March 15, 1997
A lot of people think that a thirteen-year-old boy is nothing more than a pimply boner-machine with a mouth full of orthodontia and a Web-porn addiction; and while the truth may be on their side, the Torah tells a different story. Under Jewish law, once a boy is Bar Mitzvahed he has certain responsibilities—he is eligible to read from the Torah, he can participate in a minion—he can even marry. He is no longer an innocent. Traditionally, the parents give thanks to God that they no longer have to carry the burden of their child’s sins. On this day of my son Elliot’s Bar Mitzvah, to that I say a resounding: “FUCK ‘n A!”
Just this summer I received an eight-hundred-dollar calling-card bill from sources unknown. After a thorough investigation and a call to my old Harvard buddy Don Cutler (who just happens to be C.E.O. at Ma Bell) the calls were traced back to a phone booth in Orillia Ontario, where my son attends Jewish summer camp. Turns out Elliot shared my card number with fellow camper Felicia Bloom, a fourteen-year-old blonde of loose morals who I have learned provided Elliot with his first sexual experience. Felicia then disseminated the card number as freely as she seems to disseminate favors, and soon half the camp was calling home on my dime, the other half presumably engaged more directly with Felicia herself. The investigation managed to cull some of the stolen funds, but I was forced to pay the outstanding bill of $380, not exactly bargain basement for your son to get his first hand job.
But Elliot must not be judged for his maturity, or lack thereof. He’s a good kid, smart albeit a bit naive, and at six-foot-one with size 13 feet, the adage “Act your age not your shoe size” does not apply. There was a time I feared Elliot might grow freakishly tall and require expensive custom-made clothes. I took him to a specialist who X-rayed his wrist, and then asked him to drop trou. Elliot did, and the doctor measured him against a leather keychain packed with wooden balls. The balls varied in size from a pea to a cantaloupe and were numbered and lettered. I am proud to announce on this day that Elliot is packing an impressive G-24! Not quite elephantitis, but tumescent and healthy! Oh yeah, he’ll be six-four at full growth.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Temple Emanuel for the lovely service. Rabbi Kluger, your sermon on the ills of intermarriage was eloquent and well-informed— real food for thought. I would have appreciated if you hadn’t stared directly at my lovely blonde companion Christy while proclaiming: “Let us not give Hitler a victory!” but I admire your passion. You’ve come a long way since your moralistic critique of Israel’s 1982 bombing of Iraq’s nuclear plant. It was a lapse into faux-liberal defeatism and I acknowledge your written apology in last year’s B’nai Brith newsletter. I mean, can you imagine if Saddam Hussein had nuclear capabilities now?! The free world should be kissing Israeli ass!
Of course, that is not to say we are above criticism at home. Membership here at Temple Emanuel costs a pretty penny, particularly for those who don’t lie about their income— and no thanks to a well timed I.P.O., the sliding-scale membership fee does not exactly work in my favor. Yet, upon seeing a list of members in each category I would like to publicly call “Bullshit”! Izzie Morgenstein, of Nesbitt, McMaster & Delacroix, who made a killing in Blue Torrent (we’re talking in the tens of millions!) is in the “Mid-Salary” category?? Eli Rosenblatt of Rosenblatt & Rosenblatt is “Low-Income”? In what galaxy?! “Look,” I told the membership committee, “I’ll pay the average. I won’t lie like the others did, but I also won’t be robbed! I will pay the average.”
And it was worth it. Cantor Rosen, yours is the voice of an angel. Thank you for your songs and for not dispelling the myth that all reform cantors are lesbians with acoustic guitars. Though I was not invited, I heard that your wedding ceremony was quite touching, and that you looked lovely in your tuxedo.
Speaking of unholy unions, my ex-wife Jacqueline is here today with her new husband, who I can only refer to as “The Troll.” My wife first met the Troll here in this very synagogue at choir practice. I figured I was safe since only dandies do choir, but I did not account for a reprobate shrink. The Troll and Jacqueline became acquaintances, and soon Jacqueline allegedly began seeing the Troll professionally, claiming that she needed psychiatric help to deal with her deteriorating relationship with Elliot. Turns out more was uncovered on the couch than her innermost thoughts …
Divorce, like the liberal agenda, takes its toll, particularly on the children, and I worry about its effect on Elliot. For a boy on the cusp of manhood to be so thoroughly abandoned by his mother can cause irreparable harm. Recently, Elliot has exhibited moments of deep melancholy, there has been some trouble at school (calls from the principal, poor math scores), and if his time locked in the bathroom is any indication, chronic masturbation has also been a side effect. Only strong genes have kept him resilient. Elliot is currently attending the Crimson Academy, an esteemed private school with a tough admissions exam and interview process. He fought me on it—Crimson’s strict blazer dress code and their “boys only” rule were both reasons he resisted. But I reasoned with him—it’s important to learn to be around a cross-section of people, particularly the WASPs, who (last time I checked) still run this town! Plus I bought him a Super Nintendo…
In closing, I wish you all a lovely time at the evening festivities. Enjoy the buffet. In Jewish law, if the Torah is dropped while the Bar Mitzvah is carrying it to the Arc, the congregation must fast for forty days. And though several of the women in attendance could certainly benefit from such a diet plan, I’m glad it was avoided—the rugelech alone cost $8.39 a pound and it would be a shame to put to waste.
(RAISE YOUR GLASS.)
Elliot, on this monumental day my cup overfloweth. You’re a good kid, and I am confident that you will blossom into manhood with grace and swagger. Still, what’s the big rush? These halcyon days of youth will soon fade, and before you know it innocent schoolboy crushes will turn to marriage, and then, if you have the misfortune of marrying a black belt in deception, will become a failed marriage. My deepest hope is that you avoid such bitter betrayal in your lifetime and find only happiness and loyalty. Also, my deepest hope is that the Troll has a fatal seizure during “Hava Nagila,” but this not an appropriate time to dwell on personal matters.
(RAISE YOUR GLASS AGAIN.)
L’Chaim and Mazel Tov to the Bar Mitzvah Boy!