Ina? Taking a moment for the name to penetrate the beer-induced cobwebs that surrounded his mind, “Ina? My Ina? Ina Dorfmann?” Somehow remembering the conversation they’d had at the beach in Union Pier. “But you said that you’d never screw a broad like Ina Dorfmann!”
“Yeah, well I lied!” Becoming defensive. “An’ Ina ain’t your Ina! Ina’s everyone’s Ina!” He giggled. “’Ceptin’ ‘your Ina.’"
1951 # 6: Beer
Bounded on the east by the Northwestern College town of Evanston, on the south by wealthy Lincolnwood, and the north and west by mostly undeveloped farmland, located about thirty-five miles northwest of Chicago’s Loop, Skokie was that city’s fastest growing community.
Walter had looked for two things in the search for a house: affordability and access for a boat, and he found one, with actually three boat accesses. The lot was pie-shaped with the narrow, twenty-two-foot side facing the street to the south, and the wide, sixty-five-foot end to the rear. In essence the lot was an island surrounded by Lee Street in the front and two long driveways leading to the backyards and garages of neighboring houses to the east and west, with a bisecting driveway to the north. Though this lot was larger in square footage than the neighboring lots, it was a fishbowl because easements prohibited any type of privacy fence for fear of limiting visibility for the cars that traveled the driveways, but it did give Walter easy access for his boat, which in winter would be stored on its trailer at the rear of the lot where normally there would be a garage, but strangely, this house had none.
The first floor of the two-story house had two bedrooms, a bathroom, living room, dining area and a long, narrow kitchen that Myra had yet to figure out, “How in the hell are we all going to eat in there?”
There was a stairway leading to the second floor to… nothing, which Morris, being the master carpenter he was, with the help of his son, Sheldon, and Walter, planned on completing by adding two bedrooms, a long, adjoining, walk-through closet, and a full bathroom, which he expected to complete, with permission from the builder, between the time of purchase and shortly after occupancy by his daughter’s family, which, with the exception of the bathroom, he did.
The smaller of the two downstairs bedrooms was converted to a den. Upstairs, Mitchell was given the room facing the street. Lawrence and Morton shared the larger room overlooking the back yard.
Whereas the other lots had been stripped bare of all existing vegetation, maybe, as compensation for squeezing this house in, Colby, the builder, had left four trees standing in the rear and had the front and rear seeded with rye seed early that spring.
The houses on all three sides of the pie-shaped lot had been occupied for months. This house, because of the shape of the lot and the builder’s omission, somehow, of a garage, was the last in this tract to be sold, and then only after the price had been greatly reduced by Colby and then again, after haggling with Walter and Myra.
The entire block across the street was undeveloped and the Lipenskys could see from their front door to Main Street, a block away.
After a lifetime of constantly clamoring streetcars and rumbling traffic, the silence at night was deafening and waking in the morning to the sound of birds rather than the clanking of the janitor’s garbage can at first seemed odd, but the quiet was easy to get used to and the Walter Lipensky family quickly adjusted.
In the future, for its size, the Village of Skokie would have a higher concentration of Jewish people than any other city in the world, even more than the city of Tel Aviv in the then three-year-old state of Israel, but in the last days of August, in the year 1951, Myra Lipensky was concerned that her children would be a lonely minority, and in fact, when Mitchell did enroll for his senior year at Niles Township High School, he was one of only two Jewish teenagers in the entire school.
September 3, 1951
…was the excuse for the first of Myra and Walter’s giant barbecues and most of their relations and friends had made the long trek to Skokie for the party.
Automobiles lined all four sides of LipenskyIsland, and the neighbors, all of whom had been invited, had to squeeze between their own fledgling hedges and the fenders of parked cars.
Wearing a high, starched chef’s hat and an apron, completely out of character, Walter spent the day at a Weber Bar-B-Q grilling hamburgers and hot dogs as Myra made countless trips to and from the house replenishing supplies of potato salad, coleslaw, bread, rolls, salad, pickles, pickled tomatoes, cake, cookies and whatever else was needed or wanted.
Morris had constructed a four-foot high, six-foot-long shed that was attached to the rear of the brick house by lag bolts, the flat roof of which served as the buffet holding prepared foods plus bottles of gin, scotch, bourbon and vodka. Bottles of ginger ale, seltzer water and sodas of all colors and flavors, along with dozens of bottles of beer, were buried beneath cracked ice in a huge galvanized washtub that sat on the ground in the shade of an elm tree.
