Just a Jew. Named Mitch. Writing about his feelings.

Archive for February, 2011

The Story Behind My Bar Mitzvah Photo

Posted by JewMitch on February 22, 2011

If you go to my parents’ house today, you will notice thousands of photos of me on every wall (I was an only child), but more than any other – you’ll notice an extremely large, framed glossy print of my Bar Mitzvah photo.  This photo has become mildly famous among my friends; it was used in an internet e-mail advertisement for (where I used to work) that went out to millions, it was profiled on, and was even turned into a cake (as seen above).

Many ask the story behind this photo, and since I have this wildly popular venue to post such things; here we go.

Like, any nice Jewish boy, I got Bar Mitzvah’d at the age of 13.  As much as I dislike organized religion, and would never opt to be Bar Mitzvah’d again if I had the choice, I sort of understand this ritual, especially for the parents of boys.  The parents of girls get lots of opportunities to spend lots of money on their daughter and throw Sweet Sixteens and weddings — but what do the parents of boys get?  The chance to pay for a Bris and then throw a rehearsal dinner before the wedding?  That’s definitely not enough for Jewish mothers, eager to show off their offspring in front of a huge crowd.  And while we’re at it, why not do it at the age of 13, when puberty is just hitting and Jewish boys look the cutest.

For whatever reason, my parents, who are usually conservative with money, decided to throw an insane bar mitzvah for me.  My mother went dress shopping in New York for weeks before settling on one, we rented out a nice hotel, we flew in an “entertainment group” (think: a DJ, a bunch of dancers, and a bag of silly hats and costumes) from New York called “Heart to Heart,” we served Peking Duck; it went on and on.

But all this was not quite enough for my mother, she also insisted that we have a “theme.”  Why?  “Because Bar Mitzvahs without a theme lack focus and are generic.”  Or something like that.

So 13-year-old me had to pick something.  13 year old me, who really had no interests besides video games, pizza and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and was generally depressed and mopey at that age, had to pick a “theme.”

“What do you like?” asked the Bar Mitzvah planner?  (Yes, we had a bar mitzvah planner).

“I don’t know.”

“Well, we need something.  Sports?  A Team?  Magic?”

“No.”  (I was not very athletic).

“You’re not giving me a lot here.  How about hats?  You’re mom said that you like wearing baseball hats.”  (This was true).

“Okay, hats it is.  ‘Hats off to Mitch at his Bar Mitzvah.’  Perfect!”

And so, the theme to my bar mitzvah actually became hats.  Everyone got a baseball cap that said “Hats off to Mitch”, there were center pieces based on hats at every table, chocolate that looked like hats, etc.

But best of all, when it came time to pick my Bar Mitzvah outfit out, instead of going with a suit – I decided if we really were “going to have a theme,” I might as well go with it, and so I picked out a full tuxedo with a top hat.  Because you really can’t wear a top hat with a suit, and tuxes are awesome (I still hold that belief).

And that is the story of my Bar Mitzvah picture.  May it live in infamy forever.


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Dan Savage and a Song I Wrote

Posted by JewMitch on February 10, 2011

A while back, I found myself in Seattle on Valentine’s Day with just my dad.  Normally, I love Valentines Day when I’m single, because it’s an amazing going-out night – packs of girls raid the bar, order $4 Manhattans like they’re going out of style, and try to convince themselves that it’s okay to be almost 30 and still single.  But since it would be weird to bring a girl back to a hotel room that I was sharing with my father, I suggested that we just go out for a decent dinner and see where the night took us.

Afraid to go anywhere too nice since it would be overrun with Valentine’s Day couples, we went to the least romantic restaurant we could find – Outback Steakhouse, which surprisingly (or maybe not surprisingly – this is America), still had a fair share of couples.

After dinner, we got in a cab and asked what area of the city would be good to go out in.  Keep in mind – this was a middle aged Jewish man and his son – so of course, he took us to Capital Hill, which is the gay area of Seattle.  We figured this out fairly quickly, when we accidentally wandered into a lesbian karaoke bar.  “Those lesbians were very friendly,” my dad commented as we left.

We then wondered around the neighborhood and noticed that this huge venue was having an Anti-Valentine’s Day party.  There were drink specials and it looked like a straight crowd, so we went in.  As they were checking ID, the girl asked me if I wanted to sign up to destroy something.

She then explained that Dan Savage (of the column, Savage Love) was on stage hosting, and if I had brought something from a past relationship – I could sign up to get up on stage with Dan, and he’d help me destroy it.  Even though I hadn’t brought anything, I immediately signed up.

Once we got to the main stage area – we realized this was a much bigger event than we had thought.  Dan Savage was on stage with a wide variety of tools of destruction, such as a flame thrower, ninja sword, sledgehammer, etc, and there were at least a 1,000 people there. Thinking quickly – I grabbed some napkins from a bar, and scribbled down the lyrics to a song that I once written for an ex-girlfriend.

Before I knew it, I was on stage with Dan and I explained that I had brought some song lyrics that I’d like to destroy, but first I’d like to read them to the audience, if that was okay.  He said, “of course,” and handed the mike over to me.  It’s better if I actually sing the song, but imagine it with a kind of childish, sing-song melody.  Also, keep in mind that my father was in the audience.

Jamie is a girl that I know /
She’s got girl parts from head to toe.
But the girl parts that I like best /
Is her vagina and her breasts /
Is her vagina and her breasts.

Mitch is a boy that I know /
He’s got boy parts from head to toe.
But the boy parts that I like best /
Is his penis and his chest /
Is his penis and his chest.

Mitch and Jamie go together /
Like birds of a feather /
Or whips and leather.
But Jamie needs to wear a scarlet letter /
Because they had sex before they were married /
They’re not married /
They’re not married.

Do you believe in love?
Do you believe in love?
I believe in love.
That’s why I think we should take the boy parts /
And put them inside the girl parts.
It’ll make a mess /
But I think it’s best /
Because I believe in love /
I believe in love.

The crowd loved it and afterwards, Dan Savage and I burned the lyrics.  As I got off the stage, I asked my dad how he thought it went, and he said that Dan Savage seemed to really like the part about whips and leather.  Then he asked if we could go home, because he was really tired.  It had been a very special Valentine’s Day.

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