I’ve been promising myself for some time that I would go ahead and start uploading some of the stuff I’ve written, including papers, personal stuff, short-stories, etc. Under the personal category, if you exclude commentary on writing / news / civil service / etc., most of it is already on the site in terms of eulogies or tributes. One thing that is glaringly absent considering how much time I put into it and how important it was is my speech at my wedding dinner. My wife and I divided up some of the thank-yous, and so I didn’t have to cover everyone in the universe, but I also had a challenge. Talking about heavy emotion, particularly when it comes to someone like my wife, would completely wipe me out. So I had to keep it light, short in some areas that were a little misbalanced, and with enough pause areas and flow to get me through it.
For those in the know, my wife and I have initials that spell out “P and A” i.e. Panda. It’s our nickname for each other, and we organized our wedding around a panda theme — a panda logo for example.
And I wanted a theme that would allow me some flow to the speech, I like astronomy, and a couple of the sub-sections lent themselves to talking about stars and universes, so I force fit it into a larger “panda astronomy” storyline. Here it is…
I’d like to begin by saying I’m a man of few words.
No, seriously, it’s true – I have a small vocabulary, I just tend to use the same ones over and over a lot.
Instead, I do need to begin by telling you that there is something that is not in any of the speeches tonight, and that is reference to my father. After seeing Aunt Marnie wipe out an entire room at Bruce and Jenn’s wedding with a warm and loving speech, and the fact that I cried all through my father’s eulogy, there is no chance that I will get through the speeches tonight if we refer to my father. Instead, my brothers Mike and Will are going to help us out with a toast later to those who couldn’t be with us tonight. Thanks guys!
So, as I start the speech, I want to introduce you to a little known field of study called PandA astronomy. Little is known publicly about it, and tonight I will reveal all. If you get bored, well, unfortunately, it’s my wedding.
I’ve got the microphone.
I aspire to being a writer.
You’re trapped on a boat.
In summary, it sucks to be you.
Chapter 1: Stars that dance in the sky
As you prepare for a wedding, you all know there are hundreds of decisions and one early one that is quite fundamental.
And it is quite difficult. I mean, you know how you feel today, and what your choice would be. But how will you feel months from now? You have to decide, but some doubt remains, it’s only natural. It’s a huge decision.
So you consult with friends and family, those who went before you. How did you know? When did you know? Did you both know at the same time or did one help the other make up their mind?
Even after the choice is made, you must wait. But if there is one thing that Sadler men are known for, it must be patience. I’m sure Sadler women would agree? So you’re patient, you trust in your instincts. You may even take a test drive, kick the tires as Uncle Rod described it. But eventually, the test drive ends.
Then the big day arrives. You’re standing there like a deer in the headlights. The big question looming before you:
Carrot or lemon cake?
Fortunately, Andrea and I got to have both. I hope your cake was as good as ours, and feel free as you mingle around afterwards to thank our two bright stars that dance in the sky, Izabella and Natalie, who made all our cakes tonight. Thanks to them, and to Bill, for putting up with us stealing them away for the last couple of months.
Chapter 2: Black holes
There are Black Holes in PandA astronomy. Black holes of responsibility. Gravity wells that suck in all the blame. The black hole even has a name – Stephan.
It was Stephan who…
- was already friends with Andrea;
- who got to know us both, worming his way into our confidence; and,
- who decided that both of us were nice and that nice people should lunch together.
It was all Stephan…we were puppets controlled by the puppetmaster.
So, from now until eternity, everything is Stephan’s fault.
- If I don’t do the laundry for a couple of weeks, blame Stephan;
- If I forget to put down the toiler seat, blame Stephan.
- If Andrea accidentally noggins a power bar, blame Stephan; and,
- If Andrea hipchecks me on the side of my leg where I already have a giant bruise, blame Stephan.
So we want to thank our black hole, Stephan, for allowing us to blame him for everything. It really does make life much easier in general.
Chapter 3: Orbiting moons
There are moons that orbit and affect the main planets in the Panda universe.
- today we had escort moons – Bruce, Don and Liam – who helped seat everyone;
- we have speaking moons – Sharon, Mike and Bill who are helping with toasts;
- my sister Marie is a moon with a somewhat elliptical orbit, intersecting lots of other moons, as she has been helping out with things from the beginning;
- There are Carnivore Moons who joined me for golf and steaks! The poor cow never stood a chance;
- We have also had a lot of friend moons who advised us, put up with us, and who are still speaking to us!
While Andrea has already thanked some of you, I just want to say that your pull on our orbits is definitely felt and appreciated.
Chapter 4: Star Clusters
In PandA Astronomy, we have star clusters – ones that almost always appear in groups.
First, there are the Hortons:
- Doug, it’s been great getting to know you over the last few years, and I hope Andrea and I can follow your path to happiness;
- We saw Aunt Barb last night, but we don’t see her near enough;
- Some others like Beth and Jim, Matt and Kerry couldn’t make it;
- But Keith and Jenny are apparently insane and think that a drive from BC to Ontario is an afternoon jaunt.
