Caption of the picture above: On the far left is me. The lady next to me is my counterpart in Mandarin (the other much better looking emcee). The rest are the sisters and brothers who guarded the gate and crashed the gate respectively in an early Sunday morning.
Part 1 of 2: Of Brothers and Sisters
I guess you can’t really say “brother, I will take a bullet for you” without rising up to the situation when called for. So when my buddy Jason dropped me an email three weeks before his wedding titled “Band of Brothers”, I was like: wait a minute, I thought I have only signed up for the emceeing job? Since it was my first time being one of the brothers or witnessing the morning wedding activity in Singapore, I was actually excited for the opportunity.
Note: In a Chinese wedding, the groom needs to make a trip to pick up the bride at her parent’s home. The sisters handpicked by the bride are supposed to set up a few challenges and quests for the groom to handle and solve before getting his ultimate reward – the bride. And to help the groom in accomplishing these meant-to-be humanly impossible tasks, he selects his own band of brothers to take on some of the challenges. After all, the brothers are dispensable to a larger extend. The groom is not.
The night before, one friend of mine shared some of the horror stories of what some of the brothers have to go through in crashing the bride’s gate heavily guarded by the sisters. I was like …
OK, so long as I don’t need to put the spicy wasabi (“Japanese horseradish”) into my eyes in the MTV style, I am ready to walk on fire, cross the ocean, and slay a few dragons for my buddy. (But please don’t wax my legs.)
The actual event was less dramatic than I visualized. At the bride’s gate, the sisters demanded red packets (note: we put money inside the packets) like the ERP gantries on the CTE in Singapore. The groom must be thinking that sincerity goes a long way so he gave the sisters the biggest packet he had in his pocket at the first gantry. OK. That didn’t work as the subsequent “backup” red packets were much lesser in value. So when the negotiation broke down, we were left with only one way – the sisters’ way.
One sister poured out a cup of what appeared like lemonade, my mouth actually watered. I could use some lemonade right now! One brother quickly grabbed the cup and down it in one go. Bravo! What was it inside, we queried. Nothing unusual, he replied. Next came a cup of dark stuff, some kind of sweet drink for the groom. Jason happily downed that with no sweat.
Then, one of the sisters pulled out a bottle of what seemed like a bright green juice for the aliens from the outer-space. Uh-oh. And she took out four cups for the brothers. That stuff was bitter! I have no idea how many bitter gourds I have “drank”, certainly no idea that bitter gourds are juicy at all. It better be good for my skin.
The last dish was a plate of snacks creamed with wasabi. So long as I don’t need to stuff them onto my eyes, I am more than happy to set my tongue on fire (that stuff was spicy).
The subsequent pole dancing by the groom must have set the aunties’ hearts on fire. At one point, one auntie threw the key out of the gate, caught by one of the brothers, only to have it lost to one sister from the other side of the gate. Dude?! How the heck did that happen?! In the end, one brother has to dip his naked hairy leg into a bucket full of ice cold water in order to fish out the key with his bare feet. How heroic (and marginally gross too)!
And as simple as that, the what seemed to be an impassable gate that we stared at for what seemed like ages finally broke open. Hooray! But wait, the door to the bride’s door was still closed! (I swear Selrol, the bride, must be very eager to have it opened, and so were the in-laws to be). The last challenge was for Jason to sing a song. Oh well, we all know how well the groom sings.
So, a piece of cake that was.
Part 2 of 2: Being Emcee
I guess you can’t really say no if one of your best buddies says, “We would be honored to have you as our emcee for our wedding dinner”. I mean, people won’t ask you to be an emcee thinking that you are not right for the job, right?
Hmmm. I certainly do enjoy getting involved with my friends’ weddings in some ways. Like that one time our band put together one recorded song for the couple to play during the dinner. And another time I was rehearsing with my buddy in my humble home studio for his surprise singing performance to his bride during their wedding dinner.
Emceeing is a different ball game, I soon found out. OK, I am comfortable standing in front of the crowd. But memorizing the scripts is another thing. I am terrible in that and it took me hours and nights trying to memorize my few lines. Seriously, I am one of the few in this planet who just cannot memorize. The good thing is, it did make my job a whole lot easier on stage with the printout of the scripts as prompts and my lines at the back of my head.
The most nerve-racking portion of the evening, to me, was the storytelling part. The couple suggested that I shall tell a story since I was “part of the process”. And I soon realized that the words in my head, and the words I write, and the words I speak are all very different from one another (note: need to work on that in near future). I spent days and weeks thinking of what to say and it seems so easy just thinking about it. Then I spent days trying to write my thoughts onto paper and boy, that was tough! I had so many versions of the story that it was no longer funny. In fact, I learned that what I write is not exactly how I should speak. Gosh! I wonder how these talented netizens are able to create the pod-cast and video-cast in a regular basis (note: I shall start terrorizing my loyal fans with some what-not-cast). I tried speaking to the windscreen while I was driving alone in my car and that was … tough and weird to say the least.
Maybe that’s why we have the talented scriptwriters to write the stories and the talented comedians to tell the stories in real life.
To cut a long story short, faced with a crowd from a diverse background and with time constraint, I have decided to change the script in the last minute and do a live interview to a few of the couple’s close friends. I was planning to share an insight of what the newly wed’s love journey has been so far in an (hopefully) entertaining manner. The best part of it all, I think, was when a birthday cake was taken out as a surprise and I prompted Jason to sing a birthday song for his bride in front of all their guests. Selrol was in tears.
It was a lovely wedding dinner and an emotional night. When I shook Jason’s hand as I left the ballroom, both of us were too tired to communicate. But our eyes said it all.
So, two cakes that were – a wedding cake and a birthday cake.