Ryan and the Technicolor Wardrobe
Short Stories and Essays

Sometimes, I’m glad that my best friend and I don’t share the same circle of friends.  While it occasionally causes his head to spin in his feeble attempts to keep track of who is who in my life when I share with him my adventures here in California, I still think it’s best that most of his friends have no idea who I am, and I have no idea who most of his friends are.  Perhaps, if his friends knew of my writing aspirations, they’d probably expect to hear a really great best man’s speech at Bruce’s wedding.  Instead, their expectations will probably be in line with those of most people at a wedding:  a hope that the speeches will be short and painless.

This will be my first best man’s speech, so I am in no way experienced at this.  While, some may expect this to be a relatively easy task for a writer, they don’t realize how different it is to write a speech opposed to a story, or an essay, or anything for that matter.  I might as well be writing in a 2nd language.  Sure, I’ve been to weddings before and I’ve seen other people give speeches, but most of them have been awful, and that is being rather generous.

I understand that nerves are often part of it, and that may excuse why one best man I know, accidentally muttered that the groom “settled” for his wife instead of “setting his sights” on her.  I’ve seen another best man make jokes in poor taste towards the bride, to the point where the bride’s family confronted him privately later during the reception.  I also experienced the longest best man’s speech in the history of the world, when a friend of mine decided to tell a story about the groom from his elementary school days, then his middle school days, then his high school days, then his college days, and then finally a story about when the groom started dating his bride to be.

These best men, all whom I know personally, are intelligent, creative, respectable men, so I don’t bring up their speeches just to ridicule them.  I look at them as potential warning signs.  Perhaps, their downfall could be attributed to some lofty expectations that they’ve set for themselves.  Not that I think any of these men were thinking that they could bring down the house with laughs, or that they could make the groom cry like a child, but perhaps they just flat out underestimated the intricacies of giving a speech, weighing every word, keeping it personal without making strangers feel excluded, and most importantly, keeping things short and organized.

I am happy to have a history of keeping my writings brief.  So brief, that in college, if a professor asked for a 5 page paper, they would get a 4 and a half page paper with a slightly larger than 12 point font, so brevity will not be an issue for me.  Organization, on the other hand, could be my downfall.  Typically, I know how a story is going to start.  Often times, I have no idea how a story is going to end. I’m know that it’s best to try to keep things focussed, because rambling and awkward pauses will probably doom me to the point of no return.

I’m trying to keep my expectations in check.  Yes, it’s a great honor to deliver a best man’s speech.  I want to knock this speech out of the park, but I know that I’m not the main attraction at this event and tt’s better to give a speech that barely registers on anyone’s radar, than to be the most memorable part of the reception.  While my best friend isn’t demanding, this is not the time to rest on my laurels and settle for giving it a good try.  I need to prepare for it professionally, as if this were for a job, not because I feel like I need to prove that I’m the right man for this, but because I want to do a good job for my friend.

I have no delusions of grandeur.  This speech will not be up there with the likes of The Gettysburg Address, but this speech will be one where I bear no regrets, and hopefully, especially in the internet age, it will not bear anything that is Youtube worthy.  I know there is a great amount of irony that I’m writing about writing the speech,  instead of actually writing it, but there’s a great amount of catharsis in one last disorganized writing binge before I buckle down and write the real thing.  Hopefully when I come back to this blog, this speech won’t be a story in itself.

 

The first time I hung out with Cameron was probably about 10 months after I met him.  We had shared many a lunch break together, but we had never taken things outside the confines of the mall that we worked at.  As shallow as it sounds, the event that finally tipped the scales, was Cameron getting a Nintendo Wii, right after it was released.  I spent many weekends searching in vain for a Wii, so I finally had my reason to want to stop by Cameron’s abode.  Cameron was more than willing to have me stop by to check it out and my friend Jason decided to tag along to check out this revolutionary gaming device.

We stopped by the apartment on a Saturday night and Cameron played the gracious host while his wife sat quietly at the kitchen table.  He offered us a beer from his well stocked refrigerator, he showed us his cats, and then gave us the tour of the apartment, ending at his brand new entertainment center in the living room, the same entertainment center that housed the much sought after Nintendo Wii.  I also noticed a small computer tower within the entertainment center, and decided to ask about it to make conversation.

