Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A Brooklyn Afternoon

“Savlanut, my bubela, savlanut!”
Patience. Hard for a seven-year-old dervish with payos flying.
Patience. Babbi was not old, but wearied faster these days than when her own boys were seven. On this Friday afternoon, Bnayahu plunked down on the kitchen chair with an exaggerated sigh, eyeing the box from Wall’s Bakery with feigned innocence. He was thin as a whippet, all tanned knees and elbows, his bare feet held clear evidence of where his Teva straps had been.

Babbi pulled the pie from the oven and set it to cool on the counter. She washed her hands and took off her apron. “Now bubela, I’m ready,” she smiled, tucking a stray hair into her scarf. “Get your shoes on -- no, not your sandals, real shoes that cover your feet. And a jacket you should have. Meet me at the front door in two minutes!”

Bnayahu ran up the stairs and was down again in thirty seconds, his dark jacket inside out and his shoes undone. “Hurry Babbi,” he yelled. It will be dark soon!”

“Savlanut, my boy.”

He sat on the bottom step, carefully lacing and tying his shoes in the bunny-ears way his grandmother had taught him, double knots and all.

Finally Babbi appeared, dressed all in black, pulling on her special gloves, worn only for this occasion. “Oy,” she moaned. The autumn chill seeped into her bones these days even before telling her skin of its arrival. “Pull your payos back and straighten your kipa,” she told him as she carefully strapped the child’s helmet around his chin. She snapped her own helmet over her headscarf and pulled closed the silver zippers that criss-crossed her leather biker jacket.

Bnayahu clambered onto the back seat of the Harley and clung tightly to his grandmother as she expertly snapped the kickstand with the heel of her black Frye Harness boot, checking the mirrors and pushing off, revving the engine of the rudely-awakened beast.

“Hold on, bubela!” she yelled into the wind. The pair roared off onto the streets of Borough Park where all the people dressed in black. But not this kind of black.

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