Tuesday, September 6, 2011

"Wedding Toast"

The wedding went off without a hitch. Beautiful. Stylish. Touching. And Fun. I need to process the feelings a little more before I write about it. For now, I will pass along my toast. You will notice a significant lack of direct emotion. That’s not what I do. But I hope you can detect the sincere and heartfelt indirect emotion.

Okay. Here we go.

“Good evening and welcome. Family and friends. From near and far. Especially far. A lot of people made a great effort to be here tonight. We want you to know we are appreciative and grateful. This would not be as special without you.

Okay. So. Check it out. Isn’t it beautiful? What you’re looking at is the product of a team effort. There was Anna and Colby’s imagination. And Myra’s involvement in every detail. I also did my part to spruce up the festivities: I bought a new net for the basketball hoop in the driveway. I’m sure you noticed it. (LOOKING UP) “Boy, they went all out for this party. Look at that net!”

I have to tell you, my head is spinning. I cannot believe that my daughter… is dating. I know she’s married. I still can’t believe she’s dating!

How did that happen?

I mean, it’s what, like a blink of an eye ago, I was holding a newborn baby girl (CROOKING ARM, MIMING HOLDING BABY GIRL) – eight pounds, four ounces – a medium-sized salmon – like I know anything about the size of salmon – and she’s crying her head off, I mean, she is howling. And I didn’t know what to do. So I took her to the room where the newborns hang out, and I dumped…I handed her over. I was very relieved. But Anna cried so hard, the newborns took a vote, and they threw her out of the room. And they handed her back to me. (ANGUISH, THEN, LOOKING DOWN AT HER, LOVE) That was our bonding moment.

The first of many.

Potty training. There’s a bonding moment. I don’t know how her mother missed that honor – she did everything else. But there I am, perched on the edge of the bathtub, and Anna’s up there on the throne. We are both very excited – no more diapers. This is a Milestone Moment. My mind wanders, for just a second. And in that second – whoo – Anna topples off the toilet, and she lands on her head.

My first reaction is, “I broke my kid.” My second reaction is, “And I’m going to get yelled at.” But it turns out, she’s fine. She’s stunned. But, otherwise, okay.

Or so I thought.

Anna’s in Kindergarten. And one day, her teacher calls us in for a parent-teacher conference. The teacher tells us, in this very serious tone, that Anna has fallen behind the rest of her classmates in her ability…to use a scissors. When I heard that, I immediately knew why. (QUICK RAP ON THE HEAD) The fall had irreparably damaged the “Scissors Function” in her brain.

You don’t want to believe it, but she had this file folder, filled with sheets of construction paper with Anna’s name printed in the corner, and all of them had this jagged… (DEMONSTRATE). It was ugly. She’s okay now. We got her a “Scissors Tutor”, and she caught up.

Another bonding moment: Oh yeah. I almost got her killed. It’s not every father that can top a “Brain Damage” story with an “I almost got her killed” story. I am very proud.

One of the places we loved to go when Anna was little was the carousel on the Santa Monica Pier. The out of town guests were there last night. One time, Anna and I were walking to the pier, and I said, “Anna, I think I know a short cut.” We take this turn, and I lead her up this grassy hill, and down the other side. And there we are. The carousel’s right in front of us. And all we have to do to get there is to…um…(A SLOW EXPULSION OF BREATH)…walk across the freeway.

It was not a good short cut. But we had no choice. There’s no way I’m going back up the hill. We walk up to the edge, I take her hand, we look both ways, and we run across the freeway screaming our heads off. It’s a great bonding moment…if you make it. I just hope I haven’t started a tradition. A family rite of passage. “My father dragged me across this freeway. Now, it’s your turn!”

I don’t know if this happens to you, but sometimes, I do things that reveal hidden feelings that I wasn’t aware I had. We were taking Anna to college, on the other side of the country. It was a major adjustment, but I thought I had it under control. Then, on the morning we were flying home, and leaving her there, I did something I had never done before. I stepped on an expensive pair of sunglasses. And I brushed my teeth with Ben-Gay.

That was a big transition. This one is bigger.

It helps if you like the guy.

One night, Anna gives me a “Head’s Up”: “Colby’s coming over.” This is the first time I’m meeting him. And I have the typical Dad’s reaction: “No.” I know it’s serious, because Anna’s never brought anyone over before. I don’t know this guy. I need to take charge. A vigorous vetting process is required. A thorough investigation.

He comes over, and we start to talk. And very quickly, I realize two things about Colby: He listens…and he laughs. And just like that, I’m done. The vetting process is over. I mean, I don’t know about Anna, but – “He listens and he laughs” – that’s all I need.

Oh, and as a bonus – this may mean nothing to you, but I find it remarkable. We’re in the living room one day, somebody’s talking – probably me – and there’s Myra and there’s Anna. And then I see Colby, standing behind the couch, where he is very quietly…

Folding a sweater.

I was Mesmerized. And impressed. I had never seen a man fold a sweater outside of a Department Store. And the way he’s doing it – concentrating so hard, and with engineering precision – the sleeves just … (STANDING BACK TO EXAMINE HIS EFFORT)… the collar exactly in the middle. I don’t even know if it was his sweater. It didn’t seem to matter. He saw a sweater that needed folding…and he folded it. That’s two more things I learned about Colby – he’s responsible, and he’s neat.

And an even bigger bonus – and I mean that literally – at six foot four, Colby is a welcome addition to the Pomerantz gene pool. Six foot four is a Pomerantz standing on a chair.

If I may, I’d like to finish with a snippet of a song. Merle Haggard, a great country singer wrote a song about a daughter’s wedding, and the feelings seem to fit. I adjusted some of the words so it goes like this:

“Tonight there will be candlelight and roses

On that bungalow on Fourth Street

That we all once used to share.

There’ll be tears in this old cowboy’s eyes this evening

As I watch my daughter marry

That Ohio Boy, right there.

His hair’s a little longer than we’re used to

But I know that he’s the one to take her hand

‘Cause he says he really loves the cowboy’s daughter

And I know the cowboy’s daughter loves the man.”

Guests of the wedding, with all the joy in my heart, I give you Colby and Anna Buddelmeyer-Pomerantz.”

7 comments:

Corinne said...

I was completely touched. Sentimental. Lovely visions created from your memories floating through my head.

"Buddelmeyer-Pomerantz"
I can't help but laugh. I thought *my* last name was a mouthful!

Teak Rearc said...

Wasn't 'a hitch' the whole point of the ceremony? Very good, thoroughly entertaining and probably emotional too. You should stand on that chair and take a bow...but, be careful!

diane said...

Brilliant!

Max Clarke said...

A good toast. Liked the description of Anna, "a medium-sized salmon."

Max Clarke said...

Even better, "Six foot four is a Pomerantz standing on a chair."

Well done.

michelle said...

good stuff cowboy!

Wedding Speeches Father Of The Bride said...

Very entertaining post. I had really great time reading your post.. It encourage me more and learn lot of things specially on wedding toast. Thanks! :)