The Ups and Downs of
Bolster, Not Molest Her
To Be Honest
Split Infinitive Editions
rhyming with “bolster,”
not “molest her.”
between the beautiful
From her earliest
memories in 1966 to eye-rolling adolescence in 1975, follow Vicki Volester
through her first volume of hide-and-seek between nurturing support and
—in WISH AGAIN, Book One of
BOLSTER, NOT MOLEST HER
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July 29, 2018
Mole in a Hole
Vicki's earliest pinpointable memories (at age
not-quite-four) are of alarm as her family contemplates a move to
The City; apprehension, when her big sister Tricia tells her a
about a Mad Man Who Got Away With Murder; and awareness—repeatedly—of
Something or Other spying on her from the secret darkness.
Big girls could tremble. Big girls
could whimper. Only babies cried.
And Vicki’s Gardening Angel would too show up in
time. Armed with a hoe and rake and pinking shears made of fire,
to scare any old Mad Man right out of his wits.
Or so she told herself.
But the Something or Other had a name now, and a
furious violent hate-filled face, and a presence (for the next
thirty-nine years) in Vicki Volester’s dreams. Which would often consist
of her trying to hide, and trying to yell, and endlessly running away...
Far Away from Harm
Trying to "be strong to get along," Vicki
survives a harrowing trip (by heavily-loaded Corvair) to The City, and
the Volesters's new greystone apartment on Walrock Avenue in
Pfiester Park. Tricia declares it will be a wonderful life for
them from now on—but Vicki privately makes a wish-and-wish-again she
could go back to Michigan.
Scary images kept flashing at her whenever she dared peep over the
front seat. They were on a bridge—they were passing slums—they were
heading for a canyon whose cliffs were made of buildings, the tallest
ones she’d ever seen—a jagged line of them looming up to scrape the
horizon, folding in on either side to trap a swarm of cars and trucks
and buses that made their own Corvair swerve—jolt—lurch—honk—adding
to the accumulated racket that rose and rose till Ozzie and Felicia had
to yell to be heard and still not be understood—
Vicki shrank down as far as the gap would permit,
covering her face with King Leonardo as she wondered just how bad it was
going to hurt when they crashed and burst into flames...
Crown Thy Good
Baby brother Christopher (soon
dubbed "Goofus") is born, to Vicki's further dismay.
Whenever possible she escapes with Hayley Tamworth, her new friend-and-neighbor, to
play around the Walrock greystone; but Vicki can do nothing at night to
keep away from
Goofy's siren-like howls.
boy in the family now.
And you just have to look at him to see how impossible he’s going to be
to live with, the older he gets. I wonder how soon we’ll be able
to smack him around?”
The future promptly seemed nearer and cheerier.
“Can we do that?”
“Hey, we’re his big sisters—it’s our job to do
that. We’ll have to work together: you’re too little to do much
yet, and I’ll be too busy to do it all. Maybe we can get your
friend downstairs to help—take blame for things, stuff like that...”
Tricia begins taking dance lessons
from Aunt Fritzi (a former chorine); Vicki vows to learn too, but fears
her feet are stumbly and graceless. She and Hayley are enrolled in
nursery school, where they meet some longtime future
classmates—including Mean Melissa Chiese and weepy-creepy Wernie Ball.
Vicki, kiddycursing her feet as they tangled with the legs of her
chair, found the way blocked by the adult-sized chair and its sniveling
occupant. Who reminded her of Peter Rabbit, caught in the
gooseberry net and dunked in the watering can.
Queasy pity churned Vicki’s stomach.
“Don’t cry,” she muttered at him while squeezing
He raised his head. Confronting her with startlingly
red eyes in a pasty pallid face.
Vicki hurried after Hayley and the other Happy
Marchers. Acutely aware with every awkward step that Wernie Ball
was following her—those creepy-crawly eyes were upon her—their focus
poised like a pair of wet crimson needles...
The Concrete Garden
Other longtime acquaintances are made
when the girls begin kindergarten at Reulbach Elementary School. Among
these are spiteful Stephanie Lipperman and impish Kris Rawberry, the
latter becoming Vicki and Hayley's new best friend. The trio plan their very
first slumber party, but it gets disrupted by fallout from the death of
"a Doctor-King, Leader of Negroes."
“Krissy, get your things. I’ve come to take
you home and we have to leave now.”
The trio wrang their hands and stamped their feet and
wailed about how unjust this was; while frazzled Claire conferred with
the Tamworths in agitated undertones, alluding to fires and snipers and
curfews and Kate manning the phone and Sam being in the thick of it with
his damned camera.
Gasp went the girls at such a word coming from
Mrs. Rawberry’s lips. “Um,” Kris quavered, “is Daddy okay?”
