It's been a weird week.
I know, "weird" is a strangely non-descriptive word. It tells you nothing about the quality of the week. It could mean pretty much anything. Paranormal events are weird. Grey pubic hair is weird. Supermodels are weird. Okay, let me start over.
Maybe because it's the end of the year, people seem to be making a lot of amends this week. Some are working a 12-step; I just had breakfast with a friend who told me her ex-husband had written a classic amends letter. It was apologetic, non-blamey. I asked her if it made her feel better, and she said no, not at all. She cried and felt angry and disappointed. Amends letters are one of those things in life that remind us that no matter how optimistic we start out, we all fuck up and get fucked with. We're born into these smooth pink or caramel bodies, and no matter what, they're going to end up scarred.
Though I don't work any particular program, I wrote a similar letter this week. The end of my relationship with the person to whom I wrote was somewhat heinous. Kind of Richard III meets Heathers. It was hard to write the letter. I kept wanting to be right about stuff. I wanted to enumerate the many ways I've risen above, like a pale, frizzy-haired Al Gore with a Semitic butt. Instead, I sat still for a long time. It was kind of like meditating, except I try not to call it that because the word makes my nose itch and then I can't sit still. I repeated a phrase to myself, which is sort of like a mantra except I don't call it a mantra because that makes me want to drive down to Main Street, Santa Monica and pick a fight with the first dreadlocked white dude with a yoga mat slung over his shoulder. Considering how ill-at-ease I am with the terminology and trappings of the New Age, you will find it amusing that my Repeating Phrase was get over yourself, get over yourself, get over yourself.
So I did my best, and I wrote a letter to Let It All Go. Of course, unlike in that legend they tell you on High Holidays about some holy tome into which final conclusions about you are inscribed forevsies, there is no real "closing the book" in life. I got a long, amendsy letter back, which was mostly decent and thoughtful but had one or two things in it I'd love to have argued about. All in all, I felt less cleansed and more depleted. Who started that lie that closure feels awesome? To me, closure usually feels like the tail end of a bad flu.
Which is how I found myself at this breakfast with this Very Hot Jewess, comparing notes on Letting It Go. "It's so weird," she said. Which hopefully now you understand means queasy and ambivalent. We agreed: acting like a proper fucking grownup in difficult moments feels less like a party and more like taking a kickboxing class so hard you vomit in the trash can.
Cheery. Anyway. Here's where I'm going with this: life is hard sometimes. By my estimation, life is really ridiculously hard between three and five times a year - the kind of hard that could lead you to burn all your diaries or get jiggy with a crack pipe or bang a lot of skeezy chicks or something. Pick your poison.
Time was, the Jewish culture had its finger on the pulse of Really Ridiculously Hard. We were so on the ball about the toughness of getting through a calendar year that we constructed several holidays that mandated indulgence. Purim is a perfect example. In theory, the celebration of a ballsy Hot Jewess who married a king, then risked beheading when she revealed her true Hebraic ID and asked King Hubby to save her peeps from the Hitler of the day. Drink till you can't tell the hero's name from the Adolf's! We survived! Thanks in large part to the fact that Jewish chicks are so blindingly attractive they can actually save thousands of lives with their hotness! Woot!
I have another hypothesis about Purim. I don't think it's really about the story in the scroll, any more than Hannukah's really about a dram of oil and not Xmas envy. My theory: human beings living in a society that requires daily repression (i.e. any civilized society, or we'd all be fucking and murdering each other till the cows came home. And saw us and ran away again) need a certain kind of periodic release. That release can only be achieved by singing at the top of your lungs and dancing till your legs buckle. Since we repressed civilized types tend to be a wee bit shy, the catharsis is facilitated by getting shitfaced.
Jews knew this. We didn't just get our drank on, do the mashed potato and croon - we did it in synagogue. With friends and family. As a community. A community made stronger because that bitch you were mad at is now hora-ing sweatily at the bimah, that guy who was too shy to ask you out is earnest-jokey serenading you, the strictest of parents is handing their kids frigging noisemakers which were invented to make loud, irritating noise, your exhausted business partner has stopped stressing for long enough to throw his arm around you and sing till he finally does what he needed to do all along, which was have a good laugh or a good cry or both.
Do they still conduct Judaism like that anywhere? All I know is, I've attended schuls reform, conservative, and even on a few distinctly weird occasions orthodox... and I've never experienced that epic, as-one Letting It Go.
That is why Simon is a genius. I'm sure you've gathered by now that he's a man with a formidable brain, but I attribute his creation of The Classic Rock Singalong to his deeply Jewy, ferociously hot little soul. I went to the shindig last night. Sime was onstage with the Singalong's co-founder and amazing musical director, VHJ and bandleader extraordinaire Josh Pickering (who, it should be said, did the lion's share of the musical heavy-lifting) and other assorted Jewish and Jew-adjacent musicians, rocking the fuck out to the Beatles, Springsteen, Oasis, Bon Jovi, Pat Benatar - you know, all those songs that are really good to sing drunk and at the top of one's lungs. M Bar, where the festivities were held, was packed with happy, tipsy folk singing along with sexy gusto.
I sometimes get drunk. I sing at the top of my lungs frequently, alone in my car. But: the twain haven't met since a regrettable performance of Bye Bye Birdie in high school. (Actually, I totally just made that up, but if I really had been drunk I don't think the performance would have been any worse.)
But last night? Bitch, please. I was a rock star. We all were. All the serious adult crap of life - foiled relationships, difficult letters, amends that don't fix jack about the past; plus strikes, stress, your dog managing to shit all over not just your carpet but also your wall, that thing where you keep getting older and requiring more expensive face creams, the price of oil (not at the gas pump, but in human lives) and whatever else burns a hole in your duodenum at three in the morning - allllll that crap? Melted away like so much pinkberry. We all just Let It Go. I leaned against my dear pal Dinda; stretched my arms wide to serenade Sime's smokin' lifemate Julia, decked out in spiky Billy Idol hair and a bedazzled AC/DC shirt; tilted my head back, forgetting utterly that in life I am more self-conscious than anyone knows; and SANG.
Please enjoy the sight of Sime, age 14, as Hugo in Birdie.
I feel much better now.
So - all you guys who were there and are reading this, thank you for participating. Thanks for standing on tables and shrieking Don't, don't you want me. Thanks for banging drums. Thanks for putting on funny wigs. Thanks for laughing your asses off. You guys rock.
Here in LaLaBurg, when you go looking for a healing, you can easily throw down several hundred dollars an hour for a little touch or talk or bottle of pills. Last night, the healing could be had for a five-buck cover charge. If you were lucky enough to be me, you even had your own precious Dinda who bought you drinks as a gesture of solidarity with the Writer's Guild of America. The hoarseness and hangover were a negligible surcharge.
Back in the day, those genius old Jews had a name for it: temple. If the English translations are right, they even used the word awesome. I mean, what is "Don't Stop Believin'" but a modern psalm? Okay, and also the soundrack to that baffling Sopranos finale that stressed us all out. Modern life is complicated. My advice is to concentrate on the music. It'll help you let it go.