“Oh is the computer there acting like a media center?” I asked.

“Yeah, that’s where I keep all my porn.” He proudly responded.

Jason and I shot each other a quick look of disbelief, and I think Cameron interpreted that look as one of confusion because he decided to elaborate on his previous statement.

“You know, I download it with BitTorrent.”

The admission that Cameron enjoys pornography was not the reason causing Jason and I to feel uncomfortable.  It was his cavalier attitude about it.  I didn’t imply that I knew anything that would cause him to tip his hand, and Jason had literally just met him.  Plus, his wife was within earshot, making things even weirder, and while the collection of pornography might be hers as well, I don’t think she would’ve recommended her husband make it part of the house tour when guests arrive for the first time, but since we wanted to play on the Nintendo Wii, we decided to get past the awkwardness.

Outside of that incident, Cameron and I had a pretty normal friendship.  I would come over, we would eat pizza, drink beer, and play video games.  We would goto the occasional hockey or baseball game, and we’d grab lunch at work.  He came from a well-off family so he would be quite generous to me.  When he upgraded from an Xbox 360 to an Xbox 360 Elite, he gave me the the old Xbox and its controllers.  When he decided that he didn’t want to have an iPhone, just months after it came out, he let me have his after I found it sitting in a drawer.  I appreciated these things tremendously but I later found that these gifts came with a hidden price tag, he expected me to never criticize him.

I would find this out during a game up pick up roller hockey.  We had both taken up the sport to get in better shape, but Cameron’s unhealthy diet was making it extremely difficult for him to make any progress.  After a particular game, I recall him wanting to go to Jack in the Box afterwards so he could order a double bacon cheese burger, large fries, and a soda.  I had told him that would negate any sort of positive from our hockey game but we ended up at Jack in the Box anyways.

The time I burned the bridge, however, I had called him out  to skate back and play any defense.  He was tired, so he started to stay in the offensive zone, waiting for the rest of his teammates, including myself, to fish the puck away from the other team.  After a while, I got fed up and shouted at him “You’re not a scorer, so why don’t you get back and play some defense?”  He shouted back that he didn’t appreciate me berating him in public, and while I didn’t back off on my stance, I didn’t try to escalate things further, I would just reaffirm my previous sentiments.

I didn’t think this was any sort of a big deal.  I was showing him some tough love, not just for his benefit as a hockey player, but as a person who wanted to lose weight and get fit.  Skating was going to help him burn calories, not standing around waiting for the puck.  I honestly thought it would blow over quite quickly, but that was really the last time I ever hung out with the guy.  Apparently, he would tell mutual friends of ours that he demanded an apology, but he never got it from me.  It’s not because I wasn’t willing to, but because I wanted him to communicate that to me directly instead of through other people, which he never did.  I had discovered some less than functional aspects of our friendship and realized that there might be too many to overcome.

Sure, I could’ve gone out of my way to apologize, and I could’ve made a stronger effort to “not berate him”, but somewhere along the line, another conflict would’ve been bound to surface, and we’d have to play the same roles: I’d probably say something to try to help him, he’d take it as vicious criticism, and I’d have to hunt him down to apologize again.  While it was pretty harmless on a free recreational roller hockey rink, that hypothetical next time, could’ve be on a road trip, in Vegas, or somewhere where a spat could’ve left me suddenly without a place to stay or without transportation, so it’s probably for the best that we parted ways there.

I wonder if I would’ve gotten a similar reaction if I had questioned why he needed to introduce his box of porn to us when giving us the tour of his apartment.  It sounds silly, I know, but it also sounds silly that he would stop talking to me because I gave him a hard time about being lazy during a roller hockey game.  Perhaps, I would’ve found out sooner that he wasn’t going to take kind to opinions that conflicted with his and I wouldn’t have spent so much time investing in a friendship that was going to combust quite quickly.  I guess I can’t consider the whole experience a total bust.  I did end up with an Xbox 360 and iPhone.