It’s been a while since I’ve ventured to central Texas in May, but if memory serves, the weather is warm but not hot, the blue bonnets are in full bloom and the grasshoppers are active but not to the point that driving a quarter mile in your rental car will result in some sort of grasshopper genocide. The prefect time and place for a wedding.
Smith Point’s sweetheart Jenna is getting married on Saturday to some dude and, in all seriousness, I wish them luck. I also wish my friend in Baltimore luck because as far as he knows (I told him as much) the new couple is moving into a house on his street. I know for a fact it’s the same neighborhood so why couldn’t it be the same street? I sent him a heavily doctored Baltimore Sun article to back up my lies. It’s that neighborhood that has that bar/magic shop.
Anyway, I’m sure the wedding itself will go off without a hitch. But I am also equally sure that tomorrow night rehearsal dinner will be a complete disaster.
The boy-o that she’s marrying is named Henry Hager and he’s probably a fine young former Karl Rove aide. But Henry’s also the son of John H. Hager, the current Chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia and the former Assistant Secretary of the Department of Education's Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services. And before all that he was the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia.
It was in this notable capacity the he delivered possibly the Worst Graduation Speech in the History of Cheap Cardboard Hats and Thin, Black Robes.
The year was 1999 and the early May weather was perfect for an outdoor graduation ceremony. (Or a wedding, mayhaps?) The beaming but mostly hung-over students and their proud families filled the stadium of this typical state university. It was a special day of firsts and lasts.
Except for Lt. Gov. Hager. For 15 minutes, he delivered the most wearisome and uninspired speech ever to be forced on people who had just paid $20,000 for a state education. The address was clearly recycled, evident by repeated references to the crowd being gathered indoors and it being nighttime. It was humorless and unenlightening. My father recalled it as being “nothing but mush.” He quickly lost the attention of the students seated on the field and the distracted murmurs spread into the stands. In the end you couldn’t here him over the din even if you cared to listen. It was a tremendous failure. The only reason he escaped public ridicule was that the class valedictorian had minutes earlier given what was a clearly plagiarized speech. Someone later said it was from a church sermon.
Scroll forward nine years. John Hager has an opportunity to redeem himself tomorrow night when he delivers the traditional father-of-the-groom speech at the rehearsal dinner. I doubt this will happen. Bush 41 is going to fall asleep either way. But I’m guessing the rest of guests are going to dutifully sip their near-beers when it’s over and clap out of respect. But young Henry’s just going to roll his eyes because it’ll be the same speech that his dad delivered at his older brother’s wedding. And he’ll probably get the names wrong too.