Closing weekend, backstage.

“Favor?” asked James who never seeks favors. “My wife’s doing a paper on the Holocaust and has to go to the Maltz Museum. “Would you be tour guide?”

“Sure,” I said, “But to do it right we need a pre-game at Corky’s. It’s an Olympic sponsor and the designated delicatessen of the Jewish community.

“Our kids are coming,” he added.
“Great, I love kids. I used to be one.”
Plans were made.

Arriving first, standing in the anticipated Sunday line, my phone rang.
“Running late.”
“No problem. I’ll get the table. By the way, how many?”
“Party of five—We’ll need one highchair and a booster seat.”

Minutes later they appeared: Amy, James, and two girls (only one of whom could speak). “This is Lucy!” they announced, placing a four year-old on the red, plastic throne to my left. She had a sparkle, a smile, and marble curly hair— Shirley Temple minus the tap dance. Let the banter begin.

“How old are you?” she spit out.
“Seven,” I said.
“Are you joking me?”
“Of course not! Don’t I look older than you?”
She thought for a minute then continued: “I’m four.”
“When are you gong to be three?” I asked.
Confused, thriving on the attention, her smile was interrupted:

“I go to nursery school.”
“I don’t.”
“Did you ever go to my school?”
”A long time ago,” I told her. “There wasn’t even a roof on the building then. We had to go to school in the summer only because it was too cold in the winter.”

She stared.

Dinner was served. Amy fed the baby and, James being landlocked, I got to cut up her grilled cheese.

“Daddy says you’re Jewish,” Lucy declared. “You’re the first Jewish I know” (sic), she announced as she continued:
“Do you eat here a lot?”
“I have to,” I said. “Jewish houses don’t have kitchens.”

She eyed her mom and dad, then sighed, not quite believing, yet totally comfortable. Meanwhile on my end of the table I picked olives off a salad.

“What are you doing?” she asked.
“Jews don’t eat olives or white bread or lime jell-o.”

By the time we cleaned our plates I was smitten—my time to ask a favor. “Can I show Lucy the dessert case?”

We walked to the front. “See,” I pointed out, “No lime jell-o.”

Lunch done, we drove to Maltz. Caravan style. For an hour/plus, Amy took notes, James wheeled the infant, and me? I strolled with my new girlfriend … hand-in-hand.

Tour over, it was time to part. Amy packed the girls in their car as the men did what men do best—we stood. Within moments an arm came from the back window.

“Here,” beamed a voice through fingers brandishing a crayoned picture. “This is for you.”
“I’m going to put this up in my office!” I promised, (and did within the hour).

“Had a ball,” said James, as we parted. “You really know how to talk to kids.”
“Of course,” I reminded….”I used to be one.”

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