Lie To Yourself: The story on how to give a best man speech
At some point, you need to say no.
Well at least that’s what I kept telling myself up until the moment it happened.
It’s weird how your mind has this way of lying to yourself. And I don’t think I felt the entire magnitude of my fear until my presence was summoned by what seemed like an executioner calling for my noose to be set.
“Can the best man please come up to the stage”, said the lead singer of the band.
I almost felt surprised. As if I were watching the Oprah Show and got picked out of the audience randomly. Except the excitement of winning a car was replaced with a speech in front of some 600 eyes.
I had known I was giving a speech for eight months. When my brother asked me to be his best man outside a Safeway while waiting for his fiance, I never really second guessed the reality of it all. “I want you to be my best man”, my brother said. And then adding, “you know you have to give a speech, right?”. Almost hinting at my own fear of the situation and at the same time acknowledging I would somehow forget about giving a speech.
I didn’t forget, but part of my brain kept pushing it aside. You can always say no, I would tell myself, or it’s eight months away, no need to worry now.
I looked down at my dinner plate, looking at all the food I hadn’t eaten. My mind had been way too occupied to even consider my hunger for food. How Do I start? Do I grab the mic off the stand? Do I just read straight of my sheet?
The whole day of the wedding I was being asked, “Are you ready to give your speech?” And as the day progressed, so did my replies toward uncertainty.
Everyone began to clap, as I got up out of my seat.
In my head, I imagined the mic being on a raised stage on top of a podium from which I could hide behind. Instead, I was given an empty dance floor with one lone mic in the middle and a spotlight illuminated as a circle on the ground.
Was I going to faint? Do people faint if they get too nervous? I was feeling a little light headed and that certainly wasn’t from the couple of Moscow Mules I consumed earlier.
Walking up to the stage felt surreal. The band played “Back in Black” by AC/DC, as I strided out to the middle of the stage. A mix of the music, my own intoxication, and being dressed to the nines, gave me this feeling of being Tony Stark in Iron Man, only a little less confident.
In mid stride, I pulled out my written out speech because at this point it felt like reading from the pre prepared material was the only way to make it through this alive.
I grabbed the stand and said, “How’s everybody doing tonight?” The crowd gave a unanimous wooh. I lifted up my sheet to chest level so I could begin to read off of it. About two words in I couldn’t quite make out the words on the sheet because my hands were shaking so much. Panic.
I exhaled into the mic, ”oh my god.” The crowd chuckled as I realized I was fucked! But, it seemed to calm me. The crowds own humor made the formality of it all dissipate.
I just began to talk. It wasn’t a test. It wasn’t being judged. It wasn’t set in stone. My job was to talk about my brother and I think that is what I ended up accomplishing. There is no way to scale a best man speech. I can’t give you a score, but I can give you the response from the audience.
At the beginning of the night, people were asking me, “are you ready?”, “do you know what you are going to say?” Everyone was questioning what was going to become of my speech. I don’t know what was to become of my speech. And I don’t really know what became of it.
At some point, you need to say no.
And I was right, you need to tell yourself no. What seemed as my own denial of what was to come, lead to the very experience that helped me overcome what I feared most. Lying to myself put me in the very position I could no longer escape. And that is the beauty of it. Without my self procrastination, I would have never had my brother come up to me at the end and say I love you.