Kernville, CA, July 2020 (via zoom)
thank you so much! i'm honored these two asked me to help bless this marriage and i love to hear myself talk so we're really killing two birds with one stone here. Ben spent HOURS on the grill flipping veggie dogs at Wes and Emily's wedding and i don't know how many onions he had to chop at mine, so rest assured, i appreciate how easy i'm getting off easy in comparison.
i've known Ben for almost 20 years. when i met him he rode a fixed gear, he was squatting in the Alkali Flats and he still insisted that cyclocross was 'real bike racing'. i don't know how else to put it, he still had some growing up to do.
i liked the kid immediately though so I took him under my wing. just kidding, it was only a couple weeks before he was faster than me. The only reason i beat him in every race we ever rode together is because he crashed out of most of them.
One of my fondest memories on two wheels was coming across Ben 65 miles into yet another road race in the Central Valley with clumps of grass sticking out of his helmet and a concussed look on his face. i had fallen off the back long ago, so in my infinite selfishness i told him to get the hell up, brush himself off and ride in to the finish with me.
I've always loved Ben's company, even when he's asking me what day it is and what happened every five minutes and I have to remind him not to fall asleep while he's pedaling.
Enough about bikes though. Ben isn't just a set of legs and a pretty face. He's an intellectual, he's a chess player, he's a voracious reader. He's a decent crossword player and although he plays the part of the gruff cowboy to perfection, he's got a much bigger heart than he'd lead you to believe. He's selfless, he's a romantic, he is a tireless champion of justice and fairness and he's been a better friend to me than i deserve.
He can be a pain in the ass too though! He's stubborn, opinionated and he can be hard to argue with. Thats where Alanna comes in. When he came back from Nepal and spent most of the time describing the southern belle from Florida that met him there, i knew he was smitten. But when i met her myself i realized she has the backbone and dry sense of humor to actually be his match.
She's a rare bird indeed. And where Ben chose to protect the critters and the trees, Alanna signed up for a career caring for her fellow humans. A sacrifice that current events certainly paint in sharper relief. All social isolation aside, i've been thinking about them and appreciating their choices lately more than ever.
If there is a point to my rambling, its this. If Allana is the catch, Ben is the fisherman for the job. My bet is that they'll be dragging each other around the lake and having a ball doing it for quite some time.
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