SECTION SIX

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COLUMN SEVENTY, APRIL 1, 2002
(Copyright 2002 Al Aronowitz)

THE BAR MITZVAH BOY

WARNING!  FOR ADULTS ONLY!  PERSONS UNDER 18 YEARS OF AGE ARE NOT ALLOWED TO READ THIS STORY.

[Tsaurah Litzky is a poet and writer of fiction, non fiction and erotica. Her work has appeared in Best American Erotica 95, 97, 99, 2001 and will be included in BAE 2002. She has also been published in Penthouse, LONGSHOT, The Unbearables, Crimes of the Beats, Appearances, Downtown Poets, The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry, Pink Pages, Beet and many other books and periodicals. Her poetry books include Kamikaze Lover (Appearances 1999) and the just published Good Bye Beautiful Mother (Low Tech Press 2001). Formerly a columnist for the now defunct New York arts weekly Downtown, she now teaches erotic writing and literature at the New School University. ]                                         

I feel I need to organize my life. I buy a loose-leaf photo album with enough plastic sleeves for 300 pictures at the Weber's Job Lots for $4.99. I go home and take the cardboard box that holds my lifetime accumulation of photos out of the closet. I dump the photos out of the carton onto the kitchen table, rip the cellophane casing off the album and sit down at the table. I am ready to begin.

The first picture  I pick up is some thirty years old and crinkles around the edges. It was taken at the Remsen Heights Jewish Center in Canarsie, Brooklyn. The young teen version of my brother is standing between two couples. To his right stands my mother and father, to his left, myself and my first husband Freddie. We are posed next to a table holding a big rectangular white cake. It is just possible to make out the words on the cake, Happy Bar Mitzvah Harvey, and the miniature torah inscribed beneath.

My father stands to the far right in the picture. He is looking out of the frame, shiftily away from the rest of us.  Perhaps he is looking over at his gambling buddies gathered around the bar. In the last year my father lost so much money at the track that my mother had to sell her mother's diamond engagement ring to cover the costs of this Bar Mitzvah. My mother stands next to him wearing a long silver dress.  She is petite, exquisite, with a heart shaped face and long almond eyes. She is looking calmly into the camera smiling serenely as if she is on twenty milligrams of valium.

But my mother does not believe in taking drugs. It is only her iron will---her determination that we appear a happy family---that is holding the smile on her face, holding the picture together. When I told her a month before the Bar Mitzvah that I was going to divorce Freddie, she said:

"You never stick to anything, just like your father."

Freddie and I are here for appearances. My mother didn't want to ruin my brothers Bar Mitzvah with the inevitable gossip that my solo appearance would provoke. Freddie and I agreed to attend as a couple.

I did not tell my mother how, right after our wedding, I discovered that Freddie had been having weekly trysts with Dennis, his biology teacher at NYU. I was trying to decide if I could possibly live with this when Freddie told me he wanted Dennis to move into the spare room in our apartment. I knew I had to divorce him.

In the picture Freddie is standing on the far right. His arm is around my back. His chubby hand is around my waist. He has a doughy white face that looks something like a creampuff, suggesting the pastry chef he will eventually become. I am standing next to him with my arm around my brother, whom I adore. I have the same beehive hair-do as my mother. I am wearing a short, red, strapless cocktail dress that shows I have inherited her fine bone structure. My face is open in a painfully wide smile. I am glad the Bar Mitzvah is now three-quarters over, the dinner finished except for desert and coffee. There remains at most another hour of dancing and then the cutting of the cake. No one in the picture knows that I have a secret.

I  have also started to have weekly  trysts. Every Tuesday afternoon I rendezvous with Morrie Shreiber, the family accountant, at the Golden Gate Motel on Emmons Avenue. Morrie was in Korea where he learned to like things that his wife Glenda won't do. For our afternoon of games he always gives me a hundred dollars. I am saving this money to pay for the divorce and also because I hope to go to Paris this summer at the end of this year, my sophomore year at Brooklyn College.

Morrie says that if I don't have enough he will give me the extra but I don't want to take anything from him that I don't earn. His wife Glenda was three years ahead of me in high school. I was a book worm, a geek. She was  a cheerleader who won the Aaron Copeland Music prize and a scholarship to the


Harvey will grow into a
handsome man but now looks something like an ant


Boston Conservatory of Music. She turned down the scholarship to marry Morrie. Now she is a size fourteen and gives piano lessons in their home. My brother is one of her students. They are both here at the Bar Mitzvah. Morrie has been hovering over her, very solicitous. He and I do not look at each other.

