Rummaging through my files I found this from my sister’s wedding. Never ask someone who has just gone through a hard break up to speak at a wedding. I hearby alpologize to anyone unfortunate to have to sit through the following awkward moment.
I’ve been away for ten years and I’m about four years older than my sister, so I can’t say that I know her as well as I’d like to. In fact, pretty much all I remember is the fact that she cried a lot; and most of the time she cried, someone would grab me by the ear and I’d ask, “What’d I do?” And I’d be sternly told, “You know what you did. Now I want you to march right over there and say something nice about your sister.” And of course I’d mumble under my breath something to the effect of “If I had wanted to say something nice about my sister I wouldn’t have made her cry in the first place.” So I have this eerie feeling that I’ve done something.
I have a score to settle, because they made me speak ten years ago at the last big event. As I was fumbling around calling up the nerve to speak, and this will be indelibly stamped into my mind forever, my grandfather uttered six of the loudest most authoritative words I have ever heard in my life; those words being something to the effect of, “Well, Get on with it already.”
And I’m saying to myself, I barely want to be up here as it is, and I’m being heckled by my Grandfather. So before I start, I want him to know that I’m older now. I’ve filled out a bit, I’ve been exercising, lifting weights, the whole nine yards, and that if at some point while I’m up here I get any guff from him, I fully intend to … pretty much do the same thing I did ten years ago: cower in fear and get on with it, because I’m scared of him and I’m pretty sure he can still kick my ass.
Marriage, for me, has always meant that my friends are suddenly no longer any fun to hang out with.
As far as wedding ceremonies are concerned, as long as the ceremony is under fifteen minutes, no one makes me participate in a group dance, and the band refrains from playing “Cherish”, you’re really not going to hear me complain . . . much.
The search for love seems to me to be pretty much the most consistently masochistic action undertaken by humans. I’m pretty sure that its lemmings, beached whales, and people searching for love.
I’ve spent many a night mocking the true believers who know that somewhere there is a specific person meant just for them, but at the same time I’ve envied them too. I’m sure every married couple here has a beautiful; touching story of that pivotal moment when they knew that the person beside them was destined to become the person with whom they’d share the rest of their lives. To tell you the truth, I have absolutely no interest in hearing any of them.
But I often wonder if, late at night, that thought creeps through their heads: what if I hadn’t gone out that night, or what if that bus was five minutes later, or what if I hadn’t been drunk enough to talk to her? Because the whole thing to me seems so capricious and impossible, I think it’s a wonder that it ever happens at all.
People seem to relate to “Casablanca” as the most romantic movie of all time, but I sometimes think they forget that the way the movie expresses Humphrey Bogart’s absolute devotion to Ingrid Bergman is through the sheer intensity of his bitterness, at the cruel fate that keeps them apart.
The band will play a lot of upbeat songs tonight, and I guarantee you that if you listen closely you’ll be shocked at how many of them, beautiful as they may be, bemoan loves lost, unrequited or kept inside like an ulcer which burns every time the singer sees a couple in love.
There was a movie out recently where a couple romantically danced to the Ray Charles song “You Don’t Know Me”, and you would hardly know that the song is silently sung to the woman he can never seem to express his love to.
Oh no you’re not the one who dreams of me at night
And I can hardly speak, my heart is beating so
’Cause I know in the end
You think I’m just a friend
Because you don’t know me
For I never knew the art of making love
Though my heart aches with love for you
Afraid and shy I let my chance go by
The chance that you may love me too
There’s this Gershwin song that has the melody of true love, and I think one of the two brothers wrote the music and the other wrote the words. I’m pretty sure these words are Ira’s:
They’re playing songs of love
But not for me
The lucky stars above
But not for me
With love to lead the way
I’ve found more skies of gray
Than any Russian Play could guarantee
I have this mental picture of George walking over to Ira;
“Hey Ira, will you look at the silver lining in that cloud over there” and Ira responding “Yeah, I’ll be damned if that isn’t the grayest one I’ve ever seen.”
