Originally published on It’s delightful, it’s delicious, it’s dlevy!
Yesterday, one of my oldest best friends, Benjamin, got married to one of my newer best friends,Stephanie, and it was awesome. I had the privilege of being the groom’s best man, so I was asked to toast the couple during the reception. Behind the cut, my toast, which is probably only interesting to people who know the couple.
However, since Benjamin and I initially met through blogging, it seems only right that I preserve my words here.
[In my best Elaine Stritch voice:] I’d like to propose a toast!
[In my regular voice:] But first, some private words with Benjamin in his native French.
[In my offensively horrific “French” accent:] Benjamin, merci for asking moi to speak. I am so honoured to share these words today at your wedding.
[Back to my regular voice:] Today, I am so pleased to join with you all in celebrating a beautiful relationship. A relationship that began, it would seem, with the odds stacked against it. A relationship that was almost immediately long-distance. A relationship that relied on cutting-edge technology to make it possible. A relationship that, after a long period of long-distance, jumped right into cohabitation. A relationship so perfect that strangers (like waiters and cab drivers) just assumed the partners had already been married forever.
I am, of course, speaking of Benjamin’s relationship… with me.
We first met a dozen years ago, online; we were turn-of-the-century bloggers, back in the days when there were a few enough people blogging that anyone who was doing it sort of knew each other. Thanks to instant messaging, we became fast friends, confiding in each other in the way young men can do when they think they have no one else in common who might hear about it.
So it surprised us both when we discovered that we actually knew roughly twenty bajillion people in common – although really, for two Jews involved in the Jewish world, that shouldn’t have been so surprising, but this was back before Facebook when you actually had to have a conversation to figure out who you mutual friends were.
It was at the wedding of two of these mutual friends that Benjamin and I took our friendship to the next level – what we call in our biz “IRL” – “in real life” – and we’ve never looked back. We’ve shared adventures and triumphs; we’ve been there for each other to celebrate when things go great… and to support each other in hard times. And since I don’t need to reassure Stephanie at all, let me say to Stephanie’s friends and family who don’t yet know Benjamin as the rest of us do, she’s hit the jackpot.
And while I can’t take credit for the two of them getting together, I’d like to think that my friendship with Benjamin, and our years living together, helped prepare him for the successful like he is now making with Stephanie. For example, I taught him how to share a kitchen, which for Benjamin means we let him do all the cooking and cleaning and pitch in on the eating part. I taught Benjamin how to feign interest in Broadway musicals, enough so that he could “talk the talk” with Stephanie… as long as I’m not in the room to push the conversation into advanced territory. And I taught him how to handle playing games with a partner who’s not only out to win – but out for blood. Stephanie and I agree that losing gracefully is for chumps, which is why as often as possible she and I conspire to be on the same team.
But more important than the essential skills I taught Benjamin – you’re welcome, both of you – are the qualities that drew every one of us to him in the first place. Benjamin is smart and funny, a great cook and a baby-whisperer… and just Canadian enough to be that exotic friend who adds diversity to our group, but not so Canadian as to be annoying about it. He’s the kind of friend who goes out of his way to help out the people he cares about, and not only when times are tough – he does this all the time. And I know few people who are such skilled network weavers, not only making and keeping friends, but drawing these friends together from all the different aspects of his life. When I look around this room, I see a community of people who not only love Benjamin and Stephanie, but who have come to know and appreciate and often love each other, too. It’s a testament to this quality not only how quickly Stephanie has become a part of this family, but how many of Stephanie’s friends have as well.
I’ve joked that Stephanie isn’t just marrying Benjamin, she’s really marrying both of us – and in the couple of months when the three of us lived under the same roof, it might have felt that way. But the truth is, if I have to give away one of my best friends, I can’t imagine anyone on earth who’d be a better partner for Benjamin. I’m so thrilled for both of you. L’chaim.