The younger children ate and played on blankets on the lawn as the adults talked, ate and/or, played gin rummy on card tables and a table made of a door and two saw horses.
His father needing the car to drive to Glenview Navel Air Base to vend at the Labor Day Air Show, Norman had taken a west, then north-bound streetcar and Mitchell had picked him up at the end of the line.
Not having seen each other since Norman had moved from the West Side, the hazy sun warming their faces, the boys sat on the front door stoop away from the people and the noise of the party. Between them were two paper dishes overflowing with food. Hidden behind their backs each had two bottles of beer that they’d snuck out of the washtub. One each of their bottles was empty.
“Had to feel kind’a strange, transferring to a new school with only a month and a half left to the semester.” Chewing a mouthful of hamburger, he washed it down with a gulp of beer.
“Yeah, it was. But what was really strange was being in a school with so many Jewish kids.” Biting into his hamburger, Norman, too, swigged some beer.
“See any familiar faces?”
Taking another bite, hesitating, “Yeah,” Norman said, “a few.”
Kicking his loafers off, peeling his socks off, putting them into one of his shoes, shoving the last bite of his hamburger in his mouth, “So, how you doin’ with the north-side broads? Gone out much?”
“Yeah, a couple’a times. But you know these wej drubs[Jewish broads]. I d’know what they think they got they think’s so fu… urpp!—’scuse me—fuckin’ valuable.”
Taking a bite of hot dog, swilling the last of his second beer, leaning back on the stoop, wiggling them, contemplating the hair on his big toes. “Yeah, you’d think…” beginning to slur his words, “they think their tits are made of fuckin’ gold or somethin’… Want more beer or somethin’?”
Draining the last of his second bottle, holding it up, Norman squinted through the dark amber glass. “Shit, Lipensky, I thought you were never gonna ask. Yeah! How’s ’bout more beer, an’ somethin’.”
“Okay, lets see if I can sneak us a another couple.” Lifting himself off the stoop, going to the rear of the house, Mitchell returned in a few minutes with a bowl of potato chips in one hand, a dish holding two relish- and onion-covered hot dogs in buns in the other, and four open bottles of beer, ensconced one each in each of his four pockets. Putting the bowl and dish on the stoop, handing the bottles to Norman, sitting again, “Where were we? Oh, yeah, we were talkin’ ’bout girls.”
“You ever got any other kind’a conversation, Lipensky?”
Fishing a pack of cigarettes out of his shirt pocket, “None that’s interesting,” he offered it to Norman, who took one, took one himself, leaned into the light Norman offered, took a deep drag… and chug-a-lugged his third bottle of beer.
Matching his friend beer-for-beer, “Know what, Mitchie?”
“No, what, Normie?”
“I’m gonna tell…” taking a drag on the cigarette, blowing twin streams of smoke through his nostrils, drinking about a quarter of his fourth bottle of beer, “…you what I, urpp—’scuse me—reeeally think!”
Shoving some potato chips in his mouth, spitting crumbs as he spoke. “Oh, great paleface, pray tell, what’d you reeeeally think?” Mitchell gulped down the better half of his fourth bottle of beer.
Shoving some potato chips in his mouth, spitting crumbs as he spoke. “I think it’s some kind’a ‘don’t let em touch your tits’ conspiracy with all these Jewish broads.”
“Yeah,” munching on his hot dog. “I think they think that if they let a guy touch ’em, not even, God forbid, here,” pointing to his crotch, “but jus’ on their li’l ol’ titties, they think God’ll strike ’em dead or somethin’…. Urrppp!” Mitchell smiled. “’Scuse me.” Drawing on the cigarette, drinking the last of his bottle of beer, “Jesus, Normie! Where’d my folks ever find such teensy-weensy bottles? Want s’more?”
“Yeah. Nah, they’re just regular kind’a bottles. Sounds like you’re kind’a, maybe, drinkin’ a li’l too much beer, La-pimp-sky.”
Recalling Junior Johnson’s word, “Sheet! Too much beer my ass! Livin’ in the country here, I’ve become some kind’a super goy an’ can drink beer till it’s comin’ out’a my dick… Yeah, what?”