Yet, when you hear it, the melody only serves to embody the purity and beauty of the love that he’ll never get to share.
“My Girl” begins with the well know and exultant:
I’ve got Sunshine on a cloudy day
And yet the man who wrote it never sang it. He gave it to the Temptations. The songs Smokey Robinson sang went:
People say I’m the life of the party
‘Cause I tell a joke or two and
Although I may be laughing loud and hearty
Deep inside I’m blue
So take a good look at my face
You’ll see this smile looks out of place
If you look closer it’s easy to trace
The tracks of my tears
Smiling every day I try
But in the lonely nights I cry
The tears of a clown
When there’s no one around
There’s nothing sadder to me than Levi Stubb’s crying out,
Empty night call and echo your name
I wonder I wonder, will I ever be the same?
Frank Sinatra seems to have spent the entire Eisenhower administration trying to extinguish the torch that burns him alive “In the wee wee hours of the night.”
“Saturday Night is the Loneliest Night of the Week” reminds me of a similar song by Sam Cooke in which he sings,
Another Saturday night and I ain’t got nobody
And I think, if Sam Cooke and Frank Sinatra can’t get it together then I’m finding a monastery, and yet if you’re not paying attention they’re just another two songs to dance too.
There’s this piece of fluff called “Just like Romeo and Juliet”, in which the singer joyously shouts “our love is gonna go down in history Just like Romeo and Juliet”. But with hardly a change of inflection, that leads to “Our love is gonna end up in tragedy Just like Romeo and Juliet”, reminding anyone paying attention that the greatest lovers of all were star-crossed again by fate.
In this I’d like to give what I intend to be the only piece of unsolicited advice I shall ever give. If your love is so strong that you literally can not bear to live beyond the death of your true love, at least see the body first. Please don’t be jumping to conclusions every time you see a ripped piece of clothing.
If you check out the Beatles’ most famous album, “Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”, you’ll find a wasteland of the lonely.
“I Get by with a Little Help from my Friends” is not a paean to friendship; it’s a narrowly averted suicide note.
The key word in the song “When I’m Sixty Four”, which is often seen as an ode to the eternity of love, is also really about the singer’s worries about the possible temporality of love.
If you ever listen to the album again, you’ll notice that the reprise calls out eight times in a row that Sgt. Pepper is lonely, which is soon followed by John Lennon’s blasé recitation of yet another moneyed lonely soul.
I read the new today, oh boy
About a lucky man who made the grade
He shot his mind out in a car
He hadn’t noticed that lights had changed
And yet, when you sit down and try to explain this to a happily married couple, they look into each other’s eyes, glow a bit and look at you as if to say, “You really don’t get it at all,do you?” Because when you’re in love and you hear some song like “Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows”, you say to yourself “God That Marvin Hamlisch is a Genius” and no lyric in the world can obscure a pretty melody.
There’s another Sam Cooke song, which he clearly wrote as a lightweight attempt at the pop charts, but he betrays himself in the end when he sings,
Cupid please hear my cry
and the word cry is stretched out in agony over three syllables at the torture and the impossibility of it all, followed by:
Cupid can’t you hear me
I’m calling you
I need you
as the record fades out.
And what I’m truly trying to say is that I hope they know how lucky they are, and that not only do I envy the hell out of them, but I also know in my heart that the familiarity of their marriage will only serve to enhance their love.
Has anyone committed suicide yet?
Wow, was I the most pathetic breakup victim ever or what? I maybe got through about half of that. I did some huge editing when this drunk guy started heckling me. I was really close to saying “Hey, I’m saying some very solemn words here, mother fucker! Shut the fuck up before I have to come down there and kick your ass!” He was bigger than me, so I decided it would be best and more tasteful to just wrap it up.
What I did when my brother got married
I just told a couple of jokes and sat down. In fact, if I remember correctly, at some point the guy doing the wedding said, “Does the best man have anything to add?” And I said, “No.”