Caught up? Good. Let’s keep eating.
THE PARTY, HOUR 3
- The meal will begin. A plate of salad will have already been placed on the table in front of you, and it will look…like salad. You will eat it anyway, because it’s salad, even though you’ve just consumed four pounds of widely available chicken satay at the cocktail reception.
- For some reason, despite the plethora of expensive food being thrown your way this evening, you will only be given one bread roll. Leave your roll exposed for too long and it will be picked off by a carb-depleted member of your table. Eat it quickly, or guard your bread like the Hope Diamond.
- During the salad course, the father of the honored child will take to the stage to give a toast. He will thank everyone for coming, “from near and far”, mentioning each individual state like a Congressional roll call.
- He will also thank his lovely and beautiful wife for putting so much time and effort into such an incredible event. Try to catch a glimpse in the background of the exhausted professional party planner getting intravenous fluids and shedding a quiet tear (or possibly seething).
- The husband will also salute the amazing job his child did at that day’s ceremony. Note that this speech was written at least 72 hours before the event, having no idea whether his child excelled or butchered the Torah portion. Shake off the hypocrisy and clap politely at the stump speech. He’s paying for your drinks.
- He will then introduce a video montage, featuring 735 still images of his child with various friends, family members, and Disney World cast members. The main goal of the video is to provide visual evidence that the family’s life together is much more enjoyable than yours.
- This will be the most difficult and trying portion of your evening, as watching the average Mitzvah Montage is akin to watching paint dry, if the paint took family trips to Boca, Costa Rica, and Bubbie’s 95th birthday party at The Red Barn.
- The length can also be trying. This video will last approximately 12-25 minutes, but will end up taking at least an hour off of your projected lifespan.
- Jewish law requires that “Time Of Your Life” by Green Day be featured somewhere within the montage. And no, most parents are unaware that the real name of the song is “Good Riddance”, which is both hysterical and, since we’re being honest, possibly more appropriate.
- Now that your legs have atrophied from lack of use during the endless montage, dancing will officially commence. For the next 40 minutes, as the DJ begins to blast his set of electronic music you’ve never heard of through speakers the size of SUVs, you will no longer be able to communicate with the person directly in front of you without screaming in their ear.
- Somehow, the inability to communicate verbally will inspire all kids under 18 to put down their phones and acknowledge each other’s presence on the dance floor. The boys will dance with the motivators, while the girls will dance with each other. One crazy aunt will dance wildly by herself, and later dominate the Bar Mitzvah video footage.
- Hard core rap songs will play a prominent role, spun at slightly higher speeds and distortion to disguise the lyrics about drug consumption and sexual misconduct. Surprisingly, the grandparents will try to join in the fun by singing along to the chorus of the one song they recognize, blissfully unaware of why the lead singer “can’t feel his face”.
- Once your ears have melted and your larynx burns like wildfire from trying to hold down a conversation with a similarly deaf adult, the music will quiet down and the kids will retreat to their white couches for a fresh smoothie. The main course will then be served to the adults, likely including a carefully-planned and orchestrated menu of classic dishes served elegantly on formal plates.
- At least one person at your table will sneak into the kids section and make himself (or herself) a plate of chicken fingers and sliders. These will become tradable commodities at your table, ultimately developing into a black market of finger foods as one curly fry sells for $45 to a hedge fund manager.
THE PARTY, HOUR 4
- As you manage to eat your last bite of salmon, a table with candles may be wheeled out onto the dance floor. This signals the beginning of the poetry slam section of the evening, as the Bar/Bat Mitzvah child displays their superb mastery of iambic pentameter.
- These rhymes provide a helpful ranking of key individuals in attendance (referred to as “The A List”) and ask each to join the child on stage while lighting a candle in their honor (this despite the fact that they’re not dead yet, although some may have come close to expiring during the video montage). One distant relative will be upset that they were not asked to light a candle during this sequence, and will write a scathing email to the child’s grandparents within the next 24 hours.
- The poem will break down completely when trying to rhyme with “candle 12”, and when the child decides to devote a candle to “all my friends”, who will rush the stage and knock several freshly lit candles off of the table.
