Who you were and who you are
Vail, CO, Colorado
“Hey Burrga, is that ya head or did ya neck just puke.”
It was with those words, issued by my old buddy Sean Mc’Enema, that I began my weekend in Boston.
I was in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to officiate the wedding ceremony of my oldest friend, Clete.
Mc’Enema isn’t Sean’s real name and, for that matter, neither is Clete. In fact, I spent the weekend with very few people actually known by the names that appear on their birth certificates. There was Lewd, Goof, Franky ” short for Frankenstein ” Wiff, Favors, Snake, Spaz and Animal. And those are just the ones that are printable.
Many of those guys I’ve known since grammar school, and most earned their nicknames during that time or shortly thereafter. I’m guessing Jed’s coworkers, at the financial institution where he is a vice president, don’t refer to him as “Animal,” but many of his oldest friends still do.
Clete has been married twice before, but he says this one is for keeps. I’m not sure if it’s due to his strong commitment with the new wife or because he simply can’t afford to give away another house. (Actually, I’m positive it is the former.) His first two weddings were quite small; this one was an extravaganza. There were over 200 people, a rock band, enough booze to float the Queen Mary and yours truly as minister for a day.
My old friend had only two requests for his ceremony: 1) that I mention his father, who passed away years ago; and 2) that I include something about him not having to give up his home if things don’t work out. I honored his request regarding his Dad; I think he was kidding about the house.
When performing before a live crowd, there is a sweet-spot between when the audience is still sober and when they’re speaking in tongues. Clete graciously opened the bar about 30 minutes before his ceremony so, though the crowd was well lubed, I was nervous. I wanted to make this special for my oldest pal and his most recent wife, but many of those attending knew me as a teen ” when I had acne, facial tics and a speech impediment. I was worried I’d get booed off the altar before the first kiss.
Though Clete’s travels take him far and wide, he lives back East, and he stays in touch with many of our old friends. Our weekend was like a reunion, bachelor party and wedding rolled into one.
The years have been kinder to some of my old friends than to others. Some had aged so badly that they didn’t recognize me.
I found it interesting that many of my gang who were once so wild had settled down to live wildly diverse but relatively normal lives.
Mc’Enema owns liquor stores.
Snake drives a truck.
Frankenstein is an executive with a major insurance company.
Favors is retired; no one knows from what.
Wiff and Spaz just got out of prison, but their work-release was to renovate a nearby women’s jail, so they said it wasn’t too bad.
Who you were and where you’ve been has a lot to do with who you are. After spending the weekend with guys and gals who’ve known me since I was a kid, I’ve come to a few conclusions:
You seldom truly outgrow or get over your adolescence. We’d like to think we can leave our upbringing behind ” not so. They say much of our personalities are formulated before we hit our teens, and we all know the growing process often is not pretty. Old friends not only see you as you are, but remember you as you were.
The ceremony went off with out a hitch. And as officiator, I was good, I must say. I was able to blend just enough love and gravity with humor and irreverence into the sermon.
I knew I was a hit when McEnema shock my hand after the service and said: “Damn Burrga, you were great. I haven’t laughed that hard since that time in gym class when I saw ya naked in the showwa.”
Jeffrey Bergeron, under the alias of Biff America, can be seen on RSN TV, heard on KOA radio, and read in several newspapers and magazines. He can be reached at email@example.com.