Julia Vinograd
BESIDE MYSELF
how I became the Bubblelady

People's Park made me the Bubblelady.
There was going to be a huge street battle
the next day, everyone was mad, I was mad,
but I was a pacifist and besides
if I threw a rock I'd probably hit my foot.
But I wanted to throw something.
I wasn't a very peaceful pacifist.
So I decided to fill a shopping bag
with bottles of soap bubbles
and stay up all night blowing bubbles in the park
and if they wanted to arrest me, fine.
I'd planned a one night symbolic protest.
So that evening I went to the park
and told the 2 rookie cops left to guard it
what I was going to do,
expecting handcuffs at any moment.
They were young, large and bored,
they pretty much shrugged.
The overhead streetlights were on,
bubbles look different at night.
After about 20 minutes one of the rookies asked
"Hey, can we try?"
I couldn't believe it, I mean they were cops,
but I handed them each a bottle
and damned if they didn't start a contest.
"Mine's bigger than yours."
"Yeah, but look at mine move,
it's the motion that counts."
I quote.  I do not comment.
Then a cop car circling the block screeched to a halt
and an officer about 50, also large,
stalked over to us demanding what the hell.
Maybe he thought I'd dosed his rookies,
this was the 60s, after all.
One of the rookies offered him a bottle of bubbles.
He snorted that he didn't play childish games,
turned on his heel and left
while the other rookie commented,
not lowering his voice all that much:
"he's just scared cause his would be too small to see."
Again, I only quote.
The rest of the night was a blur.
I'd only planned the one night
and thought it would end in jail.
I'm not very brave,
but it was for the park, this park
that's always in trouble, with a bad rap,
and when I show it to people
they don't understand.
The next day I took the bubbles on the street.
If they work on cops they'll work on anyone
and little kids started calling me Bubblelady
and the rest is history.
When I look at the park in winter,
all cold and muddy in the rain,
I see my soap bubbles under the earth
with daffodil bulbs, tulips, snowdrops,
waiting for spring.
And sometimes I see the young faces
of those rookies
still playing their game.