Thursday, October 10, 2013

Bar Mitzvah Planning II: A Festival of Wonks

"You know buddy, I have some contacts.  I could call in some favors so you could have a star-studded bar mitzvah," I suggest as I drive him home from track practice.

"What are you thinking about Dad?" GoofBoy asks nervously (and not without reason.)

"What if you had your bar mitzvah party at the Brookings Institute!"

"Does it have anything to do with Brooks Robinson?" he asked warily.

"No, but you could meet Strobe Talbott!"


"He was the Deputy Secretary of State in the Clinton administion," I press on, "And then maybe you could have a special roundtable about Energy Market Regulations and Climate Change Policy! Wouldn't that be awesome?"

GoofBoy groans.

"You aren't really into domestic affairs, would you rather have a foreign policy bar mitzvah?  We could do it at the Atlantic Council.  I hear Brent Scowcroft makes balloon animals.  Well, not animals, but balloon figures of old foreign policy hands like, well - Strobe Talbot!"

Believe it or not, there is a method to my madness. If I wear him down, maybe we can do the bar mitzvah party at Dogfish Head! I don't know if his friends will get much out of it - but I know I will.  Too bad that while Judaism states that at 13 boys are counted as men, the right to drive doesn't come along with that.  It would be so handy if he could be my designated driver.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Bar Mitzvah Plannning I: Nerf Wars!

GoofBoy is in seventh-grade, which means it is annus bnai mitvahus: the year of the bar mitzvah.

GoofBoy frequently has two invitations a weekend, which means a LOT of parties. So be it, GoofBoy likes to party.  It also means we have to plan his bar mitzvah.

For many children the “performance” of reading from the Torah and delivering an appropriate lesson about the reading is an enormous source of stress.  But GoofBoy will have no problem.  He has an easy confidence and (thanks to years of Jewish day school) an impressive command of Hebrew.  But, while GoofBoy likes to party, we do not particularly like to plan parties.

Some of GoofBoy’s friends have had rather elaborate affairs (so I’ve heard, I haven’t seen since I’m not invited.)  I have heard tales of gaming tables, multiple DJs, and all you can eat sushi buffets.  GoofBoy has come home with bags of swag like an Oscar nominee.  Fortunately, a wonderful thing about boys is that they do not tend to be style conscious.  Boys, as a rule, tend to seek interesting ways to release energy.  Multiple high-end DJs are one method, but a pile of rocks will often do just as well.

So in that spirit, I had a simple brainstorm.  Fifty kids (girls are certainly invited, but I’m not expecting a lot of yeses from that quarter), fifty high-powered Nerfweapons and Rock Creek Park.  There are woods, cliffs, open fields, and a stream.  It would be epic.

(The pics give some idea of the varied topography.)
I came up with a few possible variations.

The Most Dangerous Game: Some kids are hunters, others are hunted. They would switch off until it was time for cake.
The Hunger Games: Only the winner eats – I really like this option since kosher catering is pretty expensive.
Basic Training: After the ceremony the kids change into battle gear, put on their Nerf vests and safety glasses, put their Nerf rifle on their shoulder and march to the park.

This is only the beginning.  I see dozens of boys charging at each other across an open field like in Braveheart (I could spring for some Nerf swords).  I see them re-enacting every war movie cliché ever, as one kid sacrifices himself, going down in a flurry of Nerf darts so the rest of his squad can live.  I see bicycle-riding cavalry, amphibious assaults, and maybe even some trench warfare.

GoofBoy’s friends are pretty keen on this (especially since the party favors will be advanced Nerf artillery), but my obsession with scenarios and battle planning has soured GoofBoy on this option. (Probably for the best, I have no idea how to get permits for this stuff.)

Back to the drawing board – but I think whatever I come up with next will make GoofBoy wish for the simpler times when I was just planning a Nerf battle.