For displaced, misplaced, and nostalgic ex-Brooklynites

She Knew


by Ken Thompson

W

hat a great day! Last night the Dodgers beat the Yankees andwon their first World Championship. Johnny Podres shut out the Yanks 2-0 in the seventh game up at Yankee Stadium. There is definitely celebrating in Brooklyn!

For years now, each fall, I had to listen to my dad tell me how the Dodgers would never win a World Series against the Yanks. As we would listen to the games on the old Philco radio he would tell anyone who was listening, primarily me, that "the Dodgers were really `da bums' 'cause the Dodgers are scared of the Yanks, the Yanks play better as a team, and Ebbet's Field was the pits, and, because of all of this, the Dodgers would always choke." All my dad could do last night was shrug and say "So, maybe I'm mistaken...this time." My dad and the Dodgers are not really the point here though.

The real issue is Valerie Goldstein who lives over by P.S. 179. For a girl in the eighth grade at Montauk JHS she looks so really beautiful. She doesn't look like she's in the eighth grade. She wears that bright light pink lipstick, puts stuff on her cheeks, and even wears lotsa eye makeup. She also wears short skirts and sweaters on backwards, but most of all she has bosoms. Albie, my friend, says she doesn't dress like that at Montauk but seems to be able to look like that on the way home from school. Albie said his sister says her bosoms are probably socks but I don't believe him.

Valerie's mom keeps her eye on her from the stoop and chases away the older boys when they come around. My mom says that Valerie is gonna get in trouble some day. My mom doesn't want me talking to her but I do it anyway. I just ride around the block on my Schwinn so my mom doesn't see me going to her street.

I don't know why I go over to where she lives. She never pays attention to me. In the two years I've known her she's only really talked to me once and that ended as soon as Howie came over. I usually don't go over near her apartment house alone in case she gets in trouble, like my mom says, when I'm around. Albie and I always go together. Valerie will sometimes talk to Albie but she hardly ever sees me there. Last week the laugh was about the dots of Clearasil I had on my face to hide the pimples. Sometimes Valerie isn't very nice. I don't really care though ‘cause she is so beautiful and I just like looking at her. Anyway I figured I could get by without the Clearasil.

Thursday afternoon before my mom called me from the apartment window for dinner, Valerie asked me what I was staring at (her, actually) and I said "not much", without thinking a bit, and that was not good. She cursed me in Yiddish until her mother told her to shut up and go in the apartment. I was really embarrassed ‘cause it seemed everyone in the world knew what she was saying but me and they were laughing too. I don't know how they knew what she was saying, though. Valerie has a bad lisp that she went to the doctor for every week. If she talked slowly and low the lisp was hardly noticeable but when she got excited it really came out. And believe me, she was very excited when she cursed me. On the way home, Albie told me that Valerie's mom told him she didn't want me coming around any more but that he could if he wanted to. I was crushed, dejected, and embarrassed for a third time… but most of all I was hurt and wanted to get back at her.

This morning I was riding the IND line to Jay Street-Boro Hall to shop at A&S for my annual new sweater when it came to me. I had ridden the subway down there a thousand times and this time the wicker seats didn't seem to stick me as I sat gazing out the dirty subway car window. The sun was bright, I could see the clock on the Williamsburg Bank Building and the big Kentile sign and it just came to me as we pulled into the next station... I really knew what I had to do.

The plan was set but I couldn't let anyone else in on it, not even Albie. Just before dinner time I went to the Silverrod Drug Store at Church and McDonald to call Valerie's house. My hands were sweaty and my heart beating fast. I put my dime into the phone and dialed Valerie's number. When her mom answered I told her I was a friend of Valerie's from school and that I had a question about homework. As soon as Valerie got on I put on my best game-show announcer voice and said very quickly:

"Valerie Goldstein, you can win one thousand dollars if you can say `Smith Street station is the highest subway station in the whole subway system' clearly, three times."

I hung up as soon as she started to let out a screech that could have probably been heard without a phone. I exited the drug store quickly and headed home on my bike being careful to avoid going by Valerie's House. I was still very excited and in a silly way I was proud of myself.

As I peddled home I kept an eye out for the police. It occurred to me that they might come for me and that I'd actually get in trouble before Valerie did. I didn't sleep well thinking about what might happen to me. Luckily, nobody called and no one came to the door.

I stayed a safe distance away but kept an eye out to see what was going on. Valerie didn't come out on Sunday and didn't go to school on Monday. I saw her Tuesday afternoon from across the street and she knew. When she looked over and saw me she just gave me the finger and looked away.

Albie told me that Valerie's mother didn't ever want either one of us to over again and that her family would be moving to the more refined Bensonhurst by the end of the year.

By the end of the week I had begun to recognize how Alan's sister Judy was getting pretty and that sitting on Ocean Parkway and watching for the horses on the bridle path was okay… maybe not Valerie "okay" but okay for now.

Anyway, the Dodgers had won the World Series and all was well with Brooklyn and the world.




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