Wednesday, October 31, 2007

"A man's trousers are, in a situation like this, essential to his dignity and his composure..."

Note: the post title, somewhat awesomely, comes from an actual quote from Justice Thomas Berger's (formerly of the British Columbia Supreme Court) remarks in R. v. Serack (1974).

Two Saturdays ago, my best friend Misha (a pharmaceutical sales rep—remember that part—in Barrie), got married in London to the lovely Jessica Henry. My best man speech didn’t go exactly as planned, so I thought I’d use that experience to cap off a woefully unproductive month of blogging with an annotated version of the speech. After wall, what better way to honor Halloween than the repurposing of content? Though it’s probably fairly self-explanatory, the actual text of the speech is in black, while interjections, comments, clarifications, and nonsensical tangents are in a smaller, red font. Stay tuned for the announcement of a couple long-term projects in the near(-ish) future.

To set the scene, my speech started around 9:00 p.m., about three hours into the reception, and approximately 30 minutes after people had finished desert (which is to say: everyone was on a sugar comedown). At this point in the night, I had had approximately five glasses of wine, comfortably in between the "I'm a bit buzzed and thus not too nervous about speaking and public" zone and the dreaded "I'm sloshed and an incoherent mess" zone. (Definitely closer to the former than the latter.)

And, on that note, off we go:

Annotated Best Man Speech

[open piece of paper]

Before I start, Misha approached me earlier and said that, legally, I had to read the following. I don't really get it, but he's the expert:

"While most people respond favourably to wedding speeches, fewer than 2% of participants in clinical trials were discontinued due to adverse experiences. The most frequent adverse events thought to be related to wedding speeches are flatulence, profuse sweating, and abdominal pain. Should you suddenly become afflicted with any of the following conditions as a result of these speeches, it is highly recommended that you cover your ears and hum loudly (but not so loud as to disturb your fellow tablemates) to yourself until such time that your condition improves. Symptoms include: Dry mouth, severe weight gain, severe weight loss, chronic scratching, dizziness, amnesia, restless leg syndrome, restless arm syndrome, restless torso syndrome, Rage, mild Hulkism, Phantom Hand Syndrome, vivid dreams of self-cannibalization, sudden incomprehensible infatuation with Private Practice, Late Onset Albinoism, Spontaneous Pregnancy, increased risk of vampire attack, Temporary blindness, chrono-displacement syndrome, sudden organ liquification, brain tooth, permanent blindness, hot dog fingers, mild heart explosions, autonomous nipples, Mad Cow Disease, Spontaneous dento hydro plosion, Leprosy, adult onset Tourette's syndrome, Government Created Killer Nano-robot infection, Count Choculitis, and monkey lung.

Also, if you experience an erection lasting longer than four hours as a result of this speech—while flattering—you should contact your physician.”

[1] I won't lie, I think this is fucking hilarious. Yes, yes, I’m well aware that these symptoms have been culled (my verb of choice in lieu of “lifted directly”) from the Cheating Death segment on The Colbert Report and the Health Plan episode of The Office (season one), but I don’t care. My original opening bit was going to be me saying “omg, it’s finally happened! We’ve had our up and downs but we’re finally married” before my brother would run up to me and whisper in my ear, at which point I’d sheepishly set down my speech and say “my apologies. That was the speech I prepared in the event that Misha and I got married” but I ended up dropping for fear that it would fall flat, I would be mortified, and the rest of the speech would be a train wreck.

(As it turns out, Jeff Tiolis, the MC, had me participate in a bit in his opening remarks—Jeff started to say “I have LOTS of stories to tell,” which was my cue to look panic-stricken, run up and whisper in his ear, whereupon Jeff, looking incredulous, turned to me and said “I can’t talk about past relationships??”, then ripped up the remainder of his speech—not two minutes before my own speech was set to begin that would have made MY whisper bit seem embarrassingly derivative, not to mention borderline disturbing in how swiftly and thoroughly I had brazenly stolen it from Jeff in front of all these people, etc.—so it’s probably just well that I went in a different direction).

