Tuesday, May 11, 2010

102 days to Bar Mitzvah: out go the invites

Though the Jawa is gone camping until Friday, Bar Mitzvah preparations soldier on. To paraphrase someone lost to history, "they wait for no man." Or Jawa. If we were to suspend Bar Mitzvah activity every time the Jawa was unavailable, come August 21 we'd be staking out a spot at Lafayette Park near the picnic tables, trying to replicate his 6th birthday in grand style.

No, the Jawa's presence is not required for the Bar Mitzvah machine to go. His job is to be the guest of honor. In his absence, in fact, we flew past a major landmark: we sent out our invitations. Well, most of them, anyway.

Yes, it seems a bit early to me. The Bar Mitzvah isn't until August. Sandra Bullock reasons that in order to maximize positive RSVPs we should send out our invitations while school is still in session. That way, anyone waffling over late-summer vacations can say, "Oh, hey, we'll want to stay in town for August 21. I've got to see what that Jawa has up his sleeve, B'nai Mitzvah-wise."

Could it be that 100-plus days is too much lead time? Isn't it possible that people will see the invite, make a mental note then tell themselves, "I've got plenty of time," only to completely forget to RSVP in the 102 days between now and the event?

Why yes, it is possible. But worth the risk, I am told.

Not practiced was the slightly underhanded method of waiting until the last minute to send invites to people whose presence is not really required. I can't remember who told us to do that but it's pretty ingeneous in a crazily passive-agressive way. Not us. Save for a few stragglers, they're all out there.

Response has been swift. Not "response" meaning we have any idea who's coming. "Response" in this case means that at least a half-dozen people have contacted us today to tell us how cool our Bar Mitzvah invitations are. Even Chaim Heller, esteemed Head of School at Brandeis Hillel Day School, who is invited to every Bar and Bat Mitzvah, took time out of his day (in this case, the beginning of a meeting regarding next year's class trip that would eventually see him cornered by a library full of slightly accusatory but well-meaning seventh grade parents) to say, "That was one of the best invitations I've ever gotten."

"It was really eye-catching but understated," said the oft-understated himself statesman.

Today, the accolades for the Bar Mitzvah Design Team continued to roll in. Emails were sent; special phone calls were made. Everyone, so far, is in agreement. Or rather I should say, everyone who has something to say is in agreement. Everyone else is polite enough to say nothing, as far as we can tell.

Maybe now it's time for me to stop making light of the Bar Mitzvah Design Team? Should I back off on finding humor in their Sunday afternoon hummus and pita spreads, their single glasses of white wine, their melding of freehand and computer-assisted graphics?

Next up, the Design Team shifts its focus back to the centerpieces. Having set the bar so high with the invitations, I wonder if their next meeting will have an air of expectant tension not present in earlier sessions. So far their centerpiece prototypes, featuring glass block vases, netting and reproduced "Godzilla" movie posters (in Japanese), seem pretty much set. Two days ago, though, I did witness a period of uncertainty involving white paper flowers.

While it is the norm to wait until approximately six weeks before the event to send out the invitations, I like how our altered approach works out as the first concrete step of the process.

Yes, we have already done much of the foundation work -- securing the Golden Gate Yacht Club, hotel rooms and a Friday night restaurant, working out the big details with our DJ, attending various classes, meetings and gleeful comfort zone-challenging retreats. Add them up, though, and they equal actual commitment to just about nothing. Until those invites went out, we still could have, at any time, folded up our tents and gone home, trailing a weak, "We were just kidding," to anyone interested in why.

Now that the invitations are out, somewhere between 150-200 people have in their hands piece of evidence showing that we will be having a party on August 21, 2010. If they show up at the Golden Gate Yacht Club that day and find some random person's wedding or Sweet 16 party, they're going to be confused and hopping mad.

Our reputations would collapse. We'd be known as "the people who spent all that money, then backed out of their Bar Mitzvah at the last minute." Our spiritual peers would be Sally Field's character in "Smoky and the Bandit," San Antonio Spurs small forward Richard Jefferson and Carrie Bradshaw's soul mate, Mr. Big. Nothing we ever said afterward could be taken as immutable fact.

"No turning back now," read the email I got this morning from The Hammer. Indeed, we have made our statement. Now we sit back and wait for RSVPs, dealing with the slight tweaks to our overall plan that will come with each response. Sandra Bullock has already set up a cardboard box on the kitchen center island. On it, she's written "RESPONSE CARDS."

Every time we see people from school, they ask us: "How are the Bar Mitzvah preparations going?" Most of them are veterans of the same process, but I think the prep, like the event itself and parenting, now that I think of it, changes from person to person.

In our case, thanks to the steady hand of Sandra Bullock, we seem to be on the trajectory championed by Mike Bright, fellow 1980s Santa Clara undergraduate, who thought nothing of spending the night before finals week playing UNO. He'd been studying all quarter, he reasoned, and was prepared for finals days in advance. Anyone who hadn't been studying like that, well, one night of cramming wasn't going to make a difference, so deal the cards.

Looks like we dealt our first hand this week. The stakes are high, but so far it it appears we're not bluffing.

1 comment:

Butter Goats said...

No invite here. Sniff.