THE BEST MAN’S SPEECH
George watched mature, overdressed women
catching glimpses of themselves in the long wall
mirrors as they looked for their names on the fancy
little cards on the white covered tables.
He had a spare copy of his speech, just in case.
“We will be on in just a few minutes,” said George.
He took care to cover the microphone as he checked
out his kid brother sweating in his brand new
Most folks were already seated when The Celebrity
made her late and carefully dramatic entrance.
Distantly related on the bride’s side, the folks had
been saying for weeks how much they had hoped she
might be able to come.
“She does seem strangely familiar,” said George.
“Of course she looks familiar, she’s on television all
the time,” said kid brother.
“She looks older.”
“She is older. They repeat the old movies over and
“Well, there’s something about her and she’s coming
right over here.” grinned George.
“Of course she’s coming over here. They wanted her
beside the best man on the top table where everyone
can see her and take photos.”
“I know,” said George running an eye over her toned
physique and well groomed good looks. “Looks like
she’s here without a partner. I could be her partner.”
“Bet you don’t,” said kid brother.
Sweetly almost graciously, like one of the characters
she had played over the years, The Celebrity went
along the top table for introductions. After greeting
everyone ever-so-warmly, she took her seat beside
“Nice feet,” said George watching her slip off high
heels under cover of the crisp floor-length table cloth.
“Been rehearsing on a hard wooden stage all day,”
she said and they exchanged smiles.
From her seat across the room, the bride’s oldest aunt
saw the smiles but not the feet. She gave George a
little wave of encouragement across the room.
Turning to a younger sister she said quietly, “I do
hope he doesn’t embarrass us with our Celebrity. I
heard he can be a bit of a rough diamond and there’s
no telling what he might say or do.”
“Well George, have you got your speech ready?” said
“Oh, it’s been ready for weeks,” said George now
rather preoccupied with getting ready to speak.
“Oh George, you don’t remember me, do you?” she
said under her breath as he got to his feet and tapped
Surprising himself with a strong clear voice, George
grabbed the undivided attention of his audience with
his opening line.
“Hello, my name’s George and I’m an alcoholic.”
Attention may have been undivided but reactions
were not. A ragged cheer went round from some
good-old-guys who had already put away a few
glasses and a couple of bread rolls were thrown.
Meanwhile, the older ladies on the bride’s side were
far from amused. Heads were lowered behind
ostentatious menu cards.
Fears were reinforced when the widely grinning
groom said just loud enough to be caught on his
brother’s microphone, “Oh shit, he’s done it again.”
“And now, it is my very pleasant duty to introduce
the top table,” said George, warming to his key role.
“The top-table guests come to you with a weight of
1,820 pounds, are 407 years old, and if laid end to
end would make a very interesting photograph for the
Amidst a polarized mix of raucous hoots and stony
stares, George went on to read out a series of unlikely
messages of matrimonial support and advice. These
purported to be from an eclectic cross-section of
some of the world’s ‘great and good’.
George felt quite pleased with himself as he finished
off with an impersonation of a well known children’s
cartoon character that had unexpectedly become
He relaxed as he handed the microphone over to his
kid brother who said with a wicked grin and blatant
thoughts of self preservation, “I should really like to
thank you for all that but I can’t find it in my heart to
Soon the speeches were finished and the meal was
over and it was time for the bride and groom to lead
off the dancing.
George’s duty-dances with the bridesmaids followed.
As they engaged in small talk, these young ladies
seemed to be straining to catch the smell of alcohol
on George’s breath.
“No chance of that,” thought George who had been
dry for many years. In response he noted that each of
these over-plump young girls smelled of sweat and
one also had tobacco all about her.
Then it was George’s chance for a dance with The
Celebrity. Smiling she said, “Just loved your speech.
It was a real breath of fresh air. I suppose we’ll be
seeing more of each other now that we’re family.”
Then drawing closer as the lights dimmed and the
music slowed, she added a few words so discretely
he could feel her breath, warm and moist in his ear.
“By the way, my name’s Helen and I’m an alcoholic.
You don’t remember me do you, or are you just
teasing? Oh, and I’ve just slipped my room key into
The Best Man's Speech
was published by
Haggard & Halloo
28 Sept 2014.