today happens to be wolfgang, my college sweetheart,’s first wedding anniversary. he and his lover, paul got married a year ago today and i (having met wolfgang when i was 18, and he 20) had the honor of being best man. yes, it was not your usual affair!
getting to the wedding was one of those mastercard commercials. i had to amend my speech to start:
missing one’s flight to cape town – R2000.
getting to wolfgang and paul’s wedding – priceless!
anyway, in honor of wolfgang and paul, i share with you the best man’s speech i made on the day.
the cast of characters;
wolfgang – now 46, wardrobe designer/costume hire owner/in my life forever
paul– now 30, business owner, and thankfully, extremely tolerant young man
the wedding party – an assortment of very staid germans, seffricans, many of english stock and a large slice of cape town’s gay community.
the location: cloof wine estates, darling.
first, i got to read this poem as part of the ceremony, w & p both being profound dog-lovers (the ring-bearer was their dog, tessa):
Falling in love is like owning a dog
an epithalamion by Taylor Mali
First of all, it’s a big responsibility,
especially in a city like New York Cape Town.
So think long and hard before deciding on love.
On the other hand, love gives you a sense of security:
when you’re walking down the street late at night
and you have a leash on love
ain’t no one going to mess with you.
Because crooks and muggers think love is unpredictable.
Who knows what love could do in its own defense?
On cold winter nights, love is warm.
It lies between you and lives and breathes
and makes funny noises.
Love wakes you up all hours of the night with its needs.
It needs to be fed so it will grow and stay healthy.
Love doesn’t like being left alone for long.
But come home and love is always happy to see you.
It may break a few things accidentally in its passion for life,
but you can never be mad at love for long.
Is love good all the time? No! No!
Love can be bad. Bad, love, bad! Very bad love.
Love makes messes.
Love leaves you little surprises here and there.
Love needs lots of cleaning up after.
Sometimes you just want to get love fixed.
Sometimes you want to roll up a piece of newspaper
and swat love on the nose,
not so much to cause pain,
just to let love know Don’t you ever do that again!
Sometimes love just wants to go for a nice long walk.
Because love loves exercise.
It runs you around the block and leaves you panting.
It pulls you in several different directions at once,
or winds around and around you
until you’re all wound up and can’t move.
But love makes you meet people wherever you go.
People who have nothing in common but love
stop and talk to each other on the street.
Throw things away and love will bring them back,
again, and again, and again.
But most of all, love needs love, lots of it.
And in return, love loves you and never stops.
then later, in the middle of the super-indulgent, gastronomic orgy of a 7 course meal, came the speech.
i find myself in a very peculiar situation today, because much as this is not really a traditional wedding, i don’t know how i’ve sinned, but i’ve been assigned the unenviable position of delivering what would normally be the best man’s speech.
when wolfgang called me up to ask me to add this particular role to my repertoire i did what any good method actor would – i did my research.
i went straight to google and i typed in “wedding speeches” –
and i discovered, to my dismay………. that what was expected from a best man’s speech was to be funny, to embarrass the groom (and if you have any question as to who that is, wolfgang pointed out to me that in this situation, the person who was asked, is the bride, so paul, be glad you’re spared). the best man’s speech should also, if possible, include something nice about the groom. the latter especially seemed like a really gargantuan task, possibly beyond me and i briefly considered plagiarising some of the best speeches i found out there in cyber space, but i finally decided that the words had to come from the horse’s mouth, no neigh-saying that, so here goes.
for those of you who don’t know me, my name is sandi and wolfgang and i have known each other for more than half each other’s lives – 10 whole years. okay, make that 25…….. though i’d like to state for the record, that back then we also weighed half of what we do now. we had no idea just how skinny and gorgeous we were! anyway, as wolfgang likes to point out, especially to his gay friends who meet me for the first time, i was his childhood sweetheart. uhuh we went cherry picking together.
back then we both had afros (okay, i still sometimes do), but his was a perfect reflection of his personality – a flaming halo that you could see for miles.
and even though he constantly encouraged me to audition for drama school, he was the one with the flair for the dramatic, the one with the wild, extravagant gestures, the one constantly stealing the limelight. then i was still a tomboy in track suits with no dress sense. he was ostensibly studying law (yeah right!), but i think his biggest pleasure came from trying to improve my wardrobe (he’s still trying!) and from telling me what to wear (he’s still doing that!). see, i even helped set him on his career path!
we spent most of our first year being friends, studying together (him doing all the research!) lying in the the grass, confiding secrets to each other, stuff like, “i think i’m gay” and “you know what, me too!”, but then one day at a house party in rosebank over “it’s the eye of the tiger” we were suddenly a couple and like little kids we daydreamed about getting married and how we’d have a house by a lake and we’d have a little girl and her name would be tecla. and i’ve been instructed by wolfgang that i’m allowed to say – we would have had beautiful kids. and we would have. seeing that my significant other isn’t here today and that we neither of us have procreated, i still sometimes think that at this stage of my life he’s the only guy i’d trust to have kids with. i mean i haven’t been able to get rid of him for the past 25 years, so he’s probably going to be around for the next 25. oh no. wolfgang, did i just inadvertently say something nice about you?!
ok, it’s no secret that this is a may-december union we have here today, so i’m going to have to skip huge chunks of the past 25 years, like break-ups and coming outs and heartbreaks etc, to get ….. to paul.
suffice it to say that i got married (to someone else) and moved to the states and on one trip back wolfgang introduced me to this baby-faced.young. 23-year old who to me back then, seemed barely out of diapers. i think, i must have pulled wolfgang aside and gone, “oh my god, what are you thinking!?” and we’d joke about how the two of them were “me” and “mini-me”! and i gave them all of 2 minutes. and i went back to the states.
a year later, there they still were.
oh. my. god!
and a year later.
and another one.
and many houses later, here they still are.
and that baby-faced young 23-year old turned out to be astute and wise and kind and the most perfect gentleman (who’s not beyond goading his friends into putting on afro wigs and parading main road, pretending to give the tranny hooker a run for her money – and paul if those pix land up in the tabloids, i’ll know just who to strangle!)
seriously though, over the years wolfgang and paul have tolerated my presence in their household every time i came to cape town (which says a lot for paul – how many of you would put up with having your boyfriend’s first girlfriend in the guest room? think about that!) anyway – over those countless visits i have seen the relationship between these two very special people blossom – though i have to tell you that even though this is a gay wedding, these two are really lesbians. i mean it’s common knowledge that lesbians show up for the first date with a moving truck – and wolfgang and paul had their first date and have not been apart since! hello. lesbians!
all jokes aside, i think in today’s world it’s extremely difficult finding and keeping that special one we all seek and i’m very happy for you wolfgang and you paul that you have found each other and not only created a foundation, but have built a strong and resilient relationship which we honor here today. may it only get stronger and stronger.
some words of advice i came upon in my research:
always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat them.
for example :
i didn’t say it was your fault, i said i was blaming you.
and from the brilliant playwright george bernard shaw:
the only man who behaves sensibly is my tailor; he takes my measurements anew every time he sees me, while all the rest go on with their old measurements and expect me to fit them.
may you two constantly take each other’s measurements anew.
congratulations! i love you both. (and may there always be space for me in the spare room)
to wolfgang and paul – happy anniversary. may it be the first of many. and the last line of my speech still stands. muah!