Authors: Robert Klane
The rabbi looked at Nemiroff. "What makes it so important now?"
"Because if I don't get bar-mitzvahed tonight, I'm going to miss the best piece of ass in my life."
The rabbi's mouth fell open. "I beg your pardon?"
Nemiroff explained to Rabbi Rosenberg. The rabbi was sympathetic.
"Have you thought about Catholicism?" the rabbi asked.
"No, no," Nemiroff screamed. "It has to be a bar mitzvah."
"Do you know any Hebrew?" the rabbi asked.
"I know a little French," Nemiroff said.
"It's got to be Hebrew," the rabbi said.
"I'll fake it," Nemiroff answered.
"What about the caterer?" the rabbi went on.
"Yes, you can't have a bar mitzvah without a caterer. I tell you what, come into my office and we'll work this out."
"But I don't have the time," Nemiroff protested. "It won't take long at all," the rabbi reassured him. "By the way, do you have your checkbook with you?"
"Doesn't matter," said the rabbi. "I have a counter check in my office that you can use." Rabbi Rosenberg led Nemiroff into his office and sat down behind his desk. "Now," the rabbi began, "figure on having a hundred people."
Nemiroff blanched. "But I don't know a hundred people who would come to my bar mitzvah. Besides, it's got to be tonight."
The rabbi shook his head. "That doesn't matter. You want to have a real bar mitzvah, don't you?" He waited while Nemiroff nodded his head. "Then we have to go through the motions." The rabbi took out a pen and the counter checks. "Now just make out a check for three hundred dollars to The Rosenberg Catering Service."
Nemiroff paused for a second with the pen. "Rosenberg?" he asked.
"Yes, that's my brother Morris."
"But . . ." Nemiroff started to protest. "A Catholic confirmation takes weeks and weeks." Nemiroff wrote the check. "Now, of course, you'll want music."
"Music?" Nemiroff shouted. "Two hundred dollars to The Bar Mitzvah Boys, Inc." Nemiroff looked at the rabbi. "That's my cousin Murray." Nemiroff wrote.
"Then there's the matter of buying a chair in the temple."
"What's that for?" Nemiroff was almost afraid to ask.
"That's for another three hundred in case you want to come and pray."
"And who should I make that out to?"
"You can just make that out to me personally," Rabbi Rosenberg told him.
Nemiroff wrote the checks. He handed them over to Rabbi Rosenberg.
"Congratulations," the rabbi told him, "you've just been bar-mitzvahed."
"But what about the ceremony?"
"Look, you want to sit here and argue with me, or do you want to get home to that nice girl?"
Nemiroff thought about that for a moment "Maybe you could write me a note or something that says I was just bar-mitzvahed. Otherwise, she's liable not to believe me."
"Of course," said the rabbi, picking up the pen. Then he wrote:
To whom it may concern. Nemiroff has just been bar-mitzvahed.
Nemiroff read the note and put it in his pocket He watched the rabbi put the checks into his pocket Boy, have I been bar-mitzvahed, he thought. He raced out of the temple and home to Miss Booe.
Miss Booe was waiting for Nemiroff at home. Nemiroff ran in and showed her the note from the rabbi. "See. See," cried Nemiroff, "I've been bar-mitzvahed. Eight hundred bucks' worth."
Miss Booe was joyous. She threw her arms around Nemiroff and dragged him into the bedroom. "Now tell me about it," she said, stepping out of her dress. Nemiroff looked at her magnificent body. "Aaaagg-ghhaa uugghuugh . . ."
When Nemiroff opened his eyes the next morning he was a new man. Never had he felt like this in his whole life. He got out of bed and walked over to the window. He stuck his head out of the window and began to scream at the top of his lungs, "I'm Jewish, man, can everybody hear me. Me, Nemiroff, I'm Jewish. Bar-mitzvahed even."
The yelling woke Miss Booe up. "What are you doing?" she asked.
Nemiroff went over to the bed and leaned over and kissed her. "I didn't know it could be so great to be Jewish," he admitted.
"You see," Miss Booe said, "things aren't so bad. All you have to do is learn to live with them instead of fighting them all the time."
"Yeah," Nemiroff said, "I guess you're right."
"It's the same with your kids at camp," Miss Booe went on.
"What do you mean?" Nemiroff looked puzzled.
"Why do you treat them the way you do?" she asked.
