For many practicing Jews, seventh grade is THE year to shine. It's the year of your Bar or Bat Mitzvah. It's the year where you practice a portion of the Torah and recite it in front of your friends, family, and entire congregation. It's the year where you throw a big party with a picture of your pimply pizza face printed out and taped to a poster board for your friends to write congratulatory notes on.
Yes, it's also the year that you've probably begun puberty. The year that your t-zone is covered with a perpetual slick of oil. It's the year your braces become decorated with holiday-coordinated rubber bands. It's the year your hair frizzes and crimps so much even a full army of butterfly clips won't contain it. It's the year your crushes become crushing, your handwriting becomes loopy, and your eyelids become sparkly. It's the year you discover vanilla body mist and LipSmackers chapstick. It's the year your voice changes frequency and your heart flutters frequently.
Yes, it's the year of chasing your crushes down the hall, along the dance floor and across the Internet. So what happens when you mix together Sprite, cake, and a group of hormone-infected, lovesick thirteen-year-olds? You get a Bat Mitzvah! If you had a Bat Mitzvah, these are some memories that you'll probably be haunted by for the rest of your life. Just mention of the words Coke or Pepsi will send a shiver down your spine.
Nasal Rendition Of Your Torah Portion Inspired By Mariah Carey
In seventh grade you were old enough want to sing in a sexy voice, but too young to know that you were actually singing out of your nose. You didn't want to give up an opportunity to show off your chops, so you used your Torah portion to tap into those Mariah Carey riffs and vocal swells. Little did you know, you were singing so far out of your nose you didn't even need to open your mouth.
That Oversized Picture Of Your Face
Having a signing board was a must. So, before the big day, your parents would pick the best picture of your face they could find (usually an awkward school photo) and would take it to the copy center to be printed out at a max size. Then they'd stick the photo on a big piece of poster board and scatter some pens around for your friends to write little notes to you like "amazing job! luv u 4eva!".
The MC And His Harem Of Dancers
Every Bat Mitzvah had an MC. This was usually a man in his mid-30s who at some point in his life thought he'd be an R&B singer or DJ but then realized that the Bar and Bat Mitzvah circuit was pretty good money and could afford him that Mazda he always wanted. The companies that sent the MC would always also send a group of dancers that were scantily dressed as sexier versions of Jasmine from Aladdin. The MC's job was to get the girls riled up and the dancer's job was to get the dads up out of their seats. Both usually did the trick.
The Candle-Lighting Ceremony
This was a painstakingly rehearsed ceremony. You could dedicate a candle to only 13 friends or family members so it was quite an honor to be chosen. Some dedications were basic, like "Grandma, thanks for being an amazing Grandma, this candle is for you," and others were more kitschy like "Nancy, you're so fancy, I can't till they play O Town so we can get dancy."
Socks On The Dance Floor
Things really started to get cray when the Mary Janes and loafers came off and the socks hit the dance floor. Once that part of the night began, there was no going back. The kids were getting loose and the adults were getting drunk. People were slipping and sliding and bumping and grinding.
The Slow Dances
Once that Titanic song came on, the vibe changed. The kids who had already declared their feelings for each other flocked to each other with open stiff arms and waddled side to side like penguins with more than a foot between them as Celine Dion made hearts swell. The kids who didn't have dance partners would at this time pretend to have some business to do back at the table where they'd rummage through their purse for some Dr. Pepper LipSmackers or go to the bathroom to silently sob into their hands.
The Song Requests
Sure the MC had some great song choices, but there was always a super new jam or a super old jam that you wanted to hear. There was always a group of girls pressing themselves up against the sound stage shouting songs titles. If the song requests were granted, the girls would go nuts and break out into a pre-choreographed dance that involved lots of body rolls and pivot steps.
The Party Favors
Who doesn't want an inflated saxophone or a pair of neon oversized sunglasses. And glow sticks! How did you ever dance without glow sticks? No matter how many of these deflated and broken favors you have lying around at your house, you're always down for more.
The Party Games
One particular game, which was led by the now very sweaty and hoarse MC, required you to find a partner (usually a crush) and take turns running across the dance floor to sit on the other's knee. The point of the game was to not be last, but what the point of the game became was a contest with yourself to see how much weight you could keep on your feet whilst pretending to be sitting on your partner's knee.
The Cake-Induced Sugar High
Once the cake comes out, all hell breaks loose. The sugar high for a 13-year-old is probably equivalent the meth high of a 40-year-old. There's a mix of extreme energy, rage, sexual curiosity, and quivering emotions.
The Personalized Boxer Shorts
It was the party host's duty to order some cool personalized scrubs or boxer shorts for their guests to take home with them. By stamping the name and date of themselves on the upper thigh, the night was immortalized. Ain't no one going to forget Kaitlyn's Starry Night with that galactic template on their upper right leg.
The Bathroom ~Hook Ups~
Some 13-year-olds are more hormonal than others. But surely, there was always a couple pressing their chapped lips together in the bathroom and counting how many tongue swirls they could get in, until an adult broke it up.
Images: Giphy, HBO