I spent a rather nice weekend in Philadelphia at my cousin's bar mitzvah. It was pretty impressive. The first, and most important, thing is that he did a great job. I know that my cousin (let us nickname him. . . Boromir is good.) was most emphatically not excited about doing this. He has always hated going to Hebrew school, he's never been good at Hebrew, and the thought of getting dressed up in a suit and reading the Torah in front of a synagogue full of his family and people he didn't care about moved him not at all. But it was important to . . . I guess we should call him Uncle Denethor, though the only point of resemblance is the fact of having two sons. It was important to his father, and by God, Cousin Boromir went through it. He wore the suit (he looked like a junior businessman), he learned his Torah portion, and he got up there and chanted all the way through with no mistakes. The rabbi was smarmy and the cantor was smarmier, but Cousin Boromir delivered the goods.
He didn't just learn to chant Lech Lecha word-perfect, either. In preparation for the b'nei mitzvah, the kids have to do a project involving at least thirteen hours of community service. There's a lot of generic projects out there -- the girl who was becoming bat mitzvah at the same service did a couple of those. But Cousin Boromir actually put some thought into his bar mitzvah project. He did some fundraising projects for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, an issue that he cares about, since his little brother, Cousin Faramir, has CF. This is why, despite the fact that he was a nervous, standoffish kid who is deep in the throes of adolescence, I've always really liked Cousin Boromir. He's a boy's boy in that he'll never tell you how he feels about something, but he'll show you, often in surprisingly heartfelt ways.
After the service, we had the traditional long lunch at a Chinese restaurant. Dad Pony was especially pleased by this. He claims he only came because Uncle Denethor promised Chinese food. Little Sister Pony brought her boyfriend, who kept Dad Pony entertained for quite a long while with a discussion of the legal issued involved with affordable middle-income housing. They were talking animatedly about this through the salad and the entrée. Also at the table was one of Uncle Denethor's nephews, who is my age and newly married. He kept making all these approving remarks to Little Sister Pony, about what a great job Boyfriend was doing in the tough situation of Conversing With The Dad. This is why we like Boyfriend.
We finished off the day with a party for Cousin Boromir's school friends. Aunt Finduilas had pretty much used this party as a bribe to get Boromir to go through with the bar mitzvah, and boy did she deliver! There were about sixty-five kids at the Germantown Jewish Centre, along with parents, aunts, uncles and cousins to chaperone. I have to say, the best time to be at a thirteen-year-old's party is when you are well over thirteen and don't have to worry any more about being cool. The DJ was fantastic -- he knew exactly how to deal with the kids, and they were surprisingly well behaved. At the end of the day, Cousin Boromir cleaned up. Apparently, he was totalling his gifts early this morning, and netted a cool $3,411. I told him to enjoy it, because it was probably the last time in his life that people would pay him so handsomely for the privilege of attending his party.
In other news, the TSA sucks hairy monkey balls. But we knew that.