a perfect toast for any best man

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.

 

ChampagneGlass

Forever young

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:

 

Bob Dylan - For­ever Young (Slow Ver­sion) (Audio)

 

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.)

 

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