Nemiroff thought for a moment, then he spoke. "Well, it's just that I didn't want them to grow up thinking life was just a bed of roses." He looked at Miss Booe. "It isn't, you know."
"Well, I figured I'd give them a taste of what life was really like. Sort of show them how things really are. Get them ready for it."
Miss Booe held Nemiroff's hand. "But it isn't like that for everybody. You made things tough for yourself."
"Maybe you're right. But then, I didn't have you." He leaned over to kiss her again.
She held his hand tighter. "Give them a chance. Show them you like them. Show them you trust them."
Nemiroff pulled his hand away. "Are you kidding?" he shouted. "Besides, it's too late now. How could I do it?"
"Well," Miss Booe said, "you could ease up on them. Show them you're with them. Then, when you have their confidence, show them you trust them. Do something significant, like turning your back on them."
"What," Nemiroff screamed. "Turn my back on those sons of bitches?"
"I'll tell you why not," Nemiroff stammered. "Because it would be the last time I turned my back on them. They'd kill me."
"Don't be silly," Miss Booe said. "Once they know you like them and trust them, they won't do anything to you."
"I don't believe it"
"Try it, Nemiroff," she said, "for me."
Nemiroff looked down into her eyes and weakened. "I'll tell you what," he said, "I'll start slow. I'll give them a little freedom. I won't try to get them, and I'll see what happens."
"Thanks," Miss Booe said, blowing him a kiss.
"But I won't turn my back on them. Never."
Nemiroff slowly marched his group over to the baseball field. They fought him all the way, but he made them go. Nemiroff wanted his group to play this game. Without Nemiroff as the umpire. Nemiroff sat down in the sand and watched as his group took the field. They were very suspicious, thinking that maybe Nemiroff had mined the baseball field late at night, and that the only reason he wouldn't step out on the field was that he was afraid he would blow himself up.
Nemiroff's group took their positions. They were playing Mr. Robinson's group, and Mr. Robinson found himself in the unfamiliar role of umpire. The first kid up hit a high fly ball. The centerfielder ran under it and stuck out his glove. The ball fell in. The centerfielder immediately ducked to get out of the way of Nemiroff's flying body. But it wasn't there. Nemiroff actually let him make an out. The kid looked over to the sidelines and saw Nemiroff stand up and cheer him.
"That a boy, Howie, give 'em hell," Nemiroff shouted. "That's the old stuff."
The centerfielder couldn't believe his ears. He looked around at the rest of the group, but they all just stared dumbly at him. Nemiroff didn't make a move. He just smiled and waved at them. The centerfielder threw the ball in to the pitcher. The next two outs were quick.
Nemiroff's team played as they never played before. The chains were gone. They were playing like champions. They completely demolished Mr. Robinson's team, and were cheering wildly when the game was over. "We won, we won," they shouted. Then they looked over at Nemiroff, who had worn himself out cheering for his team.
"Let's have a cheer for Nemiroff," they began. "Two, four, six, eight who do we appreciate? Nemiroff. Nemiroff. Nemiroff."
Nemiroff looked back at them, a small tear starting in the corner of his eye. Nobody had ever cheered for him before. Maybe Miss Booe was right "O.K.," he told them, "now let's bring on Marshall Pace and his fucking group of gentiles."
Nemiroff poured a cup of coffee for himself, and another cup for Miss Booe. "They actually cheered for me," he said.
"I know." Miss Booe smiled. "I heard them. They're not so bad, are they?"
"No," Nemiroff said.
"See, I told you," Miss Booe went on. "All you had to do was give them a chance."
"Yeah," Nemiroff admitted, "maybe you're right."
"Did you turn your back on them?" Miss Booe asked very quietly.
Nemiroff exploded. "No," he shouted. "Just because they give me one lousy cheer doesn't mean I'm going to commit suicide by turning my back on them."
"I think you're being silly," Miss Booe said. "They won the game for you, didn't they?"
"Not for me," Nemiroff explained. "They won h for themselves."
Miss Booe grabbed Nemiroff's hand. "If you trust them, they'll trust you. They'll get their confidence back and they'll never lose again. At anything."
"Is that good?" Nemiroff asked.
"Didn't you like winning when you were a child a lot more than you did losing?"
"I don't know," Nemiroff said. "What do you mean you don't know?" Nemiroff stared into her eyes. "I never won."