I thought that the bit I actually went with—which is roughly two to four times funnier if you know that Misha is a drug rep, which, I assumed (possibly erroneously) everyone knew—was a guaranteed howler and that I’d coast off those laughs for the rest of my speech, under the theory: funny opening bit + so-so rest of the speech material = lots of laughs at the start + people giving you the benefit of the doubt later on and laughing at your marginally amusing stuff. Here’s what ended up happening: anyone that was under 30 or so seemed to like this section rather a lot. Unfortunately, those tables (and there weren’t that many to begin with) were well off to the side—roughly sixty feet from where I was standing, something I noticed with growing apprehension as soon as we made our entrance into the reception hall. The 30-60 demo liked it well enough (thanks, mom and dad!). And the over 60s…did not. At all. And were confused. And seemed to resent me for even broaching the topic. Misha’s friend Jaymie relayed a story that, at his table, he was laughing quite hard, but that an older person also sitting there leaned in to him and said, plainly, “I don’t get it.” These things happen.

A few other comments:

1. knowing that there would be some older people in the crowd, I deliberately left out symptoms that people might legitimately have, since no one enjoys laughing at something that’s actually afflicting them (I’m looking at you, monkey lung!)

2.There’s some debate as to whether I went through the symptoms too quickly. While I can see the logic behind reading them off slowly, waiting for the laughs, then moving on to the next one, I’m wayyyyy too self-conscious to actually do this/I think it’s a little smug to wait for your laughs, so I didn’t.

3. You didn’t ask, but my favorites are “restless torso syndrome, increased risk of vampire attacks, mild Hulkism, mild heart explosions, and count choculitis,” though, for whatever reason, spontaneous pregnancy and hot dog fingers got the biggest laughs.”)

I could literally tell you 5,000 stories about Misha, but, for a variety of reasons—among them: time constraints, staving off crippling boredom for the audience, delaying the opening of the bar,

[2] Turns out the bar actually was open, so I didn’t say this one.

pending lawsuits precluding further comment, and my firm desire to still be engaged at the end of this speech—I will limit myself to a dozen or so. Also, many of them involve one of us (whisper: Misha) crying…and no one wants to hear about that.

Apparently, we first became friends, but I’d be lying if I said I remembered much from when I was five, aside from really digging The Muppets, assuming that the Detroit Tigers won the World Series every year (too bad about that one), and possibly liking Jem rather more than a boy should.

[3a] These are all supposed to be things that happened in 1984—get it? I ended up dropping the Jem reference (only partially—ok, not at all—because it didn’t actually start airing until 1985, when I was six. Yes, I looked that up.

[3b] While we’re at it, here’s some other fun stuff that I forgot/never knew about Jem that I found on Wikipedia: did you know that Jerrica revealed her secret identity to the President of the United States in the 3rd and final season? Apparently it was some sort of matter of national security. I think I would pay approximately $25 to see that episode…and I’m broke, so that’s a lot to spend on animated programming from the 80s. Also: does anyone remember a third band named the Stingers? Me neither. Finally, were you aware that the series ended with the Holograms and the Misfits in a truce? How is this possible? This is completely unacceptable…All of my Hologram and Misfit references now seem foolish, and I’ll be damned if I’m going back to “Hatfields and McCoys.”

The one thing I do recall is vying with Misha for Angela Goulet’s love (score one for me! And I only had to get severe tonsillitis to do it!).

[4] She ate ice cream with me in my hospital bed! [pumping my fist]

We were tight, you know, more or less, from that point forward…except for that year, in 4th grade, when Misha decided that he didn’t want to be my friend and instead wanted to hang out with Daniel Thompson. [make face]. Well, I don’t see Daniel here today—[cover mic, look over, “he’s not here is he? Good”]—I think we all know who won that round…

[5] That Daniel Thompson is...all right, actually. In Grade Three—that is, the year before the unspeakable betrayal—the three of us were virtually inseparable. I don’t think I’ve seen Daniel since I was ten and he moved away. Wherever he is, I wish him well.

