The throaty howl of a baby’s cry filled the small bassinet as I peered over to see a ruddy and red-faced baby boy, fists clenched white, a tuft of scrappy hair wistfully plastered to his forehead, so clearly a boy. He looked so much like an old man, that we laughed ourselves silly as his pudgy legs propelled him forward almost faster than his feet could go. Russell quickly warmed up to his nickname of Bubba. Bubba because he was so stocky, bowl-legged and raspy. Bubba because the sound of his baby voice was so deep and masculine. He used to say, “My name is Bubba,” and proudly clomp around in his sturdy boy shoes, a shy grin in waiting on his lips. He liked to leave the house, in his diapers, and wander around the neighborhood. Neighbors would bring him back and disapprovingly indicate that he was found 3 or 4 blocks away; had crossed busy streets to get wherever he thought he was going. He didn’t seem to mind getting punished or spanked. He’d dash around and try to hide behind his younger brother, who was always faster than him. Those two were connected in mischief.
One day, I returned home late in the afternoon. As I trundled up the walkway, I spotted a bare butt in profile in the backyard. I yelled out, “Bubba! Poog! What are you guys up to?” I dropped my bag and went towards the back, and there they were. Naked with markings of mud all over their bodies. They seemed to take special care in the placement of mud on their penises. They were cackling like little demons and then they put their arms around each other and smiled at me with the sweetest and happiest toothy grins I’ve ever seen. Genuine little rascals.