1951#1: Calling Ina
One last blustery storm proved the adage: March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.
At approximately 2:27 p.m., on Thursday, the 29th of March, the last muddy remnants of an early March storm trickled down the drains, through the sewers and into the Chicago River where it joined forces with millions of kindred gallons bound for Lake Michigan and the never-ending water cycle; waiting for the sun’s evaporative force to lift the vapor skyward where it becomes rain, and in time, snow once again.
As though timed, as though Mother Nature herself had clicked a stopwatch, the very day, and, it seemed, the very hour the last trace of winter departed, the first signs of spring arrived: Earthworms and microscopic hairs of grass burrowed out of the freshly warmed earth. Diminutive, barely-seen nodules formed at billions of points along the naked branches of millions of trees and shrubs.
As the earth felt the loving kiss of spring, so then did…
Flipping the partially smoked cigarette onto the muddy ground of Douglas Park, taking a deep breath of the fresh, invigorating air, lifting his face to the warmth in the sky, God, he thought, it smells so good!
The intoxicating caress of spring passionately warming his already passionately warmed blood, looking about, seeing no one, squeezing his crotch with a hard, rubbing motion, causing a partial erection, “God,” Mitchell said to the unhearing sky, “but I want to get laid!” Then, thinking, Why am I putting it off? Well, yeah,” he answered himself, because what I really got a feeling for, what I really want…
He’d had a few single dates, and four dates with one particular girl, but no matter how impassioned the necking session became—and there was almost always a necking session—he had been rebuked whenever his hand wandered—in every girl’s opinion—too far up or too far down. And if he couldn’t even cop a feel over the girl’s brassiere, over her blouse, over her coat, jacket or sweater, then that girl was too low on Mitchell Lipensky’s chain of sexual evolution. Besides, he hadn’t met a girl, including the four-date girl, that he cared enough about to invest the time, or his then hard-earned money, on in an attempt to cultivate her to a position where she might, just might, allow even a feel, even if that feel was over three layers of clothing.
Mitchell accredited this hands-off phenomena to the fact that he’d only dated Wej drubs—Jewish broads—and in his mind’s eye there was an absolute goldmine of shiksas that were waiting to be shtuped (laid). Only problem was, all the cute shiksas with big, up-pointed, pointy tits seemed to be so hoodie and, he was sure, that every shiksa—especially those with big, up-pointed, pointy tits—had a big, hoodie-type boyfriend. And besides, he thought, what in the hell do I have in common with a shiksa? What in the hell do we talk about? So, not wanting to be too transparent about his reasons—or reason—Mitchell had never worked up the nerve to ask a shiksa out.
He’d been reluctant to call either of the two girls that he knew he would, maybe, have a sure thing with: Ina Dorfmann and Gina Glambos.
But on this day, feeling the hot surge of spring, he wanted more than ever to be close to a girl. Hell, he wanted to be closer than close! But more than just sex, what he really had a feeling for, what he really wanted…
What Mitchell Lipensky really felt was a deep longing in the pit of his stomach to meet a girl that he could love that loved him back… And if he could have sex, of sorts, with that girl, that would be really nice, too.
The only known choices on that day, though, were Ina Dorfmann and Gina Glambos.
Running up the back stairs, anxious to get to the phone, taking the steps three at a time, “Mrs. Kaplin, hi!” he yelled to the long-suffering second floor neighbor; her of the broomstick-pockmarked ceiling. “Great day, isn’t it?” Not expecting an answer other than…
On her porch sweeping winter’s last accumulation of dirt through the bottom of her banister, Mrs. Kaplin did not surprise him and, “Hurrumph!” she replied to Mitchell’s fleeting back.
Pulling the screen door open, expecting the inner door to be unlocked too, he twisted the handle twice before realizing that the door was locked. Fitting the long-shanked key into the lock, opening the door, “Mom, I’m home!” Stepping inside, he allowed the screen door to slam shut.
“Mumser.” (bastard) Below, in her kitchen, glancing at her pockmarked ceiling, Mrs. Kaplin muttered, again, “Mumser.”
On the kitchen table was a note:
“Mitchie, honey, it is such a nice day I decided to take Larry and Mortie for a walk. We are going to walk to Sears and daddy will pick us up and bring us home.
Throwing the note into the can beneath the sink, pouring himself a glass of milk, taking a package of Hostess Cupcakes from the pantry, he threw the cellophane wrapper into the can also and, balancing the small cardboard sheet with the two chocolate cupcakes on the rim of the glass, going to the telephone table in the dining room, putting the glass onto the table, taking his wallet from his pocket, removing a scrap of paper, dialing a phone number… “Hi! Is Ina home?”
“Yeah, I am. Who’s this?”
“Ina, It’s Mitch,” he said as though she’d have to remember him.
“Mitch?” Ina said, thinking, Mitch who?
“Mitchell Lipensky. You know, from Union Pier.”
