It was Wednesday November 14 and the morning sun lit the interior of the Basel train station where I still sat waiting for the train to Rome. I remembered the station from my first day on the Continent six weeks ago, on my own for the first time after I’d just left Angie behind in London that morning. I remembered how intimidating it had been to step off the train at three in the morning in this big place and see all the signs and schedule boards in languages I did not understand, having the challenge of figuring out how to purchase a ticket and board the train to Munich. That had been the beginning of “Phase One” of my odyssey on my own. Now having just concluded “Phase Two” with Steve, I was starting my presumably final “Phase Three” on my own again, feeling now, finally, that the entirety of the odyssey was really doable.
I had said goodbye to Steve yesterday evening in Mulhouse where I had to wait in the train station for the next train from Bar-sur-Aube to bring my passport and rail pass. It was a miracle that the station master had found my documents after they had fallen out of my jacket pocket as I boarded the train. Without that miracle I would probably now be heading back to Paris, to the U.S. embassy to get a new passport and then quickly return to the States, ending my trip several weeks earlier than anticipated. But instead I was headed to Italy, as originally intended, with a new lease on life and fate. The whole loss of my documents experience had chastened me, and made all my continuing issues with homesickness seem not so big a deal.
A young guy with the requisite long black freak-flag hair and bell-bottom jeans (though a suitcase rather than a backpack) sat down across from me, said hello in English, and we were soon chatting. His name was Marcello and he was Italian and heading home to Rome. He spoke limited English but enough for us to cobble together a fairly substantial conversation which covered the conventional topics, where we were from and where we were headed.
My story of the Army brats in Munich included smoking hash and getting really high, which piqued his interest. He asked if I had smoked hashish before, in the States. I told him I’d mostly smoked weed, but had done hash a couple times. He glanced around quickly and said quietly that he knew someone who sold the stuff if I wanted to buy. I thanked him, but told him I had a very limited budget, and with all my traveling from one country to another through customs I was afraid I’d get caught with it. He acknowledged my concerns, though he said there were ways to get through customs. And he agreed that hashish was really expensive here in Europe, but then added you could get it for $100 a kilo in Ketama Morocco.
He asked me how much a pound of marijuana cost in the States, and I confessed that I had only bought really small quantities, no more that a quarter of an ounce. I of course loved talking about weed and hash, a way of bonding with my peers, and connected with him immediately because he seemed so passionate, genuine and unguarded, though our main topic of conversation was one that you’d normally be guarded about. He seemed obsessed with every aspect of hashish and its availability, and the more he talked the more I realized, though he was just a few years older than I was, that the “someone” he knew who sold hash might in fact be him. He might be what would conventionally be referred to as a drug dealer.
I say conventionally because, “drug dealer” was a pejorative term used by the older generation, their politicians and the media. Among my generational cohort that actually used illegal drugs like marijuana and hashish as recreational intoxicants and social lubricants, those among our cohort who facilitated our use by selling the stuff, were doing the rest of us an important service, so we looked on them favorably, a necessary part of our subculture. “Drug dealers”, in our minds at least, were something else entirely, people in the inner cities that made a living selling cocaine and heroin and carrying guns to shoot it out with the police or rival dealers as necessary. We who lived in the mostly white towns and suburbs were pretty much in denial that at some point up the distribution chain, our comrades that bought a pound of weed and sold it by the ounce to the rest of us were probably buying from someone trafficking much larger quantities of the stuff, for all purposes more like real drug dealers.
With time to kill waiting for our train, we had continued to talk on a range of topics, and at some point Marcello suggested that I stay with him at his place in Rome and he would show me around the city. Despite feeling an instant affinity with him and my acceptance of the buying and selling of marijuana and hashish at the “retail” level, I was unsure of whether I should take him up on his offer, but did not want to be rude. Was he really some sort of criminal trying to prey upon a naive young traveler?
So I changed the subject without giving him an answer, and he did not come back to it. Later on the train, he told me he lived with his mother, which seemed to change things a bit and make it maybe more okay. Plus the fact that he seemed so nice and was making such an effort to connect with me and offer me a way out of my cocoon of solitude. Was this the universe coming to my aid?