- Once complete, the table and it’s now-burning tablecloth will be wheeled off the stage and the DJ will play a song by Michael Jackson. This is not a drill; it is a formal signal that marks the beginning of the “old people” portion of the dance festivities. This is your cue.
- For the next 20 minutes only, the DJ will dust off songs created between 1970 – 1990, while the adults pretend they are still culturally relevant. You will dance to this music enthusiastically and think you look good doing it.
- You will not look good. Pray that the roaming videographer has not captured your patented “sprinkler” and “lawnmower” moves for historical preservation.
- On the dance floor, men are permitted to take off their suit jackets while women can take off their shoes. Kids are permitted to take off out of the room entirely if their parents attempt to “whip” or “nae nae” with a motivator.
- The motivators will roam the dance floor distributing a variety of trinkets and wearables, such as fedora hats, oversized sunglasses and necklaces that glow in multiple colors from some toxic substance that probably shouldn’t be around children.
- If you tire of dancing to the medley of Earth Wind & Fire songs, this can be a good time to take in some of the other activities present. Despite the thousands of dollars spent on food, drink, music, and a light show developed for Pink Floyd, most party hosts feel compelled to provide additional entertainment for their guests.
- In Connecticut, this means a photo booth. In Westchester or New Jersey, a custom t-shirt table. In Manhattan, Nicki Minaj will take a selfie with you while Eli Manning gets you a cocktail.
- Before heading to the restroom, it’s important to consider the types of kids invited to this party. If it happens to include the “fast crowd”, you may encounter a gaggle of teenagers trying to sneak an alcoholic beverage into a bathroom stall.
- Resist the urge to chastise them for choosing the wrong type of single-malt scotch; take the glass away and suggest a Shirley Temple instead. You have now officially become your parents. Go have a shot of tequila to drown your sorrows (without the children).
- As the kids resume their rightful place on the dance floor, dessert will be served. While dessert was once served at tables, they are now passed by servers as “lollipops”, which mean you can not escape them despite your physical nausea at the thought of eating cheesecake.
- Little known fact: with a valid ID, AARP members are given “first-to-leave” privileges. They will begin to hover around the Bar Mitzvah parents, waiting their turn to say how lovely the evening was and to be removed from the “too rude to say goodbye” list which is being maintained skillfully in the mother’s head.
- Do not get your hopes up…you can’t leave yet. Give it at least another 20 minutes before you offer up a strategic yawn and put yourself into the now-40-people-deep farewell line.
- Kids will soon retreat to their “cubbies”, a last chance for parents to infantilize their children who will likely be taller than their Moms within a year. Within those cubbies, kids will find a “party favor” to take home as a keepsake.
- As a result, teenage children will gradually assemble a sweatshirt collection that could clothe a Kenyan schoolhouse for a year.
- Jews don’t let Jews drive hungry. You will find to-go bags filled with donuts, warm pretzels and bottled water with monogrammed labels as you approach the event exit.
- Despite the fact that the evening’s constant barrage of food has left you with gastrointestinal distress and possibly gout, you will eat the entire contents of the bag while waiting in the coat check line.
- There will also be a gigantic row of candy in jars, color coded with the party theme, with bags for the children to fill as they leave. Several Moms will nonchalantly fill a bag or two with Skittles and jelly beans, “for their children at home”.
- None of that candy will make it home uneaten.
- You will ultimately arrive home, full and exhausted. But before you collapse and sleep off the 4726 calories you’ve ingested, take a moment to think about the day’s and evening’s events. Remember the meaning of the Bar Mitzvah, remember the smiles of the parents as they saw their son or daughter lift the torah, and the joy of their families as they danced and sang together in a celebration of life, “l’chaim”. Admit it, you’ve actually enjoyed yourself.
- Rinse and repeat. You’ve likely got another Bar Mitzvah next weekend. Mazel tov, and party on!
But are we finished? Maybe not! I’m sure I’ve missed more than a few ideas and tips that could help others navigate through their own Bar Mitzvah circuit, and maybe you can help. Email your thoughts (in numbered form like the ones above) to firstname.lastname@example.org and yours may be included in a future post. Thanks for reading!
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