So after all that, I didn’t have to give my speech.

Too bad. It was a good speech. As usual, I was struck by inspiration just moments before I left. So I scrawled something down on a sheet of note paper and prepared to rock the mic. But even though there was no Official Best Man, it turned out I wasn’t even the Kinda Sorta Best Man. I wasn’t even the Next-Best Man. Eric was asked to position the four groomsmen in order of how close they got to stand to him during the ceremony, and I ranked third.

He didn’t deserve my damn speech anyway.

The wedding itself was really nice, but there was definitely a Ned Flanders quality to it. Eric warned me jokingly ahead of time that it would be a religious ceremony, “Like, you know, they’ll probably mention God in it and stuff.” (Eric teases me about religion occasionally, and I tease him about it relentlessly.) He should’ve warned me more specifically about the guitarist he hired to perform a Christian rock ballad during the ceremony. It was one of those songs that sounds like a typical cliched love song until it hits the bridge. Then out comes “‘Cause I died on the cross for your sins!” (I swear, every Christian rock song I’ve ever heard has the exact same bridge.)

Then there was the reception. The invite said that wine and sodas would be provided. I thought I was reading between the lines when I heard “cash bar” in that statement, and I assumed they were trying to save money. Fair enough. Turns out money wasn’t the issue. The bar in the reception hall didn’t even serve anything besides wine and sodas, and when a couple of my friends tried to smuggle in drinks from the restaurant’s bar, they were told the hosts had specifically requested no hard alcohol be allowed inside. The strange thing was that when the father of the bride gave his toast, he started off with, “If you’re not drunk by the end of this speech, you’re not drinking enough.” Since he’s the guy who paid for the wedding, I assume he was aware of the prohibition policy. So I guess he did want us to get drunk, just… slower? This is why I’ve long since given up on religion.

Although the wedding was performed in what I’d heard was a reasonably moderate Presbyterian church, I knew Eric was raised Southern Baptist, and I’d heard a lot of negative things about that particular denomination, especially in respect to their views on gay people. So I naturally spent a lot of time before the wedding worrying that Eric’s religious friends and family would be weirded out by Eric’s gay friend and Eric’s gay friend’s gay date (that’s me and Drew, respectively). But everyone was extremely nice to us, especially Eric’s extremely nice family, who spent the entire weekend making both of us feel extremely welcome and extremely well-respected in addition to extremely sober. (Two out of three ain’t bad.) And as someone with a finely-tuned insincerity detector, I can safely say that all the niceness was extremely genuine. I loved Eric’s family.

Weddings are always full of people you’ve lost touch with, and this one was no exception. Eric invited a lot of our former co-workers from a company both of us used to work for. He was obviously a more sociable employee, as I didn’t even remember most of these people’s names, and there were a couple of people I didn’t recognize at all. There were a few awkward moments of, “Jerry? Remember me?” “Um… of course! Hi!” Unfortunately, other people have finely-tuned insincerity detectors as well. I never feel as yucky as when my lack of social skills becomes obvious.

Also at the wedding was my former roommate, whom I haven’t seen in at least two years… by choice. Once a regular part of my circle of friends, it had been a few years since any of us had seen him… by choice. Even Eric hadn’t spoken to him in quite a while… by choice. Why did we all choose to remove this person from our lives? To put it gently, let’s just say he’s more full of shit than anyone I’ve ever known. Okay, so that wasn’t gentle. The gentle way would be to say he’s a pathological liar, but I got stuck talking to him for half an hour, so fuck being gentle. I was hoping he had changed since I’d seen him last, but he ended up being crazier than ever. He has a lie for every occasion, a tall tale for every topic. As my friend Nick once put it (again, not gently), he’s “the Forrest Gump of bullshit.” At least this guy served as a reminder that there was someone there with even worse social skills than mine.

Not surprisingly, at the opposite end of the social skills spectrum was Drew, who would probably have won the award for Most Popular. It’s so great to know that we can be apart from each other at a function like that, and he’ll do just fine on his own. He gets along terrificly with my friends — and now, with Eric’s family as well. The way they were chatting, I wouldn’t be surprised if Eric’s sister has put him on speed dial.

Foolishly, maybe, I attempted to organize a group wedding gift from my friends. I figured we’d let other people cover the registry. If we all chipped in, we could get something really great. There’s an inevitable problem with organizing large groups, in that everyone has a different idea of what constitutes “chipping in”, and everyone has a different idea of what constitutes “something really great”. (Yes, I shot down Janice’s suggestion that we spend several hundred dollars buying kitschy appliances like cotton candy makers and hot dog cookers at Target. When you’re spending $30, maybe those things are goofy fun. When you’re spending $500+, it’s kind of a waste.)

As for “chipping in”, I’ve heard the rule for wedding gifts is that you’re expected to cover the cost of your plate. So I figured $50 each, or $100 for couple, was probably in the right neighborhood. Maybe I overestimated what my friends were willing to pay, because quite a few people undershot my request. Okay, not quite fair when everyone’s getting equal billing on the card, but at least they told me in advance. On the wedding day, I thought I had raised $600, so I picked up a Big Ass Gift Certificate from Best Buy (after getting a small amount of input from a couple of the others, I decided that was the best option). But thanks to an apparent misunderstanding on what constitutes a “couple” (note to you-know-who-you-are: two people is a couple), I may personally need to make up a slight shortfall in the actual amount collected. Making matters worse, my antisocial ex-roommate somehow got his hands on the card and signed it, making him look like part of the gift. (It’s okay, Michael. Not a big deal.)

But nobody screwed up bigger than I did, because after all that effort organizing, after all that (semi-successful) whip-cracking to get people to bring their cash on Saturday, after the hour I spent on my computer designing the card and the trip to Best Buy to pick up the gift, I forgot to leave the damn envelope on the gift table. Sorry, everyone. I called Eric to apologize and promised to deliver the gift as soon as he gets back from his honeymoon. The bright side of this is that I can now exchange the gift card for a slightly smaller one so I don’t end up covering the difference, and I can cross the liar off the card. So it actually worked out better for me in the end. Sure, I had to put up with getting dissed on the Best Man front, trying to get drunk on 7 Up, talking to an insufferable loser and dealing the headaches of group gift purchase. But ultimately, none of my hassles was very big, and, more importantly, I think Eric and Julie had just the wedding they wanted.

Praise Jesus.

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