Thursday, March 5, 2009

Today, I am a Kvetch

I've managed to blot out most of my Bat Mitzvah experience. It was the absolute apex of my dorkhood. I had nowhere to go but up from here.

And consistent with my childhood theme of Perpetual Victim, I was outraged that the whole affair was a fraction of Bro 1's Gala Hullabaloo. His Bar Mitzvah was doubled up with Cuz 1's Bat Mitzvah; they were both first-borns, and it was a 3-day weekend- long Polish wedding of a Bar Mitzvah. I'm pretty sure everyone from god to Liz Taylor attended. Certainly cousins, aunts and uncles from every remote corner of the universe were there. There were matchbooks.

My Bat Mitzvah was way, way, way scaled down. Aside from my grandparents, one Milwaukee aunt & uncle attended. Period. No matchbooks.

It was hardly worth the fit I threw to get this silly dress. I vaguely remember a screaming scene in a "nice" dress shop. You NEVER this! and you ALWAYS that! and I just badgered my poor mom into buying this stupid thing which probably cost as much as the whole rest of the affair. I think it was because I could finally move out of the girls' department and wear a women's petite. (It still hangs in Mom & Dad's basement, and looks more like a Barbie dress. Tiny.)

I led the services and read a portion of the Torah that I had memorized. I think I spouted some version of the classic Link in the Golden Chain* speech. But it wasn't a rite of passage into womanhood, or assuming responsibilities as an adult, it wasn't even a part of my development as a member of the Jewish community. There was no frame of reference back then, certainly not for superfluous girl people. It was just stress, and a dress, and more than my usual moral outrage.

My BM loot was also a fraction of Bro 1's. And my parents gave me my first piece of luggage. They would continue to give me luggage on every birthday for the next 4 years.

Subtle, very subtle.
*The rabbi gave each kid a sort of outline for their speech. "Be sure to thank your parents, and your teachers, and say how proud you are to become a link in the golden chain of Judaism." Just about every kid used that phrase verbatim; once the speech started, we'd wait for it...wait for it... and inevitably s/he would become... a Link in the Golden Chain!

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