Per the original post on wedding speeches, I recently gave a speech at an Indian wedding – here it is:
Speech text (names changed to protect privacy and reputation)
Hi, I’m Chris Duss, and Rupal is my mortal enemy. Ever since the moment we stared one another down across the tennis court at age 10, we have been embroiled in a battle for superiority. Like any good rivalry, ours has traversed many areas, from the tennis court, to the bowling alley, to Delores Park bocce ball 2013. Tonight I’m honored to have the opportunity to share with you some of my experience with this great fool.
“Education matters. Education matters to me.” Thus begins Rupal’s video on Youtube, which I encourage you all to find later tonight. This evening I’d like to talk to you all about the education of Rupal. Now, I could relay to you how I taught Rupal humility, by handing him the greatest defeat in his sporting career, at a Zone Team road trip he shudders to remember. I could tell you about how I instilled in Rupal the fear of God, when, as part of an epic prank war, I convinced him and Geoffrey Goldenlocks that there was a bomb in their room at tennis camp, by taping an electric metronome under their dresser. Indeed Rupal has been the recipient of a great many life lessons from me over the years. But, and though it pains me to do so, I wish to use this opportunity to share with you what my great rival has taught me, and then direct it back at Mandy, his life mate, and him, as a challenge.
You see, many of us, Rupal included, like to half-joke that he reached his peak potential as a human being in his senior year of high school. In that year, Rupal chose his own path, a true path – he abstained from alcohol, from red meat, he kept Indian tradition alive in his life (Bhangra dancing and all!). Not exactly the stuff that wins popularity contests at a Southern, white high school. But in his characteristic away, if you’ve ever seen Rupal pass his reflection – he simply puffed his chest out, flexed his meager arm muscles, and made it work for him. In fact, he was so popular he was elected president of his school. To me, this was an exhibition of pure power – and therein lies Rupal’s great lesson – that you don’t need to bend to social norms. You can choose your own path, and even make it work spectacularly, if only you abandon fear, stick your chest out, and do it.
So Mandy – though I realize simply hanging out with this character every day for the rest of your life will be challenge enough, there is something greater – be there for Rupal whenever choosing the righteous path brings uncertainty or instability to your lives. If all else fails, you can always just stick a mirror in front of him, and that chest will come out like clockwork.
And Rupal, Rupal – Rrrrrrupal, don’t let the 17-year old you be the best the world sees of Rupal. Examine your moral code, put on your best Obama voice, and act accordingly. Anyway, you will need to to stand a chance as our rivalry leaves the world of games and enters the real one. Remember, doing this got you elected president once – it could happen again.
Just a quick clarification on the last paragraph – when Rupal begins any heated discussion his voice morphs into the Obama teleprompter voice. Also, him entering politics has been a long-running half-joke amongst friends. Nothing in the speech was placed haphazardly, and I am fairly happy with the result. Clocking in at less than five minutes it was a good length for an event where there were 12 other speakers and about 10 dance shows and other acts. I got lost right after the “don’t let the 17-year old…” line and paused an unfortunate amount of time before “Examine your moral code…” but otherwise the delivery was smooth and even retrieved some laughter from the crowd.
Referring to the subsections in the general overview of wedding speeches, again I was shooting for 3-5 minutes given my place as a regular groomsman and the number of other speakers. The content went through a few revisions, and at one point I was going to frame the speech around the story of how I destroyed Rupal 6-0, 6-0 in one of our early tournaments and how he got me back by defeating me 6-3, 6-2 at a later date, when I had a broken wrist and my left arm was in a sling. But as I am not much of natural story teller I quickly decided on a more message-based approach. Then I wrote everything out, starting with the first line, then the body, and finally building out the intro and conclusion. I decided to be pretty critical as 1) that has been the nature of our ongoing rivalry and 2) I figured everyone else would be heaping on the praise, which turned out to be mostly true.
After finishing a rough text I started to read it aloud, revised further, and then began the process of memorization. In all I would guess I put in about 10 hours of concentrated effort on the speech – a decent chunk of time, but if you forgo the evening news, the game, your favorite TV show and a night out you’re already there. Finally, in the lead-up to the event starting the night before, I mingled with the crowd, developed a new love for Bhangra dancing, played the ceremonial conga on the party bus – essentially I got everyone on my side before taking the stage so that victory was roughly assured. Then, I slammed a glass of room temp water and let it rip.
Oh, and as a bonus, I got to take some of my experience and share it back here in Japan:
- How to Hand Drum
- Introducing the Blue Belt Weekly