The Good Old Days

I was fortunate enough to be the Best Man at what was probably the best wedding I’ve ever been to last weekend. From what I understood about the responsibilities of the Best Man going into the process, I knew two things: I had to plan the Bachelor Party, and I had to make a speech, toast, roast, what have you. While the details of the Bachelor Party are unnecessary, the speech is something I took very seriously; you only get one shot at it, so you better make it count. After months of writing, editing, rewording and rearranging, this was the outcome.

Transcription:

First of all, a huge thank you Jack and Tonda for hosting such an amazing weekend.

When Mike first asked me to be his best man, it came with one condition: he didn’t want me to embarrass him during my speech. I took this as a great compliment, because it means that he knows I have all the good dirt on him. Are you nervous? I can tell he’s nervous right now… he has no idea what I’m going to say. Mike is kind of a control freak; he hates not knowing what’s going on. You should see the e-mails he sent to the groomsmen with all the details for the wedding; they had more rules than the Geneva Convention. Look at these socks he made me wear! But, he made me promise I wouldn’t embarrass him, and I agreed. SOOO… if you want to hear about how he used to have a mirror on his bike to check his hair, or how he got beat up by a girl in the second grade, or why in middle school he preferred chocolate milk over regular milk, you’re just gonna have to come find me and give me a drink to get it out of me.

How do you sum up 20-plus years of friendship? That’s how long Mike has been like a brother to me. In fact, I’ve known him longer than I’ve known my actual brothers, who are both 21 and under. As kids growing up around the corner from each other, every day after school was an opportunity to hang out; whether it be to skateboard, hit golf balls on the parkway, chill in his pool, or discuss future penny stock options for his investment portfolio. Mike is a big reason why I started playing golf and am so good at both billiards and ping pong.

In high school, I have Mike and Mike alone to thank for convincing me to join the O.M. team. If you don’t know what it is, look it up; it’s a great program. I was hesitant to join, even though I had a good amount of friends doing so. All it took was one sentence from Mike in that reprimanding, borderline demeaning tone of voice he has: “So are you realistically NOT going to join? Why?” Three years later we got to travel all over the country, from Maryland to Colorado, and he and I led our team to be ranked 5th in the world.

When Mike told me he was going to University of Maryland, I had a feeling he wasn’t going to be there for just 4 years. From what I’m told by the guys he went to college with, these are the years that you really wish you got to be around him; 4 years of partying with the golden child. We’d still keep in touch, especially during the summer time. We went on a cruise with my family one of the years, and have both been on several since. A lady on one of the cruises saw us sitting next to each other and asked us who was older. I told her that he is, by 3 months. The reaction on her face was priceless; not only did she think we were brothers, but actually thought that we were TWINS. Mike thought it was a compliment. Frankly, I was insulted.

It was also around this time that I got to experience my only trip to Europe, courtesy of the Relvas’s, when I went with Mike and his entire family to Portugal for two weeks. Not only was it a vacation and trip I’ll never forget, but it allowed me to understand my best friend in a whole new way. The way his family looked toward him for advice, or support, or help, or suggestions, the way they respected his opinion and what he had to say, made me realize why he is the way he is. The way they treated me as one of their own family is a testament to not only how much respect they show to him, but also to the amount of respect I have for them. Im sure that Ashley has experienced something similar these past few years.

Yes, I remember the day Mike called me, beyond excited. I could hear it in his voice as he told me he went and got himself a new girl…a tiny little number with bright blonde hair and big pretty eyes. He sounded genuine, so I told him “That’s great man, I’m happy for you.” He replied “Thanks, you definitely have to meet her sometime, she’s awesome.” “Absolutely, I can’t wait! What’s her name?” And he said: “Stella… She’s a golden doodle.”

No, I actually do remember when he called me to tell me he had met his now-wife. At the time, I was dating a 5-7, skinny blonde with blue eyes named Ashley. Mike must have thought to himself “Hey, that looks pretty good, I think I need me one of those! I’ll see your tall skinny blonde-hair, blue-eyed Ashley, and I’ll RAISE you my boss’s daughter!” Only Mike, right? It came as a shock to approximately no one that he got the okay from his boss, Jack, to date his daughter. From what I understand it was almost as though he was playing matchmaker a bit, planting the seed in Ashley’s head before they even so much as hung out together. How big of a brown-noser do you have to be to get that blessing?

So here we are, celebrating Mike and Ashley starting their new family together. They say that it’s hard work having a family, but if there’s one thing I’m not worried about in the slightest, it’s Mike working hard at something; especially when it comes to his family. This guy is hands down the hardest worker I know. Since we were teenagers he has always had the best work ethic of anyone I’ve ever met. No one we grew up with would disagree.

And of course, if there’s one thing he doesn’t even have to work hard at, it’s his family. Mike is also the most family-oriented person out there. As kids, getting him to hang out on a weekend was like pulling teeth; he always had some sort of family function to not only attend, but help set up for AND clean up after. The running joke was if he didn’t want to hang out he’d just say it was his godfather’s birthday; by our group of friends’ calculations, Mike’s godfather had about 6 birthdays a year. You can imagine my surprise when I met Manny and found out he wasn’t 120. But that was just who he was, and we learned to accept it. And if you’re lucky enough like I have been for Mike to consider you family, you try to make the best of the time you do get to hang with him.

Mike, is the best kind of friend there is. He has that rare combination of a willingness to give you the shirt off his back and also to tell you the hard truths that no one else will. You’ve seen me through the good and helped me through the bad, and if you ever actually have any rough times yourself, know that I’ll be there too. It’s been an honor to be the best man for the best man that I know, and Ashley, Mike is like my brother which means you are now like my sister. I wish you both the best of luck, but I know you won’t need it. Everyone can see you guys were made for each other. With that, I’d like to make a toast:

To Mike and Ashely. To the good old days, and the better new days. Cheers.

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