Drew Nodar walked up to the podium summoning all of his courage. He’d been dreading this moment throughout the whole wedding. The whole week. Month! In fact, he’d been dreading this moment since Stewie Goode had informed him almost a year ago that as his best man, he would have to give a speech. Now it was finally time. The whole thing still seemed so surreal to me. A beautiful bride sitting at the front of this banquet hall, next to Stewie and Drew, who were dressed in matching tuxedos. It just didn’t seem that long ago that three of us were sitting in a parking lot wearing matching high school uniforms.
“When I thought about this speech, man, I instantly thought of Frank,” Drew spoke through the mic, glancing back at Stewie. He took a big sip of his white wine. “For those of you that don’t know, Frank is Stewie’s alter-ego, for when you’ve made a bad decisions in your life, and he takes it upon himself to be “frank” with you. Basically, it’s his excuse to be brutally honest and explain exactly why you’re an idiot.”
A light chuckle fluttered through the banquet hall, and Drew stood up taller. He’d really hit the nail on the head with that one. That was Stewie, alright, and boy, did I know Frank. I think Drew and I may be the only people in the world that get to see this special side of Stewie. It’s usually not pretty.
The worst thing Stewie, in full-Frank mode, ever said to me was a few years back. After I foolishly asked for his advice on a matter in my love life, I’d expected him to disagree with my plan, but I hadn’t expected the harsh reaction I received. After the initial backlash, I tried to end the conversation by texting him, “you know what? Don’t worry about it. Pretend I didn’t say anything. I’ll figure it out. I’m fine.”
To which he replied, “no, you’re not fine. You’re sad and everyone can tell. I’m sick of it.”
I’d made the mistake of reading this particularly nasty response as I was getting into the car, before my long commute home. I angrily whipped the phone to the back seat, his words stinging maliciously in my ears. I cried for most of my drive. Everyone knew I was sad?! He was sick of it?! How dare he.
He was right, though. Of course he was right. Since 10th grade science class and consistently throughout our Linguistics undergraduate degree, he’d been right. I hated that! I hated that he was using my sadness against me! Like I was weak! Like I hadn’t spent the past year trying to put my life back together! It wasn’t my fault I was failing. I was trying so hard. Of course I was sad. He’d be sad too if he were me! How dare he try to use that against me.
I wove home aggressively through the suburban streets that evening. Now my tears were of fury. As soon as I pulled into my driveway, I fired back, “so what if I’m sad?! As a ‘friend’ aren’t you supposed to care that I’m sad?! Or are we just not friends anymore? I just make you sick.”
“I never said I didn’t care,” he texted back calmly, with the wisdom of a strong old oak tree in the middle of a forest. “You just have no idea how hard it is to care for someone who doesn’t care about themselves.”
Damn. Those words were real.
I wish I could say that Stewie’s Frank-truth telling skills worked that night, and everything was instantly better. That I took his advice, changed my course of action and stopped making bad decisions. But there’s a difference, of course, between recognizing the validity of sage advice and actually putting said advice into play in your own life. The former happened sooner than the latter.
It also helped that the nicest thing Stewie ever said to me came just a few months later, via birthday card message. Along with a liquor store gift card and a delightful prewritten pun, Stewie offered me some more of his unsolicited advice. It read,
This coming year will be the best yet. It shall be full of happiness, laughter and good things. In order for this to happen, we must take life to its upmost limits. Fortune favours the bold… or so I’m told. Be bold this year. To facilitate this boldness, you will find, enclosed, a gift of courage (in any flavour of your choosing!), but I don’t suspect you will require it, for you are an interesting and funny person of substance and intelligence!
Now, go and melt some hearts.
Damn. That was a nice card.
Unfortunately, because I’m prone to bad decisions, the message of that card didn’t sink in until a few days later. That same night, I got ridiculously drunk at my birthday party and made a total fool of myself. There was a lot on my mind. Eventually, however, Stewie’s words started to get through. Eventually, I did start to care about myself again, and as a result, stopped being so sad.
“So Stewie, now it’s time for me to be Frank,” Drew began concluding his speech, pulling me back to the present, to the wedding. “I wouldn’t be who I am today without your tough love. Now, it’s your special day, and you’re my very best friend. You deserve nothing but the best, and a lifetime of happiness with your amazing bride. Cheers!”
I clapped loudly, a big smile on my face. I was so happy Drew made it through his speech. So happy for Stewie and Aiko. So happy to have friends like them. So happy in my own personal life. A few tears rolled down my cheeks, because I was happy, and everyone could tell.