Grandmother was Jewish

The grandmother in the story below is based on the wonderful character actress Reizl Bozyk who played Bubbie in the 1988 film, Crossing Delancey. At the time of the film, she was about 74 years of age. She was a gifted and expressive actress in the Yiddish theatre and she was a scene-stealing delight in this, her only film.



Grandmother was Jewish

“Bubbie? Hello, Bubbie? Answer the door. It’s me, David.”



“David who?”



“David, your grandson, that’s who. Open the door.”



“How do I know it’s David and not some wild crazed maniac?”



“Bubbie, use the viewer in the door and you can see it’s me.”



“That peek-a-boo is too high. I can’t reach it. If you really are David, tell me how old your mother is. Not how old she says she is, but her real age.”



“She’s forty-eight as of November 26. Now let me in. I have some bad news.”



“Bad news? If it’s bad news you got, you can stay outside. I don’t want to hear from bad news. I hear bad news every day of my life. From my grandson, I want only good, happy news. Are you the one that’s married?”



“No, Bubbie. That’s Hertsel. I’m David, the single one. Please open the door.”



“All right. All right, already. There, the door is open. If you’re a maniac, kill me now.”



“You see, it is me. But you shouldn’t open the door without checking. Not these days, in the Bronx. The Bronx of old is long gone. More’s the pity.”



“My grandson, the philosopher. Here, come give me a kiss and tell me the bad news. Tell me quickly, so it’s over.”



“Bubbie, I lost my job at the newspaper.”



“That’s it? Job, shnob. You’ll get another. You’re young”



“I feel I’m coming down with something too”



“You got a fever?”



“No. Bubbie, I just feel sick, physically and mentally, because of the job loss.”



“Sick? I’ll make you some homemade chicken soup and you’ll feel like a millionaire.”



“Bubbie, I don’t want to feel like a millionaire. I want to be millionaire. And now, I don’t even have a job.”



“Stop with the moaning already. You think millionaires have it so good?”



“Yes, I do. Look at Bill Gates. He has the world by the tail.”



“Bill who?”



“Bubbie, I’m speaking about Bill Gates the richest man in the world.”



“He needs some chicken soup, too?”



“No, I don’t think so. But, he could buy the Campbell Soup Company and he probably would, if it were a high-tech software firm.”



“Pish. Canned soup. He may be a millionaire but classy he’s not. Canned Soup takes on the taste of iron. It’s true. Those little tin cans sit on shelves forever.”



“Bill Gates sells the main software that is used on most computers. The money he made from that software, has made it possible for him to build a house with fifty rooms or maybe more.”



“Fifty rooms? Why?”



“Because he’s rich.”



“So, because he’s rich, his poor, skinny wife has to wash and wax and dust all those rooms. Pish.”



“No, Bubbie. He has hired help. They do all the cleaning and the work.”



“Hired help! How can they save any money if they spend it all on hired help.”



“Bubbie. Listen to me. He is rich. Very, very rich. There is no one richer. In fact he can’t spend it all because he earns more than he spends. He remains rich. Filthy rich!”



“Ahhh. Now I know. He’s the one with the glass eyes. On TV. They interrupted my soap opera with that fancy, schmancy, special news report. He’s the carouser. Shame on him.”



“What do you mean, carouser? Exactly what did they say on that special report?”



“Mr. Millionaire, with the fifty rooms and the glass eyes, he carouses with a fishnet. He made me so angry when they broke in on my program. The Young Wrestlers.”



“Bubbie, you’ve watched that show for years. It’s The Young and the Restless.”



“That’s what I said.”



“Also, he is not a carouser. His company makes a browser for surfing the internet and it is the most popular one used.”



“So that’s where he made his millions, carousing and surfing?”



“Well, not exactly. You see he gave away the browser for free.”



“What? I must be an old, stupid woman. I don’t know from carousing. I don’t hear good. I don’t sleep so good at night either and sometimes I get a little acid in the stomach. I’m not a business person. But, if I were in business and I sold something for nothing, I would end up in the poor house. How can this man, with the fifty room house, sell things for nothing?”



“Because he has the Windows PCs in his pocket. Tell me, Bubbie, would you like a computer that has the latest Windows? You could surf the net and use that free browser I told you about.”



“Pish. Computer? Windows? I got plenty of windows, here in the apartment. to look after. I don’t need another one. And I’m not a surfer lady. Why would I give him, with the fifty rooms, my money when he has so much he can’t even spend it. He’s so rich, maybe he should throw it away. Throw some this way. Throw some that way. Throw some to all the poor people. There’s no shortage of people and children in need.”



“Well, he’s donated large sums of money and computer equipment to libraries in cities all around the country.”



“Pish. A large sum to us is nothing to a millionaire. The world is full of people who don’t have enough food to eat every day of their lives. Even in America, it is a scandalous problem. Why doesn’t he throw some of his money in that direction?”



“I guess. Bubbie, there’s no easy solution. One person can’t solve all the problems and certainly not world hunger. Even he doesn’t have enough money to do that.”



“Pish. He could make a dent. Small but sure. He should be more concerned with the size of the needle’s eye than the size of his house. And you could help too.”



“Me, Grandmother? How?”



“Don’t be so concerned about becoming a millionaire. Be more concerned in fighting injustice in the world. In the end, you will be happier and richer if you follow that path. Your grandfather was a man of principle. He worked hard at the small neighbourhood paper he published. He always fought for the little man because he understood what it meant to be poor. When you graduated, he was so pleased that you chose journalism as a career.”



“Grandfather was cool. I remember when I was young visiting his basement shop with the printing press and equipment. It wasn’t very large but it was always bustling. He was always eager to show me about. I enjoyed the times I helped him. He taught me a great deal about the business. What happened to it all?”



“It’s still there. Five years of coated dust. Everything is there. You talk about computers. Even the two computers he bought new are there. Go see for yourself. You want a job? Take over your grandfather’s paper. If you get one tenth of the satisfaction he got, you will be a happy man. And me, I would like that.”



“Gee, Bubbie, I’d like to try. You say the Power Mac 9500 computers are still there? What a breeze they were to set up for page layout. Editing and graphics were a cinch, too. I could start up small, just like grandfather, and build it up. I could cover the south Bronx and expand to the whole . . . Bubbie, I’m really excited about the possiblities.”



“Then do it. I’ll give you the key now. Here it is hanging behind the kitchen door, like always. Go down and look it over. When you’re ready, I’ll get a dust broom and pail of suds and we’ll clean the shop from top to bottom. But, before the cleaning, sit. I have some tea already made and a few bagels to munch. We’ll talk the about past and about the future.”



“I love you, Bubbie.”



“Eat your bagel. Did I ever tell you, that you are my favourite grandson?’



“Herschel told me you said he was your favourite grandson.”



“That was last week.”


Ralph J. Luciani

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