Stroh's Sunday Beer--only 3.2 alcohol, sold someplace to minors--and bright green marijuana--that's what I and 11th grade buddy had to look forward to that Saturday night. Saturday afternoon found us on the windswept streets of Cleveland, Ohio, checking out the used record stores and scoping out the hot-looking clerks inside the ritzy department stores. Then out on Euclid Avenue--outside Halles we were approached by a small man, a small white man in thin white garb.
"My young men," he spoke, "how are you doing on this blessed afternoon?"
Frank shrugged. "OK, I guess."
"Can I bestow upon you some words?"
Another shrug from Frank. "Yeah, I guess."
The man gave each of us a small pamphlet, then told us the words inside would ward off misfortune and trouble. I looked inside and saw featured prominently the words "Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Hare Rama Hare Rama." I folded mine back up, Frank deposited his in the trash can at the Rapid Transit station.
Back homed--a west-side suburban one--the first thing I did after greeting the black and tan dachshund was go up to my third floor quarter and fish out my George Harrison "All Things Must Pass" LP--the one Harrison put out shortly after the Beatles breakup. The album marked "poor" by the record dealer--crackled, but that didn't faze me. I went quickly to "My Sweet Lord, the second song on side one. The chanting--"Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Hare Rama Hare Rama" at the end had me joining in. From there it was "Wah Wah," then "Isn't it a pity," then it was downstairs where supper was soon set out on the dining room table.
The fare that night--lasagna, garlic bread, tossed salad, with tomatoes and Italian dressing couldn't be beat although the talk was, well, downbeat. "That Nixon," said my father, a middle school History teacher, "He lied to us, he lied to us on TV."
"Yes, it's awful," my mother said. Then she winked. "So Dave should we be waking you up for church tomorrow morning?--It's Reformation Day."
We were Lutherans and we had a new minister--the previous one got seduced by a sexy divorced parishioner. I was understandably disillusioned. "No," I told mom. "Frank and I will be out pretty late tonight."
Dad set down his seven percent alcohol Rolling Rock bottle next to his plate. "So what are you two guys going to do?"
"We, uh, we're gonna see a movie."
"A movie about what?"
"It's a movie about a rock group."
"No. It's a group called Led Zeppelin."
"Well, be sure to take the dog out when you get home."
Shortly thereafter I was seated next to Frank in the front seat of his father's Pinto. First stop was Twin's Deli where we purchased our 3.2. That accomplished, I pulled the baggie with the marijuana in it out of my front jean pocket and poured a bowl for Frank. The light from my Bic showed on his face as he inhaled. He coughed and then a flashing light behind us--a red one--came to our attention.
"Frank," I said. "Frank, you'd better pull over."
Frank pulled over. Then up came a man in blue, a man in blue carrying a large flashlight. "So boys," he said chuckling. "What is it in those cans you are drinking and what is in that bag with the green powder?"
"Cigarettes," was what Frank offered up. It brought a smirk.
"Why don't you just hand it over?"
Frank complied. The officer inspected the contents of the bag, then scattered the contents to the wind. As for the beers, he took our cans and emptied them out onto the concrete. "Beers," he said smiling. "Root beers--that's what you boys should be drinking. Now run on home to your mommas and daddies--they're worried about you being out so late."
"We will, sir," Frank said. I reached into my pocket--there it was, my pamphlet.
Now it's twenty something years later and I, a Methodist lay reader am on my deck enjoying a full-bodied Pabst Blue Ribbon and reflecting on that incident. Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Hare Rama Hare Hare Rama.