Wedding Speech : LOVE WINS (Z.H. Gill)

It’s the speech—here in its entirety—which I gave at my father’s wedding, which was held in a rented-out bowling alley in Atwater Village, Los Angeles, California. I was drunk. I’m sure you can tell. I’m only able to recount this now because my roommate Joe, my plus-one, recorded it with his Voice Memos app—the year is 2017:

“Hello. Hello!” Tap the microphone. “Been a long year, yeah? I think most of you know me, so I’m going to skip all the intro bullshit.” No laughter. “Am I not supposed to curse?” Dad shaking his head. “Okay, okay—I’ll skip that intro BS.” Coughing; you’re losing them, you think. Break out the doozy: “Let’s give it up for Trump.” Some laughter now, from the younger ones, at least. “I’m kidding. That was a joke, if you couldn’t figure it out.” You look down at your feet, they’re so far away. “But I know Nancy’s sis is on the Trump team, yeah? Let’s go, Nancy’s sis.” She isn’t here, your dad says from the low chairs beside the ball return. “Let’s hear it for viewpoint diversity!” A little more laughter, only from your roommate this time. Your dad glares at you with a gaze so sharp it surely pierces your chest cavity, he’s looking at your beating heart right now, he sees your black heart. “Can I get a beer?” Sweating buckets. Your roommate hands you an open Heineken. “Shit’s gross, dude.” Still, you chug half of it. You imagine it trickling down your pant leg, out onto the shiny floor. “Much better. Okay, where were we? Dad and Nancy, that’s right. We’re here in this beautiful bowling alley for this Satanic union—“ BOO. Fuck. Faster than you figured. It’s your dad’s born-again semi-famous actor friend, standing toward the back with his wife who’s just beaten cancer. Breast cancer? You can’t remember. “Just a little joke. I’m not a Satan guy. Little joke.” Jokes are funny, your dad’s friend says. “To some. Didn’t realize I was doing crowd work. Who else is here? Nancy’s three beautiful daughters, now my stepsisters, I guess.” They won’t meet my gaze, they look everywhere else. “Give it up for my roommate, everybody.” For some reason, a huge round of applause now from the fifty-or-so people here. “Damn, you guys sure like Joe. How about another round for Joe?” They do it all again, Joe takes a little bow and everyone eggs him on; they’ve turned so fully against you they’ll take any hero they’re offered. “Let’s give it up for Dad and Nancy, too, yeah?” They all applaud again, just as uproariously. Your father’s still eyeing your circulatory system. “Let’s give it up for my three new sisters.” Again, the room erupts. No no no, they plead, stop stop stop “How about my brother?” Now it’s crickets, everyone despises Danny. “Come on. He’s worked hard to get here! He took two planes!” Still nothing. “Okay, sure. Can I get another beer, Joe?” Joe stands up and makes for the bar, but before he can get there, he sees your dad examine his insides now, too, and sits back down. “Okay, sure, whatever, fine. I guess all I want to say is, you know how when they did gay marriage the slogan was LOVE WINS? Even though I’m half-gay, that never really hit home with me. Until today. Today, love has won.” What do you mean, you’re half-gay? your father says. “Not now, yeah? Okay, so, things have been really bad out there. In America-slash-the-world. It’s just fun to see all you friendly faces gathered in this funky place to celebrate…love winning.” Coughing. Pizza-chewing. Chugging—from Joe, who hasn’t quit drinking yet. Look at the ceiling. Water damage where it meets the wall. Wrap it up, please, your dad says. “I lost my train of thought.” Maybe that’s for the best. “No, no, please, I’ve been waiting months to give this speech.” You probably should have written it out, then, says Nancy. “This is the interactive part of the speech. For instance, everyone, write this down, the last four digits of my social are 7360. Let me say that again: it’s seven-three-six-oh. Write it in your phone notes, if you have to.” That actually is pretty funny, says the born-again friend. No, it isn’t, your dad replies, twisting back toward him without leaving the metal-and-felt chair, that really is his social. “Yes, okay, thanks for confirming, Dad. That was always gonna be my main trick. I was gonna do Danny’s, too, but based on the response he got earlier, I’m guessing you don’t care.” No, do it! says Joe. Shut the fuck up, says your brother. “Okay, Joe, anything for you. But I have to say it all to help me remember. For me, you know, like, if someone is like, hey, what’s your social without the first and last digit? I’d know it right away, I know that number inside and out. But for his I have to do the whole thing or I won’t remember it at all.” Joe getting ready to write it down. Don’t you dare, Danny demands. “Okay, it’s 813-09-1118.” I like the 1118 part, offers Joe. “Same here, man” Wrap it the fuck up, your dad says, as softly as he can; he swears about once every three years, he’s really falling apart now, sweating even more than you are. Tap the microphone. “This thing on? That’s a joke. That’s taking it full circle. So, they’ve flashed the lights, and soon they’ll get that long cane wrapped ‘round my neck and yank me away. Parting thoughts: it’s rare for people to find love. That’s why there’s so much movies? I prefer stuff like Collateral but you can’t deny it. And now you all have Danny’s social. I hope you use it wisely. He hasn’t been challenged much in life. He could use a challenge. It could change his life. I love you all. Peace and love.” You hand the mic to Joe, he starts rapping—One, two, three, four / My roomie’s gonna get shown the door, and so on; you beeline for the bar, you drink two Pacifico’s in a row. 


MY NEW FAVORITE DRINK: I don’t have a name for it yet. As you can see, I’m a damn degenerate. (Feel free to name it if you something strikes you.)

1-5 OF THE DARK RED/LIGHTER RED/WHITE (any variation) OF THE HARIBO SOUR KICKS (you might have to order these online, I’ve found them at only a single CVS)


Z.H. Gill works at a vanity label in West Hollywood, CA. His writings have appeared in Triangle House, HEX Literary, Unstamatic, HOMINTERN,  Forever Magazine, and in some other fun spots. 


image: MM Kaufman