Gus’s first Bar Mitzvah

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Shaar Hashomayim Synagogue, where Leonard Cohen celebrated his Bar Mitzvah. Courtesy of drhguy.com

I recently went to my first Bar Mitzvah, which seems to me a very strange thing to say. Purely because it was nowhere on my radar. There are some places you end up in life and you can say “Yup, saw that coming”, but other times you look around you and say “Wow, how did I get here?” This blog is going to show my utter and complete ignorance of the Jewish faith. Thank you to my Jewish friends for putting up with me. Shalom.

Where to begin? It was quite an enjoyable experience, however it was very, how should I say this, curious for me. Let me explain. It was like going to see a film because a friend has told you how good it is. You go, but you have no idea what the film is about, you have no expectations, you just go and wait to see what’ll happen.

For example, did you know that men and women do not sit together in a Synagogue? I didn’t, so guess who almost went in the wrong door. Thanks to a very nice woman who happened to be going in at the same time I learned this in the nick of time.

So I get seated, I have my kippah on, I’m good, until I realize that I’ve forgotten my phone in my jacket back at the coat check. That’ll never do. Up I jump, buzz back to the coat check and explain to the nice young man at the counter that I’ve forgotten my phone in my coat, which I would like. He looks at me like I have lost my mind! He says to me “It is Shabbat,” and stares at me. I look back at him, he looks back at me. Awkward pause. Blink, blink. I turn and walk away. I have no idea what he is talking about but I am smart enough to realize that I am not getting my phone right now. (Turns out Sat. is the holy day in the Jewish faith and they do not use electronics, found out later)

Back to the Synagogue with me.

As it turns out there is little to no English spoken during a Bar Mitzvah, well at least the one I went to, AND it’s a musical! Almost everything is sung, but it is sung in Hebrew. I will be honest, I spent most of my time wondering what was going on. I want to thank the three older gentlemen who were sitting behind me. Once they realized I was as out of place as a penguin on the beach, they gave me the heads up about a few things so I didn’t make a complete ass out of myself.

Getting back to the singing, it looks incredibly difficult. We’re not talking Church hymns here, where everyone jumps in and it really doesn’t matter what you sound like. We are talking one singer with the Rabbi directing, then everyone jumps in at certain points. It’s all very choreographed and cultured. So I sat there wondering how does everyone know when to jump in and stand up, what words to say, when to raise their hands, etc. etc. After about two hours I realized why. These people are here for the long haul!

I should have caught on when I asked my friend what time I had to be there.

I grew up Protestant United. If our Sunday morning services went over an hour the church elders started to cough politely and look at their watches while fanning themselves with the Service Handout papers. When I asked my friend what time I should be there for the service she said anytime between 9 and 10 AM. I thought ‘strange’ but ok. I got there at 9:30am, figuring right in the middle should be sweet. I think it was 1:30pm when we walked out. Jewish people do not mess around when it comes to Synagogue, let me tell you. I don’t know if it was only because of the Bar Mitzvah, or because the Rabbi had a full house (like I said, I had no idea what was going on) but we were there and the Rabbi was making it count. So yes it was long, but I have to admit they pack a bunch in there. There was singing (lots of singing), laughing, clapping, candy throwing, the list goes on.

The thing that stands out in my mind the most was the congregation, perhaps this is not the right word for the people that attend a Synagogue, but it what I was taught. They were beautiful. From the moment I walked into the Synagogue in my sweater vest and no tie (you think my friend would have told me it was a full on dark suit affair) I was welcomed. Almost every person who passed me, old and young alike, stopped to shake my hand, wish me peace, and welcome me. I left with the feeling that this wasn’t just something they pulled out of the closet once and awhile, dusted off and put back, this was what these people lived.

Truth be told it made me nostalgic for simpler days when I was part of a church, a congregation that cared about each other.

Gus

 

Day 4 of the Cold

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Photo from examiner.com

Yes I have a man cold. I have been a shut in for three days now and I can’t take it anymore.

Actually that is not true, I tried to go to work on Friday. I am one of those idiots who feels guilty when they don’t go to work, are you like that? If you are I feel sorry for you, what is wrong with us? Since I didn’t go to work on Thursday I dragged my sick ass to work Friday morning with the intent of doing as much as I could for as long as I could hold out and coming back home. I happened to meet my boss in the lunch room as I was walking in, this was his reaction.

“EEwwwww you look like shit. What are you doing here?” He bolted for the door yelling over his shoulder “Do whatever it is you came in for and go home, and don’t come to my office, call me if you need to talk to me!”

I left.

That was day two, sat on the couch, watched TV, finished a book and felt sorry for myself.

