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Summer Job: Chapter 38

Dov Haller

INTRO “You speak to Mommy ten times a day,” Nechamie said. “You know it and I know it, she’s never — and I mean never — done this”

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

"O kay, give us the hock, come on,” Nechamie Bandman said, placing a large tray of corn on the picnic table. “What’s going on? Do you ever remember such a thing? Are they fighting?”

Chana Leeba cut a piece of grilled chicken into small pieces and brought it to the children’s table. “How should I know?”

“Oh, stop it, you speak to Mommy ten times a day,” Nechamie said. “You know it and I know it, she has never — and I mean never — done this. She’s always been there to make sure Tatty has his supper the moment he walks through the door and that his hat is brushed and his suits are pressed. This is not her style. What’s the story?”

“What’s the big deal? You’re making a bar mitzvah, she feels bad for you that she’s away in camp, so she’s coming out to help you,” Chana Leeba replied. “Period. It’s too far for her to drive to Lakewood and back in the same day and Tatty can’t get away now, so she’s sleeping over tomorrow night also.”

Chana Leeba stabbed a slider with a fork with a bit too much force, as if willing the conversation to end.

Shira Reimer spoke up. “You can probably ask Yudi for the scoop. He and Tatty are BFF’s these days, they’re always talking and texting,” she said proudly.

It suddenly got too quiet. Yudi frowned and both her sisters-in-law wore matching looks of irritation.

Chana Leeba, who moments earlier had nothing to say, seemed to panic at the thought that Yudi would move into her insider role and sighed, as if accepting that she had no choice.

“Look,” she said, giving a cursory glance around the large porch, to make sure no children were listening. Several of them were, but she didn’t notice. “It’s very weird for her. She’s been trying to get Tatty to like camp forever, since they’re just married, and she couldn’t schlep him up for any money. Remember how he used to make fun of it? And now, all of a sudden, he’s Mr. Camp — when all her kids are married and none of her siblings are there for the summer. He’s busy around the clock and she’s left walking with Bubby. It’s like a tease — in camp, but not the way she ever imagined it, you know? It’s frustrating.”

Nechamie nodded. “Oh, I hear, it’s like my father-in-law.” Her husband, Boruch, was still inside getting the drinks, so she spoke quickly. “He always wanted a Jeep, his whole life, but my shvigger didn’t think it was acceptable. You know, they’re from Boro Park. Now, for his 70th birthday, she bought him a new black Jeep. He told Boruch it hurts his back and it’s hard to climb in and he has no use for it. He can’t even figure out how to adjust the steering wheel.”

“Poor Mommy,” Chana Leeba said with finality, another attempt at ending the conversation.

Yudi hadn’t spoken yet, but since Shira’s announcement, there was a ripple of anticipation, as if he would deliver the truth.

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