Rozogov and Jazz


"They're leaving," I heard the men whisper. "Your turn Rozogov," one said pushing the smaller man towards us. "Could I? Could I?" he stuttered.

Does he want money? I wondered. I wasn't sure.

"Ask her!" shouted his partner.

"Could I have your ticket...ticket?" He held out his hand. "If you aren't coming back, I mean," he added apologetically.

"Here," I said openly, reaching into my jacket pocket. "I didn't enjoy her. Maybe you will."

"Rozogov, come! The second half is beginning!" shouted his partner.

He hesitated with the ticket in his hand. Did he want more than that?

"Why wouldn't the lady like jazz? Black jazz? Black jazz from Paris?" he asked quietly holding the ticket up between us.

"Rozogov come!" ordered his partner.

"Jazz for me, for us," he turned to his partner, "is a celebration," he shouted, waving the tickets. "In Odessa ..."

"Come! I tell you," shouted his friend opening the heavy doors to the auditorium.

"The lady should listen to more jazz, then she'll understand the happiness it can bring."

"Rozogov!" shouted the other.

"I lived in Odessa. Just up the road from the old bath house. We had good jazz in Odessa. But now I live in Tel Aviv!" He bowed, lowering the ticket like a bouquet. "I thank you."

No man had ever bowed to me before. I giggled. Chana grabbed my arm and pulled me towards the parking lot. I turned back to see Rozogov running to the open door with the ticket high over his head.

He shouted, "an immigrant from Odessa thanks you . . . but wants the lady to listen to jazz. A lady without jazz . . ." The rest was lost because his partner pushed him into the lobby. I could hear Dee Dee beginning the second set. Cole Porter, I heard her say, and the orchestra purred around her. Chana pulled my jacket.

"Let's go to the Hard Rock Cafe at Dizengoff Centre. It's new," she said cheerfully. "Opened last week."

I couldn't relate to jazz, but the thumping of hard rock with the sting of smoke was too much for me.

"No," was all I said, thinking - 'the lady should listen to jazz.'

"Did Yosie come this week?" asked Chana, interrupting my thoughts.

"Yes. Wednesday instead of Tuesday. I had to change my visit with Noa because of him."

"What kind?"


Each time Yosie came, he brought bourekas. After an hour or so in my bed, he dresses quickly, runs out to his truck and brings in a dozen frozen bourekas. He always came at 11:00, Tuesday morning. By 12:00 he was gone. By 12:30 Chana was at my door asking what kind he'd brought. Chana liked cheese best.

"Not my favorite, but okay. I'm starved!"

Chana was too fat for her height of a meter sixty. She talked about dieting all the time. Since her divorce left her with a lot of money, she never talked about work. She didn't read books but loved video movies. Didn't walk much because she tired quickly. I encouraged her to volunteer in a hospital, an institution for retarded children, even a library. Every time she came down for bourekas and I watched her eat two rows from Yosie's package I'd give another suggestion. Tonight I was going to suggest helping out blind people. Reading to them directly, or making tapes for them.

That was my plan but suddenly Rozogov and his 'jazz for the lady' filled my head. I used to enjoy Irving Berlin, and I remember hearing Billie Holiday but I didn't like the strange things Dee Dee's pianist did to 'Spring is Here'. I remember how Nat King Cole sang it. I was in the army then. He didn't throw in all sorts of humming and hesitating that confused the lyrics. 'Just One of Those Things' was my real favorite, but not the way her combo thrashed it around and then the philharmonic picked it up and sort of stroked it back to life. Her bassist strummed into it things I'm sure Cole Porter never wanted. It kept swirling and changing. I liked the way Ella did it. Dee Dee took too much liberty. That's how I felt when that Russian took my ticket.

On the way home, Chana talked only about bourekas. It seemed she'd forgotten the usher completely.

"No cheese! Sure?"

She wouldn't let up. She didn't like when Yosie brought spinach but ate them anyway.

"Spinach!" I repeated impatiently. Chana shouldn't be eating them at all. I never did. That's one of the reasons I stay slim. I also swim in the Gordon Pool.

"Started lessons this week. " I said


"The crawl. Daniela says breast stroke isn't really swimming. That old men swim the breast."

"Why all of a sudden?" she asked, and added, "I'm starved,"

I was annoyed at Chana's persistence about Yosie's bourekas. She never asked what really went on between us. Why he only came once a week. Why always on Tuesdays, except for this week, and why usually Tuesday morning at 11:00. I leave Marketing at HaMashbir. The girls in the office check their watches Tuesday at 10:30 because that's when he calls. This week the call didn't come. I could see they were waiting.

