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Bubble and bits with Grandpa Goofus

I love riding my bicycle and I adore playing with my cats, Shilalie and Shmeekie. So, shoot me already. Both activities bring out the kid inside of me. Makes me feel 70 again and all that rot. Unsurprisingly, my children think I’m beyond foolish, hinting that Poppy must be entering his second childhood.

That’s ridiculous. I’m still in my first.

I moved to a retirement housing complex recently. While observing “Poppy’s reckless passion for biking,” my new neighbors smile patronizingly when they notice me pumping along with my hands off the handle bars. (I’m such a showoff). I imagine they’re thinking that the old boy is out to recapture his youth.

Poppycock. The old boy is in his prime, baby.

Until lately, the only thing the neighbors have known about Poppy is that he’s quite the biker. They know nothing about my very favorite childhood passion. Cats. Now I’ve decided I should probably tell them about my felines. Here’s why:

Shilalie and Shmeekie love for me to blow bubbles. It’s become a daily ritual. After dipping a tiny wand into a solution of bubble-soap, I blow on it and fill the room with eclectic-sized bubbles. Last weekend, while proudly blowing bubbles for the little brats, I felt human eyes upon me.

I turned and looked directly into the bugging eyeballs of an elderly couple passing by my window. Recognizing them as neighbors, I started to wave. Then I noticed they were studying me with unequivocal pity. Shaking their heads in mock melancholy, they walked away.

What’s so pathetic about my blowing bubbles for my cats?

Then I realized that the Norfolk Island Pine plants in my apartment had considerably obstructed the neighbors’ view. They could easily see me blowing bubbles –– but they couldn’t possible have seen my cats. Now they surely believe that I’m just an old man who likes to recklessly ride bikes in public and blow bubbles in private. No enigma. No mystique. Just Grandpa Goofus at large.

Henceforth, while sunning my plants, I must be particularly careful because nosey neighbors suddenly love to peek in my windows. Today I was engaged in articulation exercises for a throat condition. My routine was interrupted when I heard muffled snickers. It turned out to be three neighbors blatantly propped against my window, observing me as I uttered nonsense syllables and mimicked the sound of a horse.


Good thing I keep my drapes drawn at night.  Pronto at 11 p.m. Poppy parties heartily with his stuffed animal collection. Don’t ask. Perhaps tomorrow I should take my stuffed animals for a bike ride while blowing bubbles and reciting my speech exercises.

Too much?

— Steve Eskew

Retired businessman Steve Eskew received master’s degrees in dramatic arts and communication studies from the University of Nebraska at Omaha after he turned 50. After one of his professors asked him to write a theater column, he began a career as a journalist at The Daily Nonpareil in Council Bluffs, Iowa. This led to hundreds of publications in a number of newspapers, most of which appear on his website,

Reflections of Erma