Of course I love my nephew Jonah, and of course I’m proud that he became a Bar Mitzvah yesterday. I’m not at all religious, but it’s a mondo gigantic deal if you are observant (and Jewish, of course), which his immediate family is, more so than ours. I’m personally impressed because the kid put an enormous amount of effort and discipline into learning his haftarah–in Hebrew, no less, which I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but has an entirely different alphabet than, you know, English and, like, French. (A haftarah is an additional reading often corresponding to what was read from the Torah that week during the service.) He also performed community service as part of his officially being recognized as an adult within his congregation. That is a buttload of video games not played, TV not watched, and plain old screwing around shelved for the time being. If anyone deserved a big old honking party with a DJ and make-your-own sundaes, it was Jonah.
So when one of my daughters developed a fever and it was clear that she and I would be hanging at the Hilton instead of heading to the shul and then the reception, we were both disappointed. Vivian because she loves a party and wanted to spend time with her cousins. And me, well, I wanted to see Jonah rock his haftarah, or the portion of the Torah he was reading. Not that I’d understand it, but still. And I wanted to spend some time celebrating with my husband’s family, a terrific bunch.
And I was disappointed. But as the day wore on, after Viv and I had watched five episodes of SpongeBob and read all three Mercy Watson books and made flowers out of the Kleenex in the bathroom and ordered room service and explored the Hilton like Eloise (the business center, even with it’s Canon printer, wasn’t nearly as interesting as anything in the Plaza), I realized I was really disappointed. Like, deeply, terribly, disappointed. Bereft, in fact. And it couldn’t have had that much to do with Jonah.
When Sasha came back with an inflatable guitar and Ray-Ban-like shades that were part of some kind of rock star theme, I realized it was as simple as this: I hadn’t been to a party at which there was music in such a long time, since the last Bar Mitzvah I’d been to, in fact. I just wanted to hear loud music (even if it was the hora), get up and dance, (even if it was in a circle), and have someone bring me food. And then I wanted to watch the 13-year-olds not dance with one another to whatever 13-year-olds don’t dance with one another to these days.
You know you’re a Formerly when the last party you were at was a Bar Mitzvah and the next party you’ll be at will likely be a Bar Mitzvah, and that’s not so much the problem as the fact that when you miss the Bar Mitzvah, you’re very very sad. Sadder than your 6-year-old, because at least she got an inflatable guitar and sunglasses and someone saved her some cake.
I think I need to get out more.