Nemiroff let up completely on his group. He even started calling them pal, and buddy, and little friend. And they started improving at everything they did. They did everything better than anyone else in the camp. Nemiroff was amazed. Nemiroff was looking forward to Tournament Day, the day that all the groups competed with each other, and the winning group got the Camp Winituck Trophy. And the counselor of the winning group got a bonus of ten dollars from Uncle Bernie. And the parents of the kids came to Camp Winituck to see their children compete. It would be a great chance for Nemiroff to redeem himself.
On the morning of Tournament Day, Nemiroff stood with his group and watched all of the parents drive in and park. Most of the other parents walked over to shake hands with their children's counselor, but all of Nemiroff's group's parents stayed a good distance away. He started to get nervous. This was the last time he would see the parents. If they didn't lay some bread on him, he wouldn't have enough to complete a whole semester in college. The draft would be back after him. He wouldn't see Miss Booe for two years. He would die. He would wither away and die. Uncle Bernie blew his whistle and Tournament Day was under way. Some of the parents were very anxious when they saw Nemiroff walking with his arm around some of their children. They were afraid he would try to strangle them. But when they noticed that the kids didn't mind it, and in fact seemed to like it, they relaxed. They relaxed more and more as they watched their children perform. Nemiroff's group had won every event they were entered in. And they had especially creamed Marshall Pace's gentiles in the volley-ball game.
One of the fathers walked over to Nemiroff as the volley-ball game ended. "I didn't know my kid could play volley ball like that," the father said.
"Yes, sir," Nemiroff said, "he's a real tiger. One of the best in the camp." Nemiroff stopped long enough to let that sink in before he hit him with the clincher. "Yes, sir," he continued, "a real tiger. I'm glad he's Jewish like I am."
The father's hand came out of his pocket with five crisp new ten-dollar bills. He crushed them into Nemiroff's hand. "So am I, son, so am I."
"Yes, sir," Nemiroff went on, "I just hope I can make enough here this summer to get back to college. Then I can come back next summer and have some more great Jewish kids like your son." Another fifty found its way into Nemiroff's hand.
Nemiroff sat with Miss Booe and counted the money.
"How much?" she asked. "Seven hundred and fifty dollars," he said. "Oh, that's wonderful." She kissed him on the cheek.
"Yeah, fuck the draft," he said. "Plus a check for ten dollars from Uncle Bernie for winning Tournament Day."
"I'm so happy for you," Miss Booe said.
"I'm kind of happy myself," Nemiroff said. "You know what," he went on, tenderly holding her hand, "I think I'd like to marry you. I mean things just never went this well for me before, and I know how much you had to do with it. So I want to marry you."
Miss Booe was surprised. "But you have to go back to college."
"So, you can come with me." He was excited.
"Yes," Miss Booe said, "I suppose I could. I could even get a job and help you through."
"Right," Nemiroff said. "There's just one thing," he said, running his fingers through the money, "you're gonna have to convert. I'm not gonna marry any gentile. What would my friends say?"
Since Nemiroff's parents weren't around, he decided to break the news first to Uncle Bernie.
"That's wonderful," Uncle Bernie shouted. "I'm very happy for both of you. If only I could have found a Miss Booe to marry instead of a sissy boy like Mr. Green."
"Still haven't broken it off yet, huh?" Nemiroff asked.
"No," Uncle Bernie sighed. "The sissy boy threatened to sue me for breach of promise if I didn't marry him."
"You're not going to marry him, are you?" Nemiroff asked.
"No," Uncle Bernie snapped, "don't be silly. It's just that, well, it's just that I don't want to go to court. You know, he's crazy enough to do it! And the publicity wouldn't exactly bring parents by the thousands to sign up their kids for next summer."
"I see what you mean," Nemiroff said.
"Look," Uncle Bernie continued, "you don't think you could get the ring back for me, do you?"
"Me?" Nemiroff asked.
"Yes, he likes you."
"I know that that's why I'm not going near him."
"Listen, I'll tell you what." The sweat was pouring out of Uncle Bernie's brow. "If you get the ring back, you can give it to Miss Booe."
Nemiroff thought for a moment. "It'd be nice."
"Sure it would," Uncle Bernie went on. "And I don't care that much about the ring as long as I don't have to marry that sissy boy."
"I don't know"—Nemiroff paused—"he might try to rape me when I try to get the ring back."