Each Thursday after church choir, I usually drive to Jamaic Plain, park on or near Green Street, and then walk to the combination convenience store and Dunkin Donuts to pick up a bag of Twizzlers. Many people believe there are two types of Twizzlers: black licorice and red. But that’s not quite true. Red isn’t a flavor, unless we’re talking about hospital gelatin desserts. Red Twizzlers come in cherry and strawberry flavors. And while neither even remotely approximate the fruit, it is important for me and my tastes to choose cherry and never strawberry.
If the weather is nice, I like to stroll the streets nearby in a loop on the way back to my car, with the bag displayed prominently in my left hand, and a single strip of the candy in my right. I try not to chomp at the Twizzlers too quickly. I like the bag to last me the entire circuit.
In high school, there was a teacher, Lou Pearlstein, who always carried a small stash of red Twizzlers in this way. It didn’t matter where—in the halls, in class—he was always chewing. I never met Lou in a classroom environment. He taught high school physics, and I was only a lowly eighth grader when he had his heart attack. Don’t worry; he didn’t die. No, in fact, he was quite alive. He did, however, manage to drain the teachers’ common emergency fund during his recovery, though. There were politics involved. But I was young and naive and he sometimes shared his Twizzlers with me, even though I wasn’t his student.
Mr. Pearlstein was a big, round man—not especially tall, but firm. He looked like a proper physics teacher. He also looked like good football coach, which he was not. In fact, he didn’t coach at all. But he did keep his right hand in the front of his pants like football players sometimes do when they play in the cold. It was kind of him to let me select which Twizzler I wanted straight from the bag rather than handing it to me himself. Hygene was important to him.
I hope the Twizzlers aren’t what caused his heart attack.
Happy Maundy Thursday, everybody.