Tuesday, August 25-6:30 AM. Toweling off from the shower I am listening to the last night’s voice mail.

“Bruce, I need you,” the ex-wife’s plaintive message began. “Call me.”

Not exactly how I planned to start my day. Never once in the history of mankind had she ever uttered those words in passion. This then, clearly, could not be good for the Jews.

But I called her back. Oddly, it was about neither love OR money.

“We have to do the seating for the wedding, “she exclaimed. The woman sounded like Caesar readying to cross the Rubicon.
“OK, I’ll email you my tables. Gotta go.”
“NO,” she yelped. (My dad heard it; he’s been dead since ’85).
Sensing immediately that this would be no short conversation, I asked her to hold a minute. I wonder if she knows that the concluding six minutes of our “talk” were on speaker-phone, or that I dried my naked body to her admonitions about index cards, seating charts and protocol). As Yogi Berra would say, “It was deja vu all over again.”

“Whatever you say.”

A man’s been to the moon. There are lights at Wrigley Field. How difficult can it be to put 200+ adults in a room for three hours?

Flashback: Mid-90’s and six of our elementary school friends flew from Cleveland to Paradise Island. Fenton was in charge of securing flight seat assignments, and … Stuart being Stuart, had no problem performing his task. One row had the three biggest, Treinish, Codgie, Bogart (with Glassman in the middle and Alan T squeezed against the window). Seated immediately behind the row were the minimally built Arthur, Bob and Stuart. Fenton laughed in three different time zones.

Back to the story: So today, on Shabbos (of all things), we met to arrange tables. Summarily rejecting my thought of a neutral venue, she summoned me to her home. I was met at the door by the dog formerly known as mine.

It was 4:30 PM as she ushered me to the kitchen table. There they sat, an army of RSVP’s, stacked in even rows like Nazi storm troupers.

“I brought my list.” I said proudly.
“No, we don’t do it that way!” she advised.

And then it became like baseball cards. Little piles of names, usually 8. We began horse-trading like youngsters.

“Need ‘em, need ‘em. Got ‘em.”
“Why can’t I just do the piles with my people and leave? You can do yours”
“No Bruce, that’s not we do it!”
“Why not?” (And who is the “we” she keeps referring to?).
“Please, this your daughter we’re doing this for!”

(Was there logic here or just Jewish guilt? I need a meeting.)
“Do you think Stacy cares who Michael Jacobson sits with?”
“But we want this to be nice!”

I said the serenity prayer to myself, accepting my lot. (Quietly sorting my friends, I gave no slight consideration to age, political affiliation, who is sleeping to whom, and, need I say, who has slept with whom).

You talk about “Six Degrees Of Separation?” Try assembling homogenous sets of couples compromised of Jews, Gentiles, Addicts, and a family that has rarely been accused of being functional.

This relative hates that relative. That relative thinks the other one’s boring. What about the divorce factor? And that’s family—supposedly the easy part!

The friends were even more challenging! Perhaps because I have been blessed with a myriad pals from a variety of sources….and, while everybody had somebody, still nobody melded with everybody. Needless to say the ex wasn’t thrilled when I suggested eight tables of four.

“We have to combine them!”
“Can’t.” I explained, noting that, for instance this one thought that one was phony, and that one had a history with the other one’s lady.

But we got it done. Had to cross-breed a bit. Had to laugh a bit. But the dye is cast. Julius Caesar has traversed the river. Fartic!

I’m exhausted. It was fun, but frustrating, but…well, let’s just say that the labor for our first born son took less time.

Returning to my car, I SO wanted to share this experience. Grabbing my cell phone I noticed the date, August 29. Today is Ben Selzer’s birthday.

I’ve spoken of him before—he was a winner. Better yet, you could seat him with anyone.

6 Responses to “LOVE THE ONE YOU’RE WITH”

  1. Aunt Helen says:


    I hope you/Sherry didn’t spend too much time figuring out with whom I should sit.

    As long as I am at the same table as Harriet and not with:

