I felt relieved when Jack and Rachel practiced their wedding vows at the rehearsal. He was reading them from a sheet of paper and she hadn’t finished her’s yet. I finished my speech two weeks before the wedding, but I trashed it on the week of the wedding, and started over.
I started brainstorming two months before the wedding. I made lists of memories and traits I wanted to highlight. I researched online templates for best man speeches. I learned from terrible examples as well as great ones. I finished a draft with all that I learned, two weeks before the wedding and put it away for a week.
Then, on the week of his wedding, I threw out that draft because it lacked heart. It wasn’t memorable and when I read it out loud, it didn’t flow or sound natural. Worse yet, it was cliche.
Jenni helped me brainstorm and edit. I make sure the words I wrote were colloquial. I recorded myself on video to practice. I found the right timing for punchlines. Even with all that preparation, I didn’t have an ending ready on the wedding day.
But like most things about Jack, the ending worked out just fine.
One thing my brother Jack and I share in common is that we chose our English names. I can’t imagine giving that amount of power to a four and three year old. What were my parents thinking?! My name could have been the word on the sleeve of my favorite jacket at the time. And the word was: Turbo.
Thankfully, Jack was more sensible. He picked his name based on a TV show my family watched to learn English. The show was Three’s Company and Jack Tripper was the main character. My brother admired Jack because he was a funny, lovable, and kind guy. Sounds a lot like the Jack I have as a brother.
When we were kids, Jack and I watched a lot of TV. But we didn’t have it as easy as we all do now. TVs were big boxes with rows of buttons and no remote control. You had to get up to change the channel.
But that was also why Jack was the best little brother. Jack was my remote control. He kindly sat by the TV and adjusted the volume and changed the channels for me while I sat comfortably in the sweet spot. If there were two shows on at the same time we liked and a commercial came on, he switched channels for me. I attribute Jack’s years as my remote control as the reason he needed glasses.
Jack and I also love playing computer games. After we got a computer in middle school, we were on the computer all the time. My parents had to get a second phone line when we had dial-up internet or else no one could ever call in.
Back then, computer games were complex. In one game, Jack was an awesome copilot. I would be flying my spaceship shooting down aliens while Jack made sure I had enough energy to keep firing or redirecting the ship’s energy to shields so we didn’t die. Together, we saved a galaxy far, far away.
While we share a lot in common, Jack and I also teased that we stole some aspects from each other. And Jack took the brains. In high school, Jack skipped ahead his junior year and landed in my senior-level calculus class. On regional math contests, I would race to get done the fastest, and Jack took the maximum amount of time permitted. And guess who got the perfect score? Jack. And who scored a perfect score on the math SAT? Jack. And who rubbed it in? Not Jack. He stayed humble. He helped tutor other students with math.
Jack also took all the extrovert genes. Jack can make a friend of anyone. The rules for the driver’s test clearly states that you’re not suppose to have a conversation with the instructor. It took me two times to get my license, but Jack got his on the first try because he and his instructor had a great time getting to know each other.
On one Thanksgiving, my family went a Chinese restaurant and we sat a community table. I almost sat down next to a woman I didn’t know, but at the last second, I swapped seats with Jack. You could say it was gift to that stranger because by the main course, the woman was laughing out loud, and having the best Thanksgiving she ever had at a Chinese restaurant.
And starting today, Jack and I share one more thing in common. We both married our dance partners. I’ll take the credit for getting Jack into dance, but Rachel, you make Jack look good. More than that, you make Jack better. A better dancer— a better person. He’s already such a great person, but you bring him up to another level with your spirit, kindness, and generosity.