Bar Mitzvah ng
Had time and youth bypassed the life of the par
Special to The Jewish News
"A ainie Rubin was a sensible
woman with simple tastes.
Her fingernails were un-
painted. And the fashion
pages of her newspaper
served only to line the
When it came time to
make her son Glen's bar
mitzvah, she was deter-
mined not to put on a three-ring Bar-
num and Bailey affair. Within one
week she just about completed plans
for a simple service and a sensible
celebration. The only element that re-
mained to be chosen was music for the
"Here's what I like," said Glen, in-
serting a tape in his beloved boom
box. The song that blasted forth was
Glen's current favorite, "Parents Are
Prehistoric," performed by the Noisy
Lainie watched, listened and
smiled. It wasn't exactly "The Star
Spangled Banner," "The
Marseillaise" or "Hatikvah," but it
was an anthem no less. A patriot song
As often happneed when he
listened to "rap," Glenn became "the
human beat box!' His head bobbed
and weaved. His cheeks filled and his
lips pursed, producing sounds that
brought to mind a lawn mower engine
overdosing on jet fuel. "Sputter, gasp,
chug. Chug, gasp sputter."
Lainie tried to envision a
candlelighting ceremony led by her
offspring. She pictured the reaction of
some of the older relatives. Uncle Ir-
ving would probably send for a
psychiatrist. Aunt Sadie would call an
exorcist . . . There had to be a musical
"How about hiring Harvey?" she
"Who?" Glenn shouted, turning
down the volume of the Noisy Boys.
"You know Harvey Kleinman, my
buddy from college days," Lainie said.
"He had the most popular bar mitz-
vah band around town for many
years. He'd be wonderful."
"Right. Sure," groaned Glenn, in
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 3, 1989
the tone he reserved for incredibly
foolish adult suggestions. "Harvey's
got to be at least as old as you are,
Mom. My friends don't like music
from the 1800s. It would be embar-
Lainie didn't press the point fur-
ther. Time changed everything.
Harvey Kleinman himself had said as
much the last time she'd run into him
at the supermarket. He hadn't been
his usual buoyant, boyish self.
"I've been thinking about getting
out of the bar mitzvah biz," he'd told
her. "Maybe- Mick Jagger can kid
himself, but Harvey Kleinman knows
when it's time to trade in his strut for
It was a sad thought. Harvey, a
bachelor who lived alone, had long
been the conquering hero of the ban-
quet halls. Armed only with his
Fender guitar and a bagful of dance
contest trophies, he'd tamed hordes of
savage teenagers. And with a few bars
of "Beltz," he'd brought tears to the
old folks' eyes.
Then the day of the disc jockeys
had arrived. Slicker, younger guys
with high tech turntables had moved
"Carpetbaggers," said Harvey.
"Imposters. They can't sing. They
can't play. They're overrunning the
Lainie knew she wanted a real,
live musician. But who? Suddenly,
serendipitously, a name flashed in her
mind: Elton Z. She'd read about him
in the papers.
He was a local singer/
guitarist searching for a recording
contract. He was playing local clubs
in the meantime. Hip enough to suit
Glen, yet sufficiently mellow to please
the adults, he just might be The One.
Scanning the entertainment sec-
tion, she noted the place where he
was performing and went to see Elton
Z. What she saw looked good. The
dance floor was packed with a varie-
ty of people moving to the music of the
honey-voiced Elton Z.
Lanky, satin-shirted and possess-
ed of very spiked hair, Elton Z. look-
ed like he had walked off of an album
cover. He would not strike Glen as
overly antique. Better yet, he seemed
to play everything from "The Ten-
nessee Waltz" to "Uptown Girl."
During his break, Lainie called
him over to her table. "Id like to talk
about hiring you for a party," she told
him with genuine enthusiasm.
"What kind of party?" Elton
responded with genuine reluctance.
It was a sad thought.
Harvey had long
been the conquering
hero of the banquet
Lainie kept smiling. He was a real
musician after all, and she knew that
real musicians were moody types.
"My son's bar mitzvah," Lainie
said brightly. She watched as Elton
rubbed his forehead with his fingers,
as if trying to call forth a definition.
Obviously, "bar mitzvah" was not one
of his everyday experessions.
"Bar-mitz-vah," Elton repeated
slowly, like a man going into a trance.
But then a little light of recognition
appeared in his eyes: "Sure. I do
them:' he said. "I hear bar mitzvahs
are good gigs?'
"Gigs," Lainie repeated slowly,
with some concern. "This is going to
be a party, Elton, a celebration honor-
ing my son. I just love all the music
you've played and sung tonight. By
any chance, have you ever done a
Elton looked slightly embarrass-
ed. "Uh-horah?" he asked. He was
looking at Lainie and trying to figure
out just what this woman wanted.
Lainie laughted. "It's a dance,
Elton, and I can send you the sheet
music. As long as you sing like you
did here tonight, we'll be fine!'
Elton quoted Lainie a price
guaranteed to keep him out of the
starving artist category for a while.
Lainie, happy to have the matter
As she wrote Elton's deposit
check, she emphatically stated the ap-
pointed place, date and time. Then, in
her usual careful way, she recorded
the same data on Elton's check.
he night before the party,
Lainie sensed a listtle anxiety-
bee buzzing in her bonnet.
Glenn had done so well at the
synagogue that morning. She just
hoped the party would go as smoothly.
She decided to check in with Elton Z.
She dialed his home phone
number. "Elton. This is Lainie Rubin.
You're playing my party tomorrow
and I just wanted to confirm the time.
"Right:' said Elton Z. hoarsely,
like a man unwillingly roused from a
very deep sleep. He cleared his throat