We spent a good part of the weekend visiting Sandy’s grandmother in the hospital in Indianapolis. She spun some amazing tales for us—especially the one where she and Sandy’s grandfather had to smuggle thousands of dollars worth of Romanian currency out of the country by swallowing it.
But the most magical story she told was about meeting Sandy’s grandfather in 1946. It involved all the perfect elements of this kind of story: confusing details, impossible coincidences, sheer luck, plus the added bonus of an undercurrent of sinister world events. It’s not mine to tell, really, but just trust me. It’s a great story.
I like thinking about this blog as a kind of extension of Sandy’s and my oral history. And so, in that tradition, here’s our story, confusing details, impossible coincidences, sheer luck, and all.
A few years ago, I used to watch a lot of professional wrestling with a group of friends, all guys, that I inherited from one Mr. Jon Solomon when he moved away from Chicago. One of these friends, Ted, and his roommate Bob, had a party in late May of 2002. So I came to the party with several of these guys, and proceeded to hang out.
Meanwhile, Sandy, who went to college with both Ted and Bob, was also at the party.
We met in the kitchen, where we made some silly small talk and were ditched by our friends. Eventually we felt kind of awkward and made lame excuses to drift back to our own groups.
Later in the evening, I ran into a girl I knew from high school, who was one of my dad’s students. [Pause for key background info: my dad, who taught high school English at my alma mater, is also a professional storyteller of some reknown.]
Sandy was lurking nearby because he though I was cute, and so he overheard when the girl asked me about my dad. I have no idea what she actually said, but it was something like, “how is Mr. Lieberman?...Is he still telling stories?”
Sandy jumped out from his lurking spot and said, “your father is a storyteller?” Yeah. “And his name is Lieberman?” Yeah. “SYD Lieberman?” Um, Yeah. “YOUR FATHER PERFORMED AT MY BAR MITZVAH.”
Take that in for a minute. 1989, Indianapolis, this guy at the party, my dad, same room. Crazy.
But that’s not all. Oh no. As we pieced together this amazing coincidence, Sandy let slip that his bar mitzvah had been quite an over-the-top affair. “It was…a…Broadway Bar Mitzvah,” he admitted, somewhat sheepishly. There had been paparazzi and performers and all the guests received a rock music video of Sandy singing an original song entitled “Today I Am a Man.”
Now these details sounded kind of familiar to me. You see, my father had come home from this bar mitzvah in total shock, and had regaled us with tales of the goings-on at the Broadway Bar Mitzvah. Not only that, but in a story he tells about crazy places he’s had to tell stories, one of the examples was the Broadway Bar Mitzvah.
So, in other words, I meet this totally cute, nice guy at a party, and it turns out that my family has been making fun of him for thirteen years.
He showed me “Today I Am a Man” on our third date, and I played him my dad’s story, and we both thought “what an amazing story this will make if this whole dating thing works out.”