a toast to the groom, to the bride
My best friend Alfred got married this past weekend. As the best man, I spent months working on drafts of this toast, but I only said about half of what I really wanted to say because of time constraints. So here are the complete remarks(with pics and GIFs!) because I want to express my heart without limits.
And without further ado…
How does a love story begin?
All stories begin the same way, it’s simply two strangers meeting.
Perhaps they meet at a bar, or through mutual friends, or even a wedding. But we’re here to celebrate a story which began in school.
And this is how it starts. One person notices an unfamiliar face, and the world seems to slow down for a second while they try hard not to stare. You fight off those butterflies and wonder, I don’t even know why or even how, but this person is going to be special to me. Does that ever happen to you?
Unfortunately when Alfred met me, he didn’t feel that way at all. Years later when I asked him about how we first became friends, he told me “Uhhh, because you were Asian”.
Smart man, that Alfred. For context, there was only about 10 Asians in our high school class (we went to school in La Habra), and yes they’re all here at this wedding too. In those 4 years, we bonded through tennis, student government, and those AP/IB classes.
While I was blessed (and still blessed) to have many friends from high school, it was Alfred that I chatted the most with after we parted ways for college. I always thought of Alfred as a quiet person, but he really started opening up more over AOL Instant Messenger over extremely serious topics: fantasy basketball, Super Smash Brothers, and our favorite TV shows.
No Alfred I’m not going to watch Gossip Girl. What do you even see in this show? No Tim the actresses are really pretty, the drama is interesting. Are you trying to impress a girl?
I’ll never really know if Alfred was lying to me or just himself, as I later found out he was watching this show with a bunch of his female classmates. One girl in particular…
My first impression of Patty was “wow! this girl brought us some baked goods to tennis!”. Homemade too, everyone here has probably tried some sweet creation of hers. She also made a great 2nd impression, 3rd impression, 4th impression, so on and so on. Over time, I got to know what type of person Patty is.
From day 1, she wanted to be in all of Alfred’s life, which included his friends. I noted her similarity to Alfred in their loyalty to her own high school friends. As I look upon many of those friends here now, I believe that Patty also understands what Alfred understands about friendship: True loyalty and friendship overcomes time and distance, if you both work at it.
While I respect her effort to maintain existing friendships, I loved her eagerness to create new ones as she slowly befriended our Sonora family as well. Not only did Patty come to all our birthday dinners and annual Christmas parties, she always invited us to her gatherings as well.
It does not go unnoticed, andI thank you so much! Now whenever I meet a new partner of any of my friends, I observe how much they try to do what you’ve done, if they try to integrate two lives into one. You’ve set a high bar, Patty, in so many ways.
I especially recall the viewing party at her Walnut house in 2010 when the Lakers played the Celtics in Game 7; I even remember Patty freaking out when we were losing by 13 points in the 3rd quarter. I strangely felt very calm, and I think Alfred was too, because we still had time and Kobe. Fortunately it wasn’t a deal-breaker, because I can’t imagine him marrying someone who doubts Kobe Bryant :)
I kid, I know you know that putting up with Alfred’s sports addiction is probably the first pre-requisite to marrying Alfred.
Maybe you understood what I see, because I’ve always saw sports and games as a perfect way of explaining what type of guy Alfred is. Underneath that quiet and calm demeanor, is a cold-blooded competitor. All he does is win. Not only is he the best tennis player in our school, he’s one of the most consistent fantasy basketball performer in our ongoing league!
And if he isn’t good at something? Alfred will master it. When he gives a damn, he works day and night to get better at something. When we were choreographing our Sonora Street Boys dance routine, Alfred was always the quickest to learn the moves and made the least mistakes in our performances.
I still remember him spending hours on Youtube looking at music videos, trying to plagiarize moves that we could do (he found that motorcycle rev move from Hugh Grant’s “Pop Goes My Heart”). This guy taught me how to Z-cancel from browsing the forums! And of course, the (in)famous magic tricks and Rubik cubes…what is he on, 13, 14 seconds now?
Alfred gets the details right, especially when he cares. When he was planning Patty’s proposal, he enlisted my help in scouting the perfect location to do it with. All those months on Pinterest culminated in this fantastical and beautiful vision of how he was going to do it, and off we went. Boy, was he picky about the perfect park…
(And so I have all this useless knowledge about the trees and parks in Cerritos and Orange County, please ping me if you need advice on planning a proposal)
(bonus behind the scenes, a pre-proposal interview https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qnt6OrYNhBc)
It turned out pretty well, I think.
So that’s who Alfred is to me. I first knew him as a quiet guy who didn’t say too much, but now I see how a man in love can boldly express through actions what words will never capture. He’s a talented hardworking individual who goes the extra mile for the people he cares about. That’s the type of man you keep around, that is the guy who gets promotions and job offers, who figures out how to buy property, the type of guy you can always rely on. But it’s not just his work ethic that endears him to me. While a good career and money can help build a life, it’s love and friendship that makes a life.
The greatest magic trick he ever pulled on me was giving my wandering soul, the feeling of being home. I am the friend in our group who drifts, whose dreams keep me from staying too long in one city, and even now I don’t know how long it’ll be before I return to Los Angeles.
But I remember the happiest little things in life are the moments when we’re together, like how we run actual pick and roll sets on the basketball court. Alfred is literally the only person I trust to dive to the basket when I turn the corner, and it’s always a thrill to get an assist when I feed him. It takes years to build up that Stockton-Malone synergy with a friend, you can’t replace that chemistry with random gym buddies who don’t trust you.
So every time I think about what makes a good life, a full life, I think about those happy little moments. Our high standards for what makes a quality burger, 5 stock/ no items at Hyrule Castle. I can only reach for impossible dreams because I have such a steady friend at my back.
Alfred, you are my constant.
My link to my past, my present, and my future.
When I think of home, I think of board games around a Christmas tree, I think of feeding you buckets until your ankles get old (and then we have to learn golf or something), I think about carpooling with your future kids and my future kids to take piano lessons like our parents did (circle of life for Asians).
To conclude, I am so honored and proud to watch this humble love story evolve. Two strangers meet in school, two strangers become one constant light and inspiration in our lives. How lucky we are to be alive right now, to witness the next verse of their unfinished symphony!
I’d still be a wise man if I knew nothing but this, because you both have taught me that love lies on the other side of patience and persistence. I’ve watched it grow with each day that you water it with the happy little things, like your silly pet names, the phone calls when you’re apart (I notice how Alfred jumps at the phone every time you call when we’re eating dinner, it’s adorable), these happy little things build a foundation to another life.
A life of loyalty, of joy, and adventure.
So raise your glasses, to Alfred and Patty.
A love story for the ages, may it never end.