Looking back on out public school years, everything seemed to revolve around three things: sleepovers, video games, and sports. On the video game front, the pattern was follows: I would jump out to a big lead in whatever game we were playing—Tecmo Bowl, Dusty Diamond All-Star Softball, Coach K College Basketball

[6] By now, I realized that many people weren’t getting the references, so I decided to leave out the actual game titles—though all of them have a soft spot in my heart. And may I interject briefly here to say: while I still love video games and play them regularly, I think it really says something that, kickass graphics aside, none of these games have the replayability of, say, Dusty Diamond. (Additional interjection: how the hell has this game not been remade for the Wii? Quirky ballparks + 60 players of differing abilities and/or planets of birth + motion detecting swings = big o’ pile of cash.)

only to have Misha come roaring back at the end to beat me, invariably on the last play (jerk), whereupon I would throw down my controller in a fit of rage and shrilly accuse him of somehow cheating. (Incidentally, this still happens today…although I must say the graphics have gotten much better.) Although there was this one night, heretofore referred to as the “NES Open Golf freak out…”

[7] Which leads us to the most misguided foray into writing since a writer blurted out in a brainstorming session “hey, wouldn’t it be hella cool if Buffy had a sister?” Let the record show that Misha seemed to find the subsequent anecdote hilarious, as did a smattering of the audience, but, generally, this bit was met with resounding indifference. On the plus side, I’m absolutely positive that I crushed the single wedding speech record for “most time allocated to video game anecdotes.” That one could last a looooong time.

Now, like I said, Misha and I are usually evenly matched in pretty much any video game we play, but, for whatever reason, I seemed to be much better at this one.

[8] It's really neither here nor there, but NES Open Golf is also (or, at least, should be) known as the first golf game to incorporate a career mode—a staple in golf games ever since—which was positively revolutionary at the time. By the way, it still boggles my mind that here we are in 2007 and not a single golf game (or, for that matter, tennis game) has successfully integrated the full PGA Tour calendar into the gameplay. Here’s a tip to the Tiger Woods EA Team: I really don’t want to see my own face in the game (honestly, you guys, I see enough of it on a daily basis), nor do I want to be able to shoot 57 with ease (see: every TWoods game between 2002 and 2006) or have to scramble to break 80 (see: this year’s edition—if I wanted to suck at golf, I’d plunk down $35 and go stink it up on an actual course). What I would like is to be able to is to play (virtually, that is) all four majors, slog it out after the PGA Championship in lesser events in an effort to get my Tour Card, then qualify for the season ending Fed Ex Cup. Trust me, golf fans would eat this up. Now, I realize that there are certain licensing issues (mainly, the rights to virtual Augusta National are—inexplicably—not for sale), but couldn’t you just throw in a tournament in early April, on a lush, semi-easy, fictional course in, say, Marietta, Georgia, call it the Legends (or something), and move on? This doesn’t seem like an insurmountable obstacle...Anyway, I seem to have drifted almost hopelessly off topic. Where was I?

As a result, I played and Misha “caddied.” Now, to the untrained eye, it may have seemed as though Misha was merely watching me play a Nintendo game all night, but I assure you, he was making helpful comments throughout, including: “what the hell was that?” and “ I CANNOT believe you missed that putt.” At any rate, it got to be pretty late (2 a.m. or so) and I started to play quite poorly and Misha, for reasons completely unbeknownst to me still to this day, got it into his head that I was playing poorly deliberately so as to upset him. He, of course, relayed this feelings to me and a massive row ensued. The system was quickly turned off and—instead of sleeping in Misha’s SPACIOUS bed as was usually the case—I was banished to the guest room, where I stayed up for several hours out of fear that he was going to storm into the room and attack me as I slept.

[9] This actually happened. Whether or not it’s suitable for a best man speech is debatable, but I did—ludicrously, in retrospect—fear for my life. I even remember how I thought he would kill me: with a kitchen knife. Good times!

Of course, I eventually fell asleep and, by the next day, everything was normal again. That—minus, I hasten to point out, my fears of being murdered in my sleep—was pretty much the ebb and flow of our relationship as kids: long stretches of fun interspersed with the occasional blow up. In high school, we were often referred to as an old married couple, which seemed funny at the time, but now—as I read this—feels decidedly creepy. Let’s just ignore that last part.