It did come the next day, and I foolishly changed my plans so I'd be home at 7:00. In a way I'm glad Chana doesn't ask me too much about Yosie. An hour a week and a dozen bourekas. That's what it amounts to. We don't talk very much. We never go out. He gets into my bed quickly. I know what he wants and he knows what I want. We satisfy each other more or less. He smokes two cigarettes when we're finished. That's probably the most generous thing I do. I'm not a smoker and I hate cigarette smells. I get back to work with Noblesse in my hair and come home to find it in my sheets. Yosie's butts his cigarettes into the dish on the dresser. I get rid of them as soon as I can.

"I wish he’d bring cheese!" harped Chana when she should have been asking me why only once a week and why only in the morning.

We were better friends last year. We both answered an ad in the morning paper and began going out with the same guy. After the first date Chana told me she met a man called Kobi who liked short, fat women. Kobi told me he liked short, thin women. After the second date Chana said she was serious about him and it was then I admitted I was also dating him. She begged me to let him go.

"Use any excuse," she said. "You've got Yosie. Besides, it isn't often a guy admits liking short, fat women. Do my me a favor!" she moaned.

I promised I'd let Kobi go, but then he took me to see the new Meryle Street movie, then we walked along the beach. It was such a relief from Yosie's one-hour visits that I didn't keep my promise. When I got home she stormed into my apartment. She'd seen me kissing Kobi at the curb.

"I begged you! You promised! I hate you!" she shouted slamming the door. Her heavy feet pounded upstairs. She phoned three times just as I was falling off to sleep. "I hate you! You promised!" She knows how hard it is for me to get to sleep. This was real punishment for being selfish and wanting Kobi. But, I continued dating him. We went to Pronto's a few times. Not like the salads at Tnuvale. I was on a strict budget of calories and money and Kobi liked to go to nice places. I didn't see Chana at all. She never phoned me and refused to answer my calls, but I did see Kobi a lot until one day he said I wasn't interesting enough for him. And I was too skinny. And too calculating. 'Always counting your change and your calories' he said. That really hurt. A single girl on a single salary has to look after herself.

He said something about Chana, but by then I grabbed my purse and rushed off. I still have Yosie, even though this week it was Wednesday instead of Tuesday. I enjoyed seeing him in the evening. I didn't have to rush away from work, leave my papers spread over the desk, shout 'you know' to the secretary and watch the other girls shake their heads.

It was nice in the evening. I didn't even mind his cigarettes so much. I lit a candle so the smell soaked into the flame. But, he still only stayed an hour. Its [It’s] like he works on a timer. I hoped he'd stay longer, but after an hour he pulled on his pants, rushed out to the truck, hurried back, almost threw the bourekas at me, checked his zipper, and was off.

The episode with Kobi was just after Purim. I'd invited him to a party at the store, but then he stopped seeing me. I didn't want to dress up and go alone, so I stayed home. Yosie brought Oznei Haman that week, but Chana didn't come down.

She was still mad at me. Half were dried fruit and half were poppyseed. I tried one of each, then put the rest in the freezer.

Chana and I are patching things up now. She has a car, and I have

imagination and energy. The combination seems good for both of us. It's not like it was before. She's still angry with me, I can tell. Still thinks I'm selfish, but I feel that looking for a man is the most important thing I do and I can't worry about myself and Chana at the same time.

"I wish they were cheese," she said as I put them into the toaster oven for twelve minutes according to Yosie's instructions. I'm amazed at her insistence. A cup of herbal tea is enough for me in the evening. But Chana likes rich pastry. Dried fruit and almonds are my idea of a treat, but they're expensive and also fattening so that's out of bounds. We waited for the bourekas to bake. Chana usually sits in front of the toaster as it heats up. I can't stand her devotion to food.

I feel ashamed when he tosses them at me like a tip, checks his zipper, then he's off. I asked him if he sells anything else, like croissants.

"Bourekas are popular," was all he answered.

When Chana was really mad at me she said,' "I wonder how many he gives away."

That really hurt. I guess she wanted it to. I'd only thought of a dozen missing each week, not dozens. I don't want to think about Yosie gifting other women his frozen goods. Anything’s possible with him. I don't even know if he's married. I don't have his phone number. He always phones me.

