Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Eight Months, Fifteen Days: Digging Old Photos

Eight months and fifteen days to go.

Tonight, after a long and somewhat out-of-focus day at work, I decided to elevate my blood pressure by going downstairs to the "bonus room" and watch my favorite bad NBA team, the Golden State Warriors, blow a 19-point lead on the road against the Timberwolves. To my great surprise, though, the W's held on for a seven-point win.

It was still early, and I was digging the chilly-yet-somehow-cozy vibe we have down there, with our contrasting sectional and lack of heat, so I switched over to ESPN afterwards and settled in to watch the end of the GMAC Bowl. Of course I care very deeply about Central Michigan v. Troy State. I love the athletic stylings of quarterback Levi Brown. Or Smith. Whatever.

Imagine my surprise when, a few minutes into the first overtime, I was suddenly joined by my son and wife. And dog.

Had I remembered the title of this blog, I would not have been so surprised. Almost a full hour had passed without mention of the Bar Mitzvah. I guess between the time Sandra Bullock showed me the glass vases and white flowers she'd chosen to augment the movie poster centerpieces and Eastern Michigan QB Dan LeFevour's scampered 13-yards into the end zone during the first OT, I let my guard down.

They came downstairs on wild scavenger hunts. At one point, the Jawa suddenly needed his Polariod camera. "Dad, I need your help!" he said, while frantically throwing aside everything contained in that weird closet by the door.

Last time I saw that Polaroid, George W. Bush was in the middle of his first term. And as far as I know, you can't buy Polaroid film anymore. I braced myself for eventual wails of disappointment.

Then they came, both of them, excitedly telling me they needed my help "choosing." Sandra Bullock had a photo album in one hand, a stack of orange post-its in the other. It was time, apparently, to begin assembling the photo montage to be used at the Bar Mitzvah party.

Everyone does it. Even at weddings. At some of them, they stop the party and announce they'll be showing a montage of photos tracking the Bar Mitzvah boy (or Bat Mitzvah girl) from birth to his or her thirteenth year. At others, the slide show carries on silently in the background as the revelers continue to revel.

They've already figured out how ours will work. I know they've shared the plan with me several times already. Not unusually, I wasn't listening. But I think it's going to be playing continuously on a flat screen TV above one of the bars. Not exactly "Goodbye, Columbus," but it has its charm.

So we began to go through photo albums. "No nudity," stated the Jawa, not unreasonably. I was there to ensure we stuck to that parameter. You cannot trust a mother, not even his. We had to talk her down at least a half-dozen times. If it was up to her, his entire Bar Mitzvah party would leave the San Francisco Yacht Club with the indelible image of a naked, one-year-old child seared into their brains from repeated exposure.

The first album featured the Jawa from the day of his birth to about four months later. We looked at the first picture, which showed me holding the hours-old Jawa. "Look how young and skinny you were!" said the always subtle Sandra Bullock, unwittingly sentencing herself to spend the next hour fending off my cracks about how the opposite of "young and skinny" is obviously "old and fat."

We went through three albums. By the time we were done, he was two years old and we were on the verge of moving to San Francisco. It was March, 2000. If we continue on our present pace, our slide show will be eight hours long. We may have to edit a bit.

What a strange feeling, spending an hour looking at pictures of a tiny baby, then going upstairs and having the same formerly tiny baby excuse himself to go watch "Family Guy" on his computer. Is this what the next eight months and fifteen days are going to be about?

Something tells me they might.

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