Jeffrey Goodman is many things: a husband, an avid reader, a retired financial advisor of nearly 40 years, a dad. My dad. Though he lives in South Florida, he was born and raised in the Bronx. He was born in Montefiore Hospital, went to DeWitt Clinton High School, went to delis on Jerome Avenue and teen dances at Bronx House community center, enjoyed visiting the International Center of Photography and The Jewish Museum. He worked at Saks Fifth Avenue, taught math at a junior high school in Williamsburg, then moved to Israel where he lived on a kibbutz for two years selling oranges. He moved to South Florida in the late 1970s and started a landscaping business but, still entranced from a young age by a Technicolor stock an uncle had given him for his bar mitzvah, decided to become a financial advisor instead. Somewhere in the middle he met my mother, to whom he has been married for 31 years. He retired last September and now goes to the beach, reads, goes to the gym, has a cigar and occasionally, like the day I chronicle, also has a haircut and a pastrami sandwich. He still has a New York accent.
We are in the car driving to get haircuts and my father wears his signature black Ray-Ban aviators, linen shirt, dark jeans, and moccasins. Tito Cruz has been cutting my family’s hair for something like 16 years. We’ve followed him as he’s traveled from salon to salon because we find nobody cuts hair quite like him. My father waits his turn sitting on the leather couches at the front of Sullo salon. Soon Tito is washing and cutting his hair.
“Your hair grows so quickly,” Tito says to my dad. “What’s in your diet?”
“Ice cream,” my father laughs.
Watching Tito cut my father’s hair, I realize I never knew how much work went into a man’s haircut. There are several kinds of combs and scissors and razors involved, and ultimately a shine treatment my father refuses with a firm yet polite hand.
Then we’re off to my father’s favorite part of the day, going to Pomperdale, a New York-style deli right in the middle of Fort Lauderdale. He orders pastrami on rye with a sour pickle and gets a Dr. Brown’s Cream Soda, a classic New York brand, from the refrigerator in the back. The sandwich arrives, and he slathers the cured, seasoned meat with brown deli mustard—“What’s with this ‘Yellow Mustard’ they have here?” he asks of the French’s on the table. “Who uses that, goys?”—and the Russian dressing and cole slaw that comes on the side. He bites into it and a deep “Mmmh!” comes from his throat. There’s silence while he finishes his sandwich.
“Did you enjoy it?” I ask.
He smirks. “I had been dreaming about this all week.”
After we come home from lunch, he sits on the patio smoking what’s left of a cigar, thick puffs of smoke rising into the air.