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My Brother's Wedding Toast

By Rob Terrell

I thought I'd share the toast I gave recently at my brother's wedding, but first a little explaining is in order.

My younger brother decided to get married and, desperate, asked me to be his best man. We all know what it means when a guy asks his brother to be his best man -- either he has no friends, or he has too many friends and doesn't want to offend them by picking one. In Chris' case, he had ten groomsmen. Still, I was touched.

However, I'm not really fond of public speaking. His friends are all extremely practiced in that sort of well-lubricated frat-boy happy rambling that passes for genuine sentiment. I was going to look bush-league next to these guys.

Plus, they have years and years of recent proximity with which to build the perfect, touching toast. I'm on the wrong coast and haven't spent more than a football game's duration with him since 1992. And even then most of our interactions had the depth and warmth and insight of, say, a "Boy, these refs suck, don't they?" comment.

At his bachelor party, several guys said things to me along the lines of, "It's so sad." A wistful sigh, and, "He had a gift." And "He always shared." Apparently Chris was quite the master of flirtation, the kind of guy who could walk up to the coldest woman in the bar and get her laughing, the kind of guy who always helped his friends break the ice with a table of single women. These guys had spent years with Chris. They got soft. They depended on his skills, and now he was disappearing into marital bliss.

If any of these guys expected me to pick up the slack during the weekend of the bachelor party, they would be sadly mistaken. Luckily, they all knew me from high school. They had no illusions as to my powers. I'll tell you right now -- it ain't genetic, folks. So they fended for themselves.

And so, the toast. I wrote a toast on the plane. Here is the toast I delivered, in its entirety:

I get a lot of shit from my family for being from the west coast, for being out of touch. So not long after some guy named Chris called me, purporting to be my brother, and asked me to be his best man, I called my Mom and grilled her. Who's this Chris guy? I demanded.

Don't you remember your own brother? Think back to your childhood memories. And so I thought back and thought back, and yes, I just did remember a Chris. I remembered fondly our long walks together, where we'd just walk and walk, and I would talk and Chris would listen, and sometimes he'd pull on his leash like a bad boy and try to get ahead, and every once in a while he'd stop to do his business, and I'd try to time it so he always did it on the Applington's lawn. And my Mom said, no, that's not Chris, that's muffy -- that's the dog.

So, I'm like, wait -- which was Chris? Remind me. Chris was that guy who sat in the TV room doing accounting late into the night? No, that guy was dad. Was Chris that guy who tried out for cheerleading and cried the day he got his first period? No, that guy was Bonnie. That guy who never shut up about going to church? That was me! She said.

My Mom was getting pretty angry at this point. Don't worry about memories, she said. Your toast should express the joy of the occasion. But I've never been married, except that once in Vegas for 48 hours, and it didn't count, so I have no idea what that joy's like. And that's when she snapped. Just be happy for him, she said, he's a good catholic boy and he'll soon have his first act of physical love with a woman.

So here's a toast: to your first act of physical love!

It is, admittedly, a really poor toast. I realized later that I had absolutely no mention of the bride, my happiness for couple, my wishes for their future, not even a sly winking mention of the honeymoon, although I guess I did have something substantially crass in there that could cover in pinch.

Oh well. Too late. It's now all part of the legend of Chris' wedding. Along with the rings. During the ceremony, we're up at the front of Our Lady of Grace church, it's the priest and Chris and Gail, and the Matron of Honor and me, and we're in the home stretch of this puppy and the priest turns to me and asks may I have the rings? Rings? Rings? I mutter. Rings? I pat my pockets, my jacket pockets, turn around and look to the groomsmen for help...there's a moment, where the entire church thinks to themselves, "this fucking jerk has lost the rings!" I really dragged it out. I just milked it. And then I discover they were in my pants pocket, all along, and give them to the priest. I was quite pleased with myself over that one.

So there will be a legend: the bumbling, cursing, inappropriate best man who didn't really know the duties of his office and kept making a fool of himself, trying to draw attention to himself, taking quick jogs into the spotlight of someone else's event.

It's not just weddings -- I'm also available for parties.


© copyright 2000 The Van Gogh-Goghs