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JEAN SHEPHERD Steel Mill Rot Gut Finale

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I’m one of the bull workers now.  I’ve got my corduroy jacket on, and everything.  I’m one of the bull workers.  I’ve got a great big button that says OPEN HEARTH LABOR on me.

So I take the glass and I go whooooop!  Eeeeeeeeeeee!  Ya! Ya! Ya! Oh! Oh! Oh! Wooooo!  Ooooooo!  Ooooooo!  I’m holding it back but something inside of me is going.  Oh! Oh! Wooooo!  Ooooooo!  Ooooooo!  My eyeballs are sticking out and Alex says, “Here, have a chaser,” and he gives me a bottle of beer.  To me, beer was strong!  Up to this point I’d never been able to drink a whole beer.  I take the beer and it tastes like cold water.  Ooooooo!  I’m drinking the beer just to clear my throat.  I’ve got calluses all the way down.

I look down and I’ve got another one in my hand and all around me there’s yelling and hollering and they’re telling dirty stories and down goes the next one!  Wooooo!  Ooooooo!   That one didn’t do as much as the first one.

So I go reeling on out into the street with about fifteen other guys.  Of course these guys are not even affected at all.  They’ve been doing this ever since they were five.

I sat in the bus going home.  I couldn’t move, I sat there like I had been cast in bronze like they cast baby shoes.  There I sat with my laces hanging out.  My tongue was tickling.  Everything was tickling all over my head and my feet.  Everything was going to sleep and I just sat there.  Uh, uh, uh, uh.  My stomach was churning and I was getting sicker and sicker and it was beginning to mix with the fish and salami sandwiches and bottle of milk I’d had for lunch.  Uh, uh, uh, uh.

But then, you know, a funny thing.  As I got closer and closer to home I began to feel vaguely warm.  I began to feel like a steel mill worker.  And as I got off the bus, I hollered to this guy, “Hey, Gaza.  Hey, Gaza, see ya tomorrow at the clock house, ya slob!”  I was a steel mill worker.

ROT GUT, BEER CHASER–the end.

New Steel Mill Story Next Time!

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