Now that we’ve passed Lag B’omer, wedding season has begun yet again. One of the most exciting parts of any wedding, aside from the expansive smorgasbords, blasting bands, and over-the-top ruach, is of course the shtick that friends and family perform for the entertainment of the chosson and kallah.
For me, shtick is a double-edged sword. It’s always fun to concoct some hilarious in-jokey thing to do, and even more fun to plan and bring the idea to life, especially if you’re with a group of friends. However, while such personally designed shtick may be more meaningful for your friend (the chosson or kallah, take your pick), everyone knows it’s always the crazy, flashy shtick that is sure to amaze.
So guys will go all out to discover some new, inventive, or simply jaw-dropping stunt/feat to perform. Whether this may include juggling flaming torches, fanciful dance moves such as the moonwalk or break dancing, or elaborate handstand undulations, guys tend push themselves to their limits to impress.
One major “problem” with all of this is the fact that shtick basically lasts all of 30 seconds if you’re lucky, and perhaps less than that if you’re not. The rush of adrenaline takes over as the orchestra swells into that infamous “it’s time to bring the kallah over for shtick” music, the crowd stops dancing and begins to circle around, while a pair of chairs (or more, depending if parents and/or grandparents want front row seats) are pulled up for the guests of honor.
It’s a lot of pressure to make sure elaborate shtick goes well. Aside from hoping not to disappoint the chosson and kallah, depending on just what you’ve planned, you have to make sure it goes according to plan and make sure that you nor anyone else (especially the chosson, kallah and/or grandparents) get injured in any fashion. This is why there are usually a pair of guys who run up and grab each other’s hands, extending their locked arms across the front of the chosson and kallah to make sure no stray objects, be they juggled items or swinging feet, cause any harm.
Being a bit straight-laced and a stickler for safety, I’m usually one of those protector guys, and run to become the human shield the moment I see any potentially dangerous shtick about to start.
On top of all that, there is a second major “problem,” and that “problem” is of the female persuasion.
Of course, as soon as the kallah is brought over to join her brand-new-out-of-breath husband, all activity on the other side of the mechitza stops instantly. Suddenly, the entire population that formerly occupied the other half of the dance floor is standing and cheering alongside all your previous dance partners. In a matter of moments all eyes are on you, and unexpectedly, your job is no longer just to be mesamayach chosson v’kallah anymore…
I’m sure girls get a huge kick out of watching guys make fools of themselves and/or show off their talents. I know this is true because I’ve heard girls in passing as they talked about a friend’s shtick routine as “having made their night,” which certainly caused me to raise an inquisitive eyebrow.
Everyone knows that girls and guys check each other out during weddings; during the shmorg, as everyone is sitting and waiting for the chuppah to start, during the chuppah, while the newlyweds are being danced back to the yichud room, while the guests chow down on the first course, during dancing, when desert is served, as well as during bentsching, sheva berachos, and let’s not forget the lines that form in anticipation of brachos from the chosson and kallah along with a sampling of segulah wine.
However, I feel obliged to make a small protest that it simply isn’t fair that we have to be put in the spotlight while the girls hang back and gawk. I’m not in any way protesting the standards of tzniyus and gedarim of halacha and suggesting that we get to watch the girls do whatever it is they do on their side of the mechitza. I’m merely bringing to light the double standard.
I’d be willing to bet there are guys that plan their shtick accordingly, bearing in mind that they know girls, or perhaps a certain girl they’ve had their eye on, will be watching them. Although, most typical guys are probably like me and are not such fans of the unexpected scrutiny.
Either way, I think that the whole thing negatively impacts on the kavana of what the guys are trying to do – or at least the ones who are serious about being mekayaim their mitzvah or bringing happiness to the bride and groom (that IS why we go to weddings, at any rate, not because of the food or to have a good time, there is a daf in Kiddushin that talks about this – someone please supply the reference if you know it). At least I know I’m much more self conscious when this sort of thing happens, not that I’ve ever had anyone ever request to go out with me (directly or indirectly) based on some fantastic shtick I did…
So, dear readers of both the female and male variety, what are your thoughts?