As everyone knows, with weddings come out-of-town guests. And sometimes out-of-town guests bring unwelcome realizations.
An old college buddy of mine, Jaime, had come up for the big day and was currently crashing on our couch. This was delicate in itself, given my fianc Jane, who thought the couch was her personal office, using it to run her internet consulting firm from home so she could work on the wedding plans at the same time.
In addition to the couch, the two had generally started driving each other crazy, so Jaime and I went out to grab a drink and take the edge off.
"So, Bob," Jaime said, on a commercial break from our sports-induced silence.
"We go way back, and uh...I was just curious. Which of our buddies is your best man?"
"Nathan," I replied, returning my attention to the Spurs game.
"Nathan," Jaime choked, spraying Heineken all over the table.
"Yeah, Nathan," I replied. What was the big deal? Nathan was my best buddy, the one whose dad taught us how to fly fish when we were little, who bought me an Eva Langoria poster every year for my birthday, the only person besides me who still thought Kevin Smith movies were hilarious. Nathan was the obvious choice. Jaime clearly felt differently, since he was now laughing so hard I thought beer would spurt out his nose.
"What is so funny?" I asked. "Nathan's a good guy."
"Oh man," Jaime said. "Don't you get it? Nathan's the one who makes the wedding toast!"
Wedding toast? I racked my brain. Perhaps a delicious warmed bread consumed pre-wedding cake?
"You really don't get it do you?" Jaime said, calming down. "The best man's the one who makes the big mushy speech, the one designed to bring the audience to tears of joy with his touching words of love, puppies, everlasting sunshine, etc,"
Oh yes, this was all starting to sound familiar.
"And you," Jaime said, still snorting to himself, "picked Nathan. Don't you see? You needed Martin Short, and you brought in Dave Chappelle."
"Hmmm," I thought about this, "does Jaime really have a point?" Admittedly, Nathan wasn't the most... eloquent of fellows. His oral repertoire consisted mainly of grunting, pointing, monosyllables, and vulgar humor. So he was succinct.
"I know he's a little... reserved," I said. "But I'm sure he will rise to the occasion when necessary."
After all, just because he wasn't Wordsworth didn't mean he wasn't still qualified to be my best man. He was my best friend. Wasn't that enough?
"Whatever you say man," Jaime said, pushing back his chair. "I'm gonna grab another drink."
The more I thought about it, Jaime's questions presented an interesting quandary of ethics versus etiquette. What if Nathan couldn't rise to the occasion? A wedding toast is a pretty big deal, and a poor one could ruin the whole reception. Not to mention really pissing Jane off. But he was my best friend. What does one do when their best man is indeed the best man for the job, but not necessarily the fountain of wit and wisdom needed for a wedding toast?
I talked to Jane about it several times, and there was even a tense moment where I considered asking Nathan to step down. My other friend Jake was a writer for a local magazine, and no doubt would be a better toast maker. But Jake stole my girlfriend (curly haired Cindy Larson) in the fourth grade, and cheated in our fantasy football league every year. I didn't want Jake. I wanted Nathan.
Again, my ever-resourceful fianc came to my rescue. Jane, sensing my depression, found a site online that actually writes your wedding toast for you. You just answer a few questions online, and then the program creates a personalized wedding speech for you. The site offers a custom wedding toast and an instant wedding toast, for the best man who's also a procrastinator. You even get to choose the tone of the toast, like serious, humorous, or 'not a dry eye in the house'. Pretty nifty huh?
This wedding toast writer is perfect for Nathan, who may not be much of a public speaker, but he's memorized more sports stats than any guy I know, another reason why he's my best friend.
And thanks to this wedding toast kit, still my best man.
Saved by the (wedding) bells once again,