The house party started at eight. Waxman’s father almost choked on his first glass of Ballantine when the hearse drove up.
“A Cadillac hearse?” Mr. Waxman came out on the porch. “Oh, thank God.” He pointed to the lettering on the lower border of the rear side window. “It’s from Shotbloom’s funeral parlor. I was having chest pains it should be a fungoola car.”
“It’s my AZA transportation. You wanna meet Shotsky? He’s a senior.” Waxman waved his father down the stairs.
“Never. It’s bad luck using such a car for partying–my father used to say.” He headed back into the house.
Waxman got into the car and greeted Shotsky. “I appreciate the ride Shotsky.”
“Just stay with the rest of the Pledges and don’t associate with me at the house party.” Shotsky aimed his moon face and pointed nose to the road and stepped on the gas.
There were four others in the hearse. Three were seniors and the other was Larry Blitzic. Blitzic was a Pledge and rarely spoke to others. He had a “holier than thou” attitude and made sure everyone knew he lived in the best area in West Medford, wore expensive clothes, owned handmade shirts and was forever acknowledging “Jazz is better than “Rock ‘n Roll”. Blitzic played the bass which stood taller than his 5-foot-5-inch pudgy height. Slinger had a word to describe Blitzic–a putz. Waxman smiled as he thought of the word.
Blitzic looked at him and looked out the hearse window. “You live with the greaseballs?”
“This is South Medford. I live near my grandparents. They’re Italian.” Waxman glared at him. “Where do your grandparents live?”
“They live in New Jersey–in an exclusive section.” Blitzic licked his lips and puffed up his chest.
“Exclusive? You mean they segregate the Jews like in a Ghetto. Little Italy in South Medford has Jews, Irish and Italians and probably some others I haven’t met yet.”
“You bein’ smart Waxman. You makin’ fun of me? I bet you had spaghetti for Thanksgiving. I bet you’re not even circumcised.”
Waxman grabbed Blitzic’s hair and brought his head toward his crotch. “You want to check out my pecker, Blitzic. Go ahead. Unzip. But only give a look.”
“You two stop the stupid talk or I’ll let you out here,” Shotsky shouted.
Michael smiled as Blitzic hyperventilated. Definitely a putz. What exactly did it mean again? What did Slinger say? He gave me a bunch of “must know” Jewish words. Yeah, a putz was a shithead–someone almost totally unlikable. Blitzic was definitely a putz. Another characterization word Slinger said was a “must know” was “shmuck”. A shmuck was a buddy-fucker. A shmuck was someone not to be trusted. Anyone could be a shmuck if you screwed up. Some people were permanent shmucks Slinger had said but I haven’t met any yet. I do know a “pyrick”. A pyrick was a prick–a person whose total intent was to verbally or physically do harm. Ganelli and his two ginzo goons were pyricks. What were some of the other words? Schlemiel. Yeah, I like that one. A schlemiel is a screw-up. It’s a guy who always gets things wrong. The Aleph Godol called the social committee chairman a schlemiel for scheduling a second house party in Dorchester after the one last year ended in a disaster. I’d love to know the details. Dad used one I like–“schlepper”. A schlepper was a slow person. It was a person who took too much time to do things. Sometimes dad calls my brother Dan a schlepper. I’ll have to save schlepper for the right moment and impress Golden and Slinger that I know a Jewish slang word on my own.
The hearse jerked to a sudden stop breaking Waxman’s delight in his reverie of Jewish vocabulary. “Okay guys and Pledges, remember this is Deborah Sterling’s house. Behave like AZA gentlemen. If you get a hot chick coming on to you, don’t make out or grab her tits in front of anyone. Find a closet or go to one of the cars. Remember, we leave all the cars unlocked.”
The Sterling home was a large 4-bedroom place with a huge dining room connecting to a larger living room. The furniture had been rearranged to accommodate the AZA and BBG evening populace. There were more girls than boys and Waxman estimated about thirty people had come to the party. A stack of 45 RPM records was recycled until almost everyone broke from gender clusters and started dancing. Deb Sterling came over to where Waxman, Golden and Slinger were standing. Waxman was as amazed as Golden and Slinger when Deb reached out her hand for his.
“Michael, may I have this dance.” It was a slow Patti Page song.
“Certainly.” He touched her lightly and felt a little giddy as Deb moved in closer.
“Mmmm. You smell good. I didn’t think you would be shaving just yet.”
“I don’t shave. Shotsky passed around some aftershave cologne he got from his father’s room.”
“Shotsky?” She laughed. “Well I know it’s not embalming fluid. You AZA guys are something else.” She gave him a hug and they continued in the moving embrace as others broke the ice and began dancing.
Waxman danced with a few other AZA girls he had known by face only but found himself looking around for Sterling. Toward the end of the evening they stayed together. Mrs. Sterling came into the room and pointed to the grandfather clock after the last record played and bid everyone a goodnight. The house party was over.
Waxman and Sterling walked over to the hearse which had steamed-up windows. Deb gave his hand a tight squeeze and smiled. “It’s chilly tonight. I should have put my sweater on to come outside.” She looked at Waxman and grabbed his other hand. “I’m so glad you came tonight Michael.” She closed her eyes and aimed her face closer to his.
Waxman responded and his lips touched hers. “I’m glad I came too. I’m not going to enjoy the other BBG house parties anymore.”
“Why not?” She smiled again.
“Because of you.” He kissed her again.
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish