Aunt Olympia thought him "Sharp! Real Cool Man!"; his contemporaries . . . not so much.
Listen to your relatives . . .with a handful of salt. Uncle Jim might suggest a tatoo. Cousin Buck might offer a suggestion on head-gear akin to Elmer Fudd's haberdashing noggin. Aunt Stell might think you'd look cute in a slutty-biker chick's leathers and Dad might even suggest WWI leggings for cold winter days. Listen, nod, but be wary.
Quinn Swallowski listened to Aunt Oly and selected only really stylish low-priced menswear from Zembski's Family Store on 41rd by Archer and dressed accordingly. Quinn wrapped himself in smart low-priced fashion and does so to this very day. Others might find a Brooks Brothers look at a modest tariff but Quinn went full Zembski's at retail . . .and looked it.
"Forget them Baskins, Sears, Munky Wards, Joe-College Red Hanger wallet lifters, Quinn; go by Zembski over by Archer there. Save you money and look nice." the large and meaty mouthed Aunt Olympia commanded.
God generously featured Quinn corporeally -" He looked nice. Nice hair, nice eyes, nice teeth - nice.
Quinn never ripped his trousers or dirtied his shirts. Aunt Oly told him of those dangers though she dressed like an auto -mechanic at lunch. Oly told and Quinn bought it.
This confidence shared between aunt and nephew proved daunting, when young Quinn attended Hubbard High School in 1991. It seems that some of his school mates found the pretence and self-attention challenging themselves. That was in a time when bullying was not a one way street, not like Hamlin, or today.
Quinn's parents were old country DPs with barely enough English to cash a check at the currency exchange across the street from the Giant Indian at 63rd & Pulaski.
Quinn learned fashion from Aunt Olympia, who was divorced from Uncle Bogdan three days after their wedding and lived with Frieda above the pet store at 63rd Kolin. Aunt Margie was a hoot - she could open non-twist off beer caps and had been a softball All Star for ten years running. Uncle Bogdan beat it to Tinley Park, or Oak Forest somewhere. He dressed like a machinist and refused "to wear nice powder blue leisure suit to wedding."
Quinn was named Quinn after his father's foreman at Tootsie Roll by Cicero Ave. and thought the given name might counter pollack jokes from the ever diminishing Irish around 63rd Street. Not so much. Better Arabs, Mexes and Blacks than crook Micks - kiepska banda drani. Quinn's parents respected American born little sister Oly's judgments, "She first went by Zembski's; is nice."
Quinn Swallowski dressed nice and he was nice boy like Osmond Brother.
Such things mattered not to the Insane Popes around Hubbard High. Quinn found things unsettling as the only snappy dresser among a herd of RPN ( Royal Popes Nation) bedecked in White Sox gear only.
Name calling directed at Quinn was identity specific and colorful. Quinn ignored taunts and managed his time according to curriculum schedule, detention and shift changes at 8th Police District over by St. Louis Street.
Aunt Oly even picked Quinn up from school when her shift at Tootsie Roll allowed -some weeks day; some weeks nights. Afternoons? Run, Quinn!
Run Quinn did, like a hobbled Llama. His running gait only added to the reactive scorn from his contemporaries. His friends all went to Maria High School, or St. Rita. Hubbard was tough . . .is tough.
Quinn became a model for Zembski's catalog and eventually landed a great gig with Sears. He was making money hand over fist over hand. Quinn's gang banger antagonist had matriculated to getting tequila and 40 oz. empties collaged around their graves over by St. Mary's Cemetery on Pulaski.
Three years after graduation, Quinn was asked to model for Chicago Public Schools literature and made even more money.
Quinn still deferred to Aunt Oly's fashion judgment. Soon, Quinn's services were no longer desired at CPS.
Quinn Swallowski was the wrong face in the wrong duds.
Aunt Oly moved to Florida with Frieda, when the damn Mexicans bought the building and kicked out pet store and cancelled the rent of two old bags. Quinn is unemployed, but still looks great within the fashion context set by Aunt Olympia.
Quinn remains a victim.
Hey, I'm just sayin'!