Here is the worst part, my wife can’t take care of me cause she is sicker than I am! It started with my son, he was sick pretty much the whole month of January and it looks the sick train is gonna just keep on rolling into February. Not his fault, he goes to school and we all know school is a germ factory. But those kids are young and strong, they rebound quickly, little buggers, not like us old folks.

Day three, both daughters visited, they were not impressed with us, apparently my wife and I should not stay together in the house for to long. Wife was beginning to feel a bit better. Good enough to go out for supplies anyway, thank god, needed to stock up on OJ and cold pills. Who needs to eat? I just sleep, drink and pee.

Day four, woke up, and things seem to be a bit looser in my chest. Coughed up something that yelled back at me when I spit it into the toilet. Going to venture out today. Fresh air, need fresh air!

Gus

 

 

 

 

 

Laughing (at me?)

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photo from immortalhumans.com

My kids poke fun at me (a lot). In fact my wife and I taught them how to do it. We have that kind of a relationship, we enjoy laughing. My wife and I have always had the same attitude, life can get brutal sometimes but you have to laugh at it, don’t let it beat you. This is what we have done for our 20 odd years together, and for us, it has worked. We are still in love, we still enjoy each other and we still get up looking forward to the day (ok maybe not everyday).

When I have written a new post the first thing I do is grab my phone, text my kids and wife to let them know. They are my biggest fans, of course I am theirs, well I might come in second, my wife is pretty competitive. I often get a wise ass text back, such as “is this one gonna make me cry?”

They have made a point in letting me know that my posts are ‘sappy’. One daughter talking to the other “did you read Dad’s last post?” the answer from daughter number two “was it about getting old and dying and not having any friends?” They are then joined by my sons and wife until the whole room is laughing at my expense. You know what I LOVE IT! When we are together we can find something to laugh at (even if it is me), we can find things in common to talk about, we can be happy.

When I decided to begin a blog (at my children’s urging I might add, you rotten kids) I had no idea what it was going to be, but I knew it was going to be about aging, what I had seen and done up until now. A sort of diary to help me with the whole aging process, cause let me tell you getting old ain’t for the faint of heart! If you are over 40 you know what I am talking about, if you are under, take my word for it, granted 40 is the new thirty.

The idea of this post came to me because of an incident that happened the other day. I was out running. As I came down my street I noticed, ahead of me’ a young woman, about 25 or so, walking her German shepherd. I had seen her and her dog before, the dog is only a puppy but it’s huge. She noticed me coming and sort of pulled into a driveway and had the dog sit while I passed by. As I passed I said to the young lady “he is not very old”. She explained to me that he was only a puppy but liked to jump, which scared the bejesus out of people. We had a nice exchange and away I went. As I thought about the exchange a little later I realized to myself that I have now reached the age where I am no longer a threat to young women. They no longer think of me as ‘hitting’ on them. I have now reached the age were they call me Sir, and have no qualms with chatting with me for awhile.

That SUCKS!

I came home and told my wife about the exchange and what I thought, she said to me “why are you talking to strange young women you perv”

Gus

Take my advice!

imagesCAOHYS9MWe all love to give advice.
“You know what you should do…”
“Tell you what I would do…”
“If I was in your shoes…”
Oh ya, we absolutely love it!! It’s one of the few things in life that people like to give away for free. Here’s the best part, you don’t even have to know someone for them to give you advice. You might be in the doctors office “Bloody nose huh, when I have a bloody nose …”, you might be waiting for the bus “cold huh, know what you should do to keep warm…
Where ever you are right now, look around and you can bet your ass the person next to you would be only to happy to let you know what you should be doing. Unless you are alone of course in which case turn on your TV there are hundreds of TV shows willing to tell you what you should be doing, eating, wearing, etc. etc.

As good as we are at giving advice, we are terrible at taking it. Oh we smile and nod and pretend we are on board. But the moment the advice is given we either disregard it, or get some different advice. Then again sometimes we outright disagree with it and flat out let the adviser know, “know what, take your advice and shove it right up your…”

I bring up this whole issue because someone recently asked me for some advice. I find as I get older I seem to know more about many things but I actually hand out less advice. I find that people generally do not listen so why waste my time, they are going to do what they are going to do anyway. Might as well let them find out for themselves. That may seem like a grumpy attitude but how many times have you really taken the time, put in the effort and tried to help someone out with the benefit of your knowledge, only to have them do exactly what they were going to do in the first place?

However, in this last instance when I was asked I did give my advice. Was it taken, who knows, but here it is.

“Quit worrying about it and just let it happen, have a little faith”

Gus