Here’s a speech I gave at my good friend’s wedding party a short time ago. Names have been changed to protect their identities, if you really want to know who’s who, I’ll probably tell you.
Everyone, if I could please have your attention, my name is Dan Reitman. You may remember me as one of Richard’s groomsmen. If you attended the wedding but don’t remember me as a groomsman, you may remember me as the lanky guy at the party attempting to breakdance at 1am. I know what you’re going to ask, and the answer is, no, I’m not a professional dancer, it’s just talent I like to share.
For those of you who could not make it to Aberdeen, rest assured the wedding in Scotland was spectacular. It was a wonderful melding of Canadian and Scottish families and culture, Francine was a beautiful bride, and Richard looked amazingly presentable.
My official responsibility, as groomsman # 3, was, as Richard and Francine told me, to hold on to this set of keys [hold up plain set of keys], and make sure they did not leave my sight. I’m still not sure what these keys are supposed to open, and I have the distinct impression that Richard and Francine gave me this task because they didn’t want me to feel left out. That’s the mark of true friends.
Anyhow, I’m thrilled to be able to stand before you today, on this, the one-month anniversary of their wedding – I’m not sure if they’re planning on having one of these every month, but you guys should know you are only getting one gift from me.
I’m going to say a few words about Richard and Francine; why I think they’re good people, and then I’m going to wrap it up, because I probably will have been rambling for quite a while, In fact I’m probably already doing that now.
I’m honoured to call myself a close friend of both Richard and Francine. Richard and I have known each other since grade 7, and I like to think I know him pretty well. Richard is a great friend. His enthusiasm and motivation in all things is infectious, and he brings out the best in people. He is also a man of contradictions. On the one hand, he’s a competitive athlete who loves sports, especially football and hockey, but this aggressiveness is nowhere to be found when he is confronted with, say, the common pigeon. It’s true, he is absolutely terrified of birds. Francine, on the other hand is a lover of animals. Especially cats. And unicorns. Try to explain to Francine that unicorns do not actually exist, and it’s your funeral, my friend.
Anyhow Richard and I have had some great times together with our crew of idiots. We had it all figured out in our mid-20’s, and then one day Richard realized that he needed to take some time off from the busy rat race – so he moved to Australia. We got e-mails from him detailing his exploits, about meeting Francine and their travels together in their rusty Toyota jeep with the funny name.
When Richard came back from Australia, it was clear that the unforgiving Outback and all the kangaroo meat he had ingested had changed him. He had fallen in love with two things: Australian slang, and [point to Francine] surfing. Richard would strain to work Australian words into his sentences, saying things like “arvo” instead of “afternoon”, or “chuffed” instead of “excited”. Luckily that wore off. But in all seriousness, while the surfing and aussie-speak were new interests, it was Francine that occupied most of Richard‘s thoughts.
When Richard returned from his Australian odyssey, he and Francine then endured a tough year of long distance phone calls, and then Francine decided to bravely make the voyage across the Atlantic to come live with Richard in Montreal, where she would live with us in our apartment on Terrasse St. Denis. It was an unbelievably gutsy move, and I could just imagine what questions were swirling in Francine’s mind as her plane crossed the Atlantic: how cold was Canada going to be? Will things work out with Richard? Are Richard’s roommates crazy? Do they have unicorns and kittens in Canada?
Francine had nothing to fear, though, because it was clear right from the get-go that Francine, whether she liked it or not, fit right in. She was, for lack of a better term, an instant hit with our group. Francine is an incredibly thoughtful, sensitive, caring person, with a wicked sense of humour, but then anyone who has spoken with her for even a few minutes can tell that right away. Possibly my favourite thing about Francine is that she laughs at all my jokes. Even better than that is how much this aggravates Richard.
And it was clear that they were truly great together. Francine has absolutely changed Richard for the better: where previously, Richard was known to saunter around our apartment in nothing but a skimpy bath towel for hours on end, clapping his hands enthusiastically at the TV in order to rally his beloved Habs, with Francine around, he did less of this. That was a good thing. There are probably more profound ways Francine has improved Richard that I can’t see, but they aren’t as embarrassing and satisfying to describe as Mr. claps-his-hands-loudly-in-a-bath-towel. But in all seriousness Richard and Francine are true complements to each other, and it’s wonderful to be able to celebrate their marriage.
I thought I might end my little speech with a quote. Because I’ve heard quotations make people sound smart, even if they aren’t. I wanted the quote to encapsulate how I feel about my two close friends, Richard and Francine, tying the knot, and how excited I am for their new life together. I thought it would be appropriate to use a hockey quote, so I spent about 3 hours online, looking for some interesting stuff, and I found it, but then I realized that I had gotten seriously sidetracked, and they were asking me for my credit card #, so I spent another hour, and I found this, and if you’ll indulge me, I’d like to read this, a recent quote from Hockey Legend Don Cherry :
“When you skate along to the blue line, and you’re about to take your shot, first you need to stare down the goalie. Get a read on his mind. Then look at the penalty box, it’s empty, that represents the risks in your life, where all your mistakes will be visible. You look up at the score board and the scores have been replaced by Scottish flag overlapping a Canadian one. Then look over at your bench, and your team is composed of one person; uour life partner. Francine . You take the shot, you score, and the crowd goes wild.”
I’m going to be honest with you, that was not from Don Cherry, I made that up 2 hours ago. What’s worse is I don’t know anything about hockey. But I do know that I’m so thrilled and excited for Richard and Francine, and I want you guys to know I love you both and wish for you a lifetime of happiness together. Thanks very much.