We also played a lot of sports. From the age of 11 to 19—I think—we played baseball together every summer, with our dads coaching many of those squads. Aside from that there was also golf, tennis, driveway basketball, football, outdoor and basement hockey, basement basketball, basement tennis (with chairs, somehow, serving as the net), and basement curling. These last three events now seem inexplicable: we had a perfectly serviceable Nintendo upstairs!! What the hell were we doing making up events? Couldn’t we just have rented a tennis game?

[10] Again, a moderately funny off-the-cuff observation in an informal setting that really has no place in a speech of this nature.

As for high school, it’s something I could probably describe in less than 50 words or more than 10,000…but anywhere in between just won’t do.

[11] I stand by this statement. I won’t pretend that my high school experience was particularly traumatic—in fact, it was, more of less, five years of fun—but, Christ, how the hell do you summarize high school in two or three minutes? It’s impossible (and also: wildly inappropriate in places).

I recall carpooling,

[12] The best (and, by that, I mean "the worst") part about carpooling by far was the time when Misha dropped me off at home and, while reversing out of my parents’ driveway, backed in to a neighbor’s car across the street, doing several hundred dollars worth of damage in the process. A direct consequence of this was that the carpool (which, since I didn’t have a car of my own, essentially amounted to Misha chauffeuring to and from school) was immediately halted for several months, as it was reasoned by Misha’s mom that the accident would not have happened “but for” Misha dropping me off. On an intellectual level, I understand this position, but given that I wasn’t in the car when said accident happened (as opposed to, say, poking him with a sharp stick, surreptitiously releasing the parking brake, or spraying him in the eyes with mace—all, I’ll conceded, acceptable reasons for me to be held at least somewhat accountable) I fail to see why I was indirectly punished for its occurrence. Little did I know that this argument would come up some ten years later in Torts—I’m still not convinced, dammit!

coming agonizingly close to the two of us winning the junior basketball title,

[13] grrrr! This one still pisses me off! We were up nine points with 6 minutes to go and ended up pissing the game away to South. This loss was part of a larger pattern of me being part of winning teams occasionally, but generally finishing a tantalizingly close but ultimately disappointing second in abso-fucking-lutely everything: Midget Basketball, Junior Basketball, Senior Basketball, OBA Basketball (3x), Gus Macker 3-on-3 Basketball (3x), Baseball (several, several times), and even an undergraduate history department essay competition. Christ!

summer and march break parties at your parents’ place and mine.

It was also around this time that I taught Misha how to play poker. We were at Fred and Noreen Parker’s, and we played a makeshift game with a jar of peanuts standing in for poker chips. After teaching Misha the rank of hands, he confidently went all in hand after hand after hand, losing several of them. When I pointed out that he was pushing with marginal (even, some might say, terrible hands) he looked up at me, shook his head dismissively, and said: “Kyle, they’re only peanuts.” And, really, you can’t argue with that now, can you?

[14] [Cue Tumbleweed.] Poker stories, for the most part = “people turning off their brains until said story is over.” (Golf, too.) I think this was actually covered in the ridiculously stilted wedding speech book from (what seemed like) the 60s (and the British Sixties at that) that Carrie made me peruse. My bad.

Stupidly, a defining memory for me is that we lost the Best Friends Award at graduation—to twin sisters. What the hell?? They share DNA!! How is that even fair??? Would you give a Best Roommates Award to a Husband and Wife? Of course not! Come on!!—which I’m totally at peace with now.

[15] This actually happened, too. Misha reminded me later that night that we also lost “Best Couple” that night. Probably for the best that I’d forgotten that, as otherwise I was bound to mention it.

