Remember that feeling of terror when it’s the height of a pandemic and you’re not sure if you’re supposed to Lysol your mail? Why should a Jewish wedding be any different?
My terror came in September when I was called on – again – to lift a bride into the air on a chair. Nobody ever seems to care whether said chair is cushy or has armrests, for the requisite bride’s forced smile and dear-life clinging.
It seems like a chair is just grabbed without strategic thinking, like chicken out of the freezer. Yes, this can get that cold. You can get a chair with thin legs that slide through your hands like they’ve been greased with gefilte fish jelly. Probably next, they’ll come up with pointy feet.
I’ve taught myself a tactical approach, for simcha survival. I give this knowledge to you now, should you ever find yourself beneath the Chair to Beware.
Whether you’re beneath a groom, bride, or b’nei mitzvah teen, it’s important to think about whether you’re at the bow or stern. The bow is the front of a ship; stern is the back. Remember, three other guys or more are bouncing their chair legs at different rates and heights, having had no prior discussion about getting coordinated. So, it’s really just like the worst possible committee and its … (wait for it) … chair.
Back to boating: It’s your role, as our proposed mensch in this story, to keep the bow above the stern. Failure to do so can mean a sinking ship, if you know what I mean. Let’s not have the goods slide off the deck and into the sea. See?
A glance at a groom’s, bride’s or teen’s face during those intermittent free-fall chair moments will confirm the menschiness of keeping our heads above water.
Within weeks of me not dropping a newlywed to the floor (I was at the bow, G-d help me), one woman reported, somewhere in North America it seems, that she broke her foot at her wedding.
“I started to feel as though my dress is slipping and sliding,” said newlywed Chelsea in a TikTok video. “I’m up there. I’m grasping on for dear life. Unfortunately, I just slid right off.”
She blames no one: “The guys did not drop me.”
That’s lovely of her to say, truly, but if you needed another reason to get tactical (see above), I bring you a bride whose forgiveness is required, to protect her esteemed chairmen from public ridicule. I mean, her social media videos on it all did get more than 3 million views.
Would you like another survival tip, other than being in the bathroom during the Hora?
Once, I remember that I was having trouble getting my end up as high as others. There were twice as many guys on the other side of the chair – was that really necessary? Was my side not cool? I felt I was nearing a Titanic disaster. I looked over at a couple guys, who were probably staying out of it to let family have the honor, and I made a come-hither motion with my hand. I saw my salvation in their eyes. They darted forward, relishing a chance to be men. Never mind that the most chivalrous thing to do might be to get ready for a catch.
Shout out to the wedding I attended where one young man was twirling another in circles, his legs outstretched with centrifugal force, grazing the dresses of various grandmas with each pass. Just grazing, thank G-d. Also, mazel tov to the grandmas who wisely moved quickly, backing up against the wall behind them.
Be careful out there. Pass it on. You never know when you too might wind up in the hot seat, or at the edge of it.
Rob Golub is editor of Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle.