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First of all, I want to thank every single one of you for making it here, for driving or flying all the way out here to California. It means the world to us that you could come and join us on this special occasion, on our wedding day.

You have to admit: The venue is beautiful; the views from the terrace are breathtaking.

You can even smell the grapes, I have to say. It’s a dream come true. A dream come true, for Patty and me, to get married here in Napa Valley. Now, instead of some Ciceronian speech or Shakespearean monologue, I thought I would just tell you all the story of how Patty and I met. I know some of you know this story, but not enough of you know it well. And it’s a funny story. You should all know it. So here it goes.

It’s Thanksgiving night, right? And this is two—no, three years ago. Trump had gotten elected. How could any American forget that year? Well, it’s me, my folks, my brother and sister, their partners, Uncle Joseph and Aunt Susan, my cousins with their own partners, and Grandpa. Quite a full house at my folks’ place.

As is usual during Thanksgiving, our conversations got a little heated.

At one point, Uncle Joseph, Grandpa and my cousins were going at it with particular warmth. Frankly, with all due respect to all the parties involved—many of whom are sitting in this hall right now—except for Grandpa who passed away actually right before the pandemic—I was getting a little annoyed. So what do I do to diffuse the contention in the room? I start interrupting them. On a dozen different occasions I ask them if they’re going to eat what’s on their plates.

“Hey, are you going to eat that?” and I’m pointing to Grandpa’s green peas.

“Hey, are you going to finish that?” and I’m looking at Jude’s mashed potatoes.

I’m actually having a laugh as I’m going about this. Now, as my bad luck would have it, a piece of turkey that I had nabbed from my uncle’s plate gets stuck going down my throat.

Suddenly, I’m having trouble breathing.

Of course, I start panicking and so does everyone else. My dad’s flailing his arms around and my mom’s screaming for help. Fortunately, my sister’s girlfriend is well-versed in the Heimlich maneuver. She doesn’t hesitate to act. She puts her arms around me and starts pumping away like her own life is at stake.

One, two, and three: I chuck that sticky piece of turkey halfway across the room.

It hits the patio door with a great, big thud. I fell on my knees, tired but rejoicing over every new inhalation I could make. My hands were literally shaking. As soon as I could stand, I hugged Janice, my savior, very hard. In fact, I hugged her so hard that my ribs hurt. I touched my left side, and it stung a bit.

It turned out, after we examined it a bit further, that one of my ribs might be broken, so my parents and I headed to the hospital. I wasn’t feeling too bad, but we wanted to make sure everything was alright.

We get in, fill out the paperwork, and they take me to a room where I’m supposed to get some X-rays done. Now, who walks in but a young lovely doctor named Patricia González? A young lovely doctor that smiles at me when I start trying to make some small talk.

And, really, the rest is history.

So, actually, if we’re going to make a toast for anyone, let it be for Janice, my sister’s girlfriend whom I not only owe for saving my life but also for sending me to the hospital where I met Patty. Come on, everyone. Lift up your glasses! Janice, don’t be shy: Come on, stand up. Thank you, really, from the bottom of my heart for your quick thinking, and thank you everyone for making it here today. Cheers!

Keven Balderas

Keven obsesses, nearly to the point of madness, over a new interest every two years. So far, his interests have included Latin, drawing, skateboarding and photography.

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