Humans being creatures of routine, it's said that a perseon must do something for three weeks for it to become a habit. That doesn't explain how I managed to lose 25 pounds in two months only to gain 15 of them back in the next 10 weeks, but it does shed some light on why last Saturday felt so strange.
For way more than three weeks we've been waking up Saturday mornings, getting the Jawa into his monkey suit and driving him to a temple somewhere. Every Saturday night we drive him to a party, then go have dinner or meet with friends for a few hours before picking him up between 10 and 11. The evening ends with us standing in the shadows as the Denon & Doyle DJ (Patrick, for those fortunate enough to have secured his services) wraps up the party.
We drive home silently, listening to the Jawa and whatever other kid is in our car recount the evening's activites. Then we arrive home. Sandra Bullock almost immediately drops off to sleep, leaving a completely wired Jawa to stand between me and the serene calm of my New York Times crossword puzzle book.
How promiscuous we were with our Saturdays, before to the start of the 09-10 Bar Mitzvah season. How we took things for granted:
Shack needs to go to the dog park? When I get around to it. Someone needs to go up on the roof and clear out the gutters? If not today than next Saturday. The Saturdays stretched out to forever, a clear path with no visible end.
We are now four months into Bar Mitzvah season, almost at the halfway point. By now, we've been trained to expect certain things from our Saturdays. So forgive us if we woke up a little derailed on the 30th, the first Bar Mitzvah-less Saturday in a month.
I'm probably speaking only for myself here. If I could have peered into my wife's orderly mind as last Saturday approached, I might have seen a growing, neatly-arranged checklist of items titled TO-DO SATURDAY.
On it might have been:
1) Jawa haircut
2) Lunch at Tarantino's, to scope out as potential Friday night venue
3) Dog park
4) Dinner with friends
I had that same information somewhere in my chaotic brain. After all, I was the one who called up Tony and made the haircut appointment. But my list would have more closely resembled one of those word clouds you sometimes see online. "Haircut" would have been the largest word, since I'd determined it to be the framework upon which our Saturday would be built.
Nowhere on my list was "Drive around the financial district at five miles per hour, getting caught on one-way streets and stuck behind very long lines of cars while trying to locate Henry's Hunan on Natoma Street." Weirdly, that's just what happened.
But not until we'd already had a nice lunch at Tarantino's, toured the banquet facilities at Fior D'Italia, mingled with the tourists at Fisherman's Wharf (As an aside, many San Franciscans really don't like the tourists at Fisherman's Wharf. They seldom set foot in Fishermans' Wharf, doing so only when it can't be avoided, and under great duress. Me, I like the tourists at Fisherman's Wharf. They're so happy. Their San Francisco has nothing at all to do with an inept city government that constantly gouges its citizens, terrible public schools, a bad mass transportation system that is about to simultaneously raise fares and cut services, and outrageous housing prices. They've saved up the entire year to come to San Francisco -- some from great distances -- and you can see on their faces that they're really enjoying themselves. What's not to like?)and enjoyed a leisurely walk through North Beach to our car -- which, I gather, was parked by Sandra Bullock with a minimum of frustration while the Jawa and I waited out his turn in the barber's chair.
In the evening, we were able to choose for ourselves what time our activities began and ended. Mine lasted until about 1 a.m., not counting the hour that I fell asleep while watching "The Hangover" on the big screen in Ted's slick new family room.
I know that the Jawa -- who finally admits he loves these parties, probably not coincidentally one week after the fateful slow dance incident -- sometimes feels like he's getting gypped out of weekends. On what have become "normal" Saturdays, we ask very little of him in the time between services and the party. To do otherwise would be to risk the kind of conflict that leaves deep grooves.
No, we leave him to do his own thing, usually in his room, where he sometimes sits on the floor, moving aside discarded clothing, Yu-Gi-Oh cards, Legos and the occasional iPod or cell phone ("Oh, there it is!") to make a clearing large enough for whatever low-impact leisure activity he's chosen for the day.
Going to North Beach last Saturday reminded the Jawa of how much he's enjoyed our little urban outings, he and I, where we go through Chinatown and buy those things that make a small pop! when you throw them on the ground or pull them apart. These are the laid-back outings that sometimes include riding the glass elevators at the Hyatt.
So fond were these memories that it seemed to him a great idea to use the time between his Bar Mitzvah and the nighttime party to bring a large group of our guests to Chinatown. He probably envisioned us all throwing little poppers onto the ground, casually browsing junk stores, ending up all perched on bar stools at Golden Boy, eating square slices of pizza.
It was a nice thought, but so far from reality that I couldn't help dismissing it completely, without a second thought. "We're not going anywhere between the Bar Mitzvah and the party," I said harshly.
Instead, we'll gather at the hotel, all of the men, boys and boys who earlier that day crossed over into manhood, while Sandra Bullock and her crack team of designers and go-getters descend on the Golden Gate Yacht Club. Floral collections in hand, they will install all of the items you've been reading about for the past month. It will be the over-scheduled Saturday to beat all over-scheduled Saturdays.
Maybe after that, we'll relax. Our Saturdays will once again become throwaways, loosely-defined amorphous collections of time.
After we choose and get into a high school, I mean.