The Great Plotnik

Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Day of Red Tail Lights

It is very nice to be home, though it took a lot longer than we'd expected. Since we were in Thousand Oaks already we figured we'd just jaunt straight up the 101. Nah. You don't 'jaunt' on the 101, not on a holiday weekend.

It was the Day of Red Tail Lights. After sitting twenty minutes without moving, the first time, we got off the freeway somewhere near Santa Paula and drove blindly down streets of auto repair shops and taco stands, all named "Taco Mexico," until a sweet and gracious Indian family operating a 7-11 pointed us back to the 101. We had outflanked the blockage but I made the mistake of exulting at our tactical brilliance. Five minutes later: More red tail lights.

It was stop-and-stop until Santa Barbara, and then it was clear until Prunedale-San Juan Bautista-Gilroy-Castroville. Since every one of those towns is mentioned in my song "Watsonville," I think it is proof of God's cackle. Clearly, I deserved to sit on that highway awhile. Call it my royalty to the region, even though I TOOK OUT this wonderful rhyme:

Gilroy is known for its garlic
Castroville, baked artichoke
And San Juan Bautista's
Where Jeee-eee-sus
appeared in a bottle of coke. 

But I didn't notify the Karma Department. How were they to know? So we sat out on the 101 for awhile. My bad.

DS is my niece-once-removed-by-marriage. It was her bat-mitzvah that had brought us to Thousand Oaks. She has grown up so beautifully and her ceremony was lovely. Thankfully, the synagogue where her brothers had had their barmitzvahs has gone out of business and this new synagogue has a more ecumenical vibe. In the old place we had to listen to the old rabbi who was intent on using a barmitzvah to lecture about Middle East politics -- we still talk about the man's statement that Gazans deserved to die because their government didn't build bomb shelters for them. The new synagogue features a cantor with a guitar and a rabbi who is not only female but completely deaf. It is astonishing to imagine what courage it must have taken this woman to learn to speak and preach in front of a congregation.

Our no-longer-little DS made us teary with pride. And they even included us in the ceremony, which was quite gracious of them. They didn't have to do that.

Step- and by-marriage- families have fragile links. They fracture easily, once the person who has united them is gone. This is what holidays are for. But you have to make the effort.


NEVER order a frapuccino at a Starbucks. I tried my first and last outside of King City. It tastes like a marshmallow dissolved in liquid glucose.

The Great PD, The Great BZWZ and The Great We all started driving home yesterday, PD from Washington DC to Brooklyn, BZ from LA to Boulder and we from Stiletto to Saint Plotniko. BZ and Chris are still out there somewhere.


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