More than ten years ago today, I became a man. I won’t give you the exact number of years ago. Not because I am afraid to tell you my age, but because I don’t feel like taking my shoes off to have enough digits to do the math. (That might be a good excuse if I didn’t actually already have my shoes off.)
Anyway, before anyone’s mind slips into the gutter, on this day, a few years back, I became a Bar Mitzvah. For those of you saying "what a weird way to say it", here is a little lesson in Hebrew. "Bar Mitzvah" means "son of the commandment" ("Bat" means daughter) so one becomes one. One does not do one. For those of you saying "what in the world are you talking about in the first place?", becoming a Bar (Bat) Mitzvah is the official coming of age for Jewish people. It happens when we turn thirteen, and provided we do the appropriate sacrifices and stuff (I kid!!), once we have gone through this ordeal we are officially considered adults. In the eyes of the religion anyway. From a legal, social, and generally every other perspective out there we are still just kids.
There are only a few things I actually remember about this auspicious day. The date for one, which in my time lost brain is an extreme oddity. No doubt it sticks because it happens to be Cinco de Mayo. The big thing, which was may or may not be what truly changed my life, is that was the day I was first formally kissed by a girl who was not related to me. Of course it was totally involuntary, and caused me to turn a shade of red that to this day has yet to be named, but it did happen. There are vague memories of long grueling hours of learning the hebrew portion that I had to sing, of wearing a suite and tie (possibly the first time), and of meeting a whole slew of supposed relatives that I never saw again.
Yet the only thing that stands out is me backing away in very fear of my life from the girl whose duty it was to give me a congratulatory kiss on the cheek.
That is not quite true. I also have another strong memory (which I am not sure happened at MY ceremony but happened around this time). There were little cups of red and white wine to be used for blessings, and now that I was a big man and all I took one of the white wines and tossed it back. Unfortunately the white wine was not actually white wine at all, but rather whisky. Talk about a sudden influx of hair on the chest.
Now I am not sure which part actually made me a man. "Singing" words that I do not know the meaning of, fleeing my first "kiss", or downing my first official shot.
Damn! Maybe I am not a man yet after all!