Tuesday, July 04, 2006


Every society, every culture, has its own ways of marking the transition between Childhood and Adulthood.

We Jews have our Bar Mitzvah and Bat Mitzvah, at which we mark a male or female child’s reaching the age of being morally responsible for his or her own behavior. Mexicans have the quinceañera, celebrating a girl’s reaching sexual maturity. And for all I know, the Mbogo-Mbogo of the Gollywog Valley still have a ritual feast when they first thread that chicken bone through their nasal septa.

Similarly, wedding ceremonies mark the transition between people’s lives as single individuals and their new existence as a member of a family unit. The traditional marriage involves a profession of future faithfulness and – in simple terms – the formation of a new social and economic partnership. In many societies, the bride and groom are expected to consummate the marriage right on the spot; the relatively chaste kiss at the altar is a relic of a time when the two would immediately retire to a private space, there to perform the physical act that would cement the union. We’ve all seen movie images of bloody sheets waved outside the window in front of gleeful wedding guests, images that would indicate that, in some cultures, the practice of the Ritual Deflowering still lives. In fact, at traditional Jewish weddings, after the wedding blessings are said and the wineglass shattered, the happy couple retire to a private room for five or ten minutes of privacy, with guards (shomrim) posted outside the closed door to ensure that (1) the couple is not disturbed, and (2) neither of them tries to escape.

These practices – including the Ritual Deflowering – all demark the milestones of our lives. And so do similar Coming of Age moments:
  • The first kiss.
  • The Prom Date.
  • High School graduation.
  • Signing a mortgage note for the first time – now, that’s a real scrotum-tightener!
  • Becoming a parent.
I, along with several other worthy individuals, had a rare opportunity to witness a Ritual Deflowering last week.

You can read about it here. It’s a fair retelling of the story, the story of how Eric, the Straight White Guy, had his Traffic Citation Cherry busted wide open after we departed Rob Smith’s funeral.

How this guy managed to walk the planet for over thirty-three years without so much as a single parking ticket is beyond my feeble powers of imagination…but that’s all over now.

Give the guy some credit, though. He took it like a real man. No whining or wheedling for him. No begging for mercy. No whipping out the “I’m on my way back from a funeral” or “I’ve got a Weeping Cripple in the back seat” excuses. [Well, he did mention the funeral, but only as the citation was being pressed into his hand – too late to do any good.]

I recall an episode when I was five years old, riding in the car with my grandmother in Wantagh, New York. She had rolled a stop sign, or perhaps run a red light. A traffic cop literally chased her down on foot, whistle blowing excitedly. And I was absolutely convinced, in my perfervid five-year-old imagination, that they would haul the old lady’s ass to jail. I completely lost my shit in front of the cop, wailing, “Please don’t take my Grandma to jail! Pleeease!” It must have been sufficiently amusing and/or alarming to the officer that he let us go with a warning I had invented the Snivelling Toddler defense!

To his credit, Eric did not try this.

And so we welcome him to the ranks of Real Grown-Ups, we Proud Recipients of Traffic Citations, we Moving Violators! We wave the bloody summons outside the window, to the merriment of the Bloggy-Sphere! The Ritual Deflowering is complete!

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