Fernwood Street, Hollywood, 1970: Bell-bottom pants were big, see-through shirts were the ticket. I went to buy some.
In the little shop, a saleswoman slightly older than myself correctly identified me as a rube, and coerced me into black and white. (I look lousy in black, and I look lousy in white, but I didn’t know it then.) I tried on these odd garments, wasn’t sure.
She spied a loose thread on the pants, dangling from the area of the zipper.
“Let me get that off,” she said. In the middle of the store, kneeling on the carpet, she bit it off.
Both flattered, and embarassed to the core, I hurredly gave her my last dollars, and left quickly.
Back home, I unpacked my purchase and showed them to my roommate, John Hill, the Rock and Roll bass player. He said, “Cool.”
The children from next door were looking in our window. When they were standing outside, their eyes just came above the sill. John held up my new garments to the children. “Whadda ya think?” he asked them.
The children giggled. John got a funny look in his eyes, as he turned back to me.
“Say,” he said, “I’m kind of hungry.”
“So am I,” I said.
“But wait a minute!” he said, “We don’t have any food!”
“What will we do?” I asked.
“I know!” he said, snapping his fingers, “Let’s cook Christmas!“
Christmas was our small black cat. John had found him at Christmastime, hence the name. We also called Christmas the $400 cat, because he’d had a stupdndous vet bill last month. Christmas was at this moment winding himself around John’s legs.
When John suggesting cooking Christmas, the children gasped.
That was perfect. I grabbed up the cat.
“Go turn on the oven!” I exclaimed.
John ran to the kitchen, with me following holding Christmas the cat, who swayed in my hands, feet dangling. As we ran into the kitchen, the children moved up the little alleyway, so now they were peering into the kitchen window.
John reached down and pretended to turn the oven knob.
“OK, the oven’s on!” he yelled.
“Open the oven door!” I cried.
He flung down the oven door. I took an exaggerated heave, and swung Christmas the cat *under* the oven door, whereupon he immediately ran from the room. But the children couldn’t see the floor because the window sill was too high. Their mouths fell open and their eyes grew round.
John slammed the door, and turned to me.
We both rubbed our tummies, licked our lips, and cried out, “Yum! Yum!”
The children were now jumping up and down in worry.
“Don’t cook Christmas! Don’t cook Christmas!” they cried.
We turned to them in surprise, as if noticing them for the first time. John held his hand behind his ear.
“What? What?” he said. “What did you say?” The children jittered with worry.
“Don’t cook Christmas! Don’t cook Christmas!” they called.
“Oh,” he said. “No?”
“No! No!” they cried, “Don’t cook Christmas.”
“Oh, he said, “OK.” He opened the door, and pretended to take Christmas out. “You go run and play,” he said to the invisible Christmas. He turned back to the children.
“How’s that?” he said.
“Thank you! Thank you!” they cried out. “Thank you!”
Not long after, I packed up and moved back to Texas and Midwestern University. John went on to become “Magic John’s Blues Band.” I don’t know what happened to Christmas; I hope he was happy.