Our University years included our first forays into coaching, with me publicly chastising the 12 and 13 year old basketball players we coached while Misha looked on in the winter, and me silently keeping score while Misha dressed down the Under 21 Byron baseball team we helmed in the summer. This is also when we started our annual trek (3 in all) to Forest for a weekend of golf with our good buddy Phil (who’s now in B.C. and couldn’t make it here tonight) that were [PAUSE] too colourful to be properly and/or safely described here. Not, since there’s a sizeable Forest contingent here, let me just say, on the record: I’m sorry. That golf course saw things it can never unsee. Crushing really. And, to think, that poor golf cart

[16] One of my favorite jokes--shamelessly cribbed from The Simpsons, I concede--is coming up. I ran this bit by Carrie, as I was on the fence as to whether to go with “golf cart” or “hotel room.” We ultimately decided that “golf cart” was better, as “hotel room” implied one or more of the following: (a) that we trashed the room (which was partially true); (b) that there was some sort of sexual romp (which is not true at all). Truth be told, I think that “hotel room” is actually a bit funnier, but I’m glad I stuck with my original, less suggestive, reference.

was one day away from retirement…

[17] Since we're here, here are seven things I can tell you from these golf trips with impunity (there is a statute of limitations for public drunkeness, right? Right??):

1. Driving our golf cart—drunkenly, it goes without saying—off the golf resort and to the local beer store to re-stock our supply. One of my fonder memories…

2. Drinking beer in the hotel hot tub in flagrant violation of the posted rules, only to have someone from the hotel staff happen by the pool area. This led to us trying to hide our drinks underwater, except we were drinking out of cups, so we ended up, effectively, pouring beer into the hot tub.

3. Doing donuts in our golf cart on the 18th fairway in the twilight, with both Phil and I, on separate occasions, falling out of the moving cart.

4. Parking said golf cart in front of port-a-potty on the course, essentially barricading Misha inside, then running off for five minutes.

5. Bribing the beer cart girl to actually follow us around the course one day.

6. Phil and I drinking in our room, as Misha goes off to shower after an afternoon round. We hear what sounds like someone falling in the bathroom, but think nothing off it. Several minutes later, an irate towel-clad Misha emerges and admonishes us for NOT RUSHING INTO THE BATHROOM TO SEE IF HE WAS OKAY, noting that “[he] could have died!” This is followed by riotous laughter from Phil and I, which only made Misha angrier.

7. After a long night of partying, we barely made our Saturday morning tee time. A half-dead Misha teeing off on the 4th hole, with a fairway running parallel to a country road. Unbeknownst to him, Phil and I are frantically gesturing to a truck driver to use his air horn. Which he does…at the precise moment Misha starts his swing, causing him to collapse in a heap. Again: good times.

And so we both floated along. Misha: from King’s to Fanshawe to Program Director to Radio Sales. Me: from King’s to grad school to more grad school to law school (anything to avoid actually working!).

[18] It's funny because it’s true!!

Anyway, it was sometime in late 2004/early 2005 when I was living with Jon on Olympic Crescent

[19] Here, Jon, seated roughly 55 feet away from the podium, raised his arms and shouted “yeah!” (not unlike Steve Holt). I’ll be honest, at this point I was happy with any audience participation that didn’t involve people throwing rotten vegetables at me, so: thanks, buddy.

and it seemed like we had a party (er…Book Club Meeting) every single night, and I was lured into coming to Sarnia for a “huge” poker game. Being somewhat lazy, I was hesitant to come all the way from London. Finally, Misha coaxed me into coming. True to his word, I arrived to find Misha and Jeff Tiolis and…actually, that was it. The massive poker game had failed to materialize and Misha, being a good friend, didn’t want to trouble me with this disappointing news (at least, that’s how he explained it to me. I dunno.) This was discouraging for any number of reasons, not least of which being that I don’t particularly like Jeff. [“Hey buddy! Thanks for the intro!”]

[20] I also waved to Jeff here, which got a bit off a laugh.

But we trooped on, and decided to play a three-person game. About two hours in, this mysterious girl arrived. She said hello. Sat down. Said she could only play for 45 minutes because her rabbit was sick. Lost, then left. That girl, of course, was Jessica.

