Wednesday, May 11, 2005

17. Matrimony

Just over the weekend, I attended a wedding dinner for my two close friends. Now I've known these two for a good 5 to 6 years, and were friends with them even before they met. You could say I played a part, however minute, in bringing them together.

They've been going strong for the past 5 years now, strong meaning they're one of those couples who look absolutely and totally in love with one another. And if you think you've seen lovey dovey, heck, you ain't seen nothing yet if you haven't met them. I'm talking mushy-cakes-honey-bunny-baby-sugar-puffs-flowery-candy-with-pink-mushrooms-dancing-on-top-of-rainbows here. Am sure it's nice enough for them, but to those watching, it's like getting a hole drilled in your skull and having melted marshmallows mixed with mapple syrup being pumped into your brain by the gallons.

But besides all that sugary stuff, they're one of those few couples that you can tell share a genuine and mutual respect for one another. And in times of trophy girlfriends and relationships based soley on financial concerns (as in, how much money does he have and how much of it can I get a hold of?), it's really refreshing to see.

So anyway, it came as no surprise when they finally got hitched, for if there was ever a match made in heaven, then it'd be them. And of course I was happy for them. Elated would be too big a word, but it's always nice to see two people who are so right for each other actually getting together. That was until they asked me to give a speech for their wedding nite, and all that moments of joy quickly transformed into heart-crushing horror.

What the heck do I know about making speeches? More so one concerning the union of two people in front of hundreds of their relatives and friends whom, most of them anyway, I don't know? Shit, I was the guy who in school used to read straight from his scribbled script whenever there was any public speaking to do during English 'cos I was too numbed by fear to actually look people in the eye (a pre-requsite for public speaking I've heard). Screw that, I couldn't even read from the script properly cause my bloody hands were too bloody shaky. In fact, my recollections of all the times I've had to speak in front of a group of people are like this: a rising and inescapable feeling of dread, followed by cold sweat that sent chills running down the spine, and then there's the stammering and mumbling, the clumsy prompting and gasping for air, and ending with a whimper with much disappointment and hidden smirks from those involved. Kinda like sex for the first time eh?

So of course, being the responsible adult that I am and a close friend of the bride and groom, I had to find every possible means to weasel myself out of it. Finding an excuse not to speak on your good friend's wedding night is not exactly good form you know, so I had to come up with a valid and water-tight reason. My first thought was that I had a throat affliction that rended me speechless, but since he actually asked me the day before the dinner, it was a long shot that I would suddenly come down with something like that. Since that was already a no go, I thought why attend the wedding in the first place? People miss their good friends' weddings all the time right? Well, apparently not I. It had better be for something credible and absolutely important and unavoidable. Something like attending the funeral of my long lost cousin Gurkha Al Khan from Urghamurgiskthan. But faking the death of a relative is even worse form, you save those for special ocassions only (like taking that a few days emergency leave after a long holiday you just don't want to end).

In the end, I was just too fear stricken to actually come up with anything and quickly found myself swept up with the pleasant turn of events (pleasant meaning being told that you are to speak on the joys and deeper meaning of the true love eternal between the bride and groom in front of five hundred strangers the day before the actual event). The last thing I know, I'm sitting at the reception hall two hours before the dinner, still trying to memorise whatever I was supposed to say. I didn't know how I got there, but I knew that it was too late to turn back now. I was this close from faking a seizure or sorts but thought the better of it when the groom locked me with his cold steely stare. Don't fuck it up, that stare told me. Ah joy of joys.

So, knowing that it was too late for me, like how Darth Vader knew that it was too late to save him and told Luke to bugger off as the Death Star was being blown to shit in the finale of Return of the Jedi, I decided if I had to go down, at least I'd go down in glory (like how Lord Vader took down that dastardly Emperor with him...shit, talking about the original trilogy always gets me so light of the floating pieces of turd on celluloid that Lucas' given us with the new trilogy...Revenge of the Sith better be good, you money-grubbing fat no-neck bastard). But to do so, I had to find the inner strength that we all have within us. Hence, the unnumbered glasses of wine proved handy.

Thus with unnumbered glasses consumed, and inner strength discovered, and face glowing with enlightenment to prove it (it was more of a reddish glow actually), I was all set to go. My ying and my yang was centred. My spirit was at ease with my physical state. And I really had to puke. But nevermind that, puking can always come later. Yet it came out sooner that expected, as when I found myself on stage, with those five hundred people all stoked up by the groom's father's witty speech, those thousand beady eyes looking straight at you, at your very soul, I thought: Witty? Heck, I could do witty! That's when I actually puked out my entire speech. Puked in the sense that my speech came out in a mush of words that had no meaning in the English vocabulary. Sentences were strewn together that sounded like Klingon. New words were suddenly invented. And the founding fathers of excellence in public speaking, from Caeser to Hitler, from Gandhi to Bill Gates (at least the part of him that died when he screwed over Steve Jobs) stirred and wept in their graves. Now that's one for the history books.

So the valuable lesson that we've learnt from all of this? Screw if I know. All I know is that it's all so super when you're getting yourself sloshed and not so super anymore after you've reached your goal (see my previous post on this). But if there is one thing that I can take from the unspeakable chaos of the night, is this phrase that I read from somewhere before (sorry, can't remember where or from who) that's always stuck with me and that I included in my speech. I thought it especially fitting for my two friends. It concerns the nature of love and of true love. It goes somewhere along the lines of how some people tend to believe that love is borne out of long companionship and persevering courtship. And that perhaps it's true in a sense. That the more you spend time and experiences with someone, the more feelings can develop and grow. But that when it comes down to true love, that magical moment of fire and ice that envelops your body and heart in a rapture of passion, the same rules don't apply. True love is like the offspring of a spiritual affinity that is kindled with the mingling of lights from the souls of two people who meet for the first time. And if that affinity cannot be created in an instant, a moment, than it will not be created for years or even a lifetime. Great stuff eh, terribly romantic, can't say whether I believe it or not, but it sounds all so grand on paper.

So, there. Last word to my married friends who are about to fly off to live happily ever after Down Under. May you find shade and water or something like that (now that I know came from Robert Jordan's overrated Wheel of Time series). Bliss :)

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