Light. Because there's WAY too much angst in my writing. But it isn't fluff, because...well, I'm just not a fluffy gal. Not in my writing, anyway. And VERY unusually for my stuff, there's no M/R, or slash of any kind. SHOCKING!

Okay, this fic is dedicated to the Jewish eCards site I happened upon when I was trying to send my grandfather a Chanukah card, simply because alphabetically...the "C"'s were grouped like this: "Conversion to Judaism/Condolences". How fricking beautiful is that? (I say fricking because I'm trying to keep this as my only PG story.)

I also think this fic may be a lot of my channeling out my aggression against Christmas time. SOME of us have Chanukah! Me and Mark...and according to the movie, Maureen!

"Say hi to the camera, Mark!"

"Come on, Maureen," the little blond boy groaned. "Isn't this day bad enough without you getting it on film?"

Maureen wrinkled her nose at him, something she'd perfected with him around the second grade. "Most boys are happy at this time, Mark. You're a man now, right?" She clapped him on the shoulder, grinning.

"Yeah, don't remind me. Next thing you know, my dad'll be on my case to get settled down with a good wife. He's already got me going to Yale in his mind." He pushed his new glasses a little farther up on his nose, self-consciously straightening the tie his mother had tied for him. "Why do I have to wear this stupid thing, anyway? What kind of stupid white male tradition is it to tie a little noose around your neck every day?" Frustrated, he sat down hard on the sidewalk, not caring what happened to his brand-new suit.

Maureen smirked. "I think it's just in case they wind up like your father."

"What, a doctor?"

"No, married to your mother!" She giggled, and he reluctantly gave a chuckle.

"Yeah, true enough," he acknowledged. Temporarily deflected from her apparently relentless mission to capture his entire bar mitzvah on film, his best friend plopped down next to him on the ground. While Mark was uncomfortably constrained in what he called his 'grandfather's clothes', Maureen had obviously maximized her mother's idea of bar mitzvah gear to her full advantage. The button-up blue blouse her mother had obviously considered to be modest enough for the occasion was unbuttoned, and Maureen had tied the ends of the shirt together over her developing bosom. As a result, the perfectly modest undershirt became almost obscene. Not to mention, she had used the ribbon from her hair to hike up her skirt on one side, showing more than a healthy bit of leg.

Awkward and gawky until this year, Maureen had been filling out rather startlingly. Most of her baby fat was disappearing, leaving only a bit where she actually wanted it. She had grown her hair out a few inches in the last year, leaving it just brushing her shoulders. Mark had been more than startled in the change in his friend recently, and not only physically.

Whereas from the second to the seventh grade they two had been the misfits who had clung to each other, she was branching out as of late. Instead of stubbornly declaring that she didn't care what anyone thought, now she cared (he felt) a little too much about the opinions of people she didn't even know. To her credit she still ate lunch in the little corner of the cafeteria they'd claimed as their own for the last five years, but he was finding himself increasingly alone after school, as she went off to shop with her other friends. He wasn't too worried, though; underneath the new makeup, she was still the same old Maureen.

"Being married to my mother would be enough to make anyone want to hang himself," he muttered, watching Mrs. Cohen from the corner of his eye. She was buzzing around, checking in with each of the guests, thanking each and every person for coming to 'Mark's big day!'

Maureen leaned over to rest her head on his knee. "Aw, it's not that bad. At least she cares about you, you know? We've got it better than we know."

It was occasional that Maureen would say something insightful, but it always made Mark smile. Sure, she could act a bit ditzy at times, but he knew that was mostly a cry for the attention she'd never gotten until this year. "Yeah...I guess. I'd still rather take the noose."

She giggled again, wrapping her arm around his waist. Automatically, his hand rested on her back. "Wow," he observed, "your hair is really getting long."

She sat up, excited. "I know, right? I was so sick of it being short. And plus, this way, I can do this!" She whipped her hair side to side quickly, letting the curls smack her in the face.