Then there are the Malcolms:
- A quiet, unassuming family.
- Shy almost. Withdrawn even.
My family got to meet most of them at the engagement party that the uncles and aunts put together for us, with great food and guests and presents, oh my!
But you can’t talk about the Malcolms without talking about the cousins – let’s see, I need to check my math here:
- There’s the old cousin, the tall cousin, the younger cousin, three Inglewoods;
- Multiply by the teachers, add in a doctor;
- Carry the Whitaker, start a new Paige;
- Double check Snuffalupugus;
- Tick off a few more names;
So, if my math is correct, I’m not sure, but I think it comes to …
a CRAPLOAD of cousins.
And like star clusters, you never get one or two, you always get a bunch of them. And most of them are all quite sporty.
- Down-hill skiing, water skiing;
- Bicycling, marathons, swimming, kayaking, canoeing;
- Rafting, rowing, ultimate, rugby; and,
- Some more extreme sports like adventure racing or teaching.
But I know what you’re thinking: Paul should have no trouble fitting in. Because when all of you met me, I’m sure the same word went through your mind… athlete.
Oh, sure, there were other words. Like “Non-athlete” or “Not much of an athlete”. But athlete was in there, somewhere.
And I met them all at once. At a wedding, no less. Bruce and Jenn’s wedding to be exact. As an aside, for the friends who were disturbed to hear me talk about great bridesmaids dresses that I saw at a wedding in Toronto, those were Jenn’s attendants. So I want to say a special thank you for Bruce and Jenn…Six years ago, you had a tight venue with an equally tight guest list. When Andrea wanted to bring me, I’m sure someone asked “Who is this yahoo? He works at CIDA? Holy crap, he’s going to be some granola-eating Birkenstock-wearing hippie!”. But in true Malcolm fashion, you overlooked those challenges and found a way to include me.
Tonight even marks a special occasion for Bruce, one he probably doesn’t even know. After years of being teased, he no longer has to be the oldest of the group of cousins. Just don’t trip over my walker when you’re dancing. So, for Bruce & Jenn, we have set aside our fourth dance tonight and invite anyone who has gotten married in the last six years to join them.
Thanks to all the Malcolms for finding room for one more.
Chapter 5: Orbiting Planets and Dwarf Planets
As I look over the new extended family today, I think one of the phrases that comes to mind is, “Oh, great. More siblings”.
For my brothers, I admit I’ve been pretty lucky and each has their own unique story:
- For Don, it is one really long weekend at the cottage where the radio only seemed to get one song – “Walk Like an Egyptian” by the Bangles;
- For Mike, it is having dinner at the Elephant and Castle, having a long emotional conversation about family, and meeting his Base Commander with tears rolling down our faces;
- For the brother formerly known as Bill, it would be doing stockings for Mom and Dad – or dart guns, or the elephant gun that shot those red balls, or just the fact that you let me tag along with you when I was a kid and never sent me home;
- For Ken, it would have to be the shark dive, hands down; and,
- For Bob, oddly enough, it is simply walking back to the store to get a package of gum that we didn’t even need on the day of my father’s wake.
Feel free as you mingle later to ask them about those stories.
I get another brother today, and the bar is pretty high, Dean. But you know what? You get to be the smarter brother. Oh sure, there’s a long odyssey about Dean, Andrea and I heading to the cottage one weekend with Dean navigating, and us ending up at the Haliburton Family Restaurant. But that’s not the story that I’m going to tell. One day, we were driving down the 417 with me in the backseat and Andrea in the front seat beside Dean, and like all good brothers, I was razzing him. We were talking about dating the Horton girls, and I teasingly said, “Yes, but I got the better sister.”
Dean opened his mouth to respond, and then he stopped. He said, “Dude, there’s nothing I can say to that. I can either slam my girlfriend or my future sister!”
I can tell you, most guys would not spot that trap. They would have walked into it flailing wildly. But Dean, the smart one, said nothing. And that is the reason we wanted him to be MC tonight. To show he’s plenty smart.
Just don’t ask for directions or how many letters there are in the alphabet. But he’s plenty smart.
He did, after all, manage to snag Becky, my new sister.
When Becky and Dean got married, Andrea talked in her speech about how Becky was crazy, emotional and violent. And I remember thinking, “Wow, now that’s efficient.”
I too have sisters who are crazy, emotional and violent, but they’ve divided up those responsibilities. I won’t say which is which, because Megan and Stephanie may not know that their mom Marie is crazy. And the emotional one Carolee is in Europe tonight and so she can’t cry in her own defense. And well, the old violent one Sharon who started the toasts might come up and swat me.
I’m happy to have Becky join the rank of sisters, including as our sister-of-honour today, but unfortunately, Becky, well, you get me as a brother. And I just want to say, “If you’re talking to my sisters, don’t believe them! They lie!”
