JWR Schticks and groans

Jewish World Review Oct. 27 1998 / 7 Mar-Cheshvan, 5759

Virtual 'Mazel Tovs'

By Carol Cott Gross

I HOPE THEY HAVE A TELEPROMPTER at the next Bar Mitzvah or wedding I attend. Lights and cameras usually don't rattle me. But when a mike is shoved under my nose, I can hardly remember to say mazel tov, much less think of something witty or wise to say about the simcha, celebration.

No, I am not a celebrity. I'm not even a legend in my own living room. Lately, though, I've found that I have something in common with the likes of Madonna and Elizabeth Taylor: My private life has become almost extinct. And it seems like Bar Mitzvahs, and weddings are turning into media events, complete with camera crews and paparazzi.

The irony is that I never had much sympathy for media divas who complained about always having to be "on" even when they were off-stage. "Tsk, tsk," I'd sniff. "Well, darling, didn't you hear that there's a price to pay for fame and fortune? I should have such problems."

And now I do, without being rich or famous.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not the shy, retiring type. I love dressing up and "getting down" at a party. But since my antics are now being preserved for future generations, I'm not as uninhibited as I was B.V. (Before Video). When a tape of a recent Bat Mitzvah party was screened, and there I was lip-synching and bopping to the music, I decided that I had three choices. I could sit out any hora that would cause my celluloid to jiggle. I could go on an immediate diet. Or I could stop watching my own video performances. I opted for No. 3 because I love dancing and hate dieting.

But let me see you try taking a pass on screening a Bar Mitzvah or wedding video tape and still remain friends with your hosts. Be honest, or look bored, and you're persona non grata. Balking at watching a four hour tape of the celebration is going to bum out the parents of the Bar Mitzvah or the bride and groom.

"What do you mean, you don't want to watch my Brucie?" The B.M.'s mother will ask. If you're lucky, Brucie's parents will have had the tape edited to a mere three hours.

But even if the tape's been edited, I've never been lucky enough, to have any faux pas of mine end up on the cutting room floor. There I am playing the shlimiel forever. So I guess I'm going to have to get used to being shot from unflattering angles at the candle lighting ceremony, and looking downright klutzy doing the Miserlu.

Andy Warhol was right when he predicted that each of us would have 15 minutes of fame. But he failed to warn us that even fleeting fame can have its price --- that during my minutes, I'd be mumbling something inane while munching on baby lambchops at the cocktail hour.

So, folks, at the next Big Occasion when someone points video camera at me and orders me to, "Say something for the folk's who'll be watching" I'm not going to hide out in the Ladies Room, or plead laryngitis. Instead, I will affect the grand manner of a true star. I'll announce: "Would you pleeeease get outta my face!?"

Hey, it works for a Super Star like Roseanne, why not for a Pseudo-Star like me?

JWR contributor Carol Cott Gross is a Long Island-based write and director of Fly Without Fear, a New York City based support program.


©1998, Carol Cott Gross