"Yeah," Mark said, a little confused. "Wouldn't want know...not be able to do that. Looks like fun."

Maureen just grinned her million-dollar grin at her friend, and rested her head back on his leg. "Marky?" she asked after a moment.


"Do you really think your dad'll make you get a girlfriend?"

Mark snorted. "I'd like to see him try. But seriously, watch out next year after—are you bat mitzvahing?"

Maureen's nose wrinkled again in that way he knew only he had ever seen. "God, I hope not. My parents aren't nearly as strict about that stuff as yours, so probably not. My dad didn't bar, either. Still," she mused, "it would be nice to get all those presents. And have all these people coming just to see you. And I'd get a brand-new outfit...thirteen is so close, though, I don't know if I'd have time to learn all those words."

Mark raised his eyebrow, somewhat amused. "You mean the Torah? It's not just words, Mo, it's--"

"I went to Hebrew school just like you did, Mark Cohen," she reminded him, "and don't call me Mo! It's MauREEN." She flipped her hair back behind her shoulder—he noticed she'd been doing that a lot lately. "I remember all those stupid rhymes from the "I Can Do A Mitzvah!" book." She rolled her eyes and quoted, "To love another Jew is a mitzvah I can do!"

Mark laughed. "Yeah, no kidding. You know, this is probably the stupidest damn tradition I can think of."

"What do you mean?"

"Oh, come on. Today, I'm a man. Tomorrow, back to the eighth grade. It made sense to do it at thirteen about a thousand years ago when none of us was going to live past thirty, but come on."

Maureen smirked. "But then all the good Jewish mothers couldn't throw their baby boys the big parties they always wanted to. If they did it at a sensible age, no self-respecting man would let his mommy control everything."

Mark had a sinking feeling that his mother would indeed be controlling 'everything' until he graduated medical school. He groaned. "Mo...reen, it's not fair. I don't WANT to be a man. I don't want to have to do everything they want me to do, like be a married doctor."

"Mark, quit whining. You want to go to college anyway, and your grades are good enough. And about the married thing, I'll make you a deal."

Mark frowned down at her. "A deal? What kind of deal?"

"How about if neither of us are dating anyone when we're twenty-one, we'll get together?"

There was silence for a moment, and then abrupt laughter as Mark nearly fell sideways. " me...and..." he broke off into another fit of giggles.

Maureen stood up in a huff, slapping his shoulder. "What's so goddamn funny?" she asked loudly.

Mark sobered immediately. "Maureen, you can't say goddamn at my bar mitzvah! My great-uncle Norman is here!"

"Well, you shouldn't laugh when I say we should get together!"

"But...but it's weird! You're my best friend."

"Oh, come on, Mark. Best friends date all the time. Besides, it would be fun! We'd do the same things we do now, only we'd be a couple."

When she put it that way, it didn't sound so awful. Hang out with Maureen more, and that way she wouldn't be wasting her time on stupid other people who weren't good enough for her. "Huh. I guess..."

Her eyes were pleading, excited. "Come on, promise!"

Mark rolled his eyes. "All right, all right. If we're twenty-one and we aren't seeing anyone, we'll start dating. I promise."

She squealed and lept into his arms, giving him a huge wet kiss on the cheek. Blushing, he tried to disentangle himself. "Mo, stop it!"

"MauREEN. Ohh, I'm so excited! My mom would be so happy, she loves you."

"Yeah, I know. I love her, too." While Mrs. Johnson was far more liberal-minded than Mrs. Cohen, the two had been friends since high school, and often took turns housing the children on the weekend. Something occurred to Mark then. "Maureen, how come you picked twenty-one?"

She giggled, fiddling with one of her longer curls. "Cuz I'd have to be really drunk to sleep with you!" She flounced off into the crowd, leaving Mark red and spluttering behind her.

Hmm. That was a lot of Jewish aggression. I've been wanting to write something like that for a looong time. Anyone like? Hate? Like to hate?