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My brother just got married. [pause]

So that increases the pressure for me just a little. You see, in MY family, I’m the youngest of four thank God but I’m now the only one left unmarried. [pause] So, if there are any volunteers here this evening, I’ll be conducting interviews over by the bar a little later on.

Anyway, my name is Patrick and I’m in a particularly good mood today because, after all these years, my brother Tom has finally admitted that I AM the “best” man. [pause]

Jennifer, you look beautiful this evening.

Between you and your bride’s maids [pause] well, let’s just say it’s quite a posse! I’ve really enjoyed meeting each of you. And so, with that, I’d like to start with a quick toast to Jennifer’s bridal party.

Toast.

Jennifer made all those dresses herself. Did you guys know that? Amazing. They look great. You all look beautiful this evening.

I’d also like to thank Andrew, Dave and Andy for their roles as Tom’s groom’s men today. They say you can tell a lot about a person by meeting their friends. Obviously, I already know my brother but all my beliefs about him are re-affirmed meeting you guys. Thank you very much.

The tradition, obviously, is for the best man to say a few words about the groom, perhaps shedding some light on his colorful past or misdeeds of years gone by. But having thought about it, I figured some of the stories should probably be left untold. Besides, many of those investigations are ongoing so I’m not at liberty to discuss the details anyway. [pause] Kidding.

I decided instead to focus on his intellect and strength of character. But as you can imagine, that led to a fairly short list as well. So I started to get pretty stressed out about it, wondering what in the world I could say that wouldn’t shock or bore all of you. I even paid $17 online to purchase one of these E-books full of wedding jokes – it’s true – but the document was written by an American so most of the jokes were stupid. [pause] Sorry.

Actually, there are a lot of people here this evening who came from the US and I’m one of them, so [pause]. But the jokes WERE stupid. Anyway …

Fact is; everyone in this room knows Tom in different ways. You all met him at different times and saw him in different situations. I could never speak for all of your memories but I CAN speak for my own.

Tom and I shared a bedroom for the first 18 years of my life. It had two beds, two desks, two closets – and the two of us. Those years were a long time ago and I’m sure countless events have taken place since then. But I believe those early years lay the foundation of who Tom is today and I’d like to share some of that with you.

Last month, I visited Vancouver for a week to spend time with my parents and some old friends. As always, I stayed in the room Tom and I grew up in, and many of the things we left behind are still sitting there patiently awaiting discovery. So I did a little snooping and found an essay Tom wrote at some point along the way.

I don’t remember the essay myself. We shared a room so I usually knew what he was working on but I’m assuming he wrote it for a Philosophy class somewhere. Anyway, I have it here and I’d like to read you just a couple sentences.

[glasses]

What determines the responsibility one has for his actions? It is the extent to which the undertaker of the action can freely choose his course of action from a selection of options. What, then, determines the extent of freedom of choice that the actor makes decisions under?

Now, I don’t know about you, but … I could never write something like that. [pause] I mean, I think I get it. I think I understand the basic concept but those words would never come to me. But for Tom, this is just some simple idea; a quick-and-dirty analysis of human motivation and personal responsibility.

Well, believe it or not, THIS is how I know my brother. During those early years, he always KNEW stuff. And he knew how to put it on paper. You see, when I had projects for school, doing the actual research was always my second strategy. My first was to ask Tom.

I remember asking him about the war of 1812 one time and he started explaining it to me. “You have to understand that the political climate was being strained by social pressures.” Social pressures?? But I’d write it all down and hand it in. And I always got decent marks. It was a good deal.

Tom would read everything. National Geographic. Books. Articles. Mainly history and geography stuff. And he’d remember all of it. And then he’d sit there in our room and recite it all on a moment’s notice so I could get my paper done on time. And I’d get all the credit for it.

As a family, we used to go to the restaurants Tom worked at. One restaurant after another, we’d go and get treated like royalty because the management loved Tom so much. They loved him because he worked his ass off. We didn’t deserve that treatment. Tom did. But he was usually in the kitchen working hard while we enjoyed all the good food.

And I guess that’s the point I want to make. My brother isn’t the loud mouth. He isn’t the show-off. He rarely gets the credit and he never basks in the glory. But he’s the one in the background, working his tail off and getting it done on time.

Most of you know that Tom’s reputation for hard work continues here in Toronto. He works hard and he plays hard. Well, tonight is HIS night to shine. Tonight is his night to play; to bask in the glory. You deserve it, Tom. You’re my big brother and I love you very much. And I couldn’t be happier to spend this day here with you and your new wife.

Ladies and gentlemen, I don’t want to drag this on but I can’t get down from this microphone without saying a few quick words about Jennifer. And again, many of you know her differently, I’m sure, than I do. Many of you know her much better than I do. But I can tell you that I see Jennifer as a near perfect match for my brother.

I like Jennifer because she laughs at my stories and remembers my jokes, and that’s rare in itself. But many times when I’m talking to Tom late at night, he tells me about the work Jennifer does and the hours she puts in. I’ve seen it myself these past few days and I have a ton of respect for that. I’m sure there are plenty of things that make up the connection Jennifer and Tom share but their similar work ethic is definitely one of them.

You know, from what I’ve heard, she’s had her eyes on that famous Schwerdtfeger charm for a number of years now and perhaps not surprisingly, the allure of our [accent] strong German heritage and muscular physique was too much for her to resist. Well, Jennifer, you’ve got an amazing charm of your own and I’m absolutely thrilled my brother has the opportunity to spend the rest of his life with you.

And with that, I’d like to ask everyone to raise their glass and join me as I offer my only piece of advice for the bride and groom:

Jennifer, to be happy with a man, you must understand him a lot and love him a little. And Tom, to be happy with a woman, you must love her a lot and not try understanding her at all. Congratulations to you both and good luck with your new life together.

Thank you.