When I was 17 I didn't know what it meant to be the best man in a wedding. I figured I would just stand up next to you in front of our friends and family and smile and nod and send you on your married way. I realize now that I had one job to do and I blew it. So here I am—six years, two months and eight days later—giving your best man speech.
The date is May 25, 2002 and a smattering of friends and family are gathered in what is now the former kitchen of Johanna and Steve Graham in Dallas, Texas. Bryan, Chad, Dad and I are wearing rented tuxedos, black with bow ties. Bryan's upper lip is stained red from a wine cooler that he apparently felt entitled to try at age fourteen. Kelly and Mom are both wearing dresses and fancy hairdos. The room gets quiet and everybody looks toward me, the best man. I clear my throat.
My name is Corey Lambert and I am Chad's middle brother. I've never given one of these before so I apologize if it sucks. For Kathy's benefit and for everybody else's entertainment, I would like to share some thoughts about my big brother Chad. These thoughts are from what I have deemed five of the most important areas of Chad's life. For the sake of the occasion, I'll call these five areas Chad-egories.
Chad-egory #1: Basketball
For those of you who just met Chad, for as long as I can remember his number one passion has been basketball. If he wasn't playing it, he was watching it. If he wasn't watching it, he was talking about it. And if he wasn't talking about it, he was reading about it. I can still vividly picture him hunched over the kitchen table scanning scores and shouting stats from the second page of The Muskegon Chronicle.
Chad: "Hey Core, Chris Webber had a triple-double last night!"
Me: "Sweet! I love figure skating!"
My favorite memory involving Chad and basketball is from way back when Chad was in 7th grade. I can't remember who they were playing against, but I do remember that the game was almost over and the score was very close, close enough that a pair of free throws would decide it. Needless to say, Chad was at the free throw line shooting two foul shots and I remember sitting in the stands thinking, "Don’t screw this up, asswipe." And he didn't. He sank both free throws to win the game.
Chad-egory #2: Driving
It was only a few short years ago that Chad drove all four of us Lambert children to school in his tiny black Mercury Tracer which he had pimped out with a bumpin' sound system. If you've ever ridden with Chad, you know that he's both a beacon of patience and a model driver. I remember one instance when we were cruising to school, following all of the laws of the road, when suddenly "some asshole came out of nowhere." Thirty minutes later I walked into 7th Grade science class with two gigantic bloody buckteeth marks in my lower lip, which was cool because I didn't really want to have friends in middle school anyway. Despite the state of my lower lip, I'm pretty sure Chad got the worst of it. He had to call my dad at work and explain the situation.
Chad-egory #3: Work
Chad always had a job, my favorite of which was as a gourmet poultry chef at Lee's Famous Recipe Chicken. Bryan and I always looked forward to his coming home after work because he'd always bring home these giant boxes of fried chicken. The best part was we never knew which part he'd bring home. It might be a box of thighs one day, a box of wings the next and every so often he'd bring home some of those little ball things from a chicken's neck, which he loved. This Chad-egory doesn't have a cool anecdote or punch line but I included it because I wanted to show how hardworking my brother is and has always been. Whether he's washing dishes at a smoky bar in Muskegon or selling wedding rings at a jewelry shop in Texas, he's putting everything he has into it. When I get older I hope to someday be able to bring home the bacon (or in this case chicken) like my big brother.
Chad-egory #4: Laughter
If you've known Chad for any length of time, you've undoubtedly heard him laugh, which in turn, probably made you laugh. One of the best parts about hearing his laugh is that it's never malicious or at the expense of anybody else (siblings notwithstanding). As a matter of fact, it's usually at himself. Being able to laugh at oneself is a special trait that only a certain kind of person can pull off. Needless to say, Chad pulls it off like a freakin' all-star.
A few years ago we were at my aunt and uncle's house for a holiday party. Everybody was milling around the kitchen waiting to eat and Chad was nearby playing with my cousin Katelyn. He had her going like he always does with kids (and dogs) when he decided to toss Katelyn into the air. In Chad's defense, the ceilings were tall. But then again, so is he. To make a long story short, once it was confirmed that no real damage had been done to Katelyn's head and neck, everybody was able to laugh about what had happened, Chad included.
Chad-egory #5: Dogs
Although some of you may roll your eyes at this, I really think that dogs are a strong judge of character. And I've never really seen dogs (collectively) look more favorably on anybody than they do my brother. Dogs love him. Big dogs. Small dogs. Friendly labradors. Asshole miniature doxins. If dogs had their own planet, a voting system and opposable thumbs, there is no doubt in my mind that they would elect my brother President of Pluto. And the reason that I think dogs like him so much is because they can tell that he's genuine. He's always himself. He's not showy. He isn't mean. And he's extremely loyal, like a dog.
I know there are other Chad-egorys to discuss and more that I could say about my big brother, but I'll leave the rest up to Kathy to figure out for herself. But before I let him go off and be married, I have one quick answer that might help him in his marriage someday. It's actually the answer to a question that Chad asked a long time ago while we were helping my mom put away groceries. And the answer is the fridge, Chad. The eggs go in the fridge.
Love and happiness.