Birthdays? I'd prefer a batmitzvah

Celebrity guests and extravagant presents – give me a Jewish simchah any day


By Bryony Gordon, July 1, 2010
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I don't like to boast - oh goodness, I have already lied in the first five words of this column - but I have been to a lot of parties in my life. This is because my existence is essentially empty and hollow and I have no hobbies or interests other than drinking and smoking and trying to find a boyfriend.

Anyway, these parties have ranged from excruciatingly bad (there was one in a squat, where a man with dreadlocks collapsed and vomited on me and a friend) to absolutely brilliant. For instance, once, work flew me all the way to Los Angeles to attend Elton John's Oscar night party. I saw Paris Hilton, and David Furnish actually came up and spoke to me (he said "I hope you are having a nice time"), and the fact that I found this thrillingly exciting just goes to show you how pathetic my life is.

Yet the best party that I ever went to was way back in 1993, when I attended my friend Sammy's barmitzvah. My parents explained that this was a ceremony to mark the fact that Sammy had become a man. This seemed most odd to me, given that Sammy was four foot tall and spoke with a squeak. But by the end of the day I had decided that if that was the kind of celebration boys got on becoming a man, then I wanted to become one too.

My parents looked alarmed - had their first-born just announced that she wanted a sex change? - until I explained that I was merely jealous of all the gifts that had been lavished on Sammy. With each extravagant present, he did indeed become more manly, standing taller, his chest puffed out with masculine smugness. One guest handed him a cheque for £1,000. Another gave him a surfboard. I recall that Frank Skinner, at the height of his Fantasy Football fame, was there.

If that was the celebration boys got, then I wanted to become one

I told my mother and father that it seemed unfair that Sammy's 13th birthday party featured celebrity guests and huge amounts of money, given that my own had been a sleepover at which I was handed five copies of the same Take That album. "Had your mother converted," snapped my Jewish father, "you could have had a batmitzvah." Damn my Godless parents - damn them to hell (of course I didn't really think that).

I mention this because in a few days, I turn 30, and I still yearn for someone to throw me a lavish party. Along with a white wedding to George Clooney, this is what every girl dreams of, and I am still waiting for both.

Every year, I have celebrated my birthday by opening the doors of whatever pit I happen to be living in at the time, and for my generosity, I am rewarded with a five-day clean up which seems to involve the neverending discovery of lager cans filled with cigarette ends.

But this year, for the big 3-0, I decided that enough was enough. Despite everybody's protestations that I had to have a party, I reasoned that the best birthday present I could give myself would be a year off.

Secretly, of course, I hoped that my friends and family might organise a surprise party, complete with This is Your Life style speeches, and a man jumping out of a cake. Instead, I have been persuaded to go to the pub. Oh well. There's always 40, eh?

    Last updated: 11:42am, October 14 2010

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