Odds and ends not in my book, part 7
The Bar Mitzvah Story
Most of you know that a Bar Mitzvah is a Jewish coming-of-age ritual for 13-year-old boys. A similar ritual for girls is the Bat Mitzvah, but when I was growing up, they were far less common. I’d been to several in my formative years — my brother, a couple of cousins, some friends. To be blunt, in general, they are all a crashing bore. They go on and on, and the only reason you endure them is you get to go to a fun party afterward with dancing and catering at some posh ballroom.
Anyone who has read me for a while knows I have a cousin famous in the TV industry. Because he married a younger woman late in life, he has young kids. About 10 years ago, his son was Bar Mitzvah’d. John and I went, along with my mom and stepdad.
The ceremony itself was the usual protracted yawnfest. Celebrity’s child or no celebrity’s child, the ritual was the same, with endless readings, getting up and down (for whatever reason, they keep having you stand up for certain readings — perhaps it’s so your legs won’t go to sleep), singing, Hebrew passages, yada yada yada. John and I were squirming in our seats.
Of course, there were Hollywood touches. At one point, the boy read a poem that had been written for him. OK, that’s nice; any kid can have a poem written for him, I guess. But this particular poem was written by renowned author Maya Angelou. And signed, “Auntie Maya.”
Whatever. By the time it was over, we fairly ran out of that shul (temple). Once outside, a few feet from the doors, John grabbed me, pulled me to him and laid a huge kiss on me.
“I saw that!”
We turned to see who’d called that out — it was Carl Reiner.
OK, for those who don’t know the name, Carl Reiner is one of the few people from vintage TV who is still with us (he’ll be 90 in March). He is an actor, writer and director, and his TV career spans from Your Show of Shows (with Sid Caesar) in the 1950s, to the Dick Van Dyke show in the 60s (he played Rob Petrie’s boss Alan Brady) all the way to the present, playing Betty White’s love interest on Hot in Cleveland. He did The 2,000 Year Old Man with Mel Brooks. He’s won nine Emmys and one Grammy (for comedy album). His son is Rob Reiner, who played Mike on All in the Family. Oh, and his wife Estelle delivered one of the most well-known lines in movie history — “I’ll have what she’s having” from When Harry met Sally. You can read more about him here.
Anyway, so here we are with this TV icon mock-glaring at us. I laughed and said, “Wanna see it again?” “Sure!” he said.
So John and I went at it again. Carl then shot his hands up in the air dramatically and blurted, “No tongue! You’re in front of a shul!!”
Later, when he came over to say hello to my mother, he nodded toward us and asked who the “kissing fools” were. Too funny.
The long-awaited reception was held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, or was it the Beverly Hills Hotel? One of those Beverlys. Once there, we mingled among throngs of people and enjoyed huge shrimp and baby lamb chops (and those were just the appetizers). There was also a full sit-down dinner, with entertainment.
Often at a Bar Mitzvah, “entertainment” consists of a cheesy band playing old standards for the adults and elevator versions of rock tunes for the kiddies. Not this time. This Bar Mitzvah had a stand-up comedian.
Was it Uncle Morty, fortified with a couple of belts of Manischewitz, telling the old chestnuts about how a Jew, a Catholic and a Protestant meet in a bar?
Nah. It was Lewis Black.
I don’t remember whether or not he downplayed his usual angry, epithet-laced style of delivery. I’m thinking not. What a night.
I’ve been thinking about Hollywood stuff this week, after seeing an obituary in the news on Monday. Another one of my father’s peers, a director of comedy TV shows. I’d met him several times when I was a kid. He and my dad had an extra connection besides show biz, though. My dad’s second wife, S? (not Vampira; this was the nice, pretty one, the dancer). She was this director’s first wife, before she met my dad. It’s a small world.
I dropped her a note to express my condolences (she did have a child with him, after all). I haven’t seen her in over a year, but we’re having lunch next Tuesday. I look forward to that; I just adore that woman. She’s 80 now; I hope she’ll stick around for a while.
She knows nothing about Erica Scott. Sometimes, I wish I could tell her, share my deepest secret with her. She’s known me since I was eight. But I can’t, and I won’t. I doubt anything would faze her, as she’s seen and heard it all. But it’s still TMI.
Hope everyone’s having a good week so far. 🙂