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Story Archives

Filtering by Tag: 2015-09-25


Mickey Rapkin

By Mickey Rapkin

It was 1990 and like most kids in their Bar Mitzvah year, I was more interested in planning My Super Sweet 13 than practicing my Haftorah. I imagined sequined dancers and a ten-piece band. I obsessed over the mix of food stations. My parents supplied giant foam fingers like you’d get at a Knicks game. When I look back at the photos I wonder: Why did I ever want such an elaborate celebration of puberty? I guess because I was 13 and overweight and imperfect and I wanted to feel the love. If I could do it all over again, I can’t say I’d skip the party. But I wish I’d have joined my dad during the hora, as he raised one hand in the air and did Arsenio Hall’s signature whoop whoop whoop. I wish I’d have practiced the silly poems he wrote for the candle lighting ceremony instead of reading them cold, wondering what the word mishpucha meant. I would have talked to my mishpucha (it means family!) instead of hanging out in the bathroom. Years later I learned what all real men know: That this pain? This too shall pass. I would have told myself, “You won’t always feel so small.”


What advice would you give your younger self?

Would your younger self listen?


Mickey Rapkin is a journalist and author whose books include “Pitch Perfect” and “Theatre Geek.”


Oscar Wilde

By Josh Kun

I have never been one to stand up straight, even before I was tall. As a kid, I was always criticized for my posture. My mother would pull on a hair from the top of my head, as if it were a string directly connected to my spine. In home movies of birthday parties and holidays, the camera always catches me slightly hunched (usually in corduroy Ocean Pacific shorts and white Big 5 tube socks pulled up to the knee), indulging in one of my two favorite bad habits: biting my nails and twirling my bowl-cut dirty-blond hair into tangled, often painful knots. Both habits are made easier by slouching; both encourage the body to fold into itself, to bring the head down from its heights and bury itself into the chest and shoulders, to erase the body, to reject it. I’ve always comforted myself by believing that both habits are signs of extreme interior mental activity, habits of nervousness and anxiety and worry (all codes for intelligence, right?), habits that, like my constantly shaking right leg, are proof that I’m always thinking about things. Who needs this body when the mind is where the action is? Mutilate the shell to nourish the soul. Kill the body to feed the mind. Something like that.  [From “Slouch,” Guilt and Pleasure, Issue 5, Summer 2007]

In what ways are you the same or different from your younger self?

How often do you still take cues on how to behave from your parents?


Josh Kun is an author, academic and music critic who is an Associate Professor of Communication in the Annenberg School at the University of Southern California.