But when our train finally got to Rome and he offered his hospitality again, suggesting I accompany him to his mother’s place outside the city. I hesitated, part of me still unsure of what I might be getting myself into, while another part felt like I was being overly timid. Witnessing my hesitation, he backed off, seemed genuinely disappointed, but still gave me the phone number at his mother’s place and suggested I call him and we would hook up somehow. I agreed to call him, though that timid side of me felt I should probably not follow through. The growing more adventurous side felt it would be a great opportunity to transcend the whole tourist thing and connect with a real Italian family in their home and their city, like I had done with Angelica and Helmet in Munich and Gisele in Paris.
So when Marcello and I parted company at the Rome train station, I was engulfed by that feeling of having bailed on YET ANOTHER opportunity, and my spirits were on the low side as I made my way through the center city to the nearby youth hostel. Despite my reservations, that emerging more adventurous reach out to others part of me was determined to follow through and call him. It would likely turn out to be great, I rationalized, free accommodations and a chance for me to meet and see how locals lived. I of course would be duly cautious at first and make sure things were as he said they were.
But the Rome youth hostel quickly pulled me out of any funk. It was full of fellow backpacker types, male and female, sitting or milling about the big common room of the place. In line to book my bed, I connected with the guy in line in front of me from Canada named Morgan. He had fair white skin and a mop of curly brown hair and Clark Kent black plastic glasses. He was enrolled in college in Toronto but spending his junior year abroad in Italy, studying European history and culture at the University of Milan. He was in Rome to see the museums and the Renaissance and classical Roman architecture. What made him particularly fun was that beside his nerdy academic side with his passion for historical architecture, he had a countercultural side. He had an equally strong passion for radical politics, marijuana, psychedelic music, and the more intense psychedelic drugs, like psilocybin, peyote and even LSD, none of which I had ever dared to try but still found very intriguing to hear about.
I had always loved talking about music with comrades that were also as passionate about it as I was. Part of my timidness was that I had never been good at talking about my feelings, but I made an exception talking about my feelings around a particular song, particularly those that inspired or soothed me. I guess I’d inherited that from my dad, who was mostly very guarded, even maybe unaware, about how he felt about things in his life. But I could at least glimpse at his feelings when he used to sing to my brother and I most every night before bed when we were little.
As we continued to sit together in the common room and talk, I enjoyed Morgan’s introduction to the context and nuances of his favorite musical genre, “psychedelia”, including his insights on the work of American bands like Jefferson Airplane, Cream, and Jimi Hendrix, British bands like Donovan, Pink Floyd, and Traffic, and the German electronic band Tangerine Dream. I was particularly intrigued by what he shared with me about the backstory of Pink Floyd’s apparently seminal to the genre “See Emily Play”. I shared with him I was only familiar with their Dark Side of the Moon album, which I really liked.
“Yeah, Dark Side is quite the tour de force”, he noted, “But that is mainly the work of Roger Waters. ‘See Emily Play’ was written by Syd Barret, the original front-man of Floyd, co-founded with Waters. By the time they did Dark Side, Barret had already been kicked out of the band because they thought all the psychedelic drugs he was taking were making him mentally ill.”
“Oh wow”, I said, “I didn’t know any of that!”
Morgan grinned, and I could tell that he was happy to share all this esoteric knowledge with someone who was really interested.
“Yeah”, he continued, “Barret is considered one of the main progenitors of psychedelic music, his use of all the weird feedback and distortion in his guitar work was very important in defining the genre.”
“Wow”, I said again, realizing that I wanted to say something more than just that so Morgan appreciated the depth of my own thought.
So I pushed forward. “I only know Dark Side”, I noted, using his shortened album name to sound kind of acedemicy like him, “I like the spaciness of it combined with its critique of contemporary society.”
“Indeed”, he replied, his gray-blue eyes under those Clark Kent glasses flaring. “What a piece of work this crazy civilization we were born into!”
I nodded vigorously. “We gotta find some sort of path forward!”
He looked off in the distance and shook his head. “Leary thinks there’s some sort of path forward with psychedelic drugs like LSD. Barret’s lyrics in ‘Emily’.” And he proceeded to sing two lines from the song…
There is no other day
Let’s try it another way
I nodded and struck a thoughtful pose, managing not to say “wow” for a third time like some whacked out stoner, as I was struck by the metaphorical significance of those two statements. We are all where we are in the scheme of history and human development, but the approach to our world is our choice and we can make a very different one than our parents had.
