Wednesday, June 20, 2007
15 Years Ago Today, I Became a Woman...
On June 20th, 1992, I became a Bat Mitzvah at Congregation B'nai Tzedek in Fountain Valley, California.
I know what you're thinking. Wait a second, your birthday is in September, why did you have your Bat Mitzvah in June? Well folks, in the Reform movement, any parsha is fair game. My parent's picked a weekend that they thought would be good for a party and we went with it. I was three months shy of my 13th birthday. I like to think that we were some semblance of frum even back then. They wanted me to have my Bat Mitzvah at 12 like most tradional people do. Also, I think the Beverly Heritage hotel was booked the weekend of my birthday.
There will be a screening of my Bat Mitzvah service this evening at my apartment on Pinehurst Ave. On it you will see all the requisite Bat Mitzvah stuff. A speech, read by me, written by my father (corny jokes and all). Me fumbling over my laining which was 100% memorized, just like my dad did at his Bar Mitzvah (he was so proud, Hi DAD!). The bracha from the Rabbi (which in my synagouge was a mix of a bracha and a shoulder massage). Little Susanne sitting on the bimah in her little pink tallis (which my mom still has in her china cabinet, assuming she'll give it to my daughter, I told her, well, she can give it to my son for his Bar Mitzvah, but I have a feeling he won't wear it). My three brothers in the front row making funny faces and fart jokes trying to get me to mess up on the davening. And most importantly, the beaming parents and grandparents sitting in the front row. I rocked that service!
Since my reception wasn't until Sunday evening, when services ended my family drove home and there was lunch (deli of course) for all my out-of-town relatives. I wasn't feeling well so I retired to the tile floor of the downstairs bathroom for a few hours. Everyone just thought it was my nerves finally kicking in. Nope, it was full blown stomach flu. So basically, as punishment for something I did in a past life, God decided to let me get through my impossible Bat Mitzvah service, but did not want me to partake in the party devoted to me. So Sunday we headed to the hotel where the ballroom was decorated with a 30 foot banner bearing my name, a live band, cardboard cut-outs of the Archie gang (as was the theme and second most important thing in my life back then, the first being softball, but I didn't think sports was an appropriate Bat Mitzvah theme, I was a huge tomboy, but even I knew that would be pushing it), and an almost perfect replica of Pop Tate's Choclit Shoppe. My mom is the ultimate party planner. She rocked this party. Stay tuned for my wedding. I know, we're all waiting for that one, myself included. But of course, I was unable to partake in any of this, because I was busy puking. My friends told me later that it was totally awesome and it was (I know that from what I saw on the video since I missed most of it while I was puking). I couldn't enter my own hula hoop and limbo contests. I couldn't eat my chicken finger dinner. I couldn't visit the all-you-could-carry candy store. I couldn't even keep a smile on my face. The reception video makes me look maniacal. Everyone around me is singing and dancing and smiling. You see me glaring at people, um, you don't seriously think you're going to put me up on a chair and throw me in the air do you? If I had puked on my chair holders, I'd still be in therapy today. I have two extremely distinct memories of that evening: 1) the candle lighting ceremony when my dad came up to light his candle with my mom, he also carried an empty ice bucket for me to run out of the room after I lit my candle and puke in the hallway and 2) after I retired to our hotel room AT 9 PM I awoke after midnight to find that my mom had already opened all my gifts. I haven't let her live that one down. But Mom, good news, 15 years is the statute of limitations on being pissed off about something that happened at your Bat Mitzvah, so you're off the hook. Not that I won't bring it up numerous times in the future, but I'm no longer angry about it.
So that was my Bat Mitzvah, Parshas BeHaAloscha, 19 Sivan 5752.