I tap my glass with a fork. The room goes quiet.
So Mike and Karen have asked me to come up here and share a few words with you. Gladly asked me. They're not dreading this at all.
Everyone in the room laughs. Mike and Karen blush.
Now, it's traditional for the best man to tell embarrassing stories about the groom. To relate the various mistakes and missteps that he's seen the groom make over the years, and even helped partake in. Stories of both bauchery and debauchery. All of which have to very carefully toe the line -- ribald enough to be amusing, but palatable enough to be heard by the bride, an elderly aunt, or the strange religious cousin.
The room quiets down, all eyes on the strange religious cousin. But she's cool.
So let's get that out of the way first. Mike and I drank quite a bit back in the day. We had some fun and made some mistakes, and for a time, both of us had police records indicating we shouldn't be around waterfowl.
I pause for laughter, applause.
Good, good. We're all having a good time.
I slow it down. Everyone in the room leans in, sensing the change in tone. It's time to get serious.
Mike once confided in me that he is a powerful alien, visiting Earth from a place far, far away.
Mike covers his face and laughs, all "I can't believe you're telling this story." Karen also laughs, though less certainly.
Although it's hard to see from here, the Universe is rich with life. Too rich, in fact. An awful lot of that life is effectively a nuisance to greater, more powerful beings. It's a lot like the way we feel about insects or algae. Mike is here on Earth to determine the worth of humanity. He's been here these past 12 years to evaluate us. He's done that by living among us, working with us, and now, even marrying one of us.
Stunned silence. Karen looks at Mike. He shrugs.
Long ago, Mike explained to me that his mission would be done on the day he took a wife. This day. I thought that was weird -- kind of cruel, in fact -- but as I've learned over the years, Mike is an amoral being of pure energy whose own understanding of decency is unknowable to us.
Mike glows a little bit, just to punctuate that thought. I raise my glass to him.
I've watched Mike carefully these many years, trying to guess how he might decide on this, our Judgment Day.
I smile at Mike. He smiles back.
And it's not good, folks. It's not looking good for humanity. We're just so awful to each other. This isn't a surprise to you. There's the racism and the sexism and the homophobia and every other type of discrimination you can think of. Some we're still inventing. We kill people with remote-controlled planes, shoot kids in the street, and make simple lifesaving drugs insanely expensive.
And those ducks. Mike and I fucked up those ducks so bad, folks.
Mike wordlessly mouths "We fucked them up so bad" while someone in the audience nervously laughs.
I'm deadly serious. We're going to be annihilated in a matter of minutes. I'm not even sure if that's the right word, actually. I think it's more like a removal from the fabric of a 12-dimensional manifold.
But I'm going to stop him, folks. With your help, I'm going to convince Mike of humanity's merits, right here.
A smattering of applause.
Yes, humans are cruel. And stupid. And smelly. Right, Ox?
I laugh and point at Ox. He's so smelly. He laughs back.
But we have so much potential! Our curiosity, for example. We're constantly discovering and inventing new things. Turning nature to our own design. Look at all the great things wrought by the hand of man! After all, isn't it Ayn Rand who said ...
... OK, fine. FINE. Lets go back to the ducks. We never fucked up ducks again, did we, Mike? We learned something that day. We are better for it -- better people for committing those misdeeds. I think that's what really concerns you: Humanity's capacity for improvement.
Mike shakes his head and gives a big thumbs down. Improvement isn't a good thing where he's from.
OK. Um. Hmm. Well, how's this: We never rest. We're always looking for a way forward. We'll never give up, even when we face overwhelming odds.
Mike gives me another thumbs down. "I hate that about you," he mouths.
Oh wow, look at Mr. Negative. Good luck, Karen!
Nervous laughter from the audience. Mike begins glowing brighter. We're running out of time.
I start counting on my hands
Curiosity. Learning. Persistence. What am I missing?
Someone in the room shouts "Love!"
Love! That's right! Humans can love each other! Even despite all of our flaws. Mike, look at how much Karen still cares for you.
We all look. But love is not the main emotion on Karen's face at the moment.
Or maybe not. Hmm. But we're close, folks, I feel it. Love is the answer! I wonder ...
Loud honking from the back of the reception hall. We all turn to see several ducks enter the room.
God, no! Mike! It's the ducks we violated so unspeakably, so many years ago, back for revenge! Or is it their children? How long do ducks live?
It is probably their children. The children of the ducks we did such unspeakable things to charge at the head table, intent on violence and mayhem.
I bravely leap from the podium and wrestle the ducks, getting my clothes ripped in several strategic places. It soon becomes evident that these are hired ducks, and that this is all staged.
No! You will not ruin my friend's special day!
With a spectacular suplex, I finally defeat the leader of the ducks. I return to the podium, sweaty and shirtless.
There is love in this room today. The love between me and you, Mike. The genuine love one friend can have for another. And isn't that the most important love of all?
Mike stops glowing, his eyes starting to water. Humanity is saved! Meanwhile, Karen is just steaming.
I nod at Karen.
I bow to uproarious applause and honking
Chris Bucholz is a Cracked columnist, has never been invited to speak at a wedding, and now never will. As the author of the amazing novels Freeze/Thaw and Severance, he thinks you should definitely go buy both of those now. Join him on Facebook or Twitter.
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