“I’ve smoked a fair amount of weed this past year or so and it certainly creates an altered set of perceptions of the world, but I’ve never done any of the psychedelic stuff.”
His eyes narrowed and I could see the gears spinning in his mind. “LSD is like that altered perception you’re speaking to ratcheted up orders of magnitude. Like I looked at my hand and felt like I could see the molecules in my skin and all around me the ‘fabric’, the ‘grid’ of the universe.” He looked at me with eyes combining wonder and fear. “Does that make any sense?”
Wow, I thought to myself, here is someone who has actually taken LSD. I was duly impressed and reverent. I nodded, my eyes wide. “It completely does!” The fucking grid of the universe indeed.
I was determined to really contribute to this conversation. I tried to channel my mom’s best friend and my ‘guru’ Mary Jane. “Well perhaps a less profound more human imposed ‘grid’ or hierarchy really…”
“What’s that?” he broke in. I could see the knowledge lust in his eyes.
“Well my mom’s best friend Mary Jane, who’s like a radical feminist philosopher”, I prefaced, not ready to own this argument as my own, “Believes that our path forward from our ‘crazy civilization’ as you called it is to move beyond ‘patriarchy’.”
“The rule of the father”, he said, deconstructing the word. His eyes narrowed again and he looked off in the distance, massively spinning gears in his mind. He looked at me, obviously for elaboration.
I continued, “A pecking order of top down control, superiors and inferiors, us and them thinking that she says has dominated, infected even, human civilization for the past five thousand years.” I threw in the “infected” to give it all a bit more juice.
“So what happened five thousand years ago? The Sumerians?” His gaze drilled into my mind.
“She says it started with the beginning of written communication. Phonetic literacy led to… I’m not sure I can explain it like she can… a dominance of the visual sense over the acoustic and the others, creating the alienated individual point of view, ‘me’ over ‘us’ and ‘us’ over ‘them’. Something like that.”
“Wow”, it was his turn to say it, “The start of Phonetic literacy was certainly around 3000 BC with the Sumerians. They were producing and trading things and had the need to keep records. But hardly anyone knew how to read, only the…” His brow furrowed, his hand over his mouth, finally removing it.
“The religious and governmental elite”, he was answering his own question. “Hmmm… that’s really interesting. I’ve never heard that theory before.”
“Yeah”, I continued, “Mary Jane was a close friend and collaborator with Marshall McLuhan and his ideas that changes in communication technology transform the human mind, and with it, human culture.”
And so our conversation spun on for the next couple hours on a range of topics, as new people entered and others milled about the hostel common room. Sharing an interest in history, he enjoyed my thoughts on modern Russian history and particularly the Russian anarchists Mikhail Bakunin and Peter Kropotkin and the essentially anarchist themes in the paintings of Wassily Kandinsky. He was familiar with Kandinsky as an artist but not the anarchist angle, as he was familiar with Tolstoy but not so much about his anarchist leanings. He was pleasantly amazed by my stories of my high school history teacher, Mr. Peacock, who had taught the Modern Russian History class and was, or at least claimed to be, a card carrying communist.
As I was flailing my arms around telling my lurid tales of Peacock’s class, I realized that a big person who had been standing next to us just outside our conversational bubble for the last few minutes had actually been looking at us and listening to my story. Both Morgan and I turned our heads to look at her just about the same moment.
“Private school or public school?” she asked, looking straight at me and loud enough for the whole room to hear, several people in fact their heads to look at her. She was a physically imposing person, taller and stockier than I, with a big Aussie voice and an instantly recognizable charisma. Deer in the headlights time again for me, I was dumbstruck.
“Where did this Peacock bloke teach”, she clarified, tilting her head theatrically, “Public or private high school?”
I stared at her, still grasping for words. Jeans and plaid workshirt, blonde hair, full rosy cheeks and the requisite pack slung over her back.
She laughed and looked me up and down and then struck a silly pose with another tilt of her head. “I know you can speak mate, I’ve been listening to you!”
Finally I snapped out of it and replied, “Uhhh sorry… public.”
“Bloody hell”, she said, swinging her big pack effortlessly off her back to the floor and plopping her butt down on one of the two empty chairs at our little table. “Where in hell’s name did you go to high school mate? Moscow?”
I laughed, and she lit up with a toothy grin as I did.