“Yeah what, what?… Oh, beer! You asked if I want s’more beer, an’ I said, yeah, I do. I do want s’more beer.”
Extinguishing with a hiss, “Okay, pal,” Mitchell dropped his cigarette in one of the bottles. “Be right back.”
Taking his sneakers and socks off, putting his socks into one of his shoes, lining them up with Mitchell’s loafers, “How the hell you getting’ ’em past your folks?” he asked when Mitchell returned.
Handing Norman two bottles, “My dad’s so busy cookin’ he wouldn’t notice if I swiped the whole tub.” Dropping onto the stoop, taking a gurgling drink, he wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. “An’ my mom’s so busy talkin’an’ schleppin’ she don’t know from nothin’.”
Sipping slowly now, Norman looking at his toes and Mitchell through the wood framing of the still-uncompleted houses to Main Street, both boys were quiet for a minute.
“Yeah, the only wej drub (Jewish girl) that ever let me feel her up,” continuing the conversation, “’cept Ina Dorfmann, was Debbie Schlumberger, an’ that was only ’cause her falsies were so damn thick she didn’t know I was doin’ it.”
“Yeah,” Norman laughed, “Debbie Schlumberger could’a kept a whole family of shvartzers busy pickin’ cotton for her brassieres alone.”
“Y’know, Normie,” sighing loudly, “the only thing that makes me feel better ’bout still bein’ cherry, after all this time, is that you’re cherry, too.” He waited for Norman to answer, and when he didn’t, taking a long pull on his bottle, staring at their feet, “Normie, you ever think ’bout how ugly your toes are?”
“No, you schmuck,” suppressing a smile, Norman looked at his toes, “I never think ’bout how ugly my toes are, an. if you think yours are so fuckin’ beautiful,” taking a swill of beer, “how’s come you don’t enter ’em in some kind’a beauty contest?”
“Hey, just ’cause you got fuckin’ ugly toes, you don’t gotta get all ticked off at me.” Also swilling. “It ain’t my fault your folks gave you fuckin’ ugly toes.”
“Mitchie, me ol’ buddy,” putting his arm across his shoulders, “I ain’t mad at’ch’ya. I loooves ya!” The last of his fifth bottle of beer gurgling down his throat, “But I ain’t no more.”
“Me, too, Normie,” Feeling sentimental, blinking his eyes to hold back tears. “I loooves ya, too!”
Draining his fifth bottle of beer. “Uh, you ain’t no more what?”
Looking at his feet, wiggling his toes, “Cherry.”
“Huh?” Mitchell looked at Norman.
“Cherry.” Norman turned his alcohol-flushed face to his astonished friend. “I ain’t no more.” Giggling, “I done been fucked.”
“Huh?” Taking a moment to register. “You got it? You? Who for ever since we been old enough to wanna fuck didn’t give a shit! An’ you been fucked an’ I ain’t! Who? Anyone I know? Who’d’j’ya do it with?”
“Well,” hesitating, taking a draw on his sixth bottle of beer. “Yeah, I’d say you do know her… Ina.”
“Ina?” Taking a moment for the name to penetrate the beer-induced cobwebs that surrounded his mind, “Ina? My Ina? Ina Dorfmann?” Somehow remembering the conversation they’d had at the beach in Union Pier. “But you said that you’d never screw a broad like Ina Dorfmann!”
“Yeah, well I lied!” Becoming defensive. “An’ Ina ain’t your Ina! Ina’s everyone’s Ina!” He giggled. “’Ceptin’ ‘your Ina.’ An’ when I saw her in the hall…”
“At school? When you saw her in the hall at school?”
“How? How’d you see her in the hall at school? When I called, before you moved, she said she was movin’ to, uh…”
“Peoria. She tol’ me she tol’ you she was movin’ to Peoria.” Giggling again. “She said it but she wasn’t. She said it so’s she wouldn’t have to go out, or, in your case, stay in w’ch’ya. She tol’ch’ya ’cause she didn’t know what else to tell ya.”
“Didn’t know what else to tell me what? I don’t understand.”
“Mitchie, she, Ina, tol’ me she liked ya, really liked ya…”
“Well, then, why’d she lie ’bout movin’?”
“She knew you’n’me are buddies, an’ she asked me not to tell ya that her’n’me, uh, saw each other.” Taking a cigarette, he offered one to Mitchell.