    You or Sherry or Harold or Margie or Michael or Stacy or Alison or Caroline or Amy or Norman or Ruth or Bob or Etty or James or Robert or John or William or Richard or Charles or David or Thomas or Donald or Ronald or George or Joseph or Larry or Jerry or Kenneth or Edward or Paul or Michael or Gary or Frank or Gerald or Raymond or Dennis or Walter or Roger or Billy or Joe or Jack or Bobby or Henry or Carl or Arthur or Daniel or Lawrence or Willie or Ralph or Eugene or Wayne or Fred or Albert or Roy or Peter or Jimmy or Howard or Anthony or Harry or Norman or Stephen or Louis or Johnny or Earl or Melvin or Leonard or Bruce or Douglas or Dale or Ernest or Stanley or Philip or Francis or Don or Marvin or Clarence or Samuel or Leroy or Bill or Frederick or Alfred or Gene or Allen or Russell or Terry or Patrick or Herbert or Tommy or Ray or Jim or Phillip or Lee or Eddie or Bernard or Glenn or Andrew or Martin or Jimmie or Franklin or Alan or Leon or Theodore or Gordon or Tom or Jesse or Clifford or Jerome or Edwin or Curtis or Harvey or Bob or Lloyd or Mary or Barbara or Patricia or Judith or Betty or Carol or Nancy or Linda or Shirley or Sandra or Margaret or Dorothy or Joyce or Joan or Carolyn or Judy or Sharon or Helen or Janet or Elizabeth or Virginia or Janice or Donna or Ruth or Marilyn or Martha or Beverly or Frances or Jean or Gloria or Doris or Alice or Phyllis or Karen or Ann or Susan or Lois or Peggy or Bonnie or Kathleen or Marie or Brenda or Norma or Rose or Diane or Geraldine or Jane or Evelyn or Carole or Elaine or Anna or Wanda or Catherine or Joanne or Charlotte or Annie or Patsy or Mildred or Louise or Sarah or Sally or Sylvia or Joann or Marjorie or Gail or Ruby or Dolores or Eleanor or Loretta or Rita or Roberta or Jo or Irene or Ellen or Arlene or Jacqueline or Kay or Juanita or Darlene or Marlene or Sue or June or Delores or Anne or Rosemary or Edna or Anita or Connie or Josephine or Jeanette or Katherine or Julia or Wilma or Emma or Lorraine or Rebecca or Lillian or Edith or Audrey or Jacob or Emma or Michael or Isabella or Ethan or Emily or Joshua or Madison or Daniel or Ava or Alexander or Olivia or Anthony or Sophia or William or Abigail or Christopher or Elizabeth or Matthew or Chloe or Jayden or Samantha or Andrew or Addison or Joseph or Natalie or David or Mia or Noah or Alexis or Aiden or Alyssa or James or Hannah or Ryan or Ashley or Logan or Ella or John or Sarah or Nathan or Grace or Elijah or Taylor or Christian or Brianna or Gabriel or Lily or Benjamin or Hailey or Jonathan or Anna or Tyler or Victoria or Samuel or Kayla or Nicholas or Lillian or Gavin or Lauren or Dylan or Kaylee or Jackson or Allison or Brandon or Savannah or Caleb or Nevaeh or Mason or Gabriella or Angel or Sofia or Isaac or Makayla or Evan or Avery or Jack or Riley or Kevin or Julia or Jose or Leah or Isaiah or Aubrey or Luke or Jasmine or Landon or Audrey or Justin or Katherine or Lucas or Morgan or Zachary or Brooklyn or Jordan or Destiny or Robert or Sydney or Aaron or Alexa or Brayden or Kylie or Thomas or Brooke or Cameron or Kaitlyn or Hunter or Evelyn or Austin or Layla or Adrian or Madeline or Connor or Kimberly or Owen or Zoe or Aidan or Jessica or Jason or Peyton or Julian or Alexandra or Wyatt or Claire or Charles or Madelyn or Luis or Maria or Carter or Mackenzie or Juan or Arianna or Chase or Jocelyn or Diego or Amelia or Jeremiah or Angelina or Brody or Trinity or Xavier or Andrea or Adam or Maya or Carlos or Valeria or Sebastian or Sophie or Liam or Rachel or Hayden or Vanessa or Nathaniel or Aaliyah or Henry or Mariah or Jesus or Gabrielle or Ian or Katelyn or Tristan or Ariana or Bryan or Bailey or Sean or Camila or Cole or Jennifer or Alex or Melanie or Eric or Gianna or Brian or Charlotte or Jaden or Paige or Carson or Autumn or Blake or Payton or Ayden or Faith or Cooper or Sara or Dominic or Isabelle or Brady or Caroline or Caden or Genesis or Josiah or Isabel or Kyle or Mary or Colton or Zoey or Kaden or Gracie or Eli or Megan or Florence there should not be any problem.

  2. Susan says:

    Aunt Helen, as such a wise and great elder within your family, perhaps you should have a seat of honor near the bride and groom but all by yourself. That way, everyone can stop and chat, meet all your needs, and know where you are at all times. Enjoy the simcha! You are blessed to have lived long enough to see a great niece get married.

  3. JS says:

    Please put me at Aunt Helen’s table, I do not mind.

  4. Aunt Helen says:


    RE: JS’ comment:

    I am not sure who JS is (have I met him?), but if he is “Jerry” (my substititute driver whom I pay when you and your brother can’t spare four measly hours) I do NOT want to sit with him.

    “Jerry” (the 27th person on my list of people that I would rather not be seated with) is on the list for a reason. His “Miss Daisy” jokes have gotten a bit stale.

    However, if JS is someone else, we can discuss this on Friday when you take me shopping.

  5. Stuart says:

    Why don’t you let me configure the tables? I’d come up with some interesting combinations. I’d start by seating Aunt Helen with Elisabeth Hasselbeck.

  6. Jackie says:

    I love your blog 🙂

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