Karen Hesse, "Out of the Dust" p. 153.
“The hard part is in spite of everything if I had any boy court me it’d be Mad Dog Craddock.”
Ollie was annoying the bejeebers out of me and I told him so. But he said that he couldn’t annoy the bejeebers out of me because bejeebers can only be scared out of a person, not annoyed. He was annoying me only more by his silly talk. I have known Ollie almost since the day I was born since he has always lived next door to my cousin Wanda. I was hanging out down at Wanda’s house, waiting for her hound Moose to have another batch of puppies. I thought Moose would have been puppied out since she had had about five litters before but for some reason she kept getting herself knocked up. I just didn’t understand the appeal of having all those puppies, but Moose never listened to anyone, especially to me. Moose was loveable on occasion, but not often. Apparently some wandering male dog must have thought Moose was loveable enough. So Wanda, Ollie, and I were keeping an eye on Moose who had crawled off into the corner of the garage. Wanda and Ollie pulled out a big piece of plywood and they were practicing the tap dance routine they were doing next week at the end of the year performance at Miss Rolanda’s School of Dance. I never got the appeal of dance classes and never understood why a certain group of people in our town thought Miss Rolanda was so sophisticated. In the front room of her school Miss Rolanda had a bunch of pictures of herself dancing at the Radio City Music Hall in New York City. She was about 100 years younger in the pictures. (Okay, I’m exaggerating, but she was a lot younger.) I guess the professional dancer thing impressed some people. Others (you can guess who they were) thought Miss Rolanda was so beautiful with her dyed black hair and her sparkly tops and high heeled shoes. I never got the appeal. I just thought she was stuck-up and used too much hair spray. I especially couldn’t understand why Ollie wanted to take tap dancing lessons with Miss Rolanda. What a weirdo. He and Miss Rolanda’s son Raymond were the only boys at the dance school. Raymond specialized in ballet and modern dance but Ollie was the tap specialist. I didn’t get why Ollie wanted to be clomping around in taps shoes and doing routines with Wanda while the cool boys like Mad Dog and Willie and Bucky were playing baseball and pulling engines out of cars. Ollie strutted across the plywood clicking his taps as loud as he could, waving his arms, and teasing me because I wouldn’t dance. Wanda said that Ollie acted all goofy around me because he had a crush on me, but her exact words were, “Ollie’s got a notion to come a courtin’ and he’s a gonna come a courtin’ you, little miss.” She was teasing me and copying the way our Gramma talked. Gramma was always interested in whether we were attracting boys or not and she had this way of looking at some boy in town, then looking at Wanda or me, saying, “He just might be the one,” like she was some sort of old-time matchmaker who thought we should be hitched before we were 16. And trouble was Gramma liked Ollie. She liked his silly tap dancing and his show-off ways and she probably thought he was “the one” for me and she would be thrilled if he wanted to court me. So when Wanda told me that Ollie wanted to court me, I said I just wasn’t interested in courting and I especially wasn’t interested in Ollie. But that was only half true and I hated getting attention from the wrong boy. The hard part is in spite of everything if I had any boy court me it’d be Mad Dog Craddock.