I’VE BEEN BEST MAN to one groom at one wedding. Jaytee had been my best friend for twenty years and he was marrying Beeyef, a woman I knew only through a few personal interactions and a few telephone conversations. I do not believe that she quite liked me: I was not like any other person that she was used to knowing, and I was the best friend of her husband-to-be, often perceived by people in love as a potential threat.
The wedding was lovely, as was the bride. We found our way to the reception and had a fine dinner. Jaytee had a knack for making new acquaintances into quick friend, so I enjoyed the other people at the party.
Then it came time for the toasts. I really don’t remember in which order we went, but I found myself standing with a microphone in hand. I have few social (or even personal) inhibitions, and after more than a few glasses of a rather tart but long forgotten champagne, one of which I raised as I stood to speak. I was, well, loquacious.
Those who knew me expected an unprepared, off-the-cuff set of pointed observations, witty remarks, and tamely double-entendre-laced jokes. That’s not what I had in mind.
You see, I knew the perfect toast or speech for every best man in every wedding to every bride.
And, trust me, as best man you are not there to make the groom smile or his friends snicker. You are there to make the bride feel as special as she deserves to feel on her wedding day. In those cases where the bride is not sure of where to file you in her plans for your best friend’s future, she needs to feel even more special.
So, I did the very opposite of what was expected: not only did I not spontaneously entertain the crowd, I had the most Hallmarkian of wedding toasts.
I recited the lyrics to a song.
Got that? I recited the lyrics to a love song for the benefit of the bride!
Her response? The same as almost every other woman in the room—warm tears and a warmer smile.
So, my fellow best men (best mans?), here are those lyrics. But two things: do not read them—memorize them. And, if you do not know how to deliver anything longer than a sentence with passion and involvement and commitment, take a drama class.
This is the foolproof speech for any best man at any wedding and these words, delivered on a heartfelt manner, will win over every bride every time:
May God bless and keep you always.
May your wishes all come true.
May you always do for others,
and let others do for you.
May you build a ladder to the stars,
and climb on every rung,
and may you stay forever young.
May you grow up to be righteous.
May you grow up to be true.
May you always know the truth,
and see the light surrounding you.
May you always be courageous,
stand upright and be strong,
and may you stay forever young.
May your hands always be busy.
May your feet always be swift.
May you have a strong foundation,
when the winds of changes shift.
May your heart always be joyful,
and your song always be sung,
and may you stay forever young …
Forever Young is the final song on PLANET WAVES (1974), Dylan’s return from wherever the hell NASHVILLE SKYLINE (1969), SELF PORTRAIT (1970), and NEW MORNING (1971) were located in this time/space continuum. A stark, minimalist view on love and relationship (“cast-iron songs & torch ballads”), PLANET WAVES remains perhaps Dylan’s most personal statement and also perhaps his most t misunderstood and under-appreciated album. (Well well well: maybe the newer generations of listeners are more appreciative, as the consensus grade from Amazon customers for the album is 4½ stars out of 5.)