[21] Now...this IS how I met Jessica and that night went down pretty much exactly as I described (in a nutshell: I spent 60 bucks in gas to drive to Sarnia to get drunk, watch TV, play poker, and spend the night, which is exactly what I would have done in London for free that night had I not gone) but would it have killed me to throw in something to the effect that “I could tell just from that brief encounter that she was a very sweet girl”? Saying “I knew right away that she was the one for Misha” would have been pure sap (not to mention untrue, since I don’t even think that either of them were thinking like that at that stage), but a nice little comment here would have served me well. In light of the fact that the audience was roughly 85% her side of the family, this seems like a no-brainer now. Alas…

Not long after that, I went off to South Korea to teach for a year. There, I met my own beautiful bride to be (you don’t have to stand up, babe, but feel free to wave…if only so people don’t think that I’m making this up).

[22] Let the record show that Carrie did not stand up or wave. Thanks for hanging me out to dry, future wife!!

Between my seven months in Korea and six more in Australia, so, while I heard about the developing relationship, I missed the courtship. When I got back, I saw how perfect they were for each other; how nicely they complemented each other.

[23] I guaran-fucking-tee you mine was the only speech with a semi-colon in it. but that’s really neither here nor there...

A couple of stories about the two of them:

1. One night a few months back, Misha and Jessica invited us down to Barrie under the pretext of them “showing us their new house” and “having a tasty dinner.” Anyway, a couple of hours in, Jessica casually mentions that they have this great game called “Catch Phrase” (kind of like Taboo or Password, you can give clues but cannot say the answer outright to your partner), that they use to play it with another couple, that said other couple was unbeatable, and did it sound like something that Carrie and I might want to play with them? We, of course, said yes, and the game was on. The overall result is fairly inconsequential—though, SPOILER, we beat their brains in—but one round stood out. It’s near the end of the round and Misha is giving clues to Jessica.

Misha: two words. Second word, “what do I put in my car?”

Jessica: gas.

Misha: good! First word: when you’re really worried about something, it’s called being…

Jessica: “concerned”?

Misha: sort of, but more like before a big speech or a big game…

Jessica: [shouting] “nervous”!

Misha: [as time is ticking down] good! Now shorten it and put the two together.

Jessica: [as the buzzer sounds] It’s…“nervous gas”!

[Everyone—i.e. Carrie, Misha, and I—laughs]

Jessica: I got it! That counts! It’s nervous gas!!

[Wait for uproarious laughter from crowd]

[24] …Which never, sad to say, came.

Now, as you’ve likely figured out, the answer was not nervous gas—though if you’re suffering from that, I’d urge you to consult your…

[25] How's that for a callback??

--but instead, as you might’ve guessed, “nerve gas,”

[26] But, the problem is, I don’t think everyone guessed this. I went back and forth on how to work this bit in. I wasn’t sure if I should drop the actual answer in at the start of the anecdote or throw it in after the punchline. Since I couldn’t decide one way or another, I opted for the latter, which was perhaps not wise. Comments, as always, welcome.

but good luck ever convincing her of this.

[27] There's really no other way to say this, this bit flat out bombed—possibly because I started to tell it the other way around (with Jessica giving the clues and Misha guessing) before realizing I was fucking it up, banging on the podium, and starting over—so much so that I was rattled and actually omitted the subsequent story, which is truly a shame since, as a result, my comments on their relationship at the end of that subsequent story inadvertently ended up on the cutting room floor.

2. Just a few weeks ago, Misha, Jessica, Carrie, and I carpooled to Jon and Alex’s for a poker game. Misha and Jessica, as it happens, had to stop at the pharmacy to pick up a wedding card for Jon and Alex (who themselves had just recently gotten married). Jessica was picking up a bottle of wine from the LCBO, so Misha, bragging the whole time about his card purchasing prowess (“I don’t even know how to explain it, Kyle, I just have a knack for picking the perfect card every time…”), elected to go to the Pharma Plus on his own. He gets out of the car, leaving Carrie and I sitting in the backseat like we’re five and dad’s gone off to buy cigarettes.

[28] Though I didn’t end up saying any of this, it’s safe to assume that I would skipped over some of the less salient details had I actually gone ahead with it.

