Kevin Rhodes (cormac) wrote,
Kevin Rhodes

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Bar Mitzvahs

In late July, I was approached by an event planner who was putting together a medieval-themed Bar Mitzvah reception in San Diego. She wanted to hire me as a herald, announcing guests as they arrived and courses of the feast as they were served. For my time and services, I would be paid $100. I agreed, as I needed the money. There was, however, one small oversight to this wonderful money-making scheme: Bar Mitzvahs are for 13-year old boys, who have 12- through 14-year old friends, and whose parents have friends with 12- through 14-year old children. Not a problem, except that I hate, HATE, HATE children.

I arrive on-site this past Sunday, and meet the rest of the staff. There's a palm reader (yeah, at a Bar Mitzvah), a stilt-walker and juggler, a Celtic harpist, and some actors. I find out that the expected crowd for this feast is 80 children, and approximately 7 adults, aside from the staff. To translate into usable knowledge, 80 spoiled children of rich Jewish lawyers and bankers will be dropped off and left for 5 hours, to be watched by performing baby-sitters with no authority; to help, Grandpa Irving, Grandma Rachel and a couple overbearing, overprotective mothers will be on hand to make sure nothing happens to their precious little bundles of joy.

I begin my duties as herald the moment the little hellions arrive, blowing a POS India-made hunting horn and announcing the names of each child as they come through the gate. Immediately, I become a big hit, as the children realize that this adult in silly clothes will scream whatever they say is their name across a field. Some of them insist that their name is "yo yo yo, wazzup in the hizzy!", while others demand that I proclaim their full title, "King Moishe Mendelstein of the West Siiiiide." Pray, envision these 13-year old, very white, asthmatic Jewish kids saying this while throwing up gang signs. Still others thought they could sneak back into the line and have their name yelled all over again. "No, I haven't arrived yet. You must have announced my twin (who has the same name as me)" was the mantra of the first hour of this party from hell.

Thankfully, the hour arrived when the feast was about to begin, and I was allowed to abandon my post at the front gate to gather people for the blessing of the bread. It was at this point that we all noticed the Rabbi had left, undoubtedly upset that the event planner had brought in a palm reader. It was just as well he wasn't there for the scheduled bread fight just after the blessing.

I'll say that again. There was a bread fight, and the event planner had it on the schedule.

So two or three cast members started the fight, and kept it going. Apparently no one had told the mother of the Bar Mitzvah boy, who ran up to me and said "You're in charge, stop this fight at once!" This is how I got put in charge of crowd control. Needless to say, my child-controlling skills are not what you'd call acute. Couple that with the perspective of the cast members who thought I was part of the act, and I was almost immediately ankle-deep in bread.

During each of the courses, entertainment was planned. The juggler and the fiddler were quite good at what they did, but the planner had also hired a "storyteller," who seemed to be a friend of the family. This gentleman apparently didn't plan on a young audience, and all of his stories were inappropriate. Fortunately, he realized this before he went on. Unfortunately, he wasn't good at making stories up. So we nearly lost all control of the audience before the juggler came on with fire clubs.

Long story short, if ever anyone hears me saying something like "I think a Bar Mitzvah would be a good way to make some money on the side," or "a Bar Mitzvah might be fun," shoot me in the face.
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