THE BEST MAN’S SPEECH
by Colin W. Campbell
George watched mature, overdressed women catching glimpses of themselves in the long wall mirrors as they looked for their names on the fancy little cards on the white covered tables.
He had a spare copy of his speech, just in case.
“We will be on in just a few minutes,” said George. He took care to cover the microphone as he checked out his kid brother sweating in his brand new wedding suit.
Most folks were already seated when The Celebrity made her late and carefully dramatic entrance. Distantly related on the bride’s side, the folks had been saying for weeks how much they had hoped she might be able to come.
“She does seem strangely familiar,” said George.
“Of course she looks familiar, she’s on television all the time,” said kid brother.
“She looks older.”
“She is older. They repeat the old movies over and over again.”
“Well, there’s something about her and she’s coming right over here.” grinned George.
“Of course she’s coming over here. They wanted her beside the best man on the top table where everyone can see her and take photos.”
“I know,” said George running an eye over her toned physique and well groomed good looks. “Looks like she’s here without a partner. I could be her partner.”
“Bet you don’t,” said kid brother.
Sweetly almost graciously, like one of the characters she had played over the years, The Celebrity went along the top table for introductions. After greeting everyone ever-so-warmly, she took her seat beside George.
“Nice feet,” said George watching her slip off high heels under cover of the crisp floor-length table cloth.
“Been rehearsing on a hard wooden stage all day,” she said and they exchanged smiles.
From her seat across the room, the bride’s oldest aunt saw the smiles but not the feet. She gave George a little wave of encouragement across the room. Turning to a younger sister she said quietly, “I do hope he doesn’t embarrass us with our Celebrity. I heard he can be a bit of a rough diamond and there’s no telling what he might say or do.”
“Well George, have you got your speech ready?” said The Celebrity.
“Oh, it’s been ready for weeks,” said George now rather preoccupied with getting ready to speak.
“Oh George, you don’t remember me, do you?” she said under her breath as he got to his feet and tapped the microphone.
Surprising himself with a strong clear voice, George grabbed the undivided attention of his audience with his opening line.
“Hello, my name’s George and I’m an alcoholic.”
Attention may have been undivided but reactions were not. A ragged cheer went round from some good-old-guys who had already put away a few glasses and a couple of bread rolls were thrown. Meanwhile, the older ladies on the bride’s side were far from amused. Heads were lowered behind ostentatious menu cards.
Fears were reinforced when the widely grinning groom said just loud enough to be caught on his brother’s microphone, “Oh shit, he’s done it again.”
“And now, it is my very pleasant duty to introduce the top table,” said George, warming to his key role. “The top-table guests come to you with a weight of 1,820 pounds, are 407 years old, and if laid end to end would make a very interesting photograph for the album.”
Amidst a polarized mix of raucous hoots and stony stares, George went on to read out a series of unlikely messages of matrimonial support and advice. These purported to be from an eclectic cross-section of some of the world’s ‘great and good’.
George felt quite pleased with himself as he finished off with an impersonation of a well known children’s cartoon character that had unexpectedly become pregnant.
He relaxed as he handed the microphone over to his kid brother who said with a wicked grin and blatant thoughts of self preservation, “I should really like to thank you for all that but I can’t find it in my heart to do so.”
Soon the speeches were finished and the meal was over and it was time for the bride and groom to lead off the dancing.
George’s duty-dances with the bridesmaids followed. As they engaged in small talk, these young ladies seemed to be straining to catch the smell of alcohol on George’s breath.
“No chance of that,” thought George who had been dry for many years. In response he noted that each of these over-plump young girls smelled of sweat and one also had tobacco all about her.
Then it was George’s chance for a dance with The Celebrity. Smiling she said, “Just loved your speech. It was a real breath of fresh air. I suppose we’ll be seeing more of each other now that we’re family.”
Then drawing closer as the lights dimmed and the music slowed, she added a few words so discretely he could feel her breath, warm and moist in his ear.
“By the way, my name’s Helen and I’m an alcoholic. You don’t remember me do you, or are you just teasing? Oh, and I’ve just slipped my room key into your pocket.”