Sure, Andrea got the better deal having Dean for a brother, than you do getting me, but well, I promise I’ll be the best brother you ever have! So, in that vein, Becky gets to be the sister with low standards for brothers!
In the PandA world, all these siblings are like orbiting planets. Sometimes leading, sometimes following, but always around. They’ve even added a dozen or so dwarf planets, with the extended family of nieces and nephews who helped out with a variety of tasks today like decorations and photography.
And let’s not forget the newest addition to the nieces, Grace, who was in charge of cuteness at the ceremony! Of course, with Grace around, there’s a reason why we didn’t ask Dean to help out with photos – we were kind of hoping Andrea and I would be in a couple of them – and he doesn’t take pictures of other people anymore.
So, thanks to all the orbiting planets and dwarf planets swirling around.
Chapter 6: Binary Star Systems
For those who don’t know, this means TWO STARS in the same system. For most prospective suitors, meeting the bride’s parents and getting to know them might seem intimidating. After all, these are your future in-laws.
But Ron & Marney are not much older than my sister Sharon. Not old enough to need to break a hip yet, but not likely to start wrestling me if they don’t think I’m good enough for their daughter.
Marney, you’ve welcomed me into your home and your family. You’ve raised a beautiful daughter who inspires me everyday. And if that weren’t enough, you even take me as a bridge partner.
Ron, I appreciate that you have never tried to intimidate as my future father-in-law. I have, after all, seen you golf. But as Andrea and I formalize our lives today, I don’t want you to think of it as losing a daughter so much as gaining space in your basement. Some day. And I promise not to beat you at golf until you qualify for the seniors tournament.
Chapter 7: An Anchoring Sun
Like any solar system, the “P” system includes an anchoring sun in the centre, my Mom. When I was writing my speech, I considered a lot of things to talk about…
- The way my Mom makes tenderloin when I come home.
- All the times she’s made pumpkin pies or peanut butter cookies.
- Playing euchre
- Garage sales
- Salt and pepper shakers
- Needing on-ramps into conversations.
Or the fact that I’m the golden child, the baby, the spoiled little brat that…oh wait, I think that’s Mike’s speech I’m reading. Hmm.
Instead, I’ve decided to tell you a different story. Some of the friends here are part of my monthly movie group called “Mid-Month Movie Madness”. It’s a group that I organize to go to the movies once a month, or at least I do when I’m not organizing a wedding! And I do it because my mom gave me a love for movies.
The year was 1972. I was four! And my mother took me to see a movie. A classic. It isn’t even available on DVD. Most of the actors, directors, producers never worked again. But in the summer of 1972, my mom took me to the theatres in downtown Peterborough.
I had to hold her hand as we walked down the busy street …
I know I got a drink. I think I even got popcorn.
We sat down and the lights dimmed.
And we watched…wait for it…The Lives and Times of Grizzly Addams.
Do I remember the plot? Nope. But you know what it had? BEARS! And not just bears, GRIZZZLY BEARS! And not just grizzly bears, but BIG ASS GRIZZLY BEARS that went RARRRRR!
Let me tell you. When you’re 4, and you can go to the movies with your mother, sit in a theatre, eat popcorn, the lights go down and you can see bears, you think it’s a pretty cool universe.
Thanks Mom for this, and a million other things.
Chapter 8: The A Solar System
For those who are wondering how we ended up on a boat tonight, and if this speech will ever end, we are coming to the close. We are on a boat because Andrea and I went on a boat cruise for one of our early dates. We cruised around the Parliament buildings, over by the Museum, and up the Gatineau river.
As we got close to the bridge where this boat left from, Andrea was sitting on my left, and we were watching the sun set. The light was streaming in from the side of the boat, and it was shining through her hair. I looked over at her, and it was like an electric jolt. I suddenly realized I was in love with this woman. And while I couldn’t have spoken then if I tried, Andrea noticed the look on my face during that same moment, and as she describes it, she went all melty inside.
From that moment on, my desire for Andrea has never been a secret. But what I didn’t know was what it also meant in the way of transformation.
Before, I was a PolyWogg. And most tadpoles turn into frogs or toads.
I must be the first to ever turn into a PandA.
But Andrea has that kind of affect on me.
She taught me to speak PandA. Words and phrases like noggin, fin, Bougainville, Moohaha, power bars, Rosedale/Rosemount, silly songs we sing to each other, “it’s a dog”, Orange!, bean and other bean…all these words come from the A Universe and now fill my world.
I can’t imagine my life without her influence, her presence is the atmosphere I need to breathe.
I’d love to go on and on about Andrea, but there’s no chance of doing that coherently.
So I’ll finish with a toast:
To bright stars, black holes, orbiting moons, star clusters, orbiting planets and dwarf planets;
To binary star systems, anchoring suns, and big ass grizzly bears that go RARRR;
To the woman who reminds me each and every day that it’s a pretty cool universe, just because she’s in it.
To the PandA universe!