My friends Anthony and Kumi asked me to officiate at their wedding because, they said, “We trust you.” “Why?” I asked. They squinched their eyes as if searching for an answer, then told me “Look, just write something great about us and keep it to ten minutes. We can trust you to do that, right?” They could; and here’s what they got.
Good afternoon everyone. My name is Damon and on behalf of Anthony and Kumi, and their parents with us here today — Patty, Shoichiro, and Meiko — I welcome you to Anthony and Kumi’s wedding!
Anyone who knows Anthony and Kumi understands that they have a unique style and way of going about things. One piece of evidence is that they asked me to conduct this ceremony.
I thought they were joking.
First of all, I’m not a priest or a rabbi or the captain of a ship; second, I swear an awful lot. But while I’m standing up here, I promise to stay disciplined.
Anthony has been a close friend for five years. I liked him as soon as I met him because he’s one of those people who’s brain seems to be on fire most of the time. He’s curious, smart, and stubborn, and for reasons I don’t understand, I find stubbornness charming.
When he introduced me to Kumi my first thought was, “This woman doesn’t seem stubborn at all. I wonder if she knows what she’s getting into.” I was struck by this observation because, although it’s true that opposites attract, stubborn people usually do best when someone else’s stubbornness keeps them in check.
Then I met Kumi’s dog, Lucy. Ah Ha! I thought, that’s where Kumi keeps all her stubbornness. Lucy the Dog seemed like Kumi’s familiar, her very own spirit-animal, entwined with her, holding certain characteristics for her.
Lucy had all the traits that Kumi seemed to lack: crooked teeth, suspicious eyes that spun in their sockets, and a cautiousness bordering on paranoia.
“What in the heck is up with that dog?” I asked Kumi.
“She’s a Corgi-Chihuahua mix,” she said, cheerily.
I’m thinking that whatever force brought a Corgi-Chihuahua mix into the world must be the single greatest act of animal cruelty ever perpetrated. Lucy was clearly a tortured soul compacted down into something you could carry in a handbag.
One day, at work, I overheard Anthony talking to his son Benjamin on the phone. He asked Ben, “Did you and Lucy eat, yet?” …. Wow, I thought. He just talked about Lucy the Dog like she’s a member of his family.
That’s when I knew he was in this for the long haul.
Within the following year I got to know Kumi, but more importantly, I got to know Anthony and Kumi together. It was obvious enough they had a great thing, but it wasn’t just love that you could see growing, it was kindness.
So in the story of Kumi and Anthony, Lucy the Dog is not just a dog, not just a twisted take on providing comic relief as a living demonstration of what it feels like to want to jump out of your own skin.
No — taking care of and embracing a dog like Lucy is, simply, an act of kindness. And in the end, kindness is all that really matters.
So at that moment I knew all I needed to about Kumi. She is a kind person, and it had already been obvious to me that Anthony, who I love so much as a friend, could use more kindness in his life. Now, what the heck Kumi gets out of him, I have no idea.
Actually, I do have some idea, because the truth is that Kumi is stubborn, but only in the best kind of way: I can’t picture her doing anything she doesn’t want to do. Yet she clearly has a spirit of adventure.
Anthony is all about adventure. In situations where you’re standing there wondering if you should take another step, Anthony will walk right past you and say, “What are you waiting for?” On their first date Anthony took Kumi “geocaching” which I am not going to explain any more than to say that it is Hide-And-Go-Seek for nerds. That is Anthony for you right there: he doesn’t hide who he is, not even on a first date.
Obviously, there was a second date, which puts Kumi in the same category as the first astronauts when it comes to willingness to see what happens next. Could a girl from Orange County wind up at a rodeo in Red Bluff watching a tractor pull? In Kumi’s case, the answer is “Yes”.
Soon, Anthony’s love of creativity became part of Kumi’s life. She began making adorable little creatures out of clay and cloth, all of them with a whimsical and peaceful quality that you imagine Lucy the Dog must want to feel all the time, but feels only when she is surrounded by the warmth of her family.
Anthony and Kumi inspire each other, and draw out the best in each other. And as they follow one another, they will do great things together.
Inspiration and Adventure.
Adventure and Kindness.
These are the only ingredients necessary for a great life, and a great marriage.
So now, Anthony and Kumi, please face one other and hold each other’s hands.
Do you, Anthony Shafer, take Kumiko Enatsu to be your lawful wedded spouse?
Do you, Kumiko Enatsu, take Anthony Shafer to be your lawful wedded spouse?
Benjamin, you’re on. The rings, please.
The rings of course, are a universal symbol signifying the commitment, and the bond — an unbroken circle.
I asked Anthony and Kumi if they wanted any other ritual to accompany this ceremony, and they were interested in the whole Jewish Wedding, Breaking The Glass thing.
Admittedly, I was the one who suggested it, because I know it so well, but these days I think everyone has seen at least one stomping-on-the-glass scene in sitcoms or movies. No one really knows the origins of this ritual, so it gets interpreted many ways. The common one is that it is a reminder that things can break, and that we can not take anything for granted — which tells you all you need to know about my people’s general approach to optimism.
However, there is a more eastern way to look at the breaking of the glass, and by eastern I mean all the way east, as far east as you can go from here, which means, India. Hindus believe that destruction precedes creation, that nothing new can exist unless something is destroyed, first.
This glass is your old life. This glass is from before your paths joined. After this glass, the two of you become one.
(they broke the glass)
Now, by the authority vested in me by the State of California — for this one day and for this one wedding — I now pronounce you, Anthony and Kumi, lawfully married. Congratulations!