My son got married. Tuxes, dresses, seating arrangement charts, flowers, invitations, shuttle bus schedules, cake selection, hors d’oeuvres, venue choice, band or DJ, rehearsal dinner guest lists… and… and… and… the details were endless.
Low stress. There are only two tasks (three if you count saying “yes” or “okay” with a convincing smile on your face to any question asked of you in which you are given the illusion of a choice):
Item 1, with its corollary (smile and say yes, like you mean it) requires no commentary or instruction so I will dive into item 2: the toast.
I’ve done a lot of writing and public speaking in my career so I felt no stress over the authoring and delivery of the toast. The words would come. The crowd could be had… if the words were good. So, as another hack writer might have said, “Ay, there’s the rub.” There would be 250 pairs of ears listening for humor… but smart humor; emotion… without sappiness; wisdom… without being too paternalistic… and short—above all—short. One can lose the crowd in a few seconds once the automatic timer goes off in their heads. (Isn’t he done yet?!)
And among those 250 pairs of ears were those most important to me: my son and our new daughter-in-law (who we love; no, really), my wife, and my daughter, cued in to the sort of speech I might give at her as yet to be scheduled wedding.
I got my applause, nods of recognition, a big hug from my son, and even a tear or two from my new daughter-in-law. There’s no need to bore you with the mundane stuff.
The toast led with a public apology that checked the box on the humor component. To quote myself:
“First things first. I think it’s appropriate to publicly apologize to Josh for making him a Mets and Jets fan. I’m sorry Josh. I experienced the 1969 Super Bowl III victory, but all Josh ever had was Chad Pennington’s multiple 158.3 QB ratings and a crazy TD run.”
(158.3 is understood by the football intelligentsia among you. The crazy Pennington run? One had to see it live; the epitome of esoterica meant specifically for my son; he knew.)
So how sorry was I? If I could go back in time and make Josh a Yankees and Giants fan, would I? (No, if I could go back in time, I’d buy Apple at two bucks a share.)
We’ve presupposed time travel here and messing with the immutable, but let’s dive in anyway, shall we? My son would have experienced Yankees’ World Series victories when he was at his most impressionable ages for lifelong fandom, 6 to 10 years old. And for extra fun, two Super Bowl wins by the Giants; sweet, particularly because those victories were at the expense of the N.E. Patriots.
For Josh to have been a Yankees/Giants fan would have meant that I was. (The thought irritates my brain just to type the words.) This stuff is heritable; not hard-coded in DNA but the nurture part of the nature vs. nurture debate. This is tribalism. Team choice is determined young and with elemental practicality.
When I was growing up, the Mets were on TV more than the Yankees. As well, my older brothers were Yankees fans so, naturally, I had to be the bratty, contrarian, younger brother. The Yankees’ announcers were boring; the Mets’ announcers engaging. It was blue and orange by a mile.
And the Jets? Great uniform and Joe Namath; not too much more complicated than that. (It helped that the Giants sucked in the late ‘60s.) These bonds are formed when we are children so factor in a whole lot of irrationality and id. (I once asked a New Yorker I knew why he was a Green Bay Packers’ fan. “Liked the green and yellow jerseys and helmets,” he had replied.)
And it’s intellectually dishonest to suggest that championships would have become “old hat,” routine, taken for granted. I doubt that.
As a Mets and Jets fan, I have two World Series and one Super Bowl victory to cherish in my memory; all occurred before my son’s birth. We often fantasize about sharing that first Jets Super Bowl as adults. We’d have to watch it alone. No party, no wives, no one in the room but us and our unbottled emotions.
How I hope it’s a blowout!