So he leaves and, about two minutes later, Jessica shows up. We explain where Misha has gone and she, cheerfully, decides to head inside to help him pick out le carde juste. Literally—I swear—one minute later, Misha returns to the car, without Jessica, and asks where she is. We patiently explained the situation and he headed back into the pharmacy. Not ninety seconds later and who should show up at our car door? Ms. Jessica Henry. She, too, asks where her significant other has gone and we, again, perhaps a little less patiently, explain what’s gone on. Everyone has a good laugh and then Jessica heads back in. At this stage, everyone can probably see how this is going to end up, but I soldier on nonetheless. Minutes later, Misha comes outside—no Jessica—at which point (I’m hanging out the car door by now) I let loose with something to the effect of “come [expletive deleted] on.” Carrie and I are now convinced that we’re going to move into this parking lot and we begin checking rental rates. Not to be deterred, Misha goes back in to the drug store and—I later found out—paged Jessica to the front of the store. And then we finally got to leave. Now, I tell this story for two reasons: (1) it’s funny, right?

[29] Crowd's emphatic response (I’m guessing now): no.

and (2) the way Misha and Jessica reacted was classically them. There’s was no incredulity, no sense of exasperation, no rolled eyes, no malice. Instead: patience and laughter. Now, make no mistake, I wanted to kill them, but between the two of them, there was only tenderness. If nothing else, that’s symbolic of their relationship.

[30] Awwww. Now, maybe that’s not the best story—one reason? It takes longer to describe than it took to actually happen—but I think it’s (a) amusing and (b) goes to the strength and sweetness of their relationship. Also, I inexplicably omitted the standard “Jessica, you’re a wonderful person and the perfect girl for Misha. I am so happy you’ve found each other. That said, if things don’t work out, Misha [make hand phone gesture]: call me.” So, if by some miracle you are reading this, Jessica: please see above.

And then, to see them interact with Jack, well, I mean, you can tell instantly: they’re a family.

And as for the brilliance that is young Jack, let’s put it this way, when your fiancée tells you that she might leave you for an eight month old baby and your first response is not to be upset but rather to say “you’ll have to fight me for him,” well, that’s a good sign that you’re some special baby…

[31] This, too, did not go over especially well with the 50+ crowd (“he wants to fight the baby?”)

Actually, when I was away, Misha and I barely spoke at all: partly due to the vagaries of different time zones, partly to Misha’s crippling aversion to e-mail. But, the deeper truth,

[32] Also known as the uncomfortably gay section of my speech...

and what I only truly realized a few weeks back is: when you talk to someone virtually daily about basically everything (and, let’s be honest, nothing), you really don’t know where to start when you go three months without saying a word. But, sure enough, the second I got back, everything was back to normal…

I love Misha like a brother…with apologies to my actual brother (I said “like,” Taylor!)

[33] On the plus side, I do believe that Taylor was too drunk at this stage to feel slighted.

Who else…

-Can I count on to come over to watch NFL Sunday Ticket incredibly confident in his proline tickets, only to have all of them be dead before the 1 o’clock games are finished, consequently making him so annoyed that he promptly stops talking and proceeds to take an angry nap on my couch?

-Or the following: The phenomenon whereby I discover something, tell Misha about it, Misha promptly ignoring this advice, discovering it for himself much later, then calling me excitedly to tell me what he’s discovered, me exploding (see: sushi, dress shirts with a sweater overtop, the movie The Lookout, etc.) Good times!

I looked long and hard for an appropriate quote on friendship that didn’t end up sounding too trite or saccharine in print

[34] Since I spoke first I think I ended up softening this to something like “corny or maudlin” for fear of someone like the maid of honor (or anyone else speaking after me) saying something that actually was trite or saccharine, feeling embarrassed, and, in the process, making me look like a colossal douchebag. Ah, weddings!

but this was a losing battle. The best quote I could find—Oscar Wilde’s “a good friend stabs you in the front”—seemed oddly inappropriate.

[35] Yes, I did say this. Who doesn’t love Wilde? [edit from me in July '08: That aside: what the hell were you thinking, me from 9 months ago??]

In the end, I decided to go with an anecdote.

[36] Looking back, it’s hard now to avoid the conclusion that this section is entirely too meta/self-referential. I mean, what, precisely, did I expect in response? “Ooooh, fascinating! Tell us more about your boring speech writing process [boring is supposed to be modifying “speech writing process,” btw, as opposed to describing the speech itself], Kyle. You’re ever so riveting!” I dunno.

