I’m known at family functions for my non-attendance (it’s like school all over again!)  But last month I made an appearance at a cousin’s bar mitzvah. I actually felt tricked because my initial response was “I’ll go if everyone else is going” (I’m an individualist like that) and then wouldn’t ya know it, my sister and her husband were otherwise engaged at the last minute (no they didn’t run out to get married. That would’ve been a valid excuse). Scarcely any entertainment beyond my 17 year old cousin egging me on to get plastered. Boy, you get smashed and make a drunken speech at one family affair and suddenly everyone thinks you’re Dean Martin. Seated next to me was a different female cousin who struck up a conversation. I was sure she was at least 16 but turns out she was only 12. I don’t what her parents are feeding her but the girl is my height, at age 12! Pretty little lass. I explained to her how it’d only be a short matter of time before she’d mercilessly enslave all the boys but I don’t think my tutelage was registering.  The only other conversation I had was with the Asian guy who was paper folding decorative figures. I don’t like to brag but I’m a bit of a paper folder myself. When I used to pass notes in class, I mastered a technique that allowed me to fold and tuck the paper before handing it off. I was more about practical paper folding and never concerned myself with the fancier aesthetics of the art form.  The paper folder made me a reindeer (Merry Hanukah) and said to me “You look a tired.” Of course he didn’t happen to have two words to say to my father who was nodding off on a couch not 10 feet away. “I know why you a tired,” the paper folder continued. (Yeah, take a look around pal.) Intrigued, I asked him to elaborate. “It you heels. That why you a tired. I use to wear big big heel and it make me a tired. Now I no wear heel anymore and I no a tired.” Fascinating stuff! Except that I’m not giving up my heels. Gee, maybe you’d like my 12 year old cousin to tower over me! I’d have to say the worst part of the evening was the speechmaking, every orator was sober. Why is it that the people who start out a speech with the line “I’m really awful at speeches” never seem to get off the stage? I came precariously close to gonging my first cousin. And remember what happened if you didn’t get off the stage on the Gong Show- they’d pull you off with that hook. The paper folder didn’t do gong show hooks but if he had, my first cousin would’ve been in real trouble. One speech was worst than the next. And some failed to realize that a bar mitzvah is a “simcha”, cause for celebration. The only H word I want to hear at a bar mitzvah is “happy.” But someone had to lament our great relative from the Holocaust who couldn’t be with us. Lucky for them, they would’ve starved all over again. They didn’t serve dinner until 1:30 a.m! I was thrilled when they served sushi as an appetizer but if I’d known it was all I was going to get for 5 hours, I would’ve stuffed myself early on instead of wondering if paper reindeer tastes like venison.
I wouldn’t even be writing about this ordeal had I not been photographically reminded of it. My mother just returned from Florida where she visited my Uncle who apparently had snapped some of his own photos at the bar mitzvah. But first let me show you a current picture (“ooooh.JPG”) of my amazing paper folding (I needed to know if I still “had it.”)

(it looks alot easier than it is!)

Here is a sweet photo of my mother (right) and my Aunt (left).

My aunt who was my drama teacher in grade school. My Aunt who cast me as Piglet in the school production of Winnie the Pooh and pressured me into singing a song entitled “I’m as Dirty As Can Be & I Like It”. Yessir. These are the ties that bind! There are a few other pictures, me and my parents, my dad and my bro and one that I find fantastically poignant for some inexpressible reason. I am not laying the groundwork for humor. I really like this photo of my mom n me (note the alert postures) Did I mention that I never had a bat mitzvah, nope. Or I’d be at the bank right now cashing my $250 in savings bonds!

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