Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Best man speech

I meant to post this a while ago. My brother Zach got married a couple weekends ago, and he asked me to be the best man. Naturally, I was honored, and I was given the traditional task of making a toast during the reception. Here's what I said (more or less).

As his older brother, I've known Zach for at least as long as anyone... with the possible exceptions of Mom and Dad, who technically met him before me.

I don't want to take up too much time here, but I wanted to tell you all a little about Zach, and why I'm very happy to be able to be here for this great day in both his and Kristen's lives.

We've been friends since the very beginning, in Wenatchee, Washington, where we were both born. Growing up, we did everything together. We'd spend our days building forts with the sofa cushions in the house, sledding down into the "Weeds" near our house on Canyon View Place, or climbing into the tree house Dad built in the willow by the driveway.

One thing eventually became clear about Zach -- that he is absolutely single-minded in purpose when he decides to do something. Over the years, this has occasionally been mistaken for obstinacy or stubbornness, but the fact is, when Zach wants to accomplish something, he does it.

A couple examples. As a teenager, Zach decided to learn how to play guitar. He started on Dad's, learning chords and picking patterns bit by bit. For his sixteenth birthday, Mom and Dad got him a beautiful Gibson Les Paul (that's an electric guitar, if you're wondering). After that, it seemed like he'd disappeared. We thought we'd never see him again -- but we certainly could hear him. He stayed in the basement with that guitar and an amplifier for hours on end, practicing, practicing, practicing. Eventually, he was playing licks from Guns 'n' Roses and Van Halen with note-for-note accuracy.

It wasn't long ater this that Zach decided to get into shape. Neither of us had been particularly athletic growing up -- we'd generally chosen Legos over soccer balls. But Zach apparently woke up one day and decided to lift weights -- which is exactly what he did. Every day, he was in the gym pumping iron, until he had transformed himself. I got a chance to experience this first hand once when I came home from Franciscan during my freshman year. Zach and I got into our only fight, and I was very soundly beaten.

Zach's determination is clear now from his decision to start off on a new career. He wasn't happy about what he was doing in the mental health field, and one day not so long ago, he decided to go into marine biology -- just like that. And he's done it. He's managed to turn his career around and start working in a field he really loves, and I respect that decision -- and the determination it took to pull it off -- a lot.

The reason I bring up these stories is partly to show why I've always had an admiration of my younger brother, but also to illustrate why I think he's going to make a terrific husband.

Zach and I haven't had much time together over the last few years -- our careers have taken us in different directions and to different places. But it has been reassuring for me to know that he has Kristen in his life now. I don't know of another couple who is easier to be around, or who seem more suited for each other than these two. Kristen has been an ideal friend, partner, and co-conspirator for Zach, and now, some eight years after they met, I find it difficult to imagine them apart from each other, and I feel very happy to be here to send them on their way into their life together as husband and wife.

So, thank you, Mr. and Mrs. M_____, for hosting this beautiful event, and thanks to everyone who has come, some from very far away. And I think I can speak for everyone here when I offer you, Zach and Kristen, my warmest congratulations and wish you the very best of luck. Thank you all. Cheers.
Congratulations, brother. Catch me a lobster.