Before becoming President, Abraham Lincoln ran a tiny law practice with his friend William Herndon. Together, the two of them shared an office not much bigger than this dais for nineteen years. In early 1861, as he was about to make the long trek from Springfield, Illinois to Washington, D.C., he came by the office to say goodbye to his partner. Herndon, who staying back to maintain the practice, asked Lincoln what he wanted to do with the sign out front which read, as it always did, “Lincoln and Herndon, Attorneys at Law.” Lincoln, who, as you might imagine, had about three million things on his mind—mainly, one presumes, the nation he was elected to lead tearing itself apart—thought about it for a moment, then replied “keep the sign up, Willy. If I survive this, I’ll come back here, and we’ll pick things up as if nothing has changed.” With that, he said his goodbyes, and left, (as we now know) never to return.

[37] Bonus cool points for the quick glimpse at Lincoln’s enduring—and, as it turns out, well-founded—fatalism. “If I survive”? Eerie.

Now, the parallels aren’t all there (sorry, buddy, but I don’t see either of his becoming President),

[38] DAMN YOU, U.S. CONSTITUTION!!! On the plus side: no (or, the very least, reduced) risk of being assassinated.

but the lessons drawn from it should not be ignored: success or failure doesn’t (or, failing that, shouldn’t) change who you are. Your friends are your friends, and, if you’re lucky enough, they’ll stay that way forever.

[39] I didn't quite say it that way, but I wish I had.

[40] Misha would, about an hour later, say something so eloquent, so downright perfect about our friendship that I almost cried—putting my remarks to shame—but I stand by my Lincoln anecdote (gleaned from David Herbert Donald’s Lincoln, the best single volume Lincoln bio ever written), and think it’s quite lovely.

So, to close, a toast: to my best friend, to a wonderful couple, to their truly amazing child, and to a lifetime of happiness. Cheers.

[41] I’ve been to too many weddings with speeches that spend way too much time on childhood. This has always bothered me, as I firmly believe that who we are at 5, or 7, or 11 is, in fairness, not really terribly indicative who we are today (to the point where I made my parents promise that, at my own wedding, they would not fall prey to this). To that end, I made a conscious decision to steer clear of too many tales from our formative years. And, for the most part, I think I succeeded on that front. But what I realize now (and what was probably blindingly obvious to everyone prior to my own realization) is that, when you’re dealing with an older crowd, and the teenage/adulthood stories are too risqué/uncomfortable/incriminating, your under 12 material is really your go-to stuff.

[42] That said—along with everything I’ve touched upon up to this point—while I do agree that certain concessions to the masses need to be made when you make a wedding speech (this is the same principle which won’t allow me to have “Come Pick Me Up” by Ryan Adams be one of the slow songs at our wedding next year, even though I think it’s one of the most heartbreakingly beautiful love songs ever written and absolutely refuse to argue about this with anyone. Why? Because it’s about fucked up love, and contains the following verse: “I wish you would come pick me up, take me out, fuck me up, steal my records, screw all my friends, they're all full of shit, with a smile on your face, and then do it again.” I think it’s important that what you say, at its core, resonates with your target audience—whether it be your friends, your best friend, or your new bride. Anything less than that verges on cowardly. All of which is the long way of saying: I stand by my speech and all its glorious misfires.

[43] Though, if I’m being completely candid, I would probably give up one my slaps for a do-over.

2 comments:

Travis' Computer said...

Orginally posted by Kyle:
[Mainly], the rights to virtual Augusta National are—inexplicably—not for sale

Subsequently posted by Travis:
I'm going to let you in on a little secret Kyle...coloured folk own video gaming consoles.

Travis' Computer said...

As an addendum (now that I have finished reading the speech in its entirety):
I very much liked your speech and would like you to write one of the same ilk for me. I expect it to be hand-written (on a legal pad) and would like to see some emotion in the form of water marks from your tears.
In conclusion, it seems to me that your friends are very blessed to have one another and... I love you.