Nearly a full decade after my Bar Mitzvah prime, I stood in front of the revolving doors of the Hyatt, contemplating whether or not to crash a random Bat Mitzvah. But fate intervened. Behind me, a chartered bus pulled up to the front entrance of the hotel. As the bus doors slid open, a hoard of 12- and 13-year-old boys and girls wearing mostly ill-fitting suits and hand-me-down dresses, poured out of the bus and began running toward the doors.
Wanting to avoid the onslaught of middle-schoolers and with nowhere to turn, I pushed my way into the hotel and moved toward the coatroom in the corner of the lobby.
Suddenly, I felt my jacket being removed by a pair of hands behind me. Turning around instinctively, I saw the coatroom attendant hanging up my jacket. The attendant turned to me with a warm smile and said, “Welcome to Sarah’s Bat Mitzvah! Hors d’oeuvres are being served in the lobby and there is an open bar in the main ballroom.”
In a daze, I exited the coatroom and began meandering through the maze of carnival-like attractions set up in the lobby. First there was the photo booth that takes a picture of you and prints the picture on a mouse pad.
Then there was the caricature artist and, next to him, the booth that takes your picture and then transplants your face on to the body of a celebrity. Although my face didn’t quite fit Vin Diesel’s body type, my animated self (who happened to be an astronaut) was very complimentary.
Sarah’s parents had pulled out all the stops, and this was something I could appreciate. During my Bar Mitzvah, my parents refused to hire a catering company and, instead, bought all of the food frozen from the local supermarket. Whereas I had “pigs in a blanket,” Sarah’s parents provided tender slices of veal stuffed with three different kinds of caviar.
As I was eating this high-class delicacy, I heard a voice resonate over the sound of the party: “Attention all partygoers! Welcome to Sarah’s Bat Mitzvah in Space?”
A space-themed Bat-Mitzvah for a middle school girl seemed slightly odd, but at least I understood why the caricature manifestation of myself looked like Buzz Lightyear. “We will be holding a scavenger hunt throughout the night, and the first person to find the purple moonrock will receive two tickets to see Rihanna in concert! Let’s go over the rules?.”
“I wouldn’t mind winning that scavenger hunt,” I heard a young woman’s voice say behind me, drawing my attention away from the announcement. Turning around, I couldn’t believe my eyes – standing before me was none other than Rachel Stein, the girl who had mistakenly invited and then uninvited me to her Bat Mitzvah, delivering a dagger of hurt that I had yet to recover from. Rachel had always been cute, but she blossomed into quite the stunner – an attractive face to match a voluptuous figure.
Figuring that Rachel would recognize me immediately, I turned to her and, in a serious tone, said: “I can’t listen to Rihanna without crying. Her glorious harmonies move me to tears.”
“Then we’re in agreement,” she said with a chuckle. “Hi, I’m Rachel,” she continued in a pleasant tone.
“Hi Rachel,” I answered suavely.
“And you are?” she replied. I couldn’t believe it; she didn’t remember me. At first I was mildly offended but then I realized the glorious opportunity that had presented itself. In that moment, a plan unfolded in my mind – a plan that would reconcile much of the pain caused by the Bar and Bat Mitzvah’s of my past. I doubted it would work, but, by God, I had to try.
Stage one of the plan would be getting Rachel to like me. So I turned on the charm and went to work. I took her over to the Karaoke machine and sung her “I Want It That Way” by the Backstreet Boys.
Next, I whisked her over to the balloon animal maker and slipped the guy a Jackson. The result? A balloon zebra made of black-and-white balloons? life size.
During dinner, Rachel and I sat down at the children’s (and teenager’s) table. Rachel, unhappy with this arrangement, complained that she would not be able to eat the filet mignon that the rest of the adult guests would be served. Another couple of Jacksons in the head caterer’s lapel and Rachel not only received the filet but also a lobster tail.
Then it came time for the dance portion of the evening. Rachel had always been a sucker for Dave Matthews, but with a Klezmer band (a band that plays traditional Jewish and Yiddish music only) as the musical entertainment of the night and a DJ whose genres of music ranged from rap to? rap, Dave Matthews didn’t quite seem on the agenda.
After talking to the guitar/banjo player, I found out that he knew the chords to “Ants Marching,” and with the last Jackson in my pocket, he agreed to play it while I sang along. As the song came to a close, Rachel approached me, starry-eyed. “You’re amazing,” she told me. I then leaned in and kissed her passionately. At that moment, I heard the DJ call over the sound system, “And now it’s time for the limbo!”
Drawing away from Rachel, I grabbed her hand and made my way over to the limbo bar. With a look of amazement, she followed. Rounds one through five of the limbo were a cinch for me since I had recently taken up yoga. I was arguably even more flexible now than I was in my “limbo prime” during middle school.
In round six, only three people remained: myself and two middle school girls. Suddenly, a voice rang out over the sound system. “We’re running out of time – remember, the first person to find the purple moon rock will win the Rihanna tickets!” it said.
The time had come. Turning to Rachel, I grabbed her hand and said: “What do you say that you and I head over to the coatroom and we find out just how amazing I can be.” With a smile, Rachel grabbed my hand and led me over to the coatroom.
We worked our way behind the rack of coats and I started to undress her. When she was naked, I told her, “Wait here, I have a surprise for you.” I then ran out of the coatroom and back on the dance floor where one of the middle school limbo finalists was getting ready to go.
Quickly, I stepped in front of her and called the other girl over. “I’ll make you guys a deal,” I started, “if you let me win the limbo, I’ll tell you where the purple moon rock is.” They looked at each other for a moment and told me it was a deal. “It’s in the coatroom behind the rack of coats, you guys should go now before someone else finds it.” Immediately, they took off toward the coatroom. Meanwhile, I stepped up and approached the limbo bar, and, arching my back as far as possible, I cleared the bar without touching it. “And we have a winner!” the DJ called out on his microphone. “Step up and claim your prize – any CD I have is yours.”
As I began walking over to the DJ, I heard a loud shriek come from the lobby area. As everyone looked toward the lobby to see the fuss, I approached the DJ and asked, “Any chance you have Hootie and the Blowfish?”
Schwartz is a Take Five Student.