Trolls Under the Bridge:
My friend’s Bubby has a game of rummy cube in the dining room. All the other Bubbies from shul come over to play. They sit for hours shuffling the plastic cubes flat on the table and interrupting each other in Yiddish. They wear flimsy, flowered housedresses and numbers on their arms.
Our little kid bodies scuttle in the crowded little house. It’s Shabbos afternoon and there’s a game. Bubbies at the table, parents in the living room, babies asleep in nearby cribs. Danny and I, Michelle and Sharon put our four minds together under the table. We have a huddle there with thick, pale and spotted Bubby legs around us that never show signs of the bodies and voices they are attached to up there on the other side of the tablecloth. These legs are bare, protrude from hems of the thin and ragged housedresses, and connect to the carpet in flat tattered slippers.
Surrounded by legs beneath the table is home base. One at a time, we must each creep out from under the table and into the kitchen, find food, and bring it back to the base without anyone seeing us. Moms and Dads and Bubbies are everywhere. We can’t wake the babies either. Have a plan before you scoot out there. What should I bring back to our little huddle? A cookie from the platter? A hand full of hard candies? The tin full of salty nuts? Our nimble feet are inaudible on linoleum. Our deft fingers catch the little prizes. We are stealthy and swift and it is easy to slip through the spokes of the leg fence. We laugh silently. We make a pile of our conquests and gather around it like some cauldron brew.
Michelle, Sharon, and I guard and Danny shoots out from under the table. We silently cheer, stiffen our elbows at our sides and clench our fists with suspense. He’s going for the rugelach. But he doesn’t see that Bubby is standing at the kitchen counter. Danny, in his excitement, pushes Bubby, grabs the rugelach, and dives back under the table.
Bubby yells in Yiddish, the parents raise their eyes and crane their necks, babies wiggle in their cribs, and all the Bubby legs around us begin to shift and sway as they prepare to hold the weight of tired bodies.