Peter John McLean

On being a best man (Personal History)

I’m out of the hotel by 7 am. I slept like shit anyway thanks to a creaky bed and the mild smell of whatever demographic keeps roach motels in business. And the shower. Oh god the shower. I stepped into it and immediately asked myself, how many meth addicts have lost their virginity right here where I’m washing my hair?

Probably at least a dozen.

Twenty miles on the highway and oh, look at that, I forgot my prescription face wash in the virginity stealing meth shower. Do I go back? Can’t. Basic geometry states that it would take 40 miles of road time just to return to where I am if I turn back now to get it. And the attendant was one of those really dry humored middle eastern guys, and by dry humored I mean insufferable asshole. I said have a good day, he harrumphed. The nerve.

So I keep driving and listening to Bear vs Shark’s Terrorhawk album which never fails to put me in the right mood. I’m three hours out from Pueblo, where I’m headed to marry off my best friend.

Being a best man can be as easy or difficult as you want it to be and it has a lot to do with the kind of person you are serving. My best friend is an easy guy. He and I have a thousand things in common and think similarly enough that we rarely even have to broach a subject. My first day in town consisted of us both sitting in his basement, puffing diligently on our personal vaporizers  and watching Game of Thrones for about 8 consecutive hours (barring conversational break points and food runs).

The next day his wife to be did that thing girls always do to me to ruin the awesome time I’m trying to have: she made me a list of things to do. So now there is a list.

I was stressed about being a best man because of the context. Paul, my best friend, has always been a great friend to me and I’ve (at best) been a not bad friend. This was a chance for me to go and to serve him, to be a part of the background, and just aim to make things run as smoothly as possible. Set up chairs, get Paul where he needs (ideally on time), stand up and wear a tux, and give the best damn speech possible.

When it was all over, I laid down on the Star Wars Return of the Jedi pillow Paul’s mom had given me and thought about how easy everything had been. My speech rocked, the wedding was beautiful, no fist fights broke out, tensions were mild, and I met a lot of really cool people.

Pro tips I gathered from this

Take fish oil, l-theanine, get sleep, eat well. The rules are the same for all high pressure situations, if you’re going to be dealing with people who are stressed out (weddings are great for this), or just working with a large amount of people who may not all be familiar with each other, it’s best if you can be ice cold and deadpan relaxed. We’ve got drugs for that. Load up on that EPA and get that heart rate down, load your coffee and other drinks with l-theanine and feel that zen cool wash over you. Sleep at least 8 hours when possible and eat more than fast food. Trick move: take your boy out for steaks and you get a good nutrient dense piece of meat in your belly while looking like the kind of player that spares no expense (which you are, right?).

Have a list. I was kidding earlier about the wife to be cock blocking my movie fest, what she did was perfect. Giving me a list of tasks made it a lot easier to keep things moving. I still totally spaced that we had to get to some bed and breakfast for reservations at the ass crack of 9 am, but otherwise it really kept things moving smoothly.

Write an absolutely bullet proof, take no prisoners, how’d he do dat, speech that is brilliant. This is not easy and if you write a lazy one you will burn eternally in shit best man hell, which is a terrible thing.

Here is a complete breakdown on writing a best man speech:

Start by brainstorming a list of unique things about the guy getting married. They should be things that no one else in the room has to their name. You call him handsome and you’re an idiot. You say he’s an honest man and you’re an idiot. You say he’s funny and you’re an idiot. You tell people about how he castrated a raccoon in hand to hand combat when you were hiking in Wisconsin and you are a man who deserves respect. As an example, one of my anecdotal motifs was about how my best friend tried to see how quickly he could switch lanes on a highway at three in the morning, got pulled over, told the cop exactly what he had been doing, and got let off with a warning. His mom groaned, everyone else laughed.

Find some funny quips to throw in. Some can bust on your man, some can bust on the crowd. Don’t bust on his new wife because its her big day and making a joke has all sorts of chances to go wrong and pretty much no chance of going right. Those odds are bad.

Have a good toast prepped as well. Not, “congratulations on getting married” or any other weak shit but something at least witty, possibly funny. Take some serious time to think of this because its the last thing you’ll say and scientists assure me that ending well is really important.

Say it out loud to yourself two dozen times ahead of time. Doesn’t have to be verbatim but work through it several times a day for several days a head of time. Six times a day for four days works, or three times a day for eight days works. This gets you so familiar with the content that when you go up there you can just share it all really naturally. (I still brought my speech up with me because you never know if you’re going to freeze up and forget where you are in the spotlight in front of 200 strangers and its better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it).


peter john mclean and paul chambers

peter john mclean wearing a suit (rare)