Speech given in Melbourne, February 2013.
My sincere gratitude to [insert parents names here] and Ben and Hilary as well for asking me to share in this joyous occasion. It makes me exceedingly proud to get up here and speak to you all on behalf of my best friend.
If you don't know who I am (and there's a good chance you don't), I am the guy that went with Ben down to Antarctica and fell overboard. But, that is a story for another night. All you need to know right now is that my name is John and that I was lucky enough to be working with Ben "on deck" down at the Docklands when he and Hilary first met. As glamorous and dangerous as they make the pirate life out to be, in the summer of 2006 we were spending the majority of our time chipping rust and painting things, so the arrival of Hilary and the cosmopolitan ladies she was running with at the time for a photoshoot was really quite the spectacle.
Ben was understandably immediately smitten, but he is also shy, and we had a trip to Antarctica to make. Between Hilary's relocation to London and Ben hopping from the South Pole to the Galapagos to various couches of mine in North America, it took some time for their love affair to blossom. I listened to Ben sit in front of his laptop and giggle while the two of them Skyped in both hemispheres. Somehow, by grace, I was lucky enough to welcome Hilary into my home in America and look on as the two of them finally said, "to hell with geography". It was an organic, wholesome, foregone conclusion from day one. When Ben worked up the nerve to tell me that he and Hilary were finally an item, I didn't have the heart to tell him that I had seen the news coming half a decade away.
Ben really is extraordinary. He has what I would call "fierce integrity". He is extremely hard on himself and extremely understanding of others. He's the only person I know that actually doesn't know how handsome he is. He can look at a schematic or a machine or piece of woodwork and understand the function each part plays immediately. Sometimes, he doesn't even have to look. He told me how to fix my garbage disposal over the phone.
But, what is it that makes Ben and Hilary so perfect together? I don't kid myself for a second that Hilary is going to make her mark in this world by scrubbing Ben's ears and forcing him to eat something other than baked beans and chips and hummus. She is a fucking brilliant photographer and she's a much more enthusiastic traveler than Ben. She's going to drag him all sorts of wonderful places and they're going to have a sickeningly good time when they are by one another's side.
Hilary and Ben share the sort of character, worldview and values that form the foundation of successful relationships, but they also have a seemingly limitless patience, understanding and appreciation for the traits which make the other person unique. Their shared delight in honoring and accommodating their partners idiosyncrasies is absolutely precious to see, and I truly believe its going to be what keeps them passionately in love until the day they die.
So, please raise your glasses and...
"Drink to me only with thine eyes, And I will pledge with mine; Or leave a kiss but in the cup, And I'll not look for wine." - Ben Jonson