Monday, November 12, 2007

Bat Mitzvah Chronicles 1

We’ll call that last bat mitzvah post the Bat Mitzvah Prologue. Now we're heading into the thick of it. This weekend, we finally got M’s date, and we went to our first bat mitzvah of one of M’s friends.

About the date, all is good. It’s a morning service, a month before her birthday, with her friend A’s bat mitzvah in the afternoon, but A’s mom is totally cool, and in fact suggested that we plan a visit to a spa for the following week. I knew I liked A’s mom, and now I like her even more.

About the first bat mitzvah…well, what I’d really like to do is start writing bat mitzvah reviews, but I’m afraid my blog ethics won’t let me. Truly, we know very nice people and I’m sure the many bat (and bar) mitzvahs we will attend in the next two years will be delightful, and to review them would only be to reveal the base depths of my nitpicky, nasty self. Plus, the possibility of a bat mitzvah being recognized is just not worth it. So I will have to restrain myself to unobjectionable comments.

This weekend’s bat mitzvah was lovely. To not cavil at the tiny things I might cavil at makes me feel better than caviling would, and perhaps this is the beginning of a brave new me. Except maybe not.

And now for the unobjectionable comments.

I didn’t know the town where the bat mitzvah was had synagogues, and as we followed the directions, it seemed even more unlikely. We passed a lot of churches, and then turned into a dilapidated residential neighborhood, and the address was a dilapidated building, with an odd collection of giant crates in the parking lot (really). But inside it was exquisite. Quite small: maybe 100 seats on benches downstairs, and a balcony around three sides. Glowing golden wood everywhere, with carvings and curves, and shiny white paint, and lots of gold gilt. I felt like I was in a Polish shtetl, and it was such a different vibe from your usual modern or institutional hulk of an American synagogue. If you've ever been to the Touro synagogue, it was like that, except cozy instead of grand. Surely the synagogue was part of what made the bat mitzvah so lovely.

The women at the bat mitzvah were all wearing flowy garments and expensive comfortable shoes. Need I say more? All I will say is there was a time when I expected to wear flowy garments and expensive comfortable shoes when I grew up, but I don’t seem to have grown up that way. I wore high-heeled boots, probably the highest heels in the place; tailored black trousers and a boxy black sweater jacket that together look like a suit; a tight pink t-shirt; and my new purplish-red and black scarf. I did not look like the other moms. Which is OK.

Actually, there was one mom in a fitted wrap dress, and of course she’s the mom I ended up talking to. Her daughter goes to camp with M and the bat mitzvah girl, so we talked about camp, and it turned out we do similar work, and it turned out she knows a good friend of mine from college, so we chattered away. But, you know, I am quite certain that I will never become a brave new me, because I seem incapable of not being my nasty, nitpicking self, and I made two snarky comments to this woman, and they seemed to make her a bit nervous.

One of the comments was uncalled for, but one was about something I assumed anyone sensible would snark at, sort of along the lines of “isn’t the president awful?” which I would never have said to a stranger in No Longer Red State, but is pretty safe around here, but I guess not (that's an analogy--I was not talking about the president at a bat mitzvah, though I suppose one might). Oh, and there was a third moment that made her laugh nervously: when I said that slide shows always make life look perfect--hmm, I wonder if she thought I was insinuating that this family’s life is not perfect and the slideshow was a cover-up, which I was totally NOT insinuating. I don’t even know anything about this family, except that M adores the daughter, I just was truly, earnestly, even wistfully, remarking upon the slide show phenomenon, and how wonderful it makes life look, but I guess if you’ve been snarky once (and at that point it had only been once), you’ve established your reputation. Oh dear.

Note for bat mitzvah consideration: Slideshow?

[This post, which I wrote in Word, because I did not have internet access where I was writing, forced me to add shtetl, snark, and snarky to my dictionary. Clearly, I did not write that dictionary!]

1 comment:

Sinda said...

I don't know why I'm always so snarky as well, and possibly even more so around new people? Happens all the time. It's either snarkiness, or silence.