Of course he was, sweetheart. The trio needn’t worry
their little angel heads, they had done nothing wrong, this wasn’t their
The Volesters return to Michigan for a
family reunion, coming home just before The City gets rocked by further
riots (which "the whole world is watching"). Vicki, looking after
two-year-old Goofus, can't prevent him from toddling out of the
greystone—nor can she summon assistance to haul him back.
“HELP!” Vicki yelled as Goofus
wrenched loose, a grin of relish spreading over his speckled face and
snouty nose and bristly orange crewcut. Oh good grief, he was
a pig! A yucky runty porker edging his tricky piggy way along
a wall under a no trespassing
—that the whole world took far too seriously: there was
not a single person in the alley but Vicki. And her loathsome
little brother. Who took refuge behind a telephone pole, leering
around it with a stuck-out tongue...
Vicki, in desperation, tried shouting all the profanity
she knew. Expletives that at any other time would’ve brought a mob
of angry adults on the run, but today: NOBODY. Just dead silence,
except for Goofus gleefully echoing her no-no’s...
Turn Out Your Toes
Harsh nicknames are handed out by a
mean-girl clique that emerges in first grade, led by Melissa and
Stephanie. Vicki gets tagged as "Klumsy Klutzer"—but counters this
by finally beginning lessons at Aunt Fritzi's dance studio.
In February Vicki had one of those adventures that take permanent
residence in your heart and soul. Aunt Fritzi invited the “Schmelzettes,”
Vicki and Tricia and Mom and Gran, to the Civic Opera House for a
performance by Ruth Page’s International Ballet...
Darkness again. And there was “O Fortuna!”
experienced for the first time, crashing like waves on the Lake As Big
As An Ocean. Turning great wheels and vibrating great strings that
could vanquish winter under the changeable moon: making us merry, making
us joyful, carrying us unchained to be reborn—
I want to dance. I want to be a dancer.
Then you must learn how, Miss...
Belligerent newcomer Brenda Pomerantz
spearheads a second-grade resistance movement by Vicki and her friends
(calling themselves "Peaches" after being initially labeled "Pooches")
against Melissa Chiese's Blue Meanies.
What a great name! The freshly-dubbed Peaches went out on the
landing to exult in it. Peach, according to Sarah-Jill, was the
complete opposite of blue on the color wheel, and Hayley said that
wearing peach clothes would make them look healthy. Kris came up
with the brilliant idea that everyone should bring a peach to school
and, at a signal, throw them at the Blue Meanies.
“Ripe peaches—no, rotten ones!” said Brenda.
“Oog!” went Vicki. “’Member, we don’t want to get
us in trouble—just Them. Or at least Her!...”
A Star Is Borrowed
In third grade the class stages a
Borrowers Ballet for the school variety show, with Vicki cast as
Arrietty—and Wernie Ball as the Voice of the Boy, to console him for
harassment by bully Dunk Gunderson.
Vicki’s own opinion of “Teeny-Weenie” hadn’t changed a whole lot in
the four years since Melissa made him cry by swiping his chair...
Same little cobweb-headed paste-eater. It was not a fun surprise
to discover he’d taken the desk directly behind hers in Miss
Steinfeldt’s room. Nor was it a happy adventure to sense him
huddled back there, exhaling whatever ailed him at any moment.
Wernie-bugs… Wernie-germs… Wernie-cooties…
The fact that Vicki hadn’t had to stay home
sick from school for a single day this year meant nothing...
After Aunt Fritzi marries Gross Uncle
Doug and leaves The City, Vicki's grandfather announces he's turning
over his used car lot to the Volesters and retiring to Florida—despite
Vicki's grandmother's refusal to move.
“My femmily said: ‘If you marry this Galitzer, you are dead to us.’
I did not believe it. He hedd won me, so—! I did marry him.
Waited awhile, then wrote letters. All returned unopened, so—!
I wrote no more. Heard no more. Did not essk.”
“Um… what’s a Galitzer, Gran?”
“Old country foolisssness. ‘Litvak’ nonsense.
Many things they could hevv said against your grenndfather, but that
was what they tzose? Absurd...”
The Less You Spend
Vicki's father lands a Honda
franchise, but struggles to sell the new subcompact cars till Tricia
debuts in a "Daddy & Princess" TV commercial. Meanwhile, the
Peaches and Blue Meanies vie to win over the most beautiful fourth-grade
girl anyone'd ever seen in real life.
Four Peaches and four Blue Meanies watched Nina head their way with a
tray of meatloaf, green beans and Jell-O. All eight saw Jimmy’s
elbow jab Billy Goldfarb’s ribs—then Jimmy’s hand slide inside Jimmy’s
shirtfront and make it palpitate like a beating heart—then Jimmy stand
and bow and say, “We saved ya a stool, Nina!”
(Snortles from every guy at that table.)
“’Kay,” said Nina. Taking the proffered stool
without the slightest hesitation, and sending shockwaves across the
“She’s sitting with them!” Vicki hissed. “She’s
sitting with boys and eating
lunch with them!...”
