>My Fictional Bubbie

November 2, 2010 § Leave a comment

>I love my Bubbie very much. Not to look a gift horse in the mouth, but today at lunch, Joseph and I began to imagine having another Bubbie, this one living in New York.

Allow me to paint a picture of her:

Fictional Bubbie lives in a high-rise apartment building near Bryant Park. She’s lived there since her husband, my fictional Zayde retired. (He is now deceased.)

Bubbie goes to the public library every day at 1:30. All of the librarians and library workers know Bubbie. She has her favorite seat at her favorite table and when 1:30 is approaching, the library staff ask tourists to clear Bubbie’s spot because she is not above causing a (harmless) ruckus. Bubbie’s not big on reading, but she likes to sit and whisper loudly with patrons. Sometimes she’ll read the paper or look through the gossip magazines.

During the summers, Bubbie faithfully follows a Tai Chi practice in Bryant Park on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. She wears her workout outfit: burgundy sweatpants with her matching sweatshirt tucked into her pants. Her trademark giant Chanel sunglasses cover most of the top half of her face.

Once a week, Joe and I visit Bubbie in her high-rise. She has little understanding of our busy schedules and often weighs us down with speeches about how soon she’ll be dead and gone, so why not visit a little more often? She worries that we will regret our infrequent visits though on the elevator ride down from her apartment, Joe and I always complain about how once a week feels like an awful lot of visiting. None of the other grandkids even live in New York, so why should we feel so guilty? Still, we do feel guilty.

During our visits, Bubbie speaks about the following topics:
-Brooklyn is dangerous; why don’t we move to Manhattan?
-Bubbie’s bridge group: meets every Monday afternoon in an apartment rotation with the players, who are all residents of the same high-rise. We hear the politics and latest scandals, especially about Bubbie’s closest friend in the group, Rose’s grandson, who is always getting into trouble.
-Betsy: the only non-Jewish member of the bridge club is a big source of stress and annoyance for Bubbie.
-Buddhism: Bubbie is determined to learn more about the topic, after she heard a segment on public radio.
-Coupons: Bubbie insists we take her coupons and when I tell her that some of them have expired, she says, “Take them anyway; the grocery store doesn’t notice.” When I explain that they scan the coupons at the store, she responds, “Throw them out when you leave. If you don’t want to save money that’s your problem.”
-Pantyhose: Bubbie has spent the last five years promising to take me shopping at Macy’s for a good pair of pantyhose. She insists that I don’t own any quality hosiery and “Every woman should have at least one strong and durable pair of pantyhose.”

Bubbie has an ever-changing stack of books-on-tape checked out from the library. She does not own a tape player and therefore cannot listen to her cassettes. Joe and I buy her a tape player and she responds with, “What use is this?” When we explain, she immediately lets us know that she has no use for it. We leave it with her anyway and she keeps it in the box, never opening it. She piles her books-on-tape on top of the box which contains the tape player. Joe and I laugh about this when we debrief on our train ride back to Brooklyn. (Joe does an amazing imitation of her.)

Bubbie’s apartment has old furniture, mostly covered in plastic and surprisingly uncomfortable. We often sit in straight back chairs and watch an hour of television with her. Usually we visit during a morning talk or judge show.

She feeds us freshly toasted Eggo waffles and right-out-of-the-microwave pigs in a blanket. Sometimes when Joe is in the bathroom, Bubbie tells me he eats too fast. When I’m in the bathroom, Bubbie tells Joe about how he and I should start having babies, that we aren’t getting any younger. Bubbie always has ginger ale and horrible instant coffee. On special occasions, she treats us to slices of pie and hot cocoa at the diner two blocks away from her apartment.

When we visit, Joe and I always bring a half-gallon of milk, a bar of dark chocolate, and a loaf of bread. Each time, she tells Joe that these are staples for Depression survivors. “You should never know such misery,” she says as she greets us with hugs and kisses at the door.

We love you, Fictional Bubbie. We can’t wait to see you next week.


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