to lose his cool. Here is a bit of his inner dialogue:

Must get my own place. Sylvie and Morris (those would-be parental units) are gonna kill me with their constant questions (which they always answer themselves). They are all up in my stuff. [He’s practicing his “street.” When it sounds merely awkward that’s a vast improvement…from mortifying.]

But then I would have to get a job. Maybe there’s a field of endeavor that my innate coolness would suit me for. [“Suit me for”…Who says that?]

And now he begins to muse and fantasize. I could be…

A bouncer for an ice-cream parlor- anyone not staying cool has to go; A random number selector – almost anywhere, everybody needs this; a dog-walker walker – for those who need to have the caninity counterbalanced. Or I could set up a tee-shirt stand. What would those tee shirts say? Well, that’s a good slogan, for starters; and, of course, in the words of the master, Harris Tweed: Who is Coolie Coolstein? I think I’ll consult with…hmm… Brownstein seems like a likely partner in crime.

While he conjured, he walked in tight circles inside his “room” (which was really a sun porch. Oh, it had a wall, but mostly there were an excessive number of windows. And just the merest hint of floor space. He had perfected the minute circumnavigation by taking only one-inch-long steps. That made the journey seem longer and, ergo, the room seem roomier. He was a clever one, no question.

Mostly because he had just thought about her, but also because she could, Brownstein flew up and hovered outside his third window from the left. It took Coolie a moment to identify her as something other than a four-legged, oversized sparrow (there were a few of those). He popped open the window and she gracefully smashed into the dresser before landing on the bed.

I’ve come to co-ponder, my young friend, she said telepathically, of course. We need to move this storyline along, don’t you think?

Fade to a repetitive, often circular, always irritating conversation that went on through the night. You don’t need to hear it, trust me. By morning there was a plan…



The Adventures of Coolie Coolstein: Episode 14

Coolie Coolstein was greatly affected by his encounter with Brownstein. Among the questions milling around in his mind was, Who is Brownstein, really? (This would be the primer for something I can’t yet reveal… are you the hook? God, I hope so.) And, wondering further, Can it be that she is cooler than me? Which led him to the ultimate query…What is this thing called cool?

“If I’m going to open a retail establishment of some kind, it should convey ‘cool’ shouldn’t it?” This he asked of his friend, Mickey Mental, the obvious person to consult with. “I’ve been comfortable with my coolness for so long, it took that little dog-impersonator to get me to rethink the whole issue.”

Mickey meditated for a moment. “What not get a second opinion?”

“What’s the first opinion?”


“Oh. Right.” (Let us ask the blatant question: Who is mental?) But with a blinding flash of not really insight, more like something that struck him from the outside, young Mister Coolstein reached down and threw the Frisbee that had just hit him on the noggin, and had one of the best ideas he’d had in days.

“I’m taking it to the ice-guru. The ultimator, he who knows but doesn’t say, the guy who made up the phrase ‘too cool for school,’ my idol, Harris Tweed.”

Mickey started to do his happy dance, which looked so much like a seizure that a woman walking by immediately called 911. The next half hour was spent trying to convince two cops that MM was not in any immediate medical danger, and that he was compos mentis. Which, of course, he wasn’t. It was only through the (self-doubting but not really in question) coolocity of CC himself, that they boys in blue were willing to ride off and turn their attention to next bad scene of the longest running play in town.

Our saga continues on – you should pardon the expression – the Upper East Side. Yes. That is the ironic twist. Coolie’s ice-guru was living (rent free – it was a family homestead that he happened to inherit) on Park and 85th. The white-gloved doorman ahem’d and tried his damndest not to break down when he was confronted with the jiggly weirdness of Mickey the M as he brought up the rear of the Coolstein entourage. Blue had rejoined the band. She was, as some girls are, able to re-enroll her guy in a new round of enthusiasm for her, simply by looking sweet.

Up to the penthouse floor, the trio could feel the temperature descending with each floor. “Cool,” said Coolie. “Cool,” said Blue. “Yuka-muka,” said the mental one for no particular reason. He was just happy to be along for the ride.

The elevator opened out onto the one apartment and one apartment only that occupied the twenty-third floor. Harris was dressed this day in full drag. A little Cher-ish, a little Liza-ish. But all Tweed. He swept his floor-length skirt in the direction of a long low set of couches in the designated conversation area.

The one who knows began with deflection. “You may have a burning question, but that would just heat up the space. Let’s just have some gelato and be desultory. And just to quell any angst you may have, all answers are the same. Just make one up and use it. It will suffice.”

And so they passed an alternately delightful and itchily boring fifty-seven minutes. As it turned out later, Harris’s cat had fleas and they were itchy for a good reason. Not many words were uttered, but they sampled some tasty treats and learned the true meaning of languid. Watching Harris move was a life lesson.

It was, therefore, all that more meaningful when, as they were taking their leave, Harris tapped Coolie on the shoulder with his exquisite mauve silk fan. Our boy turned, wonder and adoration in his eyes – in a cool way, of course. And then the master spoke:

“Who is Coolie Coolstein? You’ve seen the movie, now buy the tee-shirt.”

The door slammed summarily. All that could be said was said.