Friday, November 12, 2010

The Day Mel Gibson Was Bar Mitzvah'd

This is my first post and in fact my first attempt at blogging.

A lot of funny things have happened to me and because of me.  The stories I will post are true (or mostly true with slight embellishments).  I hope you will enjoy them.

 It was 1990, we belonged to a Reconstructionist Synagogue in South Florida.  We joined this particular Synagogue because they were the only one that didn’t require 3 days a week of Hebrew School, but only 2 days.

We didn’t know what Reconstructionist meant, but the schedule was good. 

As it turned out, it was a great temple.  Services were easy to follow, people were nice, it wasn’t fancy and we liked being part of it.  For several years I cooked and served the hotdogs (Kosher of course) at the annual Purim Carnival.

My son’s August Bar Mitzvah was fast approaching.  The household was in “preparation mode”. 

My wife,  whom we all referred to as “The General”,  is very organized, serious and task oriented, all the things I am not, had everything well in hand.  

The General, had booked the catering hall, booked a DJ, arranged for party favors for the kids (I bought watch handcuffs for them), pushed my son through 4 years of Hebrew School, bought the gift for the temple, got the table arrangements set, organized the service, bought outfits for herself and our daughter, bought a suit and sport jacket for our son.

In all area’s, the General had laid out her campaign to make everything work smoothly, efficiently and in lock step with her wishes.  She kept me out of the loop, because I tended to upset her plans with whimsical ideas (hence the watch handcuffs I found at a jewelry show in NY).

It was a month before the anointed day.  I got a phone call from the Synagogue office.  They requested a picture of my son for the temple newsletter so they could announce the upcoming Bar Mitzvah.  They needed the picture in a couple of days and they needed it in “Black and White”.

I didn’t have any recent pictures of my son in black and white, what was I to do?  Should I tell the General and get her all upset (see rationalization in any Psych book), or should I do something about it?

Fortunately, I happened to be reading the morning newspaper at the time. 
There, staring me in the face was a portrait of Mel Gibson in black and white.  

Mel Gibson was at the height of or close to his height as a movie star.  Handsome, popular, and with no inkling of the trouble that would plague him in more recent times.  No hint of the accusations of anti-Semitism or racial bias that he was associated with years later. 

It was perfect.  The General would be kept in the dark and safe from worry.  The day would be saved, and I would have a little fun.

I carefully cut out the portrait, pasted it to some white cardboard and mailed it into the Synagogue newsletter.
I was curious to see if they would call, demanding a real picture of my son.  I didn’t get a call or any feedback from them.

A couple of weeks later, the newsletter came.

Needless to say the General was not amused.

I convinced the General to make the most of it, and exhausted from her labors, she agreed.  We never told anyone the truth about the picture.

We started getting calls from members of the congregation congratulating us on the upcoming mitzvah and commenting on the picture.  

They typically said “What a handsome boy you have”, and occasionally, “he seems a little old for a Bar Mitzvah”.  No one recognized the picture as Mel.  

The day of the services the sanctuary was packed.  Everyone wanted to see “such a handsome boy”, and so “Mel Gibson” rose to the occasion. He did his Haftorah and Torah portion with such aplomb as to make us and his grandparents proud, and relieved, he most of all.

Everything worked out smoothly as the General had planned. 

The party the next day at the catering hall was a success. The DJ was great, we all danced, the poems the general wrote  for the candle lighting ceremony were very well written and appreciated by everyone, and my son’s friends behaved like the really nice kids they were. A good time was had by all.

I sometimes wonder what the people in the Synagogue office thought when they got the picture I sent in.  They did publish it without comment, and no-one ever said anything about it to us. 

Perhaps it was G-d’s idea of a little joke.  

Did He know what was to come in the future for Mel Gibson?  Was this part of some overall plan to keep balance in the Universe?

I don’t know, but I believe His sense of humor must be like mine.

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