“Oh… Oh, yeah,” her hand absently going to her forehead, feeling a bump that had disappeared months ago, “that Mitchell! How are you, Mitch?” she asked in an oddly flat tone of voice.
That Mitchell? “Fine, Ina. I’m just fine.” Suddenly at a complete loss of words, trying to think of something to say without sounding too obvious, “So,” he asked, “how’s school been for you?”
“Ehh, you know, ’bout the same’s it always is.” Not really caring, “How’s it with you?” she asked.
“Me’n’Norm… You remember my pal, Norman?”
“The blonde guy with glasses you always hang out with?”
“Yeah, that’s him. Anyway, him’n’me figured a way to make lots’a money in the lunchroom at school, and we started a business collecting the bottles from the kids that didn’t want to bring ’em back for the two cents and we were makin’ about…” exaggerating a bit, “a hundred bucks a week, each, even after paying off a couple’a other kids we had working for us.”
“No shit!” Finding it hard to believe, “Really! You guys made a hundred bucks a week? Each! By goin’ to school?”
“Yeah,” he laughed. “No shit! I couldn’t even ditch. A hundred bucks a week for goin’ to school ain’t too bad.”
“Wow!” Truly impressed, “No, that ain’t too bad is right!”
“Yeah,” he said sadly, “but they made us stop, and Normie’n’me are working at a shoe store over on Cermak Road now.”
“Hey, listen,” speaking as though the voice of authority, “if there’s a way to make a buck you think those jerks’ll let a couple’a kids make it? Not on your life!”
“Yeah, we sure felt it wasn’t fair. If kids pay two cents and don’t want to stand in line to get it back, then why shouldn’t Normie’n’me be able to do it, if we want?”
“Yeah, that’s why I never eat in the lunchroom.”
Unable to make any sense of this statement, letting it pass, “Ina, the reason I’m calling…”
I know the reason you’re calling, Ina thought.
“Is because I’d love to see you again, and maybe, if…”
Now he’s gonna say, If no one’s home later, maybe he can…
“…you’re not doing anything tonight, or maybe tomorrow night, if you want, maybe we can”—the thought of his conversation with Frank Rizzo regarding going to a movie with Gina flitted through his mind and, as then, he really didn’t want to—“go to a movie or something. Or if, uh, maybe, if your folks aren’t going to be home, maybe we can, uh, you know, kind’a hang around there… at your house.”
Ina thought she remembered most of what had happened on the night of their tryst. She had given it a lot of thought and was sure that they did not have completed sex because he wasn’t wearing a rubber, leastwise she had no memory of seeing him put one on, or take it off. And if he wasn’t wearing a rubber she had no backwash of semen in her panties. But she did find a number of the familiar, translucent, dried droplets of semen on her thighs and stomach. But also—which added to the mystery—the next day her father had wanted to know, “Who’s the goddamned slob who dripped goddamned ice-cream all over my goddamned dashboard? No, no, she had thought at the time, that sure as hell ain’t ice-cream! Only thing is, how’d he get jizm all over me and the dashboard, too? Oh, yeah, Ina had thought about that night and, What the hell’d he do to me? still was unable to figure it out.
As soon as Ina had dropped Mitchell off she’d pulled to the side of the road and inspected the flashlight. If he’d’a hit me as hard as I got hit, to raise a goose egg the size’a goose egg on my forehead, he’d’a dented it good! she had thought. But the flashlight didn’t have so much as a dent and, as improbable as it was, Okay, maybe I did bump my head on the steering wheel, but why? And why’d he keep apologizing? And what in the hell was he apologizing for?
As was Gina, Ina was an insecure, promiscuous girl who would look anyplace for approval, and who would have intercourse with almost anyone if she thought it would make him like her. And yes, she would have liked to be with Mitchell that way again, but Ina Dorfmann, the girl that would screw just about anyone, thought that Mitchell Lipensky was some sort of a pervert and was afraid to be alone with him.
“Gee, Mitchie,” trying to think of an excuse without being rude, “I’d love to see you again, but, uh, my dad’s been transferred to, uh, Peoria, an’ we’re movin’ tomorrow.”
“Peoria? You’re moving to Peoria, tomorrow?”
“Yeah,” she said sadly. “We gotta.”
“God, Ina, do they even have Jews in Peoria?”
“Don’t know… Yeah, I guess so.”
Grasping, hoping, “How’s about tonight? Can I see you tonight?”
“Nah. I’d really like to, but, uh, we’re packin’ and I gotta help my folks.”
“Oh. Oh, well. Gosh, Ina, I’m sorry.”
He’s sorry again. “Yeah, me, too. Well, if we ever move back, maybe I’ll see you sometime.”
“Yeah,” disappointed. “Well, bye, Ina.” Breaking the connection, sitting back, looking at the phone a moment, Mitchell peeled the dark frosting off one of the cupcakes and, slowly, savoring the chocolate, ate it, then, taking another scrap of paper from his wallet, dialed Frank Rizzo.
(A "Becoming" Excerpt)