As my wedding day approached, I knew I was going to be called on to deliver a toast during the reception. I spent a lot of time coming up with ideas about what I wanted to say and I spent a lot of time surfing the web for what I was supposed to say. Then, I knew I was supposed to say something about my bride and say a little about our life together. Inspiration for the toast came from random moments, but there was a time during a Radiohead concert that a flood of ideas came to me. There was something about listening to their music that opened up my creativity. I spent part of that concert e-mailing myself the ideas that kept popping into my head.
While I wrote a speech and converted that into an outline for what I wanted to say, there were many things I thought of and added while I was up there. I guess the pressure helps with my creativity. Anyway, here’s the speech:
“I’d like to thank everyone for coming and sharing our special day. Thank all those who traveled so far to be here with us today, including my brother Mark & his wife Marla who came all the way from China. They came a week early with their three children and got them re-acclimated to the eastern time zone. I really appreciate that you’re here.
I’d like to thank Bill & Sharon for giving me their daughter’s hand in marriage. You did an excellent job raising her. Well, I’m sure you did the best you could.”
I’d like to thank my sons, Nick, Alex, and Stephen for being groomsmen. Thank you for making Alana feel so welcomed by you.
I chose Doug to be my best man because he was available. Seriously, he is always there for me. He will drop everything and help me when I need it. He helped me get my first job. He worked at an RV and camper sales place as the mechanic and I washed the campers.
I’d like to thank Danielle for agreeing to be the matron of honor. You did an excellent job of getting Alana down the aisle in one piece. We know how hard that was! Thank you to all the bridesmaids for being such good friends to Alana and for accepting me as quickly and completely as you did. Please raise your glass in a toast to the heath and happiness of the bridesmaids.
Alana and I clicked right away. I quickly found out that she was as sarcastic and irreverent as I am. On our first date we went to Go Bananas. Being with her that night felt so natural it was like we belonged together. I’ve never been flipped off so much on a first date. What I have learned since then is, when she flips me off, I just won the argument! Seven months after that first date, on our vacation to Aruba, I asked her to marry me. I’ll always remember it was July 4th because immediately after asking her, fireworks exploded in the sky. I didn’t plan it that way, but I’ll take credit for it anyway.
Being so loved and accepted by her has given me the freedom to be myself and actually figure out who I really am. And, apparently, I’m a sick bastard! I have become her clown just so I can see her smile and hear her laugh every day. We have so many inside jokes now, don’t we? Just so many! We have different backgrounds, different religious and political affiliations, different ages, but we respect each other enough to make that not matter. As for our age difference, my immaturity level makes us even. As fas as politics, I let her have an autographed Hillary Clinton campaign poster on the wall in her office and she lets with me have an 8×10 photo of Ronald Reagan in the garage. On a shelf. Behind the weed killer. As for religion, I tried teaching her how to make the sign of the cross but when she did it, it looked like she was giving me the sign to steal second base! So it’s our respect for each other’s differences that makes us work.
To my beautiful wife – I couldn’t be happier to call you that – I love you and I will be your clown for as long as I live. Please raise your glasses and join me in a toast to my beautiful bride.”
The rest of the night was a blur. I had a great time seeing everyone who could come. We had a great time dancing and drinking and celebrating. I would do it again if we could afford it! We’ll have time to celebrate every day for a long, long time.
Any adult who still thinks they can have “sweet dreams” is dreaming! I woke up at 6:00 this morning due to the weirdest dream I’ve had in a long time, and I’ve had some doozies! This one involved a bunch of my family and extended family gathering at the house I grew up in, only this was a newer and improved house. I never went inside because the weirdness was outside. I saw a nephew, who I haven’t seen in a few years, riding a bicycle with his girlfriend. I don’t even know if he has a girlfriend, but she was pretty. I saw a few old friends from the neighborhood, and my brother who currently lives in China was there. So far, this doesn’t seem weird.
I was outside carving some weird meat that turned into jello when you tried to put in on a plate. So I found these jello glasses to put it in and my friend thought that was really smart, so he stole my serving. I don’t like jello, in fact I hate jello! I love alcohol but not when it’s put in a jello shot! I won’t touch it then. This weird meat was coming from some unidentifiable animal that was still alive and didn’t mind that we were carving it up. Then, for some reason, this animal turned into a dog with a really bad grooming job with patchy fur all over his body. I asked my friend what to do and he said I would have to kill it by breaking its neck. That’s when I woke up!