“I’m Jen”, she said, putting her left hand between her breasts and thrusting her right hand out towards me across the table.
I grasped her hand. “Cooper”, I said, and given her bigness and big energy, anticipating her about to crush mine in hers, did my best to beat her to the punch, not wanting to come off some lesser mortal.
We squeezed each other’s hands hard and she nodded approvingly, saying, “A pleasure”, then, “A yank right? Love your accent!” I couldn’t tell if that was for real or just putting me on, Americans often saying the same about the Aussie drawl.
She turned to Morgan repeating the routine, getting his name and shaking hands. “Canadian?”.
Morgan nodded, “London. Ontario that is, not England.”
She grinned smugly, “I rarely get an accent wrong!”
“So not quite Moscow”, I said, returning to her original question, “Ann Arbor Michigan in the States. The ‘Moscow’ of the Midwest perhaps. Big liberal university town.”
She made another face and nodded knowingly, then raised her finger to put me on hold for a moment as she swung herself around, scanning the crowd in the hostel’s common room, finally focusing in on someone across the room, and in her fogcutting voice called out, “Hey Shakespeare, over here!” She used the same finger to beckon that someone to come join us at the table. A young woman of more average stature and slighter frame, pack on her back, turned her head toward us, frowned, and turned her head back to the other female type she was talking to, said something, and then headed in our direction. Amidst everyone else’s big wild hair, she had shorter straight black hair, neatly combed and parted on the side, like Laurence’s.
She swung her pack off her back, leaned it against Jen’s, and then sat down in the remaining chair much more adroitly and with much less of a plop than her partner had.
“Afternoon gents”, she nodded at each of us and then turned to her comrade, “Ma’lady?”
Jen looked back at her and with a twinkle in her eye said, “Shakespeare, meet Morganstern and the Coopster!” I couldn’t believe she was already giving us nicknames. Jen continued, winking at me, “And I have to compliment the Coopster on his magnificent ‘low spark’. I saw you strutting around earlier on those heels. More blokes ought to wear them.”
I could not figure out at first what the hell she was referring to until it hit me that it was a reference to Steve Winwood and Jim Capaldi’s hit song, “The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys”, with their band Traffic…
The percentage you’re paying is too high priced
While you’re living beyond all your means
And the man in the suit has just bought a new car
From the profit he’s made on your dreams
But today you just read that the man was shot dead
By a gun that didn’t make any noise
But it wasn’t the bullet that laid him to rest, was
The low spark of high-heeled boys
Her comrade grimaced at the nickname Jen had apparently given her, chuckled and shook her head like they had been through this schtick many times. She looked at us again. “To every other human being in this big wide world of ours I’m known as Sarah, and I would hazard a guess you are Morgan and uh Coop?”
Morgan and I nodded.
“It is a pleasure, gents.” She shook each of our hands. Her grip wasn’t much less than her partner’s.
“Ma’lady is such a smooth talker!” Jen said, mocking her friend’s earlier reference as she reached over and mussed up Sarah’s hair.
Still looking at her comrade, who was now running her hand through her hair to put things back in place, Jen pointed at me. “The Coopster here was telling me about his commie history teacher.” She turned to look me square in the eyes, “High school right, not college? Lefty college town, but public high school, how ‘bout that!”
So teed up by Jen, I continued my story about Mr. Peacock and his dramatic tales of the Russian revolution including the band of nihilists who finally blew up the Tsar, and then Lenin’s Bolsheveks and Trotsky’s Mensheveks.
“Peacock would have been tarred and feathered and run out of town on a rail in TooWoomba where I grew up”, Jen said.
“Indeed he would”, Sarah nodded, “Probably in my Brisbane a more dignified thrashing.”
I couldn’t wait to throw my question out on the table. “So how did the two of you meet each other?”
“Oh THAT’S a good one!” Jen snorted. “Do tell us Shakesy, I keep forgetting!”
Sarah shrugged and told the story of how they met as dorm roommates at “UQ”, the University of Queensland in Brisbane. That they’d roomed together for months before they finally became friends.
“She was afraid of me. She’d cower on her bed”, Jen blurted out.
Sarah flashed a scowl combined with a grin, and with a deliciously deadpan delivery she chided here comrade, “Let’s stick with the you keep forgetting part.”
