Thursday, January 17, 2013

Puttin' On The Dog


The elegant invitation read,

WE CELEBRATE
Banjo the Wonderdog
AS HE IS CALLED TO BARK MITZVAH…
FROM EIGHT-THIRTY O’CLOCK IN THE EVENING
UNTIL THERE IS PEACE IN THE LAND OF CANINE.

Last Saturday night, I went to my second bark mitzvah.  You never heard of such things?  Read on!

The first oy!: There was no “peace in the land of Canine”—nor could there be when the house on that land regularly bursts from its rafters and studs with the talent, energy and trigger wit of a madcap musical savant who makes Stephen Colbert look comatose: cabaret top dog Mark Nadler, who doesn’t know what it means to be dog tired.  By no coincidence, Mark was the host/impresario of the first bark mitzvah I participated in—for his wheaten terrier, Admiral Rufus K. Boom, on the 6th of Tevet, 5765 (according to the Hebrew calendar).  In my date book,  December 18, 2004.

The next oy!: The gaggle of guests, many of whom genuinely like house pets, were assembled to render unto Banjo the things which are Banjo's, and unto each other the clarion notes that are God’s gift to them.  Arm-and-arm’d to the teeth and filled to the grandiloquent gills with deliberately trayf  (look it up) food and bounteous drink, performers, cabaret and Nadler aficionados, and stray writers, 150 celebrants in all, donned satin yarmulkes (commemoratively inscribed in the lining!) of teal, navy blue, emerald green, hot pink, red, yellow, orange and purple—not to daven, but to kvell over Mark’s “big, charcoal-colored, fuzzy dog,” Banjo the Wonderdog… “as he is called to Bark Mitzvah,” saith Mark.  Mark was called to the piano. 

A bissel gossip: Banjo’s parentage is uncertain.  Du herst?  Jews traditionally determine  the religion of the child based on the religion of its mother.  Unless you’re a disciple of the Todd Akin-Richard Mourdock school of biology, you’ll agree it’s easier to identify the offspring’s mother than the father.  But, when Mark claimed Banjo from an animal shelter, the best, the only, information they could give him was, “The father was a schnauzer.”  Sha shtill!
 
Where there’s an oy there’s a vey: Mark spared nothing for this bark mitzvah!  The cake was the ultimate work of art—the doggonedest one any of us had ever seen!  A 36” x 22” life-like sculpture of Banjo, astride and hovering over an open scroll, his name and the occasion in Hebrew letters, some bagels and challah, and random tchotchkes.  Pecan pie-flavored—because, Mark tenderly explains, “Banjo tends to be a little nutty.”  Banjo’s “coat” is a dark fondant. 

Oy gevalt! Banjo’s sculpture-tail was supposed to wag!  Mark paid extra for that!  Instead, it spun… and spun.  And when the fondant started to melt… I’ll let Mark finish the story.  Some other time.  

Cutting into Banjo the Wonderdog “the Cake” wasn’t easy for Mark!  But the filling, the fondant—maybe the Greeks have a word for it—the Jews don’t.  I had two incomparable slices!

Singer followed singer for hours.  The last song of the party aired at 3:20 a.m.

In lieu of gifts, Mark asked his guests to make a donation to ASPCA, but I couldn’t leave it there—I wrote a special lyric for Banjo—a doggerel—to Jacques Offenbach’s “Barcarolle.”  I called it “Banjo’s Bark ‘n’ Role.”  Here’s a few dog-eared lines from Mark’s  rendition:
Pups like blues or music that soothes, but I’d rather bark ‘n role. 
Mutts like verse, iambic and worse!, but I’d rather bark ‘n role.
Give me rock, doo-wahs and schlock, and watch my tuchas soar.
Screw three-quarter, pop and Porter, I’m no dinosaur!
What I mean, I’m only thirteen, and I mean to bark ‘n role.</
Oy gevalt, it’s in my gestalt, I do one mean bark ‘n role!…
Today I am a hundt, unt I’ll say vat I “vunt…”
Muzzle tov, Banjo!


5 comments:

  1. Delicious write-up, Ray! Everybody had a ball (except, perhaps, the barkmitzvah boy, who was sleeping (cowering?) under a chair upstairs). He is now a man-dog!
    Susan

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  2. "Peace in the Land of Canine..." Brilliant!

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  3. Sounds like not only a blast but a once (or twice?) in a lifetime experience! Thanks for the detailed and beautifully written retelling!

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  4. Ray --

    Wish I were there! Would you happen to have a leftover piece of the cake in your freezer?

    I heard recently that a very deep-voiced dog -- a basset profundo -- has learned to sing your song and will perform it with Mark at parties . . .

    Your Dutch Treat pal,
    Tom Bisky

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