The Wedding Toast

I have a serious little poem I’d like to read. It goes something like this:

There once was a girl from Nantucket…

Have you noticed that when someone says they have a little poem to read, a little part of you dies?

I mean, I admire good poetry. But poems are like books or baseball games. Only 1 in 10 books is really any good. Only 1 in 5 baseball games is worth the car ride.

Likewise, poems. I barely understand them. Granted, I’m about as deep as the L.A. River.

Been working on a toast for my daughter’s wedding this weekend. And I thought: “Why not a poem? Why not something warm? Something straight from the heart of a dad who’s lived a little.

There once was a girl from Nantucket,

Whose boyfriend drove a Dodge trucketh…

Obviously, it’s pretty good. But I feel like it needs another line, possibly something about what the girl from Nantucket does with the boy who drives a Dodge trucketh.

All ideas are welcome. As of now, I have her marrying him on a storybook summer evening in Chicago. Always been a sucker for taffeta dresses and weepy movie moments.

Meanwhile, here’s a beautiful little passage from novelist Anna Quindlen — not a poem, yet still quite poetic. Basically, it’s some life wisdom I could maybe share at the wedding:

“Consider the lilies of the field. Look at the fuzz on a baby’s ear. Read in the backyard with the sun on your face. Learn to be happy. And think of life as a terminal illness because if you do you will live it with joy and passion, as it ought to be lived.”

Isn’t that great? Extra appropriate for us, of course.

Not like I would ever gaze out at lilies – they’re all crunchy dead this time of year. By late summer, California’s fields are about as pretty as my sock drawer.

And did you think I’d ever notice a fuzzy baby? If I did, I’d probably say the wrong thing. “Nice monkey you have there, lady.” And you know today’s moms.

At the wedding, I wish I could reel off a sonnet by Shakespeare, or a line from Chaucer’s “Siege of Troy.” Aside from occasional moments of gin-induced clarity, I’m mostly a cretin. All I can recite are dad jokes and obscure sports stats. For breakfast, I eat raw sausage and butterflies.

I’m not even much good with names, let alone poems. I once had a t-ball team with a Braedon, a Brandon and a Brendon on the roster. Broke my brain.

Mercifully, I once coached a soccer team where almost every girl was named Caitlin. I’d say, “Hey Caitlin, go play second base,” and 10 girls would run out to second base.

“No, the other Caitlin!” I’d yell, and all 10 would race back to the dugout, giggling till they threw up.

No wonder the players’ parents drank during games.

The only player who wasn’t named Caitlin was Emily, aka the Little Red-Haired Girl, aka Rapunzel.

Back then, she ran everywhere the Caitlins ran. Secretly, she wanted to be a Caitlin, and resented her parents for naming her something else.

Now, I’m writing her wedding speech.

There once was a girl from Nantucket,

Whose boyfriend drove a Dodge trucketh…

Yeah, really needs an ending. Rapunzel’s fiancé isn’t just a truck driver. He’s also a rocket scientist. And a Bears fan. Since when do those traits ever show up in one fiance?

When they were young, I told my daughters my guidelines for picking a spouse.

“Long as the little idiot makes you happy,” I told them.

“That’s it, Daddy?”

“And he’s a Chicago Bears fan,” I said.

The lovely and patient older daughter hissed at that, and decades later chose Finn, a first-round draft choice on every level, except that he’s a Jets fan.

Obviously, not everybody gets to marry a Bears fan. As you probably know, Bears fans are much in demand. To many, it’s preferable to bagging a billionaire.

Look, true love — the real stuff — is magical…a light, airy, cottony thing. That’s probably what I hate most about it.

Think of what a longshot true love is. Think of all the vagaries, the rules of attraction, the sappy, soapy, inexplicable lust bubbles. Love defies logic, reason and necessity.

Love is love, I suppose. And, if you’re lucky, you still see it soar once in a while.

When the winds of heaven mix forever.

If you recognized that last line, take a bow. You sure know your Percy Shelley. Props for that. And props to all the parents with summer weddings, Carol and Ridge, Paul and Mopy, as well as my pals Jeff and Lydia. Next to the birth of a child, it is absolutely my favorite milestone. Cheers!

Coming Saturday: A poignant pause for the father of the bride.

10 thoughts on “The Wedding Toast

  1. Well, heck, no wonder all the Caitlins were confused, sending the soccer team to second base? Say what?!? 😉
    Wish I could be there for Rapunzel’s wedding. Promises to be super sappy, just the way it should be.

  2. Everyone is preparing for Saturday’s reflections by gathering their kleenex, because we know it will be beautiful, just like the bride and the wedding.

  3. Your search reminds me of Mike Royko’s ‘advice’ column written to Prince Charles and Diana Spencer prior to their wedding. It was a beautifully written piece and certainly out of left field for him. Unfortunately, they didn’t take his advice. Here’s wishing you a perfect weekend and your daughter a spectacularly happy life.

  4. The wedding will be wondrous and whatever words you craft, I know they will be heartfelt. I imagine, there will not be a dry eye in the house. Congratulations to the happy couple. Here’s to true love.

  5. Hmmmm…this on poetry from a guy who just quoted 40 lines of poesy by the “great Hoagland”. Then,”only one in ten is any good “ (?). If so, it appears poetry is doing well, since in much of so many things these days the quality batting average has become much less than that; especially in language. The words herein sound like the mature perceptions of a discriminating adult male. As for me, I woke up with lines in my head, and was encouraged to love them indiscriminately no matter the source, by several early female teachers. As a teen, i found that boys in general ran from poetry, girls ran toward it, speaking and writing it as on they came. This was a good thing to know. then; and also now. Could there be a gender factor here, or is it cultural or a matter of stereotypical role expectation, or something murky about sensitivity or emotional authenticity, whose public expression by males was once considered weakness or embarrassing ( though, I note, an expectation in the arts). No matter, men poured it into the 20th century, and continue to do so through an ever widening window of appreciation. Ditto women. Go figure: something about poetry must continue to read right. Read something wild and stunning and soberingly lovely at the wedding, and regret it not. No one writing prose can do it better, and I wager that it will be intensely poetic; like the wedding itself, something in the key of joy with the rhythm of life in its enunciation. Many poems seem more beautiful if read aloud…better than 1 in10, I think.

  6. Or you could break out into song:
    “All you need is love (all together now)
    All you need is love (everybody)
    All you need is love, love
    Love is all you need.”
    – Lennon/McCartney
    Cheers to the happy couple! Wishing them a lifetime of love, laughs, and happiness.

  7. Pray, Eat, Love
    (Old Wedding Poem)

    Let air and sea, at your mating
    Sing the praises of your choice
    Let the sky, anticipating
    Joy, light up, and rejoice;

    Let the flowers bow and sway—
    In a breeze now free to blow
    Their airy sweetness to this day—
    Delirious with what they know;

    Let the clock not tick, but rhyme
    Into one rhythm two old souls
    Let the hymns of mind and time
    Prepare the flesh no song controls;

    And when the night slows its refrain
    Let the words that fall like rain
    Kiss the earth and drive the train
    To all once did restrain;

    Let raiments at the last obtain
    The drop they did so long proclaim
    White heat of stars in their remain
    Time out of mind, in love—insane
    With love for her that floods the brain
    Let nothing ever be the same…

    “Understanding poets” is an oxymoron.

  8. You did say, “all ideas are welcome”. Such a wrenching time for a father.. so much to lose that’s somehow never lost; yet…so much to gain— the confusing joy of it all…’Who giveth this women?’’ I have three daughters.

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