Where the fuck did that come from??? I can understand the family part of it since I’ll be seeing a lot of them at my wedding next month. Alana is having stress dreams about the wedding, which makes sense. But everything that happened after I saw my nephew doesn’t exist in the real world! How is that shit even in my brain to be processed? So I did what every person who has been freaked out by a dream would do – I went to google “dream interpretation.” There were 19,100,000 results returned in 0.12 seconds. I guess I’m not the only person having weird dreams!
My first attempt to interpret this was to find out what dreaming about a dog means. This particular dog was black. What I found was, “To see a black colored dog in your dream symbolizes the shadow aspect of a friend. The dark side of someone close to you is being revealed and you are able to see through to their true intentions.” I’m on to you, Alana! I can see your true intentions, I think. It was a small dog. What I found was, “To dream of small dogs, indicates that your thoughts and chief pleasures are of a frivolous order.” Yeah, that’s pretty true.
I didn’t spend too much time on this, but I couldn’t find anything about what it means to kill a dog. So I got curious and wondered what they had to say about killing cats. There was no shortage of interpretations here! My favorite was, “To dream of a cat, denotes ill luck, if you do not succeed in killing it or driving it from your sight. But if you succeed in banishing it, you will overcome great obstacles and rise in fortune and fame.” Killing dogs – bad. Killing cats – money!
My next stop was to find out what dreaming about friends and family means. I went back to the dreaming dictionary to the “F” page and found an entry for facebook! If you’re dreaming about facebook, you might want to log off for a while! Then, there was a banner ad featuring the face of Barack Obama right next to the entries for “Fairy Tale”, “Faithless”, and “Fake”. Moving on. For family, we have “To see your own family in your dream represents security, warmth and love. It could also symbolize bitterness, jealousy, or rivalry, depending on your relationship with your family.” Jesus, that’s just no help at all!
Scrolling down, there is an entry for “Farting.” ”To dream that you are farting suggests that you are being passive aggressive. You need to express your feelings in a more direct manner. ” I’m pretty sure my farts are in a very direct manner! ”Feminine Napkin” – “Please see Maxi Pad.” Finally, down to “Friends” I found, “to see your childhood friend suggests that you have been acting in a childish manner. You need to start acting like an adult.” I sense a pattern now! My dream was trying to tell me I’m childish and frivolous! I think I’ll go with that and forget about the whole dog thing. I like being childish and frivolous! Now, it’s time for my second cup of coffee. I don’t want to go back to sleep!
I have three sons, the youngest of whom just turned 18. They are all now legal adults! Their mother and I divorced 16 years ago. They didn’t live with me but when we had time together, I did my best to help guide them to this point in their lives. I knew I had limited time with them, so I’ve often wondered how much influence I could have had over them. So I’m writing them this letter to give them my rules for living so they can improve upon my successes, avoid my mistakes, and live a life that will make their kids proud. I don’t know if my kids are proud of me, but I’m very proud of them!
When your mother and I divorced, I had a few well-meaning people warn me that children of divorce will have an extremely challenging life. They told me you would have trouble in school, trouble with relationships, have psychological and anger issues. Instead, you turned into very resilient children. You never became a “child of divorce.” Your school work was exemplary, you were active in sports, and when you found jobs, you exhibited the work ethic I hoped I would see from you. I want to believe I had something to do with that, but I want you to know I give your mother credit for the majority of it.
Now that you’re adults, I want to give you my rules for living a happy, productive life:
Laughter is the best medicine. When you learn to laugh at yourself, you can get through anything life throws your way. You’ve heard the saying, “you’ll look back on this and laugh one day.” Laugh today instead! Laugh so much that people wonder about your sanity. I gave the eulogy for my mother and I had my brothers and sisters and friends of the family laughing during the service. Sure we cried before, during and after the service, but if you can laugh through your tears you’ll be okay.
Be kind to everyone. whether they deserve it or not. I learned this rule a long time ago and I’m still trying to perfect it. One day, I was driving to work. The guy in front of me at the light would not turn right on red even though there was clearly no traffic. I honked at him and got him to go. I turned right and followed him into the parking lot at work. He was the CEO of the company! I now gently tap the horn only when necessary. Be kind to everyone you know or don’t know, because that person you don’t know now could be someone very important in your life later. Plus, it’s just the right thing to do.
Don’t let pride get in your way. There will be many times where swallowing your pride is the best way to resolve a situation. Swallow hard and do the right thing. Be proud, but not prideful.
