Sunday, August 16, 2009

"My wife has an inner ear infection"

Last night was the much anticipated Romanda Extravaganza - the wedding of two good friends of Diane and mine. If you follow this blog, then you have certainly seen and heard of the bride and groom - they are, for example, our Scituate traveling companions. The wedding itself has been in the works for just over a year, but the newly married couple has been together for about five years now. Diane and I played somewhat critical roles in the festivities last night - she was co-MOH and I was best man.

This was the third wedding I had been to as an "adult" - and the other two were relatively small affairs, none with the scope of this one. As such, I was pretty nervous about the best man toast for about two weeks leading up to the wedding, and certainly all of yesterday. My coworkers were kind enough to listen and read various iterations of my speech - which helped out a great deal because it was certainly not easy to write the speech.

You see, the groom and I share very strange obsessions that don't translate well to a mass audience. So, while the speech had to be about us, it also had to be written in a way that people would actually be able to understand it and perhaps get a laugh out of if.

I think for the most part, the mission was accomplished. My prepared speech was about 5 minutes long but when I started to give it I followed the cues from the crowd and since I could tell I was on a roll, I pulled a Jerry and ended on a high note.

For the benefit of the people that put with me during the entire process I will post the entire piece here because this is what I would have said in full to the bride and groom. I would have delivered the speech in full had it not been, like I said above, for the crowd factor. I suppose if you have done one of these or do public speaking regularly, then you probably know what I mean. In any case, here are my unabridged remarks:

Good evening.

I’m Nicolas, Roman’s best man. I met Roman about two years ago. Amanda and my girlfriend, Allison, the maid of honor, are high school friends, and it was
through them that Roman and I met and became, as Amanda likes to say, two peas in a pod. So I do not have any embarrassing stories from Roman’s childhood
or college years to share – which, now that I think of it, may have something to
do with why Roman chose me to do this speech.

Before I get into my remarks, a few thank yous are in order. To the parents of the newlyweds, Linda and Robert and Barbara and Walter, thank you and congratulations. Secondly, to all the bridesmaids, you have done a magnificent job helping the bride in the last year and you all look amazing. You are only outshined by the lovely bride, Amanda, who looks absolutely stunning – as opposed to Roman who just looks stunned. To the groomsmen – gentlemen, I don’t believe a
finer group has ever been assembled. Finally, on behalf of the newlyweds, I want to thank you all for coming – I am always amazed at how far people will travel for free food and an open bar.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am making this speech today at a significant handicap. Unlike all of you, I am sober. So I am going to follow some excellent advice I
received: stand up, speak up, and shut up.

Over the last two years, Roman has become a very dear friend to me. And I was honored when Roman asked me to be his best man. If you have seen us together, you would almost assume that we have known each other our whole life - that's how close we have become. Part of the reason we got along so well so quickly was because we share the same strange obsession with minor league players in the Houston Astros system, baseball umpires, Seinfeld, Jamie Seyh the Channel 10
sports girl – who sadly could not be here today, counties, New Jersey and towns
in Long Island. I believe that is probably the first time any of those words have been said in a best man speech.

They say that it is inevitable that at some point everybody meets their other half. The person that brings out their very best. Their true love, their destiny, the one person who without a spoken word knows exactly what is on your mind. There is somebody out there that you simply cannot live without, a person whose presence completes you. Roman, you are very lucky, because I believe you have found that person. And that person is me.

In fact, I remember the night I knew it was getting serious between me and Roman. We were in Scituate, at Amanda’s grandparent’s house, sleeping side by side on an air mattress. We stayed up late into the night naming baseball umpires. Joe West, Ed Rapuano, Dana Demuth. I knew then that he was a keeper. You all might understand why this speech was so difficult – our interests don’t really translate well to a mass audience. But when you know Roman like I do, you know that he wakes up each morning and kisses the ground that he does not live in Broome county, he prefers the Wendelstedt Umpire Academy, and that once we jointly named 57 of the 62 counties in New York while sitting at a Valley Cats baseball game. He is quite a catch, as you can see. Hold on to this one, Amanda.

Looking at you two stand together today simply reinforced to me, and I’m sure all of us gathered here today, how great you two are together. Roman, have found your complement in Amanda, besides the fact that she’s a Yankees fan – but that’s not a deal-breaker, I suppose. There are many mixed marriages like that in this area. I consider myself luckier than most best men because I am not just up here as the friend of the groom, but also as a friend of the bride. Amanda, you have become an equally important part of my life in Albany. I treasure your friendship as much as I do Roman’s. You certainly deserve a good husband. Since I am already in a relationship I guess Roman will have to do.

I know Amanda to be an incredibly hard working person – I think it is so admirable that Amanda recently became a teacher and works with high-risk
students. I also know Amanda to be a very caring person – she took care of
Roman this summer after he took in a little too much sun in Scituate and rubbed
aloe all over his body – that’s a lot of surface area, people.

On a more serious note, I am speaking here today as a friend of the couple, so I would like to say a few thoughts about friendship and marriage. If you listen to couples who have been married for decades, you often hear them describe their partner as their best friend. If friendship is what makes a successful marriage, then that bodes incredibly well for both of you. You make a beautiful couple. And I think you are both lucky to be coming home to such a great partner from this day forward.

Ladies and gentlemen, I had the honor to stand beside my two good friends today as they made the most sacred of oaths to each other. Please join me in wishing them all the love and happiness a couple can have.

To Amanda and Roman.

The ceremony was beautiful and the reception was very entertaining. They had a band and the food was terrific. The newlyweds will soon be off on their honeymoon and I will be taking care of Cos - their cat.
The groom got the members of the wedding party (pictured below) cufflinks with the logo of their favorite sports team. I was the recipient of Colorado State cufflinks, and they are really sharp.

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