Sarah continued to weave the tale of how they became best friends through a series of misadventures mostly initiated by Jen but always dragging Sarah in to help sort out. About the wild parties in and around their dorm room. One where a drunken Jen, in the midst of taking a class on ancient Egypt, would walk down the hallway naked, wearing only the white sheet off her bed saying she was the goddess Isis and demanding that people worship her and the next day briefly suspended and almost expelled. Guys that Jen fell for and pursued, the resulting relationships never working out. Sarah’s deadpan tone and cadence was really something.
“How many times did I have to tell one of your toey blokes ‘Please go away and ignore Jen, she’s just insane!’”
Throughout Sarah’s continuing narrative Jen laughed and suggested some other story Sarah should share with us. Like when Jen started the young socialists club at her college and again ran afoul of the school’s administration. It became clear that Jen was a bull in just about every china shop and Sarah was at times Jen’s acolyte, foil, personal peanut gallery, handler, fixer and straight-man.
The whole time we sat there listening to Sarah’s tales, Jen randomly flirted with guys in the room that came within range, complimenting them on their hair, their boots and once even a guy’s butt. He looked at her in disbelief and then made a point of ignoring her the rest of the time he spent before bidding a retreat up to the male bunkroom, with a quick final nervous glance at her. Then Jen would turn heads everywhere in the room with her big belly laugh, and once folks were looking at her, would call out to everyone what she thought was so funny.
Needless to say, though never feeling worthy of her grace, I had a total crush on Jen, and maybe even more so on her partner Sarah, whose look reminded me of Giselle’s stunning daughter Laurence. So when Jen said she and Sarah were going to head up to the female bunk room to stow their stuff, my timidness unfortunately kicked in and prevented me from right then and there just tossing out that the four of us should go out and search for a place to have dinner together. Tossed out in a way to make it no big deal if they declined, but in the same way, making it easier for them to say, “Yeah… what the hell!”
As they stood up and shouldered their packs, I was suddenly struck with the thought to at least provide Jen with her own impromptu nickname, as the appropriate response to her tagging me with one, and building our connection and my worthiness in her eyes.
“So it was a pleasure to meet you Sarah”, using that word they had used when we first shook hands, “And you… ‘Comrade Jen’”. I said those last two words with my best Russian accent.
She laughed and pointed at me. “Ya got me Coopster! Later mates!”
They turned, worked their way through the crowded common room, and I watched their cute jean clad rear ends below those big packs ascend the stairs to the bunkrooms above.
So in the high energy room still bustling full of backpacker types, Morgan and I were quickly sucked into a new conversation, with two British guys from Manchester. The mention of their hometown triggered that great song in my head from the musical Hair…
Manchester, England, England
Across the Atlantic Sea
And I’m a genius, genius
I believe in God
And I believe that God believes in Claude
Well unlike Claude I didn’t believe in god (having sorted that out a decade earlier), or even myself fully, and certainly needed a lot of work toward the latter.
At Morgan’s suggestion we all agreed to head out to find a cheap place to eat. I still longed to be doing this with Jen and Sarah instead, but it would be rude to say no and I figured I better just go with the flow. We quickly found that the eating establishments broke down to basically two categories, ristoranti and trattorie. The former had printed menus, waiters and prices we could no way afford. The latter mostly fit our budgets, with generally no menus or waiters, and very simple though delicious cuisine.
In Spain, the dish to buy at a restaurant on the frugal budget had been Paella. Here in Italy, to get the most caloric bang for your buck (or load for your lire, though you generally needed a shitload of lire to buy anything) was what they called “pasta”, generally served with a marinara or cream sauce, and bread. I was not really familiar with the “pasta” word, but soon understood it was a catch-all for the spaghetti, lasagna, ravioli and macaroni I had eaten many times in WASPy Ann Arbor. Virtually all the trattorie had the first three, but also a much broader array of other configurations of the formed wheat dough, including: mostaccioli, cannelloni, penne, rigatoni, linguini and vermicelli. Plus my favorite newly found format, gnocchi, little dollops of dough made with a mixture of wheat and potato flower. To get a little meat or cheese in your starchy meal you’d pay a little extra and get the cannelloni, ravioli, lasagna, or pop for a meatball or two. Otherwise you at least had access to free parmesan or romano cheese to sprinkle on your bowl of hot saucy noodles.