Don’t lie, cheat, or steal. Honesty really is the best policy. When you lie to people, you create a divide between you and them. That lie will always keep you from closing that divide and prevent you from being close to them ever again. “What they don’t know won’t hurt them” is not true. What they don’t know hurts you. Cheating is a form of lying to yourself. If you think you can win by cheating, you have already lost. Stealing is wrong. I have no pearls of wisdom about that – it’s just wrong.
Love women just the way they are. I love women! I have more female friends than male friends! Don’t expect your logical mind to ever figure out women because they aren’t ruled by logic. You will drive yourself crazy if you question a woman’s motivation for doing something. It makes sense to them, so it doesn’t need to make sense to you! Don’t fight with a woman, because you will lose! Even if you win, you lose. Go with the flow, enjoy their company, treat them with respect, and always open the door for them (even if they could bench press the building).
Learn how to work a room. At any social gathering, it’s important to learn how to enter and exit conversations. If you’re at a cocktail party and you see someone nursing their drink and standing off to the side, talk to that person. Ask questions to find some common ground and talk the shit out of that topic. Don’t look around the room while you are talking to them just to see if there is someone else you’d rather talk to. When you are ready to move on, do it gracefully. Give them a firm handshake, look them in the eye and say, “It was great talking to you.”
Handle your finances wisely. Don’t use credit for consumer goods. If it’s something that will last longer than the payments use credit. This means you buy houses and cars with credit. You might have to use credit to furnish the house. You should never use credit for impulse purchase or for groceries. If you need to use credit to buy groceries, it’s because you are paying so much on your credit card bills that now you have to charge everything. It’s a vicious cycle that’s hard to break. Don’t do it!
Love yourself. There will be many times in your life where you will not be proud of yourself. You will do something you’re ashamed of. You are not alone – this is human nature. As hard as we try, we can’t live a perfect life. When you mess up, learn from it and never do it again. Then, you have to forgive yourself and let it go. You can do this only if you love yourself and respect and value who your are. Loving yourself opens up your ability to love someone else and accepting them as they are. Then, when they fail to be their very best, you can be there to help them rather than scold them. Loving yourself lets you love others freely.
Friend quality is better than friend quantity. Having a few close friends who know you as well as you know them, and they love you anyway, is better than having a bunch of “friends.” Your best friends should be your spouse, your brothers, and a few other close friends you would trust with your life.
You aren’t the only one. There will come a time when you are surrounded by people who appear happy and successful and who seem to have it all figured out. When they are alone, they have doubts, fears and frustrations and they question why all those other people seem to have it all figured out. No one has it all figured out all the time. Everyone has doubts, fears and frustrations. You’re not alone.
If all else fails, follow your instincts. You have been given the gift of intelligence and good looks, thanks to yours truly, and you’ve proven that you’re moral, ethical, and caring individuals. But there will be times where you don’t know what to do. Your conscience will never lead you astray. If what you’re considering feels wrong, don’t do it.
Finally, if you could just do one thing, it should be “enjoy life.” If you use the above tools, you should be well on your way to enjoying life to the fullest. We are on this earth for a mere blink of an eye. I hope to live long enough to read what you want to pass on to your children.
I recently updated my life insurance – wait, don’t go away! Keep reading!
I have considered this for quite a while, so actually doing it was an accomplishment! The whole process can be unnerving to say the least. The first step is the application where I try to remember what I lied about on my last application. My dad died of cancer at the age of 57. My oldest brother died from his second heart attack at the age of 57. My mom died from complications resulting from years of being type 2 diabetic. My oldest brother was also type 2. Genetically speaking, I’m a dead man walking! The only logical thing to do is to lie on the application. ”Has anyone in your family had cancer, diabetes, heart disease, irritable bowel syndrome, restless leg syndrome, or who is a chronic masturbator?” Nope! Especially not that last one – no one in my family! Okay, define “chronic.”
The next step is the health screening. They scheduled a home visit where someone would come and take my blood, weigh me, measure me, and ask all the same questions the application asked me about my health! The agent warned me that I should not consume alcohol for at least 72 hours before the test. I stupidly scheduled the test on the Tuesday after a 3-day weekend. That would mean no alcohol all weekend! I chose to reschedule for a Friday morning. I could handle that. They sent a dude instead of a hot nurse, so that was disappointing. His first words were, “Has anyone told you that you look like House?” I said, “Only everyone.” He took my blood, weighed me (giving me a generous 5 pound reduction for the sweatpants and t-shirt I was wearing) and confirmed my height. Then he asked the questions. For some reason, I decided to answer honestly! Son of a bitch! Well, I left off the oldest brother history, but everything else was the truth. My blood better be awesome because my family history is deficient!