Now we come to my brother, the center of the picture, Harvey, the Bar Mitzvah boy, the Mazel Tov boychick. He is skinny as a string, he has not yet started to shoot up. He is still shorter than my mother and me, who both stand five-foot-two in our high heels. His flat-top buzzcut reveals that he has a  pointy head. His face is narrow, his eyes big and round. He will grow into a handsome man, but now he looks something like an ant, except that he has my father's huge ears. The only parts of him that have started to grow are his hands, which jut out below the sleeves of his jacket big as a pair of  boxing gloves. And also his feet which are already size eleven. He, too, is smiling, but I don't know why. The band has been on a break. They begin to play again,  By mir bist du schoen. The music carries us out of the picture back into the party.

"How about you and me jitterbugging out there?? says my Cousin Darlene's husband.

His name is Vinnie. He grabs me and pulls me out to the dance floor.

'so how is married life?? says Vinnie, 'still the happy bride??

The official story is that Vinnie, who is Italian, works selling cars for a Chrysler dealership in the Rego Park neighborhood where he grew up. Actually we all know that he is an arsonist and that he works for the Giabruzzi Family setting fire to the Giabruzzi's dilapidated properties so they can collect the insurance. My cousin Darlene, who is six years older than me, is eight months pregnant. She is seated with her mother Lillian at their table. They are both crocheting. They crochet everywhere they go.

"Married life is great, wonderful," I answer Vinnie.

"Well, if you ever get tired of that kosher salami, Cousin Vinnie's got a big piece of meat you'd die for."

I am shocked, horrified.

"But Darlene, but you"." I start to sputter.

"Listen college girl, wise up,?  he says, "if it's not gonna be you, it's gonna be someone else."

I feel disgusted and I tear myself out of his grip and run back to our table. I sit down and see that Freddie and my mother are dancing. My father is drinking with his gambling buddies at the bar and my brother is seated with his friends at their table. 

I watch him among his pals. He is the smallest one but the most animated, the most intelligent looking. He is very high energy, always moving around, always joking. All the boys have cigars. Harvey puts his unlit cigar in his mouth and pretends to suck on it, rolling his eyes. The sucking motion hollows his cheeks out. This makes his cheekbones more prominent. His face suddenly resembles mine, particularly as I glimpsed it last week in the mirror over the dresser opposite the bed in room 2B of the Golden Gate Motel, where Morrie is seated on the edge of the bed, his legs spread wide. All he is wearing is his white cotton tee-shirt, his black socks, a gold Star of David around his neck and his wedding ring.

I know he would have removed the wedding ring if I asked him but I guess I didn't care. His thick, stubby cock is in my mouth. I am trying to suck it deep into my throat. This effort hollows my cheeks and changes my face so I look Byzantine and exotic. I have learned that the more liquid I keep in my mouth, the easier the sucking.  Morrie always brings a small bottle of B&B in his


Morrie calls
her jangling tits
'love jugs'


briefcase for me. If I bend my head back at a certain angle, his cock slides down my throat like Santa down the chimney, the Jewish Santa that is. The Jewish Santa is skinnier than the Christian version. He looks like an Israeli commando. Marty looks like an Israeli commando too when he takes off those thick glasses and part of what he likes to do is order me around. He doesn't like to come when I'm sucking him.

'that's enough,? he will say sharply, and then, "Assume the position."

I have been trained to say, "Yes, sir," in response.  I then assume doggie position sideways on the bed so that my jangling tits---Morrie calls them my love jugs---will be visible in the mirror.

He kneels behind me, between my spread legs. He always spits saliva on his palms. He rubs the saliva on his cock, then slowly, watching in the mirror, he inches his cock into my back hole. This is what he says Glenda won't let him do. I have come to like it, particularly when he reaches around in front of me and puts two fingers inside. He fingers me in such away that I come when he does.

Someone taps me on the shoulder. I realize I have been so deeply immersed in my thoughts that I?ve forgotten where I am. Thinking about me and Morrie has gotten me wet. I can smell myself, I smell like Concord grape Passover wine.  I cross my legs and look up to see Freddie standing above me hand outstretched.

"Wanna dance, wifey?? he asks.

"O.k.," I answer and stand up. We take a place among the dancers and start to do the foxtrot to Shine On, Harvest Moon. Over his shoulder I can still see my brother and his friends at the Bar Mitzvah table. They are no longer pretending to puff on cigars but are having a food fight, throwing the leftover dinner rolls at each other. I wonder if my brother has made out with a girl yet. I know he jacks off because two months ago he asked me to buy Playboys for him with the money he makes washing cars. Now he has a small stack of Playboys hidden under the box of toy soldiers in his closet.

