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.
This post is a look back on my life, with one sentence about one important event that occurred during each year of my life so far:
1961 – I was born, duh!
1962 – Cuban Missile Crisis
1963 – Kennedy Assassinated
1964 – The Beatles appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show
1965 – By the end of the year, 190,000 American soldiers were in Vietnam
1966 – I enter Kindergarten
1967 - Thurgood Marshall sworn in as first black Supreme Court justice
1968 – Martin Luther King Assassinated
1969 – Apollo 11 Astronauts Neil Armstrong and Ed Aldrin walk on the moon
1970 – National Guardsmen kill four Kent State students during a protest
1971 – Intel introduces the microprocessor
1972 – Nixon goes to China
1973 – Cease fire signed in Vietnam
1974 – Nixon resigns
1975 – Saturday Night Live premiers with host George Carlin
2008 – The federal bailouts begin as the US elects its first African-American president
2009 – The bailouts continue and expand as unemployment increases to 8.1%, the highest level since 1983
2010 – I meet the woman I will marry in 2012
2011 – Occupy Wall Street
I got married when I was twenty years old. Everyone said we were too young to know what we were doing. They were probably right, but we were married for 15 years, had three wonderful boys, and currently have a good ex-spouse relationship. She took the plunge relatively quickly and remarried a few years after our divorce. I spent the next 15 years being either single or in relationships that weren’t going to lead to marriage. I wasn’t about to get married again. Not that being married was horrible, but I wasn’t ready to commit over that 15 year period.
As I dated, I found that there were three types of first dates:
- The date that can’t end quickly enough. I had these types of dates quite often! I went on dates with women who wouldn’t talk and who wouldn’t stop talking. I went on dates with women who claimed to be casual smokers but smoked a pack an hour. I went on dates that were supposed to be just a quick drink but ended up with them ordering food that they assumed I would pay for! I even went on a blind date because a mutual friend thought we’d hit if off. During the date, I began to question if my friend really knew me at all because this person was not my type at all. This is the kind of dating that leads to hilarious stories in the future.
- The date that leads to more dates. These types of dates gave me some hope that I might be able to meet someone normal after all. They were a good enough first date to warrant another. So you go out again and learn more about each other that you can’t learn during the first date “interview.” It might lead to more dates as you haven’t found anything causing you to turn and run as far away as possible – yet. Eventually, something happens that makes you reevaluate this person and decide it’s best to walk away. This is the kind of dating that makes you hopeful in the beginning, but you know in the back of your mind that it’s not really what you’re looking for.
- The date where you find “the one.” This is the date that is so obviously different from all the others that you go home alone wishing you didn’t have to. This is the date that tells you your life has just changed irreversibly because you just met your future. This is the type of date that made me want to ask Alana to marry me. Not on that date, mind you, but cautious optimism became outright giddiness. This is the kind of date you get to have once, if you’re lucky.
On our first date, Alana made a very subtle, straight-faced, joke about one of the stories in Date Type #1 that I told her about over the phone. You had to be there, but let me assure you she caught me off guard. The date was at Go Bananas, which is a great first date place to go. You get to spend some time talking while waiting for the comedians, then you get to see what makes them laugh. I already knew I could make her laugh because we talked for hours on the phone before we even went on the date. She loved my sense of humor and I loved making her laugh. A comedy club was the only natural choice for our date. After the club, we went next door to the bar. She spent the majority of that time flipping me off and saying “fuck you!” I knew I had either met my match or met the female version of me. This date took place in late November.
I’m 50 years old – she’s 36. I’m a Reagan Republican – she’s a Clinton Democrat. I’m an early bird – she’s a night owl. I’m a recovering Catholic – she’s Jewish. I could list all the ways we’re different but none of that matters. Over the next few months, we became inseparable. We started out by spending just the weekend together. Little by little, it became Friday through Sunday then Thursday through Monday. Then, it became odd to be at my apartment alone for even one night. I loved being alone in that apartment when I leased it in May 2010. I couldn’t wait for the lease to end in 2011. We became “roommates” for good on June 1st.
To be continued . . .