In fifth grade the Blue Meanies
abandon childhood and focus on Jonathan Dohr, the dark-brooding-mystic
new boy who also sends shivers down Peach spines, and bests Dunk
Gunderson at Ultimate Frisbee. Dunk wreaks havoc at the school
Sarah-Jill proceeded to the group’s own psychic experiments, all of
which (colossal surprise) revolved around Jonathan. Whose reserve
turned to stricken foreboding as he suddenly backed away, unnoticed by
the Peaches, and “went through himself” (as Jimmy always said when Jon
Dohr entered a washroom)...
“He’s gone to throw up,” said a voice in Vicki’s ear.
Mental telephathy? No: Wernie Ball, in a hurried
Vicki recoiled from his lips...
The Spurning Point
Just before sixth grade starts, Vicki
goes through a growth spurt that impacts her aptitude at the Olivia
Fischel Ballet Academy. She sprains an ankle, doesn't fully
recuperate, and has to abandon her dreams of becoming a ballerina.
Run run run leap (thud).
Run run run leap (thud).
Run run run leap (THUD).
“Six relevés in first position; repeat in second
I am a butterfly: I float, I glide. I do not
wobble. I don’t, I
don’t, I DON’T—
Ms. Olivia stood silently, a hawk in human form:
piercing eyes, aquiline nose, predatory cheekbones.
You can demote me to Level Four, I won’t mind I’ll
be such a good example to littler girls of never giving up no matter how
long it takes I’ll do it I will I promise oh please...
A Bengali family moves to Pfiester
Park, triggering a racial confrontation and Dunk Gunderson's downfall.
Vicki slowly pulls through a deep funk, coming out of it much more
attractive ("pain becomes her") and inspired to take up jogging.
Hup two three four. Lift those knees,
move those arms, steady that breathing. Watch out for pavement
cracks that could cause a klumsy-klutzer stumble.
Wheet wheet wheet wheet shrilled the cardinal,
like an oddly-timed alarm clock—
—that woke up every muscle in Vicki’s body, all at
once. And made them regain their memory. Not so much of
ballet (my gal is a fancy stepper) as of basic rhythmic forward
motion (ginger with salt and pepper) that could make you skim,
make you glide, make you soar, make you
swoop over the
Ritz of Passage
By seventh grade the Peaches have
begun drifting apart. Vicki unexpectedly becomes best friends with
Stephanie Lipperman, and ends up mediating between Steph and Brenda
Pomerantz's dueling Bat Mitzvahs.
She dried her tears, rinsed her face,
declined Vicki’s offer of mascara, and led the way down to the first
floor—where she stupefied Vicki by striding through the east doors.
Out to the parking lot, leaving school before the final bell had rung,
heedless of whether any adults might see.
has cracked up!
Stephanie paused while still visible. Looked back
and jerked her head to the left. Was Vicki expected to come too?
What would happen if she didn’t? Might a life be at stake, not to
mention traffic if Stephanie threw herself into it?...
Vicki goes on her first sort-of-date,
with the fourth guy who expresses interest in sort-of-dating her.
Tricia stars in a high school production of The Sound of Music
and is offered a chance to backpack through Europe, but heartbreak
In the end, after sitting beside or behind
Vicki these past three alphabetical years, it was Ordinary Mark Welk who
came through for her. “Hey,” he said one day after lunch.
“You going to the dance?”
“I dunno. You?”
“I will if you will.”
“Mark Welk, hunh?” was Steph’s reaction. “Well,
“He’s okay,” Vicki corrected her. No point acting
all head-in-the-clouds about it.
Unlike Tricia, still very much in a
mood thanks to her European horizon...
Pick Up the Pieces
The Volesters (minus Tricia) find a
house in the northern suburb of Vanderlund, and prepare to move away
from Pfiester Park after nine years in their apartment on Walrock
Vicki rolled down her window and peered out
at the sort of house you’d see inhabited by families in TV sitcoms.
You could almost hear Jan whining Marcia Marcia Marcia inside it.
And the set designers certainly did a good job on the surrounding
neighborhood—every yard had a couple of tall trees, all of them in full
leaf, arching upward to mingle overhead so the Lane really seemed like a
She pictured herself living here. Riding a bike
to and from other suburban places. Jogging down to Lesser Drive
and a run across the park, or over to Panama Boulevard and along the
(sweet-scented) canal like a Venetian teen.
Was Tricia in Venice now? How would she react to
this new house, to barely being able to set foot in 3132 Burrow Lane
before college started—
College! As in school.
One of the suburban places Vicki would be to-ing
and from-ing. Though she didn’t know how to get there and back, or
even what is was called, or anybody who attended it. Not a single
solitary soul in all Vanderlund...
Click here to continue with VICKI IN
Book Two of BOLSTER, NOT MOLEST HER
Characters in Wish Again: Book One of BOLSTER, NOT MOLEST HER
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