The Adventures of Coolie Coolstein: Episode 76
It’s just two letters, but the difference couldn’t have been greater. As Coolie was shlunking around one Sunday (his least favorite day of the week – something about transitions to come…) he came upon a young man. Quite young. Almost 15, but not quite.
“Hey,” said Coolie, in his friendly but not that related voice.
“Hey,” said young Cole, in a well-modulated tone that gave nothing away. He had been out exploring this neighborhood that was new for him, while his parents visited with cousins – one of whom they strangely referred to as Kaysquared. Cole had put in a good hour of polite sitting and answering the ten thousand questions that adults always asked. He was then, mercifully, relieved of duty and – accompanied by one of the cousin’s dogs: one charming but scruffy Brownstein – he was able to escape.
At the end of the long block that Kaysquared lived on, he rounded the corner onto Columbus Avenue and all but crashed into a not quite as youngish (as he) man who was standing, elbows akimbo, looking rapidly both up and down the street. The expression on this guy’s face was just this side of stunned, but – nevertheless – it aroused Cole’s curiosity.
“Have you seen Blue?” asked the man who had not yet identified himself.
Cole, who was at heart a bit of a philosopher, said, “I’ve seen a great deal of blue in my life. Did you have anything specific in mind?”
With that, Coolie sort of came to, realizing that this new person didn’t know him and didn’t really know what the hey he was talking about. “Oh, I’m Coolie Coolstein.” He extended his hand, which Cole shook cautiously but firmly.
Now, it is surprising but true, that Cole had already heard that name bandied about. Kaysquared had been going on at some length about a fictional series she’d been writing; Cole was certain the main character’s name was Coolie Coolstein. This kind of freaked Cole out, but he kept his demeanor unrevealing.
“Nice to meet you.” Cole had been raised well.
“Have we met?” asked Coolie. But, before Cole could answer, he realized that this stranger was talking to the dog. And, speaking of strange, the dog answered.
“Hey, Coolie, it’s me Brownstein TTR (to the rescue – for those who don’t know the back story).”
“Brown, you’re omnipresent!” This was a word Coolie had just learned and he was proud as punch to find an opportunity to actually use it in a sentence.
Cole really had to speak; things were getting way past weird. “My cousin mentioned you – but she said she made you up…you know, in a story.” Cole was blushing just a little as he heard his own words. After a good five years of being affirmatively cool, this was getting quite a bit off the reservation.
As if she had read his mind (which she had), Brownstein said, “Don’t let the interspacial refraction get you down. We’re just in a fact/fiction time/no time intermediary zone. This will begin to feel normal in about sixteen farflungs (that’s about twenty minutes).
Taking a little pity (what we often like to call “rachmunis”) on the lad, Coolie began to explain: “Blue is my girlfriend. She’s really pretty and very smart – most of the time. But she does, occasionally, forget where she’s going. I think I might have lost her at my last stop – which was Joon’s Fish Store. We were trying to get some jellyfish for my best friend Mickey Mental.”
As you might guess, Coolie’s explanation didn’t add any clarity; rather, Cole began to feel as if his head was going to explode.
Not quite giving up, but aware that life as he knew it was changing rapidly, Cole sat down on one of the randomly placed seats that the good mayor De Blasé had installed for just this unknowable purpose.
“Okay,” said Cole with a little bit of remaining good humor, and a great swirl of tiny question marks dancing before his eyes. “Tell me, please, who Mickey is and what the jellyfish thing is all about, and anything else you can share that might help me understand what is going on here.”
Coolie looked at Brownstein. Brownstein hopped up on the chair next to Cole. He noticed how bright her eyes were and that her mouth wasn’t exactly moving. But, what followed was a completely edifying explanation of every question and confusion that Cole was harboring. Their communing (for want of a better word) went on for some time. In actual fact, in went on for sixteen farflungs. At the end, Cole felt strangely comforted and also connected to these two new people (Brownstein had to be thought of as a person, too). Strange was now the new normal and he had crossed the threshold.
From afar, Mothership looked on and kvelled just a little. She silently spoke to her partner DaddythebigDaddywhoseyourDaddy. We’ve got a new boy in the family! Our little Coolie and the lovely Brownstein… haven’t they done well!