Stories, and Bad Decisions: Awkward, part i

4년 전

The worst wedding toast I ever heard ended with the words, ‘Good Luck.’

It started with the words, ‘as you all know, my brother’s been through a lot of women.’

I didn’t turn off his microphone. It was my first time being a wedding DJ. I honestly didn’t know what the protocol was.

The whole toast was something of a triumph. It started bad, and got worse with each rambling attempt to save the situation, such that the final ’good luck’ was a relief.

The poor kid just couldn’t stop shoveling one foot deeper into his mouth. He couldn’t have failed more perfectly if he tried.

But I don’t think that was his intention.

‘As you all know, my brother’s been through a lot of women…yeah. A lot. Right.’

He paused. His face suggested that he had planned on going somewhere with this. But, for the life of him, he couldn’t remember where.

Pause, confusion, and then…eureka.

‘And each time, he’s certain he’s found the one. But it’s usually not the one. Something goes wrong, and she cheats, and he ch- …uh, they’re wrong, and it doesn’t work out. None of them do.’

A second pause. He’s clearly proud of himself for salvaging the situation. And clearly forgetful, again, about exactly where he was going with this.

‘And, you know, it might be depressing to think about how many times he’s thought he found the one, and she wasn’t the one.’

Big, long, awkward pause. I turn to my DJ instructor.

  • should…should we turn off the mike?

No, it’s ok…I think he’s going somewhere with this.

  • where? To hell?

The Best Man suddenly found his verbal footing. It sounded like he was reading a remedial high school senior thesis.

So, yeah, in conclusion, most of those other girls weren’t the one. But maybe this one will be! …? Let’s hope!’

It’s hard to convey the way his tone expressed both enthusiasm and uncertainty. ‘Maybe this one will be’ was both an order, and a question.

‘Anyway…good luck!’ He took his champagne and chugged it, slamming the crystal down as if it were a shot glass.

I felt responsible.

  • we…we need to play something. Now. Something upbeat, and hopeful.

My boss was good at his job, but not always the wisest of men.

Oh, don’t worry. I promised her I’d play this hilarious song sometime during the ceremony. It’s perfect.

The song was Nasty Girl, by Nitty. It samples the melody from Candy Girl, with far more explicit lyrics. It was a poor choice.

I gotta pick my date up, to dinner I'm 'a take her. Last time we sexed, I had her crawlin' like an alligator…

We're standin' face to face. Uh, I knew right where to take her. That private room called the bathroom. Uh, oh, here comes the waiter…

I’m making none of this up. The poor bride went from ‘a lot of women’ to ‘good luck’ to ‘crawlin’ like an alligator…uh oh, here comes the waiter.’

The marriage lasted roughly three weeks. It was not our finest moment.

I left restaurant work for a while to work as a DJ for weddings, and local karaoke nights. It was a mistake.

I hadn’t much of a choice at the time. The restaurant was in serious danger of shutting down, due to a complete absence of any real leadership. I should have known when I saw one of the more experienced cooks cutting raw meat and raw tomato on the same cutting board, with the same knife.

All three managers were gone. The only leadership left was the sous chef, who yelled at me for leaving the freezer door open as I grabbed a box of vegetables. The extra seconds lowered the temperature just enough to make all of us liable for a failed health inspection.

Granted, I should have closed the door. But it seemed like a moot point, what with the wires still hanging from the ceiling. The place closed down a month later.

Luckily, I had a new job lined up. But being a DJ is rough. For me, at least.

I should explain. I was awkward. A long history of private and home-schooled education, coupled with living in an ever-moving military family, left me socially shorthanded, something I didn't make up for until after college. I’m a fierce introvert. That didn’t help. Restaurants and DJ booths are, frankly, where I learned the majority of what I know about dealing with people.

The upshot is that I had a stark learning curve where ‘appropriate social reactions’ are concerned. Things that should have been common knowledge were not. Things that no one else knew seemed contemptibly obvious.

Things that should have rolled off my back, or simply been ignored, were internalized. I took, and gave, way too much offense. I offended a lot of people.

It was rough at the time. But it’s hilarious now.

I’ve been hired to run a corporate day retreat at a local ball park. My job consists mostly of running the microphone, and supplying background music, which I’ve stored on a laptop. The execs had formed teams and played a volleyball tournament earlier that day, and it was my job to announce the winning team. They called themselves the Longhorns.

Hell. I’ve got music for this. The A&M fight song is stored on my computer. I pull it up, press play, and sit back as the award is presented.

My partner is silent. “Dude…what the f*ck are you doing?”

  • what do you mean?

That’s the A&M fight song!

  • yeah, I had it stored here. They said their team was the Longhorns.