So I waited for about a month for them to mail the blood work to me. It was like Christmas morning when it arrived! Everything was in the expected range. My Gamma Glutamyltransferase (Google it) was outstanding! My good cholesterol was very good, but my bad cholesterol was better! You should have seen my urine! It was a balmy 98 degrees and it was everything you want your urine to be. I started strutting around the house saying, “My blood is awesome, my blood is awesome! My pee is perfect, my pee is perfect!” Alana flipped me off – victory is mine!
I bought my last policy 20 years ago. I planned it to have a level premium that would last until I turned 60. I’m currently 50 years old and this policy will last me until I’m 80. My real financial plan is to be killed by a jealous husband when I’m 79 years old. If my kids still need a windfall from my life insurance when they’re in their 50s, then I failed them a long time ago. On the other hand, I plan to live forever so it’s kind of a waste of money to buy life insurance!
Those who know me well know I can get kind of cranky when I get hungry. I’m not talking about, “hey, my stomach is growling” kind of hungry. I’m talking about, “I will eat the spleen of the next person who talks to me” kind of hunger! When I get that hungry, you should throw some food at me and walk away quietly.
Last night, I planned on going home and cooking dinner. This dinner would have been ready at 6:00, which would have put me at the stomach growling kind of hunger. Instead, my brother asked me to drive him to pick up his car in Milford. He always helps me when I need it, so I told him I’d pick him up at his house when I got off work no later than 5:30. All was well and good until I hit traffic on the way to his house. What should have been a 15 minute drive turned into 30 minutes. It’s now 6:00 and time for dinner. There was no food in sight.
We drove to Milford with somewhat lighter traffic, so I remained calm. I dropped him off at his car at 6:30 and headed toward home. By now, my hunger had grown exponentially! Cars and traffic lights were my enemies and they must be punished if they slow me down! Of course I hit every red light possible, but it was the one guy who stopped at the yellow light who really pissed me off! I yelled something at him, forgetting that my top was down. I looked like an insane man ranting at the air.
As I approached I-71 South from I-275, I thought “how bad could traffic be at 6:45?” How about parking lot slow? Now starving and yelling like a mad man, I took Pfeiffer Road as a detour. At this point, I blame myself. I now had access to one restaurant after another and I could have stopped to eat. Since I was on an assignment by Alana to pick up Arby’s for her, I thought I’d just get something near there (I HATE Arbys) and go home. Wrong answer!
Going through a drive-thru pisses me off on a good day! This Arby’s drive-thru speaker had a hand written note saying “Speak Loud.” I had no problem with that! I shouted my order, confirmed it with the idiot on the inside, told him no thanks on the biggie sizing, and drove around to the window. You would think that my order would be ready fairly quickly since I was the only one in the drive-thru. However, following the rule of the land that says “when Jim is hungry, make him wait as long as possible!” I had to endure what seemed like 10 minutes to me (but was probably two minutes) to get the food and drive off.
I then went to Penn Station just around the corner. Again, I was first in line (they have no drive-thru), so I thought all was well. I placed my order and paid for it. My order included a small fry, so I looked to see if I was going to get cold fries or if they were cooking a new batch. When I saw they were doing neither, I said something to the girl who was standing there doing nothing “I ordered small fries, would you be so kind as to cook me some fries?” Or at least that’s what I thought I said. She probably heard, “Bitch, get me my fries before I see how long it takes for that grease to melt your face off!!!!”
By the time they handed me my food, I was like a drug addict going through withdrawal! The DTs were in full swing by this time! I grabbed the food, jumped into my car, and prayed there would be no delay getting home. There was just one more light to go and, of course, it was red and the car in front of me was turning left!
A normal person would have ripped the bag open and eaten the fries while waiting. Even though I was starving, I didn’t want the grease on the steering wheel. When I got home, I threw Alana’s Arby’s bag on the table and launched into inhaling my food! She just sat there like she was watching Hannibal Lecter eating liver & fava beans. When I was finished, I finally said “hello.” What she heard was “Good evening, Clarice“
It was now just past 7:00. It was only one hour later than I planned to eat. I was lucky I resisted the urge to kill someone during that hour. Some people have road rage – I have hunger rage! Next time you hear about a shooting at an Arby’s drive-thru, please bail me out!