Monday, September 16, 2013

Monday Morning Stories With Mookie - Episode 84

The Time Mookie Gave a "Best Man" Speech

Many years ago, my life-long friend "Rick (*) asked me to be the "best man" at his wedding. It goes without saying that I was pretty excited at the prospect, but also quite nervous. I had only really been in one other wedding in my life - mine, and I had never been a "best man" before either. So needless to say I did not want to do a poor job.  I took to the Internet and looked up all of the suggested things the "best man" was supposed to do. Some of the suggested duties of the "Best Man" were:

 - Making sure the groomsmen all show up;
 - Make sure everyone gets fitted for their tuxes;
 - Help organize the bachelor party; and of course
 - Hold the bride's ring during the ceremony.

Since we all lived in different cities, the groom took care of most of the tux details and making sure they all showed up to the wedding.  Rick's roommates at the time took on the role of bachelor party planners, so all I had to do was show up for that too. I had it pretty easy except for the one last job that I had to take care of myself :

Giving a "toast" at the wedding reception.

If you know me, you already know that I am not a terrific public speaker. I stammer, sweat, look visibly nervous, fidget, stutter, know....pretty much everything you are not supposed to do when you speak in front of people.  Hell, I do most of this stuff when I'm just talking to one person. I sometimes wonder how I have gotten as far in life as I have given my verbal communications.  I'm pretty much retarded.

That being said, I decided pretty early on what I was going to say during my speech. I wrote it all out so I could memorize it, and made sure that the speech covered all the bases it needed to cover (according to the Internet):
 - It was family-friendly personal story about Rick and I;
 - It was mildly humorous; and
 - It showered praise and love on the new couple in some way.

The only problem with all of this was essentially - me presenting it well.

In having some fun with the situation, I solicited speech "ideas" and topics from all of the friends Rick and I mutually shared over e-mail.  Everyone was copied on the e-mails, and the suggestions that went back and forth between everyone (naturally) were off the charts of common decency.  While I had no intention of using a foul-mouthed speech, I enjoyed letting on that nothing was "off the table" and there was a fair chance I could do anything.  I threatened to say things that you wouldn't say in front of your grandmother, and even might cause people to "leave" the reception due to the cursing and vulgarity of it all.  To his credit though, Rick never got flustered over it (to me anyway) and would just say "Ok whatever."  Part of me likes to think he was nervous though - especially when the suggestions from our friends were absolutely inappropriate.
The toast given in the opening minutes of the
movie "The Wedding Singer" would have been
tame compared to what people said I should have done.

I let it be known that I would be preparing TWO different speeches, and that I would decide WHICH speech to give right before I gave it.  It would largely depend on the "feel" of the crowd at the reception. This only increased the excitement from everyone over e-mail as more foul-mouthed suggestions and threats came about.

What sort of things were suggested?  The initial topics included (but were not limited to):
* Racist parrot jokes.
* Comments about self-gratification.
* Jokes at the expense of the female anatomy.
* Jokes at the expense of the male anatomy.
* Exaggerations of Rick's sexual prowess (or lack-there-of)
* Lewd comments about everyone pulling down pants and seeing who the "Best Man" really was
* Quoting the "O-Face," and "bone-roller coaster" comments from the movie "Office Space"
* Asking members of the audience to shout their favorite obscenities for no apparent reason
* A group sing-a-long of the 2 Live Crew classic, "Me So Horny"

Out of all of them, my personal favorite was the suggestion that I should tell a "cautionary" love story about one of my ex-girlfriends (who was actually going to be at the reception), and repeatedly refer to her as a "blood-sucking whore."

I sent this list to everyone, and said that I had titled the speech "Five Minutes Of Your Life That You'd Never Forget." I said it would be delivered with such emotion and comic timing that it would cast a shadow over any speech ever delivered by JFK, Martin Luther King Jr, Abraham Lincoln, or Pee Wee Herman. NOBODY would know what hit them.  Even after reading this - to his credit - Rick never showed any signs of telling me "no," or advising of doing otherwise.

The day of the wedding arrived and everything went as well as planned.  As I stood in the entryway greeting people, I had random friends ask me which speech I was going to use. I just smiled and said "You'll have to wait and see." The wedding commenced, and it was a joyous occasion.  I stood proudly next to my friend of many years, and watched as his glowing bride "Pam" (*) walked down the aisle. The ceremony went off without a hitch, although I admit that I had to laugh during the ceremony when the minister uttered the phrase: "If anyone should object to Rick and Pam's marriage, speak now,or forever hold your peace." 
Seriously....if someone wanted could really have fun with that whole moment.

After the ceremony, everyone descended upon the reception hall for dinner, drinks, and dancing.  I had hopes that the beer I was drinking would help keep my nerves at a minimal level, but all it served to do was make me have to pee more.  Inevitably after dinner, my moment of truth arrived and I was asked to start the speeches.

With butterflies in my stomach and ample urine in my bladder, I stood and dinged my glass to get everyone's attention.  It was an odd feeling watching hundreds of people stop what they were doing - talking/eating - and turn their undivided attention towards me.They handed me the microphone, so I took a breath....and started.....

I thanked everyone for coming and helping Rick and Pam celebrate their wedding. Blah blah blah. Then I nervously segued into my "speech."  For about eight-tenths of a second - I actually did think about giving my "vulgar" speech that would have totally killed the room. In the end though, I thought better of that decision and began to tell the original speech I had came up with months prior - the story about Rick and I from our youth.  It somewhat went as follows:

Rick and I used to call each other Christmas Day afternoon and see what we each got as gifts.  During one exchange, I mentioned that I had gotten a remote control car.  I said how it was crazy fast, and it could go all the way up my street in back.  Rick then mentioned that he too got a remote control car. I then jokingly said "Oh yeah?  Is it one of those that has the cord attached to it, and you have to follow it?"  There was then a long silence on the other end of the phone, which was followed by Rick going "So?"  I started laughing uncontrollably.....and Rick hung up because I was being a jerk.

This garnered minor laughter as I expected, but nothing major. I then said how Rick and Pam both received  a "gift" today, and it was certainly one I would not make fun of.  That gift was love.  I hoped that they would cherish that love - and more importantly - each other - for the rest of their lives. (barf) This caused minor "aww" responses from the crowd, and then I asked everyone to raise their glasses and help me congratulate the happy couple.

And that was it - it was done.  I had made it. I certainly wasn't the best public speaker ever, but with all things considered - it was satisfactory.  As I sat there listening to the toasts and speeches from the Maid of Honor, Rick the Groom, and Pam's brother, I could feel the heat receding from my face and the butterflies subsiding.  Whew.

I still had to pee like mofo - so when all the toasts were done, I was finally able to get to the bathroom. On my way back from the bathroom, I was greeted by several people who liked my speech, as well as several friends who were bummed I didn't give the vulgar one. My reply was a smile and I shrugged my shoulders.

Even after all these years though, there are times I wonder what would have happened had I stood up and went into a rant about "racktastic" women, jokes about partners giving oral sex with pierced tongues, and jokes about someone's Mom riding the "bone roller coaster."  While I'm sure it would have been something people would have never forgotten, I'm also sure that my friendship with Rick would have been considerably strained.  Not to mention that I probably would have been cut off during the speech and forcibly removed from the reception. So in the end I probably made the right choice.  

Plus I'm reassured by the fact that Rick has told me that if he dies before I do - he would like me to give the eulogy at his funeral.  

If I'm given that second chance - you can be damn sure there will be racist parrot jokes.

(*) - Names changed to protect the guilty/innocent

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