Don’t you think they’ll be pissed off?

Someone in the stands yelled ‘turn that sh*t off!’

  • I…don’t understand. Why would they be pissed off at their own fight song?

What the f*k? Are you an idiot? They’re different schools! Jsus!

  • oh, sh*t.

I didn’t know.

If you’re not familiar with the rivalry, confusing Texas A&M with Texas State is much like confusing the Yankees with the Red Sox.

If sports aren’t your forte, it’s like nonchalantly walking into a Democratic National Committee meeting whilst gleefully wearing a MAGA hat. It’s just not done.

If, however, you manage to commit such a faux pas, the best thing to do is to simply let it go.

The worst thing you can do is try to explain why you made the mistake.

I tried to explain why I made the mistake. That was a mistake.

  • Hi! I didn’t know they were different schools! I’m sorry.

Keep in mind that, as this explanation echoed across the baseball fields, I myself was well-hidden within the DJ booth. Which is to say that it appeared I was simply rubbing the insult in. Or that I was simply an idiot. Or both.


And the day was just getting started.

I had to prepare a trivia quiz for everyone in attendance. The winner of the quiz would receive a prize. No one won. I’ve since realized upon reflection that my chosen questions may have been too difficult.

In my defense, a lifetime of private and home-schooled education put a serious dent in what I considered ‘trivia.’ Most people would ask pop culture questions. I asked questions about British history, which, in any other time and place, might be considered an accomplishment.

Here, though, I just looked like a d*ck.

The time allotted for the trivia quiz was 30 minutes. We didn’t get past the first question. For 30 minutes.

  • Folks, here’s your first trivia question…what is the name of the fifth Plantagenet king of England? You’ll recognize him from a popular movie.

I’m not exaggerating this in the least. That was my question.

The resulting half-hour was exceedingly awkward. No one answered my question. I kept modifying it, thinking I was making it more and more obvious. I wasn’t.

  • Look, it’s the king in the movie Braveheart, ok? What’s his name?

That was finally enough for one of the more exasperated executives. He phoned a friend.

Burt, what the hell is the name of the king in Braveheart? …ok, thanks. Edward! J*sus.

  • Edward Longshanks! That is correct…we are out of time.

I was honestly surprised that this didn’t fall into the realm of common knowledge.

Everyone was relieved when the day ended.

DJing for weddings wasn’t much easier. On the one hand, nearly everything is meticulously planned, so it’s quite hard to make a mistake. On the other hand, a wedding day is one of the most stressful days you can imagine for a young bride. ‘Everything must be perfect’ is not a recipe for happiness and calm.

It doesn’t help if you’re fighting with your mom, either. But I have to give this young bride props – she had the foresight to pull the DJ in on her side.

Of course, I wasn’t happy about it at the time.

  • you said you had some special instructions for me?

Yes. My mom’s being a b*tch, so I need you to ignore her.

  • …just…ignore her?

It’s all here, written down. Here are the songs you need to play. She’s going to request these other songs, on this second list. Under no circumstances are you to play those songs.

  • I see.

I can’t imagine how long this fight has been going on. I gather, given the bride’s preparation, that it’s not their first feud.

  • do I need to say anything to her?

Pretend she doesn’t exist. Or, better yet, just say, ‘in a minute,' and then leave her hanging. But do not play these songs.

I would have felt worse about the situation had I not also hated the songs on the Forbidden List. As it stood, I was perfectly happy not to play the Hamster Dance.

True to prediction, mom approached the DJ booth and asked me to play the Hamster Dance. I tell her, ‘no problem. Just give me a few minutes.’

She doesn’t leave. I play another song. She’s still standing by the booth.

Young man…young man…I have a request!

  • yes, ma’am?

I told you! I want you to play the Hamster Dance!

I look around, desperate for the bride or groom to come to my rescue. No one arrives. Momma is clearly drunk, and isn’t going to leave until she gets what she wants.

  • I’m sorry. I have a few more songs I have to play, that people have already requested.

Rrgh! Fine. I will wait.


I play four more songs. Momma is still standing by the DJ booth. The Bride and Groom, I gather, are experiencing an unprecedented lengthy moment of peace. I consider playing the Hamster Dance as revenge, but stop when I realize it would likely just replace one angry drunk with two.

After roughly four songs, Momma catches on.

Young man…young man! I asked -

  • yes, I’m sorry. The Hamster Dance.

Have you been told to ignore me?

She’s standing, fists balled, unusually steely and still for someone with so much alcohol in her system. I raise my eyebrows.

Maldita desgraciada, y ese pinche baboso.

She leaves. Thank God. She comes back. It’s a long night.

But nothing held a candle to being a karaoke DJ.

[end of part i]

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