As we all gobbled and slurped down big bowls of our chosen pasta format and drank decanters of cheap chianti Morgan and I swapped tales of life on the road with our two comrades from England’s industrial heartland. Though I was the youngest at the table in chronological age, I had actually been on those roads through the European continent for nearly two months now, a lot longer than any of my other three fellow travelers, and I ended up in the unusual situation of being the center of attention and telling the most stories at the table. Those tales included, parting company with Angie in London and heading to the continent on my own. Staying and smoking hash with the U.S. Army brats in Munich. The breathalyzer test in Chur. The homeless guy who brought us beers in the train station in Bern. Climbing a mountain in Bavaria. My long day across Luxemburg and Belgium. The prostitutes along the Avenue de Clichy in Paris. The ride across France in the VW van with Zo and Randall, and the third degree from the Spanish customs police. The amazing fish market in Barcelona and gruesome bullfight in Torremolinos (though not my travel partner wanting to have sex with me in Granada). And finally the German businessman who gave us a ride to Paris, popped for dinner and put us up for the night and in the morning turned out to be a Hitler fan.
Again despite our three different countries of origin there was immediate camaraderie between the four of us around our common generational themes. Long or otherwise “freak flag” hair and bell bottom jeans. The spectrum of contemporary music we had all experienced to some degree, from rock through soul and R&B to jazz, from Motown to Mahavishnu Orchestra and Petula Clark to David Bowie. Drug culture, particularly the availability of and our experiences with marijuana and hashish, plus the other more exotic drugs beyond. Political activism in the context of a radical critique of conventional society. And of course that shared urge to leave the familiarity of home and wander beyond the horizon, ginned up by our generational Greek chorus. Dylan’s simile “on your own like a rolling stone” and Steppenwolf’s “like a true nature’s child we were born to be wild”. Lou Reed’s suggestion to “take a walk on the wild side” and Bowie’s to “turn and face the strange”.
And all my stories were salted with the array of engaging young women I had met along the way. My original travel partner and hometown buddy Angie. Norwegians Ashild and anarchist Bublil in Chur. My perky host Angelica in Munich. Crazy New Zealander Miranda along the Mosel (though not her sexual proposition). My Parisian host Giselle’s stunning daughter Laurence, plus Prudence the hippie bard, and thoroughly fascist Jeanette. Wild red haired Canadian Zo and her “Magic Bus”. Surely Jen and Sarah would soon be grist for my stories as well.
As we all got buzzed on the cheap chianti my stories got saltier and more lurid and my three dinner companions enjoyed the richness of my travel tales and fantasized about their own possibilities still to come. They loved all the detail about the young women, and it occurred to me that everyone’s libido was probably percolating like mine, since who among us backpacker types were having any real opportunities for sexual encounters, or other sorts of relief in our travels because, where would you do it? We all stayed in samesex bunk rooms with public bathrooms and mostly cold showers! Maybe Randall and Zo in their VW van, but not most of us.
Walking back to the hostel after dinner, I realized that I had forgotten to call Marcello. This morning I’d made a connection with him, and he seemingly with me, but his apparent life selling hashish had put me off. Now after spending the day with my fellow backpackers Morgan, Jen, Sarah, and the guys from Manchester, Marcello seemed like a distant memory. Still I felt I owed him the call and to not do so would be rude. I used the pay phone at the hostel to try and call his number he had given me for his mother’s house several times, but no answer. I knew that I was going to feel guilty about it until I managed to contact him and follow through somehow, even if just to meet up with him somewhere for the day perhaps.
As I climbed into my now so familiar sleeping bag on my bunk in one of the big male bunk rooms of the Rome youth hostel, all the day’s events replayed through my head. Marcello the compelling maybe drug smuggler. Morgan’s tale of seeing the “grid of the universe” on LSD, and imagining myself what that might look like. Coiffed and nicely buttoned down Sarah’s deadpan tales of Jen. And then the big charismatic “Comrade Jen” herself, and her nicknaming me so brazenly with me returning the favor at least, if too chickenshit to invite the two Aussies to dinner. And finally the pasta dinner, with lots of wine, juicing my most lurid telling of my travels to my willing audience of Morgan and the guys from “Manchester England, England”. My willingness to hog that spotlight, play the tale-spinning “Coopster”, certainly inspired by “Comrade Jen”. I was always at my most alpha putting on a show!