“No, thanks.” Shaking his head, “Saw her? Shit! Lighting one of his own, inhaling deeply, “You fucked her!”
“Well, yeah,” Norman smiled broadly. “I did! Oh, boy, I really did fuck her!”
Envious, “So why’d she lie?” Downright jealous, “Why’d she say she was movin’ for?”
Taking his time, sucking on both his cigarette and the beer, “Ina said that when to two’a’ya were on that date, that you did somethin’ to ’er.”
“Me?” Mitchell said innocently. “I didn’t do nothin’ to ’er.”
“Nothin’? Oh, yeah! You didn’t do nothin’ but shove a flashlight up ’er box.”
“Oh, God!” Laughing, Mitchell put his head between his hands. “‘J’ya tell ’er that? ‘J’ya tell ’er ’bout the flashlight?”
“Shit, no! Jus’ ’cause a broad’s a whore don’t mean she wants everyone goin’ ’round tellin’ everyone she’s a whore, uh, jus’ ’cause she’s a whore.” Stopping, giggling again, draining his sixth bottle of beer. “That, urpp—’scuse me—make any sense to you?”
“Kind’a.” Remembering Frank Rizzos ruse of bringing his old Captain ring as an excuse to get Gina into a bedroom. “So, what she say ’bout me?”
“Ina said she don’t know wh’ch’ya did to her, but she knows you did somethin’, an’ thinks…” Beginning to laugh, “she thinks you’re…” laughing so hard tears rolled down his cheeks, “Ina thinks you’re some kind’a… Oh, God!” swiping his hand over his face, “Ina thinks you’re some kind’a pervert.”
“Pervert!” Catching Norman’s laughter, Mitchell began to laugh, too. “Ina thinks I’m some kind’a pervert jus’ ’cause I shoved a flashlight up ’er box an’ turned it on an’ scared the shit outta ’er an’ she beaned ’erself on the steering wheel? That’s what’s botherin’ ’er? That’s why she thinks I’m a pervert?” Laughing, he fell off the stoop, onto the grass.
“What the hell’s going on here?” said in a stern, kind of bantering way. “Everyone’s wondering where you are. Beer! How in the world did you ever sneak…” Pointing her finger, Myra counted the bottles. “…twelve bottles of beer past your father and me?”
“Beer?” Mitchell looked at Norman. “Beer? J’ya drink any—urpp—beer, Normie? Two other guys must’a left ’em here, Mom.”
“Beer? No, ma’am, Mrs. Lipensky, ma’am. Me’n’ol’ Mitchie here ain’t drunk no, urpp—’scuse me—beer. Like he said, must’a been them other two guys that brought ’em.”
“Yeah, sure, them other two guys, huh?” Smiling, turning, heading back to the backyard and her party, “Bullshit!” Myra said over her shoulder.
“Mitchie, did I jus’ hear your li’l ol’ mommy say ‘bullshit’?”
“Yeah, guess so.”
“So, you lookin’ forward to school tomorrow?”
“Always hated the thought of it before. But now? You bet’ch’ya! Shiksas! The place is lousy with bee-U-te-ful, blonde-haired, blue-eyed shiksas that don’t think their tits’r made of gold.”
Scrutinizing his friend through partially closed, fuzzy pink eyes, “You really been fucked?”
“Yeah,” Norman said dreamily, “I really been fucked.”
“So,” Mitchell asked jealously, “how’d it feel?”
“How’d it feel, that I’ve been fucked? No different, Mitchie. You got this big thing built up in your mind and it ain’t no big deal.”
“No big deal, huh?”
“Yeah,” closing his eyes, both reliving the minute and teasing Mitchell, “It’s just that when you slip it in it feels, oh, God, it feels so smooth and so, uh, slickery, an’ so, oh, God, it felt so warm!” Groaning as if in the throes of passion. “Ummmm!”
“You dick! Stop already!”
Smiling, opening his eyes, “Like I said,” Norman said, “it ain’t no big deal.”
“Yeah, no big deal.” Listening to Norman, he’d poked his index finger into the opening of the bottle and, pulling it out with a pop, Mitchell brought the bottle to his lips, hesitated, lowered it and, “Blonde-haired, blue-eyed shiksas,” he said, “Niles is full of ’em.”