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JEAN SHEPHERD Kid story–more Bolis

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Three days go by, and on the fourth day, I go over to Bolis’s house and there’s a lot of cars!  People!  I can see the lights lit upstairs!  For the first time, upstairs!  And that’s important!

So I knock on the basement door.  “Hey, Bol!”  I figure they’re having a card party or something.  “Hey, Bol, Bol!”  And the door upstairs opens up and there is Bolis dressed in a black suit.  And he’s got a white shirt, and he’s got a dark tie, his hair is all cut.  And Bolis looks down from the porch and says, “Yes?”

I say, “Hey, Bol.  Hey, Bol, come on down, we’re throwing the ball around,” and I’ve got my glove and I’ve got a baseball in the other hand and I’ve got my White Sox cap on sideways and Bolis is dressed up like a grownup.  And it’s not even Sunday.

Bolis looks over the porch and says, “Oh, I’m sorry, I won’t be able to play baseball today.  Oh, by the way, would you care to come in and meet my fiancé?”

This is it.  A fiancé!  I go up the steps, my glove in one hand, my ball in the other hand, I’ve got my White Sox cap on, I’m wearing my tennis shoes, and I’ve got my baseball shirt that says on the back, Bluebird Tavern, number 12.  I’m escorted into the kitchen, and there, for the first time I see Mrs. Rutkowski without a shawl.  She’s got a black dress with kind of white lace around the top and she’s got this great big crucifix hanging.  She looks very nice.  I can smell Polish stuff cooking.  She’s very friendly, she smiles to me and she speaks unintelligible Polish to me which she always did when she was excited.  And I can see people walking around in the next room.  All these squat guys with black suits—grownup-types with their hair all cut real short, shaved necks, and they’re talking Polish, and they’re drinking beer and raising steins.  And here I am, I’ve got my White Sox cap on and everybody’s all dressed up.  I say to Bolis, “I think I’d better go.”

Bolis says, “No, no.  Just a minute.  Oh, Stella!”  He’s very polite.  He never talked like this before—Bolis was a shouter!  He was the best scragger of them all!  I can remember Bolis’s body hanging out of the window hollering, “Hey, baby, wowee!”  He had lungs—you could hear him for blocks.

Bolis says, “Stella, oh, Stella, will you please come in the kitchen for a minute, Stella.”

And then, through the door comes a girl.  Isn’t like the girls I knew—who were girl-girls.  You went down and had hamburgers with these girls—the girls I knew.  You drank root beer with them.  You hollered.  You said, “Hey, come on, Esther, come on, let’s go, Dorothy.”  You hit her on the arm and she hits you.

This is kind of a woman-girl.  She has a real lady-dress on.  Has beads and her hair is all curled.  She says, “Oh, you’re Jean!”

I say, “Yeah.”

She says, “Bolis has spoken of you.  In fact, he just spoke of you a moment ago.  He said he thought you might be around here today.”

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