'That's how I like it,' he said. 'I phone the women.' Women, he said, but I didn't pay any attention.

Chana broke her leg around Chanukah and I went up with three bourekas. She was hungry and didn't seem to notice they were spinach. My gesture worked. Things never returned to what they were, but once her ankle mended we went out again, and she began coming down every Tuesday to check what kind he brought.

"What an evening," she said leaning on her hand, facing the toaster oven.

"Get out of the kitchen," I said, pulling her shoulder. "I won't let them burn. I know when they're ready." I went into the living room and lay on the sofa. I was so relieved we'd left the concert and equally pleased we hadn't gone to the Hard Rock Cafe. Chana stayed by the toaster oven. Her devotion to food overwhelms me. I'm so busy not eating and she's just the opposite.

"I like 'Autumn Leaves'," she called out, "but not that way."

I was also thinking about the concert.

"Dee Dee sure is beautiful," said Chana. "I loved the way her dress wrapped around the shoulder and the sash slipped out from around her breasts. Her legs are so long."

I wished I was taller, that I could wear gowns with a deep slit on the side so my legs would show when I moved. I love blue. Dee Dee wore a fabulous gown with shades of turquoise banding the bodice. Dee Dee was exciting. Her hands were slender and long, not short and wide like mine. She flirted with her drummer and leaned seductively towards some man in the audience. When she started 'I'm A Fool To Want You' I knew I had to go. Dark women have a certain mystery I think, but the way she confused songs wasn't for me. I remember how Frank Sinatra used to do it. That's the way Jules Styne intended the song to go. Sammy Cahn wouldn't allow it to be melted down and then enflamed the way Dee Dee was carrying on. So, when she sang the last 'want you' I tugged Chana and we stepped over people and left. The usher said we should have waited for the intermission. One more song, he said, but I couldn't. I don't know why exactly, but I couldn’t.

We sat on a bench in the foyer for a while. The usher came up and asked if we weren't feeling well, and then sat down and talked sports. Chana is a Macabee Tel Aviv fan so she really lit up. I guess it’s because she doesn't work so she has time to bone up on scores, players and schedules. Before I knew it he was moving close to her. They forgot all about me. So I looked through the program. I couldn't find much there to encourage me to go back to Dee Dee's second half. I saw that she dedicated the concert to her cousin, Carl Holiday. 'God bless,' it said 'and keep you all in these trying times.' This impressed me more than her singing. I could hear Chana asking the usher if he wanted to go to the next game against Greece.

By that time she had turned her back to me completely, and was totally absorbed in him. She wore a brown leather suit that was so tight she had to sit on the edge of the bench. The usher didn't seem to mind.

"I'll be outside," I said. I opened the heavy door happily, feeling generous in giving Chana the usher. I hadn't interfered, didn't even talk to him, so I was giving her a real chance. Felt better, like I'd absolved myself. Whether they go to the game or not, I was doing my best. The evening was pleasant. No one was outside except for a group of men talking Russian. One of them laughed loudly and one turned to me. I looked back at the lobby. Chana and the usher were still hunched together.

"Your turn, Rozogov" the one that laughed said, and pushed him toward me.

I felt Chana by my side.

"I'm so glad we came. It was a good concert after all. I'm so glad..."she murmured.

I had given my ticket to a man who looked a little like Bogart when he romanced Bacall. He wore that kind of hat and had a wide smile. I liked the way he said...'the lady and jazz'. Maybe I should listen to more jazz. Certainly I'd enjoy it more than going to a Macabee game with an usher. Rozogov! An interesting name.

"Where'd you get the tickets?" Chana asked, biting into the steaming boureka. She never waited till it cooled down.

"My hairdresser," I answered.

"I mean the tickets."

" The woman before me left the tickets. Dudi offered them to me. He couldn't use them. .......’'Get yourself a date,' he said.’

'I'll take Chana,' I told him.

'Oh!' he nodded knowingly. 'I always go with Shmuel. But he's busy tonight.'

He thinks I live or at least love Chana. Never mind. I thanked him for the tickets, and the haircut. Dudi's very sensitive, wears clothes that are interesting and annoying at the same time. Always strokes my cheek when he asks if I want a cup of tea. Inquires what books I've read and how's work. He likes me, I think, but he's got Shmuel. .

"When's the next concert?" I asked Chana.

"Don't know," she answered picking up the second boureka. It had cooled off so she wasn't anxious. "Why?"

"I want to look for Rozogov. He was an interesting type."