I’m not sure what has been making me pull a Proust and reminisce so much about the years 1992 to 1993 as of late. Last week, it was my father dropping the Torah, and this week it’s the painful memories of being simultaneously rejected by two women the year I was to become a man. It started with a Hebrew School project where we were asked to send out an invite to a celebrity we wanted to have attend our Bar Mitzvah parties. Even though my coming-of-age ceremony was hockey-themed, I didn’t invite the popular players of the time. I had recently discovered the awesomeness of women, and I was not about to become thirteen–let alone a man–just to host a total sausage party. Instead of writing the requisite single letter, I took it upon myself, in those dark pre-internet days, to find the addresses of not one, but two popular women of the time: Mayim Bialik, of the television show Blossom, and the daughter of our president, Chelsea Clinton.
Getting their addresses wasn’t hard; I figured that Mayim lived on the NBC lot, and Chelsea Clinton lived at the White House. A simple trip to the public library helped me figure that out, and so I set about writing letters to the most powerful daughter in the world, and the most Jewish girl on television. I figured my odds were pretty good.
My letter to Mayim was straight forward. I told her that since we were both Jews, it would be great if she could come to the party after the ceremony and pretend she was my girlfriend, because up until that point, girls were repulsed by me. I waited for weeks, and never got a response. This was crushing, but I figured Chelsea would at least write me back, seeing that it was the politically correct thing to do. For those of you who don’t remember, Chelsea Clinton was a nerd. She was a nerd with a cool father that happened to be president. She had braces, curly hair, good grades and secret service guards. This worked for me; I was a nerd with braces, somewhat curly hair, decent grades, and a kid I paid not to beat me up. There had to be something there, and so for Chelsea’s letter, I enclosed a picture of myself wearing my best sweater, my hair slicked back and matted down with gel and hair spray. It wasn’t a suggestive photo, but a glimpse of the man that could be her suitor. I wrote the letter slowly, as to conceal my disgusting penmanship, and I even mentioned that I “love the song that the Gin Blossoms wrote about you,” mistaking the lyrics of the then-popular song “Hey Jealousy” for “Hey Chelsea.”
I waited for weeks leading up to my Bar Mitzvah, and like my attempts to convince Ms. Bialik to come act like she was my girlfriend, I was unable to woo Chelsea Clinton into a mere response. “They get so many letters,” my always supportive Nana told me, “and anyway, she isn’t even Jewish.”
She was right. I had to get over the dual heartbreak inflicted by both Mayim and Chelsea; I had to become a man, and to become a man means getting over silly heartbreaks, but I can’t help but wonder, if she had seen that letter from a Jewish kid from Chicago in 1993, what could have been…..