She is in deep preparation, testing out her lines before the most trusted, discarding those that fall flat, tweaking the ones that remain, always tinkering to find the right balance. She is searching for the deepest truths, the ones that will resonate most with her audience, the ones that will draw the deepest laughs and the most knowing nods. No, I am not describing you know whom readying to do battle against you know what. Rather, I am speaking of something infinitely harder: writing a best woman speech about a bride to be.
My daughter Alex is in the final moments of study, reciting her lines like a Shakespearean actress, working on tone, inflection. Her greatest concern is that she will not live up to the impossibly high standard she set with her Emmy (that was the bride's name) winning performance last year: a rollicking two minutes that had the crowd in the palm of her hand from hello. It was a thing of beauty and there are more than a few of those assembled who consider it the gold standard. In the immediate aftermath, many came up and congratulated me as if I had done something worthy of admiration. Having taken part in the act that produced Alex does not, I believe, qualify me for special recognition.
Even today, if questioned, most of those at my daughter's coronation, also known as Emmy's rehearsal dinner, could still recall a gem or two, a magnificent blend of humor, sarcasm and pure wit, not too long or short, in many ways the equivalent of Goldilocks finding the perfect bed after trying and discarding all the others.
This weekend's subject is a person my daughter has known since they were both but tiny, adorable toddlers. She is intimately aware of all the peccadilloes, each slip and fall, every laugh and tear of her oldest and dearest friend. And that can make the task even harder, as there are too many roads to travel, too many stories to discard. Excess, despite what one of my friends suggests, is not always best.
Alex is getting married next year and I will face a slightly less Herculean task: the dad speech. I have found best man and best woman speeches almost universally engaging, the landscape dotted with ridiculously good stories and songs, tales replete with intelligent, witty banter. As for the profound words of dads like me, not so much. They tend to the sappy (my strong point), the pointless (my weakness), filled with often questionable humor, lingering far too long or lasting less than one full paragraph. So my bar is decidedly lower. Kind of like you know what in his running battle of words with you know who.
As the finishing touches are applied to my daughter's makeup and comments tomorrow night, I will worry a bit and hope that my little girl comes up with another award: the Morgan, for making it a most memorable two minutes (give or take a few seconds), full of fun, of joy, of good memories and great expectations. Kind of like a marriage.