|One Brief moment of normal, before I opened my |
mouth and started speaking...
...but it wasn't my fault, honest. I gave them every opportunity to intervene. Let me 'splain. No, there is no time. I sum up.
I married my youngest brother last weekend. To his fiancee. Don't be goofy. As an ordained minister (with the credentials to boot), this was my second such wedding. And it was for my brother! Nice! Cathy would rather I call myself an "officiant" but that sounds like a robot that is released into an office to sweep up dead employees who go missing in their cubicles in some weird dystopian science-fiction movie directed by Michael Bey. Besides, they are ministerial credentials, so what else WOULD I call myself? A Priest of Elvis? Anyway...
Early on, when I found about his pending nuptials, I called to tell him congrats and offer any help I could give. "Including, you know, if you need someone to marry you--I'm legal," I said, chuckling, thinking that there was no way they would want me to perform the service. Well, laa dee daa. Shows what I know.
Josh called me back and said, "we talked it over, and we'd love for you to be the minister."
Cool beans. It's a gig. And it was one I took seriously. I insisted on meeting with them to talk to them about the service, what they wanted, and how they wanted me to do it. I should have known there would be trouble, when, early on, Josh said to me, "We just want you to get up and do your thing. You know, be yourself." Heh, really, Josh? We grew up in the same house. You know what I'm capable of. Here's a recent example of the shennanigans I can get up to.
"Dude, that's too wide open. You've got to give me something to work with," I told him.
"Well, I don't know," he said. "We're not reallysure what we want to do."
So, I made a point of lending him one of my clerical books. It's a wedding planning guide, one that shows the basic structure of the ceremony, and then includes sample weddings for virtually every circumstance. Really. All religions, non-religious, half-and-half, ceremonies for blending bilingual families...it's the works. I told my brother, who has about ten years of college under his belt, to look through, and find some pieces and parts of a ceremony or two that you like, or even kinda like. If you don't like a particular quote, we can substitute Rumi for First Corinthians. It's all good. But give me something to start working with."
"You got it, Markie," he said. He took the book away and kept it for six weeks. Problem solved, I thought.
So, I get the book back, and I said to him, "What did you pick out?"
He said, "Ehh, we couldn't decide. You just come up with something, okay?"
If we weren't in public, I probably would have thrown something at him. A shoe, like when we were kids. Or put a Star Wars figure up his nose. You can still do that to kid brothers. I looked it up.
I got them together a few weeks later and begged them to give me something, anything. Turns out, they had, in fact, been working on some stuff. A few quotes. Nice sentiments. Thoughtful bits that I took and worked into the larger service. Okay, that was four sentences. And while they are nice sentences, I'm going to need a little more.
I started carving a basic ceremony. And as I'm doing it, I can hear Josh, all echo-y and flashback-y, saying, "Just be yourself, Markie..." Well, before I knew it, the Impressive Clergyman from The Princess Bride was just, I dunno, in there. It just happened.
They were getting married in a recreated medieval setting, so I already knew I was going to pop in some He-Man Masters of the Universe jokes (something Josh was obsessed with when he was a wee lad). And I had made a point to address both of them individually with advice for the marriage. Funny stuff in there, too. Appropriate to the setting, of course. Gentle humor.
No, what was missing was a quote. Something to get us into the vows, which they themselves will be reading to one another. Hey, why not, already this thing couldn't be any less traditional if we had killed a fatted calf and put it on an altar.
There are a metric ton of love and marriage quotes online. Whilst I was perusing twenty pages of them, I came across a great quote by Helen Keller: The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.”
Perfect. Just the thing to lead into the vows. I typed out, "Helen Keller said...
Then my brain kicked in. Well, no, she probably didn't SAY it. I mean, come on. She wrote it. Or she signed it. Or maybe she dictated it. But if she said it, it would have come out like this: "ARAAAARAAGH." And then her dog would have come over, because he thought she was calling him.
Go on. Hate me. Especially all of you out there who've never told nor laughed at a Helen Keller joke in your life. Throw the first stone, if you must.
Now, I'm not proud of what happened next, but this is what I used to get us to the wedding vows last Saturday:
Helen Keller once said, “ARARAHRAHRHA!” Then, much later, she said this: "The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.” I want to remind you that marriage is a precious gift; a lifelong dedication to love and a daily challenge to love one another more fully and more freely. Bear this in mind as we now exchange the vows you have written to one another.
You may well be wondering how the wedding turned out. No blows were exchanged, if that's what you're really curious about. My side of the family, Josh, his best man Colby, and even Jillian, were pretty prepared for just about everything that came out of my mouth. Her family? Not so much. I don't know what they were expecting. First Corinthians, most likely, but they sure did not get it. But that's okay. It wasn't their day. It was my brother's and his wife's day. And they liked it just fine. We are nothing if not irreverent.
I think the blessing from Elvis was maybe a little much. At least, my mother thought so. Not the Helen Keller joke, oh no. The Elvis blessing. Hey, I told everyone to bow their head in an ATTITUDE of prayer. No actual praying was ever asked for, nor fully expected.
Personally, I think I stuck the dismount. You be the judge:
Joshua and Jillian having witnessed your vows for marriage with all who are assembled here, by the authority vested in me by the Universal Life Church, and BY THE POWER OF GREYSKULL! I now pronounce you husband and wife. And what you two hath put together, let no one, not even Skeletor, tear asunder.
Kinda brings a tear to my eye, it does...