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Coming of Age

Riva Pomerantz

I knew my son was turning thirteen. What I didn’t know is that I, his mother, would be coming of age in the process. Looking back, I should have known that making a bar mitzvah was going to be an existential experience.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

It started when I attended the bar mitzvah of the first of my good friends. “Hmmm,” I remarked to my husband. “Did you see what they did? A sit-down dinner for everyone! And a dessert buffet!” He looked at me suspiciously. “Is that what you’re going to want to do?” asked he. I didn’t answer. It was, after all, more than a year to our son’s bar mitzvah and I was blissfully clueless. So far, the biggest challenge I’d heard seasoned bar mitzvah makers complain of was “organizing their databases.” Ha! With a zeal and excitement I hadn’t known I possessed, I prepared to do battle. I’d not only have my database organized and in tip-top shape, but I’d do it months in advance! From far and wide I’d be known as The Bar Mitzvah Maven. I’d write a book on the subject, go on the lecture circuit! This bash was going to be a piece of tefillin cake! I launched headfirst into Mitzvah Madness by — what else? — purchasing a binder with lots of dividers and plenty of ruled paper, a full year before the Big Day, and the search was on. My binder and I were inseparable and overnight, I became a shameless simchah sleuth. “I heard you made a bar mitzvah a year ago. Which photographer did you use? How about music? How much did you pay?” Friends began to studiously avoid meeting me in the street. “There goes Riva. She’ll grill you for an hour on what your sweet table cost you and how you bargained the guy down. My advice? Duck into the nearest building until the coast is clear!” “What are you writing down there?” one caterer asked, casting an anxious glance at my furious scribbles. “Everything you just told me,” I said. “Is that a problem?” He simply looked at me for a long moment and then reiterated how crunchy his shnitzels were. But did that glance hold a faint tinge of… pity? Amusement? Was there something knowing in that look? Ha! Now she’s all fresh and pumped but just wait — she’ll burn out like the rest of them. And I’ll be ready and waiting with my crunchy shnitzels! 

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