Freddie and I do another foxtrot, a mambo, then the cha?cha to Mickey and Sylvia's Love is Strange.

'the perfect picture of young married happiness," I hear my Aunt Mildred say as she dances by with Uncle Arthur. The bandleader has just announced a Hora. This brings more people out to the dance floor, the kids, the grandmas, the old couples. We form a circle. My mother taps my arm and pulls me away from my place next to Freddie.

"Come with me," she says.

She leads me to the side of the room away from the circle of dancers.

"I can't find Harvey anywhere," she says. "I even asked Cousin Irving to look for him in the men's room but he wasn't there. I have to find him. Right after the Hora is the cutting of the cake. Look, his friends are all dancing, but he's not there."

I look around and don't see my brother.

"I'd ask your father to help me look for him," my mother continues, "but he's so drunk he couldn't find his schvantz."

I glance over to the bar and see my father standing among his cronies. Morrie is there too and my father has his arm over Morrie's shoulder and is talking right into his face. I look quickly away.

"Please help me find him," my mother says.

'sure Ma," I say, "of course."

"You look in the basement. I'm going to look outside the shul," my mother says.

"Right," I say and go out of the banquet room. I go down the long hall and take the stairs that lead to the basement.

There are several, small classrooms in the basement where haftorah lessons


Harvey's tuxedo pants
are down around his ankles
and he is not alone


are taught that prepare boys for Bar Mitzvah. Bat Mitzvahs for girls have not yet come into style.  The classrooms are empty. I knock loudly on the door of  the single bathroom. Then I stick my head inside and find it empty too.  

From the floor above I can hear the stamping feet and the bandleader singing, "Ha-va-na-ra-na-na, vir mist ba ha.  There are several, unmarked doors further down the corridor.

"Harvey, Harvey," I call out but get no answer. I go down down the hall and open the first unmarked door. I find a little room with a big desk, a couple of chairs, a file cabinet.

The next door opens into a broom closet, stacks of pails, shelves loaded with cleaning supplies. There, facing me, standing behind the mops is my brother. His eyes are closed.  He has the same look of intense pleasure on his face that he gets when he watches Bullwinkle cartoons. His tuxedo pants are down around his ankles and he is not alone. Kneeling between his legs is Glenda Schreiber. Her broad bottom, covered by mint- green silk organza, bobs up and down as she moves her head between his legs. She does not seem to have heard me open the door because her in-out, in-out rhythm continues uninterrupted. Not a single red hair has strayed from her ornate French twist, thanks, no doubt, to the glory of Spraynet.

My brother opens his eyes, A look of fear comes over his face as he sees me. I love him so much at that moment. I place a finger against my lips to reassure him, pointed to an imaginary watch on my wrist and silently mouth the words cutting the cake.  He nods his head. Quietly as possible I shut the door.

At the top of  the stairs, my mother rushes up to me.

"Did you find him?? she whispers.

I shook my head.

"He wasn't outside, I even looked in the parking lot. Oh, where could he be?? she says, almost weeping.

I tell her that he is probably around the corner sneaking a cigarette.

"You know how kids his age start with that, remember that time you caught me smoking in the backyard,"  I said.

"I just don't like this," my mother sighs.

"Don't worry," I reassured her, "I'll tell the musicians to play Hava Nagila again."

Out on the dance floor, the dancers, were leaping and whirling about in a frenzy. They were led by my fifty-year-old 250-pound cousin, Arlene. When I asked the bandleader to play the Hora one more time, he said, "O.k., but don't blame me if she has a heart attack."

I cut into line next to Freddie. I ignored his "Where have you been?? as I got into step, left-right kick, right-left-kick? A little while later I saw Glenda come into the room.  A few minutes after that, through the crowd, I saw the back of my bother's little yarmulked head. My mother was grasping him firmly by the arm..

I stood next to my brother as he was cutting the cake.

'so," I whisper into his ear, "was tonight the first time you became a man??

He cannot look at me, he looks down at his big feet. 

"No comment," he mumbles.  

I put the old picture back on the table. Eventually my father realized he was being a jerk. He managed to stop gambling and took up stamp collecting. Glenda and Morrie separated and he became a Hare Krishna. I don't know what happened to her. My brother grew up to be successful in business and a happy family man. After I divorced Freddie I did go to Paris and that began my journey out into the greater world. I no longer wear a beehive hairdo but I am still a size three.

I decide this is the perfect snapshot with which to begin my album. I pick the picture up and slide it into the first plastic sleeve.  ##

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