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.
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.
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.
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
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,
"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
her jangling tits
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
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
"Wanna dance, wifey??
"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
'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
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
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
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,
"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??
I shook my head.
"He wasn't outside,
I even looked in the parking lot. Oh, where could he be?? she says, almost
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
"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
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
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. ##
HERE TO GET TO INDEX OF COLUMN SEVENTY
CLICK HERE TO GET TO INDEX OF COLUMNS
Blacklisted Journalist can be contacted at P.O.Box 964, Elizabeth, NJ 07208-0964
The Blacklisted Journalist's E-Mail Address:
THE BLACKLISTED JOURNALIST IS A SERVICE MARK OF AL ARONOWITZ