Tuesday, June 8, 2010

74 days to Bar Mitzvah: what not to wear

Today I realized that we have one day less than two-and-a-half months until the Jawa's Bar Mitzvah. That may sound like a lot of time. In some instances, it is. If you've got two-and-a-half months between now and your next vacation day, yeah, that's some time.

Especially if you're a school teacher. One time in 1997, while hiding in my classroom rduring lunch break, eading a stack of old "Look" magazines I'd found in the library, I looked at the school calendar. At no time, I found, did we have more than five consecutive full weeks of school.

I couldn't believe it. It seemed like we'd endured consecutive Bataan Death Marches between Columbus Day and Christmas Break. Nope. Never more than 25 days in a row. Time is highly compressed when you're a teacher.

To begin with, each day starts at full speed. There is no settling in, drinking coffee, reading the paper or ESPN.com. That bell rings and the spotlight immediately hits you.

Meanwhile, back in Bar Mitzvah-land, two-plus months, 74 days, seems like the blink of an eye.

One issue that has bubbled beneath the surface almost from Day one of Bar Mitzvah prep is the question of what to wear. We've already chronicled Sandra Bullock's efforts at finding an appropriate dress for services. Have I mentioned that right now a floral-print dress is on its way here from Nordstom? This is the "party" dress. When it arrives, my wife will eye it, consider it, try it on and likely reject it, same as she's done to its predecessors.

Everyone who attends the Jawa's Bar Mitzvah must understand that the weekend involves as few as two or as many as four costume changes. Over the span of roughly 60 hours you will be asked to display not only semi-formal wear -- that's boring dark suits with ties for men (and boys) and, unfairly, an embarassment of options for women (and girls) -- but also business casual-inspired party wear that could run the gamut from the surprisingly not played-out "Joe's Jeans and untucked shirt from Ben Sherman" look to the lightweight blazer I plan to sport.

Ladies, will you switch to pants for the party? How about a casual sundress? Your Citizens for Humanity jeans paired with something blousy on top?

For guests staying at the Hyatt Regency, the clothing dilemma doesn't end Saturday. They will awake Sunday to find brunch waiting downstairs. Oh, and did we forget to tell you that we didn't bother to outline appropriate brunch dress? My guess is that we'll see everything from shorts and flip-flops to my dad's ubiquitous Reyn Spooner faded print Hawaiian shirt, plus at least one person who not unreasonably expects business casual and shows up in khaki pants and a dress shirt.

Sorry, guests. We will not be swayed. Sunday's a free-for-all.

For the families, the weekend begins Friday with services at Temple Emanu-el, followed by dinner at Tarantino's, where the most appropriate dress would be something that was de rigueur in 1964. Just like Tarantino's.

Assuming no one has a narrow-shouldered sharkskin suit hanging in their closet or a Jackie Kennedy pillbox hot packed away in a drawer somewhere, modern garb will have to do. Think church on Sunday. I'll be wearing my other suit.

What are we asking of these people? "Please come to San Francisco in August and bring not only the bizarre combination of clothes required to comfortably endure days that begin with 50 degress and fog, only to sometimes end at about 75 and sun, but also four separate sets of clothes for Bar Mitzvah events."

"Please remember to bring not only a regular bag but also one of those long bags that hold suits and dresses. Yes, we understand that many airlines now charge extra for bags. While guests at the Hyatt Regency Embarcadero will find an attractive and delicious collection of San Francisco-themed items awaiting their arrivals, the gift bag will not, unfortunately, include luggage vouchers for guests not using Southwest Airlines."

That's not even considering all of the sweatshirts purchased by San Francisco first-timers when they learn that Baghdad-by-the-Bay in August is more like Juneau in March than Los Angeles in August. Yes, it is California. Please avoid sweatshirts with "San Francisco" written across the front. You don't want to look like a tourist. Or one of the old guys who do Tai Chi in Washington Square every morning. Actually, you'll have to pair your sweatshirt with a baseball cap that says "UNLV 1990 NCAA Champions," or "Toy Story II: Crew Member" on it if you want to mix in with the Tai Chi crowd.

This is no joke. The Bar Mitzvah Design Team agonized over the invitations' dress code wording. Early in the process, we attended a birthday party whose dress code was "uptown casual." I nominated that for our dress code. "Too confusing," said Sandra Bullock, who unlike her husband did not demonstrate her fashion and language savvy by showing up at the "uptown casual" party dressed exactly like the host.

Every week, we wonder if we've sent the Jawa off to a Bar Mitzvah party either horribly underdressed or embarassingly overdressed. It doesn't matter. By the end of each party, he's wearing the same thing as all the other boys: dress pants, black Skechers and a white undershirt.

I'm afraid I have no magic bullet for future guests fretting about dress code, and I don't have Clinton and Stacy's phone number to call for advice. I can't even tell you what Sandra Bullock is wearing as a guide. That information is classified and could possibly remain fluid until August 20.

What I can tell you is that, as the father of the Bar Mitzvah, my responsibility is to be slightly overdressed at each event. Therefore, I will be wearing a black suit Friday night, a brown suit Saturday morning, some kind of non-jeans, a dress shirt and a sportcoat Saturday night, and a t-shirt reading "I'm With Stupid" with an arrow pointing straight up on Sunday morning. Plus a pair of Dolphin shorts. In blue and white. Jewish team colors.

Okay, okay. I won't be wearing Dolphin shorts. That would be tacky. I'll be wearing Birkenstocks and a pullover made in Ecuador. We are, after all, trying to provide our weekend guests with as much of a taste of San Francisco as one can manage in two-plus days. So please don't wear fur. Do that and you might get paint-bombed by a recent Vassar Humanities graduate now working as a barista and living with three friends in the Mission. That’s not the kind of San Francisco experience we want for our guests.


Butter Goats said...

Don't forget the Tevas.

ted_dagnese said...

If it were really chilly, the Tai Chi crowd would be wearing oversized, isulated barracuda jackets from a 1995 executive offsite that said "Citi" on them

ted_dagnese said...

I always forget, is Butter Goats one of your sisters or Chris in Seattle?

lefty said...

the latter.