2008.07.10 As the father of the bride...

Written by David Green.


Busy times again, so here’s an annotated version of my Father of the Bride speech that I recited Saturday night.

I’d like to welcome you all to this special day for Ben and Sarah.

Whoops. Wrong speech. Wrong child. Wrong month. [The opening joke. The wedding was for Taylor and Rosanna. My son, Ben, is getting married in August.]

To this special day for Maddie and JJ. JJ? Who’s JJ?

I can tell you who he is. To quote Maddie: “He’s nobody. He’s nothing.”

[Perhaps he really is nothing. It’s someone from her geology class in Wyoming.]

I face a couple of obstacles in giving a F.O.T.B. speech. I’m not sure what’s expected of me since I’ve gone absent at so many weddings.

One of the true pleasures of fatherhood is having young children that need removing from a wedding ceremony. Escort them outside, loosen the tie, play a little tag, it’s wonderful.

Even when Rosanna was still in high school, I would pinch her hard enough to make her cry. It was a little embarrassing to carry a sobbing teenager out of a banquet hall, but it worked.

First, a brief history.

Rozee passed by a great offer from the University of Michigan to instead attend a little school in Kentucky.

I knew it was a safe place when we dropped her off at the dorm. There was a sign posted that warned against getting horizontal with members of the opposite sex. And there was to be no straddling, either.

She wasn’t going to get in any boy trouble at this place. However, Berea’s policy on students going off on foreign study trips together might be on the liberal side. [The newlyweds, Rosanna and Taylor, traveled together for overseas studies.]

My perceptive wife remembers when this relationship began, at least from our perspective.

It takes about six hours to drive from Morenci to Berea, so we were pleased to hear that Rosanna once had a ride back to school with someone who would be in a town just west of Cleveland.

Colleen recalls that Rozee seemed a little buoyant on the trip to Cleveland. She was talking about this guy who was to give her a ride and made us listen to him singing a song that he wrote about buttocks. Maybe he’ll perform later in the evening. [Taylor said later that a friend of his was mortified that the song might actually be played.]

When we arrived at the appointed location, we were introduced to this Big Man on Campus who drove her back. [BMOC—Taylor is 6-foot-8.]

So, the courtship had begun. Taylor has visited us several times since then and we’ve had some good times together.

Then came the fateful phone call. I was at work when I received the call from Taylor. It was the southern gentleman asking for permission to marry my daughter.

Of course I thought it was preposterous, but it seemed rude to say no. It was Colleen who later yelled, “No! No!” She has no problem with Taylor. She just thought they were too young. After all, she married a 30-year-old guy when she was 24.

And that brings us to this gathering tonight. I’ve asked a few people for advice on how this talk should proceed and they tell me it should  be an emotional, heart-felt talk.

That’s not my style. Colleen could do a great job at that. She could end up sobbing on the floor while the rescue squad takes her away. For me, having kids get married is just part of the natural flow of things, like getting senile.

I mentioned earlier that I faced two obstacles. First, not knowing what to say. Second, addressing the great cultural divide.

There’s an enormous diversity of geography represented here. From the west, we have guests ranging from Alaska down through Oregon and into California. There’s someone here from Montréal and others from New York City and Joisey and North Carolina.

Minnesota and Wisconsin on the north, Arizona, Texas, Louisiana and Florida on the south. And all across the middle, from Colorado to Missouri to Kentucky. [As my father pointed out, it was like a big family reunion. Lots of fun. We counted 18 states and one province.]

There are many, many Kentuckians, and that’s where I’m concerned about communications.

Taylor recently reminded me that Morenci is the southern-most city in Michigan, but that’s probably not good enough.

I’m going to need some help and I’d like to bring Taylor’s father, Pat Ballinger, up here to do some translating for me.

[This is when I totally embarrassed myself. I’m not sure if I embarrassed myself more or Taylor’s father, but he was a good sport for going through with it. I prepared for this next segment by Googling “Kentucky sayings” and came up with a list superlatives that are allegedly spoken by Kentuckians. For example:]

When we first met Taylor, we weren’t sure what to think.

Pat: He might have been all vine and no taters.

Was he a good student?

Pat: If his brains were leather, he couldn’t saddle a fly.

He looked a little tired that day.

Pat: His eyes were like two fried eggs in a slop bucket. Maybe he sorted bobcats for a livin’.

But he had a great smile.

Pat: He could grin a coon out of a tree.

He had an easy-going way about him.

Pat: He was as slow as smoke off possum pooh.

[Yeah, I really made Pat say all that stuff. And more. Poor guy. I just hope the Kentucky guests were only moderately offended.

Anyway, the wedding was great and the reception was, too. It was enough to keep your dog from suckin’ eggs. It beat the hens wrasslin’ six ways from Sunday. And so forth.]

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