One you get down to the point where less than a week remains between you and your child's Bar or Bat Mitzvah, the event itself becomes the only thing people want to talk to you about -- and the only thing you can manage to talk coherently about. Everything else takes a back seat.
It must be relieving, in a way, for our more socially anxious friends and acquaintences; for the next week, they have a can't-miss conversation starter. We'll always have something to discuss, whether our sub-topic is "final preparations," "unexpected drama" or "the Jawa's state of readiness." Both meaningless small talk and potentially relationship-changing in-depth discussions are off the table. Unless you ring up a string of jokers and ask Jack to go off the board, you're stuck talking about our Bar Mitzvah.
Yesterday, as we drove home from an overnight in Stinson Beach, approximately 95% of our road trip conversation hinged on Sandra Bullock's shockingly long "things to do" list. The other five percent was about how we weren't sure if we'd missed the turn for Sir Francis Drake Boulevard and how nice Fairfax would be if it weren't overrun by hippies.
At first glance, the list is daunting. It is two pages long. You'd think, with six days remaining until the Bar Mitzvah itself -- five, if you count the beginning of a Bar Mitzvah as the moment we sit down for Friday night services (Barbara Boxer might say it begins the moment we depart the temple) -- we'd have all the heavy lifting completed. That was S. Bullock's original plan. Six months ago, she laid it out for us, saying that her goal was to "get everything done so (she) wouldn't spent the last week running around, trying to get stuff done."
As it turns out, that plan, like most of my career plans, was more of a fantasy than a tangible goal.
As we drove past the rolling hills and redwood groves, we went down the list. Most of it involved calling people to confirm stuff and picking up very small items that may have a negligible impact on the overall event but will stick not only in my wife's craw but that of our graphic designer neighbor, a crucial member of the Bar Mitzvah Design Team.
My worry is that Sandra Bullock, famous for refusing to leave her mother's house while on vacation, lest she seem unappreciative and thoughtless, will not accept the offer of her very willing and eager Bar Mitzvah Design Team members: to sprint from the Bar Mitzvah to the Golden Gate Yacht Club, where they will do a major share of the set-up while S. Bullock remains at Temple Emanu-El, greeting guests (and the lady who drags a box around behind her on a small cart while attending every single Bar and Bat Mitzvah held at Temple Emanu-El, a small price to pay for the free lunch that follows) as they chow down on our mid- to upper-mid-level Oneg.
I plan to do my best at reminding her that this event, a year in the making, will pass in the blink of an eye; and that any time she spends not with our guests shortens that blink to a nano blink of an eye. But she has repeatedly said that she "doesn't want (her) guests to do any work," so it is likely that I will be the one greeting guests and the lady with the cardboard box at the Oneg, which is fine with me, since I hate battling for food at an Oneg and will probably not spend a second in the food line. I can't say she'll regret it, because from Day One this is how she's imagined it unfolding. If it was me, I'd regret it; which is probably why my primary responsibility next Saturday will be guest-wrangling.
Will this be an easy job? All I have to do is get everyone out of their hotel rooms and down to Market Street, where they will witness first-hand the mighty power I hold over parking and transportation in the world's favorite tourist destination, make sure nobody shows up in sweatpants and a t-shirt, and shepherd them onto one of two buses by 4:30. Oh, and I have to make sure the buses know where to park, though honestly, I think I saw that as an item on Sandra Bullock's to-do list for the week.
Can you believe it's only six days away? It may become more real tomorrow, when I wake up to find Sandra Bullock not at work but instead sitting at her laptop in my "office," the Jawa's seat at the kitchen table, but today, it still seems months away.
As for the Jawa, he's still playing it cool, save for a moment last night when he burst out of his bedroom, ran the three steps between his room and ours and leapt on our bed, suddenly bellowing, "It's only a week away! Scary!"
I have another job, actually. I have taken it on myself to look skyward each day, shake my fists and curse the Fog Gods. You know the old joke that starts, "Do you believe in God?" and ends with, "Well, someone's out to get me, that's for sure,"? It's tough not to agree when the largest event of your son's life, planned August 21, which is traditionally the tail end of a fog-free month, takes place during THE COLDEST SUMMER SAN FRANCISCO HAS EXPERIENCED SINCE 1960.
Fog Gods, you have exactly five days to get it right. I say five because I don't want our poor shrug- and sport coat-wearing family members to look out the floor-to-ceiling picture windows of Tarantino's -- a restaurant we chose not for its fine dining but for its so-iconic-it's-kitschy Fisherman's Wharf location -- and see not a tableau that brings to mind an Italian fishing village but instead one solid wall of impenetrable white.
Every day for the past week I've made certain to catch at least one local news weather report, hoping to hear good news. Unfortunately, the power of my positive visualization -- already proven to be folly during a recent 72 holes of golf in Lake Tahoe -- is no more effective in willing whatever local affiliate's perky young self-appointed meteorologist to give me anything more than a five-day forecast showing half of a sun shrouded in fog. I curse them, much as I once cursed Jeff Renner of KING-5 in Seattle for his cavalier manner in telling us, each night between October and July, that it was going to rain tomorrow.
I eventually embraced the rain, to the point where hot weather still stresses me out. And over the past decade of living in San Francisco, I've always counted the fog as my friend, showing up just in time to guarantee a good night's sleep in our non-insulated home, always choosing whipping winds over the oven-like state we'd achieve whenever the mercury topped 75 degrees.
So I ask you, just for 48 hours, fog, please part and give our guests the drop-dead gorgeous view of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz and the riotous ramshackle mish-mash of houses, apartments and downtown skyscrapers that renedered the Golden Gate Yacht Club's aged blue carpeting a moot point the day we chose it for our venue, way back in the early summer of 2009.