It all started when my brother asked me to read something on his wedding day.
Come on, don’t be such a square, there’s some people who are going to read, how come my brother isn’t?
And I thought he was right. Because I like to write. But, had I known how it was going to end up, I probably would have taken it more seriously from the beginning.
Two weeks before the wedding I hadn’t written a word when Raúl, my brother, texted me to push me a little; he sure was suspecting something. During the conversation I started to have some ideas; this is something that happens to me often, I usually am more creative when somebody ‘thinks with me’.
One of these ideas, that I finally threw away, was to show up with a good pile of pages and put them on the lectern while I said “Well, I’ll try to be brief”. It’s a good thing I decided not to do that because in the end there was no lectern and it would have been really annoying to carry all those pages around.
One week before the wedding I wrote, in a moment, the first draft of my speech. I used an article from the Internet to help me know what to write, they gave away some good tips about how to write this kind of text. I used some of the advices and I cast aside most of them because I thought they were going to make my speech too complicated. I let my brother read that first version and he agreed with me on the main mistakes. Some days later I rewrote the parts that needed so and I fixed it a little. The day before the wedding I mulled it over and I corrected some small details. I didn’t know if the speech was ready and I thought it wasn’t very good, but I knew if I kept working on it I would never finish, so I parked the tablet in which I was working and I decided to forget about the whole thing until the next day.
On the next morning my brother and I had to drive to the village for a photo shoot in which relatives and friends would “help get the groom dressed”. I ensured the tablet was with me all the time; it was a bit of a mix of “I don’t want to get too far away from the speech” and “I really hope I won’t lose this somewhere”. When we went back to the ranch of the celebration I greeted the guests as they came and we had some lemonade while we waited for the rest of them. I wasn’t nervous yet, dressed in my navy blue, almost black, suit, my green tie, my brown shoes and my Rubik cufflinks. Guests were still coming and we were more and more polarized: my family in the shade, the bride’s family in the sun.
We realized some guests were starting to take positions in the grove where the ceremony would take place and we decided to go there too. We waited until most of the guests had arrived and then the judge started, visibly nervous, to read her speech, during which she got tongue-tied several times. Soon enough she called for the bride’s sister, to go read her speech. Then I started to feel nervous because I thought I was next. Nevertheless, after her it was the turn of a cousin of the bride. And then yes, my moment came. I was called and I approached from the least expected direction for the judge, who started to think I wasn’t present.
I set the microphone to my height, took a look at the guests, then at the groom and bride, and then I unlocked the tablet to start reading my speech. The first thing I did was to throw away the beginning of the text. Partly because I thought it wasn’t going to sound as funny as in my head, but also because I had no lectern as I had expected. In this disposed opening I pretended to start giving a political speech and then I apologized for my mistake. So I improvised, out of pure nervousness, a “Well, how can one follow those amazing speeches” or something like that and I started reading mine.
I kicked off with Bilbo’s mythic phrase from his birthday speech:
I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like, and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.
The idea of including this fragment from The Lord of the Rings wasn’t by chance; when I first considered what to write about I imagined myself standing in front of the guests and I thought I wouldn’t know more than half those people. And, of course, this phrase (Bilbo’s) immediately came into my mind. The only error here was that my nervousness prevented me from taking a look at the funny faces that I’m sure the people in the audience made when they heard such a tongue-twister. I don’t remember if they laughed.
I went on with the part where I talked about the groom. Telling some anecdote about when we were little and speaking about how tight we have been almost always. From time to time I would look up and, since my nervousness and shyness wouldn’t let me look at the bulk of the guests, I peeked at the groom and bride, and their parents. And I became aware that my brother was close to tears. Apparently (I didn’t see this), when I spoke about how we played together when we were little, his chin began to quiver. Then came the part about the bride, about how little I’ve known her so far and the relationship that bonds us. This part I guess it was more funny than moving. The speech finished off with an ending in which I talked about toddlers to come and my need to turn them into nerd/geeks. I finished reading my speech, covered the tablet, approached to kiss and hug the groom and bride, and then I got the hell out of the center of attention as fast as I could.
The ceremony went on, they put their rings on, kissed one another and then my brother read his speech. It was tremendously moving because he was fighting not to cry with a lump in his throat that became a knot in our stomachs. Then groom and bride went with the photographers to have their pictures taken all over the ranch while the rest of us started drinking and eating.
The funniest anecdote regarding the speech happened when I went to the DJ to ask for some heavy metal. Well, at least that was my cousin Alvaro’s idea, but it had to be toned down. I guessed if we made him play some Avenged Sevenfold we were going to shatter the party, so I went for something a little more known; maybe that way it would be less of an impact. So my cousin and I approached the DJ, who smiled at me when he saw me getting closer. Surprised, I got to him and he made a gesture to me indicating he wanted me to meet him in his side of the table, and said “You’re the one I was waiting for”. At first I didn’t understand why could he be waiting for me, until I remembered he had been present during my speech. In the ending, when I spoke about nephews, I said that “there was so much heavy metal to play to them”. That’s why it wasn’t much of a surprise when he next asked if I wanted some Iron Maiden. Not a bad idea, but my cousin and I had thought about AC/DC. I asked for Highway to Hell and he suggested Thunderstruck; I told him that any one of those would be good. Song and a half later AC/DC was playing and the party guests froze a bit not knowing how to react.
But through the day several people approached me to tell me they had loved the speech. Reactions could be summed up, mostly, in:
- You bastard, you almost made me cry
- You bastard, how I’ve cried
And that filled me with some kind of happiness I hadn’t felt before. Something I wrote in a couple of spare moments, no more than half an hour, had moved deep inside the heart of some people. Even more, I had written it as a funny text, with a nerd reference and lots of puns, and most of them emphasized how moving it had been to the point of making them cry, or almost. That day I realized this is what I have always wanted: to write some words and get moving reactions out of people, be it laughing or crying.
And that’s what we’re here for 😉