The Bearer of The Ring
I was hopelessly awkward as a kid. So it wasn’t unusual for me to be a bit unorthodox in my approach to everyday things. For example, I would often silently withdraw myself from the dinner table to sprawl out on the floor and emit noises for several minutes. When I was satisfied with my unintelligible soliloquy, I would get back up and finish eating as if I had never left in the first place.
Other times, I would just let my imagination run amok. Take stairs for example. Most people see stairs, as nothing more than stairs. But not me. I saw the mother fracking north face of Mt. Everest, so I would typically ascend them in a theatrical manner. I would inch my way to the top and then tumble down a few flights, pretending to melodramatically dangle over a 1,000 ft drop. So what should have been the very simple task of going up the stairs to go to my room, was actually a very arduous one.
Going down the stairs was just as exciting and non-conformist as well. But instead of a methodical crawl–like my upwards adventures–I would bomb down them as fast as I could, and upon reaching the 4th or 5th step from the bottom, I would launch myself towards a door at the the bottom to brace my fall.
I never hurt myself back then. But I know if I tried that now at 26, my liver would probably explode and I’d also somehow contract conjunctivitis upon impact.
My parents were great through all of this. They let me be a kid. But that was probably because I was doing these things in the privacy of our home. Outside of it I was an absolute wild-card.
So when I was about 6 years old, my parents informed me that we would be attending a family wedding. They also informed me that I would be a ring bearer in this wedding and that I would have to do my best to control myself, because a lot of people would be watching me. But the only thing I heard in that entire conversation was that I was going to be a “bear.”
I figured out pretty quickly that I wasn’t being asked to transform into some sort of wedding bear. I was actually being asked to wear a shnazzy tuxedo–complete with pink bowtie–and hold a cushion with a wedding band on it. I remember being super jazzed up about the tuxedo, because even though I was six, I still knew tuxedos were all classy and shit.
I remember the day before the wedding was the rehearsal. I was told that my only job was to walk slowly down the aisle carrying the ring on the cushion. I would be several steps behind the flower girl and several steps ahead of my cousin, who was the second ring bearer. I would then have to stand with the rest of the wedding party on the altar steps for the duration of the ceremony. I remember this going off very well and without a hitch, much to the delight of my parents.
When it came time for the real thing, I was steady, focused even. I recall hearing the church organ starting up to indicate that the ceremony was beginning. I recall the flower girl starting to walk down the aisle and then getting a little nudge in my back to signal that it was time for me to follow her. I stood up a little bit straighter and began pacing my walk for the procession, which was probably mind blowingly good for a 6 year old. I marched down the aisle looking straight ahead with a stone cold look on my face, because no one told me where to look or to smile, so I defaulted to Secret Service professionalism.
I was about halfway down the aisle when something in my peripheral vision caught my attention.
It was my cousin. The other ring bearer. The two-timing SOB was attempting to pass me.
I immediately shot him a “WTF are you doing?” scowl as he pulled even with me.
He had gone rogue in an attempt to usurp my ring bearer #1 status or he just had no idea what the hell he was doing. Like I said, kids are wild-cards.
Anyway, no words were exchanged between the two of us. We just looked at one another as we slowly walked down the aisle step for step.
And then I sped up.
This would have worked beautifully had my cousin not sped up as well. So for the last 30 feet, we were alternating between skipping and speed walking. If you’re keeping score at home, you’d recall that I was in 2nd place to begin with–behind the flower girl. Which means we eventually pulled even with the flower girl, who in turn also picked up her pace as we raced to the altar creating a 3 way tie for first as we hit the steps. You could audibly hear my parents *palm to forehead*
So, what was supposed to be a slow (as heavily stressed at rehearsals) procession had turned into the greatest speed walking finish the world has ever seen, which ended up creating a long awkward gap between the rest of the procession. It was a textbook example of why kids can’t be trusted to do anything right.
But as they say, “The show must go on!”
And it did. Unfortunately, this was just the beginning of more things to come.
Almost immediately, I became restless and decided I had enough of standing. So I spent the duration of the actual ceremony fluctuating between sitting with my elbows on my knees, weakly feigning interest and enthusiastically waving to my parents. Saying I was a slight distraction throughout the wedding is the headlining contender for Understatement of The Year.
At the reception, I was able to complete what I can only describe as the “embarrass your parents at a family event” hat trick. One of my older cousins approached me and informed me to punch my other cousin in the stomach for no reason at all. I had never punched anyone, ever. Nor did I plan to. But seeing as how this other cousin was also the second ring bearer. I complied. No questions asked.
My parents weren’t too happy about that one. That’s probably why they didn’t take me to another wedding until well over a decade later.
Anyway, my parents finally figured out that the best way to counteract my quirky restless habits was to make me play sports year round. And for the most part it worked.