Cape Town, South Africa
I’m too drunk to do a speech, I thought as I tested the microphone with my finger.
Somebody shouted: DAAAAAN! WOOOOOT!
I’d been warned:
- Do it early.
- Don’t wait until you’re drunk and everyone else is drunk.
- Make it short.
Ok, I had said. Short and early and not drunk.
It was none of these things.
Somebody who knew me shouted: WHO ARE YOU???
“Good question. I’m Dan. I’m the best man, bitch.”
In my mind, there was laughter.
I dove in. “What makes David different, is his heart. His love for us, his friends. Dave, Moni. Who we are, standing around you, are people who couldn’t be anywhere else. There’s nothing we’d rather do than fly to the ends of the earth to be here with you. You’re standing—well, sitting— with people who believe in you. Thank you for bringing us here, for gathering us from the far corners of the globe. We love you guys.”
Too heavy on the love?
I raised half-full glass of white wine. Alas, it was summer.
But that’s not the interesting part. Fancy hotel atrium. International crowd. Button-downs, sunglasses, tinkling glassware, all good things.
I was slated to give another speech the next day, during the wedding dinner. I’d emailed reception so they could print it for me. I was on a roll.
They say black differently in South Africa. I don’t know how to explain it, but in South Africa, it sounds different. Like it’s the ultimate characteristic. The receptionist was black, but he was also probably in his early forties, had a circular, friendly face, and a chilled out, almost-whisper-voice. His name tag said Henry.
Henry was on the phone, head tilted.
Henry: I’m sorry, sir. I don’t see your email.
DB: Henry, my man. Who you talking to? Your girl?
Henry: Not my girl, sir. Here, say hello.
Henry handed me the black hotel phone.
Phone: Hey… you Henry’s friend?
DB: Sure. Henry and I are chillin.
Phone: Hey… ummmmm… you guys just chillin, na?
DB: Yea, chillin here at reception. I’m here for a wedding. Not my wedding though.
Phone: Oh… that’s too bad.
Phone: You busy, neh?
DB: Where are you?
Phone: In my bed, baby. Just feelin… lazy. You voice soundin’ so good.
DB: Baby? Jesus! You’re sounding so sexy!
I looked at Henry, who was biting his finger with his white teeth to stifle a laugh. I gave him WTF eyebrow raise, and he replied with IDK eyebrow raise with head shake. This endearing fake innocence.
Phone: You want to come find me, baby?
DB: Baby? What’s your deal?
Phone: I ain’t got no deal. Just feelin’ this, that’s all. Feelin’ you. Nnnnnnn…
DB: I gotta get back. I’m the best man in this wedding, I have to drink with the people —
Phone: Awwww what? You don’t gotta go.
DB: God! You sound — bah! Oh my God. How do I find you?
Phone: Get my number from Henry. Call me when you’re done with your party, baby.
DB: Ok, baby. Stay hot.
Phone: Mmmmm… go. Hurry up.
I handed the phone back to Henry.
DB: Henry! Who the fuck was that?
Henry: A friend of mine, sir.
DB: You know what she was saying to me?
Henry: She is very beautiful, sir. You would enjoy to call her, sir.
He smiled. I don’t know what that smile meant, exactly. He handed me the paper copies of my speech. A classy WINCHESTER MANSION notecard with her phone number like a cherry on top.
I walked back to the party, folding my future speech, repeating this in increasingly drunker and therefore more vivid detail, until no one, including myself, believed me.