“Are you sitting down?” my sister asked, calling from New York.
“I’m 70 years old,” I said. “It’s a pretty good bet that I am sitting any time you call.”
“Well, you need to hear this. Our brother is about to do something a 66-year-old man seldom does at this point in his life.”
I called out to my wife: “Mary Ellen, start packing. We’re going to New York for my brother’s Bar Mitzvah!”
“No,” said Linda, “it’s even a little stranger than that. He’s decided to get married.”
“You don’t seem very shocked.”
“Not shocked, yet. Now, let’s see if he can find a wife.”
Actually, I was excited for Peter. He drives a cab in New York City, which can be stressful, so him having someone to come home to in the evenings after all these years of bachelorhood would be good for my brother. I was looking forward to the trip to New York to enjoy a few days off work. But then I received this text:
“Dick, I would really like for you to give a toast and make a speech at my wedding. The only thing I ask is that you not mention sex, politics, my drinking, my gambling, my bad temper or any of my former girlfriends. Other than that, anything goes. Oh, and please make it entertaining. I don’t care if you make fun of me. By the way, my fiancée’s name is Ana. She is from Peru. That’s pretty much all I know about her. Thanks, Peter”
After giving it a lot of thought, here are some of the jokes I am going to tell on June 24, pretty much ignoring the guidelines I was given. I will report back in a future column how things went. Wish me luck.
JOKE 1: When Peter decided to ask Ana to marry him, they took a long romantic drive to the seashore, then headed for a candlelit dinner in Westchester, where he proposed. At the end of the evening, he took her home and when they got to her driveway, he turned to her in the back seat and said: “That’ll be $135.”
JOKE 2: When I met Ana, I told Peter what a lovely woman she is. Then I said, “Funny, she doesn’t look Peru-ish.”
JOKE 3: Peter asked me not to mention gambling, because he said that once he tied the knot he was never going to make a wager again. “What are the chances you can keep that promise, Peter?” I asked.
“I’d say the odds are 20 to one. Should I call my bookie?”
JOKE 4: My brother has had contentious relationships with women in his life. There was one woman he was always arguing with. They both drank too much, yelled at each other, and sometimes went weeks without speaking. And she wouldn’t cook for him. Unfortunately, that’s my mother I’m talking about.
Come to think of it, maybe I shouldn’t bring up any of this stuff at their reception. I want people to remember me as the caring brother who made an appropriate, heartfelt speech. And just to be sure I sound sincere, I’m going to ask Mary Ellen to write it for me.