Tuesday, January 5, 2010

One Year to Bar Mitzvah

Actually, it's eight months and sixteen days to Bar Mitzvah. In our house, though, it looms as if it were tomorrow. As a point of fact: I had to wait an hour to use this laptop. Prior to that, Sandra Bullock and the Jawa were busily surfing party supply sites, in search of the perfect (and perfectly-sized) wooden box to use as the nucleus of our centerpieces.

Unfortunately, they came up empty. This time.

Yesterday, after spending about three months (since the day they determined the theme of the Bar Mitzvah: "Godzilla in a Japanese fishing village," or, for public discussion, "Godzilla," they'd assumed we'd use Godzilla figurines for our centerpieces. At $12 a pop, they'd add up.

See, the Jawa loves nothing more than Godzilla. Earlier tonight, we braved a surprisingly crowded Westlake Center so he could go to GameStop to return one Godzilla game and get another one. If you're interested, the new one, for Wii, works much better.

He's been a Godzilla freak since he was about six. That was the year we went to Berkeley to see the original movie in Japanese (with subtitles), and caught the tail end of the film festival at the Castro Theater, where we met the actor who has played Godzilla in his (?) most recent films. The guy was asbout 5'4" -- no joke.

My son's room contains about 25 monsters -- Godzilla, Mecha Godzilla, Mothra, Rodan, King Ghidora, the entire roster. We could have used his own personal figures for the Bar Mitzvah. Consider the risk.

Instead, we were going to buy new ones, at $12 a pop, from one of the crazy stores he frequents in Japantown. We went last weekend when Roger A. Hunt and his wife, Catherine Zeta Jones, were in town. Something about seeing the shelf full of tiny little $12 figures put the germ of an idea in my wife's head. By Monday, she was emailing me with new ideas for the centerpieces.

"How about we shrink down movie posters and shellaq them onto square boxes?" was her final suggestion, the one she's running with now.

She has this habit, my wife who I call Sandra Bullock in these electronic pages only, of waking up at three or four in the morning and then lying in bed, unable to sleep, until morning. Years ago, when it was still a new phenomenon to me, I'd ask her if anything was wrong. "Oh, no," she'd say. "I was (choose one) a) planning a remodel of the bathroom, b) planning the Jawa's summer camp schedule, or her newest and most constant malady, c) PLANNING THE BAR MITZVAH.

It is eight months and sixteen days away.

My role in all of this? To remain consistently yet unobtrusively stressed-out about money. I take my role seriously, timing my cash-poor reminders so they have the most impact and cause the least amount of annoyance. Just yesterday, for example, I responded to an email reading about the centerpieces with a gentle, "Yikes! Do you realize you're budgeting $1,000 for freaking centerpieces?"

There are other responsiblities -- attending various classes at 9:00 in the morning for, like, ten consecutive Saturdays and driving across town seemingly every week for some meeting with the rabbi, the cantor, the blessings teacher, the Hebrew reading coach. And the retreat; how can I forget the retreat.

We've done all of this already. And yet, with eight months and sixteen days to go, it seems like we've done nothing.

They've secured the Godzilla movie posters. Downloaded from the internet, they are free. That makes me happy. $240 saved already. After an hour on my laptop, however, they are no closer to finding the elusive wooden boxes. Naturally, I suggested cardboard, which is (much) cheaper. Then they've got to find, lets see if I can remember this right, some bamboo, some fishing line and little cutout fishes. Something else, I know I'm forgetting. It's very complex.

And only one small detail of many.

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