My aunt asked me to read a prayer at my cousin’s bat mitzvah this past Saturday. I’m not particularly Jewish, but I am one of the few family members who can read, walk, stand and speak. The piece had something to do with rainbows, and I was worried about getting through it with a straight face. I walked and opened the prayer book to the right page. There, not written, but carved into the paper with some sharp utensil was the word “buttsex.” Underneath it, an afterthought perhaps, was inscribed “tits.”
Needless to say, I lost my shit.
This was not the first or the last snafu at the bat mitzvah. In fact, I would probably characterize the event as one continual snafu. Or maybe I just like the word snafu because it doubles as a pick up line, as in “I’d like to snaf-u.”
My family’s penchant for inadvertent physical comedy was uncontainable — even on this sacred morn. During what should have been a solemn walk around the temple, my cousin’s tallis fell off. My aunt ran after him and replaced it clumsily around his neck, accidentally looping it around the Torah he was carrying as well. The rabbi reached to get the Torah back from my cousin. But because it was caught, his head was jerked down violently, eventually bouncing off the scrolls — much like the head of an Austin Powers bobblehead would have done, had I banged it on a Torah.
Next came my grandfather, who, while trying to roll up the already humiliated Torah, closed around the microphone. This made a horrible noise, which should have been a warning sign to him. But he can’t really hear, and as such didn’t notice everyone in the audience cringe as he slowly dragged the Torah up, grating along the entire length of the microphone. This culminated with the top of the mic popping off — shooting into the air, then landing wedged in the Torah.
I could cite innumerable examples of these hijnks. Needless to say, young Lindsay was not brought into the world of womanhood as delicately or beautifully as she might have hoped. I can only pray her remaining rites of womanhood occur with more grace, and with fewer family members present.
That night, at her party, Lindsay had the traditional candle lighting ceremony, in which she read a few paragraphs (or pages) about each person who has helped her on her journey. It was a very long ceremony, considering her life has been, so far, quite short. After reading about a particular person, (s)he would come up and help her light a candle.
Unfortunately, these tender moments were interrupted when Bobby, the enthusiastic and rodential D.J., would blast a short clip from one of a large collection of power ballads — chosen, as he saw it, to symbolize Lindsay’s relationship with the person who she had just exalted. While my grandparents got a few seconds of Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” (I cried), I got “Brown-Eyed Girl.” Ah yes. Making love in the green grass. Behind the stadium with you, my cousin.
(Bobby couldn’t manage to keep his grubby paws off things, as we soon noticed. He insisted on standing right behind the limbo pole with a mic, making comments such as “Come to Bobby,” “Bobby like” and my personal favorite, “Bow to DJ Bob.”)
I suppose this ceremony went better than my more exuberant cousin Justin’s last year, at which he managed to set a napkin on fire — and, seeing that he finally had everyone’s attention, proceeded to run around with it.
The whole experience made me very glad I hadn’t been through the bat mitzvah process myself. Though I am sure it would have been wonderful, I am also sure it would have been punctuated with fires, laughter and periods. But really when I think back on it, most of my serious life-changing celebrations have gone down with a bang, not a whimper. Although whimpering may have been involved.
Let’s start at my middle school graduation — I was already teary-eyed from the slide show and accompanying soundtrack (Desree — “You Gotta Be”). My walk across the stage was supposed to be a grand affair: After all, I was the D.A.R.E essay contest semi-finalist, not to mention a member of the Future Problem Solving Team. Unfortunately, my moment of glory was interrupted by my mother’s distinct snort-cackle. She later explained the outbreak by saying that, while walking, I “looked like a turtle.”
Moving on to high school graduation. The principal instructed the audience to hold their applause until the last name was called. In other words, keep it classy.
I guess my aunt just didn’t want Andrew Zinn to get all the glory. The stadium remained quiet until they reached the G’s, at which point my aunt broke the sacred silence with a series of yelps bordering on obscene as my name was called. My family clearly opened the door, because longer and longer celebrations began to follow each name. I wasn’t valedictorian; I didn’t even have that many friends. But it sure sounded like it.
If I am eventually permitted to participate in Graduation 2009, I am sure the ruckus accompanying my walk will be jarring to fellow classmates, reassuring to me. Because if my aunt doesn’t yell that I am a sexy bitch, I’ll know she wasn’t able to make it.
Let this serve as a warning. Aaron Greenberg: I don’t know you, but you’ll have a tough act to follow. Fortunately, judging from facebook, you’re a sexy bitch as well.
Molly Green is starting a new chapter of the Future Problem Solving Team. Email her to join!