Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Biggest, Baddest, Raddest Wedding: My Bro Got Married

I didn’t dance with that pretty girl nearly enough. I missed seeing the bouquet toss, cake cutting, mother-son and father-daughter dances, and my dad hopping on the drums to “Sweet Caroline.”

I accept all these failings because NoCommonSense and I crushed our best men speech that included Hulk Hogan’s theme song.

I have spoken many times to audiences as large as a few hundred about cancer stealing my physical abilities and chunks of my adolescence. Unlike those speeches, the attempted humor-to-sentiment ratio for our best men speech was a whopping 95 to 5 percent. And unlike all those others, this best men speech weighed on me for days because I had thought I might cry, a terrifying and previously unfathomable possibility.

Thankfully adrenaline ensured I didn’t. I was so relieved when we finished our speech. I said, “Shots!” and a few of us left the banquet room for the bar in the lobby. The bartender said she wasn’t allowed to serve shots.

“But we’re the best men!” I said.

I dont give a fuuuck, I saw her thinking.

We settled with drinks on the rocks.

My relief that we gave a good speech and that I didn’t mewl led to me mostly staying in the lobby for the next three hours of the biggest, baddest and raddest wedding I’ve ever attended. That’s why I missed seeing most of the traditional wedding activities.

JD and I grew up playing the same sports, listening to the same music, and enjoying the same TV shows and movies. Almost everything he enjoyed, I did, too, in part because I envied everything about my big brother and followed his lead.

There is some nature on top of all that nurture, though. Different people consider different types of foods their kryptonite, but for both of us it is candy and only candy. We are both organized and hyper-productive, often speeding through life in order to accomplish what we desire during our short waking hours. Lolo, my new sister-in-law, once noticed that we each stood holding our drinks in identical positions and had condensation spots on our shirts in identical places from where our glasses touched.

We are different in ways, too. He has always been more outgoing, quick on his feet and magnetic. I always had a sense that he was my big brother, no matter that as time goes on our three-year difference in age becomes a smaller percentage of the total. I look back to six years ago when we visited NoCommonSense in Hawaii. I am three years older than JD was then, yet it feels like the opposite. I look back further to my bone marrow transplant when JD was 22, and I still see him then as older than I am now.

We also differed in our ability to retain autobiographical memories. Until a few years ago, my memory was among my best assets. I could recall most every event and detail. I miss that ability, and blame its disappearance on the accumulation of memories, alcohol, restricting my calories (and energy for my brain), and especially cancer treatment.

Now I use tricks to recall and retain memories, which involve all the senses and not just sight and hearing. When I write about cancer treatment, I first think about how the big blue chemo chair felt to the touch. On my road trip last month I listened to the new Mumford & Sons album on repeat, and now when I hear “Believe,” visions of the Million Dollar Highway enter my mind.

I forgot to connect my brother's wedding to a feeling or song, but I know I’ll never forget how happy JD was. I’m one proud younger brother as my family is now greater. Lolo is also a Redskins fan. That doesn’t add to the greatness; rather, it was a requirement to begin with.

Mazel tov!

Couple getting introduced for first time at wedding at Fairmont Washington DC, Georgetown