Six years ago I was privileged to be the Best Man at the wedding of Curtis and Kristen in Chicago. He was a former intern with my music management company, then a co-worker at a record label, and eventually a business partner on an internet merchandising site. We had many a long talk over his gourmet popcorn blend and lengthy power walks on the outdoor track when we would workout at the Y.
For years he had been fixated on the idea of relocating to a major metro area like New York, Boston, or Chicago. He had evolved into a talented computer and internet techie and felt he would have a better chance at long term work in an area like that. Besides, he wanted to feel more of the cosmopolitan buzz of places like The Loop, Greenwich Village, or The Hub. So he set off on visits to each of those places to soak in the ambience and explore the job market.
He eventually settled on the idea of Chicago, applied for work up there, and landed a great gig with a software consulting firm there. We’ve continued to stay in touch, and always get together when either of us travels into our respective towns.
On one such visit over Thanksgiving about ten years ago, we had Thai food near the “L” (elevated railway) station where he lived in the Wrigleyville neighborhood of the north side. He introduced me to his new friend, Kristin, who he’d met through the church where he was finding community.
She and I hit it off immediately. She was also a Wheaton College grad with a faith that had been thoroughly examined. She was well read, and drawn to thoughtful film, probing music, and other creative art forms. Kristin had spent much of her youth in Europe in her missionary family, and had a good grasp of international politics. Her sarcastic wit was a terrific bonus. I could see that there was tremendous potential between the two of them.
As the next few years passed their friendship grew deeper. It was obvious to all they were quite fond of each other, and when they finally announced their engagement, it made sense on every level.
The wedding was a fun gathering of family that rendezvoused from all corners of the country, and there was a huge contingent of friends from Wheaton and Belmont Colleges and First Evangelical Free Church of Chicago.
As we were finishing up the scrumptious reception dinner that featured ribs (I told you they were a unique couple), I got up to offer a toast.
“Curtis and Kristin, it’s been a blast growing in friendship with you over the years, and I’m honored that you asked me to be with you here today.
“I’d like to address Kristin first: I know that as a God-fearing young Christian woman you would very much like to impress your hubby by being a stalwart, modern example of a Proverbs 31 woman. However, as most of the females here can attest, a lady like that has most likely never existed.
“And to Curtis: I bet you would like to mold your romancing skills around all the vivid concepts outlined in The Song of Solomon. However, since the author of that tome happened to have five hundred freakin’ wives and countless more concubines, I’m not so sure that is the most trustworthy source when you are focusing on a monogamous relationship with your lovely bride.
“As you define your union from here on out, you will most certainly find times when the differences between genders will become pronounced. But don’t fall for all the psycho babble that’s so prevalent today. I saw a bumper sticker not long ago that perhaps should be our credo: Men are from Earth. Women are from Earth. Deal with it!
“But enough comedy jokes! Seriously, one of the cornerstones of your lives individually and corporately is your honesty. Please don’t ever lose that with each other. You two both have loving families represented here, many straight-shooting friends, and a fantastic church community. Please, please, please be honest with us and rely on us when times get tough…as they most certainly will in changing seasons. Allow us to listen to you, to cry with you, and to stand with you during the trials that marriage will bring. And we will certainly celebrate with you in all the good times as well. We want to be there for you…no matter what…and we commit to that firmly on this day.
“A songwriter friend of mine was struggling to come up with a better way of saying ‘I am so in love with you.’ We all know that phrase has pretty much lost all meaning in a society fixated on self-centered romance. I think he came up with a phrase that defines what I’ve seen growing between you both in the last several years…and my sincere prayer is that it will be your mantra as you forge something meaningful together from here on out.
“When he wrote of his beloved he said: I am wild with care for you.”
Then I raised my glass and everyone else in the room extended their flasks in their direction. “So, to Curtis and Kristin: may you two be consumed with the idea of deep, ongoing passion for each other and for that incredible bond that this day has launched…through thick and thin…may you always be wild with care for each other! Salud!”
Postscript: Curtis and Kristin have since relocated to Vermont, where they have started a small farm, emphasizing organic vegetables. He still does web consulting, and she is an amazing mom to their precocious toddler son, Ezra.